March 14, 2013

Green cruise ships?

Cruise ship passengers occasionally  turn green while at sea. But green  is not what comes to find if you picture humongous fuel-hungry megaships, many of which empty holding tanks and dump leftover food while offshore.

Eco-friendly is not the word that pops into my mind after the recent cruise ship disasters either.

But I speak out of both sides of my mouth. I have no desire to book a cruise on one of the "floating cities" megaships, but I have thoroughly enjoyed two cruises on the 140-passenger Windstar and the somewhat larger Royal Clipper in recent years. I also quizzed the captain on both ships about the destination of sewage and leftover food. In the Mediterranean, I heard that both are dumped "far offshore." But perhaps that has changed in the last few years. The Windstar captain assured me that sewage was handled at pumpouts onshore and that food spoils were also stored onboard until taken ashore.

In spite of what trinkets you buy, stay-over tourists (even at all-inclusive resorts) usually put 18 to 28 times more money into a local economy than a cruise passenger. But Windstar passengers who go ashore in the San Blas Islands of Panama do contribute to those indigenous tribes because boat is the only way to get there and no tourist lodging exists.