WITH HYBRID AND ELECTRIC CARS sparking a revolution in land-based vehicles, cruise lines worldwide are riding a green wave as well. Everything from diesel fuel to plastic drinking straws is walking the plank in the name of improving the environment and combating climate change.
As cruise ships clean up their act, passengers become more directly involved. Most major lines now have environmental officers to oversee that greener measures take hold from stem to stern. One prime target: the plastic straw as well as the plastic drink container itself. These staples of a happy holiday cruise are on their way out. Crystal Cruises, for example, will replace plastic straws and stirrers with bamboo and metal versions, while Holland America Line and Carnival Cruises hand out plastic straws only upon request. Going a step further, Norwegian Cruise Line and Regent Seven Seas Cruises pledged to eliminate all unreusable plastic water bottles. And Disney Cruise Line aims to reduce plastics in its staterooms by 80 percent by relying on refillable in-room amenities instead.
While cruise lines join the crusade to eliminate single-use plastics, they also look to curb climate-changing emissions. One notable green technology routinely incorporated into new ships and retrofits is shore-power hookups that enable ships in select ports to shut down their engines and plug into less-polluting power sources on land. In addition, many new ships contain exhaust gas cleaning systems which “scrub out” sulfur compounds and particulates produced by engines. Royal Caribbean, Azamara and Celebrity Cruises managed to reduce emissions by 20 percent in this way on their newest ships.
In the search for cleaner fuels, the cruise industry is investing some $8 billion in alternative propellants. The most popular alternative is liquefied natural gas, the world’s cleanest fossil fuel. German- based AIDA Cruises recently introduced the world’s first passenger ship powered exclusively by low-emission LNG, the AIDAnova. Many other lines are using or developing LNG-powered ships to reduce greenhouse gases.
Another route seeks to offset CO2 emissions. Starting in 2020, MSC Cruises, a fleet of 17 ships, will become the world’s first large cruise line to go carbon neutral. MSC plans to purchase carbon offsets to capture emissions equal to the greenhouse gases it produces. These offsets involve investments in tree- planting operations, wetlands and kelp and algae farms that absorb carbon dioxide.
The future of cruise ship power may well lie in reducing the use of fossil fuels by switching to hybrid propulsion systems that employ electric batteries. Ponant will launch Le Commandant Charcot in 2021, described as “the world’s first luxury polar vessel powered by LNG and electric battery.” Underscoring the expansion of battery power in the cruise ship industry, Paul Gauguin Cruises (recently acquired by Ponant) will add two new 230-passenger ships to its French Polynesia fleet that feature “the most extensive battery package application in the market, allowing smokeless operation at anchor, in ports and in environmentally sensitive areas.” And next year AIDA Cruises will be the first to test an even greener technology, fuel cells, for use on passenger ships.
For the pollutant-prone passenger ships of the past, the handwriting is on the hull. And for Holland America Line, which prints all its onboard materials using soy- based ink, even that handwriting has a greener tint. Cruise lines are on course to deep-sixing single-use plastics and curbing carbon emissions. A generation of super-green, all-electric cruise ships no longer seems beyond the farthest port.
WHO’S THE GREENEST OF THEM ALL?
With fierce competition among the major cruise lines to produce the most environmentally advanced fleet, determining the greenest of the green is perhaps impossible, but Hurtigruten, an expedition line busily expanding its operations to the North American market, makes a strong case. Hurtigruten’s CEO Daniel Skjeldam proclaims the company’s goal is to be “the greenest cruise line in the world.”
Indeed, Hurtigruten was the first cruise line to ban single- use plastics, including drinking straws, cups, bags, cutlery and butter packages. But its biggest shift to green came this past summer in Alaska where its first hybrid electric-powered ship, the 530-passenger MS Roald Amundsen, began operations. The first hybrid passenger liner at sea, this ship sails silently for nearly an hour at a time at full cruising speed and several hours at slow speed on battery power alone while reducing harmful emissions by up to 20 percent.
Hurtigruten’s second hybrid, MS Fridtjof Nansen, debuts this year with sailings in the Antarctic region, and a third hybrid, larger than the first two, sets out next year. Currently Hurtigruten is retrofitting its older expedition ships as well, replacing diesel fuel with a combination of large batteries, liquid natural gas and biogas, a fossil- free renewable fuel consisting of organic wastes including a truly maritime ingredient: dead fish.
By: J.D. Brown and Margaret Backenheimer
Most museums tend to be boring for children — they have to be quiet, they may not be interested in the exhibits and they can’t touch anything. At the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, kids are encouraged to run around, play and have fun while learning. The beloved museum will safely reopen in 2021 for kids and families to run, play and touch exhibits as they used to, and now is a great time to plan a visit next year.
This summer, family travel at The Peninsula receives an upgrade with the debut of Camp Peninsula, a children’s experience that recreates the spirit of camping right in the heart of Beverly Hills. The journey begins with a special welcome from Peter Bear, the hotel’s lovable mascot, at check-in. After taking a picture with the life-sized teddy bear, kids will be whisked away by a Peninsula Camp Counselor to a luxurious guestroom where a charming teepee awaits. An afternoon of camp-themed games and activities, including a hotel-wide scavenger hunt, rounds off the family-friendly experience, fun for children of all ages. Whether it’s a luxe staycation or an extended holiday, Camp Peninsula is an ideal way to ensure the little ones are happy campers.
We’ve seen our fair share (and then some) of drama, trials and tribulations this year, so any reason to celebrate or plan a trip is an exciting opportunity. For the chocolate lovers and sweet aficionados in your crew, Zürich should be on your list this year or next — for many reasons, but specifically for the Lindt Home of Chocolate.
You could say Osaka is a shapeshifter among cities. Japan’s third-largest city, running at a somewhat slower pace than Tokyo, is a patchwork of big business districts, pretty residential areas and beautiful parks. By night, several of its neighborhoods take on an alluring theme park ambiance. The most obvious is Dōtonbori, an upscale retail oasis that, after sunset, becomes a neon-lit maze of restaurants, bars, comedy clubs, arcades, department stores and massive souvenir emporiums.
With technology advancing faster than ever, children globally are becoming attached to devices. Adults too. Our Netflix queue and ever-expanding inbox call our names even when we’re on vacation. We carry distractions with us everywhere, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to truly connect with your loved ones.
If you are a lover of thrill rides and rollercoasters, you better start thinking about a future trip to test out some new ones in Orlando, Florida’s, theme parks. Throughout the next year, some theme parks are expecting a number of thrilling additions and experiences for willing guests. From two long-anticipated coasters slated to open next year in Walt Disney World to a yet-to-be-announced Jurassic Park roller coaster set to open in Universal Orlando, thrill-seekers and coaster fanatics will be in awe.