The Norwegian government made a decision to put a ban on any cruise ship that would pollute the fjord waters in all the fjords on the UNESCO World Heritage Site called The West Norwegian Fjords last year.
This decision was made in an attempt to keep the fjords pristine and reduce the natural destruction from these huge cruise ships that polluted the fjords. The huge cruise ships not only pollute the air from their emission, but there’s also a certain pollution to the fjord water.
As you can imagine, this isn’t really something that goes hand in hand with an UNESCO World Heritage Site, so the government took action by implementing a new bill.
So from 2026 and onwards, only zero emission cruise ships can enter the famous fjords like Gairanger fjord or the Flåm fjord!
Both the Flåm fjord and the Geiranger fjord has already opened applications for cruise ships to dock at the harbor in 2026 to 200, but not a single cruse ship has applied.
The reason is actually pretty simple: there are no zero emission cruise ship in this part of the world just yet. The technology to make these things a reality is there, but the cost of building a big, zero emission cruise ship is extremely high!
How this will affect tourists who want to experience the fjords on the UNESCO World Heritage Site
If you dream of going on a cruise ship directly on the most famous Norwegian fjords, then you will probably want to do this before this new law comes into effect in 2026.
While it will still be open for zero emission cruise ships to operate in the fjords, it seems unlikely that many of these will be ready for 2026, and I’m going to guess that if any cruise ships do make this, they will charge a huge premium on it.
That said, there are still many different Norwegian fjords that are not on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. You can still go on a fjord cruise to other fjords in Norway, and all the major cruise lines will simply change their itineraries to stay away from the fjords where they cannot go.
So cruising in the Norwegian fjords will still be an option, but regular cruise ships will not be able to enter the most popular and amazing fjords.
How this will affect towns like Flåm
The harbor master at Flåm harbor tells NRK that cruise tourists spend around 200 – 250 million Norwegian kroner ($20 – $25 million USD) every single year in Flåm alone, and it’s impossible for local businesses to find a solution to get in this money from other sources.
Many people fear that this could devastate the local economy and bankrupt many of the local businesses that have tourists as a main source of income.
Flåm is still popular for tourists who arrive by the famous Flåmsbanen, but these only account for a small chunk of the total tourism in the town.