Switch to cleaner fuel in Arctic may increase passenger fare by 6%

A new report from Transport and Environment (T&E) has revealed that eliminating the use of highly polluting heavy fuel oil (HFO) by cruise ships in the Arctic region would only cost passengers the price of a glass of wine a day.

The report is based on an analysis of the impact of cruise ship MS Rotterdam if it operated on marine gas oil (MGO) during three mid-year trips to the Arctic this year.

It also found that prohibiting the use of HFO in the Arctic last year would have increased the prices of tickets on MS Rotterdam by an average of 6%.

The increase in price is estimated on this year’s fuel prices and on the assumption that the additional fuel costs were passed on to passengers.

It is equivalent to an additional €7 per day, or no more than the price of a glass of wine on-board MS Rotterdam, owned by Holland America Line.

The report also found that banning the use of HFO in the Arctic can be implemented immediately with negligible impact on the cruise industry. Cruise passengers should also accept the minimal increase in price.

T&E shipping officer Lucy Gilliam said: “Arctic cruise tourism is booming, increasing the risks of oil spills and creating more pollution. The costs per passenger of a switch to cleaner fuel are tiny.

“It’s more than worth it to reduce the risks to the unique environment that passengers are paying to see.

“Cruise companies claim that an HFO ban would be a death sentence to their industry, yet the figures show that the costs passed on to passengers are trivial. Cruises to the Arctic are, by any measure, a luxury, yet tickets are VAT exempt.”

In April last year, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreed to further support the move to ban the use of HFO in the Arctic region on the basis of an impact assessment.

IMO is currently inviting ideas on how to evaluate the impact of the HFO ban on communities and operators in the Arctic.