If you think cruise ships look oversized now, wait until you see what they used to be!
Cruise ships have come a long way since their first voyage. They started as small boats carrying only a few people at a time so they could travel between ports without having to stop too often. Today, these massive floating cities hold thousands of passengers and crew members who enjoy a luxurious vacation experience.
Even though cruise ships are enormous, how many gallons of fuel do cruise ships hold? And why is this important? Let’s find out.
The amount of fuel a cruise ship can hold varies and depends on the size and specifications of the specific boat. On average, a cruise ship can save hundreds of thousands to several million gallons of fuel.
What Does That Mean?
The term “fuel” refers to any substance that burns or combusts to produce energy. This includes gasoline, diesel, kerosene, propane, coal, natural gas, wood, charcoal, etc. Most fuels contain hydrocarbons (carbon and hydrogen).
When a vessel uses fuel, some of its energy is converted into heat, which powers everything onboard, including life support systems, air conditioning, ventilation, lights, entertainment systems, cooking equipment, elevators, toilets, and other facilities.
In addition to powering all the amenities aboard your cruise ship, fuel also helps propel them through the water. Larger vessels require larger engines, which need lots of energy to operate correctly. One of Royal Caribbean’s Mariner classes measures over 1,300 feet and has four machines capable of pumping out up to 8,400 horsepower each. These engines alone consume approximately 3,500 gallons of fuel per day.
How Much Fuel Do Ships Use?
There are several ways to calculate precisely how much fuel a ship consumes. One method involves multiplying an average daily distance traveled by the number of gallons of energy required to move that distance.
For example, if a cruise ship sails 40 miles per day and needs 20 gallons of fuel to cover those 40 miles, it would take ten days before the ship runs out of power. However, this formula doesn’t account for the type of fuel being burned. There are different types of management with varying degrees of energy content. As such, it may not always be accurate.
Another approach is to multiply the total number of nautical miles sailed by the price per gallon of fuel consumed. This is called the “gallonage rate.” It provides a quick and easy way to estimate how much money you’ll spend on fuel during your cruise. But again, this calculation doesn’t account for the type of fuel being burned.
The most reliable way to determine how much fuel a cruise ship consumes is via direct measurement using a meter. Some meters even have built-in calculators that allow you to input parameters like engine size, speed, etc., along with the volume of fuel consumed.
The meter calculates how many gallons were burned by entering all of the relevant information. You can then compare the results against the official figures provided by the cruise line.
Why is this Important?
You probably already realize that burning fuel generates harmful emissions like carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and volatile organic compounds. These toxins damage our environment and contribute to climate change.
Unfortunately, cruise ships emit far more pollution than regular passenger vehicles because they constantly switch from port to port. While cruising, cruise lines don’t have to worry about traffic jams or parking tickets. Instead, they can focus solely on providing guests with a relaxing vacation experience.
According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), cruise ships release roughly 500 million tons of CO2 annually, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emission produced by nearly 5 million passenger cars.
If current trends continue, the IMO estimates that global shipping will double its CO2 emissions by 2050. So it’s clear that reducing the environmental impact of cruise ships is essential. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to do this. Here are five tips to help make your next cruise greener.
The Cost of Fuel on Board
Before you start planning your next trip, you should consider how much fuel costs on board. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the average cost of a gallon of fuel ranges from $3.37 to $4.46, depending on where you live. Prices vary based on location, demand, taxes, regulations, and competition.
Most cruise lines charge extra fees for additional fuel usage. For instance, Royal Caribbean charges $0.25 per gallon above the standard rate. Carnival charges $0.10 per gallon above the average rate. Princess Cruises charges $0.05 per gallon above the average rate. Unfortunately, prices tend to increase closer to the departure date due to higher demand.
What Happens When You Run Out?
Hopefully, you won’t ever have to deal with running low on fuel mid-cruise. Most cruise lines provide ample supplies of both diesel and gasoline. However, if you run out of fuel, here’s what you need to know.
First, let’s talk about diesel. Diesel engines are usually equipped with a reserve tank located below the deck. Once the main tanks are empty, the reserve tank fills up automatically. This means you shouldn’t worry about finding a place to refuel.
As for gasoline, most modern cruise ships have two large fuel tanks located amidship. These tanks fill up quickly because high-powered pumps inject liquid fuel directly into the tanks from barges stationed offshore. Depending on the size of the vessel, the barges pump anywhere from 110 to 160 tons of energy into the ship every hour.
If you still run out of fuel after exhausting the reserves, your cruise ship will eventually reach the dry dock. At that point, technicians will install new tanks filled with fresh energy. This process takes several hours and is typically done overnight. The following morning, your ship will resume sailing.
How Do We Get More Fuel?
Unfortunately, fossil fuel isn’t cheap. It’s becoming increasingly expensive due to growing demand. Cruise lines must constantly search for alternative fuel sources to keep up with rising fuel costs. Thankfully, quite a few options are available today, including solar power, wind power, nuclear power, and biofuels.
Solar panels generate electricity by converting sunlight into usable energy. Onboard solar-powered cruise ships, these panels capture sunlight and convert it into electricity. Then the electricity is stored in batteries for later use. Solar panels work well in sunny climates but aren’t ideal for cloudy areas. Because of this, most solar-powered cruise ships prefer to stay close to shore.
Like solar power, wind turbines harness the power of moving air to create electricity. Since wind speeds fluctuate throughout the day, cruise ships can take advantage of winds blowing across open waters. Wind turbines are inexpensive compared to solar panels and require very little maintenance. Plus, they’re completely self-sufficient, meaning they don’t rely on backup generators or fuel storage tanks.
Nuclear reactors generate electricity by splitting atoms. Unlike renewable energy, nuclear power produces a steady supply of electricity 24/7. However, building and maintaining nuclear reactors is incredibly expensive. Also, nuclear plants have radioactive waste that must be safely disposed of. Despite these drawbacks, nuclear power remains an attractive option for cruise lines looking to reduce their fuel costs.
Biofuels are made from plant matter like corn, soybeans, sugarcane, algae, and others. Biofuels offer several advantages over traditional fossil fuels. First, they’re non-polluting. Second, they’re sustainable. Third, they’re cheaper. Fourth, they store more energy than conventional fossil fuels. Finally, they’re easier to transport than oil.
Biofuels are currently available in three primary forms: ethanol, biodiesel, and biobutanol. Ethanol is derived from corn and cane sugars. Biodiesel is made from vegetable oils and animal fats. Biobutanol is another type of biofuel that comes from bacteria.