Environmental Stewardship

While cruise ships comprise far less than 1 percent of the global maritime community, [1] cruise lines are at the forefront in developing responsible environmental practices and innovative technologies that lead in environmental stewardship.


Cruise lines work with scientists and engineers to develop cutting edge, sustainable environmental innovations and practices, investing $1 billion in new technologies and cleaner fuels. Among these advancements, the industry designed and installed exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) on ships to reduce emissions by as much as 98 percent the level of sulfur oxides in a ship's exhaust. In addition, cruise lines have announced plans to build ships powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), a clean source of fuel, with the first one expected in service in 2019. Cruise lines will also implement Ship Energy Management Plans for route planning and maintenance to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions. Energy efficient design standards will reduce CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2025.


Cruise lines place a high priority on energy efficiency as part of their environmental protection programs. Innovative investments include energy-efficient engines and hull coatings that reduce friction and fuel consumption, as well as energy-saving LED lights and higher efficiency appliances. Cruise lines recycle hot water to heat passenger cabins and use special evaporators to distill the water used to cool engines into fresh water for shipboard air conditioning systems – while special window coatings keep cabins and passageways cool with less air conditioning. By switching to low-energy LED lights, newer cruise ships can improve lighting energy efficiency by nearly 80 percent.

Ocean Planning:

The cruise industry participates in regional ocean planning efforts with maritime stakeholders and provides direct input and feedback to address ocean management challenges and the sustainable use of oceans.


Each cruise ship receives dozens of inspections each year from the ports they visit, countries where they are registered and other independent agencies — including checks of equipment and practices for waste management, emission reduction and water treatment. In U.S. waters, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Coast Guard enforce rigorous requirements on air, water, power, and waste, including provisions of the Clean Water Act. The cruise industry also participates in International Maritime Organization (IMO) working groups and committees to develop global regulations to protect the environment. Environmental performance information is widely available on government websites, and CLIA Member Cruise Lines routinely post online sustainability reports with environmental performance and goals.

Waste Management:

Cruise lines carefully follow waste management and recycling practices,Waste Management Policy, to prevent waste in oceans. Due to the efforts of highly trained waste management professionals onboard, some cruise ships repurpose 100 percent of the waste generated onboard — by reducing, reusing, donating, recycling and converting waste into energy. Cruise ship waste management professionals recycle 60 percent more waste per person than the average person recycles on shore each day. Cruise lines recycle 80,000 tons of paper, plastic, aluminum and glass each year.

Industry Environmental Technologies and Practices

Combating Wildlife Trafficking