Environmental Cruise Ships - NCL Majesty

With all of the talk about cruise ships dumping waste into the ocean, I thought it a good exercise to look into how one ship handles its waste. The NCL Majesty was my most recent trip.

First, my experiences as a passenger. I did keep an eye open, and never saw any evidence at all that things were being thrown overboard, or dumped when they should not be. In fact, one situation was almost funny. The Majesty goes from Boston MA to Bermuda, and docks in the small port town of St. Georges. When the Majesty comes into the harbor area, it points in the "inward" direction and has to wait there in the center of the harbor until it gets clearance. Then it turns around 180 degrees and docks, pointing outwards.

During this time, the ship of course can't just "float idle". If it did, the currents would push it into a shore. So the ship's motors are running at a low speed, to keep it in place. Because the harbor is so shallow, this motor action stirs up the silt from the bottom of the harbor, making a dusty brown cloud rise. I heard several people around me comment that our ship must be dumping out something, to cause that discoloration! Surely these people have never been on a boat before, to understand what was happening. I really have to wonder if it is situations like this that get many false rumors going.

I was able to talk with Captain Jan Peder Ottesen, Hotel Director Jean Michel Dhelin, and Chief Engineer Leif Bjornsen. They explained that no sewage from the Majesty ever goes into the ocean at *all*. When the ship lands on Bermuda, they hook up pipes directly to the Bermuda sewage system, and turn ALL sewage over to Bermuda authorities for processing.

Not only that, but all trash on the ship is taken off, weighed, and receipts are kept. If those receipts are ever missing, there are huge fines involved! The Bermuda government keeps very careful track of exactly how much trash is taken off the ship and verify that it is appropriate for the number of people on board.

I don't know that environmental groups can really hope for much more than this. The ship carries all sewage - not dumping any - and turns it over for treatment. They carry all trash and do the same thing.

If anyone is being non-environmental here, it is the passengers on the Majesty. We would go out on the island and see the people of Bermuda in a drought condition, literally having to ask mainlanders to bring in water on tankers for them to survive. There is little to no freshwater on this island, and the few drops they get come from rainwater caught on their white, terraced roofs. The cruisers would see this, and then go back on the ship and waste gallons of water by letting their shower run, their sink faucets run, or leaving half-drunk glasses of soda lying around. Most boat owners I know are extremely water-conscious because they realize how precious water is on a ship. Maybe it's time we give some mandatory lessons in water conservation to all cruisers when they board.

I was extremely pleased with what I saw on the Majesty, and could only hope that other cruise ships would follow this example!

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