Ever wondered how a cruise ship produces enough power to simultaneously move through the water and entertain thousands of passengers? The answer isn’t as complicated as you might think.
The engine room is the hub of the cruise ship, creating enough power to drive the vessel through the water. On a modern cruise ship, this means the engine room can soar upwards at least three decks. For safety reasons, machinery is housed in small watertight compartments. So while one compartment contains the main engines, another will house the air conditioning, and so on.
While there’s a romantic idea of ships being powered by steam, cruise ships are powered by diesel engines as standard. There are three methods: direct drive, diesel electric or gas turbine.
When the ship stops moving, the massive amounts of power from the main engines and generators aren’t required. Instead, the ship uses smaller generators to supply enough power for the lights, air-con and so on.
Every ship has emergency generators, so that even in the unlikely event that things go wrong, there is still vital electrical power. The backup generators are located higher up and outside, so they aren’t at risk of the same damage that may have occurred in the engine room.
Depending on its size, the cruise ship may have two or more backup generators. But these generators are solely designed to produce electricity to keep passengers and crew safe and comfortable; they cannot produce enough power to move the ship.
What if the emergency generator fails? Ships also have a battery backup, which can produce at least 24 hours of power to essential systems.
As savvy travellers come to expect more environmentally friendly ships, cruise lines are busily thinking of ways to make their ships more "green" and energy efficient. This ranges from the materials used to build the ship right down to the introduction of LED bulbs. So next time you step aboard a cruise ship, take a moment to think about the power behind your holiday.