What is a Green Cruise?

Diane Goettel

A green cruise is a kind of cruise that is enjoyed aboard a ship that is outfitted to reduce its impact on the environment, both in terms of the amount of energy that it uses and the amount of waste that it produces. In recent years, the cruising industry has come under fire for massive oil spills, the dumping of waste water, and generally following environmentally unfriendly practices. Some critics say that even the greenest of cruise ships are still rather bad for the environment, but many of the cruising companies that are retrofitting their ships or even building new environmentally friendlier ships seem to be proud of their progress.

Most cruises have a full bar for passengers to enjoy.
Most cruises have a full bar for passengers to enjoy.

There are a number of features that may be found on a green cruise ship that reduce the amount of energy the ship consumes. Some green cruise ships have tinted windows that keep the rooms inside of the ship cooler and reduce the need to use air conditioning. Others may be outfitted with appliances that are more energy efficient. There are also green cruise ships that have been altering their speed at different points within the trip to ensure better fuel efficiency.

Green cruises focus on environmentally-friendly practices.
Green cruises focus on environmentally-friendly practices.

The fuel that is consumed as part of a cruise is also an issue for people who are environmentally conscious. In addition to altering cruising speeds, some green cruise ships are also using alternative energy sources. Some ships have been outfitted with solar panels. Others are finding ways to use discarded cooking grease as a biodiesel. Not only does this recycle a product that otherwise becomes waste, but it is also a cleaner fuel than regular diesel.

Cruise ships typically serve buffet-style meals.
Cruise ships typically serve buffet-style meals.

Some cruise liners are becoming more efficient by accepting cargo. When rooms on the ship are left unfilled by passengers, they are rented out as cargo holds. This helps to maximize the usefulness of each voyage and also helps cruise companies to make a bit of money on unsold rooms.

A number of the methods described above can be used to retrofit old cruise ships into vessels that are more friendly to the environment. There are other techniques, however, that are used when building entirely new green cruise ships. One of the key features of many new green cruise ships is the weight of the materials that are used to build them. By choosing lighter materials and reducing the overall weight of the boat, the amount of fuel required to propel the vessel is reduced.

An environmentally friendly cruise may have a non-chlorinated, saltwater pool for guests to enjoy.
An environmentally friendly cruise may have a non-chlorinated, saltwater pool for guests to enjoy.

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Discussion Comments


@drtroubles - It is easy to understand why you would be worried about the best cruises for people who want to be eco-friendly. The amount of illegal dumping that took place, especially in the early 1990s was really disgusting.

You're in luck though, nowadays more and more cruise companies are advertising their new and improved ships. I really liked how Royal Caribbean Cruises managed to get their act together and start using more green ships. They have a strong focus on recycling and energy efficiency. If you can try and get on the Oasis, which rolled out back in 2009. It's a gorgeous ship.


Does anyone know of any green cruises from San Diego, or cruises from Miami that are good for the environment?

My wife and I are looking at cruise prices and figure if we are going to be spending that much cash on a vacation we may as well go for something that doesn't do as much damage. Right now we've been looking at blogs from cruise critics to see who the worst environmental offenders are, and you would be shocked about how much cruise liners dump into the ocean. It really is a sad thing. I think we'd be happy if we could find a cruise that doesn't actively hurt our planet.


@JimmyT - I do not know. Anymore companies and corporations are under a heavy amount of pressure to go green from environmentalists and activists groups and although a cruise ship is something that completely revolves around public opinion I think they are going green because they feel like they have to.

By going green they are able to quell the environmentalists, but they are also looking good in the court of public opinion and are also able to reduce costs, by reducing waste and energy output.

I do not know all the figures, but I think that a green cruise ship may not entirely be a marketing gimmick and may actually be a pretty honest type of enterprise that simply sees it as being a new wave of the future.


@Emiliski - Although I do agree with you as far as the fact that going green on a cruise ship helps them do their part I do think that cruise ships try and capitalize off of environmentalists and are sure to say that they are a green cruise ship.

A cruise ship itself is a an easy target for environmentalist simply because it produces so much waste and by saying they are going green they are still able to attract people by at least showing that they are trying to curtail the inevitable amount of waste produced.

Although some would argue that they are serious in their attitude of going green, I am very skeptical and feel like that there is an agenda behind the heavy advertising involved with a green cruise ship.


@matthewc23 - You could say that what they do does little in the large scale of things to help the environment, but when it comes down to it the environment can only be helped if everyone pitches in and no single place is going to make a major impact in the large scale of things.

It is a good idea to go green on a cruise ship simply because there are so many people that are on a cruise ship, thus there is going to be a massive amount of waste and power used. By reducing the amount of waste and power, even only about ten percent, will greatly help in doing their part in going green and accomplish a whole lot more than simply a few people recycling. Cannot just say to not have a green cruise ship because it will not do a lot in the large scale of things because it will still help out a lot.


I have heard that green cruises are virtually no different than regular cruises and green cruises are simply just cruises that have different policies towards and different procedures.

I know someone that went on a green cruise and they said it was absolutely no different and the only differences were hardly noticeable, such as the cruise using something like ten percent less power and that recycling was available everywhere and encouraged.

It is great they do that, but advertising that they are a green cruise ship I see as being more of a marketing gimmick as opposed to looking to greatly help the environment. The little changes that they do on the cruise ship do little in the large scale of things.


A green cruise seems like the way to go for people who like to travel by means of the ocean.

It is always best to go green, whenever or however possible.

I hear you can get pretty good deals on green cruises if you stay longer than a couple of days. I have only heard this from word of mouth, so don't quote me on that though.

If I were to take a cruise, I would go on a green cruise. It may be more money, but in the long run it is more important to help out our environment than to save a few dollars.

The solar panel windows on the new green cruise lines seem to be a nice addition. Also, using cooking grease as fuel is a safer way and seemingly cheaper way to fuel a cruise line.


@SarahSon - I recently went on a green cruise and got a really got deal. They were offering a special, so the price was not that much more than I would have paid for a traditional cruise.

I have gone on a few 3 day cruises in the past, but this was a longer cruise and is one that I would do again. I didn't notice anything different as far as accommodations and features on the ship itself.

It was nice to know that the cruise line was mindful of the environment and really taking steps toward making their ships green.

I don't know if our ship carried extra cargo with it or not, but I know they do this on a regular basis. This is just one of the things that makes so much sense to me.

If they have empty rooms on the ship, why not use that space for hauling cargo. This seems like it would be a win-win situation for everyone involved.


Has anybody ever been on a green cruise? I am curious if they are much different than a regular cruise, and if they cost much more?

We just went on a cruise to Alaska with a group of friends. I can see how you could get by without air conditioning on the cruise we went on.

It was late in the year, so the weather was cooler, but this part of the country never gets really hot. When you are on the ocean, it even seems cooler than the temperature actually is.

When you really stop and think about several things, it does make sense how cruise ships could save a lot of money and help the environment by making changes to go green.

If they have to use newer ships to do this, or make changes to existing ships that cost a lot of money, I am sure that expense will be passed on to the customer. That is why I am wondering if the prices are quite a bit more expensive?

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