Royal Caribbean International has added two more vessels to the growing number of cruise ships on its order books.
Code-named Icon, the new class of vessel will be powered by clean fuels, a combination of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and – another first – fuel cell technology. The 5,000-passenger ships will be built by the Meyer Turku yard in Finland, and are expected to enter service in spring 2022 and 2024.
“With Icon class, we move further in the journey to take the smoke out of our smokestacks,” said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “We are dedicated to innovation, continuous improvement, and environmental responsibility.”
RCI president Michael Bayley added: “Our guests expect us to push every envelope we can, and on this class of ship we began by challenging ourselves to find a new approach to power and propulsion that is safe, reliable, and more energy-efficient than ever before.”
Carnival Corporation is building LNG-powered ships for its Costa brand and recently ordered three more – one of which will join P&O Cruises’ fleet in 2020.
Fain said: “As more ships are built for LNG, the number of ports that support it will grow.” Although the Icon ships will run primarily on LNG, they will be equipped to use distillate fuel (oil) as a back-up.
The fuel cells will be used primarily to provide additional power for the ships’ hotel functions – lighting and air-conditioning. Tests will be set up on an existing Oasis-class ship next year and progressively larger fuel cell installations will be added to the Quantum-class ships under construction.
Harri Kulovaara, in charge of ship design for Royal Caribbean, said that many elements of Icon class are still in the early stages of development and most details – including the precise size and capacity – are still being worked out.
Royal Caribbean now has a total of 10 ships on order: two sisters for Harmony of the Seas, two more Quantum-class vessels, these two Icon class, and four ships code-named Project Edge for its Celebrity brand. The total investment between now and 2020 amounts to $9 billion (£7.3 billion).