Royal Caribbean Ocean Fund: Grants for Marine and River Conservation

OVERVIEW: Royal Caribbean is the second-largest cruise line in the world, controlling a 17% share of the world cruise market. As part of its corporate responsibility strategy, it created The Ocean Fund in 1996, making grants for marine conservation in the range of $20,000 to $40,000. The Ocean Fund supports work on climate, key species, technology, and education.

IP TAKE: Like a lot of corporate foundations, The Ocean Fund isn’t very open, but you can send it an email to say hi and introduce yourself. It gives to a lot of coral reef work, as well as to marine species like dolphins, whales, and sea turtles.

PROFILE: As part of the Norwegian-American company’s corporate responsibility program, Royal Caribbean launched The Ocean Fund, which gives between half a million and a million dollars a year to marine conservation causes. Since the Fund’s creation, it’s given more than $11 million to more than 66 organizations. Grants range between $20,000 and $40,000, and each one runs for one calendar year only. All of the grantmaking is tied to ocean conservation, but there are a few categories: Climate change, key marine species, innovative technologies, and public education.

That translates, first off, to support for the usual suspects—The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, and the World Wildlife Fund, for example. But it gives similar equal amounts to 10 to 20 other organizations a year. So there’s room for smaller fish, too.

The program’s climate change support involves a lot of research and studies of emerging threats, such as backing Conservation International for vulnerability assessments. Much of it is also related to the health of coral reefs, such as a grant to the Central Caribbean Marine Institute to study the effects of ocean acidification. In fact, coral reef habitats seem to be a favorite for The Ocean Fund. It recently gave the Coral Reef Alliance and Roatan Marine Park a grant to establish a marine protected area outside of Honduras; and gave the Nature Conservancy funds for coral conservation in Florida.

Regarding work to protect key species, the Ocean Fund gives often to projects protecting favorites like dolphins, sea turtles, whales, and sharks. And finally, it backs a lot of community education, such as a grant for Island Dolphin Care’s Bringing the Ocean to Children program that included traveling touch tanks to schools in Florida. To see more information about all past grantees, click here.

The Ocean Fund isn’t very transparent or accessible, with no discernible staff list or directory and an invite-only policy, even for LOIs. Applicants can, however, send an email to to introduce their organizations, key programs, and potential projects the fund might want to support.


  • Adam M. Goldstein, President and CEO