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Cruising and the Environment

29 Aug 2018 | by Mary Farmhouse

Over the course of the years many cruise lines have come up with important initiatives to decrease their carbon footprint, and lower their environmental impact as well as rebuild communities throughout the tourist industry. Read on for an overview on the efforts made to make the cruising industry more sustainable.

P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises have stated that they are dedicated to preserving the environment, and as such, they have developed an environmental management system which is certified by ISO 14001. ISO 14001 is a management standard which was created to help organisations minimize their environmental impact. P&O Cruises have declared they will be reducing their air emissions through improving their hull coating, as this paint can be highly toxic to the environment. They also use low energy lamps and have decreased the amount of wasted heat.


Luxury British cruise line, Cunard, has developed a plan with several different targets. So far, implementations have included installing an advanced wastewater treatment system, using recycled material wherever possible, and they are taking steps to reduce packaging onboard the fleet. Cunard has released their 2020 targets for their mission to lower environmental damage, one of which is to reduce the intensity of carbon dioxide emissions by 25%. Along with this, they also state they want to improve the use of carbon fuel and reduce sulphur compounds.

Virgin Voyages

The highly anticipated Virgin cruise line, Virgin Voyages, is well underway with building their first environmentally-friendly cruise ship. The recently named Scarlet Lady is said to be the first ship to completely eliminate highly damaging, one-use plastics onboard such as straws, water bottles, shopping bags, and coffee cups. Instead, Virgin Voyages will use recyclable and reusable materials as much as possible.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line policies state that they recycle materials such as plastic, aluminium, scrap metal, cooking oil, petroleum oil, and electronics, and items such as linens, kitchenware, and furniture are donated to charities around the world instead of being sent to landfills. Carnival has also installed an impressive gas cleaning system technology. Ships Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration, and Carnival Miracle are now all using shore power technology when docked in certain ports, which allows them to plug in and use a shore-side supply of electricity. This is much better for the environment than having all engines on while sitting idle, which wastes fuel and causes both air and noise pollution.

Costa Cruises

Costa Cruises is part of the ‘European Commission co-funded Sustainable Cruise Project’ which aims reduce and recycle solid waste onboard ships, and to properly dispose of items which can’t be reused. All Costa Cruises staff receive training which is focused on understanding the environmental impact that can occur. Costa Cruises is the first cruise line to receive a Green Star award by Italy’s Royal Institution of Naval Architects. This was attributed in recognition of the environmental responsibility that Costa Cruises has displayed throughout their fleet.

Paul Gauguin Cruises

Luxury cruise line Paul Gauguin Cruises make a conscious effort to recycle as much waste as possible and ensure all chemical and hazardous waste is stored and disposed of responsibly. This cruise line also reduces their fuel consumption as much as possible in order to reduce emissions, and onboard, they have adopted various water-efficient policies and equipment. The Paul Gauguin crew also take environment awareness training regularly.


Seabourn Cruise Line use environmentally friendly supplies and recycle and donate materials wherever possible. Onboard every Seabourn ship there is an environmental officer who maintains and monitors on-going environmental projects. Ships such as Encore, Odyssey, Sojourn, and Quest have wastewater treatment systems, a system put in place to handle food in a more effective way to cause less waste. They also make an effort to reduce water consumption.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Over the years Norwegian Cruise Lines has become increasingly sustainable, and has made huge steps in supporting and protecting the environment. In order to give back to communities, this cruise line has begun a campaign that rebuilds schools and communities damaged by the hurricanes in the Caribbean throughout 2017. In addition, thanks to the funding provided by Norwegian Cruise Line, Alaska Raptor Center – an avian hospital that has rehabilitated over 170 injured birds of prey - has opened a nature trail in Sitka, Alaska. Onboard the fleet, Norwegian Cruise Line has removed all plastic straws and recycles the cooking oil for famers to use as fuel.

With environmental factors increasingly brought into the public eye, the importance of green cruising is entering the limelight. It’s no secret that cruising has an impact on the environment, so the need for good environmental practice is high. Find out about other ways in which cruise lines give back, and see how you can even get involved with some of the various initiatives.

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