Today is Earth Day, and it’s a day to work toward saving — and celebrating — the environment. Holland America Line is a company that strives for environmental excellence both ashore and onboard everyday through a variety of initiatives.
One of our most well-known partnerships is with Marine Conservation Institute. The partnership with the Washington State–based organization began in 2010 with the “Our Marvelous Oceans” program, and will continue through 2016.
The goal of “Our Marvelous Oceans” is to foster greater understanding of the marine environment through guest and staff education and commitment to sustainably sourced seafood on shipboard menus. The partnership also includes a “Saving the Ocean’s Gems” program that promotes Marine Protected Areas — parts of the ocean set aside to protect endangered species, special habitats and/or cultural heritage sites — especially along the ships’ itineraries.
Holland America Line strives to ensure that seafood menu selections served are responsibly sourced, promoting the continued viability of fish species essential to a biologically diverse marine environment. The Marine Conservation Institute determines the sustainability of a particular seafood item by referring to well-established seafood sustainability ratings. They then apply their professional expertise and judgment to confirm the sustainability of the selection.
Read more about the partnership with MCI here.
Cruise with Purpose Shore Excursions
Another initiative is Holland America’s “Cruise with Purpose” collection of shore excursions. On these special tours focused on eco-friendly and voluntourism opportunities, guests can assist in scientific research, bring much-needed supplies to an orphanage, participate in a fair trade program or cultural exchange, replant native forest or restore fragile habitat.
Holland America Line has an array of tour “Collections,” from Medallion and Encore, to World Wonders and Signature. When seeking Cruise with Purpose tours, simply look for this symbol (at left) next to the shore excursions listed or search under “Cruise with Purpose” in the dropdown menu when researching tours in each port. From Australia to Alaska, these enriching tours can be found all over the world. Your footprint will be light and your soul enriched.
Here is a selection of Cruise with Purpose tours on a variety of global itineraries:
City Sights, Koala Sanctuary & Tree Planting
Tour historic Brisbane, passing Parliament House, the Treasury Building, City Hall and the Old Customs House. From the top of Mt. Coot-tha, enjoy spectacular views over Brisbane. A very special part of your tour will be a visit to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, winner of many Australian Tourism Awards. Lone Pine is the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary, with more than 130 of these sleepy marsupials. Your Cruise with Purpose experience involves planting a gum tree in the sanctuary’s eucalyptus plantation. By doing so you will be helping to provide a habitat for local wildlife, reduce carbon emissions and, most importantly, feed and nurture Australia’s koala population by meeting their needs for increasingly scarce food resources. Wild fires and deforestation have decimated some of Australia’s gum tree stands.
A sanctuary guide will escort you to the eucalyptus plantation and will show you around. You will learn about the koalas’ diet and the eucalyptus species itself. After the tree planting, you will have free time to explore the sanctuary, cuddle one of the beautiful koalas, hand-feed a kangaroo, see the rare platypus and enjoy many other Australian animals in the sanctuary’s beautiful setting on the Brisbane River. You will receive a Koala Cuddle photograph and a certificate from the Australian Koala Foundation — the principal non-profit, non-government organization dedicated to the conservation and effective management of the wild koala and its habitat.
Discover Alaska’s Whales
What great a way to put into practice your personal travel ethos and leave beautiful, memorable Alaska even better than you found it on this Cruise with Purpose adventure! This small-group outing (maximum 20 guests) will travel aboard a fully-permitted research vessel for a closer look into the habitat of humpback whales. The boat has a heated cabin, a low-to-the-water build, large opening panel windows, and an open bow and stern — features specifically designed to meet the challenges of observing wildlife here in Alaska.
As you head out from the quaint harbor at Auke Bay, your guide will share the current understanding of humpback whale research and what is known about activities and feeding patterns here in Alaska. Whale sightings are guaranteed, and you’re also likely to see seals, porpoise, sea lions and other marine animals, all while doing some significant good as you contribute to a whale research program. You’ll explore the foundation of the food chain by drawing plankton samples, taking a look at live sea animals in a touch tank and using a GPS camera to identify whale species while recording their various behaviors. The vessel is equipped with a hydrophone so you can listen to the underwater sounds of whales if the situation allows. * All activities on this tour are operated by permit and regulation through the ADFG and NOAA in support of the University of Alaska and the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program.
I’m 9 years old and going to be a scientist. This was the best tour I could have asked for. Jon, our guide, was really smart and interesting and taught us lots of things about plankton and whales and geology and glaciers and bears. Basically how whales connect to the glaciers through the plankton. I loved it. So did my Mom. I highly recommend this tour especially for smart kids and interesting adults. — Guest Littlebird
Iceland Tomorrow: Planting for the Future & the Ancient Ring of Fire
This is a predominantly green-focused tour that circles the active 2,635-foot Hengill Volcano, located just a couple of miles from Reykjavík. Hengill last erupted approximately 2,000 years ago, but its numerous natural hot springs, colorful steam vents and fumaroles still dot the surrounding landscape. Hengill produces hydro and geothermal power, which provide the capital with plentiful hot water and electricity. You’ll stop at the Hellisheidi Geothermal Plant Visitor Center to learn a little about volcanoes, geosciences, and geothermal technology. Continue to the town of Hveragerdi, located on top of an old magma chamber. Hot springs bubble and hiss all around this unique community. Take a short, scenic drive past the town’s trademark greenhouses and a short walk to the new hot spring area.
Then, you’ll follow the River Sogid past the Ljóssafoss Hydro Station to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Thingvellir. Approaching Thingvellir, you’ll literally drive from one continent to another as you cross the neo-volcanic rift zone that slices through Iceland from northeast to southwest. Pause at the viewpoint to soak up a little of the nation’s history, for it is here that the world’s oldest existing parliament was formed in AD 930. At the time of Iceland’s settlement (in the 9th century) an estimated one fourth of the country was covered by birch woodlands. Today, forests cover just a little over 1% of Iceland. The forests were felled for timber, cleared for agriculture, and grazed by domestic animals brought by the settlers. Since 1950, the emphasis has been on reforestation and afforestation — planting of forests where they didn’t previously exist.
On this Cruise With Purpose shore excursion, you have contributed to Iceland’s afforestation program by the planting of one tree in your name. You will receive a small, boxed souvenir containing a piece of lava from the 2010 volcanic eruption. The road leading past Iceland’s largest natural lake at Thingvallavatn takes you to a viewpoint on the lower flanks of the volcano. Take in the fascinating sight of the countless hot springs that continuously belch their sulfur-rich deposits over the amazing scenery. The drive back to Reykjavík takes you through a lunar-like landscape of volcanic phenomena.
Viva the Kids: Bringing the Generations Together
All children should have a quality education, and Nicaraguan children are no exception. This tour is a positive contribution and a great opportunity for social interaction with Nicaraguan children. After a 45-minute drive from the port, you will arrive at the Betania Foundation — a 10-acre property that is host to 400 children. You’ll feel the energy of the elementary school kids and visit the educational center for teens, where the youngsters learn different skills such as carpentry, arts, sewing and mechanics. See how a child plays the saxophone or violin. You’ll be the guest of a young, local guide who will lead you through a great visit to the Chorotega Museum, which holds 1,500 indigenous pieces. This is the best collection of pre-Columbian artifacts in the region. Practice your Spanish with the kids or simply enjoy what they have to offer you — a big smile and a lot of hope for their future.
We loved our visit to the Betania Foundation!!! It is amazing what can be done to support students from homes where employment is a challenge. Our guide was excellent and he not only explained in detail the operation of the school but provided us with a fair and clear understanding of the history and present day politics of Nicaragua. We highly recommend this excursion to all Holland passengers. — Guest Icee
Working with Carnival Corporation
Holland America Line also strives for environmental excellence through our parent company, Carnival Corporation. In honor of Earth Day and the importance of year-round environmental awareness, Carnival Corporation & plc announced it will meet its goal to reduce its rate of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shipboard operations by 20 percent.
This goal was established by the company as part of Carnival’s ongoing efforts to reduce environmental impact from its operations.
To meet this goal, Carnival and its 10 brand lines around the world — including Holland America Line — have developed, and continue to develop, aggressive energy reduction and conservation initiatives, many of which exceed current laws and regulations. Among these initiatives are the installation of scrubbers on every ship.
Holland America Line was a pioneer in the scrubber initiative, having launched the technology project to demonstrate the feasibility of using seawater to “scrub,” or reduce, engine emissions on oceangoing vessels.
Developed by Krystallon, scrubber system uses the natural chemistry of seawater to remove virtually all sulfur oxide (SOx) as well as significantly reduce particulate matter emissions. The sea water is then treated to remove harmful components prior to being discharged overboard.
Read the full Carnival Corporation announcement HERE.
How do you honor Earth Day? Perhaps you recycle or participate in local clean-up projects. Tell us in the comments below!