The newly formed Global Cruise Activist Network launched its website and convened a virtual press conference today.

Representatives of environmental groups, cruise ship crime organizations and port communities worldwide joined forces to demand that the cruise industry not return to “business-as-usual” after COVID-19. Approximately 100 members of the network attended the conference, as well as representatives from news organizations from the U.S., Canada, Australia, Italy, Norway, the U.K., the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas.

The network addressed many issues involving the cruise industry which I have focused on with this blog over the years – shipboard crime against women and children, environmental crimes involving air and water pollution, abuse of crew members, over-tourism and exploitation of port communities.

The network includes several members of the International Cruise Victims organization, including a passenger who survived the Costa Concordia disaster with her husband and family and now helps coordinate a group supporting cruise victims. The network also includes a former cruise employee who helps coordinate a labor rights group supporting crew members still stranded at sea, as well as an international group dedicated to ending the exploitation of crew members at sea.

The network introduced a global set of guidelines called the “Principles of Responsible Cruise Tourism” which it wants the cruise line to follow before cruise ships start sailing again.

A recording of the virtual press conference, as well as photos from some of the activists, are available online. 

“The Global Cruise Activist Network is giving a voice to people living in port communities worldwide. Our organizing efforts are giving us the power we desperately need, to better organize in our communities and to demand that the cruise industry doesn’t return to business as usual as it starts sailing again after the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Karla Hart of Juneau Alaska, one of the organizers of the network. “Through the network, our members have been able to support fellow activists in demanding additional noise restrictions, better understand how ports and cruise terminals are being financed; share what works for community-led air and water pollution monitoring; learn from locations dealing with referendums and legal actions; and track where and when cruise ships are returning.”

“The Global Cruise Activist Network is calling for an equitable and responsible system of leisure travel that optimizes economic benefits to all stakeholders, while eliminating the negative social, public health, and environmental impacts of cruising on port communities, workers, and passengers. We oppose the return of a ‘business-as-usual’ cruise ship industry. Until these common sense policies are collectively adopted, effectively implemented, and consistently monitored, the cruise industry will remain complicit in putting passengers, crew, communities, and the planet at risk,” said Jane da Mosto of Venice, Italy.

Each member of the network is focused on a specific set of principles that are unique to the needs and demands of their area. These principles include:

  • Self-determination: Respect the universal right to self-determination of each home port and ports of call, including nearby Indigenous communities.
  • Economic impacts: Address the cruise industry’s ongoing history of exploitive business practices by implementing policies that maximize the retention of revenue within home ports and ports of calls.
  • Labor: Create a safe, just, and equitable environment for workers on board and on shore by aligning with the strictest labor and environmental standards in the world.
  • Climate change: Stop contributing to climate change by publicly committing to achieving zero emissions across the entire global fleet, including implementing slow-steaming protocols, halting LNG investments, and eliminating the use of heavy fuel oil globally.
  • Air and water pollution: Stop polluting the air and water by leading the development of a universal shore power system, ceasing the use of scrubbers, and stopping the dumping of all waste near shore.
  • Monitoring and transparency: Install continuous air and water monitoring equipment and publicly disclose the performance, and support third-party monitoring.
  • Environment and biodiversity: Reduce speeds near coasts to prevent whale strikes and avoid sonic disturbances to sensitive coastal and marine wildlife, stop development of private cruise destinations; and eliminate dumping of all plastic waste.
  • Public health: Notify passengers of the potential health risks of breathing ship exhaust, implement measures to control the spread of disease, and when an outbreak occurs, cease all travel immediately and provide real-time reporting of infectious diseases.
  • Crime victims: Institute policies and practices to protect passengers, including from sexual assault, and implement Man Overboard Detection technology.
  • Worker repatriation: Provide for the repatriation of all ship-based crew in the event of future disease outbreaks and ensure that crew members who remain on board are being adequately paid.

The Global Cruise Activist Network’s logo features two international maritime flags representing the letters K and L, which communicate “I wish to communicate with you” (K or Kilo) and “You should stop your vessel immediately” (L or Lima).

Learn more by visiting the network’s website.

The virtual press conference was covered by the Nelson DailyCayman Compass, Loop Cayman, Cayman News Serrvice, Juneau Empire, Tribune (Nassau), Guardian (Nassau) and Eyewitness News in the Bahamas.

The Cayman Compass reported: “Some have been fighting air and water pollution issues; others, like those in Cayman, are opposing plans to build or expand cruise ports in their towns or islands; several were campaigning to reduce the frequency of cruise visits and the numbers of cruise ship passengers descending on their neighborhoods; and still others were battling against the dumping of cruise garbage.”

The Cayman News Service reported on the press conference and included one of the many photographs (left) taken of Carnival ships: “A leading member of the Cruise Port Referendum campaign and local environmental activist, Linda Clark, has joined a new global organisation which is calling for major change in the cruise sector. With growing concerns here about the negative impact of mass cruise tourism, Clark hopes this new group will help Cayman benefit more from the sector and reduce the environment damage when cruise ships return to George Town.

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Carnival Freedom – Anonymous; Venice – Jim Walker