Ferry Business - Spring/Summer 2023

In association with GREEN AMBITIONS Jan Hanses explains how new fuels and technologies will cut Viking Line’s emissions AUTOMATION Yasuo Iritani on SHK Line Group’s autonomous ship plans CUSTOMERS FIRST Matteo Della Valle shares GNV’s customer experience strategy

88 COMMENTARY Following some major advances in 2022, making further progress in securing the economic and environmental viability of the global ferry sector remains the fundamental aim of Interferry and its evergrowing membership this year. In my column in the Spring/Summer 2022 issue of CFR, I forecast signs of a break in the Covid cloud hanging over the travel market. I also revealed plans for a landmark initiative that would put battery-charged propulsion centre stage in the drive to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. So, where do we stand now? The summer season is always key to boosting turnover in the passenger ferry business. Happily, there is good reason to be cautiously upbeat about the current outlook. I say this even though geopolitical situations like the war in Ukraine will inhibit growth in certain regions and impact energy costs, inflation and interest rates worldwide. However, the general trend – supported by a string of newbuild deliveries – suggests traffic is poised to build on 2022 performance, which saw a marked recovery from the Covid-induced slump. Volumes approached or even surpassed the pre-pandemic levels set in 2019, with various operators recording a significant revival in tourism that added crucial income to revenue from residents. Meanwhile a milestone on the environmental front came in May 2022 when Interferry launched a global campaign seeking government and port authority investment in shore power supply infrastructure. A quantum leap in electricity grid capacity is vital to support the ferry sector’s industry-leading transition to battery-based power trains. An initial joint promotional agreement was Joining forces for a sustainable future Interferry CEO Mike Corrigan describes the partnership and dialogue strategy the global trade association has adopted to enable it to pursue challenging opportunities MIKE CORRIGAN A Canadian former energy industry executive, Mike Corrigan joined Interferry in 2017 after 14 years with BC Ferries – among the world’s largest ferry operators – where he was president and CEO from 2012. Interferry will return to Australia for the 2023 conference, hosting the event at Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart in Hobart, Tasmania

89 signed with the European Sea Ports Organisation, and we are now pursuing verbal understandings with Cruise Lines International Association, the International Association of Ports and Harbors, and container line organisation, the World Shipping Council. The need for such initiatives is underlined by the scale of GHG reduction targets, which are to aim for net-zero emissions by 2050. Talks on interim proposals for 2030 and 2040 will be renewed at imminent meetings of the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee after being deferred at last December’s session, but two compliance instruments have already entered force since 1 January 2023. They include the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index, which measures technical standards, and the Carbon Intensity Indicator, which requires a continuous improvement plan for operational efficiency. After years of lobbying, Interferry won sector-specific design and operational amendments to the original proposals and will now monitor their implementation ahead of a systems review scheduled for early 2026. Our association is also firmly focused on the European Union’s (EU) recently agreed Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), under which vessels of any flag calling at EU ports will gradually surrender their allowances – 40 per cent for verified emissions from 2024, 70 per cent in 2025 and 100 per cent by 2026. Our primary concern is whether the industry will receive any of the ETS revenues to help us meet GHG reduction targets. We made this point in tripartite meetings with the EU’s governing body, executives and parliament last year, and have since signed a working agreement with the European Community Shipowners’ Associations to harness our position and feedback on such issues. Interferry’s ‘Stronger Together’ creed was likewise highlighted in Seattle at our 46th annual conference last October, which attracted record attendance of more than 500 participants. This November, we will head to Hobart, Tasmania, marking the third time we have hosted the conference in Australia, following Sydney in 1995 and the Gold Coast in 2002. The strength of support we enjoy in Australia speaks volumes for the event’s potential to attract new members who add to the global influence of our powerful membership bases in Europe and North America. Going back to the Asia-Pacific region is another step in promoting our networking, lobbying and best practice benefits – and in 2024, we’re carrying the message to Morocco, staging the event in Africa for the first time. In 2022, we recruited 25 new members, taking our total to more than 270 operators and suppliers in 40 countries. More members are likely to join us in 2023 following our participation at the Passenger Vessel Association convention in Long Beach, California, in February, at Shippax Barcelona in Spain this April and at the Canadian Ferry Association event in Vancouver this September. With so many mutually advantageous objectives in sight, I can only conclude: long may our joint efforts continue! “ Securing the economic and environmental viability of the global ferry sector remains the fundamental aim” Several Interferry members are investing in electric vessels, including Danish operator ForSea, which owns Aurora, one of the world’s biggest battery-powered ferries Photo: ‘ForSea’

FEATURED INTERVIEW The shape of things to come Comprising five different ferry brands, SHK Line Group is Japan’s leading ferry operator. Yasuo Iritani explains to Philippe Holthof why the company is at the forefront of autonomous shipping in a country that is contending with labour shortages and environmental challenges Unlike their European peers, Japanese ferry operators have arrived late to the party when it comes to alternative fuels. Exactly 10 years after the introduction of Viking Line’s Viking Grace, the world’s first large ro-pax ferry powered by LNG, Japan’s MOL Ferry introduced Sunflower Kurenai on 13 January 2023. To be followed by sister ship, Sunflower Murasaki, in May, Sunflower Kurenai is the first large LNG-powered ro-pax ferry to operate in Japanese waters. SHK Line Group, however, is maintaining a ‘waitand-see’ attitude to the fuel. The pathway towards net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is a long one and whilst LNG was initially proposed as the solution for meeting the 0.1 per cent sulphur cap in Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs), its impact on GHG emissions is highly dependent on methane slip at the production, distribution and operational levels. Japan is not a 0.1 per cent SECA yet which may partially explain why SHK Line Group and other domestic ferry operators have been hesitant to burn LNG as an alternative, cleaner fuel. According to SHK Line Group president Yasuo Iritani, there is good reason why his company has not implemented LNG propulsion yet. “From an environmental standpoint, LNG is currently a good alternative fuel,” he says. “However, the unstable supply chain for LNG remains a huge problem. Our conventional ferries primarily operate long-distance routes at rather high service speeds, so we really need a lot of fuel [storage space]. This, combined with short port stays, makes LNG operation extremely challenging. Rather than walking down the LNG path, we primarily look at methods to reduce fuel consumption and our carbon dioxide footprint.” Fuel efficiency is at the heart of the design of SHK Line Group’s latest generations of ferries. This is why Shin Nihonkai Ferry’s 2017-built 90 The signature atrium on SHK Line Group’s latest generation of ro-pax ferries

91 vessels, Lavender and Azalea, were both equipped with the Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System, which blows air bubbles from the bottom of the vessel’s hull to reduce friction and – Mitsubishi claims – increase energy efficiency by 10 per cent. However, SHK Line Group opted not to install the technology on Hankyu Ferry’s 2020-built Settsu and Yamato ferries, or Tokyo Kyushu Ferry’s 2021-built Hamayu and Soleil. “The system has proved to be ineffective on fast conventional ferries with a thin hull,” explains Iritani. “Hull optimisation is the name of the game. The naval architects who designed the 23.5-knot Settsu, managed to achieve a six per cent increase in energy efficiency compared to earlier vessels, whilst the vessel is equipped with two ultra-economical Wärtsilä 14V31 main engines.” SHK Line Group’s efforts to decrease environmental pollution extend beyond improving energy efficiency. The ferry conglomerate pioneered the use of exhaust gas cleaning systems (scrubbers) among Japanese ferry operators. Settsu was Japan’s first ro-pax newbuild to be delivered with a hybrid scrubber. Scrubbers have also been installed on subsequent newbuilds, while six existing ro-paxes have been retrofitted with openloop scrubbers. European – and particularly Norwegian – operators have shown the way forward when it comes to the hybridisation and electrification of ferries, as well as investments in shore power facilities on ships and in port. But what is the situation in Japan? “We are considering some form of hybridisation as our next generation of ferries may come with batteries,” says Iritani. “We have experience with shore ONE GROUP, FIVE DIFFERENT FERRY BRANDS SHK Line Group controls five different ferry brands: Hankyu Ferry, Kampu Ferry, Shin Nihonkai Ferry and its Tokyo Kyushu Ferry affiliate, and the freightonly operator Suzhou Shimonoseki Ferry (SSF). SHK Line Group was founded as Shimonoseki-based Kanko Kisen in 1948 by Toyokuni Iritani. In 1968, he pioneered a ‘Motorway of the Sea’ service between Kokura and Kobe under the Hankyu Ferry banner. Following the success of Hankyu Ferry, Iritani established Shin Nihonkai Ferry in 1969 and today, the brand has eight ro-pax ferries and is the backbone of SHK Line Group’s ferry operations. It also controls Tokyo Kyushu Ferry. Both Kampu Ferry and Suzhou Shimonoseki Ferry operate international ferry services, connecting Shimonoseki with Busan in South Korea and Taicang (Taiso) in China, respectively. SHK Line Group remains in the hands of the Iritani family with the descendants of Toyokuni Iritani standing at the helm of the respective subsidiaries which hold each other’s shares. “ The ultimate goal is to develop a fully autonomous Smart Coastal Ferry” Hamayu and sister ship Soleil were built for Tokyo Kyushu Ferry and serve the new 527-nautical-mile route between Yokosuka and Shinmoji during the summer season

“ The ferry trip is not just a means of transportation as we have devised ways to enjoy the onboard life” power but it had no effect for us. Besides the installation cost for shore power facilities, the power delivered to the ships doesn’t come cheap. As per our experience it’s not a cost-effective solution. As earlier pointed out, many of our services are characterised by long sea journeys and short turnarounds, so the environmental benefits of switching to the onshore grid when alongside is marginal.” In addition to the environmental challenges, Japan is experiencing the effects of an ageing society. More than half of the crew members currently working on ferries are over 50 years old and the industry is struggling to attract younger workers because they are not prepared to be away from home for long periods of time. Automation and artificial intelligence technology could potentially provide a solution to tackle the shortage of deck and engine crew, but passenger ships will probably always require a minimum number of human staff to help evacuate passengers in case of an emergency. SHK Line Group has been an active partner in The Nippon Foundation MEGURI2040 Fully Autonomous Ship Program, a stepping stone towards fully autonomous shipping. In January 2022, Shin Nihonkai Ferry subsidiary Tokyo Kyushu Ferry successfully conducted an autonomous seven-hour trial onboard the 2021-built, 31,408gt Soleil. The industry-first trial was carried out by a consortium comprising Mitsubishi Shipbuilding (which built Soleil) and Shin Nihonkai Ferry. “These autonomous trials were part of a one-year project with Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and the main purpose was to acquire data for practical use,” says Iritani. “We were able to collect all required data. When built, Soleil had an automatic manoeuvring system capable of automatically navigating along the planned route, avoiding obstacles based on radar and image analysis system information. “During the January 2022 trials, Soleil proceeded while judging the situation on the spot, detecting ships ahead and passing them automatically. In addition, it was equipped with various systems that remotely monitored the engine and also predicted failures. The chief engineer of Mitsubishi Shipbuilding commented that the demonstration of unmanned navigation and its practical application was 50 per cent complete at this stage. However, he also told us that certain operations had to be dealt with manually, something that needs to be addressed in the future. The ultimate goal is to develop a fully autonomous Smart Coastal Ferry.” Operating under the wings of Shin Nihonkai Ferry, Tokyo Kyushu Ferry, is the latest addition to the SHK Line Group portfolio, serving the 21-hour Yokosuka-Shinmoji route since 1 July 2021. Although purpose-built for this new six-times-weekly service, Soleil and sister ship Hamayu were replaced by Shin Nihonkai Ferry’s Suzuran and Suisen in November 2022. The latter two vessels are pretty similar in size to their predecessors but have a higher passenger capacity and a somewhat lower cargo intake. “The new route has been well received in the market on the grounds that there aren’t many ferries connecting the Tokyo and Kyushu areas,” says Iritani. “The 527-nautical-mile distance is far more comfortable by ferry than by car. We aim to offer a cruise ferry product with typical Japanese facilities such as a large public bath with a view, an FEATURED INTERVIEW 92 The planetarium on Hamayu

open-air bath, a sauna, a planetarium, and a cinema. The restaurant is very popular, offering a variety of seasonal menus with local ingredients from Kanto and Kyushu. Soleil and Hamayu now operate on the ‘Pacific side’ of Honshu and Kyushu. “We have experienced increased passenger demand during the winter season and lower demand during the summer months on this route,” says Iritani. “It’s just the other way around on the ‘Sea of Japan side’, which is the very reason for the tonnage swap.” Generally, ferry operations in Japan are entirely different from those in Europe, with food and beverage vending machines often replacing expensive catering staff. “To a certain extent, the Japanese ferry market follows the European model with utilitarian ro-pax ferries on the one hand and those that aim to offer a cruise ferry-like product on the other,” says Iritani. “Admittedly, Japan’s cruise ferry culture is a far cry from Europe’s and although SHK Line Group has a high penetration in the passenger market, the transport of unaccompanied freight trailers remains our bread and butter. Having said this, we do our utmost to differentiate ourselves from our competitors with the comfort level of our ferries. The ferry trip is not just a means of transportation as we have devised ways to enjoy the onboard life.” “In addition, we are gaining support from families travelling by car,” Iritani continues, adding that, just like in other parts of the world, Japanese ferry operators have lost passengers to cheap airlines. Until early January 2023, SHK Line Group also operated the 1998-built cruise ship Pacific Venus under the Venus Cruise banner. Cruises were suspended during the pandemic and although they resumed in March 2021, SHK Line Group decided to pull the plug on its cruise affiliate, with Iritani blaming the difficult business environment in the wake of Covid-19. 93 Hamayu and Soleil offer cruise ferry amenities, including deluxe suites and public baths. Although public baths are common on Japanese ferries that operate long-distance routes, the outdoor iteration onboard these ships is a new innovation

94 INTERVIEW Creating compelling customer experiences In the post-Covid era, ferry operators have recognised that they need to invest in delivering high-quality services that will exceed customers’ expectations and win business back. Simon Johnson asks Matteo Della Valle about Grandi Navi Veloci’s strategy What constitutes an excellent customer experience? It’s a question that every ferry operator must ask if they want to remain competitive, differentiate their brand and become the service provider of choice for travellers in an increasingly competitive marketplace. However, finding the right solution can be tricky, particularly in a world shaped by everevolving customer expectations and changing socioeconomic, geopolitical, environmental and other factors. According to Matteo Della Valle, passenger sales and marketing director at Italian brand Grandi Navi Veloci (GNV), the answer lies in going back to basics. “Ferry operators must provide a seamless experience that makes passengers feel valued and understood,” he says. “GNV strives to achieve this goal through clear and transparent customer communication, via everything from targeted advertising to our post-sale actions. We also work hard to efficiently solve all the problems that our customers face and always making them feel comfortable and protected through the friendly and empathetic approach of our staff.” GNV was founded in Genoa, Italy, in 1992 and now operates 25 vessels on routes to Sardinia, Sicily, Spain, Tunisia, Morocco, France and Albania. Each ferry offers comfortable and wellequipped cabins and suites, as well as a range of public spaces including lounges, restaurants, children’s play areas and shops. Shoreside employees and onboard crew members play an equally crucial role in delivering a high-quality travel experience, both onboard the ferries and in the ports they sail to. “Shoreside employees are the first people our customers come into contact with when they enter the ferry terminal, so they’re responsible for providing support and assistance at the start of the journey,” says Della Valle. “Meanwhile, crew members are responsible for ensuring passengers are comfortable and safe onboard our vessels. Shoreside and shipboard staff must work together in a coordinated way to ensure we offer customers the best experience. “The distinctive thing about GNV’s customer experience is our Mediterranean hospitality and the fact we’re creating personalised services for each target audience that needs to take the ferry.” GNV continually measures the quality of its services, adapting them to resolve any issues and meet the ever-evolving needs and expectations of its customers. “We ask all travellers to complete an email survey after their trip, which enables us to track net promoter scores and measure customer satisfaction levels,” says Della Valle, noting that onboard sales can also provide a good indicator of how content customers are with GNV’s services. “In addition, we identify any customer experience issues or areas for improvement by collecting and analysing data that comes from claims, onboard warnings, social media comments and our website.” GNV has noticed several changes in passenger expectations following the Covid-19 pandemic and modified its services accordingly. “Since the pandemic, passengers have been much more attentive to cleanliness, GNV’s friendly staff play a pivotal role in enhancing the passenger experience onboard its ferries

95 Photo: credit Italian firm GNV operates 25 vessels on routes to Sardinia, Sicily, Spain, Tunisia, Morocco, France and Albania health and safety onboard our ships, so we have stricter protocols to be in place,” says Della Valle. “In addition, we’ve noticed that they expect more flexibility, for example if they need to reschedule their trip, so that has become a key aspect of ticket sales.” Typically, GNV considers several factors when prioritising future customer experience investments and deciding how best to implement corrective measures to overcome customer service issues. “We mainly evaluate the likely return on investment, the level of improvement in operational efficiency and the possible impact on the environment,” says Della Valle. “Plus, we’re always focused on following market trends to ensure we bring something innovative to the industry.” In keeping with its goal to constantly innovate, GNV is currently exploring how it can capitalise on new technologies to deliver better and more efficient customer services at all stages of the ferry journey. “People now expect to remain connected throughout their trip, so we’re working hard to use technology to enable them to do this and also to make travelling with GNV as effortless as possible,” says Della Valle. “We’re also improving both our digital and traditional customer service channels. For example, we’re providing more pre-departure information through our website, direct marketing and contact centre, but also through more flexible and digital customer service options such as live chat, email and social media.” GNV is also using technology to make operations more efficient. “We are investing in improving the punctuality and efficiency of our ships with the help of our maritime support centre department, which uses advanced technology to monitor and provide constant support to the entire fleet,” says Della Valle. “Another goal is to consolidate our role as a leading service provider for specific target markets that need to travel by ferry, such as families and people journeying with their pets.” In addition, GNV is preparing to take delivery of four new ro-pax vessels, which will be built by China’s Guangzhou Shipyard International and start service from 2024 onwards. The 1,500-passenger newbuilds will have 3,100 lane metre capacity and will likely be deployed on the routes to the Balearic Islands and either Sardinia or Sicily. GNV aims to deliver an equally compelling customer experience on these ships too. “The way people view ferry travel has changed, and our understanding of the latest trends and new customer needs will ensure that our new ships offer passengers a better experience,” says Della Valle. “ Ferry operators must provide a seamless experience that makes passengers feel valued and understood”

96 INTERVIEW Building on green ambitions Heidi Wolden explains to Michele Witthaus how Norwegian ferry operator Norled plans to achieve its goal of becoming a zero-emission organisation by 2040 Boasting a long coastline relative to its size as well as its iconic fjords, Norway depends more than many countries on ferries for both essential services and transporting passengers. Headquartered in Stavanger, Norled has a strong history of providing various transport services in the country. It currently operates around 70 ferries and express boats along the Norwegian coast, from Oslo in the south to Harstad in the north. Transporting people, goods and cars all year round, the company’s ferries are a central part of the Norwegian infrastructure. “Our express boats transport people quickly from one area to another where it often is faster to go by boat than car, and we also offer tourist trips to our fjords and grand natural attractions,” says Heidi Wolden, who took up the role as Norled CEO in May 2020. The company has developed a reputation for investing in innovative technologies to help minimise its carbon emissions. “Norled has worked hard to reduce emissions related to ferries and express boats,” says Wolden. “We introduced the world’s first electrical vessel, MF Ampere, back in 2015, which revolutionised the Norwegian ferry industry. Since then we have built several other electrical ferries and we use electrical ferries where we can.” Norled’s fully electric ferry MF Ryfylkeferjen, which entered service in July 2022, continues to build the brand’s reputation for sustainable and efficient travel. “The ferry is one of several electrical ferries in our fleet,” says Wolden. “When we build new ferries they are mainly electrical. “ Sustainability is an integrated part of our activity, strategy and plans” In July 2021, Norled took delivery of MF Hydra, the world’s first ferry running on liquid hydrogen

97 Our goal is to reduce our emissions by 67 per cent by 2030 and that means that 65 per cent of our fleet will be zero-emission vessels. Norled has led the way with new zero-emission solutions, and MF Ryfylkeferjen is part of that.” In another industry first, Norled took delivery of MF Hydra, the world’s first ferry running on liquid hydrogen (LH2), in July 2021. This technology demonstration project was conceived to prepare the ground for any future ship that will use hydrogen as a fuel and its progress is being watched with interest by other operators. “We believe future projects for ferries in Norway will depend on LH2 production in Norway,” says Wolden. “Hydrogen is best to use on longer ferry stretches where batteries cannot be charged regularly.” The operator’s customer, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, is an important stakeholder in all stages of planning for LH2-fuelled ferries. MF Hydra can also sail using batteries as an alternative to the proton-exchange membrane fuel cells running on LH2, which means the ferry’s environmental impact will be zero. This is an important aspect of the company’s long-term strategy. “Norled aims to be a leading player within sustainable maritime solutions,” says Wolden. “Sustainability is an integrated part of our activity, strategy and plans. It’s our goal to cut our carbon dioxide emissions by 67 per cent by 2030 through boosting the share of low- and zero-emission vessels in the fleet from four per cent in 2019 to 65 per cent by 2030. We aim to be a zeroemission company by 2040.” Norled plans to reach this goal by working together with strategic partners such as propulsion systems providers, automation companies and energy carriers. In addition, the company is spearheading a battery swap system for express boats in order to ensure that they also become zeroemission vessels. “Our battery swap system, SHIFTR, enables us to sail on electricity but maintain the high speed we are used to with express boats,” says Wolden. From a staffing perspective, Norled is working to be a leader in equal representation at work for its crew. “We are working to attract more women to the industry, where the goal is a 50 per cent proportion in the onshore organisation management, and 30 per cent proportion in the company by 2030,” says Wolden. Norled’s liquid hydrogen-fuelled ferry, MF Hydra

98 INTERVIEW Green operations are in Viking’s DNA Recycling began onboard Viking Line’s vessels four decades ago. Susan Parker asks Jan Hanses how the Finnish operator is continuing to improve its environmental footprint “ Viking Line will continue to reduce energy consumption by three per cent a year” When Viking Glory took to the waters in March 2022, almost a decade after sister ship Viking Grace was inaugurated, the vessel produced 10 per cent fewer emissions than its predecessor. “We made the hull more hydrodynamically efficient and we introduced, for the first time, Azipods to speed up manoeuvring in harbours and ports,” says Jan Hanses, CEO of Viking Line. “This saves time, which enables us to slow down in the archipelago and, by doing so, save on fuel [and hence reduce emissions].” Both ships are powered by LNG and are already equipped to start using biogas, or synthetic fuels produced from renewable energy, when they become commercially available. “We are doing investigations with Finnish gas suppliers in order to possibly introduce biogas as a first step,” says Hanses. The idea is to start with cargo ships, whereby freight owners can pay a bit more for a portion of the biogas being used to provide power. The plan is to then give the same option to passengers. “But that is harder to do as it would be a very small portion of the biogas that one passenger would buy,” notes Hanses. Viking Line is also looking at other possibilities to reduce emissions, including synthetic fuel, whereby it would use e-methane combined with energy from wind parks to provide a completely fossil-free fuel. However, Hanses say that before this can happen: “We need the infrastructure to be built up, especially production plants for e-methane fuels. The projects are commencing but I expect it to be a few years before we see the first introduction of those.” In the meantime, Viking Line is installing Elogrids on the bow thrusters Viking Glory currently runs on LNG fuel but can switch to operating on biogas or synthetic fuels made from renewable energy as soon as they become commercially available

99 of its vessel to improve hydrodynamic efficiency. Viking expects to produce a saving of a few per cent on the fuel consumption, and hence carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions. The plan is to roll this out throughout the six-ship fleet during scheduled dry docks. Viking Line has also been using shore power on the Helsinki route since the 1990s and vessels now plug in at any port where it is offered. The company’s green aim, says Hanses, is to “continue to reduce energy consumption by three per cent a year”. This will involve not only investing in technical solutions but also developing the way the vessels are handled on the routes. He adds: “We also see possibilities to further reduce energy consumption on the hotel load, for example more efficient use of the air conditioning and heating system during the year.” Hanses believes that the company’s environmental ethos gives it a competitive edge with passengers on sales, who are the most satisfied and loyal customers of any transport provider in Finland, according to a 2022 EPSI Rating survey. Passengers appreciate both the efforts made to increase the sustainability of both ship operations and the onboard product. For example, in terms of food, Hanses says: “Passengers see the way the food is handled in the restaurants in order to minimise waste and also the way that we choose the products we use. It should be sustainable all the way through.” Instead of offering large amounts of fish and meat in the buffets, the company provides small portions – as many as guests want – to minimise waste. It also looks for local and sustainable food solutions, for example fish from the Baltic. “Some of our vessels ship the waste for production of biogas [at the moment for other operators],” says Hanses. Looking ahead, Hanses, like so many others, is preparing for the European Union’s Fit for 55 plan, which aims to cut net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030. “We need to make our operation more efficient to balance the further costs it will bring us,” he says. “Grace and Glory are a good start and a platform to develop upon, but I suspect we’ll need some time before we can carry it through.” The regulations will require the amount of fossil components in the fuels to gradually reduce but this will need to be balanced with concerns about price mechanisms: “We need to use fuels other than fossil fuels in the future in order to be able to function,” he concludes. Viking Line has measures in place to reduce the amount of food wasted in the cafes and restaurants onboard its ships Photo: credit

INTERVIEW Still innovating at 60 As Stena Line celebrates its 60th anniversary, Ian Hampton gives Michele Witthaus an insight into the brand’s enduring success When Stena Line’s owner, Dan Sten Olsson, launched his company in 1963, he wanted the new business to embody three key qualities when interacting with customers: welcoming, caring and reliable. For Stena Line’s chief operating officer fleet and government affairs Ian Hampton, these three simple words are as powerful in 2023 as ever. “They define everything we do and are instilled in all new employees,” he says. As maritime transport comes under increasing pressure to lower emissions and work towards net-zero status, Stena Line is adopting a two-pronged approach to sustainability, says Hampton. “This combines building new vessels, while also, where possible, converting existing vessels to run on greener technology and adopting technology that increases efficiency.” In 2015 Stena Line achieved a world first by converting its ferry Stena Germanica to run on both diesel and methanol and the company is keen to extend the success of that achievement. The company’s newest ships, Stena Estelle and Stena Ebba, which entered service in 2022, are set up for flexible fuel use. “We are building on our experience with our existing methanol ferry by working with the engine manufacturers of some of our current vessels to explore the feasibility of converting existing engines to run on methanol fuel,” explains Hampton. “Our aim for our next newbuild vessels is for them to be methanol and battery hybrids, which we hope to have in operation by the end of the decade.” The longer-term plan remains full electrification once the supporting Refuelling Stena Germanica with methanol 100

101 Stena Ebba is one of the new energy-efficient E-Flexer ferries “ Our aim for our next newbuild vessels is for them to be methanol and battery hybrids” infrastructure can be supplied, he explains. “We could build an electric ferry, but the level of green electricity to recharge a ferry in short turnaround time will take longer than we first thought to supply into the ports and terminals we use. So, for the short to medium-term we need to plan for more achievable options, such as hybrid vessels.” Security of fuel supply and supporting infrastructure (for both green and blue methanol) remains a big issue, he says, as does shore power, “which of course has to be obtained from renewable energy sources”. Hampton points out that as the life of a ferry is decades long, the industry must look at options to adapt existing older ferries alongside their newbuild plans. “Sometimes it is not prudent, or practical, to modify a ship’s existing engines but where we can, we are looking into converting existing vessels to alternative greener fuels,” says Hampton. “The newer vessels are much more fuel efficient, so we are concentrating our focus on replacing, or converting, the vessels that have the highest carbon intensity index.” When it comes making their vessels more sustainable, he says: “The Stena Sphere is a large group of companies, so we are always working with our sister companies, such as Stena Teknik and Stena RoRo in order to find and assess new sustainable technology.” This is allowing the company to develop the green vessels of the future and explore new types of fuel. Another key area of operations where sustainability is also a top focus is onboard services where the team are constantly trying to find ways to make both operations and the customer experience more environmentally sustainable. Small changes can make a big difference, such as reducing cleaning chemicals by switching to electrolysed water, while in some areas of operation it’s led to a proactive approach of switching suppliers. Hampton is proud that Stena Line, which today operates more than 25,000 yearly sailings, continues to be a trusted link between people and places. “Everything we do is based on the core values of our passion, sustainability and care,” he says. “This approach is encapsulated in an initiative we have called the Big Little Things, where our employees do that little bit extra for our customers that builds goodwill. All of this is done under an overarching strict safety regime, which underpins everything we do.”

102 INTERVIEW Born of the sea, Istanbul in Turkey is located next to the Haliç, the Bosphorus, the Princes Islands, the Black Sea and Marmara Sea shores, all of which have made it a hub for sea transportation throughout history. The city possesses a boundless maritime heritage upon which Istanbul Deniz Otobüsleri (IDO) has built its extensive ferry operations. IDO started operating in 1987 with two sea buses each offering capacity for 449 passengers. By 1994, the number of sea buses in the fleet had reached 14. Today, IDO serves 35 million passengers and 11 million vehicles annually on 16 different lines using a total of 49 vessels, including five large fast ferries, 24 sea buses and 20 car ferries. It sails from 22 piers in the Marmara Region in northwest Turkey, an area that straddles Europe and Asia across the Sea of Marmara. “As İDO, we transport both foot and vehicle passengers from the Anatolian and European sides of Istanbul to Yalova with four fast catamarans,” says Murat Orhan, managing director of IDO. “We also transport foot passengers from both sides of Istanbul to piers such as Bursa, Bandırma, Kumla, Çınarcık, Armutlu, Avşa Island and Marmara Island with sea bus services. “In addition, we carry foot and vehicle passengers between Gebze and Yalova using 20 car ferries that operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Sirkeci-Harem line is another line we serve for foot and vehicle passengers between the Anatolian side and the European side of Istanbul. Finally, we have one fast ferry with capacity for 1,000 passengers and 200 vehicles, which is used for zero-kilometre automobile logistics transportation.” IDO is one of Turkey’s leading operators, which can be attributed to the fact it takes a dynamic approach to management and delivers customer satisfaction-oriented services. “As the sector leader of ferry transportation in Turkey for more than 35 years, despite many difficulties, we have continued our services without refraining from making any sacrifices,” says Orhan. “We have always acted to involve all our stakeholders in the process of creating A reliable and comfortable service Turkey’s Istanbul Deniz Otobüsleri serves 35 million passengers per year. Murat Orhan tells Justin Merrigan how the brand is continually developing itself to meet passenger expectations

103 common and sustainable value, and we have directed our projects accordingly. “Thanks to our experienced staff, IDO offers a reliable and comfortable passenger experience, a positive journey for passengers who are tired and bored of spending time in traffic. Our ferry services allow them to escape the traffic, take a break and travel much more economically than via alternative routes. We are increasing the variety and quality of services we offer to our passengers, including improving food and beverage services onboard our ships and at terminals with products of much more affordable price and quality.” IDO has also adapted its services in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. “With the pandemic, the rate of digital conversion has increased so we have grown our investments in digital transformation to minimise contact and meet passenger demands,” says Orhan. “We have developed the İDO Arabalı mobile application, where we can make online sales for our Eskihisar-Topçular and Sirkeci-Harem lines. Passengers can buy a ticket and travel on the day and time of their choice without waiting at the ticket office. The app also provides navigation support, allowing the passenger to see the distance to the nearest pier and determine their quickest route to the terminal.” As a company that carries 35 million passengers a year, IDO regularly publishes compelling advertisements outlining the importance of keeping natural environments clean, especially the sea. “Our company goal includes achieving a reduction in the consumption of resources such as electricity and fuel,” says Orhan. “We receive Zero Waste Certificates at our terminals in line with the objectives of protecting aquatic life and climate action. We organise waste management and environmental awareness training for our employees every year and we have activities aimed at raising the awareness not only of IDO employees, but also of our subcontractors and even our passengers.” In addition, IDO is working to increase marine sector employment opportunities for women. “We provide internship opportunities to students from universities, colleges and vocational high schools that offer a maritime education in different cities of Turkey,” says Orhan. “Here, too, we give priority to female students when selecting intern students in line with the United Nations’ Women’s Empowerment Principles.” “ Our ferry services allow people to escape the traffic, take a break and travel much more economically”

104 P&O Ferries is changing. Jon Ingleton met up with Peter Hebblethwaite in advance of the arrival of Pioneer and Liberté to discuss the revitalisation of a heritage ferry business Transforming for a new era P&O Ferries’ Pioneer will serve on the busy route between Dover and Calais With the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and a costof-living crisis changing the way people think about how they want to travel, many are exploring ferries as an option that they might not have considered before. Peter Hebblethwaite, CEO of P&O Ferries, sees the current climate as a unique opportunity for the industry to make headway with a wider passenger demographic. “For the first time in probably 30 years, we are in a sweet spot of some major macroeconomic dynamics for ferry travel,” says Hebblethwaite. “People are reevaluating their lives and the pace at which they live every day. Being in the moment is more important than speed. Being trapped in a plane or a train therefore becomes much less attractive than enjoying the view on an open deck of a ferry before wandering off for some duty-free shopping, a great meal and a show before a good night’s sleep.” To capitalise on this moment of opportunity, P&O Ferries is focused on making its business as competitive as possible and driving significant growth on its more profitable routes. “Our vision started with our HullEuroport route,” says Hebblethwaite. “We’ve taken out layers of discounting to remove the historically lowest prices so we can still offer really good value but with a higher average rate. As a result, it’s now our most profitable route. There’s still so much potential for further growth too – our day-by-day comparisons with 2022 are consistently showing better performances. It’s really rewarding that we now have “ We are a very different P&O Ferries today” INTERVIEW

105 the evidence to support our vision and motivate us to continue this journey.” P&O Ferries is also investing in a new digital solution to improve the customer experience. “Our routes are a gateway to a world of adventure and we need to be a one-stopshop to give our passengers access to a complete vacation experience within a few clicks,” says Hebblethwaite. “We’re working hard on building a better digital solution which will be launching in 2023. And it’s not just on the front end, we’ve completely restructured our internal IT department and are starting to really leverage our parent company DP World’s considerable resources in this area.” According to Hebblethwaite, providing the best customer experience for customers is a top priority throughout the business. “We’ve become a passionately ‘customer-first’ business and so we’ve maintained that focus for both our freight drivers and tourists,” he says. “There are still more improvements for us to pursue and our plans will continue to evolve to keep pace with customer demand. We have an opportunity to develop a spa-type concept on longer routes, while on a shorter route we may just look to tweak the food options, upgrade the club experience or enhance the drivers’ facilities. These decisions are driven by our customers and informed by our intimate knowledge of their needs.” To help meet customer expectations, P&O Ferries is carrying out refurbishments on its fleet according to a schedule that has been carefully planned to minimise disruption. “All of our current upgrade plans can be completed via a rolling programme while the ships are in service or in routine dry docks, so we don’t need plan any additional time out of the water,” explains Hebblethwaite. “The two biggest interior projects are the refurbishment of our inside cabins and the introduction of a spa, both of which will happen through this year and next. We’ve already renewed the premium cabins and most of the outside cabins. The most noticeable change will be to the back wall, which we’re livening up with giant images, such as a picture of the Humber Bridge onboard Pride of Hull. We’re about

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107 two-thirds of the way through the cabin refurbishment programme now.” The updates will ensure the existing fleet complements P&O Ferries’ two new vessels, Pioneer and Liberté, which will serve the route between Dover, UK, and Calais, France. The performance of the new vessels on what is the busiest trade route in Europe – and P&O Ferries’ most important service – will be crucial in helping the operator to achieve its overall business goals. “Our new ships represent the biggest investment in the history of the company and it feels like they are the embodiment of our ambitions,” says Hebblethwaite. “The new ships will feature much higher quality public spaces. I believe their introduction at the end of April and beginning of May will be a significant step forward for our Dover-Calais service. “Once onboard, we have to give our passengers everything that they need, so they can take time to enjoy the ship and relax before they head off for what could be a relatively long drive on the other side. Pioneer and Liberté will deliver all of this, and our crew will deliver an unparalleled standard of service. The interior facilities are first class, and I think the outdoor spaces will be really well received. We have laboured over every detail to build two extraordinary ships that will be treasured by both us and our customers for many years to come.” P&O Ferries is currently the largest of the three operators sailing on the DoverCalais route, a position Hebblethwaite attributes to the efficiency of its service. “We are currently carrying about 47 per cent of the available freight volumes and about 50 per cent of the available tourist business,” says Hebblethwaite. “The key to success on the Dover-Calais route is being incredibly efficient. That means we need to provide an impressive port experience and then board passengers and freight as smoothly and efficiently as humanly possible – which we can do better than anyone because our ships are double-ended. We don’t have to turn them around, and so we can load them much more efficiently. This turnaround speed gives us an opportunity to sail slightly slower and cut 40 per cent of our running costs, as well as a corresponding volume of carbon dioxide emissions.” Hebblethwaite is clear that P&O Ferries must make difficult decisions as it continues to pursue efficiency, which he puts down to historical issues within the business. “We are a business that needs to remove inefficiencies and loss-making dynamics that we have not dealt with in the past, and some of that involves closing or flexing routes,” he says. “But all of it is designed to make P&O Ferries the most efficient and competitive operator in the market and on the back of that we will achieve our vision for growth. We’re competitive on price and I think we offer a better service. And an increasingly more sustainable service too. We took 85,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions out of the Channel last year and we have plans to do much more.” With a range of opportunities and challenges, it’s clear that P&O Ferries is undergoing a period of transformation. The company is looking to come out as a stronger, more sustainable business that will last into the future. “We are a very different P&O Ferries today and we are becoming the best version of ourselves,” says Hebblethwaite. “I like to think of us becoming an increasingly sophisticated, more dynamic business.” INTERVIEW

108 COMMENTARY MICHAEL GREY Michael Grey is a master mariner turned maritime journalist and has edited both Fairplay and Lloyd’s List in a career spanning more than 60 years. When talking about the ferry industry, it is perhaps understandable that so much of the focus is placed on the ships that operate the services. Each vessel represents a significant investment and there is always a touch of glamour whenever a new one enters service – it’s seen as an expression of confidence in future growth and improved productivity in a competitive market. The trend for both passenger and freight service providers is to build bigger, better and more cost-effective vessels which, these days, feature environmental and sustainability improvements. We can see this with Stena Line’s E-Flexer series, in which the name gives a clue to their advantages over smaller, less flexible predecessors, as well as the large Cobelfret freight ships which swallow up miles of trailers on several routes in North Europe. Meanwhile, the two P&O Ferries’ doubleended ferries soon to enter service on the cross-Channel route between Dover, England, and Calais, France, will feature diesel-battery power plants and a design that will reduce fuel consumption by some 40 per cent compared to the existing and far smaller ships they will replace. And that distinctive doubleended design will save more time and fuel, eliminating the need to turn around, back and fill, into the berths. It ought to make a big difference over quite a short period, with so many crossings each day. But if we are thinking about the productivity and competitiveness of a ferry operator, the ship should not be the only criterion. Having efficient terminal facilities, in the right place, is every bit as important, which transfers at least half of the responsibility to the port operator that must provide them. One can think of a Far more than a ship Having spacious and cost-effective vessels is a bonus for every ferry brand but the secret to successful operations lies in having helpful staff and well-equipped and well-located ports Having helpful staff, both onboard the ferries and in the ports, ensure smooth services and a seamless passenger experience Photo: istock.com/K Neville