In this new year and decade, the best travel resolution you can make is to be more careful and conscientious about the environmental impact of your trips around the world. Global travel is way, way up, and with that, emissions from our travel is way, way up -- not to mention the many other unintended ecological consequences that may happen when we visit foreign lands and cultures.
The environmental impact of cruises isn’t thought about nearly as much as air travel, but with cruise traffic also increasing (the Cruise Lines International Association reports a seven percent increase from 2017 to 2018, with a total of 28.5 million passengers sailing the seven seas) it also needs to come into focus. More than just emission from ships, there are other environmental factors including cruise companies using heavy fuel, dumping waste, disturbing marine life and overcrowding small ports.
But one Norwegian cruise company is working to set a standard for a cleaner cruising future. This year, Hurtigruten, the world’s largest expedition cruise company, debuted the world’s first hybrid ship powered using batteries and low sulfur diesel.
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The MS Roald Amundsen operates much like a hybrid car, using the batteries for “peak-shaving” to get as much power as possible out of every gallon of fuel. While other cruise ships fire up an extra engine when they need more power, the Amundsen gets energy from the battery packs shave off the usage peaks, saving over 20 percent of emissions and keeping the ship runs quieter, which means less disturbance to marine life and locals in small ports.
Starting in 2018, Hurtigruten also banned single-use plastic on their ships. “Everyone from every crew member to the owners had the same level of engagement around this effort. Everyone wanted to do it,” says Magne Jacobsen, VP Hotel Operations Hurtigruten Expedition.
Toward that effort, the company stopped supplying small amenity water bottles in cabins two years ago and instead use large, refillable ones. And once onboard, every guest gets an aluminum water bottle to use throughout the trip and take back home, typical on expedition cruises. “It’s about using less overall. Producing less and using less plastic overall,” says Jacobsen.