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Brief Published: 11 Nov 2019

Arctic Spa Powered By Waste From Cruise Ship

In Murkey Waters

To spotlight the environmental impact of the cruise ship industry, Royal College of Art student June Tong has designed a thermal spa concept in the Arctic, powered by waste from cruise ships.

The proposed sustainable bathing project called In Murky Waters, would be located in Longyearbyen. The small former mining settlement, in the world’s northernmost town on the island of Svalbard, is struggling to cope with the waste left behind by cruise ships visiting the area. 

Guests at the thermal spa would enjoy two outdoor pools, two steam rooms, two saunas and hot stone massage treatments, alongside lectures and information boards to educate them about the sustainability challenge.

As the Arctic ice melts, and remote settlements become more accessible to tourists, these small towns will be put under increasing pressure to cater to guests and deal with their aftermath. This circumstance is being exacerbated by ‘last-chance’ travellers looking to experience the frozen region before it disappears – see Travel for the Agile Elite for more on this cohort.

Tong told UK design publication Dezeen: "The situation in Longyearbyen is an example of just one Arctic community, but the popularisation of cruise tourism to isolated settlements is a movement which will happen increasingly across the Arctic as ice melts. The current model sees cruise ships bringing unmanageable volumes of waste and tourists to the town, becoming parasitic and destructive to Arctic communities.”

To read more on the environmental challenges being tackled by the tourism industry, see Ethical Travel’s Mainstream Breakthrough and Ethical Travel Trends: Skift Global Forum 2019

For a more focused look at the cruise ship industry, see Cruises Target Gen Z. Meanwhile, our Look Ahead 2020: Travel & Hospitality forecasts ways in which the travel industry will deal with the overtourism challenge.