Increasing Concerns From World’s Largest Cruise Operators


According to the EPA, cruise ships do discharge pollution into the ocean, but each ship must adhere to certain regulation criteria, says an article published in Verify.

Impacts of waste discharges

According to AAA, the cruise ship industry is steadily recovering after multiple temporary shutdowns during the coronavirus outbreak. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dropped its COVID-19 warning against cruise travel on March 30, two of the world’s largest cruise lines, Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruises, both reported record reservations in early April.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says there is growing worry about the environmental implications of cruise ship garbage releases as the cruise ship sector recovers. 

Brandy, a VERIFY viewer, recently emailed us to ask if cruise ships spew rubbish into the ocean.


According to the EPA and the US Coast Guard, rules can include limitations for distance from the shore, treatment, and size (USCG).

“The regulations for dumping anything at sea are governed by both international and U.S. law,” a USCG spokesperson told VERIFY.

Water Dispose

The EPA and USCG regulate cruise ship discharges under Section 312 of the Clean Water Act, which include sewage, solid waste, ballast water (water taken on board or discharged from a ship to maintain its stability), graywater (wastewater from showers, sinks, laundries, and kitchens), and bilge water (water that collects in the lowest part of the ship’s hull and may contain oil, grease, and other contaminants). 

The EPA and the USCG both claim that they do not keep track of the amount of rubbish discarded by cruise liners.

Specific requirements

Under the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, the USCG regulates rubbish and trash from cruise ships and other boats, mandating cruise terminals to provide waste processing facilities at ports and preventing all ships from dumping plastics into the ocean.

Specific rules for cruise ship trash emissions exist in some states, including Alaska, California, and Florida.

Regulatory requirement

Carnival Cruise Line’s sustainability director, Elaine Heldewier, told VERIFY that the company’s shipboard waste is disposed of using “environmental procedures that are designed to meet and exceed internal, international, regional, and local environmental regulatory requirements as well as industry standards.”

“Waste generated by our operations and activities of our guests and crew mirrors the waste generated by hotels and resort complexes worldwide. We are committed to minimize waste generated by our operations and activities,” Heldewier said in an email.

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Source: Verify


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