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Report claims to reveal the grubby truth about cruises

October 25, 2013 Cruise, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Millions of people take cruise holidays every year. Yet, most travellers don’t realise that taking a cruise “is more harmful to the environment and human health than many other forms of travel”.

So says the environmental group Friends of the Earth (FOE), which has just released The Friends of the Earth 2013 Cruise Ship Report Card, a report into cruises which concludes that cruise lines should do more to reduce their environmental footprint.

In a nutshell, Disney Cruise Line is top of the league when it comes to being friendly to the environment. At the other end of the scale, P&O Cruises, Costa Cruises and Crystal Cruises received very poor scores. sarawak250x250

Many operators are already installing new measures, the report says. Norwegian Cruise Line plans to install environmentally-friendly scrubber technology on its two new Breakaway Plus ships, scheduled for delivery in 2015 and 2017.

The advocacy group says cruise ships dumped more than 1 billion gallons of sewage in the ocean, much of it raw or poorly treated.

The report grades 162 ships operated by 16 cruise lines on three environmental factors: sewage treatment, air pollution reduction and water quality compliance.

FOE says that 40% of ships still rely on 30-year-old waste-treatment technology, which leaves treated sewage with harmful levels of faecal matter, heavy metals, bacteria and other contaminants.

The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that an average cruise ship with 3000 passengers and crew produces about 79,450 litres of sewage a day – enough to fill 10 backyard swimming pools in a week (a deeply unpleasant mental picture). That adds up to more than 3.8 billion litres a year for the industry – a conservative estimate, since some new ships carry as many as 8000 passengers and crew and the report card doesn’t include the entire worldwide fleet.

In addition, each ship generates and dumps about eight times that much “grey water” from sinks, showers and baths, which can contain many of the same pollutants as sewage and significantly affects water quality.

Sewage pollution can cause gastrointestinal diseases, diarrhoea, hepatitis and other illnesses in people exposed through contaminated seafood or water. Fish, shellfish, coral reefs, and other aquatic life can suffocate due to surplus nitrogen and phosphorous from ship sewage.

“It’s time for cruise ships to stop using our oceans as a toilet,” Marcie Keever, oceans and vessels program director for Friends of the Earth, declared.

The report card is meant both to draw attention to the environmental impact of the booming cruise industry and to help cruisers choose the most environmentally responsible cruises. A downloadable version of the Cruise Ship Report Card is available here: http://libcloud.s3.amazonaws.com/93/ce/4/3280/Cruise_ship_report_card_2013.pdf .

Cruise ships are also responsible for significant amounts of air pollution from the dirty fuel they burn, the report states. Even at the dock, cruise ships often run dirty diesel engines to provide electrical power to passengers and crew. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, each day an average cruise ship is at sea it emits more sulphur dioxide than 13 million cars and more soot than 1 million cars.

Starting in 2015, cleaner fuel standards in the U.S. and Canada will reduce the amount of sulphur emitted by each ship about 97% and the amount of soot by 855, in addition to the interim cleaner fuel standards already in place in North America.

“As the industry leader, Carnival Corp has to step up its environmental game throughout all of its different lines,” Keever said.

“How can Carnival Corp. justify having more than half of its fleet continue to use outdated technology that pollutes our oceans and threatens our marine ecosystem health, sea life and all of us?”

Edited by : Peter Needham

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