Virgin Voyages - Final Grade: "D"

Virgin Voyages is a joint venture between the Virgin Group, founded by Richard Branson, and Bain Capital. The cruise line was founded in 2014 and is headquartered in Florida. As of June 2020, Virgin Voyages has one ship in its fleet, with three more on order, all with an expected capacity of more than 3,900 passengers and crew. The first ship, Scarlet Lady, is scheduled to begin operating from Miami in October 2020, sailing mainly in the Caribbean.

The Scarlet Lady has installed an advanced sewage treatment system, resulting in a grade of C for the company’s 60 percent sewage treatment score. Virgin’s one cruise ship does not have plug-in capability, earning it an F for air pollution reduction. Virgin’s ship hasn’t traveled to Alaska, but the Scarlet Lady does have a scrubber installed earning Virgin an F for water quality compliance since scrubber use merely converts air pollution into toxic water pollution.

Virgin was also one of the cruise lines that responded to our inquiries about its environmental practices with specifics, awarding them an A for transparency.

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Virgin Voyages - Cruise Ship Fleet

Ship Name Cruise Line Total Persons on Board Destinations Sewage Treatment

Sewage Treatment

Has the cruise line installed 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. Ships with AWTS were downgraded in 2020 since no companies publicly report on the performance of those advanced systems.

Air Pollution Reduction

Air Pollution Reduction

Has the cruise line installed shorepower or adopted cleaner fuel worldwide? In determining the Air Pollution Reduction grade for each ship in a cruise line, ships that dock at a port and plug in to available shoreside power hookups were graded. In addition, ships were given credit if they utilize low sulfur fuels continuously worldwide at levels lower than required by international law. Use of scrubbers is not considered since the scrubbers in use by the cruise industry simply convert air pollution emissions into water pollution through their scrubber wastewater discharges.

Water Quality Compliance

Water Quality Compliance

To what degree did cruise ships violate water pollution standards designed to better protect the Alaskan coast? In determining the Water Quality Compliance grade for cruise ships, we used notices of violation issued for individual cruise ships to each cruise line by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation from 2010 to 2019. In addition, we downgraded ships for their use of scrubbers since scrubbers convert air pollution emissions into water pollution.

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 or Scrubber Use

**For the 2020 Cruise Ship Report Card, we graded 18 cruise lines and 193 cruise ships of those 18 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.

Scarlet Lady Virgin Voyages 3930 Caribbean, Mexico, Florida 05 00 00 00

Grading Methodology For The 2020 Cruise Ship Report Card

Friends of the Earth’s Cruise Ship Report Card ranks 18 major cruise lines and 193 cruise ships—AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, 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, Silversea Cruises, and Virgin Voyages—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. Ships with AWTS were downgraded in 2020 since no companies publicly report on the performance of those advanced systems.

. To determine the Air Pollution Reduction grade for each ship in a cruise line, ships that dock at a port and plug in to available shoreside power hookups were graded. In addition, ships were given credit if they utilize low sulfur fuels continuously worldwide at levels lower than required by international law. Use of scrubbers is not considered since the significant majority of scrubbers in use by the cruise industry simply convert air pollution emissions into water pollution through their scrubber wastewater discharges.

. 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 2019. We also failed ships for their scrubber use since scrubbers convert air pollution emissions into water pollution.

. To determine the Transparency grade for each cruise line we graded each line based on whether it responded to our 2020 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. Carnival Corp. companies continue to receive an overall F grade on the 2020 report card due to their ongoing criminal behavior from every line under the Carnival brand while on federal probation in the US.

Grades In Comparison: Report Cards From Previous Years 

 

**For the 2020 Cruise Ship Report Card, we graded 18 cruise lines and 193 cruise ships of those 18 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.