There’s no sidestepping the fact that today’s cruise industry is hell on the environment. Massive ships produce ungodly amounts of waste, suck Olympic pool-sized amounts of fuel oil every day, and are capable of emitting as much particulate matter into the atmosphere as 1 million cars on a single trip. As a result, marine architects and ship designers around the world are rethinking the real-world possibilities of powering these behemoths with renewable energy. Enter the Peace Boat Ecoship, perhaps the world’s greenest cruise ship.
The ship’s striking silhouette is designed to resemble a whale in motion. At first glance, it’s clearly smaller and more streamlined than today’s average cruise ships. Indeed, the 60,000-ton Ecoship will be capable of carrying “just” 2,000 passengers amid 750 cabins. It’s practically a dinghy compared to record-setters like Royal Caribbean’s new Symphony of the Seas, a 230,000 ton, 16-deck monster with 2,759 staterooms capable of ferrying 5,500 guests.
Peace Boat’s founders are clear about their mission, and it eschews the over-the-top, “more is more” ethos of the current cruise industry. The Ecoship is, first and foremost, about providing a thoroughly modern cruise experience while balancing the ship’s environmental impact. At its core is a revolutionary, bleeding-edge propulsion system that will use ten retractable solar panels that can function as large sails in good wind. The sails will not only propel the ship, but generate much of its power as well. Coupled with a hybrid diesel, or liquified natural gas, engine, the ship will reduce fuel consumption by up to 20 percent and carbon emissions by up to 40 percent. The waste disposal will likewise be state-of-the-art, and make use of the biophilia concept which relies on natural elements like light, water, and air to break down waste products.
Planning for the Ecoship’s construction is in the final stages. The Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Japanese company behind the project, crafted by Spain-based Oliver Design, is anticipating a $500 million price tag. They’re actively seeking crowdfunding opportunities and impact investors — those who aren’t looking to turn a quick profit from their business endeavors, but rather change the world in a meaningful way. With demand for green tourism booming, this could pave the way forward for a more profitable and more eco-friendly cruise industry.
When reservations finally open to commercial passengers, prices are expected to run between $15,000 to $18,000 per person. Relative to a week-long cruise aboard Carnival Cruise Line, that’s a steep price tag, but it includes all travel, meals, onboard activities, and the peace of mind that you’re doing something to help save the planet.