Jo Austin

Cruise companies promote the joy of our oceans as part of their appeal. Jo Austin looks at their onboard initiatives to protect these critical assets

The health of our planet is dependent upon the health of our oceans. In a world where pieces of plastic could one day out number the fish in our seas, it is encouraging to learn of initiatives being undertaken by cruise lines worldwide

Carnival Corporation

Carnival Corporation claims it is on track to meet its 2020 sustainability goals across its nine cruise line brands. Its key objectives include reducing its carbon footprint, improving ships’ air emissions, reducing waste generation and improving water use efficiency. Some 46% of the company’s fleet is now equipped with capability to use shoreside electric power when docked.

Fred. Olsen

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines was the first cruise line to work with environmental campaigning organisation, City to Sea, as part of its Refill Campaign. Thomas Rennesland, hotel operations director, says: “We make our living out of the sea so we need to do all we can to conserve this precious environment and safeguard it for marine life and the enjoyment of generations to come. We are making great efforts to eliminate single-use plastics across our fleet, and removing single use plastic water bottles is one of the biggest changes we can make. Plastic jam, butter and milk portions have been replaced, and plastic laundry bags are now linen.”


The cruise line is committed to sustainability through a number of initiatives including being a member of the IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) that aims to protect the Antarctic. The company is also involved in the Clean Up Svalbard project around Spitsbergen which collects and carefully disposes of rubbish. All unnecessary plastic has been removed onboard, and in a bid to reduce fuel and energy consumption Hapag-Lloyd is using barges or trains rather than trucks in port.

MSC Cruises

TMSC Cruises has been awarded the 2019 ‘Greenest Shipowner of the Year’ Neptune Award at the Global Sustainable Shipping and Ports Forum in Denmark. The award is given every year to a shipping company that has shown excellence in reducing the environmental impact of its fleet’s day-to-day operation. Some 74% of MSC Cruises’ passenger capacity is already covered by innovative hybrid exhaust gas cleaning systems, and it is making a €5 billion investment in five LNG-powered ships that will enter service between 2022 and 2027, and all its cruise ships launched from 2017 onwards can ‘plug in’ to the local power grid at port.


The world’s largest expedition cruise company this year launched the first hybrid-powered cruise ship equipped with battery packs, and has pledged to transform three further expedition vessels with the same ground-breaking green technology and low-emission engines. The Hurtigruten Foundation funds sustainability projects globally, conserving endangered species, fighting marine and plastic pollution, and financially supporting projects at over 200 destinations in more than 30 countries.

Norwegian Cruise Line

In an effort to reduce single-use plastics, NCL has pledged to eliminate the use of 50 million plastic straws each year across its fleet and two island destinations. As a member of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Alliance, NCL is actively working towards solutions that will mitigate plastic waste.

Royal Caribbean Cruises

The cruise company’s 2020 environmental goals form part of its ‘seastainability’ programme set up in 2017. Its three focus areas are emission reduction, sustainable sourcing and destination stewardship. The company claims that whenever possible the waste on its ships is reused, recycled or converted to energy in its ‘journey to zero waste’. It is buying more sustainable and humane products, like MSC-certified seafood and cagefree eggs, and is working across its supply chain to support a more circular economy.

Regent Seven Seas

As part of its Sail & Sustain environmental programme, the luxury ocean cruise line has pledged to eliminate the use of around two million plastic bottles annually across the fleet by serving Vero still and sparkling water. An onboard purification and filling process will enable the cruise line to serve water in glass bottles.