Cruise lines like to make big deals when they win environmental awards or make “green” changes to their ships. They’re much quieter when they’re caught breaking environmental laws. Given two recent events, I wonder if cruise lines prefer to shell out cash when they get caught breaking the rules rather than follow them more strictly in the first place.
According to Reuters, Princess pleaded guilty on Monday to the 2001 death of a pregnant humpback whale nicknamed Snow. The Dawn Princess was traveling too fast in the waters of Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park and most likely struck and killed the whale through careless navigation. Princess claims that since 2001, it has taken measures to better protect whales, and has agreed to pay $750,000 to the National Park Foundation as restitution.
Celebrity has also been fined for breaking environmental laws, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. In 2005, the Mercury dumped untreated wastewater in the Strait of San Juan de Fuca in Washington. The cruise line was incorrectly fined $100,000 at first, with the fine later reduced to $70,000. In an unusual move, Celebrity announced it would pay the full $100,000 to demonstrate “our commitment to preserving and protecting Washington’s marine environment.”
Either the cruise lines made honest mistakes and sincerely regret their actions, or they’d rather appear remorseful and pay up to hide their neglect of the environment in favor of their own economic interests. In any event, travelers who care about the planet should investigate their cruise lines’ current environmental policies before shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars for a vacation at sea.