Cruise industry turns sustainable

WITH the massive growth of the cruise industry, more and more cruise liners are focusing on sustainability and have been introducing a range of ecological initiatives.

Environmentalists and experts are also calling for greater corporate social responsibility in the sector. That is why Dr Alexis Papathanassis, professor for Cruise Management at the Hochschule (Institute of Higher Education) in Bremerhaven, spoke out in favour of a more proactive approach to sustainability at the recent World Travel Trends Forum in Pisa, Italy.

“The industry should see sustainability as an opportunity and not as a threat,” he said.

Between 2005 and 2010 the international cruise industry expanded by 35 per cent. According to the ITB World Travel Trends Report, with a total of 6.5 million trips annually, cruise passengers in Europe already account for two per cent of all vacation travel.

One consequence of this development is the need for increased responsibility in all matters of sustainability, and this has led, for example, to the introduction of sustainability reports, documenting the ecological and social measures being undertaken.

“More supervision is required instead of a patchwork of rules and regulations,” Papathanassis said.

The cruise industry is currently applying a ‘Triple E’ approach, comprising engineering (the deployment of more eco-friendly ships), education (activities and reports) and enforcement (legal checks).

However, Papathanassis believes that new technical solutions and more innovative mechanical engineering are needed if the ecological impact of cruises is to be reduced.

Furthermore, environmental protection should be made part of the cruising experience, for example in the form of on-board activities or excursions on land, so that passengers can support local communities.

Papathanassiswill be chairing an executive cruise panel on the subject of ‘The worldwide cruise industry today and tomorrow’ at the ITB Berlin Convention on March 7.

The speakers taking part  include Larry Pimentel, the president and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises; Peter Shanks, the president and managing director of Cunard Line; Pier Luigi Foschi, the chairman of Costa Cruise Lines; Michael Bayley, the executive vice president International Operations  of Royal Caribbean International; and Enzo Visone, the CEO of Silversea Cruises.