Cruise industry faces ‘fundamental challenges’ to fully decarbonise by 2050

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings admits continued investment is needed to scale up the availability of green fuel to cut cruise ship emissions.

The owner of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises published a revised climate action strategy along with short- and near-term greenhouse gas (GHG) targets to support the pursuit of net zero operations by 2050.

The new interim GHG reduction targets include a reduction of 10% by 2026 and 25% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels.

The scope of the company’s global ‘sale and sustain’ sustainability  commitment covers its entire greenhouse gas footprint, including a global network of suppliers and partners.

More: Cunard cancels QM2 transatlantic sailings due to ‘technical issue’

Jessica John, vice president of ESG, investor relations and corporate communications, said: “We are encouraged to see the significant progress and momentum across sectors to decarbonise, but fundamental challenges continue to exist for the cruise industry to fully decarbonise by 2050.

“Rather than waiting for these challenges to dissolve, our strategy is about acting now to implement solutions for efficiency today, innovate for future solutions and collaborate with our stakeholders along the way. Underpinning this strategy is good governance and effective risk management as we work to advance our climate action efforts and build our company’s resilience.”

NCLH sees green methanol, a fuel produced renewably without polluting emissions, as a “promising solution”. 

The group’s final two Prima class ships, expected to be delivered in 2027 and 2028, are to be modified to handle the use of green methanol as an alternative fuel source in the future. 

NCLH said: “While additional modifications will be needed in the future to fully enable the use of methanol in addition to traditional marine fuel on these ships, this reinforces the company’s commitment to decarbonisation. 

“The use of green methanol would result in a drastic reduction in emissions, including an up to 95% reduction in CO2, and its properties enable the continued use of conventional fuel storage and bunkering with fewer modifications compared to other emerging fuels in the market at this time. 

“However, the production of green methanol is still in the early stages and will require continued investments to sufficiently scale for distribution and consumption globally.”

In the meantime, the company is focused on optimising efficiency for its existing fleet which it believes can have an immediate impact to onboard power consumption and GHG emissions as well as generating fuel savings. Smart itinerary and voyage planning are part of initiatives being deployed. 

NCLH added: “Operational changes require data, education and accountability, therefore the company is also building and investing in internal systems and processes to enable its team members, and even guests, to operate its ships with optimal efficiency.”

The company is continuing to partner with key ports to accelerate the use of shore power technology which allows cruise ships to connect to onshore electrical power grids to supply much of the power needed while docked. 

While the land-based infrastructure expansion is underway, the NCLH is also equipping its ships with the technology needed to plug-in, targeting to have about 70% of its fleet equipped by 2025.

President and chief executive-elect Harry Sommer said: “Every aspect of our business from shoreside to shipboard is responsible for doing their part to design, deliver and demonstrate results for decarbonisation and our board of directors has reinforced this expectation by establishing shared accountability and tying incentives for our entire management team to this critical effort.

“We also recently took an important step forward on our pursuit of net zero by announcing the modification of two of our future Prima Class newbuilds to accommodate the use of green methanol in the future.”

He added: ”We are also activating and mobilising our full network of team members, ports and destinations, suppliers and partners, and guests to act now and join us on this transformative journey, further amplifying the efforts we could achieve on our own.”

More: Cunard cancels QM2 transatlantic sailings due to ‘technical issue’

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