Cleaning up cruise ships: U.S. and German environmentalists call on Carnival Lines to go green

Cleaning up cruise ships: U.S. and German environmentalists call on Carnival Lines to go green

‘Floating cities’ must curb air pollution, stop dumping poorly treated sewage

ARLINGTON, VA – Environmentalists from both sides of the Atlantic called today for Carnival Corp., the world’s largest operator of cruise ships, to retrofit all of its vessels with state-of-the-art technology to reduce harmful air pollution from smokestacks and polluted sewage waste from ship systems.

In a news conference outside the offices of the Cruise Lines International Association, Friends of the Earth US and the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union of Germany said Carnival has already installed modern anti-pollution technology on some of its cruise lines, but is lagging on retrofitting more than half of its 102-vessel global fleet.

“Cruise ship brochures show crystal clear skies and sparking clean water, but these ships pollute the air with deadly soot and dump more than a billion gallons of sewage into our oceans every year,” said Marcie Keever, oceans and vessels program director for Friends of the Earth. “Carnival is the industry leader in size and profit, but is dragging its feet when it comes to environmental practices.”

Carnival received an F for sewage treatment on Friends of the Earth’s latest Cruise Ship Report Card. The company, based in Miami and London, uses the best available sewage treatment technology on some of the lines it operates but more than half of its ships rely on 30-year-old technology that can leave treated sewage with high levels of fecal matter, bacteria, heavy metals and other contaminants harmful to aquatic life and people. By law, wastewater dumped within three nautical miles of shore must be treated, but beyond that ships are allowed to dump raw sewage directly into the ocean.

Carnival shows the same inconsistency toward emissions of soot, microscopic cancer-causing particles that also are a major driver of global warming. NABU’s “This Stinks!” cruise ship campaign pushed AIDA Cruises — the Carnival-owned cruise line that is the German market leader — to install exhaust technology with particulate filters, which can reduce soot emissions by up to 99 percent. The campaign also calls on cruise lines to stop using dirty heavy fuel oil. However, even though Carnival is installing new exhaust treatment technology on some of its U.S.-based ships, it is not using the more advanced kind with filters that AIDA has adopted. 

“When will Carnival install the same technology on their U.S. ships as they have promised for Germany?” asked Dietmar Oeliger, head of transportation policy at NABU. “There is no reason for Carnival or other cruise lines to wait any longer to protect not only the climate but their passengers’ health.” 

Axel Friedrich of the German federal environmental agency, who is working with NABU, said soot is the second-largest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide, and the fuel burned by cruise ships is up to 3,500 times dirtier than the diesel burned by cars and trucks. 

“But while most cars, trucks and buses nowadays have particulate filters, seagoing vessels are still unregulated,” Friedrich said. “The European cruise companies have started to rethink their responsibility for health and the climate; now it time for the U.S., the world’s largest cruise market, to keep up.”


Marcie Keever, (415) 999-3992, [email protected]
Adam Russell, (202) 222-0722, [email protected]

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