World's first natural gas powered cruise ship arrives at Port of Barcelona

The eco-friendly liner is only the tip of the iceberg according to environmentalists

The ship arrived in Barcelona on Friday
The ship arrived in Barcelona on Friday / Daniel Wittenberg

Daniel Wittenberg | Barcelona

April 26, 2019 05:20 PM

The world's first cruise ship powered by natural gas has docked at the Port of Barcelona where it will be based amid concerns over the number of passenger vessels along the Catalan coast.

The eco-friendly AIDAnova reached the shores of Moll Adossat on Friday, with port authorities celebrating the new addition as "turning point" in its efforts to become more sustainable.

AIDAnova will serve as a commercial liner and for transporting natural gas to other nearby ships, which the port says will boost its commitment to using the fuel and help establish Barcelona as a "major natural gas supply hub" for the Mediterranean.

Cleaner fuel

The 337-meter vessel is the first of 13 ships commissioned to run on liquefied natural gas, which is considered a cleaner fuel, since it cuts nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide emissions by 85% and almost entirely eliminates toxic sulfurous oxide fumes.

From October, AIDAnova is due to be accompanied by its sister ship the Costa Smeralda, still in construction, which will also run on the liquefied fuel.


However, environmentalists have not been convinced by the purchases, accusing Barcelona's port of using them as a "smokescreen" to cover up an alleged inaction against high pollution levels as a result of a progressive increase in cruise ships.

Groups including 'Ecologists in Action' and the 'Platform for Air Quality' noted that natural gas is still a fossil fuel, therefore "cannot be considered a green solution", and urged the port to abandon its plans to open two new cruise terminals.