Cruising: The Case For Sustainability, Part Three

This is part three in a three-part series about sustainability. In this article, we will address some of the responses to the issues posed in the first article of this series. I recommend reading that article along with last week’s article before you read this one. 

Last week we started to look at “harm reduction,” or what cruise lines are doing to reduce or counteract their environmental impact. Focusing on Celebrity Cruises, Ponant, and Crystal Cruises, we were able to see some of the strides that these cruise lines have taken to becoming more sustainable. Whether it is minimizing single-use plastics, banning straws, or using higher grade fuels, there are many things that cruise lines can do to take steps toward becoming more sustainable. 

Today, we will look at three cruise companies who have taken their sustainability initiatives a bit further than others in the industry. 

UnCruise Adventures

When interviewing Dan Blanchard, CEO of UnCruise Adventures, sustainability came up briefly. One thing that Dan mentioned is that a lot of their wine comes in barrels, opposed to bottles. We all know that wine on a cruise can flow almost as freely as the ocean, so this small detail can make a big difference. It cuts down on a lot of glass waste, as a typical barrel of wine can hold 300 bottles of wine. 

UnCruise also has partnerships with Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and the Passenger Vessels Association’s (PVA) Green WATERS program. The Seafood Watch program allows UnCruise to make informed decisions about purchasing seafood that was farmed or fished in ways that minimize environmental impacts. As a WATERS program member, UnCruise has committed to reducing environmental impacts due to fuel consumption, conserving water, using fewer chemicals near waterways, conserving energy, and more. 


Hurtigruten’s MS Roald Amundsen debuted July 1st. It is the first cruise ship ever to operate on battery power. Now, the ship is a hybrid. So, it is important to note that it is not fully electric, but the addition of battery power allows to ship to sail emission free at times. 

According to Reuters, the ship will be able to run on the battery pack for between 45 and 60 minutes at peak performance. Hurtigruten estimates savings of around 20 percent in carbon dioxide emissions than if the ship were to use only marine gasoil. 

Apart from the green technology on its newest ship, Hurtigruten has taken many other sustainability initiatives.  One of which being fighting for regulations and restrictions on the number of guests allowed on shore certain areas. 

Its website states: “Our goal is to develop, encourage and maintain sustainable all-year activity, instead of flooding the valuable sites during peak season and leaving them quiet for the rest of the year. This is key to developing sustainable destinations…”

Hurtigruten has also implemented a new system to measure food production in real time. This will minimize food waste by an expected 20 percent by 2021. 

We have talked a lot about minimizing waste and how many cruise lines are trying to eliminate single-use plastics onboard. Hurtigruten did this in the summer of 2018, vowing to replace every single-use plastic product onboard with a sustainable option – whether biodegradable, paper, or other alternative.

Lastly, the cruise line has established its own foundation, Hurtigruten Foundation, which provides funding to organizations working to protect the environment and culture in each area that is sailed. 

Lindblad Expeditions

Lindblad recently announced that it will offset 100% of its carbon emissions, making it a carbon neutral company. Currently, Lindblad has invested more than $1.5 million in carbon offset projects.

According to a recent press release: “Lindblad Expeditions’ investments will effectively offset 100% of emissions from their ships (eight from the Lindblad-National Geographic fleet and five leased), all land-based operations, employee travel, offices in New York and Seattle, and additional small but measurable emission contributors…Working in partnership with South Pole, a leading developer of international emission reduction projects, Lindblad Expeditions now has a portfolio of six carbon project investments that align with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. These investments focus on renewable energy (solar and wind), reforestation, and community-based projects in six countries, including Mexico, Peru, and Vietnam, countries that Lindblad-National Geographic travelers visit.”

This is an interesting approach. While so many cruise companies are unwilling to make necessary changes to make their ships more fuel efficient, Lindblad has not only done that, but taken it a step further. While sustainability is about minimization of negative impacts, it also needs to be about offsetting those impacts. I would love to see more cruise lines take the initiative that Lindblad has taken to put them into sustainable solutions not only onboard but ashore. 

Like some of the other cruise lines we have looked at, Lindblad is also 100 percent free on single-use plastics. However, Lindblad may have taken it a step further – making crew uniforms from recycled plastic. 

Just Remember There Are Things That You Can Do Too

I presented this week to you all last week as well, but I really want to hammer in the idea that there are things you can do to make your travel more sustainable.

Drink tap water. 

Water on cruise ships is potable and simply taking a water bottle on your trip with you can help reduce a lot of waste caused by plastic water bottles.

Turn off your lights when you are out of your room. 

Many cruise lines do this by either having a key card system in place, forcing passengers to use their stateroom keys to turn the lights on so that they will shut off when they leave. But even when you are in your room, there are times when opening the curtains should give you enough light to get through your day.

Take shorter showers. 

This is probably something that we should practice in our life every day, but it doesn’t hurt to apply this practice to vacations as well.

Bring your own shower supplies. 

If cruise line offers toiletries that are made from single use plastics, meaning that they are thrown away after they are gone, try to bring your own shampoo and body wash from home in a refillable bottle. Most cruise lines have switched to pump shampoos and body washes to help reduce plastic consumption aboard.

Do research.

Continue to research the sustainability initiatives put in place by cruise lines to make sure that they are going above and beyond to protect the environment.

Know that your small contribution can make a difference. 

If everyone thought that reducing waste was going to make a difference, our oceans would look a lot different than they do now. Do your best to reuse your towels, fill your water bottles, cut down on your plastic consumption, and all the other things we have talked about. If all of us were able to do that, we could reduce a lot of the negative impacts that cruising has on the environment.

Now that you know a few of my ideas, what sustainability initiatives do you take when you travel? How do we continue this conversation?

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