Carnival Corp. CEO talks about dumping case, Cuba shutdown

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From left, Phil Lovas, deputy assistant secretary for the Commerce Department's National Travel and Tourism Office; Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald; and U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow.
From left, Phil Lovas, deputy assistant secretary for the Commerce Department's National Travel and Tourism Office; Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald; and U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow.

NEW YORK -- Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald addressed the company's recent guilty plea to violating its probation in an environmental-compliance case and the impact of last week's Cuba cruise shutdown. 

As part of an agreement with federal prosecutors, Carnival Corp. acknowledged that Princess Cruises committed new violations of laws banning the dumping of "gray water" in prohibited places, and allowing plastic mixed in with food waste to be dumped overboard. 

Speaking during a World Travel & Tourism Council North America Leaders Forum here Tuesday, Donald said of the dumping violations, "We should not have done it. We need to do better. I need to do better. And we're all committed to that.

"We're going to use the environmental-compliance plan and violations to increase focus and commitment and accelerate the good progress." 

Aside from it being the right thing to do, Donald said it makes good business sense. 

"People don't want to go to places that are polluted," he said. "Our business interest is to make sure things are pristine."

Asked about rebuilding trust with consumers, Donald said, "Trust is one thing, but what it's really about is leading edge, best practices."

Donald also talked about the ban on Cuba cruises imposed last week by the Trump administration. The new policy was enforced so suddenly that ships en route to Havana had to turn around. 

"I'm not questioning the judgment, but when it was shut down, it was shut down immediately," Donald said. 

Moderator Richard Quest of CNN asked panelist Phil Lovas, deputy assistant secretary for the Commerce Department's National Travel and Tourism Office, if imposing the new Cuba policy "overnight" was "well executed." 

"If there is a national-security decision anywhere around the world, the administration acts," Lovas said.  

He added that the Cuba policy decision was "not designed to hurt Cuban people, but to hurt the Cuban military," which he said controls the tourism infrastructure, including ports and hotels, and that that money is used to "repress their own people."

Donald challenged the notion that cruise tourism wasn't helping the Cuban people.  

"The cruise guests were engaging in the culture and with the people," he said. "It was absolutely helping the Cuban citizens. They were spending on crafts, in small restaurants. That is impacting individuals."

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