A report on cruise lines' environmental stewardship

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A green thumb up or down

The latest grades are out, and for the most part, the cruise lines need some environmental tutoring.

In the Cruise Ship Environmental Report Card released last week by Friends of the Earth, the nonprofit organization noted improvements among the cruise lines as well as big disappointments since its 2009 report.

"No one got an A this year," said Marcie Keever, director of the group's Clean Vessels Campaign. "The cruise industry continues to need to do more."

The study recognized Disney as the "most improved" cruise line since last year's report, mainly for installing advanced wastewater treatment systems on its ships. "They are our shining star," Keever said of the company that rose from an F to a C-minus. But many cruise lines slipped: Princess, for one, faltered because of repeat violations of Alaska's water pollution laws. And Crystal Cruises, new to the report this year, copped an F due to sub-par air and water practices.

The report card features 11 cruise lines and 113 ships, rating their performance in such categories as sewage treatment, air-pollution reduction and water-quality compliance. Overall, Holland America Line and Norwegian Cruise Line received the highest grades of B-minus. Crystal was the sole failure.

FOE says the report card is meant to inspire the cruise lines to incorporate more environmental features into their ships and help passengers with their trip planning.

When booking a cruise, Keever says, "there are so many choices you can make. You can choose the food you eat, the activities and the type of ship. This is a way for consumers to make the environment part of their choice."


A scorecard for flights

Want to find out the likelihood of missing your connecting flight? Or the true price of a flight, with baggage fees and drink tab included?, which launched last week, promises to figure it out for you.

Most aggregator and booking sites, such as Kayak and Expedia, search flights by price and times, but InsideTrip is "price-plus," said founder Dave Pelter.

"Those other guys do a great job, don't get me wrong, but they're really presenting prices and schedules," he said. "We're really going deep on the qualitative side, and they're assuming price always matters."

The site gives each flight a "TripQuality" rating based on three categories: speed, comfort and ease. Among the factors taken into consideration are number of stops, security wait time, legroom, aircraft age, and lost-baggage ranking. A recent search of flights to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, for instance, rated a $321 round-trip flight from BWI Marshall a 93 and a $299 round-trip flight from Reagan National an 89. The highest possible score is 100.

The Web site also tracks historical TripQuality scores to give travelers an idea of what to expect on any given route. Consumers can also search by business-class, first-class and multi-city itineraries.

Travel tickers

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Reporting: Andrea Sachs and Nancy Trejos. Help feed CoGo. Send travel news to: By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.

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