How azipods are changing the way we cruise

The way ships have been operated over the years has drastically changed since the introduction of steam-powered ships in the 19th century. Despite the changes, the intentions and ultimate goal have always been the same: to get from A to B in the quickest time possible whilst also ensuring crew and passenger safety throughout. Cruise passengers of today, with the exception of transatlantic cruises, want to spend as much time in each port as possible to get the most value out of their itinerary.

What is an Azipod? For those who don’t know, an azipod is a pod which holds the propeller that powers a ship. It hangs from the stern of the ship and has historically been driven by either an electric motor or diesel engine inside the ship’s hull. Furthermore, this method of powering a ship has been used throughout the maritime industry since the 1900’s and remains in use today.

With cruise ships getting larger all the time, accommodating more passengers and further efforts being made to ensure each ship can fulfil as many itineraries as possible per year – a powerful system is required. So powerful, in fact, that it could power the equivalent of approximately 20,000 homes. Enough power for the whole population of Barrow in Furness, for example – and that is per azipod.

Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas has two of these azipods, which provides a combined total of 41 megawatts. Each pod weighs 50 tonnes but, amazingly, can be turned 360 degrees at the twist of a dial from the ship’s bridge. This provides unbelievable manoeuvrability, enabling cruise ships exceeding 360 metres in length to turn almost on the spot.

The thrusters come in the form of additional propellers, which pull water from one side of the ship’s hull to the other. This combined force can enable a ship to move directly sideways, allowing for precision docking of the vessel.

Each azipod propeller is made of nickel, aluminium and bronze – which therefore make them quite expensive to produce. Once installed, these propellers are checked on a regular basis, often whilst docked in passenger ports, to ensure they are in top condition.

Cruise ships of the 21st century feature modern amenities, luxurious restaurants, spacious staterooms and the latest technology. The day-to-day ship operation is also changing on a regular basis to enhance factors such as speed, safety and efficiency. If you know the maritime industry inside out and can combine knowledge of ship operation with strong business acumen, why not consider a career with Cruise Franchise?

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