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How 'Green' are Cruise Ships?
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How 'Green' are Cruise Ships?

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Millions of people around the world take cruise vacations every year. Yet, most travelers don’t realize that taking a cruise is more harmful to the environment and human health than many other forms of travel.

Cruise ships the size of small cities ply the pristine waters off our coasts dumping large amounts of sewage and other wastes into our oceans, polluting our beaches, contaminating our coral reefs, and destroying our valuable marine ecology.

Cruise ships produce enormous volumes of waste which is dumped directly into our oceans. Some of that waste is treated prior to dumping; other waste is dumped directly to the ocean without a second thought. A large cruise ship, the largest of which can carry over 5,000 passengers and crew, on a one week voyage is estimated to generate 210,000 gallons (or 5 large swimming pools) of human sewage and 1 million gallons (33 more swimming pools) of graywater (water from sinks, baths, showers, laundry, and galleys).

Cruise ships also generate large volumes of oily bilge water, sewage sludge, garbage and hazardous wastes. In addition, these luxury liners which allow passengers a rare glimpse of some of the most sensitive environments on the planet spew a range of pollutants into the air that can lead to acid rain and contribute to global warming.

The amount of air pollution produced by ocean-going vessels is staggering. A single cargo ship can produce as much air pollution as 350,000 cars in an hour. These large, ocean-going ships operate on diesel engines the size of a single-family home, and most burn “bunker” fuel, which is cheap, but much more polluting than fuels used to power vehicles. Bunker fuel contains high concentrations of toxic compounds banned from use in most other industrial and consumer applications.

As global trade increases, global shipping is expected to double within the next decade, bringing shipping pollution to new highs. EPA estimates that emissions from ocean-going vessels will double their contributions to the national mobile source inventory of sulfur oxides and quadruple particulate matter, both of which are major health threats. According to EPA, by 2030 shipping is expected to grow nearly three-fold over 2000 levels. This increased level of shipping not only degrades air quality, but also contributes to the acidification and eutrophication of waterways through deposition and carbon dioxide emissions.











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