What is the cost of fueling a cruise ship?

Cost of fueling a cruise ship: Cruise tickets might be expensive, and you might be curious about how the ship is being operated with that money. Even though hiring people and buying food are significant expenditures on any cruise ship, the gasoline required to keep the ship running is one of the biggest costs of your trip.

Because of their size, cruise ships come with a hefty operating cost. However, what is the price of fuel for a cruise ship? What is the fuel needed for a cruise ship? To find out, continue reading.

What Is the Price of Fuel for a Cruise Ship?

It is challenging to calculate the cost of operating a cruise ship because it depends on so many different variables. Larger cruise lines usually operate larger ships and sail a greater number of miles annually, therefore their fuel expenditures will be substantially higher. On the other hand, smaller cruise ships will naturally require less fuel.

How Much Fuel Is Allowed on a Cruise Ship?

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How much fuel a cruise ship can contain is another factor to help determine how much fueling a ship costs. A larger cruise ship can carry two million gallons of petroleum on average, while a smaller ship may carry only 130,000 gallons.

Below is a chart showing how much fuel a cruise ship can hold depending on the vessel’s length.

Size Of Cruise Ship Length Size In Feet & Fuel Capacity
Small 400-500 ft 100,000-500,000 gallons of fuel
Medium 500-900 ft 500,000 to 1,000,000 gallons of fuel
Large 900-1,100 ft 1-2 million gallons of fuel
Mega 1,300+ ft 4+ million gallons of fuel

Let’s examine the main variables that impact a cruise ship’s fuel expenses.

Factors Affecting Cruise Ship Fuel Prices

You also need to take into account the elements that influence the cost of gasoline for cruise ships while calculating its cost.

Several factors affect the cost of fueling a cruise ship. Because of how important these elements are, almost no two cruise ship sailings will have the same fuel costs.

Fuel Depot for Cruise Ships

The primary determinants are fuel cost, fuel type, ship size, sailing duration, and speed. Let’s examine the requirements for each of these components in more detail.

Fuel Prices

The price of gasoline for cruise ships is not set in stone. Just like when you fill up your car, the cost of fueling a cruise ship depends on the current gas price. It might change every day!

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Type of Fuel

The kind of fuel required by the cruise ship influences the overall cost of gasoline.

Cruise ships utilize marine diesel fuel, which is specifically designed for ships and is comparable to truck diesel fuel. Where the cruise ship fills up will have a major impact on the cost of this kind of diesel.

Liquified natural gas (LNG) powers a large number of modern cruise ships. LNG fuel has the advantage of burning cleaner than conventional diesel or gas-powered engines. Furthermore, LNG fuel has a lower fuel density than diesel even if it offers numerous environmental advantages.

Dimensions of the Vessel

The size of the ship has a big impact on the cost of fuel. In general, a larger ship will require more fuel!

Size of the Ship

The size of the cruise ship determines the size of the gasoline tank. While the fuel tanks of some of the largest cruise ships can contain up to four million gallons of petroleum, smaller cruise ships may only be able to hold 100,000 gallons.

Length of Sailing

The length of sailing is another important aspect that influences a cruise ship’s fuel costs. It makes sense that a cruise ship will use more gasoline the longer it sails. There’s a risk that the ship will also need to stop for refueling during particularly lengthy voyages—more than 14 days.

Fuel prices are significantly influenced by the itinerary in addition to sailing duration. A ship that makes several close-together port calls will use less fuel than one that makes many far-flung port calls.


Ultimately, a cruise ship’s speed has a big impact on its fuel costs. Due to the power needed to move the ship forward, a cruise ship uses more gasoline at a quicker speed. This is one of the reasons cruise ships often have a moderate pace of travel.

How Frequently Do Cruise Ships Fill Up?

(Credit: Cruise Hive)

Cruise ships can travel for 10 to 14 days without refueling. In the backdrop is the Queen Mary 2 Ocean Liner, which is being refueled by a bunkering vessel on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship.

Cruise ships’ fuel use determines how long they can stay at sea. Fuel consumption is influenced by average speed, number of port visits, and meteorological factors.

Refueling won’t be necessary as frequently on a cruise ship that sails the Atlantic Ocean for seven days as opposed to one that travels short distances and spends the majority of the day in port.

Cruise ships may sail for a considerable amount of time on a single tank, but wherever feasible, they replenish every few days.

One of the worst things that can happen to a cruise ship is running out of gasoline. Cruise lines go above and beyond to make sure their ships always have more than enough fuel for the thousands of passengers and crew.

What Is the Fuel Consumption of a Cruise Ship?

A typical cruise ship uses 46,500 gallons, or 140 to 150 metric tons, of fuel every day. Fun fact: the average cruise ship uses 18.3 gallons of fuel each minute, or 1100 gallons of fuel per hour. Share this information with your friends.

A huge cruise ship measuring 1,000 feet in length requires more than 200 metric tons of gasoline every day, according to Marine Insight.

Furthermore, the biggest cruise ships in the world, such as the Oasis class of Royal Caribbean, have a daily fuel consumption of up to 250 metric tons, or 80,645 gallons. That’s a lot more petrol than you will ever need for a lifetime of driving. It is estimated that the Oasis-class vessels require approximately $300,000 in gasoline every day.

Smaller cruise ships, such as Carnival Elation and Norwegian Spirit, require about $80,000 of gasoline every day.

A cruise ship’s propulsion can use up to 80% of the gasoline it uses each day. The remaining portion is utilized to generate power for onboard amenities including lights, ventilation, and electricity.

Cruise ships cruise in coastal waters or ports for the majority of their journey. A cruise ship’s typical fuel consumption drops to about 15 metric tons when it is docked. The captain will cruise more slowly between ports of call if the ship has multiple calls within proximity to minimize fuel usage daily. More gasoline is needed for longer sails. A cruise ship uses one gallon of fuel for every thirty to sixty feet of travel, according to the University of Colorado.

  • Ship Design and Size: Fuel consumption is higher on larger cruise ships than on smaller ships. Additionally, more recent ships use cutting-edge technologies to increase fuel economy. When docked, a lot of the more modern cruise ships can be connected to the nearby electricity grid. Cruise ships may virtually eliminate their fuel consumption when moored thanks to a technology known as “shore-to-ship power.” Fuel economy is a priority in the design of contemporary cruise ships. Many of the modern cruise ships have straight bows, if you look at them. The ship needs less power to go ahead due to the bow’s design, which helps cut through the water and lowers daily fuel use. Additionally, cruise ships employ a unique coating that causes air bubbles to form on their hull, which lowers friction and enables the ship to “glide” on an air pocket.
  • Fuel Type: Cruise ship engines can run on a variety of fuels, including liquified natural gas, diesel, and gas. Different forms of marine fuel have different levels of efficiency. Gas-powered cruise ships, for instance, use less fuel than conventional diesel and diesel-electric ships. The newest cruise ships use LNG to power their large ships and reduce hazardous carbon emissions.
  • Weather: The weather and the state of the water have an impact on how much fuel a cruise ship uses. The main offenders are wind direction and strength, but wave height and ocean currents also have an impact on fuel consumption. To protect the crew and passengers during inclement weather, ship commanders strategically plan their routes.

What is the duration required to fill up a cruise ship with fuel?

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A tiny barge that can pump out about 110 tons of petroleum per hour is used to refuel cruise liners. It takes nine hours for a cruise ship with a 1 million-ton fuel capacity to fill up.

However, cruise ships seldom run out of gasoline. When it comes time to refuel, a lot of cruise ships don’t require much fuel.

Cruise ships can refuel in two to three hours during an ordinary port call.

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Where Is Fuel Sourced for Cruise Ships?

Cruise ships must refuel at the port because there are no petrol outlets at sea. A little bunker barge approaches the ship’s side while it is in port and supplies the appropriate gasoline.

The term “bunker barge” comes from the days when filling the coal bunker on steam-powered ships was the equivalent of refueling a passenger ship.

For the same reason, some call the process of refueling “bunkering.”

Another name for heavy fuel oil (HFO) is bunker fuel. Nautical vessels commonly use heavy fuel oil as bunker fuel, although theoretically any fuel can be called bunker fuel.

HFO is an inexpensive, readily available, low-quality fuel source. It poses a serious environmental risk because it is not as refined as gasoline, diesel, and other marine fuels. While some cruise ships operate on bunker fuel, the majority use fuels that are better for the environment, such as gas, diesel, marine diesel, or liquefied natural gas.

What is a fuel supplement?

If you’ve taken a cruise, you might have noticed that your cruise cost now includes a fuel supplement, sometimes known as a fuel fee. Cruise rates include a fuel supplement to help cover the high cost of gasoline.

There is typically no fuel fee on cruises. However, cruise lines may impose a fuel surcharge to cover the cost of increased fuel costs during periods of high gas, diesel, and oil prices.

You can come upon an oil price threshold in the cruise contract when a fuel supplement kicks in.

For instance, the cruise agreement can provide that if oil prices surpass $75 per barrel, the cruise line retains the authority to impose a fuel premium. Even though you have paid for your cruise, they may still add extra charges, which will increase the cost of your trip.

Whether or not to charge the additional price is at the cruise line’s discretion. Many cruise lines will not impose additional costs to appease patrons. As a substitute, they can increase the cost of subsequent cruises to cover the increased fuel costs.

The daily gasoline surcharge typically ranges from $7 to $12 per person.

Both Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line explicitly state the fuel surcharge pricing in their terms and conditions. However, some cruise lines do not specify a price, such as Royal Caribbean.

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