Royal Caribbean Group successfully completes biofuel test

Royal Caribbean Group successfully completes biofuel test

Royal Caribbean Group

Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas (pictured) became the first ship to test and use a biofuel blend in Barcelona

Royal Caribbean Group has successfully completed a test of biofuel onboard Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas, carried out over 12 consecutive weeks in Barcelona, Spain. 

"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.” 

The ship became the first in the maritime industry to successfully test and use a biofuel blend in Barcelona to meet part of its fuel needs. Onboard technical systems were able to meet operational standards without quality or safety concerns, which the company says shows that the blend can be used to reliably supply lower emission energy to ships. The tests across Europe also provided data to help 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 decarbonise the maritime sector,” said Lluís Salvadó, 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 decarbonisation of maritime transport.” 

Royal Caribbean Group began testing biofuels in 2022 and expanded the trial to two additional ships in Europe during Summer 2023 – Symphony of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Apex. The biofuel blends tested were produced by purifying renewable raw materials such as waste oils and fats and combining them with fuel oil to create an alternative fuel. The blends are accredited by International Sustainability and Carbon Certification, an organisation that examines the sustainability of biofuels and verifies reductions of related emissions. 

Both ships completed multiple sailings using biofuel, with Symphony of the Seas departing from the Port of Barcelona and Celebrity Apex departing from the Port of Rotterdam. This provided data on the fuel’s capabilities which will inform Royal Caribbean Group’s plans to continue testing the use of different types of biofuels on European sailings during Autumn 2023. The company is exploring strategic partnerships with suppliers and ports to ensure the availability of biofuels and associated infrastructure. 

Alex Smith
By Alex Smith
20 September 2023