An ex-crew member defends the Cruise Industries environmental initiatives.
It was a Friday, the day of our monthly pot-luck dinner. Once a month we all gather around a large table in a small dining room to discuss politics, books, the environment and everything else. These evenings are warm, comforting and the most delightful thing about them is that it’s the only time I get to be the most conservative person in the room! This was a table of climate change activists.
The conversations are lively, occasionally heated and I find myself listening more than I participate. I use this time to check my biases, challenge some beliefs and listen. I’m the Kanye to their Taylor Swift – well-intentioned but essentially odd. That’s why when the topic at dinner turned to the cruise industry and its effect on the environment, I got excited.
Now here was a topic that I knew something about!
I sat up straight, leaned in and thought to myself “I got this!” I knew this topic like a Rapper knows his lyrics; instinctively, from experience and by heart. There was even a time that I thought I would become an Environmental Officer. Cruise Ship recycling is fascinating and I couldn’t wait to talk about it with other people who also cared about the environment. Or so I thought.
“We should ban all cruise ships and only travel locally within our own communities.”
“The carbon emissions on one cruise line are worse than a million cars!”
“My daughter worked on a cruise ship once and she told me they just dump the garbage at sea. It’s horrible.”
Uh Oh. This wasn’t going to be a conversation about towel animals and the midnight buffet.
We were going hardcore and I had questions about the truthiness of what was being said. I made some attempts to speak of my personal experience, but “facts” written somewhere on the internet were louder.
Where was this data coming from? There are some sensationalized think pieces online right now – I’m talking to you Hasan Minaj – but, was that enough to produce this amount of raw vitriol. I’ve always said that if a city operated its environmental recycling processes the same as a cruise ship we could reduce our carbon emissions by a gazoodle units per day. I know a gazoodle is not a scientific measure, but I stand by my assessment. So, since I’ve always said it, I grabbed the mic and said it again.
It didn’t go over very well.
Like at all.
And that made me sad. Crew love the ocean on a level that is hard to understand unless you’ve worked on a ship and we adamantly protect it. We also know that if we don’t follow the procedure outlined in our environmental manuals, we will have our bags packed and be off of the Ship at the next port of call. The cruise lines have had measures in place for years, can do more and have been waiting for passengers and technology to catch up.
“Did you just drink the Kool-Aid or are cruise ships as perfect as you say?”
Neither. Is it all perfect? No. And mistakes happen. And when those mistakes happen the cruise line is fined and humiliated in the press. No one wants that.
My love is for the oceans and the ports we visit. I want the places I’ve been to around for a long time and climate change challenges both the industry and the ability for some of these places to exist. I firmly believe that travel is what brings people together, expands your mind, lowers your defenses and the more you see of the world the smaller it gets
The Cruise Industry isn’t going away.
It grew by 2.5 million passengers between 2017 – 2018 and with each line introducing more and bigger ships, it’s growing not slowing. The media knows that new cruisers are looking for information and since some cruise lines have made some huge mistakes recently there’s a story there. It’s a misinformation cocktail.
And that’s why I’ve started “The Responsible Travel Network.”
Let’s have a conversation.
Let’s look at the good initiatives that are being introduced on the ships, the technology that is being invented to give the cruise travelers accountability in their carbon footprint and celebrate the places we go to and leave pieces of our hearts. Let’s talk about the amazing people bringing their amazing ideas together for the good of the planet.
Let’s have that conversation without all the yelling. OK?
Here is the Hasan Minaj | Netflix video.