NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Global Cruise Activist Network (GCAN) yesterday announced its “Rethink Cruise Tourism” campaign to compel the cruise industry to shift its operating model to be more socially, economically and environmentally responsible before restarting the cruise sector following its COVID-19 hiatus.
During a virtual press conference, the group — which formed during the COVID-19 pandemic to demand that the cruise industry not return to business as usual — called on the cruise ship industry to implement safer and more effective policies.
As part of the campaign, GCAN released two videos — “RethinkBeforeRebook” and “RethinkBeforeReinfect” — along with a series of graphics and fact sheets to provide policymakers and would-be cruisers with a vision of what a transformed cruise industry could look like.
In September 2020, GCAN, whose membership includes cruise port residents, civil society organizations and labor & crime victim advocates, published its “Principles for Responsible Cruise Tourism”, which provides a roadmap for a transition to the socially and environmentally responsible future GCAN members want to see. The principles address a range of concerns ranging from the cruise industry’s negative impacts on local communities to labor, climate change, air pollution, water pollution, environment and biodiversity, public health and crime victims.
Sam Duncombe, of local environmentalist NGO reEarth, commented: “Our goal is an equitable and responsible system of leisure travel that optimizes economic benefits to all stakeholders, and that eliminates the negative social, public health and environmental impacts of cruising on port communities, workers and passengers.”
Several other environmentalists representing groups across the globe spoke to their concerns of the cruise industry, claiming it contributes to pollution, is a risk of spreading COVID-19 and “underpays” its employees. They called on the cruise industry to continue delaying operations, on travelers to reconsider booking cruises and on governments to “regulate this rogue industry”.
GCAN launched its campaign just days after the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a travel advisory recommending that “all people avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide…because the risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high”.
According to the CDC, “cruising safely and responsibly during a global pandemic is very challenging” because “cruise ship travel facilitates and amplifies transmission of COVID-19”. Within the last few weeks, a number of major cruise lines announced a suspension of operations and cancellations of upcoming cruises through the remainder of 2020.