Looking at cruise ships the other day, and talking about them more recently over the dinner table, it got me thinking – where does Corporate Social Responsibility fit in with cruise ship companies? What could they possibly do? It is a business based on luxury, burning fuel, and buffet-style indulgence. People don’t go on cruises to be efficient, or to save the planet. Or can they?
What the cruise ship companies are doing
I don’t actually know, so I am going to take 3 cruiselines and tell you what I find:
- Princess has developed shore-power initiatives designed to allow their ships to turn off their diesel-burning power sources while docked. This seems like a no-brainer to me. It is a start, but what are they doing responsibly when they’re out at sea?
Source: Princess Ships Will Connect to Shore Power at the Port of Los Angeles in 2008
- Royal Caribbean has had a brutal history with the environment (and public) which may or may not have caused them to develop their “save the waves” program. They are the first cruise ship company to have an environmental program that conforms to the ISO14001 standard, whatever that means. I think it means they are trying, perhaps because they know they’re being watched.
Source: Nine Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises Ships Earn ‘Green Planet’ Award
- Norwegian Cruise Line has a comprehensive and mandatory recycling program, which includes cooking oil, “used lube oil” (not sure what that is – not going to google it), places environmental officers on each ship to oversee environmental protective programs, and has an advanced waste treatment system which is considered to be better than most land-based waste treatment systems.
Source: Norwegian Cruise Line Selected by CondÃ© Nast Traveler as a Leader In Social Responsibility
It sounds like Norwegian has the best program of the bunch, or at least they are able to explain it better than anyone else, which counts for a lot since then people can call them on whether or not they are doing what they are promising to do. Most people probably couldn’t call you on doing something that wasn’t ISO14001 compliant, but they would be able to tell when you put some cardboard in the garbage instead of the recycling bin.
Social responsibility for the sake of marketing?
In all circumstances, social responsibility appears to mean environmental standards to cruise ship companies. Fair enough, that’s also how they operate their business – cruises through the environment, so it makes business sense, and it’s more marketable than being “good to employees,” so it ties into their bottom line. Nothing that I could see addressed anything to do with customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, or communities though. I have heard all sorts of stories about how cruise ships treat their employees – from very good to really, really poorly. This didn’t come up with any prominence on the corporate social responsibility radar in my searches.
I am not in the market segment that cruise ships would consider going after – I am far too young, and my interest in cruises is not very high due to the time required for one. Still, if I was in the market for going on a cruise, I would want to know which companies treat their people and the world around them the best before giving them money.