Cruise Facts5 Battery-Powered Cruise Ships Leading the Zero Emission Charge

5 Battery-Powered Cruise Ships Leading the Zero Emission Charge

A new wave of battery-powered ships has recently emerged that promises to revolutionize cruising and reduce its environmental impact.

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In this article, we will explore five different battery-powered cruise ships and companies that are leading the charge in green maritime transportation.

electric cruise ships

Every car company is already making electric cars. Are cruise lines going to start building battery-powered cruise ships next? Or are these floating cities just too large for the “current” battery technology?

Well, don’t look now, but the move toward greener propulsion in cruise ships is already happening, and has been happening for the last several years, at least in its initial stages.

There are already battery-powered tugboats, container ships, and ferries currently operating around the world. Cruise ships require a lot more power, and it’s more challenging to power them with battery power alone, but the ships in this article are making major headway in that direction.

In this article we will look at five different cruise companies that are sailing electric vessels and are at least partially powered by lithium-ion battery systems on board.

The cruise industry is set to undergo a transformation with Norway’s upcoming environmental legislation. Beginning in 2026, ships will be banned from entering select fjords using traditional fuels. This new rule will drive the use of batteries in the industry and some ships are already using battery-powered systems to sail along the coast of Norway.

This video shows how the battery company, Corvus Energy, is allowing even large cruise ships to operate with battery power:

Here are 5 cruise lines already using batteries in their ships, and how it could pave the path forward for parts of the industry:

 

AIDA Cruises

AIDA Cruises is using the biggest battery ever placed on a cruise ship of this size. The Carnival Corporation & plc owned cruise line is using a Corvis Energy battery.

The 10 megawatt-hour battery consists of 1,800 modules. Due to it’s size, AIDA had to remove one of the unused water tanks on the ship, AIDAperla, the 125,000 gross ton vessel being powered by electricity.

The installation of the 10,000 kWh lithium-ion battery system was the first to be used on a large cruise ship like this.  AIDAperla carries over 4,000 guests and is 984 feet in length.

At the time of the battery’s installation, the Chief Commercial Officer of Corvis, Halvard Hauso, said, “This will be the world’s biggest battery installation on board a ship to date. The project shows it is possible to retrofit even quite large energy storage solutions on board cruise and passenger ships. It is however challenging to find enough available space as the volume of the batteries is quite substantial. For a new building this is much easier as you can plan it from the design phase.”

And 10 megawatt-hours is just the beginning.

The company expects new builds in the future to see batteries of 50,000 kWh to 100,000 kWh, that’s 100 megawatt-hours of power.

This electric power allows the cruise ship to sail in and out of ports using battery propulsion alone. This makes for smoother sailing and fewer contaminates in the air.

 

Havila Voyages

Havila Voyages operates four cruise ships along the coast of Norway. Each vessel is powered by some of the largest battery packs at sea and can operate for up to four straight hours on battery power alone. This allows for quiet, smooth sailings into the gorgeous fjords of Norway.

These 6.1 megawatt-hour battery packs (or 6,100 kWh) are supplied by Corvus Energy and weigh about 86 tons.

How are these batteries charged? When on shore Havila uses hydro-power electricity to charge the batteries. When the ships are in open waters and need more power they rely on LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) which is used alongside the batteries for a hybrid operation.

The company’s ships carry 680 passengers and were all built in the last few years. Havila Voyages is owned by the Norwegian shipping company Havila Shipping ASA.

 

Hurtigruten

MS Roald Amundsen hurtigruten

Another cruise line that sails along the coast of Norway is Hurtigruten. In fact, the company sails to all kinds of arctic regions and specializes in expedition style, and destination focused travel.

And besides all that, almost every ship in the fleet is a hybrid vessel with at least 3 being battery-hybrid-powered ships. Over the last several years Hurtigruten has worked to transform even their older ships into battery-powered and LNG powered ships that can sail in and out of Norwegian ports cleanly and silently.

MS Roald Amundsen was the first hybrid ship in the fleet and its debut in 2019 marked the first time this hybrid technology was used on a ship of this size. The ship has two 685 kWh lithium-ion batteries with room for expansion later on.

The 500-passenger ship can run on battery power for about 45 minutes to an hour.

The batteries are also used for what is called “peak shaving”. The goal of peak shaving is to reduce the need for the ship’s main power generation systems to work at full capacity during periods of high demand, thereby reducing wear and tear on the system and potentially reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

 

Viking

Viking Cruises is world-renowned for their Viking Longships, which sail along the rivers of Europe and throughout the world.  And now some of these vessels offer a hybrid propulsion system that uses battery power in combination with diesel fuel.

The large-capacity battery packs on ships like Viking Egdir, Viking Fjorgyn, Viking Radgrid and Viking Gymir are charged in port and also by roof-mounted solar panels.

The batteries on these ships have a capacity of 745 kWh.

These vessels are also equipped with the ability to connect to shore power when in port to reduce reliance on fuel.

The company also recently reported testing out hydrogen fuel cells on one of its ocean ships in a step towards reducing the reliance on traditional fuels.

 

The Yangtze River Three Gorges 1

And then there’s the vessel made in China that has been touted as the “worlds largest electric cruise ship”.

The Yangtze River Three Gorges 1 is not a hybrid. It is 100% powered by a 7,500 kWh battery system.

The 300-foot long ship is not really a cruise ship but is designed as a sightseeing vessel along the Yangtze River in China.

The $23 million ship debuted in early 2022 and is able to carry over 1,000 passengers. The downside is it can only travel for about 62 miles on one charge.

 

Final Thoughts

Battery-powered cruise ships are an eco-friendly innovation with some attractive benefits. They emit zero pollutants, making them ideal for sensitive areas like coastal waters. They’re also quieter, offering a more enjoyable experience for passengers and crew. Cost-wise, they’re cheaper to run since they don’t need fuel, potentially leading to lower fares and higher profits.

However, building battery-powered cruise ships is more expensive due to evolving battery tech. They also have limited range, unsuitable for long-haul journeys. Charging them can be time-consuming, affecting their flexibility.

Some battery tech advancements are needed to make this a more meaningful power source for the larger cruise ships of today, but even what’s being done now with battery power would have been impossible even 10 years ago.

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J. Souza
J. Souza
Jon is the co-founder of Cruise Fever and has been on 50+ cruises since his first in 2009. As an editor, 15-year writer on the cruise industry, and avid cruise enthusiast he has sailed with at least 10 cruise lines and is always looking for a great cruise deal. Jon lives in North Carolina and can be reached at [email protected].
Cruise Facts5 Battery-Powered Cruise Ships Leading the Zero Emission Charge
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