Carnival Cruise Lines announced plans to pull its Pride cruise ship from the port of Baltimore in the wake of new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency restrictions on cruise ship emissions. The move, announced June 27, will cost the region millions of dollars in economic activity and hundreds of jobs.
New Restrictions: $140 per Passenger
In August 2012, EPA imposed Emission Control Area restrictions on emissions from cruise ships operating off portions of the U.S. coast. Cruise ships will have to purchase expensive low-sulfur fuel to comply with the restrictions. Maryland port officials estimate the new restrictions will force cruise ships to raise prices up to $140 per passenger for cruises originating in Baltimore. As a result, Carnival and other cruise lines are evaluating options to pull cruise ships from ports subject to Emission Control Area restrictions.
Carnival’s decision to move its Pride ship to a dock in Tampa, Florida, will take effect in November 2014. The Pride, a 2,124-passenger ship, currently sails weekly from Baltimore to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. The city will have just one other operating cruise line, Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas.
Jobs, Economic Activity Lost
Richard Scher, spokesperson for the Maryland Port Administration, told Environment & Climate News the two cruise lines produce $90 million in annual economic activity and support about 200 jobs.
“If we lost Carnival and could not replace them, we would lose roughly half of those numbers,” said Scher.
Scher said Baltimore has many qualities attractive to cruise lines. It sits in the third largest U.S. consumer market, it is situated within one of the wealthiest areas in the nation, and the cruise terminal is located right off Interstate 95, the main thoroughfare of the East Coast, he said.
EPA: Cruise Ships Kill Thousands
EPA asserts the new emission restrictions on cruise ships will prevent thousands of premature deaths nationwide, and will save millions in health care costs for treating respiratory problems.
In an attempt to keep the Pride in Baltimore, Carnival offered a compromise where it would spend $200 million over the next three years putting pollution scrubbers on 59 of its ships as they went into dry dock for overhaul.
Scher said the Maryland Port Administration is very supportive of cleaner air and what the new regulations are trying to achieve.
“Many other cruise lines are presenting proposals to the EPA on how they can get in compliance with the new regulations. Once those proposals are approved by the EPA, we feel the Port of Baltimore has a lot of reasons why a cruise line would be successful here,” he said.
Alyssa Carducci ([email protected]) writes from Tampa, Florida.