Carnival Corp.'s Princess Cruise Lines unit agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges over waste dumped from one of its ships and pay $40-million (U.S.) in what prosecutors say is the largest U.S. fine over vessel pollution.
Executives of Miami-based Carnival, the world's biggest cruise operator, agreed to the plea deal after investigators found more than 4,200 gallons of oily waste had been illegally dumped from the company's Caribbean Princess cruise ship off the coast of England in 2013, U.S. Justice Department officials said Thursday.
U.K. officials tipped off the U.S. Coast Guard that one of the ship's engineers had reported the illegal discharges and investigators later found other crew members sought to cover up the incident and other wrongful practices on other Princess cruise ships, according to a Justice Department statement.
"The pollution in this case was the result of more than just bad actors on one ship," said Assistant Attorney General John Cruden. "It reflects very poorly on Princess's culture and management. This is a company that knew better and should have done better."
"We are extremely disappointed about the inexcusable actions of our employees who violated our policies and environmental law" through the illegal dumping, Roger Frizzell, a Carnival spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. "We are very sorry that this happened and have taken additional steps to ensure we meet or exceed all environmental requirements."
As part of the deal, cruise ships from eight Carnival companies, including its Holland America Line N.V., will face five years of court supervision to insure compliance with environmental standards, Cruden said.
Carnival Corp. reported third-quarter earnings in September that beat analysts' estimates, helped by strong sales for cruise-line operator's North American and European brands as well as deployments in the Caribbean.
The case is U.S. v. Princess Cruise Lines Ltd., 16-cr-20897, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).