High tech cruise time

Cruise lines are becoming increasingly high tech in their offering to guests and the new Vista class is no exception. Carnival Cruise Line’s Christine Duffy tells Sandra Speares

High tech cruise time
This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Carnival Cruise Line officially launched Carnival Vista, the first in the Vista class of vessels, in May 2016 and christened the ship in New York, US in November.

Carnival Vista has multiple innovative features and is designed in accordance with International Maritime Organization Safe Return to Port requirements. Fitted with an Ecospray exhaust gas cleaning system and a Headway ballast water treatment system, the ship is also the first Carnival vessel with an intelligent power management system. The system optimises diesel engine operational settings to reduce emissions and conserve fuel. Meanwhile, a steam-turbine generator recovers excess steam produced by the exhaust gas boilers while the ship is sailing. Classification society Lloyd’s Register has bestowed the ECO Notation designation on Carnival Vista, a first for a Carnival ship.

Innovations aimed at passengers include the first IMAX cinema at sea, the first brewery in North America on a cruise ship and SkyRide. Around 700,000 children sailed with Carnival in 2016, so there’s an emphasis on families with family-designed cabins that have separate bathroom facilities and sleeping areas. “Feedback on Carnival Vista has been fantastic,” says Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president. “A lot of couples enjoy the Havana experience, a themed private and exclusive area with cabins, open bars and an infinity pool. Carnival Vista is the largest in the fleet, accommodating nearly 5,000 people, and has been designed in a way that we think really can accommodate that number effectively. We have spread the features on different decks.”

A second Vista Class ship, Carnival Horizon, is currently under construction at Fincantieri’s Marghera yard in Italy and will be delivered in 2018. The third 133,500gt ship in the series – originally destined for Carnival’s sister brand P&O Cruises Australia – will be delivered by Fincantieri in 2019. In conjunction with this change, Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Splendor will be transferred to P&O Cruises Australia in late 2019.

“One reason for this was the new ship’s size, which represents a considerable leap compared to the current tonnage operated in the Australian market,” explains Duffy. “I think the infrastructure may not be ready for that size of ship yet.”

Carnival has also contracted Meyer Turku in Finland to build its first two LNG-powered cruise vessels for delivery in 2020 and 2022. Based on parent company Carnival Corporation’s next-generation green cruising ship design, these new vessels will be part of the first generation of cruise ships to be fully powered by LNG, making them the most efficient in the company’s history. Pioneering a new era in the use of alternative fuels that reduce air emissions in North America, the ships will use LNG to generate 100% of their power while in port and at sea.

Each 180,000gt ship will accommodate 5,200 passengers and be similar to those on order for sister companies Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises. “The design team is collaborating closely with our sister brands,” Duffy says in response to questions about the configuration of the ship taking the use of LNG into account.

As far as new destinations are concerned, Carnival is ‘very close’ to finalising an agreement with Grand Bahama to build a private Bahamas destination for Carnival, Duffy says. In addition, the company is working to bring more ships and itineraries to Princess Cays in the Bahamas. Up until now, this has primarily been served by Princess Cruises but Carnival has scheduled six ships to make 138 calls at the private island in 2017 and 2018. “Given our huge focus on the Caribbean and the number of Carnival Cruise line ships sailing in the region, there was a good opportunity for us to use Princess Cays,” Duffy explains. Other exclusive destinations open to Carnival guests include Half Moon Cay and the new Amber Cove – a US$85 million purpose-built port development by Carnival Corporation in the Dominican Republic.

Another project is the expansion of Long Beach cruise terminal in California, US. Three Carnival ships have been operating out of Long Beach including Carnival Miracle, which offers seven-day-plus cruises to the Mexican Riviera and longer cruises to Hawaii. In January 2018, the larger Carnival Splendor will replace Carnival Miracle on these routes, increasing capacity by 41% Carnival Miracle will reposition to Tampa, Florida.

The cruise terminal will be tripled in size to nearly 150,000 square feet and the cold ironing facilities will be expanded. Construction will begin later this year. Carnival will also gain full use of the Spruce Goose Dome, which gives the company two-way operation so embarking passengers can access the terminal before passengers have finished disembarking.

As far as environmental regulations are concerned, Duffy says the company is on track to meet the International Maritime Organization’s 0.5% sulphur cap deadline in 2020 and has been continuing its programme to fit its ships with scrubbing technology.

“We’re focused on continuing to train our shipboard employees, particularly those in deck and engine departments who now have the opportunity to go to Carnival Corporation’s new Arison Maritime Center in the Netherlands for state-of-the-art training,” Duffy comments. “The centre emphasises the importance we place on continuing to meet and exceed all the requirements of health, environment, safety and security of our guests and crew.”

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