MIAMI, Florida–In alarming news, Princess Cruise Lines, owned by Carnival Corporation, plead guilty to seven felony charges arising as a result of illegal dumping of oil into the ocean. This is not the first time a cruise line has been found guilty of illegally dumping oil into the ocean and covering it up. In fact, Carnival, was previously guilty of dumping oil into the ocean and covering it up. A huge fine was assessed back in the late 1990s against Carnival. Other cruise ship companies, including Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International, have also been guilty of oil dumping and cover up. These major cruise lines have felony convictions, so they should be referred to as felons, with the associated cloud over their credibility that is justified from being a felon.
An engineer involved in the operation for Princess Cruises resulting in another huge fine of $40 million dollars, summed up the motivation behind violating international laws and covering up the violations: “It cost too much to properly dispose of oil waste.” Apparently, the cruise line puts profits ahead of the environment, disregarding international laws and covering up their actions, while polluting the waterways. Can we trust these convicted felons when they tell the public their cruise ships are safe when in fact there are in fact a number of reported sexual assaults and disappearances happening on cruise ships?
During Congressional Hearings addressing cruise ship safety and security, I was requested to come to Washington D.C. to testify. I was questioned about safety and security issues on board the cruise ships and what particular laws govern the cruise ship companies. I was surprised that Congress had very little knowledge as to how the cruise ship industry was being regulated, and that the Congressional committee was not aware that there were no mandatory reporting requirements for the cruise ship companies when a crime happens on board their cruise ship. As a result of these hearings, there has been increased safety legislation and regulation of the cruise ship industry.
However, this latest example of the cruise line dumping oil into the ocean simply demonstrates that the industry continues to still believe they are above the laws, and needs to more strictly regulated. Since profits was at the heart of the decision to dump the oil into the ocean and cover it up, we must wonder how much safety is sacrificed in order for the cruise ship companies to maximize their profits. Another example is the lack of lifeguards on board cruise ships despite the number of drownings happening on cruises. In addition, although legislation came out stating cruise ship companies should implement available technology to detect when a passenger goes overboard, the cruise ship companies have still not complied although this technology is readily available. This technology would assist in the early detection of a passenger or crew member going overboard, and result in a faster response time to perform a rescue operation. Again, profits seem to be paramount.
This latest example of disregard of the international laws and cover up must concern us all as to representations by the cruise ship industry as to the safety on board their cruise ships. The cruise ship companies are quick to say that they are as safe as the city, comparing themselves to a big city. The cruise ship companies claim statistically that it is a lot safer on board a cruise ship, stating that the number of crimes or sexual assaults are much less compared to a city. Despite the fact that in my opinion this is a lousy comparison, it also is a comparison we cannot trust. If they are not being honest about dumping oil into the ocean illegally, resulting in felony convictions, we must question their credibility. How can we trust the cruise ship company in being honest with the number of crimes on board their cruise ships?