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January 10, 2021, 12.43 PM

Billions were invested in clean marine propulsion technology, pollutant filters and more efficient vessels. But can that trend be maintained in the face of massive losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic? Will operators scrimp on environmental protection measures to save money in the short term? The cruise companies say no.

“We are convinced that the subject of environmental and climate protection will continue to gain relevance. Accordingly, during this standstill, we have not deviated from our strategy and will not do so in the future,” TUI Cruises declared.

Also readCoronavirus Outbreaks Inside a Norwegian Cruise Ship

Cruise expert Illes, too, gives a cautious go-ahead: “Cruises that ignore environmental sustainability will only be able to function to a limited extent.” He says the industry has no other choice but to face criticism and invest in sustainability despite the difficult situation. According to Illes, too many cruise operators had failed to take the subject seriously enough for far too long.

Cruise companies remain under pressure in 2021

That pressure to operate sustainably is coming from all sides, with many critics saying the billions in government aid from which cruise providers have profited should be invested sustainably.

And that doesn't just mean environmental protection. The cruise industry has also been slammed for encouraging harmful overtourism for years. The giant liners off Venice, Dubrovnik and Barcelona came to symbolize mass tourism — even though in many places they accounted for only a fraction of visitor numbers.

Also read7 Best Places to Visit in Lombok, Indonesia for Nature-Loving Travelers

Some destinations will now recognize the advantages the cruise liners have brought them. Others might use the pandemic to develop their own sustainable tourism concepts, in part to make themselves independent of the cruise ships, which tend to be unloved among portions of the local population.

That could put cruise operators under pressure and ultimately lead to them making concessions to their critics. Together with the cities — and their residents — they could develop a more sustainable cruise tourism after the pandemic from which all sides would benefit in equal measure.

The ocean-going giants would again be welcomed with open arms and not, as before the Covid-19, be banned from more and more cities.


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