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Cruise industry at the forefront of marine environmental protection


By Robert Ashdown, Technical, Environment and Operations Director for the European Cruise Council (E.C.C).



Cruise industry at the forefront of marine environmental protection

Pioneers in the maritime industry for the protection of the marine environment and the fight against greenhouse gases, cruise operators have been developing initiatives from keel to truck since the 1990s!

90 areas of energy savings have recently been identified on a cruise ship and relate to hydrodynamics, propulsion, the hull, ventilation and air conditioning systems as well as electrical and electronic systems.

Our policy for sustainable development occurs at group strategy level within operations and research and development.

All cruise company CEOs, without exception, send strong messages to both staff and the public on the need to protect the environment.

Moreover, in recent years, companies have been publishing annual reports on sustainable development. This topic has become so important that an environment officer oversees the implementation of international standards and guidelines on board each vessel. This idea of reducing energy and greenhouse gas emissions occurs right from when the liners are designed. Naval architects apply their creativity to reducing their carbon footprint.
Costa Croisières now includes systems that connect to power on the dockside, in all its new constructions. Holland America Lines is currently testing fume collectors.

In order to reduce fuel consumption, cruise ships have decreased their commercial speed and travel fewer miles. Between 2009 and 2013 an average cruise went from 2000 to 1500 miles with one stopover being removed. Routes now only have five or six stopovers instead of seven. 


Making sorting facilities on land obligatory

With regard to actions for the protection of the environment, it is well established that cruise lines have risen to the challenge. MSC Cruises opted for fluoropolymer-based anti-fouling paint early on. This paint prevents marine organisms from clinging to the hull and improves the ship’s penetration in the water thereby reducing fuel consumption. MSC Cruises has also signed an agreement to salvage aluminium on board. Thousands of soft drinks cans will end their life as building materials... 95% of the waste produced on a cruise ship is recycled.

All waste is sorted by hand and then recycled. Large sums of money have been spent acquiring compactors to minimise the amount of space taken up by onboard waste and making it easier to land. But we regret that our efforts are often negated once docked.


The European Cruise Council (ECC) calls on the European Commission to take prompt action to make sorting facilities on land obligatory. Ship owners have also invested heavily in the installation of grey and black water purification systems that enable them to discharge drinkable water into the sea.

In cabins and public spaces, presence detection lighting also reduces power consumption. Even cooking oil has become biodiesel!

Certification bodies have rewarded the cruise industry’s proactive response to sustainable development in recent years.


version française


Robert Ashdown


Saturday, September 29th 2012



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