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Royal Caribbean completes over 12 weeks of testing marine biofuel in Europe

Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas is the first in the maritime industry to successfully test and use a biofuel blend in Barcelona, Spain, to reduce the ship’s carbon emissions. (Photo: Royal Caribbean)

Royal Caribbean Group announced Sept. 19 that it has laid important groundwork for the industry’s alternative-fuel ambitions by completing over 12 consecutive weeks of biofuel testing in Europe.

The company’s pursuit to find lower-carbon energy solutions is driven by its SEA the Future commitment to sustaining the planet, energizing communities, and accelerating innovation, Royal Caribbean stated, adding that by introducing methods that reduce emissions today, the company is ultimately advancing the decarbonization of its operations.

“This is a pivotal moment for Royal Caribbean Group’s alternative-fuel journey,” said Jason Liberty, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group. “Following our successful trial of biofuels this summer, we are one step closer to bringing our vision for net-zero cruising to life. As we strive to protect and promote the vibrant oceans we sail, we are determined to accelerate innovation and improve how we deliver vacation experiences responsibly.”

In Barcelona, Spain, Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas became the first ship in the maritime industry Sept. 19 to successfully test and use a biofuel blend in Barcelona to meet part of her fuel needs.

The company confirmed onboard technical systems met operational standards, without quality or safety concerns, demonstrating the biofuel blend is a reliable drop-in supply of lower-emission energy that ships can use to set sail across Europe and beyond.

The tests across Europe also provided valuable data to understand the availability and scalability of biofuel in the region.

“Royal Caribbean’s success is a clear example of how commitment to innovation makes possible the development of solutions to decarbonize the maritime sector,” said Lluís Salvadó, the president of the Port of Barcelona. “In this case, it involves the cruise sector and focuses on biofuels, an area in which the Port of Barcelona is already working to become an energy hub, producing and supplying zero-carbon fuels, such as green hydrogen and ammonia, and of other almost zero-carbon alternative fuels, such as methanol, biofuels or synthetic fuels. Innovation and collaboration between ports and shipping companies is key to accelerate the decarbonization of maritime transport.”

The company began testing biofuels last year and expanded the trial this summer in Europe to two additional ships—Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Apex.

“The sustainable biofuel blends tested were produced by purifying renewable raw materials like waste oils and fats and combining them with fuel oil to create an alternative fuel that is cleaner and more sustainable,” Royal Caribbean stated.

The biofuel blends tested are accredited by International Sustainability and Carbon Certification System GmbH, a globally recognized organization that ensures sustainability of biofuels and verifies reductions of related emissions.

With Symphony of the Seas departing from the Port of Barcelona and Celebrity Apex departing from the Port of Rotterdam, both ships accomplished multiple sailings using biofuel and contributed critical data on the fuel’s capabilities.

These results will help accelerate Royal Caribbean Group’s plans to continue testing the use of different types of biofuels on upcoming European sailings this fall.

The company is exploring strategic partnerships with suppliers and ports to ensure the availability of biofuel and infrastructures to advance the maritime energy transition.



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