Shameless Cruise Industry Touts It's Environmental Practices

The cruise industry is touting a report titled Evaluation of Cruise Industry, Global Environmental Practices and Performance.

It's a non-critical summary paid for by the industry's trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"). The report is largely a PR stunt which omits the relevant, recent history of the practice committed over the course of at least a decade of routinely dumping oil from cruise ships owned by the largest cruise line in the world.

It has been less than four months since the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) fined Princess Cruises and its parent company, Carnival Corporation, $40,000,000 for polluting the seas and trying to cover it Cruise Pollutionup. Carnival and Princess pleaded guilty to seven felony charges of illegally dumping oil-contaminated waste from the Caribbean Princess cruise ship which sailed to numerous U.S. states (Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia) and two territories (U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico).

The DOJ says that "in addition to the use of a magic pipe to circumvent the oily water separator and oil content monitor required pollution prevention equipment, the U.S. investigation uncovered two other illegal practices which were found to have taken place on the Caribbean Princess as well as four other Princess ships – Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess. One practice was to open a salt water valve when bilge waste was being processed by the oily water separator and oil content monitor. The purpose was to prevent the oil content monitor from otherwise alarming and stopping the overboard discharge. The second practice involved discharges of oily bilge water originating from the overflow of graywater tanks into the machinery space bilges. This waste was pumped back into the graywater system rather than being processed as oily bilge waste. Neither of these practices were truthfully recorded in the oil record book as required.

But you won't read any reference to magic pipes and falsified log books in the PR release by the cruise industry's trade organization, Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"). 

Cruise line cheerleaders, like Travel Pulse, published over-the-top self-laudatory articles like The Cruise Industry Is Winning at Environmental Performance

Conspicuously absent from CLIA PR efforts is any mention of environmental problems caused by the cruise lines. Consider the following articles within the last year:

The world's largest cruise ship and its supersized pollution problem (Guardian).

Cruise Industry Gets “F” for Transparency, Cutting Emissions (World Maritime News).

Carnival Corp ship caught in pollution scheme. Now they’re paying $40 million for it (Miami Herald).

Cruise industry ‘failing’ environment and public health, report claims (Telegraph).

Princess Cruises Pollution Cover-Up: Are the Greedy Cruise Executives Untouchable? (Cruise Law News).

This CLIA-paid-for-report is part of the cruise industry's reputation rehabilitation. Last January, Princess Cruises issued a press statement via PR Newswire that it had been voted the "Best Ocean Cruise Line" in the USA TODAY and 10Best Readers Choice cruise travel awards, despite the DOJ's record environmental fine just a month earlier. 

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Photo crdit: NABU via Telegraph

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

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

December 1, 2016 UpdateDeliberate Dumping, Cover-Up and Lies: DOJ Fines Princess Cruises $40,000,000.

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 

Third Oasis-Class Cruise Ship: Bad for Environment, Bad for U.S., Great for Lawyers & Cruise CEO's

Allure of the Seas - Oasis of the Seas FlowRider Royal Caribbean Cruises just announced a third Oasis-class cruise ship will be built at the South Korea-owned shipyard STX France after the financing fell through with the STX Finland shipyard.  

The as-of-yet unnamed gigantic ship will follow fellow behemoths the Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas which are ported in Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

CEO Richard Fain, who just sold $11,500,000 worth of RCL stock, proclaimed that "these ships have consistently generated outstanding guest satisfaction ratings and continue to produce superior financial results . . . "

The new billion-dollar-plus cruise ship is expected to come on line sometime in mid to late 2016. STX France provided Royal Caribbean with a one-year option to build a fourth Oasis-class ship with a 2018 delivery date. 

There is speculation where the new ship will be ported, with the South Florida Business Journal proposing Miami where Royal Caribbean is based and U.K. travel blogger Captain Greybeard raising the possibility of deploying the ship to the Mediterranean or the Far East.

What's my take on another "Giant of the Seas" arriving on the scene? First, its a continuing disaster for the environment. The supposedly most technologically advanced cruise ships in the world still burn highly toxic high-sulfur-content bunker fuel. And small Caribbean islands are forced to destroy ancient coral Allure of the Seas - Oasis of the Seas - Royal Caribbeanreefs as a price to pay from the privilege of hosting these enormous floating cities into their small ports.

The multi-billion dollar deal enormously benefits South Korea and France. The off-shore building project represents another drain of money and jobs from the U.S. to the South Korean conglomerate which owns the shipyard in France. 

The arrival of one or two additional Oasis-class ships will carry 5,000 to 10,000 additional cruise passengers. They will be trying to stay safe on the ship's various attractions like the rock-climbing wall, the zip-line and the incredibly dangerous FlowRiders which have caused serious injury and even death over the years.   

One would hope that the cruise line takes greater care in designing these amusement-park-like attractions to avoid the risk of serious injury.  Because as matters now stand, Royal Caribbean's gigantic sized cruise ships are good news only for the cruise line's executives and the personal injury lawyers representing the injured passengers.  

Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel - "Thick, Tarry Sludge"

I read an interesting articleby a staff writer for the Take Part Blog about nasty discharges by cruise ships.  The article is entilted "Cruise Ship Environmental Report Card Grim."

Hamida Kinge was a 2008/09 Environmental Reporting Fellow for the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting and a 2009 Fellow at the Scripps Howard Institute on the Environment. Her interests include the effects of climate change on coastal communities and island nations and the effects of PCBs and DDT contamination on marine mammal health.

Ms. Kinge explains:

Where most cruise ships travel, dirty air follows. They burn a very thick, tarry petroleum sludge called “bunker fuel,” which can be between 1000 to 2000 times dirtier than diesel fuel. Apart from impacts on the natural environment, such as contributing to climate change and acid rain, bunker fuel has been linked to a number of serious cardiovascular problems and premature death in humans. And when the ships dock, their engines often stay running and the emissions directly impact port communities.

The article also refers to the Friends of the Earth "Cruise Ship Environmental Report Card" which I commented on in a previous blog

From time to time, you will hear about cruise ships "plugging in" when they arrive at port.  This means that they are turning off their engines and switching to the dockside electrical system. 

Most cruise ships can't or don't "plug in."  This leads to an environmental disaster, literally on a daily basis, where  5 or 6 cruise ships sit at a port spewing the emissions from the tar-like bunker fuel into the port cities.