A Popular Port Has Called on Cruise Ships to Stop Sounding Their Horns

It's a mild request compared to other recent crack downs in cruise destinations

A cruise ship en route to the Port of Rosyth in Dalgety Bay, Scotland
Big boats are noisy, and people are mad about it

In November 2022, it was reported that cruise demand had returned to pre-pandemic levels and, thanks to two years worth of pent-up interest, bookings surged in 2023. What’s more is, in that time, the core cruise market seemed to shift, from Boomers and Gen Xers to Millennials and older Gen Zers. In fact, according to a 2021 study by Tripadvisor and Accenture, Millennials were found to be more interested in cruising than ever before, with a whopping 58% saying they plan to take a cruise for their next leisure trip, which all bodes particularly well for customer retention and the industry writ large.

But all of that also coincides with historically overtouristed cruise destinations starting to take steps to limit access to its ports altogether — specifically those without the infrastructure to support them, not dissimilar to Venice, Italy. (For the uninitiated, the damage caused by large ships was so severe, it landed Venice on UNESCO’s endangered world heritage site list, leading officials to actually ban cruise ships outright in 2019.) Other popular destinations, like Juneau, Alaska, have recently moved to cap the number of cruise ships in port per day.

Now, as perhaps an unintended consequence, it seems that residents within those destinations are getting a glimpse of what cruise ship regulation could entail, and other manner of complains are starting to roll in, too.

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That’s more or less the case in Invergordon, Scotland where, per a new report from Travel Pulse, officials in the town have told cruise ships they are no longer to blare their horns upon departure — part of a long-standing tradition — following “just one complaint.”

It’s apparently a pretty widely beloved tradition as evidenced by the fact that 1,200 people have signed a petition to keep it alive, though the onus will ultimately fall to The Port Authority of Scotland to decide. It will take into account factors that include the feelings of the community, the tradition and noise pollution, among other things — though, it’s hard to argue that feelings and tradition hold the same weight as noise pollution in this case.

“If people feel strongly for or against the ships’ farewell horn blasts, we urge them to share their feedback with their local community council or directly with the port before June 29 so that this can be taken into account. If the communities of Cromarty and Nigg feel strongly about them sounding their horns as they leave the firth, we will respect the wishes they express and advise the cruise ship operators accordingly,” said a spokesman for the port authority.

According to the report, the port of Invergordon welcomed 109 cruise ships carrying more than 166,000 passengers in 2022. That said, the way things are shaking out with other highly-trafficked ports across the globe, cruise lines and horn-loving locals alike should be relieved that it’s only the horn that’s on the chopping block.


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