Friends of the Earth is a global network of activists from 76 different countries that strive for a more healthy and just world. To make that happen, Friends of the Earth believe reforms are needed and are out to prove their point.
Presented to give travelers one piece of the information they need to decide which cruise ship or cruise line to sail, Friends of the Earth‘s Cruise Ship Report Card highlights environmental and human health impacts.
Scoring high in the areas of sewage Treatment, air pollution reduction and water quality compliance, Disney Cruise Line came away with top honors, an A-.
Cruise lines came under close scrutiny years ago, when caught dumping raw sewage into the ocean. To see how cruise lines are faring these days, Friends of the Earth asks, “Has the cruise line installed on its ships the most advanced sewage and waste water treatment systems available instead of dumping minimally treated sewage directly into the water?”
Friends of the Earth also compared the number of cruise ships in the cruise line that have installed advanced sewage treatment systems against the total number of ships in the cruise line.
Top three for sewage treatment:
Disney Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Bottom three for sewage treatment:
Carnival Cruise Lines
Air Pollution Reduction
When it comes to air pollution reduction, Friends of the Earth is most concerned with if the cruise line has retrofitted its ships with “plug-in” technology giving the ships the ability to use cleaner shore-side power rather than running its diesel-burning engines.
This is such a big issue that in determining the air pollution Reduction grade, only ships that dock at ports with shore-side power hookups and could plug in were graded.
Top three for air pollution reduction:
Disney Cruise Line
Holland America Line
Bottom three for air pollution reduction:
Water Quality Compliance
Comparing to 2010 water pollution standards designed to protect the Alaskan coast, Friends of the Earth used the notices issued by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation for individual cruise ships.
Top three for water quality compliance:
Silversea Cruises Norwegian Cruise Line
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Friends of the Earth continues its ongoing mission to compare the footprints of 15 major cruise lines and 148 individual ships. See complete details of the Cruise Ship Report Card here and more on the topic in this video:
Travel via cruise ship has a number of advantages. For one example, you can unpack once but visit multiple destinations on a floating hotel. Doing so safely is another, causing cruise lines to constantly consider life as it is at ports of call around the world. What was once a safe place to visit may not be six months from now. That’s when cruise lines alter itineraries and steer cruise ships clear of troubled waters.
Argentina’s Ushuaia has been referred to as the southernmost city in the world with attractions that include the Tierra del Fuego National Park, Lapataia Bay and a host of wildlife viewing, fishing, skiing, hiking, biking, dining and shopping opportunities. Ushuala is also a South American cruise port. When the decades-old tension between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands heated up recently, cruise lines chose to go a different direction.
“Information had come to our attention that demonstrations may have occurred in Ushuaia that could have impacted the ability of Veendam to enter and leave the port in accordance with accepted maritime practices,” said Sally Andrews, Holland America spokesperson in a TravelPulse report.
But what happens when ports are not accessible?
Cruise lines commonly compensate passengers for missing a port deemed unsafe, substituting another port in its place or adding an extra day at sea.
“As a result of this change, guests onboard were refunded for any shore excursions booked in Ushuaia and the government taxes and fees for the canceled port,” added Andrews.
We saw the same moves made by cruise lines after political unrest in Egypt caused ships to skip a destination many passengers had on their bucket list. Yes, those booked got “a cruise” but it was not “the cruise” they had planned on.
So what to do if my port of call is canceled?
If port cancellation happens before sailing, check with the cruise line, they may be offering booked passengers the ability to transfer their booking to a future sailing.
Check the details of your travel insurance. While “political unrest” rates run about as high as “weather disruptions” on the easy refund list, some travel insurance policies take into account such matters and while the cruise line may not offer a complete refund for cancellation, insurance can help.
Carefully consider cruise line offers to cancel and rebook without penalty. While potentially missing one port of call does not a bad cruise make, if that missed port is the one you were looking the most forward to, the hassle of rebooking and planning different time away from home might be worth it.
Negotiate with the cruise line. There is no rule that says booked passengers cannot try to make a case in favor of consideration by the cruise line when a port is canceled. Legally, the cruise line has that covered in the Passenger Contract all travelers agree to before booking. Still, cruise lines know that a little good will goes a long way to smooth over what could be a deal breaker itinerary change to a passenger.
What did those planning on visiting Ushuaia miss? Check this video to see:
Cruise lines traditionally devote a great amount of resources collecting art that will adorn the walls of individual staterooms and public spaces. Thoughtful collections help ship designers tie in a central theme that often runs throughout the interior of ships and sometimes on the exterior as well. It’s a high-stakes game of procurement and placement that can transform a ship into a floating display.
Not Your Mother’s Art
Travelers who have done a cruise vacation on any number of mainstream cruise lines know about art auctions on board. That’s not what we’re talking about here.
Art auctions are a profitable revenue stream for cruise lines that entice participants away from the pool deck or casino with free champagne during the event. Called into question on numerous occasions, the value of art bought at sea is difficult to nail down and commonly appraised much lower on land.
Put that thought out of your mind. The cruise line art we’re talking about today is the real deal, featuring creations by top tier artists like Romero Britto, Thomas Kincade and Peter Max.
Bringing Big Names Along For The Ride
Partnering with obscure and well-known artists, works take the form of paintings, lithographs and sculptures ranging from the traditional to over-the-top custom pieces designed specifically for a certain ship.
Royal Caribbean brought Peter Max along for the ride on inaugural sailings of giant Allure of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, and an on-board Britto store where works from Romero Britto are featured.
Thank cruise line art programs for sparking the idea of branding that has brought partnerships with celebrity chefs, big-name entertainment and normally land-based service providers to sea.
Not Just Inside The Ship Either
Norwegian Cruise Line announced recently that David Le Batard (AKA “LEBO” ) was chosen to create the hull art (pictured above) for the new 4000-passenger Norwegian Getaway to be based in Miami.
“Norwegian Getaway will be Miami’s ship and, therefore, we wanted to ensure that her hull was designed by an artist with strong ties to Miami and the Latin community,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer in a press release. “Having begun his career in South Florida, Dave is an artist that is entrenched here. His work adorns the city and I’ve learned that he is also a genuinely nice guy. He is a shining star in Miami, as well as the global art community.”
Similar to the close pairing of sister-ship Norwegian Breakaway to New York City, the cruise line is going down the same road with Norwegian Getaway hosting a South Florida theme. On Norwegian Breakaway, it was Peter Max designing hull art that features images of the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline.
On Norwegian Getway, set to debut in February 2014, Batard will add images of a mermaid, sun, swirling waves, palm trees and pelicans to support the ship’s South Florida theme.
Art, The Experience
Also on the exterior of a ship, the imagineers at Disney Cruise Line took the ship’s satellite transmitters, normally an eyesore, and made them into something unique. On the top forward deck of the Disney Fantasy, Satellite Falls is a new Disney Cruise Line feature that adds “a gentle water curtain to one of the ship’s satellite transmitters,” says Inside The Magic of this video. “The surrounding area features a relaxing open deck with views of the front of the ship”
Celebrity Cruises takes art to unique places as well. When last year’s Celebrity Silhouette, sister-ship to Celebrity Reflection debuted, Gadling reported that Celebrity had commissioned Kurt Werner, the inventor of 3-D street art, to create an innovative art installation at the New York Stock Exchange. Stock Exchange employees had fun “relaxing” on the hammock and “grilling” on what was then the industry’s first outdoor, interactive grill restaurant, called The Lawn Club Grill.
Spare No Expense On Art
Setting sail this week for the first time, new Celebrity Reflection features a $4.1 million collection of art that in one way or another supports the “reflection” theme on the ship. Over 6,000 works make up the ship’s collection, part of the Royal Caribbean International company inventory that spans over 40 ships.
What goes into creating an at-sea art collection? Purchasing art works or commissioning specific works by international emerging, mid-career and established artists is key as we see in this video:
Art runs through ships as an element of the cruise experience we don’t hear a lot about. Its there and those who take the time to look are often surprised by the captivating quality of works at sea. Also at sea, some lines engage passengers, teaching and challenging them to try something new, creating art of their own.
Celebrity Cruises has a hands-on program on their Solstice-class ships and others that have been “solsticized” adding popular features to older ships. The Art Studio, a new venue on The Lawn Club has along for the ride two artists-in-residence who offer hands-on classes in many creative arts. Master Artists from The ArtCenter South Florida also host art classes, lectures and demonstrations on topics ranging from jewelry making to sketching and painting.
Passengers on Princess Cruises can choose from about 20 courses per voyage from four core subject areas – Culinary Arts, Visual/Creative Arts, Photography and Computer Technology. Ceramics or pottery are popular with passengers who fire their creations on board to take home later. Digital travel photography and watercolor techniques are also offered.
Just about every major cruise line has an onboard art collection they are proud of and they want passengers to know all about it. Hosting tours, both with an art expert along and self-guided, cruise lines take passengers on a voyage within a voyage. Enabling those who appreciate fine art an additional at-sea experience, the art we find at sea adds an extra dimension worthy of our consideration.
Extra travel fees bring customization options that can make for a more pleasant air, hotel, land or sea experience. Also called “user fees,” those who value the option they provide are relatively happy to pay. After all, these are not mandatory fees but options. Still, just the dollar amount makes experts wonder, “What’s next?”
Airline fees should add up to $36.1 billion in 2012, according to a recent study from IdeaWorksCompany reported in the Los Angeles Times. That includes extra travel fees for checked baggage, Internet use, food, drinks, premium seating, quick boarding and more. Up more than 10% over 2011, online travel agencies and airlines have figured out how to position buying options in the booking process. Out of convenience, passengers make online buying decisions to save time at the airport.”They are understanding how to raise and lower fees to maximize overall revenue and how to better position items in the booking path to drive better sales,” said Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorksCompany in the Los Angeles Timesreport.
While there are no hard numbers on cruise line extra travel fees, those can add up too, as travelers choose premium dining options, tours ashore and onboard extras to customize their travel experience.
Sure, we don’t have to check luggage, enjoy a drink on board or use the Internet in the air. It is a choice travelers make, an optional travel expense.
Air travelers can choose to carry on their luggage, take any seat they get, enjoy whatever is included with the flight and not spend one penny more on extra travel fees. Cruise travelers can indeed sail and spend nothing more than the price of the cruise.
But do we really want to?
Apparently not, as extra fees are becoming so commonplace that they are rarely questioned or even complained about. Optional user fees are designed to charge those who want the service and let others save the charge as we see in this video:
Cruise lines like to dazzle passengers on their ships with some of the best cuisine available, sourced from around the world. Cruise travelers often have so many choices that deciding what to have for dinner is a difficult decision. Those who have never been on a cruise anticipate culinary offerings but don’t know exactly what to expect … until now.
Celebrity Cruises, with a reputation for extraordinary cuisine, is bringing its onboard fare to Stable Café in San Francisco’s Mission District via a popup restaurant. Its just for two days, November 14 and 15, 2012, but Celebrity’s John Suley, Director of Culinary Operations, and his team of chefs will be presenting menu items inspired by seasonal, local ingredients and flavors in and around the San Francisco area.
Those wishing to attend the nearly sold out event sign up in advance for a lunch or dinner reservation. When they do, they are also entered into a giveaway to win a seven-night Alaska cruise for two on the stunning, luxurious Celebrity Solstice in 2013. No purchase necessary.Proceeds from your ticket go to support the Celebrity Cruises Scholarship at the Culinary Institute of America.
This is not the first land-based public event Celebrity has sponsored. Not long ago, Gadling reported that Celebrity Cruises had commissioned Kurt Werner, the inventor of 3-D street art, to create an art installation at the New York Stock Exchange to celebrate the arrival of the cruise line’s newest Solstice-class ship Celebrity Silhouette.