With the cruise industry gathered in Ft. Lauderdale to celebrate travel agents last week, one of the most iconic names in marine life took the stage to talk about the need to be more conscious, if cruising and other industries that depend on a healthy ocean to survive, want to continue to thrive.
“We need to be much more conscious of the decisions we make in hospitality and tourism,” said Fabien Cousteau, aquanaut, documentary film maker, and grandson of legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.
During his keynote at CLIA Cruise 360 last week, Cousteau spoke about how “better decisions are paramount and crucial to enjoy” the ocean. “Water connects us all but we have some major, major problems,” he said.
In a panel following Cousteau’s keynote, a number of cruise executives joined James R. Ferrara, president of InteleTravel, to talk about how the lines take on the responsibility not only to maintain oceans but to help the local areas they dock in, and the areas they are sourcing their guests from, as well.
Here is just a small sample of how the cruise lines are helping to save the ocean and are trying to improve their communities.
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Corp. has a website where people can track the cruise company’s sustainability efforts (CarnivalSustainability.com). That includes details on the line’s dedication to “reducing emissions, installing exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS), increasing cold ironing capacity, and increasing water efficiency and reducing waste.”
The line also has “had an incredible relationship with St. Jude’s children’s hospital” over the years. “We have donated over 16 million dollars to St. Jude’s and committed even more over the next couple of years,” Vice President of Field Sales for North America Mike Julius said.
Both of those initiatives help Carnival “spend meaningfully.”
Dondra Ritzenthaler, senior vice president of sales for Celebrity, joined Ferrara onstage to talk about the line’s dedication to social responsibility. Ritzenthaler said that dedication might be most evident in Celebrity’s partnership with Malala, the Nobel Prize Laureate who is set to be the godmother of Celebrity’s newest ship, due out later this year, the Edge.
“We authentically believe in opening up the world … the reason that Malala picked us is that we so believe in women and equal rights for everyone and we’re giving so much money for women’s education,” she said.
According to Ritzenthaler, that partnership and others like it by the cruise lines should be a boom for agents trying to sell. “It matters,” she said. “People want to do business with people they feel are like them and have the same values as them.”
Holland America Line
Holland America’s On Deck for a Cause program benefits six international cancer organizations. The program invites guests out on deck to walk a noncompetitive 5K, with all of the donations during the event going to those charities.
Holland America also looks to help its homeport city, Seattle, through donations to local programs. “We’re really proud of the fact that we’re Seattle’s hometown cruise line,” Senior Vice President Eva Jenner said.
After the singer, Andrea Bocelli, was featured during the naming ceremony for MSC Seaside late last year, the line teamed up with him to help one of the poorest countries in the world, Haiti.
The foundation fights poverty in Haiti by “promoting and supporting national and international projects that promote the overcoming of these barriers and the expression of their full potential,” according to its website.
“We’re asking our guests to be a part of it when they come onboard,” Senior Vice President of Sales Joe Jiffo said.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian’s commitment to marine life includes a partnership with Guy Harvey, the artist who provided artwork for the hull of Norwegian Escape.
“It’s not just about the beautiful artwork at the heart of the ship,” Senior Vice President of Sales for North America Camille Olivere said.
That partnership helps direct funds to the Guy Harvey foundation, which is aimed at helping to conduct research on conservation and educating the public on what they can do to help.
Norwegian also has programs in place at both of their private islands — Great Stirrup Cay and Harvest Cay — to help preserve local wildlife and minimize their guests' environmental impact.
After introducing its socially conscious Fathom brand in 2015, Carnival Corp. has kept the concept alive onboard Princess Ships.
“It’s about creating a small group that have immersive training onboard, and then when they go ashore, it’s about doing things that are good for the local communities,” Vice President of North American Sales for Carnival Corp. and Princess John Chernesky said. “The feedback has been phenomenal.”
Chernesky also spoke about how the brand employs a process called cold ironing, which lets a ship at berth use shoreside electrical power instead of continuing to use its engine while docked.
Nikki Upshaw, vice president of sales for Oceania, told the audience that the line is “invested quite a bit with our sail and sustain program.”
The program includes installing an environmental officer on each of the brand’s ships, offering guests a chance to learn about destinations during its onboard guest lecturer program, and water treatment and waste off-loading technology onboard.
Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales, trade support, and service for Royal Caribbean, told the audience that “we cruise in the waters and want to make sure the animals are protected.”
Royal has set itself sustainability goals for 2020 that include “reducing carbon emissions and ensuring sustainable seafood procurement.”
A full list of its goals can be found on its sustainability website.