Overboard Passenger from Sun Princess Rescued

A passenger who went overboard into the Pacific Ocean from the Sun Princess cruise ship as it sailed between Brisbane and New Caledonia was rescued today. 

Shortly after 4 P.M. local time today, the "man overboard" announcement came over the bridge.

A newspaper in Australia reported that it took about 15 minutes for the ship to completely turn around and make it back to the same area.

The cruise ship deployed a zodiac rescue boat to conduct a search.

The woman was in the water for about 45 minutes. An entertainer on the cruise ship videotaped the woman's rescue.

The article does not explain how the passenger went overboard.
 

Passenger Overboard From Carnival Elation

News4Jax reports that a passenger went overboard yesterday morning from the Carnival Elation approximately 15 miles southwest of Abaco, Bahamas.

The Carnival Elation sailed from Jacksonville on Monday with its first port of call in Nassau, Bahamas.

The Coast Guard is searching for the 24-year old man whose identity has not been revealed.

The news account states that at around 8:30 A.M. yesterday, the passenger's wife told the ship that her husband was missing and had apparently disappeared at an undisclosed time.  She reportedly says that her husband was last seen about 2:30 a.m. She reported him missing after the ship docked in Nassau. Carnival later Man Overboard Systemdetermined that its closed-circuit television (CCTV) system revealed that the man was recorded going overboard from the 11th deck. 

This sounds like the usual scenario when a cruise ship is not equipped with an automatic man overboard system which would immediately alert the bridge when someone goes over a railing on the ship. Without such equipment, and without an eye witness account of someone going overboard, the ship is left to tediously look over hours of CCTV images to try and spot the passenger and see what happened. 

The cruise industry has resisted installing the technology. There are many companies which have excellent heat and/or motion detection alarms with radar tracking systems on the market. Here is an example (photo left). Here is another.

According to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, this is the 286th person to go overboard from a cruise ship since 2000. 

Update: The Coast Guard was not notified until about 11 a.m. by the Carnival officers on the ship, or approximately two and one-half hours after the cruise ship docked in Nassau. The CCTV images which Carnival reviewed showed the passenger going overboard at approximately 2:45 a.m., according to new accounts.

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Coast Guard Grounds Majesty of the Seas for Life Vest Violation

Majesty of the Seas Life VestThe U.S. Coast Guard ordered Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas to remain at Port Canaveral after a safety inspection yesterday revealed problems with the ship's life vests.

Upset passengers quickly went to social media to voice their displeasure:

As reported by local ABC affiliate WFTV- 9:

@eric_thebruce tweeted:  "How many life jackets aren't up to code @RoyalCaribbean? This didn't sneak up on you. Thanks for checking @uscoastguard" 

@Jktaylor1 tweetded "@RoyalCaribbean come on man. 1st the Captain makes an announcement we are leaving early morning. Now we are delayed until 1400. #Unsatisfied"

@vballrach1 tweetded "@RoyalCaribbean we are spending the night in port due to safety violations reported by the Coast Guard. never had this happen before"

The Majesty of the Seas is a Sovereign-class cruise ship built in 1992.  The nearly 25-year old ship apparently had old life vests aboard the ship which were in a state of disrepair. The Coast Guard stated that its inspection revealed "some technical issues, including some outdoor lifejackets showing their age."

A month ago, a lifeboat fell off from another one of the older Royal Caribbean cruise ships, the 20-year old Grandeur of the Seas, while the ship was at port in Charleston.    

The Majesty is expected to replace the life vests today and sail later this afternoon. 

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Photo Credit: Coast Guard Statement - @MarkLehman

 

Canadian Court Orders Owners of MV Clipper Adventurer to Pay Pollution Costs for 2010 Grounding

This week a Canadian court ordered the owners of the M/V Clipper Adventurer to pay pollution related costs and fines arising of of an incident in August of 2010 when the vessel struck a large rock shelf near Kugluktuk, Nunavut. 

The owners and operators of the Clipper Adventurer claimed that the ship was not informed about the hazard, and filed a $13.5 million claim again Canada for their repair and salvage and loss of business. The ship's owners blamed Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans for failing to inform them about the underwater rock shelf. I wrote at the time that this seemed to be a very difficult case for the vessel owners. "They were in the rugged waters of the Northwest Passage and apparently were not using a local pilot who was familiar with the waters. Were they using a depth sounder? Sounds like they were not exercising diligence sailing in these waters without a pilot or correct charts."

We wrote about the incident over 6 years ago - Clipper Adventurer Cruise Ship Runs Aground in the Clipper Adventurer Runs AgroundArctic.

The Canadian court found the Coast Guard properly warned the Clipper Adventurer's crew of the rock shelf through a notice to shipping, which was not on board the ship. The court wrote "as it was, this nonchalant attitude put the lives of close to 200 souls at risk."

As we pointed out in our article "Uncharted Rocks" and Other Tall Tales - Clipper Adventurer Ran Into A Charted Hazard, the location of the rock which the cruise ship struck had been known for several years, when the Canadian Hydrographic Service informed the shipping industry. The Coast Guard then warned about the supposedly “uncharted rock” that the ship hit in a Notice to Shipping. 

John Hughes Clarke, head of the UNB’s ocean mapping group, stated at the time of the grounding that the problem was that cruise ships "want to go off the safe shipping lanes where there is more dramatic topography or stunning wildlife," in order to be of interest to the paying passengers.

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Credit: UNB Ocean Mapping Group

Filipino Crew Member Killed on Emerald Princess

A number of newspapers are reporting that an explosion on board the Emerald Princess cruise ship claimed the life of a Princess crew member at a port in New Zealand earlier this week.

The incident occurred when crew members were reportedly using a cannister of nitrogen, for deploying a lifeboat, on one of the decks near the stern of the cruise ship.

A passenger on the ship was quoted in an Australian newspaper saying that “There was an explosion, it was pretty loud ... all I saw then was the gas bottle spinning on the (wharf).”

Filipino Crew Member Killed Emerald PrincessA photograph (right) posted on Twitter shows a large cylinder, which killed the crew member, lying on the wharf near the Princess cruise ship. 

What has not been widely reported is that the deceased crew member was a young Filipino man, married with two young children. 

The Filipino's death comes just a couple of days after Lizzie Presser's insightful article about the plight of crew members from the Philippines working on cruise ships was published. Titled Below Deck - Filipinos make up nearly a third of all cruise ship workers. It’s a good job. Until it isn’t, the article explains how young men from the Philippines who go to sea on cruise ships to seek better lives for their families, face 12 hour work days for up to 10 months at a time and are prohibited from filing lawsuits in the U.S. They are subject to a draconian scheme of minimal compensation if injured on the job. If they are killed though the negligence of the U.S. based cruise line, their families receive a maximum pay-out of only $50,000 and only $7,500 per child.

The article quoted Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut as saying "if cruise lines know their workers are kept from holding them accountable in court, they’ll have little incentive to provide them with a safe work environment.”

I was alerted of the death when a concerned passenger on the Princess cruise ship first alerted me to the tragedy:

"I'm currently on board the Emerald Princess at Dunedin. I was on board at the time the explosion happened that killed the crew member. He was a Filipino 33 yr old father of two small kids. I've been absolutely appalled to learn from crew (over 80% on this current cruise are Filipino) about their employment conditions. This entire industry seems to profit from the exploitation of workers from developing countries. And here we are with someone killed while doing their job on board."

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Photo credit: Twitter via Express newspaper.

Filipinos on Cruise Ships: Lost at Sea?

Yesterday, investigative journalist Lizzie Presser's article about the plight of crew members from the Philippines working on cruise ships was published. Titled Below Deck - Filipinos make up nearly a third of all cruise ship workers. It’s a good job. Until it isn’t, the article follows the lives of several young Filipino men who went to sea for Miami-based cruise lines in order to provide a better life for their families. But when they were injured after working unreasonably long hours (12 hours a day for as long as 10 months without a break), the crew members found that they had no real legal rights to hold their employers responsible. 

Carnival Imagination - Filipino Crew Members This is an issue which I have written about regularly over the years, explaining the legal problems Filipinos face while working on cruise ships owned by companies like Carnival and Royal Caribbean:

Filipino Labor Board Punishes Burned Crew Member.

Screwing Filipinos & Imprisoning Lawyers: Seafarers "Protection Act" Protects Cruise Line Employers.

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Photo credit: Kevin Kunishi via https://story.californiasunday.com

Terrorism at Sea: Danger in the Red Sea

Houthi rebels attacked a Saudi frigate off the western coast of Yemen earlier this week. Video of the attack shows a large explosion near the stern of the ship, which was originally believed to be the result of a missile strike. It was later determined to be a suicide attack involving several small vessels.

The attack 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 video below  a voice narrating the attack shouts in Arabic, "Allah Akbar" followed by “Death to America, Death to Israel, Death to the Jews.”

According to one U.S. network, U.S. defense analysts believe that the attack was intended for an U.S. naval vessel or that this was a “dress rehearsal” similar to the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, which was being refueled in the Yemeni port of Aden in 2000 when a suicide boat loaded with explosives attacked the U.S. ship and blew up. The terrorist attack killed 17 U.S. sailors and injured 39 more. 

Four months ago, the Houthi rebels launched a similar missile attack against an United Arab Emirates (UAE} ship in the waters of Yemen near the straits of Bah Al-Mandab.

On October 1, 2016, Houthi rebels destroyed an Emirati vessel near the the Red Sea port city of Mokha.The Houthi rebels reportedly used a sophisticated Chinese anti-ship missile. The naval ship which was attacked was a high speed vessel ("HSV"), named the HSV 2 Swift. The ship was formerly operated by the U.S. Navy and recently had been leased to the UAE. There is a dispute whether the vessel was a civilian craft carrying humanitarian aid or an UAE navy vessel.

The Houthi (Shia) rebel group has been in armed conflict with the more moderate and Saudi Arabian backed Sunni government in Yemen. The U.S backs the Saudi Arabian-led coalition in their conflict against Yemen.

These attacks demonstrate the considerable danger posed to shipping in the Middle East by Shia militant groups, apparently supplied by Iran with sophisticated weapons. ISIS and al-Qu'ida operate in Yemen. 

Cruise ships routinely transit through the straits of Bah Al-Mandab. Many cruise ships transit through these straits at night without lights to avoid detection. 

Several U.S. naval experts and commanders as well as senior NATO officers have recently expressed their surprise that ISIS has not attacked cruise ships in the Middle East.

You can see photographs of the dramatic damage to the NSV 2 here.

The video showing the attack on the HSV 2 Swift is below.

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Interested in this issue? Consider reading: With a threat from terrorists and pirates ever-present, are there choppy waters ahead for cruise ship security

Trump's Executive Order Causes Chaos at Fort Lauderdale Cruise Terminal

The Allure of the Seas returned this morning to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale after a week long cruise. When the Allure docked, some of the passengers were in for a shock.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protective (CBP) reportedly requested the captain of the cruise ship to first disembark green card holders from the seven Muslim-based countries subject to President Trump's executive order, which bans citizens from entering the U.S. for at least the next 90 days

I was contacted this morning about the situation at the cruise terminal in Fort Lauderdale. A passenger said that there are several guests who sailed on the cruise who are from Iraq and Iran who hold green Trump Ban Green Card Cruisecards (which makes them legal permanent U.S. residents). It currently is unknown how many passengers have been detained, or whether crew members have also been affected.

The executive order, signed by President Trump on Friday night, has thrown confusion into the handling of many people trying to enter the U.S. this weekend. 

Yesterday, a Department of Homeland Security official said people holding green cards are included in President Trump's executive action temporarily barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

There is uncertainty whether the green card holders will be barred from re-entering the U.S. or whether they will have to undergo additional screening.

"It will bar green card holders," Gillian Christensen, acting Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman, told Reuters yesterday. But other representatives at Homeland Security have been quoted as saying that green card holders will be permitted to enter but will have to be subject to "extreme vetting." 

The affected passengers were returning on a gay cruise chartered by Atlantis. Many returning cruisers not directly affected by the ban have remained at the cruise terminal to show solidarity with the detained passengers.

It is likely that others passengers at other U.S. ports will be detained, and either banned from entering the U.S. or subject to added vetting.

President Trump has claimed that the purpose behind the executive order is to "keep America safe." But it's hard to imagine how banning legal residents from returning from a holiday cruise will accomplish that goal.

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Update: The Miami Herald is covering the story - I’ve Been Detained at Broward Port, Cuise Passenger With a Green Card Says.

January 30, 2017 Update: It seems that there were cruise passengers detained at other ports yesterday.

Florida Today writes that seven people, including a woman of Syrian origin and her three U.S. born children, were retained by CPB for over 6 hours in Port Canaveral yesterday.  

The Global Nation writes today about an Iraqi-born woman of Swedish citizenship, married to an U.S. citizen who arrived in an unidentified port in Florida. Even though she is a legal permanent resident holding a green card, she was separated from her husband when the cruise ship returned to port. "... she felt confused and afraid while being bombarded with questions. Her husband had to wait outside. . .  They asked me where I was born, when did I leave Iraq, how did I come to America, who sponsored me, what does my husband do, and what countries have I lived in.” After three hours of questioning, she was finally let go. “I was the in same room as someone being accused of child pornography,” she says. “That’s how low they made me feel, just because I was in Iraq 27 years ago.”     

 

NCL's Norwegian Star Suffers Engine Failure Again

Last month, I wrote about an azipod failure on the Norwegian Star which resulted in the NCL ship limping around on an altered Asian itinerary, much to the frustration of cruise vacationers.  It seems that instead of sending the ship to dry dock, NCL arranged to send the azipod contractors aboard to repair the ship while it was sailing. They apparently fixed the problem but the other azipod has now apparently failed:

According to a message which from a crew member on the Norwegian Star today:

"I'm writing to you again from the unlucky Norwegian Star! I wrote to you sometime in December when we broke down in Singapore at the beginning of our Asian season . . .  yesterday 25th of January, while at sea we experienced problems again, this timer with other engine, "the old one!" So now thatNCL Norwegian Star one is offline... Today, 26th, in Bali, Indonesia, captain made announcement that we are changing the itinerary AGAIN this cruise, skipping 3 ports and adding sea days in order to reach Sydney in time. At the beginning of the cruise (before 23rd, Singapore) we already skipped places and for that everybody received 200$ for onboard account, today, that was changed to 500$. But of course, guests are NOT happy and poor guys at the reception and the security are getting pounded heavily by raging crowd . . . I feel sorry for them because it is not their fault or any other crew member for a broken engine and Miami office made a decision about refunds and amounts, not onboard management . . . So the stricken Norwegian Star is going AGAIN through some very hard times . . ."

I also received this message from a passenger's family:

"I have been contacted by relatives on Norwegian Cruiseline NCL Star. They left Singapore earlier this week and are on the way to Australia. Azipod failure again and they have been told their day in Brisbane is canceled, and their trip to the barrier reef is off. This was the reason my relative took the cruise in the first place, so he is very annoyed - it was his 70th birthday present and he has waited over a year to take this cruise. This cruise already can celled part of the itinerary before leaving due to the delays on the previous cruise. So far, they have been offered no refund of this cruise - have been bunged some on-ship credit to spend and 50% off the next cruise. They are not happy bunnies!! There is nothing on the internet about this yet, so please can you inform everyone. I don't see how NCL keep getting away with NCL Norwegian Starthis - there is an obvious issue with this ship and they just keep taking people's money and canceling the planned trips."

January 27, 2017 Update:

I received photographs (right and below) of what is happening on the Norwegian Star and comments from a passenger which say in part: 

"This is what is happening here on the Norwegian Star at noon on Friday 27th January 2017!

We are on board NCL Star and it is desperate to say the least. To say that things have virtually descended to mob rule would not be an understatement.

As I write this there are more than 500 people demonstrating in the main atrium, shouting in unison ‘Shame on Norwegian’, ‘Where’s the Captain?’, ‘Boo, Boo, Boo’!

This has been going on for over two hours today and the same yesterday evening. I attach three photographs that I have taken within the last hour.

The ship has engine propulsion problems again and the itinerary has been changed once again with another three ports having been cancelled meaning that we are now only stopping at half of the planned ports on this three week cruise.

The main thing that seems to be causing mass unrest is not the fact that the ship has engine problems but the fact that this is the same fault as the ship has had many times previously and that people have been miss sold this long cruise when Norwegian Cruise Line clearly knew there were ongoing problems with the ship.

Documents have been circulated by some guests showing that this problem has been ongoing for months, and a ships log that has been produced on board which shows that the same propulsion faults also occurred on 17 October 2015 and again on 11 December 2016, there are other dates for similar issues in the report also.

During the peak of the demonstrations no officers were to be seen, the Captain has not been seen for the whole cruise and the reception desk are merely handing out comments cards to whose who want to complain. People are absolutely furious about how we are being treated here - ­there is just no leadership! We have been told by staff that there is nothing that staff on board can do because they need to wait to hear from Miami ­- but we have been waiting for nearly two days now! This lack of action seems to be infuriating people more and more . . . ."

January 28. 2017 Update:

". . . There were more demos today and captain eventually made an appearance after more chanting 'where's the captain'. NCL flying some execs in from Miami to speak to us at sometime tomorrow . . ."  

January 30, 2017 Update: NCL offers passengers aboard the Norwegian Star 100% of cruise fare towards a future cruise in addition to onboard credit of $500 per first and second guest ($1,000 per stateroom).  See letter here.

February 9, 2017 Update: The Star is dead in the water.  I received dozens of emails today from passengers on the NCL cruise ship saying that the remaining azapood failed shortly after leaving Melbourne, Australia (although A/C, electricity and water remain on). Here's one: "We are on the Norwegian Star and our complete propulsion system has failed. We are unable to maneuver and wait for help. Thank goodness before the coast of Australia and not in the middle of the Tasmanian Sea! The plan is to return to Melbourne for repair. For all friends and relatives: we are not in danger! Everything except the drive works and help is on the move. All stops in New Zealand are canceled...."

Another comment: "100% refund on this cruise and 50% on future cruise good for 5 years.. Also not the commotion of last cruise and no protests. Very orderly. Tugs are on way, should be here by 5pm and then we should be back in Melbourne by early evening on Saturday. Also giving 300 for airline changes or 350 if you decide to fly to Auckland."

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Photo credit: above - Top - Pjotr Mahhonin - CC BY-SA 3.0; commons / wikimedia; middle and bottom - anonymous.

NCL Norwegian Star

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Carnival Triumph

The U.S. Coast Guard reports that it dispatched a helicopter to medevac a passenger from a Carnival cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico yesterday evening. 

The Coast Guard said that it received a report from the Carnival Triumph on Wednesday evening that a 45-year-old male passenger was suffering from an apparent heart attack.

The Coast Guard sent an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from New Orleans to the cruise ship, which was about 11 miles south of Southwest Pass, Louisiana.

Crew members from the helicopter then hoisted the man and a nurse from the cruise ship and flew them its station in  New Orleans, The passenger arrived in stable condition. He was then taken to West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero.

 Video credit: U.S. Coast Guard via Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System. 

 

Thank You President Obama!

In 2010, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) became law. The statute required, for the first time, cruise lines to disclose incidents of missing passengers, sexual assaults and other shipboard crimes to the American public.

The legislation was the result of the dedication and hard work of our client and good friend, Laurie Dishman (who traveled to Washington D.C. over 30 times), her Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA), as well as other members of Congress, including Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX)(all photographed below).

A special thank you, of course, goes to former President Obama for signing the ground-breaking legislation into law. He warmly greeted Laurie in his office and acknowledged the brave and special person that she is, while demonstrating great generosity of spirit. President Barack Obama

Recent Lewd and Lascivious Conduct on HAL Cruise Line Show Shortcomings of CVSSA Crime Reporting

Last fall, the Arizona Republic reported that cruise travelers for the first time can see what crimes are being reported aboard cruise ships operating in U.S. ports.

The newspaper commented on improvements once the Department of Transportation replaced the Coast Guard as the agency responsible for reporting crimes on cruise ships leaving US. ports. Consumers previously needed to check the websites of each cruise line to try and find out what crimes occur on which cruise line. Carnival Corporation bundled the crimes of its brands (Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, and Princess Cruises)  together under one name, HAl Veendamso that it was impossible for consumers to identify on which cruise line the reported crimes occurred.

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act ("CVSSA") of 2010  was supposed to provide the public with reports of certain crimes aboard cruise ships, such as deaths, sexual assaults, thefts and missing-person reports.

But the cruise-friendly agencies responsible for disclosing the crime statistics requested changes to the wording in the CVSSA which rendered crime-reporting provisions useless.

Language added before its passage altered the CVSSA bill so that only crimes "no longer under investigation by the FBI" were reported on the website. An Arizona Republic investigation in 2012 revealed the language was altered at the request of the FBI and the Coast Guard, apparently with pressure from the cruise industry

The problem is that the FBI often refused to open files when crime occurred on cruise ships or, when it did, the FBI often kept its files open long after it has decided not to investigate the case. So any crime that the FBI didn't investigate - or when it technically kept its investigation files open - was not included in the Coast Guard database.

The language of the statute were changed which resulted in far more crimes, particularly sexual assaults, being disclosed to to the public by the DOT. In the first six months of 2016 far more sexual assaults were disclosed (39) than during the same period in 2015 (6) when the reporting was disclosed on the Coast guard portal.  

You can see the DOT's portal here.

But a major problem remains.  The cruise lines are the one which determine whether an incident constitutes "sexual assault." Many cases of sexual molestation of minors are mis-classified as "groping" or as "inappropriate touching," neither of which is a crime under the CVSSA .

The same is true regarding the sexual offense which the HAL waiter was arrested for on the Holland America Line Veendam last week. The CVSSA does not include "lewd and lascivious" conduct with a child as a reportable offense. 

Cruise expert Professor Dr. Ross Klein, who has testified regarding the issue of crime on cruise ships Gede Sukrantara, HAL Veendambefore the U.S. House of Representative and the U.S. Senate, pointed this problem out on his website last October. Dr. Klein has reviewed hundreds of incident reports submitted by cruise lines and has observed a tendency for cruise lines to report incidents of sexual assault as either "sexual contact" (which is not reportable under the CVSSA) or as "molestation" or as "groping" or "inappropriate touching" or "lewd and lascivious conduct" (none of which are reportable pursuant to the specific language of the statute). 

The cruise victim's group, the International Cruise Victims, has tried to introduce legislation requiring the cruise industry to disclose when children are victims of crime.  Several years ago, Dr. Klein determined that between 17.5 and 30 percent of the sexual assault victims on cruise ships are minors. The cruise industry vigorously opposed the legislation and refuses to disclose when children are sexually assaulted on their ships.

The crime that occurred on the Veendam when a 26 year old Indonesian HAL waiter (photo right) locked himself in a bathroom on the cruise ship and engaged in oral sex with a fifteen year old girl is exactly the type of sexual misconduct that families need to understand happens all too often on family cruise vacations, no matter how hard the cruise industry tries to parse words to keep it secret.

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Photo credit: Top: Fletcher6 - CC BY 3.0, commons / wikimedia. ; bottom: Gede Sukrantara Facebook page.

Polluting Princess Cruises Named "Best Ocean Cruise Line?"

Yesterday, Princess Cruises isued a press statement via PR Newswire that it had been voted the "Best Ocean Cruise Line" in the USA TODAY and 10Best Readers Choice cruise travel awards. 

The press release highlighted comments made by Princess Cruises president, Jan Swartz: "We're incredibly proud to be named 'Best Ocean Cruise Line' by the experts and readers of USA TODAY as it's our goal to provide our guests memorable and inspiring cruise vacation experiences."

A panel of cruise experts (cruise bloggers, travel agents, & industry friends) picked the initial nominees; the top 10 winners were then determined by popular vote.

The judges who nominated Princess are notable people in the world of cruising (I'm friendly with some of them) who author high quality articles and operate popular sites about the cruise industry: Carrie Finley Princess Cruises Pollution Bajak - Cruise Buzz; Fran Golden - USA TODAY; Sherry Laskin Kennedy - Cruise Maven; Jason Leppert - Popular Cruising; Chris Owen - Chris Cruises; Doug Parker - Cruise Radio; and Aaron Saunders - From The Deck Chair.  But, quite frankly, I am embarrassed for them.

Last month, the Department of Justice leveled a fine of $40,000,000 against Carnival Corporation for Princess Cruises' deliberate discharge of oil via "magic pipes," alteration of oil logs regarding at least five of its cruise ships, and lying to the Coast Guard over the course of nearly a decade. Ms. Swartz was featured in a video trying her best to appear apologetic as part of Princess' multi-media response to the revelations.

Its an embarrassing indictment of the cruise industry for a corporate felon to be voted the "best ocean cruise line" after it polluted the oceans and lied about it for so many years.  A better approach would have been for the judges to have disqualified any company which is on probation for environmental crimes or for the cruise executive to have politely declined the award, saying that the cruise line promises to do much better in the future.  

I posted Princess' patting-itself-on-its-back PR statement on our firm's Facebook page; we received these comments:

  • Should have been disqualified . . . 
  • Wow, I would have assumed "best ship", included due diligence on (environmental) issues but I guess not?
  • What a crock of s**t!
  • I agree they should be banned from these polls or disqualified.
  • . . . It's all a farce.

MSC Cruises DUMPINGThe other cruise lines voted in the list of "top 10 ocean cruise lines" have all been fined for polluting the oceans. Carnival was voted no. 3, even though it owns the polluting cruise ships operated by its Princess brand. Even MSC Cruises, which was voted no. 10, has a notorious reputation after a series of videos were released showing MSC crew members throwing garbage bags into a marine sanctuary at night. 

Yes, the award is a farce. The award should be embarrassing to the cruise industry, the cruise line "winner," the judges, and the cruise fans who voted for a corporate felon which intentionally polluted the oceans for years. 

Photo credit: Top - Department of Justice via CURT ANDERSON/AP via US News; bottom - anonymous via Cruise Law News.

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Waiter on HAL's Veendam Arrested on Charges of Lewd and Lascivious Conduct with Minor

HAL Waiter Yesterday, the Broward County Sheriff's office arrested a Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship waiter for engaging in lewd and lascivious conduct involving a minor, according to Local 10-ABC.  

The case arises out of an incident on the M/S Veendam last Sunday when the HAL waiter, identified as Gede Sukrantara, age 26, convinced a 15-year-old girl to go into a bathroom on the 12th deck of the ship. He locked the door of the bathroom and the child is alleged to have then engaged in oral sex. She later reported the incident to the cruise ship staff. 

According to the news station, Broward County Sheriff detectives interviewed Sukrantara, who is from Indonesia, yesterday after the child's father said that he wanted to prosecute the cruise employee. 

The detectives arrested Sukrantara on a charge of committing a lewd and lascivious act involving a minor where the victim is between 12 and 16 years of age. He is current imprisoned in the maximum security jail facility adjacent to the Broward County Courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Photo credit: Broward Sheriff's Office   

Arrested in the Bahamas: Cruise Passenger in Jail for Statutory Rape of 15 Year-Old Boy

Two weeks ago, the Royal Bahamian Police Force arrested a French-Canadian woman from Quebec who was on an unidentified cruise ship (cruise schedules indicate it was the Norwegian Sky) in Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas for engaging in sex with a 15-year-old boy, who cannot legally give consent to have sexual intercourse under the law of the Bahamas. 

The case involved a rather bizarre situation where the 23 year old woman met an American, 15 year old boy in what a newspaper describes as a "casino and bar area" on the cruise ship. The boy reportedly told the woman, (falsely so) that he was 18 years old. He also reportedly is over 6 feet tall and he was wearing a beard, apparently giving her the impression that he was an adult.   

The two then allegedly engaged in sex in a bathroom on the ship. The boy's mother learned of the alleged tryst and, over the protestations of her son, reported the alleged incident to the police in the Bahamas.

Section 11(1)(a) of the Bahamas' Sexual Offences Act, Chapter 99 reads: “Any person who has unlawful sexual intercourse with any person being of or above 14 years of age and under 16 years of age, whether with or without the consent of the person with whom he had unlawful sexual intercourse Bahamas Sexual assaultis guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for life.”

In the U.S., this is called "statutory rape;" it is irrelevant that the defendant was unaware that the child is underage. In Quebec, where the woman is from, 15 year olds can legally consent to sex.

The newspapers in the Bahamas have reported repeatedly on the arrest of the woman. They have published numerous photographs of the young woman in the custody of Bahamian police officers being led from the jail where she is imprisoned to the courthouse where she has attended several hearings in her criminal case. The photographs depict a obviously haggard woman, who has been kept in the harsh conditions of Her Majesty's Prison, being escorting to court by smiling police officers. 

The woman, who reportedly has three children aged 3, 4 and 5, had been given the cruise by her employer for her exemplary work performance. 

Grand Stirrup Cay is a private island in the Bahamas owned by Norwegian Cruise Line. 

The case, to me, appears to be, among other things, an indictment of the cruise line for allowing a unsupervised teenager into an area of the cruise ship limited to adults and apparently permitting him to drink alcohol. The Canadian woman's Bahamian defense lawyer was quoted in the Tribune newspaper as saying that "this defendant has a very strong defence as it may be negligence on the part of the cruiseline for allowing the virtual complainant to have access to activities reserved for adults."

I don't practice criminal law, but it seems highly relevant that the alleged victim apparently lied to the woman that he was an adult. It also seems relevant that due to the boy's height and facial hair, the woman may have reasonably believed that he was an adult, as he claimed before having sex with her. 

The Bahamas, which has the highest number of reported rapes in the Caribbean, seems to have a double standard in dealing with the issue of sexual assault. I have represented several women, both passengers and crew members, who have been sexually assaulted by crew members on Bahamian-flagged cruise ships in Bahamian waters where the police showed little interest in arresting the perpetrators or where the Bahamian prosecutors quickly dropped the charges.  

The Bahamas also has a deplorable case of prosecuting cases where children are sexually assaulted by crew members on Bahamian-Flagged ships, such as this case where a Disney crew member sexually assaulted a young girl on the Disney Dream. The police in Nassau dropped the case and permitted the cruise line pedophile to leave the jurisdiction. 

The Bahamas' interest in pursuing the case may also be, in part, political pay-back for Canada's prior warnings against travel to the Bahamas' due to its high violent crime rate.  

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January 20, 2016 Update: The family of the arrested woman, who is raising money for her legal defense via a Go-Fund-Me type of page, is denying that she ever left the casino/bar alone or that she engaged in sexual relations with the boy. 

February 3, 2017 UpdateBahamian police escorted Ms. Gagné back to Court again today where she learned that she will remain in jail. The French-Canadian newspaper Le Nouvelliste says (interpreted) that the defendant should learn later this month whether she will be released on bond and permitted to return to Canada pending the prosecution of the case pending against her.

Photo credit:  Tribune

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