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Almost 30 million people a year embark on a cruise each year, making it a popular travel trend across the world. Cruisers usually voyage for a couple of weeks, stopping off at various destinations along the way. Cruises allow travellers to experience the height of luxury while simultaneously experiencing a plethora of other cultures.
Rather than worrying about accommodation, cruises allow travellers to have their own cabins where they can keep their own belongings and use their own facilities.
Although cruises are popular, many may not be aware of how key facilities work such as fishing the toilet.
What happens to waste once it’s flushed? Where does it go?
The waste products from the toilet are actually consigned to a treatment plant in the bowels of the ship were it is purified before being pumped back into the ocean away from land.
Raw sewage is not allowed to be discharged into the ocean.
The cruise industry has to comply with strict requirements which are set out by the International Maritime organisation and other regional authorities which work to protect the environment.
If raw sewage was allowed to be pumped into the ocean, this could have a devastating impact on marine wildlife.
The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) handles how waste is disposed.
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According to Telegraph Travel, waste water on cruise ships is divided.
Sewage is known as “black water” and includes anything that is flushed down toilets.
“Grey water” is collected from bathroom sinks, showers, laundry rooms and kitchens.
A third category called “bilge water” contains oils from the engine and is treated separately.
The black water is treated with bacteria to break down the sewage and turn it into cleaner water.
It then enters filtration system which further cleans it and filters it for impurities.
The next stage sees any solid, dense waste sink to the bottom while the water rises up.
The material left behind goes through this process again and again.
Anything that remains is disposed of in a low emissions incinerator.
The clean sewage water is put in a final chamber where it is further disinfected using UV radiation.
The clean water is then put in a storage tank before being discharged.
According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA): “Members agree to process all sewage through a sewage treatment system that is certified in accordance with international regulations, prior to discharge.”
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