Despite the perils of the pandemic, new passenger vessels of all shapes and sizes seemingly slide down the world’s slipways every day or two. The most notable feature about them is that they all seem to improve incrementally on what has gone before.
Comfort, safety, economy and environmental friendliness are all important factors in their design and construction. Two of those factors have been heard about frequently of late: they are economy and environmental friendliness. Both, of course, relate to their engines and propulsion systems.
Particularly in Europe and North America, electric, hybrid and dual fuel systems are becoming de rigeur. Owners entertain their installation for reasons of public relations and image and, occasionally, because they actually believe in their benefits or even see a potential economic gain. Designers and builders love them because they make vessels more complex and, therefore, more expensive.
I wonder, though, if they all really do a proper cost/benefit analysis of such factors. I have, over recent years, noted some dismal and very expensive failures involving all three of those systems. As an advocate of safety, simplicity, reliability, and economy, I often wonder about the much-hyped benefits of all three options.
Ferries • Ro-Pax • Marine Tourism • Cruise • Freshwater
I have no qualms about diesel/LNG dual fuel systems. They add comparatively little to capital expenditure and can reduce running costs where LNG bunkers are cheaper than diesel. Obviously, LNG is easily the cleanest of fossil fuels so, if it is accessible and reasonably priced, there can be no argument against its use. Its only real disadvantage lies in its storage risks, small though they may be.
Pure electric systems are fine if the vessel is to operate in places where nuclear power or highly reliable, economical, unsubsidised renewable electricity generation such as from hydro-electricity is available. Even then, batteries remain heavy, expensive, and prone to fires. That, despite electricity’s disadvantages, is probably fine in Scandinavia, France, Canada, parts of the United States and Tasmania but, for the bulk of the world, most electricity is still generated by burning coal. Coal is wonderful stuff, but it isn’t good for our environment so, let’s minimise our use of it to power our passenger vessels. For all practical purposes, diesel and LNG will continue to reign supreme in most of the world for several decades at least.
The advocates of hybrid propulsion systems have continued to remain incapable of convincing me of the efficacy or even the value of their products. I can easily understand their use in non-nuclear submarines where internal combustion engines cannot work underwater, but I still cannot see the point of all that extra weight, complexity and cost.
Apparently, I am not alone in my thinking. Pure diesel is still easily numero uno as far as passenger vessel propulsion is concerned. The other possibilities remain interesting, even promising, but let’s try to be realistic and not get carried away. After all, commercial passenger vessels still have to be able to get from A to B safely and economically.
- Admiral Nevelskoy – Russia’s newest ice-class cargo/passenger ferry to serve Sakhalin-Kurils route
- Viking Egdir & Viking Gymir – Hybrid ships for European river cruises
- Coral Geographer – New tropical expedition ship for Australia itineraries
- Salvia Maru – Modern Ro-Pax for Tokyo Bay boasts innovative propulsion arrangement
- Wayfinder – Australian-designed, Spanish-built 68m yacht support vessel
- Hydra – Norled takes delivery of ferry designed to run on liquid hydrogen
- Rotterdam – Holland America Line adds third Pinnacle-class ship to fleet
News, Gear, and Book Reviews:
- Hellenic Coast Guard, Good Samaritans rescue 17 from sunken yacht in Aegean Sea
- Captain, two others arrested over fatal ferry capsizing off Bali
- Tallink Grupp’s newest ferry launched in Finland
- Port of Miami to have shore charging for cruise ships by 2023
- Seabourn reschedules inaugural voyage of newest expedition ship
- Tauck’s newest riverboat to serve Portugal, Spain itineraries
- Indian yard starts construction of 70m ferry for Guyana
- US Department of Transportation to award US$38 million funding to support ferry services
- French Polynesia operator orders fast catamaran ferry
- Swedish operator to introduce low-emission ferries in 2023
- Kitsap Transit welcomes second fast ferry in series
- P&O Cruises’ newest flagship departs Southampton on maiden voyage
- DFDS introduces newest ferry on Dover-Calais route
- East by West Ferries’ newest electric catamaran hits the water
- American Cruise Lines unveils names of two future riverboats
- American Cruise Lines takes delivery of new riverboat
- BC Ferries’ fifth Island-class Ro-Pax sails on delivery voyage
- Keel laid for second Project A45-90.2 river cruise ship for Russia’s State Transport Leasing Company
- 18 rescued from capsized schooner in Kennebec River, Maine
- Ponant takes delivery of hybrid-powered polar vessel
Recent Important Features:
– “It is the acute and urgent changes to the economic ecosystem of the cruise business that will mean, by 2030, cruising will be unrecognisable from the industry that set sail at the start of the decade.”
– by Nick Savvides, maritime industry news correspondent
– “Even worse, with the simultaneous development of appropriate electric propulsion systems, the fuel cost differential between the environmentally clean, Incat-proposed, electric-powered ships and the comparatively dirty, gas-guzzling Finnish ferries will be simply astounding.”
– by Neil Baird, Co-Founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Baird Maritime
– “In a world in which Australia is increasingly becoming isolated, we are dependent on almost everything from overseas.”
– by Kent Stewart, founder of maritime consultancy Maritime Engineers and Baird Maritime‘s resident expert on commercial shipping and the offshore industries
Remember to come back every day to see the latest news, opinion and vessel reviews!
Call for content!
Any news or views about the global maritime tourism, ferry and cruise industries? Send it through to [email protected] ASAP (between now and August 13), so we can add it to this current edition of Passenger Vessel Week!
We are after:
- Vessels – Orders, new deliveries, under construction
- Gear – Latest innovations and technology in the passenger vessel sector
- Interviews – Owners, operators, terminal authorities, passenger vessel associations, etc.
- Reminiscences – Do you have any exciting, amusing or downright dangerous anecdotes from your time in the passenger vessel world? (example here)
- Other – Any other relevant news
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