New cruise terminals: more sustainable, open and intelligent

Implementation of new technology and efficient management of resources are the two pillars on which the cities of the future are being built. They are also the foundation of new cruise terminals for a type of tourism that is consolidating its place in markets like the Mediterranean and is quickly expanding in other geographic areas, such as Asia. The Helix Cruise Center, in Barcelona, and Crown of Miami, in Florida, are two good examples of the new smart passenger terminals.

Posted on 06.20.2019
Third generation terminal designed by Batlle i Roig Arquitectura and built by the UTE Vopi4 - Elecnor. [Image by Port de Barcelona website]

PortMiami and the Port of Barcelona see the most cruise-passenger traffic in the world and in Europe, respectively. In 2018, the Port of Barcelona welcomed more than three million passengers on board 838 cruises. The figures for PortMiami topped five and a half million. These numbers demonstrate the importance of adopting models for efficiently managing the flow of passengers and justify the opening of a latest-generation terminal in each destination: Helix Cruise Center and Crown of Miami.

The Helix Cruise Center opened its doors in May 2018. It is the second Carnival Corporation & PLC terminal in the Port of Barcelona: 12,500 square metres to welcome vessels operated by eight of the company’s brands and, according to forecasts, more than one million passengers each year. “Our goal isn’t to grow; it’s to give our passengers the best service possible,” notes Sandra Yunta, general manager and PFSO of the Barcelona Cruise Terminal. “We’re making sure that, if the group’s vessels come into port on the same day, they have two terminals available (Helix Cruise Center and Palacruceros), where we can implement our quality standards.”

Construction of the new terminal was based on three main principles: functionality, optimising maintenance and natural light. “The terminal had to be versatile enough to accommodate changes in flow and allow us to implement new technology,” explains Yunta. “The new terminal is spectacular, but over the course of the year, maintenance is much cheaper than for other terminals.” Natural light systems, north-facing skylights and glass near ground level are some of the solutions that help cut power and climate-control costs. These measures are also in line with the UN goal of doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030.

Thanks to these characteristics, the Helix Cruise Center was also chosen as one of the best passenger terminals in the world by 2019 Prix Versailles, the global architecture and design awards given out by the UNESCO and the International Union of Architects.

Plus, this past April, the facility welcomed the first vessel fuelled by liquid natural gas (LNG) to stop at the Port of Barcelona: the AIDAnova, which will make a total of 29 stops in the Catalan capital this season. Promoting LNG as an alternative fuel is one of the central focal points of the Port of Barcelona’s Action Plan to Improve Air Quality, as it cuts emissions that are harmful to health (up to 80% of nitrogen oxide and all particles in suspension and sulphur oxides) and helps decrease greenhouse gasses.

Cutting emissions is also one of the goals of Carnival Corporation & PLC, which in 2019 cut carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions for its operations by 26.3% from 2005. The company already has a vessel operating with liquid natural gas, another that will go into operation this autumn and nine more being built or in the pipeline that run on this alternative fuel.

The shift from diesel to LNG cuts nitrogen oxide by up to 85%, carbon by 20% and sulphur dioxide by 100%.

Another shipping line that has committed to innovation and sustainability as hallmarks for its new facilities is Royal Caribbean, which inaugurated terminal A at PortMiami (Crown of Miami) in conjunction with Miami-Dade County in November 2018. It is the largest cruise terminal in the world, with more than $200 million in investment.

The building was constructed to eco-friendly standards and, like other terminals at the port, has Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the Green Building Council of the United States. It stands out for its technology to make embarking and disembarking faster and easier: biometric and facial recondition systems that cut wait-time at customs and passport control in half. This is a huge improvement, taking into account that the enclave welcomes the largest cruise ships in the world, such as the Oasis series. All of this, on top of its functional design, has made it the most innovative cruise facility in the country. Miguel Reyna, associate vice-president of Caribbean Cruises Ltd, pointed out that the company’s goal is to give visitors a unique, improved experience in an iconic building.

The company expects to welcome 2 million passengers each year thanks to the agility of this new terminal. Its technology systems can handle 2,000 people per hour in transit, which is key to saving time and resources.