Leader Of The Pack

Six years after the world saw incriminating footage of a Princess Cruises ship dumping 20 plastic garbage bags into the sea (See In Brief, “Getting the Goods on Ocean Dumpers,” July/August 1995), the cruise line has apparently cleaned up its act and won recognition from The Center for Marine Conservation (CMC) as a leading conservation-friendly cruise line.

Despite an intensive investigation by shipboard and FBI officials, the videotaped dumper himself was never identified. He had run afoul of a law that prohibits the dumping of any sort of plastic overboard. (It remains legal to discharge non-plastic items like bottles, cans and food wastes at sea from at least 12 miles off-shore.)

After all the bad publicity (and $4 million in fines), the cruise line launched an environmental program called Planet Princess. “We took action; changed our products from plastic to paper; worked with our suppliers to use environmentally-safe products; and invested in state-of-the-art waste management,” says Jill Biggins, Princess’s public relations manager. “The Discovery Channel even produced a feature on the program.”

According to Kate Hinch, acting director of the marine debris information office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Princess Cruises is setting an example in cutting down its overboard waste through extensive waste management and recycling facilities. Hinch says that Princess now uses paper shampoo and lotion containers, paper laundry bags and reusable drink cups. The cruise line also placed a moratorium on paper streamer celebrations and balloon launches at bon voyage parties.