Preparing Cruise Facilities For Health Protocols  Using BA’s Terminal Simulator To Restart The Cruise Industry

Bermello Ajamil & Partners  (Logo)The quicker the cruise industry comes to the realization that health protocols will be with us for the foreseeable future, the faster that the restart can occur. Implementing protocols at both homeports and ports-of-call that have previously worked with efficiency and precision is now difficult.

Without proper planning, implementation could result in reducing port capacity; increasing passenger embark and disembark times; and, negatively impacting the passenger experience. Introducing health protocols directly affect the flow and processes which result in the reallocation of existing spaces or the development of additional space to meet new protocol demands.

In North America, Europe, and Asia, testing protocols are either underway or being developed for cruise facilities for passengers and crew during embarkation and debarkation processes. All cruise facilities must be able to meet the criteria using existing, modified, or expanded areas to accomplish the tasks of primary and secondary screening and testing; both to protect the passengers and crew onboard a vessel, and even more important to protect the port communities from introducing the infection shoreside.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the cruise homeport health screening process now and into the future and each facility must be retooled and provide for flexibility of operations moving forward. Bermello Ajamil & Partners, Inc. (BA) is now in a position to assist ports, cruise lines, and terminal operators through the use of its terminal simulator to test scenarios and define the flexible space designs required for a restart.

For more than 20 years, BA has been the leading designer of cruise terminal facilities worldwide. BA continuously develops its knowledge base of cruise facility operations globally, learning from both its past and present projects, as well as its interaction with the operational teams that make these facilities function. This pushes BA to be on the cutting edge of design, development, and implementation. As a result, BA’s designs provide for the optimum passenger experience and focus on operational efficiencies that allow for lower per passenger costs.

Guiding these optimized outcomes is BA’s unique and custom Cruise Facility Simulator that analyzes facility design and operation scenarios. For BA and its clients, this modeling tool is essential to achieve a cruise facility that meets a wide range of passenger experience and efficiency criteria. The simulation provides visual and analytical statistics to assess bottlenecks in the process and address them through the development of numerous scenarios.

The simulator allows to visualize terminal operations and then examine any micro-circumstances within the terminal that may impede passenger flow and movement. These include baggage movement, security, ground transportation, crew movements, storing, gangway, customs, immigration, and health and quarantine spaces. The simulation also assists in assessing changes to cruise vessel operations and defines circumstances that may trigger conflicts or other issues within the entirety of the facility and operational chain. Past results have been tested against the actual results and have shown the simulator to be a precise predictor of the facilities and operations.

Today, BA is using the simulator to evaluate the health and safety protocols spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic. The simulator has been used on several facilities to evaluate the introduction of new primary health stations followed by secondary testing, as well as isolation spaces for passengers and crew. The simulator is unique in that it allows BA to model terminals using 2m or 6ft social distancing guidelines, which has a dramatic impact on passenger flows and terminal capacity. In many of these studies, simulations have included adding temporary facilities to conduct testing protocols or repurposing terminal spaces to fulfill the requirements.

The passenger experience can be tested against key performance indicators (KPIs) set by a client which may measure targets, such as queue times, total time to process, walking distances, passenger density in different spaces, and vertical circulation bottlenecks. This output can then be used in the detailed design and development for passenger flows, seating/waiting areas, and secondary processing areas, amongst others.

The KPI’s that the model can examine specific to health testing protocols include the following:

Processing schedule based on vessel capacity
Differences in the placement within a facility and impacts on flow and timing
Staffing needs to meet the criteria for optimization of the process, in terms of:
Facility cost/investment to determine the sizing and spatial options
Operational costs to accomplish set tasks during the process

The simulator can also factor in unique variables such as social distancing including assigning passenger statistics such as singles, couples, and families. Statistical outputs are then provided for the entire facility and flows that may include:

Total passengers processed
Total passengers with PCR tests
Time distribution at entrance check-point
Queue times of health stations
Passenger density at waiting areas

BA identified that additional primary health stations will improve the queue time without negatively impacting the number of passengers in the primary waiting area. Other modeling capabilities include simulating curbside operations that can be evaluated based on vehicle type, the number of persons per vehicle, vehicle mix, and arrival patterns. This integrated feature allows the full examination of the operations on the overall embarkation and debarkation passenger and baggage flows.

BA used the simulator over a decade ago during the design of Port Everglades Terminal 18, the first terminal ever built for the largest cruise vessel in the world – RCI’s Oasis of the Seas. At that time RCI set a never before achieved target that guests complete the process from curbside to vessel in less than 15 minutes; the final result was that the guests actually beat that target.

Since that time, BA has utilized the simulation for terminals worldwide including Kai Tak Cruise Terminal (Hong Kong), Marina Bay International Cruise Terminal (Singapore), RCI Terminal A (Port Miami), NCL Terminal B (Port Miami), Carnival Terminal 3 (Port Canaveral) and many others, including RCI’s newest cruise facility to begin construction in 2021 in Galveston, Texas.

BA is continuing to enhance the simulator for the continuous innovation of new and existing cruise facilities to deliver passenger-friendly, efficient, and cost-effective terminals, ground transportation areas, baggage chain logistic areas, and more. As illustrated in 2020, the simulator has been used to test and introduce health protocols into existing facilities.

(Bermello Ajamil & Partners – BA)


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