The basic concept of green travel is the importance of protecting the natural and cultural environment of the places you visit. That means conserving water and resources, respecting plants and wildlife, respecting local cultures and ways of life; and contributing positively to local communities. Green travel when cruising means conserving resources and reducing your footprint both onboard the ship and ashore.
Why Go Green?
In 2014 over 21 million people will sail the oceans on cruise ships - which means it’s more important than ever for travelers to minimize their individual impact on the earth’s natural and cultural treasures. The potential negative effects of tourism are both local and global. Taking a green approach to travel is an easy and essential way to protect the places you love to visit, not just for yourself but for the travelers who come after you and for the people who will continue to live there long after you’ve sailed home. As an added bonus, it often makes for a more rewarding, authentic travel experience, encouraging deeper connections with the people and places you visit.
How Does The Cruise Industry Hold Up In Terms of Environmental Standards?
Although accidents have happened, cruise ships' environmental standards meet or surpass all U.S. and international laws. And while cruise ships tend to get a bad rap, most companies go above and beyond what is required by law to protect the ocean and marine life. For example, ships are required to reduce the solid waste they generate by purchasing in bulk, encouraging suppliers to use more efficient packaging, reusing packaging when possible and packaging more environmentally friendly materials. In addition, ships must actively recycle glass, metals, wood, cardboard and paper.
In the last 10 years, cruise ships have cut their waste and garbage almost in half, while sustaining a growth in cruise capacity averaging 8% percent annually. That’s a pretty significant accomplishment!
So How Can You Contribute?
There are several easy steps you can take to make your cruise more eco-friendly:
1) Keep your showers short, and shut off the water while you’re brushing your teeth.
2) When you leave the room, turn off the air-conditioning, heat, television, lights or any other electric devices. This is a big one! Energy spent on air-conditioning empty cabins is huge and typically just wasted.
3) Reuse your sheets and towels instead of having them changed every day. Most cruise lines have a program to support this - when you hang up your towels in the bathroom they will not be changed and they will notify you before linen change day to give you the choice to “opt-out”.
4) Follow the cruise line’s recycling program and sort your trash accordingly.
5) If you like to drink lots of soda, consider purchasing one of the cruise line’s soda packages. Instead of opening (and potentially wasting) a new can of soda each time, you get a souvenir mug that you can refill as often as you like.
6) When ashore, consider using a shared ride system to get around. It’s not only better for the environment as you use less fuel, but it will be cheaper than paying for a private taxi too!
7) Consider booking an eco-tour to experience and support local, smaller tour operators. They will benefit from sharing the beautify of their islands and you will gain an appreciation that can’t be matched.
8) Make sure to pick up after yourself on the beach. It’s important to keep the beaches clean - as trash you leave beyond could wash out into the ocean and prove very harmful for the ocean’s natural ecosystem, fish and animals.
While these behaviors might not seem to add up to much, when a critical mass adopts them it will be hugely beneficial for the environment. And that’s something we can all get behind. Safe and green cruising everyone!
Got any other tips for us? We’d love to include them. Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure to include a shout out to you in our next blog post!