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The tides are changing: Embracing Sustainability in Cruise Destinations

FCCA Travel and Cruise Magazine – 1st Quarter 2024

As the enchantment of the open seas continues to draw travelers from around the globe, the cruise industry continues to set sail into new horizons, steering towards a new course – one that prioritizes sustainable tourism. In recent years, sustainability has become a focal point for cruise lines, with a growing recognition of the need to balance the thrill of exploration with environmental and social stewardship, embracing practices that prioritize the health of our oceans and the communities they visit.

Cruise tourism heavily relies on the beauty of the world’s oceans, making the protection of marine ecosystems a top priority. Cruise lines are also increasingly focusing on responsible tourism practices to minimize any negative impact on a social level, and maximize opportunities for residents, fostering an appreciation for local cultures and traditions and ensuring that cruise activities contribute positively to the people and places they visit. Engaging with local businesses, respecting cultural heritage, and supporting community-based projects are becoming integral parts of the cruise experience. 

And while cruise lines continue to make progress towards improving their sustainability game, it’s important that at the destination level, local stakeholders work on improving their skills to provide destination experiences that align with these trends, including more sustainable tours that will leave a positive dent in their communities and create great unforgettable memories for guests.

Recognizing the pivotal role the experience in the destination plays, Aquila is offering a new training program to fill that gap: “Excellence in Sustainable Destination Experience”. Imagine a cruise journey where every shore visit leaves a positive impact on the destination and its inhabitants. This training aims to turn this vision into reality by empowering local stakeholders with the mindsets, strategies, and skills necessary to offer more authentic, impactful, and sustainable excursions for cruise guests while in port.  One of the highlights of the content is the exploration of the role played by locals in ensuring sustainable destination experiences, and guidelines for the creation of shore experiences that not only captivate but also preserve the unique charm of their communities.

As participants navigate through the course, they are introduced to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), its criteria, and programs, opening the doors to a broader community committed to sustainable tourism practices, creating a network where ideas are shared, and best practices are cultivated.

Topics for this full day workshop include: 

  • What is sustainability and its relevance
  • Sustainability Trends in the industry
  • Your role as a local stakeholder to ensure sustainable destination experiences
  • Guidelines and tools to create sustainable guest experiences 

By increasing understanding of sustainability among your stakeholders, along with sharing the practical knowledge and tools to deliver sustainable guest experiences, your destination will create positive impacts for everyone in the destination, while also ensuring that you can continue to share what’s special about your destination with guests today, tomorrow, and long into the future.  

Aquila is thrilled to announce that our Global Trainer launching this program is also joining Aquila on a full-time basis this month, adding to our Aquilamazing Team.  Ambra Attus becomes our Director of Impact, Growth & Development. Born and raised in Italy and now based in the Dominican Republic, Ambra has extensive knowledge and experience in tourism, with more than 20 years in the industry performing a wide range of functions in hospitality, tour operations, excursions, cruises and destination management.  She has been a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) since 2018, and brings a solid background in training and coaching on sustainability, as well as extensive practice and expertise designing sustainable and purpose driven shore excursions for cruise lines in the Caribbean and raising tourism awareness.

The winds of change are blowing, and the cruise industry is setting sail towards a sustainable future. As travelers seek meaningful journeys, cruise lines, communities, and local stakeholders must unite to create a harmonious balance between profits, exploration, and socio-environmental responsibility.  With the introduction of the Sustainable Destination Experience Training, Aquila seeks to empower local stakeholders and equip them with the tools to ensure the travel experience in their destination meets the evolving expectations of travelers and cruise lines, while allowing their regions to thrive, not just economically but sustainably.  

Each port destination becomes an opportunity to leave a lasting, positive impact on the communities, economies, and environments cruise tourism touches, and to prove that the joy of cruise travel can coexist harmoniously with environmental and social responsibility. 

Beth Kelly Hatt is the President of the Aquila Center for Cruise Excellence, the FCCA’s official training partner, and celebrated 40 years in business in 2022.  Contact Beth for more information about this and other training, including Strategic Training Plans at

Stay tuned for another WAVE of change… an Aquila Training Wave Season launch this Spring!