Green Fuel Costs Threaten Antarctic Cruises

Cruise lines are preparing to abandon the Antarctic as a result of stringent proposed rules that would compel them to use greener fuels.

Some cruise lines have already dropped the destination from their brochures. Swan Hellenic has pulled out of the region in 2010. Voyages of Discovery and Saga have already dropped Antarctica from their 2009/2010 programs and Hurtigruten has taken one ship out of the region. There is a proposal to prevent cruise ships from carrying and burning heavy fuel in Antarctic waters and if approved the proposed changes to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships will come into force in 2011.

Cruise ships would then have to carry and use marine gas oil, which could cost several million dollars more per season. Currently cruise ships use marine gas oil sailing south of 60 degrees latitude and heavy fuel when north of 60 degrees. If passes the ships would have to use marine gas for the whole voyage. This would mean the end of the large ships which do not land passengers but sail in the waters.

Last month representatives from 28 nations approved plans under the Antarctic Treaty to prohibit landings in Antarctica on ships carrying more than 500 passengers, while smaller-capacity ships will be restricted to landing no more than 100 passengers at a time.

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