U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz has threatened to bar Carnival Corp. from docking any of its ships at U.S. ports.
This follows alleged breaches of the probation imposed on the company in relation to a $40 million settlement reached in 2016 when Carnival subsidiary Princess Cruise Lines Ltd. agreed to plead guilty to seven felony charges stemming from its deliberate pollution of the seas and intentional acts to cover it up (see earlier story).
While on probation, according to court filings, Carnival Corp. and its subsidiaries have sought to avoid unfavorable findings by preparing ships in advance of court-ordered audits, including through a program of ship visits that, one filing asserts ,”had the impact of subverting the purpose and terms of the Court’s orders.”
“The United States views both programs as reflecting a serious failure by the defendant at its senior executive levels to appreciate the fact that Princess is a convicted criminal on probation and that the terms of probation are mandatory and not discretionary,” says the filing.
The filings also assert that Carnival falsified records, dumped plastic garbage into the ocean and illegally discharged gray water into Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.
The company also has tried to lobby the U.S. Coast Guard through a back channel [a retired Coast Guard rear admiral now employed as a Holland America senior Vice President] to change the terms of the settlement, the filings assert
The Miami Herald reports that, in a statement issued following an April 10 hearing before Judge Seitz, Carnival Corp.’s Chief Communications Officer Roger Frizzell 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.
“Our environmental responsibility has been and continues to be a top priority for the company. Our aspiration is to leave the places we touch even better than when we first arrived. This is only in the best interest of our guests, our company and the oceans upon which we travel.”
Judge Seitz will decide whether to revoke Carnival Corp.’s probation and impose further penalties on the company at a hearing scheduled for June.
The Miami Herald reports that at Wednesday’s hearing Seitz criticized Carnival’s chairman, Micky Arison, and president, Arnold Donald, neither of whom were present.
“The people at the top are treating this as a gnat,” the newspaper reports Seitz as saying. “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.”
She requested that Arison, Donald and other executives attend the June hearing to answer questions.
Read the Miami Herald’s coverage of the case HERE