New York Ferry Sports Wind Turbines, Solar

[Editor’s Note: A previous version of the story reflected fuel consumption savings based upon the San Francisco Hornblower Hybrid. The story has been updated to reflect the upcoming ship.]

Discerning visitors to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty will soon have the opportunity to tour these landmarks on a boat that is both luxurious and “green”. Building on its “flagship” Hornblower Hybrid ferry, which has taken passengers to and from Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay since 2008, Hornblower Cruises notified us recently about the launch of the Hornblower Hybrid yacht in Bridgeport, Connecticut this month. The 600-passenger vessel, which uses power from hydrogen fuel cells, solar panels and helical wind turbines, is America’s largest commercial hybrid yacht. The boat is scheduled to begin transporting guests on sightseeing, dinner and special event cruises in New York Harbor in November.

The vessel’s power system incorporates a diesel engine, a hydrogen fuel cell and two batteries, enabling the boat to have what Hornblower feels will be significant fuel consumption savings. How much exactly? We won’t know until the boat goes into service.

image via Hornblower

The boat’s builders also conserved electricity and materials during construction by using an existing floating casino vessel as the yacht’s shell. The Hornblower Hybrid also incorporates sustainable materials throughout the interior, including LEED-certified carpet, LED lighting and recycled glass countertops.

According to Terry MacRae, CEO of Hornblower Cruises, the yacht also houses many other high-tech features, including tablet computers, Wi-Fi and a universal sound system. The vessel will be available for charters and special events beginning in November, with public dining cruises scheduled to begin in early 2012.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).