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Seastainability: How Royal Caribbean is going green to protect our oceans

Royal Caribbean’s first LNG-powered ship, Icon of the Seas made waves when it launched in fall 2023.

Royal Caribbean has set bold ambitions to protect the oceans it sails. With the debut of its new cruise ship Icon of the Seas the company marks an important milestone in building a clean-energy future and innovative eco-friendly ship design.

The game-changing ship, which debuts in fall 2023, and is the first of the cruise line’s new Icon class ships, will not only run on liquified natural gas (LNG) – the world’s cleanest fossil fuel available – but will showcase shore power connection to remove emissions at port and environmentally-friendly features to further reduce its carbon footprint.

“We made our commitment to making clean power at sea a reality – and soon the norm – when Icon Class was first announced in 2016, and we’re excited to see construction underway on what will truly be a ship unlike any other,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.

“Our decades of work in ocean conservation, energy efficiency and continuous improvement will be evident all throughout Icon of the Seas. We look forward to revealing more of the game-changing features our guests and crew have in store as she begins to take shape.”

Watch Icon of the Seas being built here:

“Respect for the oceans is not a choice, it’s a way of life,” the cruise company believes.

Thirty years ago, Royal Caribbean Group, introduced their Save the Waves program which has evolved to include initiatives such as a comprehensive onboard recycling program; introducing the industry’s first environmental officers on each ship and waste management plans including the corporation’s journey to zero waste.

Recently Royal Caribbean Group announced a climate strategy to achieve net-zero emission — Destination Net Zero — and introduce a net-zero ship by 2035.

Liquified natural gas is part of that clean energy future, and installing two LNG tanks on Icon of the Seas is an important milestone in becoming emission-free. It’s a huge task – literally. Each tank weighs 307 tons, with each one being 90ft long and 26ft tall, decades of continuous improvements in energy efficiency and ocean conservation are more than evident.

Modern cruise ship engines operate much like a power plant, sending power, as needed, throughout the ship, by adopting LNG capable engines, and combining it with a slew of energy-efficiencies initiatives Royal Caribbean is reducing its carbon emissions and making strides on its climate strategy.

Energy efficiencies can be found from bow to stern, and even virtually. From commercial grade-energy efficient appliances in the ships’ galleys and LED light bulbs to create initiatives that capture, and repurpose, engine heat to power things like hot water and hot tubs onboard.

Teams are constantly exploring decarbonisation solutions to increase energy efficiency and ways to decrease fuel consumption. With each new ship in the company, the aim is to reduce overall energy by 20 percent.

Royal Caribbean are dedicating considerable time and energy to create and maximise artificial intelligence (AI) to advance its sustainability objectives. Systems are analysing billion of data points to optimise routes, understand usage and even consumption to more precisely source products for minimum waste.

It’s so sensitive and precise that it can even tell how much energy a single oven is using in a ship’s galley.

This combined with shore power capabilities, and even special paint and hull design is yet another factor that makes the first of the new Icon-class of ships among the most energy-efficient.

But that’s not enough for the group which has set itself a myriad of Seastainable goals. As well as reducing emissions, the line aims to increase sustainable tours – more than 2,000 are now offered across the fleet, significantly impacting sustainable tourism;
serve only sustainable seafood on board as well as reduce the use of plastic and waste on board. All are part of the company’s strategy to protect our oceans for future generations to enjoy.

Icon of the Seas will call in Southampton during the ship’s inaugural cruise season in Winter 2023 – 2024 before crossing the Atlantic to sail the Caribbean from its homeport of Miami.

Published 06.14.22