MSC Cruises' Garbage Dumping Scandal: Will Travel Agents, Travel Writers & Cruise Bloggers Look the Other Way?

Yesterday we wrote about MSC Cruises allegedly dumping garbage bags and other items into the ocean at night from the Magnifica cruise ship while it was sailing in Brazilian waters.

It's been 24 hours since we posted the article together with video and photographs provided to us by a former cruise line employee. Our article has gone viral, having been read several hundred thousands of times with over 7,000 Facebook "likes."

You can see the videos here and the photos here.  

We have received lots of comments by members of the public expressing their disappointment and outrage that this cruise line was allegedly engaged in this type of alleged conduct. But what's the reaction from the MSC Cruises Magnifica Cruise Pollution Garbage Dumpingcruise industry and the maritime authorities? The cruise lines want us to believe that authorities "rigorously" enforces "strict" environmental regulations? What's the reaction from travel agents and travel writers about this breaking news story?   Let's take a look:

The International Maritime Organization (IMO): The IMO is the international maritime authority which promulgated the pollution regulations (MARPOL) which the cruise lines are suppose to comply with. Cruise ships can't dump unprocessed food or other items within three miles of the closest shore. They are suppose to separate, process, grind, crush and/or incinerate the ship's refuse, paper items and/or garbage and then discharge the garbage at sea at various distances from shore or store the pulverized / incinerated materials for pick up at port after the cruise is over. Plastic is prohibited from being discharged.

But what happens when a cruise line ignores MARPOL? Nothing. The IMO is a United Nations entity. It's a "feel good" organization. It can't enforce its own rules and it can't punish cruise lines when they violate the rules.

Cruise Line International Association (CLIA): CLIA is the cruise industry trade association which promotes the image and the interests of the cruise lines. CLIA says that if a cruise line member violates safety or environmental regulations, it will take steps against the member including kicking the cruise line out of the organization. But that will never happen.  CLIA has never criticized, admonished or taken disciplinary action against a cruise line. It's sole function is to protect the cruise industry from public scrutiny or criticism. 

CLIA has not issued a public statement about the MSC dumping scandal. Don't expect one either. There would have to be a Congressional investigation taking place before CLIA would even acknowledge the issue and it would then spin the story with corporate gobbledygook. Today CLIA's CEO and former travel-agent Christine Duffy issued a PR statement on CLIA's behalf applauding the cruise industry's alleged efforts to create a "pristine environment." Ms. Duffy said: "We will continue to forge new paths toward a greener, more sustainable planet . . ." and "will make cruising more environmentally conscious than ever before."   

Travel Agents, Writers, and Cruise Bloggers:  So far not a single travel publication has touched the story. There are thousands of tweets and Facebook posts from the usual cruise bloggers (Cruise Hive, Cruise Currents, Cruise Fever, Cruise Critic) and travel writers (Travel Weekly, Travel Pulse) about the best deals on cruises. Many hundreds of travel agents are hawking cruises on Twitter. But no one is mentioning garbage bags in the sea dumped at night.

That's bad for the travel agents' business. And whether the cruise lines are polluting or not, travel agents are selling cruises on the MSC Magnifica right now. 99% of the travel writers and cruise bloggers just want the pollution story to go away. They don't want to embarrass their friends in the cruise industry. They're afraid that the cruise lines won't give them complimentary or heavily discounted cruises if they mention the story.

That's what MSC Cruises and CLIA are counting on. The cruise industry won't change a bit as long as the 16,000 CLIA travel agents and travel writers remain silent as the oceans are polluted with cruise garbage.     

 

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Comments (4) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
John Goldsmith - March 5, 2014 5:12 PM

So, Are you saying that according to the IMO, Cruise ships and other ocean vessels can dump garbage at sea " within the parameters set by the IMO?" And if they bend the rules the "UN organization" doesn't do squat?
OK, where is Greenpeace, The Sierra Club, and a collection of other groups regarding this matter.
The information, if correct, that has been provided I was not aware of.
Food for thought.....

tinikini - March 5, 2014 8:12 PM

I took a cruise through the Panama Canal with my parents in 2011. Our last stop was Costa Rica, we left the port around sunset. When we woke up the next morning and went to eat our breakfast on the balcony, there were all sorts of trash bags and trash floating in the water. It was really sad, we ate breakfast and passed trash the whole way and wondered who did it.

As a scuba diver and lover of the ocean, I do not think they should be able to dump anything, at anytime, anywhere. There will always be someone who breaks the rules so why not just prohibit it all the way around.

John..I believe if you get on Holland America's web page they will tell you how they process their waste and what they dump. Maybe it was a brochure we received on board, can't remember, at any rate it was interesting reading. But I still believe that they should not dump.

Marianne - March 6, 2014 2:25 PM

This is nothing new unfortunately as a long time private cruiser with my own boat I can tell you that remote isolated out islands in the Bahamas are littered with styro cups and other trash with the name of offending vessel on the floatsam. This was written about years ago in the herald sadly nothing changes

Gretchen Diamond - March 11, 2014 11:36 PM

There is a Caribbean Cruise with Dr. Marc and Vicki Sorenson which will be departing from Miami on May 10, 2014 going to Bahamas, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. He's a renowned health and fitness authority and the cruise will feature seminars on these topics. The travel agency is Morris Murdock Travel. After reading and watching the video, I've changed my mind about going on this cruise.

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