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Royal Caribbean Cruises orders LNG-fuelled ships

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LNG Industry,

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL) has announced that its newest class of ships will be powered by LNG and introduce the use of fuel cell technology. The ships will join the fleet of Royal Caribbean International.

RCL signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with shipbuilder Meyer Turku for the new class of vessel under the project name ‘Icon’. The vessels will be delivered in 2Q22 and 2Q24. In the meantime, the company confirmed that it will begin testing fuel cell technology on an existing Oasis-class ship next year, and will also run progressively larger fuel cell projects on new Quantum-class vessels being built in the next several years.

Richard Fain, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, said: "With Icon class, we move further in the journey to take the smoke out of our smokestacks […] We are dedicated to innovation, continuous improvement, and environmental responsibility, and Icon gives us the opportunity to deliver against all three of these pillars."

Fain continued: "Increasing the commitment to LNG makes it easier for suppliers to make their own infrastructure commitments […] As more ships are built for LNG, the number of ports that support it will grow."

The Icon ships are expected to run primarily on LNG but will also be able to run on distillate fuel, to accommodate occasional itineraries that call on ports without LNG infrastructure.

Michael Bayley, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said: "Our guests expect us to push every envelope we can […] And on this new class of ship, we began by challenging ourselves to find a new approach to power and propulsion that is safe, reliable, and more energy-efficient than ever before."

Jan Meyer, the CEO of Meyer Turku, added: "Our partnership with RCL has created a number of groundbreaking ship classes, such as Oasis, Celebrity Solstice, Quantum, and Mein Schiff, and we are grateful that Royal Caribbean is again giving us the opportunity to partner with them on a new class of ships."

Harri Kulovaara, RCL's Chief of Ship Design, said: "We believe fuel cells offer very interesting design possibilities […] As the technology becomes smaller and more efficient, fuel cells become more viable in a significant way to power the ship's hotel functions. We will begin testing those possibilities as soon as we can, and look to maximise their use when Icon class debuts […] There is a long lead time for Icon class, and we will use that time to work with Meyer Turku to adapt fuel cell technology for maritime use." Kulovaara said that additional regulatory standards would also need to be developed for the technology.

Because of the long lead time, Kulovaara said that many Icon design elements are in early stages. The Icon ships would likely accommodate approximately 5000 passengers, but details are still being worked out.

This order is contingent upon the completion of contractual conditions, including documentation and financing. Final contracts are expected to be completed by year end.

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