How much POLLUTE a CRUISE? - Data and effects

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In the last 40 years the cruise tourism industry has experienced a great increase, since the number of people who choose to spend their holidays on board them has multiplied considerably, acquiring enormous importance as an economic factor worldwide. However, behind a wonderful vacation enjoying the open sea, there are great consequences for the environment. These vessels not only emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but also generate large amounts of waste, sewage and bilge water. It could be said that a cruise is the most polluting and environmentally damaging means of transport.

If you want to know more about the problem caused by the pollution generated by cruise ships or how much CO2 a ship emits, continue reading this interesting article by Ecologista Verde where we will explain it. how much pollutes a cruise ship detail.

How much a cruise ship pollutes

It's hard to imagine how much a tourist boat pollutes or how much CO2 a ship emits, since it depends on many factors, such as the type of fuel used, the dimensions of the cruiser and the distance traveled, among others. However, it is possible to know which are all the pollutants that produce this type of transport.

Cruise ships emit a lot of waste, on the one hand there are sewage water, such as gray water from showers, swimming pools, washing machines, sinks, etc. These contain phosphates, chlorine, pathogenic bacteria, nutrients from soaps and detergents, among other harmful substances. Black waters are also emitted from bathrooms, these are those that contain fecal water, organic remains, paper; in short, anything that is flushed down the toilet. And, finally, within the polluting waters are bilge waters, which are those that come from engines and turbines, that is, used oils and various hydrocarbons.

In addition, within the waste emitted by cruise ships there are also generated very toxic waste for the environment such as heavy metals, light bulbs, batteries, benzene, xylene, PVC, acids and heavy metals from photographic material, drugs, among others, which come from all those pharmaceuticals, photographic activities, dry cleaners and many other services offered on cruise ships .

To all these residues must be added all those emissions from fuel combustion, not only used for the engines, but also for the maintenance of all the electrical systems of the cruise. The fumes produced contain sulfides and oxides of carbon and nitrogen, such as NOx, SO2, CO or CO2 or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and suspended particles.

How a cruise ship pollutes the environment

The environmental impact of cruise ships It begins to occur from the consumption of raw materials to the noise emitted by the ship. Next, we will talk about all those environmental impacts that these tourist ships produce:

  • The high consumption of raw materials for the manufacture of cruise ships, in addition to all those used for cruise promotion marketing, thus reducing natural resources.
  • All those emissions of sulfides and oxides of carbon and nitrogen, such as NOx, SO2, CO or CO2 or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and suspended particles. They alter the quality of the air, as well as the quality of the seas and oceans and, therefore, affect all the biodiversity that is inhabiting these areas.
  • Waste and sewage increase the over-fertilization of the sea and as a consequence the amount of algae increases, increasing the eutrophication process, thus producing a lack of oxygen in the water. Without leaving behind that both waste and sewage are a threat to marine species.
  • Pollution of the sea by oil affecting not only the quality of the water, but also the marine species causing their death.
  • Damage to coral reefs, since many cruise routes sail very close to them, endangering the underwater life of these unique areas in terms of their richness.
  • Noise pollution from the ship's engines and propellers.
  • Impact on the ground due to the movement of masses that pile up in the same destination, as it is the typical cruise that the vast majority choose to take, for example, a cruise through the Caribbean Sea.

To learn more about these effects, we recommend you read these other articles on Marine Pollution, its causes and consequences, and Why the air is polluted.

What pollutes more a cruise ship or cars?

According to a report by Transport & Environment a cruise ship pollutes like 100 million cars. These are truly alarming figures, which is why there is an urgent need to control emissions in the oceans. In addition, many of the tourist ships use cheaper fuels, a price that is generally cheaper due to its poorer quality and, therefore, they are more polluting. Yet another reason why ships are so polluting.

What pollutes a cruise ship or an airplane more?

The cruise ship is more polluting than the planeNot only because it emits a greater amount of CO2, but also because ships generate a large amount of waste that ends up in the sea, being a direct and serious threat to marine species and the quality of water bodies.

In this other article you will be able to know how much an airplane pollutes.

Measures to minimize pollution from cruise ships

Both governments and industry are aware of the impact that cruises have on the environment. This is precisely why the measures taken to reduce contamination of cruise ships:

  • It IMO (International Maritime Organization) determined as of January 1 the maximum sulfur content of the fuel used by the maritime industry at 0.5% compared to 3.5% that was admitted.
  • The cruise industry has also acquired new technologies to meet the requirements.
  • The members of CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) explore the use of wind power or electrical grounding or rechargeable fuel cells to reduce environmental impact.
  • Cruise ships are required to transfer waste to recycling plants for the waste generated. In addition to storing and transferring all the hazardous waste that is generated to their respective treatment plants.
  • Some cruises purify their gray waters until they are practically drinkable without danger to the ecosystem. However, the IMO allows discharge of the total gray water once 12 nautical miles are passed.
  • There is already a commitment from CLIA members to reduce their CO2 emissions.

If you want to read more articles similar to How much a cruise ship pollutes, we recommend that you enter our Pollution category.

  • Pollution from cruise ships. (June 2004). OCEANA:
  • BCN scale. (March 29, 2022). How water management works on board a large cruise ship such as MSC Seaview: -a-great-cruise-like-msc-seaview2 /
  • Cruises News. (January 31, 2022). Cruise industry measures to comply with the new IMO 2022 regulation: compliance-with-the-new-regulations-imo-2020 /
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