1. Cruises are becoming more and popular, with around 20 million passengers per year now enjoying holidays on board luxury ships. Many people see a cruise as the perfect way to sit back and do nothing, and enjoy time off work. Everything you could possibly need is within easy reach. On board, there are shops, theatres, cinemas, swimming pools and leisure centres. There are more facilities, in fact, than most towns offer their residents. It’s therefore easy to see why they are popular. But what is the effect on the environment of this trend?
Although it usually takes less energy for a vehicle to move through water than over land, cruise ships are often huge, with the biggest ones carrying up to 6,000 passengers. Moving such large vehicles requires enormous engines, which burn as much as 300,000 litres of fuel a day. One scientist calculated that cruise ships create as much pollution as 5 million cars going over the same distance. Because they are out at sea, they also burn dirtier fuel that isn’t allowed on land. Unfortunately, no government has control over the amount of air pollution out at sea. Cruises also produce huge amounts of rubbish, and cruise ships aren’t usually good recycling. Waste water from showers and toilets is usually poured directly into the sea – as much per day as from a small town. Waste food from restaurants isn’t put into the sea, but still causes problems when brought back to the land.
Cruise ships also cause difficulties in the cities where they stop. Popular destinations can get five or six ships per day, with thousands of tourists at a time. Good for restaurants? No. Restaurant owners complain that the visitors look around for a few hours and then return to their ship to eat. What’s more, the crowds can put other tourists, who complain that the streets are too busy. Some towns have banned cruise ships or put a limit on the number that can stop at the same time. People who care about the environment worry that as the cruise industry continues grow, so too will the issues for our planet.