Posts Tagged cruise ship

More container volume, new cruise ship for Port of Charleston

The Port of Charleston is seeing an increase in both cargo and cruise ships.

Carnival Cruise Lines announced Monday that it will add five departures in 2016 for its Carnival Sunshine cruise ship. Those voyages will be in addition to departures by the Carnival Fantasy, which calls Charleston its home port.

Meanwhile, at the cargo docks, the port notched a 16.9 percent increase in the number of containers that moved through local terminals in February compared to the previous year, and Jim Newsome – president and CEO of the State Ports Authority – said Monday that he expects the total to top 1 million containers before the end of this fiscal year.

“February container volumes were particularly strong for a short month,” Newsome said following a meeting of the SPA’s board of directors. “Our import gains are reflective of a strengthening U.S. economy and population growth across the Southeast, while manufacturing in our state and region bolsters our export business. Loaded-box volumes last month were nearly completely balanced between imports and exports.”

In the cruise news, the Carnival Sunshine is a larger ship than the Fantasy, carrying about 1,000 more passengers and crew. It will offer cruises of between two and 10 days and will sail to ports in the Bahamas, St. Thomas, Antigua, Martinique, St. Kitts and San Juan.

Christine Duffey, president of Carnival Cruise Lines, said in a statement that Carnival Sunshine will offer “an extraordinary array of guest features and facilities,” including upgraded dining and entertainment that was part of Carnival’s Fun Ship 2.0 modernization program initiated in 2011.

Even with the additional sailings, Newsome said the port will maintain its level of fewer than 100 cruise ship departures per year.

To date, cruise ship passenger counts are down 5 percent from the previous year — to 121,270 people — due to a pair of weather-related cancellations.

The SPA has recorded $123 million in revenue this fiscal year, up nearly 21 percent from the same period a year ago. Earnings have tripled to nearly $20 million during the same time period.

Newsome said the port is entering one of its strongest stretches historically — the period of March through May — and he expects continued growth in cargo as the fiscal year winds down June 30.

The SPA’s noncontainerized business also saw increases in February. The Port of Georgetown handled 15,520 tons last month and is 5 percent ahead of its plan for the fiscal year. In Charleston, the SPA is on course to meet its break-bulk tonnage goal with 58,685 tons handled in February.

In other action during Monday’s meeting:

The board approved a contract for routine maintenance dredging at the North Charleston Terminal, which typically occurs every 12 to 15 months to preserve a 50-foot depth for large containerships.

The board approved a design modification to the two super-post-Panamax cranes on order for the Wando Welch Terminal.

Click to read article
Reach David Wren at 937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_

More cruises, more questions

Less than a month before the updated Tourism Management Plan gets its first official airing, the S.C. State Ports Authority is changing the tourism equation in Charleston.

The SPA is allowing Carnival Cruise Lines to increase its presence in Charleston. The cruise ship Sunshine will start five cruises here in 2016.

Those are in addition to cruises of the Fantasy, which is home ported in Charleston.

Crowding and traffic on the peninsula are two primary considerations of the Tourism Management Plan update. Too bad port officials didn’t wait for the report before considering the Sunshine deal.

The tourism report will be heard at a special Charleston Planning Commission meeting on April 6, and then likely be sent to City Council for consideration on May 12.

Some recommendations that might be included involve a remote parking facility, shore power and a passenger head tax by the city. All could have an impact on Carnival’s contracts with the SPA.

Already the SPA has said no cruise ships with more than 3,500 passengers will come to Charleston. The Fantasy’s capacity is 2,056. The Sunshine’s is about 3,002.

What might come next? The passenger terminal that the SPA wants to build would accommodate even larger ships.

The process of updating the city’s Tourism Management Plan was encouraging in the way people of diverse interests cooperated to produce a mutually acceptable set of recommendations that would benefit the city.

The SPA could have displayed that same sense of cooperation by considering the updated plan before inking deals.

See article here

A View of the Ship from Shore

A baggage tag found on Sullivans Island…

 

ship from shore

Cruise terminal opponents want SC permit tossed

as taken from The Post and Courier by Bruce Smith

Now that a judge has tossed out a federal permit for South Carolina’s proposed $35 million cruise terminal, opponents of the project say a state permit should be invalidated as well.

In September, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel invalidated a federal permit for the project that would transform an old waterfront warehouse into a passenger terminal. He ruled the Army Corps of Engineers, in allowing additional pilings to be placed under the warehouse for the terminal, did not adequately consider the project’s effects on Charleston’s historic district.

In a Nov. 1 filing with Ralph King Anderson, the chief judge of the Administrative Law Court, opponents say that with the federal permit invalidated, the state permit must be vacated as well.

Jessie White of the S.C. Environmental Law Project wrote the state permit required a water quality review. That review was encompassed by issuing the federal permit but, now that permit has been tossed out, the state must conduct its own review.

Without such a review, the motion said, “the permit and certification are invalid and must be vacated.”

Anderson has scheduled a Jan. 27 hearing in the case.

But if the state permit and certification are invalid “this honorable court should not expend its valuable resources or the resources of the parties evaluating what is, in essence and in law, a dead letter,” the motion said.

The State Ports Authority has until month’s end to respond to the motion.

The agency will be in court next week when the state Supreme Court hears arguments in a separate lawsuit alleging that cruises in Charleston are a public nuisance. The Ports Authority is also appealing Gergel’s ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Terminal opponents say they are not against cruises, but want limits so the number of passengers doesn’t overwhelm the city. Supporters say the city will only be a niche market and the industry is being appropriately regulated.

The debate has been ongoing for several years. Carnival Cruise Lines permanently based its 2,056-passenger liner Fantasy in Charleston more than three years ago. Before that, cruise liners made port calls, but no ships were based in Charleston.

Too Big to Sail?

Too Big to Sail? Cruise Ships Face Scrutiny

Peter W. Cross for The New York TimesRoyal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas has 2,706 rooms, as well as a shopping mall, a casino and a water park.

One of the largest cruise ships in 1985 was the 46,000-ton Carnival Holiday. Ten years ago, the biggest, the Queen Mary 2, was three times as large. Today’s record holders are two 225,000-ton ships whose displacement, a measure of a ship’s weight, is about the same as that of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.

The Costa Concordia, owned by the Carnival Corporation, capsized off the coast of Italy last year, killing 32 people.

Cruise ships keep growing bigger, and more popular. The Cruise Lines International Association said that last year its North American cruise line members carried about 17 million passengers, up from seven million in 2000. But the expansion in ship size is worrying safety experts, lawmakers and regulators, who are pushing for more accountability, saying the supersize craze is fraught with potential peril for passengers and crew.

“Cruise ships operate in a void from the standpoint of oversight and enforcement,” said James E. Hall, a safety management consultant and the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board between 1994 and 2001. “The industry has been very fortunate until now.”

The perils were most visible last year when the Costa Concordia, owned by the Carnival Corporation, which is based in Miami, capsized off the coast of Italy. The accident killed 32 people and revealed fatal lapses in safety and emergency procedures.

In February, a fire crippled the Carnival Triumph, stranding thousands without power for four days in the Gulf of Mexico until the ship was towed to shore. Another blaze forced Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas to a port in the Bahamas in May. Pictures showed the ship’s stern blackened by flames and smoke.

Although most have not resulted in any casualties, the string of accidents and fires has heightened concerns about the ability of megaships to handle emergencies or large-scale evacuations at sea. Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, introduced legislation this summer that would strengthen federal oversight of cruise lines’ safety procedures and consumer protections.

Cruise operators point out that bigger ships have more fire safety equipment, and contend they are safer. After a fire aboard the Carnival Splendor three years ago, Carnival adopted new training procedures and added safety features that it says helped with the rapid detection and suppression of the fire on the Triumph.

After the Triumph fire, Carnival also announced it would spend $700 million to improve its safety operations, including $300 million on its fleet of 24 Carnival Cruise Lines ships. Carnival is the largest cruise operator, owning about half of all cruise ships worldwide.

“We have over time improved the safety of our vessels by better training and better technology and learning from incidents that have happened over the years,” said Mark Jackson, Carnival’s vice president for technical operations, who joined the company in January after 24 years with the Coast Guard.

Some experts doubt that ships can grow much larger than the current behemoths, marvels of naval engineering that combine the latest technology and entertainment. Today’s biggest ship, Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, has 2,706 rooms, 16 decks, 22 restaurants, 20 bars and 10 hot tubs, as well as a shopping mall, a casino, a water park, a half-mile track, a zip line, mini golf and Broadway-style live shows. It can accommodate nearly 6,300 passengers and 2,394 crew members — the equivalent of a small town towering over the clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. It measures 1,188 feet long. Its sister ship, the Oasis of the Seas, is two inches shorter.

Experts point out that larger ships have larger challenges. For instance, they have fewer options in an emergency, said Michael Bruno, dean of the engineering school at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., and former chairman of the National Research Council’s Marine Board.

“Given the size of today’s ships, any problem immediately becomes a very big problem,” he said. “I sometimes worry about the options that are available.”

A recent report by the Coast Guard on the Splendor fire revealed glaring problems with the crew’s firefighting abilities as well as failures in fire safety equipment.

The investigation did not address the size of the ship, which carried 3,299 passengers. But it showed that big vessels can quickly become crippled by small fires that disable complex systems. No passengers were hurt, but the damage to the engine room was severe, disabling the ship’s power and forcing it to be towed to port in San Diego.

The investigation found a wide range of problems with the engine’s maintenance history as well as missing fire safety records. No fire drills had been conducted in the engine room for six months. Emergency sprinklers were turned off by mistake and then doused the wrong parts of the engine room. Believing the fire had been contained, the captain vented the engine room to clear out the smoke. He reignited the fire instead.

These incidents have brought new attention to the behavior of cruise operators. Rear Adm. Joseph Servidio, the Coast Guard’s assistant commandant for prevention policy, said at a Senate hearing in July that the three fires, including the one aboard the Splendor, “highlight serious questions about the design, maintenance and operation of fire safety equipment on board these vessels, as well as their companies’ safety management cultures.”

In July, the Coast Guard said cruise ships would need to conduct periodic engine-room fire drills.

The risks of building bigger ships became apparent over a decade ago, as cruise companies pushed the limits of naval architecture. The head of the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations agency in charge of marine regulations, warned in 2000 of the growing hazards of building larger ships and called for a comprehensive review of safety rules, known as Safety of Life at Sea, or Solas. William O’Neil, the group’s secretary general at the time, said the industry could not “rely on luck holding indefinitely.”

One result was a set of new global regulations in 2010 called the Safe Return to Port rules. Those require new ships to have sufficient redundant systems, including power and steerage, to allow them to return to port even in the worst emergency. Only about 10 ships built since then comply with this new rule.

“The idea is that a ship is its own best lifeboat,” said John Hicks, the vice president for global passenger ships at Lloyds Register, the largest ship classification society. “The idea is to do everything to keep the crew and passengers on a vessel.”

Bud Darr, the senior vice president for technical and regulatory affairs at the Cruise Lines International Association, the industry’s trade group, said today’s ships operated under layers of oversight.

The Coast Guard inspects each ship that calls at United States ports at least once a year and enforces national and international norms. Private auditors, hired by cruise operators, perform frequent safety reviews, including comprehensive annual checks that last seven to 10 days, he said, and flag countries like the Bahamas or Panama, where most cruise ships are registered, provide their own oversight.

“We are subject to very close scrutiny,” Mr. Darr said. “The standards are universal.”

But incidents like the Costa Concordia grounding have raised questions about whether evacuation regulations are still applicable in the age of megaships. Under the Solas regulations, for instance, passengers grouped at their muster stations must be able to evacuate on lifeboats within 30 minutes of an evacuation alarm.

The investigation into the Costa Concordia revealed that the crew and its captain failed to sound the general evacuation alarm for more than an hour after rocks had breached the hull. As a result, some lifeboats could not be lowered once the ship started to list.

After the accident, cruise operators said they would change muster drill procedures. Instead of holding a drill for passengers within 24 hours of departure, cruise ships said they would do so before ships leave a port.

While ships are becoming bigger, the burden on crew members is growing. The Queen Elizabeth 2, which was launched in 1969, had one crew member for about 1.8 passengers. On the Triumph, the ratio was one crew member for every 2.8 passengers. The issue is also complicated by language and communication problems, and a high crew turnover rate that can reach 35 percent a year.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation, which represents seafarers and crew members, has expressed concerns about the evacuation time and suggested the need to limit the number of people aboard ships, depending on where they operate and what search-and-rescue facilities are available.

“Experience has cast doubt on the adequacy of existing lifesaving appliances,” the group said in a report. “The current equipment, especially lifeboats and life rafts, has proved to be inadequate when confronted with high sea states.”

Safety rules also state that lifeboats should not carry more than 150 people. But the two largest ships, the Allure of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas, have much bigger lifeboats, for 370 people, because of a provision of the 2010 rules that allows for exemptions if the cruise line can demonstrate an equivalent level of safety.

Those bigger lifeboats have only enough room for passengers. To evacuate the more than 2,300 crew members, the ships are equipped with inflatable rafts that would have to be entered through 59-foot evacuation chutes.

“The simple problem is they are building them too big and putting too many people aboard,” said Capt. William H. Doherty, a former safety manager for Norwegian Cruise Lines, the world’s third-largest cruise operator, and now the director of maritime relations at the Nexus Consulting Group. “My answer is they probably exceeded the point of manageability.”

He added, “The magnitude of the problem is much bigger than the cruise industry wants to acknowledge.”