Today a resident of Alaska notified me that there are videos posted on Facebook showing the M/S Eurodam continuing to proceed toward a group of whales feeding in the water ahead of it as the Holland America Cruise Ship (HAL) cruise ship headed toward Juneau.

A smaller vessel reportedly radioed the bridge of the Eurodam and notified the cruise ship that it was “on course to run right through a group of humpback whales feeding!” The posting states that the “Eurodam decided not to take our warnings. . . ”

The video, filmed by Brent Kidd Palmer, shows the Eurodam sailing toward what is described as a herd of whales in front of it. The narration states that the Eurodam twice disregarded the radio warnings even though the cruise ship was reportedly one mile away from the whales. 

The Marine Mammal Protection Act requires vessels to remain away from whales at a distance of at least 100 yards – the length of a football field (unless other species-specific rules apply, such as 100 yards away from humpback whales, 200 yards from killer whales in Washington State inland waters, and 500 yards away from North Atlantic right whales anywhere in the U.S.).

In the video below, you can see the air from the blowholes of several humpback whales spraying water into the air as the HAL ship sailed closely by. The Captain apparently did not change course or slow down. There were reportedly a number of passengers at their cabin windows, as if there may have been an announcement of the presence of the humpback whales.

Make this visible! Holland America Line after we radioed them to let them know they were on course to run right through a group of humpback whales feeding! Absolute disregard for the marine mammals protection act ! Or the safety and well being of the whales ! We recorded ya hailing them to tell them there were whales directly ahead the #Eurodam decided not to take our warnings knowing what these boats draft ! #marinemammalrescue #cruiseshipspotting #hollandamerica #hollandamericacruise #mmp #savethewhales🐳 #protecttheocean #protecttheearth #saveourplanet #makehollandamericafamous

Posted by Kiara O'Reilly Jones on Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The federal protection statutes require vessel operators to put the vessel’s engine in neutral once they become aware of the presence of whales in order to avoid injury to the mammals.

There have been a number of cruise ships which have struck whales and arrived at port with the whales impaled on the bulbous bow of the ship. You can read about an example here. The Grand Princess struck a humpback whale in Alaska two years ago.

Holland America’s Zaandam struck an endangered fin whale in 2016 and carried the dead whale into port in Seward on its bulbous bow.

In one of the most graphic photographs of a cruise ship / whale strike (right), in 2009 the Princess Cruises’ Sapphire Princess arrived in port in Vancouver, allegedly unaware that the cruise ship impaled a fin whale on the ship’s bow while in Alaskan waters. The whale was a female fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus). Princess claimed that the whale was already dead when the cruise ship hit her, a common excuse when a cruise ships kills a marine mammal.

The Chief Executive (CEO), Stein Kruse, and HAL President, Orlando Ashford, were present in Miami federal court three weeks ago and watched the federal court judge express her concern over continued environmental violations by Carnival-owned cruise ships. HAL’s Westerdam was previously found to have illegally dumped 26,000 gallons of gray water into Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska on September 11, 2018.

The Eurodam left Seattle, Washington yesterday and arrived in Juneau, Alaska around 1:00 P.M today. It will call on Glacier Bay tomorrow,  Sitka, Alaska on June 26th,  Ketchikan, Alaska on June 27th  Victoria, British Columbia on June 28th and back to Seattle, Washington on June 29th.

If you have any information or questions about this event, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

June 25, 2019 Update:

Princess Cruises claims that the Eurodam altered course.

The NOAA Fisheries enforcement office is investigating the incident, according to KTOO Public Media. Newsweek reports Video Shows Giant Cruise Ship Heading for Pod of Feeding Humpback Whales: “There He Goes Steaming Right Over the Top.”

July 12, 2019 Update: NOAA closes investigation into close call between cruise ship and humpback whales via KTOO.  The public news station reported that NOAA’ Fisheries’ Office of Law Enforcement concluded that the Eurodam “altered course and slowed speed.” There was no indication in the article whether it concluded that the HAL ship came within 100 yards of the whales, which was the central issue of dispute. We immediately served NOAA Fisheries with a FOIA request for info/documents to try to find out about its short investigation and whether it made any conclusions regarding the distance between the cruise ship and the pod of feeding whales.  We will update this article.

Video and screengrabs – Brent Kidd Palmer via HAL’s Facebook page and Richard McAlpine via Twitter; bottom photo of whale strike – AP /The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck via Telegraph.