Aside from the overall accident and crime rate, one of the most controversial issues surrounding the cruise industry is pollution. Much like how cruise lines are required by maritime law statutes to uphold safety standards to prevent those on board from suffering injuries or becoming the victims of a crime, cruise lines are also required to abide by environmental safety practices. Organizations, like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have laws in place that prevent cruise lines from dumping toxins into ocean systems and emitting harmful air pollutants that can seriously affect ecosystems. Friends of the Earth (FOE) also has a yearly “environmental report card” system in place that evaluates and scores vessels on how well (or poorly) they employ environmental safety practices.
Yet, despite the laws that regulate cruise lines from emitting dangerous pollutants, the possibility of obtaining fines for violating these laws, and the organizations that publicize each cruise ship’s actual environmental footprint, many cruise lines continue to cause harm by releasing waste water, sewage, and air pollutants. Recently, however, one cruise line seems to be taking a stand on environmental safety and is planning to design what is being called the world’s “greenest” cruise ship.
Scheduled to set sail in 2020, the 55,000-ton Ecoship is poised to revolutionize the industry. The concept for the vessel was developed by the Japan-based NGO Peace Boat organization and features a host of environmentally-friendly features, including an aerodynamic hull allows for greater fuel efficiency and sails fitted with solar panels. There’s even an onboard garden, which will be irrigated by a “closed-loop” water system that purifies waste water, combined with rain and seawater.
The ship makers have a lot to live up to, as they have delivered a promise of “zero emissions”.
“Unlike even the current best in market, the Ecoship will meet its core hotel and propulsion energy needs with renewable energy, using Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as a top-up energy source, thereby minimizing our dependence on fossil fuels,” claim the ship’s designers.
The project, which includes a talented team of more than 30 experts and engineers, has been in the works for around 30 years. And, if the designers make good on their promise, the Ecoship has the potential to raise the bar in cruise ship environmental safety standards as well as environmental sustainability in general.
Now, is the ship actually going to be as groundbreaking as it sounds or is it just too good to be true? Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait another five years before an accurate assessment can be made to determine exactly how much of an impact the Ecoship will have.
Our cruise ship lawyers look forward to the Ecoship’s maiden voyage and hope that other cruise lines will follow suit and improve their own environmental safety practices to reduce cruise ship pollution.