When it comes to carbon emissions, these floating monstrosities cause far greater damage than airplanes. Unfortunately cruises really should be your last option of travel because of the damage they do to our environment. Cruise ships are essentially floating cities that let you sail in luxury, but this extravagance comes with an eco-price. These giant ships are significant sources of water pollution, CO2 emissions and ecosystem destruction. Some stats on a typical cruise ship show that with 3,000 passengers it generates 1 million gallons of gray water; 210,000 gallons of sewage; 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water; 100 gallons of hazardous or toxic waste; 50 tons of garbage and solid waste; and diesel exhaust emissions equal to thousands of cars on the road. So what are your alternatives?
- Choose air or ground transport instead: If you can get to your dream destination by land or air (both more eco-friendly than ship travel), consider doing so.
- Stay on dry land: Stay put at a beachside resort instead of cruising from port to port.
If you still wish to travel by sea, there are greener options including sailing cruises, smaller less CO2 intensive cruise ships or travelling with eco-friendly luxury liners.
- Try sailing: For minimum impact try a low-carbon sailing trip. Whether it’s just you or an expert crew at the helm, you’ll enjoy sea and sunshine without using fossil fuels or emitting greenhouse gases.
- Go smaller: If sailing is a little more hands-on than you’d like, book a less fossil-fuel intensive smaller cruise—there are dozens of unique options, everything from a Kerala houseboat cruise in India to a whale-watching vessel off the coast of Newfoundland.
- Set sail sustainably: If you’re still set on the ease and elegance of an ocean liner, reduce your traveller’s footprint by choosing cruises offered by members of the Cruise Lines International Association (which include most of the larger cruise companies). These cruise lines have agreed to follow strict voluntary environmental standards for wastewater and recycling. But some have gone a step further, offering additional eco-amenities and conservation practices. Examine cruise liners’ fine print to find greener cruise lines and other eco-friendly sailing options
Just remember, whether you choose one of these cruises or find your own, there are things you can do personally to reduce your carbon footprint, such as taking public transit to port, turning lights out while not in your room and not wasting food as you graze through their mile-long buffets.
Next time you’re planning your cruise ship holiday, remember that these mini cities produce more CO2 emissions per person than any other form of transportation—a significant portion while ships idle in ports. A large cruise ship emits almost a pound of CO2 per passenger mile compared to a half-pound for jets (the next most ecologically harmful form of transportation). Just some green food for thought.