Boom in cruise holidays intensifies concern over 'emissions dodging'

(The Guardian, 1 Feb 2019) Many cruise ships use seawater to ‘wash’ dirty fuel to meet targets but dump washwater back in ocean.

A boom in cruise liner holidays is raising concerns over the widespread use of “emissions dodging” by global shipping to meet tough new dirty fuel rules next year.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd revealed this week it had received record bookings for 2019, with the boom sparked in part by a rise in Chinese passengers.

More than half a million Chinese passengers sail with Royal Caribbean every year. The company said it was seeing rapid growth in tourists wanting to take cruises in Europe and Alaska, and rising demand to tour the Caribbean.

The cruise industry – like the rest of the global shipping fleet – has to meet a deadline of 2020 to change from heavy sulphur fuel to more expensive low sulphur fuel to reduce toxic emissions. Many cruise ship owners are turning to the use of exhaust cleaning systems, known as scrubbers, rather than opting to buy cleaner fuel.

The controversial system has divided the industry. It uses seawater to “wash” dirty fuel before sending the washwater back into the ocean – or in the case of more expensive closed-loop systems, containing the washwater and disposing of it on land at regulated sites.

Singapore, Hong Kong and China have all banned the release of washwater from scrubbers into their waters to protect the marine environment, as have some Caribbean islands. Global NGOs called last month for a ban on scrubbers.

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The Guardian, 1 Feb 2019: Boom in cruise holidays intensifies concern over 'emissions dodging'