Uncertainty is far from helpful
Taking environmental indices as just one example of this, Steven Young vp port & shore operations P&O Cruises and Cunard, commented: “We are not against the concept of environmental indices (EPI, ESI, CSI) but it would be good to have a common standard. I know each Norwegian port is taking a different approach. There is not a great consistency. We don’t have a problem but we need standardisation.”
In the worst case scenario this could mean lines no longer calling either due to cost or simply because the technical requirements to fulfil the regulations are just not possible.
Captain Hernan Zini, vp worldwide port operations Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, commented: “We would like to know the costs so we can put them in a budget. And also, for the future, so we can decide whether we can continue to call.”
What is clear is that bringing in local/regional regulations and tariffs at short notice is unwelcome. Planning itineraries two to three years out means that all the costings have already been set and the lines are unable to pass on any of the costs to passengers. Zini explained: “When we need to make regulatory and tariff changes, we need time so we can make informed decisions for where we can go.”
Dirk van der Raadt, senior manager deployment and itinerary planning Holland America Line, put it like this: “Local regulations coming into, for example, Norway means older ships will have to start avoiding some places. Ports and regions need to work together to have standards across the region.”
Looking at the wider picture, the executives made it clear that their companies are revenue driven and this is what drives deployment. Higher costs are very much part of the mix.
Another area of some uncertainty and discussion is cold ironing or connecting to shore power. With only about 15 ports fitted worldwide, and most of these being in the USA where surplus hydro-electricity is available and subsidised, there is plenty of scope for development.
Chris Millman, vp corporate marine technology Carnival Corp & plc, commented: “Obviously cold ironing is a great way of removing real or perceived pollution. In the US some places where we can plug in use coal which is less environmentally-friendly [than using the ship’s engines].” He pointed out that the investment to install is expensive and that it is more expensive to buy the power than it is to generate it from the ship so it would have to be subsidised. However Carnival supports the idea of shorepower and will have about 60 ships in the fleet capable shortly.