Cruise the Great Lakes (CTGL) is a coalition of states and provinces, cruise lines, ports, convention and visitor bureaus, and others working together to promote cruising on the Great Lakes. CTGL is committed to promoting environmentally conscious cruising and destination stewardship which are critical to preserving the natural beauty of the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, and our region’s cities. 

Through this sustainability pledge, CTGL members and partners commit to working together to promote and implement environmentally friendly and sustainable cruising practices. Additionally, as future technologies become available that may enhance sustainability and environmental performance, CTGL members and partners commit to their evaluation and implementation where appropriate. 

The Great Lakes Advantage

 Great Lakes cruises are unique in both experience and impact. Because vessel size is limited by the St. Lawrence Seaway’s lock system, the ships themselves are small and provide a more intimate guest experience. The largest cruise vessels in operation on the Great Lakes can hold a maximum of 400 passengers, with an average size of fewer than 200. Oceangoing cruise ships, by contrast, carry an average of 3000 passengers, or 15 times more than those cruising the Great Lakes. Additionally, Great Lakes ships handle waste and emissions responsibly. No unlawful discharge occurs to Great Lakes waters, and solid waste is retained on board until a port of call where it can be handled by local municipal waste providers. Due to the smaller physical and environmental footprint of Great Lakes cruise ships, they retain a comparative advantage in inherent sustainability, destination stewardship and are poised to take advantage of future green energy initiatives. 




Being sensitive and respectful to the character of the ports of call and taking proactive measures wherever possible to maintain a light shoreside footprint

Sourcing food locally wherever possible

Continuing participation in industry collaborations such as the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) to help port cities analyze how to manage tourism flows and map out a road map for a sustainable future


  • Using shore power where available and supporting shore power installation where not currently available
  • Continuing research and adaptation of alternative fuels where practical, including liquified natural gas, biofuels, and synthetic fuels, paired with exhaust gas cleaning systems for ships that use fossil fuel technologies
  • Working toward the goal established by the Cruise Lines International Association in 2018 of a 40% reduction in the rate of carbon emissions across the cruise industry’s global fleet by 2030
  • Using ecological, non-toxic, slick hull paint coatings, which have been estimated to improve fuel efficiency by five percent, where practicable
  • Using advanced materials in ship applications such as advanced strength-enhanced steel, providing energy savings through reducing ship weight and providing a more hydrodynamic surface
  • Installing tinted windows, high-efficiency appliances, and HVAC systems, and windows that capture and recycle heat reduce energy use from heating and air conditioning
  • Switching to LED lights, which use 80 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than previous lighting systems, or other efficient lighting solutions
  • Using solar panels for emissions-free energy where practicable
  • Supporting research and development of carbon-reducing technologies including zero-carbon fuels 



  • Discharging wastewater only to shore treatment facilities where available and continuing to not unlawfully discharge any wastewater to surface water
  • Complying with regulatory requirements set by the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)


  • Working with suppliers to reduce materials and use more sustainable materials
  • Improving the reusability of materials such as opting for aluminum or reusable glass bottles over single-use alternatives
  • Donating discarded materials to vulnerable communities when practicable
  • Maximizing onboard recycling by hand-sorting trash and storing recyclables onboard in appropriate facilities until a recycling hub is reached
  • Converting waste into energy where practicable through avenues such as repurposing food waste into energy for onboard use and recycling hot water to heat passenger cabins


These Cruise the Great Lakes partners have committed to this sustainability pledge to promote a safe cruising environment:

Scroll to top