In order to combat rising costs, a number of cruise lines recently announced a fuel surcharge of at least $5 per person per day. Different companies are rolling out their programs between now and February 2008, with some fees applying to trips already booked. Great Escape Travel Services provides a handy list of cruise lines implementing fuel charges (Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Silversea, Carnival, and Celebrity among them).
At Carnival, the world’s largest cruise line, prices for fuel have gone up 140 percent in the last three years, according to their website. "Unfortunately, we cannot continue to shoulder this huge cost burden and now find it necessary to implement a supplement to partially offset a portion of soaring fuel costs."
Soaring fuel costs? No kidding. You'd burn a hole in your pocket too if, like many cruise liners, you generated more emissions than 12,000 cars each time you pulled into port. That fun fact is courtesy of a primer put out by the Blue Water Network, which adds:
Most large ships use the dirtiest and least expensive diesel available. Known as bunker oil, this fuel is the collection of residue from the production of higher grade fuels and contains significant concentrations of toxic compounds banned from use in most other industrial and consumer applications. It is thick as asphalt and must be heated to be burned.
Carnival uses "mostly bunker fuel along with some distillate, and the bunker fuel we use is an intermediate fuel," said Carnival Cruise Lines spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz. Cleaner, marine distillate fuel drastically reduces the amount of emissions. It also happens to cost $100 to $200 more per ton than bunker fuel, according to the network.
So cruise passengers in the new year will be charged for the privilege of bobbing along on the high seas. But shouldn't they also be getting the satisfaction that their money is going toward a cleaner, more eco-friendly fuel, rather than subsidizing the sludge cruise ships normally use?
Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line