Royal Caribbean Group and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Recommit to Partnership

New five-year partnership to establish ambitious, measurable sustainability goals for groundbreaking progress across ship, sea and shore.
Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor (Hotels)
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Royal Caribbean Sustainability Highlights Infographic

In a recent press release, Royal Caribbean Group announced its new commitment to the next phase of its ongoing partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for guidance and counsel in establishing bold environmental goals and sustainable business practices.

“Healthy, sustainable oceans are paramount to our mission of delivering the best vacations responsibly,” said Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty. “Our partnership with WWF encapsulates our belief in continuous improvement and our commitment to advancing our environmental, social and governance (ESG) work. The support and assistance of WWF will be invaluable to realizing this mission as we work to set and achieve our sustainability goals.”

Royal Caribbean Group first partnered with WWF in 2016. Since then, WWF has advised Royal Caribbean Group to embed sustainability into the core of the company’s business and across the industry, promote responsible tourism in priority coastal destinations and help protect the oceans by investing in conservation programs globally. This included establishing bold 2020 sustainability goals that the company has met or exceeded, with the exception of the sustainable seafood sourcing target, which was impacted by global suspension of service from the pandemic.

Some of Royal Caribbean's original emissions reductions goals set in 2016 with WWF were met with the help of technologies like:

  • Machine learning, AI-derived ship models, and data management systems. In 2021, the company began testing a new cloud platform developed in-house to optimize ships’ energy efficiency and operations by providing deeper insights into vessels’ efficiency in real time. The data platform allows Royal Caribbean Group to dig deeper into ships’ energy consumption at the equipment level using signals like pressure differentials, temperature, and power consumption. AI systems get smarter with each data point they take in, helping the company pinpoint energy-saving opportunities that can go unnoticed by manual analysis. These real-time technologies also help optimize route and voyage planning, reducing fuel consumption and associated emissions. 
  • Energy saving technologies including

    • Air lubrication systems that create millions of microscopic bubbles that serve as an air carpet for ships’ hulls, reducing drag as they move through the water 

    • Optimized hull designs, such as the parabolic bow on Edge-class vessels 

    • AC chiller and HVAC upgrades that use up to 40% less energy than previous generations 

    • Variable Frequency Drive Installations to optimize our ships’ power consumptio

  • Advanced Emissions Purification (AEP) systems. As of the end of 2021, 70% of Royal Caribbean Group ships utilize these systems which remove 98% of sulfur dioxide, 40% to 60% of total particulate matter, and up to 12% of nitrogen oxides from emissions and help Royal Caribbean Group meet the requirements set forth by the IMO (International Maritime Organization). 

Since the partnership began in 2016, Royal Caribbean Group and their funding have helped to advance WWF’s ocean conservation priorities around the world— meaningfully furthering WWF’s efforts to protect critical ocean ecosystems, and highlighting RCG’s commitment to safeguarding ocean health.

Many of these conservation efforts have included the use of technology like:

  • ShellBank Project. This project is an initiative that launched a year prior, as a joint effort helmed by WWF-Australia, RCG and the Australian Museum Research Institute. Through this program, researchers used cutting-edge technology to extract DNA from products to track the illegal trade of tortoiseshell, and to trace tortoiseshell products back to the turtles’ nesting beach— in so doing, they developed a database, or “ShellBank,” for the first time in the Asia-Pacific. This information helped to vulnerable turtle populations, as a result of which WWF-Australia was able to work with local communities, governments, and the tourism industry to improve turtle protection.
  • Tech for the Oceans. Since 2018 the technique of using net illumination on gillnets to reduce sea turtle bycatch has made several advancements. Additional trials utilizing LED lights were carried out in a variety of locations including Peru, Ghana, Indonesia, and Mexico. The results continued to reflect substantial reductions in sea turtle bycatch of up to 70%, whilst still maintaining target catch. In addition, some trials in Peru indicated the potential to reduce cetacean bycatch by up to 80%. To address the concern of battery disposal, WWF worked with NOAA and Arizona State University to develop a solar powered light which can function for up to 7 days with a charge in sunlight of just 30 mins. Results from trials of this light have been very promising, exhibiting significant overall bycatch reduction and reducing the haul time for fishermen. WWF plans to continue work on the development and implementation of this solar powered light

The next five years of the partnership will focus on setting ambitious, measurable sustainability targets around the reduction of carbon emissions, the sustainable growth and development of the business, sustainable commodity sourcing and tourism, the elimination of single-use plastics and waste management, among other areas.