By Ken Cho, Cruise Consultant, The Cruise Web.
As a consumer and inhabitant of this planet, I’m always interested in the conservation movement and alternative/renewable sources of energy. That includes when I go on vacation and travel abroad. Practices in countries like Japan where conservation and “green” methods/products are part of everyday life have always impressed me. Ever since I began my career as a cruise consultant with The Cruise Web, I’ve wanted to know what the cruise lines do to help foster such practices.
As many of you experienced cruisers and travelers already know, water conservation on ships is a huge deal. It starts with small efforts on everyone’s part with simple things like reusing your bathroom towels when possible. This saves on the water needed to handle large laundry loads done every day of the cruise as well as the chemical detergents used to launder those loads. You can also assist the cruise ship and deck stewards by separating your garbage ahead of time by having different waste piles of recyclables like cardboard/paper products, plastic bottles and materials and organic waste. Just about every cruise line has an active recycling program and by doing your part, no matter how insignificant it seems, it does help.
Another thing I do when traveling by cruise ship is I bring a reusable grocery bag. It’s helpful when you make port calls in cutting down on plastic bags used for shopping or carrying out your consumables when you’re ready to leave. Nothing is more dismaying to me when I arrive in a beautiful port, only to have the picturesque scenery ruined by garbage and plastic bags rolling past.
The cruise lines are doing their part as well. Along with having the aforementioned recycling programs, especially with the newer ships, technology is helping play its part in being “green” onboard. There’s all the behind-the-scenes engineering in making sailing and propulsion, waste and water treatment and energy/fuel use more efficient with each new class of ship. But there are some overt efforts as well. While on the new Celebrity Eclipse, the third Solstice-class ship, this past November, it was heartening to see that solar panels and LED high-efficiency lighting were being used throughout the ship to help cut down on energy usage based on fossil fuels.
The ports themselves are starting to commit to these conservation efforts. Several are now allowing ships to plug into their electricity grid while in port to avoid having to use their onboard fuel-generated systems to keep onboard operations going. Also, California has been leading the charge with the construction of their new pier terminals in San Diego and San Francisco to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified which encompasses not only the ongoing operation of the terminal to be energy-efficient, but also to be built in a responsible and efficient manner. Hopefully, as other new pier terminals are built around the world, they too will be striving for high LEED marks.
The places we visit on cruises are beautiful and are part of the world’s enriching experiences. By doing your part in conjunction with the cruise lines, we can hopefully keep the world a great place to sail to and through.