At AIDA, we believe that acting sustainably and creating unforgettable vacation memories go hand in hand. We inform our travel agency partners and our guests about our commitment. We are also continuously expanding our selection of sustainable and attractive excursions. The “AIDA Friends of the Ocean” organization is actively committed to marine and coastal protection.
AIDA biking excursions offer many advantages: They are healthy, environmentally friendly, and give guests a more authentic experience in the destination region. Biking excursions have been a part of our program for a long time and we continuously expand our offers.
All AIDA ships are furnished with up to 120 bicycles, including E-bikes. We currently offer more than 250 attractive biking excursions for every difficulty level and these are immensely popular among our guests. The number of AIDA guests who go on excursions with bicycles or E-bikes is growing every year, because bicycles allow for a particularly in-depth exploration of the destinations. Whether you prefer a relaxed discovery tour or sporty active tour: Our Soft, Soft Active, Active & Introductory tours offer something for everyone. On our tours with electric bikes, the tailwind is already included. All biking excursions are accompanied by professional AIDA biking guides.
Another alternative for environmentally friendly transportation that is just as fun consists of our Segway tours. If you have any questions about our tours, please contact the AIDA biking team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sustainable shore excursions
Sustainably designed shore excursions do not just allow our guests to enjoy unforgettable experiences; they can also play an important part in economic development, protecting and promoting the environment, preserving cultural heritage, and helping maintain the livelihoods of local populations. We sent a clear signal for sustainable tourism when we signed the UN-WTO Code of Ethics for Tourism in 2012. When it comes to “sustainable shoreside excursions,” AIDA Cruises is one of the pioneers in the cruise industry and continuously expands its offer.
In 2013 we developed standardized criteria for sustainable shoreside excursions with the sustainability initiative Futouris e.V. and the State Chancellery Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania as well as the Leuphana University in Luneburg as part of a cooperative project. The goal was to create a transparent basis of comparison for the sustainability of the individual excursion offers and to base the evaluation on measurable and scientific criteria.
In early 2014, the Baltic Sea was assessed as being a model region based on the new catalog of criteria. By the end of 2014, the assessment model had been transferred to AIDA shore excursions in all destination regions.
All AIDA excursions that fulfill social, ecological and cultural criteria are specially marked with a tree symbol. As early as during the excursion booking on MyAIDA, our guests can therefore see which of the offers are particularly sustainable.
The four main criteria for the evaluation of the individual excursions include the transport performance, the contents or focus of the excursion (e.g. culture, nature, etc.), the food offers and the sustainability engagement of the local partner agency. There are also numerous secondary points that are integrated into the evaluation. With respect to the transport component, preventing CO2 emissions is the top priority. Biking excursions leaving directly from the ship are thus scored higher than using low-emission buses. If the commissioned local agency offsets the CO2 emissions produced by an excursion, then this also positively impacts the assessment. Nature excursions are also scored particularly high on sustainability if, for example, a trained ranger tells the visitors about wildlife conservation and special aspects. Dining options is another main topic. Sustainable excursions are focused on using regional products for local specialties. Complying with minimum standards for the staff of our agencies on site according to the core labor standards of the ILO (International Labour Organization), a specialized agency of the United Nations (UNO), also plays an important role in the catalog of criteria.
At the moment, 142 shoreside excursions as well as 230 bike and pedelec tours carry the sustainability seal. This also includes offers such as kayak tours or fun types of sports such as stand-up paddling.
On all AIDA shore excursions it is very important to us that any packaging we bring along or any other waste we generate is disposed of on site in an environmentally friendly way. If this is not possible, our participants take the garbage back to the ship where it is appropriately separated and recycled or disposed of.
In March 2015, AIDA and the climate protection organization "atmosfair" joined forces to start a climate protection program that sets standards in the cruise industry. The program is focused on initiatives such as a direct reduction in CO2 ship emissions and voluntary CO2 compensation for cruises.
All AIDA guests can voluntarily book the CO2 compensation of their cruises at www.aida.de under MyAIDA. By 2020, we would like to see 20 percent of AIDA guests using CO2 compensation to make a voluntary contribution to climate protection.
Through atmosfair climate protection projects, AIDA is also compensating CO2 emissions from all employee business travel by plane or rental car.
The proceeds will go toward a biomass power plant in northern India, which produces green electricity from crop residues for 40,000 households, saves 30,000 tons of CO2 annually, and contributes to the region’s development by offering new job opportunities and income sources for farmers.
AIDA Cruises also aims to work with atmosfair in a joint pilot project to test the opportunities of utilizing LNG (liquefied natural gas) to power cruise ships in the future, which would completely eliminate CO2 emissions by using power to gas methods and wind or solar power. If successful, this could be the beginning of CO2-free cruises. AIDA Cruises promotes and supports the introduction of uniform standards and specifications for using LNG in the shipping industry.
Protection of animals and species
To preserve fauna and flora, AIDA Cruises is also committed to the protection of animals and species and makes its guests aware of this topic. For example: For reasons related to animal welfare, we do not offer any visits to dolphinariums or elephant rides, since most of these facilities do not provide humane treatment of animals. We have therefore decided to stop supporting these facilities. However as an exception, we do support a few select theme parks that are actively committed to species conservation and promoting the protection of animals through their educational and research work. These parks provide the animals with living conditions that exceed the minimum defined standards for animal welfare.
AIDA is a member of the Futouris e.V. initiative, which aims to work together with environmental organizations and researchers to review and improve how animal welfare standards are defined and adhered to. AIDA Cruises recommends that guests who are interested in whales and dolphins observe them in the wild, for example on a whale watching tour.
We support soft tourism and are continuing to expand our range of shore excursions. This is also why for many years we have been offering our guests excursions where they can see whales, dolphins, and other marine life in their natural habitats. We work with select providers who make sure that tourists will not disturb the animals.
We want our guests to have the opportunity to consciously experience the many different facets of sustainability – in everyday life on board and on shore excursions as well as during our informational events on culture and the environment. With our program – through what we offer and what we don’t – we want to inspire our guests to travel with greater awareness.
Training our travel agent partners
In addition to the actual vacation experience, the eco-friendliness of a planned trip is becoming a key booking factor for more and more people. AIDA Cruises thus provides our travel agency partners with transparent information about our commitment to the environment. We are also available to speak with them and answer any questions they have in order to thoroughly advise their customers. In 2015, sustainability was a key point on the agenda at 335 customer events for travel agencies and 182 trade fairs. We have also firmly integrated environmental protection into our office and field staff teams for our sales campaigns. In November 2015, we began the EXPIdition program, a multipart series of training workshops for travel agency employees, which included an online test with questions about the environment.
AIDA Friends of the Ocean e.V. (AIDA Freunde der Meere e.V.)
As a cruise company, conserving a pristine environment and maintaining clean oceans is a matter of principle for us. They are part of an unforgettable vacation experience that we also want to be able to offer our guests in the future. Many employees as well as guests support our efforts to protect this sensitive ecosystem and want to actively contribute to preserving it. But how and where can they get involved?
At the suggestion of AIDA employees, a committed team lead by Dr. Monika Griefahn, Chief Sustainability Officer at AIDA Cruises, decided to tackle this very question. The result: On March 12, 2013, the founding meeting for the AIDA Friends of the Ocean (“AIDA Freunde der Meere e.V.”) was held on board AIDAstella.
AIDA Friends of the Ocean operates as a non-profit and is managed separately from AIDA. The organization has set the goal of using various projects to promote the concept of environmental and marine conservation at both the national and international level.
According to information from the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP), each year around 6.4 million tonnes of trash are dumped into the world’s oceans. According to Germany's Federal Environmental Agency there was 100 to 150 million tonnes of trash in the oceans in 2013 and plastics made up 60percent of it. About 70 percent of the trash settles on the ocean floor. AIDA Friends of the Ocean wants to do something to stop this. It cannot stand idly by and watch as more and more animals perish and the vital habitats of birds, fish, and other living creatures are destroyed.
The organization is focused on raising awareness of the threat posed to the ocean's fragile ecosystems and educating the public on appropriate initiatives to protect the maritime environment. AIDA Friends of the Ocean wants to get as many people as possible excited about the fascinating world of the ocean and thus increase conservation efforts and the willingness to protect our oceans and coastal landscapes over the long term. This should particularly be done through practical nature protection projects, but also through educational and PR work.
In 2015, AIDA Friends of the Ocean participated in International Coastal Cleanup Day again and held coastal cleanup activities in Hamburg and Warnemünde. Furthermore, following the great success in the previous year, the association worked with the Tourism Center of Rostock & Warnemünde and the Mecklenburg Association of Baltic Sea Resorts e.V. again in 2015 in order to distribute beach ashtrays in Rostock/Warnemünde and all Baltic Sea resort areas along the coast of Mecklenburg. The objective was to raise environmental awareness of tourists and locals, and make it easier to properly dispose of cigarettes at the beach.
As of 2015, AIDA Friends of the Ocean is supported by honorary ambassadors who promote the protection of the oceans and represent the association at events, for example during campaigns for Climate Day 2015. The current ambassadors are Olaf and Jana Eichhorst, Stefanie and Peter Altweck, Thomas Höffler, Peggy Mokosch and Barbara Holzner.
Another important focus for AIDA Friends of the Ocean is its committed opposition to using microplastics. What many of us don't know: many toothpastes, exfoliating shower gels, and other everyday products contain small “plastic pearls” that are supposed to enhance the cleaning action. You can particularly tell if a product has microplastics when polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) are listed as ingredients on the packaging. These microplastics travel from bathroom drains right into our water sources, and the particles are not biodegradable. They endanger not only the environment, but also birds and fish which mistake them for plankton and then perish in misery. With the consumption of fish, microplastics also enter our food chain, thereby endangering human health as well. AIDA Friends of the Ocean wants to raise awareness about the impact of microplastics and encourage consumers to make conscious product decisions. All cleaning and cosmetic products on board AIDA ships are naturally free of microplastics.
The AIDA Friends of the Ocean organization is open to anybody who wants to be actively involved in protecting our oceans. Donations and memberships will help the organization continue to grow and promote its projects. We warmly welcome new members who wish to actively contribute their ideas and work on projects.
More information about AIDA Friends of the Ocean, membership applications, and contact details can be found at www.aida-freunde-der-meere.de.