River cruise companies are leading the way, greening the inland waterways of the world.

Over the last ten years, river cruising has pioneered sustainability targets. Companies are now dipping even deeper to continue to initiate ways of reducing the environmental impact. Here are just some of their initiatives.

Going green

In addition to a goal to launch the first fully electric river cruise vessel by 2027, Avalon Waterways current ‘green’ blueprint also promises more local food production and sustainable shore excursions, partner with more destinations to generate sustainable energy when docked and to reduce paper waste to 1% by the end of 2023.

Since introducing its Active & Discovery cruises in 2017, the company has expanded this concept to meet consumer demand for activities that tap into, and help support local communities.

In partnership with sister company, Globus, Avalon is committed to conserve and protect people, places and the planet through the Lighthouse Project. This initiative supports around 50 non-profit organisations such as Trees4Travel where Avalon offsets the carbon footprint of every guest by donating tens of thousands of trees each year and The Great Ocean Clean-up dedicated to removing plastics from oceans before they enter river waterways.

In design

Celebrating 20 years in business and 26 vessels later, APT’s vessel supplier Amawaterways is using thoughtful design like LED lights, insulated windows that reduce energy needs for heating and cooling, power locks to plug into the port’s power supply instead generators, solar heating systems, and water treatment plants.

Unveiled in 2019, the revolutionary AmaMagna boasts a 10-engine configuration designed to reduce overall fuel consumption by up to 20% and to minimise food miles. There is a herb garden on the sundeck. The introduction of culinary action stations in 2021 with two-person variety appetizer plates has also contributed to reducing food waste.

Through a partnership with Quietvox, personal audio devices packaged in biodegradable rice paper bags and fitted with rechargeable batteries are given to guests for shore activities.


Family owned and operated for over 90 years, APT has always stood by social integrity and strives to deliver guests exceptional journeys while providing meaningful connections and strategic philanthropic investment within the communities they visit.

Launched in 2019, OneTomorrow program is an initiative by the APT Travel Group (ATG) where guest donations can be made to a selection of carefully researched grassroot charities. Projects include Living Water Myanmar aimed at providing schools and villages in the dry zone of Myanmar access to clean water and Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation helping to give Vietnamese children suffering from poverty, disability, human trafficking etc a better future. And for every guest dollar donated, APT matches it, subsequently doubling the impact.

Treading right

In 2020 The Travel Corporation established How we Tread Right – a five-year sustainability strategy across its brands. In less than two years, Uniworld is already making significant progress in tackling food wastage. With a target of a 50% reduction across the entire fleet by 2015, through working with Leanpath, a food management system, Uniworld was able to reduce food waste by 15% in the first three months.

The cruise line has also increased its use of local and organic products defining ‘local’ as a product sourced within a 50 –80 kilometre radius of the riverbank along the route of the itinerary.

Uniworld is also aiming to include at least one significant local experience on 50% of its itineraries by 2025 through its Make Travel Matter program, designed to give back to local communities, wildlife and land. One example of an experience is a visit to the Iraq Al-Amir Womens’ Cooperative in Jordan where women create and sell exquisite traditional handcrafted paper bowls. Another is in India where guests can gain an insight into the humbling work of the Calcutta Rescue that provides free services to people in need.