Crystal: A Cruise Line with a Conscience? Try Again.

The headline in the Asbury Park Press stunned me - "Crystal: A luxury cruise line with a conscience."  

Surely this must be a joke I thought, given Crystal's dreadful environmental record of polluting the oceans and air.

But the article was serious. it talked about Crystal donating used furniture to a "Spanish organization that supports recovering addicts." It mentioned that it turned the guests' used toiletries into soap for Crystal Symphony Cruise Ship"800 impoverished families" over three years. It "contributed goods to charities in Africa." 

The article also mentioned that Crystal is refurbishing the staterooms aboard the Serenity later this year to install purification equipment, "creating the industry’s first hypoallergenic cabins for passengers with allergies and/or respiratory ills."

But neither the Serenity nor the Symphony have installed advanced sewage treatment systems, resulting in a grade of "F" for the company’s zero percent sewage treatment score. The Crystal cruise ships also burn dirty fuel, including burning cancer-causing sulphur fuel in port because Crystal has not invested in shore-side power hook-ups. Friends of the Earth has consistently awarded Crystal "F's" in how this cruise line treats the water and air.

In the eyes of environmentalists, Crystal is best known for an incident in 2003 when a Crystal ship dumped around 35,000 gallons of grey water, sewage, and bilge water in a marine sanctuary in Monterey Bay. It had promised earlier not to foul the marine sanctuary's waters.

According to the L.A. Times, Crystal Cruises said didn't have to report the incident to authorities because it broke no laws. It is "perfectly legal" under maritime laws to discharge even untreated wastewater more than 12 miles offshore, and the ship was 14 miles offshore at the time, said Crystal spokeswoman Mimi Weisband.

"We didn't break any law," Weisband said. "We did break a promise."

The city of Monterey thereafter banned all Crystal cruise ships for life.

When the Friends of the Earth gave Crystal Cruises an "F," Cruise spokesperson Weisband responded by saying that Crystal Cruises "deserved an A ... if not an A+."

The elite Conde Nast Traveler cruisers may consistently vote Crystal the "world’s best cruise line," but its the one cruise line that has never exhibited an environmental conscience. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons 3.0

Deadly Cruise and Ferry Air Emissions Debate: U.K. Shipping Companies Deceive the Public

New air emission regulations will shortly affect the U.K. shipping industry. Toxic sulfur emissions must be reduced to 0.1 per cent, from a current high of around 4.5 per cent, by January 1, 2015. 

The reason for the new regulations is that high sulfur fuel contributes substantially to emphysema, lung disease, congestive heart failure, birth defects, and premature deaths. It is a topic we have written about regularly.

The health risks posed by the cruise industry's use of high sulfur fuels are enormous. I published an article years ago called Bunker Fuel - Nasty Tar Sludge! which explains how bunker fuel - which is P&O Ferries a tar-like substance left as the residue of the refinery process - is the nastiest and most toxic fuel on planet earth. It is unconscionable to burn it.

But bunker fuel is the cornerstone of the shipping industry. Cruise and ferry companies burn it all of the time. Why? Because it is dirt cheap and the shipping industry profit handsomely by using it.

The new air emissions standards will cut into the cruise and ferry lines' profits. The fuel is, of course, more expensive. The public will need to pay higher fares.   

The shipping executives are continuing to try and delay the implementation of the new health regulations. We have been writing about the need for new regulations ever since I started this blog five years ago.

Over the years, the cruise industry has done just about everything possible to avoid regulation and continue to burn high sulfur fuel.  In the U.S., the industry sued the Environmental Protection Agency to keep burning dirty fuel. It has initiated scare tactics saying that jobs in the maritime sector will be lost and passengers will face astronomical fares. 

In the U.K. and Europe, the executives at the major ferry lines - P&O Ferries, DFDS and MyFerryLink - are all facing the same challenge to maintain profits. But their approaches are all different.  

According to the Dover Express, P&O claims that the clean fuel costs will now soar to £30 million a year and it has no choice but to stick it to their passengers.

But the Danish ferry operator, DFDS, has invested £80 million in "scrubbers" to improve the air quality of its ship emissions.

P&O on the other hand has joined in a campaign by the UK Chamber of Shipping to scare the public. Helen Deeble, CEO of P&O, joined in an open letter posted in the U.K. Telegraph, claiming that the low sulfur is prohibitively expensive, will lead to pay-offs in the shipping sector, and thousands of more trucks will clog the roads.

Deeble and the U.K. shipping and port CEO's claim that shipping is responsible for 90 per cent of world trade but emits just 2.7 per cent of global CO2. They cite no authority for this claim. it is a bold face lie. 

The U.S. EPA has concluded that a single cruise ship will emit the same amount of sulfur dioxide as 13,100,000 (million) cars and as much soot as over 1,000,000 (million) cars.

The new quality regulations will not suddenly cause ferries to be scrapped and the roads in the U.K. to become clogged with lorries spewing smoke and smog over the pastoral landscape of Great Britain. These claims are part of the cruise and ferry companies' scare tactics.

We have seen this irresponsibility from the U.K. ferry operators before.  P&O Ferries won't invest a pence into CCTV camera technology even though it has a problem with passengers and crew disappearing from the open decks of its ships. P&O and other U.K. operators have had a long time to implement scrubber technology to protect the health of their passengers and crew and the general public. But they have persistently refused to do so.  

Faced with the January 1st deadline, the shipping industry in the U.K. is crying wolf.

 

Photo Credit:  Dover  Express

Quadcopter Buzzes the Allure of the Seas in Fort Lauderdale

This week I ran across a video of a "quadcopter" (also called a quadrotor helicopter or a quadrocopter) flying over the beach in Fort Lauderdale.

What's interesting is that the quadcopter quickly catches up with Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas. It flies behind and far over the giant cruise ship for a few minutes. 

It seems rather amazing that a little copter like that can fly so far and high and fast, and it can be safely controlled from so far away.

The video was shot and edited by Carlo Vaccari.  You can see his Facebook page RC Copters here.  

It was disappointing, however, to see an incredible amount of diesel / bunker fuel smoke billowing out of the ship. It's particularly nasty around the 5:00 minute mark. 

A year ago we blogged about a quadcopter buzzing the Costa Concordia - QuadroCopter Operators Arrested in Giglio for Filming Costa Concordia.

Friends of the Earth Sue EPA Over Cruise & Cargo Ship Sewage

Yesterday the Friends of the Earth (FOE) filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington D.C. against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an effort to force the federal agency to regulate sewage discharges from cruise ships and other vessels in U.S. waters.

As the Palm Beach Post points out, cruise ships alone dumped more than one billion gallons of sewage in the ocean last year. And much of what cruise ships discharge is poorly treated.

The FOE stated: "Cruise ships with populations the size of small towns ply the waters off our coasts and massive cargo ships carrying goods to our ports produce and then dump large amounts of partially Cruise Pollution treated sewage and other wastes into our oceans. 

“The EPA is required under the Clean Water Act to protect people who swim, boat, and fish in waters affected by ship sewage discharges. Modern sewage treatment options are available for relatively low cost, but EPA hasn’t updated it regulations to reflect those advances since 1976. As a result, ships can dump bacteria-laden wastewater in some of our most valuable waters."

You can read the lawsuit here.

As we have mentioned in the past, the FOE "grades" the cruise lines for their treatment of the environment. Last year, the FOE report card contained F's for Costa, Crystal, MSC and P&O. Royal Caribbean received a C and Carnival received a C-.  Disney received an A.

Here's how the cruise lines have treated the planet over the last few years:

Enemies of the Environment? Costa, Crystal & P&O Cruises Flunk Cruise Ship Environmental Report Card, While Carnival & Royal Caribbean Receive "D+" (2012)

Cruise Ships Turn British Columbia Waters into "Toilet Bowel of Raw Sewage" (2010)

New Report Details Cruise Industry's Record of Pollution (2009)

The cruise industry claims that it is the "guardian of the seas." But this year we posted videos of MSC Cruises dumping garbage bags and plastic materials into the waters of Brazil.

 

Image credit: Cruise Ship Cartoon Shields via earthisland.org and Campaign to Safeguard America's Waterways 

Swiss Newspaper Covers the MSC Garbage Dumping Story

Today, a newspaper in Switzerland joined in the coverage of the story regarding the alleged dumping of garbage bags from the MSC Cruises Magnifica cruise ship.

Le Matin, the largest French-speaking newspaper in Switzerland, published the headline:

Des ordures jetées à la mer! — Vidéo à l’appui, un avocat affirme que la compagnie italo-suisse MSC Croisières jette des poubelles dans l’océan.   

MSC Cruises Garbage DumpingYou can read the article here.

Here are some of the comments to the article:

And one company in my black boycott list . . 

Hello in the late 80's I worked as a Chef on the Apollo Cruise Company based in Miami several times late at night I saw my eyes pour entire containers full Gulf of Mexico and offshore Brazil .. unfortunately .. I'm not surprised that 35 years later this terrible way "to do" is still in force .. Greenpeace .. Help!

Having traveled with MSC, and having followed the recommendations for "environmental protection" (reuse towels, etc..), When I see these images it disgusts me!

You can read the comments here.

So far, the story has received substantial international news coverage: New Times (U.S.A.), Cruise Hive (U.S.A.), Huffington Post (U.S.A.), Daily Mail (U.K.), AOL Travel  (U.K.), Cruising the Molly Way (U.K.), e Global Travel Media (Australia & New Zealand) and Le Matin (Switzerland).

The travel industry publication (Travel Weekly, Travel Pulse), and the cruise bloggers (Cruise Critic, Cruise Currents, Cruise Fever, Cruise Mates, Cruise Addicts, Captain Greybeard) have all stuck their heads in the sand. None of these types want to rock the boat and become blacklisted from the cruise lines' parties and free cruises. 

The cruise industry just finished their self-laudatory Cruise Shipping Miami trade show.  The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) and the CLIA CEO, Ms. Duffy, have not said a peep about the environmental abuse. The "One Industry, One Voice" cruise industry and its loyal-to-a-fault travel agent base are going to stay quiet and let this stinky story fade away.  

Photo Credit: Daily Mail

 

MSC Cruises Garbage Dumping Story Goes Viral

Two weeks ago we posted videos and photos of garbage and debris and crew members aboard MSC cruise ships apparently throwing the refuse into the ocean.  We first asked MSC Cruises for an explanation but were ignored. You can see the videos here and here and the photos here.

This weekend the story went viral.

First the Huffington Post posted an article Cruise Ship Workers Appear To Throw Bags Of Garbage Right Into The Ocean (VIDEO).

Then the U.K.'s Daily Mail posted an article Caught on Camera: The Moment Cruise Ship Crew Member Hurled Garbage Bags Straight into the Ocean Off Brazilian Coast in Violation of International MSC Cruises Cruise bags of GarbageLaw.  The Daily Mail has the largest number of internet readers of a newspaper in the world.

Today AOL Travel also covered the story Cruise Ship Worker Filmed 'Throwing Rubbish Bags Into Ocean' (Video).

The articles are being widely shared on Facebook and re-tweeted on Twitter.

MSC has continued to ignore us for the past two weeks, but tells the Huffington Post that the videos show nothing more than a single dumping video taken by a passenger last December. MSC says there is only one alleged incident.

I say rubbish to that. Former crew members we have spoken with tell us of systematic illegal dumping of prohibited items in prohibited area on numerous occasions. You can read our thoughts here.

As the dumping videos go viral, all of the usually talkative cruise and travel agents, writers, and bloggers promoting the cruise industry remain silent. 

Huffington Post Covers MSC Cruises Garbage Dumping Story

Today the Huffington Post covered the story we posted 10 days ago about MSC Cruises crew members throwing black bags overboard from the MSC Magnifica cruise ship into the water. 

MSC says there is nothing new shown in the photos and three videos we posted because they are just a different angle of an incident reported by a passenger last December.

I say hogwash to that.  The video taken by the passenger seems to show garbage bags thrown from the port side of the cruise ship; whereas, the videos taken by the crew member shows the garbage MSC Cruises Magnifica Cruise Ship Dumpingbags thrown from the stern.

Also, if you look at all three articles we posted, you will note that the piles of debris which the former crew members say were pitched overboard involved at least two different incidents from different MSC cruise ships at different times into different waters. 

The large pile of broken down pallets from the MSC Magnifica were reported thrown into Brazilian waters in November / December 2013. The pile of pallets from the MSC Poesia were reportedly thrown into the waters between Florida and Mexico in January 2013.  The crew members we spoke to said that this type of debris was systematically dumped overboard at least once a week while the ships were underway at night.

The former crew members also told us that the dumping of garbage bags were far from a single event from one single cruise ship. They have sent us many photographs of this practice, including incidents where bales of cardboard, plastic and debris wrapped in clear plastics were stacked from floor to ceiling and and then thrown into the sea (see photo above right).

It is not surprising to us that MSC Cruises has never responded to our requests for information. The cruise line refuses to inform us of the identity of the Brazilian authorities who are investigating these incidents. MSC may be trying to  keep the former crew members, who know that the practice is more widespread than MSC will admit, from talking to the authorities.

Is Illegal Dumping of Garbage Widespread on MSC Cruise Ships?

MSC Poesia Cruise ShipThis week we published videos and photographs from a former MSC Cruises employee which show garbage being thrown by men wearing MSC blue jumpsuits out a large porthole on a mooring deck. The former crew member identified the cruise ship as the MSC Magnifica. 

You can see some of the videos here and here. You can see some of the photos here.

In response to these articles, we have been contacted by other former MSC employees who have sent us additional information and photos which they contend show garbage and other items being dumped from other MSC cruise ships.

One set of photos which struck me showed a pile of disassembled wooden pallets which had been stacked in the middle of the mooring area aboard a cruise ship. The former employee indicated that this occurred aboard the MSC Poesia. The photo is very similar to other photos we published of pieces of wooden pallets stacked in the mooring deck of the MSC Magnifica.

No garbage or debris should be stored or stacked in this area of the ship because it is a work place where the mooring lines are operated when the ships reach port.  

The former employee explained that the pieces of wood from pallets or crates would be stacked here after the pallets / crates would be broken down to be discarded. The top photo, he explained, was taken at 11:00 PM and shows the pieces of wood ready to be discarded.  He further explained that at night, the crew members would open the grates and thrown the wood through the large portholes into the water. The bottom photo, he says, shows the same area at 7:00 AM the next morning with the wood removed before the ship reached port.

The question arises how often does this type of alleged dumping take place? Are we to believe that the environmental and safety officers and staff captain did not know that wood was being stacked like this in the mooring area in the evening and would disappear by the next morning? Mooring decks are usually secured with access permitted only for deck, engine or security personnel.

Stacking wood like this is also a fire hazard.

If you were a crew member aboard a MSC cruise ship and know of the method how the cruise line discards garbage and refuse, please contact me at jim@cruiselaw.com 

Stay tuned for other similar articles.  

Have a thought? Please leave a message below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

MSC Poesia Garbage Dumping

MSC Poesia Garbage Dumping

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.     

 

Guardian of the Seas? Is MSC Cruises Polluting Brazilian Waters Again?

MSC Cruises Cruise Dumping - Garbage BagsTwo months ago, we posted a video from a Brazilian newspaper showing MSC Cruises crew members apparently throwing black garbage bags into the water (video at bottom).

The video, taken by a passenger aboard an unidentified MSC ship (later identified as the Magnifica), created a hue and cry among environmentalists and citizens of Brazil. Rightfully so. Dumping of plastics and unprocessed garbage is illegal according to the international MARPOL recommendations. This dumping allegedly took place in Brazilian waters near a marine sanctuary.

After the passenger video surfaced, MSC, seemingly unrepentant, released a PR statement calling its cruise ships "Guardians of the Seas." It said that it would investigate the alleged dumping and touted its environmental policies.

After we covered the story, a number of people within the industry contacted us. They suggested that dumping of garbage bags from cruise ships like this took place more often than the cruise lines would like the public to know.

Yesterday, we received photographs and videos from a concerned "Good Samaritan." The images appear to show MSC crew members throwing garbage bags out to sea. Unlike the video taken by the passenger from an upper deck of the ship, these videos were taken by a former crew member inside of the ship showing what he described as illegal garbage dumping. We have posted two of the videos below.

The videos shown are short "snippets," of only 10 seconds or so, of workers wearing blue MSC overalls carrying bags to the windowless portholes on a mooring deck and then heaving the bags out to sea.

MSC Cruises Cruise Dumping - Garbage Bags The video and photographs were taken by a former crew member who wishes to remain anonymous.

The former employee claims that MSC discarded garbage bags often filled with plastics, oily discharge and other materials which the cruise lines are prohibited from dumping. The former employee took photos of a lower mooring deck showing a pile of garbage bags which he said were later thrown into the sea, including a stack of wooden pallets which had been broken down to fit through the portholes and then pitched out to sea.  

The former employee told us that the dumping occurred from the MSC Magnifica within Brazilian waters.

Click on our Facebook page to see some of the photos of the dumping at sea.

The press in Brazil has focused on the cruise industry after bathers at a public beach called Praia da Tartaruga (Turtle Beach) near Búzios City in Brazil suffered irritated eyes, difficulty breathing, and gastrointestinal problems. The officials believe that cruise ships discharged noxious waste into the water. These images will add to the debate whether cruise lines are polluting the waters of Brazil.

This morning, we reached out to MSC Cruises's Fort Lauderdale office for an explanation regarding what is shown in the latest videos and photographs.  We have not received a response.    

Have a thought?  Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

Have a video or evidence of illegal cruise line conduct?  Contact us. We will bring the story to the public. 

 

MSC Cruises Cruise Garbage Bag Dumping

 

Brazilian Cruise Pollution Debate Continues: Sewage or Silt?

A week ago we discussed a controversy which erupted in Brazil when around 60 bathers on Turtle Beach in the beautiful resort town of Buzios became ill. Government officials suspected that a cruise ship discharged noxious liquids and waste into the waters. 

A newspaper in Brazil, Globo, covered the story and posted aerial photographs of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship with discolored water around it.  It looked to me that the muddy-looking water was probably sand and silt which had been churned up by the vessel's engines. We posted the photos on line. The issue nonetheless remained what made the bathers at the beach so sick?

Brazil took samples of the contaminated water at the beach, as well as samples from several cruise ships in the area. The test results were inconclusive. The cruise association in Brazil denies that any of the cruise ships discharged anything and maintains that all ships comply with international maritime standards addressing the discharge of waste water.

The controversy reported in the press has led to at least one cruise passenger coming forward to claim that other cruise ships may be fouling the waters in Brazil.

Globo reports that cruise passenger Jesus Alcinir, age 50, from Panama, was sailing on the MSC Orchestra with his family last November to Buzios. He observed what he believed was a nasty looking and terribly smelling liquid that seemed to leave the ship. He took a photograph which you can see below.

He told Globo: "I was watching the sea. That transparent color, that blue sea with green, when out of nowhere this spot that seemed to come out of our ship emerged. The smell was very strong at the time and I was upset to hear that it could be some fluid that would be polluting the environment."

A crew member said that because the ship just stopped and lowered an anchor, silt would have been disrupted and muddied the water.

Passenger Alcinar was unconvinced, particularly because of the strong smell. 

I suppose that the smell could have been from the muck and perhaps decomposing organic material like seaweed. I would also think that if the cruise ship was going to illegally open its bilges, it would do so at night while the ship was underway. 

No samples were taken of the water. 

Being accused of discharging waste in Brazilian waters in the last thing that MSC needs. Last December we posted a video of MSC crew members seemingly throwing garbage bags in the water near a marine sanctuary in Brazil. 

Sewage or silt? Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

MSC Orchestra Cruise Ship

Photo Credit: Jesus Alcinir via Globo

Did Splendor of the Seas or Other Cruise Ships Dump Sewage Near Turtle Beach in Brazil?

A reader of Cruise News in Brazil sent us an article from a Brazilian newspaper indicating that swimmers (including children) at a public beach near Búzios City, Brazil reported to the hospital with irritated eyes, difficulty breathing, and gastrointestinal problems.

The beach is called Praia da Tartaruga (Turtle Beach).

According to the newspaper Globo, public environmental officials in Brazil reportedly believe that the health problems may have been caused by discharge from one of three cruise ships in the area.

Samples were taken from the three cruise ships which called on the city of Búzios (north of Rio de Splendor of the Seas BrazilJaneiro) to compare them with contaminated water collected at the public beach. 

The three cruise ships have not been identified. However, the newspaper contains a photograph of the Royal Caribbean Splendor of the Seas. The newspaper indicates that the aerial photograph was taken by Secretary of State for Environment, Indio da Costa. Discolored water was observed around the cruise ship. The Brazilian official is quoted saying (translated):

"Still can not know what contaminated water, but we are almost certain that the problem was caused by the release of untreated sewage or treated irregularly by one of the ships docked in Buzios." 

The health authorities closed the beach due to the polluted water. 

The newspaper states that fines for polluting the waters of Brazil can reach $50 million, according to Brazil's Secretary of State for Environment.

The Brazilian cruise organization denied that the polluted water came from cruise ships. It said that the cruise companies comply with the guidelines a set by the MARPOL Convention (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships). 

It is unknown to us whether the Sovereign of the Seas or any other cruise ships were dumping anything in the Brazilian waters, or whether the discolored water around the Sovereign as shown in the photographs is attributable to silt being churned up by the ship's engines, the decomposition of algae or some other explanation. 

The test results are expected to be ready by Wednesday. We will identify the other cruise ships in the area as soon as we obtain this information.

We recently discussed an incident involving a MSC cruise ship which reportedly was caught dumping black garbage bags off the coast of Brazil near a marine sanctuary, after making a transatlantic crossing. A cruise passenger videotaped the dumpingSplendor of the Seas Brazil

 Photos Credit: Indio da Costa, Secretary of Environment from the State of Rio de Janeiro via Globo.com

U.S. Department of Justice Investigating Whether Caribbean Princess Violated Pollution Laws

A number of news sources are reporting the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) joined an investigation by the U.K. whether Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess cruise ship violated international pollution laws.

Bloomberg News states that Carnival Corporation announced that the DOJ joined an investigation being conducted by the U.K. Maritime & Coastguard Agency which had initiated an investigation last August. 

The news sources are reporting that last September, Carnival reached an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to spend $180 million to reduce sulfur emissions from its fleet of cruise ships. Carnival agreed to to install scrubbers and filters on its ships to reduce the toxic emissions of its cruise ships. 

This news account was posted on a Princess Cruises' message board but there has been no discussion yet.

It is not clear whether the joint U.S.-U.K. Caribbean Princess investigation is related to air emission issues or some other type of pollution violation. Princess Cruises' ships were often cited in the past for violating Alaska's waste-water regulations

The Caribbean Princess was last in the news when it returned to Houston after a norovirus outbreak.

Anyone with information exactly when and what the Caribbean Princess is accused of violating please leave a comment or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia / Yankeesman312

MSC Cruises - Guardians of the Seas?

A trade organization publication, Cruise Industry News, recently released a promotional, public relations piece about MSC Cruises.

The cruise line assisted in releasing a baby seal, named Selso, back into his natural environment. The 2 year old seal had been stranded on a beach and had undergone rehabilitation at uShaka Sea World,

MSC congratulated itself in this statement:

"We at MSC consider ourselves Guardians of the Seas and treat the oceans of the world with the Garbage Bag Cruise Ship MSC Cruisesutmost respect, believing that by acting green and protecting the biodiversity, we can all help keep the waters blue. Oceans and life in the oceans are inextricably connected with humans and Selso’s heart-warming story is just a proof of that."

The problem with this over-the-top, self-laudatory statement is that it contrasts sharply with the last story which we wrote about MSC. The cruise line was caught dumping plastic garbage bags into the waters of Brazil near a marine sanctuary. You can see the video of the dumping here.

This is a story which Cruise Industry News did not cover.

The discharge of plastics and other non biodegradable materials causes great harm to the marine environment.  It causes injury, suffering and death to marine life, including seals.

MSC Cruises the Guardians of the Seas? 

This award shouldn't be based on a highly publicized public relations stunt but on what the MSC cruise ships are doing routinely at sea, under the cover of at night, far away from the public's eyes.

 

Question of the Day: Are cruise lines still routinely dumping garbage bags at sea?  This was common in the 1980's and even 1990's, but not so much today it seems.  Are some cruise lines still throwing garbage bags into the ocean at night?  Leave a comment below or send us an email: jim@cruiselaw.com.

Or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

MSC Cruises Complains After Caught Dumping Garbage Bags in Brazilian Waters

MSC MagnificaToday I received a link to an article in Brazil regarding the allegations of a cruise passenger sailing on a MSC cruise ship (The MSC Magnifica) that the crew members were dumping garbage bags into Brazilian waters.

A local blogger in Brazil posted the embarrassing news and MSC, in turn, complained to its public relations firm. You can see the email (in Portugese) from MSC below ("Indeed, we have problems . . .")

It is interesting to read the comments to the article complaining about the cruise ship dumping. The Brazilians complained of being treating like its waters are a dumping zone for the cruise world's garbage. 

We posted the story about the MSC dumping before on our blog, Facebook and Twitter. The story has received some publicity in the U.S. but not as much as the story deserves, considering the stark discrepancy between MSC's image of being environmentally sensitive and the apparent reality that it may dump bags of garbage at sea in the darkness of night. 

The incident demonstrates that much cruise line talk about protecting the environment is just for PR purposes. The reality on cruise ships is much different. 

The blog article has a video of the dumping which you can see at the bottom: 

MSC Cruises Dumping Garbage

 

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below, or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Venice Bans Monster Cruise Ships

The Gazzetta del Sud newspaper reports that government officials in Rome, Italy ordered a halt to large cruise ships passing through the Venice lagoon, effective November 2014. The outright ban on cruise ships applies to those ships over 96,000 tons. (The Costa Concordia is 114,500 tons).

The legislation comes after years of debate and highly charged emotions regarding the effect of increasingly larger cruise ships on the historic old city. 

According to the newspaper, environmentalists warn that the lagoon surrounding Venice, an UNESCO Venice - Large Cruise Ship Banheritage site, is at risk due to its fragile ecosystem. Experts warn that the thousand-year-old wooden piles that prop up the city underwater would crumble like toothpicks under the weight of a 114,500-ton cruise ship like the Costa Concordia cruise ship.

In September, there were protests against the cruise industry which were widely reported in Italy, although the news did not gather much attention in the U.S. You can see photographs of the giant ships here. The Miami-based cruise industry took a rather arrogant approach to the local protesters and largely disregarded them as a radically based nuisance.   

The Italian government also announced a limit on smaller cruise vessels which will become effective in January. Cruise ships more than 40,000 tons must be reduced to 20% of their current volume in Venetian waters. 

The new law was enacted with heavy references to the Costa Concordia disaster last year.

Cruise traffic will eventually be rerouted so that any maritime accident would not approach the best-known and most vulnerable parts of the city and would reduce the disruption of the fragile foundation of the city.

Read some of our prior articles about Venice and the threat of larger cruise ships:

Cruise Ships Swamp Venice

Carnival Sunshine Buzzes Venice & Rekindles Controversy

Monster Cruise Ships Menace Venice

Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth?

Have a thought about Venice and cruise ships? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.  

 

Webcam credit: ismar.cnr.it 

Cruise Ships Swamp Venice

Newspapers are reporting that today the residents of Venice will protest the procession of over a dozen cruise ships which will sail through St Mark's Basin. The Guardian states that a canal-bank protest is scheduled "over an invasion of up to 13 cruise ships in the space of 24 hours which  . . . will turn St Mark's Basin into a motorway."

The protest will raise awareness of the negative effect of the cruise industry on Venice and its citizens. 

The newspaper quotes 75 year-old Italian singer, Adriano Celentano, who took out a page in the Venice Italy Cruise Ship Conjestioncountry's biggest-selling daily newspaper to proclaim: 

"Tomorrow will not be a nice day for our city, even if the sun is out . . . With the ignoble procession of 13 ships in the Venice lagoon comes the Eternal Funeral of the world's beauties." 

The newspaper also quoted Silvio Testa, spokesperson for the No Grandi Navi committee: 

"We want to say 'enough' to this situation . . . St Mark's Basin is like a motorway. Soon we'll have to put traffic lights up."

A month ago, a Carnival cruise ship, the Carnival Sunshine, was alleged to have come within 20 meters of the shore in Venice. Carnival denied the incident, claiming photographs distorted the distance between the ship and shore.  You can watch a video of the incident below. Seems congested to me . . .

You can read my article about my personal feelings about cruise ships and Venice here.  

An Italian blog listed the following cruise ships will sail into Venice today: Azamara Journey, Azamara Quest, MSC Divina, Queen Victoria, Royal Clipper, Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Jade, Queen Elizabeth, Seabourn Odissey, Ruby Princess, Splendour of the Seas, and the Harmony G.

Follow the discussion about cruise ships and Venice on our Facebook page.  

See images of the MSC Divina leaving Venice today.

 

Photo Credit: Pazzoperilmare Blog 

Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel Coming to Your City: Benefits? It's Cheap. Downside? Asthma, Cancer & Heart Disease.

Cruise Ship PollutionA local CBS news station (WBZ) in Boston reports that although cruising is a popular vacation, there are significant environmental downsides. The massive cruise ships burn the dirtiest type of fuel in the world, even when they’re sitting in port.

There are schools, playgrounds and residences in the neighborhoods which surrounds the port in Boston.  

Asthma, heart disease, cancer, and respiratory illness are the results of the nasty bunker fuel burned in ports. 

Supporters of the cruise industry will point out that cruising is more popular than ever. The CBS station points out that in 1986, there were just 13 cruise ships in Boston serving around 12,000 passengers. In 2012 some 117 ships cruised to Boston serving more than 380,000 passengers.

But with more and more cruise ships come more and more illness-causing pollution.

One solution is to have ships plug into shore power when they are docked. Other port cities like New York and Los Angeles have required electrical hook ups. The CBS program says that if ships are powered off-the-grid, electricity is increasingly renewable like wind and solar. And most importantly, noxious emissions can be cut by 95% percent.

Photo Credit: http://stoppollutting-cruiseships.blogspot.com/  

 

 

 

A Step Backwards: Alaska Yields to Cruise Industry Lobbying and Repeals Wastewater Restrictions.

Want some some zinc, nickel and copper in your Alaskan salmon? Well, now you can.

Today the Republican controlled Alaska Senate voted 14 to 6 to approve a law proposed by Governor Parnell to abolish cruise ship wastewater standards enacted in 2006.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that the new law will allow the cruise industry to indefinitely discharge ammonia, a product of human waste, and heavy metals, dissolved from ship plumbing. Those discharges would have been banned in 2015 under a 2006 citizen initiative.

Alaska Air and Water PollutionThe new law dismantles a scientific advisory panel on cruise ship wastewater created in 2009. 

Formerly the most progressive state in the U.S. protecting its waters from harmful cruise ship discharges, Alaska was intimidated by the cruise industry to roll back its environmental regulations to permit cruise lines to dump high levels of waste by-products and heavy metals like zinc, copper and nickel.   

Ammonia contributes to algae blooms and harms shellfish. Copper, one of the heavy metals, has been shown to harmful to salmon. 

Fishing groups, environmentalists, Alaska native organizations and residents of coastal communities spoke out against the new pro-cruise line law.

During Tuesday's floor debate, Senator Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, listed a series of pollution violations by cruise ships over the years, including 41 in 2009. 

You can read our last article about this mess here: The Dirty Alaskan Cruise Industry Just Got Dirtier

What a big victory for the Miami-based cruise industry.

And what a disgrace for the state of Alaska.

Governor Parnell Continues to Advance Dirty Cruise Industry's Interests

Governor Parnell and the pro-cruise pollution legislators in Alaska have some new talking points in their efforts to weaken the cruise line waste water restrictions. They say that its not the cruise sewage that will harm the state's image but their opponents' "hype" that easing the standards will result in "dirty water and terrible discharges."        

Putting aside for a moment the nasty spectacle of dumping partially treated sewage into the water, the fact is that cruise ship water treatment devices clearly do not treat all of the wastewater discharged in Alaskan waters in compliance with Alaska’s water quality standards regarding ammonia, as well as the heavy metals - copper, nickel and zinc.

Alaska Cruise Ship Pollution It's unhealthy and dangerous to release these heavy metals into the waters where they will find their way in the fish, particularly salmon. 

Three years ago, the cruise industry flat out threatened Governor Parnell that it would boycott Alaska unless he would agree to work with the cruise lines to avoid pollution regulations. Read Governor Parnell Gets Punked.

Instead of demanding better technologies to address this problem, as required by the 2006 initiatives, Governor is heading the state in the other direction where no efforts will be made to address the problems with heavy metals. Meanwhile, the sewage (whether partially treated or not) will continue to fill the Alaskan waters.   

A newspaper in Ketchikan explains that this is a huge problem given the enormous amount of sewage and toxic by-products which cruise ships will dump in Alaskan waters:

"About 30 cruise ships carrying a total of nearly one million people visit Alaska over a five month period. This result is over one billion gallons of cruise discharges being dumped into unknown areas of Alaska state waters every year."

The newspaper also points out that on January 29th, as the relaxed laws were being fast tracked by legislators, Princess Cruises was fined $20,000 (a slap on the wrist) when one of its cruise ships, the 2,590 passenger Golden Princess, discharged 66,000 gallons of chlorinated pool water into Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.  

Zinc, nickel and copper in the fish and chlorine in the water. Alaska is heading backwards.

Read our last article on these disturbing developments in Alaska:

The Dirty Alaskan Cruise Industry Just Got Dirtier

The Dirty Alaskan Cruise Industry Just Got Dirtier

In 2006, Alaskan citizens sent a clear message to the cruise industry that cruise ships could not treat the beautiful waters of Alaska like a toilet.  

Seven years ago Alaskan voters approved legislation that prohibited cruise ships from discharging "untreated sewage, treated sewage, graywater or other wastewaters in a manner that violates any applicable effluent limits or standards under state or federal law, including Alaska Water Quality Standards governing pollution at the point of discharge.” 

Alaska Salmon Fisheries - Cruise Ship PollutionThe Alaskan regulations strictly restricted the level of ammonia, copper, nickel and zinc.  As of 2009, cruise ships were routinely being caught violating the Alaska regulations.  In this chart, in 2009 alone, there were forty-one (41) violations of Alaska'a waster water and air emission laws by Celebrity, HAL, NCL, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean and Silverseas, with Carnival-owned Princess and HAL cruise ships being the greatest offenders. 

The Miami-based cruise industry is used to getting its way. Cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean are used to dumping untreated sewage in the waters of powerless Caribbean countries. Most port nations and even most states in the U.S. where the cruise lines base their cruise ships have not enacted any waste water discharge regulations whatsoever.  

But Alaska was different,  It not only passed legislation that banned the nasty cruise line practice of opening the bowels of the huge ships into the state's waters but it took steps to levy a realistic head tax of $50 per passenger to offset the damage to Alaska's infrastructure caused by the massive cruise ships.

The cruise lines did not like Alaska's exercise of its state rights one bit. The cruise industry spent millions of dollars lobbying against waste water regulations. It attacked the green water scientists, removed the honest water experts from oversight panels, inserted cruise industry hacks, and bullied state officials and concerned citizens.  

Carnival led the charge. It threatened Alaskan Governor Parnell that it would pull its ships from Alaska and it sued the state along with other cruise lines to avoid the $50 head tax.

Alaskan Governor Parnell backed down and sent a message to the cruise industry that the state's water emission laws are negotiable. Alaska caved in and reduced its $50 head tax. Alaska began sliding down the slippery slope as the cruise lines increased their lobbying and threatened to boycott Alaska. 

The result today is that at Governor Parnell's urging, the House of Representatives just voted to essentially repeal all of the 2006 waster water initiatives. The debate is now moving to the Senate.

A repeal of the 2006 laws will be disastrous to the waters of Alaska.

Alaskan Cruise Ship - Pollution Waste WaterAs explained in this thoughtful blog, "a single cruise ship produces 210,000 gallons of sewage, over a million gallons of greywater, 130 gallons of hazardous wastes such as poisonous metals, and 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water in a single week-long cruise. There are 28 very large cruise ships which operate up to 150 days annually in Alaska. Such large quantities of pollution are a threat to Alaska’s critical fisheries." 

This results is approximately 1,064,448,000 gallons of sewage and wastewater being dumped into Alaska state waters every year. The really sinister part of the abandonment of the pollution laws is that Republicans rejected Democratic amendments which would have required disclosure of the location of sewage discharges and protected fisheries from sewage discharges.

The thought of the cruise industry dumping over a billion gallons of cruise ship crap into the salmon filled waters is really gross.  They can keep the locations secret too.  I hate to think of all of the norovirus-laden poop floating around with the fish.  But this is the reality of a cruise industry which projects itself as a steward of the seas but is actually the Alaskan waters' worst enemy.

 

Photo:

Salmon - earthjustice.com

Cruise Ship Air Pollution Chokes Hong Kong

The Smart Planet blog has an interesting article about the effects of the ever growing cruise industry upon ports in Asia.

Entitled Hong Kong Contends with Pollution from a Growing Cruise Industry, the article reveals the extent to which cruise lines are still burning bunker fuel while not even equipping their ships with the ability to plug into shore-side electrical power.  

The articles states that "emissions from berthed ships are considered the No. 1 contributor to Hong Kong Cruise ship air PollutionHong Kong’s severe air pollution problem and are said to account for 40% of greenhouse gases within its borders. Coming from cruise and cargo ships, these emissions outdo that of power plants and road vehicles."

Cruise ships and other large vessels are still burning bunker fuel while in port.

Bunker fuel is the nastiest and deadliest fuel in the world. Burning low-sulfur fuel is more expensive and there is no legal requirement in Hong Kong at this time to use the cleaner fuel.

Without a threat of a fine or some other legal consequence, the cruise industry will always choose the least expensive and most environmentally destructive path.

Check out a non-profit group's Facebook page about ship pollution in Hong Kong.

There are some interesting photos of ships polluting the port with deadly smoke, including the Star Pisces (photo above right).  Don't be fooled that this is just a problem over in Hong Kong. Star Cruises has maintained a large ownership of Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Lines for years.    

The article explains that Hong Kong’s air pollution is a major health threat and results in deaths in the city estimated between 1,200 and 3,00 per year.

Pier Luigi Foschi Costa - Carnival AsiaAt a cruise forum last week, Pier Luigi Foschi, the chief executive of Carnival Asia, objected to the requirement for cruise ships to use shore-side power. He said it is unrealistic to require ships to use on-shore power because many cruise ships are not equipped to be plugged in. That begs the question why at this late date all cruise ships don't have a big cable that can be hooked up to the clean electrical power at the ports around the world.  

You may recall Mr. Foschi was the CEO of Costa Crociere when the Concordia crashed last year.  I'm not so sure I would give much weight to anything he says.   

 

Photo Credit:

Top: Star Pisces - Hong Kong Pollution Watch Facebook Page

Princess Cruises Fined for Dumping 66,000 Gallons of Chlorinated Water into Glacier Bay in Alaska

KTOO news station in Alaska reports today that the Environmental Protection Agency fined Princess Cruises $20,000 for dumping water from six swimming pools aboard the Golden Princess cruise ship into Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in 2011.

The EPA announced the fine against the cruise line yesterday.

Princess was forced to sign a consent agreement admitting responsibility and subjecting itself to a final court order. Princess admitted that it violated the Clean Water Act in May 2011 when it discharged Princess Cruises Pollution Glacier Bay Alaskamore than 66,000 gallons of pool water into the pristine waters of Glacier Bay.

Princess Cruises claims that a "software malfunction," on the Golden Princess, somehow caused all six of the pool valves to open. This dumped chlorinated water from all of the cruise ship’s pools as well as whirlpools into the national park and preserve.

The waste-water permits for large cruise ships prohibit the discharge of pool and spa water in national parks and refuges. 

The fine comes at a time when the Governor of Alaska is agreeing to roll back the strict water emission laws of Alaska as urged by the cruise industry

Princess Cruises has the worst environmental record in the Alaskan waters, and has been caught discharging illegal levels of waste water over the recent years.  Before the state of Alaska began passing strict environmental laws, the cruise industry openly dumped raw sewage and chemicals throughout the Alaskan waters.   

MSC Eugenia Leaked Ten Tons of Oil in Bahamian Waters

The Panama-flagged and Italian-operated container ship MSC Eugenia leaked oil while leaving Freeport Harbor in the Grand Bahama island en route to Port Everglades earlier in the week. The ship returned to the port and berthed. Reportedly more than 10 tons of oil has leaked, although the source of the leak has not been disclosed. 

Today the Freeport News reported that tar balls have been discovered on Coral Beach in the Bahamas. Tourists experienced tar on their hands and feet after walking on the sand or swimming in the ocean. 

The Eugenia apparently went into drydock to repair the leak and subsequently departed the Bahamas and is currently in South Florida.

MSC is one of the largest shipping companies in the world and also operates cruise ships.

MSC Eugenia Leak Oil Bahamas 

Photo credit: MSC Eugenia - Minería Chilena

Enemies of the Environment? Costa, Crystal & P&O Cruises Flunk Cruise Ship Environmental Report Card, While Carnival & Royal Caribbean Receive "D+"

The "environmental report card" for the cruise industry is out and the grades for some of the major cruise lines are ugly.

Costa, Crystal and P&O Cruises all received failed grades on the report card prepared by the highly respected environmental group Friends of the Earth ("FOE"). The non-profit organization analysis the cruise lines' environmental footprint in terms of sewage treatment and air pollution reduction. FOE handed these three polluting cruise lines a "F."

The fact that Crystal is at the bottom of the class is no surprise. It has always been an environmental scoundrel. 

In 2003, the Crystal Harmony dumped around 35,000 gallons of grey water, sewage, and bilge water in a beautiful marine sanctuary in Monterey Bay. According to the L.A. Times, Crystal Cruises said it didn't have to report the incident to authorities because it broke no laws. It is "perfectly legal" under maritime laws to discharge even untreated wastewater more than 12 miles offshore, and the ship was 14 miles offshore at the time, said Crystal spokeswoman Mimi Weisband.

Air Pollution - Cruise Ship "We didn't break any law," Weisband said. "We did break a promise." The city of Monterey thereafter banned all Crystal cruise ships for life.

In the 2010 FOE report card, Crystal Cruises also received the lowest grade - "F." Cruise spokesperson Weisband responded by saying that Crystal Cruises "deserved an A ... if not an A+."

At the other end of the polluting spectrum is Disney which received a "A-."  This month the Disney Wonder will be arriving at the Port of Miami and by 2014 there will be four Disney cruise ships ported in the state of Florida with the Magic joining the Dream and Fantasy in Port Canaveral.

You can read the scores of all of the cruise lines and about 150 of their cruise ships here. Big boys Carnival and Royal Caribbean received "D+'s."  In the last environmental report card in 2010, Carnival received a "F" and Royal Caribbean received a "D-."  

Expect the Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"), which is fighting against clean air regulations and opposing restrictions on deadly bunker/ high sulfur fuels, to make a statement today claiming that the FOE report card is "not scientific," "biased," "arbitrary," "flawed" or whatever.  Sounds like what I told my mom when my ninth grade teacher gave me a "D" in Algebra II after I didn't study all year.   

December 6, 2012 Update: The Sun Sentinel newspaper covered the story yesterday. Its article contained the usual denials by the cruise lines.  CLIA is quoted saying: the report card "lacks basis in fact, science and law . . . The grades assigned cruise lines and their ships are based upon arbitrary, faulty and misleading measures."
 

Consider some of our other articles:

Deadly Cruise Ship Emissions Equal Sulfur Dioxide Spewed From 13,100,000 Cars A Day, But Cruise Lines Fight Air Pollution Laws

Cruise Ship Dumping of Trash & Feces Conflicts With Industry's Image as Steward of the Seas
 

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship - AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

"Most Wanted" for Cruise Ship Pollution: Royal Caribbean Chief Engineer Michael Psomadakis - But Is He Really The Only Culprit?

Do you know this former Royal Caribbean crew member?

He's on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s "Most Wanted" List. Here's the story:

In 1993, Michael Evangelos Psomadakis was the chief engineer aboard RCCL's Nordic Empress cruise ship which routinely discharged oil into the water. But the Nordic Empress was no island to itself.  RCCL's fleet of ships was regularly dumping pollutants from Biscayne Bay here in Miami to the pristine waters in Alaska.

The pollution was right outside of the cruise executives' offices at the port of Miami all of the way to Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Pollution Alaska and back.  I can't imagine the abuse of the waters in Europe, Africa, and South America.

There were many Psomadakis's throughout the RCCL fleet of cruise ships.  

Psomadakis - like his employer Royal Caribbean - lied to the Coast Guard about the pollution. A big mistake. This was no Bush administration with its let's-trust-the-big-corporations-and-look-the-other-way mentality. The U.S. justice system, under the leadership of environmentalist Janet Reno, investigated Royal Caribbean and discovered that many RCCL cruise ships were dumping oil & chemicals throughout their routes. A nasty business. Ms. Reno caught the Royal Caribbean bad boys under the corporate leadership of CEO Richard Fain, who claimed to know nothing, with their proverbial pants down.   

Attorney General Reno slammed the cruise line, calling the cruise line "flim-flam" artists. She oversaw the imposition of penalties totaling $27,000,000 for engaging in a "fleet wide conspiracy . . . to save millions of dollars by dumping oily waste into the ocean," according to the the New York Times.

The case was prosecuted here in U.S. courts even though the cruise line claimed that the U.S. had no authority because the company was registered in Liberia and the cruise ship flew a flag of convenience in Liberia (and Liberia had already dismissed the case of course).

Psomadakis escaped FBI agents at a Miami hotel "simply by walking out another exit," as reported by the New York Times. He got away from the FBI and made it back to back to Greece all by himself?

At the end of the day, Royal Caribbean admitted it was a corporate felon, no only for the illegal discharges but for systematically lying to the Coast Guard and Attorney General's office for years. The New York Times article covered the story

If you are interested in what the environment would be like without the U.S. government regulating a renegade Liberian-incorporated-corporation like Royal Caribbean, take a read of the New York Times article here.   

The problem was that Royal Caribbean didn't change it's ways. After the first two million-dollar-fines, Royal Caribbean continued to illegally discharge oil, waste and fecal matter everywhere.  The illegal discharges even increased, reflecting the arrogance of the Liberian holier-than-thou corporation. The cruise line responded with a bogus marketing campaign claiming that it was an environmental steward Royal Caribbean Save the Waves - Cruise Ship Pollution of the seas.  It adopted a PR campaign that it was "Saving the Waves" (see photo) by encouraging its employees (and guests) not to throw any garbage overboard.

But while the crew members wore their "Save the Waves" buttons above deck and served passengers cocktails, Royal Caribbean engineers below the decks fabricated secret by-pass values to dump everything from raw sewage to chemicals used in the photography labs directly into the ocean.  Do you really believe that the cruise executives didn't know?

Fifteen years later, CEO Fain and President Goldstein are still at the helm of the cruise line. Fall guy Psomadakis is on the lam. Yeah, an engineer from Greece is the real culprit behind the wide spread fleet-wide dumping and defiance of the U.S government. 

The most recent news from this cruise lines?  Royal Caribbean will soon deliver us another ostentatious, Oasis-class, bunker-fuel burning, polluting, gigantic cruise ship, ordered by the least environmentally friendly, flim-flam cruise line in the industry.    

Case Study: Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. - Avoiding U.S. Taxes, Labor Laws, Environmental Regulations & Criminal Accountability

Royal Caribbean Cruises - A Liberian CoporationToday I read an interesting case analysis from the Journal of Business Case Studies (May/June 2012), which studied the business model of the second largest cruise company in the world, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.   

The article is entitled "Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.: Innovation At A Cost?" (click on the pdf link)

The article focuses on Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. which was formed in 1997 when Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (founded in 1968) and Celebrity Cruises (founded in 1988) merged together. 

The article explains that the foundation of Royal Caribbean is the avoidance of U.S. taxes and regulation. It accomplishes this by:

  • Incorporating in a foreign country (Liberia, Africa), and
  • Registering its cruise ships in weak, poor and disorganized foreign countries (mostly Liberia and the Bahamas).  

By registering its corporation and ship overseas, it avoids U.S. taxes, labor and environmental laws, and criminal culpability.  U.S. executives are offered millions in bonuses while the cruise line itself pays no U.S. taxes, which is the key to its profitability. The Journal writes that Miami based cruise lines, like Royal Caribbean:

" . . .  take advantage of maritime laws to avoid paying U.S. taxes, gain immunity from American labor laws, avoid U.S. courts in workplace disputes, and fend off new environmental regulations, government records and industry reports show. They have done this by incorporating in Central America and Africa and registering their ships under the flags of foreign nations . . ." 

Although this theoretically gives tiny countries regulatory power over one of some of Florida's Flag of Convenience - Royal Caribbean Cruiseslargest corporations, the flag states " . . . are not only reluctant to discipline major contributors to their economies, but also do not have the resources to enforce regulations or even punish polluters."

Flying flags of convenience has historically been used to conceal criminal activities, and is now "used primarily for economic reasons and sanctuary from restrictive regulatory environments."

Tonight in England a documentary will air about the exploitation of crew members on the Eclipse cruise ship which is operated by Royal Caribbean's sister company, Celebrity Cruises, out of Southampton England.  Crew members work 12 hours a day (sometimes more), every day, every week for the length of their 6 - 8 month contracts with no time off. When injured, the crew members  are often dumped back in their home countries and paid only $12 a day and denied competent medical treatment.

You can trace the root cause of this abuse back to the earliest days of Royal Caribbean in the late 1960's when the cruise line decided to skirt U.S. laws by incorporating in the lawless country of Liberia.       

 

Don't miss:

"Celebrity Cruises Crew Member Controversy Brewing in Britain"

"Profits Over People: Carnival's Exploitation of Crew Members is Standard Industry Practice"

"Royal Caribbean Executives Get Richer While Crew Members Get Poorer"

 

Credit: Flags of convenience article - "Flags at Sea . . . "

Cruise Ship Dumping of Trash & Feces Conflicts With Industry's Image as Steward of the Seas

Cruise Ship Fantasy PhotoIn one of the first articles published in the cruise industry's new blog, entitled "Sailing with Respect," the cruise lines pitched themselves as leaders of the marine environment.  CLIA CEO Christine Duffy proclaimed that:

"As an industry, we are extremely committed to protecting the waters and surrounding environments where we operate to preserve their natural beauty, minimize impact on native species and protect the waters upon which we sail."

CLIA embedded a beautiful stock photo from shutterstock showing colorful coral reefs and an abundance of tropical fish. But like the photo-shopped cruise fantasy image, CLIA's PR statement is far from the reality of how the cruise industry really operates.

video posted yesterday by a Boston Massachusetts television station explains that officials in the quaint coastal town of Nahant, Massachusetts found a local beach fouled by a huge amount of human excrement, toilet paper, rubber gloves, flip-flops, plastic bottles, dental floss, condoms, personal hygiene items and a urinal cake covered in a mass of disgusting brownish foam.  

Cruise Ship Reality - Dumping Human Waste and GarbageThe officials believe that the sewage and garbage were dumped from a Holland America Line cruise ship which sailed off the coast of northern Massachusetts last month. The harbormaster took photos of the debris and found a cruise ship cabin tag amongst the sewage. 

The HAL PR people are denying everything of course, but there is no dispute that cruise lines dump untreated sewage a few miles from shore.  USA Today has picked up on the story and points out that bulk garbage from cruise ships is supposed to be "incinerated, grinded, compacted or crushed" (which still is a nasty way to pollute the oceans) but do we believe that always happens? 

What makes this case particularly offensive is that this area of coastline is a "No Discharge Zone" so the requirements are even more stringent than normal.   I wonder who the cruise industry folks at CLIA are going to blame for this story?

August 10 2012 Update: CNN picks up the story.  Here's a comment to the story: "Cruise ships always deny deny deny. People go missing, get assaulted, & everything is swept under the rug even when the big lump is showing."

Deadly Cruise Ship Emissions Equal Sulfur Dioxide Spewed From 13,100,000 Cars A Day, But Cruise Lines Fight Air Pollution Laws

Five years ago, the Bush administration proposed legislation prohibiting the use of maritime fuels with high sulfur content within 200 miles of the U.S. The Obama administration had the bill passed into law. In turn, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced that it planned to create a buffer zone around the U.S. and Canada where ships would be prohibited from burning the world's dirtiest transportation fuel - bunker fuel.

The new regulations are suppose to go into effect shortly.  The container shipping industry states that it intends to meet the new standards. But the cruise industry, which vigorously opposed the legislation and IMO regulations in the first place, states that it cannot comply with the pollution laws.

The health risks posed by the cruise industry's use of high sulfur fuels are enormous.  I published an Bunker Fuel - Cruise Ship Pollutionarticle years ago called "Bunker Fuel - Nasty Tar Sludge!  which explains how bunker fuel - which is a tar-like substance - is the nastiest and most toxic fuel on planet earth.  It is unconscionable to burn it.

Today the Washington Post puts the issue into greater perspective:

"The gleaming white Sapphire Princess docked in this deep-water port (Whittier Alaska) this month, unloading its passengers and taking on another 2,600 guests headed first to Glacier Bay and, eventually, Vancouver, B.C. Every day of that trip the cruise ship — whose web site invites passengers to see Alaska’s “pristine landscapes” — will emit the same amount of sulfur dioxide as 13.1 million cars, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and as much soot as 1.06 million cars .  .  .

The new rule requires large ships to cut the sulfur content of their fuel, which now averages 2.7 percent, down to 1 percent next month; in 2015 it must drop to 0.1 percent.

The EPA estimates that the new rules will avoid between 12,000 and 31,000 premature deaths each year by 2030, with the benefits outweighing the costs 95 to 1. Put another way, when the stricter limit goes into effect in 2015 it will be akin to taking 12.7 million cars off the road per day and eliminating their sulfur dioxide emissions, or the soot from 900,000 cars. Air pollutants from burning ship fuel off the Pacific Coast contribute to lung disease and affect air quality as far away as North Dakota, according to agency officials."

The cruise lines (and curiously enough, the State of Alaska) have launched  what the Post calls a "counter-offensive" against the pollution law.  

According to the Post, once the new law is fully implemented and the additional costs of the cleaner fuel are passed on to the consumer. cruising will cost about $7 per day more.  The cruise industry claims that it could add as much as $19.46 a day per passenger.

The cruise lines claim that the cleaner fuel will hurt their business.  The Republican lawmakers in Alaska, under intense cruise line lobbying, profess that the new law is bad for tourism. When cruise ships are required to burn .1% sulfur fuel in 2015, cruising may cost $50 to $100 a week more. But the EPA claims that tens of thousands of lives will be saved each year with annual benefits in reduced health care expenses between $47 billion and $110 billion. 

The cruise industry has tried to use the court system to avoid air pollution laws before.  Last year,the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the cruise and shipping industries, holding that the state of California can regulate the cruise industry and require vessels that call on the state’s ports to use cleaner fuel.  

The cruise industry and its trade organization, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), have a paradoxical relationship with the air and water around their cruise ships.  They market themselves as environmentally friendly but, in truth, they are hardly the steward of the air and seas. They are the single greatest threat to the clean air and water of Alaska.

Consider the photo below of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in Alaska, filling the bay up with toxic fumes from bunker fuel.   

 

Bunker Fuel - Alaska - Pollution 

 

Chart credit:  Washington Post

Photo credit: Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship -  AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

Royal Caribbean's New Port in Falmouth, Jamaica - At What Cost to the Environment?

I have written about Royal Caribbean's new port development in the town of Falmouth Jamaica before. It seems to me that the new development for the cruise line perpetuates the historical master (cruise line) - servant (Jamaica) relationship which continues to exploit the Jamaican people.

My tour of Falmouth reinforced those beliefs.  Most of the profits from goods sold behind the walled gates to the port leave with the cruise ship and return to the cruise line's coffers in Miami.  And most of the cruise passengers who left the Allure of the Seas when it was in port quickly headed out of Falmouth on cruise line excursions to Ocho Rio and Montego Bay.

But this article is not about the economic exploitation of Falmouth. It addresses the environmental consequences to the island caused by trying to accommodate Royal Caribbean's two monster Falmouth Jamaica - Royal Caribbean Port - Reef and Mangrove Destruction (Genesis) class cruise ships, the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas - the two biggest cruise ships in the world.

The motivation for this article came from reading an article Can the Cruise Industry Clean Up Its Act? in OnEarth magazine ("A Survival Guide for the Planet.")    

I learned a couple of things from this article.  First, the Oasis and the Allure, even though Royal Caribbean touts them as environmentally friendly ships, are burning the dirtiest and most dangerous fuel in the world - bunker fuel - which is essentially a tar-like refinery by-product.  The non-combustible particles blacken the sky and pose a major health hazard to the health of people in a hundred mile radius.

Secondly, the presence of Royal Caribbean's new mega-ships in the little port required the destruction of some 35,000,000 cubic feet of coral reef and the destruction of two square miles of mangroves which are now buried under the now pulverized reef material.   Quite frankly when I visited Falmouth last year, I was taken back by the destruction I could see. But now I appreciate just how widespread and complete Royal Caribbean's plans were to destroy the reef and mangroves.   OnEarth magazine explains:

"In Falmouth, to accommodate Allure and Oasis, wrecking crews had to smash a quarter-mile-wide opening in an offshore barrier reef. They dredged coral, both living and dead, as well as the rock substrate, and trucked it inland to a two-square-mile dump site -- a clear-cut area on the outskirts of town that was once a thriving red mangrove swamp. Now all that’s left is 35 million cubic feet of pulverized coral and rubble. When I visit the site with Roland Haye, a Jamaican environmental activist, he tells me, "As a boy, I used to play Tarzan here and see crocodile. It was a winter home for great heron and swan." He points out broken conch shells, dismembered starfish, bits of sea sponge, and severed lobes of brain coral."

Port of Falmouth - Reef and Mangrove Damage - Royal CaribbeanAnother problem is that the removal of the natural reef exposes the shore to pounding of the waves. When I visited, I observed that the road from Ocho Rios to Falmouth, previously protected by the reef, was literally covered with water from the encroaching waves. The road was already eroding.  

While reading the OnEarth magazine article, I learned about Esther Figueroa, a Jamaican filmmaker who documented the destruction of the reef and mangroves in order to dig a giant water hole for Royal Caribbean to park its monstrosities of the seas. (Why does Joni Mitchell's song Big Yellow Taxi - "they paved paradise" - come to mind?).

Ms. Figuero's short video is below, at the bottom.

But first take a look at the top video. While looking on YouTube for Ms. Figueroa's video, I also ran across a short promotional video for the Royal Caribbean port by "CruiseGuy," a cruise enthusiast and local cruise celebrity, who was interviewed on a local South Florida TV station. He raves about how wonderful Royal Caribbean's new facility in Falmouth will be. The video shows a beautiful color drawing of a tree filled port nestled between the Oasis and the Allure.    

Compare this cruise dream with the reality revealed by Ms. Figueroa's video on the bottom.  

"Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got til it's gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot"
 

  

 

 

Why Are Royal Caribbean's "Most Technologically Advanced" Cruise Ships Burning Nasty Bunker Fuel?

A couple of years ago I blogged about the nastiest fuel on the planet - bunker fuel.  It's the dredge at the bottom of oil refineries, a nasty tar like substance which is impossible to be completely burned.  It leaves non-combustible particles that blacken the sky and, if inhaled, cause lung disease, cancer, asthma, emphysema.  Cruise ships burn it because it's cheap.  But it presents long term and costly health issues to people around the world who are forced to breathe the cruise ship emissions.

No one in their right mind would burn this stuff in their house or car and you would call the police if your neighbor did.  But this is the cornerstone of the cruise industry.   

When Royal Caribbean brought the new Genesis class cruise ships on line, the cruise line touted the Oasis of the Seas and its sister ship Allure of the Seas as technological marvels. But this weekend while reading an article Can the Cruise Industry Clean Up Its Act? in OnEarth magazine ("A Survival Guide for the Planet.") I learned something new.

Although Royal Caribbean touts the Oasis and Allure as "green" cruise ships, they still burn the world's dirtiest fuel - bunker fuel.  The article states that Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas:

" . . . still burns bunker oil, also known as bunker fuel, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. Today, virtually every cruise ship is powered by this cheap, gelatinous sludge, which presents the single biggest hurdle to an industry that wants to call itself sustainable. As long as Allure guzzles this stuff, she will leave a colossal environmental footprint . . . "  

The article goes on to state that every dollar spent to reduce pollution from ships will create as much as $34 in health benefits. "Cleaner ships will translate into fewer asthma emergencies, heart attacks, and lung ailments, especially among children and the elderly."  But don't expect Royal Caribbean to invest a penny into such health concerns. Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean are neither the stewards of the air nor the protectors of your family's lungs.  

As long as the Oasis and the Allure burn bunker fuel, they are no more technologically advanced than a 1960's tanker.  

Oasis of the Seas Cruise Ship - Pollution - Bunker Fuel

 For additional information about cruise ship pollution, read an editorial in the Seattle Times Cruise Industry Should Comply With New Air-Quality Regulation

More Problems for the Problem Prone Saga Sapphire - It's a Smoker!

A Cruise Law News reader has alerted us to a major engine problem for the Saga Sapphire cruise ship which has broken down during a cruise through Norway.  A passenger aboard the stricken cruise ship writes:

"The Saga Sapphire is currently struck with motor-problems again - this time whilst on a Norwegian Cruise - and has been unable to leave Trömso Fjord for the last two days. Efforts to repair the ship succeeded - after a further 4 miles the ship has broken down again."

Newspaper accounts in Norway corroborate the passenger's account.

Nordlys newspaper in Norway confirms that the cruise ship's generators failed and repairs were Saga Sapphire Cruise Ship - Engine Failure - Norwayattempted in Trömso, without success.

You can see, from a photograph from the Norwegian newspaper, the Saga Sapphire smoking heavily. Something's definitely not right with this ship.

The Norwegian newspaper contains a rather humorous account of the situation where several of the 600 passengers asked the cruise ship's agent about the heavy diesel smoke pouring from the ship's engines and wondered: is it was normal to have such large emissions? The agent said "no it's not the worst thing I have ever seen."  To which a passenger responded, "what is the worst thing you've seen?"

Of course, the situation is not humorous to the passengers who paid for a nice vacation cruise.  They have been sailing part of the time in a tender vessel. 

The cruise ship's captain has a blog  - called the Saga Sapphire Captain's Blog - which has remained silent for the past 5 days.  A lesson for any cruise line:  If you have a cruise ship blog, be sure to write about the good times and the bad times in an equally transparent manner.  Otherwise, it makes matters worse.  It appears that you are covering things up.  (please note that Captain Philip Rentell has since updated his blog, and seems to have a good nature approach in his assessment of the delays).

The last entry from the Captain in the ship's blog five days ago mentions "even worse weather, high winds, driving rain and temperature forecast to feel like only 1 degree Celsius."  Yikes.  I don't want to be on a cruise ship in crappy weather with crappy generators.  That may take the situation from not funny to dangerous.

This is not the first time that the Saga Sapphire has encountered engine problems.

In April, we reported on problems during its maiden voyage which was cut short due to the failure of one of its engines.  

As you can see in the video below, the Saga Sapphire was smoking heavily two months ago, during its maiden voyage.

Hopefully the cruise ship can get the generators running.  But if so, it looks like a smokey cruise. Gas masks anyone? 

 

 

June 30, 2012 Update:  As you can see from the comments below, some of the passengers are upset with the botched cruise, the general condition and state of affair of the Saga Sapphire and the compensation offered by the cruise line.  One passenger sent me the photograph below of the cruise ship leaving Tromso - I'm not sure I have ever seen any ship smoking like this! 

Saga Sapphire Cruise Ship Smoking

August 10, 2012 Update: The Telegraph in the U.K. has an article today Saga Reassures Customers Over Newest Vessel.  Not much substance to the article but this is what the company is saying. 

 

Photo credits

Top:  Northern Lights-tipping via Nordlys

Bottom: Saga Sapphire cruise passenger

How Much Bigger Will Cruise Ships Get?

Twenty years ago I was a defense lawyer defending the cruise lines.  It seems like a different life way back then. Something that I did as a foolish kid.

One of my clients was Majesty Cruise Lines.  It's flag ship (and only ship) was the Royal Majesty.  I thought it was a huge ship when it came out in the early 1990's.  Majesty Cruises lines sold the ship to Norwegian Cruise Lines.  NCL renamed it the Norwegian Majesty.  It sailed a Boston-to-Bermuda cruise for over a decade. 

The ship left the NCL fleet in 2009 and is now the Louis Majesty.  Unfortunately it is best know for the horrific incident when a large wave smashed through glass windows leading to death and injuries to passengers.

Twenty years ago I thought it was huge. But this was no big ship, compared to today's monsters of the seas. Under 50,000 tons and less than 1,500 passengers, it's a tug boat compared to Royal Caribbean's Genesis class of cruise ships.  The Oasis and Allure each weigh well over 220,000 tons with well over 7,500 passengers and crew.

Last week a friend sent me a photo of the port of Miami circa 1971.  I'm a history major and like the vintage perspective. Look at those little cruise ships!  

Now compare the photo on top with the photo below, circa 2007.

How much bigger will cruise ships get?  Will it ever stop?   

Cruise Ships - Port of Miami 1971

Cruise Ships - Port of Miami 2007

 

Monster Cruise Ships Menace Venice

The UK's Mail Online newspaper has some interesting photographs today regarding the ongoing protests by environmental groups in Italy who are trying to protect the beautiful city of Venice from the effects of water pollution, air emissions and erosion of historical building by traffic from huge cruise ships.

Earlier this week we addressed this issue in our article Italian Environmentalists Urge Sofia Loren to Stop "Monster of the Sea" from Attacking Venice.  

Over the past 25 years, the number of cruise passengers cruising into Venice increased from 280,000 to 1,800,000 last year.

Over 650 gigantic cruise ships sail into Venice every year now.  Unlike the quaint gondolas historically associated with the city, cruise ships today are 1,000 feet long, weigh 140,000 tons and have drafts well over 25 feet. They pose a substantial risk to this fragile Italian city which is struggling against mass tourism and the deterioration of the city's underwater foundations. 

Here is my view of the problem last year: Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth

Take a look at the spectacle below.  Do you trust the titans of the cruise industry with the survival of historical sites like this?  Do you trust the Micky Arisons of the world to be the curators of Venice?  

Cruise Ships - Venice - MSC Divina

Cruise Ships - Venice - MSC Divina

Photo credit: Getty Images via Mail Online 

Italian Environmentalists Urge Sofia Loren to Stop "Monster of the Sea" from Attacking Venice

Italians concerned with the negative effects of air and water pollution have appealed to actress Sophia Loren to stop a cruise ship named in her honor from visiting Venice. 

An environmental organization, the "No Big Ships Venice Committee," wrote an open letter to the star asking for her support in keeping the MCS Divina and its passengers and crew of 4,500 from entering the fragile lagoon which surround the historic city.  Ms. Loren christened the Divina last month. 

In addition to air emissions and water discharges, the environmental group is concerned that the heavy Ruby Princess Invades Venice cruise traffic is eroding and cracking the foundations of historic buildings.  The group is asking the famous movie star to renounce her role as godmother of the ship in an effort to protect Venice. 

Italia Nostra (Our Italy), the country's leading conservation group, is also involved in trying to keeping large cruise ships out of the Venice lagoon.

Since 1987, the number of cruise passengers cruising through Venice has risen from 280,000 to 1,800,000 last year.

The huge cruise ships on steroids are grossly out-of-scale when juxtaposed next to the historic buildings in Venice.  Last year I wrote a couple of articles about the spectacle of monster ships invading Venice: Will the Juggernauts of the Seas Ruin Venice? and Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth?

 

Photo Credit:  EcoTraveller / Mostly Dans

 

June 3, 2012 Update:

A number of readers brought to my attention, ironically enough, that the Carnival Breeze is making its inaugural cruise out of Venice this weekend.  Carnival's CEO Micky Arison is even posting photos online via Twitter.  The first photo is of the Breeze arriving in Venice and the second photo posted by Arison has the caption "What a beautiful night shot of Carnival Breeze."     

I suppose that's debatable.  I for one would prefer to see the gondolas of Venice without a gigantic cruise ship plowing though the waters behind them.  And I would hate to look out my balcony window and see the freakish sight of a Miami cruise-based cruise ship lighting up the night sky of Venice while blowing emissions all over the place.

Toxic Cruise Emissions Conflict With Cruise Industry's Marketing Image As "Steward of the Seas"

In commemoration of "Earth Day" last week, the cruise industry's trade organization, the Cruise Line International Organization ("CLIA"), issued a PR statement praising itself for being a champion of protecting the environment.

The PR statement was entitled "Cruise Industry Continues to Build on Successful Track Record as Environmental Stewards of the Seas They Sail."  CLIA boasted that it has been at the "forefront of emissions reduction."  

CLIA CEO Christine Duffy stated  "We believe it is our responsibility to protect the environment in which we operate, and we take great pride in the strides our industry has made to chart a sustainable course Cruise Ship Pollution - Air Emissions for future generations."

Sounds great.  The problem is that it is not true.

Today multiple newspapers are reporting that CLIA is vigorously fighting to avoid cleaner ship fuel regulations so that it can continue to burn inexpensive bunker fuels. 

McClatchy newspapers report that heavy fuels that oceangoing vessels burn add so much to air pollution hundreds of miles inland that the United States joined with Canada to ask the International Maritime Organization ("IMO") to create an emissions-control area along the coasts. Large ships would be required to reduce pollution dramatically in a zone 200 miles out to sea along all the coasts of North America, mainly by using cleaner fuel.

Although the cargo-shipping industry supports the stringent emission reductions, the cruise ship industry does not. It wants what it is calling an "emissions-averaging plan" that would allow it to burn the same heavy fuel it always has used in some areas.  It is lobbying Congress for help.

McClatchy reports that officials of the EPA and the Coast Guard opposed CLIA's plan in a letter to the IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu. "After analysis, we believe the cruise lines proposal is unacceptable because it would result in overall higher emissions and doesn't meet public expectations of uniform delivery of health and environmental benefits for citizens of the United States," wrote Jeffrey G. Lantz, the Coast Guard's director of commercial regulations and standards, and Margo Tsirigotis Oge, the director of the EPA's office of transportation and air quality.

There is no debate that the cruise line's use of bunker fuels and other high sulfur fuels poses not only an ugly air pollution spectacle but presents a substantial health hazard.  Read some of our other articles about the problem of cruise air emissions and the cruise lines' attempt to act like a environmentally responsible industry: "Notorious Polluters," "Bunker Fuel - Nasty Tar Sludge!" and "Dirty Cruise Industry Tries to Wiggle Out Of Clean Air Law."

CLIA is a two faced organization.  It poses as an environmental leader for marketing purposes, but behind the scenes it is spending millions lobbying Congress so that it can burn inexpensive but dangerous heavy sulfur fuels.

Will the Juggernauts of the Seas Ruin Venice?

The Telegraph in the U.K. has an interesting article this weekend - "Cruise Ships Could Be Shut Out of Venice Over Erosion Fears."

The article points out that environmentalists and heritage groups have long complained that mammoth cruise ships plow through the shallow Venetian lagoon and damage the fragile canal banks, wooden piles and mud banks on which the city rests.

The article shows a photograph of Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas looming over the beautiful canals and bridges of Venice.

Venice Italy - Cruise Ships

 

The mayor of Venice, Giorgio Orsoni, plans to meet the head of the city's port authority, Paolo Costa, this week to discuss the problem.  He is quoted stating that "the problem of these juggernauts of the sea needs to be confronted." 

There has been a significant increase in the number of cruise ships visiting Venice, from 200 in 2000 to 510 in 2007.   The newspaper reports that last year 1,600,000 tourists arrived in Venice by cruise ship

Mayor Orsoni suggested that cruise ships could be transferred to Porto Marghera, on the mainland, in order to minimize the environmental and aesthetic impact on Venice.

This is not the first time that a major newspaper has addressed this issue.  In May, the New York Times ran across an interesting article "Venice Tourist Ships Rattle Windows and Nerves" by Elisabetta Povoledo.

I visited Venice by backpack when I was in college and commented on my impression of the effects of the cruise industry on Venice over the past 35 year in my article Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth?  You can see a couple of photos I took when I was in college and stayed in Venice for a few days. 

The photo below is from the New York Times article.

Venice - Cruise Ships   

 

Photo credit:

Top:  Alamy via the  Telegraph

Bottom:  Manuel Silvestri/Reuters

Key West to Dredge Channel to Accomodate Oasis of the Seas?

Key West - Cruise Port for Mega Ships?While the city of Charleston South Carolina is resisting the expansion of the cruise industry into its city, the southernmost city of the U.S. may be heading in the other direction.  Key West appears to be poised to accommodate bigger and more cruise ships, including the new mega ships the Allure and Oasis of the Seas.

The KeyNoter newspaper reports that Key West is considering widening the shipping channel into Key West Harbor, allowing for much larger cruise ships to port.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prepared a report about the dredging project which would cost $35 million.

There have been no report prepared yet regarding the environmental and economic impacts so far. A feasibility study would cost about $5.5 million.

The newspaper reports that next week, the Key West officials will invite the local residents to a meeting to hear from the Army Corps engineers, staff from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the Key West City Commission.

The newspaper indicates that Key West has 350 cruise-ship visits per year, totaling about 800,000 annual passengers who pay a disembarkation fee.  Key West's population is only around 25,000.

The Key West Chamber of Commerce supports the dredging project which would widen the channel by 150 feet from 300 to 450 feet.  The Key West environmental group Last Stand opposes it.

The article mentions that after the channel is widened, Key West could accommodate Royal Caribbean's mega-ship Oasis of the Seas, which would bring up to 6,500 passengers and 2,000 crew to the city on a single visit. 

The only question I would have if I lived in Key West is - why?  Key West already has 800,000 tourists by cruise ship a year.  Do you really need to spend $35,000,000 to widen the channel in order to squeeze mega ships like the Oasis into your little harbor?  

Oasis of the Seas - Key West

 

Environmental Group Discovers Illegal Cruise Dump Site

NCL Cruise Trash - DumpHawaii News Now is reporting today that an environmental group in Hawaii has located an illegal dumping site.

Much of the garbage and large plastic bags reportedly came from the Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America cruise ship, including "paperwork, documents, and dozens of cabin cards with the names of passengers and the dates they sailed."

The Hawaii News Now website reports that Carroll Cox, president of EnviroWatch, was tipped off to the dump site.

In addition to the cruise ship trash, the site contained old tires and oil bins.

The website reported that a company called Honship Maritime Service collects NCL's garbage from its cruise ship.   Honship Maritime Services apparently has a contract with a company called "The Trash Man" to haul the trash away.

Looks like someone took a shortcut and dumped about a quarter acre of garbage across the site. 

The state inspectors are in the process of investigating the dump site and will determine who is responsible for not properly disposing the garbage.

The article contains a number of photographs of the garbage including a photo of discarded NCL cocktail glasses.

NCL Cruise Trash Dump

Photo credit: Hawaii News Now  

Did the Monarch of the Seas Dump Tons of Sediment, Chemicals & Bacteria off the Coast of California in January 2006?

Last week a number of news organizations reported on the story about the release of hydrogen sulfide aboard the Monarch of the Seas in 2005 which killed three crewmembers, injured at least nineteen other ship employees and threatened the health of thousands of cruise passengers.

We blogged about this disastrous event last week in our article "Royal Caribbean Demonstrated "Gross Indifference" to Passengers' Lives."  Our article followed NBC Los Angeles's report that a Miami Judge found that Royal Caribbean Cruises demonstrated "a gross indifference to the life and health" of passengers by continuing to cruise with a ship that "that allowed poison gas exposure to its passengers." 

Royal Caribbean Pollution - Monarch of the Seas DumpingIn following up on this story, we found that Royal Caribbean staff captain Bjørn Eidissen, who is now at the center of this story, reported that four months after the poison gas incident, the Monarch of the Seas dumped "tons" of  sediment, chemicals and bacteria while the cruise ship was approaching a dry dock in January of 2006.  

Staff Captain Bjørn Eidissen was apparently on vacation when this occurred, but he subsequently complained on an U.S. Coast Guard forum that the dumping was reported to CEO Richard Fain.  Yet, the cruise line apparently did not report this intentional discharge to the U.S. Coast Guard. 

Here is what staff captain Bjørn Eidissen posted online in 2008:  

"Need to report of environmental crime and ships safety issue . .

Cruiseship Monarch of the Seas, while underway to dry dock in Jan. 2006.  San Fransisco
emptied tanks to sea, against Marpol and Royal Caribbeans SQM environmental policy.
Tank concern was DD11,usen as fixed ballast, contained tons of sediment,chemicals,and bacterias . . the tank had been the source of an accident in San Pedro Sept.  2nd.2005.  Methan gas accident, 3 casualties.

Probobly cause of the crime,was to save money and time in Drydock, cleaningwork was scheduled.  According to ships stability manual,DD11 was not to be emptied at sea,due to negative stability would occour.  Ship had approx. 1000 peoples onboard,crew and contractors
The ballastrepport sendt to USCG does not reflect correct status,as the tank was emptied just before DD.and was free of liquids when entering drydock.

Ship was given gas free cerificate by the yard,although over 100ppm methane and H2S was measured when in ddrydock . . cleaning work was cancelled due to that fact.  The most serious action was putting the cruiseship in negative stability jepardizing all lifes onboard,in addition to the environmental crime by discharging the tank inside legal borders.

This was reported to CEO Richard Fain early may 2006,by mail from Norway, but no action was taken, and ot was not reported to USCG,as the intention of the repoting letter was. 

Please take notice of this message and forward it to whom it may concern.  Please contact by e-mail Chief Officer Jan Andreassen..e-mail janjacoba@gmail.com or Captain B.Eidissen mail b_eidissen@yahoo.no, chief officer was onboard at the time of the crime,and witness all actions.but was kept out of the loop by RCCL superintendant and Chief Engineer - Chief Officer protested, but was not heard.  I was at home in Norway when I was told by acting Captain Jørn Clausen, that the tank had been emptied against his knowledge, and had put him in a imposssible position towards the cruise company, and coast Guard.

I took action from Norway,while on vacation, and wrote to CEO Richard Fain, as mentioned erlyer, but it has come to my knowledge that the cruise company Royal caribbean International, did not pass my report over to USCG, as whas my intention with lthe report in the first place.

Please forward this message to coast guard high ranking officers,PLEASE,IMPORTANT
It has seemed almost impassible to get authorities here in Norway,to understand the seriousness of this crime,and to even believe in it.

Thanks for your help.

Captain Bjørn Eidissen"

Assuming this information is accurate, did Royal Caribbean cover this up?  I see no mention that this incident was reported to the Coast Guard or that there were any fines levied against the cruise line.

Royal Caribbean has a dreadful history of environmental crimes and a corporate culture of covering the crimes up.

In the late 1990's, the U.S. Coast Guard caught Royal Caribbean engaged in widespread dumping of oil and chemicals.  The Justice Department responded by fining the cruise line $1,000,000.  In response, the cruise line went to its PR people who dreamed up a campaign of "Save the Waves."  The PR experts posed the cruise line as a leader in protecting the environment.  Royal Caribbean posted this mantra on signs all over its cruise ships.  All of the waiters, bar tenders, and cabin attendants had to wear "Save the Waves" badges touting the cruise line's commitment to protecting the seas on which it sailed. 

The problem, however, is that the cruise line didn't change its ways.  Royal Caribbean continued to illegally discharge oil, waste and fecal matter everywhere from the Caribbean to the pristine waters of Alaska.

The Feds caught Royal Caribbean dumping again.  And the U.S. government fined the cruise line again - this time $8,000,000 - and placed it on probation.  Did Royal Caribbean learn its lesson?  No, the illegal discharges increased.  While the crew members wore their "save the waves" buttons above deck while serving passengers cocktails, Royal Caribbean engineers below the decks fabricated secret by-pass values to dump everything from raw sewage to chemicals used in the photography labs directly into the ocean. Royal Caribbean cruise ship even dumped oil and sewage into the waters right outside of the executives' windows overlooking Biscayne Bay.

The U.S. Attorney General, Janet Reno, a Miami resident herself and an environmentalist as well, was not amused. The discrepancy between how the cruise held itself out to the public as a green company versus its actual criminal conduct was not lost on the Attorney General.  By the time she was through, Royal Caribbean pled guilty to multiple felonies, received another whopping fine of $18,000,000, and agreed to a five year probation.

The U.S. leveled the felony charges not just because of the repeated and massive scale of the dumping of pollutants but because the cruise line continued to lie. U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno stated at a press conference: 

.  .  . at the same time that their ships were sailing into the inland passage of Alaska, one of the most sensitive and beautiful eco-systems in our nation, their crew members were wearing buttons that said, 'Save the Waves.'  That's what they were wearing above deck.  Below deck, business as usual was going on and oily contaminated bilge water was being dumped overboard . . .

Attorney General Reno was rightfully outraged: " .  .  . if people flim-flam us, they should expect the consequences .  .  ."  When the sentencing was over, the U.S. Government fined Royal Caribbean a total of $27,000,000 and placed the cruise line on probation for five years. 

A number of environmental organizations considered Royal Caribbean to be the poster child for cruise dumping.  The Oceana organization initiated a campaign against the cruise line which included flying banners over Royal Caribbean ships saying "Got Sewage? Royal Caribbean Dumps Daily."   

Did the cruise line resort to its old ways and empty the bilges of the Monarch of the Seas off of the shores of San Francisco in 2006?    

Does anyone have information about this January 2006 alleged incident?

 

June 20, 2011 Update This article was picked as a top 10 law blog by LexBlog.

Photo credit:  National Sky Ads

Charleston Groups to Sue Carnival Cruise Lines

A local Charleston South Carolina television station (WCIV  ABC-4) is reporting that the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charleston is preparing to file a lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Lines to make the cruise line subject to city and state regulations.

The lawsuit is the latest development in the debate about the suitability of cruise ships in this quaint old southern city.  Many citizens are concerned with the scale of the cruise industry's presence in Charleston, as well as air emissions, waste discharge, noise and passenger congestion.  

Carnival - Charleston South Carolina LawsuitThe Coastal Conservation League and the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood are named as plaintiffs in the proposed lawsuit.

These groups in Charleston are wise to hold Carnival accountable to laws and regulations. Other than the states of Alaska and California, few places have taken steps to hold cruise lines accountable to public health and community standards.  In March, we reported on a landmark legal decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled that the state of California can regulate the shipping and cruise industries and require vessels that call on the state’s ports to use cleaner  fuel.

One of the problems with the cruise industry is that cruise ship use diesel and nasty bunker fuels which spew toxic particulate matter into the air.  Unlike most states, California requires that ships use cleaner fuel starting 24 nautical miles from California’s shore.  The cruise industry unsuccessfully tried to avoid the public health law by arguing that it was not subject to state law.  

Last year, Charleston went through quite an ordeal with the cruise industry when four consecutive sailings of the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship from its port were plagued by massive norovirus outbreaks until the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a rare "no sail" order for the cruise line to clean up its cruise ship. 

The South Carolina Post and Courier ran an interesting article "Norovirus Confirmed Aboard Mercury" which reported on the concern that the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship - with over 400 norovirus infected passengers - could infect people living in Charleston.  

The newspaper reports that Katie Zimmerman, a project manager with the Coastal Conservation League, received frantic calls and e-mails from residents concerned not only about infected passengers entering the city but also about trash from the ship entering local waters.

Cruise ships like the Mercury can dump completely untreated sewage 12 miles offshore.  Although the article concludes that waste from the Mercury poses no risk to marine life or people who eat local seafood, there is a risk of contaminated water infecting shellfish which filter-feed. 

In this day and age, it is barbaric to think that hundreds of cruise ships routinely dump human waste into the sea.  Cruise lines dump waste because they register their cruise ships outside of U.S. jurisdiction in places like Liberia and Panama which don't care what the cruise lines do. 

The thought of a cruise ship like the Mercury dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of norovirus infected feces just 12 miles offshore South Carolina is particularly disgusting. 

Cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean are corporate felons for environmental crimes and lying to the U.S. Coast Guard.  Trusting them to act responsibly is foolish.  That's why South Carolina is smart to protect its waters and its people by holding the cruise ships accountable to local regulations and ordinances.  

 

Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth?

Last week  I was reading the New York Times on line when I ran across an interesting article "Venice Tourist Ships Rattle Windows and Nerves" by Elisabetta Povoledo. 

The article raises the question of the environmental impact of massive cruise ships sailing into the passenger terminal at the end of the Giudecca Canal, to unload over one and one-half million cruise Venice - Cruise Shipspassengers into Venice a year. 

I have warm memories of the first, and only, time that I visited Venice.  It was the summer of 1977, after my freshman year at college.  I originally traveled to Europe with my freshman roommate at Duke and two buddies from prep school.  After two weeks in Belgium and Holland, where we spent more time in the beer halls than in museums, we got on each other's nerves.  We strapped on our backpacks and went our separate ways. 

I had bought a $200 "Eurail pass" that let me hop on trains all over over Europe.  It even covered a couple of cruises (where we slept on the open decks) on old tubs from Brindisi, Italy to the island of Corfu and then on to Greece and back. 

Before I headed south, I spent a week in Venice by myself. 

I loved it. 

For $8 a night, I rented a single room in an Italian's family upstairs apartment.  I spent my  time visiting St. Mark's Cathedral, walking around the narrow winding streets, and eating incredible Italian ice cream.  I stopped at all of the little bridges over the canals which criss-crossed the city and leaned over the rails to watch couples and families ride on gondolas navigating below me.   

Venice - Cruise Ships PollutionI took a few photos (above and right) which have been in an old photo album for the last three decades.

I have lasting images and feelings from my experiences in Venice.   I felt at ease in this incredibly tranquil city, especially in the evenings when I would sit in the plazas drinking wine or espresso and wonder what my future would bring.          

Now 34 years later, I am looking at the photo (below) in the New York Times' article of a massive cruise ship looming over Venice.  What  a stark contrast to my fond memories of the quiet and quaint city with the gondola drivers pushing their poles along the little canals.  

Are those monster cruise ships really sailing by the Riva dei Sette Martiri, a quay near St. Mark’s Square? 

There seems something disrespectful about arriving in Venice aboard a cruise ship taller and wider than anything that could have been imagined when the city was built 500 years ago. 

What happened to the tranquility of the beautiful, delicately scaled maze of canals and plazas where the poets, artists and travelers inter-mingled in the uniqueness of this old city?  Are the mega cruise ships and their one and one-half million cruise tourists ruining the charm of Venice?  Or has the world forever changed, leaving only the memories from my youth?      

 

Venice - Cruise Ships

 

Photos top and middle:  Jim Walker

Photo bottom:  Manuel Silvestri / Reuters
 

Carnival Sues BP: Pot Calls the Kettle Black

Carnival Sues BP for Pollution?This article in the Sun-Sentinel describes how Carnival Cruise Lines has filed a lawsuit against BP, Transocean and Halliburton over the Gulf oil spill.  They claim the spill got their ships dirty, added to cleaning expenses, drove passengers away and cost them revenue.

There’s something insidiously ironic about one of the cruise lines biggest polluters suing for damages caused by someone else’s pollution.

Back in May of 2003, Carnival admitted they illegally dumped contaminated water into California ports.  At the time, they were already under 5 years of federal probation for violating environmental laws.  In 2002 they pled guilty to dumping oil-contaminated waste into the ocean and then falsifying records as part of an attempted cover-up, ultimately paying an $18 million fine.

Not much has changed since then and in 2009 they were still ranked among the worst polluters in the industry.  Federal laws are weak or inconsistent, and when coastal states try to tighten their regulations the cruise lines simply dump their waste into the open ocean (beyond the 3-mile limit) or take it to Canada.

It’s worth noting that at the time, Carnival seemed to downplay the impact of the spill on its operations.  Just two months after the Deepwater Horizon exploded, their CEO Micky Arison said cruises had been virtually unaffected and that bookings hadn’t slowed down.  He said his ships didn’t need cleaning at that point and he commended the captains for their ability to avoid the oil.

David Warren - Carnival Sues BP:  Pot Calls the Kettle BlackNow they’re suing for negligence, fraudulent concealment and punitive damages.  Yet when it comes to claims of negligence, Carnival has escaped liability even when one of its physicians injures a passenger due to medical malpractice.

Carnival may be preserving its legal rights with this latest lawsuit, but it’s dripping with hypocrisy.

 

Today's article is written by a guest blogger, David Warren, who is a reader of Cruise Law News.  David is a Summa Cum Laude graduate from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in Political Science & Sociology.  He is currently studying for the law school admissions test and plans on attending law school.

With the insight shown in this article, we are confident that David will be a fine lawyer.

 

California Protects Citizens From Toxic Ship Fumes

Yesterday the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state of California can regulate the shipping and cruise industries and require vessels that call on the state’s ports to use cleaner  fuel.

One of the problems with the cruise industry is that cruise ship use diesel and nasty bunker fuels which spew toxic particulate matter into the air.  

Unlike most states, California requires that ships use cleaner fuel starting 24 nautical miles from California’s shore.  According to Melissa Lin Perrella, an attorney with Southern California Air Cruise Ship Pollution - Bunker FuelProject in Santa Monica:

"Over the course of six years, between 2009 and 2015, these rules will prevent 3,500 premature deaths.

Eighty percent of Californians are exposed to air pollution from large ocean-going vessels as their exhaust drifts inland. Every day, these vessels spew toxic diesel particulate matter (PM) in an amount equivalent to 150,000 big rig trucks driving 125 miles daily. While people living close to ports are particularly affected, wind patterns, geography, and meteorology transport vessel-generated air pollution well beyond our coastline and into too many of our lungs."

The shipping and cruise industries, led by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (which lists cruise industry giant Carnival as a member), fought against the California legislation.  Essentially, the shipping and cruise interests argued that California does have not have authority to regulate vessels more than 3 miles from its coastline (the regulations reach 24 nautical miles from shore).

It is not unusual for the cruise industry to tell the public that it stands for the highest environmental standards, but behind the scenes spend millions of dollars to lobbyists and lawyers to fight for lower standards which harm the public.

Ms. Perrella writes: "The message is clear. It is time for the shipping industry to get on board or get out the way. California is moving forward to protect its citizens, and now has the Ninth Circuit firmly behind it."

California and Alaska are ahead of the curve in protecting U.S. citizens from the harmful effects of poisonous cruise fuels.  Will states like Florida ever protect their citizens?  

A copy of the 45 page decision can be read here.

 

Credit:

Photograph Gerardo Dominguez, UC San Diego (via UCSD Division of Physical Science)
 

California Ban On Cruise Dumping To Be Enforced

The San Jose Mercury News reports that the Obama administration will enforce a California law designed to prohibit cruise ships from dumping any kind of sewage -- even highly filtered wastewater -- along California's coast out to three miles from shore.

California will now have among the strictest laws in the nation limiting pollution from large ships.

"This is going to cover the entire California coastline," said state Senator Joe Simitian "Oceangoing vessels should not consider our coastline a place for dumping sewage."

In 2005, Simitian wrote a bill that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger which signed banning sewage discharges in state waters from cruise ships. The bill -- the first of its kind in the nation -- made it Crystal Harmony - Pollution - Dumping Sewageillegal for such ships to discharge oily bilge water, "gray water" from sinks and showers and other hazardous waste. But a key provision that also banned sewage releases could not legally take effect until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave permission under the federal Clean Water Act.  The Bush administration did not act on California's request to enforce the state law.

The impetus behind the bill was a cruise dumping incident in In 2003.  The Crystal Harmony (photo left) dumped around 35,000 gallons of grey water, sewage, and bilge water in a marine sanctuary in Monterey Bay.  

According to the L.A. Times, Crystal Cruises said didn't have to report the incident to authorities because it broke no laws. It is "perfectly legal" under maritime laws to discharge even untreated wastewater more than 12 miles offshore, and the ship was 14 miles offshore at the time, said Crystal spokeswoman Mimi Weisband. 

"We didn't break any law," Weisband said. "We did break a promise."

The city of Monterey thereafter banned all Crystal cruise ships for life. 

"I remember picking up the paper and thinking, 'you gotta be kidding me,' " Senator Simitian said. "Their answer was 'we didn't break any rules.' I remember thinking, if this isn't against the law it ought to be."

In the 2010 Green Report Card by the environmental group Friends of the Earth, Crystal Cruises received the lowest grade - "F."   Cruise spokesperson Weisband responded by saying that Crystal Cruises "deserved an A ... if not an A+."

Cruise Ships Turn British Columbia Waters into "Toilet Bowel of Raw Sewage"

The Vancouver Sun published a provocative headline this weekend entitled "B.C. Waters a Toilet Bowl of Raw Sewage."

It caught my attention after my family just returned from a vacation from British Columbia, where my kids surfed and we went whale watching in the B.C. waters.

Environmentalists' believe that waters off British Columbia in Canada are the "toilet bowl of North America" as dozens of cruise ships heading to and from Alaska dump sewage in Canadian waters.  U.S. regulations in states like Alaska and Washington have tightened in the last decade Cruise Ship Pollution - Waste Water - Black Water - Grey Waterforcing cruise ships to follow stringent sewage treatment rules before disposing of waste those states.

The article indicates that cruise ships have another option: they can dump sewage and grey water —waste water from showers, sinks and laundry — into B.C. waters where rules are "lax."

Cruise ships are taking advantage of Canada's weaker laws on sewage discharge to save money.

"B.C. is now the toilet bowl of the West Coast of North America. In Canada, says Ross Klein, a professor in Canada.  Klein points out that Alaska and Washington monitors grey water discharges, but there is no such monitoring in Canada where cruise ships are free to dump.

The article points out that the U.S. cracked down on cruise ships in 2007 when the Mercury cruise ship operated by Celebrity Cruises was caught illegally dumping into waters between Washington and Vancouver Island.

The Mercury faced 10 charges, but three charges were dropped because the infractions were in Canada.  Celebrity received a $100,000 fine in Washington, but didn't face any punishment in Canada.

I have written many articles about the cruise industry's practice of pollution  Here are a few to consider:

Earth Day - Spotlight on Cruising - A Dirty Business

Cruise Industry: "Notorious Polluters"

Reason No. 8 Not To Cruise: Blackwater, Blackwater, Blackwater

Reason No. 9 Not To Cruise: Bunker Fuel - Nasty Tar Sludge!

Dirty Cruise Industry Tries to Wiggle Out Of Clean Air Law

When I began practicing maritime law, cruise lines openly dumped raw sewage into the water and threw hundreds of black garbage bags overboard during every cruise.  Only through the enactment and enforcement of legislation has there been an improvement in the U.S.   But the cruise lines are free to pollute in the waters of countries like Canada and the powerless Caribbean islands which are desperate for U.S. tourist dollars.  

 

Credits:

Cruise Ship Cartoon      Shields via EarthIsland.org and Campaign to Safeguard America's Waterways

Dirty Cruise Industry Tries to Wiggle Out Of Clean Air Law

Canada's Globe and Mail reports today that the cruise industry is lobbying Canada lawmakers to try and avoid the clean air regulations passed two months ago by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Cruise Ship Emissions - Bunker Fuel - Sulphur - Dirst AirAs we reported in April, Over Cruise Industry's Objection, IMO Creates Air Pollution Buffer Around U.S. and Canada.  The IMO voted to enact regulations requiring cruise ships and other vessel to burn cleaner (lower sulfur) fuel within 200 nautical miles of Canada and the United States.  As matters now stand, cruise ship burn nasty bunker fuels which contain a high sulfur content and pose a distinct health hazard to anyone who breathes the non-combustible particles. 

Cruise ship smoke is a killer.  

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said the changes will save as many as 14,000 lives a year by improving air quality.  A comment to the Globe and Mail report is spot on in stating:

"It is outrageous that cruise ship industry proponents would dare consider going to Ottawa in an attempt to influence our politicians on canceling the clean fuel initiatives. Obviously, human lives are being prematurely taken every year and billions of public healthcare dollars are spent throughout North America treating respiratory illnesses brought on by marine emission sources . . .  However cruise tourism executives do not see it that way.  Visiting cruise tourists buying souvenir trinkets in Victoria gift shops, are given more validity than a human life, degradation to our environment and the millions in future healthcare costs."

After the IMO passed the new regulations, the cruise industry's notorious trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), issued a statement that it supports the “goals and intent” of the new pollution buffer zone.  In my last blog on this issue, I wrote: "Hogwash. Over the next few years, you will see the cruise industry try and avoid the new IMO rules."

I was wrong.  It did not take a "few years."  It's been only 2 months.  And CLIA is back to its dirty business.   

 

 

For additional information, consider reading: 

Cruise Industry: "Notorious Polluters"

Polluting Cruises Lines Oppose Clean Air Law

Super Ships - Rogues on the High Seas

Reason No. 9 Not To Cruise: Bunker Fuel - Nasty Tar Sludge!

 

Credit:

Photograph          Gerardo Dominguez, UC San Diego (via UCSD Division of Physical Science "Dirty Smoke from Ships Found to Degrade Air Quality in Coastal Cities")

Reason No. 9 Not To Cruise: Bunker Fuel - Nasty Tar Sludge!

Continuing with Cruise Law News' Top 10 Reasons Not To Cruise, we reach reason number 9 not to cruise:

Bunker Fuel - Nasty Tar Sludge!

This reason is personal to me.

My Dad is an oil man.  In the 1960's we lived in Texas and Oklahoma as kids when my Dad worked for seismic companies.  In 1965, we moved to Libya when Dad took a job with the largest oil company in North Africa.  He became the head of the geophysical department responsible for searching for oil.  My Dad made the final decision where to drill and sink thousands of feet of drill Bunker Fuel - Cruise Ship - Air Pollution pipe and casing into the Sahara Desert.  This was big business.  I remember when he came home with a vial containing a sample of the 5,000,000,000 barrel of crude oil he discovered beneath the Libyan sands.

Dad taught us everything about the oil and gas industry. Geological formations.  Exploration strategies.  Dilling techniques.  And he explained the process of refining oil and producing gas products of different octanes.  He also talked about the by-products of oil refineries including a bottom-of-the-barrel product called "bunker fuel."

Bunker fuel is a waste product.  It literally is the dredge remaining in the pits of the refineries after all of the refining process has ended and the high octane fuels have been produced and the diesel products have been extracted from the crude oil.   It is toxic muck.  It has the consistency of tar.  It cannot be used without incombustible particles flying all over the place - not unlike burning a tire - with the residue burrowing deep into the mucous membranes of your lungs. 

I remember my Dad telling me, this is some nasty shit son.  I can't believe anyone would use this sludge. It's a health hazard if you breath it.  It should be pumped back into the wells and capped. 

No one reading this article would burn bunker fuel in their house, or subject their neighbors to this toxic pollutant.  Bunker fuel is the nastiest and most toxic fuel you can use.

But this fuel is the cornerstone of the cruise industry.

In prior articles, we have written about the high sulfur content of bunker fuel - which has 4,000 to 5,000 more sulfur than gasoline used in automobiles.  This cheap, filthy, high-sulfur fuel has a disastrous effect on the environment and a deadly effect on those who breath the lethal smoke.

Any time you see a photo of a cruise ship on the cruise line's or travel agent's web site, it has always been photo-shopped to hide the smoke billowing out of the smoke stacks. But take a look Bunker Fuel - Cruise Ship - Pollution at the photograph below of Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas - smoking up a port in Alaska with bunker fuel.  Nasty.  Nasty.  Nasty.   

In March, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced that it was creating a buffer zone around the U.S. and Canada which will prohibit the use of bunker fuel.  Holland America Line's CEO, Stein Kruse, complained that the new air law "essentially means all the current fuel that we burn cannot be burned."  

It is therefore not surprising that the Friends of the Earth's (FOE) Cruise Ship Environmental Report Card gave a "F" to Carnival, Celebrity Crystal, Cunard, Disney, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean and Silversea cruise lines for air pollution reduction.  FOE released a press statement yesterday:

"For the second year in a row, we’ve found that cruise lines are doing less than they can to limit the environmental impacts of their ships. . . From ending the use of dirty fuel that pollutes the air to stopping the disgusting practice of dumping sewage and other waste into the sea, it’s time for the cruise industry to clean up its act. The unfortunate reality is that, at present, many cruises harm marine ecosystems and the health of people who live near ports of call.”

The cruise industry trade organization, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), responded to the bad grades with this press release:

“It is unfortunate that instead of contributing to a meaningful scientific dialogue about protecting our oceans, FOE continues to use innuendo and misstate the facts to advance its agenda. This ‘report card’ is not based on science, law, or the facts, and like its last one, is rooted in FOE’s own arbitrary and flawed criteria.”

Unfortunately, arrogant and dismissive statements like this are the typical response from the recalcitrant cruise industry. But the truth of the matter remains that without governmental oversight, cruise lines will always use the cheapest and most hazardous fuels available to operate their cruise ships.

So if you are thinking of cruising this summer, give the environment a break - take your family for a hike and camping trip in a national park instead. 

 

Click on the video and watch bunker fuel burning (gas mask recommended): 

 

 

Credits:

Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship    AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream
 

Reason No. 8 Not To Cruise: Blackwater, Blackwater, Blackwater

Preparation for a trial delayed our "Top 10 Reasons Not To Cruise."  But here we go again with the reasons why you should think twice before spending your hard earned vacation dollars on a family cruise. Here's reason no. 8: 

BLACKWATER!

That nasty raw sewage which cruise lines can freely dump - completely untreated - just twelve miles from shore.  Yes, just twelve miles from that lovely beach you may be sitting on in Florida, or the marshes of South Carolina, or the oyster beds of Alabama.  Nasty, stinking feces from several thousands of passengers eating incredible amounts of food around the clock on hundreds of cruise ships each day.  

"Blackwater" is sewage, waste water from urinals and toilets, and waste from medical facilities.  Gross stuff.  It contains pathogens, viruses including norovirus (when an outbreak on the ship occurs), bacteria, and intestinal parasites. According to Friends of the Earth, a cruise ship on a one week voyage is estimated to generate 210,000 gallons (or 5 large swimming pools) of human sewage.

A cruise ship also generates 1 million gallons (33 more swimming pools) of gray water (water from sinks, baths, showers, laundry, and galleys).  Cruise ships also generate large volumes of oily bilge water, sewage sludge, garbage and hazardous wastes. 

The cruise lines say that they usually (but not always) treat blackwater to "reduce" the fecal materials from toilets before dumping the waste into the oceans.  But the problem is that these devices (when used) do not eliminate the fecal matter.  "Marine sanitation systems," in particular, just don't work. 

Cruise Ship Pollution - Blackwater - Discharge Just last Fall, Princess Cruises, repeatedly violated Alaskan waster water regulations:    

In September, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific  PrincessSapphire Princess and Sea Princess were cited for violating the Alaska waste water quality standards.  Again, in October, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific Princess, Sapphire Princess and Sea Princess - together with the Golden Princess - were cited for water discharge violations.

In November, the same culprits - the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Sea Princess, Golden Princess and Diamond Princess were busted for pollution.

Two weeks ago, on Earth Day, the New York Times rightfully called the cruise industry "Notorious Polluters".  Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise lines are all corporate felons for dumping untreated sewage and oily discharges and falsifying their log books to cover the crime up.   

The cruise industry's trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) which has spent $8,000,000 in the last two years lobbying against Congressional oversight, wrote a letter to the New York Times.  Upset about the "notorious polluters" label, CLIA claimed that "cruise lines have a vested interest in the pristine environments they visit, and they take their stewardship responsibility very seriously."

When I hear PR rubbish like this, I remember what Attorney General Reno Reno said when she  leveled felony charges against Royal Caribbean for its repeated pollution, cover-ups, and lies:

".  .  . at the same time that their ships were sailing into the inland passage of Alaska, one of the most sensitive and beautiful eco-systems in our nation, their crew members were wearing buttons that said, 'Save the Waves.'  That's what they were wearing above deck.  Below deck, business as usual was going on and oily contaminated bilge water was being dumped overboard . . ."  

The LA Times also reported the Attorney General stating:

"Royal Caribbean used our nation's waters as its dumping ground even as it promoted itself as an environmentally 'green' company . . . " 

Just last week the cruise industry intimidated the state of Alaska with pulling its cruise ships if it didn't reduce taxes and relax many of its pollution controls. Take a moment and read "Alaska Reduces Taxes and Relaxes Pollution Standards For Bullying Cruise Lines." 

This is also an industry which retaliated against a "Green Water" Scientist so it could avoid pollution regulations. 

As a result of the cruise industry's lobbying and back-room deals, cruise ships are continuing to dump ammonia (from fecal matter), copper, nickel and zinc in Alaska's pristine waters.  

Stewardship responsibility?

What a joke.

 

For other information, consider reading:

Can Sick Cruise Ships Cause Norovirus Outbreaks in Ports?

Cruise Ships in South Carolina - Harmless Fun or Environmental Scourge?

Cruise Lines Urged to Shrink Their Footprints (New York Times)

 

Up Next?  Reason No. 9 Not To Cruise: Bunker Fuel - Nasty Tar Sludge!   

AOL Travel: "Are Cruises Ruining the World?"

AOL Travel has an interesting article today about the effect of cruising on the quaint city of Charleston, South Carolina.  The article is entitled "Are Cruises Ruining the World?"  The article is very informative and is worth reading.

We have discussed the effects of cruise pollution on South Carolina in an prior article - "Can Sick Cruise Ships Cause Norovirus Outbreaks in Ports?"

Alaska Reduces Taxes and Relaxes Pollution Standards For Bullying Cruise Lines

The Juneau Empire reports that Alaska just weakened its wastewater regulations at the cruise industry's request.  Cruise ships are now permitted to dump greater amount of ammonia (from fecal matter), copper, nickel and zinc in Alaska's pristine waters.

The newspaper reports that the cruise industry is "pleased" and  and "appreciates" the new wastewater discharge rules.

The cruise industry bullied Alaska, threatening the state with pulling cruise ships from Alaska if the wastewater standards were not relaxed.  Some cruise lines planned to reduce time in the ports in Alaska, so that they could sail outside of state waters and dump wastewater without being subject to Alaska's strict standards.

Cruise Ship Pollution - Wastewater - EmissionsCruise lines have been toying with Alaska even since its citizens passed an initiative to increase taxes and enact wastewater regulations to protect Alaskan waters from massively polluting cruise ships.  On Earth Day last week, the New York Times characterized cruise lines as "notorious polluters."  

The cruise industry is having its way with Alaska at this point.

It's agenda was first to wiggle out of Alaska's taxes, but the tax issue was never about whether the $46 head tax was too high.  The cruise lines didn't pay the tax in the first place.  Cruise passengers did.  It is ludicrous to suggest that a family would decide to cruise if the tax were $34 but not cruise at $46.

The real issue has always been the issue of whether the cruise industry would permit a state like Alaska to regulate it.  State of the art pollution technology is expensive.  Cruise lines don't pay any Federal taxes on the $35,000,000,000 they collect on fares each year from tax paying Americans. They don't want to set a precedent of allowing states to impose standards to protect their natural resources.  It's cheaper to pollute.

Earlier this year, the cruise industry twisted the arms of some of the Republican legislators in Alaska and kicked green water scientist Gershon Cohen off of the state's wastewater panel.  This was pay back for Mr. Cohen's work in passing the regulations which strengthened  Alaska's environmental regulations.  With Mr. Cohen removed from the panel, it was easy pickings to gut the pollution standards to benefit the polluters.     

A few weeks ago, Alaska announced it was reducing it's "head tax" on cruise passenger by 25%.  Today, it has relaxed its pollution regulations.  All of this is working exactly as the cruise industry planned after a year of threats and lawsuits. 

The Juneau Empire printed a letter from an Alaskan reader "Beaten Up By Bullies."

It's amazing to see how a "notorious polluting" Miami-based industry which collects $35 billion a year tax-free can threaten and bully Alaska to get exactly what it wants - reduced state taxes, relaxed pollution laws, and more profits . . .

 

For additional information, consider reading:

Polluting Cruise Industry Tries Again to Avoid Alaskan Regulations

 

 

Credits:

Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship    AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

Cruise Industry: "Notorious Polluters"

Today - Earth Day - is special because our maritime law firm works in a specialized area of the law.  Everything we handle is related to the world's oceans and seas.  Earlier today, our  superstar legal intern, Caitlin Burke, wrote an excellent article entitled Earth Day - Spotlight on Cruising - A Dirty Business.

We know that whenever we write a really good blog about the disastrous effect of cruise ships on the environment, a cruise fanatic sends us a scathing email or calls to complain.  Today was no exception. Our firm has over 7,500 followers on it's  CruiseLaw Twitter page.  Shortly after Caitlin published her article on cruise pollution, several long time Twitter cruise fans immediately "unfollowed" us and an equal number of environmentalists became our new "friends" on Twitter. 

Earth Day - Cruise Pollution - Bunker FuelThis type of connection to the internet is a good barometer whether our Cruise Law News articles are effective and "hitting the mark."  

After Caitlin's article came out, the New York Times ran an interesting article entitled "In Antarctic Waters" which discussed the International Maritime Organization's announcement that large cruise ships will no longer be allowed to burn "heavy fuel" (nasty bunker fuel) in Antarctic waters.

The New York Times welcomed this as a "step in protecting the harsh but delicate polar environment."  

The high-sulfur fuel used by cruise ships emit highly polluting and unhealthy particles into the air, and present a potential disaster if the fuel is spilled.  Cruise lines use bunker fuels because the cruise industry is largely unregulated  and the fuel is cheap, even though it has a disastrous effect on humans and the environment.

The New York Times writes:

"The ban on high-sulfur fuel in Antarctica, which begins in August 2011, will effectively end visits by cruise ships carrying more than 500 passengers. It will also reduce the total number of Antarctic passenger visits from more than 15,000 a year to about 6,400, all of whom will be traveling on smaller, lighter and greener ships.

This is an important step and a welcome respite for the waters. And it will help drive the cruise industry - notorious polluters - to re-examine its essential mission.

After all, what’s the point of visiting the natural wonders of the nautical world if you leave a terrible stain behind when you leave?"

Earth Day - Spotlight on Cruising - A Dirty Business

Bunker Fuel - Air Pollution - Cruise ShipsCaitlin Burke returns as a guest blogger today to discuss environmental issues and the cruise industry.  We have written many articles about cruise ships and the problem with pollution

Black water, gray water, oily bilge water, sewage, bunker fuel, smokestack exhaust . . . all discharging and billowing out of cruise ships and into our ocean and air. 

According to Friends of the Earth, a large cruise ship (the largest of which can carry over 5,000 passengers and crew) on a one week voyage is estimated to generate 210,000 gallons (or 5 large swimming pools) of human sewage and 1 million gallons (33 more swimming pools) of gray water (water from sinks, baths, showers, laundry, and galleys). Cruise ships also generate large volumes of oily bilge water, sewage sludge, garbage and hazardous wastes.

The few international regulations which apply to cruise ship discharges and emissions are archaic and are ignored by the cruise industry with little consequence.  

A few states, like Alaska, have strict state guidelines. But take a look at Cruise Junkie’s website and see how often cruise lines "comply" with waste water restrictions. A quick browse of the list leads to the conclusion that cruise ships are not so eco-friendly.

Oceania reports that "cruise ships are one of the largest sources of unregulated ocean pollution and exempt from the discharge permitting program of the Clean Water Act, the nation’s preeminent water pollution control law." Oceania further reports that "this means that the monitoring, inspection, reporting, and enforcement provisions of this law do not apply to cruise ships ... As a result, the public has no way of knowing whether or not they are following their corporate environmental policies."

The cruise industry’s practices has the attention of Congress. Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Sam Farr are on a mission to change the cruise industry. In October 2009, these Earth Day - Cruise PollutionCongressmen introduced two bills in both Houses of Congress to prevent cruise ships from discharging raw (untreated) sewage in U.S. coastal waters. Congressman Farr released a statement that "laws currently allowing cruise lines to dump untreated sewage three miles from the shore endangers public health, the environment and the economy."

Senator Durbin introduced "Durbin’s Bill," which will extend the Clean Water Act to regulate cruise ship wastewater. Congressman Farr introduced an almost identical bill. 

Both bills are commonly referred to as the Clean Cruise Ship Act.

In honor of Earth Day, I encourage you to do some research regarding the cruise industry’s practices of discharging waste and emitting bunker fuel particles.  Support the Clean Cruise Ship Act.  Make certain that you do your part to protect our waters and the air we breath.

"Generations come and generations go, but the Earth is forever."

Cruise Ships - Slick Marketing - Serious Pollution

For additional information, watch the Friends of the Earth Video "Investigating Cruise Ship Pollution."  

 

Credits:

Cruise Ship Cartoon      Shields via earthIsland.org and Campaign to Safeguard America's Waterways

Smokestack                  ScienceDaily.com

 

Cruise Industry Backs Alaska Down

The Alaska Senate approved a measure today which will lower Alaska's head tax on cruise ship passengers by at least $11.50 a passenger - from $46 to $34.50.

Count this one as a big win for Carnival and it subsidiaries - Princess Cruises and Holland America Line - which are the major polluters of Alaska's waters.    

Alaska Head Tax - Cruise Pollution In exchange for the tax reduction, the Miami-based cruise lines have more or less suggested that they may dismiss the lawsuit filed against Alaska.

Three Democrat Senators dissented, Senate Majority Leader Johnny Elli, Bill Wielechowski and Hollis French.  The bill lowering the taxes must still pass the House. 

There is no agreement that cruise ships, which Carnival and its subsidiaries re-positioned out of Alaska, will return if the tax cut takes effect.  There also is no guarantee that another cruise association or individual cruise lines will not sue Alaska to try and slip out of the state's taxes. 

Carnival played this beautifully.  Parlaying a bogus lawsuit and strong arm tactics to effectively repeal the will of the Alaskan citizens.  The cruise industry has set the stage for concessions from Alaska for Carnival's polluting cruise ships in the future.  

 

Credits:                Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

Cruise Ships in South Carolina - Harmless Fun or Environmental Scourge?

The Charleston City Paper has an interesting headline this morning - "Are Cruise Ship Harmless Fun Or An Environmental Scourge?"

The article raises the issue of how South Carolina will face its future as a state with a major cruise port.  Unlike progressive states like Alaska, California and Maine which regulate waste water discharges, the state of South Carolina has no state regulations relating to the cruise industry. This leaves the cruise lines subject to only lax international regulations, which have not been updated for a long time and which the cruise lines have routinely violated anyway. 

Cruise Ship Pollution - Bunker Fuel - Blackwater What's remarkable about the article is that it reveals that cruise lines can legally dump garbage and untreated sewage overboard when the ships are at least three miles offshore. 

Although the cruise industry claims that it dumps untreated sewage ("blackwater") only 12 miles from shore, the effects of the human waste from thousands of passengers and crew are disastrous.   The waste dumped by cruise ships into the water contains bacteria, pathogens, disease, intestinal parasites, pharmaceuticals, nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous and - whenever there is a norovirus outbreak - gallons and gallons of infected feces which, in turn, are consumed by fish and filter-fed by shellfish.

We have touched upon dumping feces just 12 miles off the coast of South Carolina before - "Can Sick Cruise Ships Cause Norovirus Outbreaks in Ports?"

You can carefully read all of the press releases and letters to the editors by the cruise industry, but  nowhere will you see a strict commitment from cruise lines not to dump untreated sewage.  This is not only gross, but its an unnecessary hazard to the health of humans, marine life and coral systems wherever cruise ships sail.  As pointed out by the non-profit organization Friends of the Earth:

"The contaminants in human waste and wastewater – known as blackwater or sewage – pose a risk to public health not only through the food supply, as fisheries and shellfish beds can be contaminated, but also through direct contamination of water ingested by surfers, beachgoers, and water-sport enthusiasts. In addition, blackwater contains nitrogen and phosphorus that promote excessive algal growth, which in turn consumes oxygen in the water and can lead to fish kills and the destruction of other aquatic life, including coral . . ."

Is cruising fun?  Is it harmful to the environment?  Yes, to both questions.

That's why South Carolina would be smart to protect its waters and its people from the scourge of cruise pollution and adopt wastewater regulations similar to those enacted in Alaska.

For additional information, consider reading: "Cruise Ships In Charleston."

 

Credits:

Photograph              Coastal Conversation League 

Over Cruise Industry's Objection, IMO Creates Air Pollution Buffer Around U.S. and Canada

On Friday, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) passed a regulation requiring cruise ships, tankers and cargo ships to switch to low-sulfur fuel when they operate within 230 miles of the U.S. and Canada. 

As reported in the Houston Chronicle, the new regulations should cut emissions linked to thousands of illnesses and premature deaths each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The United States and Canada requested the IMO to pass the new regulations to protect their nations' air quality and keep their citizens healthy.

Bunker Fuel - Cruise Ship PollutionThe Houston Chronicle reports that the ships which will be affected by the new rules are almost exclusively foreign flagged and operated - like Princess Cruises' Coral Princess cruise ship, left.

These ships burn a tar-like, nasty sludge known as "bunker fuel," which we have discussed in prior articles.  The sludge contains sulfur levels significantly greater than U.S. law allows for other diesel engines and is a major source of tiny, airborne particulates which cause cancer and lung disease. 

The newspaper article also indicates that the new restrictions will cut allowable levels of sulfur in fuel by 98 percent, soot by 85 percent and smog-forming pollution by 80 percent.

There are excellent articles discussing the new pollution buffer by the Associated Press and the New York Times.

The cruise industry's trade group, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), fought against the new pollution regulations, arguing that the switch to low-sulfur fuels would decrease cruise line profits.  If the cruise lines had their way, they would choose to burn bunker fuel - like Princess Cruises' cruise ship, the Coral Princess, smoking up the port in Alaska (above).

After the IMO passed the new regulations, CLIA issued a statement that it supports the “goals and intent” of the new pollution buffer zone. 

Hogwash.

Over the next few years, you will see the cruise industry try and avoid the new IMO rules.

 

Credits:

Princess Cruises' Coral Princess           AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

Polluting Cruises Lines Oppose Clean Air Law

The cruise industry is preparing to fight against clean air regulations which will protect the U.S. and Canada from the nasty bunker fuels burned by hundreds of cruise ships.

Reuters reports that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is proposing a plan to create a buffer zone around the U.S. and Canada which will require low emissions from cruise ships. 

 

 

We have reported on the cruise industry's use of high-sulfur bunker fuels in prior articles:

Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel - "Thick, Tarry Sludge"

Super Ships - Rogues on the High Seas

Polluting Cruise Industry Tries Again to Avoid Alaskan Regulations

The Reuters article explains that the proposed "Emissions Control Area" will extend 200 nautical miles around the coast of the two nations and set stringent new limits on air pollution from ocean-going ships beginning in 2015.

The use of high sulfur fuel creates environmental and health problems.  In a prior article, we explained that cruise ships are using fuel containing up to 4.5 per cent sulfur. That is 4,500 times more than is allowed in car fuel in Europe.  The largest ships emit as much as 5,000 tons of sulfur a year – the same as 50,000,000 cars, each releasing an average of only 100 grams of sulfur a year.

The sulfur comes out of ship funnels as tiny particles which are embedded deep into your lungs. The inhaled sulfur causes inflammation of the linings of the lungs, breathing problems, heart disease and cancer.  The major shipping routes of cargo ships and cruise ships bring these deadly emissions right into the port and seaboard cities.  

Take a look at the photograph below of Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas - smoking up a port in Alaska with bunker fuel.  Nasty.  Nasty.  Nasty.  

Holland America Line's CEO, Stein Kruse, complained that the new air law "essentially means all the current fuel that we burn cannot be burned within 200 miles." 

Exactly.

Bunker Fuel - Cruise Pollution

 March 22, 2010 Update:

TreeHugger.com has an interesting article - Cruise Liner Pollution Kills Up To 8,300 People a Year in US and Canada, says EPA:

". . . the EPA argues that adopting the pollution controls would clear the air of particulates in port cities--and would save 8,300 lives a year. Which would mean that unregulated pollution from cruise lines is currently killing 8,300 people a year in the US and Canada . . .

Of course, the cruise industry execs are crying foul--they complain that the pollution controls would force them to pay up to 40% more for low sulfur fuels, and that they would no longer be able to burn any of the fuels they currently use within 200 miles of land. To which I say, Good. 

To cruise ship executives: I am sorry that your fuel expenses will rise--perhaps you will have to increase the price of admission for your monolithic floating tributes to excess, in order to prevent some 8,300 people from dying every year for the crime of happening to live in port cities.

Okay, so that may have been a tad melodramatic--but it seems to me that there's a pretty strong case for limiting pollution from ships, and that the industry's case against doing so rests only on the complaint that it would be expensive. Thankfully for the 8,300 folks whose lives are likely to be saved by the measure, the proposal looks likely to be adopted by the IMO--leaving the world a slightly less polluted place."

 

Credits:

Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship    AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

Polluting Cruise Industry Tries Again to Avoid Alaskan Regulations

Newspapers in Alaska are reporting that cruise lines are trying to avoid Alaska's strict waste water laws. 

The Juneau Empire reports that the cruise industry is complaining to lawmakers in Alaska that the limits on ammonia are too strict.  The cruise industry's "Alaska Cruise Association" - comprised of Miami based cruise lines - is again posturing to reposition its cruise ships if they cannot make a deal which permits them to pollute. 

The cruise industry is known for its strong arm tactics of threatening financial harm to the port cities if they can't get their way around environmental regulations. The newspaper quotes a consultant for the "Alaska Cruise Association, Mike Tibbles, as saying: 

"If this stands, ship deployments could be altered and port times may be reduced," he said. "The result could very likely be fewer economic opportunities for our businesses."

Alaska passed strict wastewater regulations in 2006 for sewage, graywater and other treated water dumped into state waters.

The president of the "Responsible Cruising in Alaska" organization, Chip Thoma, believes that the cruise industry's history of polluting Alaskan waters proves the need to regulate cruise ship discharges: 

"The cruise ships engaged in a great deal of deception to hide their malfeasance." 

Vision of the Seas - Royal Caribbean - Bunker Fuel - Emissions

The carbon footprint of the cruise industry is incredible.  Cruise ships burn nasty bunker fuel and dump millions of gallons of sewage.  If left unregulated, the cruise industry will save money by avoiding implementing new technologies.  We have addressed cruise line pollution and the battle to protect Alaska's waters from the cruise industry's discharges of sewage in prior articles:

Cruise Industry Retaliates Against Green Water Scientist

Cruise Industry Dumps Green Water Scientist Overboard, Appoints Law Firm Employee to Waste Water Panel

Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel - "Thick, Tarry Sludge"

New Report Details Cruise Industry's Record of Pollution

Polluting Cruise Industry Files Lawsuit to Avoid Alaskan Tax

The "Alaska" Cruise Association's Lawsuit Against Alaska - Pay Back By Tax-Avoiding Miami Cruise Lines

Carnival Announces Quarterly Profits of $1,100,000,000 - But Pushes Lawsuit Against Alaska Over $50 Tax

Cruise Industry Exaggerates Effect of $50 Alaska Tax and Hides Financial Information    

Cruise Air Emissions - Vision of the Seas - Royal Caribbean

 

Credits:

Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship    AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship                      AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

Cruise Industry Dumps Green Water Scientist Overboard, Appoints Law Firm Employee to Waste Water Panel

There is an interesting article today in the Juneau Empire "Legislators Debate Removal of Cruise Panel Member Cohen - Cruise Ally Defends Removal of Industry Foe."

Craig Johnson - Cruise Line Supporter - Alaska The article points out that a Republican legislator, Craig Johnson (photo left), is defending the removal of waste water scientist Gershon Cohen (photo below) from a cruise ship science advisory panel at the insistence of the cruise industry. Representative Johnson is quoted as stating: "I applaud the department for doing the right thing and depoliticizing the panel."

"Depoliticizing the panel?"  

Representative Johnson is known for co-sponsoring a bill to repeal a water-pollution provision in a cruise-ship law that voters approved in 2006.  The Alaskan law prevents state regulators from granting "mixing zones" to cruise ships which would permit the ships' pollution discharge to exceed state standards.  The cruise industry has been lobbying heavily to avoid the strict pollution regulations in Alaska. 

Dumping Mr. Cohen overboard is an end run around environmental laws which protect Alaskan waters.   

While representative Johnson supports sinking Mr. Cohen (who has a master's degree in molecular biology and a doctorate in environmental policy), he supports the appointment of an employee of a law firm which represents the cruise industry on water regulatory issues.

The waste water panel includes Mr. Lincoln Loehr, who is described as a paralegal employed by the law firm of Stoel Rives LLP.  Mr. Loehr works with lawyers who represent the interests of cruise Cruise Ship Pollution - Alaskalines and other large corporate polluters.  In addition to cruise lines, the Stoel Rives law firm brochure states that their lawyers represent the interests of:

 .  .  . chemical plants, mines, power plants, pulp and paper mills, ranches, food processors, steel mills and real estate developers.

The law firm advertises its ability to handle water quality matters "that can severely impact business operations."

Representative Johnson is also quoted in the article as questioning climate change and arguing that science is too often being "politicized."  While claiming to want to "depoliticize" the panel by removing Mr. Cohen, representative Johnson actually wants to politicize the panel with friends of the cruise industry.  

Democratic representative Beth Kerttula stated the obvious: "A number of us have grave, grave Gershon Cohen - Green Waterconcerns about the agency's behavior and about the credibility of the panel as it will now be." 

We pointed out in a prior blog article that Mr. Cohen assisted Alaska in adopting laws to protect its waters from cruise ship pollution.

Representative Johnson and other Republican legislators fit squarely in the cruise industry's pocket.  Dumping Mr. Cohen is pay back, pure and simple, for his protection of Alaska against the $35 billion cruise industry's corporate practices. With Mr. Cohen out of the picture, the cruise industry will pressure its friends on the panel members to devise water quality matters with the cruise industry's business interests in mind.   

The issue is not an academic debate. Just take a look at how one cruise line, Princess Cruises, repeatedly violated Alaskan waster water regulations:    

In September, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific  PrincessSapphire Princess and Sea Princess were cited for violating the Alaska waste water quality standards.  Again, in October, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific Princess, Sapphire Princess and Sea Princess - together with the Golden Princess - were cited for water discharge violations.

In November, the same culprits - the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Sea Princess, Golden Princess and Diamond Princess were busted for pollution.

The result of a cruise industry dominated waste water panel will be greater discharges of copper, ammonia, zinc, bacteria and fecal matter into Alaska's pristine waters.

Coral Princess - Alaska - Pollution - Waste Water Violations

 

If you are interested in other articles regarding cruise pollution, consider reading some of our other articles:

Super Ships - Rogues on the High Seas

Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel - "Thick, Tarry Sludge"

New Report Details Cruise Industry's Record of Pollution

Also consider reading:

"Cruise on Down to our Dumping Ground

 

Credits:

Representative Craig Johnson                  Alaskan State Legislature

Gershon Cohen                    Clean Water Network

Coral Princess     AP via New York Time "Cruise Lines Face More Policing of Waste Disposal"

Cruise Industry Retaliates Against Green Water Scientist

Newspapers in Alaska are reporting that the cruise industry is behind the sudden removal of a highly qualified green water scientist from an advisory council on cruise ship waste water discharge.

Gershon Cohen - Cruise Pollution - AlaskaIn December 2009, the Alaskan Department of Environmental Conservation ("DEC") invited environmental scientist Gershon Cohen to join the state's cruise ship waste water treatment science panel.  The advisory panel has 11 members, with experts in naval architecture, marine engineering and waste water treatment. A representative of the cruise industry sits on the panel as well.

However, the DEC Commissioner, Larry Hartig, disinvited Cohen due to what is described in the newspapers as "corporate influence and pressure" by the cruise industry.

Dr. Cohen is one of the foremost experts in the world on water pollution and clean water technologies.  He has a background in biological sciences, with a Masters Degree in Molecular Biology.  He also is educated in water policy law, with a Ph.D. in Environmental Policy.  Dr. Cohen co-founded the Alaska Clean Water Alliance (ACWA) in 1992, which played a lead role in numerous successful clean-water campaigns. Dr. Cohen founded the Campaign to Safeguard America's Waters (C-SAW), a project of the Earth Island Institute in 1998, to protect public waters from the discharge of toxic pollutants.

In response to Dr. Cohen's unceremonious ouster, a group of Democratic legislators have written a letter to Governor Parnell, complaining of the "corporate abuse" by the cruise lines, and requesting that Dr. Cohen be re-instated. In an article entitled "Lawmakers Call on Parnell to Reinstate Dismissed Scientist," Senator Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, is quoted as stating:

"That is not how we should be doing business . . . When we're talking about positions that deal with  sensitive environmental issues, the protection of Alaska waters, the protection of Alaska lands we should not be letting industry dictate who's on commissions, who's on panels—absolutely, positively not." 

Pristine Waters - Alaska - Gershon Cohen - Cruise Ship PollutionCruise lines are not happy with Dr. Cohen because, as a clean water advocate, he has spent decades advising Alaska about cruise ship water discharge.  In 2006, he was successful in assisting the state of Alaska in adopting an initiative to protect Alaskan waters by requiring the placement of "Ocean Rangers" on cruise ships to monitor discharges.  This program has been successful in preventing cruise lines from dumping pollutants into Alaskan waters and catching them when they do.  There have been 30 violations of Alaska Wastewater Quality Standards by cruise lines in the last six months alone, mostly by Princess Cruises which repeatedly discharged high levels of ammonium and fecal matter into Alaska's pristine waters.  

Getting Dr. Cohen fired from the panel was pay back by the cruise industry. 

The editorials in the Alaskan newspapers unanimously oppose the cruise industry's behind-the-scenes removal of Dr. Cohen.

In an editorial "Our View: Odd Firing," the Anchorage Daily News reports: "It's hard to imagine a more qualified applicant. He stands out among Alaska environmentalists for his thorough knowledge of cruise ship wastewater issues . . . Cohen likely would push for the best available technology, period, and as soon as possible."

We have seen the cruise industry maneuver behind the scenes in the past to try and protect its interests. 

In 2007 when Congress was studying the problem of shipboard sexual assaults, our client Laurie Dishman was invited by a Congressional sub-committee to testify regarding her horrific experience of being strangled and raped on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  When she reported the crime, the cruise ship doctor gave her a garbage bag and told her to go back to her cabin and collect the evidence herself.   The cruise line thereafter refused to provide her with the name of the rapist or even provide her with copies of her own shipboard medical records. When Royal Caribbean realized that Ms. Dishman had contacted her Congresswoman and was going to be testify, it lobbied certain Congressional members to strike Ms. Dishman from the panel.  It failed.  As a result of Ms. Dishman's testimony, the House of Representatives passed the "Cruise Safety and Security Act of 2009."   

The people of Alaska face a easy choice.  Do you want an expert who has the education, training and experience to protect your pristine waters?    Or will you let the Miami based cruise industry - which is still polluting your waters - dictate the quality of your air and water by making deals behind closed doors?  As concluded by the Anchorage Daily News: 

"One of the primary reasons Alaska cruising may well be the world's cleanest is because activists like Cohen have fought for it. The industry may not welcome him -- but that's no reason for the state to throw him off the panel."

 Cruise Ship Pollution - Alaska

 

We have written about cruise ship dumping, cruise waste discharges and air emissions, and the cruise industry's shenanigans in Alaska in prior articles:   

Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel - "Thick, Tarry Sludge"

New Report Details Cruise Industry's Record of Pollution

Polluting Cruise Industry Files Lawsuit to Avoid Alaskan Tax

The "Alaska" Cruise Association's Lawsuit Against Alaska - Pay Back By Tax-Avoiding Miami Cruise Lines

Carnival Announces Quarterly Profits of $1,100,000,000 - But Pushes Lawsuit Against Alaska Over $50 Tax

Cruise Industry Exaggerates Effect of $50 Alaska Tax and Hides Financial Information

 

Credits:

Dr. Cohen photograph                                   Conservation Institute

Kayak in Alaskan waters photograph            Conservation Institute

Super Ships - Rogues on the High Seas

U.K. 's Mail Online has an informative article in its Sunday edition today addressing the use of bunker fuels by cruise ships and other large shipping vessels entitled "How 16 Ships Create As Much Pollution As All The Cars In The World."

Cruise Pollution - Nasty Deadly Bunker FuelI wrote about the cruise industry's use of bunker fuels in a blog entitled 'Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel - "Thick, Tarry Sludge."  So this is of particular interest to me.

The article is written by an award winning science writer Fred Pearce.  He describes the disgusting practice of these ships using this filthy and deadly fuel:

"We've all noticed it. The filthy black smoke kicked out by funnels on cross-channel ferries, cruise liners, container ships, oil tankers and even tugboats . . .

As ships get bigger, the pollution is getting worse. The most staggering statistic of all is that just 16 of the world’s largest ships can produce as much lung-clogging sulphur pollution as all the world’s cars.

Because of their colossal engines, each as heavy as a small ship, these super-vessels use as Cruise Ships - Filthy Smoke - Bunker Fuelmuch fuel as small power stations.

But, unlike power stations or cars, they can burn the cheapest, filthiest, high-sulphur fuel: the thick residues left behind in refineries after the lighter liquids have been taken. The stuff nobody on land is allowed to use." 

The article addresses the disastrous effects on the environment and the deadly effects on those who breath the lethal smoke.

Mr. Pearce explain that ships are using fuel containing up to 4.5 per cent sulphur. That is 4,500 times more than is allowed in car fuel in Europe.  The largest ships are emitted as much as 5,000 tons of sulphur a year – the same as 50,000,000 cars, each releasing an average of only 100 grams of sulphur a year.

The sulphur comes out of ship funnels as tiny particles which get deep into lungs. The inhaled sulphur causes inflammation of the linings of the lungs, breathing problems, heart disease and cancer.  The major shipping routes of cargo ships and cruise ships bring these deadly emissions right into the port and seaboard cities.  

 

Cuise Ship Bunker Fuel - Pollution

 

Mr. Pearce ends with an ominous conclusion:

"However you look at it, the super-ships are rogues on the high seas, operating under pollution standards long since banished on land; warming the planet and killing its inhabitants."

There are a number of organizations which are trying to address these types of problems.  One is Friends of the Earth whose Twitter name is @foe_us.

 

Credits:

Chart         Fred Pearce (via U.K. 's Mail Online)

Seven Questions to Ask Royal Caribbean Executives Regarding Oasis of the Seas

Twitter Cruise - #oasisAt this moment, the Oasis of the Seas is sailing with newspaper reporters, travel writers, cruise bloggers, and other cruise enthusiasts.  They are tweeting their observations on Twitter under the hashtag #oasis.

One of the tweters is @johnnyjet who has a nice travel portal called JohnnyJet.com.  He posted a photograph of the Royal Caribbean executives (below) answering questions on the cruise ship.  He also asked the Twitter Kingdom for some "good" questions to ask the Royal Caribbean "execs." 

Here are my seven questions. They pertain to issues I am interested in - the environmental effects of a cruise ship this large, and the safety and security of its passengers and crew members:

Royal Caribbean - Twitter Cruise - Safety and Environmental Questions1.  Does the Oasis of the Seas discharge wastewater/sewage (whether treated or outside 3 miles of shore or not) during the cruises? 

2.  If not, where does the cruise ship offload its sewage and waste?  In the U.S.?  Or in a foreign port?  And specifically which foreign port?  Nassau? St. Thomas? Falmouth? or Cozumel? 

3.  What happens to the waste and chemicals once offloaded from the ship?

4.  The LA Times reported that for a period of 32 months, there were over 250 incidents of sexual assault, battery, and sexual harassment against guests and crew members on Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  In light of these problems, how many security guards are employed on the Oasis of the Seas?

5.  How many security guards are assigned to the seven "neighborhoods" on the cruise ship?  Are there security "sub-stations" in each of the neighborhoods?

6.  How many security guards patrol the neighborhoods from 10:00 p.m. to 4 a.m., a time period we Royal Caribbean - Oasis of the Seas - Twitter Cruisehave found when female passengers are at a higher risk of being assaulted?

7.  Saturday Night Live joked about the Oasis of the Seas being being bounty for pirates. Whereas the thought of a pirate attack in the Caribbean may be silly, a large cruise ship like this could be a target of a   terrorist group.  Does the ship have a sufficient number of security personnel to not only protect the passengers from shipboard crime, but deter and fight off a terrorist attack?

Thank you for answers to these questions!         

 

Credits    

Top Photo      @johnnyjet  

Bottom Photo     Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., a Liberian Corporation (via CruiseCritic)

Princess' Cult of a Cruise - #FollowMeAtSea Folly

Over the past week, those of you who read my blog but don't Twitter missed the remarkable phenomenon of bickering between a small group of travel bloggers invited by Princess Cruises to promote cruising under the hash tag #followmeatsea - and a larger group of green travelers who could not stomach the wow-cruising-is-amazing tone of the tweets.  

"Bickering" may be an understatement.  The debate was more like the food fight in one of my favorite movies, Animal House.    

And boy did I enjoy it.  

John Belushi - Animal House - Food FightThe first time I read that Princess Cruises was making its foray into social media with #followmeatsea, I knew that it  was going to be a disaster.  

In September, I praised the social media skills of Princess Cruises' sister company P & O Cruises for its use of YouTube by its CEO to provide information and diffuse criticism in "Cruise Lines and Social Media - P & O Cruises Hits A Home Run," but I blasted Princess Cruises for its lack of social web skills. 

The problem with Princess was that it was oblivious to the discussion raging on Twitter when one of its cruise ships caught on fire.  When Princess finally responded days later, it lost credibility by refusing to engage in a conversation on Twitter and by referring the public to its its self-serving and misleading press statements.   

And here we are again.

The green travelers baited the here's-a-free-cruise-so-write-something-nice-about-us bloggers on Princess' Crown Princess with questions about the obvious unsustainability of cruising.  The bloggers were blind-sided.  While Princess's guests were being skewered, Princess ignored the environmental inquiries but chose to re-tweet only the most mundane isn't-this-wonderful tweets by its new friends with comments like "Beautiful!" or "Too funny!"  

When Princess finally responded to the spot-on environmental criticisms, it referred to a statement on its website (circa 2008). But it refused to answer a single question about the use of bunker fuel or its ongoing history of discharge violations which continue to this day. 

With good reason.  Princess has the most deplorable environmental record of any of the 25 cruise lines sailing out of the U.S. over the last couple of months. Lets put the nicely written environmental policies on its slick web site aside for a moment. Take a look at Princess Cruises' actual practices:    

In September, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific  PrincessSapphire Princess and Sea Princess were cited for violating the Alaska Wastewater Quality Standards.  Again, in October, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific Princess, Sapphire Princess and Sea Princess - together with the Golden Princess - were cited for water discharge violations.

This month, the same culprits - the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Sea Princess, Golden Princess and Diamond Princess were busted for pollution.  The charges?  Dumping illegal levels of copper, ammonia, zinc and fecal coliform bacteria into Alaska's pristine waters. It was therefore hard to read one of the bloggers' comments:  

  Kim Mance tweet on behind the scenes Princess Cruises Tour
 

 

 

 

The Norwegian Environmental Officer who charmed the blogger no doubt looked very impressive and convincing in his white uniform. But nothing could be further from the truth. Princess Cruises had bamboozled this nice travel writer and set her up for ridicule.  

Now, I will admit. I tweeted a few grenades into the #followmeatsea debate, asking about the start of a trial in L.A. where a Princess Cruises waiter allegedly sexually assaulted a passenger aboard the Coral Princess, as well as Princess Cruises' nasty practice of dumping insufficiently treated chemicals and feces into Alaska's Cruise Pollutionclean waters.  Princess Cruises ignored these pointed questions, although one brave blogger promised to ask the Environmental Officer about the violations and tweet his answer.  

The problem here is that Princess doesn't realize that it cannot control the debate by inviting a few nice people onto their cruise ship with the hope that they write nice things about the cruise. Todd Lucier wrote an interesting blog on Princess' social media debacle entitled "Seven Deadly Sins of Social Media: Lessons from #followmeatsea."  Deadly Sin #1, according to Mr. Lucier, is "thinking you can control social media."  

Unlike the cult-of-personality cruise community sites like CruiseCritic and CruiseMates where membership requires group-think cheerleading and true cruise critics are banished, the Twitter forum is pure free speech.  Fortunately, there are many free thinkers out there with a healthy dose of cynicism.  Princess Cruises' #followmeatsea happy talk was predestined to turn into a discussion of real issues, which the cruise line was ill-prepared to handle.

The spirited back and forth on Twitter was invigorating.  But I am still waiting for a response from Princess Cruises' Environmental Officer about Princess' last 17 wastewater violations.

 

Credits:

Coral Princess    Barbara Bagnell (via National Post)

#followmeatsea tweet          Todd Lucier     

Cruise Industry Exaggerates Effect of $50 Alaska Tax and Hides Financial Information

The so-called "Alaska Cruise Association" (more properly called the Miami Cruise Association) has been caught exaggerating the effects of Alaska's $50 per person "head tax." 

The Juneau Empire reports in an article by Pat Forgey entitled "Attack On A Tax" that the cruise industry is misleading the public.  Cruise lines claim that cruise prices have dropped as low as $300, and the $50 tax is driving passengers away from cruising to Alaska.

The newspaper reports that cruise passengers actually pay around $2,000 a cruise. Also, most passengers believe that a $50 tax is negligible and has no have an effect on their decision to book a cruise.

The most revealing and disturbing part of the article is that cruise industry spokesman, John Binkley, considers financial information regarding cruises to Alaska to be "proprietary and confidential."  The cruise industry keeps the information secret notwithstanding the fact that both Carnival and Royal Caribbean, which carry 80 percent of the cruise ship passengers to Alaska, are publicly traded companies which are required to report financial data to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

This is business as usual for the cruise industry.  Its credibility for facts is historically dubious. Cruise lines are the least transparent industry by far.  As I have reported in previous articles, the non-tax paying and polluting cruise industry's real motivation to to punish Alaska for its strict pollution regulations

Another newspaper in Alaska reported on the cruise industry's big lies. The Alaska Daily News calls the $300 cruise ticket a "myth" perpetuated by the cruise industry.  The two comments to the story sum up the truth about the cruise industry's attack on Alaska:

  • "Multi-national cruise ship hirelings in Alaska beat this big lie about the $50 head tax and its impact on passenger decisions to death and lost all credibility as a result . . .  Alaska's regulations are a model for other places and this scares the industry."
  • "No surprise here, other than the cruise industry got caught telling tall tales."

 

 

Photo credit:

Polluting cruise ship     www.ecollo.com  

  

The "Alaska" Cruise Association's Lawsuit Against Alaska - Pay Back By Tax-Avoiding Miami Cruise Lines

The cruise industry has picked a fight with Alaska over the $50 tax designed to protect the state. The lawsuit, which is posted online, indicates that the lawsuit was filed by a trade organization called, interesting enough, the "Alaska Cruise Association."

"Alaskan Cruise Association" - Made in Miami, Florida 

There is nothing remotely "Alaskan" about the "Alaska Cruise Association" (ACA).  The ACA is comprised of nine cruise lines, none of which are based in Alaska.  Six of the cruise lines - Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, and Silverseas - are based in Miami or Fort Lauderdale. The other three line, Holland America, Princess, and Windstar Cruises, are all owned by Miami-based Carnival or its subsidiaries.

Even the main lawyer listed on the lawsuit papers, Seattle lawyer Stephen Rummage, is not even admitted to practice law in Alaska. He must petition the court in Alaska for special permission to enter the courthouse in Alaska to argue the case. You can guarantee that the bulk of the ACA's lawyer's fees will be paid by money which can be traced back to Miami. 

Revenge is Sweet

The Miami cruise lines do not like to be regulated and are certainly not used to being taxed.  It is like trying to put a leash on a mean dog.  Someone is going to be bitten.  Yet, Alaska has every right to impose reasonable taxes to protect its pristine environment from the out-of-state polluters like Carnival and Royal Caribbean.   

The lawsuit is revenge against Alaska by Carnival and other cruise lines in South Florida.  Unlike Florida and the struggling islands in the Caribbean which for years have rolled over and played dead for the pollution spewing cruise industry, Alaska has enacted a number of measures to protect the state from  the foreign flagged cruise lines' predatory practices.  Earlier in the year, it was widely reported that the cruise industry was having difficulty convincing the legislators to abolish strict water pollution standards which were approved by Alaskan voters in 2006. 

Like Father, Like Son?

Soon thereafter, Mickey Arison of Carnival began threatening to punish Alaska for the pollution regulations and having the audacity to levy a $50 tax on the passengers who sail on his cruise ships. Any time I hear the word "tax" and "Mickey Arison" in the same sentence, I can't help but to think about Mickey's father, Ted Arison.  He collected billions of dollars from tax paying U.S. passengers and lived the good life in Miami but he registered his Miami based cruise line and his cruise ships in Panama to avoid all U.S. taxes.  In 1990, he abandoned Miami, denounced his U.S. citizenship, and returned to Israel with his billions in a ploy to avoid estate and inheritance taxes.

So here we are again, with the younger Arison leading the charge of the Miami consortium of foreign flagged cruise ships pretending to be an "Alaskan" non-profit organization with Alaska's best interests at heart. A wolf in sheep's clothing. This is pay back by the Miami cruise lines, and business as usual for the latest tax avoiding Miami billionaire.    

 

Photo credit:

Business Week   -    Photo of Mickey Arison