Silversea Cruises’ Silver Nova is the first ship in its Project Evolution fleet of sustainable luxury oceanliners to run on hybrid fuel sources.
Aiming for a mid-August 2023 launch, the luxury travel brand Silversea Cruises says it has achieved a cruise industry first: a hybrid ship that protects the oceanic destinations it serves. The Silver Nova will be emissions-free in port, running on fuel cells and batteries and operating with liquefied natural gas as its main fuel source while at sea.
“Our Nova class ships represent a significant investment in unprecedented technological solutions. They support our mission to preserve the planet without compromising on comfort or luxury,” Roberto Martinoli, President and CEO of Silversea Cruises, said in a statement. “Silver Nova is the manifestation of Silversea and Royal Caribbean Group’s long-term commitment to sustainability.”
According to Silversea, the new hybrid technology will achieve a 40 percent overall reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions per double suite when compared to its previous Muse class of ships.
Silversea says it has also begun construction on its second Nova-class ship, the Silver Ray. It’s expected to set sail in 2024.
“We are proud to have started constructing Silver Ray in collaboration with Meyer Werft, as we continue to push boundaries in sustainable travel,” Martinoli said.
Cruise ship’s impact on the oceans and climate
Greenhouse gases pose a number of problems for the world’s oceans. As the gases trap more of the sun’s energy, oceans absorb more heat, which increases ocean temperatures and rising sea levels. These changes to ocean temperatures and currents trigger climate change events across the globe. The more acidified the oceans become, these important carbon sinks become less capable of absorbing CO2.
According to the Global Sustainable Tourism Dashboard, the cruise ship industry has been making strides to reduce its CO2 emissions, but it’s still got a long way to go. Based on 2017 data, the industry saw more than 25 million passengers, each creating more than 0.82 tonnes of CO2 emissions per cruise. That’s the equivalent of a round-trip airplane ticket between London and Tokyo. The cruise ship industry makes up about 0.2 percent of all global emissions. The greater maritime industry produces more than three percent of all emissions.
“Sustainability is the future of luxury travel and the name Silver Nova is representative of the incredible innovation of Silversea’s luxury,” said Barbara Muckermann, Chief Commercial Officer. “Silversea is already a leader in environmentally conscious travel and now, with Silver Nova, we will go even further to meet the expectations of both today’s and tomorrow’s luxury traveler.”
The future of ocean travel
The ship is expected to earn an Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) rating approximately 25 percent better than applicable International Maritime Organization (IMO) requirements. Silver Nova will feature a micro auto gasification system aimed at reducing onboard waste volume and lowering incineration emissions. And the ship’s use of shore power will allow it to shut down main generators while at select ports, using available plug-in energy sources—cutting all onboard emissions while docked to zero.
The first Silver Nova is currently under construction Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany. The shipyard is known for its work in developing environmentally friendly and energy-efficient technologies for ships.
“We are delighted to begin the construction of this innovative ship and to continue our long partnership with Royal Caribbean Group. This day is a very special one for us, as it is the first time that a Silversea ship is being built at our shipyard,” says Bernard Meyer, Managing Director of Meyer Werft.
Its launch date was moved back from July 2023 to August, however.
“Given the worldwide issues that have affected the construction of Silver Nova, it has been decided to amend her launch date by approximately one month—in order to uphold the signature level of experience that our discerning guests have come to expect when travelling with Silversea,” Martinoli said.
The ultra-luxurious Silver Nova will be one of the most spacious cruise ships to date, according to the company, with aspace-to-guest ratio of 75 GRT-per-passenger—the highest in Silversea’s fleet. It can house 728 guests at maximum capacity. The ship will also offer a crew-to-guest ratio of 1:1.3, including butler service for all suites.
The announcement comes as luxury yachts have seen an uptick in sustainability initiatives as well. Somnio, the world’s largest superyacht, is going to run entirely on clean technology. The permanent residence ship, with 29 invite-only condominiums, is expected to set sail in 2024.
Elsewhere, superyacht concepts like those by Norwegian designer Kurt Strand, are showcasing sustainable fuel technologies and emphasis on ocean conservation.