Royal Caribbean Group’s ultra-luxury brand Silversea Cruises has announced plans to launch a hybrid-powered ship, which will include a hydrogen fuel cell, in summer 2023.

This ship is said to be the cruise industry’s first such vessel, with the hybrid solution enabling the ship to be local emissions-free while docked at ports.

The new class of vessels, named Project Evolution, will use a trio of power sources, including the fuel cell system, battery technology and dual-fuel engines, which will use liquefied natural gas (LNG) as the primary fuel.

Compared with the company’s previous class of ships, Project Evolution is expected to attain a 40% overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per double occupancy as a result of the new hybrid technology.

Additionally, Project Evolution is anticipated to reach an energy efficiency design index (EEDI) rating which will be ‘25% better’ than applicable International Maritime Organisation (IMO) requirements.

The entire suite of initiatives for the ship class has been developed in collaboration with Meyer Werft Shipyard.

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The hydrogen-based fuel cell system will contribute to the main power supply as well as carry the vessel’s total hotel load up to four megawatts.

According to the company, this is the first large-scale fuel-cell installation at sea in the cruise sector.

The vessels will feature LNG-powered propulsion systems that produce less carbon and 97% fewer particulates than normal fuel oil.

A bank of batteries on board the ships will streamline the overall ship power system and help reduce fuel consumption.

Project Evolution will also be equipped with a newly developed Micro Auto Gasification System (MAGS) that minimises the waste volume on board.

Royal Caribbean Group chairman and CEO Richard Fain said: “Silversea’s newest ship class is a significant leap forward in our commitment to sustainable ship design and our journey to reduce our environmental footprint.

“We first announced our fuel cell ambitions several years ago. Through dedication and perseverance, we are now proud to introduce the first ship with large-scale fuel cell technology capable of achieving emission-free port operations.”

In January, Fincantieri floated out Silver Dawn, a new Silversea Cruises ship, for the first time at its Ancona shipyard in Italy.