Cruise Line Completes Shore Power Capability for Entire Fleet

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Cunard has successfully equipped its entire fleet, a trio of iconic vessels, with the capacity to link up to shore power, a significant achievement for the brand and a very positive step toward sustainable cruising. New additions to the fleet will feature the same shore power capabilities as well.

Cunard’s Fleetwide Shore Power

Renowned British cruise line Cunard, founded in 1840, has announced that its entire fleet of ships is now set up to handle shore power. 

The 90,900-ton Queen Elizabeth, constructed in 2010 and capable of handling up to 2,081 passengers, was the last of the company’s current vessels to be upgraded with shore power. Queen Mary 2, built in 2003 and coming in at 148,528 tons, plus the 90,000-ton Queen Victoria (built in 2007) have already been retrofitted with shore power capabilities.

In May 2024, the Pinnacle series Queen Anne, now under construction and which will be able to accommodate around 2,996 guests, will already be shore-power-ready before her inaugural 7-night voyage from Southampton to Lisbon, Portugal.

Cunard's Queen Anne Ship
Cunard’s Queen Anne Ship (Photo Courtesy: Cunard Line)

“By adopting shore power technology, we are taking a significant step in our ongoing commitment to reducing emissions, minimizing our carbon footprint, and fostering healthier port environments,” Cunard President Katie McAlister explained.

McAlister went on to talk about how shore power technology aligns with Cunard’s corporate ethos. Shore power, also known as cold ironing or and shore-to-ship power (SSP), is a big deal in the cruise industry as different cruise lines work toward greater sustainability.

Shore power can help cruise lines reduce their carbon footprint and go green. When connected while in port, ships can turn off their engines, reducing emissions and noise pollution and protecting local environments.

Why Shore Power Is Important to the Cruise Industry

Shore power offers a proactive approach through which ports and cruise lines can significantly curb emissions stemming from large-scale maritime activities. By simply deactivating their primary onboard propulsion systems and then establishing connections with onshore electrical terminals, cruise operators can begin to implement environmentally responsible policies set forth by the industry.

Prominent cruise lines like Cunard, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Carnival Carnival Cruise Line, have set ambitious targets to achieve net zero carbon cruising by the year 2050. The overarching aim is to diminish a ship’s carbon footprint both while docked — and while at sea. 

Cruise Ship Smokestack
Photo Credit: Steve Cordory / Shutterstock

Companies do have to put some effort into identifying ports, though, like Barcelona, Rotterdam, and others that are able to support the infrastructure for providing shore power to one or more vessels. Smaller ports are not yet capable of shore power connections, and may never be, but the implementation where possible is a very positive step.

While new ships can be built with shore power connectivity, even older vessels can be converted. AIDA Cruises, for example, is also outfitting older ships, like AIDAsol, for shore-to-ship power.

Benefits of Shore Power

One of the main incentives for utilizing shore power is cutting down on air pollution and greenhouse gases. Cruise vessels frequently employ heavy fuels that discharge contaminants, exacerbating air quality problems. Cleaner onshore electrical sources can offer a substantial reduction in overall emissions.

Moreover, many global ports and cities enforce emissions restrictions on ships while docked, making shore power increasingly crucial for cruise operators due to its environmental benefits and positive impact on public relations.

AIDA Cruises Shore Power
AIDA Cruises Shore Power (Photo Courtesy: AIDA Cruises)

Despite some fairly hefty costs associated with initial infrastructure investments, shore power can lead to long-term savings, particularly in regions with low electricity prices. Depending on local facilities, it’s often more economical to connect to shore power than to run ship engines for electricity generation.

It is important to note that the implementation of shore power varies based on factors like port infrastructure, ship design, and local regulations. Retrofitting existing ships for shore power compatibility can be both challenging and expensive, although this seems to be the direction the cruise industry is heading.

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