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What Impact Do Cruise Ships Have On The Environment?

Cruise Holidays Don't Have To Cost The Ocean... Or Its Life.

How Do Cruise Ships Affect The Environment?

You have likely heard the horrific stories of some cruise ships dumping massive amounts of sewage and pollution into the ocean. The biggest problem with this is the lack of policies and policing in place to prevent this level of pollution. If a ship needs to dump chemicals out in the middle of the ocean then unfortunately they are able to without anyone ever being able to trace it back to that specific ship.  

Just last year Carnival Cruise was hit by a $20 million fine for Environmental Crimes going back decades. However, it has also been revealed that their cruise ships "pollute more than all the cars in Europe"! 

"In total cruise lines emitted more than 60 kilotonnes of sulphur dioxide, a cause of acid rain and lung cancer."

| Financial Times, Alice Hancock, London, June 5 2019, Carnival cruise ships more polluting than all of Europe’s cars

How Do Cruise Ships Affect Sea Life?

There are a number of ways that cruise ships affect many different species of marine wildlife such as:

  • Sound pollution, one of the biggest impact cruise ships have on wildlife is the amount of noise they make. Sound will travel through water 5 times faster than it will through air, so the sound of the engines and music from the ship can be heard clearly for long distances. This impacts dolphins and whales in particular as they rely heavily on sound to communicate and some use echolocation to hunt and navigate their way through the ocean.

  • Chemical Pollution, as we mentioned above cruise ships can get away with dumping chemical pollution into the ocean without repercussions to their business, however the effects on wildlife is devastating. It can lead to disease, illness and even death amongst sea life. Friends of the Earth estimate that cruise ships generate about 15 gallons of hazardous chemical waste every day!

  • Many cruises promote "Swim-With-Dolphins" experiences where dolphins are often forced to interact with many people throughout the day and are confined to small areas. For a more indepth dive into this check out The Dolphin Projects article here.

  • Damage to reefs. As cruise ships are so large they can only dock in certain areas, which can be restrictive. Back in December 2019 campaigners in the Cayman Islands had to fight against a big cruise company who wanted to dredge and redevelop the country's port to accommodate their huge ships. This development to 'improve' the experience for the tourists and visitors brought in by cruise ships will mean the destruction of at least 10 acres of coral reef.

But this doesn't mean you can never go on a cruise, you just need to do a little research, make sure you are going with a company that has a sustainable outlook and cares about the environment. There is a fantastic article by On The Luce about how you can Minimise Your Environmental Impact: Cruise Travel they have a great list of things to check out before you go on a cruise.

Monterey Bay Sanctuary Impacted by Cruise Ships

Community of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary have set up a petition to gather support for the protection of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary in California. A sanctuary that is home to an incredibly diverse ecosystem including whales, sharks, dolphins, sea birds, sea otters and fish. In 2019 there were 19 cruise ships scheduled to visit the bay which is not designed for cruise ships and the risk they pose to wildlife includes air pollution from the exhaust, oil and sewage spills, risk of collisions and as underwater noise disturbance from the engines.

"Humanities desire to live in comfort and convenience has a significant impact on the health of the world. By making educated and passionate choices, we can create a future that respects all life on Earth. Let’s begin by banning luxury cruise lines from entering fragile marine sanctuaries to insure a brighter future."

Cruise Ship Ban in Sanctuary Petition

Click here or on the image above to sign the petition!

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