Carnival Cruise Lines has pulled out of ports at Baltimore, Boston and Norfolk after claiming new rules governing sulphur emission would make fuel costs too expensive.

The North American Emission Control Area (ECA) comes into affect in January 2015 and bans cruise vessels sailing within 200nm of the coast from emitting fuel with a sulphur content above 1%.

"Itinerary operating costs including fuel costs are a factor in our deployment decisions," said Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen. "The 2015 North America ECA requirements would significantly impact upon our fuels costs for operating cruises from Norfolk and Boston, and many other ports around North America."

The move is likely to spark uncertainty within the wider industry over how cruise operators will react to the new rules.