The tides haven't turned for the cruise ship industry

The tides haven’t turned: the cruise ship industry at it again

The tides haven’t turned: the cruise ship industry at it again

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No, it’s not Norovirus, but the cruise industry has yet again added another misfortune to its growing list of mishaps. If Carnival Triumph’s “Cruise From Hell” described by passengers as a mixture of ‘Survivor’ and ‘Lord of the Flies’ wasn’t bad enough, this year alone the CDC has already reported nine outbreaks of gastrointestinal sicknesses. To add to these horror stories, the Norwegian Dawn crashed into a reef on Tuesday May 19, after a temporary loss of power while sailing from Bermuda to Boston. Fortunately, none of the 2,443 passengers and 1,059 crew members were injured and the ship was refloated during high tide. Passengers tweeted that the ship hit the reef hard and posted pictures of the churned up substrate.

Friends of the Earth has been rating cruise ships on their air and water pollution footprint for the past several years, to help potential cruisers choose a ship with the best environmental and human health impacts. The four criteria consists of sewage treatment (whether a cruise line has installed the most advanced wastewater treatment systems), air pollution reduction (whether a cruise has been retrofitted to plug into shore side electrical grids), water quality compliance (violations of Alaska pollution standards) and transparency. Little surprise here, but every single line received a grade of F for transparency on the 2014 report card, not wanting to air their dirty laundry.

It’s not enough that the cruise ship industry happens to be one of the largest ocean polluters, but Carnival Cruise Lines avoids most taxes due to a loophole in the tax code, reports David Leonhardt at the New York Times. Carnival only pays taxes equal to 1.1 percent of its cumulative $11.3 billion in profits.

Let’s take a look at some of the past calamities involving the cruise industry:


  • The CDC reported norovirus and one unknown outbreak on the following ships: Star Princess, Oceania Marina, Holland America Maasdam, Coral Princess, Legend of the Seas, Celebrity Infinity, Norwegian Pearl, Celebrity Equinox, and Grandeur of the Seas


  • 158 passengers and 14 crew members contracted norovirus on the Crown Princess
  • 181 sick passengers and 11 sick crew affected by norovirus on the Caribbean Princess
  • 700 crew and passengers were sick on Explorer of the Seas (the highest number of sick people on a cruise in the past two decades) Carnival Dream lost power and experienced toilet failures


  • Carnival Cruise Lines was held responsible in federal court for the fire on the Triumph in 2013
  • The Silver Shadow failed a CDC health inspection when food and kitchen equipment was found unrefrigerated and dirty in crew cabins
  • Grandeur of the Seas suffered from a fire


  • The Costa Concordia grounded on a reef in Italy killing 32 people
  •  A CDC inspector found enough violations to fail the ship Holland America Veendam (including brown liquid on clean dishes)


  •  A fire occurred on the Carnival Splendor in 2010 crippling the cruise ship

To choose a greener cruise, check out Friends of the Earth’s 2014 Cruise Ship Report Card, where you can search for a cruise by grade or by destination.

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