Polar Issues Raised

Passengers from Orion on a Zodiac.The polar regions are seeing an increased push in demand for voyages and landings. With more ships and capacity appearing in these regions over the last decade, there is no shortage of issues at hands for the lines to deal with.

“All of a sudden we have a situation where there is a lot of interest in the Polar areas with the climate change hype,” said Sven Lindblad, president and founder of Lindblad Expeditions. “Companies are waking up and saying ‘hey we’re going to take some people to Antarctica today,’ without any prior knowledge. It would be like me waking up tomorrow and wanting to run tours in Vegas.”

Lindblad added: “It’s a very dangerous place and a lot of operators aren’t realizing that. The odds of an accident happening are only going up as more ships go down there. We’d prefer that the large cruise ships don’t go there at all; it would be a huge issue if a 2,500-passenger ship had a problem. There isn’t anything anywhere near there to rescue that number of people.”

“The IMO has guidelines, but they aren’t regulations. And being that Antarctica isn’t a country, it makes things more complicated,” Lindblad said.

“There are two big issues operating in Antarctica. First, there are the physical issues with the ships, their construction and safety, and so on. But the bigger issue is the human aspect. The crew has to have experience and knowledge of the waters. They have to make judgment calls and be able to understand the different kinds of ice.”

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) plays an important role in defining guidelines and regulations for Antarctic vessel operation. “We try to encourage our members to stay ahead of the requirements,” said Steve Wellmeier, executive director. “We suggest they adopt things like covered lifeboats and satellite tracking quickly instead of waiting.”

At the U.S. Coast Guard, Investigation Division, Lieutenant Commander Gary Koehler keeps a close eye on ships operating in Arctic waters.

“We’re fairly comfortable with the capabilities of the ships operating in the Artic, for example, the two Hapag-Lloyd ships. We meet with them before they go up there to go over their itineraries.

“They are within the IMO guidelines; they have to have standards of care, contingency planning, well established communications, and a plan in place with other vessels in case assistance is needed,” Kohler added.

The Danish Maritime Authority is also keeping a careful watch on Greenland cruising, with new guidelines suggesting local navigators on ships.
A fuel ban in Antarctica may be restricting some of the ships in the not too distant future. The Maritime Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) of the IMO recently approved a proposed amendment on the use and carriage of heavy grade fuel oils (HFO), including IFO-180, in Antarctica, with planned adoption at is March 2010 meeting. All signs point to MEPC adopting the new regulations, and as one insider put it, “it’s a done deal.” At press time, the new regulations were expected to come into effect in July of 2011.

“What really sped all this up was the Explorer sinking in 2007,” commented IAATO’s Wellmeier. “Suddenly people realize that since the Explorer sank, a large ship could sink too, and then heavy fuel would become a problem.”

Simon Douwes, director of deployment and itinerary planning at Holland America Line commented: “We will adapt, we are planning to carry only MGO in Antarctic waters.”

Excerpt from the Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Fall 2009

Cruise News | Top Cruise Stories

Bud Darr, Executive Vice President, Maritime Policy and Government Affairs, MSC Group

MSC Plans Safe and Smart Return to Cruising

Jul 07, 2020
Announcing a blue-ribbon panel of experts to guide its return to service, MSC Cruises is well…
New Europe Report by Cruise Industry News

New 2021 Europe Market Report Now Available from CIN

Jul 07, 2020
The just released 2021 European Market Report by Cruise Industry News is now available for…
MSC Virtousa

MSC Cruises Announces Blue-Ribbon COVID Group for…

Jul 06, 2020
MSC Cruises has announced an expert Blue-Ribbon group to help guide it in its return to service.…
Carnival Triumph

Fleet Retrospective: Carnival Cruise Line’s 2000…

Jul 04, 2020
Carnival Cruise Line operated 21 ships at the turn of the century. Here's what the Carnival fleet…
Crew Transfer

Royal Caribbean Has Repatriated 38,000 Crew

Jul 02, 2020
Royal Caribbean International has repatriated approximately 95 percent of its crew, which generally…
Scarlet Lady

Virgin Voyages Ups Travel Agent Commissions to 16…

Jul 01, 2020
Virgin Voyages today announced the expansion of its “Brilliant To Do Business With” program,…
Viking Ships at Harland & Wolff

Cruise Ship Repairs Start at Harland & Wolff; Yard…

Jul 01, 2020
Harland & Wolff is surging back onto the cruise ship repair scene as the ship repair facility is…
Odyssey of the Seas at Meyer Werft

Royal Caribbean's Odyssey of the Seas Is Officially…

Jul 01, 2020
Royal Caribbean International's new Odyssey of the Seas is officially delayed, and won't be…
Explorer Dream

Explorer Dream to Resume Cruising in Taiwan

Jun 29, 2020
Genting Cruise Lines has announced the restart of cruise operations for Dream Cruises with Explorer…
Majestic Princess

Majestic Princess Moves to West Coast for 2021-2022…

Jun 25, 2020
The Majestic Princess is heading to the West Coast for the 2021-2022 cruise season, according to a…
SeaDream I

SeaDream Back in Action in Norway

Jun 25, 2020
SeaDream’s first Norwegian voyage set sail from Oslo on Saturday, June 20. Responding to demand,…
Sovereign Sailing from Santos

CVC Doesn't Plan to Operate Brazilian Cruise Season in…

Jun 24, 2020
CVC, a leading tour operator in Brazil, is not planning on operating a cruise season in 2020-2021…

Email Newsletter

Get the latest breaking cruise news. Sign up.

Cruise Ship Orderbook

113 Ships | 237,024 Berths | $65 Billion | View

New 2020 Luxury Report

Cruise Industry News Luxury Report


Full Insight

All Operators

Data Sets


140 Page PDF

Expedition Cruise Report

Cruise Industry News Luxury Report


Booming Market

200 Pages

Full Intelligence

Capacity Metrics


All Players

Full Coverage