Ever been on a cruise ship? You know the ones. Those floating palaces where people flop around in pools peeing to their hearts’ content, gorging themselves on luxurious lobster dinners, drinking until they pass out on a deck chair at 11 a.m., and, if they’re lucky, spending a few sweaty hours with a lounge-singing employee who is wearing some kind of sequined outfit. Oh, doesn’t it sound wonderful? Well, those cruise ships have a lot of garbage on them when they return to port. After all, you can’t just dump your trash in the ocean, right? But wait! If you have the cash, you totally can. Carnival Corp, owners of Princess Cruises, just got dinged with a $20 million fine for “improper waste disposal” in the Bahamas.
According to Business Insider, “Carnival released food waste and plastic into the ocean, failed to accurately record waste disposals, created false training records, and secretly examined ships to fix environmental-compliance issues before third-party inspections without reporting its findings to the inspectors.” Apparently, things at Carnival are not on the up-and-up.
“A corporation is responsible to its shareholders and board of directors to be profitable, but not by breaking the law and destroying the very environment in which it navigates for profit,” Ariana Fajardo Orshan, the United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida, said in a statement.
Carnival owned up to violating the terms of a 2017 settlement for improperly disposing of waste, and now it’s got to pay the full amount within a week. If it doesn’t, it could be hit with fines of anywhere from $1 million to $10 million for each day it’s late. On top of that, the company is subject to additional ship inspections, it has to hire teams to help it figure out that throwing garbage into the sea isn’t a good idea, and it must reduce the amount of single-use plastics on its ships.
In a quote that seems odd given the circumstances, a Carnival representative told Business Insider that the “Carnival Corporation remains committed to environmental excellence and protecting the environment in which we live, work, and travel. Our aspiration is to leave the places we touch even better than when we first arrived.”
Just a few years ago, Princess Cruises got hammered with a $40 million fine for releasing oil in the ocean and hiding what it did. According to The New York Times, “It was the largest criminal penalty ever imposed for intentional vessel pollution.” Since then, it’s been on a five-year house arrest of sorts, just to make sure it wasn’t up to its old tricks. As it turns out, it was.
An environmental-compliance inspector released a damning report that said Carnival basically paid the fine then went straight back to business as usual, violating the terms of the settlement over 800 times between April 2017 and April 2018.
“These issues were unacceptable failures in our processes that were not in accordance with our policies and procedures, and do not reflect the culture we have built at Carnival Corporation and across our nine cruise line brands,” a Carnival representative told Business Insider in April. “We have been taking steps to address the improvement areas mentioned in the report, and to build on the positive progress noted by the court-appointed monitor to make sure we are in full compliance moving forward.”
It does seem like a relatively simple fix, though: keep your trash out of the ocean and on the ship.