RCI President Apologizes For Alaska Pollution

Friday, September 03, 1999
The president of Royal Caribbean International toured ports of call in Alaska on Friday to apologize in person for the pollution of the state's waters by the cruise line's ships. Royal Caribbean last month agreed to pay a record-high $18 million fine to U.S. authorities for dumping oily bilge and chemical wastes at sea, as well as into U.S. ports and wild waterways. The line plead guilty to 21 felonies, including falsifying logs and lying to the U.S. Coast Guard, and admitted Royal Caribbean ships were rigged with secret bypass pipes, which were used to dump used dry-cleaning chemicals and other waste. The fine, the highest ever assessed by a cruise line for polluting U.S. waters, followed $9 million in fines Royal Caribbean agreed to pay in 1998. The Miami-based firm also agreed then to put in place a court-supervised environmental program. Jack Williams, president of Royal Caribbean International, one of two lines owned by parent Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., last month said the latest violations were "a lapse in our enforcement efforts - not a lapse in our corporate conscience or our commitment to protecting the ocean." Traveling aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Williams and other executives met environmentalists, government leaders and citizens in Skagway, Haines, Juneau, and Ketchican, company officials said. "We like that they came to Skagway and apologized," said Buckwheat Donahue, director of the small coastal city's tourism office. "We didn't ask them to that." Some two dozen people in Skagway met with Williams, who promised to exceed government requirements on cleansing waste water from Royal Caribbean ships. Skagway, with just 800 year-round residents, draws 540,000 cruise passengers during a five-month season beginning on May 1, and has 16 ships docking regularly throughout the summer. Alaska is one of the most popular destinations for North America's thriving cruise sector. In its plea bargain last month, Royal Caribbean acknowledged polluting waters between Haines and Skagway, as well as dumping toxic waste into a channel with Juneau.

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