Short history lesson: The Medici were an Italian banking family and political dynasty. The family rose to power in Florence in the 15th century and ruled till the 18th century. They owned several villas outside of Florence. Villa Demidoff is the current name of Medicean Paggeria of Pratolino, one of the villas bought by Francesco I de' Medici in 1568. It is about 25-30 minutes north of Florence’s city center by car or bus. What brought my attention to this villa was the 16th century sculpture known as Colosso dell'Appennino , or the Appennine Colossus. A fun fact is that inside the giant hides several rooms with different functions. The sculpture was created as a symbol of Italy’s rugged Apennine mountains. The sculpture sits in a park with several other hidden gems - you should check them out!
To summarize this in three points: tourist traps, pollution, and international maritime law. If these aren’t enough for you, they might be after reading this post. Let’s start with the least debatable point - tourist traps. You may ask, ‘what is a tourist trap?’. Simple, they are most of the places you have to walk through to get back to your cruise ship. Cruises, especially bigger ones, have designated ports. These ports are prime spots for businesses to set up and sell with marked up prices. Speaking of marked up prices, everything on a cruise is overpriced - bar, spa, wifi, food, excursions, etc. From a marketing standpoint, genius, but as a consumer on and around that ship it is a complete loss. When you think about who is cruising, it is probably families and older adults. Traveling with kids can be tough but not when everything is right at your fingertips. Traveling at an older age you want to see and get to places as fast as possible. Cruising with everything on board and being dropped off in front of the ‘must see’ places is convenient. According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)’s 2016 Cruise Review, “the average age of UK cruise passengers had dropped by almost a full year to be just over 55, the lowest figure in six years, and internationally the average age has fallen to 46, the lowest it’s been in 20 years.” The keyword here would be ‘convenience’. Cruises are trying to attract younger travelers, and they’re going to get them because at some point convenience just sells itself. Along with the overpricing, they don’t give you enough time to explore the places you’re visiting. You might as well sit in a resort. What is the point to travel, to say you’ve been there or to experience what the local culture is like? Hopping on a boat from one place to another is surely not the way to get out of your comfort zone. Secondly, cruises contribute to environmental issues such as pollution and mass tourism. They contribute to all three forms of pollution: land, air, and sea! Let’s start with land. Mass tourism is not only responsible for environmental problems but devastating to the local economy. You may think, tourism is great for the local economy! But please refer to point one, tourist trap shops and hotels in fact take away from the local economy. How do they affect the air? Transport and Environment reports, in 2019 “the world’s largest luxury cruise operator emitted nearly 10 times more sulphur oxide (SOX) around European coasts than did all 260 million European cars in 2017. SOX emissions form sulphate (SO4) aerosols that increase human health risks and contribute to acidification in terrestrial and aquatic environments.” Air pollution has long-term effects that include respiratory and heart diseases. While environmental science is not on people’s minds while booking a trip to the carribean, it should be! You may not be concerned about the effects and think it may not affect you, it will affect your future generations. Photo above taken from Transport and Environment As for the sea, their mode of transportation, Global Citizen reports, “cruise ships also devastate oceans when they dump raw sewage from their passengers. A 2014 study by the non-governmental environmental agency Friends of the Earth estimated that the entire industry dumps over 1 billion gallons of sewage yearly.” Did you know that U.S. law allows cruise ships to dump raw sewage in the ocean once a ship is more than three miles off U.S. shores? Umm.. gross and definitely not good for the ocean. Oceana reports, “this waste not only carries bacteria and viruses that are harmful to human health, but can also sicken and kill marine life, including corals.”Jackie Savitz, senior scientist at Oceana, released a statement, “Oceana calls on cruise ship companies to take responsibility for their passengers' health and the health of the oceans by upgrading to state-of-the-art sewage treatment technology fleet-wide.” If we are going to use the ocean as a mode of transportation, we should at least be taking care of it. Lastly, cruises and international maritime laws. Cruises are required to take measures to provide safe passage, but what happens when something goes wrong? Jurisdiction is difficult to sort out. Case 1 : “In 2006, a woman onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship sailing the Mexican Riviera reported being raped in her stateroom. She immediately returned to Los Angeles, where two FBI agents took her statement a week later, and told her there was nothing they could do. At the time of the alleged rape, the ship was in international waters, but Royal Caribbean is registered in Liberia and the ship was docking in Mexico through the voyage. The cruise line noted 66 cases of alleged sexual assault between 2003 and 2005, without a single one prosecuted successfully [source: KCRA ].” Case 2 : “When a baby is born on a cruise ship, the question of citizenship arises. This seldom happens, if ever, since cruise ships, like airlines, refuse to let a woman in her third trimester onboard. But still, it's an interesting question. And like all other cruise ship law, there's no cut-and-dry answer. On a cruise ship, like on a plane, the simplest rule is that the baby's citizenship follows the parents. So if a Canadian tourist gives birth on a ship, the baby is Canadian. But of course, it's not always that simple. Technically, if that Canadian gives birth in U.S. territorial waters, U.S. internal waters, or on a U.S.-registered ship in international waters, the baby might be able to claim U.S. citizenship. The case would probably end up in court.” Only in 2010, under a United States law, cruise lines are required to report crimes committed on their ships to the F.B.I., and the results are published. International maritime laws are something to consider before leaving on a ship. Above all, it is important for passengers to know their rights. Lund University published a Master Thesis covering this topic. Tell us what you think about this list, anything to add, anything to debate? Let us know below!
Travel health is a broad topic covering subjects as small as first aid kits and goes as far as concerning diseases. While disease control is a topic to stay up-to-date with, this post will be about other common health concerns you should address. First Aid Reminders: Remember to pack these items because you never know if you're going to need them. You don't want to underestimate your needs while abroad. There are some countries that don't have the medicines you're used to picking up at the local pharmacy. Regular Medication - Check airline/country regulations for carrying Anti-diarrhea Anti-inflammatory Sunscreen Adhesive bandages Anti-Bacterial Insect repellent Altitude sickness Jet lag Reminders : Everyone dreads the significant time differences and tries to plan arrival times. However, it is somewhat inevitable that it will affect you during your trip. Shorter differences that cause you to wake at 2am can be even more fatiguing, and take longer to overcome unless the cycle is broken as soon as possible. From personal experiences, sleeping on the plane and adjusting to the new time zone as soon as possible helps! Don’t think about what time it is at home and just start your trip. When contacting family, you want to be mindful of the time, but to check regularly is unnecessary. You want to have a healthy amount of jet lag and not be exhausted or sleep all day. The maximum possible time difference between two points is 12 hours. For example, Hawaii and New Zealand may be 23 hours apart but there is only an hour difference in jet lag. Try to adjust from the flight by sleeping and eating on the destination’s time zone. Tropical Destination Reminders : While tropical vacations sound like an absolute dream, there are some things to consider before flying. First, consider talking to a doctor with experience in the field of travel medicine. They can talk to you about your options and other precautions that may be necessary. Having an expert on your side is important! We all know looking up symptoms online can be misleading. Secondly, consider taking the vaccinations and while there may be several hesitant vaccinators - consider the risk factor. Tropical destinations for people who are not used to these climates are at a higher risk to contract tropical diseases. They are transmitted by insects, are water borne, carried by foods, or even by human contact. Some countries even require vaccinations before entering the country, so check the country's guidelines. Lastly, consider the socio‐cultural and economic traditions, community values, political situation, the environment, and the main problems of the current tourism. While traveling we are supporting a country and should leave a positive effect. Due to COVID19, we are seeing the devastating effects of a virus but also learning more about how to improve sanitation in highly trafficked places. In 2009, we saw the H1N1 pandemic, but now people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains. On the other hand, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity. That means more people are susceptible to infection. It is important to take care of your health and only travel when feeling well. This pandemic has taught us that we are in this together, now and in the future - so be mindful, be kind, and stay healthy! Tell us some health tips or tricks you have from traveling below!