Britannia Travel Advisory for Belgium: Beware of "Extremist Activity"

Bruges Brussels Belgium Today, I received a copy of an advisory which the staff of P&O's Britannia distributed to passengers aboard the cruise ship, prior to disembarking in Bruges, advising them of the existence of a possible threat associated with "extremist activity in Belgium."  

The advisory of today's date, from the master of the cruise ship, says in pertinent part:

"As your safety and security is always of prime concern to us on-board Britannia, I would like to advise you of the existence of a possible threat associated with extremist activity in Belgium.  While it is not our wish to concern you, due to recent events, it would be similarly irresponsible of us not to make you aware of localised security concerns.

We would like to remind you to remain vigilant in all public areas, avoid demonstrations and report anything suspicious to the local authorities.

If you are planning to travel to Brussels independently, we would recommend that you are particularly alert in places where there is a high concentration of people."  

The cruise line advisory mirrors the official U.K. advice for Belgium, which states:

"There is a high threat from terrorism and the Belgians assess this to be a serious and real threat (level 3). Police operations are ongoing and there have been a number of police raids and arrests, including on 17 June 2016, relating to past and potential terrorist attacks.

There have been a number of high profile terrorist attacks across Belgium. On 6 August 2016, 2 police officers were attacked with a machete in the city of Charleroi. On 22 March 2016 co-ordinated terrorist attacks killed 32 and injured hundreds more at Brussels Zavantem airport and on the metro system."  

The UK advisory is similar to the U.S. travel statement which states that another terrorist attack is "probable." 

This Britannia advisory seems like a prudent warning in this day and age.  The Britannia is now sailing back to Southampton after a day in Bruges.

Britannia Travel Warning   

 

U.S. Coast Guard Medevacs Crew Member from Ruby Princess

Medevac Ruby PrincessThe Defense Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) reports that the U.S Coast Guard medevaced a 47 year old crew member from the Ruby Princess early this morning.

The air medevac took place when the Princess Cruises cruise ship was approximately 9 miles southwest of Point Loma, San Diego. 

The Ruby Princess contacted the Coast Guard in San Diego late last night (at approximately 11:35 P.M.), reporting that a Princess crew member was experiencing symptoms of a heart attack.

The Coast Guard deployed a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter at approximately 1 A.M. The helicopter then hoisted the man onto the helicopter at approximately 2:05 A.M. The crew member was then transferred to an ambulance once the helicopter returned to its base in San Diego and taken to a local hospital. 

Video Credit: Defense Video Imagery Distribution System

 

Pullmantur Monarch Strikes a Whale

Whale Cruise Ship StrikeA passenger aboard the Pullmantur Monarch (formerly Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas) informed us that the cruise ship apparently struck a whale last week as the ship was returning to the port of Lisbon. He photographed the whale carcass (at bottom) which was lodged on the bulbous bow of the cruise ship. Here's the information which we received from the passenger:

"The Pullmantur Monarch cruise ship came into the Port of Lisbon last Monday with the carcass of a whale wrapped around the bow and resting on the bulbous nose. The whitish gray whale looked to be about 18-20 feet long, so it must have been a young whale . . .  It must have unfortunately breached directly ahead of the ship. It probably never had a chance as it collided with the 74,000 Ton ship traveling at around 16 knots."

The message was from a retired US Coast Guard Reserve officer (Lieutenant) who is accustomed to seeing / investigating these type of incidents. 

Several years ago, environmental groups filed a petition with the federal government seeking to force cruise ships and other large vessels to slow down in order to reduce the chances of whale strikes. The petition was focused on the waters between San Francisco and Los Angeles, but it signaled the importance of environmental groups concerned with marine life who share the oceans with super tankers and today's increasingly larger cruise ships. 

In one of the most graphic photographs of a cruise ship / whale strike, in 2009 the Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess arrived in port in Vancouver, unaware that the cruise ship impaled a fin whale on the ship's bow while in Alaskan waters (photo below). The whale was a female fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus). Princess claimed that the whale was already dead when the cruise ship hit her.

Of those whale-strikes which are reported, it is quite usual for the dead whale to be noticed only when it is brought into a port on the bow of a large ship as indicated on this comprehensive report published by the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Marine Fisheries Service..

Top: Rex Features / Telegraph U.K.

Bottom: LT Rene Torres, USCGR

Dead Whale - Cruise Ship

Lawsuit: MSC Crew Member Sexually Assaults 12 Year Old Child

MSC DivinaA lawsuit filed suit last week against MSC Cruises (USA) Inc., and MSC Crociere SA, alleges that a MSC crew member, identified as Rudy Samuel Santos Hernandez, sexually assaulted and battered a 12-year-old child on the MSC cruise ship.

According to the Florida Record, which reports on filing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the lawsuit against MSC and its crew member alleges:

"that on Feb. 14, 2016, [plaintiff] and his 12-year-old granddaughter were aboard MSC Cruises for a seven-night Caribbean cruise. Defendant Hernandez allegedly took advantage of the situation as he observed the minor enter the empty cabin, which she shared with her grandfather, legal guardian and plaintiff."

According to the lawsuit, the crew member used his service key to "enter the room where he sexually assaulted and physically battered the minor." The incident is alleged to have occurred aboard the MSC Divina.

The family is represented by Jason Margulies and Carol Finklehoffe here in Miami.

Sexual crimes against children on cruises are hardly rare. I have written about it here many times. 

Over six years ago, I wrote:

"The number one crime we see on cruise ships is when the parents stay out late at the disco or casino, and they leave their 12 year old son or 14 year old daughter alone in the cabin. Many kids get tired after a fun day at the pool or after an excursion ashore, and they don't want to go to the second seating at dinner. There are far too many cases where the cabin attendants will use their key card to access the cabin when the parents are away."

We have recommended that the cruise lines deactivate the key cards of crew members after hours so they can't use them to get into the passenger cabins, using female cabin attendants rather than 25 year old males, or assigning supervisors to monitor the passenger cabins. Most cruise lines have ignored these recommendations.

Cruise lines like MSC Cruises typically do not perform independent background checks on their housekeeping and wait staff before they are hired. Read: Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships

Photo credit: By Mllturro - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Another Brawl Breaks Out on a Carnival Fun Ship

Carnival Cruise BrawlThe popular Crew Center website reports today on a fight which broke out on a recent Carnival cruise. In a blog titled Chairs Start Flying in Brawl on Cruise Ship, Crew Center says that:

"Irie Namma captured a video (posted on YouTube and posted below) of a fight at Lido deck restaurant on cruise ship. The incident started with a group of man and women arguing next to the buffet line. From the video you can see a man throwing chair at the opposite group, hitting one lady in blue dress. Cruise ship security reacted fast and with help of other passengers managed to break up the brawl."

I first wrote about violence like this on cruise ships back in an article titled Cruise Ship Brawls - A Problem that Will Get Bigger with Bigger Ships.  As Carnival Chairman Micky Arison acknowledged years ago, “cruise ships are a microcosm of any city or any location and stuff happens . . . The negatives of discounting might be less commission for agents and less revenue for us but the positive is it opens up the product to a wider audience.”

The negative, of course, is what see in the video. From year to year, we will occasionally post videos of violence on cruise ships, like this bar fight: More Cruise Ship Violence - A Drunken Brawl On Carnival's Dream.

As the Crew Center sites points out, this the third cruise ship fight in 16 days, all involving Carnival cruise ships. Carnival, however, doesn't hold a monopoly on ship violence, as this video of a fight aboard a NCL ship points out.  

Photo and Video credit: Irie Namma YouTube 

Portuguese Air Force Medevacs Passenger from Mein Schiff 1

Main Schiff 1 MedevacThe Portuguese Air Force reports that yesterday, it rescued a passenger from the Mein Schiff 1 cruise ship, about 100 kilometers northwest of Montijo. The passenger, an 80 years old German woman, needed urgent medical attention, according to the official site of the Estado Maior da Força Aérea (EMFA).

The 751 Squadron at the Montija Air Base (approximately 35 kilometers from Lisbon) was alerted at around 9:00 P.M. After the rescue, the patient was transported to the Transit Aerodrome 1 in Figo Maduro, who transferred the woman to St. Joseph's Hospital in Lisbon..

In total, the medevac lasted until 2:05 A.M. This year, the EMFA states that it has rescued 20 people on ships and conducted about 98 hours of flight time under this type of mission. 

Portugal does not have the equivalent of a Coast Guard like the U.S. Instead, the country has a special unit in its Air Force for emergency evacuation cases.

Thanks to António Costa from Portugal who brought this rescue to our attention. 

Video Credit: Força Aérea Portuguesa YouTube

 

 

Rhapsody of the Seas Damaged Again During Storm

Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas was damaged after it encountered a storm early this morning during a cruise.

A dozen large windows in the Viking Crown Lounge were reportedly broken, as you can see in a video posted to YouTube. Several panes of glass are also missing from the pool deck.

Passengers reported that the ship heavily listed during the storm.

The ship is the middle of a ten day round trip cruise from Venice. It is currently sailing a sea day and is scheduled to arrive in Santorini tomorrow, assuming its itinerary does not change.

The Rhapsody of the Seas was last damaged by a storm on April 25th of this year. A wave struck the cruise ship early in the morning, breaking the windows of five passenger cabins on deck three, injuring cruise passengers and partially flooding the cabins on deck two and three. We received photographs suggesting that the windows in the passenger cabins were poorly maintained.

Video credit: Heather Barrett YouTube 

A passenger aboard the cruise ship sent photos of the damage which you can see on our Facebook page.  A passenger also sent a video of water cascading down the main stairwell as passengers come up the stairs holding their life vests, around 5:00 A.M.

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

 

 

Fire Aboard Emerald Princess Cruising to Las Palmas?

Emerald PrincessToday I received a message stating that there was a fire on the Emerald Princess yesterday.

Yesterday. the Princess cruise ship sailed from Southampton heading toward Las Palas, which is the capital of Gran Canaria, one of Spain's Canary Islands off northwestern Africa.

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website also contains this comment from a passenger aboard the Emerald Princess:

"Around 11:30 PM the cabin emergency speaker came on with the captain’s voice calling the crew to their (muster) stations. It was obvious to me that this was not a drill. After a moment to collect my thoughts I turned on my scanner that I had pre-tuned to all of the ship frequencies. The scanner was chattering non stop with excited voices about a suspected fuel leak and fire in the engine room. Water tight doors had been closed and the fire fighters were moving into position. I continued to closely listen to my scanner to further assess the situation. What I learned was that smoke had filled the engine room. The Captain ordered the shutdown of generators one and four, smoke was apparently found on the lower aft decks and on deck sixteen. A fuel leak fire was suspected. Then the Captain ordered, or perhaps it was automatic, the activation of the engine room fire suppression system. Let me pause here and tell you that fires on a ship are one of the most serious things that can ever happen. If the fire spreads it can be deadly. As the fire fighters prepared to enter the engine room the fire source was discovered to be a generator air supply fan belt on deck sixteen near the funnels which are not far from the Movies under the Stars (MUTS) outdoor theater. The MUTS was ordered to be shut down while the fire fighters fought the fire. After the fire was put out and the smoke was cleared out of the engine room the Captain came on the cabin speaker system twice to reassure passengers that we were all safe and that he was glad that the “small” fire was extinguished. After he concluded his remarks the scanner started chattering something about engine room cleanup from the fire suppression. What a way to start out a cruise. Hopefully this fire incident will be soon be forgotten."

Assuming this to be accurate, there are no media reports or any mention whatsoever on social media of the fire.

Princess Cruise has demonstrated a lack of transparency about ship fires on the Emerald Princess before. Read our article from two years ago: Fire on the Emerald Princess: What Information Should Passengers Be Entitled to Know?

I wrote at the time:

"My thought is that all passengers are entitled to receive timely, accurate and honest information about something as serious as a fire on the high seas, no matter how small the cruise line claims the fire is or how rapidly the cruise line claim they extinguished it. Such transparency is vital to ensuring corporate accountability and passenger safety." 

Statement from Princess Cruises @ 6:30 P.M. EST  on September 19, 2016:

"While Emerald Princess was en route from Southampton to Las Pal1mas on September 17, a ventilation supply fan belt on Deck 16 combusted. It was extinguished within minutes, and the ship continued to Las Palmas for an on time arrival."

Photo Credit:  By Holger.Ellgaard - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Have a thought? Join the discussion on Facebook.

U.S. Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger from Carnival Dream

The Defense Video Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) reports that yesterday the Coast Guard medevaced a 71-year-old female passenger from a Carnival cruise ship near the Southwest Pass, Louisiana.

The crew of the Carnival Dream notified the Coast Guard that the female was suffering from signs of severe respiratory distress.

Video by Petty Officer 3rd Class Alexandria Preston U.S. Coast Guard District 8.

Lifeboat Accident on Harmony of the Seas Kills One and Injures Several Others

Newspapers in France are reporting that one crew member has been killed and four other crew members were injured after a lifeboat fell from the Harmony of the Seas, which was docked in Marseilles, France.

According to 20 Minutes newspaper, five members of the ship's navigation crew were on board during a drill when the lifeboat became detached and fell ten meters into the water. The newspaper reports that two of the crew members injured are in critical condition. The deceased crew members is reportedly a Filipino citizen.

Several years ago, the trade organization Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) announced that Harmony of the Seascruise lines were prohibited from raising or lowering lifeboats with crew members aboard. Many cruise lines have ignored this safety rule.

Eight crew members were in a lifeboat during a drill in 2013 on the Thomson Majesty cruise ship when the lifeboat plunged 60 feet into the water. The lifeboat landed upside down. 5 of the crew were killed and 3 were injured.

In July of this year, a rescue boat drill resulted in the boat falling into the water with four crew members from the Norwegian Breakaway while the cruise ship was in Bermuda. Two crew members were killed and two other seriously injured.

Between these two events, there have been several other lifeboat mishaps. In January of this year, a cruise ship tender boat on the Balmoral operated by Fred Olsen Lines malfunctioned, during a scheduled boat training drill while the cruise ship was docked in Funchal, Madeira. Fortunately, no one was injured. In August 2015, an excursion boat from the Costa Mediterranea apparently broke a cable while it was being lowered in Montenegro. Photographs sent to me shows what appears to be a lifeboat dangling on the side of the Costa cruise ship. In October 2014, a rescue boat on the Coral Princess was being raised on davits with two crew members aboard when a cable snapped and a crew member was killed.

It is currently unknown whether a cable broke or whether the lowering mechanism malfunctioned or was performed incorrectly. 

Several years ago, Cruise Critic published an article: Lifeboat Tragedy: Did Cruise Line Ignore Safety Guidelines? It quotes an expert on lifeboat drills: "Alan Graveson, Senior International Secretary of Nautilus the U.K.-based seafarers' union, said: "I issued instructions seven years ago that preferably nobody should be in the lifeboat during a safety drill, and if that's not possible then there should be a maximum of two people. We also contacted Captain Ben Lyons, who has sailed as an officer on both larger mega-ships and smaller expedition ships, to get an insider's perspective on the incident. "Lifeboat drills are almost invariably considered one of the most dangerous parts of life at sea for a cruise," he told us in an e-mail. "There is a strong sentiment amongst many seafarers that lifeboats (through drills) have killed and injured many more people than they have saved."

CLIA has removed the language of the policy from its website, but you can review a cached version here ("Under this policy, for safety considerations, the loading of lifeboats for training purposes is to be performed only while the boat is waterborne and the boat should be lowered and raised with only the lifeboat crew onboard.") 

September 15 2016 Update: Nautiluc International UNION CALLS FOR RADICAL ACTION AFTER ANOTHER LIFEBOAT ACCIDENT.

Photo Credit: By kees torn - UNION BEAR , Harmony of the Seas & EN AVANT 20.

Passenger Goes Overboard from Sapphire Princess

Sapphire PrincessThe Shanghai Daily newspaper reports today that a cruise passenger went overboard from Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess cruise ship this weekend after the ship departed from Shanghai and was heading to Japan.

The newspaper says that the the woman last seen at 7 P.M. on Saturday.

The newspaper further states that the woman was confirmed missing at 9:15 P.M. Sunday night. A "surveillance camera (reportedly) showed she jumped into sea from the public area on the 15th deck of the Sapphire Princess on 10:28pm on Saturday, Princess Cruises China is quoted saying. This means that, in all probability, the cruise ship was not equipped with an automatic man overboard system, requiring the security team to manually reviewed the surveillance footage after-the-fact.  It took almost 24 hours after the passenger disappeared for Princess to realize that she had gone overboard from the cruise ship. 

The popular Cruise Hive website states that the woman was a "67-year-old female guest" aboard the cruise ship. 

Princess Cruises last lost a passenger overboard from one of its cruise ships in May of this year when a man disappeared fro the Coral Princess

A passenger drowned and a child nearly drowned on the Sapphire Princess in the past two years.  

Photo credit: By Spaceaero2 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Viking Freya River Cruise Ship Strikes Bridge, Kills Two Officers

Viking FreyaA number of German newspapers are reporting that the Viking Freya struck a rail bridge, last night, crushing the wheelhouse and killing two officers who were navigating the ship. The ship came to rest under the rail bridge and a pedestrian bridge which paralleled the rail bridge.

The river cruise ship had just left the town of Erlangen on its way to the Hungarian capital of Budapest, and was operating on the main Danube Canal at night when the accident occurred. The accident reportedly occurred at 1:30 A.M.

The dead officers were a 49-year-old who was at the helm of the vessel and a 33-year-old man. 

Photographs taken after the accident show that the wheelhouse was completely obliterated in the impact with the bridge.

The Blick ama Abend newspaper indicates that that the two crew members who were killed were Hungarians. The ship is operated by Viking River Cruises AG.

The wheelhouse can be lowered when the Viking Freya encounters low bridges, as seen in this YouTube video, and then raised after it goes under the bridge.

There were reportedly 181 passengers and 47 other crew members on the ship at the time. No other injuries or casualties were reported.

Photo credits: Top © Nicolas Armer/dpa via Stern; Bottom UPI via Blick am a Bend.

Viking Freya

NCL Crew Member Goes Overboard from Norwegian Pearl During Alaskan Cruise

NCL - Norwegian DawnSeveral people have informed us that a NCL crew member went overboard yesterday from the Norwegian Pearl  during a cruise returning from Alaska. 

The Norwegian Pearl is on an eight day "Glacier Bay cruise" which started on September 4, 2016 and ends on September 11th, in Seattle.  

The woman reportedly was employed for two contracts for NCL. 

This evening, the Juneau Empire published an article saying that a passenger went overboard from the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship in the Lynn Canal, according to an Alaska State Trooper spokesman. I believe this account to be in error as several NCL crew members indicate that the woman was a crew member and not a passenger. 

The Sitka Sentinel reported that the woman was reported missing from the Norwegian Pearl at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday when she was noticed to be absent from her cabin. NCL security personnel later looked at CCTV which revealed that she had gone overboard while the vessel was under-way. 

The Coast Guard in Sitka launched a helicopter and the station in Juneau launched the 45-foot Coast Guard Cutter Liberty yesterday.  These searches were reportedly suspended today. 

The woman's Facebook page this evening has many photographs and comments posted from her friends commemorating her life. Her friends describe her as a loved, cheerful and vibrant young woman. 

We are withholding publishing her name, job position and her nationality pending confirmation that her family is aware of the situation. 

Other NCL crew members have disappeared from cruise ships in the past couple of years. 

A woman went overboard several days ago from the Carnival Ecstasy as it was sailing near the Bahamas during its return cruise to Charleston, South Carolina. The U.S. Coast Guard just ended it's search today after a considerable effort for the past two days, and after considerable publicity.

This is the 277th person to go overboard from a cruise ship since 2000, according to cruise expert professor Ross Klein

September 10 2016 Update: NCL crew members says that according to the ship's security officer, they were looking for her all over the cruise ship when she couldn't be located in her cabin. NCL sent out the rescue boat to search for her.  She apparently left a note in her cabin. 

Public media KTOO reports provides this additional information: "The 25-year-old woman, identified only as a Columbian national, disappeared from the vessel about 1:40 a.m. Thursday while it was in Lynn Canal between Funter Bay and Point Retreat. It’s not clear if the woman jumped or simply fell overboard. The woman was not discovered as missing until 5 a.m. Thursday morning as the Norwegian Pearl was approaching Glacier Bay. Alaska State Troopers are investigating the incident."

Photo Credit: By Captain-tucker - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Carnival Legend Suffers Brief Power Loss

A cruise passenger aboard the Carnival Legend notified me yesterday that the Carnival cruise ship experienced a brief power loss causing a blackout on at least her deck.  

The incident occurred yesterday when the cruise ship was leaving the port of Seattle.  

The passenger said:

"Very strange thing happened been 4:05 pm on carnival legend just as the safety briefing is over everybody goes back to their rooms . . .  And the power goes off its been like 4 minutes already no announcement has been made about it / Pitch dark in the room. I'm in deck X fwd port side / Its back but nothing was said about it.   (deck number omitted to maintain passenger's confidentiality).

The passenger sent a short video of the blackout which I posted on my YouTube page.

I'm told that power outages are relatively common. But this comes just a week after this ship suffered what many say was either a propulsion issue or a steering problem leading to the Carnival Legend listing heavily

 

Passenger Reported Overboard from Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival EcstasyA passenger has been reported going overboard from the Carnival Ecstasy this morning. 

The Carnival cruise ship is currently searching waters to the west of Freeport, Bahamas for the person. 

AIS services show the ship slowing and turning around in what appears to be a classic Wlliamson turn.

According to  cruise expert Ross Klein, this is the 275th person to go overboard from a cruise ship since the year 2000.  The last overboard from a Carnival ship occurred earlier this summer when a 33 year old woman disappeared from the Carnival Liberty in May.

We have asked Carnival for a statement.

The Ecstasy was returning to Charleston from a cruise to the Bahamas and had sailed from Nassau. 

If you have information regarding what happened, please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Update: Carnival issued the following statement this morning:

"Early this morning, a 32-year-old female guest was witnessed jumping overboard from the cruise ship Carnival Ecstasy. The ship was approximately 15 miles off the coast of Grand Bahama island. Man overboard procedures were initiated immediately along with notification to the U.S. Coast Guard. Cruise ship personnel have been participating in the search and rescue operation throughout the morning. At 9 a.m., USCG released the cruise ship to resume its course for Charleston. USCG remains on site to continue the search. The company’s CareTeam is providing assistance and support to the missing guest’s family on board and our thoughts and prayers are with her and family and loved ones during this difficult time.

Carnival Ecstasy is based year round in Charleston, SC and operates five to seven-day cruises to the Bahamas and Caribbean."

Update: ABC News says the Coast Guard "is searching for woman who fell overboard from Carnival Ecstasy cruise ship at 2:30 AM."  

Update: Told that the USCG released the Ecstasy from search and rescue at 08:58 A.M.; cruise ship now reportedly proceeding to Charleston.

Carnival Ecstasy

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