Carnival Corporation has replied to damning statement made by its critics within the US Senate that have referred to the cruise line as “bloodsucking off the American people” according to reports.
The words, which were said on US TV, on NBC’s ‘Rock Center’, came from Senator Jay Rockefeller, a renowned opponent of the cruise industry who also questioned whether recent Carnival technical issues were linked and demanded an explanation for taxpayer costs over the use of the US Coast Guard (USCG) in a letter addressed directly to Micky Arison, Carnival CEO and chairman.
Seatrade Insider reported that Carnival – through Arison and its senior vice president of corporate maritime policy Capt. James Hunn – responded to Rockefeller’s questions, which included a list of 90 incidents that were filed with the USCG over a five-year period.
Hunn looked at each of the 90 incidents and confirmed that only seven had required intervention from the Coast Guard, which included the fires onboard the Splendour and Triumph; the Costa Concordia disaster; two ship allisions that caused no injury; a crew member being airlifted to hospital after an appendicitis; and a passenger jumping overboard.
Hunn was quoted by Seatrade as saying: “Carnival takes all of these occurrences very seriously and our commitment to safety is reflected in the significant reviews, corrective measures, redundancies and investments undertaken by Carnival.”
The senator also queried whether Carnival would be reimbursing the Navy and USCG for the incidents where it was needed to aid the Splendour and Triumph – the combined cost of which was over US$4 million.
Carnival responded by saying that the company honoured maritime traditions of assisting those in trouble while at sea, a “universal obligation” which it undertook at its own cost. The line cited 11 incidents in the last 12 months where the cruise industry had given assistance within the Florida and Caribbean areas either at the request of the USCG or on its own initiative.
The line also answered questions over its tax commitments, arguing that the cruise industry has an economic impact of over US$40 billion, generating 350,000 jobs in the US alone in 2011. This, Hunn said, paid for the federal services that the industry used and Rockefeller had said, didn’t pay for.