Bergen conference 2022 

Return of a more sustainable cruise industry in support of coastal communities 

Bergen, 22 February 2022

Director General of CLIA in Europe, Marie-Caroline Laurent attended the Bergen Conference Tuesday morning, underlining the emergence of a greener and sustainable cruise industry.  

“Our vision as a global industry is net carbon neutral cruising by 2050,” said Laurent, addressing more than 300 business leaders in Bergen.  

This is the eight time the Bergen conference is held in Bergen. This year’s theme was how businesses in Bergen and the coast could utilise the opportunities within the green transition of Norwegian economy and develop a greener and more sustainable cruise industry. The keynote speaker was Marie-Caroline Laurent from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), and Laurent confirmed that the cruise industry was eager to return after two years of the pandemic. 

“Decarbonisation is not a future scenario, it’s happening now. We are seeing amazing new ships with advanced environmental technologies, and pilot projects using more sustainable propulsion technologies. We have a more modern fleet than ever before, and every new ship that is launched is more efficient than the last.” said Laurent.  

“Also, there is no one solution. There needs to be a holistic approach – across design, manufacture, shipbuilding, port infrastructure, and onboard technology. Ultimately, we all share a vision of a sustainable future, and everyone needs to play their part, Laurent explained in her address at the Bergen conference.  

Laurent’s keynote speech at the Bergen conference is a part of a four-day visit to Norway. The Director General of Europe is scheduled to continue her journey from Bergen to visit Tromsø. Laurent joined CLIA back in November of 2021, and the visit to Norway is one of her first international trips. Laurent wants to emphasise that Norway is one of the top four markets in Europe for the cruise industry.  

“Norway is first and foremost a spectacular country, that attracts interest from international tourists from all over the world. The scenery of Flom, Stadt and other Norwegian fjords are unprecedented, and cruising is the best way to discover the beauty of the sea and the shores of the country. I want to reassure all small business owners and partners of our members along the coast that we are ready to return to Norway and bring visitors from all over the world,” Laurent concludes.  

Cruising is an integral part of Norway’s tourism strategy with unique potential to help local communities to thrive and preserve their cultural heritage and local ecosystems. 

Cruise tourism creates revenue and jobs 

One of the key messages from several of the leading business leaders within cruise tourism at the Bergen conference, was that they had to address the perception that international tourists do not spend money and create revenue for Norwegian businesses.  Artur Kordt, CEO of European Cruise services said, “The cruise industry in Norway generates more than 20 billion NOK in export revenue, with over 2000 related service and trading businesses, and represents approximately 2-300 million NOK in export revenue in each of the 20 different ports where the industry is present.”

Read Marie-Caroline Laurent’s full speech below.

Remarks by Marie-Caroline Laurent on the future of sustainable cruising

I’m delighted to be with you here today and I would like to thank the Bergen Business Council for inviting CLIA to this important conference on the future of cruising in Norway. It is the right moment to come together as the industry is restarting.   

This is my first visit to Bergen, and it is clear to me already why Bergen attracts visitors from around the world. It is truly a beautiful city and surrounded by the stunning scenery of steep mountains and fjords  My journey here has also brought home to me why a cruise may be the most efficient way to travel here, as well as the best way to appreciate such incredible coastline landscapes.   

It is no surprise therefore that Bergen is a very popular cruise destination and Norway remains in the top four most popular cruise destinations in Europe. 

Cruise tourism has been a key part of the Bergen economy (and history). The town has grown with the cruise industry since 1880 supporting local shops and tourism activities. The halt of cruise activities due to the COVID crisis has hit the local businesses significantly, an annual loss on some half a billion NOK illustrates the hard way how much cruise tourism benefits socially and economically coastal communities such as Bergen. It should be our common goal to work together in harmony to enable visitors to enjoy these amazing sights, for your communities to benefit, and to preserve the local heritage and environment for future generations. 

Cruising has a key role to play in the development of sustainable tourism and be an active actor of the green transition of our economies and societies. And I am happy to share with you today the industry’s vision on sustainable cruising and how the cruise industry is reinventing itself in partnership with coastal communities. 

We are fully committed to our vision as a global industry of net carbon neutral cruising by 2050. Whereas we are jointly looking at this long-term horizon, changes are happening now. Cruise lines have already invested more than 130 billion NOK in new vessels with improved environmental performance and using more sustainable propulsion technologies. We have a more modern fleet than ever before, and every new ship that is launched is up to 20% more efficient than the one it replaces.   

Achieving this ambitious objective of sustainable cruising relies on three different pillars of action:  

The first pillar is sustainable transportation. This means looking at how to lower the carbon footprint of ships, both when they are at berth and during the sea voyage. 

Let’s consider first ships at berth. The cruise industry is committed to using shore side electricity, where it is offered by ports.  Cruise lines are making significant investments and we anticipate that 66% of our global fleet will be equipped to plug into shore side electricity by 2027. With a goal to achieve full coverage of the fleet or the use of equivalent zero-emission technologies within the next 15 years. 

Being equipped with electricity connection capability is however only one part of the story. We need ports to support these efforts too.  Ships can only plug into shore side electricity at ports which have invested in the necessary infrastructure, and there are still very few berths offering these facilities across Europe. Norway is showing the way, with installations planned at multiple ports and, impressively, five facilities available for cruise ships here in Bergen.   

Now let’s move away from the port to look at how cruise ships are decarbonising the voyage. 

Full decarbonisation of shipping will come from a combination of different solutions. Some are available now and can allow us to make initial progress, others are not yet developed or available at scale. Within the next five years, more than half of new capacity of the global cruise fleet will be powered by liquid natural gas (LNG). This is important because LNG produces zero sulphur emissions, 85% fewer nitrogen oxide emissions, almost 100% fewer particulate emissions, and up to an estimated 20% fewer greenhouse gas emissions.  Just as importantly, LNG acts as a transition fuel, as LNG-ready ships will be more easily adapted for renewable synthetic LNG, allowing also to use the existing LNG infrastructure.   

In parallel to this investment in LNG which should allow us to meet the immediate objectives of carbon emission reduction, cruise lines are also investing in multiple sustainable energy options. Of course, we see initiatives to use battery powered or wind powered ships, which however, on its own only allows to power smaller size vessels. The focus is rather to explore how these different innovations can be combined to approach the objective of zero-emissions. Our members are investing also in hydrogen, and hybrid ships relying on fuel cell energy production. These projects are being developed now but deployment will need time, and this timeline needs to also be recognised by authorities to align their requirements with commercial availability of technologies.  

Norway is again at the forefront of developments as a hub for green maritime innovation. Norway has recognised the benefits to be gained are not only emissions reductions but also increased competitiveness and new green jobs.  CLIA is very pleased to support the Green Shipping Programme and its aims to establish efficient and environmentally friendly shipping. The Green Shipping Programme is another example of public and private sectors working together for a common goal.  

The second pillar of sustainable cruising relates to our hospitality services. Here I’m talking about how cruise lines are adopting new technologies on board.   

Cruise ships now feature the most advanced wastewater treatment systems, water management systems and sophisticated recycling schemes. In fact, cruise lines set an example of how to apply circular economy principles. Cruise operators can repurpose 100% of waste generated on board by removing, reusing, recycling, and converting waste to energy. The extent of recycling onboard is superior to that of many cities that the ships visit.  

I said earlier that every new cruise ship is more efficient than the last. There are examples everywhere on-board to improve energy efficiency. More efficient appliances, windows that capture and recycle heat, and LED lighting using 80% less energy, are just a few examples. 

Finally, the third pillar of sustainable cruising is destination management.   

The data is clear regarding the economic importance of cruise tourism to coastal communities. We know for example that cruise tourists spend an average of €660 per passenger in port cities over the course of a typical seven-day cruise. Cruise lines also have extensive, diverse supply chains that stretch far beyond home ports. Bergen’s very own North Sea Seafood, a fourth-generation family-run business, supplies cruise and is now one of the largest exporters of seafood products. 

The cruise industry engages with local authorities and communities to promote sustainable management of the destinations. We work together to identify bespoke solutions to manage tourism flow, for example, using app technology, or promoting alternative shoreside excursions. Our partnership with the city of Dubrovnik, for example, resulted in the preparation of a destination assessment by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, which served as a springboard for the city to develop an action plan for sustainability ‘’Respect the City’’. This demonstrates that CLIA and our members are committed to listening and finding practical solutions to issues that may raised by communities. 

Cruising is part of the future green economy and sustainable tourism efforts, as we will continue to allow travellers to discover wonderful coastal destinations in a sustainable way. I hope that I have given you a glimpse of how the cruise industry is reinventing itself as we emerge from the challenges of the pandemic. We are returning safely, securely, and more sustainably. 

I will leave you with this final thought. There is no one solution relying on a single player. There needs to be a holistic approach- across design, manufacture, shipbuilding, port infrastructure, and onboard technology. Ultimately, we all share a vision of a sustainable future. To make collective progress, we must travel the journey together.  “