Green Living: Green Travel – Cruises that are Green-Conscious

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Green Living: Green Travel – Cruises that are Green-Conscious

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For the green living traveler, cruises seem to be the perfect way to get back to nature. Passengers venture not far above the ocean, in the tangy sea air, soaking up sun and fun in a relaxing, carefree environment. Prying off the cruise industry’s façade shows many concerns for the green traveler.  Royal Caribbean has a ship under construction due to launch later this year called The Harmony of the Seas, which will be the biggest ever built, displacing 227,000 tons of ocean water. Its 16 decks will accommodate a record 5,479 passengers. Add hundreds of crew and a ship this size can have the environmental impact of a small town. Each day a cruise ship can produce as much as 30,000 gallons of sewage, a quarter million gallons of so called gray water from showers, laundries, dishwashing and sinks, hazardous waste from dry cleaning, as well as more exhaust than from 10,000 cars.

Because regulation is minimal in international waters, some cruise lines spew this pollution directly into the environment. What are the key factors that a passenger into green living should look for when it comes to choosing a cruise that is green-conscious?

Let’s start with water. Cruises employ desalination for fresh water consumption, so passengers aren’t depleting ports’ potable water supplies. What happens after the water is used is more important. Has a cruise line installed the state-of-the-art sewage and waste treatment gear on board, or does it simply dump untreated waste into the ocean? The Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has committed to installing advanced waste water treatment equipment across its entire fleet. Norwegian, Disney, Celebrity, Cunard and Seabourn Cruise Lines have all received “A” grades for their waste water treatment from Friends of the Earth. This is green living on the high seas!

Cruise lines don’t do well on air pollution control. Only one line, Princess Cruises, scored as high as a “B” on mitigating air pollution. Combining the ratings, only four lines scored “C” or better in the overall ratings, those offered by Holland America Line, Princess, Norwegian and Disney Cruise Lines.

So what should a green living traveler do? Shop by individual ship. Several of these are rated “A” across the board by Friends of the Earth: Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas; Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Infinity, Celebrity Millennium, Celebrity Summit; Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess, Golden Princess, Grand Princess, Island Princess, Regal Princess, Sea Princess, Sun Princess; Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder; and Holland America Line’s Noordam, Oosterdam, Veendam and Westerdam.

Still, at their best, these ships burn fossil fuel, adding to carbon pollution and global warming. The greenest cruises for green living travelers are those that rely on wind power, like Windjammer Cruises. “I took a Barefoot Windjammer Cruise in the Caribbean,” long time sailboat skipper Carolisa Pomerantz told me. “It was a blast. We had 125 people on board who could do as little or as much as we cared to, when it came to trimming the sails.”

After dressing professionally week after week at work, she appreciated the casual dining experience. “We didn’t have to worry about dressing formally for dinner. The food was first rate, fish caught fresh that day brought to whatever port we were in. I found the whole experience to be very relaxing.”

Cruising on a sailboat is the best choice for green living travel on a cruise that is green-conscious. Few experiences on the ocean exceed the wonderful moment when a sailboat’s engine is turned off, and the only sounds heard on deck are the resonance of the wind and the slap of waves on the hull as it knifes through the sea.

For more sojourns read our green travel articles especially:

Sustainable Living: Going Green While Traveling

Green Living: Eco Tourism Explained

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