A report entitled "Getting a Grip on Cruise Pollutionreleased today by the Friends of the Earth (FOE) organization concludes that the billions of dollars earned by the cruise industry Friends of the Earth - Cruise Ship Pollution each year comes at a significant cost to our nation’s air and water.

The report was researched and authored by Ross Klein, a Professor and independent expert on cruise ship pollution.  Professor Klein takes a detailed look at the various ways in which the cruise industry has harmed – and continues to harm – the environments in which cruise ships travel.

“This report provides a vital resource to anyone concerned about the cruise industry’s environmental impacts. With today’s launch of the largest cruise ship ever built – Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas – the report shines a light on an industry that has long avoided comprehensive environmental regulation and pollution controls,” said Marcie Keever, FOE’s Earth’s Clean Vessels Campaign Director. “Cruise ships continue to dump sewage into our waters and poison our Oasis of the Seas - Pollution - Emissionsair with engines that burn bottom-of-the barrel bunker fuel.”

"Getting a Grip on Cruise Ship Pollution" looks at all aspects of the cruise industry, from its pollution streams, to its history of environmental violations, to the modest number of environmental laws that govern the industry. The report also contains a wide-ranging set of policy recommendations, providing solutions for comprehensive environmental reform of the cruise industry.

To learn more, visit the Friends of Earth website.

Resources:

Catalog of cruise industry environmental violations, fines and other incidents: Professor Ross Klein’s website CruiseJunkie

Overview of cruise ship pollution from Friends of the Earth website.

Source: Friends of the Earth news release. FOE is the U.S. voice of the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, FOE has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

Credit:

Oasis of the Seas       Kenneth Karsten via shipspotting.com

U.K. ‘s Mail Online has an informative article in its Sunday edition today addressing the use of bunker fuels by cruise ships and other large shipping vessels entitled "How 16 Ships Create As Much Pollution As All The Cars In The World."

Cruise Pollution - Nasty Deadly Bunker FuelI wrote about the cruise industry’s use of bunker fuels in a blog entitled ‘Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel – "Thick, Tarry Sludge."  So this is of particular interest to me.

The article is written by an award winning science writer Fred Pearce.  He describes the disgusting practice of these ships using this filthy and deadly fuel:

"We’ve all noticed it. The filthy black smoke kicked out by funnels on cross-channel ferries, cruise liners, container ships, oil tankers and even tugboats . . .

As ships get bigger, the pollution is getting worse. The most staggering statistic of all is that just 16 of the world’s largest ships can produce as much lung-clogging sulphur pollution as all the world’s cars.

Because of their colossal engines, each as heavy as a small ship, these super-vessels use as Cruise Ships - Filthy Smoke - Bunker Fuelmuch fuel as small power stations.

But, unlike power stations or cars, they can burn the cheapest, filthiest, high-sulphur fuel: the thick residues left behind in refineries after the lighter liquids have been taken. The stuff nobody on land is allowed to use." 

The article addresses the disastrous effects on the environment and the deadly effects on those who breath the lethal smoke.

Mr. Pearce explain that ships are using fuel containing up to 4.5 per cent sulphur. That is 4,500 times more than is allowed in car fuel in Europe.  The largest ships are emitted as much as 5,000 tons of sulphur a year – the same as 50,000,000 cars, each releasing an average of only 100 grams of sulphur a year.

The sulphur comes out of ship funnels as tiny particles which get deep into lungs. The inhaled sulphur causes inflammation of the linings of the lungs, breathing problems, heart disease and cancer.  The major shipping routes of cargo ships and cruise ships bring these deadly emissions right into the port and seaboard cities.  

 

Cuise Ship Bunker Fuel - Pollution

 

Mr. Pearce ends with an ominous conclusion:

"However you look at it, the super-ships are rogues on the high seas, operating under pollution standards long since banished on land; warming the planet and killing its inhabitants."

There are a number of organizations which are trying to address these types of problems.  One is Friends of the Earth whose Twitter name is @foe_us.

 

Credits:

Chart         Fred Pearce (via U.K. ‘s Mail Online)

Royal Caribbean’s new "Genesis" class cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas, arrived this morning in Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale, Florida). 

It looks big. 

Here are two videos.  The first by the Miami Herald shows the arrival of the cruise ship in port.  The second by CBS News, featuring Peter Greenberg, is an introductory piece.

Prayers for the safety and security of this cruise ship and its passengers & crew.

 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=AzdvsqsSjZY%26hl%3Den_US%26fs%3D1%26

 

 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=LWHTmrEAp7Q%26hl%3Den_US%26fs%3D1%26

Over the past week, those of you who read my blog but don’t Twitter missed the remarkable phenomenon of bickering between a small group of travel bloggers invited by Princess Cruises to promote cruising under the hash tag #followmeatsea – and a larger group of green travelers who could not stomach the wow-cruising-is-amazing tone of the tweets.  

"Bickering" may be an understatement.  The debate was more like the food fight in one of my favorite movies, Animal House.    

And boy did I enjoy it.  

John Belushi - Animal House - Food FightThe first time I read that Princess Cruises was making its foray into social media with #followmeatsea, I knew that it  was going to be a disaster.  

In September, I praised the social media skills of Princess Cruises’ sister company P & O Cruises for its use of YouTube by its CEO to provide information and diffuse criticism in "Cruise Lines and Social Media – P & O Cruises Hits A Home Run," but I blasted Princess Cruises for its lack of social web skills. 

The problem with Princess was that it was oblivious to the discussion raging on Twitter when one of its cruise ships caught on fire.  When Princess finally responded days later, it lost credibility by refusing to engage in a conversation on Twitter and by referring the public to its its self-serving and misleading press statements.   

And here we are again.

The green travelers baited the here’s-a-free-cruise-so-write-something-nice-about-us bloggers on Princess’ Crown Princess with questions about the obvious unsustainability of cruising.  The bloggers were blind-sided.  While Princess’s guests were being skewered, Princess ignored the environmental inquiries but chose to re-tweet only the most mundane isn’t-this-wonderful tweets by its new friends with comments like "Beautiful!" or "Too funny!"  

When Princess finally responded to the spot-on environmental criticisms, it referred to a statement on its website (circa 2008). But it refused to answer a single question about the use of bunker fuel or its ongoing history of discharge violations which continue to this day. 

With good reason.  Princess has the most deplorable environmental record of any of the 25 cruise lines sailing out of the U.S. over the last couple of months. Lets put the nicely written environmental policies on its slick web site aside for a moment. Take a look at Princess Cruises’ actual practices:    

In September, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific  PrincessSapphire Princess and Sea Princess were cited for violating the Alaska Wastewater Quality Standards.  Again, in October, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific Princess, Sapphire Princess and Sea Princess – together with the Golden Princess – were cited for water discharge violations.

This month, the same culprits – the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Sea Princess, Golden Princess and Diamond Princess were busted for pollution.  The charges?  Dumping illegal levels of copper, ammonia, zinc and fecal coliform bacteria into Alaska’s pristine waters. It was therefore hard to read one of the bloggers’ comments:  

  Kim Mance tweet on behind the scenes Princess Cruises Tour
 

 

 

 

The Norwegian Environmental Officer who charmed the blogger no doubt looked very impressive and convincing in his white uniform. But nothing could be further from the truth. Princess Cruises had bamboozled this nice travel writer and set her up for ridicule.  

Now, I will admit. I tweeted a few grenades into the #followmeatsea debate, asking about the start of a trial in L.A. where a Princess Cruises waiter allegedly sexually assaulted a passenger aboard the Coral Princess, as well as Princess Cruises’ nasty practice of dumping insufficiently treated chemicals and feces into Alaska’s Cruise Pollutionclean waters.  Princess Cruises ignored these pointed questions, although one brave blogger promised to ask the Environmental Officer about the violations and tweet his answer.  

The problem here is that Princess doesn’t realize that it cannot control the debate by inviting a few nice people onto their cruise ship with the hope that they write nice things about the cruise. Todd Lucier wrote an interesting blog on Princess’ social media debacle entitled "Seven Deadly Sins of Social Media: Lessons from #followmeatsea."  Deadly Sin #1, according to Mr. Lucier, is "thinking you can control social media."  

Unlike the cult-of-personality cruise community sites like CruiseCritic and CruiseMates where membership requires group-think cheerleading and true cruise critics are banished, the Twitter forum is pure free speech.  Fortunately, there are many free thinkers out there with a healthy dose of cynicism.  Princess Cruises’ #followmeatsea happy talk was predestined to turn into a discussion of real issues, which the cruise line was ill-prepared to handle.

The spirited back and forth on Twitter was invigorating.  But I am still waiting for a response from Princess Cruises’ Environmental Officer about Princess’ last 17 wastewater violations.

 

Credits:

Coral Princess    Barbara Bagnell (via National Post)

#followmeatsea tweet          Todd Lucier     

This morning I read an interesting article regarding the cruise industry’s nasty practice of dumping raw sewage just three miles offshore and, sometimes, in state waters.

Fox News ran an article entitled "Federal Agencies Raise Alarm About Cruise Dumping."  Its "fair and balanced" report included some disturbing facts:

"Raw sewage contains disease pathogens and toxins, impairs the respiratory functions in water life, and causes algae blooms. And cruise ships are dumping it just off shore, possibly washing up on the beach near where your family is vacationing."

A report released earlier this decade by the United States Government Accounting Office (GAO) determined that, from 1993 to 1998 alone, cruise ships were involved in 87 confirmed cases of discharges of wastes into U.S. waters, and have paid more than $30 million in fines to the government. The Department of Justice prosecuted Royal Caribbean in 1999, and the company pled guilty to a total of 21 felony counts in six U.S. jurisdictions, agreeing to pay a record $18 million in criminal fines.

The article points out that environmental groups finally have an administration and Congress that are agreeable to tackling the long standing problem of cruise ship water pollution.

I’m not usually a fan of Fox News because of its anti-consumer and conservative rants. But when even Fox News publishes a report like this, you know there is something stinky going on with the cruise industry.

 

Photo credit        AP via FoxNews.com

I read an interesting articleby a staff writer for the Take Part Blog about nasty discharges by cruise ships.  The article is entilted "Cruise Ship Environmental Report Card Grim."

Hamida Kinge was a 2008/09 Environmental Reporting Fellow for the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting and a 2009 Fellow at the Scripps Howard Institute on the Environment. Her interests include the effects of climate change on coastal communities and island nations and the effects of PCBs and DDT contamination on marine mammal health.

Ms. Kinge explains:

Where most cruise ships travel, dirty air follows. They burn a very thick, tarry petroleum sludge called “bunker fuel,” which can be between 1000 to 2000 times dirtier than diesel fuel. Apart from impacts on the natural environment, such as contributing to climate change and acid rain, bunker fuel has been linked to a number of serious cardiovascular problems and premature death in humans. And when the ships dock, their engines often stay running and the emissions directly impact port communities.

The article also refers to the Friends of the Earth "Cruise Ship Environmental Report Card" which I commented on in a previous blog

From time to time, you will hear about cruise ships "plugging in" when they arrive at port.  This means that they are turning off their engines and switching to the dockside electrical system. 

Most cruise ships can’t or don’t "plug in."  This leads to an environmental disaster, literally on a daily basis, where  5 or 6 cruise ships sit at a port spewing the emissions from the tar-like bunker fuel into the port cities.

 

Earlier this month, I announced that I will be awarding the "Worst Cruise Line in the World" award to the cruise line demonstrating the worst in gross negligence and indifference towards passenger and crew member health and safety. This will be a monthly award. 

Over the past month, we have received many e-mails nominating a variety of cruise lines and a couple of cruise line tycoons. Mostly passengers have emailed us with a variety of stories, many are just plain sad.  Some of the stories demonstrate such callousness by the cruise lines that your blood will boil.

A few crew members contacted us  Without except they were afraid to reveal their real names in fear of retaliation.

A couple of environmental groups contacted us as well.

So far two cruise lines are vying neck to neck for the award.  After 26 years of being a maritime lawyer I thought that I had seen it all. These two companies have treated their crew members like garbage. At this point, I don’t know who is most deserving of the first month’s award. 

The voting for this month ends on Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 5:00 p.m. EST. I will be announcing the winner, er loser, in October.

Feel free to tweet your nominee to me at my Twitter page @CruiseLaw

 

Photo credit:

Cruise Ship Tycoon         Activisim

Today Carnival issued a press release which reported profits of $1,100,000,000 for the third quarter ending August 31, 2009. The cruise line collected revenues from passengers of over $4,000,000,000 in the last three months.

This announcement of Carnival’s over-a-billion-dollars-in-profits comes two days after the Carnival dominated "Alaska" Cruise Association filed a lawsuit against Alaska over the $50-a-passenger tax.

Four days ago, the environmental group "Friends of the Earth" gave Carnival a "D-" on the cruise line environmental scorecard.

What a week for Carnival!  A failing pollution grade, over $1,000,000,000 in quarterly profits, and a lawsuit initiated in Alaska over a $50 tax.

What is wrong with this picture?      

 

 

The cruise industry has picked a fight with Alaska over the $50 tax designed to protect the state. The lawsuit, which is posted online, indicates that the lawsuit was filed by a trade organization called, interesting enough, the "Alaska Cruise Association."

"Alaskan Cruise Association" – Made in Miami, Florida 

There is nothing remotely "Alaskan" about the "Alaska Cruise Association" (ACA).  The ACA is comprised of nine cruise lines, none of which are based in Alaska.  Six of the cruise lines – Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, and Silverseas – are based in Miami or Fort Lauderdale. The other three line, Holland America, Princess, and Windstar Cruises, are all owned by Miami-based Carnival or its subsidiaries.

Even the main lawyer listed on the lawsuit papers, Seattle lawyer Stephen Rummage, is not even admitted to practice law in Alaska. He must petition the court in Alaska for special permission to enter the courthouse in Alaska to argue the case. You can guarantee that the bulk of the ACA’s lawyer’s fees will be paid by money which can be traced back to Miami. 

Revenge is Sweet

The Miami cruise lines do not like to be regulated and are certainly not used to being taxed.  It is like trying to put a leash on a mean dog.  Someone is going to be bitten.  Yet, Alaska has every right to impose reasonable taxes to protect its pristine environment from the out-of-state polluters like Carnival and Royal Caribbean.   

The lawsuit is revenge against Alaska by Carnival and other cruise lines in South Florida.  Unlike Florida and the struggling islands in the Caribbean which for years have rolled over and played dead for the pollution spewing cruise industry, Alaska has enacted a number of measures to protect the state from  the foreign flagged cruise lines’ predatory practices.  Earlier in the year, it was widely reported that the cruise industry was having difficulty convincing the legislators to abolish strict water pollution standards which were approved by Alaskan voters in 2006. 

Like Father, Like Son?

Soon thereafter, Mickey Arison of Carnival began threatening to punish Alaska for the pollution regulations and having the audacity to levy a $50 tax on the passengers who sail on his cruise ships. Any time I hear the word "tax" and "Mickey Arison" in the same sentence, I can’t help but to think about Mickey’s father, Ted Arison.  He collected billions of dollars from tax paying U.S. passengers and lived the good life in Miami but he registered his Miami based cruise line and his cruise ships in Panama to avoid all U.S. taxes.  In 1990, he abandoned Miami, denounced his U.S. citizenship, and returned to Israel with his billions in a ploy to avoid estate and inheritance taxes.

So here we are again, with the younger Arison leading the charge of the Miami consortium of foreign flagged cruise ships pretending to be an "Alaskan" non-profit organization with Alaska’s best interests at heart. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. This is pay back by the Miami cruise lines, and business as usual for the latest tax avoiding Miami billionaire.    

 

Photo credit:

Business Week   –    Photo of Mickey Arison