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.

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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

Trump's Executive Order Causes Chaos at Fort Lauderdale Cruise Terminal

The Allure of the Seas returned this morning to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale after a week long cruise. When the Allure docked, some of the passengers were in for a shock.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protective (CBP) reportedly requested the captain of the cruise ship to first disembark green card holders from the seven Muslim-based countries subject to President Trump's executive order, which bans citizens from entering the U.S. for at least the next 90 days

I was contacted this morning about the situation at the cruise terminal in Fort Lauderdale. A passenger said that there are several guests who sailed on the cruise who are from Iraq and Iran who hold green Trump Ban Green Card Cruisecards (which makes them legal permanent U.S. residents). It currently is unknown how many passengers have been detained, or whether crew members have also been affected.

The executive order, signed by President Trump on Friday night, has thrown confusion into the handling of many people trying to enter the U.S. this weekend. 

Yesterday, a Department of Homeland Security official said people holding green cards are included in President Trump's executive action temporarily barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

There is uncertainty whether the green card holders will be barred from re-entering the U.S. or whether they will have to undergo additional screening.

"It will bar green card holders," Gillian Christensen, acting Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman, told Reuters yesterday. But other representatives at Homeland Security have been quoted as saying that green card holders will be permitted to enter but will have to be subject to "extreme vetting." 

The affected passengers were returning on a gay cruise chartered by Atlantis. Many returning cruisers not directly affected by the ban have remained at the cruise terminal to show solidarity with the detained passengers.

It is likely that others passengers at other U.S. ports will be detained, and either banned from entering the U.S. or subject to added vetting.

President Trump has claimed that the purpose behind the executive order is to "keep America safe." But it's hard to imagine how banning legal residents from returning from a holiday cruise will accomplish that goal.

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Update: The Miami Herald is covering the story - I’ve Been Detained at Broward Port, Cuise Passenger With a Green Card Says.

January 30, 2017 Update: It seems that there were cruise passengers detained at other ports yesterday.

Florida Today writes that seven people, including a woman of Syrian origin and her three U.S. born children, were retained by CPB for over 6 hours in Port Canaveral yesterday.  

The Global Nation writes today about an Iraqi-born woman of Swedish citizenship, married to an U.S. citizen who arrived in an unidentified port in Florida. Even though she is a legal permanent resident holding a green card, she was separated from her husband when the cruise ship returned to port. "... she felt confused and afraid while being bombarded with questions. Her husband had to wait outside. . .  They asked me where I was born, when did I leave Iraq, how did I come to America, who sponsored me, what does my husband do, and what countries have I lived in.” After three hours of questioning, she was finally let go. “I was the in same room as someone being accused of child pornography,” she says. “That’s how low they made me feel, just because I was in Iraq 27 years ago.” 

March 24, 2017 Update: Palestinian UF student detained after Spring Break cruise.  

Celebrity Cruises' "Sail Beyond Borders" Ad Irks Trump Supporters

Truthfeed Boycott Celebrity CruisesThe ultra conservative Truthfeed website is calling for a boycott of Celebrity Cruises after the cruise line aired a video ad called "Sail Beyond Borders."  

The video calls for cruisers to reject the divisive rhetoric associated with president-elect Donald Trump.

Truthfeed claims that the advertisement is "stunningly rude and inappropriate" and that "smug cruise line Celebrity snubs their snooty noses at Trump and his supporters." In an article which was published yesterday, Truthfeed calls on Trump supporters to boycott Celebrity Cruises. 

The ad states:

  • Far from the talk of building walls, 
  • Far from the threats of keeping people out,
  • Far from the rhetoric of fear, 
  • Is a world of differences,
  • Differences that expand and enrich us, 
  • Because, after all, our lives aren't made better when we close ourselves off to the world, 
  • They're made better when we open ourselves up to it.
  • Celebrity Cruises

The boycott movement was started by @MightyBusterBro on Twitter who, earlier this week, posted a mock ad he created on YouTube. The satire video (now removed from YouTube which you can see here) included text overlays stating that Trump supporters are not smart or liberal enough to enjoy Celebrity Cruises. 

As pointed out by Snopes, Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo denied that the ad, which was created before Trump was elected, was in response to the Trump campaign. The original ad contains no specific references to Trump or his supporters although the reference to building walls is obviously referring to him. 

Celebrity's original ad was heavily promoted on ABC and CNN during the presidential debates. Putting ideology aside, it seems risky to alienate tens of millions of potential customers by running a campaign which potentially offends half of the U.S. who supported the build-a-wall candidate. But CEO Lutoff-Perlo seems willing to have taken the risk. She told Skift in September that “I believe anybody that truly looks at this and says, ‘We’re not going to sail on Celebrity again,’ they’re probably not sailing on Celebrity. I hope I get more people than I lose."

Image credit: Truthfeed   

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China, China, China.

China CruiseEvery day it seems that there is an article about another cruise line expanding into China.

The Wall Street Journal just reported that cruise lines are posting some of the strongest earnings in history with profits this year for Carnival more than quadrupling. Earnings at Norwegian grew 26% and Royal Caribbean earnings rose 20%. Much of these profits are coming from China. The cruise lines are all charging premium fares for the China market.

The cruises lines are all mercenaries, selling their cabins to the highest bidder. Why sail from New York or Miami if the Chinese will pay 50% more for the Quantum? These flags of convenience have no loyalty to the U.S.

MSC announced that the Lirica will home port in Shanghai from May 2016. Princess is already over there, of course. Royal Caribbean seems to be taking the lead in China. Next year the Ovation of the Seas will be joining the Quantum of the Seas in China. together with the Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas.   

Carnival CEO Arnold Donald, whose cruise line is also making a play for China, and Adam Goldstein, COO at Royal Caribbean, are headlining the 10th China Cruise Shipping show in two weeks. 

All the cruise executives want to talk about is China.

China, China, China.

The China frenzy reminds me, in a way, of the Donald Trumph campaign.  He can't say a sentence without mentioning China. 

And yes, the Chinese are pretty weird passengers, as you can read here and here.