The overall environmental impact and performance of cruise ships is improving through continuous development of technology, alternative fuels and mandatory industry environmental policies, a new study claims.
Although cruise ships represent less than 1% of the global commercial maritime fleet, the industry’s actions have substantially contributed to the maritime community’s initiatives in environmental stewardship.
The analysis was conducted by independent maritime environmental experts for industry body Clia.
The study by Energy and Environmental Research Associates analysed the practices and performance of the Clia cruise line members’ global fleet of nearly 300 ocean-going ships as well as the industry’s investment in technology on new build vessels.
The study found that the emissions of cruise ships account for only 3% and 1.2% of all emissions within ports in the US and Europe, respectively.
Clia cruise line members were found to meet or exceed international air emission requirements.
The study also concluded that Clia members are leaders in the maritime sector in adopting cleaner fuels, controlling air emissions, and preparing vessels to connect to shore-based energy systems.
Technologies and best practices identified in the report include:
• Systems to reduce air emissions from exhaust stacks, including, as one example, advanced exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) to reduce sulfur oxide (SOx) and particulate matter.
• The use of shore power where available, while noting that Clia cruise line member use of advancements in alternative fuels and emissions abatement technologies could reduce the need for investment in additional shore power in the future.
• Fuel switching to lower sulfur fuel before entering an Emission Control Area, if other methods of emissions abatement are not otherwise available on a cruise ship.
• Investment in the use of alternative fuels such as Liquefied Natural Gas, with the number of new build orders for LNG-fuelled ships increasing.
Wastewater effluents of members’ ocean-going vessels meet or exceed the standards prescribed by the International Maritime Organisation for international shipping.
Clia’s mandatory wastewater discharge policy, which prohibits the discharge of untreated sewage from ocean-going cruise ships anywhere into the sea, goes well beyond international wastewater regulations that allow commercial vessels to discharge untreated sewage into the ocean provided a ship is 12 nautical miles from shore and moving at designated speeds.
Cruise line members are also leaders in the development and deployment of Advanced Waste Water Treatment Systems.
At least 26 new builds will use AWTS, and an estimated 50% of new cruise ships over the next decade will utilise AWTS, which goes beyond already stringent and effective wastewater regulatory requirements.
Compared against the global commercial maritime fleet, EERA found that Clia cruise line members have demonstrated leadership in wastewater management in several areas.
James Corbett, a professor at the University of Delaware School of Marine and Science Policy and one of the authors of the study, said:
“Our technical analysis of the cruise industry’s leadership and performance in working to protect the environment found that Clia’s ocean-going member cruise lines often go beyond the protective environmental measures required by regulation.
“The cruise industry also demonstrates continued leadership in the development of responsible environmental policies and investment in technological innovations to further protect oceans and air.”
Association president and chief executive, Cindy D’Aoust, said: “I am proud of the performance of Clia cruise line members and their commitment to the protection of the environment.
“Safe-guarding and preserving the world’s precious natural resources is not only the right thing to do, but it is essential to the cruise experience for generations to come.
“Clia cruise line members take environmental commitment very seriously, and this research provides not only the first-ever authoritative baseline of the cruise industry’s environmental performance, but it also provides a foundation for Clia and our members as we continually focus on improvement and measuring the outcomes of best practices and policies.”