Project Description

Discharges and air emissions from cruise ships have an incredibly damaging impact on ocean and coastal areas throughout the world. U.S. Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA) has referred to cruise ships as “floating cities” as they ferry thousands of passengers for extended periods of time. This includes significant volumes of raw sewage, solid waste, graywater, oily bilge water; ballast water; and air pollution. Because the industry operates in both U.S. and international jurisdictions, there is no single rule of law or single agency responsible for monitoring and enforcement. While the cruise ship industry itself has voluntarily adopted waste management practices, they are far from sufficient. Cruise ship pollution adversely affects critical aquatic ecosystems including deep ocean fish and marine life, coastal birds and marine mammals and onshore human health.

The music and cruise ship industries have an on-going relationship through music (“jam”) cruises, which are typically built around particular artists. This partnership has provided Rock the Earth with a unique opportunity to work with promoters and artists alike. Rock the Earth is working to identify ways in which the music industry can advocate for change within the cruise line industry. In partnership with Friends of the Earth (formerly Bluewater Network), Rock the Earth is challenging these damaging practices by the cruise industry by providing formal comments to the EPA Report (2008) and the General Permit for Discharges (2008). In 2011, we continued our efforts by reaching out directly to artists and promoters, including submitting letters to 240 artists from nearly every genre of music. These artists have relationships with the following music cruises:

American Music Cruise 2012
Bluegrass Cruise
2nd Annual Danny Gokey Cruise
Holy Ship
Irish Music Cruise
K-Love Friends & Family Music Cruise
Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise
Malt Shop Memories Cruise
Monsters of Rock Cruise
Music Boat Cruise
The Jazz Cruise
The Kiss Kruise
The Rock Boat
The Smooth Jazz Cruise
The Weezer Cruise

Our letter highlighted the environmental harms associated with cruise ships, and offered strategies that artists and promoters can use to promote more sustainable practices within the industry.

Also supporting efforts on this initiative are our partners at Reverb, who sent the same letter to nearly two-dozen additional artists.. In 2012, Rock the Earth submitted formal comments on EPA’s proposed 2013 regulations for discharges and asked for more stringent regulations.


What You Can Do

  • Write or call the EPA/U.S. Coast Guard and tell them you opposed the exemptions of the NPDES(what is this?) permitting process that excludes “discharges incidental to the normal operations of vessels”
  • Petition the EPA/Coast Guard to enact more stringent regulations for and mandatory, random checks of marine sanitation devices (MSDs) aboard cruise ships.
  • Before booking a cruise, check out Friends of he Earth’s Cruise Ship Report Card.
  • Contact Congressman Sam Farr and let him know you support his efforts to regulate cruise ships and ocean polluters.

If you’d like more information on Rock the Earth’s education and outreach or legal and technical work on Regulating Cruise Ship Waste, let us know.