A trend is emerging as cruise lines place orders for ships to debut in the third decade of the 21st century: they are attempting to go green.
The move may be partly altruistic, but the trend also has to do with government regulations to reduce emissions globally, which take effect by 2020. Concerned cruisers are demanding greener cruises, too.
Major lines are working on energy efficiency and reducing emissions for existing ships. Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean both recently signed deals for big new ships that will use cleaner, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as fuel.
Next year, Royal will begin testing fuel cells as supplemental energy on some ships, in preparation for a new class of 5,000-passenger megaships to debut in 2022 and 2024 (the ships are currently code-name Project Icon). Carnival Corporation's efforts in using green technologies have also focused on LNG -- the company has agreements to build seven LNG-powered ships across four brands by 2022. Carnival Cruise Line will get LNG-powered ships in 2020 and 2022.
Virgin Voyages (the new name of Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson's fledgling cruise brand) appears to be taking a different tactic.
At a press conference this month, there was the distraction of scantily clad dancers and an appearance by Branson. But green cruisers might also have caught the message that the line's three planned ships (to debut between 2020 and 2022) will use a Swedish clean energy system, Climeon Ocean. The system will transform waste heat and water into clean electricity. The result, the line says, will save an estimated 5,400 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
That should appeal to millennials and others who might be reluctant to cruise -- in other words, Branson's target demographic.