In order to transform the cruise industry into a sustainable future business, the decisive factor is the switch to emission-free drive technologies by the year 2040 at the latest. The innovative ability of the providers can set the tone and pace of the entire shipping industry. more →
NABU Cruise Ranking 2023
Cruise ships and climate protection remain incompatible
The forerunners of this year's ranking are still a long way off from the ideal of a cruise that travellers could take in good conscience. However, there are initial promising signals that give hope for the ultimate realisation of an environmentally friendly cruise. In particular, providers of smaller cruise ship experiences are making progress on climate and environmental protection, as seen with this year's ranking leaders, the Norwegian companies Hurtigruten and Havila.
Another positive development is that companies can no longer afford to neglect taking any measures to reduce emissions – the gaps in the middle of the ranking pack are closing on this point. But there are still significant differences between the cruise lines, as well as within the individual company fleets. Especially existing ships show little movement towards becoming cleaner. Improvements are almost exclusively implemented on new ships.
Norwegian cruise lines aim for climate neutrality
Ambitious and simultaneously clear political regulation, along with technical solutions, is responsible for the positive track record of the Norwegian cruise providers. Strict standards there have unleashed a spurt of innovation that could soon result in climate-neutral cruises.
Shore-to-ship power, batteries and e-fuels on the basis of green hydrogen represent the foundation for this shift, in Norway and elsewhere. The standards passed in May as part of the EU Green Deal set a good framework on this front for the entire shipping industry. For cruise ships in particular, synthetic methanol offers a chance to move towards climate-neutral operations. TUI Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Lines have ordered ships that utilise this opportunity.
Vision for sustainable cruises in 2040
Emissions must sink drastically
Despite these welcome developments towards climate neutrality, the total emissions of the cruise ship industry continue to rise. NABU shipping expert Sönke Diesener sees the drastic increase of methane emissions through the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as particularly worrisome (German language site). In the short term, these emissions are over 80 times more harmful to the climate than CO₂. LNG involves a plethora of problems for the climate, and falls short of being a suitable bridge technology.
Both the investments of the shipping companies and political guidelines should be clearly oriented towards the goal of climate neutrality. It is therefore imperative to avoid reliance on alternate fuels which damage the climate. Along with LNG, biofuels are also not an effective solution for the industry. These represent at best a niche solution for exceptional cases on a local scale. Additionally, it must be ensured that biofuels are exclusively derived from waste products and that no palm oil or other product from our fields ends up in the ships' tanks.
Here you will find a detailed breakdown of the aspects evaluated in the ranking data.Ranking Breakdown
Climate-friendly solutions for the time in port
At least in some ports, where cruise ships are docked 40 percent of the time, a climate- and environmentally-friendly energy supply is finally available in the form of shore power connections. The EU's passage of requirements for the use of shore power are a highly welcome signal on this point - as is the positve pioneering role played by the cruise industry and German ports.
Such installations, which can spare residents from air pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, already exist in Hamburg, Rostock and Kiel. The next step is to ensure that these offerings are actually used, emphasises Malte Siegert, Chairman of NABU Hamburg. "There is no excuse anymore for those who keep their engines running in port", says Siegert. "These ships must be denied entry."
rankings of the past years
NABU presented its cruise ship ranking 2019. The findings of this year’s evaluation demonstrate that only a small proportion of fleets is becoming cleaner, while the industry by large continues to rely on heavy fuels and fails to employ exhaust technology. more →