FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.--Carnival Cruise Line said Wednesday it has signed an agreement with a Shell subsidiary to provide fuel for two new ships it says will be the first fully LNG-powered ships in North America.
The new 180,000-ton ships -- slated for debuts in 2020 and 2022 -- are being built with a next-generation "green cruising" design and will accommodate roughly 5,200 passengers at double occupancy, Carnival said.
Through the agreement, Shell NA LNG LLC will supply Carnival's two largest ships with liquefied natural gas, which is considered the world's cleanest burning fossil fuel.
The ships would be refueled using Shell's LNG Bunker Barge, a first of its kind facility in the U.S. that will allow the vessels to refuel with LNG at ports along the nation's east coast.
The vessels will be fully powered by LNG while in port and at sea, a move that will improve air quality by producing cleaner emissions and more efficient ships, according to Carnival.
In announcing the agreement, Carnival President Christine Duffy said the cruise line is "strongly committed to leading the way in the implementation of technology innovations to help protect the environment and support our aggressive sustainability goals."
The two new ships "will not only be the largest and most technologically advanced in our fleet but will break extraordinary new ground as the first LNG-powered cruise ships in North America," Duffy said.
In recent years other cruise companies including Royal Caribbean and MSC have announced plans to build LNG-powered ships, while others like Norwegian are equipping vessels with technology to reduce exhaust emissions as part of the cruise industry's overall efforts to lessen its carbon footprint and help protect the environment.
The agreement enhances existing partnerships between parent company Carnival Corp. and Shell to supply LNG fuel to other new ships in the construction pipeline for its European brands AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises, officials said.
Among the new AIDA ships are AIDAnova, which celebrated its keel-laying in September. It will join AIDA's fleet in fall 2018, while another LNG ship is slated for delivery in 2021.
"This agreement is a significant stepping stone in our relationship with Carnival Corp. building upon our previous LNG marine fuel supply agreements in Europe," said Tahir Faruqui, president, Shell NA LNG. "It also marks a milestone as we continue to establish the marine LNG fuel market in the U.S. as a credible part of the global marine fuel mix."
Carnival Corp. has commissioned seven LNG-powered ships to be built for four of its nine cruise brands. Two others are earmarked for Costa Cruises for delivery in 2019 and 2021 and one for P&O Cruises UK for debut in 2020.
Tom Strang, Carnival Corp. senior vice president of maritime affairs, said he hopes the LNG deal "will be the first step in building a strong foundation for the future of LNG fuel supply for cruise ships in the region."
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