On June 30th, Princess Cruises celebrated the Majestic Princess’s maiden cruise to Taiwan by releasing hundreds of red, blue, yellow, and pink balloons from the ship, which it photographed and posted on its Facebook page.
The reaction to this environmentally-harmful publicity stunt was immediate. At the time of publishing this article, there were over 900 comments posted on Facebook with the vast majority criticizing the cruise line’s conduct:
Disgraceful and irresponsible behavior from Princess Cruises with this mass balloon release . . . These balloons will end up choking wildlife in the marine environment . . .
Stop littering the precious ocean with plastic from your marketing stunts . . .
Shame on you, Princess cruises for releasing HUNDREDS of balloons from your ship. You should know that this causes death to wildlife in the oceans . . .
This makes me really sad. Those balloons will eventually come down into our oceans. Marine species mistake them as food and consume them. It kills them, and adds to the microplastic crisis and contaminates our seafood. Seriously who was the idiot who decided a balloon release was a good idea? And further, who approved it?
Princess Cruises auto-responded to the hundreds of comments protesting the balloon release by falsely claiming that the balloons were allegedly "biodegradable:"
Hi, we value and respect the environment. Only eco-friendly biodegradable balloons were used in this event.
Of course, vinyl balloons are not remotely biodegradable, as many knowledgeable cruisers explained on the Princess Facebook page. Studies posted by concerned readers conclude that it takes as long as five years before the balloon actually begins to fall apart. But then the smaller parts are consumed by fish, turtles and mammals, as one commentator pointed out:
Princess Cruises, do you really understand what you said? Balloons don’t disintegrate when they hit water or land. Sea life and wildlife ingest them as food. The only biodegradable thing about them is when they rot in the stomach of dead animals. Please educate yourselves. I am shocked to see an enterprise that depends on the oceans for their revenue destroy it like this. Deplorable really!
Many of the hundreds of negative comments were left by people offended that Princess would try and defend the harmful publicity stunt.
This is a cruise line which has earned a reputation over the years as an enemy of the environment. Last December, the U.S. Department of Justice fined Princess $40,000,000 for wide-spread dumping of oil from a number of its cruise ships, by-passing the bilge-water oil separators, falsification of its logs, and lying to the Coast Guard. After it was caught for its long standing environmental crimes, Princess president Jan Swartz issued a public apology, saying that the cruise line was supposedly "committed to environmental practices that protect the marine environment."
Unfortunately, Princess Cruises’ statement that it released so-called "eco-friendly" balloons suggests that Princess still hasn’t learned much about protecting the marine environment.
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Top – Princess Cruises Facebook page.
Bottom – BalloonsBlow.org