PortMiami Launches Shore Power for Cruise Ships After Three-Year Project

shore power
PortMiami connected its first cruise ships to shore power (PortMiami)

Published Jun 18, 2024 6:18 PM by The Maritime Executive


PortMiami became the first large U.S. East Coast seaport to have shore power available at five of its terminals, although due to power capacity, only three cruise ships will be able to attach at a time. A ceremony held yesterday, June 17, at the port marked the culmination of a three-year project launched in 2021 for the port to catch up in providing shore power.

Miami-Dade Country where the port is located spent about $125 million according to the Miami Herald. The capability was installed at five of the terminals after receiving nearly $22 million in grants. Florida provided nearly $20 million for the project while the federal Environmental Protection Agency provided nearly $2 million.

The project required building individual substations at each of the piers according to the Miami Herald which says one cruise ship uses power equivalent to about one day for 10,000 households. The port is providing 16 MW with each ship the Herald says expected to use between eight and 13 MW while on dock. The advantage is that the ships turn off their diesel engines, and despite having scrubbers on their exhaust, will dramatically reduce emissions as well as noise while on dock.

The project involved Florida Power & Light, the local electric utility, which says the shore power is isolated from the city so it will not impact residents. Five cruise lines, Carnival Corporation, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Royal Caribbean Group, and Virgin Voyages participated in the project. PortMiami said it expects 21 cruise ships calling at the port to use shore power over the next year for a total of 350 port calls. The port can handle nine cruise ships in a day and in 2025 will open an additional large terminal built for MSC Cruises that can berth up to three additional cruise ships.

Testing for the shore power was completed last week. On Monday, the Carnival Conquest (110,000 gross tons with accommodations for approximately 3,000 passengers) was the first cruise ship to connect to the shore power supply. Also, Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas (158,000 gross tons with accommodations for 5,780 passengers) connected to the power yesterday.

Shore power has been available at various U.S. ports with Juneau, Alaska providing it 20 years ago. San Diego, California introduced its first shore power in 2010 and is due to complete its third connection this year. The cruise terminal in Brooklyn, New York has offered shore power since 2017, but it only has a single berth. Seattle recently passed a requirement that all cruise ships will have to start using shore power by 2027. Shore power is also expanding in Europe where requirements are pending to require ships to use shore power while in EU ports.

Despite the expansion of shore power, industry officials point out that the ports lag the ships. Ports face large expenses to install the capability and geographic challenges when the terminals are dispersed over a wide area, as well as capacity on the local power grid. 

John Weinstein, CEO of Carnival Corporation, for example, highlights that among its brands, 67 percent of the fleet is now shore power-capable. He estimates just two percent of cruise ports worldwide however have shore power available. In addition to the 64 ships Carnival Corporation now has with shore power capabilities, it will install the system on three additional ships this year. Carnival Corp. has also contracted with ABB Group to add the capability to 30 additional connections over the next few years.