Environmental group grades cruise lines: Disney gets an A-; most others get F's

a small boat in a body of water with a mountain in the background

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.

Slide 1 of 9: Crystal Cruise cabins now include hypoallergenic beds.
Slide 2 of 9: Get an extraordinary history lesson as you cruise on the Mekong in Cambodia and Vietnam. Aqua Expeditions' 40-passenger luxury river ship Aqua Mekong, with a plunge pool and bar on the observation deck, debuts later this month.
Slide 3 of 9: 5. Carnival Vista
Slide 4 of 9: Disney Cruise Line will offer its first cruise to Quebec City, Canada in 2018.
Slide 5 of 9: The most intimate vessel in an ultra-deluxe four-ship fleet operated by Regent Seven Seas Cruises, the Seven Seas Navigator measures 28,803 gross tons and carries just 490 guests.
Slide 6 of 9: Photo by @WillByington
Slide 7 of 9: The Campiest Cruise: U River Cruises' Drag Cruise
Slide 8 of 9: The "coolest" bar on the high seas may be the ice bar found on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Breakaway. It debuted in 2012.
Slide 9 of 9: A new study finds that the air quality is up to eight times more polluted behind the smokestacks on cruise ships.

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. 

Slide 1 of 46: A digital rendering of Carnival Panorama, a Carnival Cruise Line ship scheduled to debut in late 2019.
Slide 2 of 46: Costa Cruises in 2019 will unveil its biggest ship ever, Costa Smeralda.
Slide 3 of 46: Princess Cruises in 2019 will unveil a new ship called Sky Princess. Carrying 3,660 passengers at double occupancy, it'll be the fourth vessel in the line's recent Royal Class series.
Slide 4 of 46: Passengers staying in Sky Suites on Sky Princess will be able to see the ship's deck-top Movies Under the Stars screen from the suite's balcony.
Slide 5 of 46: Sky Suites on Sky Princess will feature the largest balconies found on any Princess ship.
Slide 6 of 46: An artist's drawing of the top deck of Sky Princess.
Slide 7 of 46: An artist's drawing of the master bedroom of a Sky Suite on Sky Princess.
Slide 8 of 46: Sky Princess will feature two two-bedroom Sky Suites that will be bigger than any other suite ever built on a Princess ship.
Slide 9 of 46: Each of the two Sky Suites on Sky Princess will have a dining room as well as a living room and two bedrooms.
Slide 10 of 46: The main pool deck of Sky Princess has two deep-tank pools linked by sunken, communal seating. The pool deck also has more hot tubs than earlier vessels in the same Royal Class series.
Slide 11 of 46: Like other Princess ships, Sky Princess will feature a soaring, European-style Piazza that serves as a central gathering point for passengers.
Slide 12 of 46: New on Sky Princess will be La Mer, which will offer casual French bistro-style dining with a modern twist. It's the creation of Emmanuel Renaut, whose Flocons de Sel restaurant has received three Michelin stars.
Slide 13 of 46: At the back of Sky Princess, passengers will find the infinity-style Wakeview pool, lounge seating and a bar -- all with spectacular views of the horizon.
Slide 14 of 46: Among the more unusual features of Costa Smeralda will be a standalone design museum called CoDe.
Slide 15 of 46: An artist's drawing of a balcony cabin on Costa Smeralda.
Slide 16 of 46: Costa Smeralda will feature a sloping deck area with lounge chairs at its back called the Piazza di Spagna.
Slide 17 of 46: An artist's drawing of a balcony cabin on Costa Smeralda.
Slide 18 of 46: Norwegian Cruise Line in 2019 will unveil another giant new megaship, Norwegian Encore.
Slide 19 of 46: Dubbed the Aqua Park, the water slide area of Norwegian Encore rises several decks above the main pool.
Slide 20 of 46: Like the last two ships unveiled by Norwegian Cruise Line, Norwegian Encore will feature a deck-top race course with electric go-karts. But the course on Encore will be bigger than those on its two predecessors.
Slide 21 of 46: Featuring colorful hull art designed by Spanish artist Eduardo Arranz-Bravo, Norwegian Encore will be the fourth and final ship in Norwegian Cruise Line's Breakaway Plus class.
Slide 22 of 46: Norwegian Encore also will have a laser tag area themed around the lost city of Atlantis with faux ruins and sea creature tentacles.
Slide 23 of 46: An artist's drawing of a balcony cabin on Norwegian Encore.
Slide 24 of 46: A scene from "Kinky Boots," the Tony Award-winning show that will be aboard Norwegian Encore.
Slide 25 of 46: The main showroom on Norwegian Encore will be home to the Tony Award-winning "Kinky Boots."
Slide 26 of 46: The main pool of Norwegian Encore will be flanked by two giant water slides.
Slide 27 of 46: The go-kart race course on Norwegian Encore will extend over the sides of the ship in four places.
Slide 28 of 46: MSC Cruises in 2019 will unveil its biggest ship ever, MSC Grandiosa. It'll be a larger version of the line's MSC Meraviglia.
Slide 29 of 46: The Alchemy Bar, a staple of ships in the Carnival fleet, will be back on Carnival Panorama.
Slide 30 of 46: An artist's drawing of one of the "Havana Cabin" category rooms planned for Carnival Panorama.
Slide 31 of 46: An artist's drawing of the Chef's Table area planned for Carnival Panorama.
Slide 32 of 46: An artist's drawing of an outdoor seating area planned for the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse on Carnival Panorama.
Slide 33 of 46: Among other eateries, Carnival Panorama also will have a teppanyaki restaurant.
Slide 34 of 46: The Family Lounge on Carnival Panorama.
Slide 35 of 46: Another feature of Carnival Panorama will be a Chef's Table for special dinners.
Slide 36 of 46: Like the recently unveiled Carnival Horizon, Carnival Panorama will be home to a Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse.
Slide 37 of 46: The interior seating area of the Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse planned for Carnival Panorama.
Slide 38 of 46: An artist's drawing of the Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse planned for Carnival Panorama.
Slide 39 of 46: Carnival Panorama will feature a Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse similar to the one on the line's recently unveiled Carnival Horizon.
Slide 40 of 46: The Horizon Pool and Amphitheater is another outdoor venue planned for MSC Bellissima.
Slide 41 of 46: Like MSC Meraviglia, MSC Bellissima will have Formula 1 race car simulators.
Slide 42 of 46: Other deck-top amusements on MSC Bellissima will include the Western-themed Arizona Aquapark.
Slide 43 of 46: MSC Bellissima will feature the Jean-Philippe Chocolat & Café, a venue that revolves around chocolate.
Slide 44 of 46: The Atmosphere Pool area on MSC Bellissima will have a giant movie screen.
Slide 45 of 46: The main pool area on MSC Bellissima will be called the Atmosphere Pool.
Slide 46 of 46: MSC Cruises in 2019 also will unveil a sister to its recently launched MSC Meraviglia to be called MSC Bellissima. Shown here in an artist's drawing, it will be capable of holding more than 5,700 passengers.

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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