– Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises announced the winners of their annual environmental awards. For Royal Caribbean, Freedom of the Seas was selected as both the Environmental Ship of the Year and the Environmentally Innovative Ship of the Year. For Celebrity Cruises, the Celebrity Summit was selected as the Environmental Ship of the Year, and the Celebrity Mercury was selected as the Environmentally Innovative Ship of the Year.

“Competing for these awards encourage and reward crew members who progressively advance their ships’ environmental performance in ways that go above and beyond regulatory compliance,” said Jamie Sweeting, vice president of Environmental Stewardship for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “I congratulate our winners and thank all of our crew members for doing so much to protect the oceans in which we sail,” Sweeting said.

In its ninth year, these annual fleet-wide competitions underscore Royal Caribbean and Celebrity’s long-standing commitment to environmental innovation and improvement. For the first time, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises partnered with Conservation International, who conducted the impartial evaluation for the award. Conservation International (CI) is a nonprofit organization recognized throughout the world for its work protecting the environment. The Selection Committee chaired by CI was comprised of leading travel industry and biodiversity conservation experts who reviewed the information provided by Royal Caribbean’s 21 ships and Celebrity Cruises’ eight ships to determine the award winners based on their comparative performance.

“We congratulate the winners of these awards and we’re pleased to see Royal Caribbean recognizing the environmental efforts of their individual ships and crew,” said

Glenn T. Prickett, Senior Vice President at CI. “We are also encouraged by Royal Caribbean’s overall work to address issues facing marine conservation.”

The ships were judged on five rigorous environmental criteria established by Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises. These included environmental performance, timeliness and effectiveness of corrective actions related to audit findings, reports of near incidents and nonconformities, submission of environmental status reports, performance of environmental equipment and innovative thinking. For each of these criteria, ships were scored individually and then ranked against one another to determine the winning ships in each fleet.

This year, Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas won both the Environmental Ship of the Year and Environmentally Innovative Ship of the Year Awards for its excellent overall performance, having one of the most thorough and wide-ranging environmental programs of the entire fleet. The crew members demonstrated an exemplary level of commitment to saving energy, reducing waste, and increasing the amount of recycled materials. There is a particular emphasis on learning and continuous improvement including instructional tours of the engine room by the chief engineer to educate staff in water conservation as well as regular meetings held onboard by the ship’s Environmental Officer with the aim to increase awareness of environmental issues and initiatives.

For Celebrity Cruises, Summit received top honors in the Environmental Ship of the Year Award for its energy and water conservation initiatives. Last year, Summit won both awards and has continued to perform consistently well in all the categories judged, especially in its daily performance. The Mercury was awarded Environmentally Innovative Ship of the Year Award, most notably for its emphasis on waste management and recycling programs in particular. The ship’s emphasis on recycling by all staff, crew and guests onboard resulted in a significant reduction in dry garbage and generated nearly $12,000 for their Crew Welfare Fund.

The winning ships receive an award they can display year-round, and get to select a non-profit organization that will receive a cash donation on their behalf. The organizations selected by the Environmental Ships of the Year received a $10,000 donation, and $5,000 goes to the organizations selected by the Environmentally Innovative Ships of the Year.