“A cruise is fun, a cruise is beautiful.” At least that’s what many holidaymakers think, because the industry is booming. Last year alone, more than three million Germans undertook a journey across the world’s oceans – and the number is rising. No wonder that many shipping companies are currently expanding their fleets and having new ships built.

The credo that is often expressed in public is: Everything is becoming greener. At the same time, there are more and more unusual and luxurious cruise ships on the water. MSC Cruises wants to show that this doesn’t have to be a contradiction with its new lifestyle brand “Exploration Journeys”. The young cruise company put the first of a total of six ships to sea in July 2023.

The plan is to combine high-end luxury and sustainability. That’s why the latest technology was installed on the ship, which has a total of 14 decks and 460 rooms as well as an exclusive leisure area. This means: LPG propulsion, recycling and low-noise operation to protect marine life.

But you still can’t go on board with a clean climate record, as this year’s cruise ranking by the German Nature Conservation Association (Nabu) shows. Accordingly, the switch to other fuels and more environmentally friendly structures on board is just the beginning of the long path to climate neutrality on the high seas. However, other efforts are still needed for large cruise ships, such as the introduction of synthetic methanol as an alternative to conventional fuels. Shipping companies such as Tui Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Lines have already ordered corresponding ships.

When it comes to more sustainable options for cruising, smaller ships are the method of choice. In this context, Nabu particularly highlights the climate protection efforts of Hurtigsten and Havila. Both shipping companies that have their headquarters in Norway. Another shipping company also comes from the Scandinavian country and is currently working on setting standards when it comes to more environmentally friendly cruises: “Northern Xplorer”.

According to its own statements, the young company is working on the first “Zero Emission Travel Cruise”, i.e. on a cruise ship that is truly climate-neutral. The ship, called “MM 140,” is scheduled to be ready in 2026 and will be fully electric using solar and wind power produced on board. Overall, the ship will be smaller and slower than other cruise ships.

However, the whole thing is still a thing of the future. Next year, other calibers from different shipping companies will be phased out, which will also have some new products in store. In the summer of 2024, Tui Cruises will start sailing on the “Mein Schiff 7”, which has been long-awaited by many cruise fans. The ship will primarily sail in Northern Europe and will initially run on marine diesel, but will also have the technical requirements to run on synthetic methanol.

The shipping company Royal Caribbean is bringing a real giant onto the water with the “Icon of the Sea”. The largest cruise ship in the world is scheduled to set sail in January 2024. Powered by liquid gas and with access to shore power, the giant, which can accommodate a total of 7,600 passengers, will enrich the world’s oceans. It remains to be seen whether the ship can dock anywhere. Some ports are now resisting the masses of day tourists leaving the giant steamers, including Amsterdam and Venice. This is also an issue that should be considered in the future, alongside the development of climate-neutral fuels and processes, if you are serious about sustainable tourism.

Sources: NABU, MSC Cruises, Federal Statistical Office, Northern Xplorer