Tomorrow we will hear the state of the cruise industry from many of the CEO’s of the cruise lines. After a deadly and disastrous year, questions arise whether the cruise industry is heading in the right direction.
In many ways, the cruise industry is going backwards. I targeted what I consider six of the major problems which the industry needs fixing. Today we’ll look at:
Problem # 6 – Pollution of Air & Water: The cruise industry is heading the wrong way on environmental issues. It just fought a very public battle with the state of Alaska which, in 2006, enacted the most responsible waste water restrictions in the world to address cruise ship pollution.
A typical cruise ship produces 210,000 gallons of sewage, over a million gallons of greywater, 130 gallons of hazardous wastes such as poisonous metals, and 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water in a single week-long cruise. Considering there are 28 cruise ships operating 150 days annually in Alaska, this results in over one billion gallons of sewage and waste water being dumped into Alaska state waters every year.
The Alaskan initiative targeted this nasty problem with sewage, while also prohibiting the discharge of heavy metals like zinc, copper and nickle from cruise ships’ plumbing systems. In response, the cruise lines threatened to pull its ships from Alaska and lobbied legislators heavily. The major polluters of Alaskan waters, like Carnival owned Holland America Lines and Princess Cruises, led the charge to repeal the green legislation in order to avoid the expense of installing advanced waste water treatment technologies.
While polluting the waters, the cruise industry is resisting clean air legislation as well. CLIA cruise ships still burn bunker fuel, the dirtiest and most deadly fuel on the planet. and the industry is resisting complying with clean air laws, citing reduced profits.
As the industry’s ships get bigger and bigger, there is increased damage to coral reefs and the environment of the fragile ecosystems from the Caribbean to Alaska. To accommodate giants of the seas like the Oasis and the Allure into its new port in Falmouth Jamaica, Royal Caribbean oversaw the dredging of 35 million cubic feet of coral reefs which were crushed and dumped onto old mangroves. The Oasis and Allure can now squeeze into the once quaint fishing village, where they sit and burn high sulfur bunker fuel.
The cruise industry has a historical reputation of abusing the seas, with the major lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL all pleading guilty to environmental crimes and lying to the U.S. Coast Guard and federal prosecutors. Although it has promised to protect the waters on which its business depends, the cruise industry has consistently chosen the cheaper and more destructive path on environmental issues.
The cruise industry needs to clean up its act. It must distance itself from its renegade past of being the conservator from hell.
Read the other problems facing the cruise industry: