Norwegian Cruise Lines - Final Grade: "C"

Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) was founded in 1966 as the Norwegian Caribbean Line. Headquartered in Florida, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. controls eight percent of the worldwide market and, along with Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., 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 14 ships were built within the last 18 years, and over 70 percent of those have a carrying capacity of more than 3,000 passengers and crew. The Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Epic, and Norwegian Getaway have capacities of over 5,600 passengers and crew, and Norwegian Escape will carry almost 6,000 passengers and crew when it launches in the fall of 2016.

All of NCL’s 14 cruise ships have installed advanced sewage treatment systems, resulting in a grade of A for the company’s 100 percent sewage treatment score. In total, ten of NCL’s ships have scrubbers installed and two of NCL’s ships are plug-in capable, have scrubbers, and dock at a port with shoreside power giving NCL a grade of C for air pollution reduction. Between 2010 and 2014, four NCL ships traveled to Alaska and Alaskan authorities cited all four with a total of 22 water quality violations, giving Norwegian a 91 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 3431 Europe, Asia, Australia, India, Mediterranean, Middle East, New Zealand, Southeast Asia A C A B+
Norwegian Sun 2889 Central America, Mexico, U.S. East Coast, Alaska, U.S. West Coast, Canada, South America A C A- B+
Norwegian Dawn 3372 Canada, Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, U.S. East Coast, South America A C N/A B+
Norwegian Epic 5853 Caribbean, U.S. East Coast, Mediterranean, Mexico, Africa A C N/A B+
Norwegian Gem 3495 Canada, Caribbean, U.S. East Coast A C N/A B+
Norwegian Jade 3480 Europe, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, U.S. East Coast A C N/A B+
Norwegian Jewel 3476 Alaska, Canada, Central America, Mexico, U.S. West Coast, South America, U.S. East Coast A A A A
Norwegian Pearl 3493 Alaska, U.S. West Coast, Caribbean, Central America, U.S. East Coast A C A- B+
Norwegian Sky 2938 Caribbean, U.S. East Coast A F N/A C-
Norwegian Spirit 2980 Mediterranean, Africa A F N/A C-
Pride of America 3103 Hawaii A C N/A B+
Norwegian Breakaway 5700 Caribbean, U.S. East Coast A A N/A A
Norwegian Getaway 5609 Caribbean, U.S. East Coast, Central America, Europe, Mediterranean, Mexico A C N/A B+
Norwegian Escape 5931 Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, U.S. East Coast A B N/A A-

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Grading methodology for the 2016 Cruise Ship Report Card

Friends of the Earth’s Cruise Ship Report Card ranks 17 major cruise lines and 171 cruise ships -- Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Fathom, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, 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 four environmental criteria: Sewage Treatment, Air Pollution Reduction, Water Quality Compliance and Transparency.

  • 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, we graded ships on whether they had installed scrubbers or were capable of plugging into shoreside power. Cruise ships that installed both technologies and docked in ports with shore power received an A, while ships that only installed scrubbers or only installed shore power capability but did not dock at ports with shoreside power were given a C. In addition, ships were given credit if they only utilize low sulfur fuels continuously at levels lower than required by international and U.S. law.
  • To determine the Water Quality Compliance grade for ships operating in Alaska, we used notices of violation issued for individual cruise ships to each cruise line by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation from 2010 to 2014. 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.
  • To determine the Transparency grade for each cruise line we graded each line based on whether it responded to our 2015 requests for information regarding their environmental practices.
  • The grades for each of the four criteria were averaged to calculate the Final Grade for each cruise line.