Case Studies: Royal Caribbean Environmental Policy

This week, Senior Editor Mark Rogers is attending the two-day Green Travel Summit at the Fairmont Hotel in Newport Beach, CA.


Costas Christ (left) moderates the discussion between David Jerome of InterContinental Hotels and Jamie Sweeting of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd

During the "Case Studies: Royal Caribbeans's Environmental Policy: Challenges & Successes" panel at this week's Green Travel Summit in Newport, CA., Jamie Sweeting, vice president of environmental stewardship and global chief environmental office for Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., summarized the cruise line's green accomplishments and hinted about new initiatives

Sweeting began strongly as he outlined Royal Caribbean's environmental programs. He pointed out positive achievements from the company, that one of its ships was managing to recycle 65 percent of its waste. Sweeting acknowledged that similar ships in the fleet were only recycling 10 to 15 percent, and the next challenge was bringing these other ships to a higher level.

He also mentioned some creative solutions on a smaller scale that were impressive for their creativity. “Instead of presenting our food on a bed of ice, we instead use sterilized, cooled river stones,’ he said. “This is not only more aesthetically pleasing, it’s cheaper also.”

Sweeting noted that it was challenging trying to meet the full range of environmental regulations imposed on cruise companies. "Even the water from deck run-off when it rains is regulated," he said.

Moderator Costas Christ, of Brooksville, Maine-based Beyond Green Travel commented that he picked up a hint of defensiveness in Sweeting's arguments. Although it was obvious that Royal Caribbean was deeply committed to green practices, Sweeting was, after all representing a cruise company, considered by many to be more guilty than green. Christ shared a comment he heard from a European cruise company exec at an earlier event: “If we’re not careful, we’re going to become the new tobacco – something you want to do but that you know is bad for you.”

"We've done things wrong in the past, but we have a commitment to improvement," responded Sweeting. “People may say we have Web 2.0 – now it’s time to move to Green 2.0.”  Sweeting revealed that in an attempt for greater transparency, in the second quarter of this year Royal Caribbean will begin releasing its green initiative figures and results to the public.

"Ultimately we want to be part of the solution," said Sweeting. “The problem is many people think we have a tarnished environmental record. We conduct our business in the marine environment and in the destinations we visit. We have to look after the oceans and the communities we do business with.”

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