Carnival's CEO Gerry Cahill to Retire - Why?

Carnival released a statement this morning that Gerry Cahill will retire as the CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines at the end of next month. 

Mr. Cahill, age 63, has been with Carnival for 20 years. He joined Carnival Corporation in 1994 as vice president - finance. In January 1998, he was promoted to senior vice president - finance and chief financial officer. In 2007, Mr. Cahill became the CEO of Carnival Corporation's largest cruise brand, Carnival Cruise Lines. 

Mr. Cahill guided Carnival Cruise Lines during its expansion. He introduced a new class of cruise ship (the Dream class), which included the Carnival Dream, Carnival Magic and CarnivalGerry Cahill Carnival Retires Breeze. He appears to have a likeable, easy-going personality. 

Mr. Cahill was often on the proverbial hotspot during the last several years. He had to respond when the Carnival Splendor lost power in 2010 and had to be towed into San Diego. He also was at the helm of the cruise line during the disastrous PR debacle when the Carnival Triumph suffered an engine room fire and had to be towed across the Gulf of Mexico.

The incident was covered by CNN extensively. Carnival's brand recognition suffered dramatically as it became know as the "poop cruise" line. 

Mr. Cahill also caught the wrath of Senator Jay Rockefeller who conducted a series of cruise safety hearings last year and this year following the Costa Concordia disaster. Rockefeller voiced his disapproval of the short prepared statement that Mr. Cahill read at the 2013 hearing (photo, second from right). 

In what seemed like a vote of no confidence for Mr. Cahill, Carnival invited former Carnival Cruise Line president Bob Dickinson back as a "special consultant" to Carnival Cruise Line in June 2013.

In all fairness to Mr. Cahill, Micky Arison was missing in action when the Splendor and Triumph went adrift and Carnival's reputation began to sink following the Concordia debacle. Mr. Cahill took a lot of heat for cruise line issues outside of his responsibility. 

He will retire on November 30th. Carnival has not announced his replacement yet. 

 

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It's Murderous in the Bahamas: Homicides Expected to Exceed 2013 Rate

The headlines in the Nassau, Bahamas newspapers over the last 24 hours are ominous -  Man Shot Dead in Home InvasionShot Dead Defending Parents and Fatal Shooting in Fox Hill

These murders take the number of homicides in the Bahamas to 96 and 97 for the year.  

The Nassau newspapers read like a war correspondent's daily account of mayhem and misery.  In the last week, the Tribune has blasted headlines like Shootings on the IncreaseTwo Murders in Six Hours, and Latest Armed Robberies Bring Month’s Total To 30. The Nassau Guardian's recent Crime Nassau Bahamasgruesome headlines include Two Killed in Weekend Violence and Man Gunned Down Protecting Family

Last year there were 111 murders in the Bahamas in 2013. The country is averaging 10 murders a month in 2014. The 2013 rate will be exceeded sometime in December.

Defenders of the Bahamas point out that the Bahamas consists of some 700 islands. But there's no question that the vast majority of these violent crimes occur in New Providence (Nassau) where the majority of the cruise passengers disembark.

Miami-Dade County (population over 2,500,000) has ten times the population of New Providence (250,000) but fewer homicides (86 in Miami to over 100 in New Providence) last year.  The police force is ineffective, the legal system is broken and the tourism officials try to cover the violence up.

Many cruise tourists have an image of Miami as being high in crime, but they don't understand that disembarking in Nassau is far more dangerous.

Both the U.S. and Canada have issued crime warnings for the Bahamas because of the violence.

More and more cruise passengers tell me that they stay on the ship when they reach port in Nassau. They say that they're bored with the straw market and run-down Bay Street. They don't want to risk walking off the ship into a shabby port and becoming a victim of armed robbery by a young man with a gun. 

 

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Photo Credit: Nassau Tribune

Department of Transportation Creates Cruise Ship Information Site

In July of 2013, Senator Rockefeller introduced the Cruise Passenger Protection Act of 2013. The bill was designed to provide the Department of Transportation (DOT) with greater authority to protect consumers and investigate complaints of unsafe conditions and ill-treatment on cruise ships.

The cruise industry opposed the proposed cruise legislation because it was designed to provide greater consumer awareness to the public and required the cruise lines to provide consumers with clearer summaries of their rights and limitations while aboard cruise ships. The cruise lines also fought against the bills because it requires more accurate reporting of crimes on cruise ships.

The DOT just announced the launch of a new DOT website that will provide cruise consumers with a "reliable one-stop resource" where they can find information on important consumer protection issues Senator Rockefeller Cruise Linesrelated to cruise vacations.

Senator Rockefeller issued the following statement:

“I am so pleased to see Secretary Foxx take this important and extraordinary step to help protect passengers on cruise ships. Passengers desperately need access to accurate and updated information, which is why Secretary Foxx’s leadership on this issue is a game changer. As Chairman of the Commerce Committee, I’ve repeatedly urged the cruise industry to strengthen their consumer protections and disclosures, but they have very disappointingly failed to act. It is far past time that we step up to help American citizens when something goes wrong on a cruise ship, and I commend the Department of Transportation for this first step toward providing consumer protections for passengers.”

The DOT site is rather modest at this time. It primarily contains links to the Coast Guard, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), three federal agencies with a history of doing little to assist consumers. But it is a good start.  

In July 2014, Rockefeller chaired his most recent hearing to examine the cruise industry’s poor consumer protection practices.

You can watch the hearing here and listen to the testimony of our former client and friend Laurie Dishman (photo above, with her father) as well as other victims of cruise line's negligence. 

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Emergency Liferaft Deployed on Drunken Celebrity Solstice Cruise to Nowhere

This morning I received messages from readers of Cruise Law News indicating that a passenger deployed a liferaft from a canister during a three night "cruise to nowhere" sailing from Australia. One person on the ship said:

"I have just returned from a 3 night cruise on the celebrity Solstice out of Sydney, Australia. On the 2nd night we saw one of the inflatable life boats had been deployed and the ship had to actually turn around and go back to retrieve it. We were told by several people that it was actually a passenger that threw the capsule overboard."

Other passengers mentioned that the cruise was a real booze fest during which someone apparently thought that Celebrity Solsticeactivating the liferaft was a good college-type-of-prank to perform.

I received a photo from another passenger, apparently posted on Facebook, but I don't have a name for attribution. 

Activating a liferaft canister like this can be written off as a hair-brain shenanigan, but it is alarming to me. No one should have access to the canisters nor should they be able to deploy one. A terrorist or someone wanting to cause harm to the vessel's operations could easily deploy a dozen of them if they are so easily accessible & deployable and there are no security precautions in place.

It reminds me of a situation several years ago when a drunken passenger entered a "restrictive" area and dropped the ship's anchor on a Holland American Line cruise ship. You can read about that combination of drunken passenger conduct and ship security lapse here: Drunk Passenger Drops Cruise Ship Anchor.  

October 27 2014 Update: We received a comment from the IP address of Royal Caribbean (see below) stating that "Nobody deployed the raft . . . the raft fell in the water as the strap failed . . . we did check the CCTV cameras on Deck and we also have the video already . . ."

So what happened?  Did the canister deploy by accident? Seems like this should have been disclosed on the ship. Anyone have additional info?

 

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Photo Credit:  Facebook

Princess Cruises Avoids West Africa Ports Because of Ebola

Princess Cruises announced that it is canceling port calls to West Africa because of the Ebola epidemic.

The cruise line is avoiding Cotonou, Benin; Lome, Togo; Team, Ghana; and Dakar, Senegal.

Princess had scheduled a 30-day West Africa Adventure cruise departing May 5, 2015.  

Ebola As we reported two weeks ago, Regent Seven Seas, Seaborne, Fred Olsen and Holland America Line canceled stops in West Africa. 

Princess issued this statement:

"As you may know, there has been an epidemic of Ebola virus disease in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. As the safety and well- being of our guests and crew are our top priority, and in working closely with and following the guidance issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we have made the necessary decision to cancel our calls to Cotonou, Benin; Lome, Togo; Team, Ghana; and Dakar, Senegal."

 

Don't forget to read our prior article: Ebola on the High Seas: Should Cruise Passengers Worry About Becoming Infected?

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Mikael Häggström Creative Commons 3.0

A Sick Ship? Adventure of the Seas Can't Shake the Bug

Earlier this month, we were contacted by passengers aboard the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas because of back-to-back norovirus outbreaks requiring "deep cleaning" of the cruise ship.You can read our article about the situation here

A number of passengers complained of some pretty gross conditions:

One lady said "i was swimming and had to go round feces, which was also in the jacuzzi...it was reported but nothing was said . . . "

Another man said "the most serious issue on board the ship was the failure of its sewage system, a point admitted by its officers during the Q and A session. The ship stank like a Royal Caribbean Cruise Norovirussewage farm throughout the 14 days. We we also found the bed linen in our cabin filthy (pillows were brown and needed to be replaced) . . . This ship has problems!"

And then there was the inevitable debate whether the virus outbreak was caused by the failure of some passengers to wash their hands versus noro-contaminated food or water versus a virus-laden ship itself.

Passengers are now telling us that the norovirus outbreak continues on the third consecutive sailing of the Adventure which is scheduled for yet another so-called "deep cleaning" this weekend. Passengers received an email from the company explaining the the ship will undergo the enhanced cleaning before it leaves Southampton on Sunday, October 26th. Will the next cruise become the fourth consecutive "Norovirus on the High Seas?"

Some of the people who contacted us have small children, elderly parents, elderly grandparents or they are recovering from cancer, or have suppressed immune systems. They are asking whether they can cancel and obtain a refund or reschedule. They are asking us what to do.

Unfortunately the cruise line holds all of the cards in this situation. Royal Caribbean will certainly keep your money if you don't show up for the cruise and it will absolutely not issue you a refund. The only issue is whether the cruise line will permit a few people to reschedule on a case-by-case basis. 

Royal Caribbean just announced yesterday that it made almost $500,000,000 in profits for the third quarter of this year (and pays no U.S. taxes on that loot) so you might think that it has sufficient money to be understanding and reasonable under this circumstances. After all, its ship is sick. Who on earth wants to voluntarily subject their family to disease? But Royal Caribbean has a strict attitude against permitting fearful customers to reschedule even if there's something wrong with its ship. 

One person who contacted us said he was nervous about his family "catching the bug" but fell that he has no chance to reschedule. He said he "will let you know how it went!"

Customers should not become human guinea pigs like this. A good vacation should not depend on the success of another last minute "deep cleaning" of a sick ship which repeatedly failed.

The ship is enormous - 15 decks, 10 pools and whirlpools, 15 bars, clubs and lounges, and thousands and thousands of cabins packed into its 1,000 plus feet. Its an enormous undertaking to clean a ship like this. The chance of a 100% eradication of the nasty bug is slim, no matter how hard the crew is pressed into working overtime.  It takes only a few microbes of noro to sicken the next round of guests. The norovirus could be hidden under the commode seat cover or in the fabric of the duvet covers where the prior passengers were blasting millions of microbes of noro-infected vomit and diarrhea into the bathroom's and cabin's crooks and crannies. 

There are few laws protecting consumers on the high seas. There should be a norovirus policy where a passenger can obtain a hassle-free refund whenever there is a consecutive disease outbreak.  

If you get sick on the upcoming cruise, consider hiring a lawyer. No, not me. There's a good firm in the U.K. which has successfully handled cases this like. You can contact them here.

The cruise line is counting on the hundreds of its customers who fall victim to the pukefest not knowing what to do. After all, you and your family are really not guinea pigs, even if the cruise line treats you like one.   

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Carnival and Royal Caribbean Threaten to Pull Out of Belize Due to Ebola Screening

7 News Belize reports that after Belize’s Ministry of Immigration announced new stringent measures for Ebola screening at the Belize Harbor, Carnival and Royal Caribbean "threatened to pull scheduled cruises fast and furious."

In an article entitled Cruise Ships Balk At New Ebola Screening, Threaten Mass Cancellations, the leading news station in Belize said that the new stringent Ebola protocols caused delays due to the tight schedules and the large number of cruise passengers who come ashore.

There is mention in the article of Belize customs representatives taking and inspecting the passengers' passports during the screening. Belize’s government has already stopped issuing visas for nationals from Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Travelers who have visited any of these four countries in the past 30 days will be prohibited from entering Belize. This will require an inspection of passports, not just birth certificates many people use to cruise.  

The cruise industry protocol so far relies upon passengers to voluntarily disclose this information on questionnaires, rather than the cruise lines inspecting the passengers' passports before the cruise to verify that they have not traveled to these countries in West Africa. Unlike Belize, the U.S. has not banned travelers from the infected African countries.

7 News Belize reports that Royal Caribbean threatened to cancel earlier this week; however, the Ebola Carnival Magicscreening process was streamlined and the Navigator of the Seas called on port  as scheduled. 

The Minister of Tourism in Belize told the news station that " . . . as a government we have to be extremely cautious. The tourism industry is a very sensitive industry and it's the bread and butter of many destinations." 

Last week, Belize barred the quarantined Carnival Magic passenger from coming ashore after it was disclosed that she handled the blood samples of the deceased Ebola victim who was treated at the Texas hospital in Dallas. 

According to the news station, around 1,000,000 tourists will arrive in Belize via cruise ship this year.

 

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Longbowe Creative Commons 3.0

The Predatory "Sweet Spot" - Bahamian Tourism Police Arrest U.S. Cruise Tourist for Pot Possession

Bahamas Weekly reports that last weekend the police in Nassau, Bahamas arrested a U.S. citizen for possession of marijuana. The report says that he was a 33 year old man from Jacksonville, Florida.

The Florida man was arrested for possession of pot on Saturday, October 18, 2014.

Around 4:30 PM last Saturday, the "Tourism Policing Unit Officers" went to an unidentified cruise ship moored at Prince George Wharf where they boarded the ship and arrested the cruise tourist for a Nassau Bahamasquantity of marijuana. 

The Bahamas supplements its income by arresting cruise passengers with small amounts of pots. The police board cruise ships without either probable cause or search warrants and then fine them $500 to $2000 under threats of jail sentences of 30 - 60 days terms at Her Majesty's Prison

Violent crime is out of control in Nassau. There are many armed robberies, rapes and murders in the capital of the Bahamas each week. The country is heading toward a record number of homicides this year. The murder rate for the country of the Bahamas is substantially higher than the murder rate for Florida.

There were 970 murders in Florida with a population of over 19,000,000 in 2013. New Providence (including Nassau) in the Bahamas had over 100 murders last year even though it has only 250,000 residents.

The tourism police unit was formed to create the impression that it's safe for tourists to come ashore in Nassau.  The truth is that these local tourism police officers pend more time busting tourists than arresting armed criminals or Bahamians selling the tourists pot at the straw market or up and down Bay Street.

It's a racket we have written about many times

A reader of Cruise Law News sent his comment last month:

"As an expat who lives here in Nassau, I'm privy to a fair amount of insider news from the embassy as well as Bahamian govt employees. One friend who previously worked at the US Embassy, told me that her only job was processing US Citizens (mostly middle aged women) through the system to 1) pay their 500 fine, and 2) get them back onto their ships or back to the states after they had been caught carrying and or purchased some pitiful small amount of marijuana etc . . . and that the Bahamian government saw this as a "sweet spot" for getting revenues into the country with little effort. Entrapment being legal here is the cautionary phrase i tell people visiting us. And yes, you can't walk down by the docks WITHOUT getting harassed by guys selling weed . . . but you'll never see the bahamian cops busting them . . . cause it would affect revenues streams to the country . . . so be warned travelers!"

Update: A headline in the Nassau Tribune today: Two Murders In Six Hours. Murder count up to 93 so far.  

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia / BrokenSphere Creative Commons 3.0

Carnival Magic Returns to Galveston - "#EbolaCruise" Scare Over?

This morning the Carnival Magic returned to the U.S. as the sun arose over the sleepy little town of Galveston.  

The Texas Presbyterian Hospital worker who handled Ebola-infected Thomas Duncan samples disembarked the ship after attempts to fly her back to the states from Roatan failed. As the Magic headed back from Mexico, a helicopter arrived courtesy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to pick up her blood samples to make certain that she was not infected with the Pier 23 Galveston Carnival Magicdeadly disease. 

Ms. Clueless-Cruising-Ebola-Handling-Healthcare-Worker is probably the most hated cruise passenger in the world right now after a boat load of fun seeking cruisers had to miss two ports of call and endure wild speculation whether they all could become infected during what Twitter was calling the #EbolaCruise

Carnival is telling everyone that the healthcare worker was at low risk of becoming infected because the virus is difficult to contract and she was already at day 19 of the 21 day incubation period. But this is a cruise line which refuses to consider issuing a refund to a passenger who discloses that they may have come into contact with Ebola. And this begs the question why Ms. Typhoid-Mary-Cruiser was on the cruise during the incubation period of such a deadly disease in the first place,

Carnival didn't bother to have an Ebola health questionnaire in place to screen the worker from the cruise ship (assuming it would be answered honestly) , a major faux pas from a cruise line still stinging from the Triumph "poop cruise" and Concordia "crash cruise" blunders.

Carnival also invented a new phrase during the #EbolaCruise scare - "self quarantine."  I would have loved to have seen the Cruise Director's face when the CDC informed the Carnival ship that the Texas Presbyterian Hospital worker was aboard. I wonder where they found her? On the Lido deck by the pool? In a jacuzzi with a pina colada in her hand? Loading her plate at the buffet?

Carnival assures us that she had "self quarantined" herself in her cabin. B.S. I say. The cruise line tried to get her the hell off of the ship and into a waiting jet in Roatan until Honduras government officials nixed the emergency flight.

I wonder whether Carnival insisted that she use a red bio-hazard bag when she emptied her bowels and bladder during the cruise? Or did she just use the cabin bathroom and her feces and urine were dumped untreated at sea by Carnival with everyone else's raw sewage?  Oysters-Ebola anyone?

There is a joke circulating on the internet that the first symptom an Ebola patient suffers from is an uncontrollable urge to go on a cruise.

Carnival was not going to let this lady wander around the decks for no other reason than drunk angry passengers might have thrown her overboard.  

 

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Photo Credit: Galveston.com Pier 23 Web Cam

Ebola on the High Seas: Will the New Cruise Health Questionnaire Work?

The cruise industry finally instituted Ebola-specific protocols after the highly publicized incident yesterday when a healthcare worker from Dallas was discovered to be on a Carnival cruise to the Caribbean. 

TravelPulse published an article discussing the new protocols Cruise Industry Adopts Stricter Ebola Screenings.

Cruise lines like Carnival are finally asking cruise passengers whether they have come into contact with an Ebola patient or worked at a healthcare facility where such a person was treated, within the Cruise Ebolalast 21 days. Cruise lines are also finally inquiring whether the passengers have visited Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone within the last three weeks.  It was a glaring error not to have such a basic protocol before yesterday.    

But there is a problem with the questionnaire. It doesn't address what happens if a passenger checks "yes" to these questions.  

Obviously the questions are designed to bar the passenger and his companions from traveling on the cruise ship. The issue remains will the passenger's cruise fare and travel expenses be refunded? Will the cruise passengers receive a full cruise credit?

We know from norovirus cases that many cruise passengers, although they are symptomatic, refuse to disclose that they have a fever and a runny nose. They then get on the cruise ship and infect others. 

Many passengers are inherently selfish. They have planned the cruise far in advance. They have obtained vacation time from work and blocked a week of "family time." They have looked forward to the cruise for many months. They have flown or driven long distances to the cruise port at considerable expense. They realize that they will be barred from embarking and their vacation will be ruined if they provide full and complete answers about their health.  

Cruise lines are inherently selfish too. Although they collect literally billions and billions each year and pay no U.S. income tax, cruise lines are notoriously stringent in not permitting cruise vacationers to cancel if they experience last minute medical emergencies or even deaths in the family.  There is great debate about the need for travel insurance. The attitude toward people who don't purchase insurance and then suffer a medical problem is often "screw 'em." 

The result is that cruise passengers are often not honest about their health and the cruise lines are often unreasonable in not permitting their guests to reschedule and issue them a cruise credit.

So they sneak aboard, already infected with the nasty norovirus.

But unlike the noro bug, Ebola is deadly. The consequences of carrying Ebola aboard a cruise ship packed with 5,000 passengers and crew members is too great. 

The health questionnaire should include language which states that if you checked "yes" to any of the Ebola questions, don't worry. No you won't be able to cruise, but you are entitled to a full refund and your travel expenses will be refunded as well.  

Cruise Critic posted an article today about the new questionnaire. The articles states: "Notably, cruise lines rely on passengers and crew to provide honest and accurate answers in health screenings and on health questionnaires. CLIA said intentionally providing false or misleading answers is a criminal offense and is subject to prosecution."

Threatening cruise passengers with criminal prosecution is ridiculous. It's the wrong idea. First of all, there is no criminal law which applies and no prosecutor will ever take such a case. You can't scare a consumer into doing the right thing. 

Instead, the cruise industry has to anticipate that cruise passengers will be less than candid. Cruise lines need to provide an incentive by way of a refund. You can call it the "Ebola refund."

This will require a substantial change in the greedy attitude of the cruise industry. But it's absolutely necessary to prevent what happened yesterday on the Carnival Magic.Cruise Ebola Questionnaire

 

Cruise Industry is Completely Unprepared for Ebola Outbreak

A week ago, I went to Twitter and complained that the cruise industry had not issued an Ebola-specific protocol for the cruise lines to follow. The threat of Ebola was growing, but the cruise lines seemed asleep at the helm.  Neither the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) nor its CEO Christine Duffy had even mentioned Ebola.

I had received many inquiries from the public about whether it was safe to cruise. So I tweeted:      

"Passengers fearing #Ebola asking me whether its safe to #cruise / Why no statement byCruise Ebola Scare - Carnival @CruiseFacts or @CLIACEO?"

The popular cruise blog Cruise Hive (@CruiseHive) followed up on the issue and asked via Twitter about the cruise industry's protocols: "I asked the major cruise lines about their Ebola preparation but not one replied! Costa did but no details . . ."

I wrote a short article Ebola on the High Seas: Should Cruise Passengers Worry About Becoming Infected?

CLIA and its CEO didn't tweet or blog or post a story on Facebook about the threat. This is during the heart of the popular CLIA "Cruise Week" when travel agents are in a marketing frenzy to sell cruises. Better-not-scare-the-business-away seemed to be the attitude.

So today we learn that a Dallas health care worker who handled clinical specimens from Ebola-infected Thomas Duncan is on a Caribbean cruise aboard the Carnival Magic.  She apparently went ashore with other passengers in Roatan. When the cruise ship sailed to Belize, the government barred her from going ashore. The government of Belize and the U.S. State Department were in discussions to permit her to board an air ambulance and be flown back to the U.S. When Belize prudently refused, she was stuck on the ship, which sailed on to Cozumel which also barred the ship from port. The Magic is now returning to Texas.

Carnival calls this a "self quarantine." That's hardly true. The U.S. scrambled to fly a jet to medevac her back to Texas. Carnival negligently permitted her aboard in the first place and is not going to let her wander around the ship while she is still within the incubation period.        

Carnival didn't even have a questionnaire to ask passengers whether they had come into contact with an Ebola patient or had worked at a hospital or healthcare facility which treated such a patient in the last three weeks.

Certainly it was easily foreseeable that a nurse might drive down to Galveston for a cheap cruise on a Carnival fun ship.

The reality is that cruise ships are perfect petri dishes for diseases to flourish. 5,000 passengers and crew members are mashed together for a week on the Carnival Magic, using public restrooms and spooning food using the same ladle from gigantic buffets. No wonder in the last ten years we have seen ships plagued not only by outbreaks of gastrointestinal diseases, noro virus and e-coli, but measles & rubella, Legionnaires Disease, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and other infectious diseases.

It's outlandish that the cruise industry has no protocols specifically related to Ebola to keep hospital workers who worked around Ebola the heck off of cruise ships.  And if this lack of preparation is any indication, I shudder to think how ill prepared the cruise ships are to respond if an outbreak occurs.

This afternoon, ABC News published a photo taken by a Carnival Magic cruise passenger Jeremy Malone who saw 30 to 40 crew with buckets of disinfectant to deal with the Ebola scare. I think the photo says it all. No protective clothing, no protective boots, no protective masks, etc. Just tired, hard-working, low-paid Filipino crew members assigned yet another extra job without sufficient training or equipment.

Think that the cruise lines' slogan that the "health and safety of our guests is our highest priority" is true regarding Ebola? Think again.

Ebola Cruise Scare Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

 Photo Credit:  Jeremy Malone via ABC News

Texas Hospital Worker Who Handled Ebola Samples is on the Carnival Magic

ABC News reports that a Dallas health care worker who handled clinical specimens from Ebola-infected Thomas Duncan is on a Caribbean cruise aboard the Carnival Magic.

The cruise line says that the female worker is allegedly being "self-quarantined" and is being monitored for signs of infection. She apparently has no symptoms yet. 

She departed on a cruise ship from Galveston, Texas, on October 12th was out of the country before being notified of active monitoring required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She works at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, which treated Mr. Duncan (who died) where nurses Carnival MagicNina Pham and Amber Vinson tested positive for Ebola.

The hospital is being roundly criticized for having sloppy and irresponsible procedures to respond to an Ebola patient.

Carnival released a statement, saying:

"We are in close contact with the CDC and at this time it has been determined that the appropriate course of action is to simply keep the guest in isolation on board." 

But there is a dispute whether Carnival had any choice but to keep the worker on the cruise ship. 

Belize (the port of call yesterday) banned the passenger and her traveling partner from entering the country. The ship has already stopped in Mahogany Bay, Honduras on Wednesday and is scheduled to sail on to Cozumel. 

A newspaper in Belize contains dramatic information indicating that the Prime Minister in Belize denied entry into Belize for the "stricken U.S. nationals to be air lifted to the U.S.A. for treatment." 

A news reporter in Belize quotes on her Facebook page an official source in Belize that after talks were concluded between Belize and the US State Department officials, Belize will not be permitting access of the Dallas hospital worker into the country to fly back to the states. 

So it seems unlikely that this case simply involves a situation where the woman is simply "self quarantining" as Carnival suggests. It appears more likely that efforts were unsuccessfully made to get her off of the cruise ship. 

Carnival Cruise EbolaThe cruise lines need to institute a protocol where they simply ask all passengers whether they have worked around an Ebola patient in the last three weeks. The cruise lines should prohibit them from cruising and refund their cruise fare. 

I have written about Ebola and the safety of the cruising public issue last week: Ebola on the High Seas: Should Cruise Passengers Worry About Becoming Infected?

Update: Carnival sent me a statement this morning which you can read here.  Meanwhile, Mexico bars the cruise ship from disembarking passengers.  Over two weeks ago, I was tweeting and asking why the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) had not issued Ebola-specific protocols. 

ABC News reports that the reaction on the Carnival cruise ships ranges from passengers being completely unfazed sitting by the pool to others being panicked and crying. The news accounts includes a photograph taken by cruise passenger Jeremy Malone who "saw 30 to 40 crew members with buckets of disinfectant who were lined up on along his hallway as they prepared to clean the ship . . . " It looks like these poor crew members not in protective suits were completely unprepared if this was really Ebola.

Carnival Cruise Ebola Scare

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Update: Cruise Industry is Completely Unprepared for Ebola Outbreak

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Thomas Doerfer Creative Commons 3.0 (top); Jeremy Malone via ABC News (bottom) 

Netherlands Fines Royal Caribbean Over $750,000 for Overworking Crewmembers

A newspaper in the Netherlands reports that Royal Caribbean has to pay at least €600,000 in fines for violating labor rules and regulations while the Oasis of the Seas was in the Netherlands. The newspaper says that ship employees lacked proper residence papers and worked excessive hours. Some of the crew members worked "up to 16 hours per day" the inspectors found.

The newspaper explains that the Oasis was undergoing maintenance and repairs while in dry-dock in in Rotterdam last month. Inspectors at the Netherlands labor department informed Royal Caribbean Cruises in advance that when its cruise ship would be in Rotterdam it would have to adhere to Dutch Oasis of the Seasrules and legislation.

According to the newspaper, when ten inspectors boarded the Oasis they found certain working conditions to be in violation of Dutch law. This lead to a second visit by 45 inspectors.

The inspections reportedly revealed that at least 48 crew members did not have proper Dutch work permits. The majority of these crewmembers were from the Philippines and South America.

The reported fine of at least €600,000 turns out to be over $760,000.The inspectors can access a fine of €12,000 per violation. The precise fine will be determined when the investigation is completed.

This fine may be an eye-opener for many people who are unfamiliar with the inner-working of the cruise industry. But it is business as usual as far as we are concerned.

When we interview Royal Caribbean crew members, without exception they tell us that the cruise line requires them to work in excess of the hours permitted by the Maritime Labour Convention. The ship employees have to arrive at work early and attend meetings but they are not permitted to clock in. When they work over 10 hours, they have to clock out and keep working. When they are pressed to work extra hours preparing for USPH inspections, they are required to work off the clock.

It remains to be seen whether Rotterdam receives any more work from Royal Caribbean in the future. Royal Caribbean has decided that the dry-dock repairs needed for sister ship Allure of the Seas will be performed in Cadiz, Spain.

Royal Caribbean has not responded to our request for a statement. 

October 15 2014 Update: A Dutch law firm indicates that 77 Philippines and 8 South-Americans worked on the Oasis without a permit. With a €12,000 fine per person, the fine could amount to one million euro’s. The Dutch firm is urging Royal Caribbean to appeal the fine, claiming that there is an exception for crew members working aboard sea going vessels.

October 16 2014 Update:  There is a very active discussion about this story on our Facebook page. Over 1,600 people have liked it, over 500 shared it and over 400 people have commented.  Most seem to be crew members. As the cruise line overworks and underpays its crew members, the cruise executives at Royal Caribbean enjoy over $100,000,000 in cruise stock. Read: The Rich Get Richer

 

If you have a thought, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.  

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Baldwin040 Creative Commons 3.0  

Cruise Ship Law: Don't File Suit at the Last Minute in the Wrong Courthouse

Last week, the Third District Court of Appeal in Florida enforced the terms of a Royal Caribbean passenger ticket and dismissed a lawsuit filed at the last minute in the wrong courthouse.

The case was filed on behalf of a passenger against Royal Caribbean for personal injuries sustained in a cruise ship accident. The passenger hired a local law firm which filed suit a few days before the expiration of the one-year limitation period set forth in the ticket. But instead of filing in federal court as required by the terms of the ticket, her attorneys filed in state court in the Miami-Dade courthouse Roya; Caribbeanwhere most negligence cases can be pursued.

Royal Caribbean filed a motion to dismiss the case. The trial court denied the motion, and the cruise line appealed.

The appellate court reversed the trial court. The appellate court ruled that the cruise line had reasonably communicated the important terms and conditions of the ticket to the passenger before she boarded the cruise ship. The ticket stated in bold and capital letters that the ticket contained important terms and conditions, including a one year limitations period to file suit and a forum selection clause indicating that suit must be filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The appellate court held that it is irrelevant whether the passenger actually received or read the ticket contract, as long as the ticket contained conspicuous terms and conditions.  

The decision was consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Shute, 499 U.S. 585 (1991).  

The appellate court also ruled that Royal Caribbean had no obligation to remove the case to federal court after the lawsuit was mistakenly filed in the wrong state courthouse. Because of her counsel's error in filing suit in state court rather than federal court, and the running of the one year limitations period in the interim, the passenger was prohibited from filing suit against the cruise line in the right courthouse.

The only lawsuit the passenger can possibly pursue under these circumstances at this time is a legal malpractice claim against her attorneys.

Practice Tips for Passengers:

  • The cruise line must receive a written notice of your intention to seek compensation within six (6) months of your accident. Have your lawyer write the letter.
  • You must file your lawsuit within one (1) year of the accident.
  • The lawsuit must be filed in the location specified in your ticket.  Most cruise lines like Carnival, Celebrity, NCL and Royal Caribbean require that lawsuits be filed in federal court in Miami. 

Read the terms of your ticket!  The terms are legally enforceable.  

Have a comment?  Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Baldwin040 Creative commons 3.0

Terrorists Arrested Aboard the Costa Magica?

Several readers of Cruise Law News sent us articles today reporting that Greek police officers boarded the Costa Magica while it was in the Port in Piraeus, Greece and arrested four passengers who had possession of firearms.   

The Croatian newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija Daily reports that the incident occurred on Thursday October 2nd.

Approximately 3,000 other passengers embarked from Venice on a seven-day Mediterranean cruise. Once the ship reached Greece, the Greek police boarded the Magica and arrested one woman and three men for possession of firearms (pistols).

The cruise ship was delayed departing from Piraeus because of the incident. The incident was not announced on the ship and the passengers seemed to be unaware of it. 

The newspaper says that the news about the arrest of four passengers could not be found either in the Greek or in the Italian media. The newspaper interviewed crew members from Dubrovnik who explained the circumstances surrounding the arrests.

The newspaper say that the information was suppressed because it was bad for the cruise industry's business. 

Those interviewed explained that there are 3,000 passengers and 6000 suitcases simultaneously screened in just a few hours and it is impossible to effectively screen so many passengers and luggage in such little time.

This is particularly worrying, the newspaper suggested, when the Islamic states repeatedly threaten harm to the Americans and their allies.

The article is entitled The Terrorists Tried to Hijack the Cruise Ship with 3,000 Passengers.

There is no indication why the 4 passengers had the guns nor is there any proof or explanation in the newspaper that they were in fact terrorists. 

The Costa Magica participated in anti-terrorist exercises last year. 

Anyone with more information about this incident please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

October 14, 2014 Update: Costa Crociere posted this statement on Twitter: "Segnalate alle autorità 5 persone che hanno tentato l'imbarco su Costa Magica con documenti falsi. Nessuna arma è stata trovata." Translated: "5 people reported to the authorities who have attempted boarding on Costa Magica with false documents. No weapon was found."

Costa Magica

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Abxbay Creative Commons 3.0

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