Cruise the Great Lakes — a consortium of local tourism agencies, cruise lines, port authorities, U.S. states and Canadian provinces — has launched a sustainability pledge for ship operators and local communities in response to increasing demand for sustainable travel options.
Great Lakes cruising, which uses relatively small ships and stays closer to shore than most ocean-bound cruise ships, is resurging in popularity, according to Cruise the Great Lakes Chairperson and Travel Michigan Vice President David Lorenz. Global cruise companies like Viking are even starting to launch cruises in the region.
Through consultation with cruise ship operators, global cruise organizations and local communities, Cruise the Great Lakes early this spring rolled out a sustainability pledge for members that involved 19 commitments in four categories.
The visitors bureaus of Holland and Muskegon, Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce and Pure Michigan, along with the visitors bureau and port authority of Detroit, are the latest pledging to abide by the standards for destination stewardship, air emissions and carbon reduction, appropriate wastewater disposal and recycling.
“Visit Muskegon signed on to the CTGL Sustainability Pledge because the CVB — a county department — and our residents care about the Great Lakes and their future,” said Bob Lukens, director of the Muskegon County’s convention and visitors bureau. “Protecting the Great Lakes protects millions of residents and visitors to the states and provinces that border the lakes.” According to Lukens, Muskegon’s Heritage Landing cruise ship dock is already equipped to handle black and gray water discharge, replenish potable water and refuel ships with “minimal or no impact to the environment.”
While not all CTGL members have signed on to the pledge, Lorenz said he expects most eventually will. And as CTGL membership grows, “this will be one of the initiatives that we’re trying to encourage everybody to sign on to,” Lorenz said.
Compliance with the pledge includes using more biofuel and alternative fuel technology, investing in slick hull coating to improve fuel efficiency, locally sourcing food, zero waste dumping in the lakes and reusing supplies when possible.
According to Lorenz, some ship operators are working on arrangements to drop extra food for use in food pantries, and ports are looking into more sustainable transportation options for land excursions.
Lorenz said these efforts are “just the start.”
“There are going to be more ideas that pop up and I’m sure our members will sign onto those additional ideas and the rest of the travel industry will learn along the way and we will become more environmentally responsible and more attractive to more travelers,” Lorenz said.