Carnival Corporation has plead guilty this week to six different charges involving probation violations for dumping waste into the ocean. A year after Carnival was convicted of dumping waste into the ocean and lying about it to regulators, its ships illegally discharged more than a half-million gallons of treated sewage, gray water, oil and food waste, and burned heavy fuel oil in ports and waters close to shores around the world, according to a court-appointed monitor.

As a result, the company now faces a $20 million fine and will go through a strict three-year probation period. The violations come from a series of environmental crimes the cruise company was accused of committing over the course of eight years. They were charged with dumping oily waste into the ocean and later covering up the dumping, beginning in 1998.

Carnival resolved the litigation through a $40 million settlement, along with a period of probation, entered in with a conviction in 2016. However, it appears the company later committed violations in relation to these offenses during that probation period.

Charges filed against Carnival alleged that the company falsified training records, using a back channel to communicate with the U.S. Coast Guard, not providing the proper authority to the company’s environment compliance officer, dumping food waste and plastic into the waters outside of the Bahamas, and rushing to clean up ships before a court-appointed monitor had a chance to inspect the ships.

Upon learning of the alleged violations, U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz ordered Carnival’s top executives to appear in court. The hearing lasted three and a half hours while the Judge addressed top officials with the company in hopes of impressing upon them the importance of complying with environmental regulations and probation terms.

Requests had been made by interested parties, including environmentalists and fishermen from Alaska, who are requesting that the court ban the company from cruising in the Alaska Glacier Bay and other protected areas. They are also asking that the court order the company to discontinue single-use plastics, prevent the cruise ships from burning heavy fuel oil in North American waters and require an environmental auditor be allowed on every cruise. Judge Seitz did not impose this strict of an order but she did ask prosecutors as to whether any future violations by the company should result in personal responsibility on the company’s executives.

The District Judge who will take over the case after Seitz retires in September issued some tough words against the company’s chief compliance officer, especially considering the fact that these violations have been going on for decades with no improvement.

Federal prosecutor, Richard Udell, emphasized that if any change is going to come from the company, it has to come from the top down, meaning the company’s executives need to take personal responsibility for the actions of their employees.

This current probation deal requires the company to pay a $20 million fine. In addition, Carnival is also required to create a compliance action plan and create a new position for a Chief Compliance Officer.  The company currently has a Corporate Compliance Manager position and must increase the budget open to that position, too. If Carnival misses any deadlines, it will be fined up to $1 million for each day missed. If the violations go past ten days, they could be fined $10 million per day. It is hoped that these probation terms will give the company financial incentive to comply. The company has also agreed to reduce its use of single-use plastics by 50 percent by December 31, 2021 and will commit up to $20 million to improve food waste management on its ships. How these commitments will be executed remains to be seen.


If you have been injured on your cruise, on a wet and slippery deck, down a poorly lit staircase or steep gangway, in port on an excursion, or on a tender boat- it is important that you speak as soon as possible with a lawyer who specializes in personal injury claims against cruise lines. Most cruise lines, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, MSC, Disney, Holland America, Princess, Costa, Regents Seven Seas and Oceania require that claims against them be pursued in a very specific place under very strict deadlines. Failure to comply with each individual cruise lines deadlines can result in a complete loss of any and all legal rights.

Aronfeld Trial Lawyers is a personal injury firm located in Miami, Florida since 1991.  We have fought hard to hold cruise lines accountable when they put their profits ahead of passenger safety.  We are available 24/7 and encourage you to contact us even if you are still on your cruise. The sooner we can begin our investigation and preservation of key evidence, such as the CCTV footage of your trip and fall, slip and fall, assault or other type of injury the more likely we will be able to understand and prove how the incident occurred. Remember, the cruise lines have the most aggressive and well-funded defense lawyers in the world- protecting their profits.  You need an experienced legal advocate in your corner who will fight to obtain the compensation you deserve for lost wages, medical expenses, transportation reimbursement and pain and suffering.  Call us today and speak with a cruise ship claims lawyer about your potential claim– toll free 1-866-597-4529, 305-441-0440, or by email. We are ready to help.