The headline in the Asbury Park Press stunned me – "Crystal: A luxury cruise line with a conscience."
Surely this must be a joke I thought, given Crystal’s dreadful environmental record of polluting the oceans and air.
But the article was serious. it talked about Crystal donating used furniture to a "Spanish organization that supports recovering addicts." It mentioned that it turned the guests’ used toiletries into soap for "800 impoverished families" over three years. It "contributed goods to charities in Africa."
The article also mentioned that Crystal is refurbishing the staterooms aboard the Serenity later this year to install purification equipment, "creating the industry’s first hypoallergenic cabins for passengers with allergies and/or respiratory ills."
But neither the Serenity nor the Symphony have installed advanced sewage treatment systems, resulting in a grade of "F" for the company’s zero percent sewage treatment score. The Crystal cruise ships also burn dirty fuel, including burning cancer-causing sulphur fuel in port because Crystal has not invested in shore-side power hook-ups. Friends of the Earth has consistently awarded Crystal "F’s" in how this cruise line treats the water and air.
In the eyes of environmentalists, Crystal is best known for an incident in 2003 when a Crystal ship dumped around 35,000 gallons of grey water, sewage, and bilge water in a marine sanctuary in Monterey Bay. It had promised earlier not to foul the marine sanctuary’s waters.
According to the L.A. Times, Crystal Cruises said didn’t have to report the incident to authorities because it broke no laws. It is "perfectly legal" under maritime laws to discharge even untreated wastewater more than 12 miles offshore, and the ship was 14 miles offshore at the time, said Crystal spokeswoman Mimi Weisband.
"We didn’t break any law," Weisband said. "We did break a promise."
The city of Monterey thereafter banned all Crystal cruise ships for life.
When the Friends of the Earth gave Crystal Cruises an "F," Cruise spokesperson Weisband responded by saying that Crystal Cruises "deserved an A … if not an A+."
The elite Conde Nast Traveler cruisers may consistently vote Crystal the "world’s best cruise line," but its the one cruise line that has never exhibited an environmental conscience.
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