Cruising Green?

Cruising green? There is no such thing - not that I've found. My family recently went on a cruise to Alaska (we were invited by a family member) and I failed to research the environmental ramifications before I accepted that invitation. I had planned to write about how my family and I tried to be green while on the ship and how I interviewed the personnel about their environmental practices. But it all just seems so meaningless now that I have learned about the cruise industry's blatant disregard for the environment. They have a sorted history of dumping raw sewage including bath and sink water, chemical oils, and sometimes regular garbage straight into the ocean.....even while at port. Recent laws have been set forth to prevent them from dumping into state waters which range from 2-10 miles away from the coast, but they can still dump outside of that. Sadly, the cruise industry is rapidly expanding and has doubled in the last few years. Their impact on the ocean is devastating. Instead of going on too much, I will convey the environmental policies of the Dawn Princess (our ship), some informational links, statistics, and a ‘Take Action’ link to help clean up this formidable industry.

As for finding out about the environmental policies of this Princess ship. I asked the purser how they handled things. What follows, is what the purser told me. They do have a system. There are recycling bins dispersed throughout the ship for passengers to use for bottles and glass. All bottles and glass are collected out of the rooms and separated for recycling. Paper is collected out of the rooms as well, but it is incinerated. All paper and food waste is incinerated. The human waste and grey water is sent to a holding tank. When they reach a certain port, a sanitation ship comes and sucks out the tank and transports it to a sewage treatment plant. They no longer dump it into the ocean. The purser explained that previous to two years ago, all the cruise lines dumped their raw sewage into the ocean, but there was a ‘crack down’ and they legally cannot do this anymore. They now have a designated environmental officer and an environmental inspection every three months. In addition to what they had to say about their policy towards the environment, the ships video introduction and paper introduction included an environmental section about how they were committed to protecting the ocean and asked passengers not to throw anything overboard.

This Princess ship claims to have made some changes. I am really not sure if I believe everything they said, because I was a passenger on their ship and they dont want bad PR. It is still a very polluting industry in the sheer amount of garbage that it produces and resources that are taxed such as water, diesel fuel, paper, plastic, and the support of conventional agriculture with such mass purchases of conventional food. The pollution it creates with CO2 emissions is astronomical. What follows, are some statistics and links to articles to quantify the waste and pollution (send by my sister in-law, Stacy). I calculated that our cruise ship probably used about 13 gallons of fuel per person per day! More jaw dropping info and statistics are as follows:

1. Dumping waste in the ocean – it is legal to dump outside state waters. Why is it legal at all?!? It still gets into the ocean no matter what. That is like having a smoking and non-smoking section in a restaurant. It spreads into the water everywhere!

2. Cruises produce 4.5 times more trash than that same number of people would produce on land. A cruise ship that carries 3,000 people produces as much sewage and waste as a mid-size city.

3. Cruises produce 3 times more CO2 than airplanes. Diesel engines spew out diesel exhaust equivalent to 10,000 cars each day per ship.

4. Depending on their size, ships consume 10,400-26,000 gallons a day! They go an average of 18 feet per gallon. The Queen Victoria, which holds 2,000 people, uses 239 gallons per mile. An average ship carries 3,000 tons of fuel and will refuel at ports. They carry an average of 150 tons of marine gas oil consuming 12 tons per hour when at maximum output.

I will never travel this way again. Now, how can I get my family members to stop cruising? Share your suggestions in our Discussion Forum.

Kahea: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance

Environmental Leader

Bay Crossings, Bay Environment

Anchorage Daily News

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