Greenwashing on the Celebrity Solstice 3: refilling bottles, straws, and veggie meals

Caroline displaying a vegetarian dish on the Solstice.

For this episode of my discussion of "greenwashing" on the Celebrity Solstice, I want to mention 3 issues: straws, refillable bottles, and vegetarian meals.

As far as I can tell, there is not a single water bottle-filling station on this ship.  The water dispensers in the dining areas all have signs that state, no reusing of containers.  There's not even a bottle-filling fountain in the gym!  I guess when your business model involves selling beverages in bottles and cans, there's no room for reusable containers.  All day long, guests are carrying around drinks, the vast majority of which appear to be beer, sodas, and bottled water, in one-time-use containers.

Two staff members mentioned that the reason for no refillable containers is to prevent "contamination."  This is patently absurd, given that 3000+ counties with local health departments in the US allow bottle-refilling stations, and - this is the kicker - people are doing it onboard anyway!  Yes, just watch one of the ice and water stations and there are people filling up their own bottles.  Given the "Save the Waves" program promoting reduce, reuse, and recycle, this discouraging of the use of reusable containers is... discouraging.  

My recommendation?  Put a water bottle-filling station in the gym and one on deck 14 where there is a jogging track, and use the Solstice daily newsletter as a means of educating guests about this program.

 Straws:  If there was a product that is not necessary on a cruise ship, it is straws.  One time use, then gone (I assume incinerated on board).  There are 40,000 to 60,000 straws used on this ship every cruise.  I understand that straws may have a role with some medical conditions, make-up regimes, and ages, but really?  Is this a product to be encouraged on a ship in an ocean of trash?  It's not the biggest issue in the world, but as an educational program, it's a start.  Recycle, reuse, reduce.  There are billions of straws used every year, and then tossed.  Many find their way to the ocean.  Time to take a stand.

My recommendation?  That straws be given to guests only when they ask for it (opt in), instead of guests having to ask for a straw to be excluded, and the Solstice daily newsletter be used as a means of educating guests about this program.

When you start looking for them, you'll find discarded straws everywhere.

Finally, I have to mention the availability of vegetarian meals on the ship.  The choices are quite limited (usually 1 option on the standard dinner menu).  There is a separate vegetarian menu, and even a vegan menu, but you have to ask for them and guests are given no instruction that they are even available.  We were on this ship for a month before we learned that there was a vegan menu (and there are only 7 rotating offerings... if you don't like or can't eat 1, tough).  Some of the vegetarian offerings on the menu are not that great (personal preference, of course).  So if there are limited choices, you don't have many options.

I mention this because the ship's food offerings emphasize red meats.  Given the impact of the cattle and pork industries on global climate change and on the environment in general, and on the waste from livestock production that often is deposited into the oceans, cruise ships should be keenly aware of providing tasty and numerous meat alternatives.

Alas, the cruise industry caters to an audience interested in, to use the words of Beldar Conehead, "eating mass quantities."

So as the Celebrity Solstice promotes "Save the Waves," recycling, the WWF, and vague reef protection guidelines, they make sure their 2000+ guests consume vast quantities of red meats.

My recommendation?  That a vegetarian meal be featured at the top of the menu, that at least 2 vegetarian entries are available at each meal, and the Solstice daily newsletter be used as a means of educating guests about this program.

Think a vegetarian can't be active and athletic?  Just ask Caroline!


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