You’ve decided that the annual trip will be a cruise this year; but with so many options out there and all of the cruise lines advertising their vacation packages, how are you supposed to know which ship is going to be the best? Are you looking for a family friendly ship? A ship with green practices? One that simply meets your destination or cost requirements?
With so many choices, it has become more confusing than ever, but there are some great cruise deals on offer for this summer. And remember that prices for cruises can range dramatically depending on the time of year and where you want to go. But you can find one that meets all of your criteria, while still being a green cruise. Read on for everything you need to know before you choose a green cruise line.
Choose a green cruise line for family
The first thing you will want to be sure of, is that the cruise line is family friendly and has plenty of activities to keep the kids engaged. When traveling with the entire family, you are probably also going to be cost driven. Cruises can be expensive, but finding the right vacation package at the right time of the year can make the cost of the trip a little less expensive.
How to choose a green cruise
Another thing to consider is choosing a company that is making a conscious effort of being environmentally responsible. Ships host a lot of passengers at one time, not to mention a crew of approximately 500-900 per ship. This makes for a lot of energy being used and a lot of waste. And of course, you also have to factor in the emissions and fuel that it takes to operate the vessel.
Let’s take a look at some of the cruise lines that are family friendly and are also making great strides in preserving our planet with their “going green” efforts:
Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean gears its cruises to be family friendly. Kids will enjoy the Dreamworks characters aboard the ship, such as Shrek and the Madagascar characters. There is a youth program called Adventure Ocean which accommodates all ages and can also be used so that parents can enjoy a few hours to themselves. There are family entertainment activities like rock climbing, theater shows, mini golf, and more. The Family Friendly Dining will serve your kids their meals first and then the Adventure Ocean staff will come by and sweep them away to go have some fun while you enjoy a nice quiet dinner and take advantage of the adult time with a comedy show or hang at the nightclub.
The cruise line is committed to keeping the environment safe, so guests will find biodegradable and reusable products being used rather than plastics. The ships are using biodiesel for operations and have taken other measures to operate more efficiently which has given them a result of 8% energy savings.
This cruise line partners with National Geographic to bring its passengers on an adventure of a lifetime. This is not your normal lay-in-the-sun type of cruise, the name is exactly what it says — an expedition.
The 148 passenger vessel will take you and your family to Galapagos where everyone can enjoy activities such as snorkeling with sea lions, kayaking, and exploring. Instructors provide science lessons with microscopes. Naturalists provide nature lessons and land exploration. Kids and parents can learn about conservation. Speaking of conservation, Lindblad Expeditions is most definitely pulling its weight in conserving energy and the environment. With smaller passenger sizes and a smaller ship size, these cruisers do not use as much fuel or emit as much pollution as a large commercial cruise ship. The meals aboard are made from the local food. They only serve fish that has been harvested in a sustainable way. In addition, they incorporate environmental teachings to the ship’s guests.
Holland America Line Cruises
Holland America has something for the whole family to enjoy. From Alaska, to Canada, to the Caribbean, to Australia, the ships are sure to be setting sail off to one of your dream destinations.
How Holland America goes green
Green conscious guests will feel right at home aboard Holland America Lines. The cruisers have done a fabulous job with taking the necessary measures to be more energy efficient and have also reduced waste. The vessels have done things as simple as implementing a towel reuse program to more sophisticated extremes as installing a black water treatment system. For those of you that don’t know what black water is–it is the waste water from toilets. Some other areas of improvement are:
- Reduced 8 tons of daily waste by working with their supply chain
- Trained their staff on eco-friendly efforts
- Staffed their ships with environmental officers
- Implemented a towel reuse program, meaning guests are encouraged to use a towel more than once before sending to be laundered
- Installed low-flow showerheads and faucets
- Have a system in place to treat bilge water through two systems before discharging
- All cleaning agents are non-toxic
- Detergents used in laundering are made from soy, and banana and orange extracts
- A tinted film was put on room windows to maximize the efficiency of air conditioning
- Ships plug-in for power at ports, rather than continuing to run the ship’s engines
Other, more technical, aspects have been taken into factor too. For example, new route schedules that are shorter and calculate the tide schedule to maximize fuel use and using silicone paint on the hull of the ships which eases the ship through the water, allowing for the engines to run more efficiently.
What more could a traveler ask for? You’ve got comfortable room accommodations, plenty of activities, relaxation, a variety of dining options, kid’s activities, and a green ship to boot.
Disney Cruise Lines
Most likely, this is going to be a child’s first choice. If I have to say so, the kids would be making a great choice. Disney Cruise Lines were planned and designed with the family in mind and keeping up with the good name of Disney, they have made some fabulous strides in their commitment to Disney Cruise Lines being green.
Kids will enjoy the youth clubs which provide age based activities from 3 years old to teens. There are family lounge areas where each family member can engage in dancing, singing, and games. On certain occasions throughout the year, the kids can enjoy taking their vacation with some of their favorite Disney Channel stars.
Disney Cruise Lines goes green
Disney continues to set the bar higher in entertainment, and that includes their cruise lines being green. The cruise line has made changes over the years to be environmentally friendly from modifying its ships to ease through the water and cut engine emissions to using non-toxic cleaning products.
They have revamped and continually work to improve everywhere they can, including saving cooking oil to repurpose on their private island; generating water from their A/C system to use for their laundry facilities; offering convenient and easy recycling; installing energy-efficient lighting; and donating items from the ship, including furniture, to ports they call on. They even have an environmental officer on board who educates and promotes Disney’s green initiatives. Read about their green cruise line, Disney Fantasy.
Celebrity Cruise Lines
Celebrity Cruise Lines has been operating its elegant excursions since 1989 and in 1997 merged with Royal Caribbean International. The cruise line prides itself in providing the utmost modern luxury experience for its guests, and at the same time keeping it affordable. The company has a few different classes of ships among its fleet; the Century class can play host to approximately 1,600 guests, the Millennium class has four ships which hold approximately 2,000 to 2,300 guests, and the Xpedition class is a smaller sailing excursion that can accommodate about 90 guests.
If you are planning a vacation with Celebrity Cruise Lines, you can choose from destinations such as South America, the Panama Canal, Canada, Australia, Asia, the Caribbean, Alaska, Europe, Bermuda, Transatlantic, Transpacific, and the list goes on. Theme cruises are available for those looking for a particular interest; some themes that have been offered in the past are wine cruises where guests will visit the wine regions of Spain, Portugal, France, and the Pacific Coast. Other themes include food, antiques, or concerts. This makes it fun for guests and at the same time, allows them to interact and meet others with the same interests.
While on board or on land at one the ports, guests will not be bored. Some activities that can be found on the ship included casinos, spa, fitness center, pools, water volleyball games, dances, and there is even a youth program for the young ones. While the adults are relaxing in the sun or enjoying a massage in the spa, the kids will be having their own fun meeting others their own age in the healthy food and fitness program, directing their own video in the iTake video project, or playing in the digital game and entertainment room. As with most of the cruise lines, at the ports, guests can enjoy land excursions such as hiking, exploring wildlife and the history of the area, or a guided tour. Although these activities are offered, guests are able to explore on their own as well. Other guests opt to stay aboard the ship.
How Celebrity Cruise Line goes green
One of the best things about Celebrity Cruise Lines is that while they strive to make the vacations the best they can be for guests, they are also committed to making positive changes for their guests and employees lives by sustaining the environment and knowing that they are doing their part in protecting our planet. Celebrity has been the innovative leader with installing solar panels on their ships. On some of their ships, solar panels are operating the elevators and about 7,000 LED lights. Updating the lights alone on one of the ships has saved over 50% of the demand for energy and the solar panels are doing the rest of the work. The ships are designed to be aerodynamic which improves the efficiency of the engine, as well as saving on fuel. Some other changes the ships have made to make them a green cruise include:
- Installing a water filtration system to return black water and other water waste to a nearly pristine condition before pumping it back into the ocean
- Heat transfer windows have been installed which contribute in two ways to saving energy; it cuts down on the air conditioning needs in the room and brings in more natural light so the use of electrical lights are not needed as often
- A conscience effort is made to recycle as much waste material as possible, such as aluminum and glass
If you are looking for a luxurious experience both on board and on land, and at the same time want to be conscious about how you are leaving a footprint on your environment, you might want to consider booking your travel with Celebrity Cruise Lines.
Both Treehugger and Natural Home Magazine have some good articles further exploring these cruise lines if you’re looking for even more information about what makes them green. And read more here to help you decide whether or not to opt for cruise travel insurance.
Passenger tips on a green cruise
In the past, cruises have been known for being some of the least environmentally friendly ways to travel. But cruise lines, especially the ones listed above, have made huge leaps in the past decade to become greener. If you’ve got your cruise booked and are ready to go here are some tips for being a greener passenger. Remember to do your part to fully maximize the green benefits of embarking on a green cruise ship.
Tour the kitchen- Many cruise ships offer a “kitchen tour” as part of the onboard activities. Take the tour and check out how much food goes to waste while your down there.
Take only what you can and will eat – If you take a kitchen tour you’ll be amazed at how much food goes to waste on cruises. To help lessen the amount of food that’s wasted, don’t pile your plate too high when going through the buffet line.
Take the stairs – Cruise ships are tall, frequently 8-14 flights of stairs. While elevators are convenient, easy and accessible, you can save electricity and opt for the stairs. It will help burn off all the buffet line food you ate too.
Conserve water – It’s estimated that in one year, the average cruise ship generates 1 million gallons of grey water. That’s a lot of water for just one ship. Do your part and take shorter showers and turn off the water when brushing your teeth.
Reuse towels – Simply hang up your used towel rather than have it washed after each using.
Recycle – Most cruise ships have convenient and easy recycling. Take the extra effort to take your recyclables to the proper recycling bin.
Watch an environmental presentation – Some cruise ships offer an onboard presentation about the ship’s efforts to be more eco-friendly. If your ship offers one, watch it. The one we went to was fascinating.
Use an app – With the excellent cruisers apps available, there is no longer a need to print out your vacation materials. Save space in your carry-on and save paper too.
Green cruise for two – No kids
The summer and family vacations have come and gone, the holidays are over, and all of the family visitors have returned to their homes–this sounds like the perfect time for a little rest and relaxation for just a couple or some friends. There is no better way to enjoy this time away than taking a cruise.
Norwegian Cruise Lines – This line has the perfect way for the two of you to enjoy each other’s company while surrounded with beauty and luxury.
Although you won’t be among only adult company on the cruise liner, Norwegian does provide special perks for couples that want to enjoy their cruise with only adults. The ship offers the Courtyard Villas which is like a boutique-style hotel area and will leave you feeling like you are at a large resort. The villas are positioned so that they are away from the hustle and bustle and busier family areas of the ship. The special perks that come with staying in the villas are rooms that provide a separate sleeping and living area; butler service; a whirlpool tub; an Asian-inspired pool and lounging area that include a Balinese bed and a hot tub; and breakfast and lunch only available to suite guests. Sounds like heaven right? Staying in the Courtyard Villas is more expensive than the other common areas of the ship.
There are also more affordable options to still enjoy some alone time. Norwegian Cruise Lines offers Freestyle Dining for those couples that don’t want to have an assigned dinner time or have to sit with others at a table. There is an adult only pool available as well.
Norwegian Cruise Lines are dedicated to being environmentally friendly. They are sure to be in compliance with environmental practices and have taken steps to ensure they are doing what they can to protect the environment.
This green cruise line was the first to install and use an eco-ballast system. What this system does is ensure that there are no toxins in the water that is leaving the ship and going back into the ocean. It also has treatment systems for gray and black water (the water waste from toilets, showers, laundry, etc.) that make it cleaner than municipal drinking water before it is dumped into the ocean. The cruise line was the only one to be approved by the State of Washington to be clean enough to travel the pristine waters of the Puget Sound.
How some cruise lines are going green
- Implementing a towel reuse program encouraging passengers to use a towel twice. This reduces the use of water and energy used when doing laundry.
- Low-flow showerheads have been installed, reducing water usage by up to 30%.
- Bilge water is being run through two treatment systems before being pumped back into the open waters.
- Ships are upgrading to alternative engines that reduce emissions output. General Electric has developed a technology that will reduce emissions of nitrous oxide by 80% and sulfur oxide by 98%.
- Cruise lines are creating specific environmental management plans for going green. When following the plan and maintaining a “green” status, the ship becomes ISO14001 certified.
- Silicone based paint is being used on the hull of ships. This enables the vessel to travel through the water more easily, and in turn saves on fuel. Some newer ships are also being built with aerodynamic hulls.
- Some ships have installed solar panels. The panels can be used to power lights or heat pools.
- Rather than dumping used cooking oil, many cruise lines are using the oil in other ways. Disney Cruise Lines takes the oil to their private island where they use it to power machines. Norwegian Cruise Lines donates it to farmers as part of the “Free Fuel for Farmers” campaign.
- Ships are using biodiesel and electric gas and steam turbine engines, which is reducing emissions up to 98%.
- Ships are replacing older appliances with more energy efficient models.
As well as cruise lines having regulations, certain areas are putting restrictions on the types of ships that can run along its coastline. One of such places is Alaska. The state of Alaska has put regulations in place to ensure the beautiful coastline and waters stay that way. Ships must have a permit to travel in this area; the permit is given to say that the cruise line meets air and water pollution and other environmental impacts. Alaska is a role model and has set the standard in preserving and protecting its coastline.
Small ship cruises are something else to consider. Learn all about our trip and the benefits of taking a small ship cruise to Alaska.
Green cruise lines make a difference
There are many other measures, both big and small, that cruise lines are taking to assure that its ships are contributing to keeping the environment safe. The reputation for these large vessels is getting better, and the measures they have taken to “go green” certainly do not go unnoticed. Improvements are continuously being made to protect the waters and environment. Some cruise lines are even working with government agencies or other non-profit agencies to collect data about the ocean waters. Over time, this can be a good indication of the changes that going green are having on the environment.
Cruise lines have gotten quite the bad reputation over the years due to all of the pollution to the waters they travel, the waste that passengers generate, and the emissions given off by the ships. That is all changing as cruise lines are making great strides in going green. Government regulations were put in place for ships to burn cleaner fuel; leading many cruise lines to update fleets, which in turn is saving money on fuel and energy costs. It is a win-win situation for the environment and the “green cruisers.”
This is just the tip of the iceberg on the family cruises that are available to you. No matter what green cruise line you choose, make the best of it and make lasting memories with your family. I’m sure we will continue to hear more on the continued efforts of cruise lines going green. In the meantime, do your part to be green while enjoying your cruise.
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