Cruises are very harmful to the environment and animals

Although many people now know that cruises are harmful to the environment and wildlife, trips on huge passenger ships are still booked. The consequences for nature and the climate are devastating. Find out here how badly sailing can do to our planet and our animals.

Cruise ships emit tons of pollutants

Cruise ships have a very poor environmental record. They pollute the seas and air with pollutants such as carbon dioxide2sulfur, nitrogen and soot. [1] For example, a one-week Mediterranean cruise generates about 1.9 tons of CO2 per person2 I paid outside. [2] A cruise ship emits this much carbon dioxide every day2 Like 84,000 cars and an amount of more than a million cars. [3, 4]

All of these emissions are fueling global warming, and thus a massive climate crisis, with consequences such as melting polar ice caps, dying coral reefs, and rising sea levels. Since many cruise ships are not equipped with a soot particle filter, the particles emitted are deposited in the ice at the poles and darken the ice surfaces, which melt faster as a result. [1] Soot also harms the health of countless people and animals. In particular, passengers with lung disease are being warned about cruise exhaust fumes. [5]

Pollution of the seas and dead animals from heavy oil accidents

Cruise ships run on heavy fuel oil that is harmful to the environment and health. Heavy fuel oil is banned on Earth due to its high sulfur content. [4] Oil is largely responsible for sulfur dioxide in the exhaust gases. In addition, there are frequent accidents related to heavy fuel oil in the sea, which is a disaster for the environment. The oil spreads in the oceans and destroys entire habitats. It can take decades for it to degrade. [6]

The oil is deposited on the sea floor and washed up on the coasts. Animals stained with oil die from poisoning, starvation, or drowning. [4] Birds in particular suffer from oil pollution, because their feathers lose their insulating effect with just a few drops, causing the animals to freeze to death. The respiratory and digestive systems are also damaged by the toxic oil. Inhalation of substances can damage the nervous system of marine mammals, and oil pollution causes severe damage to fish and young reptiles. [6]

As a result, many regions have banned HFO and some cruise ships are converting to other fuels and renewable energy.

Passengers throw garbage into the sea

Cruises generate large amounts of waste, and it is not uncommon for some to end up at sea. Passengers in particular often dump their waste into the sea, polluting the oceans. [3] Cruise passengers produce up to 1.8 kilograms of plastic and other packaging waste as well as one kilogram of glass and can be wasted per capita each day. [7] Ocean pollution has serious consequences for the environment and animals. Consequently, many animals mistake this waste for food and ingest it, causing them to starve to death with their stomachs full. Other animals get entangled in the litter, killing whole limbs. Up to 135,000 marine mammals and one million seabirds die each year from marine debris. [8]

So-called wet waste such as food scraps is dumped by cruise ships at sea. Organic waste can decompose, but the amounts involved are huge. Every day, 2.5 kg of leftovers is collected for each passenger, not counting the crew. Thus, a cruise ship carrying 6,000 passengers throws at least 15 tons of garbage into the sea daily. [7] Fish, seagulls and other animals often feed on waste, upsetting the ecological balance of marine animals.

plastic bottle on the beach

Travel is eco-friendly and animal-friendly

For the sake of the environment, animals and your health, make the decision not to take a cruise when planning your trip and choose a sustainable alternative to travel. Discover pet-friendly travel destinations and transportation from the PETA Travel Awards winners.

  • Sources

    [1] Nabu: Unacceptable Climate, Environment and Health, How the Shipping Industry Makes a Profit at the Detriment of People and Nature, (Accessed 05.07. 2022)

    [2] Federal Environment Agency (24 January 2020): How bad are air travel and cruises for the climate?, (accessed at 5 July 2022)

    [3] Focus (June 21, 2022): This is how much the cruise pollutes the environment, (Accessed July 5, 2022)

    [4] Utopia (08/20/2019): 11 things you should know about cruises, (Accessed 07/05/2022)

    [5] Pulmonologists Online (08/05/2010): On a cruise, lung patients should beware of ship exhaust fumes, einer-kreuzfahrt-sollten-lungenkranke-beware-of-ship-exhausts/ (Accessed 05/07/2022)

    [6] Nabu: Oil – a deadly danger to the seas, birds are particularly affected, Dangers/oel-im-meer.html (Accessed at 05.07.2022)

    [7] Welt (03/11/2019): The dirty birds in the sea are always others, .html (Viewed 05.07.2022)

    [8] NABU: Plastic Waste and Its Consequences, (Accessed 05.07.2022)

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