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The Costs and Benefits of Green Cruising

Is Green Cruising Actually a Money Maker?


The Costs and Benefits of Green Cruising

Legend of the Seas, San Diego Harbor

Jon Sullivan

Balancing Costs and Benefits of Green Cruising

So what is “Green” cruising? If you’re a consumer it means low environmental impact, responsible spending, and increased social collateral. It’s a rapidly growing movement.

If you are a cruise operator it means constantly rewriting procedure manuals, changing equipment specifications, and keeping up with the demands of interest groups. Groups like Friends of the Earth who publish an environmental report card for cruise lines.

The Costs of Green Cruising

Let’s face it; perception is everything on both sides of this equation. Until environmental regulations are standardized the best course of action is to diminish the most perceptible emissions from vessels. Regardless of regulation, nobody wants to sail on a smoky, oily ship.

On board Systems

Engines – Breather filters and exhaust scrubbers are already fitted to most passenger vessels and new designs will have MARPOL compliant power plants. Converting to dual fuel is one possibility to reduce emissions without depending completely on distillate fuel. Refinery capacity and the supply chain of low sulfur distillate fuels are one of the biggest challenges for the industry.

Ballast and Bilge Water – A vessel may be subject to significantly different discharge regulations for each port. These varied regulations do not allow engineers to fit a treatment system to a ship without concern of non-compliance in the near future.

Sewage – Separate plumbing for gray and black water is practical for most vessels. Solutions for this issue come at less cost than others; larger holding tanks, advanced pretreatment and deep discharge are widely used.

Noise – Noise and fumes from combustion engines really don’t give the “green” image you want. The equipment to draw electrical power from shore is relatively inexpensive. The cost of “cold ironing” comes in the port infrastructure and upgrades to the existing local power grid.


The administration buildings, storage facilities, and logistics of supply can also support the environmental virtues of the company. Efficiency of your call center won’t be seen by most customers but it will be reflected in overall energy usage and your bottom line.

The cost of an employee is significant when all the expenses are tallied up. Each employee that is dedicated to unraveling the tangle of environmental responsibilities just adds to the cost of doing business.

The Benefits of Green Cruising

Real benefits come from reducing perceptible emissions and operating more efficiently.

The Quality of the Cruising Location is Maintained for Future Enjoyment.

  • Sensitive locations can be visited by large numbers of cruisers without the impacts of land based travel.
  • Some locations are only available to the general public through cruise lines. Operators have the opportunity to become gatekeepers to these areas.

The Customer is Satisfied With Their Choice of Responsible Travel.

  • Green Cruising is upscale without excessive consumption. Focus can be on experiences rather than amenities.
  • Responsible travelers are early adopters and open to new experiences. Consider this valuable input in your strategic planning.

Proactive Environmentalism Will Reduce Mandated Regulation

Interest Groups and active individuals drive lawmakers to act. Working with these forces to meet mutual goals will limit introduced legislation, and bills that become law will be more balanced.

As Regulations are Standardized Costs Will be Reduced

Much of the cost associated with reducing various emissions comes from lack of standard equipment. The standardization of required equipment will allow market forces to drive down prices for products and services.

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