Published in the specialist magazine “Marine Pollution Bulletin”, the analysis was released by the University of Exeter (UK) and indicates that the cruise industry has a continuous and growing impact on both the environment and human health and well-being.

The investigation, which the authors say is the most comprehensive ever conducted on one of the fastest growing industries in tourism before the Covid-19 pandemic, warns of the degradation of air, water, soil, fragile habitats and wildlife generated by cruises.

The authors also concluded that the cruise ship industry is a potential source of physical and mental hazards for passengers, workers and people living near ports or working in shipyards.

Risks include the spread of diseases such as Covid-19, noise, air pollution and difficult working environments.

In work that involved, in addition to the United Kingdom, Spain and Croatia, the investigation combined information from more than 200 research documents on the health of people and the environment in different oceans.

Josep Lloret of the University of Girona said, quoted in the investigation, that global legislation is now needed to minimise harm, both to the oceans and to people's health.

“Cruise tourism was a rapidly expanding tourism industry before Covid-19, and our research shows that it has big impacts on the environment and on human health and well-being. The real picture of these impacts. Without new and rigorously enforced rules nationally and internationally, it is likely that the cruise industry will continue to pose these serious health and environmental risks," said Lora Fleming of the University of Exeter.

Researchers say that a large cruise ship can have a carbon footprint of more than 12,000 cars, and that passengers on an Antarctic cruise can produce as many carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as the European average in an entire year. Within the Mediterranean, they say, CO2 emissions from cruise ships and ferryboats are estimated to be up to 10 percent of all ship emissions.

The document released today also includes research on solid waste, which also has an impact on health and the environment.

A cruise ship carrying 2,700 passengers can produce a tonne of waste per day.

“Although cruise ships make up only a small percentage of the world's shipping industry, it is estimated that around 24 percent of all waste produced by shipping comes from this sector,” say the authors of the research.