Glacier Bay National Park has begun an environmental inspection program focused on large cruise ships that enter the park, which is located in Alaska.
Independent inspectors will board ships unannounced to assess operations such as wastewater management, emissions, marine mammal protection, and compliance documentation.
Over 95 percent of all visitors to Glacier Bay arrive via large cruise ships. All cruise vessels that visit Alaska must meet state and federal regulations to reduce impacts to the environment, and ships that have permits into Glacier Bay must comply with additional environmental standards. They requirements — including zero discharge of wastewater and use of low sulfur fuel — exceed the standards required when operating in state waters.
The program is funded entirely by the cruise industry. However, the third-party inspectors will report directly to managers at Glacier Bay. Ship’s crew will not know when an inspection is going to occur until they prepare to board the ship.
In the past, Glacier Bay managers used reports from the State of Alaska’s Ocean Ranger program to meet this requirement. But that program was dissolved, and inspectors with knowledge of ship operations haven’t been boarding cruise ships that entered the park since the resumption of Alaska cruising in June 2021.
Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, and Seabourn — all part of Carnival Corporation — have already signed a contract with third party inspectors. Norwegian Cruise Line is expected to sign a contract with inspectors shortly.
“We welcome this opportunity to help ensure that the high standards that are a hallmark of our operations in Glacier Bay continue and to reinforce our commitment to environmental protection,” said Jan Swartz, group president serving Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, and Seabourn.
Glacier Bay National Park contains one of Alaska’s largest and best protected marine ecosystems. This Environmental Monitoring and Compliance Program is a key part of the larger effort to protect the iconic park.