The cruise industry appears to be booming with 99% of ships sailing and with demand way up since the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, the end of the CDC’s reporting program for ships, and the cessation of many of the vaccination protocols both on ships and in ports of call.
However, cruise lines now find themselves up against a rising tide of anti-cruise sentiment in Europe. Protesters are confronting passengers in some ports as the tourists disembark for shore excursions. The protesters complain about the crowds brought by the ships which are perceived as overwhelming the streets of cities like Dubrovnik, Venice, and Barcelona while spending very little money on food, goods, and services in those same locales.
Protests broke out in Norway this week at five different ports of call, with protesters confronting cruise passengers protesting the “environmental and social damage” caused by cruising. The protests are led by the anti-cruise group CruiseNotwelcome. Protesters and academics alike argue the cruise industry is a major source of environmental pollution. Posters in the Norwegian ports of call point out the cruise ships are registered under foreign flags, pay no local taxes, and flood the streets of the port towns.
Lot of these up in the harbour pic.twitter.com/Vimkutbvv1
— Ketan Joshi (@KetanJ0) July 16, 2022
Similar protests and issues have arisen in the United States, most notably in Key West.
In response to such criticisms, the cruise industry is undertaking major sustainability initiatives. In January of this year, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) released its “2022 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook Report”. The report asserts the cruise industry has implemented progressive protocols and points to the value of cruise tourism to both local and national economies worldwide, and acknowledges and plots a course to achieving carbon neutrality.