Being green on the big blue: We speak to the environmental officer of Ovation of the Seas

Being green on the big blue: We speak to the environmental officer of Ovation of the Seas
Edited by Travel Weekly

    With eco-friendly travel becoming one of the most front-of-mind issues for the tourism industry, many companies are escalating the issue to the top of their priority lists.

    Royal Caribbean International has environmental officers onboard its vessels to make sure every aspect of its operation not only meets regulatory standards but to find new ways of making the ship more sustainable.

    Travel Weekly spoke to Darko Sukurica, Environmental Officer on Ovation of the Seas.

    What is in the day-to-day routine of a Royal Environmental Officer?

    “Part of my daily responsibilities includes overseeing our recycling processes and various waste streams, ensuring no solid waste ever goes overboard. This is a standard we established over 30 years ago through our Save the Waves program.

    “I also regularly conduct environmental training onboard for our crew. I walk them through waste management protocols and show them the significance of their individual compliance with established procedures.

    “I am also closely involved with all aspects of storage, transportation, and disposal of waste streams. Through our green hub program, we work with local waste vendors in ports around the world to properly remove waste from our ships when it can’t be recycled, reused, or repurposed.”

    Ovation of the Seas arriving in Sydney.

    How did this position come about?

    “In 1996, Royal Caribbean Group became the first cruise company to have a dedicated Environmental Officer onboard, and today we have officers on every ship across our fleet. This broad network of officers, I am happy to be a part of, ensures that all our ships not only meet but exceed the highest standards.

    “A few years back we expanded Environmental Officers from our ships to our private destinations. Since then, we have added a dedicated shoreside private destination sustainability role and are committed to the same standards as on our ships.”

    What changes have you noticed regarding how seriously the industry and passengers are taking environmental issues?

    “Over the past few years, I have seen a growing curiosity from our guests and crew about environmental impact. For me, as an Environmental Officer, their interest means I have an opportunity to increase awareness of what we do to create more sustainable cruise practices, how we lead by example and ultimately contribute daily to sustain our planet.”

    How common is it for cruise companies to have environmental officers?

    “Today, Environmental Officers have become an industry standard. I am proud that Royal Caribbean was a pioneer in having this dedicated role and inspired other companies to do the same.”

    The cruise industry does get a bad wrap environmentally, how far does it have to go?

    “For over three decades, Royal Caribbean Group has implemented measures to help protect and sustain the environment. Save the Waves, our first formal environmental program started as a company-wide recycling program and has expanded encompassing efforts across emissions reductions, wastewater treatment and much more.

    “We are committed to continuously advancing innovations that will ultimately lead to more sustainable cruising. Our ships have adopted practices like treating and conserving every drop of water onboard by using state-of-the-art treatment systems and creative solutions like collecting AC condensation for our laundry functions. We are also equipping new ships with fuel-flexible engines that will allow us to adapt and move towards a more sustainable way of sailing as alternative low-carbon solutions become available.

    “While the cruise industry has more ground to cover on this journey toward sustainable cruising, I am inspired that every day we are dreaming, pioneering and bringing cutting-edge technologies to life on our ships.”

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