Sustainable Cruise Ships: 2021 Update

Sustainable Cruise Ships Are on the Horizon!

While cruise ships comprise less than one percent of the global maritime community, cruise lines are now at the forefront in developing responsible tourism practices and implementing innovative ship technologies to lower their environmental impact.

Hurtigruten sustainable cruise ships are first hybrid electric-powered ships.

Hurtigruten introduces the world’s first hybrid electric-powered cruise ships.

The Cruise Industry is Committed to Environmental Sustainability

The 2021 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook report published by CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) highlights an industry-wide commitment to sustainable cruise ships, including environmental and destination stewardship. 

New Technology and Sustainable Cruise Ship Design

The development of new technology and ship design will drastically reduce the cruise industry’s carbon footprint. For example, among CLIA cruise lines:

  • $23.5 Billion invested in ships with new technologies and cleaner fuels to reduce carbon emissions.
  • 40% Target – the rate of reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, compared to 2008.
  • There are 24 Liquified National Gas (LNG)-fuelled cruise ships currently on order through 2027.
  • 99% of new ships will have advanced wastewater treatment systems.
  • 88% of new ships will use shore-side power. 

Sustainable Cruise Ships: Environmental & Sustainability Initiatives

There is nothing more important in this world than our oceans, and we’re on a mission to protect them and set an example – Richard Branson, Virgin Voyages

Here are just a few examples of how cruise companies are implementing sustainable cruise ship practices and innovative technology to reduce their environmental footprints:

Virgin is banning unnecessary single-use plastics from their ships. Innovative technologies will transform heat from the ship’s engines into clean energy, and purify wastewater so that it’s clean enough to drink. Virgin’s strategic partnership with Ocean Unite includes accelerating the 30×30 global initiative — a call to preserve 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.

Hurtigruten’s expedition vessels, MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridtjof Nansen, are the world’s first electric-powered sustainable cruise ships. The design of the ships’ hulls, energy savings on board, and use of electric propulsion will reduce fuel emissions by 20%. 

Environmental conservation is one of Ponant’s top priorities, and all carbon emissions incurred by their cruises are now 150% offset. With each new itinerary, Ponant carries out environmental impact studies. This means they can analyze the potential impact on the ecosystem their ship is visiting and keep it to a minimum.

All three cruise brands have partnered with Ocean Conservancy to protect and ensure the long-term health of our oceans. Norwegian Cruise Line is replacing all single-use plastic bottles across its fleet.

Carnival will significantly eliminate its purchase and consumption of non-essential single-use plastics by the end of 2021. The effort to reduce single-use plastics will extend across its nine global cruise line brands.
Carnival Cruise Line is also the first large-scale cruise operator to partner with Clean the World, the toiletry recycling program that fights deadly illness in sanitation-challenged communities.

Both Royal Caribbean Cruise Line brands have pledged to eliminate single-use plastics across their fleets. The cruise company has set ambitious sustainability targets to reduce its environmental footprint and raise awareness about ocean conservation in 2020. Three key focus areas are emissions reduction, sustainable sourcing, and destination stewardship.

To bring the climate impact of their entire fleet to zero, MSC Cruises is committed to becoming the world’s first fully carbon neutral cruise line. MSC also has begun construction on the first of five liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered sustainable cruise ships.

Carbon neutrality joins Lindblad’s list of ongoing environmental initiatives on their sustainable ships. Lindblad became a carbon-neutral company by offsetting the carbon emissions of its fleet, employee travel worldwide, offices, and beyond. Others include a strong sustainable seafood program and a fleetwide ban on single-use plastics.

Learn More About Sustainable Ships

With the launch of and the livecast interview series The Future of Cruising, Landry & Kling has created a forum for the greening of the cruise industry.  Register to receive updates on sustainable ships and invitations to SustainableShips’ upcoming Livecast series.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published July 8, 2020, and has been updated for accuracy.


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