CFR Green List: Sustainable cruise ports

We hear what sustainability means for ports and how they’re working towards their goals

CFR Green List: Sustainable cruise ports
Port Canaveral’s new fireboat (part of the port’s new LNG infrastructure) with Allure of the Seas and the SpaceX booster

By Michele Witthaus |

Port Canaveral is one of only two Florida ports to earn Green Marine certification. The port has invested millions of dollars in stormwater improvements and environmental initiatives to ensure water quality and habitat protection to protect, preserve and improve the environment in and around the port. Captain John Murray, port director and CEO, says: “As stewards of our port – a maritime asset vitally important to our state and regional economy – our land and waters must support the well-being and interests of our cruise and cargo partners, the surrounding coastal community, and Florida’s special animal and plant populations, many of which are unique to our local environment.”  

Global Ports Holding (GPH) is the world’s largest independent port operator and its ports are all EcoPort-certified. A spokesperson for GPH says: “We engage with our local stakeholders to contribute to local life and needs. From solar powered terminals to smart waste separation, electric transportations to the control of seagulls’ defecation by using hawks and eagles, GPH ports have many ongoing projects for a more sustainable future.” 

Sweden’s Port of Stockholm provide facilities for water management for vessels at all quays and the ports offer environmentally differentiated port fees to reduce air emissions. Cruise ships that offload separated waste according to the waste instructions also get a discounted port fee. “Environmental efforts are an integrated part of the daily operations,” says Stefan Scheja, marketing manager for ferries and cruises at the port.  

In addition, there is an ongoing project with the Baltic Sea ports of Copenhagen, Aarhus and Helsinki in investing in onshore power supply for cruise ships, which will allow Stockholm to equip its two central quays with high voltage by 2023 and 2024 respectively. 

Plugging in to onshore power 

Onshore power systems (OPS) are an important component in reducing air pollutants and noise emissions of ships berthing in the Port of Hamburg, Germany. The city’s Altona terminal has been equipped with OPS since 2016 and the other two cruise centres in the Port of Hamburg will offer shore power from 100 per cent renewable energies by 2024. In addition, Simone Maraschi, managing director of Cruise Gate Hamburg, says: “We are currently developing a slot management/traffic guidance platform, which will help us optimise the traffic, minimise waiting times for trucks and buses and therefore reduce the emissions at the terminals in the future.” 

Located at the heart of Old Montreal in Canada, Port Montreal has new cruise facilities that have been designed with sustainable development in mind. They offer dockside shore power, which the port says has saved more than 1,350 tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) since 2019. It is estimated that 2,800 tonnes of GHGs per year can be avoided in the long term. The port also has direct connection to a sanitary sewer for disposal of grey and black water. A large green roof on top of the main cruise terminal features more than 20,000 flowering and aromatic plants. 

In late 2020, Canada’s Greater Victoria Harbour Authority confirmed that the organisation will proceed with the next stage of the shore power project for the Victoria Cruise Terminal at The Breakwater District. The Ship Emission Mitigation Technology Assessment and Business Case indicates that a reduction of more than 46 per cent of GHGs and criteria air contaminants (CACs) is achievable with the installation of shore power at two berths at Pier B, which welcomes 75 per cent of all cruise ship calls. The reduction of GHG emissions and CACs is equivalent to 1,394 cars on the road. 

The drive for electrification 

Malta’s Valletta Cruise Port, a subsidiary of Global Ports Holding, is supporting a €49.9 million ($59.7 million) initiative spearheaded by Infrastructure Malta and Transport Malta to develop shoreside electricity. The first part of this two-phased project includes a €37 million ($44 million) investment to provide shore power on the five main cruise ship quays of the Grand Harbour by the end of 2023. Stephen Xuereb, CEO of Valletta Cruise Port and COO of GPH, says: “Each quay will be supplied with shoreside transformers and shore-to-ship connection panels that enable ships to turn off their combustion engines and switch to electrical power as soon as they berth.” 

Worldwide Cruise Terminals (WCT), manager and operator of Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, is committed to sustainable operations for the benefit of the environment. WCT has reduced carbon output per passenger by 52 per cent via thoroughly reviewing energy management practices, such as installing energy-saving lights and motion sensors, rezoning lighting, reprogramming lifts, and making judicious use of Hong Kong’s first district cooling system. WCT was the first Hong Kong building to install superchargers in its car park alongside standard vehicle chargers, and provides electric forklifts. Planned initiatives include lobbying for LNG bunkering, and use of heat insulating films for windows. 

In the UK, Tor Bay Harbour Authority, which operates the popular cruise port of Torquay as well as Paignton and Brixham ports, has started to replace its diesel plant with electric vehicles and has facilitated a key tenant’s installation of a 48-kilowatt solar electric system. The authority has also donated more than 30 tonnes of end-of-life fishing net to be recycled into a diverse range of products such as clothing, kayaks and mobile phone cases through Nurdle, an organisation that aims to remove microplastics from the environment. An increasing number of aquaculture sites in the Bay provide a sustainable source of seafood.  

Located in the western Norwegian Fjords, the port of Flåm is helping to push the industry towards a more sustainable future. From 2023, cruise ships will be able to connect to the new shore power facility with a capacity of up to 16 megawatts. The electricity comes directly from the local hydroelectric power station and is 100 per cent renewable. As a part of this project, the port will also contribute to electrification of the whole destination, establishing its reputation as a hub for renewable energy and innovation.

The Port of Flåm has also become a shareholder in the Environmental Ports Index, which rewards cruise lines that reduce their impact while in port. Flåm already offers zero-emission attractions like the Flåm Railway, E-Mobility electric cars, and three fully electric award winning sightseeing vessels that can carry up to 400 people each.

Sustainable tourism 

As the main port of the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, Norway’s Port of Longyearbyen normally hosts more than 300 cruise calls a year, including both turnarounds for the expedition segment and transit calls for the conventional segment. In 2021 construction is taking place on a new barge to handle luggage, supplies and crew for the ships on anchor, for a more sustainable handling of the expedition vessels turning in Longyearbyen. This year, Visit Svalbard will revise its master plan for tourism to include the cruise segment and consider all elements of sustainability when defining the future tourism mix for Svalbard. 

Together with the Municipality of Heraklion, Crete’s Port of Heraklion has participated in a Global Sustainable Tourism Council destination assessment together with Corfu, co-funded by Cruise Lines International Association, port authorities and municipalities of these two top Greek cruise destinations. The results of this assessment, which is expected to be concluded by summer 2021, will support future initiatives to ensure sustainable management of Heraklion as tourism destination. 

Reducing emissions, pollution and waste 

At the Ports of the Chamber of Commerce of Nice in France, a ‘Cruise Charter’ agreed by the Old Port of Nice and the city of Nice in 2020 has been signed by all the companies calling at the port. It commits companies and cruise ships to reducing emissions into the air with the use of fuel containing less than 0.1 per cent sulphur upon entering the piloting zone; prohibiting any discharge at sea during stopovers; protecting biodiversity; and implementing a globalised environmental approach. In addition, an agreement with Corsica Ferries has been reached to ensure the use of low-sulphur fuel by visiting ferries. 

In 2020, Canada’s Port Saint John helped divert 2,700 pounds of rope from entering the ocean through the Debris Free Fundy initiative. “In partnership with Eastern Charlotte Waterways, we are also trying to gain a better understanding of the impact of operational noise on the marine ecosystem,” says a spokesperson for the port. “In our region, the Atlantic salmon is an endangered species, and we partner with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans annually as they count the salmon passing through our harbour. We also partner with the Atlantic Coastal Action Program on many research endeavours and environmental initiatives.” 

Meanwhile, the Port of Cartagena in Spain is pursuing a sustainability strategy which has helped it to implement actions in economic, social and environmental spheres that have improved its environment. In recent years, the quality of its waters has increased considerably, terrestrial and marine ecosystems have been recovered, and the port has been brought closer to the city with the construction of important infrastructures. The port seeks to develop a sustainable economic model with the involvement of all the value elements of the port chain. 

In keeping with its stated goal of emissions to zero by 2030, Norway’s Port of Oslo is facilitating compact and environmentally friendly port operations and encouraging the use of clean energy and innovative infrastructure. During 2021, an Enova-supported pilot project will be completed on shore power in Oslo. The port has introduced the Environmental Ports Index, which is a tool to reduce the environmental impact from shipsat port and to encourage shipping companies to choose good green solutions by means of differentiated port charges. Port of Oslo is also certified by the environmental management system ISO 14001:2015. Visit Oslo is certified by the Eco-Lighthouse system, promoting green tourism experiences with a focus on defining sustainability projects for partners and guests in 2021.

Green partnerships 

The Port of San Diego in California released the second edition of its Blue Economy Incubator Highlights Report in January 2021. The report outlines the performance of the port’s incubator portfolio based on measurable environmental, social, and financial benefits delivered by the portfolio companies, from pilot project to commercial success. To date, the Board of Port Commissioners has approved nine agreements with early-stage companies to launch innovative pilot projects. “We have proven that businesses can sustainably use ocean resources to grow our economy, to create jobs, and improve livelihoods, while also protecting and improving the health of our ocean and its ecosystems,” says Rafael Castellanos, from the Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners.  

In England, the Port of Dover has been working in partnership with expedition cruise operator Hurtigruten on sustainability since 2019. “The port is fully supportive of all cruise lines that put environmental sustainability at the heart of their business and operations and we look forward to welcoming Hurtigruten to Dover soon for their first UK departure,” says a port spokesperson. In September 2020, the port announced that it will work with Norwegian clean technology company ECOsubsea to roll out a sustainable and environmentally friendly cleaning programme for hulls of visiting cruise ships. The Port of Dover Cruise SEA Award has also been running successfully since 2017 to encourage cruise lines to maximise their recycling. 

The Cape Town Cruise Terminal at the V&A Waterfront on South Africa’s oldest working harbour boasts a number of design and operational features that promote sustainability. These include a ban on single-use plastics and a zero-waste approach at the food hub inside the terminal. Within easy walking distance from the Cape Town central business district, the terminal offers close access to public transport and cycle-friendly facilities. The installation of energy-efficient lighting and appliances allows for greater energy conservation. The precinct has been awarded a total of 12 awards from the Green Building Council of South Africa and has retained Platinum Status through the Heritage Environmental Rating Programme.  

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

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