As a result, the cruise industry has an enhanced opportunity to discuss shared goals with government, and in February I was was honoured to join a delegation meeting MPs at the House of Commons aiming to highlight the economic benefits of cruise tourism.
Sponsored by Royston Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen, a lifetime Southampton resident, this was a cross-party event addressed by Baroness Vere, Maritime Minister, and Shadow Maritime Minister Mike Kane. We learnt that over 500 cruise ships arrive in Southampton each year bringing over £2 million to the local economy on each visit. Baroness Vere also highlighted the huge contribution of the cruise industry to the economy as a whole, and that the industry brings tourists to coastal towns and cities in all four nations of the UK.
As Andy Harmer pointed out: 'we are a connected industry with an extensive and diverse supply chain, making a positive impact across the UK.' Mike Kane indicated ambitions for the development of the infrastructure: "We also look forward to working with the industry as it continues its towards making cruise travel more sustainable, through innovating new technologies, and investing in our net zero future."
This time last year, Associated British Ports' Port of Southampton celebrated the successful commissioning and use of its shore power facility for cruise ships. Shore power-enabled ships can now plug in at the port's Horizon Cruise Terminal and Mayflower Cruise Terminal, for zero emissions at berth. It is high time that similar technology was introduced at cruise terminals around the UK, but of course it is not that simple. The desire, and even the investment, may be in place, but power supplies to ports are dependent on the resources of the National Grid, so these conversations with government are extremely important.
Meanwhile at Seatrade in Miami an interesting statistic emerged relating to reducing emissions by plugging in whilst in port: every CLIA-member ship being built today through 2028, except expedition vessels, is scheduled to have shore power capabilities. 30% of cruise ships, or 40% of capacity, are already plug-in ready, with a further 30% to be retrofitted. Yet fewer than 2% of the world's cruise ports have shore power; by 2025, 3% will offer it. So in this area cruise lines are well ahead of the local infrastructure.
An alternative for cruise lines when planning itineraries is to schedule fewer stops, and for many travellers, the welcome day at sea is a perfect guilt free opportunity for R&R. Furthermore, the extraordinary facilities offered by our favourite ships deserve to have some downtime to enable guests to enjoy the range of opportunities on offer. So if you see a well-planned itinerary featuring ports with shore power, and some leisurely time at sea in between times, you can feel that by selecting those balanced voyages you are doing your bit in the maritime bid for net zero.