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If you have not been paying attention there is a trend that I see slowly spreading all over the world, that is, either ports flat out banning cruise ships or restricting them or, in many ways worse, pushing them to ports a LONG way away from the old major port city.
It is not like some in the cruise industry are making this situation better (yes I am looking at you ICON of the Seas) by having ships so big they are all but the equivalent of 2 or even 3 smaller cruise ships all on their own.
Another thing I want to head off before the comments fill up with folks yelling how environmentally horrid cruise ships are (as well as other mega ships) I don’t argue that point but when you consider places like Disney World has folks also creating tons of pollution by flying to and driving to the resort so it is not like ships are the only issue.
It is also important to remember history. The reason many of these sea-tied cities are as prosperous as they are is inexplicably linked to the sea and all the prosperity and commerce they have been gifted them for centuries. So I feel turning your back on that cash cow now is not the way to go.
So then what are the solutions? CruiseWestCoast.com has a great post sharing solid information about part one of the solution we are looking for and that is turning off the engines and hook up these floating hotels to shore power. They also point out that “most vessels now support shore power connections“! With ships going “quiet” while at port the burning of dirty fossil fuels issue goes away (how shore power is produced is another topic but not for this post).
The next fix is not pushing ships further away to, shall we say, “co-terminal” ports. Why? First off bussing thousands, or even tens of thousands, of cruisers from this remote port to the other city is not just bad for the environment but will result in less visitors to the main port city. Now that may be the end goal of some but the money they spend will instead flow to the new port city and build this as a new designation to spend vs. the old. Plus for the cruise lines some cruisers may choose other routes that they see as better value and aspiration than non-focused ports (cruise lines flat out lying and calling Tarragona as Barcelona is not gonna work for long when folks get wise for example).
The better choice is to more properly schedule ships arrival to balance the number of visitors to the ability of a city to absorb the level of cruise passengers. This may make some ports a bit more exclusive but that is not necessarily a bad thing and something those in logistics can solve. Beyond this, and yet another solution for cruisers, is using some of these over visited ports as end points could also help balance this with folks staying a few days after a cruise or arriving a few extra days before departure – both a win-win for those complaining.
There is yet another fix that my favorite cruise line NCL is embracing and that is limiting the size of the ships allowed to visit a given port. NCL with the PRIMIA class of ships has shifted from the trend of seeing how simply absurdly mega large ships can become to mid to reasonable size ships that can still yield strong profits for the lines and temper the impact of visitors to the port cities. I mean at what point are ships so massive that they should be the entertainment without ever going to sea (I think MJ will have something to say about that last comment soon 😉 )?
What do you dear readers think of my thoughts. Do you agree? Do you have better ideas to fix the issues facing us who love cruising over the next many years? – René
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