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OK, quite the topic. I view this a serious and vital part of the industry. I like to ask the questions this way.There are many views regarding the environment when it come to cruise ships.
I've been away for a while (medical issues to address). Things are on an upswing so I hope to be more active again.
As usual, JohnGold raises very good points.
Here is my two cents, for what it is worth...
As for socio-cultural impact -> local governments can kybosh cruise ship traffic at any time (contractual obligations aside). The way I see it, this impact is squarely on the island's government. If popular cruise ships were invading otherwise untouched island, I could make an argument for not doing so. However, the influence that the Internet has had in creating a global popular culture lessens the s-c impact to my way of thinking.
As for environmental impact -> in order to intelligently respond to this, I really need to understand the bigger picture including the impact of not having cruise ship tourism's economic contribution to local economy and what alternatives might kick in. For instance, if people didn't cruise to a destination, many of them would fly to an island destination. Is the increase in air travel (carrying a couple hundred tourists per flight) better or worse on the environment than a single cruise ship carrying thousands of tourists? I honestly do not know.
Trade-offs occur at all levels but it is impossible to overlook the revenue created by cruise ship traffic. Perhaps that is the ultimate impact?