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In this past Sunday’s cruise news roundup I featured a story from Express.co.uk that said that “[Southampton] a British port city is one of Europe’s most polluted by cruise ships. Barcelona topped the list in the continent [of Europe].” There is no getting around the fact that gigantic floating mega ships, powered by simply massive diesel engines to produce electricity that drives everything on the ships including propulsion, are not kind to the environment.
One city in California has had enough of the pollution. In an article in Voices of Monterey Bay “Cruising Away” they said:
“The city of Monterey stopped providing city services to cruise ships docking in Monterey Bay as of Feb. 7, a decision that has so far been successful in reducing the 12 annual visits from cruise ships to zero, but has sparked controversy in Monterey County, especially among business owners.“
And here lies the problem – less ships visiting with cruisers ready to spend cash can have a huge negative impact on the local economy. Let me show you one example of this.
All of the photos in this post are from Icy Strait Point Alaska from my first ever Alaska cruise that I just loved. But this one stop was not that exciting. More on that in a bit but NCL ships visiting here comes at a cost for Valdez Alaska. Anchorage Daily News reports that “Norwegian Cruise Line cancels Valdez stops, leaving small businesses reeling”. They said:
“Norwegian Cruise Line has unexpectedly canceled the rest of its summer visits to the Prince William Sound city of Valdez, sending shocked local businesses scrambling to refund customers and adjust plans for the season.
The 900-foot Norwegian Spirit, the biggest cruise ship scheduled to visit the town of 4,000, has canceled 11 visits, according to interim city manager Nate Duval.”
Ouch. The summer season in Alaska is not that long to begin with and the loss of tens of thousands of guests will no doubt hurt and I doubt NCL will reverse course on this port change.
What would help is what we are seeing happen to cars, that is, a switch to electricity from the grid and more shore power for the ships at dock and thus the ability to all but shut off the diesel motors.
Back to Icy Strait Point Alaska for a moment – there is not much to do here at this remote stop. Yes there is a gondola that, if the weather is nice, you can see for a very long way. During our visit we got some views before the cloud layer pouring up the side of the mountain blocked everything. We did see a bunch of whales from the ship and those on the tourist boats got some very up close views. Other than that there are a few eateries and tourist shops and some history of the point.
It really is a balancing game for port cities to weigh the benefits of ships sailing in and out and they can, as we have seen above, change on a dime and have immediate impacts. Some new cruise ships being constructed will run on LNG that is liquefied natural gas vs. dirty diesel but considering the number of ships at sea today it will be decades before new ships have a positive impact. – René
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