The issue of sustainability is becoming more and more pressing for the cruise industry as a whole, both for large passenger vessels and small expedition ships. Some are concerned for the footprint, emissions, and waste, others about the wildlife that can possibly be disturbed. Although it is obvious that a smaller ship of about 100-passenger capacity produces significantly less pollution than a 2000-guest liner, expedition cruises tend to attract critical assessment from a different perspective.
The most extreme opinions suggest banning polar cruises all together because destinations like the Arctic and Antarctica are the most pristine and fragile parts of the world. On the contrary, we at Poseidon Expeditions believe that outdoor-based environmental education and transformative voyages aim to change people through the actual experience. Tourists become messengers to tell the story about human-induced changes in the polar regions.
With the help of multiple Citizen Science Projects, Cleanup programs and donations, each passenger aboard our ships can make a contribution towards conserving the polar regions. While we take pride in educating our guests, we do our best to set the right example ourselves and focus on our day-to-day actions as well. The various initiatives across the cruise industry are aimed at reducing carbon emissions, garbage and waste, using green food sources, conducting sustainable tourism when visiting local communities and creating a safe work environment for the crew.
Today, the expedition cruise industry uses light fuels (MGO), after the self-imposed ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO) by AECO members operating in the Arctic, and in Antarctica in 2011. This practice has now been formalized as a mandatory guideline. Most ships are in the process of getting rid of single-use plastic and looking into proper recycling. With the strict regulations from AECO and IAATO, all member operators, Poseidon included, are subject to heavy self-regulation, policies and guidelines. Despite these initiatives, there is a long road ahead. If you want to keep up with our efforts, please visit our dedicated sustainability section on the website.
Exploring the polar regions in small groups provides societally conscious travelers the opportunity to experience first-hand the issues facing wildlife conservation, environmental and sea ice degradation, etc., and to go home and share this with friends and family.