Greenwash Of The Week: Green Cruising.


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This week’s Greenwash comes from a press release I read the other day regarding the cruise company Crystal Cruises. Crystal is a luxury cruise line with trips that go all over the world, and their ships have casinos, pools, dance clubs, restaurants, theatres, and bars aboard. Just as a reference point, the average cruise ship with 3,000 passengers and crew generates about 30,000 gallons of human waste and 255,000 gallons of non-sewage gray water every day it is cruising. But this post isn’t about cruising itself or it’s environmental concerns; rather, it is about a cruise line sending out a press release about “Going Green” when they know they are anything but…

This fall, Crystal Cruises’ guests have the opportunity to give back and see Valetta, Malta from a different point of view on award-winning Crystal Serenity voyages this fall. A brand new Crystal Adventure invites travelers to “Go Green” in Malta, by planting trees in the island’s only national park, donating food at a local charity and learning eco-conscious planting and harvesting practices at a local organic farm.

Sure, it sounds good on the surface – who doesn’t think that planting trees in a national park, donating food to a charity, and learning organic farming isn’t a good thing? But at what cost do this “going green” come at? As I stated above, 30,000 gallons of human waste and 255,000 gallons of non-sewage gray water is generated each day by an average cruise ship. However, that’s not all. For every day they are cruising, they also generate:

  • Seven tons of garbage and solid waste
  • 15 gallons of toxic chemicals
  • 37,000 gallons of oily bilge water
  • Air pollutants equivalent to12,000 automobiles
  • Hundreds of thousands of gallons of ballast water, which contains diseases, bacteria and invasive species from foreign ports

That’s per day. While basically any vacation-oriented activity involving travel is not exactly good for the environment, there is a difference between a cruise company just doing what it does best – cruise – without excuses, and a cruise company trying to trick people into thinking that cruising could ever possibly be “green”. It cannot, same as flying cannot ever be green. So don’t fall for this kind of Greenwash marketing. If you want to cruise, take a cruise. But don’t do it because they cruise company tells you it’s eco-friendly, as it’s a lie.

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  1. dsturman – But it cannot be called “green”, at all – that’s the point. Cruising for vacation is one thing; but a company marketing such a polluting activity as eco-friendly is just greenwashing. And if people weren’t gullible, then the company wouldn’t be trying to market it, would they?

  2. So true! We just finished a big family cruise (Norwegian cruise line) and it was so wasteful. The food waste alone was horrific. Thanks for your timely post. The cruise ship was full, so despite the recession people are still cruising mindlessly.

  3. No doubt that cruising is environmentally bad; moreover, traveling by any means is also bad. I really do not believe that anybody is going to cruise just so they can have a “green” experience; moreover, people cruise & vacation because they need rest, relaxation, & fun. I challenge the inference in your article that people are so gullible that they would cruise just for a green experience.

    True, we eco-friendly people need to educate traveling people, but we also need to remember that working people are pushed very hard every day, are stressed out, and need a vacation. If people can afford a vacation in this crappy economy- more power to them. This small “green” experience may be the only eco-conscious experience that many people will get the opportunity to have all year, sad as that sounds. Lastly, education motivates adults faster and on a deeper level than shame, let’s be careful we of the eco-friendly populations do not come of as sounding like we are totally out-of-touch.

  4. Great Post and David is right. The only reason they mention the green stuff is to hide the brown stuff that they are pumping into the sea and into the air.

    There are not many holidays that can be much worse than crusing apart from space travel and flying.

    Greenwashing should be outlawed. It is false advertisement and the only forms of transport to get the green seal should be by train, bus or self powered.

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