Hurtigruten chief executive Daniel Skjeldam declared last year that the “future is electric”. Hurtigruten’s newbuilds are the world’s first hybrid battery cruise ships, one of which is to be delivered this year. I predict more battery newbuilds will be announced.
Calmac’s Glen Sannox ferry, the UK’s first LNG ferry, is due to launch this year. And as Carnival Corp concentrates on boosting LNG bunkering infrastructure, I predict that we will see more cruise and ferry LNG contracts.
We are moving beyond LNG and battery power as alternative energy and trials with fuel cells and hydrogen will pave the way for ferries and cruise ships to be fuelled by this alternative power.
The move towards stronger bandwidth will snowball this year, especially in the ferry sector. ‘Always on, always connected’ was a huge theme at Interferry’s annual conference in Croatia last year.
Let the floodgates open for Chinese shipyard contracts. European joint ventures with yards in this area and the fact that expedition cruise ships and ferries are being built in China, means that we will see many, many more passenger ships being built there, starting from this year.
Expedition sector set to follow Hurtigruten’s footsteps
The use of batteries among passenger ships has rapidly gained momentum, with one of the most famous examples being Hurtigruten’s battery-fuelled expedition cruise ship order. The first of these ships is due in 2018. It is a world-first, being the first cruise ship to use battery power. This shows what batteries are capable of for passenger ships, and blazes a trail others are likely to follow, especially fellow expedition cruise ships.
Carnival and CMAL boost LNG passenger ship contracts
LNG has gained huge momentum within the passenger ship industry and I believe its use will grow this year. This is the year it reaches a UK ferry – Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd and Calmac Ferries’ Glen Sannox, due to be delivered this year, is the first ferry in the UK to use LNG. No doubt we will see other operators follow, especially as the company will seek to boost bunkering infrastructure.
Carnival Corp is launching the first cruise ship to be fuelled by LNG at sea in 2019. Therefore, it is concentrating on boosting LNG infrastructure. This will be ramped up this year, as the time approaches for Costa Smeralda to be launched. Carnival Corp has signed a framework agreement with Shell Western LNG to supply fuel to power LNG-fuelled ships for AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises. This will help solve the problem of availability of LNG in ports.
Fuel cells set to escalate within cruise and ferry sector
2018 will see contracts for hydrogen and fuel cell-powered passenger vessels. ABB’s fuel cell system is to be piloted on board a Royal Caribbean International vessel and will be the first fuel cell system to provide an energy source for a luxury cruise ship. ABB Marine & Ports managing director Juha Koskela said “Fuel cells have been the next big thing for 25 years, but now they are reality.” I believe that trials such as this will lead to the take up of fuel cells in the industry. And on the ferry side, ferry owner CMAL revealed at Croatia’s Interferry conference that it is “actively” working on a hydrogen ferry project with the aim to build a ferry powered by this fuel.
Bandwidth strength set to surge
Wifi services are going to expand both on cruise ships and ferries. The launch of Ocean Medallion and MSC for Me means that bandwidth must get stronger to cope with this. But stronger bandwidth has also hit the ferry sector. Meanwhile, looking to the future, at Interferry Croatia, Speedcast product director for cruise and ferries Steve Scraper said that in the 2020s, bandwidth speed would reach 1 gigabyte on a ship.
He warned “Every ferry operator should have it for ship operations, revenue growth and passenger satisfaction.”
The company carried out a trial on a cruise ship in 2017 where bandwidth reached 400 megabytes per second. I believe we are going to see the trend for increased bandwidth on both cruise ships and ferries surge in 2018.
Chinese yards on course to close mega-cruise deals
This is the year that we could see a contract signed in a purely Chinese shipyard for a large cruise ship. Currently the contracts we see are for ferries, smaller expedition cruise ships or contracts as part of a joint venture with the west. For example, Fincantieri and China State Shipbuilding Corp, as part of their joint venture, have agreed a US$1.5Bn deal with Carnival Corp to build two cruise ships for the fast-growing Chinese cruise market. These orders will pave the way for a large cruise ship to be built entirely by a Chinese yard with no European yard input. The fact that Chinese yards can deal with complex projects, such as Viking Line’s LNG dual-fuelled newbuild, that the large European shipyards are so booked up and that it is cheaper and more competitive to build in China, means it is only a matter of time before Chinese yards take on orders for mega cruise ships without European input.