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Connectivity in the Fjords enhances passenger experiences

Fri 25 Jan 2019 by Martyn Wingrove

Connectivity in the Fjords enhances passenger experiences
Future of the Fjords has onboard wifi so passengers can access social media during voyages

Wifi and 4G communications deliver online applications and social media to passengers on The Fjords' flagship passenger vessels

Norwegian all-electric ferries have forests of antennas and onboard wifi to deliver connectivity to passengers during their scenic voyages through fjords and soon this will extended to city landscapes.

The Fjords operates 11 vessels in western Norway’s fjords area, including two flagship electric-powered passenger ferries, Vision of The Fjords and Future of The Fjords. This company is jointly owned by tourist body Flåm and Norwegian ferry company Fjord1.

At the end of 2018, The Fjords announced it was building a third zero-emission vessel, to be named Legacy of The Fjords, for passenger voyages in Oslo and the surrounding area. This carbon fibre catamaran is under construction at Brødrene Aa shipyard in Norway and is due to be delivered by July 2019.

The two sister vessels provide an optimal passenger experience while safeguarding the unique environments they sail in, said Flåm IT manager Geir Inge Tufte.

“The main idea is to give guests a good experience that is silent and clean,” he told Maritime Digitalisation & Communications, while explaining there is infrastructure on board to deliver online services, including social media to 400 passengers. “Our guests are able to use Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and online news services,” he explained, using their own mobile devices during voyages.

This connectivity is also required for the onboard entertainment systems, connections to ticketing systems and a conferencing facility. Crew also need online connectivity for running onboard computers and operating systems, said Mr Tufte.

Communications systems on Vision of The Fjords and Future of The Fjords consist of antennas on the wheelhouse for connection with Norway’s 3G and 4G mobile phone networks. There are onboard 4G-enabled routers, switches, wifi access points and firewalls for cyber security, Mr Tufte explained.

“We provide wifi for all our guests for connectivity to entertainment and ticketing, but we focus on having discreet designs”

“We provide wifi for all our guests for connectivity to entertainment and ticketing, but we focus on having discreet designs,” he said.

Onboard entertainment systems include a NaviGuiding Server that provides guidance to guests during voyages. There are 14 screens of between 40-65-in in size and player panels.

There is a distribution system for audio and video and speakers inside and outside the main ferry accommodation. The screens are also used for conferencing, plus there are three projectors and an AKG microphone system.

As part of the operating systems on each of these ferries, Westcon Power & Automation provided the e-SEAMatic integrated automation system, energy management, drive power conversion and energy storage units. It also supplied an e-SEA manoeuvring control system and the main switchboards.

Meanwhile, Norwegian communications provider Telenor Maritime has introduced mobile ecosystems on board Brittany Ferries ships. This includes VSAT connectivity hardware, wifi access points and mobile broadband backhaul on ferries that operate between France and the UK, Ireland and Spain.

A mobile ecosystem will also be installed on Brittany Ferries’ US$220M LNG-powered newbuilding, Honfleur, which is scheduled to be brought into operation between Portsmouth, UK, and Caen, France, in June 2019. This vessel, which is being built by Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft in Germany, will also be equipped with hardware to link to 3G mobile phone networks for additional passenger services.

“Connectivity drives all our customer communications, so it has never been more important to us,” said Brittany Ferries director of sales and customer experience Joëlle Croc.

VSAT connectivity will be delivered through a series of antennas linked to a below-deck equipment stack that includes antenna control and broadband management units, plus modem and wifi routeing modules.

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