Cruise ships: Can’t live with them—let’s make reefs.

Then Trump won't have to bail them out.

I know. I know. You went on a cruise to the Grand Cancecos and it was the most wonderful experience of your life. There was a swimming pool on board—several of them; and there were stage shows—several of them too; and there were bowling alleys and slot machines and a water park and at least rumors of a soccer stadium on some deck where the rich people stayed.


But now, after a few more norovirus events and this coronavirus disaster, it’s time to drill some holes in the hulls and scuttle them. All of them.


We can swim, be entertained, bowl, waterslide, gamble, and play soccer from dry land, and do so without sailing in a luxurious Petri dish churning out millions of tons of pollutants and trillions of virus colonies.


Today there are 58 such cities afloat, each of which can hold upwards of 3000 passengers. A few of them top the 6000 mark. You can shoehorn slightly fewer than 7000 into Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, three football fields long and weighing 228,000 tons. That’s about 500 million pounds, if anybody’s counting. And together they could hold the population of Bridgeport. And that's just the big ships.


And of those 58 monstrosities, 57 of them are registered outside the United States, often in nations with lax labor laws and outdated safety and environmental codes. Welcome aboard, friend. Oh, and wash your hands.


Pollute? I know you can make statistics do what you want them to, but facts aren’t so malleable: in 2017 Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest luxury cruise operator, emitted nearly ten times more sulfur oxide around European coasts than did all 260 million European cars. And coastline cities—the ports of call—well the air in those places is awful, mainly because less stringent marine sulfur fuel standards allow cruise ships to burn the dirtiest fuel all along the coast.


So what do we do with 1100 foot-long behemoths weighing half a billion pounds in the new age of the coronavirus and self-isolation and what is bound to be a changing economy? We sink them, one by one. Get the passengers off, save the artifacts, rescue the entertainers, drain out all the fluids, find suitable employment for the crew, thank the captain for not hitting any icebergs or rocks, and send everybody home.


Then it’s off to the south Pacific (where there are plenty of trenches in which to hide a 23-story building) and its new life as a reef. Climate change is killing off natural ones: it's win-win. And all those fish with new playgrounds will be thankful forever—though in truth they’ll have little use for the swimming pool. Or the bowling alley.


Oh, and just a note to Hollywood producers: The Ile de France, a stately ocean liner from the fifties was headed for the scrap yard when, in 1959, the movie The Last Voyage was filmed on it. It was, unsurprisingly, a movie about a doomed ocean liner, filmed as the ship was partially sunk. Later the Ile de France was towed to the Ile de Japan to be scrapped.


I mention that because, if a reef doesn't do it for you, how many environmentally sound Subarus can we build from 50 billion tons of steel? Talk about recycling!

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