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, and begins search of ship;
  • 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.”

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

Search and Rescue Underway for Overboard Crew Member from MSC Seaside

A crew member from the MSC Seaside has been reported going overboard last night south of the Virgin Islands.

A passenger on the MSC cruise ship notified me this morning of the incident.  Florida resident Brett Morphis stated that the ship used spotlights to search for the crew member starting around 3 A.M. and continuing throughout the night.  The captain of the ship made an official announcement around 7 A.M., followed by a second announcement this morning stating that the search was continuing with prayers for the crew member.  A U.S. Coast MSC Seaside OverboardGuard helicopter and a Carnival ship (the Carnival Glory) as well as smaller commercial vessels reportedly were all engaged in the search. AIS systems seems to show that the MSC Seaside turned around west of the Virgin Islands and returned to a spot where the ship believed the crew member went overboard. 

It is unknown whether the MSC Seaside was equipped with an automatic man overboard system which would have instantly alerted the bridge when the crew member went over the railing. 

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.

The man overboard has been identified as a 37 year-old crew member from the Philippines.

A news report from Puerto Rico states that the crew member "went overboard from the seventh deck of the Maltese-flagged cruise ship at approximately 1 a.m. Wednesday. The cruise ship crew launched a search and contacted watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector San Juan Command Center at approximately 4 a.m. alerting them of the situation."  If this account is accurate, it is unclear why there was a three hour delay by the cruise ship in notifying the Coast Guard of the man overboard.   

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Cruise Ship Hot-Deck-Burned-Feet Lawsuit Irks Public

Silhouette Hot Deck LawsuitA number of newspapers are reporting that a resident of New York is suing Celebrity Cruises after he scalded his feet on a hot deck on one of its cruise ships several years ago. 

The 66 year-old passenger, who apparently suffered from pre-existing neuropathy of his feet, was sailing aboard the Celebrity Silhouette when the incident occurred. The cruise ship had docked in Greece and, after briefly leaving the ship, he returned to the Silhouette after deciding that it was too hot and he would rather spend time in the cruise ship pool.

The New York Post explains that he reportedly parked his scooter cart near a swimming pool on deck 12 (not sure exactly which one), took off his shoes (and apparently his socks) and walked bare-footed the rest of the distance, around 10-12 feet, to the pool. Because of the nerve damage to his feet, he did not realize the scalding heat of the pool deck surface or the burns to his feet. But when his spouse and another traveling companion joined him in the pool, they noticed that his feet were severely burned and “from toe to heel, the skin was just hanging off," according to the new accounts. He reportedly declined an offer by the cruise line to fly home for medical treatment. His feet later became infected and he ended up having one of the toes amputated.

He located a lawyer who filed suit against the cruise line in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, seeking $5,000,000 in damages for his injuries and $1,000,000 for his wife's loss of consortium claim. The lawsuit alleged that Celebrity should have warned passengers about the "extremely hot" deck. The newspaper quoted him saying: ". . . I took off a pair of shoes and left them in the cart to go to the pool. If they had just given a hint that it was that hot…”

The popular cruise blog, Cruise Radio, asked the questions every cruiser wants to know: "Do you believe the cruise line had a responsibility to post warnings about the hot deck? . . . Or should someone with his condition have been more cautious given he returned to the ship due to the heat?"

Of course, the answer to both questions should be "yes." Any time that a simple warning can avoid serious injury, including the amputation of a portion of a guest's body, it should be provided. Only the most cynical person would not want to see such mental and physical suffering to be avoided. But at the same time, anyone suffering from peripheral neuropathy affecting his feet should obviously take special precautions to avoid this type of injury. There is no mention in the articles whether the passenger thought to simply touch the surface with his hand and then wear his shoes, or sandals, or flip-flops across the hot deck to the pool.

The news accounts of the lawsuit has generated considerable press, with most readers calling the injured cruise ship guest "stupid" and his lawsuit "frivolous."

But there is no question that a pool deck can create second degree burns to a passenger on a hot summer day; the cruise lines are aware of this danger and can avoid injury to their guests with an Silhouette Hot Deck Lawsuiteffective warning. There have been a number of lawsuits filed against the Miami based cruise lines for burns due to hot decks.

The case of Gibbs v. Carnival Cruise Line involved an injury to a child, back in 1998, who suffered second degree burns on the soles of his feet when he stepped onto the hot surface of the deck of the Carnival Destiny. The child was under the care of Carnival employees in the cruise ship's Camp Carnival child care program. His parents had to interrupt the family vacation and return home to New Jersey with their child to care for the boy's injuries.

In 2012, an Orlando resident sustained severe burns on his feet caused by a hot surface of the Lido pool deck on a Carnival cruise ship. He sued Carnival for his physical injuries, as well as for pain, suffering and mental anguish related to the hot deck. He also alleged that his feet became severely infected due to the poor shipboard medical treatment. The Miami New Times commented on the lawsuit, stating that the "roasting deck surface led to nasty burns, as well as 'serious and permanent scarring, disfigurement, and embarrassment.'" The New Times article gave the painful ordeal a comical spin in an article titled Lawsuit Claims Hairy Man Contest On Cruise Led To Burned Feet For Florida Man when it was learned that the guest was injured while participating in a "hairy chest" competition on a hot deck.

At least one hot Lido deck - burned feet case, very similar to the current Celebrity case, went to trial against Carnival last year. I heard that it also involved a guest with a pre-existing peripheral neuropathy involving his feet due to diabetes. The case ended with a jury returning a defense verdict against the passenger.

Carnival is not the only cruise line sued for super-hot pool decks. In 2016, a Norwegian Cruise Line passenger sustained second-degree burns on the bottom of his feet. He claimed that NCL failed to warn him that the deck near the pool area was hot enough to cause such an injury. The guest had gone swimming in the ship pool after taking off his flip-flops; but when it was time to get out of the pool, someone had removed his flip-flops, requiring him to step on the hot deck with his bare feet. He suffered from diabetic neuropathy and did not feel the severity of the heat as it burned his feet. His case settled at a mediation conference.

The curious thing about the recent Celebrity lawsuit is that is was filed in federal court in Brooklyn and that it was brought nearly four years after the incident in July 2014. The terms and conditions of all cruise passengers tickets require that lawsuits against Celebrity (as well as NCL, Carnival and Royal Caribbean) must be filed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida (a condition which has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court (see Carnival Cruise Lines v. Shute).

Also, absent an agreement to extend the filing deadline, lawsuits against a cruise line must be filed within one year of the accident/injury. The docket sheet for the Celebrity lawsuit shows that the case was filed on May 10, 2018 (almost 3 years too late). The time for Celebrity's response is not due until June 1, 2018.

Expect for the cruise line to move to dismiss the case for being filed too late and in the wrong courthouse.

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Photo credit: Top - Fred Hsu on en.wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Cruise Lines Oppose Bahamian Tug Boat Fee

A dispute is brewing in the Bahamas over a tug boat fee that the government plans to charge cruise ships and other commercial vessels using the harbor of Nassau. 

Earlier this week, the Bahamas Tribune reported that the Miami-based cruise industry believes that it does not need tug service in the port of Nassau.

The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association's (FCCA), through its president Michele Paige, told the Tribune newspaper that the cruise industry was "fundamentally opposed" to paying for the tug service in Nassau harbor. FCCA is claiming that the new fee will result in additional unwarranted costs, which will make the Bahamas cruise experience "more expensive." 

The two new tug boats, named Tug Samson and Tug Rose, will be operated by a 100% Bahamian-owned and operated company, called Tug Services Ltd, according to the Tribune. The Bahamas has come to the conclusion that the new tugs are necessary to maintain adequate services for the Port of Nassau commercial vessels calling at its port. Bahamian officials cite the need for reliable service during poor weather and in emergencies, in addition to regular tug services needed for firefighting, oil spill recovery, salvage capabilities and the safe movement of cruise and cargo ships in and out of the harbor.  

The Bahamas is attempting to upgrade Nassau's cruise port, at Prince George Wharf, to reverse declining revenues from passenger spending at the port.

The FCCA always disputes any cost increases which are levied against the cruise lines. The FCCA even fought against the reasonable attempts to increase the pilotage fees sought by the Biscayne Bay Pilots here in Miami.

As I have said before many times, the only cost increases permitted by the cruise lines are those levied against their guests for things like mandatory tips and gratuities, drink increases or room service charges. The cruise industry likes to demand control everything it touches, whether it is the taxes imposed by the state of Alaska for environmental protection and infrastructure, or the minimal head taxes of the poor Caribbean ports. It steals the tips intended from its powerless foreign crew members and nickels and dimes all of its passengers to collect every penny it can.  

But paying for the costs of two new tugs in one of its most popular cruise ports?  $700 for a tug into port in Nassau? No way says the FCCA, even though the cruise industry collects tens of millions of dollars with increased gratuities and on on-board charges.   

A Bahamian cabinet minister is defending the mandatory tug boat fee for Nassau harbor, telling the Bahamian newspaper that "There's no such thing as a free lunch."

Nassau reportedly may be an easy port for cruise ships to dock in but it has not stopped Florida-based cruise lines from occasionally smashing into its docks, as a Disney cruise ship proved last year (video below). Perhaps a couple of well maintained tugs would help. The cruise industry seems to smash into piers in numerous cruise ports from time to time, like in Roatan, Ketchikan, Buenos Aires, Baltimore, Nice, Messina, PireausMarseille, and New York to name a few. But the majority of these incidents are not friendly little fender-benders like the Disney cruise ship mishap in Nassau.

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Photo credit: Port of Nassau - View of Prince George Wharf - TampAGS wikipedia - creative commons 3.0  

 

Silver Wind Flunks USPH Sanitation Inspection

Silversea Cruises Silver WindSilversea Cruises' Silver Wind cruise ship recently failed a sanitation inspection by United States Public Health (USPH) inspectors, in March. 

On March 18, 2018, the USPH inspected the Silver Wind in San Juan and found numerous unsanitary violations. Repeated problems were noted in the ship's potable water treatment. Inspectors located over two dozen flies in the galley, food preparation and dish washing areas. (This seems to be some type of record; it certainly is the most flies I have ever seen recorded in a cruise ship sanitation inspection report).

Inspectors located food items and food service equipment hidden in crew member lockers inside a changing room near an engine and air conditioning unit.

You can locate the report, read about other unsanitary conditions and the corrective action report by searching for Silver Wind here.

Five years ago, in 2013, Silversea Cruises was caught ordering its crew members to hide perishable food in crew quarters aboard the Silver Shadow. CNN aired a special program about the "hide and seek" games which crew members were ordered to play on the Silver Shadow cruise ship, where the ship routinely hid trolleys of food items in crew members cabins to avoid detection by USPH sanitation inspectors.

Our blog was the first to cover the story in our article Silver Shadow Fails Sanitation Inspection After Caught Hiding Filthy Conditions from Health Inspectors.

Silversea engaged in an intentional, calculated scheme to hide food and galley equipment in the crew cabins. Crew members on the cruise ship alerted our firm that they (galley workers) were being ordered by their supervisors to take trolleys of perishable foods (eggs, fish & cheese) to the crew quarters and hide the food from inspectors during bi-annual CDC inspections. We advised the "whistle-blower" crew members to notify the CDC. As a result of a surprise inspection, the CDC discovered that the cruise line hid "over 15 full trolleys" of food and food equipment, pans, dishware and utensils in "over 10 individual cabins" in order to avoid scrutiny of vessel sanitation inspectors. It flunked the Silversea ship with a score of 82.

You can see photos of the cruise line's practices on our Facebook page here.

You can watch the CNN video here.

But Silversea didn't learn its lesson.  In 2015, two years after the disastrous Silver Shadow inspection, the Silver Shadow failed again, with a score of only 82. 

Its current score of 79 is even lower than its failed scores back in 2013 and 2015.  It is only one point higher than the recent failed score of the infamous Kydon ferry, operated by Ferries Del Caribe, which received scores of 78 (May 2018) following even more pitiful scores of 61 (December 2017) and 58 (July 2017). The Silver Wind and the Kydon are the only two cruise ships to have received failing USPH scores so far in 2018. 

It should be embarrassing for a high-brow Silversea cruise ship like the Silver Wind to fall into the ranks of an old tub of a ferry like the Kydon.

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May 15, 2018 Update Silversea issued the following statement today regarding the inspection:

Silver Wind’ March 18 Inspection Report

On March 18, 2018 Silversea’s ‘Silver Wind’ received an atypical score of 79 during an inspection by the US Dept of Health CDC in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This score compared with the score of 93 out of 100 achieved some 2 months earlier on January 6, 2018, caused the Company to initiate an immediate investigation into the result.

Following the investigation, it was established that a small number of staff had not followed the robust standards expected of Silversea employees. The Company, therefore, undertook a vigorous training and re-training programme related to the relevant issues on-board its cruise vessels which are at the heart of its service to all passengers.

All Silversea ships have comprehensive and rigorous training programs in place to make certain its staff and crew implement best onboard practices. The company has taken measures ensuring that future inspections on this vessel result in higher scores in line with the usual Silversea standards and achieved on all its vessels. The most recent CDC scores on Silversea vessels were Silver Spirit 99, Silver Muse 97, Silver Shadow 95, Silver Explorer 90. Silver Wind has consistently achieved very good scores in all previous inspections.

Photo credit: eGuide Travel - Flickr: Silver Wind, CC BY 2.0, commons / wikimedia.

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Anthem of the Seas

A Coast Guard aircrew from Elizabeth City, North Carolina medevaced an ill passenger from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship yesterday morning.

An 83-year-old woman who was experiencing renal failure needed emergency medical treatment yesterday when the Anthem of the Seas was returning to New Jersey from a Caribbean cruise. 

The cruise ship was approximately 160 miles southeast of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, when the captain contacted the Coast Guard to request a medical evacuation of the passenger.

The Coast Giard dispatched a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and a  HC-130 Hercules aircraft from the Coast Guard station in Elizabeth City. Once at the cruise ship, the helicopter crew hoisted the woman, a family member and a nurse aboard, and transported them to Norfolk Sentara General Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia. 

Video Credit: Defense Visual Information Distribution System (DVIDS) via United States Coast Guard DIstrict 5

Carnival Does the Right Thing Following Cabin Flood

Yesterday (May 3) a broken pipe aboard the Carnival Dream flooded around 50 cabins on the ship and sent water cascading down deck 9. Photos (right) and videos posted on Facebook show water pouring from the ceiling and down the walls.

Carnival confirmed that the water line break involved "clean water from a fire suppression system." 

By all accounts, Carnival did the right thing. After crew members quickly dried the area and replaced the carpeting, Carnival offered a 100% reimburment to those effected, an additional 50% off a future Carnival Dream Flooded Cabincruise and the option to be flown home today.

But other cruise lines have not been as generous when passenger cabins flood during cruises.

A flood aboard Royal Caribean's Serenade of the Seas back in January 2015 affected several hundred cabins, but the cruise line offfered only a partial cruise credit to this affected guests.  

Probably the most egregious situation involved a flood due to a broken pipe aboard the Freedom of the Seas back in January of 2011 (photo and video below). Royal Caribbean refused to refund any portion of the cruise fares of the inconvienced passengers - instead offering only a 50% on a future cruise. One story involved a couple's first vacation after the husband served in the Iraqi War.  You can see a video of the mess here.

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

Photo credit: Top - Facebook (Marla DeAnn Haase); bottom - Facebook (Jess DaPonte‎). Freedom of the Seas Cabin Flood

 

 

Royal Caribbean Boycotts Rotterdam Shipyard After €1,000,000 Fine?

Three and a-half years ago, I wrote about a large fine leveled against Royal Caribbean for violating labor rules and regulations while the Oasis of the Seas was dry-docked in the Netherlands. Dutch labor inspectors had arrived at the shipyard in Rotterdam and found that numerous employees who were working on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship lacked proper residence papers and worked excessive hours (some up to 16 hours per day).

The Oasis had been undergoing maintenance and repairs while in dry-dock in Rotterdam when 45  inspectors from the Netherlands labor department boarded the ship. The inspectors determined that as many as 124 ship employees were not part of the regular crew and the cruise line should have Keppel Verolme - Oasis of the Seasapplied for work permits for them.

The finding of the Dutch labor inspectors ("arbeidsinspectie") led to a  €1,000,000 fine. This was an unprecedented action by a port state enforcing their local labor regulations against a large cruise company.

I asked at the time that "it remains to be seen whether Rotterdam receives any more work from Royal Caribbean in the future."

Upon notice of the fine, Royal Caribbean quickly decided that the dry-dock repairs needed for its sister ship, the Allure of the Seas, would be performed in Cadiz, Spain. Since then, Royal Caribbean has avoided any maintenance of its ships in Rotterdam. Just last month, Royal Caribbean sent the Brilliance of the Seas from Amsterdam to a shipyard in Hamburg, Germany.  

Royal Caribbean had used the shipyard extensively in the past, including projects like stretching and installing a mid-body section in the Enchantment of the Seas back in 2005. 

The CEO (Kommer Damen) of the shipyard in question (Damen Shipyards, formerly Keppel Verolme), recently criticized the fine in a Dutch newspaper, Maritiemnieuws (auto translate via Google Chrome).  Mr. Damen was interviewed in the Dutch VNO-NCW opinion forum

Mr. Damen essentially stated that the strict enforcement of the labor regulations of the Netherlands caused the shipyard to lose up to "about 1 billion euros" over the past 4 years. Mr. Damen characterized the fine as "simply unwise policy." The opinion piece states that Royal Caribbean allegedly objected to and did not pay the labor fine.

Mr. Damen explained that, in his opinion, it is "entirely customary" for foreign shipowners to deploy their own ship employees ("riding crew"), as opposed to local employees employed by the shipyards, during maintenance projects. But, as Mr. Damen further argues, only the Dutch labor inspectors interpret and enforce the international regulations for labor on board ships in such a way that it is not possible to employ over a hundred ship employees not hired pursuant to the local labor laws. He cites the situation in countries such as Germany or France, where the the local inspectors permit the shipping companies to fly in extra crew for specialized projects taking place at shipyards. 

We originally reported that Royal Caribbean had employed over 100 ship employees (and as many as as 77 Filipinos) to work on the Oasis of the Seas project during the dry-dock in Rotterdam. The cruise line was reportedly working these crew members as long as 16 hours a day (far in excess of the Dutch labor regulations) and likely for a fraction of what would have been paid to Dutch workers.  

But when a labor fine results in lost revenue of a shipyard catering to the multi-million dollar business of a cruise line, its appears that labor inspectors will be forced to look the other way when ship workers work far-more-hours and for far-less-money than permitted by law. 

Have a comment? Please leave a message or join the discussion on our Facebook page where I ask the question: Do you trust the cruise lines and shipyards to look after the labor rights of crew members?

Photo credit: Damen Verolme Rotterdam YouTube - Videoclip - Keppel Verolme dry-docking OASIS OF THE SEAS

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Del Rio Takes Home $10.5 Million in 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH) reports that its CEO Frank Del Rio's total compensation for 2017 was $10.5 million.  

Cruise executive Del Rio received compensation valued at $2.9 million in 2016, down from almost $32 million in 2015. According to Seatrade Cruise News, Mr. Del Rio received compensation valued at $31.9 million in 2015, including nearly $17.8 million in stock options and $10.3 million in stock awards. His cash income was about $4 million including a salary of over $1.8 million, and a bonus of $1.9 NCL CEO Frank Del Riomillion. Other compensation of $140,651 included a cash automobile allowance, tax preparation service and a country club membership.

HCLH's first quarter returns for this year include revenues of $1,293.4 million, and a 13.1% increase in passenger ticket revenues to $889.87 million. 

In an article in Skift today titled Norwegian Cruise CEO Sees No Signs of Recession, Del Rio disputed  the standard worry among cruise industry investors these days "that a recession might loom as the global fleet is growing, potentially leading to costly new ships with a public too cash-strapped to sail on them." 

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

Interested in this issue? We suggest reading:

NCL CEO Del Rio on the Norwegian Breakaway Bomb Cyclone Fiasco: "Weather Can Be Unpredictable . . . (It's) All Good." 

NCL Imposes Keelhauling to Motivate Crew Members.

Photo credit: Frank Del Rio - Mark Elias/Bloomberg via Getty Images and Storify.

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