Cruises have changed over the past 20 years. What was originally reserved for a few wealthy people or high earners has become a leisure activity for broad sections of the population in the age of mass tourism. Cruises are exempt from the luxury image and have a different reputation. And it's bad reputation.
Here is a small selection of the generalized standard prejudices: cruises harm the environment and cruises are responsible for overtourism.
Climate activists prevented cruise ships from leaving port
In the port of Kiel, 50 climate activists prevented Holland America Line's Zuiderdam from sailing for over six hours on Whitsunday. The port administration evaluates the unregistered protest action as coercion, resistance and trespassing. According to information from the NDR Schleswig-Holstein, the climate activists involved in this action traveled from all over Europe to the ship blockade in Kiel. We would like to know whether you walked in a climate-neutral way or came by bike? Did you travel to Kiel by car, train or plane?
There are regular protests against cruise ships in Barcelona and Venice. For Palma de Mallorca, more than 20 associations are demanding only one cruise ship and a maximum of 4.000 passengers a day. After Barcelona, the city of Palma has the highest air pollution caused by cruise ships. However, the allegations are blanket. There is no distinction between whether the ships use exhaust gas washers (scrubbers) or whether marine diesel is used instead of heavy fuel oil in port operations. Why is the cruise industry being beaten at all, which in terms of the number of ships makes up just one percent of the world's shipments?
Oasis of the Seas in the port of Palma
The complaints about overtourism
And then there is the keyword overtourism. The impression is given that cruise ships are responsible for the excessive city tourism. That may be true for Dubrovnik in Croatia. But not for Barcelona or Venice. These cities are currently “in”, similar to Berlin, Madrid and Paris. There the cruise industry is not responsible for the negative consequences of tourism. - If there were at least reliable figures: Unfortunately, there are no precise statistical values on this subject. If we take the 2018 million visitors mentioned by Deutschlandfunk for Barcelona in 27 as a basis, there are 2,58 million ship passengers (including ferry passengers). In Venice there are 1,56 million cruise passengers for a total of 25 to 30 million tourists. It cannot be inferred from the above figures that cruise passengers contribute significantly to overtourism.
Barcelona - La Rambla
For years, many Venetians have been demanding regulation of the cruise ships that spectacularly sail through the Giudecca Canal. According to a statement by the Roman Ministry of Transport in 2017, cruise ships are to anchor on the mainland in Marghera in the future. Ships measured with more than 96.000 GT are no longer allowed to cross the canal anyway. These restrictions are not just about climate-damaging emissions but also about damage to the foundations of the historical building fabric. What is noticeable is that while cruise ships glide through the Giudecca Canal at slow speed, the ubiquitous water taxis and vaporetti travel through the canals at high speed. Do these vehicles pose no threat to the building fabric?
Eurodam on a crawl in Venice's Giudecca Canal
Commercial interests of the port operator
In general, the port authorities and not the cruise companies decide how many ships visit a port. Limitations probably made sense; if it weren't for the darned commerce. No large-scale handling facilities for cruise ships were created out of pure altruism. Cruise ships secure jobs in the port, generate sales for the port company, tour operators, local retailers and restaurants. They all suffer when the ships fail.
It is undisputed that a lot goes wrong in the cruise industry. Starting with the price models, the waste of food on board the ships and ending with the workload and the poor wages of the "simple" crew members compared to German wages. The cruise lines alone are not to be blamed. As consumers of cruises, we should be more aware of the issue. And populism certainly doesn't help.