Bluewater Adventures rocks responsible fuel use at sea

July 25, 2016

Award-winning small ship operator protects its business and the environment with greener ships

At Bluewater Adventures, transporting people via boat and sea is what they do best.

Bluewater has been offering multi-day, wildlife and wilderness eco-tours in coastal B.C. and Southeast Alaska since 1978. Guests love these tours and the crew is amazing at what they do. But how different is touring the ocean than touring on land? Bluewater has been tracking their fuel consumption for their three vessels – SV Island Odyssey, SV Island Roame and MV Snow Goose – and are taking meaningful steps to optimize their operations and minimize consumption.

First carbon neutral small-ship operator in B.C.
In 2008 Bluewater became the first Carbon Neutral small-ship operator along the B.C. and Southeast Alaska Coast working with Offsetters, a Vancouver based carbon-offsetting company. This partnership ensures that the company is investing in local clean-energy projects and making a difference in their own backyard.


Adjusting itineraries has reduced fuel use and cost
Bluewater isn’t just a business that buys carbon offsets to pay for their sins. They are always working on improving their environmental impact, which not only helps the environment but also helps their bottom line. In 2015, they introduced two new itineraries that will eliminate having to reposition an empty vessel to an alternate starting point. And to hit the point home even further, Bluewater’s vessel MV Snow Goose, had had her itineraries cut shorter, allowing guests to spend more time exploring nature by kayak and hiking on land. Ultimately, less time on the ocean means less fuel usage. And less fuel used means a healthier environment.

Nature is business
As a Gold Green Tourism Canada member and 1 Percent for the Planet contributor, Bluewater Adventures is constantly focused on reducing their impact on the environment. “For us the success of our business and the health of the environment are intrinsically linked,” says Randy Burke, Company Director. “If wild salmon fail to return, we will have no bears or orcas to discover with our guests. Respecting the environment by limiting our impact on the areas we visit and contributing to the local communities is truly at the heart of what we do.”

Innovation for the future
Building a truly green ship can be expensive, but Bluewater is always doing what they can and planning for the future. Having just replaced two engines with more efficient models, other maintenance items are costly and need to be carefully planned to identify the best time to initiate these big changes. On the horizon, they are looking for innovative solutions to upgrading sewage systems and identifying the feasibility of repowering SV Island Odyssey as a hybrid vessel.

Creativity goes a long way
Implementing large operation improvements can be costly to a small company like Bluewater Adventures. But there are creative ways to make a big difference without breaking the pocketbook – like travelling at lower speed to reduce fuel consumption and hiring locals to reduce transportation costs. And most often, these creative ways not only benefit the environment, they also can benefit clients. “We are very pleased to have achieved the Green Tourism Canada Gold Award,” notes Burke. “Working with Green Tourism Canada offers the opportunity to identify areas for continuous improvement, while providing a valuable independent third-party assessment of our sustainable business practices.”orcas_in_sunset

Transportation is one of eleven categories covered by the Green Tourism Program during on-site assessments. Businesses that receive a Green Tourism Assessment receive a review of their transportation options and drivers of fuel consumption, and are provided with recommendations and resources to help reduce transportation related emissions. In addition, assessors look at up to 60 criteria in the remaining categories, ranging from waste, water and energy to culture and procurement. To learn more, visit

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