It turns out that the so-called fresh sea air you breathe in while on a cruise ship may not be as clean and invigorating as you think. In fact, according to a recent study produced by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Heath, the air just outside of a cruise ship at sea may be more dangerous for the passengers and crew than expected and contain high levels of air pollution that can put your health at risk.

The study was conducted by Ryan Kennedy, an associate professor at John Hopkins, who measured the number of ultrafine particles in the air on four different cruise ships, including the Carnival Liberty, the Carnival Freedom, the Holland American MS Amsterdam, and the Princess Cruises Emerald Princess. What Kennedy found was that measurements of these particles was equivalent to locations known for high pollution, including Taipei and Beijing, China. Even more concerning was the fact that many of the worst readings were taken in places that were meant for exercise or children’s activities on the ship.

When confronted with the findings, Carnival Cruise Line disputed these tests as “completely ridiculous, inaccurate and in no way represent reality.” Those are some fairly strong words against Kennedy’s findings, which is understandable since all four ships were Carnival ships or ships associated with Carnival subsidiaries.

Kennedy’s study counted the particles of pollutants in the air while on-board, which are known as ultrafine or nanoparticles. Each particle is smaller than 0.1 cubic centimeters. When someone inhales a nanoparticle, they enter the bloodstream or brain and can have significant impact on the human body. These particles can cause problems to the respiratory system, as well as the circulatory system. They can be very harmful to groups of individuals that are vulnerable, including children or the elderly, as well as individuals with heart or lung issues.

One big question is where are these particles coming from? Kennedy’s study shows that many of them are coming from burning diesel fuel. In fact, Kennedy stated in his study that he was sure of the smell of fuel in the air when conducting his work.

Before Kennedy began his collection of particles on the ship, he also tested the air on a beach to have a comparison. He found that the beach air had an average reading of under 500 particles per cubic centimeter, while the ship’s air had average particles ranging from 1,540 to 33, 514 particles per cubic centimeter.

In comparison to a study done on the air in downtown Beijing in 2009, the air had 30,000 particles per cubic centimeters while the air in a train station in Taipei in 2009 had 15,500 particles per cubic centimeter.

The problem is major cruise lines are not required to measure air quality, although Carnival stated that it tests emissions levels at port and at sea per EPA requirements.

The study does not take into account the fact that the air in certain areas and cruise ship ports can be particularly bad and can affect these readings. Kennedy insists that in every study he conducted, the air quality was always worst near the stern, which is the back of the ship, an area where the ship’s smokestacks are normally located. The stern is also where most ships will put their outdoor activities intended for exercise.

This is not the first time concerns have been raised about the potential toxic quality of the air on cruise ships. The German environmental association, Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU), studied air quality on passenger cruise ships and found that people could be inhaling “60 times higher concentrations of harmful air pollutants” than they would in natural air settings.


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.

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