When it comes to the carbon footprint of your vacation, is it “greener” to fly or to cruise? Anyway you look at it modern-day travel is “dirty business” whether you travel by car, plane, boat or train. Because cruise ships carry thousands of passengers and thousands of crew, divided out per person the carbon emission from a cruise ship is less than that of an airplane. Critics point out that most passengers fly to reach their cruise ship thereby combining both air and sea travel making the carbon footprint high; however, there are things the industry is trying to reduce its carbon emissions. Holland-America is in the process of introducing new “scrubbers” that will reduce carbon emissions from their ships – a very positive step in the right direction and the State of California requires that cruise ships burn diesel rather than heavy fuel within California state waters.
As more travelers become aware and concerned about the down line affect of their holiday choices, perhaps we will see the cruise industry put into effect the same conservation efforts found in major hotels i.e. linen changes upon request, reusing towels, and the addition of key card activated room lighting. One of the oldest jokes on a cruise ship is, “does the ship generate its own power?” Yes, of course it does; and as a self-contained power generating source most people on holiday feel no guilt in leaving on the television or the lights. However, to generate that energy the engines must run – which means more emissions and more fuel consumption. For those who love to cruise, maybe its time we tell the executives of our favorite lines that we can do without clean linens everyday and that we don’t mind being asked to turn off lights when not in use. If that will help keep the costs down and the industry going, I think everyone would be happy to comply.