Posted by: travelrat | December 4, 2009

Green Cruising

Quite a few online conversations I’ve been having lately concern ‘green cruising’. Do mammoth cruise liners indeed, ‘pollute the ocean’? Would we be ‘saving the planet’ by not going on one? I had a look at Cmagazine, issued by Costa Cruises, with whom I’m to sail next week, in which they set out the measures they’ve taken very clearly.

For starters, they tell us, all Costa ships are Italian-registered, so they’re subject to even more stringent environment and health laws than those laid down by the European Union. And, they’ve been awarded the BEST (Business Excellent Sustainable Task) Green Star certificate for the entire fleet. This certifies that none of the fleet damage the environment and contribute to keeping the sea and the air clean. They’ve also received the Kuoni Green Planet Award for three years running.

They say they’ve achieved this by recycling 100% of the solid waste aboard the ships … even down to such little points as using wooden swizzle sticks in the bars, rather than plastic ones, and the replacement of single-use sachets in restaurants and bathrooms with dispensers. And, they never discharge solid waste, except waste food, into the sea.

Most of the water used on board is desalinated sea water. I seem to remember, from many years ago, this is all right for most purposes, but makes an evil cup of tea. I can’t say, though, that I noticed this on Costa Atlantica when we cruised on her three years ago.

They also constantly monitor the emissions from the engines and generators … but then, everyone from the owner of the smallest moped upwards does this at intervals; if it fails the test, it ain’t going nowhere!

Excursions are planned ‘with respect for the environment’ … and this is probably hardest to achieve. We called at Santorini three years ago, at the same time as two other cruise boats, both bigger than ours. The town of Thira could just about absorb the influx … but I’d hate to think what it would be like if the ships had been able to dock, instead of transferring passengers by tender.

If you’re into facts and figures, and buzzword-rich reports, check out


  1. I must admit, the thought of how green cruises are didn’t enter my head until recently when there was all that discussion over that Princess Cruise Twitterfest. I’ve never been on a cruise, but I guess if I did in the future, now the Green-factor might be a consideration.

    • Of course ‘real green cruising’ can be achieved in a sailing ship … like ‘Star Clippers’ and the like. I wouldn’t like to go the whole hog, and say the measures such as Costa are taking are ‘fighting global warming’, but they are making the world a better place to live … and can be seen to be doing something positive, rather than taking vague and amorphous measures like ‘buying carbon credits’

  2. I think it is a really positive step. I am really impressed, particularly about the swizzle sticks. Talk about attention to detail!

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