Cruise Ships Taking Land

About the project

The goal is to make the increasing demand of cruise ships landings in Nature Parks and Protected Areas manageable.  

The number of cruise ships in the high north has been growing rapidly in the past few years. Among them is a growing number of expedition ships that offer their passengers trips to new destinations, further away from populated areas. Protected areas are facing more and more interest from travelers on these ships and destinations in the wilderness are increasingly popular.  

 In 2019, 11 new expedition ships will be added to the fleet and by 2022, the total number of new specially designed expedition ships will reach 24 additional to those 80 already sailing. With a relatively short sailing season, lasting from June to late August, Arctic ports like Longyearbyen on Svalbard will likely be very crowded by 2022.

Other destinations in this fast-growing expedition market are northern Norway, Russia’s Franz Josef Land, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, and Alaska. From 1996 to 2017, the increase has been from 53 destinations to 216. Due to this growth, it is important for park managers/rangers in protected areas in the high north to find out how this growth should be managed, in order to protect the sensitive nature.  

 On the basis of various approaches, the participating experts are discussing the countries' current situation and working on policy advice on how landings from cruise ships should be managed in National Parks and other protected areas in the high north. Furthermore, they are formulating a proposal for amendments that can be used in existing regulation and will provide a solution for challenges relating to infrastructure.


  • Create a ‘real-time’ interactive map of ship traffic that including information on routes, site visits, and onshore activities during visits to NPs and PAs in Iceland and Greenland

  • Generate an emissions inventory for cruise ships visiting each site, harbor and country

  • Cataloging of ship wastewater holding capacity and in-stalled technology to identify opportunities for improved sustainable operation

  • Establish a vessel-size specific Best Management Prac-tice Plan (BMPP) for wastewater disposal agreed upon by protected area managers, industry, and local authorities

  • Evaluate the state of baseline contamination of coastal biota for PAs and NPs should incidental or catastrophic oil spills occur

  • Promote AECO’s ‘universal’ guidelines to inform land-ings and protect seabird colonies, sensitive coastal re-sources, marine mammal haul outs, and cultural sites at vulnerable coastal NPs and PAs across the North

  • Develop ‘site-specific’ approaches to assessing vulnera-bility, monitoring and creating guidelines to protect seabird colonies, sensitive coastal resources, marine mammal haul outs, and cultural sites

  • Develop an ad hoc committee to explore new guidelines for the use of drones at vulnerable/sensitive sites

  • Develop an Interpretive Ranger/Guide Program (see al-so sub-project V – Leadership and Ranger Training)

  • Initiate national discussions on the value of conces-sions and quotas for entering NPs and PAs

The full report of the NatNorth-3 Subcommittee can be found here


  • Edda Kristín Eiríksdóttir (Iceland)

  • Hans Husayn Harmsen (Greenland)

  • Scott M. Gende (Alaska, U.S.)