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Cruise Ship Emissions

Total Cruise Industry Emissions and Global Share:


19,106 Estimated Total Cruise CO2-e kilo-tonnes

0.2% Total Cruise Industry Share

  • 4,457 kt CO2-e

    Royal Caribbean Cruise

    Royal Caribbean Cruise aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2020.

  • 10,375 kt CO2-e

    Carnival Corporation

    Carnival Corporation seeks to reduce the intensity of CO2-e emissions from their operations by 25% by 2020 relative to the2005 baseline, measured in grams of CO2-e per 'available lower berth-kilometer'.

  • 4,272 kt CO2-e

    Estimated remainder companies

    Limited information is available on other cruise companies.

Cruise ship Emissions

Cruise ships making improvements in carbon efficiency.

To estimate carbon emissions from the cruise ship industry, self-reported emissions from the two main companies were used. Both Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Carnival Corporation & PLC publish sustainability reports that detail annual emissions. Using their estimated market share reported on Cruise Market Watch, the remaining 28.8% of the global cruise activity were extrapolated.

Key facts

  • Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Carnival Corporation & PLC make up 71.2% of global cruise activity measured in passenger numbers.
  • The latest available data are from 2015. Carnival reported emission totals of 10,617 kilo-tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. This corresponds to a market share of 48.1%.
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd emitted a total of 4,438 kilo-tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, and their market share was 23.1%.
  • The third largest company, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd do not publicly report total carbon emissions.
  • Based on an estimated total number of about 23 million cruise ship passengers in 2015 (see de Grosbois, 2016), it can be estimated that the average cruise ship passenger emits 0.83 tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent for their cruise. This is equivalent to a return air trip from London to Tokyo in economy class.
  • Cruise ship emissions make up 0.2% of all global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production. Note that tourist water transport is much larger than the specific segment of cruise ship tourism analysed here.
  • When examining the cruise ship company reports it emerges that every company uses slightly different metrics. This poses major problems in comparing and compiling data, for example some indicators use resource use per kilometer and others refer to person-day or berth.