The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how risky it is for people to go cruising. But even after the pandemic eases, there are reasons to reconsider cruising due to the damage ships do to oceans and their inhabitants, including colliding with whales and dolphins.
One of the strongest voices making the case against cruising is U.S. Representative Jackie Speier (D-Calif.). She sponsored a bill, dubbed the CRUISE Integrity Act, to reform cruise ship operations. It calls for restrictions on the dumping of trash, untreated waste, and oily bilge water into the oceans. It would also require cruise lines to submit plans to drastically reduce emissions of carbon, methane, and nitrogen oxides and reduce the use of heavy fuels that exacerbate climate change.
“Most cruise lines are little more than foreign polluters that fail to protect their workers and passengers,” Speier said in announcing the bill. As COVID-19 spread worldwide last winter, cruises continued to ply the oceans.
“People on a large ship, all together—you couldn’t ask for a better incubator for infection,” warned top US infectious diseases official Dr. Anthony Fauci. In early February 2020, the Diamond Princess had more than 700 coronavirus infections—more than any country at the time except China. Yet voyages continued departing into March, spreading the disease, while cruise lines portrayed the catastrophe on the Diamond Princess as an isolated incident.
“We all watched in horror as conditions slowly deteriorated for those trapped on cruise ships,” Speier said, noting that one of her constituents died after a voyage on the Coral Princess, another ship stricken by the coronavirus. “Passengers were caught in a nightmare, sick and struggling to get medical care or find a way home. The heartbreaking truth is that much of this suffering was likely avoidable. Had cruise companies acted swiftly and cautiously and prioritized human life over profits, lives might have been saved.”