Recently, my two best friends and all of our Moms embarked on what we dubbed the “Mom and Me 2010 Caribbean Cruise.” We chose to cruise for two reasons, first to celebrate several important birthdays including my Mom’s 70th, and second to finally get all of our Moms together. It followed that since we liked each other and we liked our Moms, they would certainly benefit from the meeting. We were correct, and a fabulous time was had by all.
Now, cruising is not something I normally think of in the same breath with conservation, or anything green for that matter. Imagine my surprise during embarkation when the cruise director announced that Carnival was attempting to lead the fleets in green initiatives. I quickly found out, however, that although they are making some efforts to be green, they have a long way to go. Therefore, I would like to graciously offer them guidance.
Let me start by saying that I am glad Carnival is taking steps to help clean up the mess in our oceans. The Norwegian line never attempting to speak of anything green on my last cruise, so Carnival is indeed moving in the right direction. During our first drill for safety, before the ship even left the harbor, they were announcing their intent to go green which began by strictly forbidding anyone to throw anything overboard for any reason.
From there, we went to our rooms to find green comment cards instructing guests to please conserve towels by reusing them and making it clear that whenever the doors to our balconies were open, the air conditioning in our cabin would automatically turn off. In addition, there were recycling containers all over the ship making it easy for staff and guests to recycle their beer bottles and paper products. And, of course, they used real silver and china dishes in all of the buffets and dining rooms, never serving any food in wasteful paper or plastic containers.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the drinks.
Of course, much of the beer is now served in eco-friendly plastic bottles with twist off reusable caps. Kudos to Carnival and to companies like Miller Brewing Company for making this possible. However, the ship also pushes their daily drink specials. These are amazing fruity, rummy concoctions that many passengers find hard to resist.Unfortunately, Carnival insists on serving these concoctions in brightly-colored, molded, plastic souvenir cups.
It took us several of these specialty drinks to realize we had to ask the staff to serve them in the regular glass or we’d have a collection of these ridiculous things. The three we brought home will take up space and gather dust at the back of our cabinets, perhaps ending up in a landfill or floating in the ocean long after we are gone. I propose that Carnival offer these cups on request, one per person, per cruise, or better yet, don’t offer them at all. People can buy them in the gift shop, preferably made from eco-friendly material, if they really must have one.
The ship is also making all kinds of strides toward reduction of food waste, things like only offering salmon for breakfast as one of the menu items rather than on the breakfast buffet where much of it ends up discarded each day. There was also no chocolate buffet. I admit I was a tad disappointed until I remembered being horrified by the amount of sheer decadence wasted after just one of these events. The majority of the chocolate including huge confection sculptures ended up in the trash. Carnival has managed to continue offering decadence and opulence without quite so much food waste. But, they don’t seem to have made the same connection to the amount of waste in other areas of the ship.
Perhaps the most obnoxious part of every cruise is the paparazzi of photographers trying to stop you every five minutes for a photo with some dressed up character. The Legend alone must employ dozens of these people. Even the photographers know they are obnoxious. On our excursion in Cozumel, one of them took a day off and came along, but when someone asked her what her job was aboard, she turned bright red and seemed embarrassed to admit it.
I, for one, do not and have not bought one single photo of myself or my friends from a cruise. Neither have any of the people I travel with. Yet, I know we have been printed in at least a hundred photos, maybe more, in the two cruises I have taken. As we were getting off the boat on the last day, the printed photos of hundreds of people lined the walls of nearly the entire second and third decks of the ship. Photos left unwanted, wastes of paper, ink, energy, and resources. It is time to stop the madness Carnival. Offer enough photographers for those passengers requesting photos, and for God’s sake, leave the rest of us in peace!
Photo paper was not the only paper and ink wasted by far. Even though the cruise director talked incessantly at every opportunity about what was happening each day, both on the speakers and on the television in our room, we still got printed newsletters and fliers on everything under the sun. Perhaps the newsletters are helpful, and passengers might not want to give this up, but is it really necessary to hand out stacks and stacks of advertisements for everything from mattresses, towels, and bathrobes, to diamonds and other items sold in the gift shops? If I had kept all of this, I would have needed another carry-on for the trip home, and I am not exaggerating. There is nothing quite like the confines of a cruise cabin full of junk mail.
So, where Carnival may indeed be leading the fleet in conservation in some areas, I think they are sorely lacking in others. No corporation is perfect, and very few are even interested in talking green initiatives, so my hats off the Carnival for making the effort. However, they seem to me a company that likes being the best, and since they have chosen to talk about leading in green, I must hope they will genuinely do so. My hope is they will continue striving to make even better choices, and continue promoting those choices to their hospitality industry and their passengers in the future.