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Innovative technology

Innovative technology

Development of alternatives

One of the key challenges in environmental protection is reducing emissions – sulfur and nitrogen oxides as well as particulate matter, for example. To reduce these emissions even further in the future, we are committed to the development of alternative methods to generate and use power in maritime transport.

It’s full speed ahead in the application of innovative environmental and efficient technologies. As the German market leader, we feel we have a particular responsibility to set an example and thus be a technological pioneer.


An intensive exchange of knowledge, ideas and different points of view fosters our continuing further development.


AIDAprima sets new standards in climate and environmental protection

AIDAprima sets new standards

With the commissioning of our latest fleet member, AIDAprima, AIDA Cruises is setting new standards in the cruise industry with regards to environmental and climate protection.

Already during the contracting of the new ship, we took the technologies into account that were available at the time in order to build a ship that meets the highest requirements and is as environmentally friendly as possible.

Currently, no other cruise ship has more modern eco-technology on board. AIDAprima is the world's first cruise ship equipped with a dual-fuel engine and that can be operated with low-emission liquefied natural gas (LNG) when docked at port.

It also features two shoreside power supplies and an onboard three-tier system for exhaust aftertreatment that reduces soot particles, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur oxides by 90 to 99 percent. As a result, AIDAprima is already equipped with all forms of low-emission energy generation that are technically available today. Its striking design with a perpendicular bow and optimized hull lines ensures improved hydrodynamics.

AIDAprima sets new standards in climate and environmental protection

Further new features aimed at reducing propulsion energy include state-of-the-art pod drives and the innovative MALS technology. Thanks to this, AIDAprima is the first cruise ship to glide on a carpet of air bubbles with very little friction. Ultramodern technologies such as absorption chillers and comprehensive heat recovery make for one of the most highly energy-efficient hotel and restaurant operations sailing the oceans.

On board AIDAprima, numerous innovative and new technologies are utilized that once again demonstrate our strength in innovation. The other ships in our fleet are also operated according to the highest environmental standards, which continually improves our environmental performance.

The following sections provide detailed information on the measures we are taking.

LNG – The fuel of the future at AIDA

Of all the fossil fuels that are currently available, LNG is the most environmentally friendly. According to the current state of technology, using LNG is the option with the lowest emissions that can be used to operate a cruise ship.

Compared to using conventional marine diesel with 0.1 percent sulfur content, emissions will be significantly reduced even further by using LNG. Sulfur oxides and soot particles can be almost prevented. Nitrogen oxide emissions are reduced by up to 80 percent and CO2 emissions are reduced by 20 percent (see graph).

AIDA Cruises is a pioneer in the use of LNG in the cruise industry.
We are convinced that future generations of cruise ships can be operated with LNG in the most environmentally friendly manner: We believe in the “LNG revolution” and are at the forefront of this development in the cruise industry.
AIDAprima is the world's first cruise ship to feature a duel-fuel engine and can be supplied with low-emission LNG while in port. In Hamburg, AIDA Cruises also established another groundbreaking pilot project with Becker Marine Systems and the LNG Hybrid Barge, in order to operate existing ships, which are capable of being powered from shore, with power from LNG. Since May 2015, AIDAsol has been supplied with power from LNG during docking times at the HafenCity in Hamburg. We are convinced that our path is also a clear signal to ports and LNG producers to invest in the necessary infrastructure.

Michael Thamm as CEO of the Costa Group has set a clear signal in commissioning two new pure LNG ships for AIDA in 2015. The next generation of ships, which will be put into service starting in 2019, will be operated 100 percent with LNG under the concept of “Green Cruising.”

Guests will travel with low emissions on this generation of ships. In about five years, nearly half of all AIDA guests will be traveling on ships that are equipped to use LNG.

The potential of LNG as an environmentally friendly fuel is, however, far from being fully exhausted. New methods of energy production, such as “Power to Gas” or “Sludge to Gas” offer the possibility of obtaining LNG free from CO2. AIDA Cruises supports the advancement of these approaches.

Excursion: What is LNG?

Excursion: What is LNG?

LNG or “liquefied natural gas” is produced from natural gas, a carbon compound, which mainly consists of methane (as well as ethane, propane, butane, ethylene, and pentane).

At temperatures below - 160° Celsius, under atmospheric pressure, natural gas becomes liquid and can therefore be better stored and transported. Thermally insulated tank containers are used for storage, which can be transported by truck, rail or tanker.

LNG is produced not only from fossil deposits, but it can also be produced using renewable energy sources. LNG can be produced from 100 percent renewable energy, as a kind of storage medium for excess green electricity (for example from wind power), the so-called “Power to Gas.”

With LNG from “Power to Gas,” even a low-CO2 cruise is a possibility. By means of water electrolysis with partially downstream methanation, a fuel gas is produced by using green power (excess wind or solar power).

LNG operation with dual-fuel motors

AIDAprima is supplied with LNG in Hamburg

To protect our environment, we are already prepared now for the requirements of tomorrow. With the prospect of expanding onshore infrastructure for the use of liquefied gas (LNG) in the future, we equipped AIDAprima with a dual-fuel motor, making it the first ship in the world of its kind. In addition to conventional fuels, it can also use low-emission liquefied natural gas (LNG) to generate energy.

AIDAprima will be the first cruise ship in the world to be supplied with environmentally friendly liquefied natural gas (LNG) in ports along its Metropolitan Cruise. This is one of a kind in the cruise industry and provides a significant contribution to reducing emissions while in port. For when the ship is operated with LNG, it no longer generates emissions from soot particles and sulfur oxides.

After the first successful test run for the LNG supply of AIDAprima in Hamburg on May 7, 2016, the ship has also been supplied with LNG in the ports of Southampton, Le Havre and Zeebrügge in test operation since mid-May 2016. The first LNG supply for Rotterdam is scheduled for October 2016.

LNG operation with dual fuel engines

For AIDAprima, LNG operation begins after completion of the docking maneuver and lasts until the ship initiates cast off in the port. The total docking time in port is approx. 10 hours, two of which are required to set up and remove the energy supply connection to land. During the remaining eight hours, i.e. 80 percent of the total docking time, the entire electricity needs of AIDAprima are covered by LNG. Supply is carried out via LNG trucks.

With the next generation of ships, AIDA will go one step further. On June 15, 2015, AIDA Cruises announced that it is continuing its long-standing strategic partnership with the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg with an order for two new ships of the latest AIDA ship generation. The ships will join the AIDA fleet starting in 2019 and will be the world's first cruise ships to operate 100 percent with LNG under the “Green Cruising” concept.

Safety in using LNG for ship operation

Safety is paramount at all times for AIDA Cruises. The use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for ship operations in a novelty; however, it it not riskier than other fuels, on the contrary.

The use of LNG as a marine fuel is regulated by the “International Code of Safety for Ships using Gas or other Low Flashpoint Fuels” (IGF Code). By means of the IGF Code, the risks associated with the fuels used for the ship, the crew, and the environment are reduced as much as possible. The Code contains mandatory rules for the assembly, installation, control and monitoring of machines, equipment and systems, in which fuels with a low flashpoint (such as LNG) are used.

LNG has an excellent safety profile:

  • Although much energy is stored in LNG, when released, the energy is not able escape fast enough to generate sufficient pressure for an explosion.
  • The auto-ignition temperature of LNG is 580° C and much higher than that of diesel with 250° C.

All crew members of AIDA Cruises who work directly with LNG receive special training and certifications for safely handling natural gas in addition to their normal training.

LNG Hybrid Barge

LNG Hybrid Barge

In Hamburg, AIDA Cruises established another groundbreaking pilot project with Becker Marine Systems, in order to operate existing ships, which are capable of being powered from shore, with power from LNG by using the LNG Hybrid Barge.

Thanks to the use of this floating LNG power plant, emissions and particle discharge are significantly reduced. In the gas processing plant, the cryogenic (-163°C), liquid gas is heated and then passed on to the generators, which produce electricity for the operation of the ship while in port. The power provided by a total of five gas motors on the LNG Hybrid Barge is 7.5 megawatts.

LNG Hybrid Barge

In contrast to using traditional marine diesel with 0.1 percent sulfur, emissions from using liquefied natural gas to generate power on the LNG hybrid barge will once again be considerably reduced: Sulfur oxides and soot particles can be almost prevented. Nitrogen oxide emissions will be reduced by up to 80 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent.

The world’s first LNG Hybrid Barge of Becker Marine Systems was christened with the name “Hummel” on October 18, 2014, in HafenCity Hamburg. Since May 2015, AIDAsol has been supplied with power from LNG during docking times at the HafenCity in Hamburg.

With this pilot project, Becker Marine Systems and AIDA Cruises have jointly set an example for environmental and climate protection, not only for the Hanseatic City of Hamburg but for the entire maritime industry.

The pioneering approach to low-emission energy supply for cruise ships has found great recognition among groups of experts: AIDA Cruises and Becker Marine Systems were awarded the Seatrade Award 2015 in the category “Environmental Initiative of the Year” as well as with the GreenTec Award 2015 from the German Travel Association (DRV) in the category “Travel” for the LNG Hybrid Barge. In 2013, AIDA Cruises and Becker Marine Systems received the Baltic Sea Clean Maritime Award 2013 in the category “Environmentally Friendly Infrastructure Development” in the Baltic Sea region for the innovative concept of the LNG Hybrid Barge.

Exhaust treatment technology

Exhaust treatment technology

The stated aim of AIDA Cruises is to reduce emissions from its fleet as much as possible, in particular emissions of soot particles as well as sulfur and nitrogen oxides.

AIDAprima has an unprecedented three-tier system for exhaust aftertreatment. After years of research within the Carnival Group, we have succeeded for the first time in constructing and combining all three components needed for reducing emissions of soot particles and sulfur and nitrogen oxides in a compact manner, so that as a system it can be fitted in a cruise ship.

Nitrogen oxides are chemically bound in a catalytic converter, and soot and fuel residues are precipitated in a filter. The sulfur oxides are removed in a scrubber without any chemicals being added. With this currently unrivaled technology, we have been able to filter emissions from soot particles, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur oxide for the first time, thereby reducing them between 90 and 99 percent. Simultaneously, we reduce carbon monoxide emissions by 70 percent and emissions of unburned hydrocarbons by 85 percent.

The multistage exhaust aftertreatment system on board AIDAprima is a completely new system. There are a variety of standards, legal framework conditions and licensing procedures. These must first be brought together by the relevant authorities. For this purpose, AIDA Cruises has been active on a working-level with the EU and the federal government for many years.

The approval processes are accordingly very complex and commissioning the exhaust treatment system is also no trivial process. Rather, the entire process consists of the gradual commissioning and approval of individual components. Currently, numerous tests and calibrations are being conducted as well as the approval process for the comprehensive system for exhaust aftertreatment.

Exhaust treatment technology

At AIDA, we do not just want to set the bar with our new ships, we also want to continually improve the eco-balance of our entire fleet. Therefore, we are also gradually equipping our other ships with exhaust treatment systems. The main challenge here is that each system must be customized and made to fit in the space available on existing ships.

Currently, we have equipped four ships with the first stage of the new exhaust treatment system. This reduces sulfur oxides by about 99 percent and filters a large portion of particulate matter from the exhaust.

Shoreside power

Shoreside power

On average, AIDA ships spend 40 percent of their operating time in port. They must also have a power supply there to ensure onboard operations can continue. In port, shoreside power can be an environmentally friendly option, as fuel no longer needs to be burned for power generation on board.

Of the current 11 ships in the AIDA fleet, two of the ships (AIDAprima and AIDAsol) feature shoreside connections. Further six ships put into service starting in 2007 are already equipped for shoreside power. Moreover, all three new ships that we will put into operation in the next few years will be equipped with shoreside power connections. Once the infrastructure is established, we will be able to operate with greater flexibility.

We support ports where genuine possibilities for shoreside power supply are being created. In September 2013, the Senate of Hamburg adopted a resolution for introducing shoreside power in the port of the Hanseatic City and has thereby given the green light for provision of the corresponding infrastructure.

On June 3, 2016, the first shoreside power plant for cruise ships in Europe was inaugurated upon the arrival of AIDAsol at the Altona cruise terminal. AIDA Cruises is currently the only cruise company to support this pilot project with AIDAsol. Power transfer to the ship will be carried out step by step until a safe and reliable regular operation has been established. We we working with all partners involved to move this project from the test phase to regular operation.

For us, it is essential that shoreside power generation for use on AIDA ships be generated in a manner that is more environmentally friendly than with the modern systems on board the ships themselves. Shoreside power only contributes to protecting the environment if it uses green electricity.

Hydrodynamics and MALS technology

In addition to reducing emissions, increased efficiency is a key factor in eco-friendly ship operation. Compared to AIDAstella, the newest ship of the last AIDA generation, AIDAprima uses around 20 percent less operating power per person on board thanks to various measures.

Hydrodynamic optimization of AIDAprima alone contributes to around 10 percent savings in energy. Through its striking design with a perpendicular bow and optimized hull lines, a significant portion of the propulsion power is saved.
AIDAprima is also the first cruise ship in the world to feature the innovative MALS technology (MALS = Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System). This allows the ship to glide over a carpet of air bubbles, which considerably reduces friction and saves energy used for propulsion. The most modern pod drives also significantly lower fuel consumption. Here, the drive system lies in a streamlined pod and can be rotated around the vertical axis by 360 degrees, which contributes to the ship's excellent maneuverability.

Reducing fuel consumption

The best ton of fuel is the one we don’t use. Fuel consumption per guest and per voyage day has been reduced by more than a third since 2007.

An AIDA ship today consumes just three liters of fuel per person over 100 kilometers. This was confirmed in a report by independent experts from the ship classification company DNV GL in 2012. Through numerous measures to improve energy efficiency and hydrodynamics, we have even reduced this to 2.8 liters per person on board AIDAprima.

One way to save fuel is by creating optimal speed profiles according to the various legs of the journey. This and efficient route management and optimization of scheduling and docking times are methods for saving substantial amounts of fuel. Propulsion energy is also saved through improved hull and propeller design. All AIDA ships feature an underwater paint, which is renewed regularly and prevents fouling on the bottom of the ship. This reduces drag during the voyage, thus cutting down on fuel consumption and emissions.

In 2014 we started a pilot project to optimize waste heat recovery on board our ships which were put into service in 2007 or afterwards. We use the heat from the cooling water of the engines and channel it specifically to other consumers on board. This not only means that less energy is lost through unused waste heat but that we are saving energy at the same time, since we now need to produce less steam for the operation of the equipment on board. The aim of the project is to reduce fuel consumption of the oil boiler and at the same time increase production of fresh water on board. Initial testing was successful in 2014. In 2015, we made further improvements.

Innovative energy management and monitoring

Innovative energy management and monitoring

With the innovative energy monitoring and management system EMMA from ABB, we have been setting new standards in energy management on board our ships throughout our entire fleet since 2015. In addition to establishing a comprehensive database of operational and technical information, the system’s main benefit is to give real-time decision support for operating the ship and its systems as close to the optimum as possible. One of its most important features is its direct link to the ship’s automation system as well as to the shore-side organization of AIDA Cruises.

With its comprehensive scientific approach to analyzing operational data, EMMA has enormous potential for further improving the fleet’s energy performance. For us it is important to analyze energy management on board the vessels objectively and scientifically in order to achieve maximum efficiency in the daily practice.

A total of 500 signals per second are transmitted from the ship’s automation system to EMMA. The seven top-level categories that can be tracked this way are: propulsion power, propulsion efficiency, vessel trim, hotel and auxiliary power, air condition power per person, specific fuel oil consumption of the main diesel generators, and total fuel consumption.

This gives valuable information to the crew and enables a detailed drill-down of each parameter as required. Systems and singular set points on board can thus be adjusted as needed, contributing to energy-efficient operation of the ship. Practical examples of this are changing the engine configuration and loading, route planning with speed management, or optimization of the trim or waste heat recovery.

Heat recovery and absorption chillers

We have installed the latest technologies on board AIDAprima in order to increase the overall efficiency of power generation. Through comprehensive recovery and intelligent distribution and utilization of waste heat from machinery, AIDAprima is setting new standards with regards to energy efficiency in hotel and restaurant operations: Heat is optimally utilized through double waste-heat boilers, so that oil-fired auxiliary boilers can largely be done without. The entire waste heat, including that from the engine cooling water, is routed through a central waste heat distribution system to the consumers on board with the highest energy needs at a given time. The available energy can be efficiently and specifically exploited through the central distribution and intelligent needs management.

Making its world debut on board AIDAprima and being used for the first time on a passenger ship are absorption chillers. These convert excess heat into refrigerant for air conditioning and thus reduce the need for electric power. Next to the propulsion machinery, the air conditioners are the largest consumers of energy on board. Cold air on board AIDAprima is either generated in a resource-friendly manner through waste heat from machinery via the absorption chillers or also directly from cooling seawater. As a result, air conditioning compressors only need to be switched on on board with mid-summer air and water temperatures. Air conditioners in the staterooms and in public areas are controlled by local and intelligent fan coils.

For the first time, the standard electric motors on board AIDAprima feature the highest energy efficiency class IE3 Premium Efficiency. Breaking energy generated while operating elevators on board is fed back into the onboard network. Frequency-controlled motors as well as speed-controlled pumps and fans ensure that only the amount of power is demanded that is actually needed.

Reducing emissions, preserving resources

One of the biggest challenges in environmental protection is air pollution – for example through emissions of sulfur and nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. To avoid harmful emissions even more effectively in the future, we are committed to developing alternative methods of power generation and utilization in maritime transport, and we invest in new technologies. Environmentally conscious handling of resources, including fuel, is a central aspect of everything we do.

The best ton of fuel is the one we don’t use. For us it is not crucial which fuel is used but how we best prevent emissions. In the past few years, a number of technical innovations for alternative modes of power generation for ships have been developed. Today, no one can be certain which will be globally established in the future. AIDA Cruises has invested significant sums so that it will be prepared for all forms of energy generation that are technically available today. This makes us independent of the supply and flexible.

With the three-tier system for exhaust treatment on board AIDAprima, we can reduce our emissions further than would be possible with low-sulfur fuel alone. In our opinion, however, the use of exhaust treatment systems is a bridging technology. A significant contribution to reducing emission is made by implementing liquefied natural gas (LNG). Currently, LNG is the lowest emitting fossil fuel available. At AIDA Cruises, we are convinced that LNG is a very sustainable solution for operating ships in the future. Even today, we are pioneers in the cruise industry in the use of this low-emission fuel.

AIDAprima can be operated with all traditional ship fuels and with liquefied natural gas (LNG) in port. With the “Green Cruising” concept, AIDA will be the first cruise line in the world to operate its following generation of AIDA ships, which will be put into service starting in 2019, at 100 percent with LNG. The use of LNG is currently the eco-friendliest solution for ship operation, as it is nearly emission-free. LNG produces virtually no soot particles or sulfur oxide; in comparison to the use of marine diesel, nitrogen oxide is reduced by 80 percent with 0.1 percent sulfur content, and carbon monoxide emissions by 20 percent. AIDA Cruises is a pioneer in the use of LNG in the cruise industry. Our initial experience in this field is promising and we are convinced that LNG is the most environmentally friendly way to operate a ship in the future. That is why we will continue to consistently carry forward with our LNG strategy.

Of the current 11 ships in the AIDA fleet, two of the ships (AIDAprima and AIDAsol) feature shoreside connections and six additional ships are being prepared for shoreside power. We support two innovative pilot projects in Hamburg with AIDAsol: energy supply with power generated from LNG via the LNG Hybrid Barge at the HafenCity and shoreside power supply in Altona.

We support the phased plan of the IMO to reduce emissions from ships and even go beyond it with the above-mentioned initiatives. Our engines can use high-quality fuels, such as low-sulfur heavy fuel (low sulfur HFO) and gas oil (marine diesel). AIDAprima and all future new ships also feature dual-fuel motors that can be operated with LNG.

In general, low-sulfur fuel has been a reality on important routes for many years. We use only low-sulfur fuel with a maximum of 0.1 percent sulfur content in the North and Baltic Sea as well as off the coasts of North America. In all European ports, engines have also been operating exclusively on diesel with a maximum sulfur content of 0.1 percent since 2010. AIDA has been doing this voluntarily in the Hamburg port since 2007.

Sulfur emissions have thus been cut by 90 percent. A study from the Delft University of Technology from April 2016, which was commissioned by the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), has confirmed the significant reduction in emissions in the North Sea and Baltic Sea region through the use of low-sulfur fuel within a year of establishing the emission protection zone.

We also save energy by continuously improving processes on board every day. For example, we have optimized the processes in our laundry facilities, including better use of the machines and improved operation times. This allows us to save about a quarter of the required energy. At the same time, we are also reducing CO2 emissions of the laundry facilities by 25 percent.

With regard to CO2 emissions, cruise ships have been shown to be among the most efficient means of transport. Prof. Dr. Ing. Holger Watter from the Maritime Center at Flensburg University of Applied Sciences is a renowned expert in sustainable power systems. He says: “Just 3 percent of CO2 emissions are generated by maritime shipping and travel. Ships are the most efficient means of transporting goods and people. They have emission rates that are a fraction of those of other modes of transport (automobile, train, airplane). The maritime “power stations” achieve a degree of efficiency that is above that of shoreside stations." Furthermore, cruise ships also provide hotel accommodations, catering, and infrastructure for leisure activities, as well as pure transport. These additional services are included in the evaluation of power use.

Overall, we are a pioneer in the industry in terms of environmental and climate protection. This is demonstrated by our key indicators for energy. In recent years, we have a continuously reduced the total energy consumption per person and day on board.

Waste management on board

Abfallmanagement an Bord

Systematic waste management on board is standard practice at AIDA. Already in the route planning of our ships, the disposal options at the individual ports are thoroughly examined. Based on the findings, waste management for each voyage is planned so that we may use the most environmentally friendly disposal option.

Waste separation is a high priority at AIDA. Metal is pressed and glass is broken down to save storage space. Food waste is also compacted and dehydrated. The result is a biologically degradable substance.
Moreover, since the beginning of 2016, we started collecting aluminum separate from other metals. Aluminum is collected in containers separate from other metals. After checking the unmixed separation, the waste is then delivered separately on land and recycled.

In 2016, we started a pilot project on board AIDAprima for separating PET bottles. In this project, PET bottles are collected separately from other plastic waste, compressed and compacted and then handed over to a certified waste disposal company for recycling.

At all destinations, AIDA works with the best waste disposal companies. Whenever possible, we use the services of certified waste disposal companies. In Europe, this is the case at all ports. At other destinations where corresponding standards need to be developed, we select the best available alternative. To ensure that waste is disposed of correctly, our environmental officers visit the waste management companies on site and conduct company audits and inspections in the ports.

But however well our waste management system works, it is of course even better to generate as little waste as possible. That is why we’re working on significantly reducing our waste generation per guest and per day. From 2012 to 2015, we were able to reduce the waste per person per day from 4.6 to 3.9 kilograms.

Many beverages on board AIDA are no longer purchased and offered in bottles but in special beverage containers with large volume capacities. In figures: Each year, 3 million liters of wine are delivered to our ships in reusable containers with a capacity of 1,045 liters rather than in the usual containers. We thereby save the equivalent of 4.2 million wine bottles with 0.75 liters each. Analogous to this, we avoid the following packaging waste: 6 million soft drink bottles with 0.33 liters each, 5.75 million beer bottles with 0.33 liters each, and 800,000 Tetra Packs of fruit juice concentrate with 1 liter each.

It is often small changes that make a big difference. For example, we were able to reduce our plastic waste in the kitchen area by doing away with cocktail stirrers and switching to cling film that is a 10 cm narrower. We also replaced numerous single-use products, such as tasting spoons in the kitchen, disposable aprons, and disposable bottles, with reusable products. In regard to the remaining disposable products on board, such as paper napkins or straws, we make sure that they are biodegradable if possible.

Waste water treatment

According to MARPOL definitions, AIDA Cruises does not dump any untreated waste water into the ocean. The possibilities of disposal at approved facilities on land are considered during the route planning. When possible, we dispose of our waste water at the berths while in port. If disposal options are not available on land, we recycle the waste water to almost drinking water quality in the biological membrane waste water treatment plants, which was implemented on our ships starting in 2007. This allows us to meet the currently most stringent international environmental standards for the treatment of waste water in the maritime industry. To further improve the quality of our treatment systems, we cooperate with partners including the Testing Institute for Waste Water Technology in Aachen. Together we are looking for technical solutions to further improve our water treatment. Within the context of another pilot project, which we started in 2012, we are working on solutions to achieve the new HELCOM threshold values for nitrogen and phosphorus.

Each of our ships already has two de-oiling facilities. Here, separators separate accumulating water in the bilge (so-called bilge water) from any oil residue. Furthermore, we check the oil content of the waste water using a sensor system, known as the White Box. If the internationally applicable threshold value of 15 ppm (parts per million) is exceeded, the White Box issues an immediate warning – and the release of bilge water is suspended. The filtered residual materials containing oil are given onshore to a licensed disposal company or, if this is not possible, the best available alternative is used. The table provides an overview of the various types of waste water and their levels for 2015.

Definitions: “Gray water” means waste water containing a low level of contaminants. It can be generated from showers and washing of hands, for instance. Used water from toilets is called black water. Bilge water is water that is collected in the so-called bilge from a variety of sources.

The applicable rules on the protection of the marine environment are contained in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, the MARPOL Convention (MARPOL = marine pollution), which is administered by the IMO (International Maritime Organization). This convention defines globally binding regulations and maximum permissible values for all offshore platforms and ships. In addition, special regions for various emissions are defined and stricter values established for these regions. For example, according to the MARPOL directives, there is a ban on untreated waste water disposal within twelve sea miles from the coast.

Fresh water savings

We have switched to using various water-saving applications, including special shower heads, flow regulators on wash hand basins and showers, and timer switches and infrared control in washroom areas. This has allowed us to make continual reductions in the amount of water consumed per person in recent years. Our research shows that AIDA has the lowest consumption of fresh water per person in the entire cruise industry. A vacuum system is used to operate toilet flushing. This saves water, meaning that only one liter of water is used per flush. In comparison to the previous year, we were able to reduce fresh water consumption per person per day from 172.8 to 168.3 in 2015.

All seven ships that were put into service starting from 2007 are equipped with an advanced vacuum food waste system that uses significantly less water than conventional systems. Instead of the waste being pumped through pipes with water, we transport it to the waste storage tank using a vacuum system.

In the laundry facilities on board towels, bedding, tablecloths, clothes and much more are washed on a daily basis. For the first time, we have installed a so-called tunnel washer on board AIDAprima. Per kilogram of laundry, it only uses 2.5 liters of water. Compared to a conventional household washing machine, which consumes an average of 10 liters of water, this represents a significant conservation of resources.

Protecting biodiversity: Ballast water treatment


Along with protecting the environment and the climate, we are also committed to preserving biodiversity. AIDAstella and AIDAprima are already equipped with an advanced system for ballast water treatment. This system will also be installed on AIDAperla. We thereby fulfill the standards of the IMO International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments* before it enters into effect.

A variety of organisms are regularly carried in the ballast water that serves to stabilize vessels at sea. These can include plankton and other microorganisms, which are then released when the ballast water is discharged. The challenge lies in not introducing the species and organisms that are included with the sea water into other ecosystems, and preventing them from establishing themselves there, spreading, and displacing native species. Treating ballast water makes it possible to prevent the unwanted transfer of these organisms.

The modern ballast water treatment system on the AIDA ships complies with the IMO D-2 standard for ballast water treatment and destroys bacteria without the use of UV lamps or adding of chemicals. This means that no harmful waste is produced.

* To protect fragile ecosystems and prevent microorganisms from proliferating beyond their native waters, the IMO adopted the Ballast Water Convention (International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments) in 2004. This regulates the provisions, criteria, maximum permissible values, and inspection methods for prevention of unwanted transfer of ocean organisms, pathogens, or sediments to foreign ecosystems.

Research projects

AIDA Cruises is involved in various research projects to develop new technologies to advance environmental protection. Since 2009, for example, we have been participating in the research project “Toplaterne des Leuchtturmprojektes e4ships” relating to the ecological, technical and economic assessment of use of fuel cells on ships. Another essential part of the project is formulating rules and standards for the approval and installation of fuel cells on ships and the use of low-emission fuels. The use of especially low-emission, gas-operated engines on board can be more quickly realized than the fuel cells.

AIDA Cruises is a pioneer in the use of liquefied natural gas. AIDAprima along with the three following ships will be equipped with dual-fuel motors capable of using environmentally friendly liquefied natural gas (LNG). As part of the EU’s “BunGas” project, AIDA and experts from the maritime industry and research began their commitment to finding a way of developing safe and secure gas tanks for cruise ships in 2011. The project was completed successfully in 2014. The next step is to have the results presented to national and international parliaments.

New methods of energy production, such as “Power to Gas” or “Sludge to Gas” also offer the possibility of obtaining LNG free from CO2. We support the advancement of these approaches along with our partner atmosfair e.V.

Together with the Testing Institute for Waste Water Technology in Aachen, we are investigating technical possibilities for continuously optimizing treatment performance to achieve the HELCOM levels for phosphorus and nitrogen. Furthermore, AIDA supported the NAUTEK project, which was concluded in May 2016. This also focused on the treatment, purification and reuse of waste water on cruise ships.

Along with other companies, we launched a project in 2015 for sustainable procurement and processing of food on cruises with our partner Futouris e.V.