Wednesday 24 April 2019

Is this the future of cruise?


The Ecoship, which could set sail by 2020. Photo: Facebook/Ecoship
The Ecoship, which could set sail by 2020. Photo: Facebook/Ecoship

Oliver Smith

A 55,000-ton 'Ecoship' has been described as the world’s “greenest” cruise ship, and it could sail by 2020.

Designs for what has been labelled the world’s “greenest” cruise ship have been finalised, including sails covered in solar panels, tanks that run on kitchen waste and a garden fed by rainwater.

An announcement regarding dates for its maiden voyage, pencilled in for 2020, is expected at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris this month.

The 55,000-ton Ecoship features a host of environmentally-friendly features, the most striking of which are 10 retractable sails covered in solar panels.

According to the organisation behind it – Japan-based NGO Peace Boat – the design “draws from nature in both form and function”.

The aerodynamic hull, which will allow for greater fuel efficiency, is inspired by the shape of a whale, while a “non-toxic, anti-fouling coating… mimics fish skin”.

The climate on board – including heating and air conditioning – will be maintained naturally, a “closed-loop” water system will see all waste water purified and repurposed, along with rain and seawater, for irrigating the on-board garden.

“The Ecoship represents a radical shift in the way we address our energy needs,” say the designers. “Unlike even the current best in market, the Ecoship will meet its core hotel and propulsion energy needs with renewable energy, using Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as a top-up energy source, thereby minimising our dependence on fossil fuels.”

It all adds up to a promise of "zero emissions... as well as no sea dumping".

Yoshioka Tatsuya, Founder and Director of Peace Boat, told Hellenic Shipping News: “Peace Boat’s 2020 launch of the Ecoship offers a vision for a climate-friendly future and can lead the way towards a green cruising model that can also impact the wider shipping industry. The industry must adapt to the planet’s needs.”

Cruise Lines International Association, which represents dozens of operators, declined to comment on whether any of its members had ties with Peace Boat or planned to adopt any of the Ecoship’s features. It did stress, however, the importance of environmental considerations among its members.

"Being environmentally conscious and proactive is not just a need for the industry, it’s a deep desire that is fundamental to how we do business," said a spokesman. "From the most stringent wastewater treatment policies in the global maritime community to continuous reductions in air emissions, CLIA members work with regulators and various industry stakeholders to deliver on their commitment to the environment.”

Costa Cruises this year announced plans to build the “next generation” of cruise ships, which it claimed would be the most environmentally friendly ever built.

The two vessels, which will each be capable of carrying 6,600 passengers – more than the current record-holders, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas – will rely solely on LNG (a relatively clean-burning fuel), instead of the combination of gas turbines and diesel that most cruise ships use, thus cutting down dramatically

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