Cruises: The Ugly Truth
When most people think of taking a cruise, they imagine visiting exotic places, lounging by the pool or beach and sipping on exotic drinks. Add to this the promise of all you can eat gourmet food and days of pampering and you have what sounds like the vacation of a lifetime. This is for good reason. The cruise industry spends millions of dollars a year in advertising to ensure that this fantasy image fills the minds of not only potential cruisers but also veteran cruiser in hopes that they will return. Cruises were once thought of as a type of vacation exclusive to only those with the big bucks. However, advertising campaigns by modern cruise lines have been very successful in convincing customers that there is a cruise for every, budget, vacation preference and family dynamic. From Carnival's "Fun Ships" to Royal Caribbean's rock climbing walls and onboard inline skating, cruise lines are putting a lot work into moving away from the perceived "stuffiness" of the past in hopes of attracting new customers. Unfortunately most consumers become so engulfed in the fantasy that they fail to ask important questions about issues that could not only affect their enjoyment of their vacation but also their lives. For example, stories about cruise fires and missing cruisers in the news are often dismissed as exceptions to the norm by consumers. Although people are aware that they use the bathroom and create waste aboard ships, most people to not question how their waste is disposed of. Why are most of the ship's crew members from third world or other foreign countries? To put more thought into these incidents would destroy the fantasies that the cruise industry and customers themselves have created. The truth is that most dream cruise vacation comes at a large price to our environment, human rights and the safety of the passengers themselves.
Cruise ships are illegally discharging waste into our waters, endangering the ecological system and polluting the air. The International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL) indicated this industry plays an important role in the cause and solution to maritime pollution. All cruise ships operating in U.S. waters must adhere with U.S. environmental laws, which are enforced by the EPA, Department of Justice and the U.S. Coast Guard. Compliance is ensured through internal and third-party audits, routine shipboard inspections, satellite surveillance, vessel tracking and aerial reconnaissance. To ensure all cruise ships are in compliance with federal and state environmental standards, the U.S. Coast Guard implemented an environmental inspection, which includes an extensive list of items, including pollution prevention equipment, operation, plans and records. MARPOL is the "main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes. It is a combination of two treaties adopted in 1973 and 1978 respectively and updated by amendments through the years." (International Maritime Organization, 2002). Even with these extensive regulations companies continuously pollute ours waters. According to ocean.org "Cruise ships are needlessly dumping vast amounts of raw sewage and other harmful wastes into some of the most pristine parts of our oceans every day. Each day a cruise ship generates as much as 30,000 gallons of sewage, 255,000 gallons of dirty water from shower, sinks, laundries and dishwashers, as well as hazardous chemicals from photo processing, dry cleaning and industrial cleaning products; 7,000 gallons of oily bilge water; and smokestack and exhaust emissions equivalent to 12,000 cars." (Oceana.org, 2005). Royal Caribbean and Holland America for example both pledge to uphold the environment through maintaining strict guidelines that meet and exceed guidelines set forth by various environmental agencies. Both also have extensive environmental...
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