How Royal Caribbean Conserves Water on Its Cruise Ships

In honor of World Water Day, Royal Caribbean's director of Environmental Programs shares how we conserve water on board.
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Ever wonder how there’s always enough water for every guest on a cruise ship, or how you’re never vying for shower pressure with the stateroom next door? With an extensive program on board its ships, Royal Caribbean ensures that clean water is always available on its fleet of more than two dozen ships around the world—while being as energy efficient and conservative as possible. Royal Caribbean has a longstanding commitment to protecting the environment. In fact, we recently celebrated the 26th year of our sustainability program, Save The Waves. “Water is as crucial to a ship’s functioning as fuel,” explains Nick Rose, Royal Caribbean’s director of Environmental Programs. “But unlike fuel, we’re able to get really creative in conserving and reusing it on board.”

In honor of World Water Day, Nick highlights five ways (of many) that Royal Caribbean stores, makes and saves clean drinking water:

1. Bunkering—the maritime term for loading water while a ship is in port and then storing it on board—is the first of three methods (including steam evaporation and reverse osmosis) for keeping clean water on ships. After the water is collected, it’s thoroughly tested for microbials and other “pollutants,” then treated to ensure there are no other unwanted components. Not only is bunkering important for the environment, but is also allows the thousands of guests on our larger ships to enjoy the waterslides, showers, and, of course, ample clean drinking water.

2. Steam evaporation—also known as flash evaporation or steam desalination—employs the “green” technique of using waste steam and heat from the ship’s engines to boil seawater brought on board. “With this type of heat, we’re not using more energy to purify the water,” Nick says. “Saltwater is evaporated and left behind, then condensed back into distilled purified water.”

3. Similar to steam evaporation, reverse osmosis also involves converting seawater into drinkable water, however, “Instead of using heat, reverse osmosis uses an even lower-energy method to push saltwater through a semipermeable, nearly microscopic chamber (technically known as a membrane). “It’s so small, only clean water can get through,” says Nick. All salt and possible contaminants remain blocked on the intake side of the chamber, while the water that passes through is mineralized for flavor according to U.S. Public Health Service guidelines.

4. Aeration, or the process of forcing air through shower heads and sink faucets, allows for ample water pressure in every bathroom. “We use air to create pressure rather than forcing water out at high volumes,” explains Nick. “This lets our guests shower comfortably while saving water. It’s a total win-win.”

 

Examples of initiatives that make Symphony of the Seas Royal Caribbean International’s most energy-efficient and technologically advanced ship ever built.

5. Last but certainly not least, the program calls to reuse condensed water wherever possible, in order to conserve the clean water already brought or made on board. “Condensation is one of the best ways to conserve water,” says Nick. “For example, we collect all the water produced from our air-conditioning units and reuse it in our laundry system. We’re essentially getting this water for free because it has already been generated.”

BONUS: “We love when guests help us out!” says Nick. “By reusing your towels, linens and sheets, you not only help our ships produce less water overall, but you also mitigate how much water needs to be purified on board.”

Rest easy that you’re vacationing with a company who cares about preserving the oceans we sail and the destinations we visit. To discover more about Royal Caribbean and its many itineraries, click here.