Witnesses to Gem Drowning: "NCL Screwed Up"

Earlier this week, a 10 year old child drowned in a crowded swimming pool on NCL's Norwegian Gem

It's the seventh time that a child has drowned, or nearly-downed, on a cruise ship in just two years. The incidents occurred on cruise ships operated by all of the major cruise lines' ships: Carnival, Disney, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean. None of the cruise lines employed life guards at the time. (Disney subsequently changed its policy after a child sustained catastrophic and permanent injuries requiring lifetime medical care.) 

Following the death of the little girl, NCL issued a press release, which avoided the issue of lifeguards, but touted its allegedly "quick" and "full" NCL Norwegian Gemresponse by its ship's medical team.

"On Sunday afternoon, the ship's medical team responded to an emergency call from the pool deck, as a ten year-old female guest was reported unresponsive. The team quickly administered CPR and full emergency care. After extensive efforts, the guest could not be revived."

But witnesses on the ship dispute NCL's PR statement.  

Several cruise passengers left messages regarding what they witnessed:

One passengers said: 

"I'm still on the Gem now. And i was right there. On this incident I can blame NCL for their lack of effort. Passengers who were nurses and doctors did all the work while NCL workers watched and looked panicked. They did not know what to do. They kept telling the real nurses and doctors to stay away. I talked to one of the ICU nurses and she said they are handling it all wrong. They told her to move away meanwhile shes yelling at them on what to do. The girl had a pulse. . . . Bottom line, NCL dropped the ball on this on big time. If you weren't there then don't say a thing backing NCL. Cause they did absolutely nothing. The passengers came to the rescue. Applaud them. They were fighting for the kid while NCL looked DAZED."

Another passenger remarked:

"My wife and I witnessed this tragic event right before our eyes while on board the Gem this past week. My wife is a registered nurse and tried to help, but was told 'they were handling it and to stay away' . . . she was completely upset with the lack of treatment she witnessed by the staff personnel. That poor girl was being worked on by inexperienced people, pool side for more than 15 minutes before being rushed down to the medical center.

As a parent traveling with 3 kids, I agree it is our responsibility to "watch our children." However the pool deck was really crowded at that time, and with those crowds it was very easy to lose sight of your kids. The family pool is 5' - 6' deep, which is very dangerous IMO for children and inexperienced swimmers. I'm amazed that NCL wouldn't employ trained lifeguards with that setup.

The bottom line is an innocent child died, and my heart goes out to the family."

The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) argues that cruise lines "manage pools with the safety of passengers" by providing "signs that a lifeguard is not present."

This, of course, is double-talk. Four and six year old kids like the ones who drowned on lifeguard-less cruise ships can't read or comprehend warning signs. A no-lifeguard sign recommended by the cruise lines' defense lawyers is an acknowledgment that the cruise industry is committed to a policy of not providing reasonable safety to children. 

Airborne Norovirus - What Now Cruise Lines?

Cruise Ship NorovirusEarlier this month, we reported that researchers in Canada concluded that norovirus can spread by air, according to a publication in the highly respected Clinical Infectious Diseases. Eight doctors participated in a study of norovirus and determined that norovirus can be transmitted in an airborne form.  

Researchers collected air samples (about 3 feet away from the sick patients) and then tested areas further away, such as by the door of patient rooms and down the hall at nursing stations.

A reporter for HealthDay News / U.S. News and World Report wrote an article titled 'Cruise Ship' Norovirus Bug Can Spread by Air, Study Finds, saying that "notorious bugs that have infected scores of people and ruined countless cruise ship vacations -- can spread through the air and infect people several feet away, according to new research."

Airborne concentrations of norovirus "ranged from 13 to 2,350 particles per cubic meter of air." As few as 20 norovirus particles can infect someone.

The cruise industry had been misleading the public for years that the virus is primarily brought aboard by passengers, whereas it is more likely caused by a combination of contaminated food and/or water, crew members working while infected and poor cleaning practices.

Now, irrespective of how the virus came on the ship, the cruise lines have to deal with the reality that the nasty virus spreads by air. That's particularly troublesome considering the cramped spaces on cruise ships. If infected norovirus particles can float down a hallway to a nurse's station, the disease can just as easily float down the hall on a cruise ship or find its way into the air-conditioning ducts.

News station WWLP jusr ran a story on the issue/ (See video below)

Few media outlets have discussed this news. Travel publications are staying away from the news. But when the news get out, expect the cruise lines and CLIA to launch a campaign of misinformation.

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Norwegian Dawn Hits Reef Near Bermuda

A friend just notified me that the Port Bermuda cam operated by PTZtv shows that the NCL Norwegian Dawn has just hit a reef near the port. 

The cruise ship reportedly launched lifeboats, although there is no indication that anyone was injured. The weather looks nice.  The boats may have been checking the damage to the cruise ship and reef.  

Passengers are tweeting that the cruise ship hit the reef hard and churned up the reef.

The ship was heading back to Boston. 

Some news outlets are reporting that the Dawn lost power shortly after leaving Bermuda. 

You can watch the webcam here.

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Photo Credit: J. Zsiros via CBS Boston

NCL Dawn Bermuda

10 Year Old Girl Drowns on Norwegian Gem

A young passenger, reportedly a 10-year-old girl, drowned in a swimming pool aboard NCL's Norwegian Gem while the cruise ship was 75 miles east of Myrtle Beach yesterday afternoon. 

I first learned of the incident on Twitter from CNBC's @RyanRuggiero who tweeted "The Coast Guard is investigating a death that occurred aboard the Norwegian Gem off the coast of NC. The investigation is still ongoing." He mentioned that the death involved a child drowning on the Gem.

This incident will rekindle the debate whether cruise lines should employ lifeguard their ships.

Norwegian GemThere have been a number of drownings and near-drownings of minors on cruise ships in the last couple of years. 

This is not the first time a child has drowned on a NCL cruise ship.

Last year, two small children were pulled from a pool on NCL's Norwegian Breakaway as the cruise ship was sailing from New York to the Bahamas. Both children were unresponsive. The younger child (age 4) died on the cruise ship. The other child (age 6) was medevaced by the Coast Guard. Read our article: Drowning Tragedy Aboard the Norwegian Breakaway: Where Are the Lifeguards?

All of the major cruise lines without lifeguards have seen children killed or seriously injured in the cruise ship swimming pools. You can read about the incidents:

A four year old on the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas January 2015.  

A six year old on Carnival Victory October 2014

A six year old boy on Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas May 2014. 

A four year old on Disney Fantasy March 2013.

The child on the Disney cruise ship was permanently and seriously injured. Disney paid a multi-million dollar settlement and began employing lifeguards on its ships. No other cruise lines have followed Disney's lead.

Inclined to always blame the parents and give the cruise line a pass?  Think again. Read: Imperfect Parents & Corporate Irresponsibility: Why No Lifeguards on Disney Cruise Ships?

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Photo credit: Captain-Tucker via Wikipedia Creative Commons 3.0

Coast Guard Medevacs Injured Passenger From Disney Magic

The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a passenger to Charleston, South Carolina yesterday. 

The Coast Guard said in a news release says that the passenger suffered a hip and leg injury while sailing aboard the Disney Magic cruise ship.

A helicopter was dispatched to the ship and the passenger was hoisted aboard.

The 29-year-old passenger is reportedly in stable condition at the Medical University of South Carolina. 

The video from Defense Video & Imagery Distribution is below: 

 

Carnage Continues in Nassau Bahamas

Nassau Bahamas CruiseThe Bahamian newspapers report that 4 men were murdered in Nassau on Friday and Saturday. 

The Tribune reports that the police engaged in a shoot four with armed men early yesterday. One man had an AK-47 assault rifle. The police killed one man and arrested two others. The fourth suspect is being sought.

The Tribune says that another man was shot and killed outside of a nightclub early this morning.

The murder list has reached 54 so far this year. if this rate continues, Bahamas' murder rate will elevate it to one of the most murderous countries in the greater Caribbean, Central and South America, behind only Honduras, Venezuela, Jamaica and the USVI. 

Other murders include a well known designer and a security guard at the Atlantis Resort. They were both beaten to death. 

The United Kingdom recently announced a travel advisory warning U.K. citizens of the danger of armed Nassau Bahamas Crime Warningrobbery and murder in the Bahamas. This was the eighth crime warning for the Bahamas since January 2014, totaling the warnings from the U.S., Canada and the U.K. 

Canada advised its citizens to “exercise a high degree of caution, especially in Nassau, due to high rates of crime.”

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Photo Credit: DEK Brown

8th Violent Crime Warning for the Bahamas in 16 Months

Nassau BahamasThe U.K.'s  Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued "foreign travel advice" for travelers to the Bahamas. The U.K. crime warning says

"There have been incidents of violent crime including robbery, which is often armed and sometimes fatal, in residential and tourist areas of New Providence, Grand Bahama and Freeport. The number of break-ins and robbery incidents reported to the High Commission has increased. There are police patrols in the main tourist areas.

Be vigilant at all times and don’t walk alone away from the main hotels, tourist areas, beaches and downtown Nassau, particularly after dark. Take care if travelling on local bus services after dusk on routes away from the main tourist areas. Do not carry large amounts of cash or jewellery. Robbers may be armed."

I first learned of the crime warning from Travel Weekly

Incredibly, this is the eighth crime warning for the Bahamas in the last 16 months.

In 2014, Bahamas was the subject of four critical crime warnings to U.S. citizens (one from the U.S. State Department and three from the U.S. Embassy) and one warning from Canada. There have been 2 prior crime warnings from the U.S. for the Bahamas this year. With this latest U.K. warning, that's a total of 8 warnings.

I have never heard any country being the recipient of 8 crime warnings in such a short time period. The U.S. warnings are much more specific, mentioning that U.S. tourists have been raped and robbed at gunpoint. 

We last wrote about the sorry state of affairs in the Bahamas earlier this month. We received a number of interesting comments to the article which you can read here. Many people avoid a cruise itinerary which includes the Bahamas, or they stay on the cruise ship when it reaches Nassau. 

I picked Nassau as the most dangerous cruise destination in the world last year.

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Photo Credit: Bahamas B2B

Loyal to Royal? Expect to Pay Higher Gratuities! (And the Money's Not for the Crew)

Loyal to Royal Caribbean - Cruise Line GreedLoyal to Royal?

Expect to pay more in gratuities.

Effective June 1st for all sailings departing on or after July 1st, the new gratuities charged by Royal Caribbean to its passengers will be $12.95 per day, per guest in standard accommodations, and $15.95 per day, per guest in suites. 

There seems to be a trend across the cruise industry to nickel & dime the customers. NCL, for example, just started charging a room service fee.  

NCL's CEO Del Rio said this while reporting on last quarter:  "... we have looked across the fleet to identify areas where marginal changes that are commensurate with market conditions can be implemented to improve performance.

A few examples include a 6.7% average increase in beverage prices, the introduction of a nominal room service fee and lower costs from renegotiated shore excursion agreements. To put into perspective how these small changes can add up quickly, ever dollar increase in yield translates to approximately $15 million to the bottom line." 

Royal Caribbean's increased gratuities is designed to increase profits and put more money in the executives pockets. 

What RCCL is not telling you: not all the gratuities go to the hard-working crew members.

Royal Caribbean, like Carnival and NCL, has been diverting tips from the crew into revenue ever since it began the pre-paid gratuities. Remember when you used to hand your cabin steward cash at the end of the cruise? Most cruise lines stopped that practice in order to grab a good chuck of the money intended for the crew for themselves.

Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean do a poor job taking care of their crew members. You see evidence of it everywhere. Carnival canceled the meager retirement plan for its crew a couple of years ago. NCL is Richardd Fain - Royal Caribbeancharging for room service and is charging higher prices for drinks and excursions but there's no indication that it will pass any more money along to the crew. The crew members' benefits have been cut and they are still working insane hours every day.

I have never heard of any cruise line making changes designed to benefit the crew in the last decade.

Some passengers say they are fed up and will no longer be loyal to their favorite cruise line. So the "Loyal to Royals" will switch to NCL, and the "Loyal to Norwegians" will switch to Carnival and so forth and so on. Around and around the guests will spin as the cruise lines suck up their nickels and dimes while the cruise executives pocket millions and millions without a thought of their hard-working crew. 

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May 15, 2015 Update: USA TODAY's Cruise Log says that "with the increase, a family of four will pay more than $350 in service charges on a typical seven-night cruise -- one of the highest levies in the business.

Balmoral Cruise Passengers Hit By Massive GI Outbreak

Fred Olsen Balmoral Cruise passengers on the Fred Olsen Balmoral cruise ship are affected by a massive viral outbreak.

The cruise ship's medical staff is overwhelmed with sick passengers who are suffering from diarrhea and vomiting. The person who contacted us says that at least 300 of 1,100 passengers, as well as crew members, are ill with the gastrointestinal sickness..

The cruise line curtailed the cruise from 8 to 7 days to return to Southampton for "Barrier Cleaning." 

News sources in the U.K. are reporting that Fred Olsen passengers hit with a "vomiting bug" which causes vomiting and diarrhea.

Fred Olsen said it was "company policy" not to reveal the number of passengers affected, but the Daily Echo says that as many as 250 had contracted the bug.

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Photo Credit: Daily Echo
 

 

FlowRider Accident Seriously Injures Passenger on Independence of the Seas

FlowRider The Independence of the Seas returned early to Fort Lauderdale this morning because a passenger sustained a serious injury yesterday.

Several passengers emailed me stating that the Royal Caribbean passenger sustained major head trauma after he fell on the FlowRider. It is unclear exactly when or how the accident occurred, but the Independence of the Seas returned to port in Fort Lauderdale this morning around 3:00 A.M.

Flowriders are exceedingly dangerous. There have been numerous broken ankles, wrists, elbows, shoulders and necks and even one death on Royal Caribbean cruise ships when a passenger broke his neck and was killed. We believe the FlowRiders are unreasonably unsafe, defectively designed with negligent instructors. 

Most passengers do not realize that the Royal Caribbean waiver which the cruise line forces passengers to sign is illegal and unenforceable under Maritime Law.  

Don't forget to read: FlowRider Accidents: Royal Caribbean Liability Waivers Are Unenforceable!

Danger on the High Seas - Royal Caribbean's Deadly FlowRider. Don't watch video if you are squeamish. 

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Video Credit: Jim Walker

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger from Carnival Pride

The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a sick cruise passenger from a Carnival cruise ship today approximately 70 miles south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

The Carnival Pride request a medevac for an ill 47-year-old passenger. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Elizabeth City, North Carolina arrived at approximately 4:40 p.m.

The helicopter hoisted the passenger and few him to Carteret General Hospital in Morehead City, North Carolina.   

Video Credit: Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System  by PO3 David Weydert

Gastrointestinal Illness (Noro?) Outbreak on the Oceania Marina

Oceania MarinaA gastrointestinal outbreak on the Oceania Marina has been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

69 passengers reported being ill with nausea and vomiting during the last cruise. 11 crew members reported being sick. 

This is the 8th gastrointestinal illness outbreak in just the first 5 months of this year.

Last year there were 9 outbreaks in all of 2014.  In the last two years, Princess and Royal Caribbean have been the leaders with the most sick ships.

According to a newspaper in Hawaii, the outbreak was determined to be norovirus and "a spokeswoman for Princess Cruises said a total of about 100 passengers were affected by the virus over several days."

The Eternal Debate: After each outbreak, the armchair quarterbacks debate how the norovirus outbreak occurred. On one side is the cruise industry and cruise line employees who always blame the passengers. "Those dirty passengers with their filthy fingers" they say "waddling up to the buffet after using the toilet and not washing their hands." But where is the scientific analysis  by the epidemiology experts?  

The CDC doesn't even try to figure causation out and the cruise line don't want the scientists to figure it out.  God forbid that the experts blame the outbreak on contaminated cruise line water or food, or dirty surfaces laden with norovirus particles, or a cook or waiter working while ill with acute GI or inadequate cleaning or air contamination

In 2013, ABC News published an interesting article titled Norovirus: Why washing your hands isn't enough. Here's a portion of the article:

"It gets in your food, in your laundry, it sticks to plates and it might even float into the air when you flush your toilet . . . ."

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Photo Credit: "Ms Marina Martinique" by Jordandkatz CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Noro on the Princess Cruises' Star Princess

News sources in Hawaii are reporting that dozens of Princess cruise ship passengers have been quarantined on Maui after a norovirus outbreak.

Newspapers are saying that Princess Cruises' Star Princess is ported at Lahaina. According to the local health department, around 30 people are quarantined in their rooms. Health officials report that the virus originated in San Francisco. 

Princess Cruises notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

There is no official CDC information  because there is no need for the CDC to make a report to the public unless 3% or more of the cruise passengers or crew are ill. 

This week 8 Canadian doctors published a blockbuster article confirming that norovirus can be transmitted in an airborne form.

Unfortunately, given the short time that cruise ship are in port, no health officials ever determine whether the outbreak is caused by contaminated food and / or water versus a sick food handler versus poor hygiene practices by the cruise ship or passengers. I expect the cruise line will still publicly blame the passengers, whatever the true cause. 

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Star Princess Noro Virus

Photo Credit: Jim Walker in Seattle

 

Samoan Crew Member Remains Missing at Sea

Somoa FlagThe Talamua New Agency in Samoa in the South Pacific reports that a Samoan crew member who disappeared from an unidentified cruise ship last November remains missing. 

According to this source, Falevi Leiataua Leapai went missing while working on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean.

The crew member was placed on a cruise ship by the Samoa Shipping Services. The article states that the shipping agency was informed by the Mediterranean Shipping Company that Leapai was missing.

Leapai’s family have been frequenting the Shipping Company for any information without success  They are now thinking of having a memorial service. 

I went through my archives and couldn't find any mention of this incident.  Does anyone have information regarding what happened and which cruise ship was involved?

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Norovirus Spreads by Air on Cruise Ships

Researchers in Canada have concluded that norovirus can spread by air, according to a publication in the highly respected Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Eight doctors participated in a study of norovirus and determined that norovirus can be transmitted in an airborne form. They published an article titled "Detection and Quantification of Airborne Norovirus During Outbreaks in Healthcare Facilities."  

Researchers collected air samples (about 3 feet away from the sick patients) and then tested areas Norovirusfurther away, such as by the door of patient rooms and down at nursing stations.

"Airborne noroviruses were identified at six of the eight facilities included in the study. These germs were found in 54 percent of the sick patients' rooms. They were also found in 38 percent of the hallways leading to these rooms and at 50 percent of the nursing stations."

A reporter for HealthDay News / U.S. News and World Report wrote an article titled 'Cruise Ship' Norovirus Bug Can Spread by Air, Study Finds, saying that "notorious bugs that have infected scores of people and ruined countless cruise ship vacations -- can spread through the air and infect people several feet away, according to new research."

"The measures applied in hospital settings are only designed to limit direct contact with infected patients," the study's leader, Caroline Duchaine, a professor at Universite Laval's Faculty of Science and Engineering in Quebec, Canada, said in a university news release."

The medical experts concluded that rules need to be reviewed to take into account the possibility of airborne transmission of noroviruses. She suggested the use of "mobile air-filtration units" or the "wearing of respiratory protection around patients with gastroenteritis" should be considered. 

The news article said that concentrations of norovirus "ranged from 13 to 2,350 particles per cubic meter of air."  As few as  20 norovirus particles can infect someone.

The cruise industry's lobbying team at the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) has been lecturing the public for decades that passengers not washing their hands is usually the cause of the virus' spread. I have always thought that blaming the passengers was malarkey.

Now we have reliable information that norovirus can spread in the air. It can easily be blown throughout the ship by the cruise ship's air-conditioning.  

I wonder how CLIA will spin this new clinical study?

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