Latest Sustainability News | October 01, 2023

Cruise lines tackling impact on the environment - The Mirror

The cruise industry has a target date of 2050 for net zero carbon cruising - we look at the measures cruise lines are taking to go greener.

Cruise lines are leading the way toward a more sustainable future as the industry makes huge efforts to go greener and protect oceans and rivers. With a target date of 2050 for net zero carbon cruising, members of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) are:

  • Reducing the carbon footprint of ships in ports and at sea or on rivers.
  • Investing in advanced environmental technologies.
  • Partnering with cities and ports on sustainable destination management.
  • Increasingly using cleaner-burning LNG (liquified natural gas) for propulsion, leading to a 95-100% reduction in particulate emissions, an 85% reduction in NOx emissions and up to a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Fitting advanced waste water treatment systems that go beyond international requirements.

CLIA chair Ben Bouldin said: "CLIA data shows the British travelling public is becoming more aware of sustainable tourism. Cruise lines are always challenging themselves to innovate and diversify, and constantly reinvent the cruise experience. This forward-looking approach is at the heart of the cruise industry's success and is why we are so committed to sustainability."

We look at some eco-initiatives from some major cruise lines...

Virgin Voyages

Sir Richard Branson's line's mantra is to "Create an Epic Sea Change for All" and on board it is red hot on eliminating single-use plastics, stocking loo roll and tissues made from sustainable sugar cane and offering responsible food sourcing. Off the ships, its Impact Squad oversees volunteer-based initiatives such as planting mangroves in the Dominican Republic and hikes to remove 120kg of rubbish in the mountains of Ibiza.

Royal Caribbean International

Phase three of its initiative to eliminate single-use plastics on ships launched last year and focuses on removing plastic water bottles, food containers, cups and lids. The first two phases removed plastic straws, stirrers, steak markers, condiment packages, cutlery, and shopping bags, helping reduce single-use plastics onboard by 60% since 2019. The target is eliminating 100% by 2025.


The river brand's newest ship, A-ROSA SENA, is hybrid powered, combining diesel and electric engines with battery storage. When approaching and departing a port, the captain can switch to battery power so it arrives and departs silently and emission-free, reducing water, air, and noise pollution. The system can store extra energy generated in the batteries and call up on it when needed. This process is known as "peak shaving" and ensures the engine runs as efficiently as possible at all times. While docked, the ship can use shore power, further boosting the battery charge.

Oceania Cruises

Special policies and procedures have been created for crews to follow when cruising through areas frequented by whales. Measures to minimize any impact include speed reduction and increased training of officers and crew for identifying and properly reporting marine mammal sightings while also keeping a safe distance. Sightings are reported to government agencies and wild animal refuge centers, including in Alaska, where the impact on local wildlife from cruising is a key issue. The reports are part of a whale-watch treaty monitoring for whale activity, and ships change route if necessary and alert other vessels in the area.

MSC Cruises

A key player, the line has rolled out its "Discover the Future of Cruising" campaign to emphasize its innovative eco-friendly practices. These include shore power, advanced wastewater treatment systems, and underwater noise management to reduce any potential sounds and vibration impact on marine mammals. As part of the journey to net zero by 2050, it is also experimenting with fuel cells which could transition to bio or synthetic LNG fuel in the future, or even to hydrogen when the technology arrives. The cell would power the hotel aspect of a ship.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

New shore excursion concept Eco-Connect tours offers travelers the opportunity to explore unique destinations while learning from local communities who are working to conserve their environments. More than 150 tours are available, ranging from sustainable winemaking in Bordeaux and discovering the wildlife in Costa Rica to kayaking through mangroves in Bonaire.

Port of Southampton / Princess Cruises

Sky Princess is the sixth cruise ship to be commissioned since the port's shore power facility at the Mayflower Cruise Terminal went live in spring 2022 and joins AIDAcosma, Queen Mary 2, AIDAprima, Celebrity Beyond, and AIDAsol for zero