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Carnival Corp. Expands Use of “Tiny Bubbles” to Lower Fuel Consumption

Carnival expands use of air lubrication
Princess Cruises' Diamond Princess is reporting a 5% fuel savings after being retrofitted with the ALS system

Published Oct 27, 2022 7:37 PM by The Maritime Executive

Carnival Corporation plans to expand the use of air lubrication systems across its nine cruise line brands and its current fleet of 87 cruise ships. The corporation has signed a new agreement with Silverstream Technologies to expand the use of the system that creates tiny air bubbles along the hull to reduce drag and improve fuel economy.

Silverstream reports the two companies have been working together for the past six years with the first installation of the technology in 2016. The AIDAPrima, a 125,572 gross ton cruise ship, built in Japan by Mitsubishi Shipbuilding for Carnival’s German brand was the first to incorporate the technology. The 984-foot cruise ship became the pilot for the system that generates a cushion of air bubbles to lubricate the bottom of a ship's hull, reducing friction between the ship and surrounding water. According to Carnival, it has resulted in savings in energy and fuel consumption across a wide speed range.

Carnival Corp. currently has four air lubrication systems in operation. The system was retrofitted to Princess Cruises’ 115,000 gross ton Diamond Princess. The cruise ship, which measures 952 feet in length has achieved an approximate five percent net fuel and emissions saving using the air lubrication system. Two additional cruise ships, according to Carnival Corp. operating for Princess and P&O are being fitted with the technology in 2022.

The companies report that they are currently in progress on five additional installations and as part of the agreement Silverstream’s technology will be retrofitted to at least 10 additional vessels during their scheduled dry docks over the next five years. These ships will form the first wave of the more than 40 ships in Carnival’s fleet that are suitable retrofit candidates for the Silverstream System. 

Carnival expects that more than half of its cruise line brands will deploy the technology, and plans to continue the expansion of the air lubrication system program over time. The installations Silverstream says will cause zero disruption to the ships’ normal operations and zero inconvenience to passengers.

In addition to the retrofit program, Carnival recently contracted Silverstream to install its technology on the new Sphere-class cruise ships that are being built at a Fincantieri shipyard in Italy for Princess Cruises. The first of two new ships on order for the class is the 1,132-foot Sun Princess which is due to enter service at the beginning of 2024. The cruise ship, which is will be approximately 175,500 gross tons, is the second Carnival Corp. platform to be powered by LNG and the first for Princess Cruises.

"The installation of air lubrication technology is another example of our ongoing efforts to drive energy efficiency and reduce fuel consumption and emissions throughout our fleet," said Bill Burke, chief maritime officer for Carnival Corporation. "We look forward to expanding the ALS program and furthering our long-term sustainability strategy to continually invest in a broad range of energy reduction initiatives, which has included over $350 million invested in energy efficiency improvements since 2016."