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How to cruise with a conscience

How to cruise with a conscience
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For some, there’s nothing more luxurious than embarking on a cruise ship holiday. Sailing the high seas with nothing to look at but the horizon and nothing to think of but the exciting city stops you’ll make on your journey, it can be hard to really appreciate the impact these vessels are having on the environment.

A couple of years ago The Guardian reported findings from Nabu - an environmental NGO - that an average size cruise ship produces the same amount of pollution as 5 million cars. Whilst the world’s leaders continue to crack down on road pollution, it seems that ships still have a long way to go.

There are several cruise companies working hard to implement sustainable practices, though. If you’re a fan of sailing around the world but want to take more responsibility for your impact on the planet, the good news is, it’s possible to do both.

These are some of the most eco friendly cruise companies to book with.

Hurtigruten

Norwegian cruise company Hurtigruten has earned a reputation for its thorough and mindful exploration of polar waters and the Norwegian fjords. Home to penguins, icebergs and other precious and diminishing wildlife, the company takes its exploration of the area very seriously. Some of their initiatives include reusing heat from the engines and exhaust to heat water takes on board, using locally supplied food to reduce transport and waste as well as building a new fleet of ‘Clean Class’ vessels that reduce NOx and SO2 emissions.

All meat and fish served on board are WWF approved sustainable species and more than 80 per cent of the produce in the restaurants is Norwegian, meaning that local communities are continually supported. The company is also involved with marine research, helping to record seawater temperatures in the Svalbard and monitor the movements of polar bears. Guests can get involved with ocean clean up initiatives by removing waste from the beaches en route and contributing to onboard auctions that raise fund for global and local sustainability initiatives.

For more information visit www.hurtigruten.co.uk

Uniworld

Uniworld - a boutique river cruise company - explores regions across the world, including Europe, Russia, Asia and India. Though there’s a real focus on luxury - for example, each shop is fashioned after some of the world’s most famous architecture, such as the S.S Antoinette, which takes inspiration from Marie Antoinette’s decoration of Versailles - the company is also committed to several sustainability efforts.

In partnership with the Travel Foundation, Uniworld is committed to reducing their impact on the local environment. Produce is purchased locally and onboard recycling systems ensure no waste ends up in the water. Passengers can also contribute to the company’s partnered charities, which include Aid for Artisans - a project that provides business opportunities for women and Just a Drop, which provides clean drinking water in areas of need.

For more information visit www.uniworld.com

Ecoventura

As the first company to offer cruising expeditions into the Galapagos’ national park, Ecoventura is committed to supporting the wildlife it explores. Most famous for giving Charles Darwin the inspiration for his world-changing work, The Origin of Species, the Galapagos are home to the giant tortoise, sea lions and both land and marine iguanas. The fleet only allows reusable plastic bottles on board and implements an ecological toilet system to reduce waste deposits in the ocean.

Winner of several eco accolades, in 2006, Ecoventura worked with the World Wildlife Fund to create the Galapagos Marine Biodiversity Fund (GMDF) to support local communities in their efforts to preserve the local environment, create environmental learning opportunities for students and work on reducing illegal fishing.

For more information visit www.ecoventure.com

Fathom

From the mammoth cruise company Carnival comes this smaller, more mindful brand. Using a former P&O cruise ship, the Fathom sails from Miami to the Dominican Republic as part of Cosmos Tours & Cruises. During this Caribbean cruise you’ll most likely take in some of the more remote areas of the island cluster, including Santo Domingo and Labadee in Haiti and the trip promises plenty of white sand beaches, whale watching opportunities and chances to experience local cuisine such as rice and beans, plantains and seafood dishes.

So what, exactly, does Fathom do to warrant the label ‘eco-conscious’? Something a little different, actually. Guests get the opportunity to volunteer with local communities on their stops, helping with everything from teaching English to school children to planting trees and building water pumps. As many cruises have earned a bad reputation for causing damage and disruption on their stops, it’s refreshing to see a company combating this through initiatives that offer thoughtful travelers something different and actually help local communities at the same time.

For more information visit www.carnivalcorp.com

Writer: Bianca Barratt

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