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Environment

The Future of Cruises: 15 Eco Friendly and Healthy Cruise Ships to Keep on Your Horizon

water

The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.

-Jacques Cousteau

The cruise industry is rapidly changing. Younger generations of travelers aren’t interested in bingo, all you can eat dessert buffets, and slot machines. Instead they want to connect to nature and each other, to enjoy unique cultural experiences, and to stay healthy while traveling. From eco luxury cruises to conservation expeditions, there are many new and exciting ways to explore the high seas.

Over the past few years I’ve been working on sustainable design and brand development with a number of companies creating floating housing and infrastructure. Underwater ecosystems thrive in a delicate balance, and in order to keep the Earth’s air and water quality and food supply chains intact we must pay close attention to our actions.

Traveling on a cruise ship has a huge impact on the environment, and even the most ‘eco friendly’ cruises have a long way to go to become sustainable. The typical vessel burns hundreds of tons of fuel and creates around 80,000 liters of sewage a day, plus oily bilge water, toxic waste, and diesel exhaust emissions, with some ships dumping poorly treated sewage into the seas. But progress is being made, so if you do choose to book a cruise for your next vacation, be sure to travel with a company that’s moving in the right direction to protect the planet.

Here are some of the newest, most unique and eco-conscious trips you can book on the water!

Eco Friendly Cruise Ship - Peace Boat Ecoship

Peace Boat Ecoship

Slated to launch in 2020, the Japanese company Peace Boat’s Ecoship has been called the ‘world’s most eco-friendly cruise ship.’

The ship will generate its own power and create nearly zero waste. Power will be generated using retractable solar sails and wind generators. The Ecoship will carry up to 2,000 passengers. The decks include greenery to absorb water, and vertical farms where organic vegetables will be grown for meals.

The Ecoship requires 50 percent less electricity and 20 percent less propulsion energy than current ships, and will emit 30 percent less carbon dioxide.

Eco Friendly Cruise Ship - Roald Amundsen

Hurtigruten – Roald Amundsen and the MS Fridtjof Nansen

Norwegian cruise company Hurtigruten is building two new ships with electric propulsion technology and efficient electricity and hull design. Slated to launch in 2019 and 2020, the Roald Amundsen and the MS Fridtjof Nansen are state of the art.  

 

Ful consumption and CO2 emissions will be reduced by 20%. These will be the first ships in the world to use this technology. The added benefit of electric energy is a silent ride, which will allow passengers to experience nature in an exceptional way.   

Ecocruise with Windstar

Windstar

Windstar Cruises is another cruise line committed to conserving and protecting the environment. Crew members receive eco training and the company follows international environmental regulations. Windstar collects chemical and hazardous waste rather than dumping it into the water, and they carefully monitor the amount of food and supplies they bring aboard for each trip to reduce waste. They have also increased their use of large sails, they use biodegradable cleaning supplies and water saving appliances. You can travel to the Greek Isles, Costa Rica, the Panama Canal and more with Windstar.   
Eco Cruise: Ponant Icebreaker

Ponant Icebreaker

PONANT is designing a luxury polar exploration cruise ship. Launching in 2021, it will be fitted with the latest sustainable development technologies.
Eco boat: Blue World Voyages

Blue World Voyages

Dedicated to creating a new era of cruising focused on sports, fitness, and wellness, Blue World Voyages is launching an entirely new cruise experience. The ship will travel to places where guests can surf, kayak, hike, bike, kiteboard, and more, and while on the ship they can take fitness, meditation, and wellness classes from leading instructors. 

The food served aboard will include sustainably caught fish, farm to table cuisine, and organic produce. Blue World Voyages maintains a ‘Nothing Overboard’ policy, meaning all waste is disposed of properly on shore. Each passenger will receive a reusable water bottle, the staff uses environmentally friendly cleaning products and are trained in environmental requirements. 

Eco boats: Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages

Richard Branson’s Virgin brand is launching three new ships under the Virgin Voyages line. The first ship, Scarlet Lady, will launch in 2020. Virgin Voyages brought together a collaborative team of designers who have never been on a cruise, in order to completely rethink the concept of cruising. The Creative Collective includes exceptional designers such as Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio, Concrete Amsterdam, Roman and Williams, WorkAC, and Softroom.

The adult only voyages will focus on wellbeing, with ample relaxation spaces, fitness classes, a state of the art spa, and healthy food. Virgin Voyages will be the first cruise line to adopt the Climeon Ocean Clean Energy System, which turns waste heat into clean-burning energy. No single use plastic will be used on board. The first ship will sail from Miami to the Caribbean.

 

Eco friendly boating and sailing with Antlos

Antlos

If you’re looking for something a bit different, consider Antlos, the Airbnb of sailing. Whether you want to take a group trip or sail solo, Antlos has boats all over the world to choose from. Sailing is far more sustainable than a cruise ship, just remember to plan ahead for your water and trash usage.
Sustainable Sailing with Sunsail

Sunsail

Sunsail runs trips on smaller boats to gorgeous locations all over the world, and they are extremely dedicated to sustainability. From using biodegradable cleaning products to fostering relationships with local communities, Sunsail takes responsibility at all levels. The company has taken measures to reduce their carbon footprint at their onshore offices, and they built a LEED certified office in Florida. They have also invested in the local community and in environmental research projects.
The Boat Company: Environmentally Friendly Luxury Cruise Lines

The Boat Company

The Boat Company is the only non-profit educational organization offering luxury eco-cruises through Southeast Alaska. Since the number of guests on board is small, itineraries are flexible. Each day you can choose to kayak, fish, hike through ancient forests, learn from on board naturalists, whale watch, or just relax on the deck with a cocktail. The Boat Company has reinvested nearly $30 million into conservation efforts throughout Southeast Alaska.
Green Cruise on the Amazon river with Aqua Expeditions

Aqua Expeditions

    If you’re more of a river than an Ocean cruiser, Aqua Expeditions runs exquisite trips to Peru along the Amazon River, Cambodia and Vietnam. You’ll experience five-star cuisine made with local ingredients, and during the day you can view birds, fish, monkeys, and many other animals. Behind the scenes, the team works with local environmentalists to preserve the health and beauty of the regions.
Alaska Ecotourism with small ship

Discovery Voyages

    Discovery Voyages runs small ship cruises in Alaska featuring photography, whale watching, birding, hiking, and kayaking. The intimate size of the trip allows for a more genuine encounter with Alaska. The small ship can sail into coves and channels that larger cruise ships must avoid. Discovery Voyages meets the highest standards of economic, social, and environmental sustainability according to the Alaska Wilderness Recreation and Tourism Association.
Eco boat tours with Ecoventura

Ecoventura

The perfect way to visit the Galapagos on an eco cruise is with Ecoventura. The company works to reduce and offset their carbon emissions, and they donate funds and supplies to the local community. Enjoy hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, and zodiac rides to view wildlife and the stunning terrain.

Eco travel with river boat in the Amazon

Earthwatch Institute – Amazon River Expedition

Join the Earthwatch team to help conserve wildlife in the Amazon while enjoying a river boat cruise. You’ll get to see river dolphins, macaw, primates, and exotic fish, and will work with the local Cocama village. Earthwatch organizes expeditions all over the world for travelers to learn about and contribute to a variety of environmental causes. 

Sustainable Cruises: Sail to the Galapagos Islands with Oceanic Society

Oceanic Society

Sail to the Galapagos Islands and become part of a research expedition with the Oceanic Society. You’ll collect data about microplastics in the water while snorkeling with turtles, penguins, sea lions, and marine iguanas.

Extreme Eco Cruise: Volunteering with the Sea Shepherd

Volunteer with the Sea Shepherd

For the more extreme traveler, consider volunteering to crew with the Sea Shepherd. Expect long hours, hard work, dangerous conditions, and extreme weather, along with the adventure of a lifetime. You’ll be working with a team of experts to save ocean wildlife. The Sea Shepherd prefers for volunteers to stay for over a month, and they provide you with living quarters, food, and water. 

‘No whiners, malcontents, mattress lovers, or wimps need apply.’ 

Have you been on any of these cruises? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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