Chile’s fjords and coastal regions are heavily protected in order to retain their pristine natural beauty. Vegan Travel + Australis take environmental responsibility extremely seriously and have implemented a range of sustainable practices in order to limit emissions, waste, noise and energy usages. The Chilean government has implemented strict policies which include heavy fuel bans and restricted territorial areas to maintain the incredible natural beauty and ecosystems of the region.
We are aware and sensitive to the need to maintain an ecological balance between human activities and the beauty and proliferation of nature. Our policy aims at responsible environmental protection; our objective is to prevent any type of contamination in our operations, as well as producing minimum impact in the places where we have our excursions. During our Chile tours, one of our main concerns is not to affect the ecosystem of the flora that is endemic to the region nor alter any reproduction processes of local fauna.
We are concerned about the effects that tourist activities can have on the conservation of the natural and cultural environments, since we work in a pristine natural area practically untouched by man.
- Massive tourism is avoided.
- The excursions are guided by expedition leaders who have been trained to provide real information with scientific basis.
- The scientific data is constantly updated, to provide the tourists with real current information.
- The Expedition team is constantly trained in all necessary areas, as education is the best tool for the protection and conservation of the environment.
Environmental Protection Practices
On the Stella Australis:
- Prior to weighing anchor, we hold a meeting with the passengers, in which information about life on board is provided. One of the main points we emphasize is the commitment that Australis has with the environment. Our Patagonia cruises are meant to be enjoyable, but we must not forget about the environment doing so. In order to transmit this ideology, we explain what must be done to prevent these virgin territories from being contaminated.
- We motivate the responsible use of towels aboard ship, explaining the ecological cost of washing practically unused towels.
Our ships have treatment systems for sewage, gray water, and organic waste, established by the SOLAS Standard (Marpol).
- All solid waste is separated, compacted, and unloaded in both ports (Ushuaia and Punta Arenas).
- For the comfort and enjoyment of our guests, our ships are designated as non-smoking; however, we recognize that some of our guests do smoke. Therefore, to provide an onboard environment that also satisfies smokers, we have designated outdoor smoking areas. Passengers are shown where they are located on the first day so they can prevent cigarette waste from going into the sea.
- Internal recycling of Expedition paper used for passenger information is done.
- Every passenger cabin has a brochure explaining our concern for taking care of the natural environment.
- Our excursion boats are equipped with state-of-art 4-stroke engines which are more environmentally friendly.
On our expeditions:
- Instructions for the protection and conduct of the passengers are provided prior to each excursion indicating the visit to our National Parks with the express prohibition of extracting organic or non-organic materials from the places we disembark. (Rocks, flowers, leaves, branches, feathers, insects, sea shells, etc.)
- The excursion groups do not surpass 20 people per guide.
- All passengers are accompanied by guides, no passenger may circulate alone in the Alberto de Agostini and Cabo de Hornos National Parks, or the Los Pingüinos Natural Reserve.
- Marked trails are used to avoid having an impact on fragile vegetation. We have a serious policy to allow the recovery of trails and sites when they show any impact.
- In the past few years wooden walkways have been built in those places that require it due to their ecological fragility, thereby preventing the accelerated wear and tear of the vegetal layer, a damage which would take dozens of years to recover in some cases.
- When we disembark we do not allow snacks or picnics, thereby reducing the possibility of generating garbage.
- We ask passengers to cooperate with nature, encouraging the collection of any garbage we may find.
- At the end of each expedition we gather what has been found and return it to the city for its treatment. We leave no waste in the Parks.
- For each excursion we have recipients for any garbage found.
- In Wulaia Bay, there is ecological equipment, a wind generator and solar panels.
- When we disembark we strictly control the approach towards land animals such as elephant seals, sea lions, and penguins. We teach passengers how to observe the fauna properly.
- The prohibition of acoustic contamination is established while promoting the enjoyment of silence in the southern part of the world, without shouting or making disturbing noises.
- When we visit historic sites, we avoid trampling the area and the collection of elements, explaining the archeological value of these sites to the passengers. (Wulaia Bay).
Sanitation and Waste Disposal
Innovative policies are in place when it comes to waste disposal and sanitation procedures. Where possible, waste is treated onboard to reduce its volume. Once transferred to land, waste materials are disposed of according to local rules and regulations. All sewage treatment systems have been certified and approved by the International Marine Organization and by local coast guard regulatory agencies. The sewage system on board the Stella Australis is able to treat grey water produced from sinks, showers and laundry to a much higher standard than shoreside treatment plants. Special technology is also utilized to ensure that only clean water is discharged to sea. Heavy fuel burning is banned, so the ship utilises low sulfur fuels to lessen environmental impact, and high-tech systems are in place to reduce harmful air emissions. Norway has a strict environmental policy and is listed as a sensitive area, so the Columbus Pearl goes above and beyond to comply with these regulations.
Passengers are encouraged to play a role in limited energy consumption while onboard and are given the option to reuse towels as opposed to having them washed on a daily basis. Bathrooms have been designed to limit water wastage, and the special eVac toilet systems use only a couple of liters per flush as opposed to the standard seven.
All cabins come with state-of-the-art adjustable climate control, and all air-conditioning / heating systems have been chosen with energy-efficiency in mind. The entire hull of the ship has been painted with eco-friendly silicon paint to limit its effect on the environment and allow it to cut through the water more efficiently.
Food and Recycling
Vegan Travel + Australis aim to carefully forecast food consumption in a bid to limit food waste. Where possible, food is sourced from suppliers that are located near to transit points to reduce CO2 emissions from the food delivery process. Food products are also selected based on their packaging, and limit plastic packaging is preferred.
A strict recycling policy is in place whereby garbage is separated, and batteries and cleaning products are all recycled. Cleaning products are chosen carefully, and green products are used when possible. A chemical information database is available for passengers who want more information on the different types of products and chemicals that are used on board.
Aside from environmental factors, Vegan Travel + Australis also strive to be a good ethical employer to ensure the health, safety and ultimately happiness of all their staff members.