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Carnival cruises towards $2.5 billion in fuel savings

<p>Efficiency measures are set to cut fuel consumption by a whopping billion gallons, significantly cutting the cruise operator&#39;s carbon footprint.</p>

Carnival expects to save $2.5 billion on fuel costs by the end of the year as a result of a wide-ranging efficiency program across its 100-strong fleet.

Over the past seven years, the world's largest cruise company and owner of the Cunard and P&O Cruises U.K. brands has improved fuel efficiency 24 percent through its Fleet Fuel Conservation Program, saving more than a billion gallons of fuel and reducing emissions by 12 million metric tons.

The program combines on-board energy saving initiatives with new energy efficient ship designs to reduce fuel costs — the company's single biggest expense. The initiatives include new efficient air conditioning systems and LED lighting, efforts to optimize ship speeds and routes for more fuel-efficient itineraries, and the use of special hull coatings to minimize the growth of marine organisms that create drag.

The company says it is also investigating technologies such as alternative fuels and using engine heat to convert sea water to drinking water. In addition, it revealed it has invested $400 million in designing an industry-first exhaust gas cleaning technology and fitting it to more than 70 percent of its fleet.

Carnival has added 30 new ships to its fleet since 2007, some of which are larger ships with highly efficient propulsion systems that incorporate new computer-modeled hull designs as well as fuel-efficient propeller and engine combinations.

As a result, the company expects to increase fuel efficiency by 5 percent in 2014 alone and says it is now likely to exceed its goal of a 20 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2015.

Arnold Donald, chief executive of Carnival Corporation, said reducing energy and fuel consumption across the fleet remained "a top priority" for the company.

"We are very proud of our conservation efforts, but we also realize that doing our part to reduce carbon emissions and help protect the environment is a job that is never complete," he added. "We're committed to building on the momentum of our sustainability initiatives because it is the right thing to do for the environment and our fellow citizens, the passengers and crew on our ships, the communities we visit, and also for our business."

Ship image by Sean Pavone via Shutterstock.

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