Foul play by cruise ships

December 5, 2014

Cruise ships flushed more than a billion gallons of sewage into the ocean this year, according to a new report.

When you embark on a cruise holiday, you’re normally confronted by a high standard of hygiene, with plush furnishings, delicious food and glistening bathrooms.

But what many passengers don’t know is that behind the attractive facade, many cruise lines are far from hygienic – particularly when it comes to the environment.

Friends of the Earth’s 2014 Cruise Ship Report Card reveals that although some of the 16 cruise lines listed are improving their carbon footprints, over 40 per cent of the 167 ships are still using an outdated method of waste treatment technology.

This means that an abundance of fecal matter, heavy metals, bacteria and other harmful contaminants are dumped straight into the water.

Disney Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, P&O cruises, Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Lines are among the cruise operators on the list.

Interestingly, the major cruise lines on the report failed to provide information on their reduction-pollution technologies when requested by members of Friends of the Earth. Therefore, each operator received an ‘F’ grade under the category ‘Transparency’.

Marcie Keever, oceans and vessels program director for Friends of the Earth, said: “By working to stifle the Cruise Ship Report Card, the industry attempted to shield itself from continued scrutiny of its environmental practices, and obscure data from conscientious consumers who would make different choices based on how a cruise ship or line performs on the report card.

“It’s time for the cruise industry to stop trying to hide the dirty ships in its fleet.”

The report card sets out to highlight the ways in which the cruise industry impacts on the environment, helping travellers and holidaymakers to make an informed decision about the most environmentally-responsible cruise to embark on.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an average cruise ship with around 3,000 passengers and crew produces around 21,000 gallons of sewage per day. This equates to enough waste to fill ten swimming pools in one week.

Not only this, but cruise ships are also responsible for creating large amounts of air pollution from the fuel they burn. The EPA reports that each day, the average cruise liner emits more sulphur dioxide at sea than 13 million cars.

How important is the eco-friendliness of a cruise ship to you? Do these statistics put you off booking with certain cruise liners?