Back then I had no idea how bad this form of travel is for the environment, for the visited cities, for the people working below deck, and so on.
The people I worked with in the main office of the company were really energetic, loved their product, had a great time launching ship after ship (every year a new ship was launched). It was great working with people who loved what they were doing. Compared to other jobs I had till then. I was there when the new hyped prototype was being put into service. Quite an interesting time. We were allowed to test travel on the new ship. It was a cool experience.
From a purely hedonistic perspective. Yeah it felt nice sitting in the sauna, ten decks above see at 6am in the morning and looking out over the waves. It was purely relaxing.
But from a more conscious perspective it was doing everything I could to help destroy this world - and I was so abusing the lower deck people. The ones never being seen by guests. They work horrible shifts, are employed with contracts from the tax heaven states the ships are being registered in.
I was an employee of the same company - but I had massive employment protections and laws governing how long I work, what is considered overtime, and so on. The served me, made my bed, put coffee on my table. They prepared my food - but they were third or fourth class "citizens" on this ship.
I am ashamed looking at it nowadays.
What you need to consider is the opportunity cost for those workers. Opportunity cost = (return of best alternative not taken) - (return of a chosen option). If the work at cruise company is the best opportunity for the low paid Filipino worker, you should just be generally horrified how hard the life in third world is. 14-16 hours of hard work per day in a ship may be better than even harder lower paying work in some factory.
This is separate issue from pure exploitation and abuse where even the low wages are not paid on time, agreements are not kept and more work is assigned without extra compensation.
I was holidaying in Split, Croatia when the MS Queen Elizabeth  docked and thousands of people descended onto the city from it.
The quiet city became absolutely packed with tour groups from the ship, completely ruined the atmosphere.
I guess the cruise tourists do bring in quite a bit of money from eating in the restaurants, buying souvenirs etc, so not that much of a negative for the locals.
Unlike with cloud computing where you can spin up more servers to meet demand, you can't just spin up more city, more streets, more restaurants, more sights, more everything at the drop of a hat when demand spikes. I wonder how much of that traffic spike from a big cruise ship the city is actually able to capture.
If the city was built for peak demand, maybe, but then you'd have to maintain all the infrastructure when the tourists aren't there. So unless you have a new cruise ship every day ...
It's a hard problem. I don't think it's solvable. I'm in Venice right now and the difference between 1pm when it's jam packed with tourists and a total hellhole on earth, and a nice 7am run when it's empty and gorgeous ... yeah it does not even begin to compare. These old cities just weren't built for the kind of foot traffic they get these days as tourist destinations.
In the case of Venice often you just to avoid the streets that connect turistic POIs. Take a parallel calle 50 metres on the right or left and suddenly you are in a oasis with few tourists and peaceful silence.
"Locals" aren't a homogenous group. The city budget does benefit, and so do people working in businesses serving tourists directly - restaurants, gift shops, hotels, ticket offices, etc. Everyone else hates it. Tourism, especially of intermittent kind, disrupts regular life of regular people.
Meanwhile, no word from the locals who are living their life catering to those tourists.
Did you ask the locals what they thought of it? Their city isn't your private quiet getaway. Maybe they wanted the ship there. Or maybe they didn't. But that is their choice and their local government is free to prevent the ship from docking if that's the kind of policy they want to institute.
Aren't most cruise ship full board?
Plus you seem to suggest that visitor numbers are very lumpy which would make it very difficult to size the local restaurant industry. If average summer visitors are 10000, then the QE2 dumps out 20000 visitors for 2 days out of the month, do you size yourself to accommodate 10000 visitors? 30000?
Source: Worked in pubs that hosted coach parties, there was a massive variation in spend from coach to coach.
I suspect there's a lot of cultural and generational norms wrapped up in that though. A ship full of Swedes may prefer to return to the boat to eat, a ship full of Spaniards may all want 3 course meals on land, that just makes it harder for the host city to predict demand.
So at least for this company most people did not incur food costs on board for lunch (non the less having paid for it with the package deal).
The ship was massive and had pools, a restaurant, live entertainment but it was obvious that all the people who were employed were semi indentured servants.
Most were from southeast asia and worked 6-8 months away from their families. What broke my heart is that only a small portion could leave the ship whenever we docked and most didn't seem to have passports that allowed entry to European countries without visa so they would just wait in the dock and use up the wifi to face time their spouses and children. Except the wife was really bad and the bandwidth quickly peaked and most were left just being miserable.
It was nice being able to visit all these countries that would otherwise have cost a fortune but man the pure human suffering really broke me.
Someone could for example give them the same working protections offered by a German contract. The same work hours. Same wages?
Someone would not have to let them go.
Though you did say "I was so abusing the lower deck people" which, given you didn't want to fire them, implies their normal life would have been even more abusive. So wasn't your company actually helping them already? Isn't that something to feel good about? You were making their lives better. Not as good as your own, but why is that the standard?
If you've ever been on Roatan or someplace similar when a big cruise ship comes in, you'll know the feeling: Most of the time it's a sleepy little beach town with cheap accommodation and beers, and friendly local folk going about their business. Then one day you wake up and it's "Welcome To Jamaica, Mon!!!"
All the colorful townspeople are out in their Traditional Island Dress, doing their Traditional Island Dance to the Traditional Island Music in the streets. Everybody suddenly has piles of overpriced tourist junk to sell you, and those cheap beers are now $8 each.
Giant flotillas of inflated red kayaks bob around in the bay, carrying inflated pink tourists in inflated orange life vests. Lots of pictures are taken of another Island Paradise.
Then things pack up, heaps of garbage are swept aside, and the place goes back to its old, pleasant, self again.
Life is so good on the "backpacker" side of that experience, and so bad on the "cruiser" side, that it's good to hear that they're finally just sequestering them all away in a single place. If any of them ever want to experience the Carribbean in its actual form, it'll hopefully be waiting there unspoiled.
But even if you go on say an Alaska cruise, which is entirely in the USA, the “towns” that you stop in exist solely for the cruise ships. The stores are the same junk at every stop, often owned by the cruise lines, unless you walk to the edge and maybe get something local or family run.
European cities they frequent are some of the worst for SOx and NOx pollution on the continent and a single line, Carnival, emitted more than all of Europe's cars last year (by a factor of 10 IIRC). Barcelona has started to realise that hoards that rush off the boat, have lunch and rush back on are not worth the meagre boost it gives them.
The cruise industry needs to clean up its act.
Carnival Cruise Lines has ships outfitted with scrubbers and they operate in these Emission Control Areas. Lower emissions are gradually coming to other areas as well when scrubbers are retrofitted into older ships.
Personally I'd like it if my home city (Southampton, UK currently) would stop them idling their engines in port for power.
Apparently we don't have the power infrastructure for them to plug in and run their systems from the local grid, so they just sit there churning this stuff out.
Something is always going to be the worst polluter. If the people who took a carnival cruise flew around the world instead, what would the impact be? (And what would happen to the fuel that those cruise ships are currently burning?)
It's still a horriffic stat, but I'd love a nuanced discussion on it!
“According to our calculations, a cruiseliner such as Queen Mary 2 emits 0.43kg of CO2 per passenger mile, compared with 0.257kg for a long-haul flight (even allowing for the further damage of emissions being produced in the upper atmosphere”
So the answer would appear to be “jump on the plane”.
I don't know the mileage that they actually cover on a cruise, but at 20kts they could cover 480 miles in 24 hours and bearing in mind that they are spending time in port it will be less than that. Lets estimate 300 miles per day, so a 2 week cruise could rack up ~4200 sea miles. => 1806 Kg of CO2
If I flew from Heathrow to Antigua for those 2 weeks, that would be ~8000 air miles. => 2056 Kg of CO2
My question is still though what would happen to the low grade fuel that they're currently burning? If people started to fly, and the low grade fuel was just burned anyway because it's so cheap (thinking long haul freighter etc), the situation would be worse!
We have millions of people all over the world who want to travel and see the world and enjoy themselves. Assuming we don't ban individual travel we probably want to work out the most environmentally friendly (and socially responsible) way of enabling this.
A network of railway lines across the northern hemisphere connecting to a fleet of wind powered cruise ships? But paying staff a socially responsible wage might push the cost of a holiday up above the once a year point. And figuring in the real environmental cost would cause issues as well.
My worst ever holiday memories are being stuck in a caravan in the late 1980s in wet Wales with way too little room and way too many loud drunk people who kept going until 4am every single night.
Cruise ships are like that only you're completely at the whim of the cruise line. You have 0 freedom and you have to deal with all the tax-evading fake-flag BS which seems to rule the sea.
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Presumably the government is getting paid in US dollars too, which is a nice fx source
> Haitians not employed by Royal Caribbean cannot enter.
Can Haitians generally roam free on private property?
> Caribbean countries are “basically giving away parcels of land”
What now? Do we call all foreign private ownership "giving away"? Poor article from The Economist telling us nothing other than rich travelers to Haiti don't want to deal with the downsides of it, which is a story as old as time.
I suppose the question worth asking is the average Haitian better off from the economic activity generated from the private parcel.