Text: Ellen Wild
When I was a child, I watched Disney's Pocahontas over and over again. There was a scene in that movie about 'strange clouds'. A giant ship sailing from behind the landscape, sails big as clouds. It is funny how that memory has aged. Now I look out my windows to see 'strange mountains' moving behind our landscape here. Ships so big, they tower behind the mountains of the fjords. Alas, not sailing by wind, but by smoking pipes.
The age of cruise lines. It is very easy to have an opinion about things. Certainly, a one sided and badly informed one. I have been trying to form an opinion about cruises for quite some time now and I’m still not sure about the bigger picture.
Because yes, absolutely, they are an environmental nightmare. But to be fair, so is the entirety of the human race. Our whole god damn system is an environmental nightmare. I think we just don't like it being shoved in our face like that. The same way we buy our meat packaged in the supermarket. Cruise lines are too much of a mirror, a manifestation of the state of our current societal system.
It’s like looking capitalism straight in the eyes. Should those thousands of people come by car or airplane, the black smoke wouldn't come any less from the pipes. So, should there be a limit on tourism then? Or just a ban: “This land is ours alone.”
The discussion goes all the way of trail here. Why do people travel? More importantly, why do they travel the way they do? Why isn't the world filled with residencies, work-exchanges, remote workers, slow travel concepts and conscious retreats? Should we talk about the mental health of the world's working class next?
And then there is the argument that cruises bring a big financial boost to their destinations. To who exactly is this boost going? Is it the small local merchants? Is all that money going to local food and hand knitted sweaters and hard-working companies who offer local and real experiences? Or is the majority going to the ports and cruise-handling services?
It is really a game of money and power, far over the heads of the community. All food is inclusive on the ship anyway, smart. And what about us? Are we supporting our local merchants? Or are we filling up our luggage abroad, shopping online to get it a bit cheaper. Is it sustainable for any place to rely on tourism for its financial stability? Not really. So, then we can drag remote urban development into the equation.
Solving the cruise ship problem, requires solving the problems of the first world. Are you going to do that? It can feel like the weight of the worked, crushing on your spine. You are just one single little human. But you know what the secret is? So is everyone. We are all fighting our own demons, battling against the world in the process.
For me the real question is this: “How are we handling the reality of the world?” Living in the now requires dealing with the world in the now. You can spend all the time you want wishing for or complaining about, in the end, it’s going to bring you nowhere. It’s going to bring us, as a collective, nowhere.
And that while there is nothing more beautiful than going in the same direction, both in intentions and in actions. There is this wonderful saying of all the best sailors that stand on land. Our hands are dirty with life, our heads full of being human. Don’t be afraid of that! Real change comes from within. So, greet this mirror of capitalism with your head high. Give those tourist beautiful reasons to maybe make some different decisions next time. And don’t forget to work with that same intention on your own life. There is no growth without deep grounded roots.