Last week, I received an email from a resident of Palm Beach County. It said “Port of Palm Beach July 31, appx 10:30 am” with a single attachment. When I opened the attachment (above), I immediately recognized the Grand Celebration’s orange painted funnel, out of which thick black smoke billowed over the port.
The funnel is the iconic design of the Carnival Cruise Line fleet of ships owned by Carnival Corporation, of course. The ship was built in 1986 and was originally named the Celebration or, more commonly called, the Carnival Celebration. It was renamed the Grand Celebration when it was operated by Carnival subsidiary Ibero Cruises from 2008–2014 before Costa Cruises absorbed Ibero in November of 2014 and renamed the ship the Costa Celebration.
In December of 2014, the newly formed Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line purchased the ship, which was 28 years old at the time. It used the name Grand Celebration and began operating the ship out of the Port of Palm Beach in Riviera Beach, Florida on 2 day cruises to Freeport, Bahamas.
When I received the photo, I immediately checked the ship tracking website MarineTraffic to verify that the ship had sailed from Riveria Beach on July 31st (to avoid Hurricane Isaias). Receiving photos and videos of cruise ships polluting the air and water is not particularly unusual. I have received many dozens of images from concerned members of the public over the years, such as photos showing cruise ships emitting thick spoke at Caribbean ports of call like this image in Nassau and this image in Grand Cayman as well as videos of crew members throwing garbage bags of trash into the sea.
I had forgotten about the image of thick smoke belching out of the Grand Celebration until two days ago when I read about allegations that Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line lied to its crew members and forced them to work without wages throughout the pandemic. The Miami Herald reported:.
In mid-March, BPCL made crew sign an agreement to forfeit their pay. The company said they could start working again once cruises returned after the CDC's 30-day ban.
The CDC extended the no-sail order to July 24. Cleaners and cooks continued to work without pay, crew say. pic.twitter.com/MDJhTFns5p
— Taylor Dolven (@taydolven) August 4, 2020
I have concluded over the past twenty-five years that I have specialized in maritime law involving cruise lines that those companies which openly skirt environmental laws and regulations also likely violate the few wage and labor laws which apply to their operations. The ships which abuse the air and water seem to be the ones which also likely abuse their hard-working crew members.
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August 7 2020 Update: A local newspaper in the Caymans, Loop Cayman, published an article titled As borders reopen, Cayman must consider the impact of cruise emissions. The article included another photograph (right) sent to our office showing a Carnival cruise ship (the Carnival Freedom) belching soot as it approached Grand Cayman last October.
Photo credits: Anonymous.