Fuel prices for the cruise industry have dropped as much as $35 per metric ton in just the past month, and will most likely continue to drop or remain low through at least through Spring, according to spokespeople from fuel companies throughout the country.

The most significant decrease has occurred on the West Coast - especially in Los Angeles, where the price for 380cst fuel has fallen to $93 per metric ton, according to Justin Noice of I.C.P. Petrol Ltd. in Vancouver. Noice also reported that prices for 180 cst and MDO - the two other fuels bought most often by cruise lines - have dropped to about $97 per metric ton and $224 per metric ton, respectively.

In Seattle, the prices are somewhat higher: 380cst costs $119; 180cst costs $180; and MDO costs $224, Noice reported.

"In general, all of the lines sailing from the West Coast are currently enjoying about a $15 to $30 per-ton savings over last year. And even though you never can be sure of what will happen, I think it is safe to say that they will continue to enjoy at least a $15 savings for the next few months," Noice said.

Although prices are higher on the East Coast, they have dropped about 33 percent since last year, and they are still dropping, according to Todd Huinker, vice president of Florida Fuel Co.

The most significant decrease has come in the past month, a spokesperson from Belcher Oil reported. He said that the current rate for 380cst is now about $132 per metric ton - down about $20 per ton from the first of the year. Similarly, 180cst has dropped $23 a ton to $140, and MDO has dropped $35 a ton to $240.

"The bottom has dropped out and for the foreseeable future, prices will stay low - especially now that we're coming upon Spring when prices are traditionally cheaper," the Belcher spokesperson reported. For the operators of the large cruise ships, many of whom said that fuel costs account for as much as 60 percent of their operating costs, the reduced fuel rates have made a significant difference.

For the coastal cruisers, the drop in prices has been less significant.

"Our vessels are so economical that the reduction in fuel prices really doesn't have much effect on our operating costs," said Peter Johnson, operating manager for American Cruise Line "Our prices also vary depending on whether we get our fuel at the marinas, or from the fuel companies," he added, noting that prices at the marinas can be high.

American Canadian has not seen a significant difference either, also because of the varying marina prices, according to a spokesperson there. He also noted that prices in the Bahamas - a frequent route for the line - are higher than in the United States.

According to all the spokespeople at the oil companies, fuel throughout the Caribbean is more expensive, with prices in San Juan reported to be about $20 to $30 more a ton than in the U.S. In Kingston, prices are the most expensive; and in Panama and Curucao - just about the only other options down there - prices also are reportedly.