Cruise ships chief: ‘The goal is zero impact, just fun’

(EurActiv, 12 Mar 2019) More gigantic cruise ships will take to the high seas in the coming years, according to industry CEO Michael Thamm. In an interview with EURACTIV, he revealed how cruising intends to embrace low-carbon technologies in an effort to reduce its environmental impact and keep its customers satisfied.

As tall as a 20-storey building and capable of carrying more than 5,000 passengers, the world’s largest cruise ships are a ubiquitous sight in the ports of Europe’s major cities, as more and more people decide that cruising is their kind of holiday.

Passenger numbers have been increasing year-on-year since the mid-1990s and are expected to keep growing, especially since the industry is investing billions in new vessels.

But that success has been accompanied by concerns about its impact, as ships unload tourists and emissions alike into the streets and airways of coastal cities.

Michael Thamm, the head of Italian cruise operator Costa Group and the new chairman of trade association CLIA, is a staunch defender of his industry though, and he told EURACTIV cruising is lumbered with an unfair reputation that is the result of an “emotional debate”.

“The ships are by nature very visible. But we’re a small industry and, in fact, we make up less than 5% of global tourism,” the German CEO explained. Tourist numbers topped 1.3 billion in 2017, according to the UN.

“You also have to remember that there are actually only 350 ships across the industry,” he added.

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EurActiv, 12 Mar 2019: Cruise ships chief: ‘The goal is zero impact, just fun’