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Norwegian Cruise Line Modifies Future Ships for Methanol

Norweigan methanol cruise ships
Norwegian Viva is the second ship of the class with the fifth and sixth to be prepared for future methanol operations (Fincantieri)

Published Feb 28, 2023 5:47 PM by The Maritime Executive

Norwegian Cruise Line is moving forward with plans to begin adapting its newbuilds for the future use of methanol as their primary fuel. The cruise line company told investors during its quarterly update today that it has agreed to design changes with Fincantieri to prepare two cruise ships due for delivery in 2027 and 2028 to accommodate the emerging alternate fuel that would address carbon emissions.

The cruise line said it has agreed to a total of €1.2 billion in additional contract costs to modify a total of four cruise ships being built by the Italian shipyard as part of Project Leonardo, now known as the Prima class. The first ship of the class, Norwegian Prima (143,535 GT) was introduced in August 2022 and she will be followed by a sister ship Norwegian Viva scheduled to begin cruising in August 2023.

Previously, the cruise line reported that it would be increasing the capacity of the four later cruise ships of the class. The design change calls for lengthening the cruise ships from their original 981-foot length by 72 feet increasing passenger capacity to 3,550 people. Today, Norwegian said the third and fourth ships will be about 10 percent larger or a total of approximately 158,000 GT.

“Additional modifications to the final two ships in this class will accommodate the use of green methanol as an alternative fuel source,” Norwegian reported. The fifth and sixth ships will be about 20 percent larger than the first two, or a total of approximately 172,000 GT, to accommodate the changes to prepare the ships for methanol.

“While additional modifications will be needed in the future to fully enable the use of methanol in addition to traditional marine fuel on these ships, this reinforces the company’s commitment to decarbonization,” writes Norwegian. The company is currently working to secure additional export-credit agency-backed financing to cover the costs before finalizing the design changes.

Previously, Norwegian had said it was planning tests and looking to install methanol tanks on some of its cruise ships. The company is working with MAN on a project to retrofit a medium-speed MAN 48/60 engine to make it capable of dual-fuel diesel/methanol operation. CEO Harry Sommer suggested last fall that the company might start by operating ships with methanol when in port, while also looking to incorporate methanol-ready tanks into its future cruise ships.

Construction on the first methanol-ready cruise ship began in 2022 at Meyer Turku in Finland. Germany’s TUI Cruises said that it was adapting the design of its new ship Mein Schiff 7 so that the vessel would be methanol ready when it enters service in 2024. Disney Cruise Line has also said that it expects that the acquired cruise ship Global Dream would operate on methanol when it is introduced in 2025.

Norwegian decided unlike other cruise lines to forgo LNG-fueled newbuilds and instead focus its longer-term strategy on methanol. At the same time, the cruise line said it has already completed tests on three of its ships using biofuel blends. They tested 30 percent biofuel/70 percent marine gas oil (MGO) aboard the Norwegian Star, Norwegian Sun, and Norwegian Epic during November and December 2022.