By Elias Rodriguez
As noted in my earlier blog, my family and I just enjoyed our first cruise ever and chose the Norwegian Breakaway as our vacation getaway this summer. This brand new ship was inaugurated in 2013 and Manhattan is its homeport.
The Breakaway was a spectacular success with the Rodriguez tribe. Our highlights included succulent lobster at Le Bistro, pulse-pounding dancing by Burn the Floor and exceptional jazz with Slam Allen at Fat Cats. However, the eminent question for me was, “Could one sail on the high seas with minimal impact to the planet?” The Norwegian Cruise Line is mindful of an Eco-Smart Cruising philosophy, which was evident throughout the ship. The vessel relies on emission reduction technology in the navigation system, efficient water management systems, heat recovery features, an optimized hull, and a host of environmentally-friendly gear and protocols onboard.
One particularly nifty piece of handiwork was the remote control system in our stateroom. In order for the air conditioning and lighting in the room to work, you must deliberately insert your cruise identification card or Sea Pass into a slot inside your room. If no card is in the slot, the air conditioning and lighting are not activated. (Don’t worry, the small refrigerator is unaffected.) The concept is about personal responsibility, awareness of your personal use of power and the benefits of saving energy. Each guest becomes acutely aware that their card is in use to power the room for their personal benefit. This paradigm works especially well since the card is utilized for just about everything onboard and people become keenly aware of where their card is at all times. My family never wondered if, as we do at home, we had accidently left the lights on because that would mean that someone from our party would be without their Sea Pass.
The stateroom card mechanism also discouraged Energy Hogs from blasting the AC to keep the temperature icy upon their return – a wasteful habit that is worthy of elimination. Another plus for energy conservation was the fact that the AC would not activate unless the balcony door was both closed and locked thereby ensuring that any drafts were properly addressed. This room design might seem insignificant or annoying to power hungry types, but when you multiple the energy savings by 4,000+ passengers onboard, the cumulative benefits are remarkable. My kids became more aware of their energy use each time they retreated to the room. I soon noticed them enjoying the ocean breeze from our balcony and relaxing by sunlight without even inserting their cards at all.
Norwegian Cruise Line should be applauded for their environmental stewardship and visionary new ship. There is something pleasantly other-worldly about eating a Sabrett’s NY hot dog while you watch the Sargasso Sea coast by beneath you. Our cruise was a memorable trip with an eco-friendly vibe that respected the excursion’s main attraction: the big blue ocean. May all who sail it convey a message of conservation and responsibility.
About the Author: Elias serves as EPA Region 2’s bilingual public information officer. Prior to joining EPA, the proud Nuyorican worked at Time Inc. conducting research for TIME, LIFE, FORTUNE and PEOPLE magazines. He is a graduate of Hunter College, Baruch College and the Theological Institute of the Assembly of Christian Churches in NYC.