German Cruise Ship M/S Berlin Stuck in Dublin

FTI Berlin Lifeboat Non Conformity This weekend I was notified by a passenger, on a German cruise ship named the Berlin, that the ship has been stuck in Dublin, Ireland for the past several days. 

I was not familiar with the cruise ship or the German cruise line, FTI, which operates it. I have learned that the Berlin is considered to be a small cruise ship, carrying a little over 400 passengers. It was built in 1980 and is flagged in Malta. 

The Berlin arrived at its scheduled port of call early in the morning of June 14, 2018 in Dublin, where it has remained for the past three days. The delay has already caused the passengers to miss the remaining port of call. It appears that the passengers will be disembarked today in Dublin and flown back to Bremerhaven. Embarkation for new passengers will reportedly occur tomorrow in Dublin. 

"We arrived on 14 June suppose to sail same date 17.00.  Suppose to sail yesterday then said today finally this morning captain said to guest waiting for information from the home office and port authorities.  Guests were given 250 euro on their cards and refunded their excursion fares." 

The cause of the delay seems to be a problem with one of its 6 lifeboats which, reportedly, is "out of order."  The exact problem with lifeboat no. 6 has not been disclosed to the guests or crew but it was discovered by port authorities during an inspection on June 14th.

Maritime regulations including Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations mandated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) require a minimum number of operational lifecrafts (a combination of lifeboats and liferafts). 

Photo credit: Anonymous

Interested in this issue? Read Floating Drydocks at Sea - A Growing Problem? It seems that passengers on cruise lines operated by German companies are subject to  the same problems on U.S. based cruise lines.

FTI Berlin Lifeboat Non Conformity

Vision of the Seas Descends Into Drug-Fueled Orgy During Mediterranean Cruise?

Vision of the Seas Anchored Party Last year, Royal Caribbean Cruises agreed with the producers of a reality television show called "Shipmates" to use the cruise line's Vision of the Seas in the filming of the program. Channel 4 TV in the UK used the Vision as the setting for what the producers describe as a "party-fueled luxury cruise ship" sailing in the Mediterranean Sea with a horde of thousands of 20 year-olds "seeking the ultimate party experience on the once-in-a-lifetime experience." Promoting a theme of "sun, sea & sass," the TV producers said that the partying shipmate contestants would compete in challenges where other passengers would vote the drunk participants as either winners or losers.

But last week it seems that Royal Caribbean got more than it bargained for. 

Several newspapers in the UK report that a five-day cruise on the Vision, which started in Barcelona earlier this month and sailed to Cannes, Ibiza and Mallorca and returned to Barcelona, turned into a "drug fueled orgy" during the filming of the television show. Royal Caribbean charted its cruise ship to Anchored Cruises which promoted wild champagne-spray pool parties with DJ's pumping electronic music to the young, partying festival-like crowd. 

Passengers stated that the crowd was smoking weed, snorting cocaine, and drinking excessively to the point that people were passing out around the pool and in corridors in the ship and had to be Vision of the Seas Anchored Cruisetaken back to their cabins in wheelchairs. 

A crew member reportedly told one of the UK publications "Staff were being abused. Guests walked around the ship half naked. They were drunk and clearly on drugs. I’ve never seen anything like it."

Passengers people were reporting snorting cocaine . . . as "partygoers vomited in the swimming pool and over the ship's side." Another passenger reportedly said the cruise was "carnage on a new level of wrongness" and observed "group sex all over the 'lawless' ship, adding drink and drugs were so rife: 'I'm surprised no-one died.'"

You can see the debacle via tabloid publications like the Sun and the Daily Mail Online.

Royal Caribbean claims that it has a "zero tolerance policy for the use or possession of illegal drugs on our ships. Ship charters are held to the same strict standards. We operate with the health and safety of our guests and crew as our highest priority, and we cooperate fully with law enforcement when we are aware of violations."

This is a typical gobbledygook statement and the usual behavior by Royal Caribbean who often looks the other way when large scale drug use is exposed during events such as deadly Atlantis rave parties which the cruise line routinely hosts. Royal Caribbean is also well known for chartering its ships for swinger sex cruises

Ironically, Royal Caribbean announced yesterday that it is purchasing a majority interest in the high-brow, ultra-luxurious cruise brand Silversea Cruises. Can you imagine this cruise line operating theVision of the Seas Anchored Cruise Silver Wind or Silver Shadow?

You can see other photos of the out-of-control cruise party on our Facebook page.

Anchored Cruise is already advertising a similar event on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship planned for 2019. 

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Photo credits: Sun and Daily Mail. 

Royal Caribbean Buys Majority Stake in Silversea Cruises

Today, Royal Caribbean Cruises announced that it is acquiring a 66.7% stake in Silversea Cruises for $1,000,000,000 (billion) and assuming around $500,000,000 (million) in debt.

As a privately held cruise brand, Silversea operates nine ships with two newbuilds, Silver Moon and Silver Dawn, which are under construction for delivery in 2020 and 2021, with an option for a sister ship.

RCL states that it plans to finance the purchase through debt. Silversea's executive chairman, Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, will qualify for an estimated contingent payment of of 472,000 RCL shares, based on reaching certain 2019-2020 performance marks, which are currently worth a little over $50,000,000 based on the current price of RCL shares. 

Seatrade Cruise explains that Silversea was the "brainchild of Antonio Lefebvre d’Ovidio, a noted Italian jurist and law professor who wanted to create a new class of spacious ships with highly Royal Caribbean - Silversea Cruise Dealpersonalized service. In 1988, he purchased the majority of Sitmar Cruises, merging it with P&O's Princess Cruises a year later. In 1994, he launched Silversea Cruises with two purpose-built ships. His son Manfredi, who had been involved in the family's businesses from an early age, managed ship operations. He took control of the company and became chairman in 2001."

Silversea Cruises has tarnished its reputation in the last few years, having faced the embarrassment of crew members being ordered to hide carts of food and galley equipment in crew member quarters on the Silver Shadow in 2013. CNN aired a special report of the CDC flunking the Silver Shadow when inspectors caught Silversea in the act.  The Silver Shadow flunked another CDC inspection in 2015. 

The Silver Wind also flunked a USPH sanitation inspection last month.  

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Photo Credit; Royal Caribbean/Silversea via Travel Weekly,

NTSB Report: Maintenance Deficiencies and Poor Training Led to Caribbean Fantasy Fire and Delayed Evacuation

Caribbean Fantasy FireThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) published its findings yesterday regarding a fire on the Caribbean Fantasy cruise ferry, operated by Baja Ferries, near Puerto Rico in August of 2016. You can read the NTSB's summary, proable cause findings, and recommendations regarding the fire here.

We reported on the fire at the time in our article Caribbean Fantasy Catches on Fire (with video).

The ferry was carrying 387 passengers and 124 crew members as well as cargo, trailers, shipping containers, trucks and cars.

The NTSB investigators found that the fire started when a pipe leaked fuel onto an engine’s exhaust manifold. The fire spread because fuel valves were bolted open. The fire quickly spread and overwhelmed the fire-suppression system (carbon-dioxide suppression and water-misting equipment) and then burned into the vehicle and cargo areas where cars burned and explosions occurred.

After an hour, the master ordered an evacuation which took 3 hours and 43 minutes, rather than the 30 as required under the international maritime standards.  

The ferry had just three life boats which could not accommodate all of the passengers and crew,  The remainder of those aboard had to slide down emergency chutes positioned above life-rafts (we have discussed these dangerous devices in prior articles like this and this).  Five passengers were serioudly injured due to the steep descent into the life-rafts. 

Investigators found that crew members had not been trained in removing pins to deploy the lifeboats. The crew was unable to release on of the lifeboats causing two passengers to fall into the water as other passengers panicked.

A NTSB investigator stated that if the accident had happened farther from port, in rougher seas or at night, “the result could have been catastrophic,” according to USA Today

As we reported back in 2016, between 2011 and 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard found at least 107 security deficiencies, of which 44 were related to the fire system used by the Caribbean Fantasy. The ferry reportedly had been detained three times in 2014, 2015 and 2016 because of failed inspections. 

Photographs of the fire, fire-fighting efforts and evacuation can be viewed on our Facebook page

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Photo credit: @pjpedrojuan/Twitter via ABC News, credit to the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System (Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lally). Caribbean Fantasy Fire

 

Jury Returns $20,000,000 Verdict for Seriously Injured Royal Caribbean Officer on Voyager of the Seas

A Miami-Dade County jury returned a verdict against Royal Caribbean Cruises of more than $20,000,000 on behalf of an officer who was injured on the Voyager of the Seas during an accident in 2008.

Royal Caribbean officer Lisa Spearman was seriously and permanently injured when a watertight door crushed her right hand when she came to the assistance of the cruise ship nurse. The ship nurse stumbled while attempting to walk past the door during an emergency test, according to the lawsuit which her attorneys filed.

Ms. Spearman alleged that following the accident, Royal Caribbean refused to re-hire her and then refused to pursue disability benefits on her behalf. She sued the cruise line for negligence under the Voyager of the SeasJones Act, unseaworthiness of the vessel under the General Maritime Law, failure to provide prompt, proper and adequate medical care (also under U.S. General Maritime law), failure to pay wages under 46 U.S.C. 10313, retaliatory discharge and breach of contract.

The jury returned a verdict of $20,300,000 after a three week trial. 

Ms. Spearman was represented by Miami maritime lawyer Tonya Meister-Griffin, who was assisted by attorneys Deborah Gander and Susan Carlson of the Colson, Hicks Eidson law firm.  

Congratulations to Ms. Meister and the team of lawyers who represented Ms. Spearman.

Royal Caribbean was represented by David Horr of the firm Horr, Novak & Skipp.  

Currently, crew members are prohibited from filing lawsuits before a judge and a jury because cruise lines like Royal Caribbean have inserted one-sided arbitration provisions in the ship employees' contracts. Absent a change in the law, Ms. Spearman, whose employment contract dates back to 2008 and did not contain an arbitration requirement, undoubtedly will be one of the last crew members who are able to try their case before a jury in the Miami-Dade courthouse.  

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Update: The Miami Herald covered the story in an article this afternoon (with photographs).  Newsweek also published CRUISE WORKER WINS $20M PAYOUT AFTER HAND CRUSHED BY DOOR ON ROYAL CARIBBEAN SHIP.  Stuff (New Zealand) New Zealand woman Lisa Spearman wins US$20.3m payout from cruise ship giant Royal Caribbean.

Photo credit: Spaceaero2 - CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia. 

FEMA Pays Exorbitant Price for Charter of Carnival Fascination After Hurricane Maria

According to WRLN in Miami, FEMA grossly overpaid Carnival Cruise Line to charter the Carnival Fascination to provide housing for FEMA workers following Hurricane Maria. 

According to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by Daniel Rivero, WLRN states that FEMA agreed to pay Carnival $74,700,000 to provide accommodations aboard the Carnival Fascination to house federal aid workers and first responders in St. Croix.  

As WLRN explains, the FEMA-Carnival contract provides that the cruise line agreed to house 2,056 FEMA workers for the length of the four month contract. The average number of nightly passengers for the contract period was around 800 which, given the contract price, turns out to be $834 per person Carnival Fascinationper night, paid by U.S. taxpayers. That's a staggering rate or well over over $5,000 per week per passenger. 

WLRN calculated the market rate for a cruise on the Carnival Fascination between $370 and $1,200 per person per week, which is a fraction of the rate paid by FEMA. 

I also obtained a copy of the FEMA-Carnival charter agreement pursuant to a FOIA request earlier this year. It revealed that FEMA agreed to pay what turns out to be $18,675,000 a month for the Fascination

This exorbitant amount of taxpayer money is even higher than what FEMA paid Carnival in 2005, to charter three Carnival cruise ships following Hurricane Katrina. FEMA agreed to pay Carnival an average of only $13,111,111 a month (for a total of $192,000,000) to charter the Carnival Sensation, Carnival Ecstasy and Carnival's Holiday for 6 months (plus $44,000,000 for fuel and other expenses) following hurricane Katrina.

Plus, as I pointed out in the article FEMA Agreed to Pay Carnival $74,700,000 for Charter of Carnival Fascination, Carnival didn't pay any federal taxes on this income. 

In the WLRN article, cruise expert Professor Ross Klein pointed out that Carnival is registered in Panama and pays almost no U.S. income taxes which he believes is a larger concern for how the contract was handled.

“The US Government hired a foreign registered corporation that uses foreign registered vessels with foreign workers (working in the US but not paying US income tax). And because the corporation is offshore, and the ship is offshore, the company pays virtually no income tax on the contract. Now that is a sweet deal,” Professor Klein told WLRN.

What is even more disturbing is that, as WRLN points out, FEMA first (over) paid Carnival even before it disbursed funds to the survivors in the U.S. Virgin Islands hit by the hurricane. Numerous media sources are also now reporting that the death toll in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria was drastically underestimated. The consensus is that that the actual number of deaths was around 5,000 citizens, compared to official estimates of less than 100.   

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Photo credit: Chrismschurz - CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia. 

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Celebrity Solstice

The United States Coast Guard medevaced a passenger from a Celebrity Cruises cruise ship yesterday. 

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew performed a medical rescue of a woman from the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship near Noyes Island, west of Craig, Alaska, on May 30, 2018.

The captain of the Celebrity cruise ship contacted the station of the 17th Coast Guard District in Juneau, Alaska that a 61 year-old woman was suffering a heart attack. The Coast Guard station then dispatched a helicopter from the Coast Guard station in Sitka.

The Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted the woman and transported her to Ketchikan, Alaska, where a Guardian Flight crew was waiting for transport to additional medical care. 

Video Credit: Petty Officer 1st Class Jon-Paul Rios, U.S. Coast Guard District 17 via Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.

Passenger Goes Overboard from Greek Ferry

Blue Horizon Ro-RoA young man went overboard from a passenger ship in the port of Piraeus four days ago, according to the Safety4Sea publication. During the evening of May 23, 2018, the passenger went overboard from the "RoRo" (roll on / roll off) ferry Blue Horizon, while the ship was still docked in the port of Piraeus.

The Piraeus Port Authority and the Hellenic Coast Guard authorities are reportedly searching for the 25 year-old man.

The man overboard incident was first reported after the passenger ship had departed from Piraeus for the port of Heraklion, with 255 passengers aboard; however, the ship returned to Piraeus once the officers realized that a passenger was missing. 

Safety4Sea states that once the Port Authority was notified, five patrol boats of the Hellenic Coast Guard and the Hellenic Navigation searched for the missing man without success. 

The Blue Horizon is owned and managed by Blue Star Ferries Maritime based in Athens, Greece.

Man overboards ("MOB's") are an issue which occur not only on large cruise ships but have been an ongoing problem regarding ferries and other passenger ships.  The most publicized case is that involving a young man on the Pride of Kent who went overboard several years ago. Richard Fearnside disappeared from the P&O Ferries ship, sailing across the English Channel, which like all other ferries operated by this company did not have an automatic man overboard system or, for that matter, even a single CCTV camera focused on an exterior deck. 

Richard's parents, Marianne and Bob Fearnside, of Whitstable, Kent (U.K.) have petitioned the ferry company to install cameras on the decks of its ships, without success to date. Over 100,000 have signed the petition to date

Photo credit:  Shipspotting via Safety4Sea

Royal Caribbean Unreasonably Delays Reporting Overboard Crew Member from Vision of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Overboard Vision of the SeasOn December 8, 2017, a crew member went overboard from the Vision of the Seas cruise ship operated by Miami based Royal Caribbean Cruises. I reported on the incident at the time based on what passengers were stating about the cruise. 

The Vision sailed out of Galveston on December 4, 2017 on a seven day cruise, leaving and returning to Galveston, to ports in Progresso and Cozumel, Mexico.  During the return cruise to Galveston, a crew member could not be accounted for. He apparently checked into his job in the early morning hours but had disappeared from the cruise ship sometime thereafter. A ship-wide search was conducted without success.

I wrote at the time that there was no indication that the ship stopped or turned around to conduct a search in the water. Unfortunately, the scenario fits a typical pattern when a crew member goes over the rails un-witnessed late at night or in the early hours of the morning on a Royal Caribbean ship. Royal Caribbean has not invested in the available automatic man-overboard technology (using heat sensors, infrared, motion detection and/or radar technology) which can send a signal to the bridge, capture the image of the person going overboard, and track the person by radar in the water. Instead, the ship will eventually review closed-circuit television images, conduct a search of the cabin on the ship, often not perform a search at sea, and belatedly notify the U.S. Coast Guard. 

Royal Caribbean registered the Vision of the Seas in the Bahamas which is responsible for conducting investigations when passengers or crew members go overboard from cruise ships registered in that flag of convenience ("FOC") country. The Bahamas Maritime Authority ("BMA") just published its investigation into this man overboard situation on the Vision. You can read the report here

The BMA report offers a rare insight into how Royal Caribbean responds to and investigates man overboard situations. The report also attached internal security summaries and portions of Royal Caribbean's safety and quality ("SQM") manual which outline the cruise line's written policies and procedures regarding a "missing person." 

The report reveals that Royal Caribbean repeatedly failed to inquire into the missing crew member's whereabouts and failed to timely report his absence from the ship to the U.S. Coast Guard. 

Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean register their cruise ships in countries like the Bahamas in order to avoid U.S. labor regulations and U.S. income taxes. They are used to having FOC states look the other way and not criticize them in situations like this, but the BMA report reveals very disturbing information about the shoddy operations of this cruise ship.

The BMA report indicates that the crew member was a 24 year-old citizen of Mauritius. The report  mentions that the crew member was a facilities cleaner who worked at the pool area on deck 9. He woke up around 4:30 A.M. in a cabin which he shared with his girlfriend who was also from Mauritius. He reported to work at 5:00 A.M. He walked to elevators which took him to deck nine and then he took an elevator to deck five. He walked to the stern on deck 5, placed his cleaning bucket on the deck, climbed over the stern rail and then climbed back onto the deck, and then walked toward the port side where he apparently jumped overboard. 

Royal Caribbean Overboard Vision of the Seas

CCTV images (which officers on the ship first reviewed approximately eight and one-half hours later) show the crew member's movements on decks 9 and 5 but do not show the crew members actually going overboard because a floodlight blocked the CCTV camera on the port/aft side on Deck 5 with a view of the stern of the ship. 

There was no mention in the report of an automatic man overboard system which would have immediately sent a signal and alarm to the bridge that the crew member went over the rails. 

Royal Caribbean Overboard Vision of the Seas

Unlike other cruise lines (like NCL), Royal Caribbean does not monitor the CCTV cameras on its cruise ships. 

The BMA reveals the following chronology:

  • 04:30 - Crew member awakes and leaves cabin which he shared with his girlfriend; 
  • 05:00 - Crew member reports to work and his supervisor assigns him the deck 9 pool deck to clean;
  • 05:09 - 5:14 - Crew member shown on CCTV heading to and walking on deck 9 and then goes to deck 5 where he climbs over the stern railing near the crew life-raft canister area which does not provide direct access to the sea and then he climbs over the rail back onto deck 5;
  • 05:14 - Crew member walks to port side of the stern which has direct drop to the water and apparently jumps overboard (although CCTV camera is blocked);
  • 09:30 - Crew member fails to attend mandatory safety training;
  • 12:00 - Designated safety officer responsible for training goes to lunch without noting that the crew member was absent from training; 
  • 12:40 - Crew member's supervisor, the Facilities Head Cleaner, notes that the crew member is missing from his work station;
  • 12:45 - 1st Announcement made in crew areas;
  • 13:05 - Bridge was informed;
  • 13:16 - 2nd announcement made in crew areas;
  • 13:40 - 3rd announcement made in crew and areas;
  • 13:40 - 14:45 - Officers review CCTV footage; take statements from the facilities head cleaner and head cleaner; staff captain and master interview the crew member's girlfriend and isolates her in a different cabin with a security guard posted outside the door;
  • 14:45 - Security officer notifies Global Security department in Miami of a "possible missing person;"
  • 15:20 - Search of ship begins; 
  • 15:45 - Security Officer seals crew member's cabin, locks cabin door with padlock and "crime scene tape;" officers conclude that there is no clear view of crew member jumping overboard because the area of the railing is not covered by CCTV (blind area) but concludes that "CCTV clearly showed a CM …. entering the area where he possible jumped over board and did not return back;"
  • 15:47 - Master notifies U.S. Coast Guard in Galveston by telephone about "missing person" situation;
  • 16:49 - "Whole ship search" completed but missing crew member not found. 

Royal Caribbean Overboard Vision of the Seas

There are a couple of conclusions which can readily be made from this chronology:

It took seven and one-half hours before the supervisor noticed that the crew member was missing from his work station.  It took eight and one-half hours before the safety officer reviewed the CCTV images. It took over nine and one-half hours after the crew member went overboard (and two hours after the first public announcement of the missing man were made on the ship) before the security officer finally notified the security department in Miami that a crew member probably went overboard. It then took over another hour to finally notify the U.S. Coast Guard of the overboard crew member. At this time, it Royal Caribbean SQM Safety and Quality Manual was then over ten and one-half hours after the crew member went overboard. 

It appears that the officers on the Royal Caribbean ship were indifferent to whether the Coast Guard even conducted a search after this extraordinary delay.  The Security Officer wrote in his report (attached to the BMA report) that "we are not aware if a search was carried out by USCG."

The Royal Caribbean SQM (blurred in original) requires the master of the cruise ship to "immediately" notify the cruise line's security and marine operations departments by telephone in any "suspected overboard situation." Unless there is an actual and reliable sighting of the person going overboard, the SQM also prohibits the Master from turning the ship around to conduct searches in the water and even then only after the Master first notifies the cruise line's marine operations department in Miami. 

Notably absent from the flag state report is any mention of the fact that the cruise ship lacked an automatic man overboard system. The report's conclusions and recommendations do not discuss the obvious problem that the bridge was not immediately aware that the crew members went over the rails. The only conclusion of significance was that if the security "trainer had reported him absent when training was to commence (i.,e., at 9:30, over four hours after the crew member went overboard) then his own work supervisor may have raised the alarm considerably earlier." The only recommendation in the report was to review "possible impediments to all cameras should be made and rectified where found." 

Vision of the Seas SQM Safety and Quality Manual Royal Caribbean 

This is hardly a reasonable conclusion or recommendation. Eliminating blind spots in CCTV cameras (to be reviewed only after-the-fact when crew members have already gone overboard long ago) or requiring diligence in requiring attendance in crew training (again with the hope that a person not attending a training session will somehow result in a supervisor learning that a crew member went overboard hours earlier) will not possibly achieve immediate notification of a man overboard. 

A couple of year ago, I wrote about the problem of crew members going missing from Royal Caribbean cruise ships without explanation. During a three year period between 2009 and 2012, at least thirteen crew members went over the rails of Royal Caribbean (and Celebrity) ships, including the Majesty of the Seas, Monarch of the Seas (twice), Radiance of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas. Oasis of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Summit, and Monarch of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas (two). Most of these cases were never investigated by the flag state, which, it seems, could not care less. 

Until the United States Coast Guard becomes concerned with the absence of automatic man overboard systems on cruise ships calling on U.S. ports and institutes serious action against the companies for the extreme delays in reporting overboard crew and passengers (like preventing the ships from sailing), cruise lines like Royal Caribbean will continue to act in this irresponsible manner.  

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Image credits: Bahamian Maritime Authority
 

How Carnival's Failure to Install a Man Overboard System Doomed Passenger and Wasted U.S. Coast Guard Resources

In a press release, the the U.S. Coast Guard announced that it suspended its search and rescue efforts for a passenger who went overboard from the Carnival Paradise on May 22, 2018. The Coast Guard stated that it ended its search on the following day at approximately 9 P.M. (May 23, 2018), which is approximately 35 hours after Carnival notified it (at 10:00 A.M. on May 22nd) that a passenger was missing from the cruise ship. (The Coast Guard's press release erroneously states that it searched for 55 hours).

The Coast Guard indicated that its search covered a vast grid, consisting of over 3,000 square miles. 

The Coast Guard reportedly deployed a "C-130 Hercules aircraft and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Clearwater, an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft crew from Air Station Miami, and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Isaac Mayo, homeported in Key West." 

The huge search grid and the deployment of a helicopter, two aircraft and a cutter to search over 3,000 square Carnival Paradise Man Overboardmiles were necessary due to Carnival's apparent delay in notifying the Coast Guard of the missing passenger, who was subsequently identified as Brian Lamonds of Greensboro, North Carolina. 

According to the press release, Coast Guard watchstanders in Key West received a call via marine band radio at approximately 10 A.M. on May 22nd from the cruise ship stating the passenger was missing and reportedly went overboard.

Based on the information received from Carnival, the Coast Guard stated that Mr. Lamonds went overboard "about 85 miles west of Fort Myers." This suggests that Mr. Lamonds probably went overboard early in the morning hours of May 22nd after the ship left Tampa late on the afternoon of May 21st.  Obviously the man overboard did not occur off the coast of Fort Meyers at 10:00 A.M. Fort Meyers is around 125 nautical miles north of Key West, which is around 6 to 8 hours away from Key West given an approximate vessel speed of 15 to 20 knots. If Carnival didn't notify the Coast Guard until 10:00 A.M., an hour from its scheduled arrival at 11:00 A.M., the cruise ship was probably just 15 or 20 nautical miles north of Key West at this point. The cruise ship had sailed for many hours since Mr. Lamonds went overboard. 

A passenger tweeted as of 10:01 A.M. on May 22nd "On the #CarnivalParadise ... they are now doing room to room searches for a passenger. Praying he’s passed out in a room." She later tweeted that the 11:00 A.M. disembarkation was delayed for at least 45 minutes.  So if this information is correct, it appears that Carnival was searching on the ship for him when it requested the Coast Guard to begin its search at 10:00 A.M.

The most likely scenario is that the Carnival Paradise is not equipped with an automatic man overboard system that would send a signal and sound an alarm in the bridge as soon as someone went over the rails of the ship. At that point, modern state-of-the-art systems would use infrared and radar technology to track the person in the water, even at night. 

Cruise ships that have not installed these systems have to rely on a report from a crew member or another guest who may have happened to witness the man going overboard. The ship's officers would then have to manually review CCTV surveillance videos to see if the man overboard can be verified and, if so, when and where the person went into the water. Many cruise lines require that the ship contact the marine operation and/or security department back in Miami before turning the ship around. In this case, we know from AIS data (right) that the Carnival Paradise never turned the ship around or conducted any type of search in the water.

The 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act requires cruise lines to employ current MOB technology whenever feasible. Many cruise lines and their defenders claim that the technology is not reliable. But there are highly reputable manufacturers with tested and proven technology that works impressively. 

I attended all of the many hearings in Congress before the automatic man overboard law was passed  eight years ago.  I watched the cruise lines and lobbying firms spend millions of dollars fighting against the legislation. It's disheartening to see the cruise lines still failing to install the systems. These systems save lives. Without such a system, cruise lines must review the CCTV video after-the-fact to see if it shows anyone going over the rails and then search the passenger cabins when their guest has already gone into the water hours earlier, to only then belatedly call on the Coast Guard to essentially search for a needle in a haystack.  Plus, it's a huge waste of time and taxpayer money (that the foreign flagged cruise industry doesn't have to pay).

I've sent a Freedom of Information (FOIA) to the Coast Guard to request for the details of exactly when Carnival notified the Coast Guard of the overboard guest, where the ship was located when it first realized that a guest was missing, and when and how the guest went overboard. I also will try to determine how much it costs for the Coast Guard to launch two search-aircraft, a helicopter and a cutter from stations around Florida to search a grid pattern of over 3,000 square miles for 35 hours. I estimate that the figure is probably around $1,000,000 which would have been far better spent in installing life-saving technology in the first place.

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Gastrointestinal Outbreak on the Silver Shadow

Silver Shadow The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that there is a gastrointestinal outbreak on the Silver Shadow operated by the Silversea Cruises company.

The CDC reports that 28 of 327 (8.56%) of the passengers suffered from vomiting and diarrhea and other GI symptoms and reported being ill during the cruise, which took place between May 10th and today (May 24, 2018). 8 of 290 crew members reported ill with such GI symptoms during the cruise.

The CDC has not been able to determine the causative agent (norovirus, E. coli, etc.for the outbreak.

This is the fifth GI outbreak this year on a cruise ship meeting the threshold requirements of the CDC. The CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) is required to post a report when 3% or more of passengers or crew report symptoms of gastrointestinal illness to the ship’s medical staff. The medical staff of a cruise ship must send the reports to the CDC within 15 days of arriving at a U.S. port.  

The Silver Shadow failed a CDC inspection back in 2013 in a heavily publicized case when crew members were ordered to hide food and galley equipment in the cruise ship's crew quarters. The Silver Shadow failed another CDC inspection in 2015.  The Silver Shadow passed four CDC inspections since 2015 (with scores ranging from 95 to as high as 100) and there is no indication of a correlation between the past failed CDC inspections and the current GI outbreak on this cruise ship. (The Silver Wind, on the other hand, recently failed a CDC inspection, in May of this year, with a score of only 79).

The Silver Shadow is currently at the end of a two week cruise which started in Tokyo, Japan on May 10th. The ship has called on a number of other ports in Japan (Aomori, Hakodate, and Kushiro) and Petropavlovsk, Russia before arriving at various ports in Alaska, including Seward where it stopped this morning. 

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Photo credit: Bahnfrend - CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

May 25, 2018 Update: Here is a statement from Silversea Cruises:

Monaco; May 25, 2018

GI cases on Silver Shadow

“Following a number of passengers and crew reporting gastrointestinal symptoms to the medical staff on board the Silver Shadow the vessel registered these cases with the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in line with standard procedures.

Over the period May10-24, 28 out of 327 passengers and 8 out of 290 crew members reported GI symptoms to the ship’s Doctor during the cruise from Japan to Alaska with a call at the Russian Port of Petropavlosk.

The ship’s Doctor kept in regular contact with the CDC Officer during the passage to Seward Cruise Port, Alaska, where the Silversea Head of Fleet Operations, together with a CDC Officer joined the vessel to review all sanitation procedures and confirmed that the ship’s Management were following all the correct procedures. No further cases of GI of symptoms have been reported and the vessel has been cleared to continue cruising. All passengers are currently recovering.”

May 28, 2018 Update: Here is another statement from Silversea:

Monaco; 28th May 2018

“In its latest US Public Health/ CDC Inspection in Juneau on May 26, cruise ship “Silver Shadow” scored 93 out of a possible 100 points. This outcome, reflecting the company’s high standards, is the result of the work done by the ship’s management and staff in dealing with an occurrence of gastrointestinal symptoms reported to the USPH/CDC in line with standard procedures prior to the ship’s arrival in Seward, Alaska following a cruise from Japan.

Over the period May 10-24, 28 out of 327 passengers and 8 out of 290 crew members reported GI symptoms to the ship’s medical staff.

The ship’s Doctor kept in regular contact with the CDC Officer during the passage to Seward Cruise Port, Alaska, where the Silversea Head of Fleet Operations, together with a CDC Officer joined the vessel to review all sanitation procedures and confirmed that the ship’s Management were following all the correct procedures. No further cases of GI of symptoms have been reported and all passengers have recovered”

Passenger Missing from Carnival Paradise

A passenger has been reported missing from a Carnival cruise ship which sailed from Tampa to Key West, Florida.

The United States Coast Guard is reporting that a 50 year old man may have gone overboard somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico after the ship sailed from Tampa heading for Key West. New accounts state that the Carnival Paradise notified the U.S. Coast guard around 10:00 A.M. this morning of the passenger's disappearance.     

The Carnival ship is currently on a 6 day cruise which left from the port of Tampa yesterday, May 21st, around 4:00 P.M., heading to  Key West, Florida with an additional port in Cozumel, Mexico on May 24th, and a return to Tampa on May 26th. The ship was scheduled to arrive in Key West around 11:00 A.M. this morning. 

The AIS data does not show that the Paradise turned around or otherwise changed direction indicating that it may have  conducted a search for the guest. One passenger on the ship tweeted around 10:30 to 11:00 A.M. this morning "On the #CarnivalParadise ... they are now doing room to room searches for a passenger. Praying he’s passed out in a room."   

Based on this information, it appears that the ship did not realize that the passenger had gone overboard as the ship sailed from Tampa overnight until this morning when it finally notified the Coast Guard around 10:00 A.M.  New accounts state that the "incident" approximately 85 miles west of Fort Myers, Florida. It is less than clear whether this refers to when the man went overboard, or the location of the ship when Carnival realized that a guest was missing, or the location when the Coast Guard was finally notified. 

The cruise ship was probably west of Fort Meyers late last night or very early this morning.  It is possible that there may be surveillance film which captures the guest going overboard and the ship figured out the approximate coordinates after the fact. But the fact that passengers are saying that the ship was conducting a search of the cabins this morning (after it reported the person missing to the Coast Guard) seems to suggest that Carnival may have no idea went the guest went missing from the ship.

The man has been identified by news accounts as Brian Lamonds of Greensboro.      

A local news stations is reporting that the Coast Guard has deployed a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from its station in Clearwater, a HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft from Miami and Guard Cutter Isaac Mayo from Key West.

As I have commented on before, the failure of cruise ships to be equipped with automatic man overboard systems with modern technology to detect people going over the rails of ships and immediately send an alarm to the bridge (as well as track the person in the water with radar and infrared technology) results in confusion like this. The irresponsibility of cruise lines in not complying with the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 (which requires cruise lines to install auto-man overboard systems) not only causes a delay in search and rescue efforts but forces the Coast Guard to deploy tremendously expensive assets to conduct an exponentially expanded search for the missing person.   

Carnival released a statement saying: "On Tuesday morning, a male guest went overboard as the ship was sailing from Tampa to Key West, Florida. The Coast Guard was notified and is currently conducting a search for the guest. We are cooperating fully with all authorities. Our Care Team is providing support and assistance to the guest’s family."

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Vision of the Seas Loses Power in Sea Of Crete

The Vision of the Seas lost power during the early morning hours of May 22, 2018. Several passengers are reporting that the Royal Caribbean cruise ship sustained a power and propulsion outage, leaving the ship floating in the Sea of Crete with only its emergency lighting on. 

Subsequent information is that the ship regained power and is now sailing slowly toward Santorini. AIS systems (right) show the ship under power at a speed of a little over 7 knots. 

Vision of the Seas Power LossThere is an unconfirmed rumor that the Vision allegedly struck something, although this has not been confirmed. 

The Vision of the Seas is sailing on a 12 day cruise from Monday, May 14 to Saturday, May 26 to the Greek Isles, leaving and returning to Barcelona, Spain.  It was sailing between Mykonos to Santorini when it experienced power failure.

The Vision of the Seas is twenty years old, sailing its inaugural cruise in May of 1998. 

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May 22, 2018 Update: photographs by John Brown via Cruceros Puerto Rico.

 

Passenger Overboard from Princess Sun

A passenger has been reported overboard from the Princess Sun cruise ship today, according to 9News in Australia. The passenger is an Australian man in his 80's.  

In a statement, Princess Cruises stated that the passenger intentionally went overboard.

The Princess Sun departed from Fremantle, Australia six days ago, and was half way through a 12-day cruise. The overboard occurred when the cruise ship was approximately 100 nautical Princess Sunmiles southeast of Singapore.

Passengers reportedly state that the captain of the ship made an announcement of the passenger's disappearance and turned the ship around to conduct search and rescue operations. It reportedly took an hour to return to the spot where the man went overboard. Another newspaper in Australian reports that that the captain told passengers that CCTV footage confirmed the man went overboard. Indonesian search and rescue authorities released the cruise ship after her crew had searched until dark for the missing man.

A passenger posted a photograph of a rescue boat that had been deployed to search for the overboard passenger. 

According to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, 311 people have gone overboard from cruise ships in the last 18 years. 

This incident is similar to a situation three and a half years ago when an 84-year-old went overboard from the Sun Princess while it was sailing from New Zealand to Sydney, in November of 2014. 

The last overboard from the Princess Sun occurred around a year ago when a passenger went overboard from the Princess cruise ship. This occurred in February of 2017. There was no explanation how the woman went overboard. The good news is that she was rescued after approximately 45 minutes in the water.

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Photo credit: @michaelrperth on Twitter via 9NEWS

MSC Wasted U.S. Coast Guard Resources By Delayed Report of Overboard Crew Member

This afternoon, May 17, 2018,  the United States Coast Guard (USCG) released an official press statement indicating that it ended its search for an overboard crew member from the MSC Seaside cruise ship. 

The search was for a Filipino crew member who went overboard from the MSC cruise ship around 1:00 A.M. in the late night / early morning hours the previous day, on May 16, 2018.  But the Coast Guard stated in its official press release that it was not notified of the man overboard until 4:00 A.M. on May 16, 2018, which is approximately three (3) hours after the crew member went overboard.

The press release states that a Filipino crew member went overboard southeast of St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands "at approximately 1 a.m. Wednesday. The cruise ship crew launched a search MSC Seasideand contacted watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector San Juan Command Center at approximately 4 a.m. alerting them of the situation."

This is consistent with the eye witness accounts of a passenger on the MSC Seaside who notified me that the ship began employing searchlights around 3:00 A.M.

It appears from this information that the MSC Seaside was not equipped with an automatic man overboard system that would be triggered immediately whenever someone went over the rails of the cruise ships and automatically notify the bridge that a person went into the water. 

This is disappointing because last October, MSC Cruises announced that it installed a state-of-the-art man overboard system on the MSC Meraviglia and is planning to deploy similar systems across its fleet of cruise ships. Apparently, MSC has not employed the technology on the MSC Seaside.

There are currently several very sophisticated systems manufactured by a variety of companies that use motion, heat sensing and radar technology that will not only automatically notify the bridge of the person going overboard but will actually track the person in the water at night.

Waiting three hours to notify the Coast Guard of a person going overboard suggests that the ship did not know the person went overboard because the ship was not equipped with this life-saving technology. 

The failure to employ the technology not only leads to these type of delays but it results in a huge wasteful expenditure of money by the U.S. government. The Coast Guard release sates that:

"Coast Guard rescue crews comprised of a C-130 aircraft from Air Station Clearwater, two MH-65 Dolphin helicopters from Air Station Borinquen, a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft–Law Enforcement response boat from Boat Forces Saint Thomas and the Coast Guard Cutter Confidence conducted five air and three surface searches covering an area of approximately 1,216 square nautical miles."

By notifying the U.S. Coast Guard three hours late, at 4:00 A.M. after the crew member went Confidence Cutteroverboard from the MSC Seaside at 1:00 A.M., MSC not only ensured that the late search would be unsuccessful but wasted the resources of Coast Guard stations in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas USVI and Clearwater Florida involving the deployment of a C-130 Hercules aircraft, two MH-65 Dolphin helicopters, a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft, and the Coast Guard Cutter Confidence (based in Port Canaveral, Florida). These governmental vessels involved in the delayed search are in addition to the commercial vessels also involved in essentially looking for a needle in a haystack, including the Carnival Glory and the oil tanker Rose which were both involved in the belated search.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding other man overboard searches indicate that the U.S. government spends around one millions dollars in deploying Coast Guard aircraft, helicopters and vessels for each similar search. It costs a lot of fuel to fly a C-130 down to the Caribbean from Clearwater, Florida and deploy a couple of of Dolphin helicopters and a Coast Guard cutter to conduct a (delayed) search of over 1,200 nautical square miles. Cruise lines do not pay anything to the U.S. government for the deploying of such vast resources for such man overboard searches which become necessary simply because cruise lines refuse to invest the necessary money to employ existing man overboard technology. 

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Photo credit: Top - Dickelbers - CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.Bottom - U.S. Coast Guard 7th District Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands

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