‘Failing or close to it’: Environmental organization gives cruise industry poor report card

The cruise industry has been dealt a report card by environmental group Friends of the Earth that a parent might not want to tack on a refrigerator door, but the cruise industry is pushing back.

“I’d say (the cruise industry as a whole is) failing or close it,” Marcie Keever, oceans and vessels program director for Friends of the Earth, who wrote the report, told USA TODAY Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the environmental group released its 2020 Cruise Ship Report Card, which handed out “grades” to passenger cruise lines. FOE has been releasing the cruise report semi-annually since 2009, Keever said.

The cruise industry continues to insist it is making great strides in reducing its environmental impact by implementing new technologies and following or exceeding international guidelines.

“The cruise industry is a pioneer in environmental protection and has made significant progress in advancing responsible tourism initiatives that are making a difference and providing a model for others,” Bari Golin-Blaugrund, vice president of strategic communications and public affairs for Cruise Lines International Association, told USA TODAY.

Golin-Blaugrund confirmed that all members of the CLIA fleet are taking steps toward going green on their own and in accordance with International Maritime Organization, rules that aim to prevent and minimize pollution from ships. 

Carnival Corp. had eight of its lines analyzed by FOE, all of which scored an “F;” Royal Caribbean earned a D; Norwegian Cruise Line came in lower at a D-; and Disney, which received FOE’s highest grade, clocked in at a B-, having been knocked down from its previous grade of A-. Silversea Cruises, a Royal Caribbean line, scored second-highest with a C. 

In total, the group graded 18 cruise lines and their 193 ships in 2020 from cruise companies including Carnival Corp.; Royal Caribbean Group; Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.; as well as Disney Cruise Line; Crystal Cruises; MSC Cruises; and the new kid in the class, Virgin Voyages, which hasn’t had paying passengers on board yet, since its first ship Scarlet Lady, was meant to formally launch during the pandemic.

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