Cruise & Ferry Review - Autumn/Winter 2023

55 our partners,” adds Marozaite. “Plus, we have joined the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and are looking at ways to work closer with this organisation.” Likewise, ECN is exploring opportunities to collaborate with Latin American Travel Association and similar organisations. “We are also looking at how we can become advocates for more diversity, equality and inclusion in the sector,” says Marozaite. “Although it gets less press coverage, this is as much of a sustainability issue as the environmental concerns of the industry.” Despite the efforts expedition cruise operators are making to decrease their individual and collective environmental footprints, many question whether the cruise industry can ever truly be sustainable, citing issues such as emissions, noise pollution, sewage, waste, impact on marine wildlife and overcrowding in destinations. Marozaite acknowledges that it is “really tough” to allay these concerns. “There’s an economic argument – according to World Travel & Tourism Council’s Environmental and Social Research, travel and tourism in general accounted for 8.1 per cent of gas emissions worldwide in 2019, but it also contributed 10.3 per cent of global GDP and supported one in 10 jobs,” she says. “Expedition cruise ships are typically small, and in a well-managed destination, they are generally not the major culprits of overcrowding. In fact, destinations such as Greenland prefer expedition cruise passengers as they tend to contribute more per capita to local communities than larger ships. “Travel can be, and often is, a force for good, and expedition ships that sail to some of the world’s most truly unique destinations offer transformational experiences to their passengers, helping them come home as better global citizens. However, more can and should be done, and the future of the cruise industry will depend on collaboration and the whole ecosystem pulling its weight together.” Guests will play a vital role in driving the transition to a more environmentally sustainable future, too. “Customers have the economic power because they can choose which companies to spend their money with,” says Marozaite. “There has certainly been a shift towards a desire for more sustainable travel options, and this will ultimately drive further innovation.” “ The future of the cruise industry will depend on collaboration and the whole ecosystem pulling its weight together” Photo: Hurtigruten Expeditions/Oscar Farrera Expedition cruises offer guests the chance to explore remote destinations such as Antarctica and understand why it’s important to protect these areas