Eco cruising

Posted on Sunday, July 24, 2011 |
Cruise lines are not known for their environmental efforts- in fact, in the past cruise ships have been blamed for contributing to the destruction of the maritime environment on which they rely to do their thing. Discharging waste, constantly running engines- these things do not make an environmentally friendly picture.

However, over the past few years some cruise lines have gone above and beyond what is required of them to reduce the effect of their ships on the environment. Here are some of the frontrunners amongst the major cruise lines:

Holland America ships have onboard Environmental Officers to educate guests and staff about environmentally friendly measures that can be taken on the ship. Like many hotels, guests are encouraged to reuse towels where possible and low-flow toilets and showers are installed in cabins.
Their attention to detail is groundbreaking: Non-toxic detergents are used in drycleaning, and onboard materials are printed with soy-based inks. In the medical centre, digital technology is being implemented to eliminate x-ray chemicals. Passengers are issued with e-tickets instead of the usual many sheets of paper in plastic ticket holders. Condiments are dispensed from bulk dispensers rather than individual packeges. In 2009, the line ranked first in Friends of the Earth's cruise ship environmental Report Card.
Their ships connect to shore power where available and have top-of-the-line wastewater treatment facilities, which turns blackwater into water almost at drinking water standard, and anything that can be recycled is recycled.

Celebrity Cruises' Solstice Class ships are leaders in eco friendly systems, with solar panels installed to elp power the LED lights, which use less energy than traditional lightbulbs. Windows are tinted to keep the rooms cooler and reduce the need for air conditioning. Chilled river rocks are used in the buffets instead of ice to reduce water usage.
Celebrity also has a great wastewater treatment system to treat sewage and return water to a clean condition.

Lindblad Expeditions is a smaller line but features regularly on lists of eco-friendly cruises. Cruising to more farflung destinations like the Galapagos Islands, Antarctica, New Zealand, the Arctic and other less-popular cruise destinations, it works with National Geographic to give passengers not only an environmentally responsible cruise but a true environmental experience- definitely the cruise line for those interested in our world!
The line partners with many environmental organisations such as the Alaska Whale Foundation and Oceanites to raise awareness and educate people about the environment. Onboard, only locally-sourced and sustainable food is served. They recently launched a Climate Change Action Plan to manage their carbon footprint, including strict measurement, education and carbon offsets.

There are many more cruise lines with programmes in place to reduce their impact on the environment- Carnival recycles, incinerates or offloads all waste on land so none is dumped in the ocean, and has installed devices to monitor water quality on 2 of its ships. Disney uses water from the air conditioning systems for all of it's laundry and painted hulls with a non-toxic coating which reduces drag in the water.Royal Caribbean have a 'nothing goes overboard' policy and have reduced waste with bulk condiments and no disposable utensils or plastic water bottles. They also have purchased a large amount of biodiesel, have climate change and pollution laboratories on one of their ships and shaped their ships to move more efficiently through the water.

So, cruising can be a responsible option, depending on the line you chose and of course your own behaviour whilst on board. Reuse your towels, minimise the rubbish you produce, recycle where available and NEVER throw anything overboard!

Author: Ryan Posa+

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