Several cruise line representatives confirmed this to more than 100 members of the Cruise Europe family gathered in Lisbon for the association’s annual conference.
The challenge is reimagining the Baltic, said keynote speaker Chris Allen, VP deployment and itinerary planning Royal Caribbean Group. He noted whilst capacity in the Baltic is down compared to 2018, there were opportunities to stay overnight in cities such as Stockholm and Copenhagen that previously only featured as one-day transit calls and to include ports like Skagen, Aarhus, Gdansk and Visby that might have featured less before.
Need to market the region
Gina Dunnett, director of land product development at Azamara, reiterated Allen’s call for Baltic ports and destinations to work closer with travel agents to help sell the region to consumers.
‘We need our customers to get excited about the Baltic region,' she said. 'We need more marketing materials, more local imagery and more unique local stories.’
The importance of sustainability, alternative fuels, shore power and onboard energy efficiency got a lot of airing at subsequent panels.
Growing need for LNG bunkering
The need for LNG bunkering capacity in ports will grow in the next five to 10 years, said Lotfi Trabelsi, director EMEA, Royal Caribbean Group, whilst Linden Coppell, MSC Cruises’ VP sustainability & ESG said the industry would be relying on fuel flexibility for many decades to come.
Linden said the next step is to scale up fuel cell technology (currently being tested on MSC World Europa) to meet the hotel load and 'carbon continues to be the enemy.’
She also sees a need for more study across the maritime sector on the life-cycle of different fuels.
Methanol and shore power
Dennis Tetzlaff, VP fleet operations and newbuild at TUI Cruises, noted Mein Schiff 7, arriving in 2024, will have methanol capabilities and will be 30% more efficient than the same sized Mein Schiff built in 2014.
Nicolai Skogland, executive director - port operations and government relations at Viking, noted all ships the line deploys in Europe are shore power ready and connect when possible ‘but this commitment comes at a high cost and we welcome the use of incentives in port charges such as EPI scores to compensate for the additional energy costs.’
Sascha Gill, VP sustainability and environment, CLIA Europe, spoke about Europe being ahead of the game in pursuing net-zero carbon cruising, ‘but it’s a goal which will take another 25 years.’
In his closing remarks, Cruise Europe Chairman Michael McCarthy reminded delegates of the relevancy of environment, social and governance issues, saying, ‘Any company ignoring ESG is like driving blind into the future.’
Lisbon’s Cruise Terminal is the location tonight of the gala dinner and the 2024 Cruise Europe conference will be held in Stockholm, dates to be decided.