MIAMI — A U.S. federal judge has threatened to temporarily block Carnival Corp. from docking cruise ships at ports in the U.S. as punishment for a possible probation violation.
U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz said Wednesday that she’ll make a decision in June, and she wants company chairman Micky Arison and president Donald Arnold to attend that hearing.
“The people at the top are treating this as a gnat,” Seitz said. “If I could, I would give all the members of the executive committee a visit to the detention centre for a couple of days. It’s amazing how that helps people come to focus on reality.”
Miami-based Carnival has been on probation for two years as part of a US$40 million settlement for illegally dumping oil into the ocean from its Princess Cruises ships and lying about the scheme, according to court filings.
Despite this, prosecutors say ships have dumped grey water into Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park, prepared ships in advance of court-ordered audits to avoid unfavourable findings, falsified records and dumped plastic garbage into the ocean. The company has acknowledged these incidents in court filings.
In a statement after the hearing, Carnival 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.”
Carnival’s Chief Communications Officer Roger Frizzell said “our environmental responsibility has been and continues to be a top priority for the company.”
The five-year probation began in April 2017 and requires a third-party auditor to inspect ships belonging to Carnival and its subsidiaries. Carnival owns nine cruise brands and has 102 ships.
The court filings say that during 2017 Carnival had a program in place to prepare ships in advance of the audits to avoid negative findings. Seitz ordered the company to stop in December 2017, and it stopped. But federal prosecutors said the practice continued in 2018.