Small ship cruising: A greener option

A cruise can take you from the beautiful beaches of the Seychelles to the rocky coastal crags of the Greek islands. Characteristic coastlines, isolated islands and stunning emerald forests. But if you're exploring them, shouldn't you also be trying to preserve them?

In recent years, holiday providers have become more concerned with proving environmentally friendly cruises as there is clearly a market for them. A Nielsen Cares survey published two years ago indicated 46 per cent of consumers were willing to pay extra for products and services offered by companies with a social conscience. That figure can only have increased since then.

As a result, the cruise industry has been working hard to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and encourage recycling, with many vessels taking on cutting edge features including solar panels, cooking oil conversion systems, new hull shapes and goodness only knows what else.

But the ultimate way of improving your green credentials while on holiday is by taking a much smaller ship in the first place. This is why booking with an agency that provides these sorts of holidays – such as Seafarer Cruises – is likely to be your best option for keeping things as environmentally friendly as possible. Have a look below at the reasons why this is probably the case.

On board a large-scale cruise vessel, fuel is a key environmental issue. Many of these behemoths carry more than 3,000 passengers and a staff of 1,000 – the equivalent of a small town. Keeping these ships afloat is not an easy task, let alone pushing their way through the waves – and crucially, it's something that has to happen constantly. There isn't a moment when a large cruise ship isn't using substantial amounts of fuel – even if it's held in the port, there is always activity as passengers charge their iPhones or staff prepare dinner. This couldn't be more different with a smaller ship, where fewer passengers means less energy used.

When it comes to energy, easily the largest drain on the big ships is the air conditioning. It requires a huge amount of fuel to keep 1,500 or more cabins chilled at all hours of the day and night. And of course, the advantage of a smaller vessel such as a gulet is that this isn't really an issue as there's less space to keep cool.

Another issue that comes with the territory of sailing the sea is that ships tend to generate waste and dirty water. Obviously, this is far from ideal, and so aboard our Variety Cruise Vessels, we have on board waste treatment systems that help to avoid polluting the water. Naturally, it still goes back into the sea, but not until it has been thoroughly cleaned. And when you're travelling by tall ship or sail cruiser such as the Variety Cruises Panorama or the Dream Yacht Cruises, you can do so entirely without fuel-related guilt as these vessels travel by windpower.

One must also consider the social implications – the ability to visit smaller and more remote island communities without damaging the important economic lifeline. With smaller vessels that have been smartly equipped with the means to reduce their carbon footprint, you can be sure of leaving most of these communities unchanged and unspoilt – still there for others to enjoy in the future.