Ships are steadily steering a course for sustainable travel
There is understandable concern about the environmental impact of the cruising boom on the world’s oceans, rivers and ports. Reports of overcrowding in ports and the rising popularity of remote and newer routes to places such as UNESCO World Heritage sites have raised fears for marine environments and coastlines. And let’s not forget the elephant in the room (er, sea) – namely vessel carbon emissions and waste.
Cruise lines are taking a more proactive stance to make their ships and cruising more sustainable and this is something those planning a holiday want too. Leading luxury and experiential travel network Virtuoso is seeing a rising interest among clients in search of sustainable tourism. Travellers are factoring in sustainable tourism practices when making travel decisions. Here are some steps in the right direction.
POWERED BY NATURAL GAS
With a deadline set by the International Marine Organization of January 1, 2020, for a significant reduction in the sulphur content of the fuel oil used by ships, cruise companies are looking at alternative sources in order to comply. A number of companies have invested in LNG powered ships. Royal Caribbean Cruises will introduce its first fleet of LNG ships on its Icon-class ships from 2022. The company is also investing GRAND QUEEN BEATRIZ in fuel cell technology, which converts chemicals into electricity. And Carnival Corporation has committed to 11 next-generation cruise ships that will be fully powered by LNG between now and 2025.
This December, Carnival’s AIDAnova will make its maiden voyage as the world’s first cruise ship which can be powered at sea and in port by LNG. MSC Cruises’ fifth Meraviglia-class ship, set to launch in 2023, will use LNG, as will its two new builds due to launch in 2022 and 2024.
WIND FARMS TO OFFSET EMISSIONS
Royal Caribbean Cruises recently announced a partnership with a wind turbine electric plant in Kansas, US. Royal Caribbean’s goal is to reduce greenhouse emissions by 35 per cent by 2020, according to its 2017 Sustainability Report.
Meanwhile, Peregrine has been carbon-offsetting its adventure cruises since 2016. Parent company Intrepid has been carbon-neutral since 2010. It calculates passengers’ carbon emissions, and neutralises them on their behalf.
THE LAST STRAW
Across the board, cruise companies are committing to reduce plastic consumption. Royal Caribbean has vowed to be rid of plastic straws by the end of this year. Similarly, Norwegian Cruise Line announced its plan to eliminate single-use plastic straws on its 26 ships and two island stops.
MSC Cruises is the latest cruise company to announce the phasing out of plastic straws. It also said that by March 2019, virtually all single-use plastics will be removed or replaced, including “invisible” single-use plastic items from the entire supply chain, if alternatives are available.
“For nearly 10 years (since 2009) we no longer provide single-serve personal care products in cabin, (we) have installed sustainable refillable soap and shampoo dispensers in cabins,” says Lynne Clarke, MSC Cruises Australia managing director. “Single-use plastics simply don’t belong at sea and we don’t want them any more on any of our ships.” CARNIVAL’S AIDANOVA
Peregrine’s Grand Queen Beatriz is one of the most sustainable ships operating in the Galapagos; Carnival’s AIDAnova will be the first cruise ship LNG-powered at sea and in port.