Miami Media

The Truth about Carnival Corporation’s sustainability claims

Carnival Corporation is the largest cruise line operator in the world, with 10 global brands. Of the 26.6 million people that cruised in 2017, over 12 million sailed on a Carnival-owned ship.

Many Carnival lines offer trips to the Arctic and Subarctic and are powered with the cheapest, dirtiest fossil fuel available for marine transportation, heavy fuel oil. Sometimes called residual oil, heavy fuel oil is the bottom-of-the-barrel, tar-like sludge 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. If spilled in the cold, often inaccessible Arctic environment, it would be impossible to clean up.

When burned, heavy fuel oil releases enormous amounts of toxins, heavy metals, greenhouse gases, and soot (also called black carbon) into the atmosphere. This threatens human health and the health of the planet. Some studies attribute up to 400,000 annual deaths from lung and cardiovascular disease to ship engine exhaust!

In the Arctic and Subarctic, the soot that heavy fuel oil combustion generates in large quantities settles onto ice and darkens the surface. When that happens, the ice no longer reflects the heat from the sun as it once did. Instead, it absorbs it. That accelerates the rate of ice melt, quickly intensifying the effects of climate change in the region.

An analysis published in 2018 showed that Carnival Corporation-owned ships carried the largest amount of heavy fuel oil into the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic of any cruise line operator, with over 11 and a half million tonnes onboard. That is nearly three times the amount of the next highest operator! Researchers also attributed a staggering 14 million childhood asthma cases to acute exposure to ship exhaust every year.

We are asking Carnival to:

    1. Switch all of the cruise ships in their global fleet to low-sulfur diesel fuel, and immediately end the use and carriage as fuel of all heavy fuel oil and heavy fuel oil blends in the Arctic and Subarctic.
    2. Further, reduce black carbon pollution on all Carnival Corp. ships by installing diesel particulate filters on all vessels in their global fleet.
    3. Take the lead in developing and implementing clean shipping technologies that help power cruise ships without fossil fuels completely!


Kendra Ulrich, Senior Shipping Campaigner,, 360-255-3555

Virginia Cleaveland, Press Secretary,, 510-858-9902

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