Cruises: when the mission also involves sustainability 

The travel & tourism sector is responsible for about 10% of global emissions, which, without a change of direction, are set to increase by 5% each year. In this industry, there are now numerous companies that have moved to initiate a sustainable transformation. And cruise companies are among them.  

But what point are we at?  And how do these initiatives affect pricing policies? Above all, how are consumers guided towards more conscious choices today? 


The survey  

A study by Simon-Kucher & Partners sought to define a framework on trends in consumer attitudes towards sustainability in travel, their awareness, the actual choice drivers, behaviours beyond what they declare and their willingness to pay. 


The trends 

Through interviews conducted with 12,000 consumers from 15 countries on overall attitudes towards sustainability, it emerged that: for 75%, sustainability is declared as a relevant value; 70% of respondents have adopted consumption behaviours with sustainability in mind over the past year; for 2/3, sustainability itself represents one of the five drivers of product and service choices.  However, according to the analysis, only 1/3 are also willing to pay a price differential. 


Preaching is easy, but…  

Within this large sample, a specific focus on tourism highlights that: interest in sustainability has increased overall in the last 12 months, but the travel sector is still doing badly in this area amongst the various sectors; 36% of people consider the sustainability of a travel proposal to be among the top five choice drivers, but only 10% declare it to be among the top three evaluation elements; actions taken are generally soft, with green behaviours adopted while travelling. Last but not least, only 2% of respondents have paid extra for more sustainable options. 


The evolution of sustainability  

During the debate “The new mission for cruises also involves sustainability,” which saw Giovanni Lovat, strategy & marketing manager of Simon-Kucher, present the data from this research, numerous speakers representing some of the most authoritative players in the cruise sector offered their opinions. Among them was Leonardo Massa, vice president Southern Europe of the cruise division from MSC Group. “When it comes to sustainability, only talking about emissions, I think, is really simplistic. We have stated that we will reach 2050 with zero impact and this is the route mapped out at the moment,” he says, “and there are multiple ways to reach that goal. What is certain is that the company is investing millions of euros in sustainability.  Sustainability, for example, also means taking an island 65 miles from Miami and transforming it into a nature reserve where turtles have returned today.” continues Massa. And what about emissions?  “90% of ships are already equipped to turn off their engines in port,” he explained, “except that the infrastructure is still lacking.  The responsibilities of the various players should be thoroughly investigated.” 


Social value 

Even though it is not yet a fundamental driver of demand, according to Barbara Baldini, product manager for European markets at Avalon Waterways, the approach to this transition must necessarily involve giving back resources to the communities visited. Luigi Stefanelli, associate vice president of Costa Cruises for the Southern Europe region, also believes that sustainability now has social and economic value as well as environmental value. He reviewed some operational areas, from interventions on water used on board to reducing food waste, and also recounted how the company is active in the “Guardians of the Coast” project, which involves close collaboration with some schools to protect coasts and shorelines. “Then there is our collaboration with Spanish chef Angel Leòn,” Stefanelli added, ” who has managed to cultivate a new marine grain, halfway between rice and quinoa, which could become a strategic resource for the future of food resources.  Sustainability is also this, in addition to the departments that the Carnival Group has set up for decarbonisation”.

Alessandra Tesan 

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