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Time for a new low impact cruise line


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Today there are a few of us that are interested in a lower carbon /lower emissions cruise product.  But this number should increase.  By a lot.  Please no weather/political/sunspots debates here.  The bunkering barge of heavy fuel oil alongside as you load ships today for each voyage is hard to greenwash.


For me, being at sea on a cruise is what I like.  Do I have to be going 24 knots, do I need an ice skating rink, do I have to have to have 15 restaurants, not really.  I might be alone.  


So, a low impact ship could be modified to such a requirement. 


I saw a photo of a (1980s) German made 400' cruise ferry laid up a few weeks back.  I had an idea for a Go Fund Me new cruise line.  Current cruise lines won't like it but here goes:  


Buy the ship or lease it.  Refurbish the cabins.  No balconies will be a problem sadly.   However, man made ocean dead zones like in the Gulf of Mexico emit poison hydrogen sulfide gas- you might not want a balcony.  Take the car deck and add a theater, and other public places and maybe some more cabins.  Take part of it and add LNG tanks.  Possibly convert the current diesels to LNG- or newer, smaller ones would be added.  Top speed can be reduced, (this was done with the SS Norway), some hotel load can be offloaded to solar.  Add high efficiency HVAC gear.   And new environmental systems as needed.   


Next add solar panels covering the outside and upper roofs.  Then some large batteries such as those from Tesla.  The ship could be charged from a shoreside solar plant.  Then some Flettner rotors.  These are now well proven in cargo ship/ ferry service.  




The idea is you would have a cruise product with limited/40% (making up a number) reduced carbon footprint.   Maybe you could contact the running of the vessel to one of the smaller lines- BPCL etc.  The ship would have limited services, and be slow, but much more sustainable.   


If it takes off (Viking, etc. are developing new eco friendly ships) you can build a shiny new ship to spec.  




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Edited by ew101
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I suspect somebody will do this.  The people on the cruises I have been on tended to be well-educated, fairly well-informed and cared about damaging the environment, but want to go on cruises.  I would guess there is a demand for cruise ships that use cleaner fuel and produce less CO2 per distance travelled.  Personally, I would not expect the initial ones to be perfect, but experimental compromises.  Just as some of us were content to pay extra for green energy at home, there will be people who are up for this and will ay a premium for it.  And I think the novelty factor might attract people.


There will be critics and cynics, as there always are.  (The best effort at green criticism I've seen so far: pointing out Greta Thunberg's School Strike poster had been written with a plastic-cased marker pen.)


One challenge will be getting the balance right between giving a pleasant holiday experience to the passengers and keeping to the ethics of the concept.


Incidentally, rather than / in addition to wind turbines that generate electricity to provide propulsion, how about having sails?  🙂

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I'm a sailor and have never associated sailing with keeping a schedule.  But yes you could start with a Windstar type design.  Those vessels can be sailed a little in the right winds.  I was thinking about the hotel electrical load, which is non trivial.  On a normal ship that requires 1/4 or 2/6 diesels, more in the summer.  

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Only teeny-weeny SAIL powered vessels would come remotely close to being Eco-friendly. LNG fuel to move a mass of steel, scheduled stops and chilled wine by the glass and such do not lend themselves to being of a Low-Carbon footprint  business model no matter what anyone says. Unfortunately, Cruising by its nature is a discretionary spending Energy Hog compared to, say, staying at home with a Kindle Travel book 

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On ‎11‎/‎26‎/‎2019 at 4:50 PM, ew101 said:

I'm a sailor and have never associated sailing with keeping a schedule.  But yes you could start with a Windstar type design.  Those vessels can be sailed a little in the right winds.  I was thinking about the hotel electrical load, which is non trivial.  On a normal ship that requires 1/4 or 2/6 diesels, more in the summer.  

Q: Do you know if, in fact, Windstar vessels travel appreciable distances under sail power? I have seen them in Ports o Call, but never will sails unfurled except for 'Photo-Ops'. My sailing days asea are but a distant but pleasant memory

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I just re-read the Joseph Novitski 1987 book on the Windstar.  She has an undersized sailing rig, but can travel as fast as 10.8 knots under sail alone, and uses the sails 75% of the time.  Sailing without engines seems to be at 6 knots if the wind is right- on the beam- she sails poorly to windward or downwind.  The best operating mode is sailing with 750kw (~1000 hp) of engine power applied.  The old clipper ships (with a more correct rig) did 7.5 knots.  


I was thinking an eco friendly cruise ship could have a solar farm at ports, and lots of batteries.  Tesla will sell enough batteries for 1000 hp for 8 hours for $2.4M or so.  The idea is to go say West Palm Beach to Grand Bahama, charge while docked, then go to the next port, say Nassau, and charge while docked.  I think storing 8 hours worth of electricity seems possible.  You could also make and store hydrogen (which can run an engine or fuel cells) at an inland facility with larger solar panels.  Or some fuel from algae.  Some current biofuels are dodgy from an energy input vs output standpoint.    


As was suggested above, the technology to do this at scale seems limited.  So converting a ferry and using the car deck for energy storage seems a start.  Just the hotel power load is significant.  You might need 1000 hp just for the air conditioning on a smallish ferry.    



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  • 1 month later...
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I love cruising but also want to keep the environment healthy. Cruising along with most forms of tourism may never be better for the environment than just staying home, but people will continue to travel and cruise. Being more sustainable will be good for everyone.


I know LNG has someone controversies since studies show it may be worse for the environment due to methane leaks. Alternatives in the current time until technology improves seems to be using Shore power which more cruises are doing, especially since California made it law for ships to use it while in port.


Another option is using Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) to reduce NOx emissions. I think new Celebrity, MSC, and maybe Royal Caribbean ships are using it.

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I'm hoping Hydrogen will catch on eventually. Right now it tends to work well when there are a limited number of destinations, as those points could serve for refueling (i.e., a ferry). 


If you go to https://energy.sandia.gov/programs/sustainable-transportation/hydrogen/fuel-cells/maritime-applications/ and download the report "Practical Application Limits of Fuel Cells and Batteries for Zero-Emission Vessels", the results for Liquid Hydrogen are quite encouraging. If you assume hotel load would essentially be half the electrical requirements, a vessel like Pride of Hull (pages 39-40) could theoretically go around 1,000 nautical miles between fill-ups. My first Cruise was not even 900 nautical miles, although I suspect it would take at least 3 times as much fuel to power the Carnival Sunshine as it would the Pride of Hull.

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