Ísafjörður to Limit Cruise Ship Passengers: No More Than 5,000 Daily

ísafjörður cruise ship

In accordance with a new action plan for handling the volume of cruise ships and cruise ship tourists in Ísafjörður,  there will be a maximum number daily number of cruise ship passengers allowed in the popular Westfjords destination. RÚV reports.

City council approved action plan

Following an April 4 meeting, the Ísafjörður municipal council approved an action plan for the reception of cruise ships and cruise ship passengers for the years 2024 – 2027.

The new regulations come in the wake of ever-increasing numbers of tourists to Ísafjörður. RÚV reports that nearly 200 cruise ships with 200,000 guests are expected this summer in the town of some 2,700.

Read more: Ísafjörður to introduce environmental rating system for cruise ships

Gylfi Ólafsson, chairperson of the municipal council of Ísafjörður, stated to RÚV that the community has indeed benefitted greatly from the volume of tourist traffic. However, in recent years, summer crowds have swamped the small town. “The biggest innovation in this policy,” Gylfi stated, “is that we are setting a numerical limit on the number of guests we can accomodate.”

The limit will increase as infrastructure grows and the town is able to accommodate more. The 5,000-person limit is scheduled to be raised in two years.

“If the tourism industry continues to improve the level of infrastructure, buying more buses and improving service […] ensuring that there are enough toilets and so on, then we can easily accommodate more guests,” Gylfi stated.

Docking fees for cruise ships also represent a significant source of income for the local port authority, accounting for some two-thirds of the total income.

Other key points from action plan

Some other key points from the recent action plan include financial incentives to reduce pollution. Additionally, the municipality will prioritise sustainable solutions for waste management issues relating to the tourism industry.

Other developments outlined in the plan include further developing pedestrian walkways in the town and building more accessibility infrastructure near the harbour area.

There are also plans to limit noise pollution from the cruise ships, whose captains will only be allowed to sound their horns in emergency situations.

Read more about the impact of cruise ship tourism on Iceland’s small towns.

 

In Focus: Cruise Ships

cruise ship iceland

Small town Iceland isn’t what it used to be. During the peak summer season, some of Iceland’s coastal communities are bustling with cruise ship tourists, overwhelming local residents many times over. For some, these tourists represent an injection of cosmopolitan vitality into otherwise small, sleepy towns. For others, they represent the noise, pollution, and crowds […]

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Ísafjörður to Introduce Environmental Rating System for Cruise Ships

ísafjörður harbour

The town of Ísafjörður has announced its intention to introduce an environmental rating system for cruise ships next year, reports RÚV.

If all goes according to plan, the Ísafjörður Port Authority will begin implementing the Environmental Port Index next year. The Harbour Master emphasized the need for such regulation, as ever-increasing numbers of cruise ships have raised pollution concerns for the community.

The Environmental Port Index (EPI) is based on a Norwegian model with the goal of reducing pollution while in harbour. The EPI is based on calculations for environmental impact that take into account CO2, SO2, and NOx. By establishing a ship’s maximum tolerable impact, a comprehensive report is collected which includes the ship’s fuel consumption, emission levels, and power usage at port. This report is then submitted for further environmental assessment.

According to Ísafjörður Harbour Master Hilmar Kristjánsson Lyngmo, “we want to measure emissions other pollution from the ships. It accumulates over the harbour and all of the town as well. It’s also good to be in line with the other harbours in Iceland, that there’s the same rating system in the harbours.”

The matter was discussed at a meeting of the Harbour Authority yesterday. Efforts are now underway to research the cost of implementation of the new system.

Hilmar continued: “As I see it, this could be put into effect by next year. But it’s becoming a bit tight within this timeframe.”

 

What’s the status of the Ísafjörður cruise ship terminal?

ísafjörður cruise ship

In 2022, Ísafjörður, a town with a population of around 2,700, received some 86,000 passengers from cruise ships alone and predictions only have cruise ships increasing in this remote region of Iceland. Ísafjörður, the 13th-largest town in Iceland, is its 3rd-busiest port of call for cruise ships.

Indeed, due to the volume of cruise traffic to the town, Ísafjörður port manager Guðmundur M. Kristjánsson recently stated to Vísir that they have not been able to keep up with demand and have had to turn away some prospective visitors.

Because of the ever-increasing scale of cruise ship traffic, local authorities have begun an ISK 1 billion [$7.6 million, €6.8] expansion to the Ísafjörður harbour.

Construction on the project began in 2021 and aims to expand the harbour by developing the Sundabakki area. Upon completion, the harbour will be able to accommodate two large cruise ships at a time.

In the annual financial plan of Ísafjarðarbær, Ísafjörður Harbor is expected to take in ISK 500 million [$3.8 million, €3.4 million]. Of this total, 344 million ISK comes from foreign parties.

 

 

 

Three Cruise Ships to Dock in Skagafjörður Next Summer

Three cruise ships are expected to call on the port of Sauðárkrókur (Skagafjörður) next summer, RÚV reports. A total of 10 cruise ships have scheduled calls to the port in the future. Major improvements to the harbour have been made in the past years.

Since 2015, the catch is up by 20% per year in Sauðárkrókur, most of which is processed in Sauðárkrókur or shipped for processing elsewhere (a portion is also sold at the local fish market).

“FISK Seafood has seen an increase in its catch and Dögun’s shrimp-processing plant is expanding. More and more, boats from other harbours have been unloading here, as well,” Dagur Þór Baldvinsson, Port Director Skagafjarðarhafnir (Ports of Skagafjörður) stated.

In order to meet the increased demand, the municipality of Skagafjörður is currently updating its land-use plan. President of the Regional Council, Stefán Vagn Stefánsson, celebrates this increased activity, as it is important for the municipality to receive revenue from the harbour fund. The municipality must play its cards right to guarantee increased growth.

Asked whether the port was capable of receiving large cruise ships, Stefánsson replied, “We believe so. There are three ships scheduled next year and a total of ten ships are planning to call on the port over the next few years.”

Larger cruise ships will anchor outside the harbour, to begin with. The municipality plans on improving the port in order to accommodate larger cruise ships. The exact cost of such an upgrade remains unknown. Access to electricity must also be ensured.

“It’s one of our bigger projects … and there are, as the media has noted, environmental considerations, as well. To ensure that the ships have access to electricity in ports around the country. We will certainly try. Conducting electricity to the port in Sauðárkrókur has proven a challenge. There is no electricity security, so to speak. We’re working on laying an underground cable from Varmahlíð to Sauðárkrókur as we speak. That will hopefully solve the problem,” Stefánson said.