Royal Caribbean preparing its cruise ships for new air pollution laws


Royal Caribbean has been working hard, along with the rest of the cruise industry, to prepare its cruise ships for new air pollution rules set to go into effect in 2015.  The fear is these new laws will make North American cruises more expensive and so Royal Caribbean has been slowly rolling out a solution to its cruise ships that will aim to be compliant without being too expensive.

The new rules are part of the North American Emissions Control Area (ECA), which surrounds the United States and Canada and extends up to 200 miles offshore.

Royal Caribbean's plan is to add "scrubbers" to their ships.  Scrubbers remove pollutants from engine exhaust as a kind of filter.  The downside to scrubbers is the technology is still a work in progress and requires a variance permit from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Royal Caribbean is planning on installing scrubbers on Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas when they are built.  They've already been testing scrubbers on Liberty of the Seas and Independence of the Seas and the EPA has granted trial exemptions for six Royal Caribbean ships.   In addition, it has authorized an “emissions averaging” solution in certain subregions of the ECA in which Royal can use fuels with differing sulfur levels, as long as the average equivalent sulfur emissions meet the ECA limits.