In Falmouth, Jamaica, the Port Authority of Jamaica is continuing to pursue dredging projects in order to permit the gigantic "mega liners," including Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class (sometimes called "Genesis-class") cruise ships to squeeze into the port, which was rebuilt in 2011. During the construction of the two new two piers, the port was originally dredged.    

Jamaica has a goal of boosting the numbers of cruise visitors, seemingly irrespective of the damage which dredging will cause to the environment around the port. At the urging of Miami-based cruise lines, the government of Jamaica intends to dredge the southern berth of the port at Falmouth this year. This will cause significant further destruction of the reefs around the port in order to allow two Oasis-class vessels to dock at the same time.

This is part of the plan recently touted by the Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness which Falmouth Jamaica Portfeatures further dredging the port of Falmouth, referred to alternatively in the Jamaican Gleaner as the "jewel of the Caribbean" or "the region’s number one destination" for cruise shipping.

Prime Minister Holness stated to the Jamiacan newspaper that the Falmouth pier ‘"was built in anticipation for not only the growing demands of the cruise industry, but also the fact that cruise ships were "getting bigger by the day." He was quoted as saying "it wasn’t that long ago when we had ships with a carrying capacity of say 2,000 being touted as the largest cruise ships in the world. Since then, we have seen a number of vessels earning that title. We have had Freedom of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and now, we have Harmony of the Seas, with its 2,747 staterooms, and 8,550 guests and staff on 16 decks."

The Prime Minister noted that it was an "excellent idea to have constructed this port. We can now host the mega liners and all the Oasis Class vessels."

Six years ago, in my article titled Royal Caribbean’s New Port in Falmouth, Jamaica – At What Cost to the Environment?, I cited the article of Can the Cruise Industry Clean Up Its Act? by Michael Behar, who wrote that in Falmouth, Royal Caribbean oversaw the smashing of "a quarter-mile-wide opening in an offshore barrier reef. They dredged coral, both living and dead, as well as the rock substrate, and trucked it inland to a two-square-mile dump site — a clear-cut area on the outskirts of town that was once a thriving red mangrove swamp. Now all that’s left is 35 million cubic feet of pulverized coral and rubble. When I visit the site with Roland Haye, a Jamaican environmental activist, he tells me, ‘As a boy, I used to play Tarzan here and see crocodile. It was a winter home for great heron and swan.’ He points out broken conch shells, dismembered starfish, bits of sea sponge, and severed lobes of brain coral." 

In that article, I wrote that the removal of the natural reef exposes the shore to pounding of the waves from the adjacent bay.  "When I visited (back in 2012) , I observed that the road . . .  to Falmouth, previously protected from the pounding of the by the reef, was literally covered with water from the encroaching waves. The road was already eroding . . ."

Yesterday, a friend of mine in Montego Bay filmed a short video from his cell phone as he drove into Falmouth. The video shows the bay’s waters from the now destroyed reef system lapping over the deteriorating roadway into the port of Falmouth.   

Have a comment? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.  

Photo credit: Falmouth Port (above) – Jim Walker

https://youtube.com/watch?v=a7gOaj5Sb6E%3Frel%3D0

The cruise industry has always struggled with its environmental image. The "big three" cruise lines (Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean) were fined tens of millions of dollars collectively in the 1990’s and 2000’s for dumping pollutants into the water and lying to the U.S. Coast Guard.  

Cruise lines argue that their days of dumping at sea are over.  But its hard to convince a skeptical public with YouTube broadcasting what is actually happening at sea. Like last year, when MSC crew members sent us several videos showing dumping of plastic bags off the mooring deck of a MSC Cruise Ship Dumpingcruise ship into a marine sanctuary at night.  

The public is not as dumb as the cruise industry treats them.  Calling yourself a guardian of the seas is not going to work when you are caught by cruise passengers and your own crew members dumping plastic bags into a marine sanctuary over the side under the cover of night.

The cruise industry should be embarrassed after YouTube videos are now showing the destruction of a coral reef in the Cayman Islands by an anchor and chain dropped by the Pullmantur Zenith cruise ship (an old ship last operated by Celebrity Cruises), owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises.  

Coral reefs and cruise lines, it seems, are as incongruous as cats and dogs. Just ask the formerly quaint little port of Falmouth, Jamaica where the port was dredged for Royal Caribbean’s monster ships, the Allure of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas to squeeze in, This required the destruction of some 35,000,000 cubic feet of coral reef and the annihilation of two square miles of mangroves which are now buried under pulverized reef material.  

Last year, a Carnival cruise ship (the Magic) crushed a coral reef in the Caymans after a local pilot boat operated by Bodden Shipping Agency guided the Carnival cruise ship to anchor outside of the designated public port anchorage. You can read about that situation in Carnival Magic Crushes Coral Reef in Cayman Islands

The Cayman Reporter described the situation as involving an "anchor on the reef rolling over the coral sending plumes of dust and broken coral in its wake."  But the governing authority is the weak Department of the Environment of the Cayman Islands which did not even bothered to hold anyone responsible for last year’s massive damage to the coral reef by the dropping of the Carnival anchor. The agency has already exonerated the Zenith cruise operator and the harbor pilot from negligence. Royal Caribbean then immediately took advantage of this free pass to defend itself from criticism on Twitter, tweeting: "When Pullmantur Zenith arrived in Grand Cayman it was directed to a government-designated anchorage spot, not in a protected area."

The fact of the matter is that live coral was directly under the Zenith cruise ship which made no efforts to verify the underwater conditions.  

As the Huffington Post points out, the Cayman Islands’ Marine Conservation Laws, seen on the islands’ tourism website, state that "Damaging coral by anchor, chains or any other means ANYWHERE in Cayman waters is prohibited."  This is clearly a case where the cruise line, the pilot agency and the Cayman’s Department of the Environment should all be held accountable. Strict liability (i.e., no-fault liability) should always apply in matters this important.

The ultimate irony, of course, is that protecting the Cayman’s beautiful reefs may well be a moot point. The country has decided to cater to the cruise industry’s goals of building a large dock, so that cruise ships no longer have to tender passengers ashore, which will sit over the reefs. This will require extensive dredge and fill operations which will destroy large portions of the island’s ancient coral reefs. Such is the result of a short sited, docile, tourism-dependent Caribbean nation trying to please its Miami coral-reef-destroying cruise line masters.     

Video Credit: YouTube  

December 16 2015 Update: Our article above was mentioned in Caribbean 360 – Investigation launched as video shows cruise ship damaging Cayman Islands reef.

The UK’s Mail Online newspaper has some interesting photographs today regarding the ongoing protests by environmental groups in Italy who are trying to protect the beautiful city of Venice from the effects of water pollution, air emissions and erosion of historical building by traffic from huge cruise ships.

Earlier this week we addressed this issue in our article Italian Environmentalists Urge Sofia Loren to Stop "Monster of the Sea" from Attacking Venice.  

Over the past 25 years, the number of cruise passengers cruising into Venice increased from 280,000 to 1,800,000 last year.

Over 650 gigantic cruise ships sail into Venice every year now.  Unlike the quaint gondolas historically associated with the city, cruise ships today are 1,000 feet long, weigh 140,000 tons and have drafts well over 25 feet. They pose a substantial risk to this fragile Italian city which is struggling against mass tourism and the deterioration of the city’s underwater foundations. 

Here is my view of the problem last year: Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth

Take a look at the spectacle below.  Do you trust the titans of the cruise industry with the survival of historical sites like this?  Do you trust the Micky Arisons of the world to be the curators of Venice?  

Cruise Ships - Venice - MSC Divina

Cruise Ships - Venice - MSC Divina

Photo credit: Getty Images via Mail Online 

Professor Ross Klein’s website CruiseJunkie contains disturbing comments from a cruise passenger aboard the Carnival Splendor cruise ship who reports that on December 15th during a sailing to the Mexican Riviera a gruesome physical altercation took place in cabin 1306.

Here are the comments:

Carnival Cruise Violence - Cruise Ship"Wild, out-of-control alcohol-fueled domestic fight – starts at 9PM, escalates to most certainly a felony assault (or worse) by 3AM. All kinds of yelling, screaming, howling.  Objects (victim?) thrown against the walls. Finally security responds; victim has blood streaming from her, multiple wounds; others report seeing multiple pools of blood in the room. Around 3:45 AM, Carnival removes the ‘guests’ and immediately starts the process of cleaning the room up, starting with the blood. 

NO attempt whatsoever to preserve the scene or the evidence.  Staff members will not discuss what happened other than ‘it’s under control’ and ‘he won’t be a problem.’  Rumor is that the offender was removed from the ship in Puerto Vallarta."

We reached out to Carnival’s PR department yesterday who said they would check it out, but no response so far.

It’s disturbing to read an account like this particularly after we just reported that a drunken Carnival passenger who beat and strangled his wife to death was sentenced to life in prison.  And should there be any doubt that cruise lines destroy crime scene evidence?  

Does anyone on this cruise have additional information?  Please leave a comment below.

December 21, 2011 Update:  This article was picked up by the popular Cruise Critic online community and posted in a thread on the message board.  How did the concerned Cruise Critic cruise fans react to the bloody crime scene and Carnival’s spoliation of evidence? 

Read their comments like  "Doesn’t affect me . . .  Who cares . . . Ship happens" which you can read here.  Unfortunately, this type of complacency perpetuates the sorry state of affairs on cruise ships where cruise lines destroy evidence knowing that their fan base doesn’t care. 

I think I’ll re-name this article "Crime Scene on Splendor Cruise Ship? Carnival Won’t Say and Cruise Fans Don’t Care."