Special Report

Cruise Ships vs. the Environment: Their 10 Costliest Offenses

Ah, cruising the seven seas — exotic ports, beautiful sunsets, bracing sea air, endless buffets, celebrity chefs, world-class bars, casinos, live music, sparkling swimming pools, and much, much more, all a million miles (or so it sometimes seems) from dry land… Sounds like paradise, right, whether you’re sailing on a charming small boutique vessel or one of the biggest cruise ships in the world?

But then there’s the dark side: the food poisoning, the stomach-churning storms, the collisions and the running aground, the people falling overboard. The website Cruisejunkie, which bills itself as “Your resource for the other information about the cruise industry,” publishes lists of ships that have sunk or run aground, illness outbreaks at sea, instances of passengers or crew members going over the side.

They have also just published an updated list of pollution and environmental violations and fines, based on those reported in the media or in public documents. 24/7 Tempo has scoured the list to find the 10 most egregious examples of such violations over the past two decades-plus, and ranked them according to the amounts of the fines levied against the cruise operators. Dates given are when the penalties were assessed, not necessarily when the incidents occurred.

Just two companies were to blame for most of these violations, with the most common offense being the illegal discharge of oil-contaminated waste. The fact that these cruise lines were caught and fined doesn’t necessarily make them bad companies, though; human error and faulty equipment or processing systems might have been to blame in some cases.

Cruising can still be a wonderful way to relax and see a lot of the world. For all their potential problems, there’s a good case to be made for the fact that cruises are a wonderful way to spend your hard-earned vacation. There are common elements that will make it a better experience than other types of leisure travel — these are the 15 cruises that are better than other vacations.

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