Destinations suffering from overtourism are grounding ships carrying toxic gas and millions of passengers.
More than 20 million passengers take cruises each year.
Before the pandemic, that number was even higher: about 30 million.
Many European ports where these ships dock are reevaluating their presence as passenger numbers look set to once again exceed pre-pandemic numbers. Some are considering banning them altogether, citing environmental, social and economic concerns.
The 218 cruise ships that sailed through Europe in 2022 emitted more than four times more sulfur oxides than all the continent’s cars, according to the Ministry of Transport and Environment. In June, the NGO found that these toxic air pollutants from ships are now higher than they were before COVID-19.
And while the benefits to local economies are debatable, the millions of passengers they bring to European cities each year are causing problems for the people who live there.
Venice wants to prevent cruise ships from entering and exiting the city
In 2021, Venice bans large cruise ships from docking in historic center.
Due to the damage to the lagoon, UNESCO threatened to put the city on the endangered list if it was not permanently banned.
They argue that the large ships are causing pollution and eroding the foundations of a city that is already subject to regular flooding. The ban will prevent large cruise ships and container ships from entering Venice’s Giudecca Canal.
There have been previous attempts to stop large ships by overturning previous laws. But when the pressure mounts, Cruise ship crashes into Venice port in 2019, injuring five people.
And as of the 2021 ban, even cruise lines were on board. After the announcement, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said it had “supported the new approach for many years” and called it a “major step forward.”
However, the reality of banning large ships from Venice has turned out to be more complex than originally thought. Without a new hub for cruise ships outside the city’s lagoon, Two years after the ban was introduced, many still dock there.
Which European cities have banned cruise ships?
But pollution and overtourism are not just Venice’s problems.
Barcelona closed its northern terminal to cruise passengers on October 22 as it grapples with its own problems. Around 340 ships a year will now have to instead berth at the Mor Dadosa jetty, which is the farthest from the city’s residential areas.
With the closure of another terminal at Mare Magnum and the introduction of the one-ship-per-terminal rule, only seven cruise ships can dock in Barcelona at a time.
These measures are based on an agreement with local authorities to relocate cruise ships outside Barcelona city center to reduce the impact of overtourism.
By 2026, the South Terminal will also close and all cruises will operate from Adsat Pier.
The Mediterranean is the second-largest cruise market outside the Caribbean, and the increasing number of passengers is placing an increasing strain on local residents.
In 2022, the population of Marseille will reach 50,000 – France’s largest cruise port – According to the campaign group Stop Croisières, which has signed a petition against cruise ships.
Passengers have been protesting in the Balearic island city of Palma de Mallorca, where new restrictions have been introduced that only three ships can enter the port at a time.
Santorini and Dubrovnik also tightened restrictions on cruise lines.
Where else is Cruise causing problems?
The crackdown is also underway at popular ports outside the Mediterranean.
Cruise ships visiting Scotland will be subject to new taxes under plans recently announced by the country’s Green Party. It said the levy would tackle the “double challenge” of emissions and overtourism.
Scottish Green co-leader Lorna Slater said she hoped the cruise tax would encourage companies to use less polluting vessels, saying one ship emits the same amount of emissions as 12,000 cars. He said he is doing so.
“Operators have been allowed to get away with contamination for too long,” Slater added.
Amsterdam’s city council just voted to close the cruise terminal to curb pollution and reduce tourist numbers.
Moving the terminal outside of the center looks like the most likely solution. But this vote shows the city’s feelings about these mega-ships.
Earlier this year, local political leader Ilana Ruderkerk compared cruise passengers landing in the city to a “swarm of locusts.”
Amsterdam introduced a tax on cruise ship passengers in 2019, causing some companies to change or cancel ports of call in the city. More than 100 ships dock in the Dutch capital each year, making it a symbol of the Netherlands. The problem of local overtourism.
Do cruise ships bring in money where they dock?
One of the biggest arguments advocates make about maintaining cruise ships is that Contributing to the local economy.
But do passengers aboard these giant ships actually spend their money in the towns where they dock?
Several studies have shown that passengers disembarking ships don’t contribute as much to the local economy as you might think. With food, drinks and souvenirs all on board, your money stays at sea.
It’s no surprise then that the world’s largest cruise ship, Wonder of the Seas, is home to 20 restaurants, a 1,400-seat theater, and shops selling everything from luxury watches to high-end fashion. Depending on which package you choose, food and drinks are often included, and your shopping is tax and duty free.
An even bigger ship, the 365 meter long Icon of the Seas, is scheduled to be launched next year.
research from bergen, norway It is a popular stop on fjord tours, but it was found that up to 40 per cent of people did not get off the boat. The average amount spent by those who actually landed was less than 23 euros.
Further research conducted in Norwegian cities in 2013 found that length of stay is probably one of the biggest factors in how much passengers spend.
The average port stay is approximately 8 hours, but varies greatly depending on the ship’s itinerary. For some people, Barcelona – Minimum stopping time is 4 hours.
And even as passengers have more opportunities to splurge on cash, spending remains low.
The cruise industry claims passengers’ average contribution to the local economy is much higher than Bergen’s estimate of around $100 (91 euros) per day.
One way to bridge this gap would be to increase passenger taxes levied at ports, which currently tend to range from about 4 euros to 14 euros per person.
The cruise industry says it is moving forward with the following moves: Improve both environmental and social impact.
According to CLIA, cruise lines are among the first companies in the maritime sector to commit to reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030. Some have signed a pledge to reach net zero by 2050.
Electrifying ports so ships can shut down their engines and limit toxic emissions could also help. This is part of Barcelona’s plan to move cruise ships out of the city by 2026 by allowing ships to berth at Adsat Pier.
But it remains to be seen whether these goals will be enough to appease the port city’s fed up locals.