Environmental Group Calls Out Cruise Ships for Ocean Pollution

(Sun Sentinel/TNS) -

Cruise ships dumped more than a billion gallons of sewage into the ocean in 2014, much of it raw or poorly treated, an environmental group says.

Friends of the Earth, part of an international network of environmental organizations representing more than 2 million activists in 75 countries, issued its 2014 Cruise Ship Report Card after analyzing U.S. Evironmental Protection Agency data regarding cruise-ship waste.

The organization graded 167 ships operated by 16 cruise lines on four criteria: sewage treatment technology, air pollution reduction, water quality compliance and transparency.

The “transparency” criterion was added this year after the cruise lines declined through their representative, Cruise Lines International Association, to provide information about their pollution-reduction technologies, Friends of the Earth said. As a result, all scored an F for transparency.

Marcie Keever, Friends of the Earth oceans and vessels program director, said in a news release that the cruise lines’ lack of cooperation also obscures data from consumers who might make different choices based on how a cruise ship or line performs on the report card.

The report’s highest overall grade of C-plus was awarded to Disney Cruise Line, while lines MSC, P&O, Costa and Crystal received an F.

Princess, Holland America and Norwegian all received Cs, while Royal Caribbean and Carnival were among cruise operators scoring a D.

Some individual ships scored better than their operator overall. For example, Princess’s newest ship, Regal Princess, scored an A, as did Disney Wonder. Norwegian Getaway received a B-plus.

In a response to the report, the Cruise Lines International Association said, “This report does not provide accurate or useful information that will further public understanding of the cruise industry’s true environmental performance.”

In a letter to Friends of the Earth, the trade group said its members have participated in the survey in past years and have raised concerns about the “highly flawed methodology.”

For years, Friends of the Earth has questioned cruise lines’ efforts to keep the oceans free of pollution.

Keever said the assessment that cruise ships dumped more than 1 billion gallons of sewage is based on “federal EPA data regarding how much sewage a cruise ship can generate.”