Carnival –– Putting passengers at Risk

Carnival –– Putting passengers at Risk

Of the 26.6 million people that went on cruises last year, nearly half, about 12 million people, went on a cruise on one of Carnival Corporation’s 10 subsidiaries: Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, P&O Cruises (Australia) and P&O Cruises (UK), Fathom.

Most ships in Carnival’s global fleet are fueled with ultra-dirty heavy fuel oil — putting passengers and coastal communities at unacceptable and unnecessary risk. Sometimes called residual oil, heavy fuel oil is the bottom-of-the-barrel, tar-like sludge waste that is left over after other petroleum products are made from crude. It is so dirty that on land, heavy fuel oil is classified as hazardous waste. When burned, heavy fuel oil releases enormous amounts of toxins, heavy metals, greenhouse gases, and dangerous particulate matter.

Air pollution issues related to ship exhaust from the global shipping industry are well-documented. A 2018 study attributed up to 400,000 annual premature deaths from lung and cardiovascular disease to ship engine exhaust. And a 2018 investigation measuring air pollution from cruise ships in Greece prompted the British Heart Foundation to issue advice in September telling cruise passengers to avoid standing downwind of the ship’s smokestacks.

Approximately 70% of ship emissions occur within 250 miles of land. These emissions can travel inland and expose millions of unsuspecting people to dangerous pollution levels, which raises serious concerns for cruise ship meccas like Miami and Fort Lauderdale and port cities around the world.

Travel Professionals, your voices are vital!

Join the growing movement of people from around the world telling Carnival Corporation to stop putting cruisers and communities at risk so it can keep burning ultra-dirty, dangerous heavy fuel oil!

Learn more about the Arctic Indigenous leaders and Arctic nations pushing for an end to heavy fuel oil use in their region

Aren’t Carnival’s climate emissions decreasing?

Aren’t Carnival’s climate emissions decreasing?

Carnival Corporation’s carbon reduction claims come with an important caveat: the figures are based on the number of people the ships can host (not the number of passengers, as most ships are not booked to full capacity in every room) – called available lower berth or ALB. That means the more they expand their fleet, the more climate-damaging emissions they pump into the atmosphere while still reporting that the amount per person decreases.

It looks good on paper and is virtually meaningless for the climate.

Carnival decreasing the amount of climate pollution per person capacity, but increasing their size and emissions overall doesn’t address the growing climate footprint of this company. This is why climate agreements are based on absolute reduction targets, not intensity reductions like Carnival’s current goals.

According to Carnival’s own data, their actual overall emissions have steadily increased for over a decade.

Are Carnival’s Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS) a solution to their pollution?

Are Carnival’s Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS) a solution to their pollution?

While the new sulfur content standards that will come into effect in 2020 aim to clean up ship fuel, Carnival is doubling down on “emissions cheat systems,” i.e. SOx scrubbers (also called Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems — EGCS) so it can keep burning dirt-cheap, ultra-dirty heavy fuel oil. Carnival has been touting its scrubbers as evidence of their concern for human and environmental health. They have even gone so far as to claim that these are “better” than a cleaner burning fuel, marine gas oil. The language is perplexingly vague, and the company has yet to provide any evidence to back up these claims.

The cruise industry trade organization, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has also pushed to preserve a provision in the International Maritime Organization regulations that allow ships keep burning high-sulfur, heavy fuel oil if the vessels have scrubbers installed. Carnival has also confirmed that the scrubbers it is installing on its ships are open-loop, which means some types of pollution are being removed from the air emissions and can instead be discharged into the ocean. Carnival is the largest dues-paying member of CLIA, with over 40% of the global cruise market share.

Aren’t Carnival’s climate emissions decreasing? Learn More.

Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic ask Carnival to ditch heavy fuel oil

Learn more about the Arctic Indigenous leaders and Arctic nations pushing for an end to heavy fuel oil use in their region

Carnival Corporation dismissed calls for it to end its use of heavy fuel oil, including in the Arctic and Subarctic, as “misguided.” On October 24th, at Carnival’s UK HQ, Arctic Indigenous leadership and Clean Up Carnival coalition members met with company executives to deliver an international petition, signed by 104,000 people worldwide, calling for the company to stop burning heavy fuel oil in Carnival’s global fleet, starting with the fragile and imperiled Arctic and Subarctic regions.

These were not lone voices. In July, the Inuit Circumpolar Council – representing Indigenous Peoples in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka (Russia) passed the Utqiaġvik Declaration (pg. 4) which included a directive to phase out heavy fuel oil in the Arctic. In October, the Alaska Federation of Natives also passed a formal resolution calling for a phaseout of heavy fuel oil in their region.

Their concerns have been echoed by many countries at the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO), including all of the top Arctic and Subarctic destinations for Carnival-owned ships. In April 2018, at the 72nd Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the IMO, the Arctic states of Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and the United States, along with Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand, proposed a ban on the use and carriage for use of heavy fuel oil by ships operating in the Arctic. The proposal, along with a proposal to assess the impact of such a ban on Arctic communities from Canada, was supported by Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Ireland, Japan, the League of Arab States, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK leading to an agreement to move forward with the ban. Support from Denmark was particularly notable as it is the sixth Arctic nation to support the ban. In September, Greenland announced that it would add its support for a ban.

At MEPC 73 in October 2018, support for commencing work to mitigate the risks of using and carrying HFO fuel in the Arctic, which includes developing a ban, at the PPR6 technical meeting in February 2019, was voiced by Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Poland, and the UK.

Alaska, Greenland (Denmark), Norway, Finland, and Iceland are all among the most popular Arctic and Subarctic destinations for Carnival-owned ships. Carnival brands offering trips to the Arctic and Subarctic include Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Seabourn, P&O Cruises (UK), Cunard, and Aida.

Carnival has claimed that it is already treating the Arctic as a ‘specially protected area’ because it “only” sends ships there burning heavy fuel oil if the ships have SOx scrubbers installed. Not only do these scrubbers present water pollution issues, but this equipment does nothing to address spill risk. According to the best available public data, EGCS also do not deliver anything close to the pollution reductions possible with cleaner fuel and filtration.

The only appropriate response that respects the will of the people who have called the Arctic and Subarctic home for tens of thousands of years is to stop sending ships to these regions fueled with heavy fuel oil.

Heavy fuel oil use is already banned in the Antarctic due to the significantly greater risks its use presents as compared to other cleaner fuels.

Are Carnival’s Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS) a solution to their pollution? Learn More.

Would you forgo a glass of wine to protect the Arctic and our climate?

Would you forgo a glass of wine to protect the Arctic and our climate?


Published on October 10, 2018 – 06:00 by Transport Environment

It would cost passengers just the price of a glass of wine a day if cruise ships would stop burning highly polluting heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the fragile Arctic environment. That’s according to a new report from green transport group Transport & Environment which analysed the impact on the cruise ship MS Rotterdam had it switched to marine gas oil (MGO) [1] during three summer trips to the Arctic in 2018.

Banning the use of HFO in the Arctic last summer would have increased ticket prices on the MS Rotterdam by on average 6%, based on 2018 fuel prices and assuming the additional fuel costs incurred were passed on to passengers. This equates to an additional €7 a day on ticket prices – or no more than the price of a glass of wine onboard the MS Rotterdam, which is owned by Holland America Line.

How much does a clean Arctic Cruise cost

Lucy Gilliam, shipping officer at T&E, said: “Arctic cruise tourism is booming, increasing the risks of oil spills and creating more pollution. The costs per passenger of a switch to cleaner fuel are tiny. It’s more than worth it to reduce the risks to the unique environment that passengers are paying to see.”

T&E said the analysis shows the Arctic HFO ban can be implemented immediately with an insignificant impact on the cruise industry. Such trivial increases in ticket prices for this luxury business should be acceptable for cruise passengers who, in growing numbers – up by 20% in the Norwegian port of Svalbard in 2017 – are paying to see the pristine Arctic environment.

Lucy Gilliam concluded: “Cruise companies claim that an HFO ban would be a death sentence to their industry yet the figures show that the costs passed on to passengers are trivial. Cruises to the Arctic are, by any measure, a luxury yet tickets are VAT exempt.”

Last April the IMO agreed to move forward on developing a ban on HFO from Arctic waters on the basis of an impact assessment. Currently, the IMO is inviting submissions on how to assess the impact of the HFO ban on communities and operators in the Arctic. It will be discussed during the next marine environment protection committee meeting (MEPC 73) in London in October.


[1] HFO is made from the dregs of the oil refining process and is the dirtiest of all fuel types. In the event of a spill, it is virtually impossible to clean up. It also produces higher levels of air and climate pollutants than other marine fuels.

Read more:

Report: Cost analysis of Arctic HFO ban for cruise shipping

Clean Up Carnival Coalition demands Carnival to clean up its ships during a Global Sea Ice Vigil

Clean Up Carnival Coalition demands Carnival to clean up its ships during a Global Sea Ice Vigil

SEATTLE, WA — Climate protectors gathered in Amsterdam and Seattle this weekend to bear witness to the ways human-caused climate change is destroying the Arctic. Participants in two international vigils gathered on Arctic sea ice minimum day to highlight the climate-disrupting emissions of the often-overlooked shipping sector, and called on cruise industry giant Carnival Corporation to end its use of the dirtiest fossil fuel available for marine transportation — heavy fuel oil.

See photo and video from the vigils

The Seattle vigil featured a floating art installation in Elliott Bay of a life-size polar bear perched on a melting iceberg. The vigil, co-hosted by environmental organizations, 350 Seattle, Friends of the Earth, and Plant for the Planet, was part of the region-wide Salish Sea Day of Action. The vigil in Amsterdam saw climate protectors dressed in penguin costumes interacting with cruise passengers, delivering a message of solidarity with the Arctic from a species in the Antarctic — where heavy fuel oil is already banned — also threatened by climate change. The vigil was hosted by members of the #CleanUpCarnival coalition.

At the Seattle vigil, members of the Duwamish and Snohomish tribes in Washington, the Curyung tribe in Alaska, and the Saanich First Nation in British Columbia, led a ceremony for the Salish Sea, the world’s oceans, and the animals that depend on them for survival. The speakers addressed how the irresponsible practices of the cruise industry threaten their traditional ways of life.

“Hundreds of Alaska Native villages along the coast are at risk from increased Arctic sea ice melt and sea-level rise due to climate change. Cruise ships that use dirty heavy fuel oil exacerbate sea ice melt and endanger our subsistence way of life through a risk of spills and pollution that could harm wildlife and our communities.” -Verner Wilson III, Senior Oceans Campaigner at Friends of the Earth and member of the Curyung Tribe in Dillingham, Alaska

Arctic sea ice minimum day is the annual day when the sea ice extent is at its lowest. Sea ice minimum —  which occurs in mid-September of each year — happens when the ice stops melting and the glaciers begin to accumulate again. The National Snow and Ice Center, which tracks sea ice at, expects this year’s sea ice minimum to be one of the ten lowest in the satellite record. Also this year for the first time on record, the oldest and strongest sea ice north of Greenland began to break apart, sending shockwaves through the climate science community.

Cruise companies that burn heavy fuel oil — like Carnival Corporation and its 10 subsidiary brands — are amplifying the effects of climate change in the Arctic. When soot released from burning heavy fuel oil settles on sea ice, it darkens the surface, decreasing the ability of sea ice to reflect sunlight and accelerating melting. The plight of the world’s oceans, which absorb much of the excess heat from global warming, underscore the urgency for the cruise industry to stop using heavy fuel oil. Nowhere is the impact of warming oceans more evident than in the world’s polar regions, which are experiencing the impacts of climate change at approximately twice the rate of other regions.

“While Carnival has been busy promoting itself as an environmental leader, its climate emissions keep growing and its ships keep polluting the beautiful places its passengers are paying to see. Every day, Carnival’s cruise ships guzzle the dirtiest possible marine fuel — heavy fuel oil. With dozens of Carnival ships headed to the fragile ecosystems of the Arctic and sub-Arctic, it’s long overdue for the cruise giant to give up its heavy fuel oil addiction.” -Kendra Ulrich, Senior Shipping Campaigner at


Holland America, a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & PLC, is headquartered in Seattle. Several Holland America routes travel from Seattle and Vancouver, B.C, to ports in Alaska — some of which are located in the sub-Arctic.

Other Carnival subsidiaries that sail from Seattle and Vancouver to Alaska include Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, and Seabourn. Carnival brands P&O, Seabourn, Holland America, and Aida sail from ports in Europe to both Arctic and sub-Arctic waters. Carnival’s Cunard Line sails to the sub-Arctic, just skirting the Arctic.


Media contact: Virginia Cleaveland, Press Secretary,,, 510-858-9902