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!