Cruise Line Industry Association Reacts Strongly to Environmental Report Card

Friends of the Earth’s second annual report card on cruise lines’ environmental impact made waves with an industry association, which called it “another flawed report.”‘

Four cruise lines, including Royal Carribbean and Carnival Cruises, the world’s largest, received grades in the D range, while one, Crystal Cruises, received an F. Holland America Line received the highest grade, a B-. Disney Cruise lines was most improved in the rankings, with a C- grade.

Grades are calculated on whether and how well cruise ships treat sewage before dumping it into the ocean, whether ships are configured to use dock side electrical hook ups instead of idling in port, and whether lines comply with Alaskan water quality regulations that further limit where ships can dump sewage.

A statement from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said “CLIA member cruise lines meet and often exceed all applicable international and federal environmental standards enforced by U.S. authorities and others around the world.”

But┬áMarcie Keever, Clean Vessels Campaign Director for Friends of the Earth, said “what we’ve seen is that the cruise industry has gone to great lengths to see that those regulations are weak.”

The Alaskan regulations were voted into law in 2006, but have since been watered down after complaints from the cruise line industry.

But more are coming: the International Maritime Organization has ruled that ships traveling in Arctic areas will no longer be able to burn heavily polluting “bunker oil” starting August 2011. This will limit the size and number of ships visiting Alaska, according to the New York Times.

In addition to the Arctic fuel requirements the IMO is also considering an Emissions Control Area around Canada and the United States which would limit emissions from cruise ships 200 nautical miles from shore.

The cruise industry got a lot of negative publicity several years ago after one line, Crystal Cruises, dumped thousands of gallons of sewage in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in California.

BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.