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The Cruise Industry Is Trying to Going Green. Is It Enough?

The cruise industry has recently come under fire for its environmental footprint from environmental organizations, and the U.S. Department of Justice has taken up cases against specific lines for environmental violations. 


Meanwhile, the cruise industry insists that it is making great strides in reducing its environmental impact by implementing new technologies and following or exceeding international guidelines.


Over the last decade, the cruise industry has focused on four areas to reduce cruising's environmental impact. These areas include:

  1. Controlling emissions

  2. Sewage treatment

  3. Fuel efficiency

  4. Recycling


One environmental organization, Friends of the Earth (FOE), even released a 2019 "report card" in June, grading each cruise line and its ships. Most received D's and F's.


Despite their"great strides" to improve their respective environmental impacts in recent years, cruise lines rejected the grades, questioning FOE's methodology.


Brian Salerno, senior vice president of maritime policy at Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), said the industry as a whole has taken steps toward going green both on its own accord. Individual lines have also taken actions in accordance with the International Maritime Organization's set MARPOL rules.


Current initiatives from CLIA members require a commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by the year 2030.


John Kaltenstein, deputy director of oceans and vessels at FOE, said that while the industry is making some small strides, there's a long way to go. Some cruise lines have improved their waste by filtering and treating grey water for use or disposal, but there are still major improvements to be made.


The DOJ currently has an open case against Princess Cruises. They pleaded guilty for probation violations in June stemming from a 2017 felony conviction over dumping oil-contaminated waste from one of its ships and intentional acts to cover it up.


Hopefully, more global push and having a judge explain to corporate officers why what is happening on ships with waste is a problem can serve as wake-up calls that can bring about meaningful changes.



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