Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Can Cruises Be Environmentally Friendly?


We try to be more green and ecologically sound in most areas of our lives these days and are constantly thinking about how we can become more environmentally friendly with our every day living, but can these sorts of ideas also be applied to our holidays too?

It’s perhaps an area that we tend to think can’t be done in an eco-friendly way at all, but it’s worth challenging that notion, because believe it or not, something as exciting as a cruise holiday can be green and environmentally sound too.



How individual states protect their coastlines
For a state such as Alaska, cruises can have the potential to cause much in the way of ecological damage. Therefore, they have put in place measures which will help their coastlines stay safe from problems now and in the future.

Any ships that want to travel along the coast there must have a permit to do so. Not only that, but they must meet strict guidelines with regard to water and air pollution and must also adhere to strict principles with regard to the dumping of fuel, water and food wastage. Their engines must be ecologically sound and have reduced carbon emissions and they must not be used when a ship is in port.

The problem of fuel and energy consumption
As you would imagine, a cruise liner needs an enormous amount of fuel to be able to get it to travel the many thousands of miles it makes on every single journey. These liners effectively carry the equivalent in people of the population of a small US town.

Royal Caribbean Cruise lines have taken the decision to use bio-diesel on board their ships, coupled with this is the fact they use electric gas and some steam turbine engines on their Radiance liners which can effectively reduce emissions by as much as ninety eight percent.

Many of the top cruise liners are now thinking about proactively changing the design and build of their ships to make them more energy friendly and eco-sensitive. Some ships, such as the ones on the Celebrity Cruise line are being built with items like solar panels on them to generate green energy and provide the lighting. It actually works out to be a fifty percent reduction in energy consumption.

Norwegian Cruise and Disney Liners make good use of their cooking oil once it can no longer be used in the kitchen. Norwegian Lines give their waste oil to farmers to help them along with fuel costs, whilst the Disney Liners take their waste oils and use them to power the machinery on their own private island. This effectively saves around eight thousand gallons of oil a year.

Cruise liner travel
One of the most forward thinking changes that has been made is to the hull of the ship, which might not seem the most obvious place to start, but actually is.

During the manufacture and build of the liner, it is painted with a special kind of silicon paint which means that it can glide and cut through the water much more easily, thus using much less fuel than it normally would.

Some liner companies like Royal Caribbean Cruises have even gone one stage further with this idea and made their hulls more aerodynamic, which coupled with the use of the aforementioned silicon paint makes them even more fuel efficient.

On board energy
Possibly the biggest drain on a cruise ship’s energy resources is the air conditioning system, which can go into overdrive during the hotter months of the year and needs a considerable amount of power to keep it going.

In fact, to demonstrate exactly how much power it needs, during the winter months, to save on energy, Royal Caribbean Cruise liners actually shut down an entire engine to save resources. The fact they can do this without detriment to travel shows just how much energy an air conditioning system uses to keep passengers cool.

The Holland America line has deployed another tactic to help, by painting the windows of their cabins with a dark film, which effectively helps minimise the heat from the sun which can get into the rooms and thus negates the need to use the air conditioning as much.
Water treatment
As you can imagine, waste water can be a problem for such large vessels and the issue of how to deal with it without causing environmental hazard needs to be addressed.

Again, Royal Caribbean have ploughed many millions of dollars into trying to find a solution to the issue and 
have developed an on-board water treatment system, which turns the murky colored waste water into clean water which is, to all intents and purposes, safer than what comes out of a fawcett at home. This water does indeed end up back in the sea, but does not cause any pollution at all.

The Disney Cruise Line takes any water that has been produced from their air conditioning system and uses this to run their on-board laundry service, which is a novel approach to dealing with the problem!

Why these measures are important

In past years, cruise liners have become a very popular way of seeing many different countries throughout the world, without holidaymakers having to continually pack their bags, search for new accommodation and fly long distances. Therefore, it was imperative that ecologically sound holiday travel was developed which would be not only better for the humans on board but also for the delicate marine life and eco-systems in the sea, too. Making travel more environmentally friendly is hugely important if these things are to be preserved for the children of future generations to enjoy. People want to be able to see the world as safely and conveniently as possible without worrying they are storing up problems for the future of the planet. Looking for a cruise liner company that takes into account considerations of build design, fuel economy and how waste products, whether they be water or oil, are recycled after their use can go a long way to helping the environment and helping you as a holidaymaker feel better too.