Popular Science

Where does the poop go?: The hidden machines of cruise ships

Behind the scenes of the life aquatic
Mega-liner cruise ship

Illustration by Lucy Engelman

Port of sprawl.

Cruise ships are entire cities set to sea—the largest ones can carry thousands of people. To function far from shore, floating burgs like these rely on washing machines that swallow hundreds of pounds of sheets, ­water-filtration systems that serve both fresh- and saltwater swimming pools, and an army of aerobic bacteria to eat tanks of poop. This is the often-hidden machinery working behind the scenes on an average mega-liner.

Garbage

Garbage

Illustration by Lucy Engelman

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