Huge Cruise Ship Stuck in Port After Climate Protesters in Small Boats Block Vessel's Exit: 'Cruises Kill Climate'

A cruise ship has been trapped in a German port by climate change protesters demanding curbs on the industry's emissions and improved working conditions aboard ships.

The Zuiderdam vessel—operated by the British-American cruise company Holland America Line—was blocked from departing Kiel in northern Germany on Sunday by around 50 activists, Deutsche Welle reported.

The demonstrators belonged to a group calling itself Smash Cruises**t. They used small boats to block the departure of the Zuiderdam and also occupied a crane at the Ostseekai terminal, according to Suddeutsche Zeitung. During Sunday's action, protesters also unfurled a large banner from the occupied crane which read, "Cruises kill climate."

Police and special forces were brought in to clear the demonstration and confiscate the small ships, which took several hours. The Zuiderdam was able to leave the port by 10 p.m.

A spokesperson for Holland America line confirmed to Newsweek that the ship was delayed in Kiel by "demonstration activities" and that the vessel was able to set sail for Copenhagen, as scheduled, before 10 p.m.

The protest group released a statement explaining its actions on Sunday afternoon, as activists were already in the water. The press release lamented the "catastrophic local and global consequences of cruises" and demanded an end to "exploitative working conditions" for staff aboard.

"We [will] no longer allow Pacific states to sink into the sea because holidaymakers lie in the pool and meanwhile want to travel from city to city," one group member, named only as Johanna, explained. "We will not tolerate the operation and certainly a further expansion of cruises."

Another activist, named as Samira, said that staff salaries could be as low as €2 ($2.26) and weekly hours worked as high as 72. Such demands are "simply inhuman," she said. "People from the global north spend their holidays on the backs of those who are financially compelled" to allow it, Samira added. "This exploitation must be stopped."

The organization posted live updates on Twitter as its activists were gradually detained by police and removed from the water and crane. Photos showed that activists were able to get close enough to attach a banner to the side of the Zuiderdam as passengers looked on.

The German nature organization Naturschutzbund Deutschland says that a single cruise ship can emit the equivalent pollution as 1 million cars thanks to their use of heavy fuels, Deutsche Welle explained. Ships also use seawater systems to clean dirty fuel and flush pollution back into the water.

The Friends of the Earth pressure group has produced a report card of cruise ships and their operators, ranking vessels and companies by the environmental damage they cause. Holland America Line has a C grade on the online database, though the 2,781 person capacity Zuiderdam scores an A.

This article has been updated to include comment from Holland America Line.

Cruise ship, blocked, activists, Climate Change
This file photo shows a cruise ship passing en-route to Eemshaven in the Netherlands on June 20, 2009 in Leer, Germany. Getty/Krafft Angerer