A little more than a week ago a judge threatened Carnival Corp with a penalty which would require all Carnival brand ships to be certified compliant and notify the court 60 days before being able to sail in US waters. That judgement would have been a meaningful penalty for the environmental crimes Carnival Corp plead guilty to and for repeatedly breaking the terms of their agreement.
At the time, Carnival Corp lawyers argued that the penalty was unfair and too drastic considering the no sail order that has been in place since early this year. The judge, Patricia Seitz, who made the initial threat agreed with that argument saying, “I have tried to make sure we are balancing constantly the interests of the community and the environment in which the company operates and the needs of the defendant.”
Read: Ruling keeps Carnival plan to cruise by Dec. 1st on track (Miami Herald)
The environmental case goes back to 2017 when Carnival Corp plead guilty to dumping “oily waste” into the ocean from its Princess brand ships. At that time they were fined and required to comply with environmental laws. They didn’t, were fined again in 2019, and found themselves in court again recently.
Judge Seitz indicated her decision was made with the best interest of the community, environment, and Carnival. To get back in the water, the ships have to be certified which includes being in compliance in five areas: pollution prevention equipment, spare parts, staffing, voyage planning software, and vetting of shore-side waste vendors.
With the current no sail order set to expire on October 31, 2020, the 30 day penalty amounts to no additional punishment as none of the major cruise lines are scheduled to be back in the water before December 1, 2020 anyway. Even if the no sail order expires on October 31, there are many hurdles to jump over for ships to be able to sail.
Cruise lines have been making statements about their belief that the order will expire without being extended again. Still, the CDC seems to be set against people cruising as they issued a warning to avoid nonessential travel specifically targeting cruise lines.
Contrary to what I’ve thought all along, I don’t see how cruises will sail in 2020, but I still believe the best time to book your next cruise is now. In the meantime, there are plenty of options to get away on a great vacation either within the US or to several foreign destinations.
For information, advice, and assistance booking your next vacation call Joel at 844-483-6669.