The floor kept moving throughout the journey yet I never required Dramamine. That was an accomplishment for me. I took my first cruise a couple of weeks ago on Carnival Paradise. It was for five nights and included departure from Tampa, Fla. and visits to Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico. I really enjoyed the trip. No offense to my five-year-old, but it was a treat to drop him off at Camp Carnival and go read a book or see a show with my wife. We all got to do what we really wanted to do.
I have often wondered about the cruise industry and its attention to environmental responsibility. In my room on the Paradise there were soap and shampoo dispensers in the shower and of course a note about how to not have your towels washed. There were recycling containers throughout the ship.
To learn more I visited the Carnival Corporation & plc website where the company has its six most recent sustainability reports posted. (Ironically, just a week ago, Carnival announced it has been recognized for producing the year’s most engaging and informative sustainability report in the 10th annual Corporate Register Reporting Awards, the only annual global awards program honoring excellence in corporate social responsibility and sustainability reporting.)
In its most recent report (2015), Carnival addresses advances in fuel technology—a transition to liquefied natural gas (LNG). By the end of 2018, Carnival will be the first cruise company to use LNG to power its ships when they are both in port and on the open sea.
2020 Sustainability Goals
Like many hotel companies, Carnival has 2020 sustainability goals: to reduce the intensity of CO2e (equivalent carbon dioxide) emissions from operations by 25 percent by 2020 relative to its 2005 baseline; continue to reduce waste generated by its shipboard operations by 5 percent by 2020 relative to its 2010 baseline; and continue to improve water use efficiency of its shipboard operations by 5 percent by 2020 relative to its 2010 baseline.
One thing I noticed immediately about the Paradise was the number of employees from all over the world—folks sacrificing a lot, including family, to work on a ship for six months. In 2015, Carnival launched a multicultural diversity and inclusion campaign. It also sponsored a leadership forum for women, developed a supplier evaluation questionnaire, donated $5 million to the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and continued its partnership with The Nature Conservancy.
One of the best things, or worst things, about being on a cruise ship, is being able to eat how much you want and when you want it. While on board I often wondered what happened to the food waste from the approximately 2,000 guests.
According to Carnival, all of its ships have a waste management plan that specifies how it manage each type of waste on board. The waste management strategy consist of a multi-level approach that includes eliminating and minimizing waste, disposing waste ashore, incinerating waste on board and discharging liquid waste and food waste, all performed in accordance with regulatory requirements and in some instances exceeding regulations.
Some Ports Offer Little Recycling Help
Carnival’s strategy is to minimize its waste streams by working with its supply chain to minimize packaging as well as increasing the volume and types of recycled materials landed ashore. A challenge that limits the volume of recycling material that can be recycled is the lack of recycling infrastructure at certain ports of call visited worldwide.
“Our approach is to hold the recycling materials on board when possible until a port that offers recycling services is reached within the itinerary,” Carnival says. “Our crew is trained on waste management practices as part of their environmental training program. In addition, comprehensive training is provided to all personnel directly involved in waste management operations. We also continually monitor new regulations that are being proposed and engage with regulators and interested stakeholders either directly or through industry trade organizations like the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) to address their concerns and to discuss feasible solutions whenever such regulatory issues arise.”
Each ship in Carnival’s fleet has a full-time Environmental Officer (EO), who oversees environmental compliance and implementation of procedures.
Community Involvement is Part of Carnival’s Approach
Carnival has significant involvement in the communities in which it does business.
“We embrace the culture of the communities in which we operate, including our headquarters locations, home ports and ports of call,” Carnival says. “We understand that there may be an impact on the sustainability of a community when we engage with, operate in, or cease operating there. We continually strive to contribute to our communities in a positive social, environmental and economic manner, working in conjunction with local governments, trade associations, tourism organizations and other community stakeholders.
Carnival is certainly not the only cruise company with successful sustainability initiatives. I chose to write about them because I just so happened to book a cruise on one of their ships.
Like the hotel industry, the cruise business is huge and having a massive impact on our environment. According to Cruise Industry News, by 2022 the four largest cruise ship companies will have 212 ships, 539,883 berths, and capacity for 26.7 million passengers. That will be a lot of energy and water consumed and waste generated.
The cruise and lodging industries would do well do learn from one another when it comes to sustainability. I have yet to see a green conference that includes both. Have you?
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