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Several news sources in Alaska are reporting that two seaplanes (a/k/a floatplanes) involved in an excursion from the Royal Princess cruise ship crashed this afternoon in an apparent mid-air collision near Ketchikan.

Initial reports indicate that three cruise passengers died in the crash. The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for three other people following the crash of the two planes in the George Inlet area. A total of 16 people were reportedly on the two planes, and 10 people are accounted for, according to the Anchorage Daily News. The article indicated that the guests involved came off the Royal Princess,  which left Vancouver on Saturday and is scheduled to return to Vancouver on May 25th after calling on several ports in Alaska.

Princess Cruises states that ten guests from the cruise ship and a pilot were in a floatplane operated by Taquan Air returning from a Misty Fjords tour. A second floatplane carrying four people from the ship on an independent tour was also involved in the accident. Ten patients were admitted to a hospital in Ketchikan.  According to its promotional information, Princess Cruises offers three floatplane excursions to its guests in Ketchikan:

  • KTN – 815 – A Discovery Exclusive – Misty Fjords Seaplane & Crab Feast;
  • KTN – 810 – Misty Fjords Wilderness Cruise & Flight; and
  • KTN – 800 – Misty Fjords National Monument by Seaplane (with Wilderness Landing).

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the accident.

Four years ago, in June of 2015,  eight Holland America Line (HAL) cruise passengers were killed when the sightseeing airplane they booked through HAL crashed near Ketchikan, Alaska. The pilot of the charter plane and all eight cruise passengers from HAL’s Westerdam died when the plane crashed about 20 miles northeast of Ketchikan. The aircraft reportedly hit the granite rock face of a southeast Alaska cliff. You can read the NTSB report regarding that accident here.

A cruise passenger, Kattey Ortiz, who was on another Princess Cruises ship in Ketchikan, recorded the message of the accident from the ship’s captain.

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May 15, 2019 Update: According to a news station in Alaska, a preliminary FAA report identifies the registered owner of the second seaplane involved in the collision (a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver) as Mountain Air Services LLC. Four Princess passengers were aboard this smaller seaplane operated by an independent tour operator.

May 16, 2019 Update: Profiles of the five cruise passengers and one of the pilots who were killed in the collision is detailed in this report from the Associated Press.

Photo credit: Princess Cruises – seaplane excursion.

A guest is reportedly missing from the M/S Amsterdam operated by Holland America Line (HAL).

The Amsterdam left Glengariff, Ireland yesterday evening, heading on a transatlantic cruise to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Earlier today, the captain of the ship made an announcement for the missing passenger.

A passenger on the ship is stating that a lady “either fell or jumped off the ship just off the coast of Ireland . . .  the ship just got cleared from any SAR. This happened around 130am local time to the ship.”

Rough seas! Woman missing (overboard?)! Captain Mercer turned Amsterdam around to look for her because no response…

Posted by Maria Luciano Hernandez on Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Captain Mercer just informed us that the search for our missing passenger, jointly conducted with the assistance of…

Posted by Maria Luciano Hernandez on Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The last person who went overboard from HAL’s Amsterdam was a 35 year-old Filipino crew member who disappeared in Alaskan waters in August of 2018.

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein. at least 338 people have gone overboard from cruise ships and ferries since 2000.

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Today, the Court presiding over the Carnival pollution case styled U.S. v. Princess Cruise Lines case no. 16-20897-SEITZ scheduled a status conference for May 24th at which time the Court will schedule the exact date, during the week of June 17, 2019, when the revocation hearing will begin.

The Court previously entered an order of probation after Carnival Corp. pleaded guilty to multiple felony counts of widespread pollution crimes, as well as conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Currently pending before the Court is the Office of Probation’s motion to revoke the cruise company’s probation.  Based on reports from the Court Appointed Monitor, outlining ongoing pollution by Carnival-owned cruise ships, the Court will decide next month whether Carnival broke the terms of the probation and what sanctions are appropriate.

The Court indicated that the parties should be prepared to address:a certain issues at the status conference:

  1. The number of witnesses each side intends to put on. who the witnesses are, and how long each one will take to testify;
  2. The number and nature of the exhibits each party intends to.use; and
  3. How long will be needed to complete the revocation hearing.

You can read the order scheduling the status conference here.

As reported by the Miami Herald, Carnival Corp. has continued to engage in a “pattern of illegal behavior” during its first of five years on probation. You can read the Court Appointed Monitor’s reports below:

Last month, Judge Seitz expressed her displeasure over Carnival’s continued pollution. She reprimanded Carnival Corp.’s chairman, Micky Arison, and its president Arnold Donald, stating that she regretted not being able to send the executives to a few days in detention. She stated that “the people at the top are treating this as a gnat. . . ”

Judge Seitz stated that she will rule next month on whether Carnival Corp.’s behavior warrants the revocation of its probation. She characterized her previous sanction of $40,000,000 as a “drop in the bucket.”  She also  threatened to block the company from docking its one hundred cruise ships at U.S. ports.

In an informal poll a week ago, two-thirds of those responding chose sanctions of $250,000,000 or more, or jail time for the executives, or both, to punish Carnival Corp. for its ongoing pollution and violation of its terms of probation. Carnival Corp. collected over $3,200,000,000 tax-free in 2018.

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

Photo credit: Carnival Headquarters Miami – Coolcaesar at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons/wikimedia; Princess Headquarters Santa Clarita – Coolcaesar – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons/wikimedia.

Yesterday, St. Lucia quarantined a cruise ship  after a case of measles was confirmed on board, according to NBC News and the Washington Post. The government of this Caribbean island stated that the ship was quarantined at the port with around 300 passengers and crew members not permitted to disembark. Measles of course is highly infectious.

Scientology Cruise Ship?

A Coast Guard official in the St. Lucian Coast Guard reportedly told NBC News that the cruise ship involved is the M/V Freewinds, which is owned and operated by the Church of Scientology.

But instead of publishing photos of the relatively small 40 year old Scientology ship (440 foot length, approximately 10,000 ton displacement), a number of major news sources, like BBC News, ABC News, the Independent and others, are publishing photos of large (1,000 length, over 100.000 tons) cruise ships operated by major cruise lines like Costa Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and Princess Cruises.

Captain L. Ron Hubbard?

We previously wrote about the Freewinds in 2011 when we discussed a weird and disturbing report that the Scientology organization allegedly held a young woman against her will on its cruise ship. It seems that the Scientology cult uses the cruise ship to teach specialized services in “advanced spiritual concepts” based on lectures that its leader L. Ron Hubbard gave in the 1960s.  Hubbard thought that the path to higher spirituality could be found in settings like cruise ships sailing to tranquil locations.  Hubbard was often photographed wearing a captain’s hat.

In 2008 asbestos was located on the ship and the cruise ship was declared a health hazard.  It was dubbed the Death Ship.

The Freewinds also came under criticism for discharging waste and polluting the waters of southern Caribbean islands.

Cruise Ship Measles Cases

This is not the first time that a case of measles was reported on a cruise ship.

In 2018,  a passenger on a NCL cruise ship (the Norwegian Jewel) visiting Alaska had the measles, according to health officials at the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, prompting concerns that other cruise passengers as well as air travelers may spread the virus.

In 2014, another NCL cruise ship, the Norwegian Pearl, had a confirmed case of measles by a crew member while the ship was cruising in Alaska.

2014 also saw the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero report a measles outbreak which occurred on the Costa Pacifica cruise ship.

A measles outbreak is very serious. There is a particular danger to women of childbearing age with measles. U.S. based cruise lines vaccinate for measles because the virus is so virulent.

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

Photo credits: Freewinds – Top – Roger Wollstadt – Flickr: Aruba – Freewinds, CC BY-SA 2.0, commons / wikimedia; Freewinds – Bottom – January 2019 in Aruba, moored next to Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas – photo credit – Holly via Facebook.


Today, the Federal District Court presiding over the pollution case against Princess Cruises ordered the public filing of several reports issued by the Court Appointed Monitor (“CAM”).  The Miami Herald, which previously filed a motion to intervene into this case, requested that the Court order that the CAM’s quarterly reports for the past year be filed in the public record of this case. (You can read the motion here.)

Background of Pollution Violations

After Princess pled guilty in December of 2016 to serious, widespread and long-term pollution crimes, as well as conspiracy and obstruction of justice, the Court ordered Princess and all Carnival Corp. owned and/or operated cruise ships sailing in the United States to comply with an Environmental Compliance Plan (“ECP”), undergo audits, and be subject to supervision by the CAM.

The CAM’s First Annual Report

The Court previously filed into the public record the CAM’s First Annual Report (2017-2018) which covered the first year of operations after Carnival’s ships were placed on probation.  Miami Herald reporters, Taylor Dolven and Caitlin Ostroff,  covered the First Annual Report in detail. You can read their summary here.

CAM’s Last Quarterly Report

The CAM’s last quarterly report (dated April 2019), which was filed into the public record today, provides details of the discharge of plastic waste from several cruise ships operated by Carnival Cruise Line, among other issues.  The government stated that Carnival Corp. “repeatedly” engaged in prohibited discharges, including the “knowing” illegal discharge of food contaminated with plastic waste and other non-food items.

According to the CAM report, last December an auditor sailing on the Carnival Elation observed food waste containers that “had other items such as plastic straws, plastic wrap, aluminum butter wrappers, wooden stir sticks and other miscellaneous items mixed in the food waste that was processed through the pulpers and into the food waste tanks, ready to be discharged while at sea.” This was confirmed with the environmental officer who agreed the food waste was not being segregated. However, the Carnival officer failed to take action and the food waste was discharged into the sea.

The auditors appended evidence to the Carnival Elation audit report, including the following photos (with their original captions):

The first two photographs are similar to the photograph (at bottom) of a “food waste chute” on a Carnival ship with clumps of food mixed with plastic, silverware and bottle caps. (The photo was sent to me by a Carnival employee who wishes to remain anonymous.)

The CAM explained that discharge of food waste contaminated with plastics and other non-food items is a violation of MARPOL which generally prohibits the discharge of all garbage, including all plastics, into the sea.

The CAM concluded that Carnival did not launch a full investigation into this discharge. After the auditor reported the illegal discharge, Carnival claimed that it implemented “corrective actions” and re-trained the individuals involved in the discharge incident, and it also allegedly re-trained the employees who are involved in food waste segregation throughout the Carnival fleet.

On February 21-22, 2019, the auditor performed a follow-up visit to the Carnival Elation to check on the “correction actions” and concluded that the Carnival ship “continues to have challenges sorting food and non-food waste.”

“Systematic” Pollution

The CAM reported that discharging food waste contaminated with plastic and other non-food items may represent a “systemic issue.” In prior audits, the auditor made similar findings regarding food waste mixed with plastic items on other ships:

  • Sea Princess (Dec. 19, 2017) – “it was witnessed that the Food Waste Chute had several unauthorized items in the food waste that is going down the chute and overboard, items such as plastic straws, corn on the cob holders, wooden stir sticks, plastic tea bag packages, and plastic knives. The unauthorized waste was not being segregated at the early stage of the collecting the food waste. This was noted during the galley inspection as it was found that there is plastic straws, paper, wood stir sticks and rubber bands in the pulpers.”
  • Ruby Princess (Feb. 15, 2018) – “auditor witnessed 55-gallon containers held several unauthorized items destined to go down the waste chute and overboard. These items were plastic straws, plastic corn on the cob holders, wooden stir sticks, toothpicks, wooden steak identifiers, paper, paper clips and aluminum foil wrappers. The unauthorized waste was not being segregated at the early stage of segregating the food waste.”
  • Carnival Dream (Aug. 24, 2018) – “in the marshalling area of the garbage handling space, it was found that disposal of food waste [sic] were several unauthorized items mixed in waste containers that were ready to be discharged down the chute and then overboard while at sea. These items are but not limited to: aluminum bottle caps, broken plastic cups, cotton swabs (Q‐tips), emery cloth, plastic straws, napkins, paper and umbrellas for drinks.”

“Non-Compliance By Carnival Corp.’s Highest Level of Management”

Putting the discharge of plastics from Carnival-owned ships aside for a moment, the CAM found even more serious violations of probation by Carnival’s upper management. The CAM concluded that:

“. . . the largest compliance challenge facing the Company comes not from the compliance issues on the ships, but from the actions, and failures to act, at the Company’s highest levels of management—the most obvious manifestation of which is the now years-long failure to comply with the condition of probation requiring the Company to provide the CCM (Corporate Compliance Manager) with actual authority over environmental compliance.”

I’ll discuss the evidence where the CAM implicates Carnival Corp.’s upper management tomorrow.

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

A “food waste chute” on a Carnival ship with clumps of food mixed with plastic, silverware and bottle caps.




Top photos: Court Appointed Monitor April 2, 2019 Report.

Bottom photo credit: Food waste chute, with clumps of food mixed with plastic, silverware and bottle caps, on a Carnival Cruise Line ship – anonymous Carnival crew member. The photo shows how food, plastic items and non-food waste are routinely mixed together and then thrown into the chute to be dumped into the water.

A newspaper in Massachusetts reports that a thirty two year-old man from Mississippi pled guilty to sexually abusing a 15 year-old boy on the Norwegian Dawn cruise ship. The passenger, identified as Adam Christopher Boyd, now age 32, had been arrested in Bermuda for the crime one and one-half years ago. He was extradicted back to the U.S. to face criminal charges.

Mr. Boyd was initially released after his arraignment in federal court in 2017, but was later arrested in Mississippi in November of 2018 and detained after he reportedly violated the conditions of his release.

The crime reportedly occurred during a NCL seven day cruise on August 14, 2017 while the cruise ship was docked in Bermuda, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston.

On August 30, 2017, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts filed criminal charges against Mr. Boyd who was reportedly from Bay Springs, Mississippi.

The federal court filing in federal court in Boston indicates that the United States charged Mr. Boyd with one count of sexual abuse of a minor. According to an affidavit from a FBI agent in support of the criminal charges and arrest warrant, the Norwegian Dawn arrived at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda on August 13, 2017 where it was scheduled to spend three days before returning to Boston.

The FBI affidavit states that before the rape, the 15-year-old boy was drinking alcohol on deck 13 of the ship with other passengers who he met during the cruise.  Mr. Boyd met the child and informed him that he was an hairdresser and offered to braid the child’s hair. Mr. Boyd reportedly asked the child his age and the boy said he was 15-years-old. The FBI reportedly later interviewed another passenger who stated that Mr. Boyd asked him if the boy was really just 15-years-old, and the passenger confirmed that the minor was, in fact, 15-years-old and not 18 as Mr. Boyd later claimed.

According to the court filings, Mr. Boyd volunteered to escort the boy back to his cabin and offered the boy to stay in Mr. Boyd’s cabin which the child declined. The ship’s surveillance footage reportedly showed Mr. Boyd and the boy leaving deck 13 early in the morning of August 14th; another passenger verified that the boy appeared to be intoxicated at the time. When they reached a secluded area of deck 14, Mr. Boyd kissed the child and put his hands down the minor’s pants and felt his genitals, following which he anally raped the boy, according to the affidavit.  After the incident, the minor told a group of other teenagers who he previously met during the cruise, that he had been sexually assaulted. He also he told the police in Bermuda, who later came onto the ship to investigate the incident, that he had been “raped.”

The court filing further indicates that other passengers stated that later that morning they saw the boy sitting by himself on deck 13, appearing upset and crying.  The child eventually returned to his cabin and reported the sexual assault to his family who alerted the ship’s security personnel who, in turn, notified the police in Bermuda. The local police took the child to a hospital where a rape kit was administered. The police arrested Mr. Boyd who denied that penetrated the child.

The FBI agent, who prepared the affidavit, stated that she believed that there was probable cause that Mr. Boyd violated Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 2243(a) which defines sexual abuse as knowingly engaging or attempting to engage in a sexual act with a minor who has not attained the age of 16 and is four years or more younger than the assailant. The sexual abuse of a minor carries a jail sentence of five to fifteen years and a fine of up to $250,000.

Sexual assaults of minors on cruise ships is an issue which I write about often; NBC News recently aired an investigation into the sexual assault of minors on cruise ships – NBC News: Hidden Dangers for Children on Cruise Ships. We have written about boys as well as girls being victimized during cruises, not only by crew members but by other adult passengers. Cruise lines are in the business of selling carefree, dream vacations to idyllic destinations; the cruise industry will never warn passengers of the dangers of their children encountering predator crew members or pedophile passengers.

The U.S. government has jurisdiction to prosecute cases of rape on cruise ships when a U.S. citizen is involved, as either the victim or the assailant.  The criminal charge in federal court in a case of rape of a child is characterized as the “sexual abuse” of a minor; there are no criminal federal statutes for “rape” or “sexual assault.”

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

Update: The Miami New Times today reported on the filing of a lawsuit by the parents of an eleven year-old girl who was sexually assaulted by a 27 year-old NCL crew member who entered the child’s cabin using a master key card,

Top photo credit: Rap Sheets – of Adam Boyd for arrest on charges of driving under the influence in Mississippi in August 2015.

Middle photo credit: Norwegian Dawn – Fletcher6 – CC BY 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

About two weeks ago, I posted the following question on our Cruise Law News Facebook page and received comments (and replies) from 364 people.

What do you believe is an appropriate sanction against Carnival Corp. for violating probation for pollution?

A. Imprison Carnival’s senior executives.
B. Bar Carnival Corp’s ships from U.S. ports.
C. A substantial fine ($250,000,000).
D. Another modest fine ($40,000,000).
E. An admonishment.
F.  Nothing, Carnival learned its lesson.
G. Nothing, Carnival did nothing wrong.

What do you believe is an appropriate sanction against Carnival Corp. for violating probation for pollution?A. …

Posted by Cruise Law News on Friday, April 19, 2019

Eighty-eight percent (88%) of those responding to this admittedly unscientific poll felt that Carnival Corp. deserved sanctions of some type.

The most popular choice was “C,” with over thirty-six percent (36%) of those selecting a “substantial fine ($250,000,000).” The next most popular choice was “A,” with over thirty-one percent (31%) selecting “imprison Carnival’s senior executives.”

The third choice of those participating was “B” – “bar Carnival Corp’s ships from U.S. ports,” which was supported by only fifteen percent (15%) of people responding. The most common explanation for those disapproving a fleet-wide ban of Carnival Corp. ships from U.S. ports was that this would hurt crew members, vendors and people associated with the ports.

Less than five percent (5%) chose a fine of  $40,000,000 (the amount of the last fine against Carnival Corp.) which was recently characterized as just a “drop in the bucket” by Judge Patricia Seitz, who is presiding over the Department of Justice’s case against Princess.  She entered this rather nominal financial penalty two years ago after Princess and Carnival Corp. entered guilty pleas for widespread pollution, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

Considering that Carnival Corp. collected profits of $3,200,000,000 last year, a fine of 40 million dollars is only 0.0125 of its enormous profits in 2018. As the Tribune newspaper wrote yesterday, “the only thing these cruise giants care about is the profits they generate. Carnival is no different . . .”

No one favored just an “admonishment.”

Only one person chose “F” – “nothing, Carnival learned its lesson.”

Of the few people selecting “G” – “nothing, Carnival did nothing wrong,” several were current or former Carnival employees.

Of those who decided that no sanctions were appropriate, many commented that “all cruise lines pollute, but only Carnival got caught.” The most popular comment for those not wanting Carnival to be sanctioned is “Carnival will simply pass along to the customer any monetary fines with the result that cruising will become more expensive.”  An equal number of those responding commented that the solution is to boycott Carnival or to stop cruising entirely.

Although there is no evidence that Carnival owned cruise ships are still dumping oil via secret “magic pipes” (which it pled guilty to involving a number of Princess Cruises ships for nearly a decade), the Court was presented with evidence that it is still illegally discharging sewage, chemicals, and plastics. The Court Appointed Monitor’s Report for Carnival Corp.’s first year of pollution was recently made public (which you can read here) and details the extent of Carnival’s ongoing pollution. The report reveals, among other environmental crimes, that:

  • The Carnival Corp. owned Westerdam, operated by Holland America Line,  illegally dumped 26,000 gallons of gray water into Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska in September of  2018 and thereafter failed to immediately report the discharge;
  • “Between June 4-27, 2017, the Carnival Elation discharged approximately 1,270 of treated sewage and 22 cubic meters of food waste and plastic in Bahamian Archipelagic waters in violation of MARPOL . . . “
  • “. . .  on June 15, 2017,  the Carnival Conquest, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Magic, and Carnival Vista made prohibited discharges of sewage and food waste and plastics in Bahamian Archipelagic waters.”
  • “. . . on November 27, 2017, the Carnival Vista discharged cleaning chemicals in Bahamian Archipelagic waters . . .”
  • In July of 2017, the Carnival Pride dumped 15 pounds of food waste into Half Moon Cay;
  • In November 2018  the Carnival Conquest unlawfully discharged approximately 66,000 gallons of ballast water in the waters of the Bahamas.

The report also reveals that Carnival owned ships discharged plastic and other non-food items overboard, often in Bahamian waters. These governmental filings state that the items included “plastic straws, plastic knives, rubber bands, plastic corn on the cob holders, broken plastic cups, paper clips, aluminum bottle caps, aluminum foil wrappers,” and other items. The Government states that these discharges were intentional in nature and believes that Carnival Corp.’s problems remain “ongoing” and “systemic” in nature.

With two-thirds of those responding choosing sanctions of $250,000,000 or more, or jail time for the executives,  or both, there appears to be consensus that without a serious sanction, Carnival-owned and operated ships will keep polluting.

Popular comments to this poll include:

“A – unless people who make the decisions are made accountable they will continue to flout the law.”

“I’d also prefer the exec’s be sent to a few months of community service – cleaning oceans, picking up beaches, working as relief worker etc. Jailing would do nothing, but making them see and work to clean up the pollution created would be way more impactful.”

“A, plus a ban from Glacier Bay National Park … + mandatory permanent federal Ocean Rangers on all ships calling at any US Ports with cruise line picking up 100% costs and rigid program to ensure Ocean Rangers aren’t co-opted or otherwise compromised by cruise lines.”

“B – Carnival Corp could pay the penalty without a problem. So, the best way for they to learn is not letting then sail from any U.S. port. We only have one planet and those people just are focusing on make money and destroying the only planet that we have.”

“Well to be honest whatever the outcome is Carnival will pass if off to us customers just another reason for them to nickel and dime us again.”

“C- what is done for the money, must be paid with the money.”

“Carnival had a profit of $3.2 billion last year, so a 10% fine would be $320 million . . . The $250 million is nothing for them! Maybe both the 250 million and 40 million might be something! But then they will inflate cruise prices!”

“If Carnival had a $3.2 billion profit last year give them a fine of $575 million this should put a dent in their pockets. If it happen again $600 million fine and not let them do business in the US for about 1 yr.”

“C – Fines should be paid by each executive out of their own pocket.”

“They need to know this is serious business enough to make changes. A huge fine will be the initial sting, temporarily barring them from US ports will be the bite that sends them scrambling, and execs going to jail will be what makes them take it seriously from now on.”

You can read all of the comments here.

Judge Seitz will conduct a revocation hearing at a date in June when she will decide what if any sanctions she will impose. The parties recently communicated their availability to the Court for a 3-4 day hearing during the week of  Monday June 17, 2019.

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

Photo credit: Carnival Corp. Twitter page.



newspaper in the Bahamas recently covered the news regarding Miami federal district judge Patricia Seitz threatening to temporarily ban Carnival-owned cruise ships from calling on U.S. ports.

The Tribune newspaper in Nassau points out that Carnival is building what it describes as a $100-million mega cruise port in Grand Bahama, and the company “promised it would not hurt the island’s fragile environment.” Carnival is reportedly leasing 329 acres of Bahamian land in an area known as Sharp Rock in East Grand Bahama, which the newspaper describes as an “eco-sensitive zone.” The Tribune writes that Carnival executive Giora Israel (Carnival Corp.’s Senior Vice President of Global Port & Destination Development) said the company is allegedly “big on protecting the environment.” She promised that “Carnival would not harm the environment during the construction phase, and would preserve 110 acres as a natural wetland.”

The Bahamian newspaper raised the issue, in so many words, whether Carnival can be trusted at this point? The newspaper discussed several examples of Carnival’s recent environmental crimes, including dumping gray water into Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park.  This involved the Carnival owned Westerdam, operated by Holland America Line, which illegally dumped 26,000 gallons of gray water into Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska in September of  2018 and thereafter failed to immediately report the discharge.

While the Bahamian newspaper refers to the fouling of the pristine waters of Alaska, amazingly it does not mention the fact that Carnival was also polluting the beautiful waters of the Bahamas.

As the Miami Herald reported yesterday, cruise ships owned by Carnival Corporation illegally dumped more than 500,000 gallons of treated sewage and 11,000 gallons of food waste mixed with plastics, aluminum and other physical objects into the ocean during its first year on probation. The majority of the illegal dumping took place in the waters of the Bahamas.

The Tribune vaguely refers to the Carnival Elation which was discharging plastics and other non-food items overboard in December of 2018.  Although the reports submitted by the parties do not mention the location of this illegal discharge, the fact of the matter is that the Carnival Elation was regularly sailing from Jacksonville to numerous locations in the Bahamas, including Nassau, Freeport and Princess Cay in December of 2018. It continues to do so today.

As covered by my previous article, Carnival pled guilty to pollution and is currently being monitored by a Third Party Auditor (TPA) which submits reports to the Court.

The Government’s Quarterly Status Report, dated April 8, 2019, stresses that the Carnival Elation “knowingly and deliberately” discharged plastic items from the ship, which it characterized as “one of the most significant violations of probation.”  It constitutes a violation of MARPOL Annex V and potential felony violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.  The government auditor on the Elation informed the Carnival environmental officer that “plastic and other non-food items were mixed with the vessel’s food waste and that the garbage was not being properly segregated.” However, Carnival reportedly took no remedial measures and subsequently discharged the waste with the knowledge that it contained plastic waste. (This is undisputed by Carnival).

The Government explained to the Court that plastic pollution is likely the “most widespread pollution event adversely impacting the marine environment. The adverse impact is extensive and tragic. Virtually all species of marine wildlife, many of which are threatened or endangered, including seabirds, cetaceans (e.g., whales and dolphins), and sea turtles ingest plastic and then die of starvation because it clogs their stomachs. Plastic pollution in the ocean is of epidemic proportion and has the potential to threaten the health of the oceans, coral reefs, food safety and tourism.”

The photograph above to the left shows a “food waste chute” on a Carnival ship with clumps of food mixed with plastic, silverware and bottle caps. The photo was sent to this office by a Carnival crew member who wishes to remain anonymous. The photo shows how food and non-food items are routinely mixed together and then thrown into the chute to be dumped into the water.

The Government also referred to several other Carnival owned ships which discharged plastic and other non-food items overboard. These governmental filings state that the items included “plastic straws, plastic knives, rubber bands, plastic corn on the cob holders, broken plastic cups, paper clips, aluminum bottle caps, aluminum foil wrappers,” and other items. The Government believes that Carnival’s problems remain “ongoing” and “systemic” in nature.

The filings by Princess and the Court Appointed Monitor (CAM) also discussed another incident in November 2018 when the Carnival Conquest unlawfully discharged approximately 66,000 gallons of ballast water in the waters of the Bahamas.  (It does not appear that the Bahamian newspaper realized that this also took place in the Bahamas). In this incident, a Carnival bridge officer reportedly offered to fabricate documents in order to cover up the illegality of the discharge by changing the time and location, so that it would appear to have been in an area where such discharges were allowed. The CAM informed the Court that the unlawful discharge occurred in “a prohibited area where the defendant has previously made other illegal discharges from multiple vessels.”

CAM’s First Annual Report includes other references to illegal discharges in Bahamian waters:

  • “Between June 4-27, 2017, the Carnival Elation discharged approximately 1,270 of treated sewage and 22 cubic meters of food waste in Bahamian Archipelagic waters in violation of MARPOL . . . “
  • “. . .  on June 15, 2017,  the Carnival Conquest, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Magic, and Carnival Vista made prohibited discharges of sewage and food waste in Bahamian Archipelagic waters.”
  • “. . . on November 27, 2017, the Carnival Vista discharged cleaning chemicals in Bahamian Archipelagic waters . . .”

The Court so far has permitted the filing of only CAM’s report regarding Carnival’s first year of pollution. The 2018-2019 report undoubtedly shows additional illegal discharges and pollution violations.

The Bahamas is a flag state where many hundreds of cruise ships are registered. The majority of cruise ships owned by Royal Caribbean fly the flag of the Bahamas in order to avoid U.S. income taxes as well as wage/labor law and safety regulations of the U.S.  The Bahamas essentially has no mechanism to enforce international pollution laws when ships flying the flag of the Bahamas pollute the waters of the Bahamas. Carnival flags at least five of its ships in the Bahamas, including the Carnival Fascination, Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Sensation and Carnival Triumph. (The majority of the Carnival owned ship such as the Carnival Elation and the Carnival Conquest mentioned above are registered in Panama, so that Carnival can avoid U.S. taxes, labor laws and safety regulations. Like the Bahamas, Panama has little interest in enforcing international pollution regulations such as MARPOL).

As Carnival continues to develop the cruise port in Grand Bahama, the Bahamas should realize that it is dealing with what the federal district judge in Miami presiding over the pollution case called a “recidivist criminal” which has engaged in world-wide pollution and repeatedly lied about it.

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First Annual Report of the Court Appointed Monitor (2017-2018) – covering the first year of operations after Carnival was placed on probation.

Miami Herald Media Company’s Motion to Intervene and To Request Filing of Quarterly Reports for Period.

The Miami Herald reporters, Taylor Dolven and Caitlin Ostroff, who are covering this issue analyzed numerous incidents during Carnival’s first year of probation after its 2016 conviction for dumping oily waste in the ocean. You can read their summary here.

April 22, 2019 Update: The Tribune newspaper in Nassau covered Carnival’s dumping in the Bahamas in Carnival’s Catalogue Of Ocean Dumpings.

April 23, 2019 Update: The Nassau Tribune covered the story: Carnival Dumped Sewage at Sea.

April 24, 2019 Update: (Bahamian Tourism Minister) Nassau Guardian: D’Aguilar: New laws possible for cruise waste dumping.

Tribune: Give Us Answers: Carnival Facing Grilling On Shock Ocean Dumping.

Photo credit: Food waste chute on Carnival Cruise Line ship – anonymous crew member.

The was a fire yesterday on the Emerald Princess shortly after it was floated out of drydock in Victoria, according to a crew member who wishes to remain anonymous.

The fire reportedly occurred on deck 3 aft, while the ship was loading lifeboats from drydock in Victoria. The situation was described as “very hectic because many crew members were on the lifeboat loading team and were not available to be on the fire team to fight the fire.”  The crew fought the fire from deck 4. The ship just floated out of drydock in Victoria, Canada. After one hour the alarm was called off.  The fire was caused from a de-humidifier inside the bulk head in the dry storage.  The crew member stated that “I passed by deck 4 and there was heavy smoke in the air and fire teams cleaning up.” There apparently was no-hi fog fire suppression system at this location and the crew fought the fire with water.

“I give credits to all involved because there was so much happening at the time with the the float out of drydock. The ship’s officers and crew kept everything in order.”

The Emerald Princess is scheduled to leave Vancouver today at 5:00 P.M. and, after a three-night Pacific Coast Cruise, will arrive in Los Angeles, California on the morning of Thursday, April 18th.

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Update: The crew member commented on the fact that not all of the lifeboats had been loaded back on the Emerald Princess when the fire broke out:

“When a ship goes into dry dock the lifeboats are lowered and stored dockside for repairs. When  the ship is floated out there is no space in the Victoria dry dock to load the lifeboats before sailing out. The ship must leave the dock area and load the lifeboats in the bay area. In our case they just started the loading when the fire broke out. Imagine looking out to see the lifeboats floating around the ship as we were on fire. It’s a very organised job getting the lifeboats raised back up. Having a fire at the same time just made things very difficult.”

Another crew member who also requested to remain anonymous added:

” . . . the fire was very small, but due to the nature (electrical fire) produced lots of smoke, fire was extinguished quickly with CO2 extinguisher. Situation was never hectic and fire team worked very well, the few people missing for life boat operators were not needed at the moment as the technical fire team knew it better the location and how to access and they dealt with the situation smoothly and effectively . . . “
Photo credit: Bahnfrend – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons/wikimedia.

Calling Carnival Corporation a “criminal defendant,” United States Federal District Judge Patricia Seitz threatened to send the  “members of Carnival’s executive committee” to a “detention center for a couple of days” for violation of the terms of its probation for environmental crimes, according to the Miami Herald.  The newspaper also reported that the Court at a hearing yesterday threatened to temporarily block cruise ships operated by Carnival Corporation from calling on U.S. ports.

In December of 2016, Judge Seitz placed Carnival Corporation on probation and fined it a record $40,000,000 for widespread pollution and obstruction of justice. Carnival has a long history of getting caught committing environmental crimes dating back to 2002 when it pled guilty to numerous felonies for discharging oily waste into the sea. The U.S. Government leveled a $18,000,000 fine and placed Carnival on probation back at that time.  In both 2002 and 2016, Carnival pled guilty of routinely falsifying its oil record books in order to conceal its illegal discharge of oil into the seas.

As part of the felony plea agreement in 2016, cruise ships from eight Carnival cruise line companies (Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line N.V., Seabourn Cruise Line Ltd. and AIDA Cruises) were placed under a court supervised Environmental Compliance Program (ECP) for five years. An outside entity and a court appointed monitor independently audited the ECP.

The Miami Herald reported that “court filings showed that Carnival Corp. and its subsidiary cruise lines have sought to avoid unfavorable findings by preparing ships in advance of court-ordered audits, falsified records, dumped plastic garbage into the ocean and illegally discharged gray water into Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. The company also has tried to lobby the U.S. Coast Guard through a back channel to change the terms of the settlement, prosecutors allege. The company has acknowledged these incidents.”

On March 8, 2019, the Office of Probation filed a motion to revoke probation on the grounds that the cruise corporation implemented a “brazen and secret” scheme to send “SWAT teams” to the cruise ships to “scrub” them before the third party auditors performed their compliance inspections. These illegal pre-audit programs were carried out to avoid adverse audits findings and violations of probation, even after the Court ordered them to stop. Emails between HAL and Princess revealed that even though the Carnival subsidiaries knew that the Department of Justice prohibited them from conducting “Pre-TPA audit ship visits,” they continued doing so, in criminal contempt of Court. They even called them “Environmental Excellence Program Visits.”

The government also brought to the Court’s attention that the cruise corporation continued to fail to establish a senior corporate officer with authority and responsibility for environmental compliance as required by the environmental compliance plan.

A third grounds for revoking probation was that Carnival-owned ships falsified training records aboard the Diamond Princess and the Costa Luninosa. The government also informed the Court that the following ships violated environmental laws while Carnival Corporation was under court-supervised probation:

  • Princess’ Sun Princess – an engineer falsified maintenance records in June 2017;
  • HAL’s Nieuw Amsterdam had been continuously discharging gray water for several years in Alaska (as of June 2017) and knowingly failed to notify the state of Alaska;
  • Carnival Valor – engineering team falsified an oil record book regarding the oily water separator system in October 2017;
  • HAL’s Westerdam – a second engineer falsified maintenance records involving the oil content monitoring system in September 2018;
  • Holland America’s Westerdam – illegally dumped 26,000 gallons of gray water into Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska on September 11, 2018;
  • Carnival Conquest illegally dumped 66,000 gallons of ballast water in November 2018 (in Bahamian archipelagic waters where Carnival ships previously made other unlawful discharges); the ship’s engineer offered to falsify records to make it look like the dump happened at open sea; and
  • Princess’ Sea Princess (December 2017) and Ruby Princess (February 2018), Carnival Dream (August 2018), and Carnival Elation (December 2018) dumped plastic overboard.

The government informed Judge Seitz that, regarding the Carnival Elation, Carnival knowingly and deliberately discharged plastic which was a significant violation of probation.

Regarding the Sea Princess, the auditor witnessed that the “food waste chute had several unauthorized items in the food waste that is going down the chute and overboard, items such as plastic straws, corn on the cob holders, wooden stir sticks, plastic tea bag packages, and plastic knives. The unauthorized waste was not being segregated at the early stage of the collecting the food waste. This was noted during the galley inspection as it was found that there is plastic straws, paper, wood stir sticks and rubber bands in the pulpers.”

Regarding the Ruby Princess, a compliance auditor “witnessed 55-gallon containers (which) held several unauthorized items destined to go down the waste chute and overboard. These items were plastic straws, plastic corn on the cob holders, wooden stir sticks, toothpicks, wooden steak identifiers, paper, paper clips and aluminum foil wrappers.”

Regarding the Carnival Dream, the auditor noted that the following items were “ready to be discharged down the chute and then overboard while at sea.  These items are but not limited to: aluminum bottle caps, broken plastic cups, cotton swabs (Q-tips), emery cloth, plastic straws, napkins, paper and umbrellas for drinks.”

Last year, we reported that four Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ships and two Princess Cruises ships violated Alaska’s air quality standards throughout the cruise season’s summer months (June-August) in Alaska.  The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) cited HAL’s Eurodam, Westerdam, Amsterdam, and Nieuw Amsterdam and Princess’ Emerald Princess and Golden Princess.  The DEC also found that nine cruise ships operated by Carnival Corp. brands violated Alaska’s water quality standards. Five Princess cruise ships violated water quality standards, including the Emerald Princess, Island Princess, Golden Princess, Ruby Princess and Star Princess. The DEC also issued wastewater discharge violations to HAL’s Eurodam, Noordam, and Voledam, as well as Seabourn Cruise Line’s Sojourn.

We reported that Princess Cruises’ Star Princess discharged sludge from its exhaust system scrubbers last year in the port of Ketchikan, as originally reported by  KRBD Community Radio.  Princess denied the reports, claiming that “our experts believe what was viewed and photographed is most likely sea foam discolored by natural microorganisms such as algae in the seawater, which is commonly experienced in northern climates in the summer season.”

I wrote last fall that the air and water violations by HAL and Princess Cruises appeared to be in direct violation of the guilty plea agreement where Carnival Corp. promised not to commit further violations of international, federal, state, and local environmental laws. (There is no indication that these air or water violations in Alaska or the scrubber discharges were brought to the Court’s attention).

Judge Seitz stated at the hearing yesterday, according to the Miami Herald, that Carnival “right now it is a criminal defendant and this is not the first time nor is it the second time.” The Court characterized the last fine ($40,000,000) to be a “drop in the bucket.”

The Court ordered the parties to confer and file, by April 22, 2019, agreed dates to appear at a “Revocation Hearing” (to be held by June 24, 2019) at which time the Court will decide whether Carnival violated the terms of  its probation and how it should be further punished. The Court suggested that Carnival’s chairman, Micky Arison, and president, Donald Arnold, as well as Holland America executives Stein Kruse, Keith Taylor and retired Rear Admiral Joseph Servidio and Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy attend the June hearing.

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Photo credit: Middle – Carnival Dream – Longbowe at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons/wikimedia; bottom – scrubber sludge – Star Princess – City of Ketchikan.