Cruise Passenger Missing From Sun Princess Again

A cruise passengers is missing from a Princess cruise ship heading towards Sydney today. The ship in question, the Sun Princess, is completing a 13-day cruise to New Zealand.

There is no explanation how or when the passenger went overboard.

Unfortunately, it again appears that this Princess cruise ship does not have am automatic man overboard system as required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act.

Sun PrincessLast year there was an overboard passenger from the Sun Princess. I wrote this article last October: Princess Cruises: Why No CCTV or Man Overboard Systems on the Sun Princess?    

Princess Cruises released the following statement: 

"Princess Cruises confirms that an 84-year-old male passenger was reported missing early today onboard Sun Princess, which was on the way to Sydney completing a 13-day New Zealand cruise.

A thorough search of Sun Princess was conducted but the passenger could not be located.

The Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) in Canberra was contacted and Sun Princess turned around and retraced its path off the coast of New South Wales.

Sun Princess was scheduled to arrive in Sydney this morning.

She will continue its search efforts until released by the RCC.

Sun Princess’ arrival in Sydney will be delayed and the next cruise will be impacted." 

You can see a video of the story here.

 

Photo Credit: Daily Telegraph

Honduras: A Dead Beauty Queen and Another Murder in "Paradise"

Roatan, Honduras came onto my radar this year when several tourists contacted us after being robbed or sexually assaulted at gunpoint during cruise stopovers. Later we were the first to report on a Norwegian Cruise Line crew member who was shot in the head for his cell phone in Coxen Hole near the cruise port.

The Foreign Policy blog says that "7,172 people were murdered in Honduras in 2012. Much of the violence plaguing Honduras is drug and gang-related. The country is a shipment point for drugs bound for the United States, and fierce gang wars have broken out to control that lucrative territory." SFGateDestiny Roatan Honduras says that Honduras is "imbued with narco culture represented by the image of a man who moves in a big car, drinks, takes drugs, walks around armed and is bad. The culture of violence and death."

Fox News Latino describes Honduras as being caught in a "homicidal bloodbath" which involves not just "gangsters, drug traffickers and police officers" but "taxi drivers, journalists, abused women and other nameless innocents."

You can now add to that list beauty queens and hair dressers.

The latest murder in Roatan involved a well-liked hair stylist in Sandy Bay named Luis Alfredo Garcia. Known as "Destiny" to his friends and customers, he was the personal stylist to Miss Universe Honduras (no connection to Miss Honduras).  Two days ago, he was found dead in his apartment at the Coral Stone Plaza. News accounts describe a gruesome scene where his throat was reportedly slit, with some accounts suggesting that his arms and legs may have been bound with rope. The expatriates in Roatan are taking steps to try and solve the crime, knowing that the local police are inept and unmotivated to do so.

Destiny's murder followed the murder last week of Miss Honduras, 19 year-old Maria Jose Alvarado, who was gunned down along with her sister, Sofia, age 23, by her sister's jealous boyfriend who buried their bodies along a remote river bank near the border with Guatemala. (Ms. Alvarado's murder reminded me of the murder this year of beauty queen Monica Spear who was gunned down by armed robbers in Venezuela, another exceedingly dangerous country). 

According to ABC News, a top law enforcement officer said that Honduras' image has been "stained forever by this horrible crime."  ABC also noted that "the country has the world's highest homicide rate for a nation not at war, with an estimated 90 to 95 killings per 100,000 people (some says that the Roatan Hondurashomicide rate has dropped down to around 79 - 80 per 100,000). Street gangs and drug traffickers are the de-facto authorities in many areas, enforcing their will through violence, fear and extortion."

The expatriate residents in Roatan are quick to try and distance them from the criminal madness on the mainland of Honduras. The dive-shop owners, resorts, realtors and tour operators go as far as to describe the Bay Islands as an idyllic "paradise." They claim that they don't even lock their doors at night.

But there are far too many stories about crime and murder in Roatan to consider the "it's paradise" stories as anything other than marketing aimed at naive retirees from the U.S. or Canada. In a one week period from November 13th to November 20th, the Televisual Insular TV station in Roatan reported on the robbery of a U.S. citizen, multiple rapes, multiple thefts to fuel crack habits, a machete attack, and the burglary of a pastor's house. The articles include photographs which portray a sense of poverty and desperation in the Coxen Hole neighborhood next to the port.  

Roatan has hardly escaped the scourge of the cocaine trade. International drug trafficker Carlos Arnoldo Lobo, alias "El Negro," owned multiple properties in Roatan where he ran his criminal drug empire shipping cocaine from Colombia before he went into hiding. (The new Honduran government seized his money, automobiles and properties in Roatan and the U.S. finally extradicted El Negro to Miami earlier this year).  

Honduras is trying to clean up its act and market itself as a destination for the ever-growing cruise Roatan Hondurasindustry.

A French newspaper reported on the incredibly tight security which met passengers in the new cruise port in Trujillo, Honduras when the Norwegian Jewel arrived last month. Two naval boats and 500 military soldiers and police officers and several hundred plainclothes officers patrolled a radius of 70 kilometers, while a plane flew overhead.

I have a hard time reconciling the assurances from the tourism people that a cruise location is "safe" with the reality that it's necessary to assign a small army to a port of call to protect the guests.   

Honduras is one of the few cruise destinations subject to a critical crime warning from the U.S. State Department ("Although Roatan / Bay Islands . . . have a lower crime rate than other parts of the country, thefts, break-ins, assaults, and murders do occur and are still high by international standards"). I named it the second most dangerous cruise destination in the world earlier this year. 

Whether it's Roatan or Trujillo, Honduras is one tropical "paradise" that I don't plan to visit anytime soon.

 

November 23 2014 Update:  Honduras is a corrupt and violent place, where journalists are killed and witnesses are intimidated. Since posting this article, I have received numerous threats of violence from Honduras and the Bay Islands. One reader, Dale Woods Jones, posted: "They need to cut his tongue out so he don't talk and cut his hands off so he don't write a load of garbage about the islands."

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

Photo Credits: Top - Twitter; Middle & bottom - LaPrensa

Child Porn Pervert Arrested, About to Cruise with Disney

Cruise Ship Child Pornography A Fort Myers, Florida news station reports that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) arrested a man after finding child porn in his home.

NBC 2 reports that FDLE agents arrested Bryan Ludlam, age 42, a father of three young children.

He reportedly possessed child pornography, including videos depicting sexual battery of children as young as 5 years old. 

Ludlam was reportedly planning to cruise with his family on a Disney cruise ship this month.

The judge prohibited him from leaving Southwest Florida or using the internet.

He is free on a $50,000 bail. 

The cruising public should remember that there are child perverts present on cruise ships, even on family oriented cruises.

We have written numerous articles about child porn addicts and perverts who cruise:

Is Child Pornography Widespread on Cruise Ships?  

Celebrity Cruises Crew Member Arrested on Child Porn Charges

Royal Caribbean Cruise Passenger Sentenced to Jail for Over 5,000 Images of Child Pornography.

Watch your children. 

 

 

NBC-2.com WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral

Should the Bahamas Be Permitted to Register Cruise Ships?

Nassau BahamasThree Shots In Just 12 Hours reads the headlines in the Tribune newspaper today. Other articles in the local newspapers in Nassau include Tourist: I was Victim of Sex Attack by Jet Ski Operators.

The U.S. Embassy in Nassau has issued a warning to U.S. citizens of the danger of women (including girls) being sexually assaulted by jet ski operators on Paradise Island near the Atlantis resort.  

The murder count in the Bahamas just reached 106 for the year and is rising. Last year 111 people were murdered there. The body count will exceed that number this month. The vast majority of the homicides involved local citizens and occurred in Nassau (New Providence) with a population of only 250,000.  By contrast Miami-Dade County has a total population of 5,500,000 with only 229 murders (Miami-Dade has twenty-two times as many people and only twice as many murders as Nassau).

Compounding the problem is the inability of the local police in the Bahamas to solve these crimes and prosecute the criminals. The same police officers who can't solve a crime when a U.S. tourist is robbed at gunpoint in downtown Nassau are often tasked with investigating crimes on Bahamian-flagged cruise ships.

Cruise lines like Carnival, Disney, NCL and Royal Caribbean register many of their cruise ships in Nassau to avoid U.S. taxes, labor laws and safety regulations. By flying "flags of convenience," the Miami-based cruise ships divest the U.S. authorities  from law enforcement duties. In cases where U.S. citizens are victims, the FBI has special maritime jurisdiction and are permitted to become involved (although the FBI rarely does).

But when the victim is not a U.S. citizen (over 95% of the crew are not) the FBI has no jurisdiction and the responsibility to investigate crime on Bahamian-flagged ship falls to the Bahamas. 

This is, of course, an absolute joke. There are well over a thousand ships registered in the Bahamas, including not only cruise ships but tankers, bulk carriers, and cargo ships of all types. Does anyone really think that the local police in Nassau have the interest or resources to fly to Bahamian cruise Bahamas Flag of Convenienceships around the world and solve crimes when they can't solve a crime when a tourist is assaulted in front of their own police station?

I have never heard of the police in Nassau ever solving a single crime on a Bahamian-flagged cruise ship.  But if you are a crew member from the Philippines assaulted by another crew member from Central America, it's the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) who has jurisdiction. The BMA won't do anything but may (but usually not) delegate responsibility to the Nassau police. The local police, in turn, will simply not show up.

Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, the Quantum of the Seas, has dominated the news as of late. There's endless news about all of the technological marvels on the ship. But Royal Caribbean registered the ship in crime-infested Nassau.  When the first violent crime occurs on the Quantum, don't expect anyone from the Bahamas to show up and investigate.

 

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

Don't forget to read: An "Outlaw Industry" Watched By "Paper Tigers"

Photo Credit:  Tim Clarke / Tribune

Andy Stuart - No Wonder He's Smiling

The Securities & Exchange Commission reports that Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Executive Vice President Andrew Stuart sold 67,701 shares of NCL stock in a transaction last week at an average price of $40.35, for a total value of $2,731,735.35.

You can read more information about the stock sale at Ticker Report.

Mr. Stuart reportedly now owns 180,099 shares of the cruise line stock, valued at approximately $7,266,995.

So, including just his NCL cruise stock and cash from his recent NCL stock sale, Mr. Stuart is worth at least NCL's Andrew Stuart$10,000,000.

Cruise executives make fantastic money. We all know that Carnival executive Micky Arison is worth somewhere between $5,000,000,000 and $6,000,000,000 (billion). Royal Caribbean executives Richard Fain and Adam Goldstein have raked in over $100,000,000 between them. And even a vice president, like Mr. Stuart, can make $10,000,000.          

At the same time, the tax-free cruise industry is incredibly cheap when it come to paying crew members a decent salary. Cleaners routinely work well over 300 hours a month for as little as $550. Crew members receive virtually no benefits.

Mr. Stuart's company, in particular, routinely refuses to permit cruise passengers who have just lost a family member, or children diagnosed with cancer, to reschedule their vacations.  

All those nickels & dimes NCL is saving off of its hard-working crew members and unfortunate customers are lining the pockets of the cruise executives. 

 

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

Photo Credit: Twitter

Norovirus Breaks Out on Crown Princess Cruise Ship Again

Crown PrincessThe Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 158 of 3,009 passengers (5.25%) and 14 of 1,160 crew members (1.21%) aboard the Crown Princess cruise ship have been sickened with norovirus.

The CDC website says that a Vessel Sanitation Program (VSA) environmental health officer will board the Princess cruise ship in San Pedro, California today to assess the situation.

The last reported norovirus outbreak also involved the Crown Princess, In April we reported on a large outbreak of the nasty bug.  122 passengers and 30 crew members suffered a bout of vomiting and diarrhea. You can read our article about that outbreak here.

You can read about the numerous other norovirus outbreaks on the Crown Princess here. There have been five outbreaks on this ship in just 4 years,

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / CB2379 Creative Commons 3.0

A video about one of the prior Crown Princess noro-outbreak is below:

 

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What Does the USA Have to Do with the Quantum of the Seas?

Quantum of the Seas There came a point during the inaugural festivities aboard the Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas last night when I couldn't help laughing.

The cruise line portrayed a gigantic (digital) American flag on the cruise ship's massive screens. The crowd of travel agents, cruise bloggers, quasi-celebrities and Bon Jovi tribute band went wild.

The Royal Caribbean PR feed began releasing carefully posed photo-shopped images of the Quantum sailing next to the Statute of Liberty. The frenzied cruise fans and make-believe journalists began posting comments on Twitter like "iconic," epic" and "goosebumps."

Then one of my "Twitter friends" tweeted #USA #cruise and posted a photograph of old glory. 

What on earth does the USA have to do with the Quantum?

The ship was built in Germany. Royal Caribbean is incorporated in Liberia (think civil wars & Ebola) to avoid U.S. taxes. The Liberian corporation registered the ship in Bahamas (think corruption and crime) to avoid U.S. safety laws and labor regulations. After a few months, the ship will be home-ported in Shanghai, China (try not to think of human rights violations). The crew members are over 95% from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Eastern Europe and South and Central American.  

About the only connection to the USA is that's where the cruise CEO's live in their waterfront Miami mansions. 

Quantum of the Seas Statute of Liberty

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

Don't forget to read: Despite the Hype, Quantum of the Seas is Just Another Dumb Cruise Ship.

 

Photo credit: Twitter and Royal Caribbean

Violent Protests Disrupt Cruises to Acapulco

The last time that I wrote about Mexico I'm sure that I angered the tourism representatives there: Three Cruise Lines Plan to Return to Mazatlan: Will They Provide Bullet-Proof Jackets to Passengers?   

Taking your family to a place like Mazatlan, Acapulco or most any port in Mexico seems unnecessarily risky to me. Admittedly, the majority of cruise tourists have an enjoyable time in Mexican ports like Cabo or Cozumel. I have received more than my fair share of hate emails after writing articles about my view of Acapulco: Seven Tourists Raped in Acapulco: What is the Cruise Industry's Spin? and Mexican Violence: Does Anyone Cruise to Acapulco Anymore?  

It never ceases to amaze me that people vacation Acapulco Mexico Protests in destinations where the local tourism officials try to convince you that it's safe when the city is filled with the federal police riding around in armored personnel carriers with machine guns.    

I have been watching CNN lately and reading articles about the abduction and apparent murder of forty-three students in Mexico. The latest news is that the mayor of southern Mexican city of Iguala, José Luis Abarca, was arrested. It seems that Mr. Abarca was angered that the students interrupted an event that his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, was giving in an effort to succeed him as mayor. So the mayor reportedly instructed the local police to apprehend the students. Then the local cops turned the students over to a drug cartel who slaughtered the kids, burned their bodies, and dumped them in a river.

There are violent protests now in Acapulco (and other locations) about the corrupt mayor and police department being in cahoots with a murderous drug gang. I make it a point never to cross a picket line and I certainly won't cross a protest line formed by the parents of abducted children and their supporters. 

The Washington Post discusses this dreadful story in Mexico: Violent Protests Hit Acapulco’s Tourism. The Post says that "three years ago, 180 cruise ships docked in the city. So far in 2014, just five have made port calls . . . "

In my opinion that's five port calls too many. 

Mexico seems like a lawless country where there is considerable collusion between Mexican officials, the local police and organized crime. I don't see the point of risking your family's lives by sailing south of the border.

 

Photograph Credit: Eduardo Verdugo / AP

Medical Malpractice on the High Seas: Cruise Passengers Have Rights!

Three years ago, i wrote an article lamenting the sad state of affairs surrounding cruise ship medical care entitled: Medical Malpractice on the High Seas: Do Cruise Passengers Have Any Rights? 

The answer, in short, was no.  I wrote that a cruise ship is about the only place on earth where a doctor can negligently kill your loved one and there is no accountability.

In "If the Ship Doctor Kills You, Too Bad," I explained that passengers were plagued not only by the limited nature of cruise ship medical care but by the cruise industry's immunity from legal responsibility. Cruise cruise lines were able to avoid all liability even when the ship doctor or nurses negligently Royal Caribbean Cruise Medical Careharmed the passenger.  Cruise lines had immunity for medical malpractice lawsuits under the antiquated "Barbetta doctrine."

Passengers were left to seek accountability by trying to sue the doctor. This was problematic for several reasons. The doctor inevitably does not live in the U.S. and it was difficult to serve a ship doctor with a lawsuit or obtain personal jurisdiction over him in a U.S. court. Also, many ship doctors do not have liability insurance and have few assets.

You can read this case to see the extraordinary steps that the ship doctors and cruise lines went to to avoid liability even in clear cut cases where the doctor acted irresponsibly. Over the years, cruise lines fought tooth and nail to maintain their immunity from medical negligence on cruise ships even though they collect tens of billions of dollars a year and pay no U.S. taxes. 

With the recent 11th Circuit decision in Franza v. Royal Caribbean, the law has now changed. Cruise lines are finally responsible when passengers receive bad medical care on cruise ships. 

The landmark decision reflects the reality of the cruise industry today. Cruise lines are extremely wealthy, pay no U.S. taxes, and operate state-of-the-art medical facilities in what are essentially floating cities. Royal Caribbean's newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, cost over $1,000,000,000 and is touted as the most sophisticated ship in the world.  Plus, it offers some of the most dangerous attractions in the cruise industry, with the iFly simulated sky-diving and FlowRider simulated surfing attractions. Why shouldn't this cruise line be responsible when cruise passengers are seriously injured and then the cruise ship doctor commits malpractice?

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

Photo Credit: Jim Walker

Despite the Hype, Quantum of the Seas is Just Another Dumb Cruise Ship

Quantum North StarThe cruise industry is abuzz with excitement about Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, the Quantum of the Seas. I wrote yesterday that during an interview with CNBC, cruise chairman Richard Fain called the giant ship "wonderful, exciting, fantastic and terrific." The CNBC reporter excitedly called the ship the "best and brightest."

The "smart ship" is how the cruise line pitched the $1,000,000,000 cruise ship. The media jumped aboard without first objectively testing the new ship. There are dozens of articles by travel publications endorsing the cruise line's marketing image of the giant ship as the "most technologically advanced ship ever to sail."

Putting the marketing-hysteria aside, just how smart is the cruise ship?

Yes, the Quantum has the North Star viewing pod, the first iFly simulated sky-diving on a ship (which will keep the personal injury lawyers busy for a decade), another FlowRider simulated-surfing-device (a real money-maker considering the cost of private lessons), a robotic bartender and the first (old school) bumper cars at sea. But these are just gadgets designed for passenger fun. Same goes for the virtual balconies for the windowless interior cabins, for which the cruise line can now charge a premium.    

The internet connection on the Quantum is reportedly faster than other cruise ships, so the kids can download movies I suppose. But it's still slower than land-based connectivity. Do you really want to Automatic Man Overboard see the kids turning into couch potatoes staring at their gaming devices during a cruise?

Unfortunately, Royal Caribbean didn't invest in technology to make the Quantum safer for the guests or the crew. In 2010, President Obama signed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, requiring the installation of automatic man-overboard devices. Other than Disney which reportedly has installed the safety devices, Royal Caribbean and the rest of the cruise industry refuse to invest the monies to utilize the technology, even though there is no question that the technology is available.

Automatic man-overboard systems are designed to immediately send a signal to the bridge and capture the image of the person going overboard so that prompt search and rescue measures can be undertaken. Royal Caribbean has experienced more than its share of passengers and crew going overboard in its fleet of ships. It needs to invest some of its tax-free bounty to install such safety systems. But instead it spent money on gee-whiz contraptions designed to WOW the public and increase profits. 

So as the Quantum passengers enjoy the iFly, FlowRider and North Star, drink gin-and-tonics served by robots, and gaze out of their simulated balconies, people will continue to disappear at sea. And the Quantum will continue to sail on without knowing, like the dumb ship that she is.  

 

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below, or join the debate on our Facebook page.  

Photo Credits: Top - Royal Caribbean; bottom - CruelKev2's blog         

Royal Caribbean's Billion Dollar Smart Cruise Ship - A Slow Boat to China?

CNBC's high-energy Simon Hobbs (my favorite) interviews Royal Caribbean Chairman Richard Fain about the Quantum of the Seas which is being called the world's first "smart ship." 

Mr. Hobbs interviewed me last year about Carnival's troubles following the ill-fated "poop cruise."  I found him to be fast-paced and quick-witted.

In the video, Mr. Hobbs asks the Royal Caribbean boss some interesting questions about Royal Caribbean's decision to send the cruise line's most spectacular cruise ship, with the NorthStar capsule contraption, iFly simulated sky-diving attraction (there's already been an injury) and bumper-cars, to China.

Mr. Fain called the Quantum, his baby"wonderful, exciting, fantastic and terrific." He explained his intention of moving the cruise ship to Shanghai because his cruise line has received "terrific interest and great prices" from the Chinese.

I guess that sums it up.   

 

Will the Bahamas Celebration Sail Again?

Bahamas CelebrationThe Bahamas Celebration ran aground ten days ago and sustained a breach in the hull which permitted water to enter the lower deck.  

I am receiving many messages from the crew that they were required to work in dangerous conditions after the ship ran aground and returned to port in Freeport. Now the majority of the crew has been sent home and there are doubts that the cruise ship will sail again anytime soon. 

The company appears to be paying only the basic salary of the crew for two months. Waiters and cabin attendants who earn a basic salary of only $50 a month (and rely on tips to earn a living) will receive only $100 in the next two months.

The Bahamas Celebration Facebook page was updated yesterday with a cover photo saying "Caribbean Vacation Option Beginning November 13" with a toll free number.

This seems very misleading as the cruise ship can't sail and the crew was just sent home.

If you have information about the extend of the damage to the vessel or the status of the crew, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Top - WPTV.

November 11 2014 Update: A number of cruise passengers and agents have contacted us today. Many passengers feel that they were treated improperly by the company. Agents, who have not worked since the first of November, feel that the company is keeping them in the dark.  They have not heard anything from the company, management, or staffing agency. One person told me: "The company is wrong in the way they are treating everyone guest, crew,and agents. Leaving people who go to work everyday with no communication, answers or even a reason, we have families! We are required to give reasons and communicate if something happens in our life but we do not get the same respect."  

Bahamas Celebration

Watch Out for Crime in the Bahamas - WPRO Interviews Jim Walker

WPRO radio interviewed me this morning on its news talk radio show with Gene Valicenti about the New York Times article focusing on crime in Nassau, Bahamas. 

WPRO has a large readership in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

We talked about U.S. citizens who were victims of armed robberies. We talked about tourists, including minor children, sexually assaulted by jet-ski operators on Paradise Island in Nassau.  

You can listen to the interview here (after the Jimmy Buffett into).    

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

Photo Credit: Atlantis Paradise Island - Wikipedia / D Ramey Logan Creative Commons 3.0 / WPPilot Atlantis Paradise Island

11th Circuit Rejects Cruise Lines' Immunity Defense to Medical Malpractice Claims

Today the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal published an opinion which recognizes the right of cruise ship passengers who become victims of medical malpractice to hold cruise lines vicariously liable for the negligence of the shipboard doctors and nurses.

The case is PATRICIA FRANZA, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Pasquale F. Vaglio versus ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES, LTD., a Liberian corporation.  You can read the opinion (63 pages) here.    

Previously, cruise lines were able to hide behind the immunity defense set forth in Barbetta v. S/S Bermuda Star, 848 F.2d 1364 (5th Cir. 1988). The so-called “Barbetta rule” immunizes a shipowner Quatum of the Seas from respondeat superior liability whenever a cruise ship employee renders negligent medical care to its passengers. Cruise lines enjoyed broad immunity "no matter how clear the shipowner’s control over its medical staff or how egregious the claimed acts of negligence."

The Franza v. Royal Caribbean decision involved an "elderly cruise ship passenger (who) fell and bashed his head while the vessel, the Explorer of the Seas, was docked at port in Bermuda. The injured traveler, Pasquale Vaglio, was wheeled back onto the ship, where he sought treatment from the onboard medical staff in the ship’s designated medical center. Over the next few hours, Vaglio allegedly received such negligent medical attention that his life could not be saved. In particular, the ship’s nurse purportedly failed to assess his cranial trauma, neglected to conduct any diagnostic scans, and released him with no treatment to speak of. The onboard doctor, for his part, failed even to meet with Vaglio for nearly four hours."

The Vaglios then encountered another delay when "the onboard medical staff would not examine Vaglio until the ship’s personnel obtained credit card information." Tragically, Mr. Vaglio died a week later.

Mr. Vaglio's daughter, Patricia, filed suit to hold Royal Caribbean vicariously liable for the shipboard medical team's negligence under two theories: actual agency (also termed respondeat superior) and apparent agency. 

After the trial court dismissed Ms. Vaglio's lawsuit under the "Barbetta rule," she appealed the dismissal of her case to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal.  

In a decision authored by Justice Stanley Marcus, the Eleventh Circuit rejected the "Barbetta rule" and recognized that maritime employers have long been vicariously liable for the negligence of their ship employees. The Barbetta rule was fashioned at a time when ships had sparse, if any medical facilities, and often no ship doctor or nurses. But now the cruise industry boasts state-of-the-art medical facilities and touts that its cruise ship doctors and infirmaries comply with the the American College of Emergency Physicians guidelines. 

Justice Marcus pointed out that in a Royal Caribbean press release authored by Royal Caribbean cruise executive Adam Goldstein, he boasted about the cruise line's "onboard laboratory equipment, x-ray units, and clot-busting thrombolytics" which were important to the public's "tranquility and peace of mind." The court stated that it was "disingenuous for large cruise lines to disclaim any medical expertise when they routinely provide access to extensive medical care in the infirmaries they have constructed for this very purpose."

Justice Marcus stated: 

“Here, the roots of the Barbetta rule snake back in to a wholly different world. Instead of nineteenth-century steamships, we now confront state of the art cruise ships that house thousands of people and operate as floating cities, complete with well-stocked modern infirmaries and urgent care centers. In place of truly independent doctors and nurses, we must now acknowledge that medical professionals routinely work for corporate masters. And whereas ships historically went ‘off the grid’ when they set sail, modern technology enables distant ships to communicate instantaneously with the mainland in meaningful ways. In short, despite its prominence, the Barbetta rule now seems to prevail more by Philip D. Parrish Lawyer Miamithe strength of inertia than by the strength of its reasoning. In our view, ‘the reasons that originally led’ other courts to adopt ‘the rule have long since disappeared.’”

The decision is an important one because cruise lines will no longer entice cruise passengers aboard their cruise ships by representing the excellence of the medical care and then assert immunity when the shipboard doctors and nurses maim the passengers. 

The case was handled by trial lawyers Andy Waks and Joel Barnett at the trial level and appellate specialist Philip D. Parrish at the appellate level (photo right).  Mr. Parrish has handled other important maritime cases on behalf of cruise ship passengers.  Mr. Parrish successfully handled several high profile decisions for our firm's clients: Chaparro v. Carnival (cruise lines have duty to warn of crimes in ports of call), Johnson v. Royal Caribbean (flowrider liability waiver is illegal), and Doe v. Princess (addressing scope of crew member arbitration agreement).    

 

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Wedel 04 CC BY-SA 4.0 Frank Schwichtenberg

43 Year Old Sexually Assaults Minor on Carnival Triumph

Carnival Cruise RapeBreitbart reports today that a member of the Kansas National Guard pleaded guilty to transporting a minor across state lines for the purposes of having sex on a Carnival cruise ship.

Paul Francis Grimm, age 43, from Wichita, Kansas flew a girl under 18 from her home in Ohio to Houston in order to take her on the Carnival Triumph cruise ship sailing from Galveston, Texas.

Grimm used to live in Ohio and his daughter was friends with the underage girl. Grimm falsely told the girl's mother that he was taking his children on the cruise and wanted the girl to accompany them.

At the end of the cruise, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) became suspicious when they realized that Grimm and the minor had different last names. The CBP separated Grimm from the child and found out that Grimm possessed nude photographs of the girl, brought sex toys with him, and had engaged in sexual conduct with the underage girl. 

There is a lot of blame to pass around in this situation. No parent should ever permit a man to take their child on a cruise. A cruise line should never sell a single cabin to a man and an unrelated child twenty-five (25) years younger than him.

The Customs and Border Patrol should begin vetting the name of passengers before the cruise starts, rather than screening passengers only at the end of the cruise.  Unfortunately this is standard practice Custom and Border Patrolfor the CBP, which routinely permits rapists, criminals with outstanding warrants and other misfits to board cruise ships. Then there is great fanfare at the end of the cruise when the CBP finally take a look at the ship manifest. 

Consider how often this occurs:

Are You Cruising with a Wanted Felon? Five Passengers Arrested on Carnival Magic in Galveston.

Passenger Wrongfully Arrested On A Carnival Cruise Ship

U.S. Customs & Border Agents Terrorize Cruise Passenger.

Cruise passengers Steven Mark Anthony Requena (photo right), age 28, was arrested while disembarking the Carnival Inspiration at the Port of Tampa. His name was flagged by a sweep of the manifest of passengers 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 Requena 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. 

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Photo Credits: Top - Brietbart; bottom - United States Marshal's Office.

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