Posted on Cruise Ship Law Blog / Blog / Did Princess/Carnival Cruise Line’s Plead Guilty To Crimes?

Did Princess/Carnival Cruise Line’s Plead Guilty To Crimes?


Princess Cruise Line, a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise Lines, has headquarters in California. The cruise line has a fleet of 18 large cruise ships catering to American and international markets.

The company is one of the largest cruise companies in the world. It has more than 30,000 employees and reports revenues above $5 billion annually.

The cruise company provides some of the best luxurious cruise experiences there are. Unfortunately, it has also had its fair share of negative publicity.

Don’t Let These Cruise Companies Take Advantage of Your Family. Call Ehline Law.

The company has often come under the spotlight many times for criminal activities aboard its cruise ships.

Due to opaque laws, the cruise industry has always gotten away with lawsuits and legal action. However, the laws finally caught on to the Carnival Corporation in 2019 when it compromised on environmental excellence.

If you’ve gotten injured on a cruise, contact Ehline Law and our Los Angeles cruise ship attorneys to pursue legal action.

Princess Cruise Sentenced for Environmental Violations Probation

In April 2017, the cruise line (Caribbean Princess cruise ship) was charged with intentionally dumping oil-contaminated waste into the waters. They had also covered the incident by falsifying records. However, after the company realized that the law had caught on to them, they pleaded guilty to the felony charges.

“This case demonstrates the importance of identifying and correcting compliance problems at their source.” (Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark – Environment and Natural Resources Division, U.S. DOJ.).

The company had to pay $40 million in fines, the largest ever in place against the cruise industry history. The sentence received also included a five-year probation time period to monitor their activities to avoid further violations. They also had to follow the supervised environmental compliance plan.

However, on June 3rd, 2019, the company got sentenced for violating environmental probation. Public information shows company leadership was forced to acknowledge violations. After listening to the charges, the corporation pleaded guilty again, admitting six environmental probation violations. As you’ll recall, the first violation occurred in 2017, for which it got fined $40 million. Don’ think this disposes of the matter entirely.

The company stated on record that on two occasions, it had interfered with the officials who the government had sent for independent inspections. Upon finding out, the U.S. District Court Judge Patricia Seitz warned the Princess Cruise Lines.

He ordered more analysis inspections to ensure compliance during the probation period and environmental rights remain protected under the plea agreement.

The U.S. Department of Justice stated: “A corporation is responsible to its shareholders and board of directors to be profitable, but not by breaking the law and destroying the very environment in which it navigates for profit.” (U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan – Southern District of Florida). Carnival faces fines of up to $ million per day if they fail to comply with deadlines or engage in future violations.

The tragedy lies in the business going above and beyond to avoid and cover up the problems rather than resolve them. Instead of learning from its mistakes, Carnival Corp sought to hide such problems, forcing a large settlement and fines to the damaged parties failing to obey.

After the court’s order protecting the environment, the company stated that the Carnival Corporation remains committed to avoiding compliance problems and following the best practices, subject to judicial oversight.

They even admitted four additional violations to federal prosecutors at the Justice Department, including pleading guilty to charges of illegal dumping that will pollute the seas.

These violations include the following:

  • Unable to assign a compliance manager to follow the environmental compliance plan
  • Asking the U.S. Coast Guard to re-define what non-conformity under ECP meant when the company had already got its proposals rejected by the government
  • Falsifying environmental training records on two different cruise ships intentionally.
  • Discharging waste in Bahamian waters and understating the illegal discharges in the reports

Carnival sought to minimize the court’s supervision by agreeing to new environmental measures. We even saw corporate big wigs personally pledge to end the major non-conformities by making major changes over policy with Princess Cruises and Carnival.

We’ll see if they continue violating reporting requirements with independent audits. Even when senior management pledge they will be correcting compliance problems, many international cruise victims won’t be holding their breath.

Marine life harmed by this case demonstrates the tradition and history of cruise lines placing profits over people and our environment. The oily waste and other non-food waste left behind in our oceans, including plastic have yet to do all their toxic pollution damage.

Further investigation and satellite photos will tell just us how bad the discharged trash pattern from these vessels is, from the Bahamas to Miami Florida.

Punishment for Further Violations

Although the company was under supervision after getting fined $40 million, Carnival’s deliberate deception undermined such probation leading the court to fine an additional $20 million.

Due to the numerous violations and the previous criminal conviction (environmental crimes), the court asked the company to do the following:

  • Pay the additional $20 million fine
  • Ensure that a company notice gets circulated to all employees, letting them know that management takes full responsibility for the environmental incident and further violations
  • Restructure the company’s compliance processes and policies, ensuring a new compliance head, a new compliance director as part of the board, and training for all their board members on compliance
  • Meet the deadlines or face daily fines of $10 million
  • Conduct additional 15 independent audits by the third party and oversight by a court-appointed monitor
  • Comply with new requirements
  • Change its waste management systems and process aboard all the cruise ships as part of the environmental measures required.

All these additional punishments resulted from the probation violation, and Judge Seitz also gave another three years probation period.

This trash dumping is not Carnival Cruise’s first rodeo, and this practice has continued since 1993. However, it is surprising that one of the company’s employees who, in 2013, reported the company’s malpractices where the ship’s waste pipe had direct access to the sea without the waste getting treated onboard.

Judge Seitz stood firm in her belief that cruise ships must be accountable for all the damages they cause. She threatened the firm that she would not allow access to U.S. ports for docking. Such legal measures pushed the company to disclose all the violations and agree to ensure that these illegal practices stop in the future.

Contact Ehline Law Cruise Ships Attorneys

From the case above, you would’ve realized how cruise ship common carriers get away with a lot of things until severe legal action follows. This is an incident of environmental violations, but what about the cases where individuals get involved?

Cruise lines use the loose laws concerning the cruise industry to get away from claims and avoid getting the heat of strict liability for any criminal activity that occurs on their ships.

If you’ve gotten hurt or lost someone at sea, contact us at (213) 596-9642 to talk to our expert cruise ship attorneys today and get a free consultation!

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