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  • Writer's pictureRachana Kadikar

A Glimpse Into The Dark Side of The Cruise Industry

Growing up, I thought cruises were the perfect vacation hubs: not only did you get a quick glimpse into several beautiful coastal cities in less than a week, but you get to live in an adventure-filled entertainment hub, filled with never-ending shows, delicious food, games, and activities to do. What I didn't see though were the extreme environmental and economic damages that cruise ships are responsible for.


Cruise ships generate excessive waste and pollution, ranging from air pollution. A single cruise ship emits over five tons of nitrogen oxide (NOX) pollution and 450 kilograms of harmful particles per day. Carnival Cruises released more carcinogens into the air than all of Europe's cars combined in a year. In addition, these cruises damage marine ecosystems by constantly colliding with marine life, limiting communication for marine mammals, flushing gray water into the sea (containing sewage and toxic cleaning chemicals), and dumping sewage and food waste into the ocean.


First, cruise ships are hardly helpful to the economies of their port cities since the demand for food and hotels are reduced with the presence of a cruise ship. Tourists usually don't spend their money on local businesses, but rather on excursions and shops that the cruise companies own and control. Cruises also tend to invest in their own ports, which actually damages the economies of the host countries. Second, cruise ships are known for not adequately paying their workers for their long and demanding schedule.


Cruise ships aren't necessarily pleasurable or safe for the consumers. Sexual harassment and theft are rampant on these confined ships, with a lack of properly trained security guards. Beyond crime, a common negative aspect of cruises is the high risk of infection. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in ten passengers contract a gastrointestinal illness on cruises according to data from 2008-2014. This can occur due to contact with foreign germs in new countries and being confined in a tight space with thousands of other guests. Therefore viral outbreaks and food poisoning are common on cruise ships.

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