How ports are helping the cruise industry sail towards greener horizons

Elly Yates-Roberts asks ports from around the world how they are becoming more sustainable

How ports are helping the cruise industry sail towards greener horizons
The Port of Trondheim is one of many ports taking steps towards sustainability

By Elly Yates-Roberts |

For cruise ports and destinations worldwide, ensuring future success means making progress in sustainability today. Many are prioritising investments in strategies that benefit the environment and protect the planet for future generations by, for example, partnering with industry stakeholders to develop and incentivise the use of alternative fuels, renewable energy and shore power facilities. Ports from around the world talk about their latest initiatives.

Port of Dover, UK
Work at the UK’s second busiest cruise port – which welcomes over 25 cruise lines and 200,000 guests each year – has reduced its carbon footprint by 85 per cent since 2007. In 2022, the port launched its sustainability initiative – ‘Targeting Our Sustainable Future’ – which details its commitment to be carbon net zero by 2025 and ensures sustainability is held as a central priority within all business activities. This includes the sourcing of alternative fuels for land-based port operations, the use of renewable energy sources, and encouraging cruise lines to meet certain sustainability metrics, all of which contribute to greener cruising.

Port of Oslo, Norway
As part of its big sustainability ambitions, Port of Oslo aims to offer shore power to cruise vessels docking at Revierkaien Pier by 2025. It also implemented the Environmental Port Index – an economic incentive to support sustainable and eco-friendly cruise operations – in 2019.

Beyond the port, the city of Oslo is delivering on its green reputation. Oslo’s unique closeness to nature provides an abundance of exciting activities with a low carbon footprint, from guided forest hikes to kayak trips on the Oslo fjord. Several of Oslo’s special venues are eco-certified, including The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet and the Norwegian Maritime Museum.

Trondheim Port Authority, Norway
In 2022, the Port of Trondheim opened shore power facilities for expedition-sized cruise ships. This has enabled the frequent and regular use of more sustainable energy sources by visiting vessels. For example, Hurtigruten’s Otto Sverdrup has already been supplied with shore power 11 times this season. The port is also working on extending shore power connections to the main cruise quay in the future.

In addition, the Port of Trondheimt plans to increase the economic impact of each cruise call, with the ultimate goal of sustainably growing the city’s cruise tourism.

Le Havre, France
Le Havre in Northern France has made ambitious choices regarding the environmental impact of cruise terminals, pledging that all quays dedicated to maritime cruises will be electrified before the end of 2025. This will allow ships to switch off their engines during stopovers, which will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 100 tons per 12-hour period, as well as two tons of other pollutants.

The cruise terminals have also been designed to welcome cruise passengers in more environmentally friendly ways. The new buildings scheduled to be built will be energy positive, thanks to the addition of a large photovoltaic roof. The same attitude will be applied to the construction, which will prioritise low-carbon operations and transport 10 per cent of materials by river to reduce the amount of road traffic.

Ports of Toulon Bay, France
Ports of Toulon Bay is strongly committed to sustainable development with the aim of becoming one of the greenest passenger ports in the Mediterrannean. This commitment is reflected through various activities and initiatives, including the availability of shore power at the Downtown Terminal from 2023 and incentives for the most environmentally friendly vessels.

The Ports of Toulon Bay are also actively promoting slow tourism to cruise visitors in the region, with a particular focus on low-impact local tours that stay within 25 kilometres of the ports.

Port System Authority of the Eastern Sicilian Sea, Italy
The Port System Authority of the Eastern Sicilian Sea is working hard to implement sustainability measures in the Sicilian ports of Catania and Augusta. These include photovoltaic systems on shading shelters in the parking areas of the ports to produce solar power, the electrification of docks, and the replacement of mercury-vapour lamps with LEDs. The port authority is also involved in the Smart Port Digital Ecosystem project to use technology to improve the safety and situational awareness of ships while in port.

Valletta Cruise Port, Malta
Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, Valletta Cruise Port continues to look to the future and is supporting a Ä37 million ($36.4 million) investment to provide shore power on the five main cruise ship quays of Valletta’s Grand Harbour within 2023, resulting in major air quality improvements and drastic emissions reductions.

Recognising the huge impact of the cruise industry on the Maltese economy, Valletta Cruise Port, a signatory of the UNWTO Private Sector Commitment to the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism follows a comprehensive set of principles designed to guide key players in tourism development to help maximise the sector’s benefits and mitigate any potentially undesirable impacts. The port is committed to carrying out its activities responsibly, with the aim of leaving a positive impact on the local community. Furthermore, the Valletta Cruise Port Social Club is involved in many additional initiatives to further contribute via various educational, environmental, cultural and charitable activities.

Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, Hong Kong
Worldwide Cruise Terminals (WCT) has proved its commitment to a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future by halving the carbon footprint of the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong. The terminal was awarded the APEC Green Port Award from 2018 to 2022 and has earned multiple local green accolades.

WCT has also commissioned a study for LNG bunkering for ships berthed at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal and is part of an interdepartmental working group evaluating the best path forward for Hong Kong’s clean air and carbon neutrality goals. In addition, WCT has partnered with community groups on social issues like inclusivity and has helped to replace 185 large sodium lamps with new energy-saving LED floodlights at the terminal.

Port of Singapore
Singapore is working towards its vision to become a sustainable urban destination – a ‘City in Nature’ where large experiences come with small footprints. To support this vision, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) launched the Tourism Sustainability Strategy and Programme in April 2022 to guide, collaborate with and support the tourism sector in its pursuit of sustainability.

In its efforts to cultivate a sustainable cruise industry, STB works closely with cruise lines to attract environmentally friendly cruise ships to Singapore. The country’s Maritime and Port Authority also offers concessions to LNG-powered ships calling in the Port of Singapore.

Fiji Ports Corporation, Fiji
Fiji is one of the first nations to commit to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and is the 11th nation to have submitted its Low Emission Development Strategy to the United Nations. A major focus of this is within the energy sector and reducing carbon emissions in land, maritime and domestic aviation transport. The organisation is committed to implementing ways to reduce its carbon footprint and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in its operations.

For example, Fiji Ports has implemented a number of energy efficiency upgrades, which has resulted in an 11 per cent average reduction of GHG emissions over the past five years. Through its continued efforts, it hopes to reduce its carbon footprint by 220 tonnes by 2023 with a goal to reach carbon neutral status by 2027. Fiji Ports has also implemented an energy tracker to monitor its progress in reaching this goal.

Nassau Cruise Port, The Bahamas
Nassau Cruise Port (NCP) is currently undergoing a $300-million revitalisation and transformation project. Its environmental impact has been a priority since the design process began, as demonstrated by green elements such as a one-megawatt solar power supply, full facility LED lighting, low water usage for all buildings and facilities, and a recycling programme.

NCP has also introduced the ‘It’s in Our Hands’ sustainability programme to establish and promote its commitment to environmental protection. The latest initiatives include daily harbour clean-up exercises and a new environmental donation box to support local non-governmental organisations.

Port Saint John, Canada
Port Saint John, located on the Bay of Fundy in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, has plans to make its two cruise terminals fully wind-powered in 2023. The port, which just celebrated its three-millionth cruise passenger, has partnered with a local utilities provider and purchased renewable energy certificates to cover 100 per cent of its corporate energy use. This means that passengers coming to Saint John and towns located in the Bay region can rest assured that their travels have little to no impact on the local environment in terms of energy use while in the cruise terminals.

Port Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Port Milwaukee is proud to work with its Great Lakes partners to preserve and protect the local environment for years to come. The port has joined Cruise the Great Lakes in signing a pledge that commits to the promotion of environmentally conscious cruising and destination stewardship efforts. It has also launched the StewardSHIP environmental incentive programme for passenger and commercial vessels that have implemented emission reduction measures and other environmental improvements. The port intends to continue expanding its eco-centric approach in the coming years.

Creating the cruise industry’s first green corridor
The ports of Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, Canada, have joined a number of other ports, leading global cruise lines and maritime organisations such as the Global Maritime Forum, Blue Sky Maritime Coalition and Washington Maritime Blue, to explore the feasibility of the world’s first cruise-led ‘green corridor’.

“This collaboration aims to accelerate the deployment of zero-emission ships in operation between Alaska, British Columbia and Washington State,” says Steve Metruck, executive director at the Port of Seattle. “It builds on our port’s legacy as a sustainability leader.”

According to Robin Silvester, president and CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the new initiative aligns with the ports efforts to help to decarbonise maritime industries. “The Pacific Northwest is both an area of tremendous natural beauty, and an area of global leadership in advancing sustainable shipping. We look forward to maintaining this reputation in collaboration with our partners, customers and local stakeholders to advance cleaner, greener shipping at the Port of Vancouver and throughout the region.”

This article was first published in the 2023 issue of Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox or your door.


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