Virtuoso Life March 2019 8 Lines Striving for Sustainable Cruising

8 Lines Striving for Sustainable Cruising

Water is our most precious resource. 
Water is our most precious resource. 
Photo by Iren Key/Getty Images
Cruise lines are swabbing the decks when it comes to environmental practices.
On this blue planet, one thing is certain: water is life. From clean drinking reserves to healthy marine ecosystems, it’s the vital element that sustains us. But with sea life in peril, oceans clogged with plastic waste, and communities struggling with access to clean drinking water, it’s not news to anyone that this precious liquid asset needs protecting.

“Oceans make up over 70 percent of the planet and are 100 percent critical to our business,” says Nick Rose, director of environmental programs at Royal Caribbean International. “Ensuring that we have healthy oceans is embedded into our daily operations. We’re constantly exploring ways to reduce our environmental footprint.”

Cruise lines are launching their own foundations, adopting more sustainable practices, and giving globe-trotters the chance to pitch in. Here are just a few ways cruise lines are working to give back. 

Solid Sailing

In addition to launching the first-ever hybrid-electric-powered icebreaker in 2021, Ponant is testing a Solid Sail system on its flagship Le Ponant. The sails, made of fiberglass, carbon, and epoxy-resin panels, are expected to significantly decrease fuel consumption.

Immersive adventure in the South Pacific.
Immersive adventure in the South Pacific.

Raising Eco-conscious Cruisers 

Specialists in the South Pacific, Paul Gauguin Cruises has partnered with Te Mana O Te Moana, a nonprofit education and conservation organization, to offer kids the free Moana Explorer program. Little ones (and parents, if they like) participate in daily naturalist-led activities and outings, from conducting water experiments to learning about underwater life through board games.
Give back with Crystal Cruises. 
Give back with Crystal Cruises. 
Photo by Venuestock/Getty Images

Volunteer Vacations

On Crystal Cruises, guests can help people, nature, and wildlife all over the world. Through the line’s “You Care. We Care” initiatives, passengers can plant trees at a reserve in Iceland, learn how to rescue distressed dolphins in Barcelona, or choose another of some two dozen-plus projects.

Sailing only to the Arctic and Antarctic, Quark Expeditions knows ice – and the animals who call it home. This year, the small-ship cruise line is supporting Polar Bears International, which works to protect the bears – classified as a threatened species since 2008 – and their fragile habitat. At the other end of the world, the South Georgia Heritage Trust has worked to eradicate invasive rodent populations, which decimate the island’s native birds. During last year’s sailing season, Quark contributed more than $264,000 to these partner organizations, all raised through passenger auctions.

A waterslide on the <em>Symphony of the Seas</em>. 
A waterslide on the Symphony of the Seas

Bigger and Better

It’s the world’s largest cruise ship, but Royal Caribbean International’s behemoth Symphony of the Seas produces about 20 percent less CO2 per person, per day than megaships built just a few years before. And efforts such as capturing AC condensation for laundry use, coupled with high-efficiency appliances, mean the line’s passengers consume about half as much water per day as the average American.

AmaWaterways’ <em>Zambezi Queen</em>. 
AmaWaterways’ Zambezi Queen

Rivers of Change

AmaWaterwaysZambezi Queen, which sails southern Africa’s Chobe River, uses river water that’s purified in an eight-step process for onboard showers, taps, and the pool; biodegradable cleaning products; solar-heated hot water; and a water-jet propeller system that doesn’t disrupt the riverbed.

To give back to communities along the Mekong River, Aqua Expeditions works with Room to Read to fund schooling and literacy projects. In 2016, the cruise line raised more than $10,000 to build a library at a primary school in Vietnam.

Uniworld River Cruises has partnered with ME to WE, the service-oriented travel arm of the WE Charity, which supports clean water initiatives around the world. Together, they’ve crafted a 12-day New Delhi-to-Kolkata journey that kicks off with four days of cultural immersion and service projects in rural Rajasthan, followed by eight days on the Ganges, sailing round-trip from Kolkata.
Meeting locals with ME to WE. 
Meeting locals with ME to WE. 

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