It’s easy to see the appeal of cruise ships — you get an all-inclusive vacation, breathtaking views of the ocean, and opportunities to explore exotic places. Plus, cruises are ridiculously cheap when you consider the amenities and entertainment options.
However, they come with some pretty substantial downsides, such as creating massive amounts of waste and pollution. Even when they’re being dismantled for scrap metals, as seen in a photo posted in the subreddit r/Anticonsumption, they endanger the environment and workers’ health.
In the viral photo, five cruise ships are lined up at a dock where they’re being scrapped for valuable materials like steel — a process known as ship breaking. The original poster captioned it, “The amount of everything in this picture…”
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One commenter pointed out that at least the steel is getting repurposed.
However, the OP said they’re missing the bigger picture: “Yes the steel is being recycled, that’s the small faint light at the end of the tunnel. But what those ships represent is what this subreddit seems to be about,” they replied.
Cruises are notoriously bad for the environment, encouraging overconsumption and exploitation of natural resources.
According to a 2021 review by an international research team, a large cruise ship can have a pollution footprint greater than 12,000 cars and generate over a ton of waste per day, some of which gets dumped overboard.
In addition, according to the environmental organization Friends of the Earth, many ships also dispose of untreated sewage and oily waste in the oceans, polluting delicate marine habitats. Not to mention, cruise ships can have poor air quality because of toxic chemicals released from dirty fuel sources, as per CNN.
And the pollution doesn’t end when the ships are decommissioned, either.
As Chemistry World reported, when workers break down the ships, they’re often exposed to dangerous substances like asbestos, mercury, and lead. Because of safety and health hazards, it’s considered one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, according to the International Labour Organization.
Communities and coastal areas near the ship-breaking yards are also negatively impacted by air and water pollution, as per Chemistry World.
Unsurprisingly, many commenters didn’t have a high opinion of cruise ships.
“But we can’t feed or house people. I hate greed,” one commenter said.
“Cruise ships are pure gross exorbitant spending and should be a thing of the past. Support culture and communities!” another Redditor added.
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