Protecting the Environment is Everyone’s Business

On World Oceans Day, here’s a look at how Royal Caribbean makes sustainable travel a priority for every ship and destination year round.
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HM, Harmony of the Seas, Aerial, Offshore Barcelona (Spain) June 6, 2016, 3/4 view, port side, mountains, sunset,

Royal Caribbean has a longstanding commitment to protecting the environment — specifically the oceans we sail on — and recently, we celebrated the 25th year of our onboard sustainability program, Save The Waves. We’re constantly innovating toward a more sustainable future, and this dedication can be seen with each new ship we launch, older ships that we retrofit, our programs and partners and upcoming industry-first projects.

In celebration of World Oceans Day on June 8, here’s a look at our latest environmental actions and how we’re playing our part to protect the world’s oceans and destinations:

Save The Waves

Protecting the environment is at the heart of Royal Caribbean, and Save The Waves is the bedrock of our sustainability program. It began 25 years ago, and is built on making sure absolutely nothing goes overboard — ever.

Today, the program is managed by specialized Environmental Officers on board each of our 25 ships. They are dedicated to ensuring we comply and exceed international regulations, working closely with crew to make sure waste is sorted correctly and that we are recycling everything we can. In fact, on several cruises, we send zero waste to landfills, meaning everything has been recovered or recycled.

We’re also proud to have joined forces with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to protect the seas. This global partnership includes ambitious 2020 sustainability goals in three key areas — emissions reduction, sustainable sourcing and destination stewardship — plus a contribution of $5 million to support WWF’s global ocean conservation efforts.

Designing More Efficient Ships

Innovations, big and small, help us achieve our goals. One example is bubbles, or rather millions of tiny bubbles known as an “air lubrication system.” These bubbles coat the ship’s hull, creating a blanket between the ship and water to make for a smoother and more efficient ride. Smaller enhancements on board, like installing LED lights and tinted windows, save energy throughout daily operations — which really add up!

These can be seen on the energy-efficient Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas, the world’s largest ship.

New Power Sources

An exciting development is coming to our new class of ships known as Project Icon. Two revolutionary ships, arriving in 2022 and 2024, will be powered by Liquid Natural Gas and an exciting, new (for the cruise industry) power source known as Fuel Cells, which produce a cleaner power and no carbon emissions.

Fuel cells have been used by NASA for years, but the Icon Class will be the first time they are used on a cruise ship.

See Ya, Straws

Our latest in our efforts to make cruising more sustainable: getting rid of plastic straws — as well as plastic stirrers — on board all ships in our fleet by 2019. Already, we’ve begun implementing a “straws upon request” policy, and soon any guest who asks for one will be handed a paper straw instead. And straws are just the start; by 2020 we’ll be working on reducing other single-use plastics like condiment packets, cups and bags.

Science at Sea

Another way we help the environment is by empowering scientists, which is exactly what we’re doing with the University of Miami’s Rosentiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science program, called OceanScope.

We have equipment installed on Adventure of the Seas and Allure of the Seas that gathers oceanographic and atmospheric data, which plays important roles in climate change research. The itineraries of these two ships make for cost-effective research, and the data collected have been cited in more than 200 academic publications.

Looking Ahead

As we look toward the future, we are continuing our environmental efforts aboard every ship through our Save The Waves program, and encourage each guest to play their part, before, during and after their vacation with us. And stay tuned as there are more environmental updates to come!

You can head here to book a cruise knowing that no matter which of the more than 260 destinations we visit, we’re doing all we can to make your adventure sustainable.