The Gilese Foundation has published its findings on cruise companies’ environmental reporting over the last year, placing MSC Cruises at the top.
MSC Cruises states in its sustainability report: “Our ultimate goal is to build zero emissions ships. We acknowledge that this will take time, and that climate change is an urgent issue. This is why, while we work on the development of new technologies that will allow this, we have taken the decision to bridge the technology gap by compensating for our ships’ emissions through investing in carbon offsetting projects. We will begin by sourcing high integrity carbon offset projects, with a focus on forest conservation and renewable energy production in developing countries, and we are committed to investing in the blue carbon economy.”
While, “no other sector of the maritime industry has been battered as heavily as the cruise sector either,” the Gilese Foundation reports, the cruise industry made good efforts to report on its environmental performance and is operating some of the most environmentally advanced vessels.
In its latest report, the Gilese Foundation states that cruises offer a B2C service rather than a B2B one, meaning that the companies deal directly with the passengers onboard, which are the final customers, rather than shippers or industrial companies. This means that the cruise industry is evaluated at all times by those consumers. In addition, the large size of cruise ships and the fact that they are floating hotels means that they must deal with not only the typical environmental challenges of ships but also the environmental challenges of hotels. It is for these reasons that the Foundation believes the cruise sector has come of the most environmentally advanced vessels and more ingrained environmental reporting than any other shipping sector.
In its latest report, the Foundation states that in general cruise companies are very committed to using LNG as a cleaner marine fuel, but talk less about fuel cells or biofuels, ammonia or methanol, which are much greener future fuels.
In terms of CO2 emissions, the Foundation believes that cruise companies are not ambitious enough and have not shown as much commitment as Maersk to achieve IMO 2050 emission reduction targets. The Foundation says that it is “disappointing” that “cruise companies are not involved in the long-term discussion about the future’s green fuels.”
Most cruise companies have opted for scrubbers to reduce emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx) rather than very-low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO). The Foundation reports that MSC Cruises “is the only company of the top three to refer to the IMO NOx Tier III regulation. That, of course, does not mean that the other companies are not implementing the IMO regulations; as we have insisted, our review is about environmental reporting, not about the environmental performance of the fleets.”
Cruise ships spend a lot of time at port and could therefore make good use of shore power to reduce emissions. The Gilese Foundation finds that cruise companies are pursuing that technology and asking port authorities to make the necessary infrastructural investments.
IT solutions are used to optimise voyages and routes to reduce emissions and fuel consumption. The Foundation states that the reduction of GHG emissions is not highlighted to much in cruise ships’ Sustainability Reports.