Celebrity Cruises views sustainability as part of its mission
By Marilyn Bowden
Celebrity Solstice, the latest addition to Celebrity Cruises' fleet, underwent more than 90 tests to improve hull design in order to burn less fuel and lower emissions — continuing the cruise line's policy of finding ways to lower costs and minimize negative outcomes on local environments.
To recognize these efforts, the Miami-based company was awarded a 2010 Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Sustainable South Florida Award for development of sustainable practices, products and services.
"Our environment is critical to our success," said Global Chief Environmental Officer Jamie Sweeting, vice president of environmental stewardship. "As a company, we have a history of innovation in the industry, and we're equally proud of our reputation as a leader in protecting the environment."
He said sustainability is part of Celebrity's commitment to "destination stewardship."
"It's about managing our impact on the fragile ecosystems and communities we visit," Mr. Sweeting said, "and our responsibility to ensure that our actions and those of our guests don't degrade the places that make our product attractive and unique. We do work with local entities, as we share this responsibility with them and believe destination stewardship must be a joint effort."
Ten years ago, he said, the line's Celebrity Millennium became the first cruise vessel to use gas-turbine engines, reducing exhaust emissions by up to 95% against traditional propulsion systems. The Celestial Solstice, launched in 2008, is the first cruise ship equipped with solar-power technology. Its 216 solar panels produce enough electricity to power the ship's guest elevators, or about 7,000 LED lights.
Other environmental sustainability features the company lists as part of its green campaign include replacing higher wattage halogen and incandescent light bulbs with longer-lasting fluorescent and LED lights throughout its fleet and evaluating and replacing onboard appliances as needed to get the biggest bang for the buck and the smallest drain on energy loads.
One example is its new onboard icemakers, which use 65% less water and 50% less energy than previous machines.
"In addition to proactively charting courses to navigate around sensitive marine areas," Mr. Sweeting said, "Celebrity has installed advanced wastewater purification systems on all ships. These systems are capable of treating all wastewater streams onboard and restoring it to virtual drinking-water quality before discharging. It's a costly endeavor with no real financial return, but it's inspired by our commitment to going above and beyond compliance."
He said the line has also applied a special silicon coating to underwater hulls to reduce frictional resistance and trim fuel consumption, and its propeller blades represent an evolution in efficiency because they achieve low levels of vibration and noise.
"Each blade on each Solstice-class ship's five-blade propeller," Mr. Sweeting said, "is smaller, creating a slight gain. Similarly, the fore-body of each ship was optimized to improve how it glides through the water and to minimize bow waves, again reducing drag and improving fuel efficiency."
Celebrity, he said, also has a fleet-wide onboard program for guests called "Oceans Ahead," a series of presentations that highlight the approaches the line has taken to minimize its carbon footprint. Topics included onboard recycling, how ships move and "navigational secrets."
Celebrity was founded in 1989, and some of its environmental programs date as far back as 1992, when the line created its "Save the Waves" program to address key environmental issues such as air emissions, water and energy use, waste management, environmental training and education, and contributions to conservation.
In 1997, Celebrity merged with Royal Caribbean International, bringing the two brands under the umbrella of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., which today claims to be the world's second-largest cruise company. It also operates the Pullmantur, Azamara Club Cruises and CDF Croisieres de France brands.