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. Currently Virgin Voyages has two ships in its fleet, with two more ships to launch in 2023. All Virgin ships are designed to hold 3,930 passengers and crew.
Both of Virgin’s ships have installed advanced sewage treatment systems, resulting in a grade of C for the company’s 60 percent sewage treatment score. None of their ships have plug-in capabilities, earning Virgin an F for air pollution reduction. Virgin’s ships have not traveled to Alaska, but the Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady both have scrubbers installed giving Virgin an F for water quality compliance since scrubber use merely converts air pollution into toxic water pollution.
Virgin is one of the cruise lines that responded to our inquiries about its environmental practices with specifics, awarding them an A for transparency.
Virgin Voyages - Cruise Ship Fleet
Grading Methodology For The 2022 Cruise Ship Report Card
Friends of the Earth’s Cruise Ship Report Card ranks 18 major cruise lines and 213 cruise ships — AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Costa 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, Viking 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 (AWTS) against the total number of ships in the cruise line. Ships with AWTS have been downgraded from As to Cs since 2020 because no companies publicly report on the performance of those advanced systems.
Air Pollution Reduction
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.
Water Quality Compliance
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 2021. 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 cruise line based on whether it responded to our 2022 requests for information regarding their environmental practices. Companies that responded with specifics were given As, those that didn’t received failing grades.
Grades In Comparison: Report Cards From Previous Years
2022 Cruise Ship Report Card
2021 Cruise Ship Report Card
2020 Cruise Ship Report Card
2019 Cruise Ship Report Card
2016 Cruise Ship Report Card
2014 Cruise Ship Report Card
2013 Cruise Ship Report Card
2012 Cruise Ship Report Card
2010 Cruise Ship Report Card
2009 Cruise Ship Report Card
**For the 2022 Cruise Ship Report Card, we graded 18 cruise lines and 213 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.