Cruise tourism is on its way to becoming the new mass tourism product. The industry’s growth raises concern about the sustainability of ocean cruising and the fact that negative social, economic and environmental impacts often outweigh the positive ones. For instance, criticism includes the contribution of ocean cruising to environmental pollution, the limited economic benefits for cruise destinations, or the exclusion of local communities. However, little is known about how or whether cruise tourists judge their personal responsibility to mitigate any negative impacts and maximise the positive impacts of their holiday.
Research in other fields of tourism shows that consumers are aware of the negative impacts of their travel behaviour (for example, the contribution of flying to greenhouse gas emissions). However, despite their declared ‘green’ attitudes and the increasing application of sustainable behaviour in everyday life (for example, energy saving or recycling), people are reluctant to buy more sustainable tourism products. As tourism advances to become an ever more important part of people’s lifestyles (at least in developed countries) and cruise tourism is becoming an increasingly attractive form of leisure tourism, the question arises why acting sustainably appears to be less important when on holiday.
Taking a novel netnographic approach combined with semi-autoethnographic voice, the research project uses social media to determine the key motivational factors that influence sustainable consumers’ social, economic, and environmentally responsible behaviour at home, on-board, and in port. It is planned to build an online community that allows cruise tourists to reflect upon their behaviour and share their experiences which in turn will help to understand sustainable consumers’ awareness of and attitudes towards social, economic, and environmentally responsible behaviour in their holiday decision-making.