Sustainability at sea chefs

Sea travel is in our heart. Our employees and the environment are in our minds.

We are drawn to the far expanses of the water, to remote destinations and to their cultures. Accordingly, we not only are aware of our environment’s fragility, but also seek to do our part to protect and maintain its majesty.

As a partner of shipping companies, we exercise our direct influence in Hotel and Catering Management to improve environmental standards in the industry and actively shape them. To this end, we work closely with our partners, service providers and suppliers in numerous projects. We walk a shared path involving many small steps that have a big effect when added together.

However, we believe our responsibility not only is to implement and establish sustainability standards in our industry, but also extends to the people who work for and with us. With crew members from over 50 different nations, there is an important role for diversity and integration as well as a socially responsible approach to the many different cultures and needs on board and on land.

Together, we see ourselves as part of something that spreads joy to people. This joy is made up of unforgettable experiences that we wish to preserve for future generations. For this reason, we see it as our duty to pursue and define our path to sustainability continuously. In doing so, we make our positive contribution for our crew members on board, for our employees on land and for the protection of the environment.

Eco-friendly travel

As a service provider in the cruise industry, eco-conscious travel is a major matter for us. We have closely examined the operational areas on board and on land that we oversee and identified the points where we can keep improving our environmental footprint step by step. By conserving existing resources, creating awareness around a responsible approach to nature and people; and constantly optimising our environmental management, we build a long-term and systematic basis for a lasting improvement of our environmental standards. In doing so, we wish to help preserve the beauty of nature for the travel of many future generations.

Find out more about individual areas and our comprehensive sustainability management here:

As part of our environmental management, we at sea chefs have created structures to let us help increase the sustainability of travelling on board the ships we manage, as much as we can. We have aligned ourselves with pre-existing environmental standards for this. These standards also include certificates that demonstrate our commitment to sustainable and responsible conduct, for example. Furthermore, we are dedicated to making on-board operational and logistical processes continuously more sustainable. Through the close integration of environmental management with all areas, we – together with the shipping companies – are making success and potential improvements visible and measurable over the long term. When put together, all these different approaches are what makes the difference.


As an experienced service provider in the areas of hotel, catering and crew management on board cruise ships, we have major leverage thanks to our long-standing partnerships and trust from our customers, particularly when it comes to resource-friendly material consumption. Consequently, we can initiate numerous projects that, for example, help to minimise disposable products or to prevent waste. Such projects include using reusable cups instead of plastic ones. Moreover, we have added a large number of fair-trade products to our range and replaced individually wrapped products with dispensers for items such as jams, sauces or hygiene articles, reducing packaging waste. We maintain constant communication with our service providers and suppliers on this, too. On top of that, we are constantly looking for further opportunities to keep improving our environmental footprint in the area of resource conservation and to increase our sustainability performance.


Minimising food waste is one of the key issues for us on board our ships. For example, we have worked closely with the relevant department at TUI Cruises GmbH on the topic of food waste management for more than ten years. We are acting in concert together for this and believe that the key to success is in mutual support and in collaboration with the shipping companies. In this context, we are making a significant contribution to waste reduction by preparing meals in a well thought-out and sustainable way, by recycling leftovers and by generally handling food consciously. Efficient procurement and menu planning are also core elements of waste prevention.


In June 2021, sea chefs Cruises signed an agreement with the Air France-KLM Group to reduce carbon emissions. As part of it, we decided to invest in the Group’s Corporate SAF Program (SAF stands for sustainable aviation fuel). With this agreement, we are contributing not only to environmental transformation within aviation, but also to sustainable travel and a reduction of the carbon footprint of business travel. In a further step towards a neutral environmental footprint, we – where possible – transport our crew members to their ship assignments across the world and back in an environmentally friendly way based on this agreement.


We believe it is important to approach nature and people respectfully, and not just at sea either. Even on shore, we are committed to preserving the beauty of our earth so that many generations to come can explore it. Our travel and experience allow us to develop a very special connection to our destinations and the people who live at them. On board our ships, too, the numerous nationalities ensure that we are enriched with a colourful diversity of cultural backgrounds.


The basis for a sustainable environmental footprint and for a respectful approach to nature and people is in creating an understanding of different environmental topics. We achieve this with regular training where we sensitise our crew members and employees to the link between eco-conscious behaviours and the resulting impacts on nature. For example, there are targeted training courses where environmental officers from the Mein Schiff fleet teach about topics such as ISO standards, marine protection, waste management and energy conservation in guest areas. Generally, our priority is on strengthening awareness surrounding the challenges in our industry and uncovering opportunities in our day-to-day activities and areas of responsibility in environmental protection.


Suppliers and service providers

Adherence to ethical and environmental guidelines is one of our basic requirements for a partnership. That is why we have extremely high expectations for the environmental standards and social responsibility of our suppliers and service providers. Our internal guidelines and principles serve as a benchmark for this and are embedded within the corporate set of values of TUI Cruises as well. Secondly, we have already been issued numerous certificates that are evidence of our high standards. Nonetheless, we still aspire to develop constantly in order to increase our quality further. 


When cooperating with our suppliers, it is extremely important to us that ethical and environmental standards are adhered to. Such standards include, for example, the use of environmentally friendly and recyclable packaging and the limitation of potential pollution to a minimum. With shared values, we build long-term, lasting partnerships, which is why we deliberately select only certified suppliers.


Our environmental management and resource conservation includes the sustainable and fair procurement of products and materials. We therefore place great value on using fair trade, local and seasonal products, especially in the area of food and beverage. For this purpose, we are increasingly working with service providers and suppliers from relevant regions and also buy locally whenever possible. Simultaneously, we rely on short and transparent procurement chains in order to guarantee fairly produced as well as fresh products.


We apply a code of ethical and moral conduct to our cooperation with service providers and suppliers. This code is based on ESG (environmental, social and governance) guidelines and we expect that it is complied with in dealings with employees, agents, subcontractors and clients in the name of sea chefs. The code provides guidelines for correct ecological and ethical conduct and includes, among other things, a prohibition of child labour, the upholding of human rights; and the fundamental rights at work in accordance with Article 2 of the ILO’s core labour standards.


Legal conditions for work

The physical and psychological well-being of our crew members is our top priority as they are the core and foundation of our company. It is essential that they feel good and at ease so that we can ensure the excellent service expected by our guests on board and our cruise partners. To this end, we not only provide our crew members with numerous attractive benefits, but also ensure that they feel protected and respected at all times. That is why we work together with them, for example, to look after their travel management and ensure compliance with the legal conditions for their job on board.


With more than 70 nationalities on board, there are special challenges connected to the legal circumstances of each individual. We see ourselves as responsible for supporting our crew members. This involves, for example, checking applications and papers, complying with immigration laws and requirements at sea and, if applicable, checking the required vaccination coverage. Even for different kinds of questions, we are there to help our employees and crew members with designated points of contact in various languages.


Cooperation with unions

We maintain cooperative relationships with the unions for ocean-going cruise ships as well as river cruise ships. This cooperation serves as the foundation for ensuring workplace safety and fair working conditions for the benefit of our crew members. The primary purpose of this cooperation is to protect our crew, who come from various different countries, pass by and cross multiple national borders on their cruises, work under changing flags and can respond to linguistic and cultural barriers. We at sea chefs therefore see it as our responsibility that all crew members, whether at sea or on rivers, can feel confident that their rights at work are being respected. 


For ocean-going shipping, an agreement with the unions is mandatory. For this purpose, we maintain an agreement with the members of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). This agreement safeguards the entitlements and legal certainty of our crew members on the open sea.


We signed a collective bargaining agreement with Nautilus International in 2022 for the purpose of socially acceptable regulations and ensuring legally compliant working conditions. This union is independent and global and operates in the maritime and inland shipping sectors. This step is a further milestone for the crew members of sea chefs. In this way, we are contributing to even more legal certainty and cooperative, transparent collaboration in the river cruise industry.


Cooperation/dialogue with shipping companies

As part of our long-standing business relationships with cruise shipping companies, we keep a close exchange on sustainability-related topics and together try to elevate the standards in our industry further. Moreover, we deliberately work only with cruise partners such as TUI Cruises GmbH, which – just like us – sees the improvement of environmental standards as a fundamental factor.


We advocate the continuous development of sustainability standards for our cruise partners. They include greater usage of onshore electricity by cruise ships in order to draw green power. Other significant aspects include the development of sustainable ship fuels and permanent reductions of carbon emissions. Our partners’ declared goal is a lasting improvement of their fleets’ environmental footprints. As a services company in the cruise industry, we welcome this constant progress in and development of climate-neutral technologies and provide support where we can.



The following certificates show the standards and guidelines to which we have committed ourselves in various areas of our company. Furthermore, we are constantly developing in order to raise our standards further and obtain evidence of them through additional certificates.


The International Labour Organization’s Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006) brings together more than 60 valid legal instruments as well as recommendations and conventions. The convention was issued by the International Labour Organization (ILO). With this charter of basic rights for all seafarers, we help to ensure the rights of all our crew members working on board, and therefore the provisions for their occupational health and safety, their medical care and their social protection at sea.


The green offices environment marking is given to institutions that are committed to environmental criteria in relation to energy and water consumption, waste management and sustainable products. Furthermore, environmentally friendly practices and the employees’ social engagement have a key role in this distinction. This programme is a project of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FFE), an international NGO. It is overseen by Cyprus’ environment commission. 


ISO 45001:2018 defines the requirements for occupational health and safety management. With this certificate, we are committed to adhering to the guidelines for occupational health and safety policies. In view of our crew members and employees, we see ourselves as having a responsibility to create safe and healthy workplaces, to minimise risks and, furthermore, to drive further improvements and increase their well-being.


The Cyprus Marine Environment Protection Association (CYMEPA) is a non-profit organisation of the island of Cyprus for the protection of the seas. CYMEPA supports measures for preventing further marine pollution and initiates environment projects and campaigns to increase awareness among seafarers of how crucial the topic is. As a member of this organisation, we are also committed to this outlook and support its goals for protecting the marine environment.