Environmentally Conscious Cruising – Which Ships are Not Green

Cruise ship haze over Juneau, Alaska

Cruise ship haze over Juneau, Alaska

If you’re considering a cruise to Alaska you’re probably more in tune with the environment than most. Alaska is mostly wilderness so we hope you’re not going to Alaska to just to shop for Jade in Ketchikan.

So let’s consider which cruise ships have received Environmental Violations in Alaska (1999-2009) when making your travel plans.

Virgin Holidays gives Responsible Tourism awards each year, with 2008 being the first for Cruise or Ferry Operator (Holland America Lines won) and Royal Caribbean gaining top honors for 2009.

Friends of the Earth have just released their 2010 Cruise Report Card.

Alaskan Cruise regulations driving away cruise ships?

There are some strong words being spoken at this year’s Cruise Shipping Miami convention. Holland America CEO Stein Kruse has expressed his dissatisfaction with the mounting taxes, fees and regulations that Alaska is piling onto the cruise ships.

Holland America, based in Seattle, is warning the state that the cruise industry will continue to pull ships out of the region in the face of what Kruse is calling the the heaviest costs and regulations of any destination.

Some examples of these are:

  • A $46-a-person tax on cruisers
  • Taxes on shipboard casino earnings
  • New environmental regulations.

It has been said that in some ports a ship cannot take on fresh water because that fresh water supply from these Alaskan ports exceeds the maximum copper content for waste water in Alaskan cruise waters!

Many lines are removing ships from the Alaskan routes and it is forecasted that Alaska will see its first decline in cruise visitors in 30 years. Year over year, cruise travel is down 17%. Alaska Travel Industry Association president Ron Peck says 140,000 fewer visitors.

Despite the trouble the cruise lines are having with Alaska, the other side of the coin is that these regulations, fees and taxes are for the best interest of the State of Alaska and preserving its natural beauty. This tug-of-war between cruise line profits and environmental protection may be pulling at the travelers themselves.

The good news for potential cruise visitors is that “value” is the new industry mantra this year according to Kevin Sheehan, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Lines. However, the 10 to 20 percent discounts of 2009 may be fading fast as the word at the Cruise Shipping Miami convention is that the industry will be sailing clear of the woes of the last two years by Fall and with it prices will climb back up.

We would recommend planning for your Alaskan Cruise soon to take advantage of current pricing and before the cost of compliance with new regulations begins to filter down to your ticket prices.