What Are Your Thoughts on Antarctica's New Fuel Ban?

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#1
46 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Cruise Critic recently spoke with a number of the cruise lines that will be affected by the upcoming ban on heavy fuel in Antarctica, and received mixed responses. Some lines will continue cruising the area, others are switching to smaller ships and some are abandoning the region altogether.

You can find all the details here: Antarctica Cruises: What the New Fuel Ban Really Means

We'd like to know what you think. Should big ships sail in Antarctica? Or should it be left to the small expedition vessels?
#2
Texas Gulf Coast
1,169 Posts
Joined Dec 2004
Originally posted by CCShayne
Cruise Critic recently spoke with a number of the cruise lines that will be affected by the upcoming ban on heavy fuel in Antarctica, and received mixed responses. Some lines will continue cruising the area, others are switching to smaller ships and some are abandoning the region altogether.

You can find all the details here: Antarctica Cruises: What the New Fuel Ban Really Means

We'd like to know what you think. Should big ships sail in Antarctica? Or should it be left to the small expedition vessels?
Having just returned from a cruise down there on the Fram, and seeing the beauty and animals that could be affected by an oil spill, we vote in favor of the new reg. To really feel and see Antarctica, it should be done on one of the smaller boats, a "drive-by" does not even come close.

JMHO

RonC
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#4
San Diego, CA
4,700 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
Originally posted by sperraglia
Absolutely in favor of the ban. This is a fragile environment and it should be cherished and protected.
I agree.
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#5
Camano Island, WA
981 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
I, too, entirely agree with the new rules. This is one of the most pristine environments on the globe and must be stewarded with great care.

A second benefit of reducing the number of large ships in the area is the safety issue. The "drive-by's" done by large ships that are not ice-hardened or skippered by experienced Antarctic veteran captains create a potential disaster. There is no practical rescue scenario if a large ship needed assistance for 2,000 or more passengers and crew.

While I certainly recognize that we who have had the great fortune of visiting Antarctica on expedition vessels are sort of "eco-snobbish" about our experience compared to the people who have merely driven though, I suggest that on a number of levels there is genuine substance to our attitude. There are some places which simply are not appropriate for big ships.

Big Ship People - Please don't flame away too much. It might melt the ice!!

Cheers, Fred
#6
Meodowlakes Alaska
943 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
I feel this way even if I never get to see Antarctica on a smaller boat as its very expensive. I think that Antarctica is to fragile and must be protected. She is all we have left in a lot of ways and must be protected.

I say keep her for the smaller ships, limit the number of people who can actually be on her land.

Antarctica is to fragile and precious and I say this as someone who wants to see Antarctica but wants her protected even more.

Adri
#7
Clermont, FL
1,273 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
The elimination of large ships is based on a flawed premise. "A disaster is bound to happen and we better have it happen on a small ship then a big ship."

The real answer is to have more stringent requirements on all vessels in Antarctica, whether small, large or government sponsored. Higher standards of equipment maintenance(such as engines and propulsion systems), double hulled and self sealing fuel tanks, advanced forward scanning sonar for underwater obstructions, more conservative mooring rules to avoid grounding (like recently happended to a small ship). And how about germicidal cleaning of all clothing prior to allowing landing parties on shore?

If one buys into the belief that Antarctica should be prestine, then it should be protected from all hazards whether large or small. A little bit of pollution is just as bad a larger amount.

Such rules are unlikely to happen since most visiting vessels would not make the grade. Most of these vessels are rather old.
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#8
Colorado
178 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Originally posted by floridatravelersforlife
The elimination of large ships is based on a flawed premise. "A disaster is bound to happen and we better have it happen on a small ship then a big ship."

The real answer is to have more stringent requirements on all vessels in Antarctica, whether small, large or government sponsored.
I'm not sure where you got your information on which your assertion is based, but I don't believe this is true. My understanding is that the ban is on heavy fuel oil, the type used by large ships. The smaller expedition style ships use more expensive light marine fuel and therefore, will continue to be able to operate in Antarctic waters.
Ships of any size can utilize more expensive light marine fuel based power plants, should they so desire. I assume large ships are declining to do this because the increased cost would reduce or eliminate profits or cause them to raise fares beyond the point their customers are willing to pay.

Heavy fuel oil is considered more environmentally hazardous than other marine fuel oils because it is slow to break down in marine environments, especially in cold polar waters.

Because of Antarctica's unique environment & the fragility of its food chain, I strongly support this new regulation. I fear that even with this increased protection, Antarctica, as we know it, may not exist in the not too distant future. The environmental damage originating in other parts of the planet is causing huge impact here.
#9
Brazil
360 Posts
Joined Oct 2009
I agreed with the retrictions because of the environment and because of the security of travellers. I can not imagine how a ship with 2,000 guests and maybe a 1,000 staff people can be rescued in case of an emergency in such a remote area.
#10
Clermont, FL
1,273 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
All this understanding is from the media clips found in this forum.. When the regs come out we'll see.

Yes it is true ships can burn different fuels. FYI the Celebrity Infinity burns light fuel, "JP4" aka Kerosene in its turbine generators. So theoretically it could pass the fuel standard threshold for ships entering the area.

My point was that the IMO move was just stepping back a small step and not addressing the entire issue of environmental hazards. Restrictions should apply to all vessels entering the Antarctic.

After having personally sailed on drive by cruise this winter, I think the argument about a monumental disaster re a large ship needs clarification. A captain of a large vessel will not place his ship in the same situation as a small ship. NO, I am not saying a small ship and her captain is a risk taker . What I am saying is the large ship will not enter the area unless the conditions, present and future, are more or less perfect. In fact, we did a "do over" to Paradise Bay and Gerlacht Straits due to fog and heavy weather on the first attempt. And on the second attempt, which was a perfect day to the visit to the area, we stayed dead center of the bay and channel and left within 24 hrs.. Mind you that we diverted 600 miles away to return again to the Antarctic Peninsula.

The small ship's itinerary is planned to stay in the area much longer and as such is succeptible to the vagaries of the weather. The small ship captain has to deal with mooring strategies in heavy weather, ice flows and tight passages. The large ship will not moor in Antarctica nor risk any such encounters due its size. Therefore from an actuarial point of view, there are less opportunities for risk in the large ship's itinerary then a small one's. And that's fine, the small ships should be prepared for those contingencies.
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#11
england
469 Posts
Joined Dec 2001
My answer to that is -- "Always expect the unexpected". Big ships have power outrages & lose all power as well as little ones. I have been on a big one in Carrib that lost all power - quite frightening! Bigger the ship larger the potential for disaster so keep the big ones out of Antarctica
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#12
Mill Bay BC
68 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
We were on the Le Diamant for its last voyage to the Antarctic Peninsula last February.

I agree with the decision to ban heavy fuel powered vessels and would hope the IMO continues to make decisions with the best interests of that unique place and it wild life in mind. I would like to see all ships visiting Antarctica equipped with an ice certified hull, spill containment apparatus and special fuel tanks that are not going to leak. I realize that a half full fuel tank will be crushed and will leak when the ship plunges past a couple of hundred feet of water but some preventative measures should be developed. I also would like to see limitations placed on the use motorized Zodiacs. The potential for fuel spills, pollution from even a small fuel leak and the emissions from the exhaust are a concern to me. Perhaps the technology being developed for Electric Vehicles could be employed here as well.

I questioned our decision to go to Antarctica from the perspective of our impact on the wild life. Part of our decision to choose Le Diamant was based on our understanding of their commitment to protecting the continent. I'm not saying other do not have this ideal, just that we searched for "good" operators.

The oils spill in the Gulf of Mexico suggests to me the world cannot leave decisions about protecting the environment up to corporations many of which operate internationally and are not compliant.
#13
NORTH EAST LOUISIANA USA
5,003 Posts
Joined Nov 2003
I agree with the ban.
Past Antarctica Small Ship Cruiser.
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#14
Central Florida
4,361 Posts
Joined May 2009
Originally posted by floridatravelersforlife
All this understanding is from the media clips found in this forum.. When the regs come out we'll see.

Yes it is true ships can burn different fuels. FYI the Celebrity Infinity burns light fuel, "JP4" aka Kerosene in its turbine generators. So theoretically it could pass the fuel standard threshold for ships entering the area.

My point was that the IMO move was just stepping back a small step and not addressing the entire issue of environmental hazards. Restrictions should apply to all vessels entering the Antarctic.

After having personally sailed on drive by cruise this winter, I think the argument about a monumental disaster re a large ship needs clarification. A captain of a large vessel will not place his ship in the same situation as a small ship. NO, I am not saying a small ship and her captain is a risk taker . What I am saying is the large ship will not enter the area unless the conditions, present and future, are more or less perfect. In fact, we did a "do over" to Paradise Bay and Gerlacht Straits due to fog and heavy weather on the first attempt. And on the second attempt, which was a perfect day to the visit to the area, we stayed dead center of the bay and channel and left within 24 hrs.. Mind you that we diverted 600 miles away to return again to the Antarctic Peninsula.

The small ship's itinerary is planned to stay in the area much longer and as such is succeptible to the vagaries of the weather. The small ship captain has to deal with mooring strategies in heavy weather, ice flows and tight passages. The large ship will not moor in Antarctica nor risk any such encounters due its size. Therefore from an actuarial point of view, there are less opportunities for risk in the large ship's itinerary then a small one's. And that's fine, the small ships should be prepared for those contingencies.
Ultimately, I have to agree with floridatravelers here. However, regulations are usually implemented in a linear manner; easiest to hardest. Pragmatically, it's easier to ban heavy fuel use and conveyence first, since most any can ship can comply, and then move on to the stricter hull, fuel cell and equipment requirements down the line. Overall, I do agree, especially in retrospect to the current mess in the GOM, that all measures should be taken to prevent unintentional, irresponsible and irreversible damage to the Antarctic.
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#15
Danville, CA
394 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
We wholeheartedly support the ban. In such a fragile environment, it simply is the better part of wisdom. In the same way that the Galapagos are in danger of being ruined by increased human contact, so is Antarctica. Unfortunately, price is the thing that separates the big ships from the small ships. To be on a small ship (<100 pax) means one will pay more to go to these places. But, maybe they will last longer in the end. We were very conscious of our human footprint in both places and only hope that the cruising industry will continue to ask the scientists down there to clean up after themselves, too.
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#16
San Diego, CA
4,700 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
Originally posted by havepassportwilltravel
Unfortunately, price is the thing that separates the big ships from the small ships. To be on a small ship (<100 pax) means one will pay more to go to these places. But, maybe they will last longer in the end.
We were on a ship that had a capacity of 350, but they only carried 200 passengers and took 100 paasengers out at any given time to stay within the rules. taking 200 passengers reduces the cost too.

The expeditions for last season were heavily discounted too!
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#17
NORTH EAST LOUISIANA USA
5,003 Posts
Joined Nov 2003
Originally posted by scapel
I agree with the ban.
Past Antarctica Small Ship Cruiser.
I guess I should read exactly what the so call ban will consist of before ageeing so quickly. If it is more than 10 pages long, I'm going to be against it.
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#18
3,549 Posts
Joined May 2010
I did the Antarctic peninsula in both 1999 and 2000 on the Marco Polo. There were no more than 400 passengers allowed on each cruise. We landed by zodiac at about 6-7 places. Those were 2 of the most expensive cruises I have ever taken. But both of them were amazing. Words just cannot describe it adequately.

Antarctica is such a fragile environment, and an oil spill or other accident would be disastrous to that pristeen area.

For that reason, I agree with allowing only small ships to cruise those waters.

Marco Polo in Antarctica 1999 or 2000
#19
California
461 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
I understand that the Ban applies to Cruise Ships that use heavy fuel, but not everyone can afford a Discovery Cruise. The Antarctic Cruise is not for everyone and is truly the trip of a lifetime whether it is an "Expedition" or a "Drive By". All ships, (Big or Small) have the potential for disaster. Regulate and/or limit the traffic of Big ships, but enjoy while still protecting the enviroment.

My husband and I are booked for January 2012, and have been looking forward to it for quite a while. Please, any Big ship pasengers,
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#20
26 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
I just came back from the Jan. 9 Star Princess cruise that included Antarctica. It was great. We had a pretty smooth passage of the Drake, couldn't see much of Elephant Island due to rain/fog, but the next two and a half days were wonderful - very good weather. In my opinion, the weather significantly influences your trip. The sights we saw were beautiful, however, it you have rain/fog/snow, it could be disappointing. On an Alaska cruise we had terrible weather and didn't see much the entire cruise. Too bad we can't control the weather.