This is reason no. 3 in the series: Top 10 Reasons Not To Cruise
In law school, I learned that evidence of a felony or a crime involving dishonesty can be introduced at trial to be considered by the jury to assess a person’s credibility. The same rule of evidence applies equally to corporations, like cruise lines.
Would you do business with someone who committed repeated crimes involving dishonesty? If you have taken a cruise, chances are that you have already done business with a corporate felon.
In 1999, Royal Caribbean pled guilty in six jurisdictions to charges of wide-spread fleet-wide practices of routinely discharging oil-contaminated wastes and pollutants (including in Alaska’s Inside Passage), and repeatedly making false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard. The illegal discharges and falsification of log books took place on Royal Caribbean cruise ships entering ports in Miami, New York City, Los Angeles, Anchorage, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The U.S. leveled the felony charges not just because of the repeated and massive scale of the dumping of pollutants but because the cruise line continued to lie. U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno stated at a press conference:
. . . at the same time that their ships were sailing into the inland passage of Alaska, one of the most sensitive and beautiful eco-systems in our nation, their crew members were wearing buttons that said, ‘Save the Waves.’ That’s what they were wearing above deck. Below deck, business as usual was going on and oily contaminated bilge water was being dumped overboard . . .
Attorney General Reno was rightfully pissed: " . . . if people flim-flam us, they should expect the consequences . . ." When the sentencing was over, the U.S. Government fined Royal Caribbean a total of $27,000,000 and placed the cruise line on probation for five years.
When this occurred, the "inside word" in Miami was that all of the other cruise lines were dumping pollutants and lying about it, but only Royal Caribbean got caught.
In 2002, the U.S. Government caught up with Carnival as well.
By the time the investigation was over, Carnival pled guilty to numerous felonies for discharging oily waste into the sea. Like Royal Caribbean, Carnival routinely falsified its oil record books in order to conceal its illegal practices. The U.S. Government leveled a $18,000,000 fine and placed Carnival on probation.
A few months later, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) – feeling the heat – stepped forward and pled guilty to a felony of routinely circumventing the oily water separator, dumping oily bilge directly into the ocean on a regular basis, and falsifying its record keeping. NCL admitted that it engaged in a practice of "systematically lying to the United States Coast Guard over a period of years."
The Department of Justice issued a fine of only $1,500,000, primarily because NCL admitted its wrongdoing rather than lying and scheming like Royal Caribbean and Carnival.
Since these incidents, all of these cruise lines and their subsidiaries have been caught dumping illegal levels of pollutants in violation of state laws or memorandum of understandings with states like California. Carnival’s subsidiary Princess Cruises is the most prolific violator of Alaska’s wastewater regulations over the course of the last year.
The U.S. public has a choice where to go on vacation. For example, the United States has an incredible number of beautiful National Parks to visit. The parks are staffed by environmentalists dedicated to protecting the park’s animals, birds, waters and land. Why not give a National Park a try this summer?
But cruising? Do you really want to hand your hard earned income over to admitted corporate felons, which are registered in foreign countries in order to avoid U.S. taxes, and which are continuing to pollute our waters?
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