The cruise industry is making huge strides when it comes to reducing its harmful impact on the environment. In the recent past, cruises have gained a bad reputation: Many people view cruises as wasteful and emission-heavy. As the concerns about climate change grow, more and more tourists are wondering, “Are cruises safe for the environment?”
However, cruise companies are also taking these issues into account. New technologies are being implemented on cruise ships to make them better for both sea and air. Here are some of the ways that cruise lines are reducing their impact on the planet and promoting eco-friendly efforts across their companies:
The waters that cruise ships travel through have been one of the biggest environmental concerns the industry faces. Waste water that cruise ships produce include:
- Water leftover from kitchens, sinks, showers and laundry, called graywater.
- Bilge water, which is liquid that collects in the bottom of the ship and contains contaminants such as oil and grease.
Throughout the course of the journey, ships release this waste into the waters traveled. According to information released by Friends of the Earth, a network of environmental organizations that keeps watch on the cruise industry, over 40 percent of ships currently running do not use modern waste water treatment technology. This means the water they’re leaving behind has more contaminants than the water left behind by ships using newer methods.
However, this means there is movement in the direction of more effective waste water treatment. More ships are bringing in technology that allows them to remove pollutants from their waste water before they release it. This is a major step toward an eco-friendly industry.
Many ships use diesel to produce their energy and electricity for the voyage. The fuel powers generators, which provide the electricity for the ship. Cruise lines that use this method’s have a high reliance on diesel, and use a huge amount of fuel to run their ships. This means each voyage these ships take require using already limited resources. However, some ships are switching to more efficient, environmentally-friendly methods of electricity generation.
One such method involves using gas turbines. These produce energy in two ways: The gas turbines themselves power generators, and steam turbines collect the heat the turbines produce and utilize that energy, as well. Other ships have begun incorporating solar panels into their design to capitalize on their exposure to the sun.
The other side of the energy usage coin is reduction. Ships reduce energy consumption by installing LED lighting, which requires less electricity than incandescent counterparts. Many cruise lines have installed energy-saving systems in rooms, in which the presence of a key card turns on the power for the room. This prevents guests from leaving on lights or appliances when they’re not in the room using them.
Any vehicle that runs on fuel is going to have some level of exhaust. Because it takes a lot of energy to move a cruise ship,which means the ships can produce a high number of gasses that are harmful to the atmosphere. However, technology to reduce harmful emissions is growing in popularity. Today, cruise lines must reduce their emissions to acceptable levels to be able to travel at all: Many have, in fact, reduced their emissions to below industry standards.
Cruise ships use scrubber technology to remove sulfur and other pollutants from their exhaust. This way, the exhaust they ultimately release into the air has lower concentrations of the chemicals that cause harm. Similarly, energy efforts that reduce the dependence on fuel make ships release fewer gasses to begin with, significantly decreasing their negative effects.