Environmental concerns raised about cruise liners in Cobh

Environmental concerns raised about cruise liners in Cobh

The cruise liner Caribbean Princess docked in Cobh. There is growing concern worldwide about the impact large cruise ships have on the environment. Picture Dan Linehan

Environmental concerns have been raised about cruise liners that dock in Cobh.

Local councillors were invited aboard one of the largest ships in the world, the ‘Norweigan Getaway’, by the Port of Cork to see how the ship operates.

However, one councillor told The Echo he “came away with an existential angst over the scale of the environmental problems we face.” 

The cruise liner MS Serenade of the Seas berthed in Cobh earlier this summer. Picture Dan Linehan
The cruise liner MS Serenade of the Seas berthed in Cobh earlier this summer. Picture Dan Linehan

Green Party Cllr Alan O’Connor says he sees environmental concerns, both in the immediate effect such vessels have on Cobh and Cork Harbour, as well as the impact in terms of the worldwide large-scale effect of the industry.

Internationally there is growing concern about the environmental impact that cruise ships have.

By the end of 2019, according to Cllr O’Connor around 100 cruise liners will dock in the Port of Cork, with up to 110 expected in 2020. Those figures have been on the rise since 2014 when 53 cruise liners docked there, bringing more than 142,000 passengers and crew to Cork.

Cllr O’Connor acknowledges that many people's livelihoods depend on the tourists coming from the cruise liners, with many buses taking people to locations all across Cork including Blarney Castle, while others stay around the Cobh area.

“For Cobh, I got an estimated figure of €30,000 total spend by visitors from this boat,” he said. However, he’s questioned the sustainability of it: “At what stage must the environment come first?” he asked.

Meanwhile, Cllr O’Connor told the Echo there are 100 new cruise ships on order across the world, which he fears will add to the issues.

However, he acknowledged that this is just one industry and every industry and person must take responsibility for their part to play in combating climate change.

The ‘Norweigan Getaway’ ship, which was boarded by councillors in Cobh, is operated by Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL).

According to Friends of the Earth, who have carried out an environmental report on all cruise liners, NCL’s 17 cruise ships have top-notch sewage treatment systems and water quality compliance.

However, the company received a D- in air pollution reduction which is based on whether a cruise line has retrofitted its ships to “plug in” to available shoreside electrical grids instead of running polluting engines when docked.

Friends of the Earth also said the cruise line, along with the majority of their counterparts did not respond to requests for information regarding their environmental practices.

According to Cruise Lines International Association, energy-efficient design standards will reduce CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2025.

They also say “some cruise ships re-purpose 100 per cent of the waste generated onboard. Cruise ship waste management professionals recycle 60 per cent more waste per person than the average person recycles on shore each day.”

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