The "Trump Effect" - Cruise Industry Reinforces Its Image as an Enemy of the Environment

Falmouth, Jamaica Dredge and FillYesterday, I attended the annual Seatrade Global conference in Fort Lauderdale. In the morning, the "state of the industry'' featured the usual cruise tycoons extolling on the billion dollar cruise industry. Carnival Corporation's CEO Arnold Donald, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago, and Royal Caribbean Cruises CEO Richard Fain all spoke glowingly to an audience of enthusiastic cruise attendees that the cruise lines were enjoying a booming business.

The most talked about statistic was that over 25 million passengers around the world will be welcomed on board cruise ships this year.

But there was a troubling undercurrent at the convention. 

“NCL's cruise executive, Frank Del Rio, who received nearly $32 million in compensation in 2015, said that the industry was benefiting because of what he called the "Trump Effect." 

CNBC reporter and moderator, Susan Li, encouraged Del Rio to explain the "Trump Effect" to the attentive audience.  

Del Rio said that because of President Trump, the stock market was at all time high and fewer regulations and pro-business tax cuts were good for his business.

Del Rio also said that he "loved" the NCL cruise destinations, including cruises to his native Cuba, "because they make us money."   

Del Rio's comments about the "love" of more money and "fewer regulations" seem to be the essence of the "Trump Effect." President Trump is aggressively taking steps to gut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as evidenced by his appointment of Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to head that federal agency. Pruitt has a record of trying to destroy the environmental protections that the EPA is responsible for enforcing. He has built his political career by trying to undermine the EPA’s environmental protections and has even disputed the effects of climate change. 

Cruise Ship Smashes Reef in Raja Ampat, IndonesiaThe cruise industry has always struggled with its environmental image.

Just two days ago, a British cruise ship smashed into a pristine and beautiful reef on Raja Ampat in Indonesia and then caused further damage when the captain insisted that tugs drag the cruise ship off the ancient reef.

There are few travel industries which can wreak havoc on rare, biodiverse marine habitats as effectively as the cruise lines. 

Damaging reefs is not an usual event in the world of cruising, as the cruise lines have recently demonstrated time after time. But the damage is not just due to the reckless operation of cruise ships but is often the intentional acts of dredging old reefs and filling native mangroves with the pulverized coral to make way for deeper ports in the Caribbean to accommodate the larger and large cruise ships which are dominating the cruise industry today.

Of course, the cruise industry just witnessed the spectacle of the Department of Justice fining Princess Cruises a record $40,000,000 fine after its investigation uncovered wide-spread illegal practices involving dumping oil at sea around the world by the Caribbean Princess, Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess over the course of nearly a decade. Meanwhile, the cruise executives at the helm of the Princess organization at the time of the dumping have continued to be promoted to lucrative positions in the Carnival corporation

"Magic pipes" and shady environmental shipboard practices have long been part of the history of the cruise industry.

The fine seemed to be déjà vu of the early 2000's when the major Miami-based cruise lines, NCL, Carnival and Royal Caribbean, paid tens of millions of dollars in fines and pled guilty to multiple felonies for dumping oil into the oceans, falsifying ship logs and lying to the U.S. Coast Guard about the environmental crimes.

Reef Damage in Cayman IslandsSo, in an industry with a history like this, it's troubling to see a CEO of a major cruise line excited about the benefits of fewer environmental regulations under the Trump presidency. Yes, the cruise executives will earn lots of more millions of dollars, but the reefs and waters around the world will pay a heavy price for such short-sightedness.

Interested in more articles about the "Trump Effect?" Read:

Skift (by Hannah Sampson) - Cruise Executives at Odds Over the Trump Effect.

Seattade (by Anne Kalosh) -  Strong demand, record orderbook, China, 'Trump effect' boost cruising, top leaders say.

Miami Herald (by Chabeli Herrera) - Cruising is booming, thanks in part to the ‘Trump Effect,’ but there’s a catch.

Take a moment and read: Donald Trump is preparing to make massive policy changes at the EPA and Trump to environment: This is war.

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

Photo credits:

Top - Dredge and fill in Falmouth - Jamaca Gleaner

Middle - Reef in Raja Ampat, Indoneasia - AFP via the newspaper

Bottom - Anchor damage in Cayman Islands - Don Foster's Dive Cayman via Cayman Compass

Seatrade Global 2016: How About the Crew Members?

Later this morning, Seatrade's State of the Global Cruise Industry Conference, moderated by CBS Travel Editor Peter Greenberg, will feature four cruise executives: Frank Del Rio, President & CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, Arnold Donald, President & CEO, Carnival Corporation, Richard Fain, Chairman & CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman, MSC Cruises. 

Three additional cruise line leaders will conclude the presentation: Charles A. Robertson, Chairman & CEO, American Cruise Lines, Edie Rodriguez, President & CEO, Crystal Cruises, and Tara Russell, President, Carnival Corporation's Fathom ('impact travel"). 

Shortly, if this Seatrade is like any other, we will hear about the growth of the industry and the increasingly larger cruise ships built to accommodate the 24,000,000 people who will decide to Crew Membervacation on the high seas this year. There is no doubt that the cruise industry, a rich and powerful industry, continues to grow at a record pace.  

But there will be little mention of the hard work by the tens of thousands of crew members from around the world who are the backbone of the industry. Seatrade Global (and its predecessor Cruise Shipping Miami) measures itself in terms of the number of the passengers and giant ships and the money which these cruise customers and cruise ships generate for the ports and the industry as a whole. The cruise executives will tell us about a Florida port, Port Everglades, just setting a new record for the most cruise ship passengers in a single day, 54,700 passengers last Sunday. 

But the cruise executives will not mention an incident this weekend in Port Everglades, the day before the port set a new record for passengers, when a Royal Caribbean crew member threatened to jump off the Oasis of the Seas. Are cruise lines pushing their crew members too hard for too little?

Crew members are working harder and longer than anytime in the history of the cruise industry. MLC2006 was suppose to result in the protection of the crew members, by ensuring that men and women who work on ships at sea are guaranteed a reasonable number of time resting. But, in reality, crew members hired as waiters state that they can't log their time in when they arrive in the dining hall at 6:30 A.M to prepare their stations for the rush of passengers who enter the dining rooms for a 7:00 A.M breakfast. And they are often required to sign out and continue to work "off the clock" when they exceed the maximum hours theoretically limited by MLC2006.  

Crew members also complain that they attend meetings only during their "breaks." Many crew member who accurately log their long hours into the electronic time systems have their real hours worked changed by managers to comply with the MLC2006 auditors hired by the Carnivals and Royal Caribbeans. Take a minute and read the comments left by crew members on our Facebook page commenting on the sad state of MLC2006 non-compliance by the major cruise lines today. 

I recently posted a question on Facebook which I asked several years ago whether Royal Caribbean was working its crew members to death? Crew members left insightful information and quickly added that its not just Royal Caribbean working its crew members too hard but it is an industry wide problem. When a galley worker newly hired on a Princess cruise ship, the Island Princess, ended his life last week, another round of criticism followed. Are cruises bosses uninterested in crew welfare as they seek record profits on their gigantic ships?

Crew members like waiters, cabin attendants, galley workers and cleaners work regular 12+ hour days, seven days a week, for months at a time. They work even harder and longer when their cruise ships call on U.S. ports and their department heads are concerned of a surprise USPH inspection as well as when norovirus breaks out and "enhanced cleaning" is required.

The industry's trade organization, CLIA, meanwhile touts in a recent tweet that "Our work never ends. Crewmembers continually clean & sanitize cruise ships to ensure passenger & crew #health." True indeed as far as "continually cleaning" goes. Yes, this may be one of the few CLIA statements that is factually true given the seemingly endless hours worked by the crew.  But there is no overtime or extra pay when the crew members work around the clock as a recent gastrointestinal outbreak during an Oceania cruise demonstrated. Crew members reported working 18 to 20 hours a day.

The cruise executives know that such long hours result in low morale and burn-out, but they look the other way. Ironically, cruise executive Micky Arison just re-tweeted a post by @ProjectTimeOff designed to encourage potential Carnival cruise customers to take time off from work and cruise - "The truth is out: time off work reduces burnout, improves morale, and boosts creativity." @MickyArison tweeted "Absolutely the case on a #cruise." Maybe so if you're a guest.

Absolutely not if you are a crew member.

If you have a comment, please leave one on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Cruise Shipping's State of the Industry: Where are the Women & Minorities?

Cruise Shipping MiamiIt's 11:25 AM Tuesday morning. I'm sitting here in the 4th row at the Miami Beach Convention Center listening to the final moments of the Cruise Shipping Miami (CSM 2013) State-of-the-Industry speeches by the cruise line executives.

Before me the kings of the cruise industry are speaking: Royal Caribbean President Adam Goldstein; NCL CEO Kevin Sheehan; Celebrity Cruises President Michael Bayley; Carnival President Gerry Cahill; HAL CEO Stein Kruse; MSC CEO Pierfrancesco Vago; and Silversea Cruises Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio. Plus a keynote speech from World Travel and Tourism Council President David Scowsill.      

My first thought as I scanned the panel of cruise executives on the stage in front of me this morning: Do you have to be a white male to speak about the state of the cruise industry at CSM?  

This is essentially the same all men-in-dark-suits line up from prior years. Where are all of the women cruise executives?

Cruise Shipping MiamiLooking around me, I see some plenty of women in the audience. Why are there no women on stage talking about the future of the cruise industry?   Seven suits and ties on stage and not a single cruise line executive in a dress or high heels.

Is the cruise industry the least diversified business in the U.S.?

I work in a law firm where the smartest lawyer is a woman; where the hardest workers are women; and where the decision makers are mostly women. 99% of our crew clients from around the world do not resemble any of the men here lecturing the audience at the auditorium.

Its going to be a weird week here at CSM.  


Photo Credit: CMS 2013 - Jim Walker

Cruise Shipping Miami: 6 Problems the Cruise Industry Needs to Fix

Tomorrow we will hear the state of the cruise industry from many of the CEO's of the cruise lines. After a deadly and disastrous year, questions arise whether the cruise industry is heading in the right direction.

In many ways, the cruise industry is going backwards. I targeted what I consider six of the major problems which the industry needs fixing. Today we'll look at:  

Problem # 6 - Pollution of Air & Water: The cruise industry is heading the wrong way on environmental issues.  It just fought a very public battle with the state of Alaska which, in 2006, enacted the most responsible waste water restrictions in the world to address cruise ship pollution.

A typical 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. Considering there are 28 cruise ships operating 150 days annually in Alaska, this results in over one billion gallons of sewage and waste water being dumped into Alaska state waters every year.

The Alaskan initiative targeted this nasty problem with sewage, while also prohibiting the discharge of heavy metals like zinc, copper and nickle from cruise ships' plumbing systems. In response, the cruise lines threatened to pull its ships from Alaska and lobbied legislators heavily. The major polluters of Alaskan waters, like Carnival owned Holland America Lines and Princess Cruises, led the charge to Oasis of the Seas Pollutionrepeal the green legislation in order to avoid the expense of installing advanced waste water treatment technologies.

While polluting the waters, the cruise industry is resisting clean air legislation as well. CLIA cruise ships still burn bunker fuel, the dirtiest and most deadly fuel on the planet. and the industry is resisting complying with clean air laws, citing reduced profits.

As the industry's ships get bigger and bigger, there is increased damage to coral reefs and the environment of the fragile ecosystems from the Caribbean to Alaska. To accommodate giants of the seas like the Oasis and the Allure into its new port in Falmouth Jamaica, Royal Caribbean oversaw the dredging of 35 million cubic feet of coral reefs which were crushed and dumped onto old mangroves. The Oasis and Allure can now squeeze into the once quaint fishing village, where they sit and burn high sulfur bunker fuel.

The cruise industry has a historical reputation of abusing the seas, with the major lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL all pleading guilty to environmental crimes and lying to the U.S. Coast Guard and federal prosecutors. Although it has promised to protect the waters on which its business depends, the cruise industry has consistently chosen the cheaper and more destructive path on environmental issues. 

The cruise industry needs to clean up its act. It must distance itself from its renegade past of being the conservator from hell.    


Read the other problems facing the cruise industry:

Problem No. 5: Disappearance of Passengers and Crew Members

Cruise Shipping Miami "CSM2013" Starts Tomorrow!

Cruise Shipping Miami ("CSM 2013") starts tomorrow morning.  Word on the street is that notwithstanding rough times for the cruise industry over the past year, there will be a record attendance.

Formerly known as "Seatrade," CSM is a huge trade show in the Miami Beach Convention Center with all types of cruise vendors, tourism delegates and port representatives.  

You can appreciate just how dynamic and wealthy the cruise industry is by attending the show.

Here's the official schedule.

Cruise Shipping Miami I will be there all week.  

Here's my review of the last Cruise Shipping Miami trade show I attended:

Cruise Shipping Miami (SeaTrade) - the Good, Bad and Ugly

Email me at if you want to meet. My perspective - "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know" - is a little different than that of most people attending.

i will be blogging and tweeting all week.

See you there.

Cruise Shipping Miami 2012 - Cruising is Safe, It Really Is, Trust Us

I am out of town with my family on Spring Break for a couple of days.  This morning I was on my computer reading the Twitter feed for Cruise Shipping Miami 2012.

As all of you know, the Cruise Shipping Miami event (previously known a SeaTrade) is the annual event sponsored by the cruise industry where the cruise line vendors, excursion companies, port agencies, and foreign tourism boards fill the Miami Beach Convention Center advertising their services.

It sounds like a rather surreal environment this year.

The Mexican tourism people are telling everyone how extremely safe Mexico is.  Let's not talk about the 22 Carnival cruise passengers robbed at gunpoint last month.

Cruise Line International President Christine Duffy - two weeks after her disastrous performance before the U.S. Senate where she was chastised for a lack of candor - started off her moderation of the cruise line president's discussions with the usual talking points about the cruise industry's incredibly safety record.   

Carnival executive Howard Frank said cruise ships are safe and his Costa crewmembers were the "true heroes" in the Costa Concordia disaster.   A Celebrity Cruise president and a NCL captain raved about the safety of cruise ships and so on and so forth.

If you ran a computer analysis of the words spoken by the cruise line leaders at the convention, "safe," "incredibly safe" or "remarkably safe" would be at the top of the list. 

But the first two months of this year have been as disastrous a period of time for cruising as I have ever seen.  Not just the Concordia capsizing and the Allegra ship fire.  There have been nine gastrointestinal sickness outbreaks in 2012, a new record.  Plus a steady stream of child molestation cases, crewmembers and older passengers raping teenage girls, deaths and overboard crew and passengers, including another highly suspicious disappearance of yet another woman during a recent cruise.

Cruise experts like Professor Ross Klein, who maintains the most comprehensive list of cruise ship overboards, norovirus cases and cruise mishaps - are not invited, and are not welcome, at the cruise convention.

We will read newspaper accounts from the cruise friendly press and travel agent publications reciting the safety "facts" touted by the cruise industry as the Gospel Truth.

This is the cruise industry's happy fest.  Critics, complainers or independent thinkers stay away.

Cruising is safe, remarkably safe, the cruise executives say.  Repeat after us - cruising is safe.  It really is.  Trust us.

Now can I sell you a discounted cruise to Mexico?

Cruise Shipping Miami (SeaTrade) - the Good, Bad and Ugly

Cruise Shipping Miami - SeaTrade - SloveniaThis week I attended "Cruise Shipping Miami" - formerly known as "SeaTrade" - at the cavernous Miami Beach Convention Center.  An intern at the firm, Caitlin Burke, also made her first appearance at the convention. Caitlin wrote a senior thesis at the University of Florida entitled  "Qualitative Study of Victimization and Legal Issues Relevant to Cruise Ships."  Caitlin is also a social media expert having written several blogs which were recognized as the "best in blogs" by the 3,000 member LexBlog network.

As you can see in my Flickr photographs, we made ourselves right at home and had a great time.

The first thing that strikes a first time visitor to the cruise convention is the size and energy of the event.  You can get an idea of how much money is involved in the $35,000,000,000 (billion) cruise industry.  The convention hosts hundreds of port and shipping agencies, tourist boards, shipbuilders, and vendors from places that you didn't realize even existed much less had a connection to cruising.  

With one exception, the vendor booths were friendly and very interactive.  Here's the good, bad, and ugly:

SeaTrade - the Good ...

The tourist board and port booths were outstanding.  The "Cruise Irish," Port of New Orleans Commission, and Slovenia Cruise booths were very friendly and the staff professional and informative.  The "Cruise Irish" delegates had a distinct advantage given the fact that its was St. Patty's Day and they were dispensing free Guinness!  The New Orleans Port contingency was doing a good job.  They handed out Pat O'Brien Hurricane punch and Mardi Gras beads as their band played "Hey Pockey Way" by the Neville Brothers.

I couldn't resist forcing Caitlin to stand for a photograph (photo above left) with the musicians at the Slovenia Cruise booth!

Cruise Shipping Miami - SeaTrade - Viking The tourist boards were without exception friendly.  They board members went out of their way to be conversational.  They handed out souvenir trinkets as they promoted the cruise services and tourist opportunities in their home countries. 

The technical / service vendors had an interesting array of products. Given the nature of our law practice, I was particularly interested in the safety and security products.  We stopped by and looked at the "Thermo Cruise Baby" by the Norwegian group Regatta ("Safe at Sea") as well as an impressive number of life saving preservers and and life boats sold by Viking, including another child's life vest (photo right).           

One of the more interesting booths was the "Castle Shipboard Security Program" which is run by Captain Jeffrey Kuhlman who has first hand experience being boarded by pirates.  He trains mariners to protect themselves and their vessel "from the ravages of piracy and terror."  His partner and spouse, Glenna Kuhlman (photo below, left), attended the booth and was very interesting as she explained their security program.  

The issue of piracy and whether the cruise industry has taken adequate steps to protect cruise passengers is something I have addressed in prior articles:   

Are Cruise Lines Taking Adequate Steps to Protect Passengers from Pirate Attacks?

Cruise Line Liability for Injuries to Passengers and Crew Members Caused by Pirate Attacks

We really appreciated Ms. Kuhlman's friendly description of her company, and we hope that the Cruise Shipping Miami - SeaTrade - Castle Securitycruise industry gets on board with the training program.

SeaTrade - the Bad ...

The Cruise Shipping "Social Media Suite" was the pits.  The Cruise Shipping Miami trade group advertised its "social media" lounge, which had four sets of tables and chairs, a sitting area with a couch and lounge chairs, and a couple of computers.  A sign invited the attendees to "get connected" and "stay connected" on FaceBook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

The weird thing was absolutely no was was there.  Only three employees sitting at a table.  I stopped briefly by one of the computers when I first entered the convention, and updated my status on my twitter page @CruiseLaw.

A few hours later, we returned to the "suite" and sat down at one of the empty tables adjacent to a number of cafes.  We thought we would have a quick lunch (a hotdog and fruit drink) and rest our feet before returning to see the remainder of the show.  But one of the Cruise Shipping Miami employees told us to leave because they "were tired of cleaning up after people who used their tables."  So we obliged.  As we began to take our 1/2 eaten hotdogs with us, we watched another employee chastise other attendees who had walked into the lounge with a soft drink. 

When we left, the lounge was completely empty.  Except for the three "Cruise Shipping Miami" employees talking to each other at one of the tables, drinking soda.

We have written about how some of the cruise lines, like P & O Cruises, have outstanding social media programs while others in the cruise industry are clueless. Take a moment and read  Cruise Lines and Social Media - P & O Cruises Hits A Home Run  to see how the cruise industry is handling social media. 

Cruise Shipping Miami - SeaTrade - Alaska Cruise Shipping Miami's Twitter page @CruiseShipping has a pitiful 137 followers and on only 2 lists.  In the world of "social media," it's clueless.  It's staff?  Boorish.  Walk by and take a look yourself today, but don't make the mistake of sitting down with a hotdog.               

SeaTrade - ... and the Ugly  

The buzz at the cruise convention has been the cruise line executives mocking Alaska's strict  environmental regulations. The CEO's of Holland American Lines and Celebrity threatened Governor Parnell, who was in attendance, that they will pull cruise ships from Alaska if the state did not ease up on the taxes and pollution regulations. The Alaska Dispatch and Travel Agent Central have excellent articles on this issue.

Unlike the powerless Caribbean countries who are desperate for U.S. tourist dollars, Alaska has a strong economy.  Its citizens voted long ago to impose a $50 head tax to protect its pristine waters.  Alaska has the only "ocean ranger" program in the nation where a state environmental official boards the cruise ship and monitors cruise ship discharges while the vessels are in Alaskan waters.

Alaska is smart to protect its natural resources.  The cruise industry has a deplorable environmental record and Carnival and Royal Caribbean have pleaded guilty to multiple felonies for wastewater violations and lying to U.S. Coast Guard.

The image of the CEO of HAL (which has recent wastewater violations on the books) lecturing a Governor of a progressive state like Alaska is rather repugnant (photo above, courtesy of Travel Agent Central).  The cruise industry already has an image of being arrogant and certainly the least diverse group of Cruise Shipping Miami - SeaTrade - CLIA - Norovirusprofessionals around. The image of six white, male, suited, Miami executives chastising Alaska should be a sign that Alaska is doing something right.  It should continue to resist the bullying and protect its waters from exploitation by the cruise industry. 

One of the strange things about this years convention is that there were no U.S. agencies in attendance.  Where was the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)?  Where was the Federal Drug Administration (FDA)?  The cruise industry is facing a crisis with norovirus and there is no focus on this issue at the convention?  Last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) was in attendance and assigned agents to respond to questions about crimes on cruise ships returning to ports in South Florida.  Where was the FBI this year?

Another strange thing was that the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA)'s booth was way in the back of the convention center.  It was poorly staffed and attended.  

The most prominent feature at the CLIA booth was a giant dispenser of Purell hand sanitizer, which by the way doesn't kill norovirus.           



Cruise line executives       Travel Agent Central

All other photos                   Jim Walker's Flickr photographs