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Celebrity Cruises’ Equinox has become the third ship in the Royal Caribbean Cruises family to participate in an onboard lab program that tracks ocean circulation dynamics and measures atmospheric and oceanographic conditions on a series of cruises. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) is the parent company of Celebrity and Royal Caribbean International.
The critically important research, conducted by the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, allows scientists to capture and analyze oceanographic and atmospheric data on the line’s ships sailing worldwide.
Now that Equinox has completed its scheduled dry dock in Cadiz, Spain, it joins Royal Caribbean International’s Allure of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas in giving the scientists access to information on ocean temperature, salinity and chlorophyll concentration, as well as data on properties of the ocean’s surface. In addition, the onboard equipment measures elements of weather, such as wind speed, wind direction, barometric pressure and humidity.
The University of Miami’s OceanScope equipment on Explorer of the Seas has tracked ocean circulation dynamics since 2000 in the North Atlantic basin, where the ship sails on Bermuda and Caribbean routes from the northeastern U.S. Allure of the Seas’ lab tracks these conditions through the Eastern and Western Caribbean, and has done so since 2012. Now Equinox will provide insight into ocean dynamics in the Mediterranean Sea, across the North Atlantic and along the Iberian Peninsula.
“These data are proving to be of invaluable assistance in calibrating and verifying the American and European satellites monitoring climate change throughout the ocean,” said Dr. Peter B. Ortner, director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at Rosenstiel. “Smaller packets of data are transmitted on an hourly basis through RCL’s regular satellite link and large data sets will be sent back via Internet connection when the ship is in port.”
Funded in part by RCL’s Ocean Fund, the lab program was established in 1996 to support marine conservation organizations in safeguarding the health of the world’s oceans and coastal communities. The program helps scientists monitor, understand and forecast climate change and its effects on marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, which contribute about a quarter of the annual total fish catch in developing countries.
Royal has donated more than $13 million to over 75 organizations around the world for projects that relate to ocean science, climate change, key marine species, education and innovative technologies.
It’s particularly appropriate that Equinox, a Solstice-class ship, is now involved in the lab project. Solstice-class ships were designed with a number of eco-friendly features, including solar panels that power all the guest elevators, 7,000-plus LED lights, high-glazed windows that absorb less heat and reduce needed air conditioning and an advanced wastewater purification system capable of treating all wastewater and restoring it to close to drinking-water quality before releasing it into the sea.
Royal Caribbean Cruises chairman and CEO Richard Fain and his family are personally involved in conservation and environmental initiatives. Fain’s daughter graduated from Rosenstiel’s joint degree program in law and marine affairs and policy. In addition, RCL and Fain recently won the 2014 Federal Maritime Commission Chairman's Earth Day Award.