Royal Caribbean has announced they have entered into an agreement with Meyer Group to build two ships that will be part of a new class of ships called Icon class. Details are still scarce but what is know is they will be built in Meyer’s Turku, Finland yard and carry 5,000 pax. Delivery will be 2022 and 2024.
Like rival Carnival Corp’s newbuilds in the same timeframe, they also will be powered on LNG. Unlike Carnival’s ships, Royal’s, with the cooperation of Meyer, will test new fuel cell technology onboard. They probably wouldn’t be able to use it to power the propulsion units, but can handle power needed for the hotel functions on the ship.
At a big maritime conference last month in Germany called SMM, Meyer announced they partnered with thyssenkrupp Marine Systems to develop and innovate on existing fuel cell technology for maritime uses.
Fuel Cell is a fancy word for a combustion engine that burns at a much lower temperature. Since it’s lower, you can burn substances other than fossil fuels. If hydrogen is used as a fuel source, then the exhaust is merely water. If you use LNG as a source then, while it still emits an exhaust, it’s significantly less than a typical marine combustion engine. Fuel cell is still in it’s infancy and that’s why the partnership called for exploratory studies in the meantime.