Seems like a harsh headline, no? Well, if US District Court Judge Patricia Seitz gets her way, it may become a reality. It seems that the Judge has had enough and has strongly suggested that the biggest of the Carnival big-wigs be in her courtroom in June. She has requested that Mickey Arison, Arnold Donald, and other executives be present. The story broke in the Miami Herald late last week (Subscription req’d with free preview).
This all stems from a $40 million settlement in 2017 by Carnival Corporation where they were placed on a 5-year probation for illegally dumping oil into the oceans from Princess ships and lying about the scheme to US authorities.
The renewed complaint alleges that Carnival Corporation is violating that probation by preparing the ships in advance of required compliance audits. Federal prosecutors say they have internal emails focusing on preventing any audit findings.
The people at the top are treating this as a gnat. 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. (US District Court Judge Pamela Seitz)
Some of the new allegations include falsifying maintenance reports on Holland America Line, illegal dumping of plastic by Carnival Cruise Lines, discharging grey water into Glacier Bay National Park by HAL, and dumping 66,000 gallons of ballast water in Bahamian waters.
Judge Seitz, after strongly suggesting the top executives be present in court to answer, gave then until April 22 to answer the complaint and a violation of probation hearing will be held by June 24th. She also floated the idea that a punishment might be to temporarily prevent Carnival Corporation brands from docking in the US. The corporation operates nine brands and 102 ships.
The charges that Carnival Corporation is facing are criminal, not civil.
A detailed analysis was posted over the weekend on Jim Walker’s Cruise Law News.
So, what’s this all mean to you? Well, maybe nothing. But it is something worth watching.
I do not think you will see a ban on docking of all ships—although I do think that would get the message across. But it may be reasonable to see a ban on docking of the ships that were identified in the violations.
There could also be significant fines levied against the company that will (indirectly) be passed to the consumer in the form of fare increases.
“This company is very successful,” said Seitz, calling the 2017 $40 million settlement — the largest in history — a drop in the bucket. “It prides itself on providing superb customer service. Well it is also a citizen of the world, it makes its money using the waterways and it has a responsibility to be a role model. Right now it is a criminal defendant and this is not the first time nor is it the second time.” (Miami Herald, quoting Judge Seitz)
This might be nothing, but it bears watching closely. There is no indication how swiftly any of the punishments might be doled out; but if there are bans issued it will be a logistical nightmare for Carnival and for agents alike. You certainly cannot sell away from Carnival brands—they have too many. So, the solution is to wait and see. No one likes a surprise. If you are selling Carnival brands—consider yourself warned.