Responsible tourism: French Polynesias cruise in the South Pacific
From 2016 these cruises will be run on a brand new, custom made vessel that will be more fuel efficient, quieter and with less exhaust fumes, while having the capability of carrying even more freight and passengers than before, thus exponentially reducing the resources used in relation to the benefits gained.
The ship employs a crew of local people and as these islands are their home, no one understands better than they do how important preserving the local environment is.
All waste generated on these cruises is disposed of in a responsible manner. As much waste as possible is recycled, and otherwise all non-recyclable waste is brought back for disposal at approved sites.
Almost all the food served on board is fresh, and grown locally, especially the fruit, vegetables and fish. Not only does this put money into the local economy, but it vastly reduces ‘food miles’ of the produce served on board, and almost all of those food miles are carried on the vessel we are traveling on.
By providing accommodation on board our ship, we are enabling visitors in healthy, but restricted, numbers to visit the islands without overusing the scarce resources available on those islands.
There are few places in the world where the local community relies so heavily on tourism to provide a lifeline to the outside world. The ship is a very unusual blend of freighter, ferry and cruise ship that provides an absolutely vital link to the Marquesas Islands and other parts of French Polynesia, and some of the islands visited have no runway, so this ships is really the only practical way on and off the island. The ship carries freight to the islands, and helps them to export their produce to other islands as we well as further afield.
In addition to the above, by bringing tourists to some of these remote islands the ship is providing an important source of income to the ports she visits and also to some of the enterprises in those ports, including restaurants, craft shops and local tourism businesses.
There is an on board lecturer who, apart from being a great way to fill in time during crossings from one island to another, provides a vast amount of information about the culture and customs of the islands.
Usually the entire crew is Polynesian, either from the Society Islands (Tahiti) or from the Marquesas, which provides employment and income for the islands, but also a great channel of understanding for the passengers, and absolutely vital know-how for the crew, whose intimate knowledge of the area allows the ship to dock in some surprisingly small harbours.