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Royal Caribbean Int’l - Final Grade: "D"

Royal Caribbean International (Royal Caribbean) was founded in 1997. A Norwegian/American company with headquarters in Florida, Royal Caribbean is a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited (RCCL). Royal Caribbean’s fleet totals 25 cruise ships (surpassing Carnival Cruise Line’s 24 ships), including the largest cruise ship ever built, the Harmony of the Seas. Harmony accommodates 6,780 passengers and 2,100 crew members, which tops the capacities of the world’s previous record-holders, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, by approximately 780 people. Over half of Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships were built in the last decade, and 12 ships have carrying capacities of more than 5,000 passengers and crew. 

In 2004, Royal Caribbean made a public commitment through its parent company RCCL to install advanced sewage treatment systems on all of its cruise ships by 2008. Of Royal Caribbean’s 25 cruise ships, 24 have installed advanced sewage treatment systems, resulting in a grade of A for the company’s sewage treatment score. Royal Caribbean has installed scrubbers on approximately half of its fleet and, though none of Royal Caribbean’s ships that dock at a port with shoreside power are plug-in capable, four of Royal’s ships burn fuel worldwide with a sulfur content that is lower than what is required internationally or in Emission Control Areas. RCI receives a D for air quality reduction. While Royal Caribbean operated two ships in Alaska from 2010 to 2014, it chose to discharge sewage from those ships outside of Alaskan waters, thereby avoiding Alaska’s strong water quality standards, giving it an ‘N/A’ for water quality compliance in Alaska. 

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Royal Caribbean Int’l - Cruise Ship Fleet

Ship Name Cruise Line Total Persons on Board Destinations Sewage Treatment

Sewage Treatment

Has the cruise line installed on its ships the most advanced sewage and wastewater treatment systems available instead of dumping minimally treated sewage directly into the water? In determining a cruise line’s Sewage Treatment grade, we compared the number of cruise ships in the cruise line that have installed advanced sewage treatment systems against the total number of ships in the cruise line.

Air Pollution Reduction

Air Pollution Reduction

Has the cruise line installed scrubbers or were capable of plugging into shoreside power. Cruise ships that installed both technologies and docked in ports with shore power received an A, while ships that only installed scrubbers or only installed shore power capability but did not dock at ports with shoreside power were given a C. In addition, ships were given credit if they only utilize low sulfur fuels continuously at levels lower than required by international and U.S. law.

Water Quality Compliance

Water Quality Compliance

To what degree cruise ships violated water pollution standards designed to better protect the Alaskan coast. In determining the Water Quality Compliance grade for cruise ships operating in Alaska, we used the notices of violation issued to each cruise line by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation from 2010 to 2014 for individual cruise ships.

Final Ship Grade
Curved Grading Scale
A 100-85 Excellent
B 84-70 Satisfactory
C 69-50 Needs Work
D 49-25 Poor
F 24-0 Unacceptable
N/A Not Graded No Discharge In Alaskan Waters

**For the 2016 Cruise Ship Report Card, we graded 17 cruise lines and the 171 cruise ships of those 17 lines operating around the world. All cruise ships from each cruise line were included in this report card. Friends of the Earth relied on data gathered from the internet, government sources, the cruise line industry, and other public sources in order to determine the grades assigned to the cruise lines. Friends of the Earth did not independently verify that the technology graded in the report card was installed on the individual cruise ships.

Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 8880 Caribbean, Europe, Mediterranean, Mexico, U.S. East Coast 11 05 N/A 09
Ovation of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 6405 Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Southeast Asia 11 05 N/A 09
Quantum of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 6405 Asia, India, Middle East, Southeast Asia, U.S. East Coast 11 05 N/A 09
Anthem of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 6405 Caribbean, Canada, Central America, Europe, Mediterranean, U.S. East Coast 11 05 N/A 09
Empress of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 2938 Caribbean, Mexico, U.S. East Coast 11 05 N/A 09
Adventure of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 4992 Caribbean 11 05 N/A 09
Explorer of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 5475 Alaska, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, U.S. West Coast 11 00 N/A 04
Grandeur of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 3200 Caribbean, U.S. East Coast, Canada 11 00 N/A 04
Legend of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 2800 Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Southeast Asia 11 00 N/A 04
Majesty of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 3679 Caribbean, U.S. East Coast 00 00 N/A 00
Mariner of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 4992 Asia, Southeast Asia 11 00 N/A 04
Navigator of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 5203 Caribbean, Europe, Mediterranean, Africa, Arctic, U.S. East Coast 11 05 N/A 09
Rhapsody of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 3181 Canada, Africa, Caribbean, Central America, Europe, Mediterranean, Mexico, U.S. East Coast 11 00 N/A 04
Vision of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 3256 Europe, Mediterranean, Middle East 11 00 N/A 04
Voyager of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 5445 Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Southeast Asia 11 00 N/A 04
Brilliance of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 3391 Canada, Caribbean, U.S. East Coast, Mexico, Mediterranean 11 11 N/A 11
Enchantment of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 3582 Caribbean, U.S. East Coast 11 00 N/A 04
Freedom of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 5875 Caribbean, Mexico, U.S. East Coast, Africa, Europe, Mediterranean 11 05 N/A 09
Independence of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 5735 Caribbean, Europe, U.S. East Coast 11 05 N/A 09
Jewel of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 3361 Caribbean, Mediterranean, U.S. East Coast 11 11 N/A 11
Liberty of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 6320 Caribbean, Europe, Central America, Mexico 11 05 N/A 09
Oasis of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 8754 Caribbean, Mexico, U.S. East Coast 11 00 N/A 04
Radiance of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 3360 Australia, Hawaii, New Zealand, South Pacific 11 11 N/A 11
Serenade of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 3360 Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, Arctic, Canada, Central America, U.S. East Coast 11 11 N/A 11
Allure of the Seas Royal Caribbean Int'l 8794 Caribbean, Mexico, U.S. East Coast 11 05 N/A 09

Grading methodology for the 2016 Cruise Ship Report Card

Friends of the Earth’s Cruise Ship Report Card ranks 17 major cruise lines and 171 cruise ships -- Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Fathom, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania Cruises, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean Int’l, Seabourn Cruise Line and Silversea Cruises -- according to four environmental criteria: Sewage Treatment, Air Pollution Reduction, Water Quality Compliance and Transparency.

  • To determine a cruise line’s Sewage Treatment grade, we compared the number of cruise ships in the cruise line that have installed advanced sewage treatment systems against the total number of ships in the cruise line.
  • To determine the Air Pollution Reduction grade for each ship in a cruise line, we graded ships on whether they had installed scrubbers or were capable of plugging into shoreside power. Cruise ships that installed both technologies and docked in ports with shore power received an A, while ships that only installed scrubbers or only installed shore power capability but did not dock at ports with shoreside power were given a C. In addition, ships were given credit if they only utilize low sulfur fuels continuously at levels lower than required by international and U.S. law.
  • To determine the Water Quality Compliance grade for ships operating in Alaska, we used notices of violation issued for individual cruise ships to each cruise line by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation from 2010 to 2014. Ships were given an ‘N/A’ if they traveled to Alaska but avoided Alaska’s strong water quality standards by discharging outside of those protected waters.
  • To determine the Transparency grade for each cruise line we graded each line based on whether it responded to our 2015 requests for information regarding their environmental practices.
  • The grades for each of the four criteria were averaged to calculate the Final Grade for each cruise line.