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Cruise ships cause harm to the environment, people and communities. And they don’t pay taxes

Cruise ships cause harm to the environment, people and communities. And they don’t pay taxes

While a cruise around the Med or the Antarctic might seem like the height of all-inclusive luxury, you may not feel it’s worth the negative impacts after you read this.

New research shows that passengers traveling around Antarctica on seven-day trips can produce as many CO2 as the average European in an entire year.

And that’s not all. The StudyIt was also discovered that large cruiseliners can leave a larger carbon footprint than 12,000 cars. However, an overnight stay onboard consumes 12 times as much energy as a hotel stay.

“For decades, the cruise industry’s business practises have threatened coastal and marine ecosystems and the climate, and risked the public health of coastal communities, passengers and crew,” says Marcie Keever, Ocean and Vessels Program Director at Friends of the Earth US.

Cruising isn’t just affecting the environment either. The authors of the study, Josep Lloret, Arnau Carreño Hrvoje Carić, Joan San and Lora E. Fleming found that the industry also impacts human health, with those who live near ports affected by noise and air pollution.

Shipyard and boat crew members also have to deal with challenging work environments and the risk for injury.

Which cruise line has the worst environmental record of any company?

Friends of the Earth identifies the worst environmental criminal.

“Carnival Corporation – the corporate parent for 10 major cruise lines including Princess, Holland America and Costa. Carnival Corp. is currently on federal criminal probation in the United States for environmental crimes,” says Keever.

The probation period began in 2017 after it was made to pay a $40 million (€35 million) fine for illegally dumping oil at sea and then hiding it from regulators.

The company pleaded guilty in 2016 to regularly falsifying its records to hide illegal discharges from US officials for eight years. The corporation was also fined for dumping plastic in the ocean and violating air pollution limits.

They were instead required to pay $250 for greywater dumped in Glacier Bay National Park in 2018.

The environmental impact of cruises

Before the COVID-19 epidemic, the cruise industry was one among the fastest growing travel segments, with passenger numbers steadily rising year-on. Even though cruise ships only make up a small portion of the global shipping industry’s total, their impact is enormous.

The paper, “​​Environmental and Human Health Impacts of Cruise Tourism: a Review”, published in the Marine Pollution BulletinAccording to estimates, 24% of all shipping waste comes from the cruise industry. A 27,000 passenger cruiseliner produces more than a ton of rubbish each day.

Many of these wastes are incinerated and disposed at sea, putting many marine and sea life at risk. The report also discusses illegal waste dumping.

Cruising isn’t just affecting the environment either.

The authors of the study, Josep Lloret, Arnau Carreño Hrvoje Carić, Joan San and Lora E. Fleming found that the industry also impacts human health, with those who live near ports affected by noise and air pollution.

Shipyard and boat crew members also have to deal with challenging work environments and the risk for injury.

Which cruise companies are the worst offenders

For the past two years Friends of the EarthWe have been collecting data on the worst cruise industry offenders and grading them on a variety of topics including transparency, air pollution reduction, sewage treatment, and criminal violations.

None of the companies received a grade above a C in the sewage treatment category. This is based on whether greywater and sewage treatment systems are used, or if sewage is dumped directly in the oceans.

Out of the 18 cruise lines that were listed, 10 received an F. This is the lowest possible grade.

Carnival Corporation owns all eight cruise companies that have been found guilty of criminal violations. These include dumping sewage or oil at sea.

“Most governments refuse to enact strong regulations for the cruise industry, ignore the ongoing industry damage to communities and the environment, or cave under industry pressure.” says Marcie Keever from Friends of the Earth US.

Which cruise lines are improving?

With a B- overall, Disney cruises topped the Friends of the Earth reportcard. It received three A’s for air pollution reduction, water quality compliance, and transparency and a C for sewage treatment.

“Disney Cruise Lines is at the top of our report card, and would have received higher marks, but for the past two years we downgraded Disney for its push to build a massive cruise ship port at Lighthouse Point in the Bahamas,” says Keever.

“This development is opposed by community groups in the Bahamas for the destruction it would cause to the ecologically rich area that has received Marine Protected Area status.”

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The Company statesThey have dedicated environmental officers aboard all their ships and they recycle more 600 tonnes of metal and glass each year.

The only other cruise line that achieved a higher grade than a D was Silversea CruisesThe award to, which was given a C, was highly regarded for its water quality compliance and transparency.

Is it more convenient to catch COVID-19 while on a cruise?

The study also highlighted cruise ships’ role in spreading infectious diseases. This was revealed at the outbreak of the 2020 pandemic. Cruise ships like the Diamond Princess were hotbeds for the virus.

The vessel was first notified of a COVID-19 epidemic in February 2020. It infected over 700 people, leading to 14 deaths. The ship was placed in quarantine outside Japan for 27 days.

As a result, the cruise industry has to adapt. Disney Cruises requires all passengers, even children under five years old, to have their full vaccinations in order to board their cruises starting mid-January 2022.

What can cruise lines do for the environment?

Cruise liners need to “be more transparent” according to Dr Hrvoje Carićm from the Institute for Tourism in Croatia and co-author of the study.

“Cruise corporations are not paying taxes in the EU and we believe they should be analysed more thoroughly from the perspective of the ‘polluter pays’ principle. Additionally, they do not have the same standards and pollution thresholds as land-based tourism and transport.”

Cruise lines, unlike hotels and resorts, do not have long-term relationships with local communities.

Friends of the Earth want the cruise industry to be more tightly regulated. They have created a Detail planThey would like cruiseliners to make commitments.

The plan includes a public pledge to zero emissions and to reducing speed to 12 knots within 25 nautical miles of the coast. This would prevent ships striking whales and eliminate any sonic disturbance to the coast and marine wildlife.

Carićm believes some of the responsibility lies with the EU too.

“The EU should further the Emission Controlled Areas and demand cleaner fuels and ultimately decarbonise the sector.”

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