Could LNG controls spell trouble ahead for Aida Cruises?

AidaPrima refueling in Hamburg

Aida Cruises faces LNG challenges due to local restrictions and regulations. Its LNG-fuelled AidaPrima cannot receive this fuel at Rotterdam port, while the LNG-power supply barge used by AidaSol for cold ironing is battling bureaucracy in Hamburg.

First LNG dual-fuel cruise ship AidaPrima can use LNG in all its ports of call except for Rotterdam, where it is still awaiting approval from regulatory authorities.

Carnival (Aida Cruises’ parent company) senior vice president for maritime affairs Tom Strang, told PST at a small press gathering after a recent Cruise Lines International Association regulatory briefing: “That is a little bit more challenging, mainly because Rotterdam has a different set of regulatory requirements, as the port is right in the centre of the city.”

However, he seemed optimistic that this obstacle would soon be overcome, and pointed out that while there were a number of steps to go through to reach approval, Carnival has “a great relationship” with the Port of Rotterdam.

But challenges are also afoot in Hamburg. AidaSol is supplied with electricity when in port from an LNG power supply: Becker Marine Systems (BMS) offers electric power generated using LNG-fuelled diesel engines mounted on an unpowered barge at Hamburg’s HafenCity cruise terminal. AidaPrima is also equipped for this cold ironing.

BMS’ barge Hummel has been contributing to improved air quality in Hamburg for more than a year, BMS managing director Dirk Lehmann said in a statement.

But he said: “Due to some restrictions making the work more difficult, we are continuing to seek a mutual solution together with the relevant authorities.”

Mr Lehmann told PST’s sister publication LNG World Shipping that the most severe restrictions are due to the conditions set out in the barge’s operating permit, notably “the condition to have an expensive harbour tug with running engines on standby during energy supply for cruise ships, and the condition to move the barge back to a night-time berth outside the Hafencity area after every energy supply operation”. This last also requires tug operations.

BMS is negotiating with the authorities to try to improve this situation and Mr Lehmann’s statement showed a very clear warning and emphasised just how crucial these talks were: “This would then enable Hummel to supply environmentally friendly power to cruise ships during their layovers at port beyond the current year.”

These teething difficulties will no doubt get solved – but the cruise sector will be watching with interest as Carnival and its company Aida Cruises pioneer the use of LNG both as a fuel and for cold ironing.

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