Noro on the Coral Princess

The Coral Princess arrived in Los Angeles today with 71 of the 1,958 cruise passengers aboard the  Princess Cruises' ship stricken with norovirus symptoms of nausea/vomiting and diarrhea.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that the noro-infected passengers comprise 3.63% of the total passenger population on the ship. 6 of 881 crew members are also infected.

The CDC determined the the gastrointestinal outbreak to be norovirus. Unfortunately, the CDC was unable to conclude where the norovirus came from. I am not aware of a single time when the CDC has pinpointed the cause of a cruise ship disease outbreak. The public is left with the "blame game" of wondering whether the cruise ship food or water was contaminated, or the outbreak was caused by a Coral Princess Cruise Shipsick galley worker, or was brought aboard by sick passengers and then spread because of inadequate hygiene and poor cleaning procedures.

Last year, Time magazine titled The 13 Worst Norovirus Outbreaks on Cruise Ships. The overall winner of Time's top 13 list was Princess Cruises which had five outbreaks on its brand alone: Crown Princess (January 2010) with 396 ill; Crown Princess (February 2012) - 363; Ruby Princess (March 2013) - 276; Coral Princess (February 2009) - 271; and Sun Princess (July 2012) - 216.

The Coral Princess has been one of the Princess cruise ships most likely to be infected with norovirus. Princess and Holland America Line historically have the sickest cruise ships in the cruise industry's fleet.

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Photo Credit: "Coral Princess - IMO 9229659 (2937202430)" by Cliff from Arlington, Virginia, USA - Uploaded by Navigans. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Ryndam Diverts to Bermuda to Care for Ill and Injured Passengers

Bernews reports that the Holland America Line (HAL) Ryndam cruise ship diverted to Bermuda in order to provide medical treatment for two passengers.

An 85 year old passenger suffered what is suspected to be a heart attack. A second passenger suffered a hand injury. 

Earlier in the week three passengers from the Ryndam were medevaced to hospitals in Miami. One of the passengers suffered a leg injury, one sustained a head injury, and a third passenger may have suffered a heart attack.

Photo Credit: Roger Wollstadt via Wikipedia Creative Commons 3.0

Ryndam

Royal Caribbean Crew Member Pleads Guilty to Sexual Abuse

A Royal Caribbean crew member pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a cruise passenger last year, according to a New Jersey newspaper.

NJ.com reports that Karan Seechurn of Mauritius, an employee who worked aboard the Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas, pleaded guilty to one count of abusive sexual contact.

In December of last year, crew member Seechurm (a mini-bar attendant) used a master key while he Karan Seechurn Royal Caribbean Cruisewas off-duty to enter a woman's cabin and molested the woman while she was sleeping. 

As we wrote last year, it's a dangerous practice to give male cabin attendants or mini-bar attendants a master key to passenger cabins. Prior sexual assaults have occurred on Royal Caribbean ships under similar circumstances. Royal Caribbean touts the Quantum as the most technological advanced cruise ship on the high seas. It's too bad that the cruise line didn't use old school technology and deactivate the master keys and cards to passenger cabins after hours.

The crew member faces up to three years for the sexual abuse charge. The sentence seems quite light. Seechurn tried to prevent the woman from leaving her cabin and threatened her when she awoke.

Many of his co-employees came to his defense on social media last year and posted comments disparaging the victim. 

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Photo Credit: Karan Seechurn Google Plus Page

NCL Drug Bust Fallout

Drug busts on NCL cruise ships have been big news for the past month.

First there was the arrest of five galley workers on the Norwegian Sun who were apprehended in Tampa when they smuggled 7 kilos of cocaine from Roatan.

Two of the arrested NCL ship employees were from St. Lucia along with two crew members from Grenada and one employee from St. Vincent. Read article here

Then came the arrest last week of another NCL crew member, a Nicaraguan,  who worked in the galley of the Norwegian Dawn and tried to smuggle cocaine aboard when the cruise ship was docked in Roatan.

Since then, I heard that there were widespread arrests of NCL crew members on the Epic as well as some on the Sun. Several NCL crew members have told me that as many as 20 crew members from Nicaragua have been arrested with cocaine in the last several weeks.St. Lucia Cruise Ship

But there's a downside to the arrests. Some crew members are innocent and yet they get fired by the cruise line and put on the do-not-enter-the-U.S. list of U.S. immigration. 

A reader of Cruise Law News sent this story about a crew member from St. Lucia who worked about the Norwegian Pearl. He was arrested on suspicion of smuggling drugs. But then he was released and another crew member was arrested instead.

NCL didn't permit him to keep working. In fact, he was fingerprinted, his U.S. tourist and seaman's visas were canceled, he was blacklisted from the U.S., and then was given a one-way flight back home.

We are often contacted in these type of cases. Unfortunately, maritime law is extremely unfavorable to crew members. Cruise lines can hire and fire crew members for good reason, bad reason or no reason at all. The U.S. government can act even more arbitrarily and capriciously than the cruise lines. Low level customs agents yield incredible power to ruin the lives of hard working young men from the Caribbean. 

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Photo Credit: St. Lucia Times 

Ryndam Passengers Medevaced to Miami

Ryndam MedevacMiami news stations are reporting that several passengers from the Holland American Line Ryndam were medevaced to hospitals in Miami this evening.

WSVN Channel 7 reports that one of the victims suffered a leg injury, one sustained a head injury, and a third passenger may have suffered a heart attack.

The news station says that the Ryndam cruise ship came within three miles from shore so Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue crews could pick up the injured and ill passengers. One passenger was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital and a second one to to Mercy Hospital.

The Ryndam cruise ship was sailing from from Tampa to London.

 

 

WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Oriana Limps Back to Miami After Fire

The P & O Oriana has made it back safely to the Port of Miami last night after a fire broke out on the ship. 

Viewers following the PTZ / Port of Miami webcam heard radio communication between the ship and the Coast Guard that a fire had allegedly broken out on the ship involving the engine room. The Oriana requested tugs to assist it back to port in Miami after the fire was extinguished. 

AIS tracking systems shows the cruise ship leaving port (for Key West) and then turning around shortly after leaving the port. 

No further information is available at this time.  I have requested information from P&O Cruises but have not received anything. 

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April 19, 2015 Update: Oriana left the Port of Miami this morning around 8:20 AM. Seatrade quotes an unidentified cruise spokeswoman issuing a bland statement that the incident involved a "minor, localized fire which was swiftly extinguished and at no time affected the safety of passengers or crew."   I have never heard a cruise spokesperson ever describing a cruise ship fire as anything other than "small" and "quickly extinguished."

Of course there is nothing "small" about a fire at sea.

 

Video Credit: @PTZtv 

 

NCL Crew Member Arrested in Drug Bust in Roatan

Norwegian DawnA NCL crew member employed aboard the Norwegian Dawn cruise ship was arrested yesterday when he attempted to smuggle cocaine aboard the ship when it was docked in Roatan, according to the Teledifusora Insular television station.

The television stations reports that the NCL ship employee, identified as Keneth Antonio Salas Taylor (age 35), a Nicaraguan galley worker, tired to board the Dawn with a package of cocaine hidden under his clothes.  The ship's security discovered the drugs and reported the incident to the national police, who arrested the crew member. 

Last month, five NCL crew members on the Norwegian Sun were arrested in Tampa when the cruise ship returned from Roatan where the crew members picked up the cocaine (seven kilos). Like the instant crew member arrested, these men were galley workers.  

You can read about that drug bust here.

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Photo Credit: Top Fletcher6 via Wikipedia Creative Commons 3.0; Bottom Teledifusora Insular.

 Drug Bust Roatan Honduras

Carnival Passenger Killed in Jet-Ski Accident in Cayman Islands

Carnival ConquestThe Cayman News Service is reporting that a 31 year old cruise passenger from the Carnival Conquest was killed after his jet-ski was struck by a jet-ski operated by a fifteen year old boy from the Carnival Paradise

The 31 year old had rented a jet-ski with his 37 year old girlfriend and they are from Virginia. A Carnival PR representative told the AP that the couple were not participating in a shore excursion sold through the company.

The incident occurred the Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa.

The 15 year old boy is from New York and was jet-skiing with his brothers and father. He reportedly was driving the jet-ski alone at the time of the accident. It is unknown whether his family had rented the jet-ski independently or they were on a cruise excursion.

A local news station in Virginia is reporting on the accident.

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Photo Credit: "Carnival Conquest" by Matt Howry Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Carnival Refuses Refund for Slain Police Officer's Family

Carnival Cruise Refund PolicyOne issue we write about often is the cruise industry's refusal to refund cruise fares when tragedy strikes their customers. 

We have seen cruise lines refuse to accommodate their guests when family members die unexpectedly, natural disasters destroy their customers' homes, and even when children develop cancer. The cruise lines pocket the fares and then often sell the ship cabins for what turns out to be a double profit for the cruise line.

Seems heartless to me. Some people think its okay because the customers didn't buy insurance (which the cruise lines also sell for additional profit). But there are exceptions to every rule. It's bad karma to obtain a double profit when your customers face the heartbreak of losing a child, especially if he's a slain police officer.   

As WKMG explains, the Carnival representative not only denied a refund to the father of slain Ocala police officer Jared Forsyth, she rubbed salt into the wound. "Well, if you want to play the dead son angle," she told the dad of the dead son.

Carnival eventually refunded most of the cruise expenses (except $1,500) only after the grieving father complained to the local news station which contacted the cruise line's public relations spokesman.

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April 17, 2015 UpdateCruise Line Refunds Vacation to Family of Police Officer Killed at Training. It looks like Carnival was shamed into apologizing to the family and finally giving them a full refund. 

April 18, 2015 Update: The Ocala Post interviewed me regarding the story, which you can read here

Video and photo credit: WKMG

 

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Horizon Passenger Goes Overboard

Yesterday. I received information from a Cruise Law News reader that a man went overboard from the M/V Horizon operated by Croiseires de France between the Dominican Republic and St. Maarten. 

Today a newspaper in St. Maarten reported that yesterday, the police department in St. Maarten received a call from the security office at the A.C. Wathey Cruise Facilities in St. Maarten that they had received a message from the Horizon cruise vessel informing them that a passenger on board of the cruise ship had allegedly jumped from the ship in open waters between the Dominican Croiseires de France HorizonRepublic and Saint Maarten.

The AP says that the U.S. Coast Guard is searching for a missing cruise ship passenger from Ireland, but has the location slightly different. The AP states that the man is suspected of "going overboard" near Puerto Rico. The AP story doesn't indicate how the man went overboard. 

The Coast Guard identified the man as 67-year-old Dominic William O'Carroll. 

The Horizon is an old ship and is not fitted with any semblance of an automatic man overboard system. One news source say that a crew member reported seeing "an object" falling into the water. Eventually, a check of surveillance film revealed the passenger going overboard around 5:00 AM. There has been no verification by authorities that the passenger jumped.  

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April 14, 2015 Update: The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for the passenger. The Coast Guard has deployed: 

  • MH-65 Dolphin helicopters from Air Station Borinquen in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
  • The Coast Guard Cutter Drummond, a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • A 33-foot Special Purpose Craft Law-Enforcement vessel from Boat Station San Juan and one from Boat Station St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

The U.S. Government should invoice cruise ships that refuse to install automatic man overboard systems. Average search expenses of the U.S. can easily exceed $500,000 and reach $1,000,000. These expenses would be largely unnecessary if the cruise lines invested money to install new technology needed to keep passenger safe.  

April 16, 2015 Update: A newspaper in Ireland reports that "since the search began early Monday morning, Coast Guard rescue crews conducted 12 air and surface searches covering an area of approximate 1,265 square nautical miles, an area approximately one third the size of Puerto Rico." A Coast Guard representative says "the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of this passenger remain unclear." There is no confirmation that the passenger jumped. as originally claimed by the ship.    

Photo Credit: Croiseires de France

Mexico Travel Warning

If you are cruising to Mexico, be sure to read the Mexico Travel Warning issued yesterday by the U.S. State Department. 

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens about the risk of traveling to certain places in Mexico due to threats to safety and security posed by organized criminal groups in the country.

"Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime that are reported in the border region or in areas along major drugs trafficking routes."

"Crime and violence are serious problems and can occur anywhere, and U.S. citizens have fallen victim to criminal activity, including homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking, and highway robbery. While many of those killed in organized crime-related violence have themselves been involved in criminal activity, innocent persons have also been killed. The number of U.S. citizens reported to the Department Acapulco Mexicoof State as murdered in Mexico was 81 in 2013 and 100 in 2014."

The cruise ports seem largely unaffected by violent crime and there are no specific warnings. However, in Acapulco, the State Department recommends not going to areas further than just "two blocks inland of the Costera Miguel Aleman Boulevard, which parallels the popular beach areas."

The state of Guerrero (where Acapulco is located) was the "most violent state in Mexico in 2013, with 2,087 homicides and 207 reported cases of kidnapping. Self-defense groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Armed members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and, although not considered hostile to foreigners or tourists, are suspicious of outsiders and should be considered volatile and unpredictable."

Last year I recommended avoiding cruising to Acapulco.

Photo Credit: N. Parish Flannery. Instagram: @nathanielparishForbes via Forbes.

At Least 116 Sick on Legend of the Seas

Legend of the Seas Another Royal Caribbean cruise ship is plagued by a gastrointestinal bug.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the Legend of the Seas has 114 sick passengers aboard as well as 2 sick crew members. They are experiencing the typical GI symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.

The cruise ship is sailing a March 30 - April 14, 2015 itinerary to San Diego, California. The Celebrity Infinity is currently in San Diego with another GI outbreak. Both cruise ship sailed from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and sailed a similar itinerary.   

So far this year four of the five GI outbreaks reported by the CDC involve Royal Caribbean-owned cruise ships in the Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruses fleet:  Grandeur of the Seas, Equinox, Infinity and Legend of the Seas. The fifth outbreak is on the Norwegian Pride

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Photo Credit:  Jim Hooker / Colorado Locks via Wikipedia

Palma Police Arrest 2 Crew Members After Crime Spree Ashore

Palma MjorcaA reader of Cruise Law News sent me this story about two young Italian crew member, ages 19 and 21, who seem to have gone on a crime spree while their cruise ship was in port in Palma, Majorca.

It turns out that while in port, the two men were caught on a security camera stealing a purse, a credit card and a computer (if I have the translation right). 

The incident occurred last Friday, April 10th. 

No word on the name of the cruise line or cruise ship.

April 13, 2015 Update: The Mallorca Magazin seems to suggest that the crew members came from a Costa cruise ship and published the photo below. However, a reliable source says that the Sinfonia (MSC Cruises) was the only cruise ship in port at that date/time.  

Photo Credit: Below - Symbolfoto via Mallorca Magazin

Costa Cruise Ship Palma

GI Outbreak on the Celebrity Infinity

Celebrity InfinityThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that at least 95 passengers and 5 crew members have been sickened with a gastrointestinal illness (GI) while aboard the Celebrity Infinity.

The Infinity is on a two week cruise that started on March 29th and will end on April 13th in San Diego, CA.

We have received emails from sick passengers on the ship.

The CDC hasn't figured out whether the outbreak is due to norovirus yet. 

The CDC will send two employees (an environmental health officer and epidemiologist) to the cruise ship when it reaches San Diego April 13th.

The Infinity suffered through a norovirus in 2013

This is the fourth GI outbreak on a cruise ship calling on a U.S. port which has been reported to the CDC this year. The last one involved NCL's Norwegian Pearl.

April 13 2015 Update: A passenger contacted me today saying that there was an outbreak the cruise before which sailed from South America and returned to Ft. Lauderdale at the end of March. She said that her husband became ill with noro-like symptoms and the ship had been fumigated during the cruise.   

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Photo Credit: WikiCopter

Canadian Couple Attacked Sailing to Roatan

A retired couple from Canada, together with a captain, sailing from mainland Honduras to Roatan were reportedly attacked by four men armed with guns and knives who boarded the boat, threatened them with death and stole their money.

The article in CBC News quotes the Canadian woman saying "they actually had me, pulling my hair and a knife on my throat, demanding more money from the captain."

The menacing men then disabled the boat and tore out the engine wiring, and left with gasoline and the Roatan Sailing Attackcouple's radio and drinking water, stranding them in the jungle.

This is not the first time that Canadians sailing in Honduran waters have been attacked. A Canadian woman and her father sailing from the Bay Islands were attacked in their sailboat in 2010. Armed men killed the woman's father (photo below) in front of her before she chased them off with a flare gun. 

The U.S. and Canadian expatriates in Roatan suppress news of these violent incidents out of fear that they will scare off tourists and retirees. Travel writers skip these type of stories and describe Roatan as a "paradise."  These kind of writers and tongue-tied Roatan residents are doing a disservice to people thinking of visiting or retiring in Roatan.  

The news article quotes the Canadian foreign affairs spokesman saying: "Canadians travelling to Honduras should be aware that serious crime — including armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, home invasion and sexual assault — is common, and armed attacks on marine vessels have been reported." 

A Canadian tourist was shot in the head and killed for his iPhone in October 2012. You can watch a video at this link of a travel agent saying that his advice to travelers thinking of going to Honduras: "Don't."

We were the first to report on a NCL crew member also shot in the head and killed for his iPhone one year ago. 

Canada has substantial warnings about crime in Honduras and has specific warnings about Roatan and the Bay Islands:

"Exercise a high degree of caution throughout Honduras, which has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Drug trafficking, transnational organized crime and the presence of street gangs pose significant security concerns and contribute to the high rate of crime. Apprehension and conviction rates of criminals remain low. A large percentage of the population is armed. Guns and weapons such as machetes and knives are frequently used in robberies. If you are threatened by robbers, do not resist; injuries and deaths have occurred when victims have resisted.

Serious crime—including armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, home invasion and sexual assault—is common, and armed attacks on marine vessels have been reported. Although most criminals do not target tourists, some have been victims of crime in major cities and in areas frequented by tourists, especially at night. Exercise increased vigilance in the departments along the Atlantic coast, along the border with Guatemala and in the eastern departments of Gracias a Dios, Olancho and Colón, and in rural areas north of Nacaome, Valle, and north of Choluteca, Choluteca. Exercise increased caution while in the cities of San Pedro Sula (including in vehicles leaving the airport), the Bay Islands (comprising Roatán, Útila and Guanaja), Trujillo and Tegucigalpa.

In Roatán, robbers have targeted homes and long-term leased residences. Since 2009, three Canadian citizens have been murdered in the Bay Islands. Travellers visiting the Bay Islands should exercise Canadian Killed in Honduras Watersparticular caution around uninhabited coastal areas and avoid walking on isolated beaches, especially at night. Foreigners have been assaulted on beaches in the Bay Islands and along the Atlantic Coast.

Travellers have been followed and assaulted. Use discretion when discussing your travel plans in public. Be cautious when dealing with strangers or recent acquaintances and be extremely careful when accepting rides or invitations. Remain aware of your surroundings at all times, especially after dark and when travelling alone.

Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.

In resort areas, stay on supervised beaches and do not walk in isolated or unpopulated areas. Hitchhiking is strongly discouraged everywhere in the country. Campers should always stay in well-lit campgrounds that have security patrols. Whenever possible, walk in a group, as there have been reports of attacks on tourists walking alone."

Does this sound like paradise to you?

 

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Photo Credit: Loretta Reinholdt and Andy Wasinger via Calgary Herald; Ambergris Caye 

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