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Cruising and Ethics

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I love to travel, as we all do, and recently I've been thinking much about travel ethics. Because I love to cruise that has compelled me to think about ethics of cruising. Recently, cruises have been getting a bad rap, with some suggesting you should never go on one. They cite things such as, worker conditions, environmental impact and impact on the destination ports.

 

I looked on here and was surprised that Cruise Critic didn't have an article on cruising and ethics. What is your take on the ethics of cruising?

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(I don't know how to search here.)  There was a recent article about environmental impact (less than non-cruise ships) and impact on ports (UNESCO has actually threatened to revoke the heritage status of Dubrovnik due to cruise ships).  Ports?  I don't know how many feel how I do but we think multiple, sometimes even one, cruise ship can overwhelm a port.  But those ports get lots of money, I'm sure.  The businesses.  But quality of life for residents must suck.

 

I think your post is great and I hope it provokes meaningful conversation.  Thanks.

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I will only speak to the impact on the ports of call. Specific to the Caribbean, most of the islands that are the most common ports of call generate the majority of their income from tourism, to a large degree from that of cruise ships visiting there.  The docking fees and port charges combined with the money spent on each island by the visiting tourist is of major significance to the economy of these islands.

 

They are not overwhelmed by the number of cruise ships in port as they are designed to handle as many ships as are scheduled to be there, and more cannot dock on a given day than can be handled. Clearly the more ships that frequent an island, the more revenue is generated for them.

 

And everybody there benefits from this as the vast majority of the businesses there are locally owned an all employ only local residents - the revenue generated remains on the islands.   Measuring the quality of life is always a comparison to one's own as a tourist, which likely does not consider that life a seen by the residents of the islands themselves.  And regardless of one's perception of how good or bad it may seem to be, consider how it would be without the revenue generated by the visiting ships.

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To be honest, I do not consider ethics at all when I make travel itinerary decision.  I don't purposely book trip to disrupt the lives of others but we do have to admit that when we travel anywhere, we impact the places that we travel to.

 

DON

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25 minutes ago, leaveitallbehind said:

I will only speak to the impact on the ports of call. Specific to the Caribbean, most of the islands that are the most common ports of call generate the majority of their income from tourism, to a large degree from that of cruise ships visiting there.  The docking fees and port charges combined with the money spent on each island by the visiting tourist is of major significance to the economy of these islands.

 

They are not overwhelmed by the number of cruise ships in port as they are designed to handle as many ships as are scheduled to be there, and more cannot dock on a given day than can be handled. Clearly the more ships that frequent an island, the more revenue is generated for them.

 

And everybody there benefits from this as the vast majority of the businesses there are locally owned an all employ only local residents - the revenue generated remains on the islands.   Measuring the quality of life is always a comparison to one's own as a tourist, which likely does not consider that life a seen by the residents of the islands themselves.  And regardless of one's perception of how good or bad it may seem to be, consider how it would be without the revenue generated by the visiting ships.

 

Is this really true or are most of the places owned off island and they take advantage of the workers?

 

DON

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, donaldsc said:

To be honest, I do not consider ethics at all when I make travel itinerary decision.  I don't purposely book trip to disrupt the lives of others but we do have to admit that when we travel anywhere, we impact the places that we travel to.

 

DON

 

Very true. Unless a person only walks to wherever they go, they are impacting the environment. And, if we visit a store, restaurant, church, whatever, they also impact the environment because natural land had to be cleared and covered up by the structures, parking areas, and roads to make them accessible. 

 

EVERYTHING we do affects the environment in some way. It is unavoidable. Best to accept that reality.

Edited by sloopsailor

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9 minutes ago, donaldsc said:

 

Is this really true or are most of the places owned off island and they take advantage of the workers?

 

DON

 

It might depend upon what category of "local business" you refer to.

.

For example, large resorts (day passes, etc. for cruisers; longer stays for other visitors) may well be owned off-island, or at least franchised.

 

However, we tend to use local tour guides, and they are often family owned, or family-started who now also employ some of their friends/relatives/neighbors.  And they are the ones who have grown up there (usually).

 

There is one tour guide (small group) on St. Lucia that we have used three times now, and it has been interesting to watch them grow.  Because they know the island and the other locals, they are *great* for customizing things that might not be offered on the larger group tours/excursions.


There may also be smaller hotels/inns that are totally locally owned.

 

One problem is that for non-cruise visits, we don't really know how to "best guarantee" (understanding there are NO true guarantees!) a really good experience, with smaller privately owned properties.

 

GC

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46 minutes ago, sloopsailor said:

 

Very true. Unless a person only walks to wherever they go, they are impacting the environment. And, if we visit a store, restaurant, church, whatever, they also impact the environment because natural land had to be cleared and covered up by the structures, parking areas, and roads to make them accessible. 

 

EVERYTHING we do affects the environment in some way. It is unavoidable. Best to accept that reality.

Of course we are all impacting the environment.  But if no on does anything then we're doomed.  I make choices every day about our planet.

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39 minutes ago, GeezerCouple said:

One problem is that for non-cruise visits, we don't really know how to "best guarantee" (understanding there are NO true guarantees!) a really good experience, with smaller privately owned properties.

 

Not being snotty, I swear, but Google is your friend 🙂  We're doing a cruise from Rio to Buenos Aires in December and I'm already looking at restaurants for our various ports.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, donaldsc said:

 

Is this really true or are most of the places owned off island and they take advantage of the workers?

 

DON

 

For the most part it is true.  With the exception of large chain hotels and restaurants, etc., most of the businesses that support the tourists - taxis, water sports, local restaurants, tour guides, stores and other merchants, etc., etc., are all locally owned and staffed.  And those larger corporations that may not be locally owned all employ local residents as employees.  Not sure how that would be taking advantage of them.

 

But it is certain that none of those businesses that support tourism - which is the majority of most of the islands - would be there without that industry, which in large part is supported by the cruise lines.  After the hurricanes, the recovery of the islands affected were dependent on the return of tourism through support by the cruise lines.

 

Just a further side note, when the earthquake hit Haiti some years ago, RCI was a key contributor to the relief efforts there with their ships (and Celebrity's) continuing to call on Labadee as they were delivering relief supplies - along with the docking fees and support of local employment - to that country during that crisis.  I know this for fact as I was on an RCI cruise ship during that time that delivered a large number of pallets of goods during our port of call there.

Edited by leaveitallbehind

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"It's all about the money."

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3 hours ago, sloopsailor said:

 

Very true. Unless a person only walks to wherever they go, they are impacting the environment. And, if we visit a store, restaurant, church, whatever, they also impact the environment because natural land had to be cleared and covered up by the structures, parking areas, and roads to make them accessible. 

 

EVERYTHING we do affects the environment in some way. It is unavoidable. Best to accept that reality.

Even if they only walk the6 are having an impact.

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Flying, diesel cars, Buses, trains, and now cruise ships.

 

If the extremists had their way, nobody would be allowed to travel anywhere, ever.

 

and none of us would have electricity.

 

My biggest concern with cruise ships is the welfare of those working for us to make a cruise magnificient.

 

I really feel for the waiters and the cleaning staff. Their lives are incredibly hard, and I find myself feeling sorry for them, and embarrassed that they are there to serve me. Nobody serves me when at home, not with the constraints there is on their lives.

 

I know there isnt an answer to this, but I have the utmost respect for these people, as its just by pure luck that I turned a different corner at soem point in my life, otherwise I could have been living like that. I didnt do well at school, only attended college part time, and didnt go to University.

 

I consider myself fortunate.

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No one is forcing staff to work on a cruise ship.  They have the option of staying in their country of origin and, in some cases, living in extreme poverty and in others just living a different life.  I treat staff with respect and maintain reasonable expectations of them.  That, and the money I pay the company that employs them, is all I owe them.  If the conditions don’t suit you do what I have done in my life; quit and find another job that does suit you.

 

As for the impact on ports, I remember being on the second sailing to Trujillo, Honduras.  They had a parade for the first sailing.  The whole town and everyone around was excited to see the possibility of an income where none had previously been possible.  Is there corruption?  I’m sure there is but the working people definitely benefit from tourism income.  And if it builds up and becomes like Cozumel and they no longer like it, they can do what I have done when things no longer suited me; just move.  

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4 hours ago, DarrenM said:

 I really feel for the waiters and the cleaning staff. Their lives are incredibly hard, and I find myself feeling sorry for them, and embarrassed that they are there to serve me. Nobody serves me when at home, not with the constraints there is on their lives.

 

I know there isnt an answer to this, but I have the utmost respect for these people, as its just by pure luck that I turned a different corner at soem point in my life, otherwise I could have been living like that. I didnt do well at school, only attended college part time, and didnt go to University.

 

I consider myself fortunate.

 

Hi

Sorry, I am not seeing it. Nobody is there to serve you. They are just doing a job. It is what they have chosen to do and are not looking for sympathy.

 

It's no different where you live. Where do you think you get the food you eat? There are many people that are working very hard that give you a variety of food beyond what you have grown or hunted for. 

 

I take it you didn't build your own house, or any of the things you use every day. There are people at home and around the world, many who have little to celebrate, that we need to thank for our being able to enjoy the life we do.

 

You are right in that we are very fortunate and indeed just lucky in just being born where and when we did.  

 

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9 hours ago, donaldsc said:

 

Is this really true or are most of the places owned off island and they take advantage of the workers?

 

DON

While local ownership would obviously be beneficial to the locals,  the tax revenues and the salaries which tourism generate both help the residents.  It can be argued that any business, anywhere, tends to “take advantage of the workers”.

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Ah this is just the sort of responses I expected.

 

These people leave their wives and children for months on end just to get some money that they consider decent.

 

It's just as well they do as there wouldbt be cruise ships without them.

 

As I know they wouldnt fill these jobs with anyone else.

 

And I did say that there wasn't an answer to it.

 

Funny innit? Everyone seems to want to eat with the captain. I would rather est with the waiters. The captain is just the  bloody bus driver.

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Some cruise lines have been charged with dumping garbage into the Caribbean but same cruise lines still thrive with passenger bookings

 

Ethics Dilemma - would you still book on one of these cruise lines if you knew they were dumping garbage in the sea ?

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When we sailed into Burnie in Tasmania the local Mayor and entourage was waiting to greet us and handed out pins to those passengers who got off the ship.  Speaking to a local store owner he said the town was very worried as to what would happen with the mega ships as the port was not big enough for them to berth.  He went on to say that they depended upon cruise passengers to keep the tills singing.

 

I'm happy to report that we obliged him as DH bought several shirts from the shop.

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9 hours ago, leaveitallbehind said:

most of the businesses that support the tourists - ...stores and other merchants, etc., etc., are all locally owned and staffed

There are stores and there are stores.

 

The diamond shops, Piraña Joe t-shirt shops, Cariloha bamboo shops, etc. etc. that you see near the pier in every port aren't locally owned. The grocery stores (doesn't everyone like to visit a grocery store when traveling?) and cheap trinket kiosks are locally owned, sure.

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11 hours ago, donaldsc said:

To be honest, I do not consider ethics at all when I make travel itinerary decision. 

 

I do, sometimes, but it may be different than the theme of the thread. There are some countries I won't go to because my conscience/ethics cannot allow me to put money in to the hands of the government, as any tourist trip inevitably does. I won't name names, but there are certainly several...some probably obvious, some not so much due to personal beliefs.

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Foreign Staff / Crews ...

For what it’s worth, from the other side of the coin.

I have spent several years at sea, starting out as a cadet and leaving as Chief Officer. We had European crewed ships and we had Indian crewed ships.

Were the Indians paid less than the Europeans? Yes.

Did they know this and accept It? Yes. The wage they got was poor in comparison to the officers, but not that different to the  cadets paltry wage!

This was in the days when each crew member was given an allocated amount of rice per day. This was the way they wanted it. More often than not they stashed some away and gave a lesser amount to the cook. When they left the ship the stash was taken home .... and frequently sold on.

They were offered overtime but many frequently refused it as the extra money was not needed..

Did they have to come to sea to be away from their families? No .... but neither did anyone else on board. Competition for a place on board was fierce!

Were they ‘poor’? No. They were rich .... especially when they went home.

Did they receive a basic living wage? No ... it was far better.

 

 

Environmental issues ???

In my opinion, Governments are now taking the issue far more seriously and acting accordingly.

 

981C17DE-DDAB-4942-8633-EEB173CF2154.png

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Good posts so far.  They go with what I believe: "All the world's a stage, and we're all actors."  That is, we all have a role to play.  I don't feel "sorry" for the steward cleaning my cabin or the vendor selling me a touristy trinket.  They're full-grown men and women who do a job to earn a living.  It's no different than a senior VP in my office feeling sorry for me because I have to remove the malware he put on his computer yet again.  (Those damn cat video downloads!)  Do I find it mildly annoying?  Yeah.  Do I want sympathy for it?  No.  I picked that job from what I was good at.  Even if he sails in a balcony suite on Celebrity, while I sail in an interior on Carnival.  All I want is him treating me with decency, which he does.

 

That said, I do try to support the local economy at least a little bit.  Like by buying something from a local shop or a vendor, even if I also drink at Senor Frog's and do excursions through Carnival.  And I always got good reactions when I spoke Spanish to the locals in Mexican ports.  It made their job slightly easier, and gave me a chance to practice.  Win-win.

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I am loving how some are comparing these jobs at sea to their own roles. 

 

Honestly. I try to be funny. But some responses here are far funnier. 

 

I need new material.

 

To answer an earlier point. If I knew the cruise company was deliberately dumping waste then I would never use them again.

 

Only scum do things like that and I wouldnt wish to be associated with such.

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13 minutes ago, Underwatr said:

There are stores and there are stores.

 

The diamond shops, Piraña Joe t-shirt shops, Cariloha bamboo shops, etc. etc. that you see near the pier in every port aren't locally owned. The grocery stores (doesn't everyone like to visit a grocery store when traveling?) and cheap trinket kiosks are locally owned, sure.

True.  But there are far more stores - including other jewelry stores, etc. - at the piers and in town other than the jewelry stores you mention and the vast majority of them are locally owned.  And they are not all cheap trinket kiosks.   As mentioned even those that aren't locally owned are employing local residents.

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