#LNG #EcoFriendly #CLIA #GreatGarbagePatch
Have you heard of the Great Garbage Patch, which floats between Hawaii and California? Pollution of our oceans is just one concern of many of the world’s cultures. A quarter of all man-made carbon emissions are soaked up by the world’s seas, says the Natural Resources Defense Council. It’s clearly vital for the vessels that use the ocean, especially the commercial companies that run them, to address these environmental threats. And there’s no higher-profile business on the high seas than cruising.
“We have a challenge to convey our environmental stewardship,” says Brian Salerno, a U.S. Coast Guard vet who is the senior vice president of Maritime Policy for the Cruising Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest industry body, who freely acknowledges the problem. “People blame cruise ships for pollution because of their visibility and their size. They make assumptions and in the past, those were correct—they see a large ship, and think there must be consequences.”
CLIA, which makes sustainability a core part of its focus, counters that those assumptions are unfair and inaccurate. Not only does cruising form only about one percent of the world’s oceangoing traffic (the vast majority of it is shipping tankers), Salerno says, but cruise lines have made serious efforts at minimizing their impact, especially in recent years.
He readily rattles off a list of the industry’s innovations, all of which already quietly contribute to substantial reductions in fuel. Most ships built within the last five years or so, Salerno explains, feature a system that introduces air bubbles under the water to reduce friction between the hull and the sea—and reduced drag reduces fuel use. Windows on ships now are treated with a coating that lessens the amount of sunlight reaching into the room, he says, to keep staterooms naturally cooler, requiring less gas-guzzling AC.
Then there’s speed, a constant conundrum. The U.K.-based International Maritime Organization has recently considered capping seagoing speeds as part of its goal to lower greenhouse gas emissions from the shipping industry by 2050. The rationale is simple — slower ships burn less fuel, which is cheaper and more eco-friendly. Cargo ships already have embraced the go-slow, which was instituted as a belt-tightening measure in the wake of the Great Recession. In recent years, cargo ships on the whole reduced speeds from 25 knots to 20 knots. The big focus now is on passenger liners; many cruise ships can hit the relatively speedy 22 knots (around 25 mph) at full pelt.
Salerno suggests it would be better to double down on the newest eco-friendly innovation — LNG, or liquid natural gas. It’s still a fossil fuel, but one that burns far more cleanly than traditional diesel. The first LNG-powered ship launched in December 2018—AIDAnova, owned by a German line — and 25 more are planned, including vessels from Carnival, Disney, MSC, Royal Caribbean, and P&O.
There have been other industry-wide environmental advances, too. Plastic straws have vanished from the decks of MSC, Norwegian, and Oceania, among others. Other lines, like Disney and Royal Caribbean, have swapped out tiny shampoo containers in staterooms for refillable pumps. Discreetly reducing the size of portions served in on board restaurants to streamline food waste has been another industry-wide trend, says Cruise Critic editor-in-chief Colleen McDaniel. She says that there’s an onus on passengers to be resource-aware when sailing, too.
You can be your own best ambassador by bringing reusable metal straws, and a refillable water bottle. And look for reef-safe sunscreen and body products, because you don’t want to be jumping into the water loaded down with chemicals.” We all need to participate in cleaning up the oceans, whether a shallow reef or the Mariana Trench, as it isn’t just the responsibility of the cruise lines.
Other lines have gone further, like adventure specialist line Hurtigruten, long an industry leader in sustainability. It was the first, for example, to ban single-use plastics, like coffee lids and bags, across its entire fleet last spring. Next up — Converting its ships to burn biogas as fuel, a renewable source generated onshore from organic waste that includes dead fish from the Norwegian fishing industry. The soon-to-launch Virgin Voyages also is rumored to focus on alternative energy sources for its new fleet, which launches next year, including an on board system that converts passenger waste into biofuel.
We at Getaway Dreams Come True Travel are committed to saving our wildlife and natural resources including the seas for future generations. We will help our clients in making suggestions of how they can reduce pollutants and waste, regardless of type of travel.
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