This time of year, going on a cruise sounds like a dream. Such escapism! Cruises are popular holidays and they make an important contribution to Cape Town tourism when the ships dock here. We’re all delighted and relieved about the recovery of tourism, but there are also serious questions about cruise liners and their impact on the environment. Can we cruise with a clear conscience?
TourismUpdate reports that Cape Town’s cruise season opened this week with the arrival of German-based Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Hanseatic Spirit, in Cape Town harbour on 19 October. The new season is expected to see 75 ships with 195 000 passengers visiting the mother city, bringing with them a welcome influx of capital to support the local tourism economy.
“Cruise tourism generates R300 million (US$16.35m) in annual economic impact and supports thousands of jobs in Cape Town and the Western Cape, and the start of the 2022/23 cruise season represents a significant milestone in realising Cruise Cape Town’s goal of capitalising on the growing global cruise tourism trend and growing the cruise economy,” said Wesgro CEO, Wrenelle Stander. (Read more)
More than tourism income, opportunities include resupplying cruise ships with goods, services and maintenance and the bumper cruise liner season that is expected for Cape Town, bodes well for economic growth and job creation in general, says Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger.
Economically speaking, we can really do with some positive news and I look forward to a bustling summer in Cape Town and the Winelands. But with sustainability being top of mind, what do we make of the concerns about the environmental impact of cruise liners?
These bumper cruise ships are blamed for air and water pollution, for being major producers of waste (more than a ton of rubbish a day for a large cruise ship!) and for harming fragile habitats, coastal communities, and wildlife. Is it possible that, in today’s day and age, such behaviour is still tolerated?
Reuters reports”: “according to a recent study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, a large cruise ship can have a carbon footprint greater than 12,000 cars, while passengers on an Antarctic cruise can produce as much CO2 emissions on a seven-day voyage as the average European in an entire year.”
But the industry isn’t turning a blind eye. In 2020, the International Maritime Organization introduced new regulations for the entire shipping industry, reducing the sulphur content of fuel oil from 3.5% to 0.5%. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) says that although 76% of cruise ships still use exhaust gas cleaning systems which meet and/or exceed air emission requirements, four cruise chips are already using green technology in the form of LNG (liquified natural gas) which cuts CO2 emissions by about 25%. 52% of ships on order are also destined to be using the green option. MSC Cruises’ latest ship, MSC World Europa, due for its maiden voyage in December, will be the world’s largest LNG-powered cruise ship with a state-of-the-art design that includes the latest water recycling technology to purify wastewater, and propellers studied to reduce the underwater noise in respect of marine wildlife.
Is this enough reassurance to make that reservation? Imagine a holiday on a luxury liner, with onboard entertainment, a choice of restaurants and bars, boarding at harbours along the route to discover the close-by coastline? Here are ten reasons by Erica Silverstein to entice you into booking a cruise holiday.
- A cruise vacation offers great value – rates are usually all inclusive and sometimes kids even sail for free.
- See multiple destinations, unpack only once.
- Cruise ships are family friendly and offers something for everyone.
- Cruise ships come in all shapes and sizes – from mega-ships with all the amenities imaginable to more intimate options.
- Ships offer a variety of onboard activities – from wine tastings to dance workshops.
- Cruise vacations are easy to plan – just pick a package, pay and pack.
- Ships are floating cities – you have everything you need at your fingertips, from doctors to discos.
- Plan an exotic vacation – for those nervous about language challenges and country customs, a cruise is the ideal opportunity to explore exotic locations without moving too far from the comfort zone.
- Cruising is romantic – remember there’s none of the normal travel-related stress and mishaps.
- Cruising is social – the community on the ship makes it easy to socialise with people from all over the world – if that’s what you would like to do.
While there’s no denying the positives when it comes to a fun holiday and a financial injection for harbour towns and communities, a commitment from cruise tourism towards environmental sustainability is essential. According to resonsibletravel.com, cruise tourism needs a new vision with proper licensing and strict regulation by local governments, an urgent migration to new, cleaner fuels, solar powered sails, retractable wind generators and hybrid engines. Cruise ships have to partner with local environmental and/or conservation organisations and be subject to the same air quality and pollution standards as the destination city.
Wesgro’s Stander says the cruise industry is focusing on four strongly interconnected elements as it looks to the future: environmental sustainability, modern infrastructure, personalised customer experience through greater digitalisation and a value creation-orientated relationship with local communities. “These will define the future of cruising and its resilience over time.”