The KfW IPEX-Bank has issued what it calls a flash analysis of the sustainability of the ocean cruise industry, noting that sustainability can enhance the reputation of the industry as ecology has become a delicate topic in society.

The German financial institution said that the demand for more environmental protection is the result not only of regulatory and economic concerns, but also of increasing social pressure.

Considered a growth industry, cruise lines are employing a variety of means to reduce their environmental footprint and to operate more efficiently, according to the KfW, which also said that it is already using its own draft version of the Energy Efficiency Design Index to appraise the energy efficiency of ships.

So far, the industry has been focusing its environmental protection efforts primarily on cost-reducing measures targeting energy and fuel conservation, according to KfW.

The bank singled out AIDA Cruises as leading the way, setting a positive example, and noted that Germanischer Lloyd has certified AIDA’s fuel consumption at three liters per 100 kilometers sailed per passenger.

That translates to roughly 78.41 miles per gallon per passenger.

KfW also stated that 40 percent of the operating time of AIDA’s ships are spent in port, where AIDA has taken the first step to have a so-called E-Power barge in Hamburg, that is, a floating LNG-fueled electric plant supplying its ships while in port. The first barge, expected to generate 9 MW, was scheduled to be operational in the first half of 2013.

An alternative would be to run a ship’s engine on LNG while in port.

While the industry is working to comply, KfW cautioned that excessively ambitious regulatory requirements could slow industry growth. Hence, the need to give more consideration to the ties between tourism and nature, and to demonstrate sustainable operations.