High standards for minimizing air and water pollution, the impact of underwater sound on marine mammals, a comprehensive educational program for cruise passengers and fees for operating in the park were the key factors in a decision announced today by Park Superintendent Cherry Payne, to award new 10-year concession contracts to four cruise ship companies for operating in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. The four contracts competitively allocated 82 cruise ship trips into the park, with an additional 71 trips including the same high standards allocated under “historical rights.”
The number of cruise ships entering the bay during the prime season of June through August is limited to 153, with no more than two per day, in order to protect park resources. Up to 92 additional ships are authorized in May and September. In 2008, 225 ships carrying 416,703 passengers operated in Glacier Bay. The new 10-year contracts are for the period 2010 – 2019.
“Strong competition and excellent proposals from the cruise ship industry will help minimize air and water pollution, focus ship-board activities on understanding and enjoyment of Glacier Bay National Park and provide fee revenue to sustain park research, resource monitoring and other park operations”, said Payne.
Princess Cruises submitted the best proposal of the six companies competing for the contracts and was allocated 58 trips (32 of them under historical rights). Princess proposed the use of turbine engines, low sulfur distillate fuel and other strategies for reducing air pollution and to a “no discharge” policy to minimize water pollution. They committed to underwater sound signature testing, developed a “whale strike avoidance program,” offered a number of enhancements to the interpretive/educational program focused on Glacier Bay, and proposed a franchise fee of $12/passenger, $5 above the minimum. Princess Cruises is to be commended for its excellent proposal.
The remaining contracts and trips were awarded to Holland America Line (65 – 39 of them under historical rights), Cruise West (8), and Norwegian Cruise Line (22). Disney Cruise Line submitted a proposal but withdrew from the competition. Du Ponant, a French cruise operator, also submitted a proposal and could be offered a contract for use outside the June through August prime season.