Seyðisfjörður Cruise Ship Traffic Has Locals Asking for Assistance Skip to content

Seyðisfjörður Cruise Ship Traffic Has Locals Asking for Assistance

By Erik Pomrenke

seyðisfjörður cruise ship may 2024
Photo: Cruise ship in Seyðisfjörður. May 2024. Erik.

A total of five cruise ships were in harbour in the East Iceland town of Seyðisfjörður this past Sunday, RÚV reports. Currently, ships anchored in Seyðisfjörður must rely on their generators, emitting pollution into the local environment. The volume of ship traffic has raised environmental concerns and renewed interest in the introduction of shore power to the port there.

In Focus: Cruise Ships

Rúnar Gunnarsson, harbour master in Seyðisfjörður, stated to RÚV that at least two of the ships yesterday were equipped for shore power connections, enabling them to connect to generators on land, and turn off their engines during their time in port. Such solutions are used in many ports throughout the world and would considerably lessen pollution in the fjord. The port in Seyðisfjörður, despite its limited services, has become the fourth-largest in the nation in terms of its reception of cruise ship traffic.

“There’s been a lot going on here,” Rúnar stated to RÚV.  “We had five cruise ships, though not all at the same time. They were coming and going throughout the day […] The traffic didn’t necessarily overwhelm the town because these were all so-called expedition ships. Altogether, there were maybe 800 passengers from these five ships. This morning [Monday, July 1] there’s one ship anchored with 2,500 passengers, meaning there are more people on that one ship than on all five from yesterday.”

Plans to electrify ferry

RÚV reports that work is currently underway to switch the ferry Norræna, which runs between Seyðisfjörður and Denmark, to electric power. Some of the infrastructure is currently in place, but the Seyðisfjörður port authority is currently waiting for further specifications on what an electric Norræna will need. Once in place, further modifications would be needed to service smaller cruise ships.

According to the government’s climate plan, priority is given to shore power connections in larger ports, which should be accessible to all docked ships by the year 2030.

High costs

The high costs of investing in shore power has Seyðisfjörður residents, including harbour master Rúnar Gunnarsson, calling for the government to step in. “It seems to us that the cost is high and it will be difficult for us to manage ourselves. Therefore, I am requesting a grant from the government. I would like the government to be more involved in shore power connections and the energy transition in the ports. This equipment is quite expensive, and according to the experts, it could cost us around 100 million ISK [$718,000; 670,000]. This is quite a bit for a small port […] This is extremely important for the environment and also financially. Both for the ships and the ports, as the ports can earn considerable revenue from selling electricity,” says Rúnar Gunnarsson.

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