Planning a cruise in the next couple of years? You might want to book soon and do your research because new information today suggests that Australian cruises, particularly those leaving from New South Wales, are likely to get a whole lot more expensive and less safe.
Today The Telegraph reports that passengers are likely to face the higher prices and be exposed to more safety risks as The Baird government wants all cruises from Sydney Harbour to use a fuel that has been linked to a series of seriously dangerous incidents. The reason? Because the Greens community in Balmain claimed that pollution from vessels using normal fuels while docked at nearby White Bay has been making them sick.
Fines of up to $44,000 will apply to companies that break the rules and up to $22,000 for ship captains, according to draft regulations published this week by the Environment Protection Authority.
The same rules will apply to cruise ships entering any NSW port from July 2016 and the government eventually wants all visiting commercial shipping to use low sulphur fuel, which costs about $250 a tonne more than heavier fuels. It would bring NSW into line with US and European jurisdictions.
The state government acknowledged the Coast Guard’s concerns but is ploughing ahead with the changes — despite no formal study linking the health complaints made by Balmain residents and the White Bay cruise terminal.
“There hasn’t been a definitive study undertaken by any government department,” admitted Greens Balmain MP Jamie Parker, who said Australia’s fuel standards must be brought into line with the northern hemisphere.
The health department has not carried out any studies on the link between sickness and proximity to White Bay because it deems the area not large enough to produce a statistically-valid result.
The issue for the average Australian is that low sulphur fuels aren’t widely supported as they carry a higher risk and are more flammable than other fuels. This means that all cruise ships will need tighter safety precautions and regulations in place.
The other side of the problem is that with more expensive fuel and higher fines for non-protocol behaviour, the average ticket prices of cruises are very likely to get more expensive.
So tell us today, are you planning on a cruise soon? Are you concerned about cruising becoming less affordable after loweing prices recently? Share your thoughts in the comments below…