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What Price Luxury? Ethical Issues in the Cruise Ship Industry

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Case and Scenario in Engineering Ethics Instruction

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Marilyn A. Dyrud Oregon Institute of Technology

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Marilyn Dyrud is a full professor in the Communication Department at Oregon Institute of Technology, where she has taught for nearly four decades. She has been a member of ASEE for 32 years and is active in the Engineering Ethics Division, as past chair, and the Engineering Technology Division, as a member of the ETD Executive Board. She is an ASEE fellow (2008), winner of the James McGraw Award (2010), winner of the Berger Award (2013), and serves as the communications editor of the Journal of Engineering Technology. In addition to ASEE, she is active in the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics and the Association for Business Communication.

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When the Costa Concordia foundered on rocks near the tiny Italian island of Giglio in 2012, the world was aghast that a ship with such sophisticated navigational devices could run aground in an area so highly charted. Surprise turned to anger when subsequent investigations revealed that the fault lay with a captain who was navigating by sight and grandstanding to impress passengers. And anger turned to outrage when court testimony exposed the captain’s ubiquitous lies and abrogation of his duties as master of his ship, resulting in the loss of 32 passengers and crew.

For an ethics instructor, such occurrences translate into teachable moments. Using the Costa Concordia as a case study, this paper will examine the major ethical issues associated with the cruise ship industry, which is exploding internationally at a remarkable rate. Thousands of cruise ships ply the world’s waters, discharging raw sewage and other waste streams directly into the oceans; they burn a crude fuel that emits millions of tons of sulphur to the atmosphere daily; and shipping companies register their vessels in third-world countries to avoid environmental restrictions and tax obligations. Specifically, this paper will examine the following:

• Costa Concordia incident • Pollution issues • Questionable registration practices • Possible solutions • Integration in technical classes

Even seasoned teachers of ethics should find this information interesting, if not shocking, and useful. For those who include environmental materials in their classes, this paper will be especially useful, as it deals with a topic that is not typical classroom fodder.

Dyrud, M. A. (2016, June), What Price Luxury? Ethical Issues in the Cruise Ship Industry Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27195

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