Royal Caribbean uses fuel cells to power cleaner cruise ships

Your future sea trips could be virtually emission-free.

Angel Villegas via AP

It's not just ground-based transportation that could stand to benefit from clean-running fuel cells. Cruise ship operator Royal Caribbean has revealed that it's developing a new class of ship, the Icon, that will run on liquified natural gas fuel cells. The move would dramatically reduce the harmful emissions from the vessels (the company hints they'd output nothing more than water) without compromising on reliability or safety. Boats wouldn't be stuck if they have to dock somewhere which can't offer natural gas, either, as they could rely on distillate gas in a pinch.

Tests start with an existing cruise ship in 2017, although you'll have to wait considerably longer for Icon-class ships to take to the seas. Shipbuilder Meyer Turku won't deliver the first example until the second quarter of 2022, and you'll have to wait until 2024 for the second. Still, it's an important step. Pollution is a serious problem in the cruise ship industry, and it may only get worse as the ships get larger. Fuel cells could turn that around very quickly -- you could go on vacation without worrying quite so much about hurting the planet.