Passenger Overboard from the Silja Serenade

I received information from multiple sources that a male passenger reportedly went overboard from the Silja Serenade late at night (around 2:00 A.M.) this past Monday, allegedly after a disagreement with other guests on the ship. 

Newspapers in Finland have reported on the incident. One newspaper indicates that a Coast Guard rescue center in Turku received an emergency call from the ship that a person fell went overboard. Three other passenger ships were reportedly alerted to search for the missing passenger.  A helicopter from Sweden and Navy patrol boats from Kökar and Mariehamn were also called to participate. The search was canceled at around 5:45 A.M. without success. 

Another newspaper reported that the incident occurred in the northern Baltic Sea. The passenger went overboard from the ship's twelfth deck, and fell approximately 30 meters. The water temperature was reportedly around 10 degrees. The man had just left one of the ship's discos just before the incident.  

A passenger last went overboard from a cruise / ferry operated by the Tallink Silja group two years ago. 

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Photo credit: Wladyslaw Sojka commons / wikimedia.

Silja Serenade
 

 

RCCL Chairman Richard Fain Cashed Stock Worth Around $2,500,000

Richard Fain Royal Caribbean Royal Caribbean top executive Richard Fain reportedly sold 20,000 shares of Royal Caribbean (RCL) stock this week for a total amount of approximately $2,500,000.

In a transaction this past Monday, November 13th, he sold his shares at an an average price of $123.76, for a total value of $2,475,200.00. CEO Fain officer reportedly now owns 895,416 shares of his cruise company’s stock, valued at around $110,816,684.16. 

In August 2017, Mr. Fain sold over $24,000,000 of Royal Caribbean stock. 

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Interested in this issue? Read Cruise Executive Richard Fain Hits the Jackpot Again.

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean Press Center

Crew Member from India Missing from Carnival Inspiration

The Times of India reports that an Indian crew member has mysteriously gone missing from a Carnival cruise ship while in transit from Mexico to Los Angeles since November 9th. 

Symron Santana Almeida, age 33, a resident of Cuncolim, India reportedly was employed as a wiper in the engine room of the Carnival Inspiration

The Times states that a Carnival spokesperson has been updating the family since November 12th. Mr. Almeida's brother, Siffo, has pressed Carnival for details and has demanded that it conduct a Symron  Almeida Carnival Inspirationproper investigation into the disappearance.

I first learned of the disappearance on Twitter when Mr. Almeida's neighbor, Mr. Vijay Prabhu, tweeted that "My neighbor Mr. Symron Almeida, from Cuncolim-Goa reported MISSING while sailing on board as employee of Carnival Cruise ship INSPIRATION. Ship Location Los Angeles USA. Family in distress. Please help.. My contact 9823034599."

Mr. Prabhu posted a letter dated November 10th from the Master of the cruise ship about the efforts to locate Mr. Almeida. The letter states in part: "The man overboard cameras were also reviewed and none of the footage captures a person falling in the water." 

I believe that the captain is referring to whether any of the ship's closed circuit televisions (CCTV) cameras may or may not have shown Mr. Almeida going overboard.  To my knowledge, the Carnival Inspiration is not equipped with automatic man-overboard cameras which would send a signal to the bridge whenever someone goes overboard. Modern systems today can record the person going over the rails and track them in the water via motion detection, infrared and radar technology. (MSC recently announced that it has begun implementing this technology on its fleet of ships; read MSC Cruises Implements New Man Overboard System Amidst Industry Delays).   

It appears that Carnival is one of many cruise lines which has not invested in this technology. 

Carnival is therefore left with having to review its shipboard surveillance / CCTV data to see if Mr. Almeida's movements on, around and from the Inspiration are shown by the cameras. This time-consuming, "old school" method is random and haphazard and may or may not have shown anything even if Mr. Almeida went overboard. 

The popular Crew Center website covered this incident and has a description of the contents of the Carnival Inspiration Captain's Letter  captain's letter:

I would like to share with you an update regarding one of our valued team members, Symron Santana Almeida, Wiper from our Engine team who was reported missing yesterday evening.

We started an immediate vessel wide search on board for Symron, and as you know, this search continued today into the early hours of the afternoon. The man overboard cameras were also reviewed and none of the footage captures a person falling in the water.

As per our protocols, our onboard investigation continues, and as of this time, unfortunately, Symron has still not been found. All appropriate authorities and our Corporate Office have been notified.

Our CareTeam has been in contact with Symron's mother and brother and we continue to provide every possible support to his family back in India.

We are saddened by this unfortunate turn of events and ask that you kindly join me in keeping Symron and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to any member of the management team. We will keep you informed of any further developments.

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Photo credits: Top - Symron Almeida Facebook page, with photo description "last day in engine room on Carnival Triumph." Bottom -  Vijay Prabhu Twitter page.

Is Cruising to the Middle East Safe?

Bloomberg published an article today titled Why the Cruise Industry Is Booming in the Middle East.

The lighthearted article casually mentions that passengers on the "fancy, all-inclusive Seabourn Encore were enjoying martinis and opera around the pool" off the coast of Somalia "where pirates occasionally hijack cargo ships" when an alarm sounded indicating that a small motorboat approached their cruise ship. "Onto the cruise ship climbed several burly security guards with cases of 'conventional weapons,' which would provide, as the captain explained, an added layer of protection for a potentially tricky passage."

The article states  that a week later, near Abu Dhabi, another alarm sounded, signaling the arrival ofMiddle East Cruise another boat. The small boat was stocked with tins of caviar and champagne for the cruise ship guests to enjoy "in the warm surf of a private beach."

The rest of the article didn't mention the risk of encountering pirates, and there was no mention of the danger of terrorism. Instead, the article was filled with stories of wonderful exotic getaways into Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Muscat where, the articles says, luxury travelers from an Azamara cruise ship on an excursion ashore spent "a night in Louis Vuitton tents set up in a Bedouin community in the desert."  The publication also talks about visiting "opulent mosques and labyrinthine souks" and enjoying camel rides in the desert as part of the cultural immersion and authentic experiences of the Middle East.   

The article characterized the Middle East as a "goldmine" in the eyes of the cruise lines, given the lucrative excursions and the cruise lines' ability to move their European fleets to the Middle East in winter.  

But the article misses the mark by ignoring the risk of cruise ship passengers being victims of terrorism.   

Several dozens of cruise passengers from cruise ships operated by MSC and Costa were slaughtered by terrorists visiting a museum in Tunis two years ago.   

In the last year, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen rebels attacked a naval ship from the United Arab Emirates and a frigate from U.S.-backed Saudi Arabia off the western coast of Yemen. Videos of the attacks show large explosions which were believed to be the result of a missile strike Cruise Red Sea Missle Attack Houhti Yemenand/or a suicide mission by another vessel.

The attacks occurred in the southern part of the Red Sea, north of the Bah Al-Mandab straits which is a pinch-point between the Red Sea, flanked by Saudi Arabia on the east and Egypt to the west, and the Gulf of Aden to the south. Cruise ships sailing to and from the Mediterranean and to or from the Indian Sea pass through these straits.

In the last few days, Shia rebels in Yemen have launched long range missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, illustrating the continuing dangers in that area of the world.  

Security guards with a few conventional weapons may be able to fend off pirates attempting to board a cruise ship trying to run the Bah Al-Mandab straits, but they will be useless if the Houthi rebels intentionally target a cruise ship sailing in the Red Sea, or mistakenly believe that a cruise ship is a U.S.-backed Saudi or UAE naval ship.

Considering the dangers, the intrigue of visiting the Middle East does not seem to be worth the risk.  

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Photo credits: Top - Bloomberg via Seaborn; bottom - Yemen's pro-Houthi Al Masirah television station shows launch by Houthi forces of a ballistic missile aimed at Saudi Arabia's King Khaled Airport. - Houthi Military Media Unit via Reuters and CBC.

Noro on the Anthem?

A local news station in Philadelphia reports on a recent gastrointestinal outbreak on the Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas.

ABC-6 reports that a family from Philadelphia returned from a 7-night cruise aboar the Anthem which departed Cape Liberty, New Jersey on Saturday, November 4th. The news stations reports that on the second day of the seven day cruise, "rumors of the virus started circulating . . . and started to spread fast. Workers could be seen spraying the narrow hallways, but it was apparently spreading like wildfire." 

A newlywed woman and her husband and several of her family members became ill with symptoms of a gastrointestinal virus. 

The family complained to the news stations that "some hand sanitizing stations ... didn't have any Royal Caribbean Norovirussanitizer available to us, there were out of soap at certain sinks, there were no sanitizing stations at the elevators . . the ship's managers (didn't take) enough measures to stop the spread of the virus, which is not airborne but rather comes from personal touch with others or germs left on surfaces."

Royal Caribbeaan confirmed that "were a total of 98 reported cases of gastro-intestinal illness symptoms, which represents 1.9 percent of the 4,905 guests and crew onboard." 

The CDC's Vessel Sanitation Plan requires cruise ships to send a separate notification when the GI illness count exceeds 2% of the total number of passengers or crew onboard. Cruise ship outbreak updates are posted on the CDC website only when 3% or more of the passengers and crew report symptoms to the ship informary during the cruise.

Because there were less than than 2% of the passengers and crew members reported ill during the cruise, the CDC will not list the outbreak on its official cruise ship Outbreak Updates page.

A couple of take-aways from this article. First, how many passengers did not dislose their symptoms to the ship doctor?

Secondly, there is no indication that the outbreak is related to norovirus, which cannot be confirmed until there is scientific analysis of the infected passengers' stool samples, which will not be done because the CDC is not involved.

Thirdly, the local news station is wrong that GI virus outbreaks can't occur through airborne transmission. Two years ago, in an article titled Norovirus Spreads by Air on Cruise Ships, I discussed that researchers have concluded that norovirus can spread by air, according to a publication in the highly respected Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Finally, don't call us if you get sick on a cruise. Establising where the virus came from, or that the cruise line was negligent, is virtually impossible to prove, especially since the CDC conducts no epidemiological analysis and sometimes can't even figure out the source of the outbreak

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Read: Gastrointestinal Outbreak on the Crown Princess, Again.

Norwegian Gem Suffers Power Problems in the Caribbean

Less than a week after NCL-owned Oceania Cruises' M/S Regatta experienced a power loss while cruising near Hawaii, the Norwegian Gem's propulsion system partially failed according to a New York news station ABC-7NY.

The NCL cruise ship was rerouted to Barbados where passengers were reportedly "erratically divided into groups" and flown back to Newark Airport Friday to essentially "fend for themselves."

"There was no communication, we knew nothing about what was going to happen, if we were going to have a hotel to stay at," one passenger told the New York news station. 

One passenger who contacted me said that "she was a "little disappointed because of the need to Norwegian Gemscramble and lose a day," but felt that NCL "did the best they could under the circumstances." She added "we were all notified Tuesday that we would by pass St. Thomas and were diverted to Grenada and disembarked in Barbados where NCL flew us to Newark and gave us hotel for the night and food vouchers."

In 2016, there were at least 18 partial or complete power losses of cruise ships operated by the major U.S.-based lines, including NCL's Norwegian Star which experienced repeated power failures last year. 

There seems to be some dissatisfaction amongst NCL guests who sailed aboard the Gem, with only a 25% discount on a future cruise. NCL issued the following statement about the shortened cruise:

"Due to a technical malfunction with the ship's Azipod propulsion system that has resulted in the ship's speed being restricted from full capacity, Norwegian Gem's current 11-day Eastern Caribbean cruise that departed New York on October 31 will now conclude in Barbados on Saturday, November 11. Norwegian has arranged for flights to return all guests to New York and hotel arrangements for guests who returned home today.

Norwegian Cruise Line sincerely apologizes for this unexpected change to the ship's scheduled itinerary. As a gesture of our appreciation for their patience, all guests will receive a future cruise credit of 25% of their cruise fare paid."

NCL also canceled the Norwegian Gem's next cruise.

NCL just announced that it collected record third quarter profits of $400,000,000 despite the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean. 

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Photo credit: Corgi5623, CC BY-SA 3.0, wikimedia. 

Gastrointestinal Outbreak on the Crown Princess, Again

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that there was a gastrointestinal outbreak on the Crown Princess during its recent cruise, from October 25th to November 8, 2017. The Princess cruise ship departed Quebec, Canada on October 25th for a two-week cruise to Canadian and U.S. ports. The cruise ship arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 8th and will begin its Caribbean season.

According to the CDC report, 184 passengers and 12 crew members became ill with gastro-like symptoms which included diarrhea.  

During the period from 2010 to the current date, Princess Cruises experienced the most outbreaks on iCrown Princess Princess Cruises Norovirusts cruise ships calling on U.S. ports, according to the CDC. Princess reported twenty-one (21) cases to the CDC during this time period.

The Crown Princess alone has suffered through six (6) norovirus outbreaks since 2010 to the present. Before the current GI outbreak, the last norovirus outbreak on the Crown Princess was from January 3 - 18, 2016 and, before that, from October 18 to November 16, 2014. Earlier, there was a norovirus and e-coli outbreak from February 5 to 12, 2014. It also experienced back-to-back norovirus outbreaks from January 29 to February 4, 2012 and February 4 to February 9, 2012 (photo right).

The cruise line with the second most outbreaks is Holland America Line with 18 cases of GI sicknesses reported to the CDC since 2010. HAL suffered norovirus outbreaks on the Nieuw Amsterdam, and two outbreaks each on the Voendam and the Noordam this year.  

So why is Princess Cruises far more prone to norovirus outbreaks than Carnival cruise lines, for example?

The cruise industry always blames the passengers for bringing the virus aboard, rather than its food handlers, or contaminated food or water. So are Princess Cruises customers the sickest and the least hygienic cruisers around? Are guests of HAL the second most unhygienic cruisers? Do they wash their hands the least of any cruisers? This seems like absurd arguments to make.

Is there a correlation between the age of the cruise ships and gastrointestinal outbreaks? Are different food sources and food handling techniques a more reasonable explanation? How about different sanitation procedures? 

The CDC doesn't have time to determine the source of the norovirus outbreak (sick food handlers versus contaminated food or water or a sick passenger) so it is of no help. The CDC has not even determined the type of virus involved in the most recent outbreak on the Crown Princess.  

But blaming the passengers when one cruise line (and one cruise ship in particular) has far more gastrointestinal outbreaks than its competitors is certainly not the answer.

Whoever is to blame, the crew members, of course, always pay the price, by having to wipe and scrub and spray everything in sight for long 16+ hour days to try to disinfect a ship longer than three football fields.

Irrespective of the blame-game, don't call us if you get sick on a cruise. Proving where the virus came from, or that the cruise line was negligent, is virtually impossible to prove, especially since the CDC conducts no epidemiological analysis and sometimes can't even figure out whether the outbreak is due to norovirus, e-coli or something as exotic as shigella sonnei or cyclospora cayetanensis

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Read: Why Do the Cruise Lines Always Blame the Passengers When Norovirus Breaks Out?

Oceania Crew Members Pay the Price When Norovirus Hits.

Photo credit: WPTV (2012 noro outbreak); Royal Caribbean crew members (anonymous crew member).

Sick Passenger Medevaced from Grandeur of the Seas

Medevac CruiseAccording to Florida Today, aircrews from Patrick Air Force Base medevaced an ill passenger from the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas yesterday.

The Grandeur was en route to to Baltimore, Maryland when the air force base was requested to assist in evacuating a passenger reportedly suffering from appendicitis on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship. The cruise ship was approximately 690 miles off of Cape Canaveral, according to the article. (Although the video information suggests that the ship was about 500 miles from Brevard County). 

The long-range rescue "involved HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters and 2 HC-130 aerial refueling aircraft" to reach the cruise ship vessel, according to representatives of the 920th Rescue group.

The U.S. Coast Guard was not involved in the operation, according to Coast Guard officials.

According to the article, the passenger was accompanied by his spouse aboard the rescue helicopter, and flown to Holmes Regional Medical Center, in Melbourne Florida, where he reportedly is recovering,

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November 10, 2017 Update: How the Air Force Carried Out a Daring Rescue of an Ailing Cruise Ship Passenger

 

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Lindsey Maurice via Florida Today.     

 

Cruise Lines Continue to Support the Bloody Faroe Islands, Despite Whale Slaughter

The tourist board of the Faroe Islands blocked me from accessing its Twitter page "Visit Faroe Islands" (@VisitFaroe) a couple of years ago after I pointed out that the cruise industry still sails its ships there despite the cruel tradition of slaughtering hundreds of pilot whales a year. I'm still blocked today by the Faroes tourism people and the sadistic and bloodthirsty practice still continues. Cruise lines still take their largely clueless guests to the Faroes and promote tours ashore.

The Faroes tourism website features a large photo (below) of a cruise ship and encourages visitors to visit by cruise or ferry.

I say don't @VisitFaroe . . . 

Beware, the images below (after the cruise ship), taken by the Sea Shepard volunteers, are gruesome.

Faroe Islands Cruise Travel      As I explained in Cruise Line Support Mass Murder of Whales in Faroe Islands, the local residents of the Faroe Islands massacre around 1,000 pilot whales a year. But these are not far-out-at-sea murders by huge Japanese ships away from civilization. These are well attended sporting events where the residents of the Faroes chase pods of the whales in motorized boats into a harbor and the locals hack at the whales with knives while their family members cheer them on. The whales suffer fear as they are separated from their families and die an agonizing death.  The locals call it the "Grindadráp" or the "Grind."' I call it the killing of families of defenseless mammals for fun by sick sociopaths. Here's what one person described:

"The whales are dragged to the shallow water, where participants in the kill then wade in the sea to around waist height. There they are slaughtered with traditional knives whose blades are usually 16 to 19 cm (6.3 to 7.5 in) long. Usually two deep cuts are made on either side of the animal’s neck, just Faroe Islands Cruise Travelbehind the blow hole, causing the head to drop forward; a third cut is then made through the middle of the neck down to the carotid arteries and spinal cord, which are severed. After a period of violent thrashing the animal is paralyzed and loses consciousness, dying of blood loss in most cases. With this the sea turns bright red with blood."

Mother whales are gutted and their baby whales ripped out.

Yesterday Fox News covered the horrific slaughter, showing images (video below), taken by Sea Sheperd volunteers, of the gruesome killing of these highly social mammals. It was the first time, to my knowledge, that a major U.S. television network focused on the gruesome slaughter. Many other newspapers in Europe are also carrying the disturbing images, like the Independent, Daily Mail, and the Metro

All of the major cruise lines still cruise to ports in the Faroes and profit by selling sell shore excursions to their guests. The local tour operators receive substantial income from the cruise line passengers.

The Bad Guys:

NCL promotes excursions to Torshavn, described as the "colorful capital city" of the Faroe Islands featuring es a "panoply of Nordic landscapes, with fjords, straits, deep green valleys, and a wonderful harbor dotted with colorful boats."  But no mention, of course, of the horrific whale slaughters.

Princess Cruises encourages it guests to buy tours to the Faroes with its "rough-hewn coastlines, towering sea cliffs, emerald-green valleys, and quaint grass-roofed villages," saying that the "air is Faroe Islands Cruise Travelsome of the cleanest in the world and the abundant sea birds chatter from every cliff and cove." But the cruise line obviously doesn't mention that the quaint "red-haired, freckle-faced Faroese people" murder hundreds of whales a year.  

Oceania Cruises joins parent company NCL in selling cruises to the Faroe Islands, characterizing the port of Torshavn as a "picturesque fishing town." 

Cunard makes money by convincing its guests to buy outings to the "colourfully painted wooden houses of the old town (of Torshavn) with turfed roofs." The captain of the  Queen Victoria is a native of the Faroe Islands and there was great fanfare when he sailed the Cunard cruise liner into the port of Klaksvik in the Faroes.

Other cruise lines which are on the Bloody-Faroes-Wall-of-Shame: Royal CaribbeanHolland America LineP&O Cruises, Regent Seven SeasViking Ocean Cruises, Seabourn, Windstar, Silversea, Royal Caribbean owned TUI CruisesNoble Caledonia, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Polar Cruises, and Smyril Line.  

The Good Guys:

A few cruise lines have discontinued supporting cruises to the deadly Faroes Islands in protest of the annual slaughter of pilot whales, namely two German lines, Hapag-Lloyd and AIDA. Disney Cruises also decided not to cruise to the Faroes after it learned of the ground swell of opposition to such a barbaric practice. So kudos to Hapag-Lloyd, AIDA and Disney which all decided to end their business Faroe Islands Cruise Travelrelationship with the Faroes. 

The public awareness of the barbaric, grisly practice is due to the tireless hard work of volunteers at the Sea Shepard organization.   

The residents of the Faroes defend their deadly practice of killing whales by pointing to their "heritage and tradition" of eating whale meat. (Read: Faroe Islands ‘cherish’ their bloody whale-hunting tradition).

But the Faroe Islands has a high standard of living today, and the whale meat is high in toxins and dangerous to eat anyway.

Cruelty for a long time is hardly a tradition.   

Most cruise passengers seem not to be aware of this cruelty. The violence inflicted on these sentient mammals is cruel and unconscionable. I say don't patronize cruises to this group of bloody islands or support cruise lines which do.

Follow Sea Shepherd Global - Operation Bloody Fjords Eyewitness Account.

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Photo credit: Top - Faroe Islands Tourism; others - Sea Shepherd Global; video - Sea Shepherd Global via FOX News.    

 

 

Despite Tighter Travel Restrictions, Cruise Lines Continue to Cruise to Cuba

Today, the Trump administration announced new regulations restricting travel to Cuba. 

According to the Miami Herald, U.S. citizens will be banned from engaging in business with entities tied to the Cuban military, intelligence and security services, including hotels, stores, marinas, tourist agencies, and industries tied to the Cuban government. 

The regulations, however, do not restrict cruise lines operating to Cuba as they are currently doing.

Cruise CubaThe Herald writes that President Trump’s new travel restrictions were drafted with input from Miami anti-Castro Republicans, Representative Mario Diaz-Balart and Senator Marco Rubio, who previously opposed cruise ships going to Cuba.

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Photo credit: ALEXANDRE MENEGHINI / REUTERS via NY Daily News.

Oceania Cruises' Regatta Loses Power Near Hawaii

Regatta OceaniaCruise veteran Linda Coffman reports on her blog that Oceania Cruises' M/S Regatta experienced a power loss this morning while cruising near Hawaii. According to Ms. Coffman, the power was restored and guest services have been restored.

"At approximately 2:00 a.m. local time in Honolulu, HI (7:00 a.m. local time in Miami, FL) Oceania Cruises' M/S Regatta experienced a failure of its power generation plant. All guests and crew are safe and accounted for. The power plant has been restored and all guest services are fully functioning. The ship is currently making its way back to Honolulu to effect a technical assessment and the vessel's current ETA alongside in Honolulu is 1 p.m. local time. At the time of the power loss, the vessel was approximately 20 miles off the coasts of the island of Oahu."

No other information has been disclosed.

There is no information available regarding the cause of the power loss.

Power losses of cruise ships at sea is a relatively common occurrence. In 2016, there were at least 18 power losses of cruise ships operated by the major U.S.-based lines. 

Does anyone on the ship have additional information?

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Photo credit: Kalle Id - CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

AIS Image: MarineTraffic

Regatta Hawaii

Venice Finally Restricts Cruise Ships

Venice and Cruise ShipsItalian Transport Minister Graziano Delrio announced that cruise ships of certain tonnage will be stopped from cruising through the city's Giudecca Canal around the historic St Mark's Square. In "three or four years," large cruise ships of certain displacement will have to go to the north to the industrial port city of Marghera. Some newspapers report that the restriction will apply to ships of over 55,000 tons  whereas other newspapers state that the limitation will apply to ships over 100,000 tons

This comes after complaints from environmental groups, protests from local residents, and warnings from UNESCO which has labeled the fragile city of Venice as at risk from deterioration by large ships as well as the millions of tourists which swarm into the popular city. 

My family visited Venice during a trip to Italy last year (photo below).  I was last in Venice in the summer of 1978 (photo above left) when I was a college student. (Read my thoughts in Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth?)  As our family watched tour groups of 20-30 cruise passengers pour through the tight street and congregate in the plazas, my oldest son commented that he thought the city seemed "infested with tourists."

Venice has banned monster cruise ships in the past (over 96,000 tons) only to see the industry cruise around the restrictions. 

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

November 10, 2017 Update:  It seems that the issue is more complicated than it appears. : What is Happening to Venice?  Venice’s cruise ship ban is hiding its tourism problem, not fixing it.

Photo credits: Jim Walker

Venice Cruise Ship

 

Do Cruise Lines Permit Registered Sexual Offenders to Cruise?

There are around 750,000 (some say the number is over 850.000) sexual offenders registered in the United States. Many thousands of these sexual offenders go on cruises each year. Some cruise lines do not permit registered offenders to cruise, but many if not most cruise lines do. 

Another lawyer here in Miami recently wrote an interesting article for the Huffington Post about this important issue, titled Should Cruise Ships Allow Sexual Offenders to Sail? 

The article points out, believe it or not, that there is a travel-related resource which caters to registered sexual offenders called Resources for RSO Travels, which published a blog post Can Registered Sex Offenders Go on a Cruise? The article answers its own question, writing "the answer is YES!" but further explains that there are some cruise line which block sexual offenders from cruising:

" . . . here are the two cruise lines that are notoriously known for denying registered sex offenders: Royal Caribbean and Carnival. Here are the cruise lines that allow registered sex offenders to board the ship: Norwegian, MSC, Holland America."

When I read the article, I find it disturbing that the registered offenders' blog characterized Royal Caribbean and Carnival as "notorious" for prohibiting sexual offenders from cruising and not characterizing NCL, MSC and HAL as "notorious" for permitting sexual predators to board their cruise ships. I suppose that's part of the problem with many sexual offenders. Even after being criminally convicted of their sexual crimes and placed on the National Sex Offender Public Website, they think Sexual Offender Cruise Shipthat they really didn't do anything wrong and they should be entitled to the same privileges as people who didn't commit sexual crimes. 

I have represented far too many people sexually assaulted on cruise ships, including dozens of children sexually abused during cruises, to have any tolerance for sexual offenders protesting that they were not permitted to cruise. 

Some men go on cruises for the primary purpose of abusing children. A couple of years ago, I wrote about a 71 year old man from Pennsylvania (photo left) who cruised on the Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas and went went into the cruise ship's water zone and fondled a 6-year-old boy. He attempted to fondle a second child in an adjoining Jacuzzi. At a hearing before a Federal Magistrate in Pennsylvania, an FBI agent testified that the pedophile admitted that he went on the cruise to "have a sexual encounter with a young boy." (There was no indication that the man was on a sexual offender database at the time of the cruise; shortly after this incident Royal Caribbean starting performing background checks of passengers).  The man was convicted, served jail time and when released from jail he attempted to molest other children

But don't expect the U.S. government or port authorities (at either the state or national levels) to perform background checks and prevent sexual offenders from cruising.  Homeland Security and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection may arrest sexual predators who have an outstanding warrants but they usually do so only after the cruise ship returns to port. 

For example, a 28 year-old man (photo right) was arrested while disembarking the Carnival Inspiration at the Port of Tampa a few years ago. His name was flagged by a sweep of the manifest of Sexual Assault Outstanding Warrantpassengers by Homeland Security officials who determined that the passenger was wanted for sexual assault in addition to assault with a weapon and forcible confinement. The U.S. Marshals arrested the passenger only after the cruise ship returned to port. Regretfully, our federal government routinely looks at the ship passenger list only after the bad guys have already boarded the cruise ship.

If you take a cruise, you may be cruising with at least one felon aboard. U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrested five passengers on outstanding warrants only after the Carnival Magic returned to port in Galveston several years ago. 

Cruise lines should do everything possible to keep pedophiles, sexual predators and sexual offenders  off of cruise ships. Yes, I realize that all sexual offenders are not pedophiles or technically "sexual predators" (who by definition must have been convicted of a first degree sexual crime or multiple lesser sexual crimes). But it is a step in the right direction for cruise lines to perform background checks on passengers to screen out such people convicted of sexual crimes.

Over the years, I have received many questions from people wanting to go on a cruise asking whether registered sexual offenders are allowed to cruise.  Usually, their inquires are anonymous. They claim that a "friend" is thinking of going on a cruise. They explain that their "friend" is a "really nice guy" who made a mistake a "long time ago" and is now "no threat to anyone" and other similar gobbledygook. 

A particularly annoying occurrence is when a registered sexual offender complains to me that they booked a cruise and received an email at the last minute that they are prohibited from going on the cruise. I have received many of these type of inquiries over the last several months from men convicted of sexual crimes and listed as registered offenders wanting to cruise with Carnival.  Although the cruise line always refunds their fares, several people have complained that they have been "inconvenienced" and want to see if they a lawsuit for being a victim of "discrimination."

I do not respond to such inquires, which have involved to date only people who had booked cruises with Carnival and Royal Caribbean and were notified by these cruise lines that they had been identified on a sexual offender database. The registered offenders who contact my law office remind me that most families who cruise have no idea who they are cruising with.  So kudos to Carnival and Royal Caribbean for keeping known sexual offenders off their ships and trying to keep their guests safe. Shame on the other cruise lines who don't perform such background checks.  

The bottom line is that there is no law to my knowledge prohibiting sexual offenders from cruising. Even if there were such a law, our federal government does a poor job vetting passenger manifests and probably would not find out until after the cruise ship leaves port. Its up to the cruise lines to screen their passengers and most cruise lines don't. It seems like only Carnival and Royal Caribbean do. 

Keep in mind that most of the sexual assaults of passengers are committed by crew members.  Few countries other than the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia have sexual offender databases, and very few countries have any online databases permitting any cruise line or hiring agents from knowing whether job applicants from the countries where crew members are hired (India, Indonesia, and the Caribbean islands) have been arrested or convicted of sexual or violent crimes. (And of course passengers from non U.S. countires without sexual offender databases cannot be screened). 

Don't forget that most sexual offenses historically have not been committed by people listed on the sexual offender websites.  I have handled over 100 cases and not a single one was committed by a known sexual predator, to my knowledge.  So perhaps Carnival and Royal Caribbean, at least, are doing the right thing in performing background checks of passengers, but that does not guarantee that your kids are safe at sea.  Don't let your guard down when you cruise. The majority of recent sexual assaults (particularly of children) have been committed either by passengers who were not previously identified as a sexual offender, or by pedophile crew members (such as a room attendant or waiter), from countries without databases, who groomed the child during the cruise and usually committed the assault near the end of the cruise. 

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November 4, 2017 Update: A reader on our Facebook page commented that Carnival is already partnering with INTERPOL for enhanced security screening using INTERPOL'S I-Checkit global security system . . . Read the link here.

Photo credit:

Top -  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Bottom - U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Girl Dies After Falling on Carnival Glory

Carnival GloryA 8 year-old girl died Saturday morning after falling from a deck in an interior atrium to a lower deck on the Carnival Glory

A representative of Miami Fire-Rescue Department said the child fell "about two stories" inside the Carnival cruise ship around 8:15 a.m. after the ship had returned from a cruise in the Caribbean and Mexico and had docked at the port of Miami. Photos taken after the accident posted online show the atrium lobby with railings and glass panels around the interior decks. 

The child apparently went over the rails while the family was in the process of using the atrium elevator to disembark from the ship. 

A passenger (a retired emergency medical technician) reportedly performed CPR on the girl, until the ship doctor arrived.  Fire-Rescue paramedics then transported her to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center in "extremely critical condition." 

A Miami-Dade police detective later reported the child had died. Police indicated that they would work with the cruise line "to determine the details surrounding this incident," according to Local News 10 in Miami. 

This is not the first time that a child was fallen from an upper deck on a cruise ship. Six weeks ago, a 3-year-old girl fell from the balcony of the Carnival Breeze which was heading back to Galveston, Texas. The child survived the fall.  Several years ago, a one-year-old child crawled through an 12th floor railing and fell to the pool deck below on the Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas

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October 17, 2017 Update: 

Miami Herald: Girl, 8, got on ‘tippy toes’ to peer over cruise ship railing, then fell to her death.

Photo credit: Mark Dennis CC BY-SA 2.0, commons / wikimedia.; video credit: Local News 10 Miami. 

 

 

Port Authority of Jamaica to Dredge Port of Falmouth, Again

Falmouth Jamaica PortThe Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) intends to again dredge the port of Falmouth in order to extend the Falmouth cruise ship pier, according to the Jamaica Gleaner.

A PAJ representative stated that the new project will permit the Jamaican port to allow two of the Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class (originally known as the Genesis Class) cruise ships (Oasis, Allure, Harmony and Symphony of the Seas) to dock simultaneously in Falmouth. 

The PAJ has tried to avoid discussing the controversial project although a number of local Jamaican leaders have voiced opposition to the dredging.

As we reported earlier this summer, the Gleaner reported on calls for the local citizens in Jamaica to resist the dredging. A pastor in Trelawny, the Reverend Devere Nugent of the William Knibb Baptist Church, was "calling on the people and churches in the parish to resist the plan to do further dredging of the sea, which is a proposal to bring more cruise ships to the resort town."

Reverend Nugent said "I am calling on the churches and people to establish baskets of resistance. We must resist the further dredging of the sea. Let us no longer sit back and be exploited.The people who are planning to do further dredging are doing so for their own profit, none of which stays in Falmouth. Falmouth Jamaica Dredging They don't live here, they don't shop here, and they don't join any church or civic organization here. It is broad-based exploitation."

We have reported on Royal Caribbean exploitation of Falmouth and the destruction of the local habitat there before. The coral reefs were pulverized and dumped on fields of mangroves when the port pier was build for Royal Caribbean nine years ago.    

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Photo credit: top - Jim Walker

Interested in this issue? We suggest reading: Can the Cruise Industry Clean Up Its Act?  

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