There are around 4.8 million cruisers annually, and this figure was closer to 30 million before the pandemic.
However, many ports where cruise ships dock are reconsidering their presence as the cruise industry begins to recover from the disastrous effects of COVID-19.
Many would want to see them wholly outlawed due to environmental, social, and economic concerns.
Cities in Europe already feeling the effects of too many visitors got a taste of what life without cruises may be like during the pandemic.
Some others saw this as a reason to try to stop or restrict the number of ships that visit some ports.
Venice banned big cruise ships from docking in the city’s heart beginning in 2021. UNESCO threatened to add the city to its list of endangered sites because of the lagoon damage if the ships weren’t permanently banned.
They claim that the large ships are to blame for the city’s worsening pollution and erosion problems, contributing to the city’s frequent floods.
Due to the restriction, the Giudecca Canal, which leads to Venice’s famous St. Mark’s Square, is now off-limits to large cruise ships and container ships.
Earlier law intended to halt mega-ships was overturned. In 2019, however, a cruise ship smashed into a Venice harbour, wounding five people, increasing the gravity of the situation.
Even cruise lines had signed on by the time the ban took effect in 2021. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) hailed the announcement as a “major step forwards”. It stated they had “been supportive of a new approach for many years” before it was disclosed.
Ada Colau, mayor of Barcelona, stated that if reelected in May, she will restrict the number of cruise passengers in the city.
The number of passengers getting off the ship, which may reach as high as 200,000 per month in high season, might be cut in half if new safeguards are implemented.
About 40% of cruise ships make a 4-hour stop. Thousands of passengers disembark, cause significant transportation challenges, and leave without contributing to the city’s economy. In February, she told a news outlet that the sector must be controlled.
Barcelona is the most polluted European cruise port, according to a survey conducted by Transport & Environment.
France’s largest cruise port, Marseille’s mayor, has also spoken out against the industry, saying that its pollution is “suffocating” the city. Restrictions on cruise ships have also been tightened in Amsterdam, Santorini, and Dubrovnik.
It’s not only a European thing, though. Many ports are deciding they would not return to the way they were.
With over 660 scheduled port calls in 2023, Juneau, Alaska, became the most recent port to put restrictions on cruise ships last week. The city and the cruise industry have agreed to limit the number of large ships stopping in the port beginning in 2024. The Memorandum of Agreement establishes a daily maximum of five “large” ships.
The new limit won’t affect the city’s total number of port calls, but it should help spread them out more with equality. According to research by Travel Market Report, six mega-ships are set to dock in Juneau on separate days in 2023.
Cruise ships’ positive economic impact on the area is a common argument in favour of maintaining them. However, do passengers on these mega-ships truly spend money in the local economies when they disembark?
Despite popular belief, research shows that cruise ship visitors have little impact on local economies.
With everything they need, including food, drink, and souvenirs, on board, their cash always stays on the ship.
It shouldn’t be surprising that the Wonder of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, boasts 20 restaurants, a 1,400-seat theatre, and stores offering everything from high fashion to expensive timepieces.
Depending on your package type, you may get access to complimentary meals and beverages and tax and duty-free shopping.
According to research out of Bergen, Norway, forty percent or more passengers on fjord excursions never get off the ship. Those who did venture ashore spent less than €23 on average.
An additional study conducted in the Norwegian city in 2013 found that the length of a tourist’s stay significantly determines their spending.
Depending on the ship’s schedule, a port visit might last a few hours to several days. In some cases, it takes as little as four hours, such as in Barcelona.
Even when customers are presented with more opportunities to spend money, they still don’t do so.
The cruise industry contends that a passenger’s daily expenditure of roughly US$100 0(AU$145) is far greater than the Bergen estimate.
Increasing the passenger tax imposed at ports, typically between €4 and €14 per person, would help close the difference.
The cruise industry claims it is working to lessen its adverse effects on society and the environment.
According to CLIA, the cruise industry was among the first maritime industry to pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. Others have committed to becoming carbon neutral by the year 2050.
Whether or not these overarching goals will adequately placate frustrated residents in port cities remains to be seen.