Impact: Cruise Operations

The 2019 cruise season begins in a few short months, with the first ship arriving in mid-April. There has been a lot of discussion about the cruise industry in recent weeks.

At GVHA, we monitor the cruise narrative closely and review news reporting, independent studies, and industry reports in detail.

Recent stories raised questions about air quality, emissions, and what is being done to reduce and mitigate the impact of cruise.

We’ll state clearly that, as an organization, we’re firm believers in working to find solutions.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is responsible for setting global standards, including environmental performance, for all international shipping; this is inclusive of all cruise lines. The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) and specifically Annex VI Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships sets international standards for all ships around exhaust emissions. The cruise lines operating along the west coast of North America must meet or exceed strict environmental and emissions standards set forward by the IMO within the, “North American Emissions Control Area.” 

While we do not speak for the industry as a whole, or the individual cruise lines, we are in constant contact with the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) to seek their feedback and insights on how the industry is moving toward a more sustainable future. We’re also working directly with the 15 different cruise lines that call to the Victoria Cruise Terminal to ensure that their environmental practices meet our standards.

Some of the initiatives that we have undertaken with respect to the environmental impact of cruise in Victoria are often underreported.

Here is a sample of what we, as a terminal owner and operator, are doing with respect to environmental sustainability:

  • We have committed to a fully-electric shuttle bus fleet by 2022. We currently have two electric double-decker buses on the terminal, but we will be transparent in stating that the technology on this equipment has been too unreliable to have them in regular operation. This is an area in which we are working with Pacific Northwest Transportation Services to find effective solutions to meet our stated goal.
  • Our bus age requirements are some of the strictest of any port of call worldwide. Our age requirements ensure that buses must meet the highest EPA (USA) standard, or 2010 for bus engine age. As of 2019, all buses on the terminal will be at this level or newer.
  • We support and fund the James Bay environmental air monitoring station. This station has not had any elevated readings in more than two years, and SO2 emissions remain well below recommended safe levels. You can look through the data here.
  • We’ve initiated a proactive campaign to encourage the walkability to/from the Victoria Cruise Terminal to downtown via Fisherman’s Wharf and James Bay. This includes everything from improving wayfinding on the terminal to promoting the walking routes on our Wi-Fi login page. We’re proud to say that currently close to 30% of passengers disembarking ships calling to the Victoria Cruise Terminal choose to walk to the heart of the city when visiting Victoria.
  • We’re actively studying the benefits, restrictions, and funding opportunities around shore power capabilities at the terminal.

Finally, we’re in early discussions with a carbon solutions company to develop a full-scale carbon audit of the Victoria Cruise Terminal. This will provide us with further fact and science-based data to generate a baseline in which we can work to further reduce our carbon footprint.