Sea spoilers | Seattle weather

A recent news report told the story of a Seattle couple who aim to spend their retirement years on cruise ships — and they’re not just talking about an annual sea trip as many retirees might plan. This pair intends to make a constant succession of cruise ships their permanent home because jumping from one ship to another is actually cheaper than living in a house, buying groceries and pay all the details of life eating away at a bank account or 401(k).

Imagine an all-you-can-eat buffet stretching as far as the eye can see into the future; it’s definitely a new way to spend the so-called golden years. It also highlights the fact that cruise ships are virtual floating cities that offer a long list of amenities to thousands of ever-changing residents. Unfortunately, these cities on the sea also produce many of the negative environmental impacts of communities where humans congregate.

A single large cruise ship has the carbon footprint of 12,000 automobiles. A study found that “passengers on an Antarctic cruise can produce as much CO2 emissions during an average seven-day voyage as the average European over an entire year”. And then there are the thousands of gallons of waste and sewage that each of these ships releases into the waters they sail.

Cruise ships can provide a ton of vacation fun for people who value orderly, predictable travel experiences — and that big buffet — but, environmentally, these ships are gargantuan floating toilets.

The encouraging news is that the Port of Seattle hopes to partner with cruise lines to create a “green corridor” from Elliott Bay to Alaska, where steps will be taken to mitigate the negative impacts of giant party boats. It can’t come too soon because there are about 300 cruise ship departures each year from Seattle and that amounts to a disgusting buffet of pollution in our air and water.

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