Does Cruise Ship Tourism hinder or enhance a destination? This September when we were staying in the Lapad area of Dubrovnik, we would venture out onto our balcony, count the number of cruise ships and then make a decision whether we would go into the Old City or not! More often than not there were more than three ships berthed below us.
When we visited the Old City to walk the walls it was at 8am in the morning and when we took a guided tour it was after 4.00pm. By 10am after walking the walls dense crowds were making their way in as we were trying to make our way out and vice versa at 4pm.
A week later we took our first cruise - a Repositioning Cruise from Balboa in Spain to Colon in Panama and had shore visits to Lisbon in Portugal and the Island of St Maarten. Both places relied on the tourist dollar, especially St Maarten, and Dubrovnik does as well. But! Is there a limit? When does the tourist dollar become detrimental to the locality, if at all? St Maarten has the biggest cruise port in the Caribbean and tourism is their number one industry, the island would suffer deeply without it. Lisbon is different it is the capital and Portugal’s major industry is the wood industry and it’s related off shoots such as cork and paper. Lisbon does not get the cruise numbers that Dubrovnik experiences.
Two days after we left Dubrovnik over 7,000 passengers were expected to dock and all of them would no doubt end up in the Old City. Two million tourists visit Dubrovnik each year – one million by cruise ship and one million staying at least one night.
There are two types of cruise passengers. Those who enjoy cruising as a safe, ordered way to travel the world, and others who will use cruising as a way of stopping off at different ports in a view of coming back and spending longer in that destination at some later date.
There are two points of views from the locals, those who welcome the cruise passengers as they are involved in the hospitality industry and those who live in the Old City where personal space and privacy is an issue. A report from 2013 states that the average cruise passenger spends $50 USD per day in Dubrovnik, where as the traveller who bases themselves in Dubrovnik can spend up to 3 times that amount. What is more beneficial to Dubrovnik is of course the longer term traveller whose dollar is spread widely throughout with accommodation being the greater expenditure, followed by meals, entrance fees, etc.
We understand that the quality of life within the city has diminished for the locals. They know that their accommodation is sought after by foreigners who are willing to pay more than 7,000 Euros per square metre for the privilege of being inside the City Walls. It costs more for deliveries, food and groceries costs are higher in the Old City and there are diminishing numbers attending the local primary school. Locals are fed up with their photos being taken hanging out the washing, people peering in their windows or watching them doing their every day chores.
Even travellers are boycotting Dubrovnik and the Old City because of the crowds. We did, but we staggered our visiting times.
What impact do these large numbers have on the physical environment? 7,000 people traipsing over the Old City Walls, through the museums and down the Stradun and into the Churches –how long will it be before any damage is irreparable.
We love Dubrovnik as a destination; there is so much to offer the traveller from the wines of the Pelješac Peninsular to the local food and good restaurants, the islands, the history, the people and the culture. We want the beauty of Dubrovnik to be there for our grand children and their children.
Could there be a solution? Is there a way of limiting the numbers of cruise ships on a daily basis? What about a two-night limitation where cruise passengers can spend more time visiting areas outside the Old City, creating an economic solution for more to reap the benefits?
We are 50/50. We can see the pros and cons of both sides. Cruise ship tourism is essential for cities to thrive and for the residents to enjoy a better standard of living but it is at a cost! If you wish to read more about our experiences in Dubrovnik and other destinations please check out www.totraveltoo.com
Who are the TO TRAVEL TOO team
Co-Founder, Flashpacker, Travel Guru
Over the past four decades, Jane’s passion for travel has taken her to over 44 countries. She has lived and worked in Australia, UK and Singapore. With extensive experience in all aspects of travel from airport ground staff to air hostessing, retail, corporate and group travel, she has flown in two seaters, hot air balloons and even the Concorde. Jane offers her skills to baby boomers who want to change their lives; to travel light and travel far.
Co-Founder, Flashpacker, Philosopher
Having travelled for both business and leisure, Duncan has lived in Malta, UK, Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore. In his past life he held senior roles with global multinationals in manufacturing, distribution and sales. In 2013 he embraced a life change based on the philosophy: ‘chase time not money’. His ambition is to support fellow baby-boomers who want to fly the empty nest – and see the world.