Travel the Open Seas: Four (Kind of) Green Cruises

Ship travel isn't very eco-friendly, and getting to the beach by land or air is the more environmentally friendly choice. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that a typical cruise generates 21,000 gallons of sewage in a single day, as well as 1 ton of garbage and 6,400 gallons of oily engine water. Cruise ships incinerate about 80% of their garbage, and the rest goes… yup, right to the fishes. A WashPIRG study suggests that, in a single day, a 3,000 passenger ship generates more air pollution than 12,000 cars. Still, if you're a cruiser and you've got to have that ocean feel, here are some cruise lines that appear to have made an effort to green up.

Linblad Expeditions

Linblad promotes "travel philanthropy," inspired by the 1950's founder Lars-Eric Linblad. Linblad uses local food for each meal, and only serves fish that are sustainably harvested (they stopped serving shrimp in 2001 because of environmentally destructive practices). The Linblad, a National Geographic line, aspires to bring people close to nature. By partnering with environmental organizations, Linblad works diligently on greening up their ships. These are not your typical bikini cruises: the Linblad goes to the Galapagos, Alaska, Egypt, Norway and so forth.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line suggests that their environmental policies are "among the most stringent in the industry", and they've made a very public effort to green-up their waste efforts. They introduced a new recycling program in 2007, and converted 15,000 gallons of used cooking oil into biodiesel for farming equipment in Florida. Norwegian Cruise Lines was also the first to install an approved Ecoballast System, ensuring that their ships aren't sending out toxins through turning water. On Norwegian Cruise Line, you can travel pretty much anywhere in the world.

Celebrity Cruises (The Solstice)

The Solstice ship, from Celebrity Cruises, has 216 solar panels. However, it also has a half-acre Lawn Club with real grass, which isn't the most eco-friendly idea on the open seas. Still, the solar panels help power the elevators and the 7,000 LED lights. The boat is also aerodynamic for smooth-travel, and heat-transfer windows that allow in natural light. The Solstice cruises the Eastern and Western Caribbean. Oh, and while you're on the open seas, you can take a glassblowing class.

Holland America

Holland America ships travel around the world, with an eco-friendly policy onboard. The company has received a number of Environmental Awards, include Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award (Best Cruise Operator, 2008), and Porthole Cruise Magazine's Readers' Choice Awards (Most Eco-Friendly Cruise Line, 2008). The ships have an advanced waste water purification system, special cleaning supplies (using banana and orange extracts), recycling and so forth. Each cruise offers an Environmental Stewardship presentation and a number of other environmental and ecological presentations.

Photo Credit: Avjoska