Environmental Responsibility

Environmental Responsibility

Protecting our oceans, marine life, and air quality for future generations

New web series featuring Jeff Corwin highlights our commitment to sustainability

Join noted conservationist Jeff Corwin as he takes viewers on a journey of discovery, visiting the world’s most beautiful and exotic locales to highlight Princess Cruises’ efforts to make sure these destinations are enjoyed by generations to come.

In the new Ocean Treks Conservation Connections, Corwin and Princess President John Padgett team up with our very own employees to get a first-hand look at Princess’ commitment to sustainable operations, including state-of-the-art, multi-million-dollar technology both on board and ashore, all while showcasing unique ecosystems across the globe.

Our commitment to the environment

Princess Cruises depends on the oceans. We are committed to environmental practices that set a high standard for excellence and responsibility and help preserve the marine environment. The ocean provides our livelihood and serves as the home for more than 25,000 of our employees.

The cruise industry is highly-regulated, and we work closely with the regulatory and enforcement organizations that govern environmental regulations to ensure that our policies meet the strictest requirements set forth by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and other regional and national organizations with responsibility to protect the environment.

In all cases, we meet environmental requirements and, in many cases, we go beyond what is required by law while we are continuously working to identify ways we can raise the level of our environmental performance. In 1993, Princess launched a holistic environmental program called Planet Princess to encourage and inspire our crew members and guests to be good stewards of our environment and the oceans.

Single whale’s tail in view just above the water.
ISO 14001 Certified

Since 2006, Princess Cruises has achieved and maintained certification to the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System standard. This voluntary program defines clear environmental goals, and establishes strict lines of responsibility and accountability for adhering to policies and procedures. We provide our shipboard staff with the equipment, expertise and training required to achieve our environmental goals.

In addition to having an Environmental Operations Department reporting directly to the Senior Vice President and Chief Ethics Officer accountable for safety, environmental and regulatory services, each Princess ship has its own environmental officer. They are non-watch standing officers with full time responsibility for overseeing Planet Princess and Environmental Compliance.

Minimizing Air Pollution

Planet Princess works to minimize air pollution through these initiatives:


State-of-the-art technology

A successful environmental protection program begins with having the necessary equipment in place to prevent or minimize pollution. Princess builds its ships to high environmental standards, and has invested millions of dollars in pollution prevention technology. This is an important area of investment as we are committed to the health of the marine environment for future generations.

Shore power

Princess Cruises pioneered the use of shore power in the cruise industry in 2001 when Juneau, Alaska became the first city to create a shoreside power connection. This technology allows cruise ships to turn off their diesel engines and literally "plug in" to a power supply in port. To create this system, Princess has outfitted many of its ships with a custom-built electrical connection cabinet that automatically connects the ship's electrical network to the local electrical network ashore through a sophisticated system of cables, circuit breakers and control circuits. As a result, shore-based electricity runs all onboard services during the day-long calls. Shore power is currently available in Juneau, Alaska; Seattle, Washington; Vancouver, British Columbia; San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, CA; New York and Halifax Nova Scotia. By 2020, 16 vessels in the Princess fleet will have shore power technology installed onboard.

Shore Power
Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems on 14 Ships by 2020; Composite image of two different ships at sea.

Advanced air quality systems (AAQS)

In recent years, international, national, regional, and local governments have changed laws and regulations to require that ships operating near shore burn cleaner marine fuels – those that are more highly refined and contain significantly less sulfur than historically allowed. The regions where fuel sulfur content is restricted are often referred to as Emission Control Areas or ECAs. Outside ECAs, ships can burn heavy fuel oil (HFO) which may contain as much as 3.5% sulfur. Inside ECAs, ships are allowed to burn marine fuel with a cap of 0.1% sulfur.

In 2020, the global sulfur cap is likely to drop to 0.5%, which will require continuous use of lower sulfur fuel or development of pollution control technology to achieve these equivalent lower emissions. In the cruise industry, the cost of fuel is significant. Because lower sulfur fuel is substantially more expensive than higher sulfur fuel – sometimes the cost is nearly double – the fuel sulfur requirements can have a big impact on the company’s bottom line. In order to meet the new low sulfur fuel requirements in a cost-effective way, Carnival Corporation and Princess Cruises are investing in Advanced Air Quality Systems (AAQS) technology also called Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS).

This project – completed in partnership with an Italian company called Ecospray – is leading the cruise industry in the design and development of this new technology. The United States Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency and Transport Canada are also important strategic partners in this program. Carnival Corporation has invested significantly in this ECGS research and development program across the corporate fleet. The Princess fleet is fully engaged in this program – by 2020 14 ships will have EGCS installations. Future new builds will be delivered with EGCS already installed.

Crew education and training

Having environmental technology is only the first part of an effective environmental management program. The ship's crew plays a key role in the program's success and is trained not only on equipment use, but also to be environmentally sensitive. Princess conducts environmental awareness training for crew members, who are also well aware of the strict disciplinary procedures that apply to any violations of regulations.

Crew Training

Using Water and Treating Waste Water

Water Use
Fresh water is vital to shipboard operations. It allows passengers to bathe and stay hydrated, and it’s used to prepare food, sanitize kitchen tools and surfaces, wash linens and clothes and clean engine room equipment as well as staterooms and public areas.

Fresh water comes from two different sources: produced water (seawater that is either evaporated and re-condensed or produced by a reverse osmosis plant and treated with minerals and chlorine); or bunkered water, which is purchased from port communities and stored in designated potable water holding tanks. We bunker water from ports where we know water is plentiful, high in quality and costs less than the fuel needed to produce water onboard.

Water is a precious commodity and we ask our guests and crew to conserve it while on board. We ask guests to consider the following ways to conserve water:

  • Turn off taps when not in use. Report leaking taps.
  • Reuse towel and linens.

We ask crew to consider the following additional ways to conserve water:

  • Wash full loads in galley and laundry washing machines.
  • Save water during shower, shaving, and brushing teeth.

Treating Waste Water
All water that is produced or loaded onto our ships is used for its intended purpose and then discharged in accordance with — or often exceeding — local, national and international laws and regulations. This wastewater is separated into three broad categories named gray water, black water and bilge water.

Gray Water and Black Water
Princess Cruises adheres to all U.S. and international environmental regulations regarding the discharge of both "gray water" (from showers, sinks, dishwashers) and "black water" (from toilets) into the ocean. All Princess ships are equipped with treatment plants that are certified by the U.S. Coast Guard as approved marine sanitation devices. The treatment facilities onboard naturally break down and disinfect black water. After processing, the waste water is discharged into the sea at least 12 miles from shore, which exceeds the distance required by law. By 2020, 80% of the Princess fleet will have advanced water treatment systems which employ membrane filtration and ultraviolet light to achieve the highest level of waste water treatment that is technologically feasible. Gray water may be mixed with black water and treated through an advanced waste water treatment plant. Alternatively, gray water is held onboard until the ship is underway and out of a port, and then is discharged into the sea in full compliance with all laws and regulations.

Bilge Water
Bilge water is wastewater collected in the lower part of the ship, known as the bilge. This water contains oils released from equipment in engine compartments. All ships accumulate water in the bilge. We have taken steps to eliminate any inadvertent release of oil into the bilge and therefore the marine environment. These include reducing the amount of water in the bilge to the lowest practical level, providing adequate holding tank capacity for the bilge water and a means to discharge it ashore, eliminating oil leaking from machinery so far as is practically possible, replacing equipment with state-of-the-art separators. To treat bilge water the ships oily-water separators process the bilge water until the oil content is reduced to below 15 parts per million. Treated bilge released into the sea is done so in accordance with all international, regional, and national laws and regulations.

Cruise Ships Bilge Water Treatment Infographic

Cruise ship bilge water treatment

Managing Solid Waste

Waste Management Equipment
Princess Cruises has invested millions of dollars to equip its ships with state-of-the-art waste management equipment in order to process the waste that is generated during a cruise and Planet Princess has taken many steps to reduce the amount of solid waste generated onboard as described below.

Minimizing the Use of Plastics
Princess strictly adheres to the laws which prohibit the disposal of plastic materials at sea. Over time Princess has re-designed its food, supplies purchasing and packaging requirements to cut down on the number of plastic items that are brought onboard. Plastic has been replaced by other biodegradable materials or eliminated altogether as much as possible. For example, laundry bags have been switched from plastic to paper that can be either recycled or incinerated.

Sorting and Separating to Recycle
A key part of our recycling and waste management program requires proper sorting and separation of garbage that is generated onboard ship. We start by separating at the source in passenger areas with our recycling bins for glass, aluminum, paper products and the like, and this continues below deck where staff that are specially trained in these procedures ensure that waste items are properly recycled, incinerated, or stored for landing ashore to an approved garbage reception facility.

Disposal of Food Waste
Under international, regional, and national environmental laws ships are allowed to dispose of food waste into the oceans when that food waste is ground to less than 25 mm and when a ship is farther than 12 nautical miles from shore.

Hazardous Waste Management
The proper disposal of hazardous waste is of the utmost importance to Princess Cruises. Our comprehensive hazardous waste procedures have been designed to carefully handle, segregate, label and off load such waste products from the ships into locally approved reception facilities. For example, batteries are collected from passengers at the photo shops. Similarly, used solvents, paints, medical waste are also labeled, stored and landed ashore. To reduce the amount of hazardous waste handled onboard, we have instituted a product substitution program which has enabled us to decrease the volume of hazardous waste generated. We also regularly review equipment and revise operational procedures to reduce hazardous waste. Dry cleaning machines have been removed from the fleet.

Additional Environmental Efforts

Oil Pollution Prevention
Oil spill prevention is another top environmental concern for Princess Cruises. Engineers maintain equipment in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions to prevent the release of oil into the environment. And crew members are trained to inspect equipment for oil leaks prior to using that equipment. If an oil leak is found, it is immediately reported and handled in accordance with shipboard and shoreside emergency response plans.

Auditing and Inspections
In addition to the mandatory inspections by the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, classification societies, and flag and port states, Princess cruise ships are audited by a trained staff of professional mariners with Carnival Corporation who audit our ships' operating procedures high safety and environmental standards and look to identify areas where further safety and environmental enhancements and improvements can be made.