Cruise Lines and Sustainability

Posted on Posted in by Elyas Harris

By Elyas Harris.

The cruise ship industry has always been infamous when it comes to environmental sustainability. But recently some cruise lines have been making an effort to become more green. They have been making some very mindful choices when it comes to the way they do their business.
I happened to go on a cruise run by the Norwegian Cruise Line company for my last vacation and decided to share about my findings.

A cruise ship traditionally runs on two different kinds of fuel, diesel and bunker fuel. Because of regulation, when they are in the US waters or protected waters, they are required to only run on diesel. Regulations are strict about the amount of sulfur emissions allowed for cruise ships, and bunker fuel has a higher content of sulfur than diesel. However, while diesel fuel does not have as much sulfuric acid produced as a byproduct, there is still an intensive amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere. Bunker fuel is cheaper, a byproduct of the refinement process of crude oil. The ship industry is the only one that runs on bunker fuel.

The next generation of ships can switch to natural gas rather than bunker fuel or diesel. However, the ideal scenario will be 0 emissions boats. It costs and immense amount of money to retrofit a boat rather than wait until the new ship designs can incorporated the new kinds of engines.
As you can see the fuel used is an issue.

Cruise ships have a large environmental footprint.

To my surprise, each cruise ship has an environmental officer on board who regulates and enforces the environmental policy by the company. I interviewed the environmental officer while on my trip and she shared their plans to start incorporating more environmental education programs on the cruise ships. That is extremely nice because cruise ships travel around the world, so by educating passengers they are at least creating awareness about sustainable development. Passengers will then hopefully have a more green approach to the way that they are touring he marvelous destinations reached by cruise lines.

There is also a chain reaction that goes on when you educate passengers. Every week there are four thousand different people on that boat and by educating those 4,000 passengers by the end of a year that amounts to roughly 144,000 people per year. This is exactly what we are about at Give Me 5, we share awareness and empower people to become agents of change.

So next time you are cruise bound, remember that every action counts. We recommend a trip on the Peace Boat. There you can combine a cruise experience while learning about disarmament, the Sustainable Development Goals, and make your vacation a bit more green! Also, check out the future of sustainable cruise lines and Peace Boat’s new ecoship project!