Climate-neutral events on cruise ships – is it possible?

Sustainable maritime events with OceanEvent

How to make a maritime event sustainable

In 2018, OceanEvent founder and CEO Christian Muehleck looked at the carbon footprint of his company for the first time. The former yacht captain wanted to know: “Is a maritime event sustainable?” To find out, he turned to Fokus-Zukunft GmbH & CoKG – a recognized consultancy for climate neutrality and sustainability. The CO2 emissions of the operational business and the maritime events held were calculated – and a strategy was developed on how to reduce them.

Emissions are of course primarily generated on board a cruise ship during a charter. Fuel, waste water, energy consumption and much more are included in the balance. However, routing, cruise speed, arrival and departure to/from the port, meals and other on-board activities are also significant influencing factors. At the headquarters of OceanEvent GmbH in Starnberg, general energy consumption, travel behavior, commuting, etc. are also taken into account. Anyone familiar with the topic will know the Scopes 1-3.

The OceanEvent carbon footprint

It was pleasing to see how OceanEvent’s environmental awareness paid off: compared to the first survey in 2019, the charter broker was able to save 9 tons of CO2 EQ in its operating business in 2022. However, there was another reason for this: the pandemic has changed the way the company sells its products. “We hardly ever presented our maritime event concepts and ships in person anymore, instead using video conferencing and similar tools,” explains Christian Muehleck. Over 90 percent of customer contacts suddenly took place virtually. This massively reduced the amount of travel – and contributed to the pleasing reduction in emissions. OceanEvent received the ‘climate-neutral company’ seal from Fokus-Zukunft GmbH for this.

OceanEvent GmbH is a climate-neutral companyOceanEvent may also bear this ‘title’ for the years 2024 and 2025. The most recent emissions balance sheet has just been published (February 9, 2024), which provides information on how the ecological footprint has continued to develop. Admittedly: It has increased. Although potential savings have been made, heat consumption has been reduced and special attention has been paid to all avoidable sources of emissions. The reason? An increase in travel by the OceanEvent team. Christian Muehleck explains: “Our business has recovered significantly from the pandemic-related slump in 2023. This means that our employees are going on more pre-cruises again, we are scouting more coastal regions again and are traveling on cruise ships more frequently than in 2022 – the time when the last carbon footprint was drawn up.”

Does this mean that OceanEvent is doing less to protect the climate than it was two years ago? “No,” says the cruise expert, for whom the issue is important. “We continue to pursue our climate strategy right from the planning stage of every charter cruise.” By selecting the ships that are proposed and offered to customers, the cruise charter specialist indirectly influences the shipping companies’ sustainability efforts. In 2022 and 2023, 24 out of 30 ships chartered by OceanEvent for maritime events, incentives, conferences and private celebrations were among the most environmentally friendly in the world. This trend has continued. A lot is happening in the industry – also due to stricter regulations in many countries around the world. Christian Muehleck welcomes this.

Offsetting emissions supports important climate projects

Together with Fokus-Zukunft, he and his team have once again worked out what they can do. The broker continues to offset all unavoidable emissions with emission certificates. Despite critical reporting, which happens time and again: Fokus-Zukunft and other, independent institutes (such as the Alliance for Climate and Development, Waldklimastandard.de, etc.) assure us that the quality of forests is an indispensable tool for achieving climate targets. As are other CO reduction measures around the world. “This requires substantial financial resources – and these are reliably generated through climate protection certificates like the ones we purchase.”

Logos like the one OceanEvent receives for its commitment will become even more informative and comparable from 2025. They will then be provided with a mandatory QR code that discloses the company’s carbon footprint. Relevant environmental projects (e.g. Ocean CleanUp) that the charter specialist supports through donations and other campaigns will also be included. All of this will make it even more transparent in future how environmentally friendly the company is.

Environmentally friendly ships at OceanEvent

The topic of sustainability is not only being driven forward at OceanEvent, but of course in the entire cruise industry. The industry must be CO2-neutral by 2050. For this reason, shipping companies have been investing billions in innovative drives, environmentally friendly fuels, emission avoidance, waste water treatment, biological sewage treatment plants, heat recovery, waste recycling and much more for over 10 years. With success. Even today, many ships – even the large ones – release significantly fewer sulphur emissions, particulate emissions have often been reduced by 95 percent, nitrogen oxides by 85 percent and greenhouse gases by around 20 percent.

Another important intermediate step on the way to climate-neutral ship operation is the shore power supply. A cruise ship spends around 40 percent of its operating time in port. In the past, the diesel engines simply continued to run to supply the kitchen, laundry and the entire hotel and entertainment operations. “By using shore power, the engines can be switched off and emissions reduced to almost zero,” says Christian Muehleck. Many of the ships in the OceanEvent portfolio are now equipped for shore power. “What is still lagging behind are the ports that have to provide the electricity.” Currently, fewer than 20 ports can do this – worldwide! Three of them are in Germany. “The industry is calling on the port authorities to also invest in a sustainable shore power infrastructure and ensure that it comes from green, renewable sources.” In addition to Germany, this is currently happening primarily in the Mediterranean region, where massive investments are planned. Because: “As part of the EU’s Fit for 55 program, shore power must be used in all major ports in the European Union by 2030.”

In addition to the power supply, the latest generation of cruise ships are now all equipped with alternative propulsion systems and highly CO2-saving technologies. Christian Muehleck offers almost all of these. And the navigator calculates every charter cruise himself! This gives him the opportunity to determine the cruising speed. “This is also crucial for reducing our carbon footprint to a minimum.” After all, it makes a difference whether a ship ploughs through the sea at 19 knots – or sails at 9 knots with just one engine.

For the participants of OceanEvent’s maritime events, leisurely cruising is a benefit, and for the environment anyway. And so it is possible to plan an event sustainably – even on a cruise ship.

The right ship for your maritime event

Are you planning a corporate event or a private party and want something absolutely unique? It should be exclusive and create long-lasting memories. The environment is also important to you. Then you will find the most sustainable cruise ships for your event at OceanEvent:

> Cruise ships for full charter – from 30 to 3000 cabins

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OceanEvent GmbH
Seearkaden / Zweigstrasse 1
D-82319 Starnberg
TEL +49.8151.746 49-0
MAIL info@oceanevent.com


With OceanEvent you will experience events in a completely new way: onboard exclusively chartered cruise ships! Be it 30 or 6000 participants, we have the perfect floating venues for your conference, incentive, or private celebration. Our nautical experts and creative event planners implement your event in the most beautiful coastal regions of the world.

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