Carnival caved to intense pressure from Washington and its decision to reimburse the government for the Carnival Triumph and Carnival Splendor rescues could serve as a precedent. Carnival and other cruise lines could be getting bills in the mail from the U.S. Treasury for future incidents.
U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, who previously charged that Carnival Corp. was “bloodsucking off the American people,” isn’t totally satisfied with Carnival Corp.’s pledge today to reimburse the federal government’s costs associated with its rescues of the Carnival Splendor and Carnival Triumph in 2010 and 2013, respectively.
Rockefeller, who indicated several weeks ago that there have been 90 serious safety incidents involving Carnival ships alone over the last five years, wants to hold the entire cruise industry accountable.
“I’m glad to see that Carnival owned up to the bare minimum of corporate responsibility by reimbursing federal taxpayers for these two incidents,” Rockefeller tells Skift. “I am still committed to making sure the cruise industry as a whole pays its fair share in taxes, complies with strict safety standards, and holds the safety of its passengers above profits.”
Rockefeller’s statement follows a Carnival announcement today that it was reversing course from its previous position in which it indicated that it would rely on maritime tradition where rescuing ships at sea is everyone’s responsibility.
Carnival didn’t state it specifically at the time, but it was clear that it had no intention of reimbursing the federal government for the Carnival Triumph and Carnival Splendor incidents — or any other governments for the 88 other incidents detailed by Rockefeller.
In the about-face, Carnival stated today:
“Carnival Corporation is in the process of voluntarily submitting payment to the U.S. Treasury Department to reimburse the federal government for costs related to the Carnival Triumph and Splendor incidents. It should be clearly noted that at no point in time has Carnival stated it would refuse to reimburse federal agencies if they sought remuneration. Although no agencies have requested remuneration, the company has made the decision to voluntarily provide reimbursement to the federal government.”
Asked how much Carnival will be reimbursing the federal government, spokesperson Vance Gulliksen tells Skift: “We’re trying to track down the dollar amount and will let you know.”
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Photo credit: Carnival Cruise Line's string of incidents dates back to the Carnival Splendor breakdown off the Mexican Riviera in late 2010. Here passengers hurry to transportation after the ship limped into San Diego Harbor. Paul Rodriguez / Orange County Register/MCT