The 2019 Cruise Ship Report Card was released June 27 by Friends of the Earth (FOE), an international network of environmental organizations in 74 countries.
Friends of the Earth said in its report card summary that taking a cruise can be more harmful to the environment and human health than other forms of travel.
“It is regrettable that Friends of the Earth and other groups continue to issue misleading and inaccurate information about the cruise industry,” Megan King, spokeswoman for Cruise Lines International Association, a cruise industry trade association, told USA TODAY in an email. “The measures used by the FOE are very narrow and do not tell the true story of the leadership position that the industry has taken in these areas.”
King said the cruise industry is highly regulated and uses a wide variety of emissions control measures along with advanced wastewater treatment systems.
Friends of the Earth evaluated 16 major cruise lines and 185 cruise ships for the report card on four environmental factors in 2017 and 2018: sewage treatment, air pollution reduction, water quality compliance and transparency.
The grades for each of the four criteria were then averaged to calculate the “final grade” for each cruise line.
Disney achieved the highest overall grade of any line with an A- grade; Norwegian received a C- grade; and the other 14 cruises had final D and F grades.
Sewage: “Based on the technology they had installed on the ship, we measured sewage treatment by if the 16 cruise lines had installed the most advanced sewage treatment on their ships or if they were using old technology,” Marcie Keever, FOE oceans and vessels program director, told USA TODAY.
Air pollution reduction: “We evaluated wastewater compliance by if the cruise line was using shore power and cleaner fuel, thereby cleaning up emissions at the dock,” said Keever. “They got a higher grade if they were using these new technologies.”
Water quality compliance: Alaska has stronger standards for water quality compliance than other areas of the country, which is how FOE measured the category. Some ships were not graded in this area if they were not discharging into Alaska’s protected waters or did not travel there. “Alaska is the only state with a formal program that monitors and measures what comes out of wastewater pipes,” Keever told USA TODAY. “We access these violations through public records.”
Transparency: Keever said Disney Cruise Line was the only line to respond to the organization’s request for environmental information from 2017 and 2018, which went into the evaluation of transparency.
Criminal violations: The report card also had a category for criminal violations. “This category entailed federal criminal violations for environmental factors like dumping plastic, oily waste, sewage and waste water and poor air emissions,” said Keever.
Related: Carnival reaches $20M settlement over allegations cruise ships continuing to pollute oceans
FOE’s report card grades
Here is the full list of overall grades for the 16 lines. Each of the lines was also graded on the four individual environmental factors as were 185 ships; the full report card can be found here.:
- Disney Cruise Line: A-
- Norwegian Cruise Line: C-
- Celebrity Cruises: D+
- Silversea Crucunises: D
- Royal Caribbean International: D
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises: D
- Oceania Cruises: D-
- MSC Cruises: F
- Seabourn Cruise Line: F
- P&O Cruises: F
- Costa Cruises: F
- Princess Cruises: F
- Holland America Line: F
- Cunard Line: F
- Crystal Cruises: F
- Carnival Cruise Lines: F
USA TODAY has reached out for comment to all 16 cruise lines that were included in the FOE report card, and here are the responses so far:
- Carnival Corporation (Carnival, Holland America, Princess, Seabourn, Costa, Cunard, P&O): “This is simply a fundraising tool, not a valid research study, since the report card lacks the appropriate level of research or scientific rigor and the categories are completely random on purpose to skew the results negatively,” Roger Frizzell, senior vice president & chief communications officer for Carnival Corporation, told USA TODAY in an email. “Our fleet includes advanced air quality systems on more than 70 more of our ships, and we have shore power capability on just under 50% of our fleet.”
- MSC Cruises: “We are proud of our environmental record. MSC Cruises always complies with, and often even exceeds, all regulatory requirements related to the protection of the environment wherever its ships operate, in terms of air emissions reduction, wastewater treatment and many other areas,” said MSC spokesperson Paige Rosenthal.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Environmental group grades cruise lines: Disney gets an A-; most others get F’s
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