Carnival Corporation cruise ships put Arctic, Subarctic marine mammals at risk, groundbreaking new map shows

Carnival Corporation cruise ships put Arctic, Subarctic marine mammals at risk, groundbreaking new map shows

February 6, 2019

SEATTLE — A groundbreaking new interactive map released today by the international Clean Up Carnival coalition shows that nearly half of Carnival Corporation cruise ships traveling through the Arctic and Subarctic pass near or through critical habitats for marine mammals including orca, walrus, and bowhead, narwhal, and beluga whales.

The map details information on ship names, ship routes, the amount of heavy fuel oil carried onboard, the amount of heavy fuel oil burned in the Arctic and Subarctic, and CO2 and black carbon emissions for all Carnival Corporation ships that traveled from 50°N latitude and above in 2017. The map also shows historical data on oil spills from across the shipping sector (tankers, tugs, etc) including vessel name, fuel type, and spill amount.

The Clean Up Carnival coalition is calling on Carnival Corporation — the world’s largest cruise operator — to stop carrying and using heavy fuel oil on ships traveling to the Arctic and Subarctic. A spill of this thick, residual oil in this fragile marine environment would be nearly impossible to clean up. In addition, black carbon emissions from the combustion of heavy fuel oil accelerate sea ice melt and contribute to global sea level rise.

It is generally agreed upon that Arctic waters are 60°N latitude and above; however, the Subarctic is more loosely defined. For the purposes of this map, the Subarctic is defined as 50°N latitude and above, which encompasses Southeast Alaska and Northern British Columbia.

The British Columbia coast is home to the threatened Northern Resident Killer Whales and critically endangered Southern Resident Killer WhalesNarwhal whales and two populations of bowhead whales are listed as species of special concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. In addition, the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Sea population of bowhead whale is listed as a species of special concern under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. The Cook Inlet population of beluga whale is listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) definition of the Arctic does not follow the 60°N latitude definition — it instead excludes Iceland and the Norwegian mainland. Greenland and the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard, where heavy fuel oil is already banned in most places, are within the IMO-defined Arctic.

“Marine ecology does not follow human-created boundaries, and unfortunately, neither does pollution. Not only could a spill of heavy fuel oil have a long-term, detrimental impact on the critical habitat of several Arctic marine mammals, but the black carbon emissions from cruise ships burning heavy fuel oil put the fragile ecosystems of the Arctic and Subarctic at serious risk,” said Kendra Ulrich, Senior Shipping Campaigner at

“Carnival brands dominate cruise traffic in Southeast Alaska. They bring passengers on breathtaking journeys and offer economic opportunity to communities. But, there’s no reason to pollute local towns, and cruise passengers, by burning the world’s dirtiest fuel,” said Jim Gamble, Senior Arctic Program Officer at Pacific Environment.

“This map is groundbreaking and will educate and empower indigenous communities who are most affected by Carnival’s pollution in the Arctic. They have lived in the region for thousands of years, still rely on a healthy environment and abundant wildlife, and have to live with Carnival’s reckless ecological decisions. They now have a tool to monitor Carnival to help protect their livelihoods,” said Verner Wilson III, Senior Oceans Campaigner at Friends of the Earth US.

“This map shows just how many Carnival Corporation cruise ships are sailing the coastal Subarctic waters in Europe and specifically along the coast of Norway, which includes UNESCO world heritage sites. Although not defined as IMO Arctic, nonetheless these areas are sites of vulnerable ecology, nature and heritage which deserves protection,” said Dr Lucy Gilliam, Aviation & Shipping Officer at Transport & Environment. 

The map findings include:

  • Of the 103 ships in Carnival’s global fleet in 2017, 49 ships — nearly 50% — operated in the Arctic and Subarctic. These ships pass near and through critical habitats for marine mammals including orca, walrus, and bowhead, narwhal, and beluga whales.

The 49 Carnival Corporation cruise ships included in the map: 

  • Emitted 147 tons of black carbon in the Arctic and Subarctic in 2017. Cruise ships emit approximately three times the amount of black carbon as cargo ships.
  • Burned approximately 466,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic and Subarctic in 2017. That’s enough heavy fuel oil to fill the Empire State Building halfway to the top.
  • Emitted approximately 1.5 million metric tons of COin the Arctic and Subarctic in 2017. That’s equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 300,000 cars.

Carnival Corporation is the largest cruise line operator in the world with over 40% of the global market share and ten brands that operate worldwide. Carnival Corporation brands that travel to the Arctic and Subarctic include Princess Cruises, Holland America, AIDA, P&O UK, Costa, and Cunard and Seabourn (which are both listed as “other” in the map).

Clean Up Carnival member organizations include (North America); Transport & Environment (Europe); Friends of the Earth (US); and Pacific Environment (North America and Asia). Learn more at


Media contact: Virginia Cleaveland, Press Secretary,, 510-858-9902 (US) or 778-984-3994 (Canada)

Investigation: Air quality on Carnival Corp cruise ships can be worse than some of world’s most polluted cities

Investigation: Air quality on Carnival Corp cruise ships can be worse than some of world’s most polluted cities

January 24th, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — A new investigative report released today details the shocking findings of a two-year study exposing extremely poor air quality on four Carnival Corporation ships that can be worse than some of the world’s most polluted cities including Beijing, China and Santiago, Chile.

The report, titled “An investigation of air pollution on the decks of 4 cruise ships” was authored by Dr. Ryan Kennedy, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study was commissioned by international environmental organization

“More than 30 million people worldwide are expected to go on a cruise in 2019, and these cruise passengers and staff may be exposed to concerning levels of air pollution that could impact their health. Despite being on the open sea, they can be breathing dirty air worse than some of the world’s most polluted cities,” said Dr. Ryan Kennedy, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.


The study measured ultrafine particulate pollution from multiple locations on four cruise ships, both in port and at sea over multi-day cruises. The ships — operating under the Carnival, Holland America, and Princess lines — left from Port Canaveral, Florida to the Bahamas; from Galveston, Texas to the Western Caribbean and Mexico; from Vancouver, British Columbia to Los Angeles, California; and from Los Angeles, California, to Mexico.

While less studied than fine particulate pollution, ultrafine particulate pollution can be detrimental to human health because of the increased toxicity. Ultrafine particles can have thousands of times more surface area than fine particles and are small enough to be inhaled into a person’s lungs and move into the bloodstream, where they can cause higher rates of cardiovascular disease and asthma. Recent studies have suggested that ultrafine particles may be the most dangerous to human health, and that particulate matter from ship exhaust may be to blame for tens of thousands of annual deaths.

“Extremely high levels of air pollution measured on these Carnival Corporation ships suggest this pollution could pose serious health risks to passengers, staff, and people living in port and coastal communities. The most shocking finding from this study is that pollution was often highest near the stern of the ships, where passengers are encouraged to exercise. This study should be a warning sign for anyone considering booking a cruise, but especially for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and young children or anyone with cardiovascular problems,” said Kendra Ulrich, Senior Shipping Campaigner at


One of’s core programs works to reduce the climate and human health impacts of the shipping industry. is urging Carnival Corporation to transition away from using heavy fuel oil (HFO) to power its ships and immediately switch to a cleaner-burning fuel while installing filters to help reduce ultrafine particulate pollution. Ultimately, wants Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise operator, to transition away from fossil-fuel powered ships completely.

“Carnival Corporation claims sustainability and human rights are core company values, but its policies continue to threaten its clients and the environment. Most of Carnival’s global fleet burns heavy fuel oil — the dirtiest fossil fuel available for marine transportation. This study exposes the health consequences of using this bottom-of-the-barrel oil coupled with inadequate pollution filters, simply because it’s dirt cheap. Carnival’s own customers could be subsidizing the company’s profits with their health,” said Ulrich.


Some of the findings from the study include:

  • While all four ships were traveling at sea, average particle counts were significantly higher in the areas behind the smokestacks (stern).
  • Particle counts on the Holland America MS Amsterdam were approximately eight times higher on the stern areas than on the bow.
  • Particle counts on the Carnival Freedom measured as high as 73,621 particles per cubic centimeter (pt/cc) near the running track while at sea.
  • Particle counts on the Princess Cruises Emerald Princess measured as high as 157,716 pt/cc on the lower stern while at sea.

In comparison, pollution measurements taken with the same equipment in Beijing, China in 2009 were 30,000 pt/cc on a busy street, and in Santiago, Chile in 2011-2012 were in the ranges of 8,000-30,100 pt/cc.

In addition to the report’s documented air pollution impacts on cruise passengers and staff, studies have shown approximately 70% of ship emissions occur within 250 miles of land, potentially exposing millions of unsuspecting people to dangerous air pollution levels and raising serious health concerns for coastal cities and port communities.


All four ships in this study have scrubbers installed, an exhaust-cleaning technology designed to reduce sulfur air emissions. This allows the ships to burn heavy fuel oil inside most of the North American and Caribbean Emissions Control Areas, where there are strict limits on emissions. In California, where scrubbers are banned within 24 miles from shore, ships are required to switch to a cleaner-burning fuel.

“Carnival claims its scrubbers significantly reduce air emissions. This report’s continuous elevated readings indicate that even in California, where Carnival Corporation is required to switch to a cleaner-burning fuel, air pollution on board remains a serious concern. That’s why Carnival must not only switch to a cleaner-burning fuel, but also install adequate pollution filters to help prevent this dangerous ultrafine particulate pollution from impacting the health of its passengers and staff,” said Ulrich.

As air pollution becomes an increasing concern for global health officials — including the head of the World Health Organization who recently called air pollution “the new tobacco” — Carnival’s use of heavy fuel oil is putting human health at serious risk.

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.

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