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U.S. Coast Guard Honors NCL and Holland America for Environmental Excellence


In a historic move, the U.S. Coast Guard awarded its prestigious Gold William M. Benkert Marine Environmental Protection Award to Holland America Line and Norwegian Cruise Line.

This biennial award was created to recognize outstanding achievements in marine environmental protection that go beyond mere compliance with industrial and regulatory standards.  This is the first time major cruise lines have been awarded the Gold Benkert award.

“We can all take pride in how far our industry has come over the last decade,” said John Binkley, President of the Alaska Cruise Association. “We lead the world in responsible and innovative marine conservation.”

Holland America will send seven ships to Alaska next season and Norwegian two.

Rear Admiral William Benkert is considered by many to be the father of the U.S. Coast Guard’s marine safety and environmental protection mission. Captain Minas Myrtidis, Norwegian’s vice president of fleet regulatory compliance, accepted the award last Monday at a reception in San Diego, Calif.

“We are honored to have the U. S. Coast Guard bestow on us such a high honor in environmental practices and standards,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian’s chief executive officer.  “Norwegian takes extreme pride in the measures we go to in order to protect the waters on which we sail and the environments of the ports where our ships call.”

William “Bill” Morani, Jr., the vice president of Safety and Environmental management systems with Holland America, accepted the award on behalf of Holland America Line.

“We work diligently every day to reduce Holland America Line’s ecological footprint, and these awards validate our fleetwide efforts,” said Stein Kruse, president and CEO of Holland America Line. “We are grateful that the U.S. Coast Guard and our travel industry and seaport partners appreciate our commitment to the environment and have

recognized our dedication to environmental stewardship with these awards.”

Holland America is a leader in environmental initiatives in the cruise industry with its comprehensive approach to managing impacts and reducing its overall carbon footprint. The line’s Environmental Management System was certified in 2006 and recertified in 2009.

The company works diligently to conserve fuel and water, employs the latest technologies for wastewater purification, and uses innovative strategies to reduce and manage its solid waste stream. Holland America also is an industry leader in exploring new environmental initiatives such as a whale conservation and protection program and using shore power in a growing number of ports.

For more than four decades, Norwegian has committed to the protection of the oceans and most significantly through sustainable environmental practices, investments in technology and a commitment to exceed regulatory requirements.

Just in the past two years, Norwegian has:

• Reduced solid waste volume by 25 percent;
• Treated black and gray waste water to near drinking water standards, earning local government approval in states with some of the most rigorous discharge laws;
• Taught 150,000 children and youth passengers (2-17) to become better stewards of the environment through the “Officer Snook” education program, offered exclusively on board Norwegian’s ships;
• Delivered 150,000 gallons of cooking oil onshore that has been converted to bio-fuel for use in motor vehicles, reducing petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
• Invested more than $25 million to upgrade its 250-acre private island, Great Stirrup Cay, with the newest wastewater treatment facilities, and disposal and recycling activities.

Vice Adm. Manson Brown, commander of the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area, presented the 2010 awards at the American Petroleum Institute Tanker Conference in San Diego.

ACA is a not-for-profit organization whose membership includes 11 major cruise lines that bring visitors to Alaska.

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