After achieving its carbon reduction target of 35% compared to a 2005 baseline, American cruise holding company Royal Caribbean Group has committed to further reduce emissions by 25% by 2025 from 2019 levels.

This was highlighted in Royal Caribbean’s 13th annual sustainability report.

“In 2018 we achieved our 35% emissions reduction target ahead of schedule. Then from 2019-2020 our emissions intensity increased due to changes in our organizational structure, full year of the Silversea Cruises acquisition, the addition of 12 ships, as well as our suspension of operations due to COVID-19,” the group said in the report.

Apart from the emission reduction goal, the 2020 report documents that the company has met or exceeded nearly all of its 2020 sustainability targets.

“We believe that what gets measured gets better. Sustainability is a core area for our business, and this report reflects our successes and challenges over the past year,” Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group, commented.

“While I’m proud of the progress we have achieved, the importance of this area has grown exponentially. Consistent with our mantra of continuous improvement, we have significantly expanded our aspirations in this critical area and are setting even more aggressive goals for the coming years.”

In 2016, in partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the company set specific, ambitious and measurable 2020 sustainability targets to reduce its environmental footprint, increase sustainable tourism, respect for coastal communities and cultural heritage, and support WWF’s global ocean conservation work. As of this year, Royal Caribbean Group has met or exceeded all of its 2020 goals, with the exception of the sustainable seafood sourcing target, which was impacted by global suspension of service from the pandemic.

The company is working to develop a new set of targets around the reduction of carbon emissions, the sustainable growth and development of our business, sustainable commodity sourcing and tourism, the elimination of single-use plastics, and waste management.

Energy and air emissions

Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants is said to be a critical part of Royal Caribbean’s environmental stewardship strategy.

We are actively researching and assessing progress on technologies such as solar and wind power, biofuels, natural gas, fuel cells, biomass and shore power to determine their efficiencies and viability for the future,” according to the cruise company.

The company said it takes a holistic approach to reducing its environmental impacts. It focuses on four key areas; air, sea, land and natural resources. This strategy is fundamentally connected to ISO 14001 — the leading international environmental management standard.

Since 2000, the company has equipped eight of its ships with gas-turbine engines which burn cleaner fuels and emit less air pollution.

Royal Caribbean
The next world’s largest cruise ship, Wonder of the Seas, is one step closer to its March 2022 debut. Courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

To achieve further emission reduction targets, Royal Caribbean’s next class of ships, Icon-class, expected to launch in 2023, will use cleaner-burning liquefied natural gas and fuel cell technology, which reduces ship emissions.

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What is more, Royal Caribbean began retrofitting its fleet with shore power and introduced its first newbuild with the technology — Celebrity Apex.

Doing so allows the ship to draw energy from the local grid system and eliminate the need to use the ship’s engines while at berth, helping reduce emissions. There are limited ports with shore power offering ships the ability to plug in to shore power globally today and more are developing plans for the future.

In addition to focusing on energy reduction and efficiency, the cruise company believes that it is important to evaluate and invest in alternative abatement technologies for fossil fuel exhaust emissions.

To date, 70% of Royal Caribbean Group vessels are equipped with advanced emissions purification (AEP) systems. These systems help the company meet the requirements set forth by IMO for 2020.

Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Apex, Odyssey of the Seas and all future ships are also designed with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems to reduce NOx to greater than 90%. All of Royal Caribbean’s AEP systems are hybrid systems, meaning they have the ability to operate in open and closed loop mode.

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