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The Tranquilo Traveler is a celebration of voluntourism, slow travel, and other interesting ways to see the world. Travel writer and award- winning Moon Handbooks author Joshua Berman created The Tranquilo Travel as a resource for world trippers and international volunteers, a window to the author’s travels in Nicaragua, Belize, and beyond, and an update of his books and articles.

Cruise ship dumping trash on Belize barge

Username By Joshua | December 7th, 2006 | Comments 18 Comments »

This is a very short clip I shot of the Norwegian Dream’s garbage being dumped onto a small Belizean barge. Quite a large amount was offloaded from the cruise ship and as far as I know, this is illegal, as Belize is not supposed to accept any foreign trash. Solid waste disposal is one of the number one environmental problems in the country, so it seems pretty silly to accept a bunch of garbage produced by wasteful Americans on a discounted cruise.


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I’m not sure what bothers me more — the fact that Norwegian Dream and its passengers are dumping on Belize or the fact that the quantity of trash coming out of this ship could easily have been reduced, but that waste reduction is not a priority for cruise ship life. I’m told the other ships docked off the Belize coast have incinerators, but everyone says these big floating toilets dump all kinds of garbage and sewage into open ocean.

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While I’m standing on my boat, which is preparing to receive passengers from the Dream, a masked man wearing white and carrying a spray pump bottle of disinfectant boards us from the ship and sprays the perimeter of our deck. He is wearing plastic goggles and is apparently protecting the Dream from our dirty Belize germs (though I’m not sure how spraying our decking does this). After he is through and back on his ship, I joke with my Belizean captain that he should have sprayed their trash and we get a good laugh out of it.

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Here she is in all her monstrous glory: the Norwegian Dream in the middle of her 7-day “Texaribbean” journey, based out of exotic Houston and dumping trash on Progresso, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, and Belize. The opening to the left of this photo, near the stern of the ship, is the anus out of which the giant Belize-bound turds were passed.

Category: Belize
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18 Responses to “Cruise ship dumping trash on Belize barge”

Joshua Berman | December 7th, 2006 at 3:19 pm | comment link
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This just in: it is legal. Maybe. There’s a Belizean named Trevor Miles who has the contract. “Legal” may be a less than concrete term in Belize though and just because someone gave him a contract doesn’t make it legal. I’m trying to find out right now.

I wonder how good a deal the cruise ships get for dumping here than they’d have to pay in, say, Houston.

Rodger Christopher | December 7th, 2006 at 7:15 pm | comment link
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Legal? I don’t know. I’m not a lawyer (thank goodness). I CAN tell you what it IS though. It’s immoral,irresponsible,arrogant,selfish,and unthinking. It lacks foresight by sacrificing the future of generations to come to satisfy the gluttonous wants of a few today.
I wonder whose palms were greased and what goods and services were not provided to the deserving citizens of Belize to get such a contract for dumping the trash and garbage of these elitist in this beautiful and often naive country??

soma | December 7th, 2006 at 7:24 pm | comment link
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looks to me like they are putting it in a boat to be thrown in the dump….trash on Belize beaches come from Belize….Belize people throw every thing on the ground,in the rivers,in the ditches and when the rains come it gets washed out to sea….it dosent come from cruse ships

Changes in Latitudes | December 7th, 2006 at 7:27 pm | comment link
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They probably aren’t even allowed to dump it in Houston! And where, pray tell, does Mr. Miles take this stuff? Beyond the reef? Placencia? Does anyone know? Thanks for this Josh…..

Joshua Berman | December 7th, 2006 at 11:01 pm | comment link
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Soma — you’re right about Belizeans throwing trash in the street, but you’re dead wrong about the origin of most trash on Bz beaches. It has been proven that it comes mostly from Honduras and Guatemala, especially after big rains, like we’ve had recently.

Bill Mc Ghee | December 8th, 2006 at 11:16 pm | comment link
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You didn’t accept that trash from the ” Wasteful Americans” you recieved it from the cruise line company.I’m sure If you polled all the “Wasteful Americans on board that ship they would be just as Pissed off as you are. call it like it is, don’t cast a broad net.

Joshua Berman | December 9th, 2006 at 12:43 am | comment link
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I disagree, Mr. McGhee — how many cruise ships preach conservation over consumption to paying customers who have bought a ticket to indulgence? If cruise ship passengers rose up and rallied to live as simply as possible aboard their floating palaces, and ship companies gave ample opportunity to expend less energy, fuel, and solid waste, that’d be something else, but I don’t think that’s what happens.

However, perhaps this easily visible waste of one cruise ship shouldn’t be judged more harshly than the waste-producing overnight visitors to Belize as well. Our piles of plastic water bottles could certainly be reduced or even eliminated — same with our energy consumption and other ecological footprint issues.

It’s just much easier to see with the cruise ship example.

harrison smith | December 10th, 2006 at 12:50 am | comment link
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Good job.Hope that we have more people like u.This should be reported to the Ministry of the envermonent, as they are responsible and not the Belize City Council

David Hendrickson | January 19th, 2007 at 10:51 am | comment link
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I just returned from a mission trip to Orange Walk, Belize with 23 other people and was humbled and inspired by the beautiful people of Belize. Reading this about garbage being dumped there doesn’t surprise me. As Belize becomes more and more of a cruise ship destination, stories like this will become common. I worry about the effect of the massive rich (which is most of us compared to third world countries) will have on countries like Belize. I wonder what Belize will look like after 10 years of growing numbers of tourists and massive money spent there. After spending time with the people of Orange Walk in Belize, living in their culture, visiting the hospitals, orphans, and homes, getting to know the people, I felt sick, when, as I returned to Belize city to fly back home, I observed the cruise ship tourists running around throwing money and taking pictures of the poor Belize natives. It messed me and our group up and we are still trying to sort through it all.

Nick | February 22nd, 2007 at 11:18 pm | comment link
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i like the article you have produced to us keep it up please!

rl | March 30th, 2007 at 9:40 pm | comment link
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are you people so closed minded to think that the cruise ship traffic is not welcome ,no matter what the cost in garbage ( and by the way big cruise ships have their own way of dealing with garbage and it does not include “garbage bags”. GET REAL !

matt | April 24th, 2007 at 8:50 pm | comment link
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I was recently on the Norwegian Dream, and i had noticed this action taking place in Belize early in the morning. How ever i was think that every cruise line has trash to get rid of. So i belive that we should have other ships come to pick it up to have it burned for bug, plant and other issues like that. How ever i feel that dumping waste in the open waters is so very wrong. If they can not hold the tanks of waste or hold the trash till they get to land they sould close the cruise bussniess.

Larry Spaulding | February 27th, 2008 at 1:29 pm | comment link
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Just returned from Belize. Found that the reef was the main cause for protection. Doesn\’t all the trash on the beaches effect the reef? I find it hard to believe all the trach comes from Ships or the Belizians. Looking at some of the labels, it comes from other countries. Shouldn\’t this be addressed by someone in this beautiful country?

Deb | January 25th, 2011 at 7:39 am | comment link
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That is truly appalling. If anyone has ever been by the dumpsite in Belize you will know we cannot handle any more trash. Thank you Josh, for shedding a light on it. And I can tell you all for a fact that the trash on Belizean beaches is mostly from Honduras/Guatemala. When rivers flood and the tides are right, it floats right out of there and on to our beaches. Poor Belize gets dumped on from everyone.

Drivegoddess | January 26th, 2011 at 12:38 pm | comment link
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Disgusting. It is high time that these floating cesspools and waste, filth and ignorance be shut down for good.

I remember one day up at Xunantunich filling up a baggie with discarded cigarette butts (the weird brands like Merit that you only get in the states and not in Central America) and when I caught up to the tour group of “fed” cruisers I interrupted the guide, held up the baggie and chided the whole bloody lot of them!

The guide was trying hard not to laugh whereas the offenders, looking down at their expensive sandals, could not even muster up an “I’m sorry”. One man tried to tell me to mind my own business and said Baby picking up your garbage makes it my business!

Now not all folks who travel this way are jerks - we in the travel industry need to educate travelers as to making vacation choices not based on savings but rather the saving of this ball of mud that we all have to share.

One day, and this day ain’t too far away, the ocean is gonna start vomiting back all the shit we have put into it.

Claire Walter | January 26th, 2011 at 7:48 pm | comment link
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What is happening in Belize is a microcosm of the way so much of the planet is treated. Just think of the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, an enormous area befouled by plastics, chemical sludge and assorted other debris

Edwin Mazariego | January 26th, 2011 at 7:59 pm | comment link
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Even though the amount of trash that came out of that ship was not bulky it definitely starts a cancer in our country which will exterminate us all on the longer run. Please any one who can help, help and let your descendants live a beautiful Belize. Like the one you are living now.
thanks

HandyEd | January 27th, 2011 at 10:21 am | comment link
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Whoever approved this contract did not follow through with the details. Is the trash boat charged anything to deliver the “goods”? If there is no profit the job will not be there. No one wants to work for no pay. It looks as if someone showed some initiative and created a profitable job. BUT I am guessing that they are not charged at the dump. Is the trash gone through for recyclables? Is the garbage composted? There is more profit to be found.

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