By Roy L Hales
Princess Cruises have been voted “Best Cruise Line in Alaska” for the seventh year in a row, by the annual Travel Weekly Readers’ Choice Awards. The cruise line also won awards for “Best Itinerary Design” and “Best Travel Agent Educational Program.” These are all industry awards. Every year Marcie Keever of Friends of the Earth (FoE) grades the industry’s environmental records in her Cruise Line Report. The “B ” she gave the Princess Line was good, but not exceptional. Keever gave most Alaskan Cruise Lines high marks.
Alaskan Cruise Lines Receive High Marks
Five of the seven ships currently scheduled for Alaskan trips were given an “A” as their overall grade. The exceptions were two vessels departing from Vancouver, BC.
Only one of these liners received an “F.” The largest Princess to sail in Alaskan waters, “Crown Princess,” is also the only one to lack both advanced treatment systems and the technology that would enable it to be connected to the shore-based electrical grid (and thus avoid creating emissions while in port). This ship’s mark was further lowered by the absence of water quality records in Alaska.
According to the author of the FOE report, Marcie Keeper, “Ships were given an ‘N/A’ if they travelled to Alaska but avoided Alaska’s strong water quality standards by discharging outside of those protected waters.”
The Princess Line
The “Pacific Princess,” also lacks plug-in capacity and Alaskan water quality records, but received a “C-” because of its advanced sewage treatment.
“Coral Princess” and “Island Princess” both received “A’s” in every category and will sailing on the line’s popular “Voyage of the Glaciers” route through the scenic Gulf of Alaska.
“Golden Princess,” “Star Princess,” and “Grand Princess” will be sailing the Inside Passage route and all received “A’s” for their sewage treatment and plug-in capacity, but their marks for water quality varied. Golden Princess was given an “A-,” Star Princess a “B-” and “Grand Princess” a “N/A.”
Keeper gave the Princess line an overall grade of “B,” which was also achieved by the Holland America and Norwegian Cruise Lines and is only surpassed by the Disney Cruise line.
Carnival: Best Marine Solutions Company
However Keever’s air quality mark is based on in port plug-in capability and does not take into account the new exhaust cleaning technology, known as scrubbers, that has been installed throughout much of the Carnival company’s cruise lines. This technology is used by 7 Princesses, 9 Holland American and 17 Carnival cruise ships.
“Working together with the EPA, U.S. Coast Guard and Transport Canada, we have developed a breakthrough solution for cleaner air that will set a new course in environmental protection for years to come,” said Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald.
As a result, Carnival has just been named the Best Marine Solutions Company in this year’s Clean Tech Awards by The New Economy.
One would think that, given the introduction of this technology, the marks given to both the Princess and Holland America lines should be upped to an “A” or at least a “B+.”
Princess Line’s Investment
Keever does mention that, “Princess has also invested approximately $1.7 million in Seattle, Washington, $1 million Canadian in Vancouver, British Columbia, and an indeterminate amount in San Francisco, California for shoreside power. Between 2010 and 2012, eight Princess ships traveled to Alaska and Alaskan authorities cited six ships with 29 violations of state water pollution standards, giving Princess an 91 percent for water quality compliance in Alaska.”
Princesses have been sailing to Alaska for 40 years and sends more ships on this route than any other cruise line.
(Image above: The Sapphire Princess and Golden Princess at Skagway, Alaska on July 10, 2012 – Yankeesman312, Courtesy Wikipedia Commons)