If there is one thing that the Virgin brand is known for, it is being innovative in a fun and approachable way. The brand has always been cutting edge and progressive as a tastemaker that does things "because they are the right things to do". That is one of the reasons why we were so excited to sail with them last fall on Scarlet Lady. While they aren't yet sailing on the west coast, we hope it is just a matter of time. Until then though, I think it is important to showcase what they are doing in not just talking the talk about sustainability but actually walking the walk. Beyond me just sharing my own observations though, I wanted to take the opportunity to learn more from Jill Stoneberg - Virgin Voyages Senior Director of Sustainability and Social Impact about why this topic is so important to the cruise line.

This is clearly a BIG LEAP and will not see widespread adoption of "Molten Sodium Reactors" on cruise ships for decades but it is a potentially viable energy source that will allow the cruise - as well as global shipping industry in general - to finally step away from fossil fuels. Instead, we can have safe and reliable electric power generated on board or through the use of replenishment ships like what ULSTEIN is proposing with their latest concept ship.

Oceania Cruises continues the sustainability leadership that the Norwegian Cruise Holdings group is known for by unveiling a new group of more than 150 shore excursions designed around the concept of conservation, and sustainability. The new Go Green tours are designed to encourage engagement between cruise guests and local people at ports that they visit around the world. From visiting vineyards and learning about the impact of climate change to exploring native artisans creating eco-concious art, this program is something I look forward to seeing more of as we transform cruise tourism from one of simple escapism and into one where we can learn, share, and bring ideas back to our own people to hopefully inspire further cultural, social, and technological imprvmenet at home.

Without a doubt, the Sea of Cortez / Gulf of California is one of the world's most incredibly pristine and environmentally sensitive regions. It was called the "Aquarium of the World" by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and has been a relatively hidden secret for most Americans, except folks from Southern California and Arizona. With the rapid growth of cruising around the world and especially out of west coast cruise ports like San Diego and Los Angeles though, more and more cruisers are wanting to explore beyond just the "Mexican Riviera" ports like Cabo, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. Lucky for the cruise industry there is a fantastic port waiting to join that all-star list, La Paz - along with others, including Loreto, Topolobampo, and Guaymas. Unfortunately this is a challenge since there is no way to avoid having a negative environmental impact when you bring 10's of thousands of visitors into a pristine area on a weekly basis.

Key West has been in the news a lot the past couple weeks because it effectively kicked the mainstream cruise industry out of town. This was a long time coming. However, due to the global pause in cruising this year, the ecological impact became even more acutely obvious. With less silt being stirred up by large ships passing through the channel cut through the reef that surrounds the island, the situation could no longer be excused or ignored. While this is a major news story and another blow to an industry that faces a long recovery period, the concerns faced by conchs aren't limited to just Key West. Scientists and locals in other communities from Alaska and Hawaii to Mexico are having similar conversations. While different groups of people will have different priorities, the question of how to manage the inevitable exponential future growth that this industry will experience once again in the coming years is something we must all consider.