“The health of the world’s oceans is vital to the success of the cruise business,” according to the Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) executive vice president Michael Crye. Crye detailed the cruise industry’s commitment to protecting the environment and highlighted efforts targeted at reducing cruise lines’ footprint in the world’s oceans during a recent presentation at Capitol Hill Ocean Week 2009.
“The cruise industry has made substantial and comprehensive investments in technology and operating practices to go above and beyond regulations," Crye said. "We have significantly reduced the impact our ships have on the environment and we continue to make great strides every year.”
Cruise ships are unique to any other sector of the travel industry in that they feature the amenities of a resort, but travel worldwide moving from one place to another. Therefore, cruise ships must comply with a complex regulatory framework that includes environmental rules set at federal and international levels.
Ships that include multi-country port calls on a single itinerary must meet the requirements of each country. Therefore, many of the initiatives in CLIA’s Waste Management Practices and Procedures, which have been adopted by all of CLIA’s oceangoing fleet, exceed regulatory requirements, according to Crye.
“In 2001, when our member lines first adopted these Waste Management Practices and Procedures, we started by asking ourselves how can we go beyond what is required environmentally of our ships and continue to innovate new technologies,” Crye said. “We recognize we have more to accomplish and this mission will never be complete, but it is simply the right thing to do. We are committed to it as an industry."
Crye also addressed the industry’s commitment to researching and testing new technologies. Many lines now employ advanced wastewater purification systems, which produce effluents cleaner than that discharged from most municipalities.
The cruise lines have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in their development. With industry protocols that meet and exceed compliance with the U.S. Clean Water Act, CLIA members have reduced the industry’s environmental footprint in a significant way. The industry is also working with paint manufacturers to deploy innovative and environmentally safe coatings that increase the smoothness of ship hulls, according to Crye. These coatings reduce bio-fouling from marine organisms, like mussels and algae, without the use of harmful chemicals. Furthermore, by creating smoother hulls, ships reduce the amount of energy needed to travel through water. It is estimated that these smoother hull coatings will save as much as five percent of fuel usage for propulsion.
In addition, Crye touted other above and below-deck environmental initiatives already implemented by the industry. Those include diesel-electric engines, using alternative fuels and educating guests about things they can do to reduce their environmental footprint while aboard. Cruise lines are also partnering with some ports to use shore-side electric power, which allow ships to power down their engines and still provide hotel services while docked at port.
The industry has also joined with Conservation International to develop and promote proactive policies to advance climate regulation, as well as define proactive policies for destination stewardship. Individually, some CLIA member cruise lines are working with other organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund, to protect endangered marine ecosystems and species around the world.