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In the Caribbean, many cruise companies have bought islands and turned them into private resorts for the exclusive use of cruise passengers who can go down 135-foot water slides and zip-line across wide beaches.

There is no giant water slide or a theme park on Ocean Cay, which is 20 miles south of Bimini.

There are a lot of bars and shops. While scientists and students from the University of Miami and Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale research how to reverse the decline in coral reefs and develop reefs that can survive climate change, the general aim is to provide a serene hideaway and mostly quiet activities.

The island was transformed from a barren industrial site into a 103-acre haven of native plants and trees thanks to a $200 million investment by the company.

The island is the center of a plan to be more sustainable. As cruise companies try to convince the public that they are serious about fighting climate change, they have recently announced a number of new initiatives.

From an off-the-grid tropical hideaway to a reefside diving resort, there are 7 new escapes in the Caribbean.

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As cruise companies head into their busiest season, they say they have ambitious plans to curb greenhouse emissions.

The company is building ocean ships that will run on hydrogen fuel cells, an investment that will cost the company an additional 40 million dollars per ship. Royal Caribbean Group said it will launch a large-scale, hybrid power source that will include fuel cells, batteries and dual-fuel engines.

Virgin Voyages, an adults-only cruise line with four ships, has partnerships with three companies that are working on alternative fuels that can power its engines in the future.

Climate change and the ways cruising contributes to it has emerged as a major challenge as the cruise industry recovers from the Pandemic. According to the Cruise Lines International Association, a survey of 4,000 people showed that demand for cruises was greater in the winter season than in the summer season.

Credit...Scott McIntyre for The New York Times
Credit...Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, cruise ships represent.6 percent of total travel carbon emissions, the least of any sector of the travel industry.

Heavy fuel oil, a dirty, but cheap fuel, is still used by most cruise companies to power their giant ships. Finding an energy source that will both reduce pollution and greenhouse gases is one of the biggest obstacles to the industry reaching a goal.

This is the biggest challenge that the industry will face in the foreseeable future, according to the vice president of sustainable operations at MSC Cruises. We are looking for new solutions, and nothing is off the table for now.

The industry's continued reliance on heavy fuel and the plans of many cruise lines to transition to Liquefied Natural Gas have led to doubts over how serious companies are about fulfilling their pledge.

Snke Diesener is the transport policy officer at the Nature and BiodiversityConservation Union in Germany, an environmental organization that studies the industry and ranks cruise companies according to their sustainable plans.

He said that it doesn't matter if customers don't drink from plastic straws.

Anne Madison said that cruise companies don't get enough credit for the steps they are taking and the improvements they have made to ships.

In the next five years, more than 15% of vessels will have engines that can be powered with fuel cells or batteries. Most of the ships being built in the next six years will be able to use electricity when docked, rather than having to keep their engines running for the entire time they are in port.

Ms.Madison said that the commitment was clear. The effort is high. There are a lot of challenges on the path.

The pace of technology, as well as the debate among cruise lines over which fuel to use, are some of the problems.

Liquefied natural gas can be used as a stopgap until a more sustainable energy source is available.

Methane traps more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide does, according to environmental groups.

Ms. Keever is from Friends of the Earth.

Industry officials say that concerns over methane are outdated and do not take into account technological improvements that have reduced the levels of methane in the atmosphere.

A better alternative is marine gas oil, which is similar to car diesel but does not carry the methane risks and is much cleaner than heavy fuel oil.

Cruise lines are investing in vessels that can operate on shore-side electricity when they're at port, using berths as plug-in stations instead of running their engines, which emit tons of carbon dioxide. An analysis done by the Environmental Protection Agency shows that a single cruise ship can emit as much diesel exhaust as 34,700 tractor-trailers.

Only a small percentage of ports worldwide offer shore-side electricity.

Twenty more cities and communities are planning to offer shore power, but they need public-private funding. Royal Caribbean and Carnival Corporation, two of the world's biggest cruise lines, announced in November that they would work with the port of Galveston, Texas, to develop a plug-in station.

Cruise lines have been criticized for their contribution to overtourism, especially when large ships dock in fragile places like Venice and send a flood of passengers to other destinations.

ImageThe engine control room of the MS Roald Amundsen, a ship that relies on battery power and marine gas oil.
The engine control room of the MS Roald Amundsen, a ship that relies on battery power and marine gas oil. Credit...Scott McIntyre for The New York Times
The engine control room of the MS Roald Amundsen, a ship that relies on battery power and marine gas oil.
ImageSecond officer Jonathan Rendon handles the controls of the batteries that help power the MS Roald Amundsen.
Second officer Jonathan Rendon handles the controls of the batteries that help power the MS Roald Amundsen. Credit...Scott McIntyre for The New York Times
Second officer Jonathan Rendon handles the controls of the batteries that help power the MS Roald Amundsen.

When residents of U.S. port towns voted for restrictions to control the crush of passengers, state governments rolled back their efforts. The Ocean Ranger program, which used state funds to pay for inspectors to make sure cruise ships comply with state environmental and health laws, was approved by voters in 2006

The program was defunded by the governor.

In November 2020, residents of Key West, Fla., voted to limit the number of cruise passengers to 1,500 per day. Governor Ron DeSantis reversed the decision eight months later after signing a law that voided any local referendum that restricts maritime commerce.

The local efforts were opposed by the CLIA, which was against the idea of a tax on cruises to pay for the Alaska program. The group and its members cooperated with cruise destinations to support their tourism management needs, according to Ms. Madison.

Ms. Keever said that cruise companies should support voter initiatives that aim to preserve tourist destinations.

She said that the places that they rely on for their business model will disappear under the current way of doing business.

There are two huge battery packs below the deck of the first hybrid cruise ship to set sail. The four-engine vessel uses marine gas oil to power it.

According to Hurtigruten Expeditions, the Norwegian company that owns it and has developed climate protection measures that usually send it to the top of rankings, the technology reduces the ship's fuel consumption and carbon emissions by 20%.

One of Hurtigruten's vessels runs on hybrid power. Two more ships will be upgraded to run on hybrid power and five others will be fitted with a system that will cut emissions by 80%.

The chief executive of Hurtigruten Group doesn't talk about zero emissions in the future. The first ship with zero emissions is our goal.

The Amundsen is expensive to travel on.

A 13 day Caribbean cruise in April costs $4,547 per person. A trip on the MSC Divina, which can carry up to 4,345 passengers, starts at $1,700 for two people.

It costs more to take passengers to remote places like the Galpagos than it does to adopt new technology.

He said that customers need to be aware of this. They must be willing to pay a little more for a more sustainable and responsible travel experience if they choose to.

Owen O'Shea, a marine research program manager at theMSC Foundation, said that most passengers don't book with the company to support coral reef restoration.

He doesn't think people choose to go on a cruise because of the goals. People who want to get away for a few days on a cost effective break

ImageWires in the massive battery room of the MS Roald Amundsen, a hybrid ship that also use marine gas oil.
Wires in the massive battery room of the MS Roald Amundsen, a hybrid ship that also use marine gas oil.Credit...Scott McIntyre for The New York Times
Wires in the massive battery room of the MS Roald Amundsen, a hybrid ship that also use marine gas oil.
ImageThe battery packs that help power the MS Roald Amundsen are each about four yards in length.
The battery packs that help power the MS Roald Amundsen are each about four yards in length.Credit...Scott McIntyre for The New York Times
The battery packs that help power the MS Roald Amundsen are each about four yards in length.

Many of the passengers on the Meraviglia went on a three-day cruise around the Bahamas in September and stopped at Ocean Cay.

When she is planning a vacation, a dental hygienist from Florida said she doesn't pay much attention to a cruise line's sustainable plans. She said that she was focused on what was the cheapest way to go on a cruise.

It is a nice idea to spend more to cruise on a ship with a hybrid engine but she cannot afford it.

She said she was not wealthy. I don't have the capacity to deal with the extra costs and hassles.

Cruise passengers say they care about the environment. According to a recent survey by Cruise Critic, 61 percent of respondents said they are very concerned about the impact cruises have on the environment. It is not having an impact on their booking decisions at this time.

Robert Kritzman, a partner at Clyde & Co., an international law firm in Miami, who advises cruise companies and spent 13 years as general counsel for Norwegian Cruise Line, said that more passengers are looking at environmental sites to see how cruise companies rank.

He said that people save up for vacations and have to deliver a product that they think is worthwhile. Cruises are sensitive to negative publicity.

When booking a cruise, Ms. Sincic said her visit to Ocean Cay made her rethink her priorities.

During her visit to the island, she listened carefully as Dr. O'Shea talked about how the island appeared to be drawing a number of animals.

She was moved by the story of a staff member who found tracks in the sand while putting out lounge chairs at the beach. There was a sea turtle laying eggs. Researchers put posts around the small patch of sand to warn beachgoers to stay away.

The woman said she would book because of the island. I was going on a trip. I would like to go on a ship that helps.

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