That said, I believe the debate about cruises and whether to book them needs to go beyond the boat. Hurtigruten might espouse sustainability, but is it even ethical to book a cruise to Antarctica, where the average visitor between 2016 and 2020 melted the equivalent of 83 tons of snow, largely due to emissions from cruise trips?
Despite the fact Venice is in the process of rerouting cruise ships to another terminal, it is heaving under the weight of overtourism, so is it appropriate to book a cruise that stops there?
And in 2020, the majority of local voters in Key West supported restrictions on cruise ships, opting to reinvent the port into a small-ship destination. This decision was overturned in 2021 and the controversy is ongoing. Knowing that, is it right for a cruise ship to dock there even though local residents were opposed—and should you be on that ship?
I admit that, in the past, I’ve carelessly climbed aboard mega ocean liners without a second thought. And, I’ve also swung to the other extreme and written off cruises altogether. But, I’ve come to realize that cruising, like any travel choice, is rife with complexity and contradictions. There may be obvious red flags—booking a trip aboard Icon of the Seas probably isn’t the most responsible choice even if you’re jonesin’ for a waterpark adventure—but the nuance found in any form of travel is found in cruising as well. Ultimately, regardless of where they go or how they journey, travelers must consider the impact of their presence in the spaces they inhabit and move through.