Nation & World

Lobbyists, charities, congresswoman rally behind Carnival

Cruise company charged with violating probation

Tampa Bay Times/TNS

The Carnival Paradise cruise ship is seen departing from Tampa for Havana.
Tampa Bay Times/TNS The Carnival Paradise cruise ship is seen departing from Tampa for Havana.

Carnival Corp. has filed nine letters of support to the federal judge overseeing its criminal case. They are from politicians, business associations and not-for-profits, most of whom have close financial ties to the cruise company.

The letters touting Carnival’s economic impact and charitable donations come ahead of a that was hearing scheduled for Monday during which U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz of Miami was to review a settlement agreement reached between federal prosecutors and the Miami-based cruise company.

Carnival is charged with violating its probation, which started in April 2017 after the company paid $40 million as part of its guilty plea for environmental crimes — illegally dumping oily waste into the ocean and covering it up for a period of eight years.

The alleged probation violations include falsifying records and illegally dumping plastic into Bahamian waters.

Seitz previously threatened to block Carnival ships from docking in U.S. ports as punishment for the violations. After she reviews the settlement deal on Monday she likely either will accept it, or reject it and set a probation revocation hearing for a later date.

She has ordered Carnival Chairman Micky Arison and President Arnold Donald to attend the hearing.

Carnival is the largest cruise company in the world and owns nine cruise brands and 105 ships. In fiscal year 2018, the company reported a profit of $3.2 billion.

The letters, filed Saturday, came two days after Judge Seitz publicized 10 letters she has received from private citizens, most of them asking that Carnival be held accountable for its actions. Two environmentalists, one a resident of the Bahamas and one from Alaska, as well as an Alaskan fisherman, also filed a motion, asking to be recognized as victims of the Miami-based cruise company’s environmental actions.

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In the newest batch of letters supporting Carnival Corp., Roger Dow, president of the travel industry’s lobby organization, U.S. Travel Association, wrote that Carnival plays a key role in the success of the industry.

“Anything that helps the Carnival Corporation grow is a net positive for American jobs and prosperity,” his letter to Seitz reads.

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