Virgin Voyages Accused of “Blowing Smoke” in Tasmania

Resilient Lady cruise ship
Resilient Lady was smoke free in Sydney as she started her Australian season (Virgin Voyages)

Published Feb 29, 2024 4:57 PM by The Maritime Executive

Cruise line Virgin Voyages is apologizing for the negative perceptions created as residents posted pictures of “smoking pouring from the funnels” of its cruise ship Resilient Lady during its visits to the port of Hobart, Tasmania. Residents wrote online calling it “disgusting” and “sad” citing what they believed was pollution as well as blocking harbor views. The complaints grew so loud the local authorities stepped in to investigate.

The Director of the Environment Protection Authority, Wes Ford, took to the media reporting on ABC News Australia that his office was investigating multiple complaints of excessive smoking coming from the cruise ship while maneuvering in port. The distinctive looking Resilient Lady (110,000 gross tons) with its unusual shape and silver and red livery draws a lot of attention. It is completing Virgin Voyages’ first season of cruises in the Australian market.

The EPA told the local media when the ships are more visible, they of course get more complaints. Industry executives have long contended that cruise ships are the target of complaints because they are not only large and attract attention, but they often dock in the heart of the city versus the more distant commercial ports used by cargo and containerships. 



The EPA tried to explain to the residents that what they were seeing was likely a mixture of exhaust and steam as the cruise ship was running its exhaust scrubbers. However, to the residents, smoke is smoke and they complained and asked why the ship was permitted to pollute the environment.

Virgin Voyages was very responsive to its request the EPA said acknowledging the visual effect created a negative perception. The EPA stressed the ship had cleared an inspection and is in compliance with all regulations.



Virgin Voyages, the EPA director reported, agreed to switch the cruise ship from heavy fuel oil and its scrubbers to marine gas oil while navigating and in the port.

It is a problem many cruise ships have experienced as the observers do not distinguish or understand the white smoke from the scrubber operations. The EPA director tried to explain the scrubbers take “the bad stuff” out of the emissions but admitted it “looks worse than it really is” for the environment. He said Virgin Voyages’ agreement to switch fuels was a “very positive result,” for Hobart.