The Port of Halifax is expecting a nine per cent drop in visits from cruise ships this year.

One Halifax businessman says that while business for the year “is not too bad” and there’s a lot of traffic on the waterfront, the drop in cruise ship traffic is noticeable.

“The only thing we’re really missing are a lot of the cruise lines. A lot of the cruise ships have pulled out this July and August,” said Gordon Stevens.

He’s the owner of Sugah!, a waterfront ice cream business.

One of the reasons fewer cruise ships are calling on Halifax this year is because of changes to North American regulations regarding low-sulphur fuel.

Starting in 2015, all cruise ships operating within 200 nautical miles of the Canadian or United States coast will be required to use a fuel containing less sulphur. This zone is known as the emission control area (ECA). That is expected to push fuel expenses for the cruise lines higher and make it more expensive for ships to operate in areas such as Atlantic Canada.

Carnival Cruise Lines is paying fewer visits to Halifax this year and the ships themselves are smaller.

“The primary reason is the significant fuel cost implications related to the 2015 North American ECA requirements for these short cruises that visit the Canadian ports of Saint John and Halifax,” said Carnival spokesperson Jennifer de la Cruz in an email.

Stevens is noticing Carnival’s absence in particular.

“They were a big, big part of the summers here for the last number of years,” he said.