Harmony of the Seas - World’s Largest Cruise Ship Cause Supersized Pollution Problem

At full power the Harmony of the Seas’ two 16-cylinder engines would each burn 1,377 US gallons an hour of some of the most polluting diesel fuel in the world. 

As Harmony of the Seas, the biggest ship in the world sets sail from Southampton docks on her maiden voyage, environmentalists say she will leave behind a trail of pollution.

The 16-deck-high floating city, carrying 6,780 passengers and 2,100 crew, has three four-storey high 16-cylinder Wartsila engines. With a top speed of 22 knots, the behemoth Harmony of the Seas is the latest mind-blowing ship of the Royal Caribbean fleet. At full power each of the ship’s engines will burn 1,377 gallons an hour, which means about 96,000 gallons a day and the ship uses some of the most polluting diesel fuel in the world, according to some campaigners.


In port, and close to US and some European coasts, the Harmony must burn low sulphur fuel or use abatement technologies. But, says Colin MacQueen, who lives around 400 yards from the docks and is a member of new environment group Southampton Clean Air, the fumes from cruise liners and bulk cargo ships are “definitely” contributing to Southampton’s highly polluted air.

“We can smell, see and taste it. These ships are like blocks of flats. Sometimes there are five or more in the docks at the same time. The wind blows their pollution directly into the city and as far we can tell, there is no monitoring of their pollution. We are pushing for them to use shore power but they have resisted.”
“The liners pollute, but the road traffic that they and the cargo ships generate is also huge,” he adds.

The cruise business becomes the fastest growing segment of the mass tourism industry, as a result the cruise ships are getting bigger and bigger. Therefore, cruising causes environmental impact in form of air and ocean pollution. The road traffic that cruise ships and the cargo ships generate is also huge.


Although Royal Caribbean, the owner of the Harmony of the Seas, says that the latest and most efficient pollution control systems are installed on the ship and they meet all legal requirements, environmental experts claim that such a large vessel would probably burn at least 150 tonnes of diesel fuel a day, and emit more sulphur than several million cars.