Our stance on cruise ships

cruise ship with island

As an advocate for authentic and responsible travel experiences, TravelLocal has made a conscious decision to refrain from selling tours on large cruise ships. While these kinds of cruises offer the allure of luxury and convenience (though not always the reality), we firmly believe that their negative impacts on the environment, overtourism, limited economic benefit to local communities, and lack of authentic cultural interactions outweigh the benefits they may provide.

We draw a distinction specifically between smaller boats (such as in the Galapagos Islands and on the Nile) and full ocean liners. The manageable size of the former lowers their impact.

Environmental concerns

Large cruise ships, by their very nature, contribute significantly to carbon emissions and environmental degradation. These floating cities burn massive amounts of fossil fuels, emitting greenhouse gases: according to research, a single cruise ship can emit as much particulate matter and sulfur dioxide per day as 1 million cars. Moreover, the cruise industry has been criticized for its inadequate waste management practices, resulting in vast amounts of food waste being dumped into the ocean, further endangering marine ecosystems.

Overtourism: A strain on destinations

One of the most pressing issues exacerbated by larger cruise liners is overtourism. The sudden influx of thousands of passengers can overwhelm local communities, infrastructure, and natural resources. An example of this can be seen in Greece, where popular destinations like the iconic Parthenon in Athens have experienced an unprecedented surge in visitors due to cruise ships docking nearby. The resulting congestion not only detracts from the authenticity of the experience but also strains local resources and infrastructure, leading to the degradation of these cherished sites.

Limited economic benefit: A missed opportunity for local economies

While cruise passengers contribute to the tourism economy in general, the financial benefits that larger cruise ships bring to local communities are limited. Many cruise lines offer onboard dining options, leaving less room for travelers to explore and support local restaurants. Similarly, cruise ships often sell excursion tickets onboard, bypassing local tour operators and diverting money away from the community. These practices hinder the growth of local businesses and prevent travelers from truly immersing themselves in the local culture and economy.

Authentic travel: Connecting with local culture and people

At TravelLocal, we firmly believe that authentic travel experiences provide the most meaningful connections with local cultures and people. Large cruise ships, on the other hand, can feel sterile and inauthentic, offering only superficial glimpses into the destinations they visit. The limited time spent ashore and the structured itineraries often prevent passengers from engaging in genuine interactions with local communities. TravelLocal seeks to promote authentic encounters, where travelers can delve deeper into the rich tapestry of a destination, fostering genuine connections that create lasting memories.

Why choose TravelLocal: Authenticity and sustainable impact

By taking a firm stance against selling large cruise ships, we understand that we may lose potential customers who seek the convenience and luxury associated with this form of travel. However, our commitment to our values and the principles of authentic and sustainable travel is paramount to us and those values hold true worth when one is willing to pay for them. We believe that travel should leave a positive impact on both the traveler and the destination.

When you choose TravelLocal, you are supporting local economies directly. We work with trusted local experts who design personalized itineraries, ensuring that your travel experience benefits local businesses and communities. The money you spend goes directly into the local economy.

Moreover, our focus on authentic travel allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture, interact with local people, and create meaningful connections. We provide opportunities to engage with local guides, visit local markets, and partake in traditional activities that give you a genuine understanding of the destination’s heritage and way of life.

Choose TravelLocal for an unforgettable journey that respects the environment, supports local communities, and connects you with the heart and soul of your chosen destination.

If you find something on our itineraries that doesn’t look right to you, please let us know via sustainability@travellocal.com.

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Let's reimagine travel, together

Sustainability and ethics in travel is complex and there are often no easy solutions, but we are committed to learning and improving in collaboration with our local partners and you, our customers, to offer you the best possible travel experience.

If you have any topics or questions you’d like to raise, please get in touch: