Published On: Mon, Dec 5th, 2016


Princess Cruise Lines is “extremely disappointed in its personnel,” the company said after it received a $40 million fine in a court in Miami for environmental violations that have been going on since 2005.

We have never had any illusions about cruise companies and this statement adds to this feeling. We figure that, to install what has been called a ‘magical pipe’ that enables a cruise vessel to dump thousands of liters of oil-polluted water into the ocean, you need to know something about the construction of these huge floating hotels. The personnel members who work on these ocean mammoths are only executing orders.

If Princess had wanted to clean up its own mess, it would have announced that it would investigate who is responsible for the installation of this so-called magical pipe. But no, the company is disappointed in its personnel rather than being embarrassed about its own cost cutting strategies.

The case also triggers memories about the scandal with Volkswagen diesel cars. Like Volkswagen, Princess also fiddled with electronic equipment designed to measure pollution in the ocean waters.

The question furthermore arises how it is possible that the cruise line could continue with these criminal activities for more than ten years. It shows that the supervision over the industry is not up to scratch, but maybe that should not come as a surprise.

New cruise vessels come with hefty price tags of a billion dollars or more, so the stakes are high and it seems only logical that the cruise lines would ask inspectors to look the other way in exchange for certain favors.

The Princess case warrants, in our opinion, a wider investigation into the practices about cruise liners, in particular into the way they handle their waste management.

It would also behoove destinations – and St. Maarten is one of them – to ask their cruise partners about their environmental policies and practices. That is, to stay with the terms of the case at hand, most likely a pipedream, because all destinations want is more cruise arrivals; they have no interest in becoming the proverbial thorn in the cruise industry’s hide. After all, there are a lot of other destinations they could sail to. Environment be damned.