As the cruise industry starts to steam ahead again globally, cruise lines understand that surviving into the future requires catering to an important customer: the eco-minded traveller.
Even pre pandemic, this new generation of clients were already increasingly seeking environmentally responsible brands. They asked what the industry was doing for the environment — a topic which influenced sales discussions.
It is also a cause which has gained Royal influence too, when just this week, Britain's Prince William at the 17 October Earthshot Prize awards ceremony spoke directly to the "young people watching tonight," pointing to how "the actions we choose or choose not to take in the next 10 years will determine the fate of the planet for the next thousand".
So, when travel advisors are asked about the cruise industry’s sustainability efforts, here are some interesting factoids, as well as the four ways eco-cruising is taking float post-pandemic.
Cutting single-use plastic
Norwegian Cruise Line officially become the first major cruise company to totally eliminate single-use plastic (SUP) bottles on its ships in 2019, replacing with plant-based carton containers instead.
Oceania Cruises announced cutting millions of plastic water bottles per year through a new partnership with Vero Water the same year, Crystal Cruises recycles aluminium and tin and crushes glass onboard, while Royal Caribbean has so far removed 60% of SUPs, and Carnival Corporation aims for a 50% reduction in SUPs by end 2021.
The cruise industry recycles 60% more waste than land operators, says CLIA.
Changes to cleaner power sources
According to RCL's Asia Pacific VP Angie Stephen, speaking at the recent WiT Conference, the shipping industry globally accounts for 3% of global emissions. “And the cruise industry accounts for just 0.5% of that 3%.”
And the "cruise industry remains committed to a cleaner, more sustainable future,” said Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
In its September 2020 Global Cruise Industry Environmental Technologies and Practices Report, key points include reducing the rate of carbon emissions by 40% from 2008 numbers in time for 2030.
So far, the first LNG (liquified natural gas) cruise ship — AIDAnova under Carnival Corporation — set sail in 2019, with 49% of newbuild capacity slated to employ LNG for their main propulsion, according to the report.
This includes Royal Caribbean's first LNG-powered ship in 2022, and Princess Cruises's two dual-fuel ships being built, which can run on LNG.
Also, more than 69% of global capacity are using EGCS to meet or exceed air emissions requirements. The majority (96%) of non-LNG newbuilds will have EGCS (exhaust gas cleaning systems) installed.
The expedition cruise market have too rolled out cleaner ships, with Ponant's Le Commandant Charcot becoming the first hybrid electric polar exploration vessel powered by LNG last month, and Hurtigruten Expeditions' third battery-hybrid powered ship, the Otto Sverdrup which sailed in August.
Royal Caribbean International's 1,370 destination tours certified by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
Royal Caribbean International (RCL) reached "a watershed moment for the cruise industry” in end 2019 right before Covid-19 swept in — offering 1,400 tours certified by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).
RCL went on to educate its circle of global independent tour operators, highlighting GSTC criteria which are focused on: effective sustainability planning, maximising social and economic benefits for the local community, enhancing cultural heritage and reducing negative impacts to the environment.
As well, MSC Cruises offers PROTECTOURS, where 70% of the eco-friendly shore excursions involve activities with zero environmental impact — such as walking, cycling, or kayaking — while others make a direct contribution to the environment, for instance, tree planting or beach cleaning.
Turning to the ocean ecosystem, Oceania Cruises protects Alaskan birds of prey with the Alaska Raptor Center and sails around whale herds; while Disney Cruise Line participates in voluntary programmes with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and offers passengers the chance to donate to more than 750 wildlife causes.
The 'green' terminal coming up in 2024 at Ravenna, Italy, built by Royal Caribbean Group.
Pushing for green-tech
Crystal Cruises added 216 solar panels onto its Solstice ship, and even has a live grass lawn to do some natural cooling for the ship.
Having met or exceeded nearly all of its 2020 sustainability targets that include reducing 35% of greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels, the Royal Caribbean Group's next project: building an "innovative new cruise terminal" in Ravenna, Italy.
Set for a 2Q 2024 launch, the new terminal will feature integrated landscaping, spanning 12 hectares, with public green spaces, pedestrian and cycling pathways, as well as LEED certification focusing on water and energy efficiency, renewable energy production, recycling and waste management, and sustainable sourcing of materials.