Cruise ships may be places for relaxation, but they certainly don’t give environmentalists any peace of mind. As is reported by the Guardian, one of the subsidiaries of Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruise Lines, has been given a record fine of $40 million for using illegal practices to dump thousands of polluted waste into the oceans. The ship where these practices were found to occur has been doing so since 2005. To get a scale of this pollution, the Guardian article states that one “single illegal discharge dumped 4,227 gallons of oil-contaminated waste” near the coast of England in 2013. Further investigation of the Princess cruise ships found that illegal practices were also found on four of their other ships; these were using rigged sensors to hide the contamination they were causing.
The problem is not limited to just these cruises. Even those that follow regulations influence the health of the planet. This website states that an average-sized cruise ship carrying 3,000 passengers on a one-week trip would generate 1,000,000 gallons of gray water (from sinks, showers, etc.), 210,000 gallons of sewage, 100 gallons of toxic waste, and “diesel exhaust emissions equivalent to thousands of automobiles.” And that is for just one average voyage. From 2016 to 2017, 15 new cruise ships will debut, which will add to the growing cruise ship industry.
This might all seem like bad news, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing left to do. Harsher regulations could definitely reduce the negative impacts of cruise ships on the environment. Even the $40 million fine Princess Cruise Lines will pay could help: it will raise awareness to the problem and incentivize other cruise lines to follow regulations more closely. And if a Miami federal judge approves the penalty, $14 million will be designated for environmental projects in Florida, Britain, and international open waters. Thus, in this case as in many others, it is always necessary to focus on solutions going forward rather than dwelling on the problems.