Cruise Ship Industry Needs to Embrace Sustainability or Sink

Jan 5, 2012 5:15 PM ET
Campaign: CSR Blogs

Posted by Antonio Pasolini

It must be pretty damaging for any industry's reputation to be labeled Dinosaur of the Year. And that's what the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) has called the cruise ship industry. NABU, which is based in Germany, singled out cruise lines AIDA and TUI to get their yearly trophy, which goes to people or companies with "the most ridiculous statement or anachronistic decision in connection with Nature and the Environment."

According to NABU, cruise ships emit particle pollution that equals the amount released by five million cars driving the same distance as the cruise ship tears through the ocean. The organization said the luxury cruise ship industry has made no investments to move away from heavy fossil fuel oil or to install filters to reduce the pollution they dump into the oceans. It added that the 15 largest cruise ships emit as much sulfur dioxide pollution annually as all 760 million cars in the world. Not much glamour or luxury in that, is there?

Figures revealed by environmental NGO Friends of the Earth are alarming. A large cruise ship on a one week voyage is estimated to generate:

210,000 gallons of human sewage,
1 million gallons of gray water (water from sinks, baths, showers, laundry, and galleys),
25,000 gallons of oily bilge water,
Up to 11,550 gallons of sewage sludge, and
More than 130 gallons of hazardous wastes.

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Antonio Pasolini is a Corporate Social Responsibility writer for Justmeans. A media graduate with a specialization in film and TV, Antonio Pasolini is the editor of, a top web destination for alternative energy products, news and commentary. With more than a decade's experience in journalism, Antonio has written on a wide range of topics, from technological breakthroughs by the brains at MIT to a trip to sustainable projects in the Amazon. One of his new projects involves an eco print magazine to be distributed from a selection of London shops.