The Carnival Miracle in Juneau in 2013. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

The Carnival Miracle in Juneau in 2013. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Judge threatens to stop Carnival cruise ships from docking in US

Company has been on probation for illegally dumping oil into ocean

MIAMI — A federal judge has threatened to temporarily block Carnival Corp. from docking cruise ships at ports in the United States as punishment for a possible probation violation.

The Miami Herald reports U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz said Wednesday that she’ll make a decision in June, and she wants company chairman Micky Arison and president Donald Arnold to attend that hearing.

“The people at the top are treating this as a gnat,” Seitz said. “If I could, I would give all the members of the executive committee a visit to the detention center for a couple of days. It’s amazing how that helps people come to focus on reality.”

Miami-based Carnival has been on probation for two years as part of a $40 million settlement for illegally dumping oil into the ocean from its Princess Cruises ships and lying about the scheme, according to court filings.

[Lawmakers vote to pull funding for cruise compliance program]

Despite this, prosecutors say ships have dumped grey water into Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park, prepared ships in advance of court-ordered audits to avoid unfavorable findings, falsified records and dumped plastic garbage into the ocean. The company has acknowledged these incidents in court filings.

In a statement after the hearing, Carnival said “It appears there were some mischaracterizations made by others to the court. We intend to fully address the issues raised at today’s court conference.”

Carnival’s Chief Communications Officer Roger Frizzell said “our environmental responsibility has been and continues to be a top priority for the company.”

The five-year probation began in April 2017 and requires a third-party auditor to inspect ships belonging to Carnival and its subsidiaries. Carnival owns nine cruise brands and has 102 ships.

[City and cruise line make lawsuit settlement official]

The court filings say that during 2017 Carnival had a program in place to prepare ships in advance of the audits to avoid negative findings. Seitz ordered the company to stop in December 2017, and it stopped. But federal prosecutors said the practice continued in 2018.

Prosecutors said internal emails shared among Carnival’s subsidiaries discussed the practice. An email from Carnival’s German-based cruise line AIDA Cruises said, “It would be really important to go onboard on August 12 for one week in order to have time to manage issues before the audits and avoid findings.”

They said a similar email from Carnival’s Seattle-based Holland America Line mentioned “prevent audit findings” as a goal in early 2018.

The court filings said the monitor found that Carnival and its subsidiaries repeatedly falsified records, as recently as September 2018, when an engineer on Holland America’s Westerdam ship falsified maintenance records to make it appear he had cleaned and tested equipment when he had not. The same ship, according to court filings, dumped 26,000 gallons of grey water into Glacier Bay National Park in September 2018.

Monitors also found that the Carnival Elation ship dumped plastic garbage overboard during an audit in December. The plastic wasn’t being separated from food, court filings said.

The judge on Wednesday mentioned a 45-minute presentation she received as a guest onboard Carnival Corp.’s ultra-luxury cruise line Seabourn about how plastic straws are damaging the marine environment.

“I was thinking to myself, ‘I’m impressed,’” she said, “Obviously they talk the talk, but they aren’t walking the walk.”


• This is an Associated Press report.


More in News

In this July 13, 2007, file photo, workers with the Pebble Mine project test drill in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, near the village of Iliamma. (AP Photo / Al Grillo)
Pebble developer files appeal with Army Corps

The Army Corps of Engineers rejected Pebble Limited Partnership’s application in November.

This August 2019 photos shows a redline at Treadwell Arena designed by Tsimshian artist Abel Ryan. The arena is adding new weekly events to its schedule, City and Borough of Juneau announced. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Treadwell Arena adds new weekly events

Hockey and open skate are on the schedule.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Friday, Jan. 22

The most recent state and local numbers.

A Coast Guard Station Juneau 45-foot Response Boat-Medium patrols Auke Bay during an exercise in 2018. A response boat similar to the one in the photo was struck by a laser near Ketchikan on Saturday, Jan. 17, prompting an investigation into the crime. (Lt. Brian Dykens / U.S. Coast Guard)
Coast Guard wants information after laser pointed at boat

“Laser strikes jeopardize the safety of our boat crews…”

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Thursday, Jan. 21

The most recent state and local numbers.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy addresses the public during a virtual town hall on Sept. 15, 2020 in Alaska. ( Courtesy Photo / Austin McDaniel, Office of the Governor)
Dunleavy pitches dividend change amid legislative splits

No clear direction has emerged from lawmakers.

Joar Leifseth Ulsom, right, wearing a bib with ExxonMobil lettering on it, congratulates Peter Kaiser on his win in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Nome, Alaska. The world’s most famous sled dog race has lost another major sponsor as the Iditarod prepares for a scaled-back version of this year’s race because of the pandemic, officials said Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. ExxonMobil confirmed to The Associated Press that the oil giant will drop its sponsorship of the race. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)
ExxonMobil becomes latest sponsor to sever Iditarod ties

The world’s most famous sled dog race has lost another major sponsor.

Has it always been a police car? (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Friday, Jan. 22, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read