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BLOG: Cruise is the public face of sustainable shipping

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Cruise ships are unique in the maritime industry because every day they are in direct contact with thousands of people around the world, putting those ships in the spotlights of media and public opinion everywhere they go. In the public’s eye, cruise vessels mirror shipping’s relationships with safety, the environment and sustainability.

It’s those public perceptions that are driving change in the cruise industry, providing an example for the rest of the shipping industry to follow. My goal is for Lloyd’s Register (LR) to provide leadership to all stakeholders in the cruise sector, helping advances toward a more sustainable future. LR has a particular responsibility as the society that classes the largest number of cruise vessels worldwide.

It’s evident from the future order book that the cruise industry sees sustainability as a high priority. According to the Cruise Line Industry Association, 61% of cruise ship new builds will use LNG as their primary fuel source. 98% of the new build order book over the next 5 years is scheduled to be fitted with shore-side electrical power systems or will be configured to allow the addition of shore-side power in the future.

While there is progress, it’s important to recognise that the challenges of safety and sustainability across the maritime industry are too large for any organisation to tackle alone. Collaboration is key. That is why LR’s Chief Marketing Officer, Philippa Charlton, was proud to open the Safety and Sustainability Theater at Seatrade Cruise Global in March of 2023 - sponsored by LR – to provide a global forum for discussion. My colleague, LR’s Chief Commercial Officer, Andy McKeran, took part in a roundtable debate on the pathway to sustainable cruise voyages, focusing on the use of alternative fuels. I hosted another debate which examined how to minimise waste in the cruise industry, exploring opportunities to recycle materials, eliminate hazardous chemicals and improve waste management, and by building ‘circularity’ in design, increasing the productivity of resources and minimising carbon emissions.

That concept of circularity will be another driver in finding solutions to the enormous challenges of the maritime energy transition in the cruise industry. The ships designed today will be in operation for more than 30 years, but it's difficult to predict the demands that will be made of them in the future. Considering a ship’s entire lifecycle in its initial design will be the key to meeting the future net zero demands of regulators and customers alike. The evidence from what I heard at Seatrade Cruise Global is that the net zero challenge has been accepted and action is underway.

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