10 principles of environmentally sustainable river cruising

River cruising is a complex business, and so is ensuring environmental sustainability. To make sure that all those involved understand the essentials, here are the Travel Foundation’s the ten most important principles…

Photo courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection.

Photo courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection.

  1. Improve monitoring

What you don’t measure, you can’t manage. Following this simple rule means establishing easy-to follow monitoring systems and continuously providing feedback on performance, in order to improve environmental sustainability.

  1. Reduce energy use

Generation of energy from non-renewable fuel impacts on the both the global environment and the company’s bottom line. Ensure that your company makes use of efficient up-to-date technology and procedures to reduce impacts and save costs.

  1. Save water

Every cubic meter of freshwater use results in another cubic meter of wastewater. Both water and wastewater have costs to the environment and the company. Reduce water consumption by using the best technology available and creating awareness among both guests and staff about water saving practices.

  1. Limit waste production

Solid waste is one of the largest environmental impacts a river cruise produces. Work on the “3 R’s”: reduce, reuse and recycle. By systematically analysing waste sources and flows, cruise companies can avoid producing waste in the first place, reduce the volume of waste produced, and improve waste management and recycling.

  1. Foster a sustainability culture

Sustainability efforts cannot be effective in the long-term if they are not genuinely rooted in the company’s philosophy. Management should not only strive to set an example but set up the structures and procedures to facilitate a company culture committed to sustainability. Every employee should be aware of the underlying “why” and want to be a part of it. It is an inside-out approach.

  1. Define operating procedures

Don’t leave sustainability to chance. Environmental considerations and criteria should be systematically integrated into standard operating procedures and clear responsibilities assigned to staff. In addition, an environmental management system can specify indicators, procedures and practices.

  1. Increase cooperation

No single river cruise company can address all the complex issues linked to the move towards a more sustainable cruise industry sector. Cooperation with other river cruise companies, both formal and informal, can lead to an exchange of experiences, lobbying for better port facilities, negotiating with common suppliers, and making progress in other areas of shared interest.

  1. Bring your supply chain in line

Work with the entire supply chain to minimise impact on the environment. Maintain a constructive dialogue with suppliers. Create awareness among guests and staff to make sure that environmental impacts are reduced throughout the whole supply chain. Prepare materials so that marketing partners can market your product with sustainability in mind. Coordinating efforts with the supply chain will make your sustainability approach more consistent and effective.

9. Incorporate innovation

Always incorporate state-of-the-art technology in your fleet. Not only will it benefit the environment and lower your operational costs but it will also give you a competitive edge in the market by providing an additional selling point and improving your brand. Anticipate opportunities ahead of refitting and construction of new ships.

10. Minimise absolute impact

Focus on efficiency when considering sustainability indicators, for example in terms of “waste produced per guest night” or “fuel spent per voyage”. With a finite market it is better for the environment for passengers to travel on more resource efficient ships. However, for a more challenging target, especially in a growing market, also consider the absolute indicators – total waste produced, total fuel combusted – because the environment doesn’t recognise efficiency.


Want to learn more?

Download our best practice guide to environmental sustainability for river cruising.


About us

The Travel Foundation is an independent charity that works with the world’s leading tourism organisations to improve the impacts of tourism in destinations. www.thetravelfoundation.org.uk

PFDarrowarrow_downarrow_down_circlearrow_down_cirlcearrow_down_rounded_whitearrow_leftarrow_rightarrow_right_whitearrow_upboatbookbriefcase_areaofwork-newbriefcase_areaofworkcase_studyclock_datecloseclose_cross copyclose_crossclose_cross_blueconversation_discussion-01conversation_discussiondata_collectiondecision_makingdown-arrow-whitedownloadearthemailenergyenvironmentfacebookgroup_peoplehandshake-newhandshakehandshake_partnerknowledgelocal_producelocation_pointer-newlocation_pointerlogo_whitemap-iconmap_iconnews_blognumber0number1number2number3number4number5number6number7number8number9organisationpdfphone-call-whitephone-callpluspositive-actionpositive_actionproject-reportproject_reportrecycle_sustainable-01research_impactreturnright-arrow-dark-bluesearchsend-symbol-whitesend-symbolsingle_persontickresearch_impactresearch_impactresearch_impactresearch_impacttwitterwastewaterweb_resourcewhite_paperworking_togetheryoutubezoom