Tenth Cruise Ship Report Card Reveals Industry Greenwashing
WASHINGTON – Friends of the Earth released its 2022 Cruise Ship Report Card today, the tenth such analysis assessing and ranking the environmental and human health impacts of major cruise lines. Tracking public and environmental health impacts, the 2022 Cruise Ship Report Card seeks to benchmark industry standards as fleets are recovering (and even expanding) after the onset of COVID-19.
The report card measures each cruise line by four environmental criteria: sewage treatment, air pollution reduction, water quality compliance and transparency. After years of tracking cruise company impacts to environmental and public health, Friends of the Earth’s latest Cruise Ship Report Card marks few improvements in industry practices.
Of the 213 ships across 18 different cruise lines, Carnival and its subsidiaries scored the lowest for the fourth year in a row with F ratings, despite coming off federal criminal probation in the U.S. Regent was elevated to the top with a grade of C+. Disney was downgraded again from a B to a C this year for its Lighthouse Point development within a marine protected area in the Bahamas, while Norwegian Cruises received a C- grade for its middling effort to reduce its air and water quality footprint.
Marcie Keever, Oceans and Vessels Program Director with Friends of the Earth, issued the following statement:
After more than ten years of analyzing data from the cruise industry, cruising continues to be one of the dirtiest vacation choices. This industry is bent on false promises and pollution profiteering, even if that means shifting the burden onto frontline communities and vulnerable ecosystems.
Leaders like Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean market their “green” cruising efforts yet continue to use toxic, climate-damaging fuels, degrade our oceans with harmful wastewater dumping, and serve as virus super spreaders. We call on these corporate giants and governments around the world to take our climate, ocean and public health seriously.
The lack of independent oversight over cruise ship operations, combined with the continued use of “scrubber” technology on vessels has contributed to more than a decade of environmental degradation from cruise lines. Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise company, repeatedly violated government standards, yet was released from criminal probation in April 2022. Most other cruise lines have been fined for similar environmental violations, yet the Biden administration and governments around the world have repeatedly failed to enact stricter regulations for the industry.
Cruise companies have also failed to protect public health. The CDC in 2020 ranked cruises as a Level 3 (high) risk for contracting COVID-19 for non-vaccinated passengers, and in 2021 only 1 out of 114 vessels earned a CDC “excellent” ranking through the agency’s COVID-19 program. Despite industry precautions, viruses like Covid-19 and norovirus are commonly spread on vessels, endangering the health of passengers and cruise staff alike.