Environmental sustainability: Cruise lines at risk of losing customers

Plastic reduction should be a key focus for cruise liners in the coming years

Environmental sustainability: Cruise lines at risk of losing customers
  • The pandemic further increased concerns around environmental damage caused by the tourism sector
  • Cruise operators could be at risk of losing customers to other holiday/transport types
  • Cruise operators must place environmental sustainability at the forefront of new developments

COVID-19 has strengthened a recent shift in consumer sentiment, with the pandemic further increasing concerns around environmental damage caused by the tourism sector. Cruise operators could be at risk of losing custom to other holiday/transport types if they do not act fast and place environmental sustainability at the forefront of new developments.

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Week 11 COVID-19 Recovery Consumer Survey reveals that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 31% of global respondents have made reducing their environmental footprint slightly/significantly more important than before, with a further 12% making it their top priority. This significant shift in consumer sentiment cannot be ignored. Cruising is not immune to this trend and will be impacted if action is not taken, with cruisers potentially seeking alternative holiday options if change does not occur.

Plastic reduction should be a key focus for cruise liners in the coming years. Consumers are becoming accustomed to selecting non-plastic alternatives, and the cruise sector must replicate this at sea to meet this change in consumer behavior. The devastating impact plastic has on the oceans means it is paramount that cruise companies are seen as leaders in preserving the ocean environment. The reduction or total elimination of single-use plastics and the adoption of eco-friendly alternatives both provide a quick win for the industry to reduce its environmental impact. Both Carnival Corporation and Norwegian Cruise Line are investing in this, but others must follow.

Recent advancements in alternative fuels for cruise ships will allow for a cleaner operating environment. Liquefied natural gas could dramatically reduce emissions from cruise ships and has the potential to almost eliminate sulfur emissions, and seriously reduce nitrogen oxide and greenhouse emissions. However, there are currently only two ships equipped with this propulsion technology, so the benefits will be slow to materialize. However, once new ships begin to be delivered with the ability to be powered by liquid natural gas, a stepping stone could be provided for the industry to become even cleaner. This should help address consumer concerns about their environmental impact and ensure the industry meets the needs of future travelers.

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