Popular cruise line Carnival Cruise is set to pay $20 million for environmental violations after its most recent lawsuit. In 2016, its sister line, Princess Cruise Lines, had to pay $40 million for dumping waste into the ocean. The financial nightmare is back, and it is yet another red flag for Carnival Corporation.
Senior United States District Judge Patricia Seitz approved the agreement after Carnival CEO Arnold Donald pled guilty in open court. Among Donald’s admissions included Carnival’s environmental destruction and probation violations from the Princess Cruise Line case.
Regulatory agencies have been closely monitoring cruise lines for violations of environmental rules for decades. That’s because even the most efficient cruise ships can emit 3-4 times as much carbon dioxide compared to a jet.
These aren’t the only environmental issues with cruise lines though. Reports show ship traffic and noise can cause the death of sea creatures. More graphically, marine animals constantly wash up dead via suffocation or consumption of plastic. It’s also not uncommon for rising sea temperatures stemming from human activity to ruining ocean ecosystems.
Carnival’s Sustainability Track Record
Carnival has committed several of these environmental crimes over the years including dumping plastic waste and food into the Bahamas. Additionally, it admitted to dumping “gray water” in prohibited places like Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park.
But even beyond dumping rubbish into the water, Carnival also falsified compliance documents. For instance, it often deployed cleanup teams to visit ships prior to inspections. This didn’t start recently, however, as Carnival has environmental violations dating all the way back to 1993.
After the courts fined Princess Cruise Lines, the Department of Justice called it “the largest-ever criminal penalty involving deliberate vessel pollution”. At that time, Princess Cruises claimed to be “extremely disappointed about the inexcusable actions of [their] employees”, however, they continued in their environmental damage for at least three years post-lawsuit.
Judge Seitz has now threatened to block Carnival Cruises from docking at U.S. ports. Further, she has requested that the company’s senior executives attend hearings to learn the seriousness of complying with environmental laws.
Along with the $20 million criminal penalties, Carnival is also paying for 15 annual audits. Additionally, it will restructure its corporate compliance efforts. If Carnival fails to meet court-imposed deadlines by the fall, ramifications could be severe. In fact, the courts could legally fine it up to $10 million per day.