View From the Bridge - DIETMAR R WERTANZL

Dietmar R Wertanzl and Cruise WestDIETMAR R WERTANZL
Cruise West

Dietmar R Wertanzl shares his view from the bridge and discusses Cruise West's belief that conservation and preservation of wildlife and the environment is not optional - it is obligatory.


By Dietmar R Wertanzl

In today's increasingly options-saturated travel industry, differentiating a brand from its competitors is key to survival and success. Cruise West, the nation's leading small-ship cruise line, has done so by emphasizing the companyÕs commitment to corporate and social responsibility. By taking steps to reinforce our motto, "Take only photographs and leave only footprints behind", Cruise West has carved a niche with eco-conscious and social-minded consumers.

Our Cruise West ships sail throughout the Americas, Asia and the South Pacific, where conservation and preservation of native cultures are of utmost importance. Because the ships carry from just 78 to 138 guests, communities in small ports are not overwhelmed when the vessels dock. On most itineraries, Cruise West welcomes aboard local experts to provide insight and lecture on appropriate topics. In Mexico, local guides escort guests onboard panga boats to explore nearby lagoons where migrating gray whales congregate. In the Tsimshian community in Alaska, passengers tour the village and visit the long house to watch and participate in native dance performances. All of our voyages feature an onboard Exploration Leader trained to interpret the history, traditions and environment of each destination, ensuring that guests end their journey with an understanding of local customs and culture.

In 1999, Cruise West’s first year of operation in Mexico, Chairman & Managing Director Dick West and his family brought a suitcase full of toys on the Sea of Cortés trip. They visited a children’s home in La Paz, where they were struck by the stark conditions and limited supplies and furnishings. Some of the very basic items unavailable to these children, such as toothbrushes, Cruise West could supply. Thus began Cruise West’s “Our Bear Cares” program, which supports a local effort in every region that Cruise West ships visit. Recent and current efforts include:

Items are brought to the La Paz Children’s Home each time a Cruise West ship visits.

Starting in 2004, profits from sales of photo CDs of the cruises benefit charitable organizations in Central and South America, Washington State, Alaska and the South Pacific.

In 2006, two couples on the Copper Canyon land-tour donated money for carving tools to the Tarahumara Indians. Guests in Costa Rica and Panama donated soccer shoes and equipment to the Emberá people.

In 2007, Cruise West guests celebrated Three Kings Day with the children at La Paz Children’s Home, bringing wrapped gifts and monetary donations.

In January 2008, 20 guests from Cruise West’s Sea of Cortes cruise volunteered to participate in a paint party of the La Paz Children’s Home. The day included a work party and barbecue with the children.

Dedication to Environmentally Friendly Practices

At Cruise West, we believe that conservation and preservation of wildlife and the environment is not optional; it is obligatory. The company continually evaluates its environmental footprint by encouraging efficient use of resources, saving energy, reducing waste and recycling.

Onboard environmental initiatives and efforts include: wastewater purification systems; shore power capability; environment/eco-friendly cleaning supplies; waste disposal in which no pollutants or garbage are discarded at sea; separation and recycling of materials; completion of guest laundry in port with the exception of the Spirit of Oceanus and Spirit of Yorktown; operation of all Cruise West vessels on the lowest sulfur marine diesel fuel available at each destination; meeting or exceeding all current International, Federal, and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s regulations/requirements for engine emissions; and the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs where practical.

Cruise West operates on a philosophy of using sustainable food. When available, organic and local ingredients are purchased by onboard chefs with a budget allotted for locally grown, processed or manufactured items. In Alaska, wild seafood is purchased in an effort to support local fisherman and the local economy. 

I am proud to be a part of an organization that commits itself to sustainable environmental practices and the renewing and preservation of local cultures. Travel consumers continue to demand a global way of thinking and Cruise West believes this trend will continue, benefiting not just consumers but the world community in general and future generations.

For more information about Cruise West visit:


• Naomi Kabak
Senior Vice President
Group IST

• Guy A Young
President & CEO of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

• Larry Pimentel
President & CEO of Azamara Club Cruises

• Cdr Mark Gaouette
Maritime Security Consultant
Department of Homeland Security

• Rick Sasso
President and CEO
MSC Cruises

• Diane Moore
Windstar Cruises

• Paul Strachan
Pandaw River Cruises

• James Rodriguez
Senior Vice President, Marketing
Oceania Cruises

• Colin Stone
Managing Director
Swan Hellenic

• Mike Deegan
Managing Director
Hebridean Island Cruises

• Derek Banks
European Waterways Ltd

• Ken Carver
International Cruise Victims Association (ICV)

• Terry Dale
President and CEO
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)

• Lawrence Dessler
Executive Director
Niche Cruise Marketing Alliance (NCMA)

• Ross A Klein

• Bob Levinstein
Cruise Compete

• Alan Lewis
Grand Circle Corporation & Grand Circle Cruise Lines

• Albert Peter
Chief Executive Officer
Silversea Cruises

• Dietmar R Wertanzl
President and Chief Executive Officer
Cruise West