Water Pollution Issue in the Cruise Industry

Water Pollution Issue in the Cruise Industry



Water Pollution Issue in the Cruise Industry


In the recent times, cruise ships have grown in popularity and increased the number of destinations with bigger and more luxurious ships (Black, 2012). This new sizes emit twice as much pollutants to both the sea and air that may have an adverse effect on the land. Meeting the needs of tourists and individual aspirations to travel have made it possible to maintain demand hence the cruise industry gaining attention especially in relation to the aspects of environmental conservation and compliance to rules and regulations (Copeland, 2007). In most cases, cruise ships services are attributed to the international maritime and the significant release in wastes and pollutants raises the issues of environmental protection. National authorities and international ones have taken the initiative to show that discharges should be maintained at all times (Gibson, 2012). Regardless, the preparedness of the public to expose the environment pollution especially when caused by such large companies may help reduce the pollution in the area. In some areas, the environmental afflictions are accidental and are attributed to mechanical defects and fuel related discharges among others.

Many of the activities in Cruise ships are responsible for majority of the pollutants that cause water pollution and are considered hazardous in both a national and international level (Hunt et al., 2008). This conclusive analysis is based on factors of corrosion, reactivity, increase of toxins and other factors that may cause ignitability. The many kinds of water pollution include the formation of black water, grey water, oily or bilge water and ballast water among many others (Klein, 2009). With these aspects in place, the water is considered adversely polluted and analyzing various causes of this contamination and the solutions may lay an important role in coming up with successful and worthwhile outcomes.

Discussion: Causes of Pollution

Firstly, Black water, also known as Brown or foul water refers to the sewage matter that cruise ships release in water containing fecal matter and urine. This also incorporates the wastes from medical facilities with pathogens, parasites, bacteria, and chemical substances that do not decompose if released prematurely (Maehara & Hawaii, 2005). In general, this kind of water must go through a series of treatments and tests before disposal into marine waters and if not, it causes harm to marine life such as fisheries and shellfish beds. If the same water is used in future, it causes diseases such as typhoid, hepatitis, and dysentery (Meschke & Washington 2007). Sometimes, the chemical components of sewages, which mostly comprise of phosphorus and nitrogen, cause algae growths that equally, affect the aquatic habitats and may later be harmful to human life.

On the other hand, Grey water refers to the lesser pollutants that come from domestic and non-industrial processes such as Laundry facilities and showers. This water derives its name from the inability to be ranked as either fresh water or clean water (NATO et al., 2006). It may not be heavily polluted but the level is significant enough to be part of the pollutant from the cruise ships today. This is the largest source of liquid waste that is produced however less polluted that the black water, it holds up to 50-80% of the total water pollution. It may contain oils, grease, chemical nutrients, and various traces of bacteria. The collection of this waste is done in tanks, which discharge through multiple ports that are below the ship and are commonly facilitated by the motor driven pumps (NATO et al., 2006).. Most of the pollution is depended on the planned itinerary of release, the location of the ship at the time of the release and the total generation of the water at the time.

The very bottom part of the ship is known as the Bilge. At this place, water from the various mechanical processes that are related to the functions of the ship is collected. These are such as the engines, the propulsion devices, the system cooling, and the devices responsible for maximum evaporation, as well as, water-lubricated shafts among others. The water in this parts of the ship commonly mix with the oil, the gasoline, the paint, grass and the cleaning agents meaning that there is a collection of pollutants (Ostopowich, 2006). In other cases, there are also the by-products arising from the hydrocarbons breakdown that are on board the ship. This proves that there is a probability that the ship generates several tons of bilge in a single day. Overall, the oily binge contains a wide range of pollutants that may have chronic and psychological effects that may cause cancer (Woolf et al., 2008). Others may be of even bigger threat to the aquatic ecosystem, which may extend to pose major threat to human life. For this reason, ships are encouraged to be well equipped at having well-installed onboard equipment that will limit bilge discharge.

In other cases, there is the ballast water, which comes from ships that use it to provide stability especially when offsetting the difference with the amount of fuel consumed in the process. This water is often taken from one place and later discharged in another and at times may include the pick-ups and drop offs (Klein, 2009). These may be the likes of undesirable passengers and sometimes the species at the very top of the biodiversity that include fisheries and agriculture. In the process of the voyage, there may be certain factors that may kill the organisms and at times, many survive and deplete original populations. Generally, this may lead to environmental and public health risks, as well as, economic costs in diverse industries.

The disposal of garbage and solid wastes including commonly used materials such as cardboard and other metallic waste of aluminum and steel from beverage containers are also other aspects of pollution (Copeland, 2007). On average, a cruise ship is believed to generate hundreds of kilograms of solid wastes and all maritime corporations have taken the initiative to rectify this situation. It may be difficult to estimate the amount of solid waste from all cruise ships around the world but it is certain that the figures are high especially in various times of the year (Ostopowich, 2006). In most cases, there are reports that show that there is constant confusion over the amount of waste on board and that that is to be discharged in accordance with the various regulations. The dumped wastes become marine debris and may be a big threat to the ecosystem and the communities of the coastal regions.

The following are the effects of the solid wastes in water such as; physical injuries to the humans in the water, ecological damage due to accumulation of wastes, and the interference of plastics and other non biodegradable synthetic substances (United States, 2007). There are also issues of entanglement of sea fish, turtles, and other sea creatures that result in their deaths (Hunt et al., 2008). There is also the nutrient pollution caused due to disposal of foods in restricted areas and the reduction of the aesthetic quality of the surface in the coastal areas.

From all the above it is safe to conclude that, the water pollution caused by cruise ships is categorized by a collection of varying pollutants and each group with a different intensity of pollution. The activities that take place in a cruise ships are similar to those of an individual’s daily lives but the waste discharge is not fully developed hence creating issues of environmental pollution and degradation (Black, 2012). Below are the strategies that various countries, organizations or groups have taken towards the elimination or reduction of pollution, as well as an analysis on the possibility of success.

Solutions to the Above

The cruise services in many ways do not provide a critical solution to any meaningful way by which sewage or other pollutants on board may be discharged. However, various countries and jurisdictions have come up with personal regulations to combat this problem. America, for example, has rules against discharge of untreated sewage. The authorities have developed the acceptable parameters for how treated sewage will be analyzed to measure the degree of concentration before it is safe to release (Woolf et al., 2008). To ensure that most of the regulations are followed to the latter, there should be sufficient monitoring of the release and discharge of sewage, as well as, patrols  all providing the necessary boost towards protecting the quality of water.

The cruise industry is capable of managing the issue of solid waste disposal, which is one of the major issues in the pollution from cruise ships. . In this case, alternatives such as those of maximizing recycling are achieved in many ways (Meschke & Washington 2007). This is such that the excessive waste stored in the ship itself leading to reduction of waste thrown overboard ensures that even waste in form of ash is discharged at sea once the burning process is complete. Organic wastes and foods are easier to dispose, as they are biodegradable and easier to recover the initial appearance of any place with minimum change.

On the other hand, the Bilge wastes are dumped after certain periods especially because it is vital in ensuring the stability of the ship. The elimination of the substances that make up bilge requires craft full and sophisticated methods to achieve success. In the prevention and treatment, there are various aspects of the pollution of the environmental and the appropriate in the extraction process. There are options to rely on the re-use, the retention option, the discharge in accordable to the required maritime compliances among other uses in sophisticated services. Another example of this is that the cruise industry has also developed the support towards the control of the environment such that there are numerous aspects that limit the breakage of regulation and rules.

The adoption of the Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) systems is one of the many improvements over a number many traditional methods. Cruise ships are currently using this method to ensure that there is improvement in the maintenance and care of various pollutants to minimize pollution risks (United States, 2007). The problem with this initiative is that it does not treat all the pollutions available in the marine environment; however, the monthly treatments that are undergone are constantly evaluated. If the equipment is found not complying with the necessary requirements, it is prohibited from discharge until there is compliance.

Yet another important step towards safeguarding water pollution is that, the use of onboard observers is often a more efficient step that adds support to the alternative methods (United States, 2007). This is because various individuals are always stationed in an observational role over the practices and daily activities of cruise ships hence there is a requirement to abide to all the legal requirements at all times (Meschke & Washington 2007). The existence of equipments such as the advanced wastewater treatment systems show that there is advanced ways of checking that sewage is treated but the confirmation of an observer creates assurance of the same.


It is possible that most of the risks that arise from the pollution by cruise ships are because of the lack of a level playing ground. The different jurisdictions, marine regulations, and governmental decisions create dissimilarities on how to handle the varying issues of pollution (Rao, 2012). In terms of the different discharge from black water, to gray water, ballast to oily binge, there is need for proper treatment and the identification of the appropriate place and time of discharge. The ability to understand how the sewage discharge is treated, the functioning of the Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) systems and the encouragement of observers is a major step towards obtaining sustainable and substantial goals. If the regulations over the above systems could be comfortable and fully supervised, it is certain that many pollutants may controlled and the established section of control, improved. Overall, cruise ships like many other vessels of transportation may therefore may improve in terms of pollution and increase the quality for their services to the environment.


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