Cruise giant Carnival Corp. is facing an extra step as the cruise company undergoes the process of returning its cruise ships to sea after more than seven months of a coronavirus pandemic-induced sailing suspension.
Carnival Corp. has been ordered to submit certification that all of its cruise ships that will sail in U.S. waters are compliant with appropriate environmental requirements, according to a judicial order related to prior environmental charges for subsidiary Princess Cruises. Princess was convicted and sentenced after pleading guilty to felony charges related to dumping in 2017 — all Carnival Corp. vessels are to be compliant with the plan.
“We will fully comply with the order, along with all other regulatory and legal requirements,” Roger Frizzell, spokesperson for Carnival Corp., told USA TODAY.
The company, which has reasserted its commitment to environmental protection on multiple occasions this year, according to a copy of the order signed by U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz and obtained by USA TODAY, must submit certification to the U.S. government, the U.S. Probation Office for the Southern District of Florida and the U.S. Coast Guard 30 days before planning to resume sailing in U.S. waters. Currently, no ships are sailing in U.S. waters, per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s “no-sail” order, which is set to expire at the end of the month.
Carnival Corp. is the parent company of flagship Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line, among others. Two of its cruise lines, AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises, are currently sailing in Europe.
The criteria each ship must meet is listed as follows in the order:
If for some reason Carnival Corp. is unable to fulfill one of the requirements, the certification must include a “detailed explanation, including a specific plan (including any alternative plan to achieve the same ends of the incomplete task) and timeframe for addressing the item,” according to the order.
“Our highest responsibility and top priorities are compliance, environmental protection and the health, safety and well-being of our guests, crew, shoreside employees, and the people and communities our ships visit,” Frizzell added.
Beyond its probation for environmental offenses in past years, all eight of the company’s cruise lines received failing marks on an environmental report card released last month by Friends of the Earth.
Frizzell told USA TODAY at the time that Carnival Corp. does not believe the report is credible and that it doesn’t “adequately reflect” the improvements that the cruise giant has been making. “The FOE report is not based on any measure of true research or scientific rigor to inform the public, but it is nothing more than a publicity stunt by FOE to help attract potential donors.”
Marcie Keever, the oceans and vessels program director for Friends of the Earth, told USA TODAY that the organization is disappointed that the court didn’t choose to require Carnival Corp. to obtain approval 60 days ahead of its operational restart, but it’s a step in the right direction.
“The court’s order will help shed light on these violating cruise ships and work to get them back into environmental compliance,” she said.