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Cruise Line Industry Association Reacts Strongly to Environmental Report Card

| Wednesday May 26th, 2010 | 6 Comments

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 Marcie 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.


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  • Crystal Info

    We are very disturbed at FOE’s questionable criteria and selective research to rate cruise ships.

    Crystal Cruises has implemented many initiatives that focus on waste streams, such as energy conservation, water filtration and waste reduction. In keeping with our high standards in everything we do, Crystal Cruises’ policy on sewage discharge exceeds international regulations. With our Environmental Management System, Crystal has achieved certification to the ISO 14001 standard, which is only awarded to those companies that meet a comprehensive and stringent set of criteria. In fact, Crystal was recertified this past year following an extensive audit. We are proud to be internationally recognized for our “Crystal Clean” initiatives. In 2009, the Ports of Stockholm presented Crystal Symphony with the Environmental Buoy Diploma for the third time, in recognition of our waste management efforts in the region, and Crystal Cruises was awarded the “Venice Blue Flag” by the port of Venice for our commitment to reducing emissions and safeguarding the city’s environment.

    As a testament to our continued environmental efforts, when Crystal Cruises last home-ported in San Francisco in 2005 in connection with our series of cruises to Alaska, the Port of San Francisco’s Environmental Advisory Committee presented Crystal with an environmental award for exceeding existing environmental regulations and industry standards in her reduction of air and water pollution while operating in San Francisco Bay. Their decision was based on our ship’s clean fuel strategies while in port, engine emission reduction, progressive wastewater management practices and dedicated recycling and solid waste disposal programs.

    We are also disturbed that many media outlets have published FOE’s report without doing their homework. A USA Today reader commented back to us: “Kudos on being ISO 14001 certified. As a member of ASQ and a Certified Auditor, I know this is not an easy achievement.”

    Again, the criteria used to rate the ships is, in our opinion, is, at best, flawed. Based on installation alone, the evaluation of certain equipment is incomplete. What is the training of the staff to use the equipment? Are there viable alternatives to that equipment? Example: Is it better to have five garbage cans that staffers don’t use, or three garbage cans diligently managed by a well-trained, environmentally-conscious crew?

    A thorough evaluation would consider all waste streams and the effort to address all of these. We encourage everyone to do their own due diligence before taking such inaccurate and incomplete information at face value.

    • http://www.ecotrainmediagroup.com Kevin Pile

      I am writing this response, because I know the cruise industry very well. I have spent nearly 13 years working for the industry. Starting in a position as a porter, grew into senior level managemet, and left in executive managment level. I have been a strong advocate within the industry for sustainable change. The cruise industry in unsustainable in its current state, the industry needs to evolve.

      If you would like to debate this, or would like help in starting a sustainable cruiseline. Please email me at kevin.pile@ecotrainmediagroup.com

      • nickaster

        Kevin, thanks for your reply. And also thanks to the person from Crystal for replying as well. I'd love to hear from either of you, or both, about some of the specific areas where you'd address the Cruise industry in terms of success stories or areas for improvement with regards to sustainability. In fact, if either of you are interested in a guest post on the topic, please get in touch.

  • Janero Haussman

    Personally, I'm most concerned with the Cruise Industry's cultural impact (or lack therof). Does the cruise industry actually make an effort to educate anyone on board about where they are going? I know they used to go to Haiti and not even refer to it as Haiti but rather called it “Hispanola” – technically correct as that's the name of the whole Island, but it's an attempt to not cause fear in a what the industry seems to assume are very ignorant and incurious passengers.

    Seems sad to me. If passengers don't even know what country they're in, then the industry has a long way to go to combat the image that those ships are nothing but floating shopping malls full of ignorant slobs looking to get drunk and buy trinkets during the 2 hours they get to actually visit a city or country.

    Small ships with real cultural & educational agendas seem like the way to go for me!

  • Rob Bryan

    I don't believe you can put 7,000 people on as small a footprint as a ship in a sustainable manner (unless they redefine “sustainability” which is probably next). From a people, planet, profit point of view, they're only focusing on profit. They will not get to people and planet as long as both are located on the expense side of the balance sheet. People meaning crew of course but also shipbuilding employees. Not gonna happen. Even if some did get it, I can't see how they can even technologically accomplish it with the “bigger and bigger is better” attitude. They are just TOO BIG.

  • Rob Bryan

    I don't believe you can put 7,000 people on as small a footprint as a ship in a sustainable manner (unless they redefine “sustainability” which is probably next). From a people, planet, profit point of view, they're only focusing on profit. They will not get to people and planet as long as both are located on the expense side of the balance sheet. People meaning crew of course but also shipbuilding employees. Not gonna happen. Even if some did get it, I can't see how they can even technologically accomplish it with the “bigger and bigger is better” attitude. They are just TOO BIG.