Maritime Mortuary – the cruise to eternity!

CNN ran an interesting story today from Asia about the design project for a floating cemetery. The title of “A cruise for cremains” caught my eye as I envisaged that the Carnival Cruise Ship Line was introducing a service offering ash scattering cruises from the U.S. to the Caribbean. I recently read of a baby boomer expressing just such an interest. How a simple cremation and then a family vacation to scatter the ashes would be his preferred choice of disposition.

Anyway, the story from CNN related to the shortage of space in Hong Kong, and the rise in the death rate in China, which has prompted a project named “Floating Eternity”.

The project proposes a cruise ship structure that would house a rotating wall of 370,000 niches in which people could inter the cremated remains of departed family. The floating mausoleum would be docked along Hong Kong’s coastline to enable family to visit their deceased relatives.

How are we responding to the changing trend in cremation?

This rather fantastical innovation led me to reflect on how the death care industry is responding to the rise in the cremation rate. It is unlikely that the United States continent will ever run out of land space for the interment of remains, however, many major metropolitan areas are now running short of cemetery space.

At US Funerals Online, we are receiving more inquiries from people wanting to find out what state laws govern the activity of ash scattering. This certainly seems to indicate that many Americans are considering scattering remains as opposed to interring them.

Many are choosing cremation as a less expensive disposition method. An average cremation can be performed for under $1,500, as opposed to the average burial costing around $7,755 (NFDA 2012). Yet the cost for interring cremated remains can sometimes work out almost as expensive as a burial. Some cemeteries offer relatively inexpensive niches at around $500, but you can also pay thousands of dollars for a columbarium interment.

Direct cremation

‘Cottage’ industries emerging to offer ash scattering services.

There are no ‘cremains police’, and cremated remains are basically sterile, organic matter, so there is no reason why they should be considered harmful to the environment. To scatter remains overland, sea or into the atmosphere is considered by many a naturalistic and spiritual return of the body to the earth.

For those that do not want to perform an ash scattering personally, or who want something more unusual or special for an ash scattering ceremony, there are now a number of cottage ash scattering industries emerging.

Whether you want to scatter your loved ones remains into the stratosphere, over the rocky mountains, or into the depths of the ocean–the choice is now becoming limitless!

Innovation in Cremation

As we culturally shift towards cremation, more innovative and sometimes wacky, notions of what we can do with cremated remains are springing up. You can already have a diamond, bullets or a tattoo made with cremated remains! The nearest we have come to a maritime mortuary is the Memorial Reef off the coast of Florida, where cremated remains can be infused into the creation of organic reef structures.

I do not think we are likely to see a floating cemetery in the United States anytime in the near future. However, I do think we are likely to see further niche options emerge in the ash scattering industry.

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Written by

Sara is the Editor in Chief for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death care industry in the US for the last 15 years.