Ross A. Klein. Cruise Ship Blues: The Underside of the Cruise Industry. Gabriola Island, B.C.: New Society Publishers, 2002. Paperback, vi + 200 pp.
The cruise ship industry, which attracts over 12 million passengers annually, is a fast-growing multi-billion dollar industry. It also is one of the most environmentally destructive industries. Sociologist Ross Klein, who has taken over 30 cruises himself, reveals in this book the unpleasant, seedy side of cruising.
Starting with false advertising, which promises paradise on Earth, and a host of deceptive practices to keep the illusion going, the cruise ship industry is riddled with mounting problems. One problem area is hygiene and an apparent “utter disregard for passenger health;” another problem concerns the safety of passengers, with sexual assault, child abuse, and nonsexual assaults occurring with frightening regularity.
Klein mentions, and himself has witnessed on numerous occasions, the exploitation of workers, who regularly work 80-hour weeks but settle for meager wages and sometimes no wages at all (except for poor food and accommodation). The various unsavory practices on cruise liners all bespeak of the industry barons’ incredible greed.
Most pleasure seekers are oblivious to that industry’s deceptions and malpractices until they themselves become victims of them. The worst record of the cruise ship industry is in the area of environmental pollution: A mega-ship with 5,000 passengers and crew produces nearly 500,000 gallons of wastewater and 50,000 gallons of sewage every single day! In addition, every year over 50,000 tons of food waste and over 100,000 tons of glass, tin, and burnable waste are generated, not to mention engine byproducts, lightbulbs, chemicals, and so forth. Although environmental standards for cruise liners exist, they are by no means religiously observed, and again and again violations are committed, with the authorities having to levy ever stiffer fines (in the millions of dollars).
This sobering exposé is long overdue and should be placed in the hands of anyone contemplating going on a cruise.
Copyright ©2006 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
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