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Princess sails to green future as clamour mounts

July 25, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

As concern mounts about the health impact of cruise ship emissions on people living in port areas, one of the world’s biggest cruise lines has taken a giant step forward and commissioned two new eco-friendly cruise ships .

The new Princess Cruises ships will be powered primarily by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel.

Pollution is a big issue in European ports like Venice, Barcelona and Marseilles and in other port cities worldwide.

According to the Brussels-based Transport and Environment Group: “Air pollution from international shipping accounts approximately for 50,000 premature deaths per year in Europe, at an annual cost to society of more than EUR 58 billion according to recent scientific studies.”

While not addressing that specifically, the latest announcement by Princess Cruises is a welcome development. Princess has signed a memorandum of agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A. to build two new cruise ships on a next-generation platform “designed to further enhance an already world-class vacation experience for its guests”. The new-builds are due to be delivered in late 2023 and spring 2025, respectively.

The new vessels will be Princess Cruises’ first ships to be dual-fuel powered – primarily by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), the marine industry’s most environmentally friendly advanced fuel technology and the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel. Princess says this will significantly reduce air emissions and marine gasoil (MGO). The new ships, which will be the largest by capacity in the Princess Cruises fleet, will be built at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.

“This revolutionary platform for next-generation, LNG-powered cruise ships will introduce innovative design and leisure experiences driven by the future vacation and lifestyle trends of our guests – further evolving the already best-in-class Princess Cruises experience we deliver today,” said Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz.

The two ships will be 175,000 gross tons and will accommodate approximately 4300 guests (lower berths).

Focus on health in cruise ports

Fincantieri chief executive, Giuseppe Bono, said Princess and Fincantieri were “ready to enter, together, a new era of this industry, increasingly aimed at reducing even more of our environmental impact”.  Bono added that Princess Cruises’ parent, Carnival Corporation, is the largest foreign investor in Italy.

Meanwhile, Princess Cruises has three new Royal-class ships on order with Fincantieri, including its next new ship, Sky Princess, which is currently under construction and scheduled for delivery in October 2019. The two other Royal-class ships are planned for delivery in 2020 and 2022.

The agreement for Princess Cruises’ next-generation cruise ships represent Carnival Corporation’s 10th and 11th contracted LNG-based vessels.

LNG may well be the way forward for cruise lines. Europe in particular is getting very heavy on shipping pollution. The captain of the 300-metre cruise ship L’Azura was charged earlier this month with breaking sulphur limits on fuel emissions in Marseilles port. The charge carries a penalty of up to a year in prison and a fine of up to EUR 200,000 on conviction.

Europe’s Transport and Environment Group describes problems with ship emissions:

“Through chemical reactions in the air, SO2 [sulphur dioxide] and NOx [nitrogen oxide] is converted into fine particles, sulphate and nitrate aerosols. In addition to the particles directly emitted by ships such as black carbon, these secondary particles increase the health impacts of shipping pollution.

“Tiny airborne particles are linked to premature deaths. The particles get into the lungs and are small enough to pass through tissues and enter the blood. They can then trigger inflammations which eventually cause heart and lung failures. Ship emissions may also contain carcinogenic particles.”

Written by Peter Needham

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