Large cruise ships are floating petri dishes registered overseas, paying little or no taxes in the United States. Royal Caribbean is registered in Liberia, Norwegian and Princess in Bermuda and Carnival in Panama. Let Liberia, Bermuda and Panama bail them out. On the other hand, American-owned American Cruise Line (ACL) should be helped by the federal government because its ships are American built, flagged and crewed. ACL operates small ships with 175 passengers, not 5,000 like the behemoth cruise ships. ACL cruises to Alaska, New England and on the Mississippi, Columbia, Hudson and Snake Rivers. When COVID-19 started, the largest outbreak outside mainland China was not in a country, but on a cruise ship. The Diamond Princess went into lockdown after a previous passenger tested positive for the virus after disembarking. With almost 500 out of 3,700 people on board tested, 174 people tested positive for the virus.
Floating Petri Dishes Cruise ships have for years been referred to as"floating petri dishes"--places ripe for the exchange of germs and the spreading of illnesses.There is an increased risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases on ships, says Professor Sanjaya Senanayake, an infectious-diseases specialist at the Australian National University."In general, you've got passengers and crew members from different parts of the world mixing intimately and intensely for a short period of time," Dr Senanayake says. On the Diamond Princess, at least 10 crew members were among the infected. According to the New York Times, more than 1,000 crew members "live and work elbow-to-elbow" on these large cruise ships. Purdue University's Qingyan Chen, an expert on ventilation during virus outbreaks, said, "In ships, you cannot filter the air well enough to stop viruses." A ship's ventilation system, which relies on recirculated air filtered by medium-strength air filters, is an efficient way of spreading virus particles from room to room aboard a ship, said Chen. In a 2015 study, he and his colleagues looked at the spread of flu aboard cruise ships. They found that one infected person would typically lead to more than 40 cases a week later on a 2,000-passenger cruise, with transmission occurring through the ventilation system. In contrast, on land, the coronavirus seems to have a reproductive rate of two new cases per infected person. A 2018 CDC study of two Alaskan cruise ships that suffered flu outbreaks found that 83% of 410 passengers on the two ships were infected with a respiratory illness. These infections usually occurred within the second week of the cruises.
Cruise Ships are Overflowing, Floating Sewers
A recent report from an environmental-compliance inspector appointed by a federal judge said Carnival Cruise line violated environmental laws in the first year following the company's $40 million settlement for improper waste disposal. The court-appointed inspector found over 800 violations of Carnival's five-year probation between April 2017 and April 2018, the Miami Herald reported.
The inspector wrote that Carnival illegally released over 500,000 gallons of sewage and over 11,000 gallons of food waste into water near ports and shores around the world, according to the Miami Herald. Other violations mentioned in the report include burning heavy fuel oil in restricted areas and creating false records about maintenance and training.
Some 20 million people board cruise ships every year. And while they might return to land with fond memories of umbrella drinks and a suntan, they leave a lot at sea, about a billion gallons of sewage, in fact according to Friends of the Earth, a non-profit environmental group. The EPA estimates that a single 3,000-person cruise ship pumps 150,000 gallons of sewage into the ocean per week. One very large vessel in an EPA study produced 74,000 gallons of sewage in a single day.
The sewage dumped into the sea teems with bacteria, heavy metals, pathogens, viruses, pharmaceuticals, and other things that can harm the health of both humans and aquatic life.
Paying the Piper
U.S. taxpayers should not bailout large cruise companies because their ships are not registered in the United States. These companies do this to avoid paying U.S. taxes, to avoid paying their workers decent wages and to avoid strict health and environmental laws. Consumers might want to avoid large cruise ships and consider sailing on smaller ships chartered in the United States.