The Bahamas Maritime Authority has approved an application by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. to use an alternate way of calculating its compliance with new air pollution rules.

Four of the cruise company's ships are flagged in the Bahamas.

RCCL had asked to start a fleet-wide sulfur averaging and banking plan to comply with new restrictions on sulfur emissions that took effect on Aug. 1. Those rules limit the sulfur content of marine fuel to 1%, to curb emissions of sulfur dioxide.

Low-sulfur fuel is more expensive than heavy fuel oil, potentially raising the price of a cruise by $15 to $18 a day.

The program allows selected ships within certain geographic regions to average their emissions to meet the new 1.0% sulfur requirement.

It also provides credits for using shore power, exhaust scrubbers and liquid natural gas.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian regulators have signed off on the plan, which has also been submitted to Malta, where other RCCL ships are flagged.

RCCL will be able to use the method for five years and can reapply after that. 

Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly. 

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