At the heart of Oasis of the Seas, the world's largest passenger vessel, beneath an original carousel, an array of restaurants, surfing simulators, rock-climbing walls, a tropical living park and guests and crew on board, are two sets of three Wärtsilä engines, powering everything on the ship.
Today, STX Europe's shipyard in Turku, Finland will officially hand over Oasis of the Seas to Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL). The 360 metres long vessel is powered by Wärtsilä's most modern, high technology equipment. Oasis of the Seas is equipped with a total of six Wärtsilä 46 engines, three 12-cylinder and three 16-cylinder engines, generating more than 96 MW. The vessel is also equipped with four 5.5 MW Wärtsilä bow thrusters, which are among the largest in the world.
Wärtsilä's engines are equipped with common rail technology, which provides an important and very visible advantage. As the combustion and other process parameters can be adjusted for lower load ranges, smoke emissions can be reduced.
Wärtsilä continuously aims to improve the environmental performance of its products and solutions, with the main focus being on improving efficiency and minimizing emissions.
The Wärtsilä bow thrusters make the vessel easy to operate. They have a combined power output of 22 MW. In fact, the bow thrusters alone have more power than is installed on a normal cargo ship.
Pushing the boundaries of cruise ships
Royal Caribbean International, a brand of RCCL, is consistently pushing the boundaries of what is thought to be possible, offering more options and choices for its guests by introducing innovative amenities and a revolutionary design that achieves higher safety and environmental standards.
The cruise line's Freedom of the Seas was the largest passenger ship in the world when it was launched in 2006, and the largest ever built in terms of passenger capacity (3634) and gross tonnage (154,407), both records now shared by two other Royal Caribbean vessels of the same class.
And now comes Oasis of the Seas, with a passenger capacity of 5400 and a gross tonnage of 225,282. At 360 metres bow to stern, she is 23 metres longer than the Freedom class vessels and introduces even more innovative amenities than ever before. Oasis of the Seas has the first-ever living park at sea, with 12,175 plants, 62 vine plants, and 56 trees and bamboo. There's a full-sized carousel, rock climbing walls, and two surfing simulators that allow guests to surf on the deck and a spectacular amphitheatre-style AquaTheater at the stern of the ship.
Wärtsilä provides the power to meet the onboard energy demand
Propelling a vessel 360 metres long, 65 metres wide and carrying up to 8500 people - 2165 of them crew members - is no small achievement. The vessel's air-conditioning systems, production of 50 tons of ice cubes each day, and heating the water in the 21 swimming pools and Jacuzzis, together consume several megawatts of power. As does carrying all the supplies needed for a seven-day cruise.
The engines are essentially a power plant that produces electricity, which is then used to run everything on board. The majority is used for propelling the vessel, but this floating holiday destination also has many other energy users. "After propulsion, air conditioning is next on the list of major onboard energy consumers," says Fred Danska, Director, Cruise Business at Wärtsilä.
Long-term cooperation between Wärtsilä and Royal Caribbean
"This is a quantum leap in terms of development," says Fred Danska, who has worked closely with Royal Caribbean for many years. "We've been working with Royal Caribbean on this project for several years, but our relationship goes all the way back to the '70s."
Most of the Royal Caribbean ships have featured Wärtsilä equipment, and Oasis of the Seas is no exception.
The size of the vessels isn't the only thing that has changed in the 40 years Wärtsilä has been working with Royal Caribbean. The engines have undergone continual development, as have customer preferences and choices. What was important in the 1980s is less important today.
In the mid-1990s, suppliers of gas turbines made moves to replace diesel engines on cruise ships. Wärtsilä came up with a solution that reduced emissions. This was common rail injection technology, now also fitted to Oasis of the Seas. "Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has selected Wärtsilä's common-rail-type engines for its other brands in the past. This is however our first common rail delivery to Royal Caribbean International," says Danska.
The highest standards of service and technology
"Studies indicate that cruises have higher customer satisfaction ratings than any other form of vacation, higher even than trips to Las Vegas or Disneyland, and that's their primary competition. Cruise companies are in the leisure business, not the shipping business," says Danska.
"There's still a lot of potential for growth in the cruise business," says Danska. "Even if the vessels get bigger, they'll continue to fill them. We haven't reached any upper limit yet."
Progress is continually being made below deck as well, and future cruise ships will be even more environmentally sound, thanks to Wärtsilä's work on SOx scrubbers and LNG (liquefied natural gas)-fuelled engines. Using LNG will eliminate all SOx emissions, reduce NOx emissions by 80 per cent, and CO2 emissions by more than 20 per cent.