Here’s Your List For The World’s Most Eco-conscious Cruises !

Credits: Josiah Weiss/Unsplash

For travelers who love to cruise but also consider themselves to be environmentally minded, the concept of “green” cruising can seem counterintuitive. Indeed, sustainability challenges abound in an industry known for its carbon-spewing vessels, excess waste production (spanning trash, sewage, and gray water), and port overtourism – not to mention environmental violations that have resulted in well-publicized penalties.

Investing In Green Initiatives

Every cruise line is investing in green initiatives, from looking at carbon footprint to refining emissions. It is top of mind for each cruise line,” explains Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of cruise review website Cruise Critic. And today, baseline sustainability practices like banning plastic straws or reusing linens simply aren’t enough to move the needle. The real innovators are the lines that are most aggressively chasing decarbonization goals via technological breakthroughs, especially around cleaner alternative fuels and greener infrastructure in port. The cruise industry transported nearly 30 million passengers and contributed over $154 billion to the global economy pre-pandemic, in 2019; despite the hiccups of the pandemic, it’s on track to surpass those numbers by year’s end. 

Yet, the industry’s reliance on polluting heavy fuel oil (HFO) for its ships has put it at odds with the United Nations’ global net-zero emissions targets for 2050. Currently, cruise ships and other maritime vessels are responsible for nearly 3% of global greenhouse emissions each year. Considered to be worse than flying in terms of carbon emissions per passenger, a report by Pacific Standard revealed that a person’s average carbon footprint triples in size while on a cruise. Ocean-going member cruise lines of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the largest cruise industry trade association, have committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and to reducing carbon rates by 40% by 2030. 


This 130-year-old Norwegian adventure travel company incorporates a sustainability ethos at its core. A green-energy leader, Hurtigruten sidelined HFO for its small-ship fleet over a decade ago, in favor of alternative, greener fuels like marine gas oil and biofuels. In 2019, they launched the world’s first hybrid battery electric-powered cruise ship (and are in the process of converting the rest of their expedition fleet to hybrid battery power), with plans for the world’s first zero-emissions cruise ship by 2030.


Luxury French line Ponant rolled out an emissions-slashing hybrid expedition ship (running on LNG and electric battery power), the 245-passenger Le Commandant Charcot, in 2021, and has plans for a “zero-impact” ship by 2025. The first cruise line to achieve Green Marine certification, Ponant also offsets 100% of its emissions.

Star Clippers

Sometimes, when it comes to sustainability, what’s old is new again. Monaco-based sailing company Star Clippers operates a trio of tall 166- to 227-passenger sailing ships that operate exclusively on wind power up to 80% of the time (and utilize low-sulfur gas oil otherwise).

Havila Voyages

This 2022-debuted Norwegian cruise line has launched two of four planned hybrid ships, running itineraries along Norway’s coast. Havila Voyages has the biggest passenger-ship batteries at sea, allowing their ships to voyage – for periods of up to four hours – into the country’s UNESCO-protected fjords, silently and emissions-free.

Explora Journeys

This new luxury cruise brand from Swiss-based shipping company MSC Group launches this summer, but will really make waves in 2027 when it debuts the world’s first LNG-powered vessel to feature hydrogen fuel cells, along with methane slip-reducing technology.

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Source: EditionCNN


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