MSC Cruises, AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises have all confirmed that they are not fuelling their Dubai-based cruise ships with LNG, but are instead using regular MGO, due to issues with availability and pricing.
All three cruise lines are homeporting LNG-fuelled cruise ships in Dubai for the current winter cruise season, which runs from November to March, but all three vessels (MSC World Europa, AIDAcosma and Costa Toscana) are instead running on marine grade oil. LNG ships are typically dual-fuel, giving them the option of running on either gas or oil.
A spokesperson for MSC Cruises said the move was due to the high cost of LNG, while AIDA and Costa Cruises, both part of Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company, said they were unable to refuel with LNG due to a lack of LNG bunkering in the UAE.
There are plans to establish LNG bunkering in the UAE, however, with Samuel Lazar, manager, technical (gas), ship management, at ADNOC Logistics & Services having told S&P Global Platts in December 2021 that they were looking to develop LNG bunkering in Jebel Ali or Fujairah.
In February last year, Captain Salem al-Hamoudi, director of the Fujairah Oil Industry Zone, told a virtual workshop organized by Dubai-based Gulf Intelligence that the Port of Fujairah may soon introduce LNG bunkering operations. Hamoudi didn’t provide further details on the LNG bunkering project, but it is certainly in demand from the cruise industry.
Speaking at an event in Europe, Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, reiterated that the cruise line intends to lead the cruise industry transition to more sustainable fuels.
“I want to reiterate that cruising, which only represents 3% of CO2 emissions from the maritime sector, is spearheading innovation for the entire maritime industry and well beyond it, benefiting civil society,” he said.
“But we need to move now to secure a supply of renewable fuels at the scale required not just for cruise but for the entire maritime sector,” he added.
Vago was speaking specifically about renewable fuels, not LNG, but the cruise line has committed to using LNG on several of its newer cruise ships, including the World-class, which has been deployed in the Middle East, while all four of its cruise ships on order are LNG-fuelled.
MSC Cruises’ interest in biofuels is promising as biofuel bunkering is now available in Dubai at Port Rashid. AIDA Cruises has also indicated plans to expand its use of biofuels, and because LNG-powered ships can be converted to run on biofuel fairly easily, this may be an option for cruise lines operating in Dubai.