Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas docks in Ketchikan. Cruise lines worry restrictive North American emission regulations will add about $100 million in costs for Alaska cruises.

Cruise-industry watchers are waiting to see if tougher North American emission rules will lead companies to reduce the number of vessels visiting British Columbia ports due to rising costs.

“I’m very concerned about the impact of this,” said John Binkley, president of the Alaska Cruise Association. ACA represents nine cruise lines. He said cruise lines are working on 2012 plans now, the same year the tighter fuel rules come into effect.

Low-sulfur fuel will add about $100 million in costs for Alaska cruises, Binkley said, and passengers will likely feel the pinch in increased ticket prices. “It’s going to mean an additional cost burden for all the visitors coming to Alaska, transiting through Canada or leaving from Canada,” he said.

The cost to meet the upcoming rules will be about $100 per person for a seven-day cruise.

Donna Spalding, director of administration for the North West and Canada Cruise Association, did not know if the new standards, which she calls very aggressive, will cut ship visits. This is a “critical” issue for industry, from the point of view of whether the required fuel will be available and at what cost, Spalding said from Vancouver.

Canada and the U.S. applied to the International Maritime Organization for an Emissions Control Area. The approval covers waters within a 200-mile limit offshore and will come into effect in the summer of 2012.

The ECA determines allowable sulfur contents in maritime fuel. Under the new guidelines, the sulfur limit will be 1 percent in 2012 and 0.1 percent in 2015, compared with the current global limit of 4.5 percent, the association said. These rules apply not only to cruise ships, but deep-sea vessels within the 200-mile limit as well.

No one is against better air quality and the association is working with Transport Canada to seek ways to meet the objectives, Spalding said. This might include using scrubber technologies and shore-power.

Today, ships in the North West Cruise Association aim as close to 1.5 percent as possible, averaging between 1.5 percent and 1.8 percent, Spalding said.
Lower sulfur fuel is not always available, and is now averaging between 1.2 percent and 2 percent, she said.

Source: Victoria Times

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