Adapted from: Maritime Administration (MARAD) (2002). Maritime Trade & Transportation 2002 Washington D.C.: United States Department of Transportation.
Depending on the ship size, the number of persons on board, the ship-operating route, the voyage duration, and the time spent in the respective areas, waste discharge might be restricted to time spent in port. The quantity and types of garbage to deliver by cruises into a port reception facility may vary a lot, making the port’s waste services planning and provisions more challenging to manage in terms of demand, capacity, and adequacy.
Pollutants and waste from cruise ships include air emissions, ballast water, wastewater, hazardous waste, and solid waste. An average cruise ship generates a minimum of 1 kg of solid waste plus two bottles and cans per passenger per day and an average of 50 tons of sewage (black water) per day. A figure of 3.5 kg/passenger/day, with the estimated amount of generated waste (typical one-week voyage) including 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water; 210,000 gallons of sewage (or black water); 1 million gallons of non-sewage wastewater from showers, sinks, laundries, baths, and galleys (or grey water) and eight tons of solid waste (i.e. plastic, paper, wood, cardboard, food, cans, glass).
The average cruise ship of 3,000 passengers and crew generates about 50 tons of solid waste in a single week. These vessels, or the ones with double capacity (i.e. the Royal Caribbean Oasis-class vessels that exceed capacities of 6.000 passengers), cruise with a capacity utilization that exceeds 90%, thus producing significant wastes and residues to be delivered at the cruise ports they visit.
Overall, a considerable part of the solid waste generated by shipping comes from cruise ships. In the absence of recent data, it is worth noting that two decades ago, the share of comparatively lesser cruise activities was measured to stand at approximately 24% of the total waste produced. Under the IMO International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78), ports are complied to provide adequate port waste reception facilities with no undue ship delay.