Alabama native Danny Smith strives to make the cruise industry more environmentally sustainable

What started as a whim has turned into a global whirlwind for Danny Smith.

Originally from landlocked Birmingham, Smith spotted a vacancy four years ago in the UK branch of Carnival Corp., the cruise ship company. It was for a newly created position: environmental manager of the fleet.

Next thing you know, Smith is in Southampton, England aboard the Queen victoria of the famous Cunard line, one of the nine global cruise ship brands. It was Smith’s first time on a cruise ship.

“I really like what I do. It’s totally different from the world of utilities, ”said Smith, former director of environmental services at Alagasco, now known as Arrow.

Much of Smith’s education and experience made him an ideal candidate for Carnival work, which involved overseeing environmental compliance and sustainability efforts for Carnival UK’s Cunard and P&O Cruise companies. Smith is both a Registered Professional Engineer and Lawyer, with a Masters in Environmental Management (MSEM) from Samford University and a doctorate in interdisciplinary engineering from UAB. He was also a long-time Assistant Professor in the MSEM program at Samford and taught environmental law at the Birmingham Law School.

The Queen Victoria is one of the cruise ships that Danny Smith has worked with. (contributed)

In his work with Carnival UK, Smith worked closely with each vessel’s environmental manager, as well as the captain and chief engineer, to help the team meet a myriad of environmental regulations, reduce waste and emissions to air and water. As Smith explained, cruise ships are essentially “floating cities”. The crew must deal with all of the environmental challenges associated with accommodation and food – and the proper storage and disposal of all by-products – which come from thousands of people spending days or even weeks together. over the seas. In addition, there are all environmental rules and emission limits that accompany the operation of all vessel equipment, including engines, heating and cooling systems, as well as the materials and fuel needed to operate. a gigantic cruise ship.

Indeed, Smith said, environmental rules and reporting requirements may be different in each country or port of call a cruise ship enters. In other words, it’s complicated.

Smith’s typical work routine was to spend a month abroad and a month at his home in Birmingham. While abroad, he typically spent a few days in the Southampton offices and two weeks aboard each ship, following a tight schedule to streamline travel time and costs.

For example, he could fly from Birmingham to New York to board the Queen Mary 2 to England, then spend a week in the Southampton office. Then he would board another Carnival UK ship bound for the Mediterranean before boarding a return flight from one of the ship’s stopovers.

The Queen Mary 2 is one of the cruise ships that Danny Smith has worked with. (contributed)

For three years, Smith sailed places as distinct as New Zealand and Hawaii, Samoa and the Panama Canal, Norway, St. Petersburg in Russia and Spain. He has stopped in Gibraltar so many times: “I got to know all the shops as well as the shops in Birmingham,” he said.

One of the most rewarding parts of the job, Smith said, has been meeting people from all over the world. Indeed, he would often go weeks without ever meeting another American, he said.

“The staff and crew – they can come from India or the Philippines, Europe, Slavic countries. You can interact with people from different cultures and learn more about their lives. “

On the other hand, almost everyone Smith met had never visited Alabama, and they had “some pretty bizarre stereotypical views” of Yellowhammer state. “It was great to be able to explain to them how beautiful Alabama is,” he said.

Smith recently changed roles from Carnival UK to Carnival Corp., headquartered in Miami. He now assists the senior vice president in charge of environmental compliance for all nine brands of Carnival Corp. Still based in Birmingham, Smith’s new role is very diverse, from monitoring environmental policy issues to helping find better ways to make the company more sustainable in its practices and operations. There won’t be as many trips, he said, although visiting Carnival ships is still on the to-do list, supporting the continued improvement of the company’s environmental record.

Smith also owns an environmental consulting firm, although most of his energy is spent with his full-time employer. He is also active in efforts to make the Birmingham area greener and more sustainable. He has served on the board of directors of several organizations, including the non-profit association Freshwater Land Trust, Ruffner Mountain nature reserve and the Red Mountain Park Commission.

Sure, COVID-19[female[feminine has had a huge impact on the cruise ship industry, with many companies suspending bookings for a period of time. Many cruise ships have returned to sailing with increased safety protocols and protections.

In a recent article in an environmental journal, Smith and a co-author wrote in detail about how to address the challenges of environmental compliance and sustainability in the cruise industry. He said the increase in travel this summer shows people are eager to get back on the road or on the seas, and to do so in a safe and sustainable manner.

“It is questionable whether exploring the world by cruise ship is sustainable in our modern world. Perhaps the best question would be whether our world is socially sustainable without the international travel offered by the cruise industry, ”Smith and co-author Denita L. Jones wrote in the American Bar Association journal. – Natural Resources & Environment.

“The journey opens our eyes, ears and hearts to other cultures. It helps us realize that we are actually more alike than different.

“Without travel, we tend to become more isolated and nationalistic in our thinking. Travel is the only expense that makes you richer.

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