How Are Cruise Ships Going Greener?

How Are Cruise Ships Going Greener?

Industries worldwide are waking up to the urgency of implementing more sustainable processes in order to avert the climate crisis and protect our planet for future generations. And the cruise industry is no different. 

Cruise ships are no longer the fossil-fuel-heavy mode of travel with a relentless use of disposable plastic. In fact, they are making massive strides forward in environmental care and achieving new green targets.

So, if your green conscience is questioning whether you should book a cruise holiday, here are four key ways in which cruise providers are doing their bit for the environment.

1. Fuel emissions

Members of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), one of the world’s largest cruise industry trade associations, have committed to pursuing net carbon neutral cruising by 2050, with an agreement of a 40% reduction of carbon emissions by 2030, compared to 20081

When you consider that the average cruise ship uses around 140-150 tonnes of fuel on a daily basis, making this commitment to a greener use of energy will be hugely beneficial to our environment.

Currently, 52% of vessels use liquefied natural gas (LNG) as their primary form of propulsion2, a fuel that has almost zero sulphur emission. However, gas is a finite resource, too, leaving other potential options, such as hydrogen, ammonia, biofuels or perhaps nuclear power, which are under current research.

Cunard three queens

2. Wastewater

Wastewater management is a big environmental concern for cruise ships. With thousands of people onboard, large cruise ships can generate between 15,000-30,000 gallons of wastewater per day! But don’t worry! Cruise providers have to abide by strict international regulations and CLIA policies.

And now, all new ships must be fitted with an advanced wastewater treatment system, often equivalent to the best shoreside treatment plants. This regulation means that 74% of vessels are now served by these advanced wastewater systems – rising four points since 20202.

3. Electricity

When you consider cruise ships are effectively floating towns, it’s not surprising that their electricity use has also been under the (green!) spotlight. Currently, 35% of ships are fitted to operate on shoreside electricity, and 82% of new ships on order will be equipped with this system2. Using on shoreside electricity means that, while at port, cruise ships can reduce their overall emissions.

But what else?

Cruise providers are working hard in developing more efficient ships. They are analysing every detail to make eco-friendly improvements, from the ship’s design and reducing its drag to using more energy-efficient equipment, recycling hot water to heat passenger cabins, and even looking at your lightbulbs and installing low-energy LED lighting.

4. Recycling

Onboard a cruise ship, every straw, coffee creamer packet or water bottle adds up to create massive amounts of disposable items. But the news here is positive! Due to the advanced technology onboard and careful waste management practices, cruise ships actually recycle 60% more than the average person onshore. Some ships can even repurpose 100% of their waste generated onboard. These percentages amount to 80,000 tons of paper, plastic, aluminium and glass recycled each year.3

Overall, the green news from cruise ships is good, and the industry is making significant advances and commitments to sustainability. Many of the major cruise lines, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, MSC, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Disney and many more, have subscribed to these commitments. They have also adopted onboard environmental policies, offering sustainability training for crew and implementing strategies to encourage their guests to follow environmentally friendly protocols.

So, as you book your next cruise holiday and dream about sailing towards the horizon, you can be assured that the outlook is green.


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Last accessed December 2021


Last accessed December 2021

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Last accessed December 2021

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