Harmony of the Seas launch inconsistent with Royal Caribbean's commitment to sustainability

Harmony of the Seas launch inconsistent with Royal Caribbean’s commitment to sustainability

Harmony of the Seas launch inconsistent with Royal Caribbean’s commitment to sustainability

Donate Now!

Your contribution will benefit Friends of the Earth.

Stay Informed

Thanks for your interest in Friends of the Earth. You can find information about us and get in touch the following ways:

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

At 226 thousand metric tons, accommodating 6,780 guests and 2,100 crew, Royal Caribbean International’s new Harmony of the Seas is a gargantuan fuel-gobbling monster. Given the huge quantities of fuel required to push the contraption across the ocean, we doubt how seriously Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) is attempting to achieve its stated goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2011, Royal Caribbean first asserted its goal to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint per passenger per cruise day by one-third, compared to 2005 levels. Toward this end RCL boasts that its three Oasis ships, including Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, are 25 percent more fuel efficient per berth than ships built since 2006. RCL has also installed a few solar panels in new ships to offset fuel consumed for electricity.

But RCL’s emission reduction initiatives are misleading at best. 97 percent of its emissions originate in transportation costs, so the solar panels providing electricity have little impact. Harmony’s more efficient, hydrodynamic design is more intriguing, but only until you scrutinize the numbers — Harmony may be 25 percent more efficient per berth than older ships, but Harmony’s max berth of 6,410 beds is more than double that of older ships’ berth numbers, which hover around 3,000. This means that Harmony of the Seas uses about 35 percent more fuel than older ships, consuming more energy than 77,000 American households in just one month.

In fact, RCL’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions per passenger per day is not very impressive or sincere to begin with: if the cruise line wants to lessen its carbon footprint, it should actually reduce the amount of CO2 it emits. In 2014 RCL emitted 77 thousand more tons of CO2 than it did the year prior, even while technically reducing its emissions per available passenger cruise day, and will most likely expand its carbon footprint again once Harmony of the Seas sets sail this week.

In our 2014 Cruise Ship Report Card, Friends of the Earth gave Royal Caribbean an “F” for air pollution reduction. We are not fooled by Royal Caribbean’s “commitment to sustainability.” Because of its exorbitant waste of fuel and significant greenhouse gas emissions, we say RCL’s launch of the Harmony of the Seas is the opposite of sustainable.


Photo credit: Daniel Jolivet, Saint-Brévin-les-Pins, Loire-Atlantique on March 26, 2016.

Edited on May 23, 2016 at 4:37pm: This article has been edited to reflect AP style standards, and the acronym for Royal Caribbean International’s parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has been corrected. The year RCL asserted its goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions was also updated from 2014 to 2011. The photo credit was also updated to include accurate attribution.
Related News