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(en) France, UCL AL #338: - Where is the fight against the cruise industry? (ca, de, fr, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Wed, 10 Apr 2024 11:52:43 +0300

Last spring, the Sémaphore collective organized an action at the port of Douarnenez to denounce the arrival of the cruise industry in the Penn Sardin city. In Marseille, a few months earlier, the Stop Croisière collective led a media action on the water in order to block access to the port for a few hours for the largest liner in the world, the Wonder of the Seas, which has since been surpassed in size and size. excess by the Icon of the Seas. Elsewhere still, in Le Havre, in Cherbourg, in Lorient, in La Ciotat, in Ajaccio, collectives are being created to denounce the overall impact of this industry on our lives. On the eve of a new tourist season, let's try to take stock of the state of this growing mobilization. Are we going to experience a warm spring on the coasts in this area?

In 2023, CLIA (Cruise Line International Association) estimated growth in the number of passengers at 6% compared to 2019 (last "normal" year before COVID) and expected a value close to 33% by 2027 Suffice it to say that the industry is doing well. If luxury cruising on small units (200-300 seats) remains a leisure activity for the upper middle class, the cruise industry has adapted to the market to now reach all age groups, all budgets and even families. Companies are adapting and the average age of customers is decreasing. Activities on board are also diversifying, and are no longer labeled as "retiree activities". On the latest products from the Royal Caribbean International company, you can now surf on an artificial wave or climb a 17-meter climbing wall, all while passing from stopover port to stopover port, sometimes even without disembarking.
Furthermore, the race for excess continues, and shipyards are adapting. To take just the example of Chantiers de l'Atlantique in Saint-Nazaire, a historic flagship of the French naval industry, the order book by 2038 is full. Out of 15 ship projects on order, 11 are cruise ships, not to mention floating buildings (the rest are for the army...).
In this regard, in an article published in December 2023 on the website statista.com, a site specializing in the analysis of economic data at a global level, the author indicates that "Despite this renewed popularity, the cruise industry is regularly singled out for its impact on the environment and on the cities of stopover.» (1)

Once underway, these ships, whatever their size, must sell leisure, dreams. That's their business. If the companies use numerous subterfuges to attract cruise passengers on board, the main leisure sold by the companies remains the choice of destination. The slogan of the Ponant company is also categorical "Access by sea to the treasures of the Earth". The dream is there... To speak only of Europe, Barcelona and Venice have been two popular destinations for a long time, and the damage inherent to the passage of boats is starting to be all too visible. We have to drown the fish a little (and pollute it...) and here too the companies are adapting and looking more and more for new destinations. The luxury subsidiaries of these multinationals seek to open other markets by accessing, with their small units, "off the beaten track" destinations. An adventurer's cruise dressed as Hermès...

Added to this, local elected officials and port authorities often roll out the red carpet for companies, under the eternal fallacious pretext of benefits for the local economy. The inhabitants of the affected localities, for their part, no longer have any choice but to adapt, and above all not to complain. Between atmospheric, visual and noise pollution, to which we add the social impacts inherent to any tourism industry, local populations nevertheless have many reasons not to shut down.

During the current slack period, different groups have initiated actions here and there, in order to show the deep disagreements that exist towards cruise development policies, and this on the different maritime facades, while the actions have been carried out until now mainly in high season. This aperiodic novelty is notable and shows, although it still needs to be proven, the desire not to let these nuisances take hold. And this obviously bodes well for good things to come for sunny days and first stops. If the Breton collectives are not decided to let go of the positive dynamic of 2023 in terms of disruptions to tourist stopovers, the Normans for their part have strongly mobilized this winter against the electrification of the quays in Le Havre.

Meanwhile, in the Mediterranean, collectives continue to work to make the fight more visible and create links with other cities affected by this scourge in the Mediterranean basin. A coalition of collectives has even been created on a European scale in order to try to coordinate joint actions and avoid the isolation of smaller collectives in their respective ports. Links have also been created with American collectives mainly to inform and support each other on both sides of the Atlantic.

As always when we attack the very heart of capitalism, we must recognize that our chances of winning are slim. But in the fight against the cruise industry, despite the excess of the opposite camp, the activists can nevertheless have a not insignificant impact for measured risk-taking. Media actions in Finistère, Marseille and Barcelona in recent years have clearly demonstrated this. There are in fact a thousand and one ways to hinder a good stopover on a cruise ship, whether at sea, in ports, or even on land by disrupting excursions and blocking the roads used by coaches.
Any action aimed at breaking the dream image sold by companies to their customers is a small victory. A customer who is dissatisfied during his vacation is a customer who, we hope, will be reluctant to return, regardless of the cruise line's social class.
However, to measure our joy a little, we frequently see on the side of public opinion, as on the side of certain anti-cruise activists, that environmental and public health questions are often the central points of the criticism made to the industry of the sector. Actions are often organized by so-called "eco" movements or collectives.

Social and political criticism is often secondary, the environmental issue being much more media-oriented and concrete in the eyes of a good number of activists. It is also not uncommon to see members of EELV, Alternatiba or other reformist organizations getting involved in the organization of these collectives, bringing with them economic means and very, not to say too much, framed... Which does not bode well in the perspective of victory against capitalism and cruises! If the environmental issue is obviously essential in this fight, it nevertheless seems utopian to undermine this industry by focusing only on this aspect. There is no point in repeating that capitalism has no use for the environment and will always find one way or another to adapt and make money off our backs, even if it means we don't know. what ecological transition of cruising. Green capitalism remains capitalism, which must therefore be destroyed. A utopian green cruise exploits workers and their environment just as much... Bringing such an industry to its knees requires above all a global critique of it on class dimensions. Likewise, direct actions carried out on the ground must be against its economy, and not for publicity purposes.

Despite these few criticisms of this mobilization currently under construction, it is very pleasing to see the mayonnaise take hold. We will see in the coming months if this struggle takes on a new dimension. And of course, we all hope that the actions on the ground to come will make shipowners and industrialists waver a little, so that they think twice about the future before ordering the construction of a ship costing more than a billion dollars.(2).

Arturo, Marseille, February 2024

1. https://fr.statista.com/themes/3644...
2. https://sbcnews.fr/combien-coute-un...

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