Food waste presents a major challenge on cruise ships, both as a financial burden and an environmental concern. The disposal of food waste ashore adds to the complexity of managing waste on board.

While some cruise lines continue to dispose of their food waste at sea, Princess Cruises has taken a proactive step by adopting new food waste digesters onboard its newest cruise ship, Sun Princess, following the lead of other Carnival Corporation cruise lines. 

With 4,300 guests onboard and a crew of 1,500, Sun Princess is one of the biggest cruise ships at sea. One of the issues that cruise lines deal with on a daily basis is processing the massive amount of food waste that the nearly 6,000 people onboard produce every day.

The installation of 26 LFC biodigesters on Princess Cruises’ newest cruise ship, Sun Princess is one way in which Princess Cruises aims to reduce its environmental footprint. These biodigesters use natural aerobic digestion to break down food waste into water, eliminating the need for conventional disposal methods. 

This process not only significantly reduces the environmental impact of waste management but also cuts operational costs. The digesters onboard Sun Princess can handle up to 6000 kg (13200 lb) of food waste daily, marking a massive improvement over previous practices. 

Once the digesters have done their job, the resulting wastewater undergoes treatment in the ship’s treatment facilities. This process continues until the water reaches a quality that is safe for drinking.

Sun Princess Cruise Ship

Under maritime regulations, such as outlined by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and within the limits of MARPOL, ships are allowed to dispose of food waste at sea, provided it is ground to a size that allows it to disperse quickly and at a certain distance from land. While legal under specific conditions, this practice has raised environmental and sustainability concerns.

Read Also: How Do Cruise Ships Get Rid of Human Waste?

Iain Milnes, President of Power Knot, emphasized the importance of the initiative: “The installation of our LFC biodigesters and WEP effluent pumps on the Sun Princess exemplifies our dedication to sustainable waste management solutions. By seamlessly integrating our advanced technology into the ship’s operations, we are contributing to a cleaner, greener future for the cruise industry.”

Princess Cruises is not alone in installing food waste digesters onboard its ships. The practice has been adopted by Carnival Corporation as part of its sustainability initiatives. All, or nearly all cruise ships in the Carnival fleet will see the same technology installed onboard. 

Sun Princess heralds a new era for Princess Cruises as the first LNG-powered cruise ship in the fleet. However, the environmental measures do not stop at LNG and food waste digesters. 

The vessel is equipped with advanced air quality systems; advanced water systems that allow the ship to create its own water supply; energy-efficient LED lighting; an efficient plant with heat and cold recovery systems that reduce emissions on heating and cooling; and an air lubrication system that reduces hull friction.

Sun Princess Cruise Ship

Despite facing initial setbacks, including the cancellation of two inaugural cruises, Sun Princess has now successfully embarked on her maiden 10-day cruise on February 28. 

During her maiden voyage, she will be visiting ports across the Mediterranean, such as Naples and Sicily, Italy; Crete and Athens, Greece; Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey; and Barcelona and Mallorca, Spain.

The Sun Princess boasts a gross tonnage of 177,882 and can host 4,300 guests. Among its standout features is The Dome, a glass-enclosed area inspired by the terraces of Santorini, Greece, offering breathtaking views and transforming at night with acrobatic performances. 

The ship will offer 7 to 21-night Mediterranean cruises through September 14, 2024, before crossing the Atlantic to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where it will spend the winter season cruising the eastern and western Caribbean.

As Sun Princess enjoys its inaugural season, Princess Cruises is already preparing for the launch of its second Sphere Class ship, Star Princess, expected to set sail in 2025.

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