Next year, millions of vacationers will sip Champagne as they watch the sun set over the ocean on Carnival cruise ships. All the while, company engineers will be engrossed by a different set of bubbles—under their vessels.
In the coming months, Carnival’s engineers will begin pulling 115,000-ton ships into dry dock and crawling beneath the hulls. There, they’ll weld nine mattress-size metal boxes to the outside of each hull in the shape of a “V” and install air compressors inside the vessels. The system, from Silverstream Technologies, will create a carpet of tiny air bubbles between the ships and the water. The expected benefit: less drag and 5% to 10% better fuel efficiency, achieving up to $1 million in annual savings per ship.