Cruise Ships: the wrong kind of globalisation?

The Icon of the High seas is the largest cruise ship in the world. It is 1198 feet long and weighs 250 800 tons. The ship has berths for 5610 passengers and 2350 crew. It cost more than $2 billion to build.

Icon of the Seas.
The Icon of the Seas.

It is set to have its maiden voyage in January 2024 with tickets costing from $1000 to $75 000. It represents the size-pinnacle of the modern cruise industry. 31.5 million people are expected to go on a cruise in 2023.

The ship has 20 decks and eight ‘neighbourhoods’ aimed at different types of passenger: from families to older adults. It has 40 bars, mini golf, rock climbing and a water park with seven swimming pools.

Cruise ships can pose challenges to the areas they visit as thousands of passengers suddenly disembark for only a couple of hours at a time. Amsterdam recently closed its cruise ship terminal for just this reason. However this is less of an option the Caribbean which absorbs about a third of the cruise industry’s capacity. That area is more reliant on cruise ship income.

The wrong kind of globalisation?

Cruise ships are a mobile example of globalisation benefitting the very wealthiest. Those who can afford it, typically older middle class people, can afford to go on a week or month long jaunt to foreign countries on such vessels.

You could also argue these benefit locals in the places they visit because they bring money and jobs to local areas, often in poorer parts of the world.

However the downside is that locals have to put up with a massive influx of tourists all at once in a short space of time, which can’t be pleasant.

There is also something quite detestable about the fact that it’s only the very rich that can afford to go on a cruise.

Cruise ships are also polluting: passengers on a seven day Antarctic cruise can produce as much CO2 as the average European in a year!

They are also great for transmitting infectious diseases around the world!

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