carnival princess cruise
Brittany Hambleton
Brittany Hambleton
December 28, 2019 ·  3 min read

Carnival Cruise Caught Dumping Food and Plastic Waste into the Ocean

The world’s largest travel leisure company, Carnival Corporation has agreed to pay yet another penalty of $20 million for environmental crimes committed by its subsidiary, Princess Cruise Lines. Princess has previously incurred a fine of $40 million for deliberate acts of pollution. In June this year, she admitted to violating the terms of an improper waste disposal agreement signed in 2017.

The agreement came after Princess was fined $40 million when one of her engineers exposed the ship’s illegal acts of dumping oil waste into the water. In what was called “the largest-ever criminal penalty involving deliberate vessel pollution”, Carnival was placed on a five-year probation term during which an environmental inspector would regularly visit all its ships.

As reported by Miami Herald, between April 2017 and April 2018, the inspectors recorded over 800 violations from all of Carnival’s ships which included dumping 500,000 gallons of sewage and 12 gallons of oil into the Bahamian waters [1]. Later on, most of the violations were ruled to be accidental and were allegedly declared by the company.

This year, however, they were caught massively violating the 2017 agreement on six counts which included [2]: dumping food and waste directly into the Bahamian waters; secret examination of ships and resolution of environment-related issues without the knowledge of the inspectors; failure to accurately or honestly record waste disposals; creating false training records; and contacting the U.S Coast Guard to modify the truth in their “non-conformity” report.

A seemingly incorrigible brand

The hearing was held on Monday, 3rd June and presided by U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz. She approved the fine on the corporation and reprimanded it for neglecting its duties towards the environment on which it largely thrives.

“You not only work for employees and shareholders. You are a steward of the environment,” she said to Carnival’s CEO Arnold Donald [3]. “The environment needs to be a core value, and I hope and pray it becomes your daily anthem.” The judge had requested that all the company’s senior executives and its CEO attend the hearing to better grasp the seriousness of their continued acts of violation.

The 2017 agreement required all eight of Carnival’s companies to allow monitoring from inspectors supervised by the court, which led to the discovery of Princess’s recent violations.

“I sincerely regret these mistakes. I do take responsibility for the problems we had,” Arnold told the judge. “I’m extremely personally disappointed we have them. I am personally committed to achieve best in class for compliance.”

“Today’s ruling was a betrayal of the public trust and a continuation of the weak enforcement that has allowed Carnival Corporation to continue to profit by selling the environment to its passengers while its cruise ships contribute to the destruction of the fragile ecosystems they visit,” said Kendra Ulrich of in a statement.

Tougher sanctions for future violations

Earlier this year, Judge Seitz had considered banning the British-American company and its 105 cruise ships from docking at U.S ports. They were let off this time with a requirement to pay 15 annual audits in addition to the $20 million fine. Any further violations and they may be required to pay up to $10 million per day in fines.

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 representative for the company told Business Insider. “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.”

  1. Taylor Dolven and Caitlyn Ostroff. Carnival is on probation for polluting the ocean. They’re still doing it, court records show. Miami Herald. Retrieved 26-12-19
  2. Mark Matousek. Carnival slapped with a $20 million fine after it was caught dumping trash into the ocean, again. Business Insider. Retrieved 26-12-19
  3. Merit Kennedy and Greg Allen. Carnival Cruise Lines Hit With $20 Million Penalty For Environmental Crimes. NPR. Retrieved 26-12-19