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Not Always Smooth Sailing for Carnival Corp.

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A couple of years ago I took my first cruise out of Tampa, Fla. The week-long experience was fun and relaxing and a great way not to have to worry about cooking my own food or searching around for a restaurant or place to drive to. I would much rather be on a hiking trail in a national park but overall it was a pretty good experience.

The ship I chose was a Carnival Corp. ship. Every now and then I read about the good things Carnival is doing to reduce its environmental impact. I recommend visiting the Sustainability page on their website. Here are a few examples:

  • Gradually transitioning away from marine diesel oil to liquefied natural gas for fuel.
  • Became members of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), which has developed specific guidelines for animals in tourism. Carnival is also working with a third-party expert to audit the excursion providers with whom it works. Beginning last year: commencing audits on all dolphin-in-captivity tour encounters used by Carnival brands.
  • Six years ago, the company announced plans to install Advanced Air Quality Systems—known in the marine industry as exhaust gas cleaning systems or “scrubbers”—on ships across its global fleet. These systems remove sulfur compounds and particulate matter from the engine exhaust at any operating state of the ships—at sea, during maneuvering and in port.

All of that said, Carnival has been in the news for the wrong reasons lately. According to NPR, Carnival Corporation and its Princess subsidiary have agreed to pay a criminal penalty of $20 million for environmental violations such as dumping plastic waste into the ocean. Miami-based Carnival pleaded guilty earlier this month to six probation violations, including the dumping of plastic mixed with food waste in Bahamian waters. The company also admitted sending teams to visit ships before the inspections to fix any environmental compliance violations, falsifying training records and contacting the U.S. Coast Guard to try to redefine what would be a “major non-conformity” of their environmental compliance plan.

NPR says Carnival has had a long history of dumping plastic trash and oily discharge from its ships, with violations dating back to 1993.

Adds NPR: In addition to the $20 million criminal penalty, Carnival has agreed to pay for 15 annual audits—on top of about three dozen ship and shore-side audits it’s already on the hook for—and says it will restructure its corporate compliance efforts. If the company does not meet court-imposed deadlines for that restructuring, it will be fined up to $10 million per day.

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