Fuss in Spain over large toxic cloud of mega cruise Wonder of the Seas

by Lorraine Williamson
Wonder of the Seas

PALMA – The world’s largest cruise ship, Wonder of the Seas, docked in Palma for the second time this Monday, after its inaugural voyage on May 3, and brought not only tourists to the island. 

The arrival of the new giant of the seas, owned by the shipping company Royal Caribbean, is a day after the agreement reached, in which Palma has become the first Spanish port, and the second port in the Mediterranean after Dubrovnik, which sets a maximum of three cruise ships a day that can dock. And of those three, only one mega cruise ship with more than 5,000 passengers like the Wonder of the Seas. 

The aim of the agreement is to reconcile tourism with the environment and the daily lives of residents. The agreement is in effect until 2026. 

The signature of the agreement is the culmination of a two-year negotiation on a new model in this sector. Moreover, it aims at the sustainability of cruise tourism. 

However, the agreement has been criticized by the Anti-Cruise Platform, which summed up the agreement with the term “very unambitious”. 

Latest generation cruise ships 

The Wonder of the Seas belongs to the latest generation of cruise ships. It is characterised by its sheer size and the many benefits it offers from both recreations to habitability. Furthermore, the vessel is 64 metres wide, 362 metres long, and weighs 230,000 tons. Moreover, it can accommodate 6,988 passengers and has a crew of 2,300 people. 

Cloud of poison 

In connection with its sheer size, environmental groups and many citizens have taken to social media to criticize the large “cloud of toxic smoke” that the Wonder of the Seas brought over Palma while docking in the harbour on Monday. 

The anti-cruise platform denounces the poison cloud that Royal Caribbean’s new behemoth “pollutes almost 10 times more than all the cars in Palma combined”. 

Complaints from residents of the port city are pouring in on Twitter. For example, @AdriaPinol writes: “Good morning and good warm week! Can someone tell me what these black marks are on the coastline of #CostaDaurada. They have been there since Sunday evening. 

@Terraferida tweets: “The largest cruise ship in the world arrives. The first thing it does is release a toxic cloud on Palma. They pollute, massify, reduce health and bring wealth to tax havens. The government lays out the red carpet for them, Why? 

How polluting is a cruise ship? 

According to an international research team led by the British University of Exeter, the impact of cruise ships on the environment, climate, and public health is increasing rapidly. The team mapped the impact in detail for the first time, based on more than 200 studies. On the basis of this, a new overall picture was sketched. 

In addition to being a source of environmental pollution, polluting the air, water, and soil, and damaging vulnerable habitats, they also have a huge climate footprint. Available studies show that the footprint of a large cruise ship is comparable to that of more than 12,000 cars. 

And passengers on an Antarctic cruise produce the same amount of CO2 in an average trip of a week as the average European in an entire year. An overnight stay on a cruise ship quickly consumes twelve times more energy than in a comparable hotel on land. 

Professor Lora Fleming from the University of Exeter says that without new and strictly enforced national and international standardized rules, the cruise industry will continue to pose serious health and environmental risks.” 

Commercial cruise ships are among the planet’s biggest polluters 

A 2019 study by the Transport & Environment think tank shows that commercial cruise ships are among the biggest polluters on the planet. The American company Carnival takes the cake. This cruise line alone emitted almost ten times more sulphur oxides around the coast of Europe in 2017 than all 260 million European cars combined. 

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