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Sustainability in Cruise Tourism Industry Essay


As the sources of income become limited and human being needs become insatiable, man has looked for alternatives for making sure that he is able to fulfill his needs. One such need has been the need to enjoy the aesthetic value which our environment offers.

This has resulted in engaging in different activities as he tries to fulfill these aesthetic needs. Several activities which man has engaged in include mountain climbing, beach rallying, and watching wildlife and so on.

With globalization and the ability of people to move freely from one place to the other without many barriers a different kind of tourism has gained momentum with the number of tourists increasing day in day out: The cruise tourism industry.

The gains from the industry have been increasing, however as the industry grows issues of major concerns have risen concerning the contribution of the cruise tourism industry to unsustainable development with proposals of the sustainable development strategies emerging and the authorities insisting on the need for their implementation.

In this essay, we shall discuss the environmental impacts the cruise tourism industry has had on the environment and then propose mitigation measures which need to be observed to promote sustainable development of the industry.

Cruise Tourism

Any trip taken through the sea with the sole purpose being for leisure is usually defined as a cruise. A cruise involves stopping at several stop points which are usually defined as destinations with in the coast line during the expedition (Dowling, 2006).

It is on this basis that a cruise tourist is thereby defined as a person who travels in such a ship (cruise) enjoying visiting the various destinations as well as the journey itself. A cruise ship is different from your ordinary ships since it is aided by the weather and the sea conditions.

It is aided by the weather and the sea condition in the aspect that, cruise tourists only use the cruise ship when visiting a certain area which is assumed to be having a nice weather (usually sunny) and the sea condition which makes the cruising enjoyable (Stonehouse& Snyder, 2010).

Most of the people who engage in cruise tourism does it for leisure purposes more than for stopping over the several destinations which they have to visit (sometimes the cruising is more enjoyable than the destinations). They are appalled to the cruise tourism due to the facilities the industry offers its customers.

Some of these privileges which cruise ships offer include rooms which are usually self-contained and the opportunities by the passengers to visit different places, the food is also of high quality and it is served in a stylish manner.

These among other lucrative offers that cruise ships offer remain a major attraction to tourists (Quartermaine& Peter, 2006).

The origin of the cruise tourism can be traced back in the 1920s when cruising by sea was one of the most preferred ways of travelling. However, with the emergence and acceptance of air crafts as being safer and faster, cruise ships lost some of their customers (Rensburg, nd).

However, in the last few years, the industry has seen a turn around in its growth with more people willing to cruise.

Companies in the cruise industry have been marketing their services to the different existing market segments aggressively especially to the young people who love leisure and travelling and have got money to spend.

As a result of all these positive results, the cruise tourism industry has seen an increased growth in demand, and the prices which the customers have to pay have also increased.

Environmental considerations

Despite the success and the benefits which people receive from the cruise tourism industry, when it comes to assessing its sustainability difficulties arise especially when it comes to quantifying and costing the environmental costs in the same way we quantify the economic benefits of the industry.

An example like how one can quantify the Sulfur released by the cruise ships to the air around and above the oceans?

As a result of the challenges faced, most experts have been using the Life Cycle Analysis to quantify how much pollution can be apportioned to the cruise industry and at which sections so as to propose the necessary mitigation measures (Johnson, 2002).

When using the Life Cycle Analysis method, sustainability of the cruise industry is traced back from the time the cruise ship was made (infrastructure) to the terminus in which the tourists have to alight.

The changes which the coastline undergoes in the modification of making it a suitable destination (losses of sediments) is recognized as destruction of the habitat and thus to achieve sustainable development in cruise tourism industry, everything involved to make it a success must be assessed and quantified (Neto, 2003).

The way ships are operated also leads to the raising of environmental issues due to the high energy they use, water and the air they pollute.

Other environmental issues which also arise and which need to be checked to ensure that cruise tourism is run in a sustainable manner include issues which deal with the impacts which are brought about by the tourists and the environmental carrying capacities where these tourists visit.

If people are many or overcrowded in one place several problems which might arise include: the resources available are negatively affected by the high demand, increased use of chemicals such as detergents during the washing process, cruise tourists can also impact negatively on the wildlife by disturbing them, littering the places where they are, some may be used as gifts leading to their death being killed by tourists.

Other environmental in the cruise tourism industry arise when assessing the costs to the environment of the wastes released by the cruise ships such as oil, garbage being used by the tourists, wastes which might require adequate water reception for them to be treated, how the wastes are usually handled and disposed (Diedrich, 2010).


There are projections or expectations that the business of cruise tourism is going to continue growing exponentially as people desire to discover new places and adventures increase.

As a result, due to the above environmental considerations which we have indicated, we shall discuss several strategies and management decisions which both people who run the cruise ships (operators) and the destinations (places where people visit) can employ to fulfill the guidelines and requirements of sustainable development in the cruise tourism industry.


Operators are people who run the cruise tourism industry. To ensure that the tourism industry is operated in a suitable manner, the following are a number of strategies which they can use and implement to ensure sustainable development in the industry is achieved.

The strategies are many and the include: varying the itineraries so as to ensure there is no single time the ship or the destination accommodates more than its carrying capacity, ensure that ships only carry the required number of passengers, rehabilitation of the destinations, need to adapt modern technologies, reward those people who follow the sustainable criteria in order to encourage the others and finally initiate education initiatives (Creel, 2003).

To begin with, varying the itineraries or the order of activities to prevent exceeding carrying capacity is one of the major strategies operators can use: studies show that cruise lines are aware that their activities have negative impacts on the destinations where the cruise tourists stop (Kaulbars, 2007).

Instances of environmental degradation as a result of overcrowding in popular destinations such as the Caribbean have been reported in the past.

Overcrowding in these destinations has led to degradation of the floor of the sea, the destruction of the coral reef habitat; there have also been concerns that sometimes when these destinations are over crowded the health of users is overlooked whereas the dangers are very imminent especially from the excess wastes.

To ensure that the cruise industry follows sustainability goals, there is a need to check on the numbers (Chin, 2008).

The numbers of passengers in a cruise ship also need to be checked and maintained at the normal levels. With the advancement in technologies, there has been the construction of mass cruise ships which are able to carry higher number of passengers compared to earlier cruise ships.

These ships have all the facilities required and sometimes they are claimed to offer better holidays for the tourists than the destination themselves.

As the number of tourists increase per cruise ship increase, passengers should be made to pay more in some form of taxes may be the green taxes to cater for the increased number of emissions these ships make. These taxes should be used in the maintenance of the environment (Klein, 2005).

To promote sustainable development in the cruise tourism industry, operators should also take initiatives to conserve as well as rehabilitate destinations. This plays major role since it ensures that ecosystems remain almost similar as it was originally.

While in the past some there have been efforts by the operators to conserve and rehabilitate destinations (for example the rehabilitation of the Cayman coral reef), only a fraction of the restored coral reef survived and thus more efforts need to be geared towards rehabilitating most of these destinations which have been destroyed by tourists since the start of cruise tourism (Davies& Cahill, 2000).

Currently, it is a responsibility of each and every industry to ensure that the methods they use are only those which comply with sustainable development criteria as a result, they have had to undergo screening, auditing before they can be allowed to operate.

To ensure that cruise tourism remains sustainable, the industry should adopt similar environment management standards (Lester& Weden, 2004).

Waste management in the cruise tourism industry is a major issue of debate with most of the people arguing that rather than direct disposal of these wastes to the sea, the cruise tourism industry should find ways of recycling some of the wastes where there is possibility of recycling to reduce the volume of wastes often released into the environment.

Among the suggestions which experts have put forward as possible adoptions which the operators should take include: zero releases of hazardous material, installation of devices which can be able to separate oil from water, better treatment methods of water and finally the installation of on board waste management systems within the ships (Honey, 2008).

With advancement in technologies, there has been the invention of efficient machines operations. In the cruise industry, this has been experienced with the introduction of the Azipod Azimuthing electronic propulsion systems.

The benefits of using such modern technologies have included the reduced redundancy, fuel efficient; they are also fitted with air cleaning devices (Adnanes, 2003).

If adopted by everyone in the industry, these strategies would save the company some extra costs which are incurred and in the same lead to sustainable development of the industry.

Rewarding of those who observe and practice sustainable development in the cruise industry is also another way through which sustainable development can be achieved in the cruising tourism industry.


Apart from the operators, there is also a need to observe some sustainability strategies in the destination where most of these tourists alight to enjoy themselves.

For the destinations to manage the impacts of cruise tourism, several things need to be put in place and they include verifying that all ships comply with the international standards, such as being fuel efficient and realizing less emissions to the air (Copeland, 2008).

While in the past the ocean had the assimilative capacity of absorbing all the wastes from the small ships, with the creation of mass cruise ships, there is a need to operate only those which have efficient waste management receptors to reduce the volumes of wastes released to the environment.

To ensure that there is sustainable development when it comes to cruise industry, destinations also have to limit the number of tourists at any one given time only to the levels which they can hold without pressure if sustainable development is ever to be achieved.

This would aid in optimal usage of the available resources without stressing the environment (Manning, 2006).

To promote sustainable development, imposing penalties to destinations which destroy their environment is also another option which can be used. Penalties ensure that destruction is minimized as the more you destroy the more you pay (Butt, 2007).

The fee collected should then be used to rehabilitate and conserve the destination. Though quantifying of environment degradation is difficulty and some companies might claim that they were overly fined, there should be established standards which would be used when imposing penalties.

The institutions charged with ensuring that all the environment standards are followed should also increase their vigilance by monitoring as well as devising new regulations which need to be followed as new problems arise (Klein, 2009).

Finally, campaigning and sensitizing the need to practice and follow sustainable development practices in the cruise industry can also be achieved by using low impact messages which try and influence how the visitors are likely to behave during their visit to the destination.

For example on arrival to a destination, visitors can be given small notes or brochures explaining the code of conduct which is expected from them during their time in the destination and also the importance of following those rules and regulation (Caribbean Environmental Network, 1996)

Observing all these will lead to sustainable development in the cruise tourism industry.


Achieving sustainability in the cruise tourism industry has been an issue of major contention and from the above discussion; we can conclude that operators need to observe the laid environment guidelines if sustainable development is ever to be achieved.

There is a need to make the tourists pay for the negative impacts they bring to the environment by hiking the prices for their tickets. The extra money included in the ticket should then be used in the conservation and rehabilitation of destinations.

To ensure that the operators in the cruise industries observe the laid guidelines, authorities should introduce penalties or fines for any one who breaks the laid environmental guidelines.

This could play a great role in ensuring that the established laws and guidelines are followed. Controlling the number of passengers in the cruise ships as well as visitors in a certain destination is another way which sustainable development in the cruise tourism industry can be promoted.

Reference List

Adnanes, A. (2003). Maritime electrical installations and diesel electric propulsion. Web.

Butt, N. (2007). The impact of cruise ship generated waste on home ports and ports of call: A study of Southampton. The Marine Policy. 31, pp. 591-598.

Caribbean Environmental Network. (1996). Improving training and public awareness on Caribbean coastal tourism. Web.

Chin, B. (2008). Cruising in the global economy: Profits pleasure and work at sea. Farnham, Surrey, United Kingdom: Ashgate Publishing.

Copeland, C. (2008). Cruise Ship Pollution: Background, Laws and Regulations, and Key Issues. Web.

Creel, L. (2003). Ripple Effects: Population and Coastal Regions. Web.

Davies, T., & Cahill, S. (2000). Environmental implications of the tourism. Web.

Diedrich, A. (2010). Cruise ship tourism in Belize: The implications of developing cruise ship tourism in an ecotourism destination. Web.

Dowling, K. (2006). Cruise ship tourism. Wallingford, United Kingdom: CABI Publishers.

Honey, M. (2008). Ecotourism and sustainable development: who owns paradise? 2nd Edition. Washington, D. C.: Island Press.

Johnson, D. (2002). Environmentally sustainable cruise tourism: a reality check. Web.

Kaulbars, J. (2010). Itinerary planning and Venice: . Web.

Klein, R. (2009). . Web.

Klein, R. (2005). . Web.

Lester, J., & Weeden, C. (2004). Stakeholders, the natural environment and the future of Caribbean cruise tourism. International journal of Tourism Research. 6(1), 39-50.

Manning, T. (2006). Managing cruise ship impacts: Guidelines for current and potential destination communities. Web.

Neto, F. (2003). A New Approach to Sustainable tourism Development: Moving Beyond Environmental Protection. Web.

Quartermaine, P., & Peter, B. (2006). Cruise: identity, design and culture. London: Laurence King Publishing.

Rensburg, S. . Web.

Stonehouse, B., & Snyder, J. (2010). Polar tourism: An environmental perspective. Clevedon, United Kingdom: Channel View Publications.

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