Cruise fans! It’s no secret that cruising is not the most environmentally-friendly type of holiday. But the industry is getting better. If you are wondering if it’s possible to have a carbon neutral cruise, then I’ve been considering the same.
The reason why this at the forefront of my mind is because we are grabbing ourselves a bit of winter sun in the shape of a Eastern Caribbean cruise.
This is a major treat to celebrate my big 4 0. But since booking I have been feeling a bit guilty. Not just are we leaving the kids for two whole weeks, but we are also taking our first long haul flight in more than 10 years.
We’ve avoided long haul for a number of reasons:
- We love holidays in the UK and short haul in Europe
- For several years, we had a caravan and wanted to make the most of that
- We had kids and…they are expensive
- We have a four-legged friend and we like holidaying with our dog as much as possible.
So, something that I’ve parked until now is the carbon emissions of our travels.
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The inconvenient truth about travel
Travel accounts for 30 percent of the planet’s annual carbon emissions and every return long haul flight generates as much carbon as driving your car for a whole year.
Within the cruise industry it’s estimated that the average passenger emits 0.82 tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent during their cruise.
Can you make a cruise eco-friendly?
Since booking the cruise, the carbon footprint of this luxury holiday has really been brought into focus for me.
‘A bit too late’ you might say. And yes, it is now that our balance has been paid and our tickets have been delivered.
So what might I do differently in the future and how can I manage our carbon footprint this time? Here’s some ideas:
1. Choose a environmentally conscious cruise line
I’m going to be looking more closely at the commitment cruise lines have made to reducing their carbon footprint before booking.
Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean report their annual carbon emissions annually and are actively trying to reduce it.
Carnival – which includes Princess Cruises and P&O – have equipped 59 percent of its fleet with Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS) to improve its emissions quality by removing up to 99 percent of the sulphur oxide from a ship’s exhaust.
In 2020 MSC will be the first global cruise line to commit to off setting its whole fleet’s carbon emissions and will do so from 1 January.
2. Choose a newer ship
The boom in cruise holidays means more ships are needed. And building brand new is giving cruise lines the opportunity to try more environmentally-friendly ways to power their ships.
P&O’s Iona and Carnival’s Mardi Gras, both launching in 2020, will run on liquefied natural gas (LNG) – a clean source of fuel, albeit another unsustainable fossil fuel.
Another new ship that will push the envelop for environmentally-friendly cruises is Virgin Voyages’ first ship, Scarlet Lady. This is expected to have an onboard system that converts passenger waste into biofuel to power the ship. Shame it’s an adults only cruise line!
3. Cruise from the UK
Cruising from the UK, or your home country, reduces the need for long haul flights and the carbon footprint of your overall holiday.
If you have a distance to travel to the cruise port consider whether you can take public transport. A coach may even turn out cheaper than driving and parking.
4. Offset your flights
Of course not flying at all would be the ultimate solution, but I find it hard to imagine I’m going to stop getting on planes altogether – I’m a travel blogger after all. So when flights are necessary I’m going to take action to off set the impact.
After doing my research on the web I’ve decided to use Carbon Footprint. It’s not a company that just plants trees for you. It also funds specific projects that can make an immediate impact, like reducing deforestation in the Americas.
Carbon Footprint have a carbon footprint calculator that you can use to see the impact of flights, car use and your household emissions too.
5. Skip single use plastics
This is something I can do straight away. Goodbye plastic straws, and hello reusable water bottles. I’ll also be refilling small toiletry bottles for my hand luggage and buying biodegradable make up wipes.
Cruise lines are also phasing out single use plastics onboard. Norwegian Cruise Line has swapped plastic water bottles for paper cartons. And many lines have dumped the use of plastic straws and stirrers altogether.
6. Eat local
When you are ashore over a meal time, don’t head to the closest chain restaurant or cafe. Find an independent restaurant and experience the local cuisine. Chances are that the products used to make your meal are locally sourced so less food miles are involved.
7. Consume less
It’s sooo tempting to overindulge on a cruise, especially when the menu is Michelin Star.
But after seeing first hand the huge amount of food that goes to waste at the end of a buffet sitting, it’s obvious to me that over-catering for indulgent guests is a problem for the cruise industry.
Think of the unnecessary food production and, where waste can’t be fed to the fish, it has to be dumped somewhere. It must be a huge problem for the ports ships visit.
If you don’t eat as much on your cruise, ships will, eventually, moderate their catering.
And while we’re on the topic of consumption, moderating your diet can also make a massive impact on your carbon footprint. Reducing the amount of dairy and meat you eat will help.
If you are wondering if I’m this is possible on a cruise then check out The Vegan Cruiser.
7. Pack light
OK, I know it’s possible to take as many bags as you can carry (or get someone else to carry) on a cruise. But if you are flying then try to limit yourself to one suitcase.
This is what we are doing for our two week cruise – packing just enough for a week and then refreshing or washing items so they can be used again. Yes, I really don’t need more than one pair of formal shoes. I don’t!
8. Be responsible with your waste
This one is simple: when you are ashore, don’t litter and if recycling is available use it. And never throw your litter over the side of the ship.
9. Think carefully about souvenirs
My intention is to not buy souvenirs and concentrate on capturing memories with my camera. When I am tempted to buy a memento I’ll make sure it’s locally made. Of course, I’ll be avoiding anything made from endangered species.
So, those are my tips on how to have a carbon neutral cruise or at least how to begin to minimise your holiday’s impact on the planet. Can you give me any more tips?
Read more of our cruise tips and posts
- A guide to cruising with toddlers
- What to pack for a cruise
- How to have a more environmentally-friendly cruise
- Toiletries to pack for a winter sun holiday
- Are cruise drinks packages worth it?
- A 15 night Caribbean cruise without kids
- Tips for disembarkation day
- Advantages of booking a luxury cabin
Planning a cruise? If you want tips on how to have a carbon neutral cruise then save this post for future reference.