In the five years to 2016, the cruise industry grew by an estimated 20.5%. This led to nearly 25 million world-wide passengers enjoying the unique luxury which only cruise experiences can deliver and, since then, the industry has only grown.
At the core of this is the ocean which is not only a novel form of transport but also a dramatic and breathtaking backdrop in itself. But these vast bodies of water are fragile and in need of protection. Clean, healthy oceans should be at the forefront of sustainable cruise planning.
Leaders within the cruise industry are already considering and implementing sustainable developments to their fleets. By doing so they are safeguarding both the environment and the future of the cruise industry.
So what developments should the cruise industry be adopting to improve their cruise ship sustainability? Read on to find out.
Sustainability starts on the drawing board. Many cruise operators are looking at a combination of sustainable materials and low-emissions to reduce the impact of their fleet throughout its life cycle.
During construction, avoiding all non-renewable sources of materials is the first step. Next, specifying sustainable alternatives such a Bolidt decking over teak can have a great impact.
Furthermore, building in ecologically sound operation is key. For example, the Norwegian operator, The Fjords, began operation of Future of The Fjords in May 2018. This revolutionary, 42m, carbon fibre, all-electric catamaran offers completely emission free transport for her 400 passengers. This is especially import as she operated within the UNESCO World Heritage listed fjord route between Flåm and Gudvangen.
As with many other areas of society, single use plastics are widely used throughout the cruise industry. From the humble straw to branded plastic bags, cruise ships use huge amounts of plastic for disposable convenience.
Whilst many companies have implemented a “straws on demand” policy, this is simply not enough. Sustainable cruises need to reconsider their relationship with these and replace them. With the advent of sustainable replacements, market leaders, such as Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL), are replacing straws, stirrers and garnish picks already.
Paper straws, wood stirrers and bamboo garnish picks present affordable and ecologically friendly options which are widely embraced by passengers.
From there, single use bags, cups and condiment packers are very much on the hit list. RCl has a stated goal of “zero landfill”, whereby they plan to reuse, recycle or incinerate all waste produced on board.
The on-board incineration of waste presents another opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of cruise ships on the environment; energy generation. By harnessing the heat generated from waste which cannot be recycled, a sustainable cruise ship can generate clean energy effectively.
There are many important and helpful initiatives being run by organizations such as the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund covering areas such as coastal health, sustainable fishing and preserving coral reefs.
Sustainable cruise operators can partner with these organizations to ensure they’re doing everything they can to protect the oceans as well as supporting further academic research programs.
The future of the cruise industry rests on the health and condition of our oceans. But, beyond that, taking a sustainable and responsible approach to our world is the right thing to do. As eco-technology and understanding grows, so must the cruise industry. Moving forward, the only successful cruise ship will be a truly sustainable cruise ship.
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