Bergen struggles with cruise control

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Norway’s west coast city of Bergen set a dubious new record Thursday when 10,445 tourists disembarked from four large cruiseships. “We’re calling this ‘people pollution,'” said one of the leaders of the city government that’s trying to limit cruiseship arrivals.

Four cruiseships bigger than these crowded into Bergen on Thursday, spurring claims of “people pollution” in the west coast city. PHOTO: Bergenships/Erik Ask

The sudden population increase, equal to more than the entire population of many Norwegian towns, defied local efforts to limit cruise visitors to 8,000 per day. Even though the city government has imposed “cruise control,” the local politicians have no legal authority to set exact limits on how many cruise passengers the city receives.

Now the city politicians are lobbying for a state law change so that they can decide how many cruiseships can dock. “No one has a good experience when there are so many people,” Julie Andersland, the top city politician in charge of climate and environmental issues, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “That’s why we call it folkeforurensing (literally, people pollution).”

Bergen, like other popular ports of call along the Norwegian coast and in the fjords, has imposed stricter rules on the huge ships that burn heavy fuel oil. In Oslo, vessels will all soon have to hook up to electricity, and some older ships have had to drop calling at Flåm and in the Geiranger fjord because of the smog they create.

Ships arriving can’t be denied coming into port, however. “We’re glad more cruise lines are willing to cooperate,” Andersland said. “They’re not well-served either, if Bergen just gets too crowded.”

There will be a demand for zero-emission cruiseships by 2026 despite protests from the tourism industry. They claim it’s akin to demanding that all flights to Bergen use electric aircraft.

Opponents also claim the cruise industry can have a bad reutation just because the huge vessels are so visible. Thousands of ourists also can arrive every day, they note, by car, bus, train and plane.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund