Preparation for a trial delayed our "Top 10 Reasons Not To Cruise." But here we go again with the reasons why you should think twice before spending your hard earned vacation dollars on a family cruise. Here's reason no. 8:
That nasty raw sewage which cruise lines can freely dump - completely untreated - just twelve miles from shore. Yes, just twelve miles from that lovely beach you may be sitting on in Florida, or the marshes of South Carolina, or the oyster beds of Alabama. Nasty, stinking feces from several thousands of passengers eating incredible amounts of food around the clock on hundreds of cruise ships each day.
"Blackwater" is sewage, waste water from urinals and toilets, and waste from medical facilities. Gross stuff. It contains pathogens, viruses including norovirus (when an outbreak on the ship occurs), bacteria, and intestinal parasites. According to Friends of the Earth, a cruise ship on a one week voyage is estimated to generate 210,000 gallons (or 5 large swimming pools) of human sewage.
A cruise ship also generates 1 million gallons (33 more swimming pools) of gray water (water from sinks, baths, showers, laundry, and galleys). Cruise ships also generate large volumes of oily bilge water, sewage sludge, garbage and hazardous wastes.
The cruise lines say that they usually (but not always) treat blackwater to "reduce" the fecal materials from toilets before dumping the waste into the oceans. But the problem is that these devices (when used) do not eliminate the fecal matter. "Marine sanitation systems," in particular, just don't work.
Just last Fall, Princess Cruises, repeatedly violated Alaskan waster water regulations:
In September, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific Princess, Sapphire Princess and Sea Princess were cited for violating the Alaska waste water quality standards. Again, in October, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific Princess, Sapphire Princess and Sea Princess - together with the Golden Princess - were cited for water discharge violations.
In November, the same culprits - the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Sea Princess, Golden Princess and Diamond Princess were busted for pollution.
Two weeks ago, on Earth Day, the New York Times rightfully called the cruise industry "Notorious Polluters". Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise lines are all corporate felons for dumping untreated sewage and oily discharges and falsifying their log books to cover the crime up.
The cruise industry's trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) which has spent $8,000,000 in the last two years lobbying against Congressional oversight, wrote a letter to the New York Times. Upset about the "notorious polluters" label, CLIA claimed that "cruise lines have a vested interest in the pristine environments they visit, and they take their stewardship responsibility very seriously."
When I hear PR rubbish like this, I remember what Attorney General Reno Reno said when she leveled felony charges against Royal Caribbean for its repeated pollution, cover-ups, and lies:
". . . at the same time that their ships were sailing into the inland passage of Alaska, one of the most sensitive and beautiful eco-systems in our nation, their crew members were wearing buttons that said, 'Save the Waves.' That's what they were wearing above deck. Below deck, business as usual was going on and oily contaminated bilge water was being dumped overboard . . ."
The LA Times also reported the Attorney General stating:
"Royal Caribbean used our nation's waters as its dumping ground even as it promoted itself as an environmentally 'green' company . . . "
Just last week the cruise industry intimidated the state of Alaska with pulling its cruise ships if it didn't reduce taxes and relax many of its pollution controls. Take a moment and read "Alaska Reduces Taxes and Relaxes Pollution Standards For Bullying Cruise Lines."
This is also an industry which retaliated against a "Green Water" Scientist so it could avoid pollution regulations.
As a result of the cruise industry's lobbying and back-room deals, cruise ships are continuing to dump ammonia (from fecal matter), copper, nickel and zinc in Alaska's pristine waters.
What a joke.
For other information, consider reading:
Can Sick Cruise Ships Cause Norovirus Outbreaks in Ports?
Cruise Ships in South Carolina - Harmless Fun or Environmental Scourge?
Cruise Lines Urged to Shrink Their Footprints (New York Times)
Up Next? Reason No. 9 Not To Cruise: Bunker Fuel - Nasty Tar Sludge!