U.S. proposes restrictions on Antarctica tourism

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#1
NJ
864 Posts
Joined May 2004
The Associated Press and other media outlets have reported that the United States government is pushing for an amendment to the 50-year-old Antarctica Treaty, which would limit the size of cruise ships allowed to sail there and the number of passengers they’re allowed to bring ashore. (Click here for the full story.)

The proposal calls for barring ships carrying more than 500 passengers from landing sites, restricting landings to one vessel at a time per site, and limiting passengers onshore to 100 at a time. It would also mandate a minimum of one guide for every 20 tourists while ashore. Here's what's interesting, though -- these restrictions are already being followed voluntarily after being adopted by the Antarctica treaty as "recommendations" in 2007.

If the companies operating in Antarctica are already following these rules, will mandating them really help the region's fragile ecosystem? We're curious to know what you think!
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MelissaP
Director, Product Development
Cruise Critic
#2
19,533 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
The Associated Press and other media outlets have reported that the United States government is pushing for an amendment to the 50-year-old Antarctica Treaty, which would limit the size of cruise ships allowed to sail there and the number of passengers they’re allowed to bring ashore. (Click here for the full story.)

The proposal calls for barring ships carrying more than 500 passengers from landing sites, restricting landings to one vessel at a time per site, and limiting passengers onshore to 100 at a time. It would also mandate a minimum of one guide for every 20 tourists while ashore. Here's what's interesting, though -- these restrictions are already being followed voluntarily after being adopted by the Antarctica treaty as "recommendations" in 2007.

If the companies operating in Antarctica are already following these rules, will mandating them really help the region's fragile ecosystem? We're curious to know what you think!
Right now this is being followed so I don't see a change.
#3
949 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
The Associated Press and other media outlets have reported that the United States government is pushing for an amendment to the 50-year-old Antarctica Treaty, which would limit the size of cruise ships allowed to sail there and the number of passengers they’re allowed to bring ashore. (Click here for the full story.)

The proposal calls for barring ships carrying more than 500 passengers from landing sites, restricting landings to one vessel at a time per site, and limiting passengers onshore to 100 at a time. It would also mandate a minimum of one guide for every 20 tourists while ashore. Here's what's interesting, though -- these restrictions are already being followed voluntarily after being adopted by the Antarctica treaty as "recommendations" in 2007.

If the companies operating in Antarctica are already following these rules, will mandating them really help the region's fragile ecosystem? We're curious to know what you think!
Went to Antarctica, in Jan., 06, aboard the Marco Polo; looks like the Marco Polo in the picture.

The accidents in the last several years cause me concern.

From my experience, the ships going to Antarctica practice very strict
ecosystem regulations.
Even more stringent than the ships going tp the Galapagos Islands.
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Set foot on all seven Continents.
#4
Irving TX
2,013 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
It surprises me that, on an annual basis, a small expedition ship has consistently experienced major damage in Antarctic waters. It boggles the mind that larger ships which are now doing "sail-by" itineraries might put the ships and their passengers in harm's way just to make a buck.

As major ice shelves break into pieces each "summer" season, and pack ice bobbles around in unpredictable places, I oppose any ship with more than 200 passengers being in Antarctic waters. The risk is too high and the rescue possibilities are too low.

As far as Congress mandating density of ships and passengers in Antarctica, wouldn't that mandate be effective only for US ships? Would the international treaties now governing Antarctica have to be amended to accommodate the US mandate?

Ruby
#5
Gold Coast
9,815 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Originally posted by Saga Ruby
It surprises me that, on an annual basis, a small expedition ship has consistently experienced major damage in Antarctic waters. It boggles the mind that larger ships which are now doing "sail-by" itineraries might put the ships and their passengers in harm's way just to make a buck.

As major ice shelves break into pieces each "summer" season, and pack ice bobbles around in unpredictable places, I oppose any ship with more than 200 passengers being in Antarctic waters. The risk is too high and the rescue possibilities are too low.

As far as Congress mandating density of ships and passengers in Antarctica, wouldn't that mandate be effective only for US ships? Would the international treaties now governing Antarctica have to be amended to accommodate the US mandate?

Ruby
I have a greying newspaper clipping which warns of the dangers of too large ships travelling in Antarctic waters. It questions whether a large number of passengers could be rescued, under the conditions, and stated that the Chillean and Argentina Governments do not have the facilities to help rescue passengers south of the Antarctic Circle.

Being an Australian, I was surprised at "US Congress mandating density of ships and passengers in Antarctica".

Are there any US ships going to Antarctica?

Seems US Government is pushing for an amendment to the Antarctica Treaty.

[email protected] -

"The Associated Press and other media outlets have reported that the United States government is pushing for an amendment to the 50-year-old Antarctica Treaty, which would limit the size of cruise ships allowed to sail there and the number of passengers they’re allowed to bring ashore".
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Marion
Hurtigruten - Fram - 2014 - Ushuaia to Antarctica, via Falkland Islands and South Georgia Islands.
Princess - Ocean Princess - 2013 - Dover to Iceland and Norway, via Shetland and Faroe Islands.

Princess - Ocean Princess - 2012 - Singapore to Sydney
Fred Olsen Black Watch - 2012 - The Baltic, with Norway. Dover to St. Petersburg, via Kiel Canal.
Celebrity Century - 2011 - Auckland to Sydney

CTMA Vacancier - 2011 - Montreal to Magdalen Islands. Amtrak - Toronto to New York
MSC - Poesia - 2010 - Kiel, Germany to NY. Amtrak NY to Niagara Falls, VIA Rail Toronto to Vancouver
MSC - Lirica - 2008 - Genoa, Italy to Fort Lauderdale
Royal Caribbean - Rhapsody of the Seas - 2007 - Honolulu to Sydney
Rivers of Holland Cruise - 2003 - to Amsterdam
Alaskan Marine Highway - 2003 - to most Alaskan ports of call
Star Cruises - Superstar Leo - 2003 - Sydney to Darwin
Norwegian Coastal Voyage - Naruik - 2002 - Bergen to Kirkenes
Angelina Lauro - 1971 - Sydney to Perth. Indian Pacific - Perth to Sydney (Put me off cruising for 30 years!)

P & O - Chusan - 1970 - London to Brisbane, via Africa, India and Sri Lanka (Suez closed).
Chandris Lines - Queen Frederica - 1969 - Sydney to London, via Panama, New York and Rotterdam
#6
Irving TX
2,013 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by MMDown Under
Are there any US ships going to Antarctica? Seems US Government is pushing for an amendment to the Antarctica Treaty.
Your point is well-taken. It seems a bit presumptuous for the US Congress to throw its weight around to "mandate" ships' passenger sizes, gross ton-weights, and land activities in Antarctica. One can only wonder if some Congressman's friend or relative got into a bit of pickle whilst on a cruise to Antarctica.

As is pointed out, Antarctica is ruled by international treaty of many countries so a unilateral "mandate" is perhaps a bit offensive to the other countries who participate in the treaty.

Ruby
#7
15 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
I took the Lindblad/Nat'l Geographic Endeavor in February 2008.

I'd like to see the sightseeing "drive-by" passes by the large cruise ships curtailed. Their hulls aren't fortified for icy waters in any way, I can just imagine the tragedy if they run into unexpected icebergs, small or large.

Let's leave Antarctica to the smaller ships with strengthened hulls.
#8
Colorado
178 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Where does it say that the US Congress is mandating density of ships and passengers in Antarctica?
What the article does say is that the United States government is pushing for an amendment to the 50-year-old Antarctica Treaty. If accepted by all the countries that are signers to the Treaty, it would seem to be binding on those countries.
Everybody seems to be agreeing to the voluntary rules now, but some day, a cruise line will get greedy and do something stupid.
I don't think the U.S. government is proposing these rules for the benefit of the ships that are being damaged but for environmental concerns and the safety of passengers, many of whom are American even though the ships aren't.
I think for once, the U.S. is taking responsible action.
#9
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
6 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
I think the US government is being pro-active in requesting an amendment to the Antarctica Treaty. Antarctica is no 'Disney World" and getting there is no picnic. Travel by properly outfitted smaller ships is the best/safest means of getting there via water and the smaller the "footprint" left by man the better for the very delicate ecosystem. Limiting the number of shore landings and the number of people at each landing will and does go a long way in protecting both man and beast.
#10
San Diego, CA
150 Posts
Joined May 2008
I took a wonderful drive-by cruise of Antartic waters on HAL's MS Amsterdam in December 2008. We had a very experienced ice pilot, Capt. Patrick Toomey, who guided us safely through the icy waters. By contrast the Liberian Maritime Authority has just released its report on the sinking of the Explorer in 2007. The Explorer was registered in Liberia and according to a newpaper account of the official report the cause of the sinking was "Speed that was excessive to the type and concentration of ice encountered, the captain’s lack of knowledge and understanding of Antarctic ice coupled with his overconfident attitude led to the sinking of the Explorer in November, 2007." There were various other deficiencies noted in the report and the saving grace for the passengers was the good weather at the time of the sinking. It's very easy for those who have taken the small ship cruises to dismiss the large ships as unsafe, but all of the accidents in recent years have occured on the explorer ships. Maybe there are too many people attempting to land in Antarctica in any given season. They may take more risks and do more damage than those who just cruise by.
#11
Florida
23 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
There are some places on our Earth that should not be tramped upon by any tourists. Antartica is one of them. Leave it alone!!!
#12
38 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
Originally posted by Saga Ruby
It surprises me that, on an annual basis, a small expedition ship has consistently experienced major damage in Antarctic waters. It boggles the mind that larger ships which are now doing "sail-by" itineraries might put the ships and their passengers in harm's way just to make a buck.

As major ice shelves break into pieces each "summer" season, and pack ice bobbles around in unpredictable places, I oppose any ship with more than 200 passengers being in Antarctic waters. The risk is too high and the rescue possibilities are too low.

As far as Congress mandating density of ships and passengers in Antarctica, wouldn't that mandate be effective only for US ships? Would the international treaties now governing Antarctica have to be amended to accommodate the US mandate?

Ruby
I disagree that the Size of the ship makes it unsafe. The size of the Captain's resume is what makes the real difference.
I took the Marco Polo (a larger ship) two years ago and the Captain had been sailing Antarctica for 20 years and the Baltic before that.
I notice it is the smaller ships that keep hitting ice. I would be curious how much experience the Crews have on these smaller "Explorer type" ships.
#13
Cincinnati
246 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
They are setting this up for an additional destination tax. Once it is in place then they can come up with some fee that if you are larger then the requirements you can purchase a waiver for XXX amount per PAX.

why else would you put a rule in place that everyone already follows?