The cruise industry, often criticised for being environmentally unfriendly, and facing tighter international regulations over fuel emissions, made a surprising contribution to the COP21 climate change conference in Paris.

Japanese NGO Peace Boat came up with an innovative concept for a 1,900-passenger ship with 10 retractable sail masts and a hybrid propulsion system that could be adapted to future fuels such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), claiming it would be the flagship for green technology in passenger shipping.

If funds can be found, the Ecoship could enter service in 2020 – by which time, Carnival Corporation will have already built cruise ships powered by LNG. Norwegian coastal operator Hurtigruten also told COP21 that it was hoping to develop expedition ships powered by battery technology and algae fuel. It has environmental NGO, with ambitions to provide zero emission cruises.

But are the plans just hot air?

One leading UK cruise agent played down the hopes of rapid advances in clean technology. James Cole, managing director of, welcomes the moves, but fears they may take longer to materialise. “By 2020 there will undoubtedly be more eco technology and focus within cruising, but a fully eco ship is unrealistic,” he said. Cole sees international passengers showing more
interest in going green than his UK customers.

And is Captain Greybeard showing his cynical side in thinking that for some companies, the use of solar panels and the introduction of developments such as fuel-saving bubble technology are as much about reducing costs as saving the planet?

You can read more articles from Captain Greybeard in the December/January 2016 edition of World of Cruising magazine which is available now. You can subscribe to future editions of the magazine here.