Many cruise lines are paying attention to the concerns of those worried about the impact such travel has on the environment. These lines are making important strides in building more environmentally-friendly ships and instituting better processes. If you’re a fan of cruises and are looking to reduce your impact on the environment, here are some of the most eco-friendly cruise lines out there.
Disney Cruise Lines
Disney Cruise Lines is revered for more than just bringing the magic to the high seas. They also pay close attention to important matters like safety and the environment. Friends of the Earth compiled their Cruise Report Card, grading the overall line as an A- in 2016, thanks in part to its advances in sewage treatment, water quality compliance and transparency.
The highest ranked ship in the fleet was the Disney Wonder, earning an A in sewage treatment and water quality compliance and an A- in air pollution reduction. Air conditioning systems generate water that is used for laundry while any excess heat is used to power the ship’s evaporators that turn seawater into potable water on a daily basis. There is an environmental officer onboard to not only monitor the ship, but to also teach environmental education classes to staff and the ship’s guests.
In addition to numerous standard eco-friendly initiatives onboard, Disney Cruise Lines is working on innovative projects like reusing cooking oil to power heavy machinery on their private island, Castaway Cay, and recycling materials like scrap metal, ceiling panels, plastics and more through a partnership with “Keep America Beautiful.”
Hurtigruten is the Norwegian exploration company that has made significant strides in environmental awareness campaigns. They even formed the Hurtigruten Foundation to support a wide variety of local initiatives where passengers can even get involved. Clean Up Svalbard invited passengers to help clear waste that washed up along the shores. They hold onboard auctions to help raise money for global habitat restoration projects and even reuse their waste oil as heating fuel on land.
If that’s not enough, the line is launching what’s been dubbed as the world’s most eco-friendly cruise ship. The MS Roald Amundsen is a state-of-the-art cruise ship with a hybrid engine powered by electricity, reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 20 percent.
Cruise Trade News named Uniworld as its number one pick for eco-friendly cruise lines. Reasons include the line’s processes of buying locally while trying to reduce and recycle waste on a daily basis. Uniworld’s chefs shop at local markets and support organic farmers and wineries along the way. Uniworld is also in partnership with the Travel Foundation. Together, they spearheaded a Sustainable River Cruising project, an initiative that is focusing on reducing Uniworld’s impact and that of river cruising as a whole.
TreeHugger.com ranks Holland America’s MS Oosterdam ship in the top spot for ocean-friendly eco cruises. They have a black-water treatment system and have made significant improvements in both waste reduction and energy efficiency. There is no waste going overboard, and they even have environmental officers on board every cruise. This is in addition to all the standard eco-friendly features, like low-flow showerheads and towel reuse programs. The hull has new silicone paint, designed to reduce drag and improve engine efficiency, and new shorter routes utilize tide schedules in order to maximize fuel usage.
For a truly innovative experience in cruising, mark your calendars for 2020 — just in time for the Tokyo Olympics. Watch for Japan’s newest Peace Boat, the Ecoship, expected to become the world’s most eco-friendly cruise ship.
Peace Boat is not your standard cruise line, as it primarily runs special voyages to help promote human rights, peace and sustainability. These special cruises may be focused on places in Asia, or you can embark on a three-month global voyage that visits around 20 countries.
The 2,000-passenger ship will have added greenery to absorb water, while vertical farm systems will help grow organic vegetables for meals. The plan is to have the ship generate its own power and have nearly zero waste at all. It’s expected that the Ecoship will use 50 percent less electricity and 20 percent less propulsion energy than similar-size cruise ships.