The Reykjavík Harbour Authority expects some 167 cruise ships to come to Iceland this year, bringing with them over 147,000 people. This marks a significant rise from years previous, and the number is expected to grow.
Vísir reports that of the 167 cruise ships coming to Iceland this year, 14 of them will go to Akranes. Last year, 135 cruise ships visited Iceland, bringing 128,000 tourists with them.
Ten years ago, only 83 cruise ships docked at Icelandic shores, disembarking 59,308 passengers.
This increase is not expected to slow down any time soon, either. The Harbour Authority already has 178 cruise ships booked for Iceland in 2019, which will bring some 191,000 passengers. The largest groups booking these cruises are Germans and Americans.
Cruise ships are a somewhat contentious topic in Iceland. Some areas, such as the Westfjords, have been worried that cruise ships threaten the pristine nature of the more sparsely populated areas of the region.
Furthermore, cruise ships bring with them a considerable amount of air pollution. When a cruise ship docks in harbour, it leaves its generators running continuously. In a single 24-hour period, one cruise ship burns enough oil to equal the pollution from 10,000 cars. There is a common solution at hand – but Icelandic harbour officials do not have it.
Many major harbours around the world have taken up connecting large power cables to the ships, so that they may be provided with electricity without having to burn oil and pollute the harbour area. Reykjavík has no such power apparatus, it is reported, due to its expense.
“We have similar equipment for trawlers and boats at the old harbour,” Port Director Gísli Gíslason told reporters in 2014. “The project of connecting these societies [to electricity], which these cruise ships are, is tremendously expensive.”