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Are Cruise Ships Damaging The Environment?


Yes, cruise lines have been cited in the past for dumping gray water into the ocean, among other claims of environmental damage. Recently, Princess Cruise lines pleaded guilty to a probation violation after it was convicted in 2017 of environmental crimes. Princess Cruises pleaded guilty to illegal dumping of waste and paid a $40 million fine after they attempted to cover-up the dumping. This is the largest fine ever levied by The Department of Justice in relation to an environmental crime. As part of the settlement agreement, Princess Cruises was forced to create an internal investigative group that would help maintain standards when it came to dumping wastewater from the cruise ship. They failed to create this department and are now facing an additional $1 million fine.

Princess Cruises is a subsidiary of Carnival Cruises. As part of the agreement, Carnival was required to comply with a court-ordered environmental compliance plan which included audits and oversight by court-appointed experts.

In 2019, Princess Cruises was fined another $20 million for subverting the inspection process. The Office of Probation filed a petition to revoke Princess Cruise’s probation after adverse findings related to their internal investigative group showed that it was inadequate.

What is going on? 

To be certain, Carnival and Princess Cruises aren’t the only cruise lines that dump wastewater into the ocean. However, they’re being written about extensively because they are thumbing their noses at environmental regulators and appear not to care that their company is accruing fines. The company was required to place an investigative department to ensure compliance with the DOJ settlement but hobbled the department so extensively that it could not function in its primary goal. This is an example of malicious compliance. The board and C-suite executives don’t respect the process and are going to do as little as they can to meet their obligations to the court. Essentially, you have a culture issue.

Carnival is often targeted for these lawsuits as the biggest player in the industry. They own more cruise companies than any other company in the world and control more cruise ships as well. They have been charged with dumping over 500,000 gallons of wastewater including food waste and waste with oil in it. This includes dumping wastewater in the Bahamas and off the coast of Glacier Bay in Alaska.

In fact, almost every major cruise line has been hit with a major fine relating to environmental damage. This includes Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruises which both paid fines related to illegal dumping.

As it stands, cruise lines still have environmental activists in a frenzy due to their brazen failure to comply with environmental regulations. They will continue to be fined by the DOJ until they implement proper oversight and waste management procedures.

Talk to a Miami Cruise Ship Injury Attorney Today 

Injured on a cruise ship? Miami admiralty & maritime lawyer Michael F. Guilford can help. Call today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin discussing your options immediately.



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  • American Association for Justice

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Michael F. Guilford, P.A.

Courthouse Tower, Suite 750
44 West Flagler St.
Miami, FL 33130

Toll Free: 866-473-2636
Phone: 305-539-1999
Fax: 305-539-1998