Carnival On Reimbursing U.S. For $4.2M In Rescues: Saving Ships Is Just “Maritime Tradition”

Oh, Carnival, how do you need rescuing? Let us count the ways, or at least give a nod in the general direction of floundering ships like the Triumph (aka Poop Cruise) and the 2010 Splendor incident. All that help the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy gave to the cruise line in the last few years adds up to about $4.2 million, said West Virginia’s Sen. Jay Rockefeller in a letter to Carnival. So when’s the company gonna chip in toward that cost?

Probably never, as it seems Carnival sees the whole rescue thing as part of its due under “maritime tradition.”

Rockefeller sent a letter last month to Carnival CEO Micky Arison claiming that the U.S. Coast Guard responded to 90 “serious events” involving Carnival ships over five years, and that the Coast Guard and Navy had ponied up $4.2 million to cover the cost of Triumph and Splendor incidents, reports Skift.com.

So like, since Carnival pays “little or nothing in federal taxes,” will Carnival reimburse the Coast Guard and Navy?

While Carnival didn’t say “no” outright, it did take the squirmy way out in its response. James Hunn, senior vice president of corporate maritime policy for Carnival, replied:

“Carnival’s policy is to honor maritime tradition that holds that the duty to render assistance at sea to those in need is a universal obligation of the entire maritime community.”

Carnival points out a case where one of its ships, the Breeze, diverted from its original course on March 25 to help the Coast Guard respond to a small boat off the Florida coast with two people asking for medical help. And of those aforementioned 90 incidents, Carnival says only seven were “serious maritime incidents” as defined by the Code of Federal regulations.

So that $4.2 million? Probably not gonna get reimbursed, it would appear.

Rockefeller is wagging a finger at the cruise line’s response to his inquiry.

“Carnival’s response to my detailed inquiry is shameful,” Rockefeller told Skift. “It is indisputable that Carnival passengers deserve better emergency response measures than they experienced on the Triumph. I am considering all options to hold the industry to higher passenger safety standards.”

The thing about citing traditions is, they aren’t rules. If they were, perhaps that Princess Cruise lines ship would’ve saved fishermen lost at sea a year ago.

UPDATED: Carnival responds to Senator: No way we’re paying for Triumph rescue [Skift]