Safety First in Expedition Cruising

The MSC Meraviglia is the first of a new fleet of high-tech ships MSC Cruises is launching over the next decade. Frances Marcellin went on board to speak to the team behind the ship’s cutting-edge technology

he cruise industry is ever changing. To stay ahead of the curve, cruise companies must embrace the “new”. Expedition cruising is all about the new and one key piece of innovative equipment can keep your investment safe and give your passengers the experience of a lifetime – FarSounder’s 3D Forward Looking Sonar.  

New ships to new places is the wave of the future in cruising. Travelers of today are demanding experiences in out-of-the-way places. As the cruise lines answer the call, one piece of equipment that changes the game in safety is FarSounder 3D Forward Looking Sonar.

The Cruise industry is investing billions of dollars in new ships and refits this year alone to satisfy the demand. It looks like this pace will be continuing or even accelerating over the next few years. More and more companies are concerned about protecting these major investments and are opting to add the latest technologies to their navigation package.

Expedition cruising is the fastest-growing sector of the industry. These cruises are offering their passengers adventures to unique places and one-of-a-kind experiences. Sailing to these unknown destinations is a risky endeavor. To mitigate these risks, companies must look at going beyond what regulations require and add extra high-tech equipment to ensure safety of their vessels and passengers and crew.

Sailing your newest state-of-the-art ship into poorly charted or many times even unchartered waters is the norm in the expedition sector. New itineraries are popping-up throughout the industry including Hapag Lloyd’s soon to be launched Hanseatic Inspiration and Hanseatic Nature featuring an array of destinations from the Amazon to the Arctic. These ships have complied with the respected DNV GL Polar Code and have a strong commitment to the safety of their ship, passengers, and crew. One of the ways they are demonstrating their focus on safety is by including a FarSounder-1000 as part of their navigation system.

The pressure is on to raise the bar in the expedition cruise segment, to go the extra mile, to offer what others cannot. This can be seen in every area from design elements to technology. Innovation is the name of the game in attracting the adventurers of today to your cruise line. Once you set your itinerary the question becomes, how do you get into the inlet that no one else has visited? How do you get close to the floating icebergs for those extraordinary moments? How do you sail far north or south where the landscape is ever changing? The answer is… with a FarSounder Forward Looking Sonar.

With one of these as part of your navigation suite, your bridge crew can identify potential hazards up to 1000 meters ahead of the vessel in 3D and in real-time. This sonar will allow the crew to adjust course as needed and sail ahead with confidence. This user-friendly technology is fully integrated with the Wärtsilä Sam NACOS Platinum bridge for seamless operating. FarSounder’s SonaSoft™ software also allows for imaging to be easily overlaid on C-MAP Professional and S57 and S63 charts. 

There are many concerns of the members of the Expedition Cruise Ship sector. Some of the challenges to overcome are environmental and efficiency standards, but perhaps the most important is protecting your reputation by investing in the latest tools in safe navigation. When ships set sail on multi-week cruises to the ice-laden top or bottom of the world, the leaders need to be confident that they are equipped for the challenge.  Once they find themselves surrounded by ice, they are now on their own if issues arise. Not only your crew will feel safer having this innovative technology working for them, it will enhance the expedition experience for passengers by bringing them up-close to nature.

Taking the experience to the next level is quintessential to expeditionary cruising. The ship The World (private residential ship) has mastered the elevation of cruising. They have had a FarSounder leading the way for years. It has served them well. The ship was able to bring their passengers literally where no ship has gone before. In January 2017, The World set sail to the southern limits of the Ross Ice Shelf, the largest off Antarctica. Upon reaching it, they broke the record for most southerly navigation.

Another area FarSounder Forward Looking Sonar is invaluable is when navigating inland waterways. Many new vessels are taking on itineraries inland through poorly charted rivers. Even when the rivers have been charted, the currents can cause unforeseen changes in the riverbed. These changes can put the ship in a dangerous situation. FarSounder’s Forward Looking Sonar can see to depths of 50 meters, therefore is able to delineate the bathymetry of the waters ahead and the crew would be able to avoid a precarious situation.

Expedition cruising is bigger than ever, and the destinations ships will be sailing are extremely intriguing. Cruise companies are anxious to join the lot of ships taking passengers to these special places. However, those who are taking on the challenges of visiting these fascinating new destinations should consider not only the risks but the benefits of having the latest technology in navigation. Having a FarSounder sonar will protect your investment and allow you to be on the cutting-edge of experiential cruising.

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