Norwegian Cruise Lines - Final Grade: "B"

Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) was founded in 1966 as the Norwegian Caribbean Line. Headquartered in Florida, NCL controls eight percent of the worldwide market and, along with Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, is considered one of the “big three” corporations that dominate the U.S. cruise ship market. NCL has a relatively young fleet of cruise ships; all of the company’s 12 ships were built within the last 14 years, and over 70 percent of those have a carrying capacity of more than 3,000 passengers and crew. NCL’s two largest ships, the Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Epic, have capacities of over 5,500 passengers and crew.

All of NCL’s 12 cruise ships have installed advanced sewage treatment systems, resulting in a grade of A for the company’s 100 percent sewage treatment score. In determining the air pollution reduction grade for each cruise line, only ships that dock at a port that currently has shoreside power (thereby avoiding burning dirty fuel in port) were considered. In total, three of NCL’s ships that dock at a port with shoreside power are plug-in capable, giving the company a D in this category (two of the ships HAL has equipped with shoreside power hookups, the Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Breakaway are not being sent to ports where shoreside power is offered, so for purposes of determining NCL’s air pollution reduction grade, this ship was only given half credit.). Between 2010 and 2012, three NCL ships traveled to Alaska and Alaskan authorities cited two of the ships with a total of eight water quality violations, giving Norwegian a 93 percent for water quality compliance in Alaska, or an A.

Norwegian Cruise Lines - Cruise Ship Fleet

Ship Name Total Persons on Board Destinations Sewage Treatment Air Pollution Reduction Water Quality Compliance Final Ship Grade
Norwegian Star 3413 U.S. West Coast, Caribbean, Central America, Europe, Mexico, U.S. East Coast, Arctic A A A A
Norwegian Sun 2852 Central America, Mexico, U.S. East Coast, Alaska, Caribbean, U.S. West Coast, Canada A F N/A C-
Norwegian Dawn 3290 Canada, Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, U.S. East Coast A F N/A C-
Norwegian Epic 5936 Caribbean, Europe, U.S. East Coast, Mediterranean, Mexico A C N/A B+
Norwegian Gem 3899 Canada, Caribbean, U.S. East Coast A F N/A C-
Norwegian Jade 3891 Europe, Mediterranean A F N/A C-
Norwegian Jewel 3927 Alaska, Canada, Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, U.S. West Coast A F A C+
Norwegian Pearl 3891 Alaska, U.S. West Coast, Caribbean, Central America, Canada, Mexico, U.S. East Coast A F A C+
Norwegian Sky 2918 Caribbean, U.S. East Coast A F N/A C-
Norwegian Spirit 2967 Europe, Mediterranean A F N/A C-
Pride of America 3084 Hawaii A F N/A C-
Norwegian Breakaway 5700 Caribbean, U.S. East Coast A C N/A B+

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Grading methodology for the 2013 Cruise Ship Report Card

Friends of the Earth’s Cruise Ship Report Card ranks 15 major cruise lines and 148 cruise ships -- Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania Cruises, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean Int’l, Seabourn Cruise Line and Silversea Cruises -- according to three environmental criteria: Sewage Treatment, Air Pollution Reduction, and Water Quality Compliance.

  • To determine a cruise line’s Sewage Treatment grade, we compared the number of cruise ships in the cruise line that have installed advanced sewage treatment systems against the total number of ships in the cruise line.
  • To determine the Air Pollution Reduction grade for each ship in a cruise line, only ships that dock at a port and plug in to available shoreside power hookups were graded.
  • To determine the Water Quality Compliance grade for ships operating in Alaska, we used 2010 notices of violation issued for individual cruise ships to each cruise line by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. Ships were given an ‘N/A’ if they traveled to Alaska but avoided Alaska’s strong water quality standards by discharging outside of those protected waters.
  • The grades for each of the criteria were averaged to calculate the Final Grade for each cruise line.