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OPINION: The Facts about Cruise Lines’ Environmental Stewardship

By Bud Darr, Senior Vice President, Technical and Regulatory Affairs, Cruise Lines International Association

A recent opinion piece posted on National Geographic Voices made broad, inaccurate assertions about the environmental performance of cruise lines, with no scientific basis or facts to back-up the claims.

Although cruise lines represent only a tiny fraction of all vessels that traverse the seas, they are leaders in the maritime community in developing innovative technologies and best practices to preserve and protect oceans. Preservation of the oceans is seen by the cruise line industry as not only the right thing to do, but it is simply integral to the future of the industry.

Here are the facts:

–CLIA Member cruise lines are committed to the International Maritime Organization’s Energy Efficiency Design Index, which will require a 30% reduction in ships’ CO2 emissions by 2025 through the use of more energy-efficient and therefore less polluting equipment and engines.

–Members of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) must certify annually their adherence to CLIA environmental policies, including a Waste Management Policy that exceeds current law and regulations.

  • CLIA Members are never to discharge any untreated sewage, no matter where on earth they are. This is exceedingly more stringent than what current law allows for ocean going vessels regarding the discharge of sewage at sea.
  • Advanced wastewater treatment systems – pioneered by the cruise industry –can produce treated water that is significantly cleaner than discharges from most wastewater treatment facilities in U.S. cities.
  • CLIA member lines have a zero discharge policy for trash. In fact, some CLIA member lines are already repurposing 100% of the waste generated on board by reducing, reusing, donating, recycling, and converting waste into energy. This compares to about 33% of trash that is recycled on land in the U.S.

–Cruise lines are also transparent in their environmental efforts, providing data on their environmental impact to the EPA, as well as posting sustainability reports with environmental performance and goals on their websites.

Carnival, which was specifically mentioned in the opinion piece, is one of the leaders in the cruise industry for its environmental efforts, including:

  • Improving the fleet’s overall fuel efficiency by 24%, compared to 2007
  • Reducing the rate of CO2 emissions from shipboard operations across the fleet by 20% in 2014
  • Committing to invest more than $400 million to install industry-first exhaust gas cleaning technology to 70% of its fleet

We are not perfect, but the cruise industry continues to strive to become even better stewards of the oceans, and to transparently share the facts with our passengers and other stakeholders.

To learn more, visit www.CruiseForward.org.