Will cruising change?

By | Category: Travel news

Even before the pandemic hit, Venice had decided that it wanted fewer cruise ships, smaller cruise ships and that they would be moored further away so that they couldn’t affect the ecology of the lagoon.

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas which carries 6,780, the largest number of any cruise ship afloat. Its sister ship, Symphony of the Seas, is heavier but carries slightly fewer passengers.

Last year in the Caribbean, there was a stand-off between the prime minister of Antigua and cruise companies after he criticised the cruise industry for exploiting the Caribbean and Australians were unhappy about the number of people  with coronavirus who visited Sydney aboard the Ruby Princess. Rightly or wrongly cruise ships were blamed for spreading the outbreak.

This love-hate relationship might have soured a little more last week when residents of Key West in Florida voted for a proposition that restricts the size of vessels visiting and limiting the number of passengers coming ashore to 1,500 per day. It wasn’t by a small margin either: three fifths of all votes were for the proposition.

To judge how this will affect cruise ships, across a whole year if only 1,500 passengers are allowed that means about 547,000 if ships docked every single day Last year double that number visited Key West.

Will the will of the voters be enacted?

 This, being the USA, legal proceedings have begun.

 But it is indicative of a wider movement to restrain the growth of tourism.

Sustainability might have been talked about for decades but, in many cases, it was just a word fluttering out to suggest that the travel industry was concerned. Don’t get me wrong, many travel organisations are but did that stop the building of larger and larger cruise ships?

As I have written in the past, some ships are three times bigger than my local town. Now Key West will limit those ships visiting to no more than 1,300 passengers. It appears size does matter to voters.

Obviously what will happen is that the bigger ships will be re-routed to more accommodating destinations and probably only Key West will be hurt in the short-term, rather than the cruise industry.

But the concern of voters wherever they live seems to be growing and the cruise industry needs to come to terms with a change in the air.

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