A cruiseship has become the first to be bunkered with LNG in a US port in a long-planned operation that was delayed by Covid-19.

Carnival Corp’s 180,800-gt Mardi Gras (built 2020) was supplied with 2,667-cbm of LNG bunkers by the Shell-chartered 4,000-cbm articulated tug barge newbuilding Q-LNG 4000 at the Port Canaveral Cruise Terminal on 8 June.

The bunkering of the first LNG-fuelled cruiseship in North America took seven-and-a-half hours in what was a top-up operation — adding to LNG already on board.

The 6,465-passenger Mardi Gras can bunker 3,600-cbm of LNG, which Q-LNG Transport president Chad Verret told local press is enough to fuel the ship for a 14-day voyage.

Shell is supplying the LNG to Port Canaveral from its volumes exported from the Elba Island facility near Savannah, Georgia.

Waiting time

The huge Finnish-built cruiseship arrived in the US on Friday. It was originally due to make its US debut in late 2020 but was hit by the Covid-19 cruise cancellations and has been idling in Barcelona, Spain, waiting to make its Atlantic crossing.

The Mardi Gras will be based out of Port Canaveral offering cruises to the Caribbean. Carnival has indicated that cruises from the US will restart in July.

"[The] Mardi Gras has been five years in the making and today's arrival is a historic milestone for our company," Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy said at the ship's arrival in the US.

The bunkering of a first large cruiseship is another step forward for the emerging LNG bunkering business in the US.

In March, Shell bunkered the first aframax tanker — Sovcomflot (SCF Group)'s 114,000-dwt Gagarin Prospect (built 2018) — with LNG off Port Canaveral. The tanker is on charter to the energy major.

Two months earlier, Shell used the Q-LNG 4000 to supply LNG to the 7,500-ceu car carrier Siem Aristotle in the Port of Jacksonville, Florida.

Port Canaveral is due to welcome a second large LNG-fuelled cruiseship — the 2,500-passenger newbuilding Disney Wish — next year.

This vessel will be bunkered with its own dedicated LNG bunker barge, which is being built by Polaris New Energy.