Talking Sustainable Tourism with Windstar Cruises

We have been talking about sustainable tourism with Windstar cruises, they have been able to provide us with some great examples as to how they promote the concept of sustainable tourism, and respect the cultures of the destinations they visit.

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Can the Islands cope?

With cruise ships continuing to grow in size and number are the islands struggling to cope with these additional tourists, who put a stain on everything from sewerage systems to roads and hospitals.

We have been reading ‘Cruise Ship Squeeze: The New Pirates of the Seven Seas’ By Ross A. Klein, which says that cruises destinations are jumping though hoops to attract cruise passengers, with the hope of numerous economic benefits to justify the cost of accommodating the ships. However the economic boom created by cruise ships has not been as powerful as hoped, as large multinational companies have taken the financial benefit as their own. Royal Caribbean actively tried to stop the port feeling overwhelmed by the Oasis of the Seas & Allure of the Seas by building new facilities for the quick transfer of passengers.

The recent and ongoing issue of Charleston is of interest, Charleston historical societies, neighbourhoods and environmental groups have taken a stand against the cruise lines by filing a law suit against Carnival Cruise Lines saying that the Carnival Fantasy flout building regulations. This rather interesting case of classing the ship as a temporary building will be interesting to follow, however the groups in Charleston say the ship has increased traffic issues and gridlock as well as being to tall, and violating environment laws.
If Charleston don’t want Carnival Fantasy, I know Liverpool is after a homeported cruise ship!

Cruise Ship Squeeze points out that some destinations may have developed an overdependence on cruise ships as between 85 and 90% of tourists in Cozumel and the Cayman Islands are Cruise Passengers. In St Thomas and St Maarten  the figure is around 75%. On average St Thomas & St Maarten have 12,000 or more cruise passengers everyday. This is not a hard figure to achieve with Oasis of the Seas carrying around 6,000 passengers.

Many complain that the cruise industry has ruined these islands, with cheap souvenir shops and Jewellery stores opening. With all of this and a significant amount of cruise passengers the port towns lose the appeal that made them great tourist destinations in the first place. It’s not just Caribbean ports which can feel the stress of Cruise Ships, In the Mediterranean Venice and Monaco are just a few which can see thousands of cruise passengers in a day.

Shore Excursions provide jobs…right? Yes they do, but usually the Cruise Line deals with an agent which arranged these excursions, with the cruise line taking a cut, then the agent taking a cut, leaving very little for the local tour guide.

We think this issue which, with the growing size of vessels will only become more important and one destinations will work hard to avoid, except made Charleston!
Do you think some ports are struggling under the sheer number of cruise passengers?
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Other Articles in this series ‘Sustainable Cruising’
Green Cruising
Sustainable Tourism and Cruising

* We also have Cruise Ship Squeeze Available from £2.25 at The Crociere Store *

Sustainable Tourism & Cruising

Cruising is a booming market, which has weathered the recession and the stream of new ships very well. As the industry grows worries will develop about the islands and destinations the ship visit, and if they are being overwhelmed by a huge influx sometimes significantly bigger than the local population.

According to Wikipedia; Sustainable tourism is about making a low impact on the environment and local culture, but providing jobs for local people. Sustainable tourism is about providing a positive experience for all stakeholders, tour operators, locals, tourists and so on…

We at think this is only going to be coming increasingly important over the next few years, as people don’t want to go to destinations ruined by the commercialisation but experience truly different locations with interesting cultures and wonderful environments.

Cruise Lines have taken strong steps to improving their green credentials, and are making steps towards promoting sustainable tourism. Crystal Cruises ‘You Care, We Care’ Voluntourism series of excursions allow passengers to help local communities, such as in Antigua passengers can feed, walk and look after stray donkeys. Others include preparing winter items for low-income & homeless children as well as working in a kitchen to feed the homeless & less fortunate.

Windstar Cruises provided us with their Commitment to Environmental Protection document, this outlines what Windstar does to improve their procedures and practices to be an environmentally friendly business. A quick outline of the initiatives are:
– Each cruise has a senior crew member dedicated as Environmental Officer, whose job it is to preserve and protect the marine environment.
– Windstar recycles cooking oil from galleys and printer and photo cartridges
– Unlike any other cruise line Windstar can use the vessels sails to reduce fuel consumption, and will revise itineraries to reduce the use of fuel.
– Working with suppliers to reduce waste packaging.

Windstar isn’t alone in this as many cruise lines have similar policies to environmental protection. However during our research for this article we found that Uniworld River Cruises has invested a significant amount of time, money and effort to be a sustainable cruise operator.

Uniworld works with charities in the destinations it visits to support sustainable tourism, through protection of environments, and local community engagement, to the promotion of sustainable tourism as a tool for economic growth. See More Here:

The river cruise lines to appear to be ahead of the ocean cruise lines in sustainable tourism and environmental practices, Viking River Cruises hybrid Viking Legend is a perfect example (seen here)

Our next article, tomorrow, will look at the effect of Cruise Lines on the islands & destinations they visit. Check out our previous articles on Green Cruising & Vikings Hybrid Cruise Ship The EOSEAS Concept.

Do you think cruise lines can do more to promote sustainable tourism and environmental practices? Let us know, comment, email, facebook & twitter.

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