The cruise industry is touting a report titled Evaluation of Cruise Industry, Global Environmental Practices and Performance.

It’s a non-critical summary paid for by the industry’s trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"). The report is largely a PR stunt which omits the relevant, recent history of the practice committed over the course of at least a decade of routinely dumping oil from cruise ships owned by the largest cruise line in the world.

It has been less than four months since the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) fined Princess Cruises and its parent company, Carnival Corporation, $40,000,000 for polluting the seas and trying to cover it Cruise Pollutionup. Carnival and Princess pleaded guilty to seven felony charges of illegally dumping oil-contaminated waste from the Caribbean Princess cruise ship which sailed to numerous U.S. states (Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia) and two territories (U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico).

The DOJ says that "in addition to the use of a magic pipe to circumvent the oily water separator and oil content monitor required pollution prevention equipment, the U.S. investigation uncovered two other illegal practices which were found to have taken place on the Caribbean Princess as well as four other Princess ships – Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess. One practice was to open a salt water valve when bilge waste was being processed by the oily water separator and oil content monitor. The purpose was to prevent the oil content monitor from otherwise alarming and stopping the overboard discharge. The second practice involved discharges of oily bilge water originating from the overflow of graywater tanks into the machinery space bilges. This waste was pumped back into the graywater system rather than being processed as oily bilge waste. Neither of these practices were truthfully recorded in the oil record book as required.

But you won’t read any reference to magic pipes and falsified log books in the PR release by the cruise industry’s trade organization, Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"). 

Cruise line cheerleaders, like Travel Pulse, published over-the-top self-laudatory articles like The Cruise Industry Is Winning at Environmental Performance

Conspicuously absent from CLIA PR efforts is any mention of environmental problems caused by the cruise lines. Consider the following articles within the last year:

The world’s largest cruise ship and its supersized pollution problem (Guardian).

Cruise Industry Gets “F” for Transparency, Cutting Emissions (World Maritime News).

Carnival Corp ship caught in pollution scheme. Now they’re paying $40 million for it (Miami Herald).

Cruise industry ‘failing’ environment and public health, report claims (Telegraph).

Princess Cruises Pollution Cover-Up: Are the Greedy Cruise Executives Untouchable? (Cruise Law News).

This CLIA-paid-for-report is part of the cruise industry’s reputation rehabilitation. Last January, Princess Cruises issued a press statement via PR Newswire that it had been voted the "Best Ocean Cruise Line" in the USA TODAY and 10Best Readers Choice cruise travel awards, despite the DOJ’s record environmental fine just a month earlier. 

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Photo crdit: NABU via Telegraph

Royal Caribbean Alaska Air Pollution Violations Seatrade Cruise News reports that Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises recently settled all claims related to alleged violations of the Alaska Marine Visible Emissions Standards that occurred over an earlier five-year period on certain ships.

Last year, we reported that the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation issued notices of violation to a number of cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, for a pollution violations over the past five years. In addition to Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises, NCL, Carnival, Holland America, Princess, and Silversea violated the Alaskan emission standards.

In its most recent annual report, Royal Caribbean stated that the cruise line had settled the claims pursuant to a compliance order by consent this month for an undisclosed amount. and performing certain remedial actions.

As we mentioned in our article last April, Alaska issued 18 notices of violation involving 48 instances of excessive air emissions against a host of cruise lines since 2010,. Each violation of law carries a fine of approximately $37,500.

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CLIA - Stewards of the Maritime Environment?On the recent #WorldOceansDay which trended on Twitter this week, the cruise industry’s trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), and CLIA travel agents tweeted photos of pristine aqua-colored waters and a beautiful healthy reef in what appears to be an idyllic location somewhere in the Pacific.  

They posted tweets claiming to be "stewards of the environment."   

Well that is certainly open to debate. It seems to me that the cruise industry is nothing short of a menace to the ocean, air and reefs where it sails.

This is an industry which has historically treated the oceans as a dumping ground for human waste and garbage generated by its passengers. The dumping has continued to this day as MSC demonstrated two years ago when it was MSC Dumping Plastic Bagscaught dumping plastic bags into a marine sanctuary.

According to the Friends of the Earth (FOE) environmental group, "an average cruise ship with 3,000 passengers and crew produces about 21,000 gallons of sewage a day, enough to fill 10 backyard swimming pools in a week. That adds up to more than one billion gallons a year for the industry, a conservative estimate, since some new ships carry as many as 8,800 passengers and crew. In addition, each ship generates and dumps about eight times that much "graywater" from sinks, showers and baths, which can contain many of the same pollutants as sewage and significantly affects water quality."

Consider what Royal Caribbean did to the ancient reefs around the port of Falmouth. In order to squeeze its gigantic. bunker-fuel-belching Allure and Oasis of the Seas into the tiny Jamaican port, it oversaw the obliteration of millions of cubic feet of ancient living coral which it pulverized and then dumped on acres of old mangroves (photo below). A reader sent me a Google Map showing the destruction of the barrier reef and the mangroves.

A large portion of the beautiful reefs in the Caymans (often damaged by cruise ship anchors and chains, photo below) are slated for destruction as another cruise-industry-beholden leader of a tourism-dependent-Caribbean island plans to dredge and fill to build a huge, monolithic concrete cruise pier in George Town harbor to try and accommodate the increasingly over-sized Miami-based monster cruise ships.

The cruise industry’s assault on the maritime environment is not limited to the powerless and poor Caribbean islands.  The cruise industry has literally targeted the far corners of the world.  In Cruise Ship Pollution: Cruise Sewage And Air Pollution A Rising Concern As Ships Sail Toward Northwest Falmouth JamaicaPassage, the International Business Times (IBT) reports that the cruise industry plans to try and send cruise ships through the Northwest Passage, a route newly opened by melting Arctic ice, even though "the colossal vessels may also bring sooty diesel emissions and swimming pools of sewage into a long-pristine environment."  

So which cruise line will be taking what the Daily Beast calls the "titanic risk" into the Arctic? It’s the notoriously polluter, Crystal Cruises, which will be heading to the Arctic in August. It sold out a cruise aboard the Crystal Serenity in just three weeks. Approximately 1,000 passengers are paying about $22,000 each (excluding extras such as a $4,000 helicopter ride or a three-day, $6,000 excursion exploring a glacier) according to the Wall Street Journal.  From an environmental perspective, Crystal Cruises is considered by environmentalists as the "worst of the worse." It is one of four cruise lines to be given an "F" this year from the Friends of the Earth which issued its environmental report card yesterday. I suppose it is only fitting that such a cruise line would be the first cruise line to tear through the Arctic; if it can collect a minimum of $22,000,000 in cruise fares from one cruise into the virgin, pristine area, what else is important?  It is always about the money, right?   

Crystal Cruises will be forever known to environmentalists as the cruise line whose Crystal Harmony dumped around 35,000 gallons of grey water, sewage, and bilge water in a marine sanctuary in Monterey Bay. 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, Carnival Cruise Line Crushes Coral Reef in Caymanssaid 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.

In the 2010 Green Report Card by the environmental group Friends of the Earth, Crystal Cruises received the lowest grade, "F." Cruise spokesperson Weisband responded with hubris, saying that Crystal Cruises "deserved an A … if not an A+."

FOE’s latest environmental report card is below. The usual suspects, Crystal, Costa, MSC and P&O Cruises, have again received "F’s." All of the other lines, except Disney Cruises which received an "A-," received a "C" or "D."  

CLIA reacted to the bad grades of its cruise members like it always does, by attacking FOE.  The "dirty industry," as FOE rightfully calls it, defended itself like any carbon-based industry does when scrutinized by an environmental group concerned with global warming and the obvious degradation of the environment. The cruise industry scoffs at the FOE but the truth is that the industry can do much, much better. Kudos to Disney which again has led the way in sewage treatment and water compliance while demonstrating transparency in the process.

Photo Credit:

CLIA Cruise Forward PR Photo: Cruise Line International Association

Don Foster’s Dive Cayman via Cayman Compass

Friends of the Earth Report Card – Friends of the Earth 

Friends of the Earth Report Card  

This week I ran across a video of a "quadcopter" (also called a quadrotor helicopter or a quadrocopter) flying over the beach in Fort Lauderdale.

What’s interesting is that the quadcopter quickly catches up with Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. It flies behind and far over the giant cruise ship for a few minutes. 

It seems rather amazing that a little copter like that can fly so far and high and fast, and it can be safely controlled from so far away.

The video was shot and edited by Carlo Vaccari.  You can see his Facebook page RC Copters here.  

It was disappointing, however, to see an incredible amount of diesel / bunker fuel smoke billowing out of the ship. It’s particularly nasty around the 5:00 minute mark. 

A year ago we blogged about a quadcopter buzzing the Costa Concordia – QuadroCopter Operators Arrested in Giglio for Filming Costa Concordia.

//www.youtube.com/embed/CkTtV5IgmGw?rel=0

Cruise Ship PollutionA local CBS news station (WBZ) in Boston reports that although cruising is a popular vacation, there are significant environmental downsides. The massive cruise ships burn the dirtiest type of fuel in the world, even when they’re sitting in port.

There are schools, playgrounds and residences in the neighborhoods which surrounds the port in Boston.  

Asthma, heart disease, cancer, and respiratory illness are the results of the nasty bunker fuel burned in ports. 

Supporters of the cruise industry will point out that cruising is more popular than ever. The CBS station points out that in 1986, there were just 13 cruise ships in Boston serving around 12,000 passengers. In 2012 some 117 ships cruised to Boston serving more than 380,000 passengers.

But with more and more cruise ships come more and more illness-causing pollution.

One solution is to have ships plug into shore power when they are docked. Other port cities like New York and Los Angeles have required electrical hook ups. The CBS program says that if ships are powered off-the-grid, electricity is increasingly renewable like wind and solar. And most importantly, noxious emissions can be cut by 95% percent.

Photo Credit: http://stoppollutting-cruiseships.blogspot.com/  

 

 

 

The Smart Planet blog has an interesting article about the effects of the ever growing cruise industry upon ports in Asia.

Entitled Hong Kong Contends with Pollution from a Growing Cruise Industry, the article reveals the extent to which cruise lines are still burning bunker fuel while not even equipping their ships with the ability to plug into shore-side electrical power.  

The articles states that "emissions from berthed ships are considered the No. 1 contributor to Hong Kong Cruise ship air PollutionHong Kong’s severe air pollution problem and are said to account for 40% of greenhouse gases within its borders. Coming from cruise and cargo ships, these emissions outdo that of power plants and road vehicles."

Cruise ships and other large vessels are still burning bunker fuel while in port.

Bunker fuel is the nastiest and deadliest fuel in the world. Burning low-sulfur fuel is more expensive and there is no legal requirement in Hong Kong at this time to use the cleaner fuel.

Without a threat of a fine or some other legal consequence, the cruise industry will always choose the least expensive and most environmentally destructive path.

Check out a non-profit group’s Facebook page about ship pollution in Hong Kong.

There are some interesting photos of ships polluting the port with deadly smoke, including the Star Pisces (photo above right).  Don’t be fooled that this is just a problem over in Hong Kong. Star Cruises has maintained a large ownership of Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Lines for years.    

The article explains that Hong Kong’s air pollution is a major health threat and results in deaths in the city estimated between 1,200 and 3,00 per year.

Pier Luigi Foschi Costa - Carnival AsiaAt a cruise forum last week, Pier Luigi Foschi, the chief executive of Carnival Asia, objected to the requirement for cruise ships to use shore-side power. He said it is unrealistic to require ships to use on-shore power because many cruise ships are not equipped to be plugged in. That begs the question why at this late date all cruise ships don’t have a big cable that can be hooked up to the clean electrical power at the ports around the world.  

You may recall Mr. Foschi was the CEO of Costa Crociere when the Concordia crashed last year.  I’m not so sure I would give much weight to anything he says.   

 October 31, 2016 Update: Cruise ships: a paradise of fun or floating killing machine?

Photo Credit:

Top: Star Pisces – Hong Kong Pollution Watch Facebook Page

Five years ago, the Bush administration proposed legislation prohibiting the use of maritime fuels with high sulfur content within 200 miles of the U.S. The Obama administration had the bill passed into law. In turn, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced that it planned to create a buffer zone around the U.S. and Canada where ships would be prohibited from burning the world’s dirtiest transportation fuel – bunker fuel.

The new regulations are suppose to go into effect shortly.  The container shipping industry states that it intends to meet the new standards. But the cruise industry, which vigorously opposed the legislation and IMO regulations in the first place, states that it cannot comply with the pollution laws.

The health risks posed by the cruise industry’s use of high sulfur fuels are enormous.  I published an Bunker Fuel - Cruise Ship Pollutionarticle years ago called "Bunker Fuel – Nasty Tar Sludge!  which explains how bunker fuel – which is a tar-like substance – is the nastiest and most toxic fuel on planet earth.  It is unconscionable to burn it.

Today the Washington Post puts the issue into greater perspective:

"The gleaming white Sapphire Princess docked in this deep-water port (Whittier Alaska) this month, unloading its passengers and taking on another 2,600 guests headed first to Glacier Bay and, eventually, Vancouver, B.C. Every day of that trip the cruise ship — whose web site invites passengers to see Alaska’s “pristine landscapes” — will emit the same amount of sulfur dioxide as 13.1 million cars, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and as much soot as 1.06 million cars .  .  .

The new rule requires large ships to cut the sulfur content of their fuel, which now averages 2.7 percent, down to 1 percent next month; in 2015 it must drop to 0.1 percent.

The EPA estimates that the new rules will avoid between 12,000 and 31,000 premature deaths each year by 2030, with the benefits outweighing the costs 95 to 1. Put another way, when the stricter limit goes into effect in 2015 it will be akin to taking 12.7 million cars off the road per day and eliminating their sulfur dioxide emissions, or the soot from 900,000 cars. Air pollutants from burning ship fuel off the Pacific Coast contribute to lung disease and affect air quality as far away as North Dakota, according to agency officials."

The cruise lines (and curiously enough, the State of Alaska) have launched  what the Post calls a "counter-offensive" against the pollution law.  

According to the Post, once the new law is fully implemented and the additional costs of the cleaner fuel are passed on to the consumer. cruising will cost about $7 per day more.  The cruise industry claims that it could add as much as $19.46 a day per passenger.

The cruise lines claim that the cleaner fuel will hurt their business.  The Republican lawmakers in Alaska, under intense cruise line lobbying, profess that the new law is bad for tourism. When cruise ships are required to burn .1% sulfur fuel in 2015, cruising may cost $50 to $100 a week more. But the EPA claims that tens of thousands of lives will be saved each year with annual benefits in reduced health care expenses between $47 billion and $110 billion. 

The cruise industry has tried to use the court system to avoid air pollution laws before.  Last year,the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the cruise and shipping industries, holding that the state of California can regulate the cruise industry and require vessels that call on the state’s ports to use cleaner fuel.  

The cruise industry and its trade organization, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), have a paradoxical relationship with the air and water around their cruise ships.  They market themselves as environmentally friendly but, in truth, they are hardly the steward of the air and seas. They are the single greatest threat to the clean air and water of Alaska.

Consider the photo below of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in Alaska, filling the bay up with toxic fumes from bunker fuel.   

 

Bunker Fuel - Alaska - Pollution 

 

Chart credit:  Washington Post

Photo credit: Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas cruise ship –  AlaskanLibrarian’s Flickr photostream

A couple of years ago I blogged about the nastiest fuel on the planet – bunker fuel.  It’s the dredge at the bottom of oil refineries, a nasty tar like substance which is impossible to be completely burned.  It leaves non-combustible particles that blacken the sky and, if inhaled, cause lung disease, cancer, asthma, emphysema.  Cruise ships burn it because it’s cheap.  But it presents long term and costly health issues to people around the world who are forced to breathe the cruise ship emissions.

No one in their right mind would burn this stuff in their house or car and you would call the police if your neighbor did.  But this is the cornerstone of the cruise industry.   

When Royal Caribbean brought the new Genesis class cruise ships on line, the cruise line touted the Oasis of the Seas and its sister ship Allure of the Seas as technological marvels. But this weekend while reading an article Can the Cruise Industry Clean Up Its Act? in OnEarth magazine ("A Survival Guide for the Planet.") I learned something new.

Although Royal Caribbean touts the Oasis and Allure as "green" cruise ships, they still burn the world’s dirtiest fuel – bunker fuel.  The article states that Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas:

" . . . still burns bunker oil, also known as bunker fuel, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. Today, virtually every cruise ship is powered by this cheap, gelatinous sludge, which presents the single biggest hurdle to an industry that wants to call itself sustainable. As long as Allure guzzles this stuff, she will leave a colossal environmental footprint . . . "  

The article goes on to state that every dollar spent to reduce pollution from ships will create as much as $34 in health benefits. "Cleaner ships will translate into fewer asthma emergencies, heart attacks, and lung ailments, especially among children and the elderly."  But don’t expect Royal Caribbean to invest a penny into such health concerns. Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean are neither the stewards of the air nor the protectors of your family’s lungs.  

As long as the Oasis and the Allure burn bunker fuel, they are no more technologically advanced than a 1960’s tanker.  

Oasis of the Seas Cruise Ship - Pollution - Bunker Fuel

 For additional information about cruise ship pollution, read an editorial in the Seattle Times Cruise Industry Should Comply With New Air-Quality Regulation

In commemoration of "Earth Day" last week, the cruise industry’s trade organization, the Cruise Line International Organization ("CLIA"), issued a PR statement praising itself for being a champion of protecting the environment.

The PR statement was entitled "Cruise Industry Continues to Build on Successful Track Record as Environmental Stewards of the Seas They Sail."  CLIA boasted that it has been at the "forefront of emissions reduction."  

CLIA CEO Christine Duffy stated  "We believe it is our responsibility to protect the environment in which we operate, and we take great pride in the strides our industry has made to chart a sustainable course Cruise Ship Pollution - Air Emissions for future generations."

Sounds great.  The problem is that it is not true.

Today multiple newspapers are reporting that CLIA is vigorously fighting to avoid cleaner ship fuel regulations so that it can continue to burn inexpensive bunker fuels. 

McClatchy newspapers report that heavy fuels that oceangoing vessels burn add so much to air pollution hundreds of miles inland that the United States joined with Canada to ask the International Maritime Organization ("IMO") to create an emissions-control area along the coasts. Large ships would be required to reduce pollution dramatically in a zone 200 miles out to sea along all the coasts of North America, mainly by using cleaner fuel.

Although the cargo-shipping industry supports the stringent emission reductions, the cruise ship industry does not. It wants what it is calling an "emissions-averaging plan" that would allow it to burn the same heavy fuel it always has used in some areas.  It is lobbying Congress for help.

McClatchy reports that officials of the EPA and the Coast Guard opposed CLIA’s plan in a letter to the IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu. "After analysis, we believe the cruise lines proposal is unacceptable because it would result in overall higher emissions and doesn’t meet public expectations of uniform delivery of health and environmental benefits for citizens of the United States," wrote Jeffrey G. Lantz, the Coast Guard’s director of commercial regulations and standards, and Margo Tsirigotis Oge, the director of the EPA’s office of transportation and air quality.

There is no debate that the cruise line’s use of bunker fuels and other high sulfur fuels poses not only an ugly air pollution spectacle but presents a substantial health hazard.  Read some of our other articles about the problem of cruise air emissions and the cruise lines’ attempt to act like a environmentally responsible industry: "Notorious Polluters," "Bunker Fuel – Nasty Tar Sludge!" and "Dirty Cruise Industry Tries to Wiggle Out Of Clean Air Law."

CLIA is a two faced organization.  It poses as an environmental leader for marketing purposes, but behind the scenes it is spending millions lobbying Congress so that it can burn inexpensive but dangerous heavy sulfur fuels.

Yesterday the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state of California can regulate the shipping and cruise industries and require vessels that call on the state’s ports to use cleaner  fuel.

One of the problems with the cruise industry is that cruise ship use diesel and nasty bunker fuels which spew toxic particulate matter into the air.  

Unlike most states, California requires that ships use cleaner fuel starting 24 nautical miles from California’s shore.  According to Melissa Lin Perrella, an attorney with Southern California Air Cruise Ship Pollution - Bunker FuelProject in Santa Monica:

"Over the course of six years, between 2009 and 2015, these rules will prevent 3,500 premature deaths.

Eighty percent of Californians are exposed to air pollution from large ocean-going vessels as their exhaust drifts inland. Every day, these vessels spew toxic diesel particulate matter (PM) in an amount equivalent to 150,000 big rig trucks driving 125 miles daily. While people living close to ports are particularly affected, wind patterns, geography, and meteorology transport vessel-generated air pollution well beyond our coastline and into too many of our lungs."

The shipping and cruise industries, led by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (which lists cruise industry giant Carnival as a member), fought against the California legislation.  Essentially, the shipping and cruise interests argued that California does have not have authority to regulate vessels more than 3 miles from its coastline (the regulations reach 24 nautical miles from shore).

It is not unusual for the cruise industry to tell the public that it stands for the highest environmental standards, but behind the scenes spend millions of dollars to lobbyists and lawyers to fight for lower standards which harm the public.

Ms. Perrella writes: "The message is clear. It is time for the shipping industry to get on board or get out the way. California is moving forward to protect its citizens, and now has the Ninth Circuit firmly behind it."

California and Alaska are ahead of the curve in protecting U.S. citizens from the harmful effects of poisonous cruise fuels.  Will states like Florida ever protect their citizens?  

A copy of the 45 page decision can be read here.

 

Credit:

Photograph Gerardo Dominguez, UC San Diego (via UCSD Division of Physical Science)