As I write this post, I can hear a pile driver banging steel posts into Lyttelton harbour. The port is building a new cruise ship terminal to accommodate bigger vessels. This may be good news for Lyttelton Port Company (majority owned by Christchurch City Council) but it isn't good news for the endangered dolphins disturbed by the noise and for the residents of Lyttelton, New Zealand.
Cruise ships burn a lot of fossil fuel and at the moment they are burning the toxic bottom-of-the-barrel heavy oil that cannot be used anywhere else because it is so polluting.
When they are docked in port they have to have their engines running the whole time to keep the power on. An article on national radio revealed that when big cruise ships do this they release as much pollution as 700,000 diesel buses. And when the easterly is blowing we can smell that pollution at our house.
But the biggest the most detrimental effect of cruise ships happens when please leave port. Once they are 12 miles offshore (sometimes sooner if no one is watching and nobody ever is) the cruise ships can dump all their untreated sewage. This often isn't just organic matter unfortunately and is contributing to the plastic pollution at sea. What's more, a lot of cruise ships dump their rubbish at sea as well as there is rarely anyone out there to stop them from doing it. The few times this has been reported has been due to whistleblowers on board.
I'm a big fan of travelling by surface rather than by air, but not when it is done with a disregard for the environmental consequences.