The future of cruising …. going green

The future of cruising …. going green

According to Autotrader, 2018 was the year that us Brits started to take greener travel options more seriously. The publication recently announced that a whopping 71% of car buyers are considering an electric car as their next vehicle. In 2017 this number was 23%. That is a huge leap in interest.  With consumers taking a more of an interest in AFV (alternatively fuelled vehicles), how will this impact our mindset when it comes to other forms of transportation?

Are we also starting to think more green when it comes to our holiday transport options in 2019 too? With the holiday season fast approaching, the global cruise industry booming and with the world’s 6th largest cruise ship, MSC Bellissima, having its naming ceremony last week in Southampton, lets looks at cruising to begin with.


The bigger the cruise ship ….

Is it ironic that as cruise ships become significantly larger …. they are also becoming a lot greener and cleaner at the same time! These days ocean-going vessels often can have in excess of 6,000 passengers on board, but how many of these travellers are thinking of the impact their pending cruise will have on the local and wider environment?

Ships fulfil two roles. They are a provider of transport and also a hotel.  While they burn fuel moving to each destination, they also burn fuel keeping the lights and air-conditioning working. On top of these there are other ­environmental factors to consider, including waste water, air pollution and garbage ­disposal

Your average cruise can create a lot of waste.  First of all lets look at a couple of factors, the hundreds of tons of bunker fuel oil that is burned and then there is the sewage. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) an ocean-going cruise liner can produce over 80,000 litres of sewage a day! Also, what about the on-deck air quality.  You don’t often read in the cruise brochure about finding air quality as poor as you might find on the streets of London! Certainly not what you expect or want whilst taking in the natural beauty of the Norwegian Fjords or crystal waters of the Caribbean.


Cleaner and greener technology ahoy

It is fair to say it is not easy being green when you are a big vessel. However, with many cruise companies working harder than ever to take a greener approach in their ship design, engine systems and day-to-day operations, modern-day fleets are a lot more environmentally sustainable.

Lets take the newly christened MSC Bellissima as an example. Throughout its 19 decks and 12 restaurants there are a lot of opportunities to reduce its environmental footprint of this ship and its 5,686 guests.

The MSC Bellissima has been fitted with greener technology features including an exhaust gas cleaning system to improve emissions, an advanced wastewater treatment system and LED lighting to save energy. MSC are not alone, most cruise lines are paying big attention to their environmental impact.  Below are some more ways that modern vessels are investing in greener and cleaner technology.

cruise ship


Leading the way are Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruises who have lined up liquid natural gas (LNG) to power their newest ships instead of diesel. These cruise favourites are also investing in fuel cell technology that converts chemicals into electricity.  Princess Cruises has also been looking at ways to make their fleet more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly by investing in Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS) technology. By next year all of their 14 ships will have EGCS installations.

Do you drive a hybrid car at home? Like the idea of some emission free sailing? Excitingly, leading expedition liner, Hurtigruten has confirmed its order of two hybrid battery-powered cruise ships which are due to be delivered this year. This move will significantly reduce emissions and fuel consumption as well as providing a quieter way to enjoy your journey.

Surely it makes sense to use some form of wind power to help reduce fuel consumption as well as emissions? That is something that Viking Line has started to explore with their partnership with Norsepower energy. Their plan is to implement a rotor sail system on a LNG powered cruise liner.





State of the art onboard recycling and waste management facilities on cruise lines including MSC and Princess Cruises. The idea is that all waste should be treated on board, thus reducing its volume ahead of landing ashore. Furthermore, general waste should be recycled. As we have seen with hotels onshore, cruise passengers are being encouraged to help recycle too.  Glass and paper recycling bins are available and the reusing bed and bathroom linen is promoted to save energy..

Royal Caribbean started to reduce the potential for their plastic waste through removing the use of single use plastics like plastic water bottles and plastic forks on board. Going one step further they require suppliers to minimise the volume of material delivered to their ships that will end up being processed as waste.

Recycling is a key initiative and all the staff are in charge of their own recycling e.g cabin stewards separating recyclable materials from waste bins in cabins. All paper or cardboard is separately baled and all glass waste is sorted into colours, before being crushed and bagged for recycling after landing ashore.

Other cruise companies are also working hard to reduce the amount of waste heading to landfill. When the onboard furniture or bed linen is due for a refresh, Carnival Cruise donate theirs to charity.  P&O Cruises have taken their staff incentivisation to recycle one step further. After sorting recycling on board there should be nothing being disposed for landfill. Every penny that is made via recycling is added into the staff welfare fund.

c. MSC Cruises

Water on water

Many cruise liners produce their own fresh water supply by using desalinisation plants onboard. Your average passenger will use up to 50 gallons of water per day. This is after the installation of low flow shower heads and energy-efficient laundry solutions. Thankfully there are less older style vessels out there using out-dated filtration systems. Meaning there is less minimally treated black water from toilet waste and grey water from laundries/galleys released into the ocean.

Modern ships are geared up for reducing wastewater, however wastewater remains to be a major challenge for cruise companies. Disney Cruise line helps to fulfil its hefty volume of laundry water requirement by recycling nearly 300 tons from the air conditioning system. This water is also used to clean the deck.

Cruise lines have to abide buy a lot of rules and regulations. Many fleets now employ environmental ­officers on their ships to ­ensure compliance with all of these. Holland America is one of the cruise companies doing this. Holland America Line have started to eco-educate their staff on all of their vessels. As well as having a dedicated environmental officer on board each ship, they reduce their toxic output in every area. Even down to their cleaning supplies which are non-toxic.


Steam desalination

In 1992 Royal Caribbean introduced an environmental protection initiative called Save the Waves® that focuses primarily on waste management. More information can be found on their website page called Save the Waves. Over the last 3 decades this program has evolved. Currently it steers Royal Caribbean’s philosophy of social responsibility and sustainability practices by reducing the creation or generation of waste material, recycling where possible and finally making sure that any remaining waste water is properly disposed of through water purification systems.

From the water purification systems on Royal Caribbean use steam desalination in order to produce fresh water from seawater.  They also produce water through waste heat recovery. By heating diesel engine cooling water and steam from exhaust gas boilers. Royal Caribbean also have an Advanced Wastewater Purification (AWP) system on board. This ensures that wastewater from the likes of sinks, showers, toilets, laundry and galleys is cleaned. Bio-reactors filter the waste water before the leftover liquid is disinfected using UV radiation.  Only after the being monitored for any leftover bacteria is the “clean” water allowed back in the sea. The remaining solid waste is incinerated.



The world’s largest leisure travel company, Carnival Corporation, recently released the results of an independent, two-year scientific wash-water study.  In the largest wash-water data set in the marine industry, this study showed that their Advanced Air Quality Systems (aka scrubbers or EGCS exhaust gas cleaning system) are a safe and effective means for compliance with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 2020 requirements for cleaner air emissions and strict wash-water quality standards.

This study impacts are large quantity of vessels, Carnival Corporation has Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Seabourn, P&O Cruises (Australia), Costa Cruises, AIDA Cruises, P&O Cruises (UK) and Cunard in its portfolio.



Energy Efficient

From high-efficiency appliances to LED (light emitting diodes) lighting helping to reduce energy demands by 50%, many fleets are far more energy-efficient. Most individual ships have thousands of light bulbs, who would have thought that swapping out a light bulb for a LED would help reduce environmental impact? LEDS in their nature consume a lot less energy and last substantially longer.

Eco-technology is being used on every deck from the engine room to the top deck stateroom. Cabin windows are tinted to help reduce the need for air-conditioning when out at sea. When in port, vessels have the option to plug into less polluting power sources.

Cruise companies are continuing to look into ways to reduce their energy consumption with renewable energy. Currently AMA Waterways use renewable sources to get their onboard hot water using their solar heating system.


The future of green ocean travel?

Originally planned to launch in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Japanese brand Peace Boat has been designing what is tipped to be the world’s most eco-friendly cruise ship. Ecoship is leading the way in environmentally sustainable maritime transport and will use structural efficiency with renewable energy innovations.

Ecoship is expected to emit 30% less carbon dioxide and require 50% less electricity than other vessels in its class. Brilliantly it will generate its own power via 10 retractable wind generators, 10 retractable solar sails and kinetic floors. The vessel will also have a hybrid engine, capable of being powered by diesel or LNG. The Ecoship will also eliminate NOx (nitrogen oxide) and SOx (sulphur oxide) emissions.

Oliver Design, Ecoship designers, are aiming for a ship that will as close to zero waste as possible.  A closed-loop water system allows for no water discharge or dumping at sea. Basically put, sewage operations will allow any waste and water produced to be filtered and recycled again and again.


Onboard planted greenery

All extra water produced will be taken on by the Plant Kingdom which is five decks of planted greenery. These plants will not only surplus water but also carbon dioxide produced by the ship. We have heard of vertical farm systems in our cities, now it is time for on-board vertical farms. These cleverly produce fresh organic vegetables for the 2,000 on board guests.

Peace Boat is ready to take its commitment to the next level: create a ship that will embody our message, become a low-carbon cruising model for the industry and be the flagship for climate action around the world. Ecoship will address climate action via the responsibilities of maritime transport in carbon reduction and in preventing oceans and coastal areas degradation. By integrating a set of innovative technological and managerial solutions, Ecoship will be a showcase for what the industry can do. With cruising booming particularly in Asia, it is all the more urgent that it is done on sustainable basis. – Peace Boat.




Floating laboratory

Ecoship is set to host green technology exhibitions in up to 100 ports a year and will carry out humanitarian and environmental missions. Other parts of its remit include being used as a floating laboratory for sustainability research on the ocean as well as climate and green marine technology. Please check out a video about Ecoship that they have put together here.

Ecoship is set to make its maiden voyage in Spring 2020.


Designed to be as green as possible

Pretty exciting times ahead for the shipping industry with a move from conventional propulsion methods and the most recent introductions of more environmentally sustainable ship design, on board operations and technology. Cruise ships are working hard to lessen their environmental impact when its comes to some of the big talking points including sewage treatment, air pollution, and food waste.

Today’s vessels are designed to be as green and hydrodynamic as possible. Constructed using lighter metals including aluminium, these vessels much lighter.  The lighter the vessel essentially means less fuel used per trip just to make the ship move.  Pollution levels are further diminished by the use of biodiesel, LNG and other alternative fuel source

The introduction of non-polluting paints on these ship’s helps to protect them from corrosive sea air.  Less corrosion equals fewer repairs and ultimately less use of raw materials. Furthermore, these paints also don’t release acidity that alters the bacterial make-up of the seas the vessels travel though.

Modern travellers are more environmentally aware of their carbon footprint. Just as they are looking for transparency in the products they use at home, on vacation they are looking for companies that demonstrate transparency and initiative in cleaning up their act.