Page 30 - Navigator 19
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                “Passenger cruises are a relevant topic in Rotterdam,” continues
Mai Elmar. “And that has always been the case. In the 1990s, when
the cruise terminal at the Wilhelminakade in the heart of Rotterdam was refurnished for its current purpose, no new construction was required. The old, spacious passenger terminal of the Holland-America Line, where emigrants to new worlds such as the Americas and Asia converged until the 1970s, was still there. A refurbishment sufficed to optimally serve shipping lines and passengers.” Currently, it receives some 100 large to very large cruise ships annually. Combined, they account for 300,000 passengers. Depending on the season, they sail on to destinations ranging from the Baltic, the Norwegian fjords and the British Channel Islands to the Mediterranean Sea. Regular calls make up about 35 percent, while turnarounds (starting and ending point) account for roughly 30 percent; the remainder is a combination between calls and turnarounds.
In recent decades, Rotterdam has developed from a gloomy port city badly ravaged in World War II into a bustling metropolis offering a wealth of architectural delights. Fifty percent of passengers on board book a tour. 10 percent of them go to Amsterdam or Antwerp; 90 percent stay in the city or visit attractions in the immediate vicinity such as the windmills of Kinderdijk, the old town of Dordrecht and Schiedam, the jenever (Dutch gin) capital of the Netherlands. With its many shops and museums, Rotterdam has plenty to offer. Visitors can of course also take a boat tour through the port and visit the water defence systems, where they can marvel at the ingenious manner in which the Dutch manage to keep their feet dry in a country that is several metres below sea level.
The days that cruise ships were dominated by rich American senior citizens are behind us, knows Elmar. “All nationalities have discovered
cruising. Cruises have become very affordable and shipping lines
are offering different types: sports-oriented, nostalgic or specifically for young people. Cruising is also very suitable for multi-generation holidays. People do their own thing and reconvene again at dinner. All kinds of sports can be practiced on board, such as gym, aikido, ice skating (!), putting, climbing, you name it. In the high-price segment, there are also superyachts (100 to 350 passengers) that offer very specific, expedition-type trips. Due to the ongoing process of scaling up, we now consider ships with 2500 to 3500 passengers medium- sized; there are also ships that can accommodate 4500 to 5500 passengers on board.”
Cruise ships are constantly becoming larger, but also cleaner, says Elmar. “Despite the image of being polluters, there are few other industries that so strongly lead the way in sustainability. All ships are equipped with scrubbers, more and more of them are powered by LNG and there are all kinds of internal systems on board for recycling waste or re-using water. In terms of environmental impact, the new and large cruise ships can be compared with the most sustainable village communities in our country nowadays. That also deserves to be said! “
“Piloting a cruise ship is something rather special,” say registered pi- lots Robert Kampschreur and Brian Schillemans of Loodswezen Rotter- dam-Rijnmond. “We are dealing with large ships here that sail deeply into the port; they catch a lot of attention - and especially also wind.
In strong wind, we advise the use of a tugboat.” With the interests of the passengers in mind, calls are also highly time-critical. “But,” says Kampschreur, “otherwise it is business as usual; we extend the same le- vel of service to all ships that visit Rotterdam. We board the ship three hours before ‘gangway down’. Punctual to the minute, the cruise ship is next moored along the 600-metre long Wilhelminakade quay. When arriving or leaving ships of 250 metres and longer must make a turn a quarter of a mile before that at the Waalhaven. At the Wilhelminakade, the river is not wide enough for these ships to turn around.”
Cruise shipping is booming to such an extent in Rotterdam that additional mooring space is needed at certain times. There is not enough space along the Wilhelminakade quay to accommodate two large ships simultaneously. Following consultation between Cruiseport Rotterdam, the Port of Rotterdam Authority, the boatmen and the Dutch Maritime Pilots’ Organisation, a fall-back location was found in the Merwehaven on the port’s northern bank. “We took this decision following very careful deliberation and evaluation,” says Schillemans. “The port basin was first dredged, the bollards inspected and we extensively trained with the simulator. The river has currents which are not present in the port basin. And there are tidal influences. In early June, the Britannia of P&O Cruises was the first ship to moor at the Merwehaven. Of course, we frequently consulted with the captain.” “That is also what makes this job such fun,” concludes Kampschreur. “You have to collaborate and consult with so many different parties. Of course, safety always comes first!”
 30 NAVIGATOR NL 2019 N°19

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