Peter Greenberg is the
winning travel editor
for CBS News and host
of The Travel Detective
on public television
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IT’S A MOMENT I remember well. In 1985, I was
on a cruise ship on the Mediterranean, strolling on
the deck after dinner. Suddenly, pieces of oily soot
were raining down from the ship’s smokestack. The
crew was burning all the garbage, at night, so no
one would see. I moved to the aft of the ship to get
away from the mess, and I saw crew members
throwing large sacks of trash over the side.
Thirty-one years ago, that was standard operating
procedure on a number of cruise lines. Thankfully,
times have radically changed. Today, on most new
ships, entire decks are devoted to waste management.
There are specialized machines to crush all glass
(beer and wine bottles), compress aluminum cans
for recycling and bundle all paper products. Once a
ship docks, anything that can be recycled is recycled,
repurposed, donated or converted from waste to
energy when it is brought ashore.
When you flush your toilet onboard, that
doesn’t get pumped into the sea. There are complex
onboard waste treatment systems to deal with
wastewater. The advanced water purification systems clean the wastewater generated from sinks,
showers, laundry, galleys, toilets and medical facilities onboard. These systems produce clean water
that is treated to meet a standard twice as stringent
as U.S. federal standards.
Additionally, a number of major cruise lines are
going beyond basic recycling and environmental
responsibility, to take green initiatives even further.
For example, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
(RCL) recently announced a special five-year global
partnership with the World Wildlife Fund ( WWF)—
an initiative designed to help ensure the long-term
health of the oceans. The cruise line, working with
tainability targets that will reduce Royal Caribbean’s
environmental footprint. In addition, a $5 million
contribution from RCL supports WWF’s global
ocean conservation work.
Advanced Emission Purification—a multi-stream exhaust cleaning system—scheduled for
completion in 2017, includes the retrofitting of so-called exhaust “scrubbers” on 13 Royal Caribbean
International and six Celebrity Cruises ships. The
system is designed to remove approximately 98 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions and 50 to 60 of particulate matter from exhaust gases.
In the Galapagos Islands, passengers on Celebrity
Cruises’ Xpedition visit a local fishing cooperative that
Celebrity helped to establish in order to help local
fishing families develop a more reliable livelihood and
therefore more sustainable economic independence.
It also educates passengers about the economic and
environmental cycles of responsible fishing.
Carnival Cruise Line has equipped 20 of its ships
to connect to shore power at 8 ports worldwide.
When Carnival ships dock at one of the ports, the
engines and generators are turned off, and the ships
plug into the port’s existing power grid. Since the programs were started, ships have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 12 billion kilograms.
Since 2008, Norwegian Cruise Line ships have
been giving all of the spent cooking oil they generate— 5,283 gallons per month—to local farmers to
be used for biodiesel.
And a few cruise ships are now going beyond
the traditional galley or bridge tours and offering a
visit to their waste management decks. If you can,
take that tour. It’s worth it. C
Royal Caribbean ships employ a variety of
methods to reduce waste and conserve
Sailing the ocean green
Cruise ship initiatives reduce carbon footprint
Costco Travel offers member
savings with a variety of
cruises worldwide. For more
information, go to Costco.
com and click “Travel” or call
to optimize timing,
route, speed and
of its ships
doors are closed
and lights and appliances
are switched off when
staterooms are unoccupied
Using energy-efficent glass
on new ships
on older ships
Using cold Alaskan
and Baltic seawater
to chill water onboard,
thereby reducing the load
on the air conditioning
systems Adjusting and
Installed solar panels
on newest ships Reusing
to heat water