Kim Glisson of the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce, Andrew Damstadt of the Ketchikan Daily News and Gary Kreitag of the University of Alaska Faribanks tour the control room of Holland American’s Statendam

Alaska Cruise Association’s president told a Ketchikan group that cruise ship port times could be reduced dramatically in the next few years because of tighter regulations, world marketplace competition and rising energy costs.

Fuel costs are starting to play a bigger role in itineraries, ACA president John Binkley told Ketchikan?s Downtown Steering Committee. He also said geography and cruise ship operations are affecting Ketchikan’s port times, and, “It may get worse rather than get better.”

Susan Peters, Downtown Steering Committee chair, said the group would like to see cruise ships stay longer in Ketchikan. Ketchikan lags behind Juneau and Skagway for total port hours with 3,700 hours in 2008, compared with Juneau’s 6,843 port hours and Skagway’s 6,496, according to Peters.

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“There is a significant difference in port time hours,” she said.

Binkley said the cruise ship industry recognizes that Ketchikan has been a good partner and has “better support here than anywhere in the state.” The cruise lines are bringing as many people as they can to this port. He suggested regulations on the ship’s wastewater discharges could mean that Ketchikan or Skagway could be dropped as ports because cruise ships would have to travel to federal waters, cutting into a ship’s itinerary.

He said his group is working to overturn that part of a 2006 initiative. Voters approved a cruise ship initiative that in addition to new taxes, required cruise ships to get a pollution discharge permit for ship wastewater. More Ketchikan residents voted against the initiative than in favor.

Carnival Corporation – which owns Holland America and Princess – has identified 140 ways to save fuel. These will be tested before being rolled out across the company’s brands, as soaring oil prices and environmental issues continue to put pressure on the sector.

The measures include reducing speeds, harnessing waste heat generated by engines, and using silicon paint on ship hulls.

For the last few years Holland America has cut fuel used by its ships by an average 2 percent a year.

Senior vice-president of fleet operations Dan Grausz said more funds have been allocated next year to reduce this further.

The cruise line has begun educating crew and customers on how to be more energy efficient on board and reviewed itineraries to reduce ship speeds. It is developing software to optimise the balance of ships, which can affect speed and water resistance.

He said: “We are working on every angle, more than in the past. The biggest initative is reducing cruise ship speeds. We are thinking intelligently about the sequence we go in and out of ports so we do not have to have a 20-knot itinerary and can do 18 knots.

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