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ECA zone Guidelines signal new changes in the North East cruise market for 2014

Carnival Splendor departs on her 1st of her last NY cruise Jan 4 2014.
Carnival Splendor departs on her 1st of her last NY cruise Jan 4 2014.
Byron Huart

Splendor on what is now her 1st of her final departures of the year out of NYC, Never again will we see Splendor out of New York as Carnival is doing massive re-positioning of its capital ships and its smaller ships to Florida and afar. It's a big change and the future is set on sight of rapid changes with the new regulations of fuel and environmental changes.

Carnival Splendor departs on her 1st of her last NY cruises
Byron Huart

The industry is changing, yet these environmental changes are for the environment and the marine life around these ships. Its now just a question of what is to replace these capital ships as Carnival will soon loose the Northeast to other lines who have conformed to the new regulations.

Now the low-sulfur fuel requirements of the North American Emission Control Area go into effect, Carnival Cruise Lines is painting a picture of what post-ECA deployments could look like. For Carnival, that means no ships homeporting out of Baltimore, Boston or Norfolk, Virginia, and a limited number of Atlantic Canada cruises.

Carnival will reposition Carnival Pride from Baltimore to Tampa, Florida, in December 2014, just one month before the ECA regulations go into effect. Carnival Glory, which has sailed seasonally from Boston and Norfolk, will move from Norfolk to Miami in November 2013, well ahead of the January 1, 2015 deadline. Carnival will not deploy another ship to either port. Additionally, Carnival will "dramatically reduce" the number of Atlantic Canada cruises starting in 2014.

Carnival is citing ECA for the deployment changes.

"Itinerary operating costs including fuel costs are a factor in our deployment decisions," Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen told Cruise Critic. "The 2015 North America ECA requirements would significantly impact our fuels costs for operating cruises from Norfolk and Boston and many other ports around North America."

ECA is a 200-nautical mile border around the U.S. and Canadian coasts set up by the International Maritime Organization in association with the in Environmental Protection Agency in August 2012. It runs from the tip of Labrador in Canada, around the bottom of Florida (where the zone narrows briefly) and across to the tip of Texas on the east, and from the bottom of California up around Alaska and includes the coastlines of the Hawaiian islands. Currently, all ships operating in the ECA zone must use fuel containing no more than 1.0 percent sulfur. But by January 1, 2015, ships must use fuel containing less than 0.1 percent sulfur.

The cruise industry is worried about the new regulation because low-sulfur fuel is harder to obtain and very expensive. Industry officials have repeatedly stated that if they are forced to go to the low-sulfur fuel they will need to move ships out of the ECA zone. According to a Baltimore Sun article, Maryland port officials predict the more expensive fuel would add up to $140 per passenger to fares on sailings from Baltimore to Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

And last year the Cruise Lines International Association released a report warning the requirements would have a detrimental impact on cruise lines and several U.S. homeports.

CLIA analyzed projected cost increases and determined they would result in the loss of 202 seven-day itineraries in three markets: 132 in Alaska, 36 in Canada/New England and 34 in the Northeast/Bahamas/Caribbean market.

"This is the equivalent to the redeployment of nine cruise ships from the three markets," the report states.

Other lines have not made any redeployment moves yet. Royal Caribbean, for instance, is committed to sailing Grandeur of the Seas out of Baltimore through at least April 2015. And both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line will sail New England/Canada cruises out of Boston in 2014.

Yet Royal Caribbean and Carnival are actively pursuing alternative engine scrubber technologies they say will have the same emission-lowering affect as low-sulfur fuel ,and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s associate vice president of safety and environmental stewardship, Rich Pruitt, said the line is working "closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard and Transport Canada to develop an approach designed to benefit the broader maritime industry… We are seeking permits for six of our vessels engaged in developing and retrofitting exhaust gas cleaning systems for its engines."

Carnival, too, is in talks with the EPA to about getting a temporary exemption from the low-sulfur fuel requirement while it develops scrubber technology.

For those of you who do not know what ECA is here's a low down from the International Maritime Organization or IMO:

Sulphur oxides (SOx) – Regulation 14
SOx and particulate matter emission controls apply to all fuel oil, as defined in regulation 2.9, combustion equipment and devices onboard and therefore include both main and all auxiliary engines together with items such boilers and inert gas generators. These controls divide between those applicable inside Emission Control Areas (ECA) established to limit the emission of SOx and particulate matter and those applicable outside such areas and are primarily achieved by limiting the maximum sulphur content of the fuel oils as loaded, bunkered, and subsequently used onboard. These fuel oil sulphur limits (expressed in terms of % m/m – that is by weight) are subject to a series of step changes over the years, regulations 14.1 and 14.4:

Outside an ECA established to limit SOx and particulate matter emissions
Inside an ECA established to limit SOx and particulate matter emissions

4.50% m/m prior to 1 January 2012

1.50% m/m prior to 1 July 2010

3.50% m/m on and after 1 January 2012

1.00% m/m on and after 1 July 2010

0.50% m/m on and after 1 January 2020*

0.10% m/m on and after 1 January 2015

* depending on the outcome of a review, to be concluded in 2018, as to the availability of the required fuel oil, this date could be deferred to 1 January 2025.

The ECA established are:
Baltic Sea area – as defined in Annex I of MARPOL (SOx only);
North Sea area – as defined in Annex V of MARPOL (SOx only);
North American area (entered into effect 1 August 2012) – as defined in Appendix VII of Annex VI of MARPOL (SOx, NOx and PM); and
United States Caribbean Sea area (expected to enter into effect 1 January 2014) – as defined in Appendix VII of Annex VI of MARPOL (SOx, NOx and PM).

Most ships which operate both outside and inside these ECA will therefore operate on different fuel oils in order to comply with the respective limits. In such cases, prior to entry into the ECA, it is required to have fully changed-over to using the ECA compliant fuel oil, regulation 14.6, and to have onboard implemented written procedures as to how this is to be undertaken. Similarly change-over from using the ECA compliant fuel oil is not to commence until after exiting the ECA. At each change-over it is required that the quantities of the ECA compliant fuel oils onboard are recorded, together with the date, time and position of the ship when either completing the change-over prior to entry or commencing change-over after exit from such areas. These records are to be made in a logbook as prescribed by the ship’s flag State, in the absence of any specific requirement in this regard the record could be made, for example, in the ship’s Annex I Oil Record Book.

The first level of control in this respect is therefore on the actual sulphur content of the fuel oils as bunkered. This value is to be stated by the fuel oil supplier on the bunker delivery note and hence this, together with other related aspects, is directly linked to the fuel oil quality requirements as covered under regulation 18 – see below. Thereafter it is for the ship’s crew to ensure, in respect of the ECA compliant fuel oils, that through avoiding loading into otherwise part filled storage, settling or service tanks, or in the course of transfer operations, that such fuel oils do not become mixed with other, higher sulphur content fuel oils, so that the fuel oil as actually used within an ECA exceeds the applicable limit.

Consequently, regulation 14 provides both the limit values and the means to comply. However, there are other means by which equivalent levels of SOx and particulate matter emission control, both outside and inside ECA, could be achieved. These may be divided into methods termed primary (in which the formation of the pollutant is avoided) or secondary (in which the pollutant is formed but subsequently removed to some degree prior to discharge of the exhaust gas stream to the atmosphere). Regulation 4.1 allows for the application of such methods subject to approval by the Administration. In approving such equivalents an Administration should take into account any relevant guidelines. As of October 2010 there are no guidelines in respect of any primary methods (which could encompass, for example, onboard blending of liquid fuel oils or dual fuel (gas / liquid) use). In terms of secondary control methods, guidelines (MEPC.184(59)) have been adopted for exhaust gas cleaning systems which operate by water washing the exhaust gas stream prior to discharge to the atmosphere, in using such arrangements there would be no constraint on the sulphur content of the fuel oils as bunkered other than that given the system’s certification.


Carnival Splendor will relocate to Miami starting in November 2014. The decision to relocate is occurring after what appears to be a challenging winter season from New York. Currently Carnival is offering deep discounts on the winter sailings and relocating the ship to Miami next winter is more "Economical."

Between now and November 2014, the Carnival Splendor will be sailing a series of Florida/ Bahamas; New England / Canada or Eastern Caribbean Cruises , as of now both Splendor and Pride have cancelled their NY and Baltimore cruises for the later 2014 and 2015 seasons and Carnival has moved the ships farther south just like how Carnival Glory left its Homeport of Norfolk VA in 2013

A little more than six years after it opened a $37.4 million cruise terminal next to Nauticus, Norfolk is without a ship that calls it home.

Carnival Cruise Lines announced that the Carnival Glory will shift to Miami year-round after completing its Caribbean cruises from Norfolk in October of 2013.

Carnival cited the ECA regulations and new high operating costs as it's main reason for initiating the changes and re-deployment of Glory, All of that did little to ease the disappointment among Norfolk officials and local cruise enthusiasts, who were still mourning the loss of Royal Caribbean cruises in 2010.

The facility's struggle to retain cruise lines led some City Council members to suggest that Norfolk take a new tack with its Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center, which the city opened with great fanfare in 2007.

The city's continued support for Half Moone also has been questioned.

Over the life of the terminal, the city has spent $9.2 million to run Half Moone and to cover the annual debt service. During that time, the facility generated $7.7 million in revenue, coming up about $1.5 million short of covering all the bills, according to information from the city.

Councilman Andy Protogyrou said "It's time for the city to shift its focus away from the cruise industry and adopt a new business model. Councilman Tommy Smigiel said the build-it-and-they-will-come strategy hasn't worked."

The only cruise activity in Norfolk planned after the Carnival Glory departed was occasional stopovers by ships traveling up and down the coast of the USACarnival's announcement seemed to transform a dream that began in the late 1990s, when cruise ships first began calling on Nauticus, into a living nightmare.

In light of all this madness that has come over the course of 2 years, its become clear that economics and has played a big role and the fact that these new regulations have not just made it hard for cities loosing companies like Carnival but the many small businesses that live off the traffic from the ships. It's a sad reality that once mighty and illustrious ideas are now going the way of the Philadelphia cruise terminal.

Rumor has it that Carnival plans to come back to Baltimore & NYC in 2015 as of know its just mere speculation.

I've been reading many reviews on the cruise reviews and various sites citing outrage, confusion of cruise cancellations and all this re-organizing and getting people to book replacement trips.

NYC is a very convenient port, it gives passengers the ease of going from point A to Point B without having to fly to Miami or the south or as I say Point A to Point B, & C, for us local folks its convenience beyond words to describe and beats the congestion traffic of many terminals. As one panelist said at the 2013 cruise symposium, "We want people to have as little memory of the terminal as possible." Meaning they want you to get from the ground to the ship in good time and no troubles.

Overview of situation:

Its a new battle waging in the industry, one which is one to behold and be discovered.

Will we see other foreign visitors in the area taking over what Carnival has left? Or will they make the changes and bite the bullet in the face of a heavily damaged PR situation and massive cost cutting on all fronts across the fleet.

In my book, what they need to do is get the ball rolling like back in the good ol days and instead of making the Capital ships the trump card to solve everything, they should send some of the older fleet mates to New York and sell cheap cruises and single cabins.

Yes the smaller ships of the fleet such as Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Sensation's tonnage is small at 70,000+ tons compared to the bigger ships but I believe there is still a market besides making 130,000 ton aircraft carriers of ships which too have limitations the solution to every market/ return investment.

Smaller ships offer better service, better capacity and a more home like experience than a giant carrier loaded with 4000 people, there's certain qualities that they offer which give you a sense of less crowded spaces, over congested areas and just the fact there's just too many people.

Personally, I'd take a 2,000+ ship over a 4,000+ ship any day of the week because I want to feel like I'm on a ship and not in Las Vegas with Sea Gulls.

These new commanding officers of the corporations need to see the light and experiment with new ideas and resurrect the killed off small ship markets to a new customer base, because bigger is not always better in all scenarios as it is seen in the markets in the South .

I was on Breakaway, the ship was half full, it was a pleasant experience and yes a giant carrier of a ship was cool and all but a small ship as an old fashioned feel and touch to it. Which is why when I sail with Carnival one day, I will take its older tonnage over the new capital ships out there like Breeze, Dream and Magic, as for the new CARNIVAL VISTA I've seen better names for ships, VISTA? How about " CARNIVAL INFINITY' AND TRINITY? Those are cool flagship names.

There's no real sense of new really, I feel as though everything has become just a carbon copy of other ideas.

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