The 22-year-old who goes on a cruise ship twice a year – and doesn't feel guilty at all

  • Every year, millions of people travel on cruise ships. The cruise industry is booming. However, the image of the huge ships has suffered greatly.
  • Especially since the “Fridays for future” movement, people have been questioning whether cruises are really necessary. After all, the ships emit enormous amounts of CO2.
  • At 22, Linda herself belongs to the young generation that is particularly concerned about climate change. Nevertheless, she goes on vacation with the ships at least twice a year.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

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Linda is 22 years old and studies business administration. She grew up in Rostock, the Hanseatic city whose port is visited by countless cruise ships every year. Ever since she was four years old, she has regularly gone on vacation for several weeks on huge ships. And she’s not alone: in 2019, a total of more than 3.1 million German cruise passengers took a trip by ship and around 30 million worldwide.

The market is booming. But for some years now, cruise ships have had an image problem: air pollution, polluting fuels, climate damage, and the production of waste are repeatedly mentioned in connection with cruises. During the “Fridays for Future” demonstrations, air and sea travel was discredited.

Linda is aware of this – she herself belongs to the generation that takes to the streets for climate protection. The young woman explains to Business Insider why she nevertheless travels on the ships twice a year, and that they are by no means “floating retirement homes.”

“I really enjoy going on cruise ships. Once a year with my family, a second time with my girlfriends, whom I met during my studies. I always try to cruise as many different itineraries as possible to discover new places. Sure, if you go during the vacation season, there are a lot of families with children on board. That’s why we usually try to avoid that. If you don’t necessarily sail in the peak season, there are also a lot of young people on the ship.”

According to a Statista survey, the core group of vacationers is 30 to 59 years old. Especially attractive to younger people: Seeing many different destinations in a short time without having to pack a suitcase all the time. In addition, there is a large wellness and entertainment program onboard, surveys show.

Linda agrees: “I just think a cruise is the most affordable option to see a lot, travel to foreign places, get good food, have offerings to relax and at the same time have the opportunity to party.”

However, due to the Corona pandemic, cruise ships have largely ceased operations. That’s why Linda is dodging them this year: Instead, she’s flying out on vacation. “As soon as cruises are back, I’ll go again,” the student is sure. “There will be good hygiene concepts on the ships. But I’ll probably go to warmer areas first, where you spend a lot of time outside anyway.”

But what about the environmental aspect?

“That’s where I’m pinning my hopes on the cruise industry,” Linda says. “I have faith in conversion from heavy fuel oils to an environmentally friendly alternative. Surely, in the future, methods will be found to make environmentally friendly travel on a cruise ship possible.”

Until that time comes, however, Linda doesn’t want to be limited. “Personally, it’s very important to me to travel to different countries and cities. I want to see as much of the world as possible and get to know new cultures. Cruise ships are just the best option for me there.”

This article appeared on Business Insider back in August 2020, and has now been reviewed and updated.

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