Royal Caribbean Cruises has announced it will retrofit 19 of its ships with advanced emissions purification (AEP) systems, also known as scrubbers, which will remove more than 97 percent of the sulfur dioxide emissions generated by the ships' diesel engines.
The move will place the cruise line ahead of all forthcoming International Maritime Organization Emission Control Area emissions standards, and will ensure compliance with existing European Union standards. The decision to install AEP systems instead of switching to a fuel with a lower sulfur content will ensure that RCL's ships can be compliant everywhere they sail, as availability of lower-sulfur fuels is limited.
Royal Caribbean has been involved in development, testing and planning for the use of AEP technology since 2010. Two newly built RCL ships that entered into service this year, Royal Caribbean International's Quantum of the Seas and TUI Cruises' Mein Schiff 3, were among the first cruise ships to be built with AEP systems installed during initial construction.
The company says it faced significant challenges in order to accommodate the AEP systems on its existing ships—some pieces of which can be as large as a school bus, an entire system having an operational weight of several hundred tons of equipment and liquids. To ensure the right systems are available for each ship's specific requirements, RCL contracted two different AEP technology suppliers, Swedish company Alfa Laval and Finnish company Wartsila. Additional companies are being hired to execute the installations.
Beginning in January 2015, installation will take place on 13 Royal Caribbean International ships and six Celebrity Cruises ships, during scheduled dry-dockings and while ships are in service. While preliminary work has begun on several of the ships receiving AEP systems, most will take place between 2015 and 2017. Each installation will take approximately eight months.
In March, Royal Caribbean and several other organizations partnered to address climate change and unsustainable development threats to global tourism destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America by helping them "to safeguard their natural and cultural assets, while enhancing communities and securing a vibrant regional economy." The Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas (SDAA) marks the largest-scale effort to date through which public and private entities have united to focus on destination sustainability in the Americas.
Royal Caribbean isn’t the only cruise line working to fight climate change. In November, Carnival Corporation, the world's largest cruise company, announced it reduced its carbon emissions from shipboard operations by 20 percent one year ahead of schedule.
To meet the goal, Carnival and its eight global brands developed energy-reduction and conservation initiatives, many of which exceed current laws and regulations. Carnival pioneered an industry-first effort to develop a new exhaust gas cleaning technology, called ECO-EGC™, that removes pollutants from the exhaust gases at any operating condition of a ship—at sea, during maneuvering and in port.