Interesting concept this is, ecotourism. It seems to be taken for granted by many who consider themselves part of the newly revitalized Green Revolution in regards to the luxury, all inclusive cruise ship. Two things you must know about me before I explain are that I’ve never been on a cruise and nor do I plan to. I’ve been blessed with a guilty conscience (or burdened… however you want to look at it). Anyway, as a person who strives to at least be environmentally aware, I was shocked to discover the treatment of third world and Caribbean ports by the Cruise Industry. Bilge water and waste being dumped into the pristine waters of these island nations. I never thought about it before but it has to go somewhere. I guess the waste can’t wait until they return to there home port. After all we have our own environmental standards to uphold.
In addition to the dumping of waste, the masses of tourists venturing onto the island bleeds resources and influences the counter to smart and sustainable growth known as urban sprawl with development to appeal to tourists. On an island such as Dominica this does more harm than good for the long-term sustainability of the nation.
Environmental issues aside there are money distribution problems. Once docked passengers usually have an option to either stay with the ship or venture onto the island to experience the island culture. Little money is actually spent by cruise tourists. Three reasons for this are 1) name-brand and luxury shopping is absent or unappealing to visitors 2) half of the visitors never leave the ship 3) those who leave the ship return before lunch without having spent any money. This combined with the cruise industry’s bullying Caribbean islands into competing for their business with little or no part of the profits inherently should infuriate the environmentalist.
I tell myself I will never take a cruise because of my guilty conscience; my own way of being a rebel. But could I turn down a free cruise… now that’s a tough one. Am I a hypocrite for driving my car to work? After all, that harms mother earth too. I guess it comes down to identifying want from necessity and the weight of the burden it puts on your mind.
Reminder: Not all cruise ships are the same. Check out this green buzz article on ratings for environmentally friendly vessels.