Disney Cruise Line recently honored students from Cayman Prep & High School in the Cayman Islands for winning this year’s Disney’s Planet Challenge, a program aimed at inspiring students to be good stewards of the environment and empowering them to make a difference.   The education program is just one of the ways that Disney Cruise Line is inspiring positive action and minimizing its environmental impact.

“Disney’s Planet Challenge is a fun, engaging way to encourage children and adults to take action for the environment,” said Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz.  “Inspiring positive environmental stewardship in our cast and crew members is part of our company culture and is clearly evident in our activities both on and off our ships.”

Teacher Andy Jones’ Year 6 class were the winners of the 2011 Disney’s Planet Challenge, and they had the opportunity to spend a day aboard the Disney Magic cruise ship while it docked in Grand Cayman last week.  The class was recognized for their work protecting the threatened swallowtail butterfly, an endemic species found only in the Cayman Islands.  In addition to raising funds and awareness about the native butterfly and its habitat, the class focused their efforts on planting lime trees, which provide food and shelter for the butterfly.  They also distributed and planted lime seeds across their community in an effort to grow even more trees, which will provide the butterflies with a safe habitat for years to come.

Disney Captain John Barwis, along with other officers and crew members from the Disney Magic, hosted the students onboard at a special Disney’s Planet Challenge awards ceremony.  Captain Mickey Mouse presented each student with a medal for their efforts, and the children enjoyed a chance to tour the ship, including spending time in the youth activity areas onboard. 

Community outreach and educational programs such as Disney’s Planet Challenge are just one part of the ongoing commitment Disney Cruise Line has to the environment.  In addition to these efforts, Disney Cruise Line is dedicated to minimizing its impact on the environment through utilizing new technologies, increasing fuel efficiency, minimizing waste and supporting marine conservation worldwide.  Some of these initiatives include:

Environmental leadership – Disney’s commitment to the planet begins with Environmental Officers aboard all Disney ships. These officers are ranked amongst the most senior leaders aboard the fleet, having previous maritime experience and specialized training in environmental regulations and systems.  They are focused on fuel efficiency, minimizing waste and promoting conservation of water, ecosystems and energy, as well as monitoring water quality.

Innovative Hull Coating – All Disney ships have a 100 percent non-toxic hull coating, which reduces surface resistance in open water. 

Minimizing Waste & Recycling – More than 1,200 tons of metal, plastic and paper are eliminated from traditional waste streams and recycled each year. 

Utilizing New Technologies – Onboard new ship Disney Dream, technology is used to determine accurate energy management to maximize the heating, ventilation and cooling systems based on real-time requirements.   As part of this system, private staterooms self-adjust when unoccupied and return to the desired temperature upon a guests’ return.

Shoreside Plug-in Capabilities – Both the Disney Wonder and Disney Dream have the ability to plug-in to shore power at ports of call that can accommodate this new technology.  The Disney Wonder was among the first to plug-in to the Port of Los Angeles, utilizing this new technology to reduce air emissions while in port.

Conservation & Wildlife – Researchers at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, are engaged in a multi-year project focused on restoring the health of coral reefs in The Bahamas through the study of transplanted long-spined sea urchins native to the area. 

Community Outreach – Cast and crew members have donated more than 4,500 hours in the port communities Disney calls home, including giving back to local nonprofits, hosting annual walks to raise funds and awareness for conservation programs and leading shore cleanups, that to date have removed 31,000 pounds of trash and debris from beaches and fragile waterways.