The purchasing power of cruise companies over where and what activities passengers spend
their money on at a destination has also been identified as an economic impact. Klein (2003,
2006) argues that increasing purchasing power of cruise companies has a direct impact on
suppliers and shore excursion providers. This creates unequal power relations between
various stakeholders in the destination ports, often resulting in foreign-operated tours being
the major beneficiaries and the residents providing only other minor services that the major
tour companies cannot provide (Klein, 2003; Lester & Weeden, 2004).
This also raises concerns over the control of the industry, which is in the hands of foreigners where
communities and local businesses compete against a few multinational corporations on global
economic conditions than local conditions (Fish & Gunther, 1994; McKee, 1988).
More discussion on this will follow in the section on neo-colonialism. The cruise ship companies
could easily choose alternative ports if they disagree with the conditions offered to them
onshore. In some instances, they may threaten to pull out from that route, as found in the
Caribbean when some ports decided to increase port charges on cruise passengers (Klein,
Being a floating resort also makes this task easier for them as they can easily
depart at anytime if things do not work out with a product, unlike resort tourism for which
investment is on the ground and investors have a longer commitment to the destination. Other
challenges posed by this industry are environmental impacts.
Environmental impacts of cruise ships
The rapid growth of the cruise ship industry means there are also costs associated with its
expansion. Since it is mobile, it introduces factors that are different from other forms of
tourism (Douglas & Douglas, 2004a). One of these is the environmental effects of these large
vessels. Recent studies on the environmental impacts of cruise ships have drawn increasing
attention to the concerns and the underlining problems brought about by cruise ships or by
their passengers; these include waste generation and illegal discharge of waste (both treated
and untreated), pollution problems (sea and air), damage to coastal marine and other fragile
environments, issues of environmental carrying capacity, and other concerns (Burrowes et al.,
2003; Davenport & Davenport, 2006; Dickinson & Vladimir, 1997; Herz, 2002; James, 2003;
Johnson, 2002; Klein, 2002; Orams, 1998; Ringer, 2006).
In addition to these concerns, most of the cruise ships are foreign registered in ‘flag of convenience’ of a nation but operated in another country.
This allows them to adhere to the laws of the country they are registered in
and avoid environmental and labour laws of the destination ports (Timothy, 2006). In the
absence of national regulations, any environmental concerns are governed by the maritime
law (Bluewater Network, 2005; Herz, 2002; Klein, 2003). However, Wood (2000) argues that
loopholes in the International Maritime Regulation makes dumping of waste into oceans
According to the International Maritime Regulation, it is legal to dump
certain non-hazardous and non-toxic wastes into the ocean when the ship is outside a
country’s 200-mile zone. This makes it difficult to prosecute offenders, as dumping is legally
done, but it raises questions of who is responsible for the pollution caused when tides bring
this waste ashore. For destinations dependent on the marine environment for their livelihood
(such as diving and fishing), the pollution caused by cruise ship dumping can have huge
implications for them, both economically and socially. While tourism on the whole presents
environmental challenges, it could be argued that ships are a far greater threat than the resorts.
Social impacts cruise ships
A few studies have discussed the social impacts with perceived costs and benefits associated
with cruise tourism, but none has examined the residents’ coping strategies (Johnson, 2002;
Klein, 2002; Liburd, 2001; Wood, 2000). The huge influx of passengers in a port for a limited
number of hours creates crowding problems where a big volume of the passengers occupy the
same spatial location during similar times of the day. In this situation, such interactions tend
to be shallow, superficial and based on different expectations that hosts and guests have
(Sharpley, 1994). Jaakson (2004), basing his work on Smith’s (1972) ‘tourist bubble,’
described the tendency for the majority of the cruise ship passengers to spend their time in
familiar surroundings like tourist shops and restaurants, while rarely venturing out beyond
the environmental tourist bubble.
In some ports, the huge influx of cruise visitors often exceeds the number of residents; this, in turn, puts pressure on existing capacity and stress on available infrastructure – for example, stress on limited water resources, waste disposal systems, recreation and leisure facilities.
This raises questions as to whether cruise passengers hould be taxed for using these services (Cervency, 2005).
This can create feelings of resentment by residents if the passengers are seen to be spending money in only a few locations.
In some destinations, some residents have adapted to this situation by aggressive
begging or other forms of aggression (Taylor, 1993, cited in Wood, 2004).
Although these studies are useful and increase our knowledge of cruise ship tourism, the
social impacts of this type of tourism are not well understood and relatively neglected in the
academic literature (Butler & De Lavalle, 2003; CLIA, 2004; De la Vina & Ford, 2001;
Dickinson & Vladimir, 1997; Foster, 1986; Toh et al., 2005; Wood, 2000). Of the few social
impact studies conducted, most focused on the northern hemisphere ports, especially on the
Caribbean cruise destinations (CESD, 2006; Dowling, 2006; Pulsipher & Holderfield, 2006).
Previous research has noted the paucity of literature on this industry and the need for further
studies to be carried out in this area (Wood, 2004). A preliminary literature search on impacts
studies showed no literature on coping with the social impacts of cruise ship tourism.
However, recent studies that have looked at the socio-cultural impacts of this type of tourism
create negative socio-cultural impacts that may result in feelings of displacement (Ringer,
Ringer’s study acknowledges that as tourist numbers increase, it creates congestion,
which place strains on local residents and infrastructures with potential loss of social and
cultural identity. As a result, growing conflicts emerge in relations to changing dynamics and
behaviours of tourists, causing some residents to be displaced due to increased number of
tourist causing utility prices to increase. Despite this, the residents still welcome tourists for
economic and personal reasons.
Although recent studies have assisted in our understanding of the socio-cultural impacts of the
industry, no studies have looked at how residents cope with these impacts. Therefore, this
study aims to contribute to the academic understanding of the socio-cultural impacts of cruise
ship tourism and extend the knowledge from existing literature on resident adjustment
strategies to cruise ship tourism. This is because cruise ship tourism is different from other
forms of tourism, and some of its impacts are unique to the industry.
The next section will review literature on attitudes and perceptions of residents to tourism,
and how this influences how they respond to the socio-cultural impacts of tourism.