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Nuclear Power for Cruise Ships a Possibility if the Guests Don't Go Nuclear!

Updated: Apr 29, 2022

Cruise Lines have investigated nuclear power, but concerns remain about consumer acceptance.

Nuclear power for cruise ships was among the many forms of fuel discussed at the Seatrade Cruise Global Health Safety panel held in Miami.

Other forms included liquefied natural gas, ammonia, methanol, and fusion power. In addition, Ulstein of Norway recently announced research into using a Thorium Molten Salt Reactor in their new design.

These alternative fuels are being studied as the race for Net Zero Emissions in the cruise industry heats up, and cruise lines look to stop using heavy bunker oil called HFO.

At the Seatrade panel Paal Johansen, SVP & global cruise ship director at DNV, a Norwegian-based Maritime safety organization, said, "There are certain elements of the future fuels that still need to be looked into when it comes to the safety aspect. Ammonia, hydrogen, everybody talks about that. You cannot just put it aboard a cruise ship without evaluating the risks. So, I think that's key for us going forward."

Tom Strang, a veteran safety analyst and SVP maritime affairs at Carnival Corp. & plc, said there are concerns about public perception with nuclear power. He said, 'We've looked at nuclear, traditional nuclear fission. My own company, we've done studies in the past. I won't say there aren't technical challenges. There are. But obviously, the biggest challenge has always been societal acceptance. He added that the vast majority of nuclear ships are naval vessels, and they have phenomenal safety record but training a civilian nuclear technical force would be a massive challenge.

When asked about Carnival boss Arnold Donald's comment that nuclear could be the way in the future, Stang responded, "Our job is to make sure it's safe,' Strang said. 'We carry the most responsive cargo in the world. Obviously, I'm with Arnold, but it's a little ways away. Let's walk before we run or jump." He added that there isn't even a commercial fusion reactor on land yet, much less at sea.

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