Seatrade Cruise Global: Collaborating for decarbonization
From Monday 27 to Thursday 30 March, 2023, over 10,000 key cruise industry players descended upon Fort Lauderdale, USA, for the annual Seatrade Cruise Global meetup. True to this year’s “Forward Momentum" theme, the event was a return to form, featuring over 500 exhibitors, hours of conference content, and over 1,200 matchmaking meetings.
“The atmosphere was very upbeat,” said Andreas Ullrich, Global Market Leader Passenger Ships & Ferries, who represented Bureau Veritas at the event. “The industry as a whole has largely recovered, with good booking rates. Everyone’s attention is now firmly on the future, which is looking brighter every day, and the question we’re all asking is now: what will emerge as the fuel of the future?”
Fueling the future
Decarbonization was the word on everyone’s lips at the conference as this is currently the industry’s biggest challenge. “There was a lot of discussion about new regulations brought in by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) along with the EU's target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, otherwise known as Fit for 55,” explains Andreas.
When it comes to new orders, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is the fuel of choice for large ships, like the Bureau Veritas-classed MSC Euribia, slated for delivery this May. LNG is an excellent option in terms of carbon reduction, and is now largely available in most major shipping hubs.
Increasingly, owners are also exploring fuel cells and energy storage systems (ESS) to enable hybrid propulsion solutions in the future. For example, The MSC World Europa features solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology to test the technology onboard ships. The ultimate aim is to generate auxiliary power to deliver efficiency gains and emissions reductions.
Expedition cruise vessels are also making advances. “Expedition cruises still use marine gasoil but many owners are now also exploring the use of methanol and testing biofuel blended to up to 50% with standard marine fuel,” says Andreas. “For the latter, work remains ongoing to develop a unified standard, and engine makers and fuel suppliers are working hard to make it possible.”
Several new projects involving modern wind power technology are also in discussion. “One of the event highlights was a presentation by Chantiers de l’Atlantique and Accor about Orient Express, a project to create the world’s biggest sail-powered vessels using the revolutionary SolidSail technology,” continues Andreas. The first vessel, the Orient Express Silenseas is set to be delivered in March 2026, with the second to follow in September 2027.
Getting on board with sustainability
When it comes to cruise, shore power and further energy savings are also hot topics, and here innovation and collaboration are once again of the essence.
“The industry as a whole is really moving in the right direction, adopting a collaborative approach to meeting the energy challenges faced the world over,” says Andreas. “Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) suppliers, for example, are working hard to reduce ships’ energy expenditure and improve their emissions profile. Meanwhile, cruise operators are getting creative and exploring the use of sustainable materials for their luxury fit-outs.”
The Fit for 55 regulation, which demands shore power connection by 2030, was also much debated at this year’s Seatrade event. “2030 will be here before we know it,” explains Andreas, “so ports and ship operators are working together and investing heavily in shore power. However, to incentivize this solution, it needs to be both green and reasonably priced – the industry must meet its business imperatives too.”
The power of collaboration
Overall, the energy at Seatrade Cruise Global 2023 was very positive, and the topics discussed demonstrate that key players are taking the need to work together to green the industry very seriously.
“Collaboration is really the overarching theme that I took away from the conference this year,” concludes Andreas. “This is far from new, but is becoming more crucial now, as if we are to manage compliance with new regulations by 2050, every stakeholder needs to play its part.”
“Businesses are obviously still in competition, but when it comes to technology and fuel options, which are really the environmental game-changers here, everyone is now fully aware that we can only move forward if we work together.”