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What's happening with shore power in Canada/New England

Shore power was a key topic at the Canada/New England Cruise Symposium. At top left, NYCEDC's Melissa Burch addressed the gathering. During a visit to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, attendees learned about the shore power installation. Pictured at center, MIke Watts of Watts Marine with Nancy Houley of Cruise the Saint Lawrence
More ports across Canada/New England are now assessing shore power, a key topic at the region's recent cruise symposium in New York City.

Shore power on the Eastern Seaboard has been limited until now, but that is starting to change with PortMiami just inaugurating it at five cruise terminals.

Further north, first in Canada/New England to implement shore power was the Port of Halifax in 2014, where three cruise berths offer it. In 2017, the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal initiated shore power at its single berth and Port of Montréal at its new cruise terminal.

Brooklyn Cruise Terminal will get a mobile unit

During the Canada/New England Cruise Symposium last week, attendees got to visit the Brooklyn terminal, where Watts Marine is gearing up to replace its fixed installation with a new mobile system about a year from now. This will make it possible to serve more ship configurations.

In fact, Mike Watts, founder and president of Watts Marine, said his company is no longer installing fixed systems but will be implementing mobile ones everywhere.

Ken Winkler, GM and facility security officer at Ports America, which manages the Brooklyn and Manhattan terminals, said 60% of the ships capable of using shore power connect in Brooklyn. Issues onboard or shoreside, such as ship configuration, an open circuit or weather, may prevent vessels from doing so. 

New legislation

In March the New York City Council passed legislation requiring cruise ships with shore power capability to connect, 'where such connections are available and it is safe and practicable to do so.' The mayor's office hasn't yet signed the legislation, which will require revising long-term agreements between the NYC Economic Development Corp. and the cruise companies.

Sustainabilty, decarbonization, long-term planning and social responsibility are 'all core to how we are approaching cruise,' Melissa Burch, COO/EVP of the NYCEDC, which manages the terminals, told the symposium. She said a feasibility study about bringing shore power to the Manhattan terminal was conducted.

According to Winkler, along with work to extend the apron of Manhattan's Pier 90, a trench is proactively being added to house the cables that would be needed.

Rising demand and costs

Watts Marine is keeping very busy as the demand for shore power steadily rises. The Seattle-based company, which installed its first system in 2005, is now completing its 11th, at the Port of Seattle's Pier 66. Besides Brooklyn and Halifax, Watts also has installations at Vancouver, BC; San Franciso, Long Beach and San Diego.

Mike Watts said connections have gone from 487 in pre-pandemic 2019 to 615 in 2023, with at least 810 forecast in 2024.

Watts' first shore power system in 2005 cost $1.3m; now, with pandemic-era inflation adding 29% to costs, the price is up to $6.5m. This is a turnkey package with a proprietary patented system, utility metering equipment, primary and secondary switchgear, transformer, power factor correction, cable managment, IEC/IEEE 800005-1 compliance ('We helped write the standard,' Watts said) and usage reports provided after each connection.

Port of Québec

Shore power is a priority at the Port of Québec and work with Hydro-Québec is proceeding, with the goal of 2027 implementation, according to Marie-Andrée Blanchet, director, cruise and port ecosystem.


In Boston, the port authority is acting to reduce emissions at Flynn Cruiseport by pursuing an EPA Clean Ports Grant from the federal government to help fund the construction of shore power as part of Massport’s net-zero strategy.


Eastport and Portland, which has become Maine's busiest cruise port in light of Bar Harbor capping numbers, are both assessing shore power. Their electricity is supplied by different power companies.

For Portland, it looks to be a costly initiative and a lengthy process that could take a decade or more because it requires the construction of a new substation, said Richard Leeman, visitor services manager, Visit Portland. A study estimated a whopping $60m to bring electricity to the waterfront.

Energy sources moving toward renewables

Across the region, power is generated from a mix of clean and nonrenewable sources, with the transition to renewable energy under way, according to Sarah Rumsley of Cruise Atlantic Canada and Sarah Flink of CruiseMaine. 

Currently, according to utility company reports, Québec's supply is 94% hydropower, 5% wind; Newfoundland and Labrador 96% hydro, 3% petroleum; New Brunswick 38% uranium, 22% hydro, 15% natural gas, 14% coal/coke, 7% wind, 4% biomass/geothermal; Nova Scotia 52% coal and coke, 22% natural gas, 11% wind, 10% hydro/wave/tidal; Prince Edward Island 100% wind; Maine roughly 77% clean energy (hydro, natural gas, non-hydro renewables).

Just last week New York began constructing what will be the nation’s largest dedicated offshore wind port at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, noted Max Taffet, SVP ports, waterfront and transportation, NYCEDC. This is part of the city's climate goals to have 100% clean electricity by 2040.

Cruise ship connectivity

Cruise Lines International Association's Jason Park, managing director in North America and SVP for global government affairs, cited a 'dramatic' increase in shore power capability among the CLIA fleet, with 46% of ships now able to connect, rising to 72% by 2028.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, represented at the symposium by several executives, has 50% of its fleet equipped for shore power and remains on track to equip approximately 70% by 2025.

Cruise line attendees, including NCLH's Sandra Weir, global government relations and public affairs, endorsed shore power. 

At Viking, with its young ocean fleet, most ships are equipped and the aim is for all to be shore power capable in the next few years.

Nicolai Skogland, executive director, port operations and government relations, said Viking uses shore power where it's available, and routinely in northern Europe. By the end of the decade, 80% to 90% of ports on a 14-day itinerary there will offer it.

Itineraries aren't built around shore power

But Skogland doesn't think itineraries will be designed around shore power. 'If you invest in it and it makes sense, we'll support you but it's not going to be part of the decision for port selection,' he told the symposium.

According to Royal Caribbean Group's Capt. Thomas Hinderhofer, senior director, terminal operations and systems, who manages Cape Liberty Cruise Port, shore power accounts for just 10% of the Carbon Intensity Indicator bucket.

Fuels are much more important, he said.