MIAMI: In Italy, kids are eating delicious and nutritious meals that were once surplus food prepared onboard ships for cruise passengers. In Miami, families in need are sleeping in comfortable beds with frames donated by cruise lines. At sea, cruise ships are assisting with ocean research and implementing and supporting recycling practices.
As a result of those and similar efforts, the cruise industry - including Carnival Corporation, the world's largest leisure travel company - is demonstrating its commitment to the environment and overall sustainability.
Said Bill Burke, chief maritime officer for Carnival Corporation: "We all understand a healthy environment is not just an operating necessity, but it is also the right thing to do."
To that end, Carnival Corporation recently released its 2016 sustainability report, Sustainability from Ship to Shore, which is available at a dedicated website: http://carnivalsustainability.com.
The report covers how the company, with its 10 global brands, has made tangible strides toward its 2020 sustainability performance goals—and is even ahead of schedule in achieving a nearly 25 percent reduction in CO2 emissions (equivalent carbon dioxide) relative to the 2005 baseline. The company is also on track to meet its additional sustainability goals during the next three years.
Below is a brief rundown of how cruise line brands are making the environment and sustainability a priority:
Emissions, energy conservation and encouraging recycling
Carnival Corporation is a pioneer in the use of LNG (liquefied natural gas), the world's cleanest burning fossil fuel, and in 2016 introduced the first cruise ship ever fueled with LNG from trucks while in port, AIDA Cruises' AIDAPrima. The company has agreements in place to build seven fully LNG-powered cruise ships across four of its brands in coming years, the first debuting for AIDA Cruises and Italian brand Costa Cruises in 2019.
In terms of the existing fleet, the company is continuing installation of Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS), which significantly reduce sulfur compounds and particulate matter from ship engine exhaust.
Recycling and reducing energy use are a way of life on Carnival Corporation's fleet, the largest in the cruise industry with 103 ships traveling to more than 760 ports around the world. For some time guests have been encouraged to pitch in by turning off lights, using recycling bins and reusing towels (to cut down on water consumption from the laundry).
Holland America Line, as an example, has moved to LED lighting as much as possible to save energy. On the lines' newer ships such as the ms Koningsdam, guests use a keycard to turn on cabin lights when they enter, and on all ships, crew are instructed (and guests are encouraged with signage) to turn off lights when leaving rooms.
The line has installed new software to regulate air conditioning, turning off zones that are not occupied to save energy - such as in a show lounge during the day. And in staterooms, soap, shampoo and hair conditioner dispensers in showers provide an environmentally friendly alternative to small, individual bottles.
Princess Cruises is among cruise lines that have redesigned their food, supply-purchasing and packaging requirements to cut down on plastic items onboard. For example, laundry bags have been switched from plastic to paper that can be recycled or incinerated.
Carnival Corporation ships recycle everything from cardboard, plastic, aluminum and glass to cooking oil.
To get crew members excited about recycling, Carnival Cruise Line runs an incentive program across its 25-ship fleet.
Each month, shipboard environmental teams compete to achieve the highest month-over-month increase in recycling volume, with those from the winning ship recognized within the company. Carnival Cruise Line also hosted an Environmental/Sustainability Fair at its headquarters in Miami last year and unveiled electric vehicle charging stations for its employees on World Oceans Day this past June.
Guests are encouraged to get involved in shipboard recycling programs by disposing of materials in specially marked containers for glass, paper, aluminum and other products, which helps facilitate sorting and recovery.
Feeding those in need on land
Among the unique new approaches by Carnival Corporation brands is a ship-to-shore food program in Italy. The country has a law, established last year, that encourages donations of surplus food. Costa Cruises worked for eight months with the food bank program Fondazione Banco Alimentare ONLUS and key stakeholders, such as the Customs Agency and the Maritime Health Organization Agency, to design the blueprint to be used in the maritime sector. The sea-going food surplus salvage program - a first in the cruise industry - launched in July.
On the line's flagship, Costa Diadema, which sails weekly year-round in the Mediterranean, surplus dishes that are prepared but go unordered by guests are collected and placed in special aluminum containers that are sealed and labeled to ensure that they can be traced, and stored in the refrigerators on board.
Every Saturday when the ship is in its homeport of Savona, Italy, volunteers from Fondazione L'Ancora download and bring the food to the nearby town of Varazze, where the organization runs a home for 20 children, and provides food aid to over 280 people in need, including refugees.
Costa Cruises would like to expand the program to more ships in more ports in Italy and the Mediterranean, said Neil Palomba, president of Costa Cruises.
Assisting with oceanographic research
When you're sitting on the pool deck, relaxing and looking out to sea, you may not realize you are helping with oceanographic research. But that may be the case.
Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Corporation's namesake brand and the world's largest individual cruise line, has an alliance with the International SeaKeepers Society and has installed scientific data-gathering devices on several ships, including Carnival Triumph, Carnival Legend, Carnival Miracle and Carnival Spirit, to monitor ocean water quality.
The device on each ship tracks a wide range of data, which is transmitted via satellite to various environmental groups, governmental agencies and universities to aid in assessing ocean pollution and researching global climate changes and cyclic weather patterns.
The brand's Carnival Conquest has been recognized by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with the Voluntary Observing Ship Award, for its efforts in helping monitor and collect data on Caribbean weather conditions.
Carnival Corporation's Costa Cruises has a partnership with Italy's Centro Nazionale di Ricerche (National Research Center).
Last year, a team of researchers from the Italian National Research Council's Institute of Marine Sciences in Ancona spent a week on board the Costa Luminosa to record the presence of sea turtles, dolphins and seabirds, while also monitoring the amount of plastic debris in the sea.
Carnival Corporation also supports efforts by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), one of the world's leading conservation organizations, with a $2.5 million financial commitment supporting marine conservation through projects using the latest crowdsourcing and data mapping techniques to quantify and total the local economic value of the world's coral reefs to tourism.
Providing volunteering opportunities
Carnival Corporation's Fathom experiences deepen human connections in the world, and encourage guests to have a positive impact on local communities.
Guests to Amber Cove in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic have participated in various local experiences and projects including reforestation. In 2016, guests planted 21,000 seeds in nurseries and transplanted 10,000 native tree seedlings from nurseries into Dominican soil. These efforts will eventually lead to more nutrient-rich soil, a reduction in soil loss, and improved air and water quality.
Fathom human connections experiences, onboard and onshore, are currently in the process of being expanded.
Carnival Corporation brands also encourage volunteering among their crew and employees.
For instance, Costa Group has a new partnership with Mercy Ships in West Africa, which includes opportunities for employees and crew to help out onboard Mercy hospital ships. Recently, a 28-year-old AIDA Cruises engineer volunteered his services on the Africa Mercy, supporting the ship's staff and sharing his seafaring experiences. The Africa Mercy provides free surgeries and dental care to patients in need.
Creating safe drinking water
Guests volunteering with Fathom also produced more than 900 water filters, providing more than 4,000 Dominicans with safe drinking water, in an ongoing project.
Separately, under the P&O Pacific Partnership with Save the Children Australia, funded with a $1AUD donation by passengers on each booking, P&O Cruises Australia has commissioned the installation later this year of two clean water filters in Vanuatu - for Mystery Island and the nearby island Aneityum, where the local community primarily resides.
Promoting local entrepreneurship and building skills
In the UK, the venerable Cunard line has an ongoing relationship with the Prince's Trust, and as part of the partnership the human resources department of Carnival UK, which includes P&O Cruises, takes part in a program where 16- to 25-year-olds have opportunities to practice their presentation and interview skills - to help improve their employment and educational prospects.
Staff from the human resources department run mock interviews for a "position." At the end of each team session, young participants are recognized for their achievements at a special ceremony.
Preserving history and culture
Ultra-luxury brand Seabourn has an ongoing partnership with The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to encourage world heritage protection and sustainable tourism.
The goal is to foster wider support and understanding in the travel industry and among travelers for UNESCO's mission of identifying, safeguarding and promoting World Heritage sites. The partnership consists of a $1 million commitment from Seabourn. Shore excursions to World Heritage sites in more than 170 ports and in-depth Discovery Tours include a donation from guest excursion fees to the UNESCO World Heritage Fund.
Donating used goods
Among the commitments of Carnival Corporation brands are reusing materials and equipment either onboard or donating items in good condition to others.
When replacing chairs on a ship in San Diego, Holland America Line, for example, donated chairs to a local group that needed them for an auditorium. The cruise line also recently donated 100 TVs, three grand pianos and 20 laptops to organizations in Florida. In Vietnam, schools, churches and temples received a donation of 680 upholstered footstools. Blankets and towels are among other items that the line frequently donates to nonprofits in port communities.
Likewise, Carnival Cruise Line donates a variety of used, serviceable goods such as furniture, refrigerators, bed frames, cribs, toys, shower curtains and utensils.
Some of the organizations receiving donations include the Bahamas Children's Emergency Hostel in Nassau, Bahamas; Black Mountain Home in Charleston, South Carolina; Bridge House in New Orleans; Cockburn Town Medical Center in Grand Turk Island, Turks and Caicos; St. Christopher Children's Home in St. Lucia; and the Salvation Army in Galveston, Texas.
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