Viking Exercises Fincantieri Option for Ships with Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Hydrogen powered cruise ships
Viking Mars delivered in May 2022 is the eight ship of the class (Fincantieri)

Published Sep 9, 2022 1:15 PM by The Maritime Executive

Viking will become the latest cruise line to adopt hydrogen to in part power its next generation of cruise ships. The confirmation of the company’s long-planned move to alternative fuel came as Fincantieri announced that the cruise line has exercised the option for additional cruise ships in its long-running class of ocean cruise ships that they began introducing in 2015.

Fincantieri reports that Viking has put into effect the contracts for the third and fourth ships as part of a six-ship option they agreed to in March 2018. In addition, the cruise line has also entered into the contracts, subject to financing, for the last two vessels in the 2018 agreement. This comes as Fincantieri prepares to deliver the tenth and final ship in an original agreement first reached in 2012.

Viking’s CEO, Torstein Hagen, has long talked of his plans to employ hydrogen in the propulsion systems of his cruise ships. Fincantieri confirmed that the new generation of Viking ships is also designed for hydrogen fuel cells and “will set a new standard for the industry.” 

The new ships are reported to be based on the successful features of the previous ships, upgraded and revisited with the latest technologies. “The new Viking ships will be built according to the latest navigation regulations and equipped with the most modern safety systems,” said Fincantieri. The first of the new ships, previously ordered, are due in December 2024 and July 2025 with the later four options now exercised due for delivery in 2026, 2027, and two vessels in 2028.

Speaking with the media in the spring, Hagen said the new ships would be partially powered by hydrogen. At the time he described it as giving the vessels the ability to operate for limited periods, such as sailing in the Norwegian fjords. The Norwegian government has already announced plans to ban fossil-fueled ships from the fjords starting in 2026.

The consumer website Cruise Critic previously reported that the new class of ships will also be larger than Viking’s prior cruise ships. The ships will be longer to accommodate the new power plant and as such will have space for additional passengers.

Fincantieri reports the value of the new agreements is about €1.7 billion. The shipyard in May 2022 delivered the Viking Mars, the eighth ship of the class, and the Viking Neptune, the ninth ship, is due for delivery in late 2022. The final ship of the class, the Viking Saturn, was floated out at Fincantieri’s Ancona shipyard in late June and is scheduled for delivery in early 2023. Each of the Viking ocean-going cruise ships is 745 feet long and 47,800 gross tons. The current class accommodates 930 passengers.

In addition to the hydrogen systems for the Viking cruise ships, Fincantieri and MSC Cruises also announced in July an order for two cruise ships for its new upscale brand Explora Journeys that will be outfitted with LNG and hydrogen power. The ships, due to enter service in 2027 and 2028 as the fifth and six cruise ships for Explora, will be outfitted with a six-megawatt fuel cell to produce power for the hotel operation and allow the vessels to run on “zero emissions” in port, with the engines turned off. MSC is also participating in other industry tests for the use of hydrogen-powered fuel cells aboard its larger cruise ships.