Many cities popular with tourists are increasingly opposed to the ever-growing size of cruise ships. These ships have been accused of polluting and contributing to a type of tourism that is widely criticized. As a result, some ports are beginning to ban them or are in the process of doing so.
Recently, Amsterdam took action toward its sustainability goals by passing a motion to shut down a significant terminal for cruise ships in the city center. Experts explained that these polluting vessels are not aligned with Amsterdam's sustainability ambitions.
A law prohibits cruise liners weighing over 25,000 tons from entering the St. Mark's Basin and the Giudecca Canal located in the city's center. As a result, 95% of cruise ships are now unable to access these areas directly and must dock at a port that is a bit further away. In contrast, some cities that do not have the legislative power to ban these vessels have opted to make things more challenging for shipping companies to reduce the impact of mass tourism.
Bar Harbor, Maine, in the United States, will be limiting the number of daily disembarkations to only 1,000 passengers and crew starting in 2024. This is three times fewer than the usual number of passengers on a regular cruise.
Discussions are underway in Barcelona, Spain, to implement new measures that could reduce the number of tourists disembarking in the Catalan city by half during the high season, which currently stands at 200,000 per month.
Pressure and Petitions
Residents in Marseille are pressuring against pollution caused by maritime activities, particularly from cruise ships. Activists have mobilized against MSC Crociere's biggest ship. Opponents of cruise ships cite a study claiming they are responsible for 39% of nitrogen dioxide emissions in the area. The mayor has launched a petition, and an NGO has filed a complaint against the polluters.
A study conducted in Norway, a popular destination for cruise ships visiting the fjords, revealed that almost 40% of passengers stay on the ship during their trip. Those who venture ashore have an average spending of less than 23 euros.
Cruise Industry Highlights Its Greening Efforts
Although the industry disputes the findings, efforts are being made to limit the effects of pollution, particularly in compliance with new European regulations. Cruise lines' international association, CLIA, has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030.
To achieve this goal, companies are renewing their fleets with ships powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas), which is less polluting than marine fuel oil, but still derived from fossil fuels. These ships are also equipped with powerful filters in their chimneys.
In addition, electrifying quays in ports has become a priority. Hervé Martel, chairman of the Marseille port management board, highlights the work to extend the electrification. It lets ships switch off their engines while docked, reducing their carbon footprint.
It's not sure that this will be enough to calm the growing discontent of residents, for whom these ships, whatever their efforts, are ecological aberrations and support a form of mass tourism that is less and less accepted.