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12 Jul 2017

Ronny Rojas & Maye Primera, Univision Noticias, Columbia Journalism School

Research reveals US cruise companies are sidestepping labour regulations, avoiding taxes & environmental controls

"Cruising, a Trip Far from U.S. Law"

Every year thousands of people fly to ports all over the world to board cruises that take them to exotic journeys and distant seas. Many don't realize that even though the ships they’re boarding are owned by big companies headquartered in US, they do not necessarily remain under the protection of American law. They...enter a world ruled by three big corporations [Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Line]. Though those companies are based in the United States, they have complex operational structures in multiple countries and tax havens, designed to sidestep U.S. labor regulations and avoid taxes and environmental controls. That means that victims of an accident or crime aboard a cruise ship face a potentially painful ordeal when attempting to investigate a case, seek damages and bring those responsible to justice...[T]ogether [these three corporations] control 82 percent of the world market and reported $2.8 billion in profits last year...[T]hey also have a powerful influence in Washington D.C. Various critics have long suggested their lobbying and donations allows the blockage of stricter laws and regulations – enabling them to continue to offer blissful vacations to thousand of clients who are unaware of the reality behind their cruise...[On top of that, this research found that] about 40 percent of the ships operated by most cruise lines are old and sail the seas with defects and problems unknown to the majority of their passengers... [includes responses from Carnival executives and the industry’s Cruise Lines International Association, but the other companies did not respond to Univision's requests for interviews]