Crystal Cruises Accused of Greenwashing Excursions

Over on USA Today’s Cruise Log, the comments about Crystal Cruises new excursion called “Go Green,” seem to all be suggesting the company is Greenwashing.

For those unfamiliar with the term, Greenwashing is when a company deceptively uses green marketing “in order to promote a misleading perception that a company’s policies or products (such as goods or services) are environmentally friendly.”

In 2011, Crystal Cruises will launch its “You Care, We Care” excursion program, and they’re rolling out the Go Green excursion on its 12-night Mediterranean/Holy Land itinerary, presumably to test the waters of such a program. During the stop in Malta, the Go Green excursion will take guests to a national park to plant trees and learn about conservation, stop for lunch at a local organic farm, and visit a local orphan refuge to donate time and food.

The price passengers will pay to have their environmental conscious cleared? A mere $95 – which, probably won’t be too much of a stretch since the cruise on board the Serenity will run over $5,000 per person anyway.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against bettering the environment – I just think it’s hard for any cruise line to suggest an excursion like this isn’t Greenwashing. After all, if passengers were concerned more about the environment than having a good time on vacation, they wouldn’t choose a cruise at all considering a ship in port one day spews about as much exhaust as 10,000 cars in the same time period.

Consumers will go green as long as it’s convenient, and considering the low excursion cost compared the fare of this particular itinerary, the Go Green trip may convenient enough for some. However, imagine if Carnival did this on a Caribbean 3-day cruise – I doubt very many would choose to visit an orphanage in Jamaica over Dunn’s River Falls.

This feels more like a cruise line trying to jump on the green bandwagon rather than responding to overwhelming demand for such an offering. Keeping up with popular trends is important in the cruise industry, but keeping in mind the why people take a cruise is paramount. Passengers typically want to relax, take in the sights, and explore new lands. The excursions (and PR & Marketing Efforts) should reflect that.

Do you think this is Greenwashing? Do you think excursions like this would be popular industry-wide? Would you pay to “Go Green” while on vacation?

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