What Do Cruise Ship Engines Run On?

By Robert Palmer

Cruise ship engines are the powerhouses of the sea, propelling some of the largest and most luxurious vessels across miles of open ocean. But what do these gargantuan engines run on? The answer might surprise you.

Fossil Fuels

The most common fuel used to power cruise ships is fossil fuels such as diesel and heavy fuel oil (HFO). These are derived from crude oil, which is extracted from the earth and refined into a variety of fuels.

Fossil fuels are relatively cheap, easy to store and transport, and can generate large amounts of power. However, they are also non-renewable sources of energy that produce large amounts of carbon dioxide when burned, contributing to climate change.

Liquefied Natural Gas

An increasingly popular alternative to fossil fuels is liquefied natural gas (LNG). LNG is a cleaner-burning fuel derived from natural gas reserves found in the earth’s crust.

It produces fewer emissions than fossil fuels, making it a more sustainable choice for powering cruise ships. Additionally, LNG can be stored in liquid form at atmospheric pressure, which makes it easier to transport than other forms of energy.


Biofuels are derived from renewable sources such as plants or animal waste products and can be used to power cruise ships in place of traditional fossil fuels. Biofuels have several advantages over traditional energy sources: they emit fewer pollutants into the atmosphere, they can be produced locally in many parts of the world, and they are renewable sources of energy that won’t run out like fossil fuels will eventually do. However, biofuels still produce greenhouse gases when burned so their use must be closely monitored to ensure that emissions don’t get out of hand.

Conclusion: Cruise ships rely on powerful engines for propulsion across vast distances at sea – but what do these engines run on? The answer is usually either fossil fuels such as diesel or heavy fuel oil (HFO), liquefied natural gas (LNG), or biofuels derived from renewable sources like plants or animal waste products. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages so it’s important for cruise ship operators to weigh all factors carefully before deciding which type is best suited for their needs.