Cruise ships are not the most environmentally friendly vacation destinations on the planet. In fact, according to the latest Cruise Ship Report Card by Friends of the Earth, they might be about the worst. These floating resorts dump over a billion gallons of sewage into the open ocean every year. In a sense, every cruise is a poop cruise.
That’s a lot of sludge to pour onto unsuspecting fish. But thanks to pollution regulations from the International Maritime Organization, it’s entirely legal. Acknowledging that dumping “raw sewage into the sea can create a health hazard,” the IMO says its okay for ships on international voyages to dump treated sewage into the open ocean if the vessel is at least three nautical miles offshore. If the sewage is untreated, the ship must be 12 nautical miles from shore before it dumps the passengers’ dumps.