Making waves with sustainability efforts

Cruise and ferry operators alike are introducing new initiatives to move closer to achieving their environmental goals

Making waves with sustainability efforts
Stena Line has increased its number of female leaders by 3% in just one year

Sustainability has been at the forefront of the cruise industry in recent years. According to statistics from the Cruise Lines International Association, the cruise industry recycles 60% more waste that the average US citizen and 93% of cruise operators have made efforts to reduce plastic use and waste, for example by eliminating plastic straws.

Carnival Corporation is taking its efforts to be more environmentally conscious further. The organisation is using the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals to develop a new set of targets for 2030 to improve environmental management, energy efficiency, health, safety and wellbeing objectives.

Already the corporation has seen the rewards of its efforts. It achieved its 25% carbon reduction goal three years ahead of schedule in 2017 and decreased its air emissions further the following year, according to the 2018 Sustainability from Ship to Shore report. By the end of 2018, Carnival had equipped 74% of its fleet with advanced air quality systems and removed almost all remnants of sulphur from its ships’ emissions. Almost half of its fleet can now use shoreside electric power.

“We take our commitment to sustainability and the environment very seriously,” says Bill Burke, chief maritime officer for Carnival Corporation. “We have 120,000 passionate employees in our organisation, and it is a business imperative for each of us to protect and preserve the oceans we sail and the communities we visit, with a relentless focus on sustainability and the environment.

“Our goal is to make every place we visit better than it was before we went there. To help us meet that goal, we continue to increase our levels of investment in new initiatives, improved procedures, robust training and innovative systems.”

In January 2018, Carnival introduced Operation Oceans Alive to support its sustainability goals for protecting the oceans and destinations in which it operates. As part of this project, Carnival and its brands will reduce or eliminate single-use plastic items that are not used for sanitary or public health-related purposes by the end of 2021. These items include plastic cups, straws, lids and bags, and more.

“We recognise that to be a responsible global organisation, a good corporate citizen and the environmental leader our guests expect us to be, we need to continue to take proactive measures to ensure sustainability is ingrained in all aspects of our operation across our nine global cruise brands,” says Burke. “The Operation Oceans Alive platform and this initiative to dramatically reduce single-use plastics across our global fleet are just some of the ways we are committed to continuously enhancing our operations and focus on environmental compliance and excellence.”

Carnival Corporation’s individual brands are also investing in sustainability. As part of its sustainable fuel efforts, AIDA Cruises introduced AIDAnova in December 2018. She is the world’s first cruise ship to be powered in port and at sea by LNG. This is the first in Carnival’s new class of green cruise ships, of which 10 more are scheduled to enter service before 2025.

AIDA is aiming to have at least 94% of its guests sailing on ships that can be fully operated with low-emission LNG or with green shore power in port by 2023 as part of its goal to become a carbon-neutral cruise line. To achieve this, AIDA will build new vessels or retrofit older ones with the necessary green technology.

With each AIDA ship spending around 40% of its time in port, shore power is also high on the company’s agenda. The line aims to use shore power from renewable sources to reduce port emissions to virtually zero. As such, AIDA has partnered with the German state governments in Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to promote environmentally friendly cruise tourism and provide shore power at the ports of Kiel and Rostock by 2020.

Working in collaboration with Meyer Werft shipyard and other partners, AIDA is also taking another technological leap with the first practical trial of fuel cells onboard one of its ships planned for as early as 2021.

Ferry operators are also in the pursuit of sustainability. Sweden-based Stena Line is sailing towards a greener and more socially sustainable future, having reached new milestones with artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted vessels, battery propulsion, reduced rates of single-use plastics and a higher number of female leaders.

“With size comes responsibility and our ambition is to improve our operations every year to become a leader in sustainable shipping,” says Niclas Mårtensson, CEO of Stena Line.

Stena Line’s sustainability strategy is divided into five areas linked to the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals. To improve equality and inclusion, Stena Line has increased its number of female leaders by 3% in just one year.

The line has also been particularly successful in meeting clean energy goals after equipping Stena Scandinavica with AI technology to lower emissions; launching a first battery hybrid project on Stena Jutlandica; and connecting its 14th ship to green shoreside electricity in Norway’s Port of Oslo. As a result of this, over a third of the fleet is now using shore power.

“This is a very exciting time for our company and I’m proud that Stena Line continues to help shape the industry for European short-sea transportation,” says Mårtensson.

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

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Elly Yates-Roberts
By Elly Yates-Roberts
24 January 2020