Judge threatens to stop Carnival ships from docking in US

MIAMI (AP) — 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 CEO Arnold Donald in her courtroom for the
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 Corp. 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.

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 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 Corp. and its
subsidiaries. The company owns nine cruise brands and has 102 ships.

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.”

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