Despite a few difficult years during the pandemic, cruise holidays remain hugely popular. But the ships can be controversial and the industry has faced protests, bans and high taxes in recent years.
dr. Clare Weedon, senior lecturer in tourism and marketing at the University of Brighton, said: express.co.uk: “Dubrovnik, Venice, Barcelona and all the major destinations have had enough of over-tourism and of course they focus on the cruise ships because they are the most visible. People seem to love or hate the ships.”
Barcelona has announced it will increase taxes on cruise passengers, while large ships are now banned from the Venice lagoon.
Aside from the crowds, many locals feel outraged by the industry as tourists now spend a lot of money on the destinations they visit.
express.co.uk previously spoke to Bengt Waldow, an anti-cruise campaigner in Norway, who has called for a total ban on ships.
He was an outspoken hater of cruise ships, saying, “Cruise tourists just leave trash and pennies behind and get on those awful hop on and off buses.”
While some cruise tourists can stay overnight at a destination at the beginning or end of the cruise, most of them spend most of their money on board.
“Economically, they are not particularly good for a destination. As long as it’s just a port of call, the amount of money people spend is very small,” says Dr Weedon.
The bans will mainly affect larger cruise ships, with some ports planning to introduce limits on the size of ships.
dr. Weedon said: “When Covid hit, I think it got a lot of cruise industry executives thinking a little bit. I really think we’ve reached the peak in terms of capacity.
“I think cruise ships will get smaller and the ships will probably split into the mass market and into more sustainable options.
“Smaller ships, perhaps up to 1,500 people, can handle many more destinations.”
dr. Weedon said the smaller ships will likely become more luxurious to cater to a different market than the megaliners.
Some of the new rules have even been welcomed by boutique cruise lines, including Uniworld Boutique River Cruises.
One of Uniworld’s ships suffered major damage in 2019 when a much larger ship collided with it in Venice.
Chris Townson, Managing Director UK & Ireland for Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, said: express.co.uk: “As a river cruise provider that sails along the Venetian Lagoon, we were grateful to the Venetian authorities for the increased sailing bans, as this helps to protect the city’s precious buildings and environment for the enjoyment of citizens and visitors for years to come.
“Uniworld’s Super Ship La Venezia can accommodate up to 126 guests and spend a full week exploring the city, the surrounding islands and sailing along the Venetian Lagoon – something a half-day visit from a large cruise ship operating outside the center can never do.” approach replication.”
But megaships remain popular and Royal Caribbean has just shared plans for the next ship. Icon of the Seas will be the largest ship in the world and will carry more than 7,500 people.
For many customers, the ship is a destination in itself with ziplines, boardwalks, a living park, laser tag and more on board.
However, Ben Bouldin, EMEA Director for Royal Caribbean said: express.co.uk that destinations and routes remain important for customers.
He said the line wants to “respect communities and add real economic value to the locations we go to.”
Much larger ships have broken the bans by docking in ports outside the main destinations. Ravenna is a popular option as it is only a few hours drive from Venice.
dr. Weedon added: “The cruise industry does not like to be dictated to when it comes to access. The bigger ships go to cheaper, more cargo-like ports and then people go in. I think it kills two birds with one stone because they don’t have to talk to the ports.”