Federal Judge Threatens to Block Carnival Corp Ships From US Ports
A federal judge has threatened to stop cruise giant Carnival Corporation from docking its ships at US ports as punishment for alleged violations of a court-supervised environmental compliance program.
The Miami Herald reported that US District Judge Patricia Seitz made the threat on Wednesday during a court conference and said she would make a decision on the matter at a hearing in June.
According to the news outlet, the halt to Carnival Corp. ship dockings in the US would be temporary. Still, even a short pause could cause massive disruption across the cruise industry.
Carnival Corp. is the world’s largest cruise company, accounting for roughly half of all cruise vacations taken worldwide. It owns nine of the industry’s best-known brands, including its namesake Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America, Cunard, Seabourn, P&O Cruises and Costa Cruises. Together, the nine brands operate more than 100 vessels.
Dozens of the company’s vessels operate at least part of the year out of such US cities such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, New York, Seattle and Los Angeles.
Carnival Corp. ships have been subject to a court-supervised environmental compliance program for the past two years as part of a settlement related to violations that occurred on vessels operated by its Princess Cruises brand.
Princess Cruises pleaded guilty in December 2016 to seven felony charges related to the violations and intentional acts to cover them up. As part of a plea deal, the company paid a $40 million penalty — the largest ever related to deliberate vessel pollution — and agreed to the court-supervised environmental compliance program. The program was scheduled to last for five years.
Prosecutors allege that Carnival Corp. has violated the compliance program in multiple ways, including seeking to avoid unfavorable findings by preparing ships in advance of inspections, falsifying records, dumping plastic garbage into the ocean and illegally discharging waste water into Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska, according to the Herald. The company has acknowledged the incidents, the news outlet said.
In a statement sent to The Points Guy, Carnival Corp. said it would fully address the issues raised during Wednesday’s proceeding, which was a preliminary status conference on the matter.
“Our environmental responsibility has been and continues to be a top priority for the company,” the statement said. “Our aspiration is to leave the places we touch even better than when we first arrived.”
The statement also suggested some of the information presented to Seitz about the matter was not correct. "It appears there were some mischaracterizations made by others to the court."
For now, Carnival Corp. vessels will continue to dock at US ports, and itineraries for upcoming sailings at the company’s nine brands have not been altered.