An optimistic outlook for the future of cruise
The cruise industry is rebounding from a challenging few years, and preparing for a future of smooth sailing. At least, that is what the Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) latest report states. By 2023, passenger volumes are expected to recover, and even surpass 2019 levels. Cruises are also finding favor with younger generations – millennials in particular – who opt for more diverse and customized itineraries.
Cruise is finding its footing as a proponent of responsible tourism. In the ongoing pandemic, cruise ships provide one of the most stringently controlled environments for travelers, thanks to the protocols put in place by operators. Cruise operators are designing new ships, developing recycling initiatives, enhancing water filtration systems and using alternative fuels and shoreside power. All of this is being done to proactively pursue their 2050 net carbon neutrality goals.
In this edition of the Shaping a Better Maritime World podcast, we explore the latest trends that will shape the future of the cruise industry, including:
- How cruise operators have bounced back from the pandemic
- How cruise ship design and operation will be impacted by sustainability and decarbonization
- How classification societies can support cruise operators to best prepare for the future
Tom Strang, Senior Vice President of Maritime Affairs at Carnival and Andreas Ullrich, Global Market Leader for Passenger Ships & Ferries at Bureau Veritas join us to discuss what lies ahead.
How has the cruise sector responded to the challenge of COVID-19?
Tom: The pandemic was a huge challenge to the cruise sector. At Carnival, the majority of our fleet was out of service for nearly two years. We took comprehensive action across all our nine brands to face all of these challenges. First, we had to help tens of thousands of guests and crew members return home safely. Then, we needed to store and maintain our fleet while our operations were paused. As markets began to open up again, our next step was to develop protocols to ensure the safety of our crews and passengers. This meant detailed public health and medical measures and the installation of new equipment – onboard and onshore.
We worked with the regulators in all the different locations we visit, to make sure that our guests could enjoy the amazing locations on offer in total safety. It was and remains a massive undertaking – we’re lucky to have passionate and dedicated teams to make this a smooth process.
What is the outlook now for the cruise industry?
Andreas: Passenger confidence certainly took a hit from COVID-19, and confidence still needs to be restored, despite the effective protocols adopted. We also don’t fully know what impacts such as the war in Ukraine, increased energy costs and crew shortages will have on the industry.
However, due to the movement to decarbonize the industry, we can expect new orders. There are several cruise ships of different sizes and technologies in the orderbook. The availability of alternative fuels and the maturity of ship technology will have an impact in years to come.
As a class society, we’re gearing up to support the industry through the decarbonization challenge. Bureau Veritas has published Rules for alternative fuels, such as methanol and ammonia. We will continue to develop Rules for other alternative fuels and technologies to advance shipping sustainably. We’ll need to be even more agile than before to provide the best possible solutions to industry challenges.
Is the cruise industry ready to decarbonize and embrace more sustainable practices?
Tom: Sustainability and decarbonization will be the biggest gamechangers for the cruise industry. At Carnival, we have already disposed of 22 ships since 2019 and replaced them with more efficient, more environmentally friendly vessels.
Andreas: Already some cruise operators are switching to lower carbon fuels like LNG. As Tom mentioned, some are scrapping older ships and researching newer more sustainable technologies.
What do you think the cruise industry will look like after 2030?
Tom: Well, I hope that we will see the first of the next generation of zero emission cruise ships on the water by then. I hope that in ten years we have a clear path to carbon neutral operations, with zero carbon fuels widely available and solutions to decarbonize our fleet and supply chain.
Andreas: On the Bureau Veritas side, we’ll be looking to be more agile, and closer than ever to the cruise industry. We could see significant design changes due to customer expectations and sustainability goals. We’ll see the development of new onboard technologies, the use of recycled materials, maybe the renaissance of sails. As shipping becomes more connected, we’ll also need to work with the cruise industry to continually develop robust cyber security measures. Overall, proximity will be key: with design offices, ship yards, owners and operators.
 CLIA Economic Impact Study: State of the Cruise industry Outlook 2022, https://cruising.org/en-gb/news-and-research/research/2022/january/state-of-the-cruise-industry-outlook-2022