Flagship Project: Facilitate sustainable shore excursions of cruise ship operators in the Baltic Sea

Nr.18  | 02.04.2015  | EUSBSR  | EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Tourism

AIDA Cruises is one of the cruise industry's pioneers in "sustainable shore excursions" and continues to expand its options. In 2013, AIDA started working with the sustainability initiative Futouris e.V. and the State Chancellery of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to develop standardized criteria for sustainable shore excursions as part of a joint project. Their goal was to create a transparent basis for comparing the sustainability of the individual shore excursion options and to base the assessment on measurable and scientific criteria.

In 2014, the Baltic Sea Region was assessed as a model region based on the new catalog of criteria. By the end of 2014, we've expanded the assesment model to all of our excursions. At the moment, AIDA offers 127 sustainable shore excursions, plus 230 biking and pedelec tours in 160 destinations.

Whether a guided city walk through Tallinn, bike excursion in Lisbon, or pedelec tour to Copenhagen - all AIDA excursions that meet the social, ecological, and cultural criteria are specifically marked with a tree symbol. (See attached picture)AIDA guests can thus easily identify which options are particularly sustainable well before their voyage when they are booking their excursions on my AIDA.

By introducing standards for assessing the sustainability of shore excursions, AIDA is once again playing a pioneering role in the cruise industry. "Taking ecological and social criteria into consideration during our trips is a matter of responsibility and an expression of respect for the countries we visit as well as their culture and people. The new catalog of criteria makes it possible for guests to compare the options," says Dr. Monika Griefahn, Chief Sustainability Officer at AIDA Cruises.

The four main criteria for assessing the individual shore excursion options include transport services, the content as well as the main focus of the excursion (e.g. culture, nature, etc.), the dining options and the local partner agency's commitment to sustainability. The assessment also considers numerous subitems. With respect to the transport component, preventing CO2 emissions is the primary focus. Bike excursions leaving directly from the ship are thus scored higher than using low-emission buses. If the commissioned local agency offsets the CO2 emissions produced by an excursion, then this also positively impacts the assessment. Nature excursions are also scored particularly high on sustainability if, for example, a trained ranger tells the visitors about wildlife conservation and special aspects. Dining options is another main topic. Sustainable excursions are focused on using regional products for local specialties. Complying with minimum standards for staff according to the core labor standards of the ILO (International Labour Organization), a specialized agency of the United Nations (UNO), also plays an important role in the catalog of criteria.

Additional information on sustainable offers for our guests can be found in our annual sustainability report AIDA cares. www.aida.de

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