What happens to all that crap, I mean, garbage on a cruise?

I remember that startled feeling when I went to the toilet on a train in Africa and saw the tracks whizzing by below the hole. On an airplane, there’s that great whooosh!, that satisfying sucking of air accompanied by a swirl of bluish green fluid that helps wash what has been deposited in the bowl into some hidden receptacle–I hope. This summer we looked at a used RV as a possibility to put on some land we own in Montana as a place to stay once in a while. There was great discussion about what to do with the waste. There’s a dump station near the land, but there’s the problem of getting what was dumped to the dump without bringing the whole RV through town. We don’t have a truck and don’t intend to get one. Thinking about what to do with waste is a real downer–a real idea killer sometimes.

It’s worse when you think of what people can produce on a massive scale and what happens when these garbage producers head off on a cruise ship to sail the ocean blue on their quest for a vacation in paradise. The ocean blue may have a hard time staying that way as cruise ship vacations continue to gain in popularity. Paradise is in danger of turning putrid. This photo is of garbage in a tidal pool in Micronesia, for example.

Cruise ships, according to Ellen Slattery in her post on our favorite environmentally friendly, in-the-know site, Green Daily, have a bad habit of dumping crap in the ocean–and I mean that in an all encompassing sense. Although there are rules for how far ships must be from land before they can let the garbage go, all don’t comply. Even if they do, there’s the diesel exhaust from the engines. Ellen has gathered an impressive stash of information that ought to be read before anyone books a cruise.

The idea is not to skip a cruise, but to pick cruises that are more environmentally friendly. Royal Caribbean International, Lindblad Expeditions, Princess Cruises, and Crystal Cruises are the four cruise lines Ellen lists as being cognizant of treading more lightly on the planet. For the reasons why, plus more tips on how to take a cruise with a clear conscience, read her “Your dream vacation could be a nightmare for the earth.”

Click on jschneid for a photo he posted on Flickr on January 12, 2008. The garbage was washed up on the beach in the Mayan Riviera. As he wrote, “Did the shampoo bottle you threw away on your Caribbean cruise end up on this Mexico beach??”