Speakman said Stage 2 of the new regulations requires cruise ships entering Sydney Harbour to also use low sulfur fuel by July 1, 2016.
However, under Stage 2 exemptions apply to cruise ships scheduled for drydock for technical modifications, like the installation of fuel tanks for the low sulfur fuel or scrubbers, up until December 31, 2018.
While Carnival Australia, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises have issued statements supporting efforts to improve air quality by reducing fuel emissions, there is concern in the industry that the regulations are discriminatory as they do not apply to general shipping, but only cruise ships.
As previously reported, voters in March retained the NSW state government led by Premier Mike Baird whose campaign included a pledge to reduce the sulfur content of fuel for cruise ships.
The government has responded to complaints from local residents about health problems since the A$57m White Bay Cruise Terminal opened in April 2013.
In May this year, the Port Authority of New South Wales suspended overnight stays by international cruise ships at Sydney's White Bay.