Cruises are billed as hedonistic havens of fun activities and luxury accommodations. But a darker side to cruising emerges that the industry strives to conceal. There have been some high-profile cases in the news recently about passengers and staff members going overboard while the ships were at sea, but that’s not the only concern.

Earlier this month, researchers from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University released alarming results of their two-year undercover study of cruise ships’ air quality.

They discovered much air pollution on cruise ships — enough to risk the health of not just staff members and passengers but those living in the port communities where the massive ships dock.

Shocking results

Without being detected, researchers measured levels of concentrated particulate matter (PM) from the ship’s exhaust. They found levels of potential carcinogens that were “comparable to concentrations measured in polluted cities, including Beijing and Santiago,” said the report’s author.

He used a P-TRAK Ultrafine Particle Counter to measure levels at sea and also while the ship was docked. The highest average levels of PM were at the ship’s rear behind its smokestack. Measured particles were ultrafine and fine PM at .02 and 1.0 micrometers.

The report was commissioned by an international environmental organization, Its senior shipping campaigner called the findings “shocking,” noting the stern of the ship often housed pools, running tracks and lounges. That assures that passengers and employees will likely spend much of their time in ship areas where the air quality is hazardous to their health.

Widespread dangers

Those who are predisposed to pulmonary conditions like asthma and/or cardiovascular disease face the highest risk.

Even those who never go aboard can suffer, as the shipping campaigner stated that it’s known that “heavy fuel oil has harmful constituents,” and “there are higher rates of asthma among children in port communities.”

The ships that were surveyed include:

  • Holland America MS Amsterdam (Vancouver to Los Angeles)
  • Carnival Liberty (Florida to Bahamas)
  • Emerald Princess (Los Angeles to Mexico)
  • Carnival Freedom (Texas to the Caribbean)

Carnival issued a statement saying their cruises were coordinated with “national and international regulatory bodies like the [US Environmental Protection Agency] to insure the utmost safety of . . . guests and crew” and internal air quality tests “meet or exceed” all requirements.

Did your cruise leave you injured or ill? It might be possible to be compensated for any damages you suffered. The Law Offices of John W. Merting, P.A. can help you understand your rights and take legal action for compensation.