Some not doing enough to protect ecology, report says
As cruise ships return to South Florida ports for the busy winter cruise season, a new report released Tuesday is calling out several cruise lines for not doing enough to reduce their environmental footprint.
Several cruise lines have continued to show a lack of effort to adopt measures to reduce air and water pollution on the places their ships visit or are based, according to the Friends of the Earth 2012 Cruise Ship Report Card.
The California-based advocacy group graded 148 ships operated by 15 cruise lines on three environmental factors: sewage treatment, air pollution reduction and water quality compliance.
One cruise operator, Disney Cruise Line scored a top grade of A-minus, while three others received B-range scores and the remainder got C's, D's and F's as final grades.
Disney's efforts to reduce its air emissions helped it move up from a "C-minus" in 2010 when the report was last released, Friends of the Earth said.
The Disney Wonder cruise ship begins inaugural cruises from PortMiami on Dec. 23, sailing to the Bahamas and western Caribbean.
"From ending the use of dirty fuel that pollutes the air to stopping the disgusting practice of dumping partially treated sewage and other waste into the sea, it's time for the cruise industry to clean up its act," said Marcie Keever, Friends of the Earth oceans and vessels project director and report card author.
Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International scored a final grade of D-plus, while Norwegian Cruise Line received a B-minus. Crystal Cruises, Costa Cruises and P&O Cruises also received an F.
"Carnival Cruise Lines, a company with the largest fleet of ships in the world with 24 vessels, and whose parent, Carnival Corp., also owns several other companies on the report card, actually improved from an 'F' in 2010 to a 'D-plus' this year," Keever noted.
Some cruise lines have refused to make the necessary upgrades that would protect the ecosystems they travel in, and actively work to oppose stronger shipping regulations that would protect public health and the environment, added Keever. "The unfortunate reality is that, at present, many cruises harm marine ecosystems and the health of people who live near ports of call."
In a statement Tuesday, the Cruise Lines International Association advised consumers not to rely on the report card when choosing a cruise vacation saying that it "lacks basis in fact, science and law" just like the previous ones. "The grades assigned cruise lines and their ships are based upon arbitrary, faulty and misleading measures."
The trade group, which has a Fort Lauderdale office, said the global cruise industry employs environmental practices and procedures that go beyond mandated regulations.
"We advocate practices that fully protect coastal waters wherever we operate, and our members have invested extensively to implement a wide range of innovative environmental solutions that reduce air pollution, treat sewage prior to discharge, and protect air quality."
By Arlene Satchell, Sun Sentinel