The technology behind extraordinary itineraries

FarSounder’s Forward Looking Sonar identifies obstructions in the water up to 1,000 metres ahead, helping operators to keep ships, guests and crew safe

The technology behind extraordinary itineraries
FarSounder FLS helps Ponant's captains to identify obstacles in the water from 1,000 metres away

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Spring/Summer 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Expanding their business to provide expedition cruises is a smart investment for cruise operators. However, while passengers crave unspoiled landscapes, chartered routes throughout polar regions and tropical hideaways are limited at best. To mitigate the risks associated with this challenge, companies must go beyond what regulations require and add extra high-tech equipment to ensure their vessels, passengers and crew remain safe.

The world’s oceans, and the environments they encompass, are vast and varied, so safely navigating through them requires a multitude of considerations. Taking a passenger ship into an area where bottom contours shift, and charts are not easily updated is risky. In addition, there may be icebergs, lost shipping containers or storm debris in the water column. Navigation equipment makes it easy for crew to know exactly what obstructions lie ahead.

Many cruise operators feel pressure to raise the bar in the expedition cruise segment by going the extra mile and offering what others cannot. This can be seen in every area – from design elements to technology. Innovation is the name of the game in attracting the adventurers of today to a cruise line. Once the itinerary is set, the question becomes: how do you sail into a quiet inlet? How do you bring your ship close to an iceberg for an extraordinary moment? How do you safely explore the polar regions?

With a FarSounder Forward Looking Sonar (FLS) as part of the navigation suite, the bridge crew can identify potential hazards up to 1,000 metres ahead of the vessel in 3D and in real time. The system will allow the crew the time to adjust course as needed, so they can sail ahead with confidence. In addition, the user-friendly technology is fully integrated with the Wärtsilä Sam NACOS Platinum bridge for seamless operating, while FarSounder’s SonaSoft software allows forward-looking sonar imagery to be easily overlaid on standard nautical charts. This is particularly valuable for identifying changing shorelines and shallows due to storms, and in polar regions, shifting ice.

Recognising the value of having a FarSounder FLS, Ponant has included FarSounder sonars in the navigation suite on nearly all of its ships. Most recently, Ponant has implemented the technology on its new hybrid electric polar exploration vessel, Le Commandant Charcot, which is designed to reach remote locations, including the Geographic North Pole and Antarctica’s Ross Sea.

Taking the experience to the next level is essential to expeditionary cruising. Residential cruise ship The World has mastered the elevation of cruising. It has had the FarSounder technology leading the way for years, enabling it to take passengers where no ship has gone before. In January 2017, The World set sail to the southern limits of the Ross Ice Shelf, the largest off Antarctica. Upon reaching it, the ship broke the record for most southerly navigation.

Today’s travellers are demanding experiences to out-of-the-way places. As the cruise lines answer the call to visit fascinating new destinations, they should consider the benefits of having the latest navigation technology. Having a FarSounder sonar onboard will help them to protect their investment and attract customers with experiential cruising.

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
Monday, May 13, 2019