Crystal Cruises offers “green” shore excursions in Malta


An American cruise line has become the latest to fight back against the cruise industry’s bad environmental image by introducing excursions to plant trees and donate food for charity.

Crystal Cruises will offer the one-day excursion for guests on board Crystal Serenity, who will be able to disembark at Malta and spend a day with local communities helping out.

Activities include tree planting in the island’s national park, learning eco-conscious planting and harvesting at a local organic farm and donating food to a local charity.

Crystal’s John Stolli said that the eight-hour excursion “affords guests the opportunity to contribute to the local needs in Valetta, and also gain a better understanding of the environmental efforts of the destination.”

The cruise industry has been roundly criticized for its record on the environment, with Friends of the Earth estimating that on average, a cruise ship discharges three times more carbon emissions than aircraft, trains or passenger ferries.

In its most recent report, the organization found that a moderately-sized cruise ship on a one week voyage with 2,200 passengers and 800 crewmembers is estimated to generate up to 210,000 gallons of human sewage, one million gallons of gray water (water from sinks, baths, showers, laundry, and galleys), eight tons of garbage and 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water.

In response to the criticism, several cruise lines have introduced environmental initiatives and shore excursions with Cruise West becoming the first to offer a “voluntourism” excursion in Mexico in 2007.

When Royal Caribbean launched its Oasis of the Seas superliner last year, it also announced a tie-up with the Red Cross in Cozumel, Mexico, offering the chance for guests to plant trees and shrubs in the charity’s new facility.