Protecting the Environment is Our Business

A look at how Royal Caribbean makes sustainable travel a priority year-round.
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One of Royal Caribbean's biggest priorities is—and always will be—protecting the environment.

Credit: Royal Caribbean

The oceans, which cover more than 70% of the earth, are essential. That’s why World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) “Love it or Lose it” campaign lists them as one of the nine places that need our love the most. It’s no secret Royal Caribbean has a love affair with the oceans, but did you know we have committed decades to protecting the oceans through work on board our ships and in the destinations we visit?

To mark Earth Day, here’s a look at some of the actions we take to help. Find out how you can lend a hand too:


Save the Waves

Save the Waves is the program at the foundation of our sustainability initiatives and daily operations. What began as an onboard recycling program in 1992 has evolved into a companywide philosophy that defines our strong commitment to waste management, sustainable sourcing, innovating energy-saving technologies and more.

Environmental Officers and their teams lead these initiatives on board—and for the first time on land at Perfect Day at CocoCay, our private island destination in The Bahamas. The dedicated team there also includes a water specialist, who oversees Thrill Waterpark, the desalination and advanced water treatment plants and the irrigation system that repurposes treated wastewater to water the island’s landscaping.

While every member of our team pledges to do their part, we are proud of how guests pitch in to help save the oceans, too, by recycling, turning in turtle shells, donating to WWF and more. Our combined efforts have made Save the Waves the success it is today.


Goodbye to Single-Use Plastics

We’ve removed 60% of single-use plastics in the past two years, and even more can be done. After eliminating all plastic straws, coffee creamer containers, stirrers, picks, as well as condiment packets, our single-use plastic task force is working to identify other ways to reduce our use and impact on the environment.



Our Partner, World Wildlife Fund

We joined forces with WWF in 2016 to establish ambitious sustainability goals and create unique partnerships to support their global ocean conservation projects. Our work together focuses on three key areas: emissions reduction, destination stewardship and sustainable sourcing.

So far and with more to come, we have already met and surpassed several of our goals, and made great progress with others:

  • Now, we offer 2,000 Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)-certified tours, exceeding our target of 1,000.
  • We’ve achieved a 35% reduction in emissions one year sooner than planned.
  • We’re continuously improving sustainable sourcing practices for coffee, tea and sugar—commodities with the highest environmental impact.
  • We’re working toward sourcing 90% of wild-caught seafood from Marine Seafood Council (MSC)-certified fisheries and 75% of farmed seafood from Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)-certified farms in North America and Europe.


It’s also about raising awareness for and helping protect marine life and its habitats. This includes supporting the world’s first-ever guidelines for shark and ray tourism as well as establishing joint efforts to trace illegal turtle products, collect DNA for the critically endangered hawksbill turtles, track polar bears and promote whale shark education.


Symphony of the Seas is one of our many ships using the air lubrication system for more fuel-efficient sailing.

Credit: Royal Caribbean

More Efficient Ships

Innovations introduced on our ships make a difference—many just beneath the surface—literally. One example is bubbles, or rather millions of tiny bubbles known as an air lubrication system. These bubbles coat the ship’s hull to create a blanket between the ship and water to make for a smoother and more efficient ride.

Other energy-saving enhancements, like LED lights and tinted windows, also add up when used day after day.

You’ll find both the air lubrication systems and these other enhancements on the energy-efficient Harmony and Symphony of the Seas, among other ships.


Climate Change Research

For more than 20 years, Royal Caribbean ships have been quietly advancing climate change research. Thanks to installed equipment on Adventure and Allure of the Seas, scientists have been able to gather oceanographic and atmospheric data to study the oceans in a cost-effective way. The collected data has been cited in more than 200 academic publications so far.

We’re continuously innovating toward a more sustainable future. If you want to help us protect the planet and our oceans this Earth Day, we encourage you to donate to WWF to help fund ocean conservation. No matter the itinerary and ship, we’re doing the work to protect the environment as you enjoy your cruise.


Want to see these projects in action? Head here to see the places you can go on your next vacation.