“The Carnival Vista is a completely new class of vessel. You might see some areas that look similar to other ships but technically-speaking, structurally-speaking, the Carnival Vista is unique in the Carnival fleet ” Chief Engineer Cesare Boldini asserts with evident pride.
To begin, Carnival Vista has a new azipod propulsion system. Two 170 ton pods hang beneath Vista's stern, each with a propeller mounted on it. Inside the pods are electric motors, which are powered by diesel generators (diesel engines located within the ship's hull. The pods can turn 360 degrees and so the pods perform the functions not only traditionally performed by a ship's propeller shafts but also the functions of the rudder and the stern thrusters.
Carnival has built ships with azipod propulsion before. Indeed, when she entered service in 1998, Carnival Elation was the first large cruise ship to be equipped with azipods. However, for the Conquest and Dream classes, Carnival went with a traditional propulsion system.
“Carnival has decided to go back to azipods because ABB came out with the XO azipod, which is a big step forward from what they used to have before. The two pods have 16.5 megawatts, which is 44,254 horsepower. Even though they are smaller than on other Carnival ships, they allow the ship to reach a speed of 23.6 knots during the sea trials.”
One reason Carnival Vista can do more with less has to do with her hull. “The hull of the Carnival Vista has been completely re-designed. Even though it may look the same as older ships, underneath the Carnival Vista is completely different hydrodynamically, a completely different layout under the waterline. The [the bulbous bow] has been redesigned and below the waterline [the hull has been designed] to improve the flow of water to the pods and increase the efficiency of the pods.”
Carnival Vista is also different than other Carnival ships in that she has five diesel engines to generate electricity rather than the usual five. “We have five diesel generators but the power that is available is more than any of our other ships with six generators. We have five MAN diesel generators, two of them are 14 cylinder V capable of 16.9 megawatts of power and then we have three 8 cylinder line [engines] each capable of 9.6 megawatts of power. The 14 cylinder is 21,860 horsepower and the 8 L is 12,870 horsepower for a total of 82,340 horsepower.”
Vista is also different from other Carnival ships in how her systems are configured. Under the International Maritime Organizations' Safe Return to Port regulations cruise ships built after 2010 have to be capable of withstanding catastrophes such as a major fire and still be able to reach port while continuing to provide certain services to the guests.
“Carnival Vista is the first ship that has been built with full compliance with Safe Return to Port regulations. Safe Return to Port is a redundancy system that allows the ship to sail even losing half of its systems. The ship is divided everywhere into system A and system B.”
Thus, if one system is knocked out, the ship can run on the other system. “Let's say I have two engines running on the forward parts of the ship and I lose completely the aft part. Then I have to do maintenance of one of the two 14 cylinders. With one 14 cylinder I have enough power to run all the hotel services and give the ship a speed of ten knots with one pod only. Nobody has built it like that.”
The nerve center of Vista's technical systems is the Engine Control Room. “All of the technical functions of the Carnival Vista are controlled by the officer of the watch in the engine control room.”
Here too there has been innovation. The forward end of the room is dominated by large video screens reminiscent of the Starship Enterprise. “It is a great improvement for the officer of the watch because he can call up the observations system and any of the CCTV cameras of the engine spaces at anytime. On the video wall, we can reproduce any of the 300 observations locations we have.”
However, Chief Boldrini drew attention to a small table in the middle of the room. “The biggest innovation is the tactical table. The tactical table is a big Ipad with a touch screen that allows me during maneuvering or during an emergency situation to control the situation. For example, I can start and stop an engine, I can open and close a breaker, I can start and stop a pump. The tactical table can be connected to the video wall so what I am seeing here you can see on the video wall.”
Carnival Vista was also built to be environmentally friendly. For example, an advanced waste water system makes the ship's waste water clean enough “to be certified to discharge water in Alaska, the most restricted area on Earth. Perhaps because Carnival's number one priority is safety and the environment, we [nonetheless] keep our treated water onboard and discharge it only when we are beyond 12 miles from shore.”
Along the same lines, Carnival has installed a steam turbine so as to turn waste heat created by the ship's exhaust into energy. “We make 1.5 megawatts out of the steam turbine while we are sailing.”
Such efforts led Lloyd's Registry to award Vista the ECO Class Notation (Environmental, Construction and Operations beyond statutory requirements) certification.
The reason Carnival Vista is so different technologically from other Carnival ships is straightforward. Carnival Vista entered service four years after Carnival's last ship Carnival Breeze entered service. “Four years in technology is a huge gap. Eighty five percent of the equipment [on Carnival Vista] has never been installed in any of the Carnival ships previously. Some of it was installed for the first time in the cruise industry.”
Cruise ship interview - - Carnival Cruise Lines - - Carnival Vista - - Chief Engineer