With cruising more popular than ever, what are cruise lines doing to help and contribute towards protecting the ecosystems in top holiday destinations such as the Mediterranean?
Whilst the increased popularity of Caribbean cruises and Mediterranean cruises is great for tourism, there are still issues regarding the ecosystems in these areas. If left unattended, there could be devastating effects which these locations may never recover from.
In order to prevent these beautiful places from diminishing, action is being taken from cruise lines to ensure that the environment is stabilised and prepared for the constant flow of people that visit.
Cruise lines have backed plans to help cruise destination environments in several ways. For example, there's now an alliance between Carnival Cruise Lines and the International SeaKeepers Society, for monitoring water quality in places visited during Carnival Triumph and Carnival Spirit cruises. Equipment is now built into these ships to gather data wherever they are. This is then relayed via satellite to scientists at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Miami where they can keep on top of the water quality levels.
However, this is merely one example of many systems in place for monitoring the environment's health. There are groups all around the world dedicated to tracking the data, including the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research and the Southeast Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing System.
An example of a programme making people more aware of the dangers is the education system set up by the NorthWest CruiseShip Association (NWCA), who represent the following major cruise lines: • Celebrity Cruises • Carnival Cruise Lines • Crystal Cruises
• Holland America Line • Norwegian Cruise Line • Princess Cruises • Regent Seven Seas Cruises • Royal Caribbean International
In Juneau, the capital of Alaska, the NWCA educates the community with environmental lessons for students from local schools. This also includes touring any ships currently docked to get a proper perspective of how they handle recycling and emissions.
This kind of action is an important start, but perhaps more could be done. After all, if these waters and ports were to degrade in quality, cruise lines would fail to get people interested. Yet, it's not just about the environment, it's also about the life that resides there. As Cunard Line highlight with a system to protect local culture and traditions. Cunard Line who offer cruises to Panama, have formed an alliance with the Embera Indian Village community to help maintain their heritage and standard of living which gives the Panama port a much more homely and friendly feeling.
Sometimes it's these small acts that seem to be making the most difference. Holland America Line, for example, have partnered with the US National Park Service and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to protect whales in the oceans. Together, their programmes educate mariners about recognising when whales are in close proximity and how to avoid them.
Overall, it feels like some cruise lines should be more active in combating negative effects to these ecosystems, as without sustained programmes in all popular cruise destinations, the ecosystems may begin to fail. However, many cruise lines are certainly making an effort to make a difference and they come out looking all the better because of it.
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