Hi, my name is Darko, and I am the Environmental Officer on Royal Caribbean International’s Ovation of the Seas. I’ve been an Environmental Officer for 15 years and having a part in safeguarding the environment brings me incredible pride. I’m excited to walk you through a typical day for me on one of my favourite ships.  

To start, I’ll let you in on a rule of thumb for living and working on a ship – no two days are ever the same. As an Environmental Officer my role is constantly evolving and taking on new forms depending on what part of the world, I’m in and what ship I’m on. As the subject matter expert on all international, national, and local environmental regulations, I oversee and ensure our ship operations comply with a range of standards set by governing authorities.

While our ships are always navigating through different parts of the world and regulations vary across these regions, the way we operate our ships doesn’t change very much. Since we are committed to going above and beyond compliance, we standardize our operations taking best practices and ensuring every ship on our fleet meet or exceed regulatory compliance in all areas.

A few of my daily activities include looking after our recycling process for varying waste streams. On a ship with thousands of people onboard waste is inevitable, but it is our mission to handle it responsibly and leave the vibrant ocean and communities we visit, just like we found them. With that in mind, every day I work closely with different departments to make sure all the trash on board is separated by type, disposed of properly and meet the benchmarks set by our Save the Waves program, our first environmental program which started over 30 years ago.

Beyond our robust reduce, reuse and recycling programs I am also involved with the storage, transportation, and disposal of waste streams with the aim to divert our trash away from local landfills. In addition, I regularly conduct trainings with our crew to outline protocols and remind them that it takes every one of us, from the bartenders and incinerator crew to engineers, to maintain our operations and the industry’s highest standards.

When I’m not in the waste management room, a part of my job I cherish is traveling to all corners of the world. I’m able to see and experience the most captivating and unique places. Having previously sailed to Australia I got the opportunity to sail to Sydney on our ship in 2022 and this year. While the day at port is busy, I got see one of the most spectacular harbors on earth, stroll along Pitt Street and have an unforgettable ‘nosh with a view’. As our seasons change, I am also able to visit other extraordinary regions, like Alaska, I’m on my third season now in Alaska and second on Ovation of the Seas. I’ve quickly learned what makes it so special, from the dense forests, rocky shorelines, charming historic towns and snow-covered mountains the raw beauty of Alaska is breath-taking.

No matter how many times I travel to these bucket list destinations, I am always blown-away by the splendour of our planet and all its wildlife. As an Environmental Officer in these highly protected areas, it is my responsibility and honour to maintain some of the most rigorous environmental regulations in the world. By having our ships go beyond what is expected, we are helping sustain our environment and ensure it remains breathtaking for generations to come.

Royal Caribbean in Alaska.
Royal Caribbean takes its environmental responsibility seriously.

Challenges of maintaining the environment

  • Energy consumption
    The world is focused on reducing our collective carbon footprint and we are not different. We challenge ourselves to enhance the energy efficiency of our fleet, we have completed over 500 efficiency-projects including highly efficient AC chillers and HVAC automation systems. We are also pursuing alternative, lower-carbon energy sources, such as biofuels and LNG.
  • Waste
    An environmental challenge that extends well beyond the cruise industry is trash and how to manage it. To do our part in sustaining our planet, Royal Caribbean Group has introduced rigorous waste management procedures and technologies. For instance, we have equipped all our ships to be landfill-free, with processes in place to keep all waste from going to landfills. And most recently, we announced that Icon of the Seas will feature the cruise industry’s first onboard system that converts trash into energy.
  • Water
    An issue that is often not talked about is the world’s limited supply of clean water. Water is a precious resource, both on our ship and off so we go to great lengths to ensure it used efficiently and we have a sustainable supply of freshwater. In fact, aboard our ship we produce our own water from seawater through two main methods, steam evaporation and reverse osmosis, giving us the ability to produce our own water supply to power showers in each stateroom and the seemingly endless stream on our waterslides.
  • Collaboration
    A single entity does not have the ability to address the environmental issues we face today, it will take different industries, disciplines, and expertise coming together to share learnings and arrive at new and better solutions.