The Tyee has published my review of Elizabeth Becker's excellent Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism: Global Tourism's Less-Than-Scenic Explosion. Excerpt:
Perhaps the most horrifying kind of tourism Becker describes is the cruise ship industry, which Vancouver cherishes. Cruise ships are floating shopping malls, a microcosm of consumer society. But they are environmental disasters.
"According to the Environmental Protection Agency," Becker tells us, "in the course of one day the average cruise ship produces: 21,000 gallons of human sewage, one ton of solid waste garbage, 170,000 gallons of wastewater from showers, sinks, and laundry, 6,400 gallons of oily bilge water from the massive engines, 25 pounds of batteries, fluorescent lights, medical wastes and expired chemicals, and 8,500 plastic bottles... But there are no accurate studies of how well that waste is disposed of because the ships are not required to follow any state or national laws once in international waters. ... As a result, neither the government nor the public know how much pollution is released at sea."
As with Dubai, cruise ships' success is built on low pay; Becker notes waiters generally earn $50 a month plus tips. No wonder norovirus often breaks out on such ships, ending hundreds of passengers' holiday with vomiting and diarrhea.
And cruise ship engines create serious air pollution. When Vancouver found itself during the 2010 Winter Olympics with cruise ships serving as floating hotels, it demanded they hook up to the city power grid rather than run their engines and create "cruise ship haze."
"The EPA estimates that a cruise ship carrying 2,000 passengers on the open sea will pollute the air with the same amount of sulfur dioxide as 31.1 million automobiles every day," Becker notes.
Coincidentally, Yahoo! News has an AP report: The CDC has confirmed that the norovirus outbreak on the Explorer of the Seas was the new Sydney strain. Almost 700 passengers and crew fell ill.