Princess Cruises pleaded guilty to a second violation of probation imposed in a 2017 criminal conviction for environmental crimes because it failed to establish and maintain an independent internal investigative office, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.
In a statement Wednesday, the DOJ said Princess was ordered to pay an additional $1 million and will be required to undertake remedial measures to ensure the company its parent company, Carnival Cruise Lines, establish and maintain an independent internal investigative office.
“Princess admitted that internal investigators had not been allowed to determine the scope of their investigations, and that draft internal investigations had been impacted and delayed by management,” DOJ said.
Princess was fined $40 million in 2017 for illegal discharge of oil-contaminated water and intentional acts to cover it up, the DOJ said. In 2019, Princess was convicted of six probation violations and fined an additional $20 million, according to DOJ. The Justice Department said two of the violations in the 2019 case involved interfering with the court’s supervision of probation by sending undisclosed teams to ships to prepare them for the independent inspections required during probation.
“Documents filed in court showed that one purpose of the vessel visit programs was to avoid adverse findings by the independent outside auditors working on behalf of the court,” DOJ said.
The 2017 conviction resulted from a dumping violation that occurred in waters off the coast of England in 2013, DOJ said, and probation violations occurred while Carnival ships were operating in U.S. waters.
In an email, Carnival spokesperson Roger Frizzle said the company had been working in good faith throughout the course of its probation and has implemented changes outlined in the court order.
“The company undertook a wide range of specific actions upon learning of the issue several years ago and continues to focus on this area as a top priority,” Frizzle said.
Environmental group Friends of the Earth lauded the DOJ’s actions but said in a statement regulators need to do more to hold companies accountable.
“It is time for the federal government to step up and enact stronger pollution standards as well as independent monitors for the entire cruise industry, so these criminal environmental violations don’t happen again,” said Marcie Keever, Oceans and Vessels Program Director at FOTE.
Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation has fined cruise ship companies, including Princess, for air and water quality violations in Juneau.
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