Environmental group grades cruise lines: Disney gets an A-; most others get F’s

An environmental organization has released its grades of cruise lines and ships ⁠— giving most of the lines D’s and F’s ⁠— but the cruise industry is hitting back on the poor evaluations, citing tight regulations of the industry and calling into question the report card’s methodology.

The 2019 Cruise Ship Report Card was released June 27 by Friends of the Earth (FOE), an international network of environmental organizations in 74 countries.

Friends of the Earth said in its report card summary that taking a cruise can be more harmful to the environment and human health than other forms of travel.

“It is regrettable that Friends of the Earth and other groups continue to issue misleading and inaccurate information about the cruise industry,” Megan King, spokeswoman for Cruise Lines International Association, a cruise industry trade association, told USA TODAY in an email. “The measures used by the FOE are very narrow and do not tell the true story of the leadership position that the industry has taken in these areas.”

King said the cruise industry is highly regulated and uses a wide variety of emissions control measures along with advanced wastewater treatment systems.

Friends of the Earth evaluated 16 major cruise lines and 185 cruise ships for the report card on four environmental factors in 2017 and 2018: sewage treatment, air pollution reduction, water quality compliance and transparency. 

The grades for each of the four criteria were then averaged to calculate the “final grade” for each cruise line.

Disney achieved the highest overall grade of any line with an A- grade; Norwegian received a C- grade; and the other 14 cruises had final D and F grades.

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