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Protecting our oceans: The cruise industry and conservation

Protecting our oceans: The cruise industry and conservation

The cruise industry is taking a stand to protect its most important asset – the ocean – as Julie Miller discovers.

There’s no denying the popularity of cruising, with over 300 ships carrying more than 26 million passengers per year. The continued success of cruising, however, is dependent on the health of the waterways it utilises, and now more than ever it’s imperative that the industry acts as stewards of the ocean, ensuring its health and cleanliness.

“Without clean seas, clean coastal waters and environmentally healthy destinations, people will not want to cruise,” Joel Katz, Managing Director of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia, says. “Cruising, like many other industries, still has work to do. But we are taking aggressive steps and making progress. We are committed to ensuring that our oceans are healthy and vibrant.”

© WWF-Aus/Cristian Miller

One of the most pressing problems facing our planet is the presence of plastics in the oceans. Every year, more than eight million metric tonnes of plastic enters the oceans – waste that lasts forever, swept around in currents, and ends up being consumed in the form of microplastics by marine life.

In an effort to combat this scourge, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH), which operates the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, has partnered with Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Alliance to work towards finding a solution to the plastic problem.

“The success of our business is dependent on the health of our oceans and, together with Ocean Conservancy, we are taking a step forward in our commitment to protect the world’s oceans,” Frank Del Rio, CEO of NCLH, said in a recent statement.

As a symbol of ‘Sail & Sustain’, NCLH’s global environmental program, the hull of the new Norwegian Bliss is adorned with a mural of leaping humpback whales and other Alaskan marine creatures, painted by leading artist and staunch conservationist, Robert Wyland.

Ocean conservation with Royal Caribbean

© Shutterstock/Damsea/WWF

A greener future

In 2016, Royal Caribbean Cruises embarked on another important environmental partnership, joining World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness about conservancy. The company also claims to be ushering in a new era of green technology, rolling out ships powered by alternative fuels such as LNG and fuel-cell technology, while on 8 June, the company announced that it will eliminate plastic straws by the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, Viking Cruises is exploring wind power, installing a rotor sail system on an LNG-powered ship, while Japan-based educational NGO, Peace Boat, claims to be building “the world’s greenest cruise ship”, incorporating solar panels, wind turbines and an on-deck ‘plant kingdom’ to produce 40 per cent fewer emissions than other similarly sized vessels. You can watch the video below for more information.

According to the CLIA, finding a solution to the industry’s rather woeful emissions record is paramount, with more than US$1 billion invested to design ships that are more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly.

“CLIA cruise lines are heeding the call to reduce sulphur oxide and carbon dioxide emissions, and are taking strong steps to reduce emissions and increase the number of ships employing advanced systems that reduce sulphur compounds and particulates,” says Joel Katz. “Where it is available, many lines use shore power to further reduce emissions. CLIA has worked with the International Maritime Organisation to ensure that all ships use low-sulphur fuel by 2020.”


This article appeared in volume 30 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.