This year the Escola Europea will for the first time hold a course dedicated to Cruises and Port operations – a course aimed at helping industry professionals understand the characteristics, specialities and implications linked to such an important section of the transport sector. Previously the Escola has held cruise-related course in collaboration with Medcruise in the years 2007, 2010 and 2012, which were open to Medcruise port staff and members. This new course extends the cruise and passenger knowledge further to the wider public.
Cruise shipping originated in the United States, and was initially a leisure activity predominantly linked to the upper classes of the social spectrum. Today, however, with lower costs, coupons and different packages offered by cruise companies, all members of society around the globe can use the cruise industry to spend their holidays, whilst visiting a number of different port cities in the cruise’s route. Cruise shipping is now popular not only in the United States and around the Caribbean Sea, but also in Europe (North Sea and the Western Mediterranean in particular), Asia and the Oceanic isles. It is “defined as a mixture of maritime transport, travel and tourism services, facilitating the leisure activity of passengers paying for an itinerary and, potentially, other services on board, and includes at least one night on board on a seagoing vessel having a capacity of at least 100 passengers” (Pallis, A.). The companies operating in this industry need to take into consideration a number of characteristics specifically linked to tourism – as cruises are important vessels that facilitate it. “On-board amenities, itineraries, ports of call, and shore excursions” are but a few of the things a cruise liner needs to consider when planning a regular route. Additionally, to respond to a growing number of passengers and vessels, the industry has had to continuously evolve to “embrace innovation to develop new destinations, new ship designs, new and diverse on-board amenities, facilities and services, plus wide-ranging shore side activities” (Pallis, A.). It has also become common for cruise lines to differentiate themselves from their competition by creating themed cruises and by offering flexible packages to appeal to all demographic target groups at their disposal.
How are cruise liners and cruise ships related to the transport sector, one might wonder? Although predominantly seasonal, cruises are responsible for the transport of vast numbers of tourists, therewith contributing to the economic prosperity of the inland areas of the ports of call. The graph below (taken from Cruise Market Watch) shows that in the past 30 years the number of cruise passengers globally has experienced continual growth – leading to the need for new innovative cruise designs, and the evolution of Smart Ports and Smart Cities that can both process the larger amount of human capital as well as ensure seamless and pleasant experience for those arriving and departing.
Smart (Cruise) Ports
With tourism being one vital factor in economic development of regions, it is important for the ports that welcome cruises to serve not only the passengers, but also to ensure that the vessels get the most ecological, efficient and safe transit that they can get. Cruise ships are getting larger and larger to accommodate the larger number of passengers, and cruise ports need to make sure that they have a sufficient number of deep-water berths, or in the absence thereof to be able to offer attractive logistics solutions to accommodate the passenger requirements and their experiences (such as tendering in some smaller ports). This continuous on to the sizes of the terminals servicing the cruises, the transit connections to and from the cities connected to the ports, luggage transfers, food provisions, among other things. “Traffic, parking and human resources are issues that are scalable, but multiple ships can easily break down the infrastructure of a facility. In ports of call, the transport and dispersal of tours is another challenge” (Jordan 2019).
Smart ports need to take full advantage of innovative and “smart” solutions to help passengers maintain the “holiday” feeling whilst in transit, all the while ensuring that the innovative solutions implemented are cost-effective and durable. Check-in counters are becoming obsolete at terminals whilst security is taking the reins in passenger processing. Passengers can send their baggage off using ship-to-shore companies, therewith saving them both time and ensuring ease of embarkation.
Ecologically, port operations need to strive to be emission free whilst still effective to serve the colossal ships coming to call – both to provide any servicing or supply services that may be necessary or simply to re-fuel and re-stock the amenities available on-board.
As cruises are seasonal, ports also need to be creative about the use of the terminal space during the off-season – some ports have begun using the space as event rental spaces, to help offset any potential losses when no cruise ships come to call.
The sector has been growing on all fronts in recent decades. Very recently, however, this growth has been centred in luxury and exploration cruise tourism, which calls for a different and more specialized offers that incorporate ports and atypical routes to attract the attention of passengers seeking to maintain their passions without having to commit to general and global packages. The list of the types of smaller vessels that accommodate such tourism in the shipyard is extensive. Moreover, in addition to such refocusing of the cruise industry, we will also see the incorporation and increased activity of small ports that will be capable of welcoming such new and innovative cruise vessels.
Many of these themes and topics will be covered in the Ports and Cruises course (https://escolaeuropea.eu/calendar/ports-and-passengers-2020/). The course, initially scheduled for the end of March 2020, has been postponed to take place in November 2020 (dates are provisional). If you are interested and would like to hear more about this course, contact us for more information.
- Lidia Slawinska, Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport
- Vanessa Bexiga, Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport
Jordan, A. 2019. New Designs help Ports Support Growing Cruise Industry – an Interview. Maritime Executive. [Accessed 18 February 2020] https://www.maritime-executive.com/features/new-designs-help-ports-support-growing-cruise-industry
Pallis, T. Cruise Shipping and Urban Development: State of the Art of the Industry and Cruise Ports. International Transport Forum [ Accessed February 17 2020]
Naci Polat / Procedia – Technical Innovations in Cruise Tourism and Results of Sustainability. Social and Behavioral Sciences 195 ( 2015 )p. 438 – 445