With environmental questions being a hot subject, and rightfully so, huge ships pushing through the ocean often brings the question of what are cruise lines doing to protect the environment?

There are a number of initiatives and processes that cruise lines have taken to reduce carbon emissions and waste, and increase sustainability. Massive steps have been taken in recent years and these steps and provisions for protecting the environment will only continue to improve.

What are cruise lines doing to reduce the environmental impact?

From small changes like changing paint to powering small islands with waste material, a number of measures can be seen when trying to establish the commitment of cruise companies in tackling this subject.

Cruise lines have partnered up with a number of societies such as Carnival Cruise Lines who work alongside the International SeaKeepers Society. Some of their ships include equipment built in to gather data wherever they are and monitor the water quality which is relayed to various institutes and scientists focused on marine life and biology.

Simple steps such as changing the paint on the ships hulls to silicon based paints meaning that the ships glide through the water more efficiently which in turn saves on the amount of fuel used. Some cruise lines have taken this a step further by designing hulls which are more aerodynamic which again reduces the amount of fuel required.

Using less fuel not only benefits the cruise lines due to lower costs but also has a massive reduction on the impact to the environment.

In some locations it is the authorities that apply restrictions such as Alaska. Limited visits per season have been implemented along with strict limits on the number of ships at any one time entering certain bays.

Education programs in place, such as that of Holland America, who have partnered with the US National Park Service and the US Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to protect whales in the ocean. This includes programs like working with mariners to recognise when whales are in the vicinity and how to avoid them.

Celebrity Cruises have replaced windows with heat transfer windows that allow more light which in turn reduces the cooling required in cabins.

Royal Caribbean underwent a huge project investing $100 million into water waste treatment systems which have been converted into advanced purification systems. Their use of diesel has also been drastically reduced with the use of millions of gallons of biodiesel as a replacement which is much more sustainable and renewable source.

Disney save gallons of water per day by recycling the condensation from air conditioning units and using it for alternative requirements such as cleaning and laundry. Alongside this they have a big drive on recycling various materials used on board which is processed by their partners.

Norwegian cruise lines have been one of the most productive in this area and haven taken a number of steps to reduce their environmental impact. From removing use of plastic straws across their entire fleet to donating cooking oil to farmers in port cities to be re-used as fuel. Eco ballast technology has also been included which is a water treatment system ensuring toxins do not enter the waters.

Norwegian are involved in a large number of conservation projects across the globe including partnerships with Ocean Conservancy, Trash Free Seas Alliance and funding the opening of a nature trail with Alaska Raptor Centre – a dedicated avian hospital that rehabilitates injured birds of prey. Their own campaign, Hope Starts Here, looks to rebuild damaged structures and schools in the Caribbean islands that have been damaged by hurricanes.

Cruising is becoming more popular and the environmental impacts in the cruise industry is not being taken lightly. There are many more steps to be taken to improve the environmental impact of this growing industry but cruise lines are slowly moving in the right direction.