Cruise passengers wishing to visit Antarctica will soon have to pay a high price to do so as a number of large companies strike the destination from their itineraries. The move follows new regulations which will ban the use of heavy fuel oil on ships travelling to the region. Instead, any cruise liners travelling to the Antarctic will have to switch to marine gas oil, which is more expensive, but cleaner.
The International Maritime Organisation has made the decision to ban liners from carrying heavy fuel oil because it wants to reduce the risk to the delicate environment of an oil spill. The new rules will be enforced from 1 August.
Several cruise companies have already announced that they will be pulling Antarctica from their brochures including Regent Seven Seas, Princess, Oceania and Crystal. Tour operators say the rise in the price of fuel will cost them millions of pounds every year.
Travellers will still be able to sail to Antarctica, but they are likely to have to do so onboard smaller craft which are friendlier to the environment and are already powered by the greener marine gas oil.
Carolyn Spencer Brown, CruiseCritic.co.uk’s editor-in-chief, said the smaller ships were able to anchor close to the ice so that passengers could disembark. Some of the larger ships had to anchor further off-shore meaning passengers never actually got to stand on the southern continent. She added that the fuel regulations were bad news for passengers who will be forced to pay more for their trip, but ultimately good news for Antarctica.