Protesters stop cruise ship from accessing Brittany port of Finistère

‘We think cruise ships are an ecological absurdity and a symbol of social inequality’, said protesters

Protesters from Stop Croisières BZH and Extinction Rebellion took to the sea and blocked the cruise ship from entering the port

Environmental activists stopped a cruise ship from entering the port of Finistère in Brittany on Saturday (July 6), holding up a banner from their own boats that read: ‘We’re the iceberg!’.

The Stop Croisières BZH and Extinction Rebellion groups blocked access to the city’s port from 07:00.

They took to the sea from the commune of Corcarneau, blocking the passage at Concarneau-la Forêt-Fouesnant.

Their aim was to block the docking of the luxury cruise ship named the Seven Seas Voyager, which had arrived the same day from Lorient. 

The ship had been due to dock at the port and its passengers were scheduled to disembark in small boats to explore the city.

"No cruise liners called at Concarneau today. For us, that’s a success because we're fighting against luxury cruise ships,” said one activist volunteer to regional newspaper Ouest France. “We think they're an ecological absurdity and a symbol of social inequality.”

“We didn’t expect them to cancel their entire stopover,” said Sophie, another activist, who was happy with the result.

The Seven Seas Voyager is 206 metres long and is carrying almost 700 passengers and more than 400 crew. 

It departed on its current journey from Porto in Portugal on June 29, and is scheduled to finish its journey in Antwerp in one week, after making several stopovers along the route.

Port pollution and biodiversity

“Being on a cruise for two weeks equals four tonnes of CO2 per passenger, when the Paris agreement states that people should be limited to two tonnes each per year,” said another volunteer.

Cruise ships have long been controversial in France and in Europe, especially in cities that typically attract high numbers of boats, and therefore tourists.

In 2023, tourists were blocked from coming to shore during protests against mass tourism and cruises at the port of Douarnenez (Finistère).

Read also: Anti-cruise ship protest in Brittany stops visitors from disembarking

And in 2022, the mayor of Marseille Benoît Payan gathered almost 50,000 signatures in Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône) in his petition calling for an end to pollution from all ships in the port, particularly giant cruise ships.

At the time, Mr Payan branded the ships as "floating cities” that “emit as much pollution as a million cars". He said that the “scandal…is attacking our lungs, our health; it pollutes the sea [and] destroys biodiversity of this harbour”.

Read also: Marseille mayor in row over giant ‘polluting’ cruise ships 
Read also: Marseille residents take port to court over cruise ship pollution 

One study by the NGO Transport & Environment found that cruise ships emitted more than eight million tonnes of CO2 while travelling in European waters in 2022. This is the equivalent emissions of 50,000 Paris-New York flights.

A 2023 study found that Marseille and Le Havre were among the “most polluted ports in Europe”, largely due to cruise ships.

Some other cities in Europe, including Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Venice in Italy, have already banned these types of cruise ships from docking entirely.

Yet, banning the ships completely has been criticised by shopkeepers and others in some ports in France, who rely on cruise ship passengers for their income.