It’s day 4 of our 9-night South Caribbean Cruise and we’re at sea. We left Labadee, Haiti and are sailing further south towards the ABC Islands – Aruba, Bonaire & Curaçao. We were actually surprised to discover that we sailed all the way around the Dominican Republic, so when we got up in the morning…we were passing right in front of Punta Cana!
I was thinking a lot about cruise ships and the environment today. I read somewhere that the air quality on a cruise ship is worse than in the center of London and that a cruise ship pollutes as much as 1 million cars do a day!!!
So, of course, this creates a huge dilemma – for me.
Cruising has become a very popular way of traveling and each year, more and more people go on cruises. In my particular case, this is my 3rd cruise vacation – this year! So it’s definitely also becoming more popular for my husband and I.
So, how exactly do I align my concern for the environment with my wish to do what I can in order to help clean up the environment and lower my carbon foot print with all the traveling that I do?
I think the answer to that is – I don’t.
The two things just don’t align. They don’t match. All the things that I try to do in my day-to-day life when I’m at home are basically (more than) wiped away by every trip I take, every time I travel on an airplane or go on a cruise.
Even though I try not to generate waste, use plastic, or waste food when I’m traveling. Even though I bring my reusable water bottle and coffee mug when I’m traveling and try to avoid using plastic straws or getting plastic bags.
Cruise ships are, however, getting more and more high-tech and better at lowering CO2 emissions, handling waste & waste water, and becoming more energy efficient.
I’m happy to know that our preferred cruise line, Royal Caribbean (which also owns Celebrity cruises) is focused on protecting the environment through their program Save the Waves – or so they write/say.
We have a responsibility to the guests who sail with us, the people who work for us, and the communities we visit, but most critically we have a responsibility to the oceans, which are at the very essence of our business.
Of course, one could argue that operating cruise ships and sailing them across the globe in itself isn’t doing anything to protect the oceans. That no matter how many initiatives are taken to Save the Waves, the results will never be anywhere near as good as if these cruise ships didn’t exist at all. So, the dilemma between operating a business and making money or not existing at all – for the sake of the environment and the ocean – is indeed very real.
This will, of course, never happen. As long as people are happy and willing to cruise the world, companies like Royal Caribbean will exist…and thrive. And, let’s face it, most people aren’t willing to give up traveling and instead stay at home in order to protect the environment.
I certainly am not. I want to travel the world and have these amazing experiences, help support local economies where I go by purchasing locally made souvenirs and spending money on the destinations that I visit…and then live a more minimalist lifestyle when I’m at home.
Traveling is not the only thing that creates a large amount of pollution in this world…what we eat and buy, e.g. online that are “made in China” and shipped on a container ship or a cargo plane across the world, also creates a large amount of pollution – maybe even more, I don’t know.
There is, however, a genuine dilemma here, which I and many other people have to live with. I can just hope that these companies are indeed sincere and doing everything they possibly can to make sure their ships, etc., are keeping their pollution as low as possible in all areas and aspects.
This video is also really interesting: http://www.takepart.com/video/2015/04/23/cruise-info-graphic
On the other hand, I’m also thinking that YES passengers on a cruise ship create a lot of waste, sewage, pollution, etc., but the same passengers would create all of these things AT HOME too. So, maybe we’re just moving everything from one location to another? Maybe the total amount of waste and pollution is the same regardless of whether all these passengers spend a week on a cruise or a week at home – eating, drinking, shopping, driving in cars, etc., etc.