It takes a hefty commitment to make a hefty change, and just such a commitment was made today with input from multiple invested parties to explore the idea of a cruise-led “green corridor” between Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington state.
This represents strong leadership to develop more sustainable cruise travel in what is one of the most in-demand destinations yet one of the most delicate environments on the planet.
First Mover Commitment Announced
The “First Mover Commitment” is a collaborative effort to create a green corridor along one of the most highly traveled cruise routes in the world, between Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska.
This green corridor would be a deployment of zero greenhouse gas emission ships, along with the local community and port developments to support those ships and their docking, regulatory, and operational needs.
A truly integrated effort, this would involve not just cruise lines and port authorities, but also government bureaus and local communities to support the project.
A wide range of partners signed on to this effort on May 17, 2022, marking the beginning of intense cooperation to combat climate change and protect the region’s delicate environment and natural beauty. Partners include the Port of Seattle, City and Borough of Juneau, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, and various maritime organizations.
“By exploring the development of a Green Corridor, we’re bringing resources and technological advancements to this region where commercially viable zero greenhouse gas emissions ships may sail that much sooner,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman.
“We recognize the urgency to act as we transition to an inclusive blue economy that works for the climate, commerce, and communities alike.”
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More than 10 major cruise lines also joined the effort, including Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, and Norwegian Cruise Line, as well as other cruise lines under their respective corporate umbrellas. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) also supports the initiative.
“We are committed to pursue net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 across our operations and value chain, working alongside our key partners and stakeholders to achieve this shared goal,” said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Ltd.
“Alaska is one of our guests’ most popular cruise destinations and we are proud to be a first mover in exploring how, together with our partners, we can model the innovation, commitment, and collaboration needed to decarbonize this journey.”
What Is a Green Corridor?
A green corridor is a travel space where greenhouse gas emissions are eliminated. This integrated effort is still a relatively new concept, and will require great cooperation and partnership between different entities to be successful.
Alaska is already a heavily maritime market, with more than 600 cruises annually during the six-month cruise visitor season, plus smaller scale local cruises and maritime tourist operations, commercial shipping traffic, ferry operations, and commercial fishing.
Yet the environment is a delicate one, uniquely susceptible to climate change and the dramatic impact it can have on the landscape and environment. Because many travelers to the region specifically choose the destination for its natural beauty, protecting that environment is crucial for ongoing economic and commercial sustainability.
What Will This Mean for Cruisers?
For cruise travelers, the development of a green corridor will be the gateway to sustainable, carbon-free cruising, where visitors can enjoy the environments they seek while knowing they aren’t causing harm to those destinations.
This will mean new technologies not only onboard cruise ships, but also shore-to-ship power so engines are off while ships are docked, eco-friendly shore tour options, and destinations developed specifically to minimize environmental damage while maximizing benefits to local communities.
Similar work is already being done in many top Alaska destinations, such as Icy Strait Point, where gondola systems have been implemented to remove the need for gas-powered vehicles.
Similarly, many Alaska ports of call feature locally-owned, Alaska native retailers in their port facilities, promoting the local economy while giving visitors a glimpse of the history and culture of the region.
As this First Mover Commitment continues to develop in the coming years, cruise travelers are sure to see even more amazing options in Alaska, even while the environment is preserved and protected for future generations of travelers to enjoy.