I'm planning to do a column about the ECA. On January 1, 2015, the fuel used within this 200 mile zone will have to have less than 0.1% sulphur. It is currently 1% maximum sulphur. This doesn't sound like a big change but in the fuel refining world it is not that easy and thus the new fuel will be quite expensive and also not in great supply. Baltimore port officials figured it would add $140 per cruise passenger for a Bermuda cruise.
This is a huge game changer. The zone includes the entire Alaska cruise area, all of Hawaii, and as Lisa mentioned, all the Canada/New England cruise area. Gulf coast ports will see roughly half of the Gulf Of Mexico in the zone. Florida ports on the east coast are well positioned to get outside the zone quickly, hence Carnival Glory staying in Miami.
Royal Caribbean and Carnival are looking at adding exhaust scrubbers to their ships which would have the same effect as using the ultra-low sulphur fuel. That technology is used at coal-fired power plants by many electric utilities, and it is also not cheap.
Bottom line is the cost of cruises is fixing to go up for North American markets. Bad new for us. Likely good news for Asia, as if they need more good news.