Are Cruise Lines Becoming More Eco-Friendly?

Jun 12, 2012 Avatar Dan Ilves Dan Ilves

For years cruise lines have taken a rap for polluting the oceans. And there have been incidents where cruise lines were cited for illegal dumping. But overall, the top rated cruise lines are making significant efforts at being far more eco-friendly and taking advantage of new technology.

A recent report released by CLIA (Cruise Line Int’l Assoc) shows improvements in water purification systems, reductions in power (electricity, heating and ventilation), reductions in fuel consumption, and improved recycling.

Since 2007, one cruise line reduced waste by as much as 47%. Certainly continued improvements are called for. On a one-week cruise a ship can create over 200,000 tons of sewage and 50 tons of garbage.

But what if those guests aboard cruise ships were taking driving holidays in their cars or on motor coaches, and staying in hotels? Are cruise ships more environmentally friendly than the alternatives? What’s the basis of comparison and how do we evaluate this? If we don’t travel and stay home, we probably create less waste and sewage, but by how much?

Each year, Conde Nast Traveler announces its World Saver Awards, and this year Celebrity Cruises was the overall winner. The award is for social and environmental responsibility, and the decision is made by a panel of over 130 judges. While the award includes social commitment and actions, in the environmental area Celebrity was noted for its innovative energy efficiency programs, including the use of solar technology (which we’ve previously reported on). In the prior year, Celebrity recycled and reused over 5 million pounds of material, from paper and plastic and glass to kitchen grease.

We continue to applaud Celebrity Cruises, whose newer Solar-class vessels are among the industry’s best cruise ships. Our cruise agency continues to rank Celebrity Cruises as one of our top rated cruise lines in the premium cruises category, and we extend our congratulations to them.

Since first published, there’s been tremendous further improvements. Hurtigruten is building ships that are eco-friendly and use solar power. Ponant also if focused on sustainability.