Fire Breaks Out on Carnival Sunshine

Last Friday evening, there were comments on social media that a fire had broken out on the Carnival Sunshine which caused damage to a passenger balcony.  

The initial comments, on Facebook, were to the effect that the cabin was located on deck 6, fire doors were closed and a number of firefighters responded to the fire. The initial speculation was that the fire was started by a smoker on the balcony or perhaps from a flicked cigarette which landed on a balcony towel?

Carnival released an official statement the next morning, stating that: "A small fire occurred yesterday evening on a passenger cabin balcony on Carnival Sunshine. The specific location of origin appears to have been a towel on a balcony chair. The fire was quickly extinguished. Guests were advised of the Cruise Ship Balconies - Fire detection, Alarm and Suppression Systemsituation and all operations on board continued per normal."

Many people have suggested that the fire wasn't serious because it was characterized as "small" and "quickly extinguished." Of course, every fire on the high seas is potentially very serious and starts out small.

The issue remains whether the balcony in question was equipped with a "fixed pressure water-spraying and fixed fire detection and fire alarm systems," as required by amendments to the SOLAS regulations when the furniture and furnishings on cabin balconies are not of "restricted fire risk."

These amendments to SOLAS came about after the deadly fire aboard the Star Princess in 2006 which burned through over a hundred cabins after a flicked cigarette caught a towel on a passenger balcony on fire. The MAIB was critical of the fact that the balcony chairs and balcony partitions were highly combustible and caused heavy, toxic smoke. None of the balconies had heat or smoke detectors or sprinkler systems.

We represented the family of Richard Liffridge who died in the fire. After his death, Princess said that it quickly replaced the balcony partitions, furniture and furnishings with fire-resistant items and installed fixed sprinkler and fire detection systems on the balconies of its fleet of cruise ships. 

Mr. Liffridge's daughter later went aboard the Star Princess and inspected the balcony and fire detection systems. You can read about that here, Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?  She testified before Congress regarding the need for all cruise ships  to be equipped with balcony fire detection and suppression systems.  

However, when the International Maritime Organization (IMO) amended SOLAS, it did not require all cruise ships to install balcony fire systems. It waived the requirement where the cruise line balcony furniture and furnishings were of "restricted fire risk."  

Other than Princess, few other cruise lines publicly state whether their ships are retrofitted with balcony sprinkler systems or whether the newly built cruise ships (after July 1, 2008) are equipped with such safety features.  

Do all of the 100 plus cruise ships owned by Carnival Corporation, and operated by its numerous brands, have fire detection, alarm and suppression systems on the passenger balconies? How about other cruise lines?  Have some cruise lines just replaced the balcony partitions and furniture with less combustible and less toxic-when-burned substances and deck coverings?

We have asked Carnival for an explanation whether the balcony on the Sunshine was equipped with a heat detection and sprinkler system.  We will report if Carnival answers us. Did the fire proceed from the balcony and enter the passenger cabin?  We would also like to know whether the fire was extinguished with an automatic system or whether firefighters had to go to the scene and manually extinguish it. 

Was the bridge automatically notified by a balcony alarm system when the fire broke out or was the fire first observed by passengers who reported it?  

Perhaps the Sunshine has such a system. Was it functioning correctly? SOLAS requires that the system be periodically tested and sprinkler heads should be maintained, cleaned and inspected.

It was fortunate that this fire happened in the evening (between 8 and 9 P.M.) and did not break out in the early morning hours when most passengers were asleep. 

There should be an investigation into these basic facts rather than a quick conclusion that the fire was small and not serious.  

If you are taking a cruise, walk out to the balcony and look up.  Is it is equipped with a fire detector (heat or smoke) and sprinkler system?  Let us know. 

Have a thought?  Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Cruise Passengers Injured in Jeep Safari Accident in Antigua

A newspaper in Antigua reports that a safari jeep excursion vehicle filled with cruise passengers flipped on its side in a road accident last week.

The newspaper reports that nine cruise passengers, consisting of six U.S. passengers and three German passengers, were riding in the back of the open air jeep. The injured were reportedly treated at the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre in Antigua. 

The newspaper says that the jeep was attempting to overtake a tractor when the driver of the safari jeep swerved to avoid oncoming traffic, causing it to flip on its side.

Antigua Safari Jeep AccidentThe passengers were reportedly from Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas

The safari jeep was reportedly operated by Tropical Adventures in Antigua.

It is currently unknown whether this was an independent excursion or whether it was sold and booked through the cruise line. 

There have been a number of excursion accidents involving passengers from Royal Caribbean and its sister company, Celebrity Cruises, over the last many years.  

Last January of this year, one passenger from the Independence of the Seas was killed and a half-dozen passengers were injured in a collision, between an excursion bus and a truck near Falmouth, Jamaica. We are representing the family of the deceased passenger and several injured passengers. 

Last December, two Celebrity passengers from the Summit were killed and 16 other passengers were injured on an excursion bus transporting cruise tourists to an excursion in Tortola, British West Indies.

In July 2012, Royal Caribbean cruise passengers from the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship were involved in a serious accident heading to an excursion in St. Martin.

In January 2012, a cruise sponsored open safari bus excursion from Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas cruise ship crashed in St. Thomas, resulting in injuries to cruise passengers.

In February 2009, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises' Summit cruise ship were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica. We represented passengers against the cruise line and the excursion company in that accident. Information on the Dominica excursion accident is contained in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."

Photo Credit: Antigua Observer 

Still Smoldering Caribbean Fantasy Towed to San Juan

Early Saturday morning, a salvage team towed the still smoldering Caribbean Fantasy ferry to the harbor in San Juan, after the U.S Coast Guard had approved a towage plan. 

The Coast Guard published a video of the vessel being towed as well as photographs of the fire, fire fighting efforts and evacuation of the ferry which can be seen on our Facebook page. The photo to the right shows that the exterior paint on the ferry had been scorched and was buckling and peeling from the intense heat. 

The Coast Guard reported that the Puerto Rico Fire Department finally extinguished the fire on the Caribbean Fantasy passenger ferry using 3,000 gallons of seawater from the San Juan Harbor around 6 p.m. on Saturday.

The Caribbean Fantasy has a poor inspection record. According to a report today in the MarineLog publication, according to the Equasis data base, a whopping 10.53% of the ferry's inspections in the past 3 years have led to detentions. According to MarineLog:

"A U.S. Coast Guard inspection in San Juan earlier this month found four deficiencies related to fire safety measures and one related to the propulsion and auxiliary machinery. None was severe enough to warrant detention of the vessel.

The most recent detention recorded in the Equasis data base was in Gibraltar in July this year and was for six days and related to deficiencies related to the auxiliary engines.

In October of last year, the vessel was detained in San Juan for three days by the U.S. Coast Guard for three deficiencies related: fire safety measures (international shore connection); crew certificates (certificates of competency) and ship's certificates and documents (safety manning document)."

We previously reported that according to gCaptain, the description of the fire prevention deficiency reads:

"The condition of the ship and its equipment shall be maintained to conform with the provisions of the present regulations to ensure that the ship in all respects will remain fit to proceed to sea without danger to the ship or persons onboard. In the engineering spaces, PSCO found deck plates slippery and surfaces coated with an oily layer. Oil was seeping form machinery and all bilge surfaces had a 1″ thick layer of oil; bilge pockets were full creating a fire hazard."

A casualty investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) RINA Services and the country of registration, Panama.

Video and photo credit: Defense Video Imagery Distribution System (by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jasmine Mieszala). 

Screwing Filipinos & Imprisoning Lawyers: Seafarers "Protection Act" Protects Cruise Line Employers

Filipinos are the most mistreated seafarers on the high seas. They work long hours every single day on tankers and cargo & cruise ships far away from their families for long periods of time for little money.   

When Filipino crew members are injured and disabled in accidents or due to the cumulative trauma caused by harsh long term work conditions, Filipinos are required to return home and accept the minimal payments outlined in a modest schedule of benefits published by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). The skimpy benefits pale in comparison to compensation awards in the U.S. They are an embarrassment to the labor agency and employers of any civilized country.  

As you can see, a standard POEA employment contract  limits a maimed crew members who, for example, loses his or her entire hand, by amputation between the wrist and elbow joint, in a gruesome work-related accident, to a total maximum benefit of only $29,480. Such a paltry amount hardly compensates the crew member for his past and future lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish and disfigurement for the rest of his life.

Under the POEA, death benefits are as little as $50,000 plus $7,000 for each minor child, not Filipino Seafarerexceeding four in total. So the surviving family members of a crew member with two children killed at sea by the gross negligence of a cruise line employer receive a total payment of $65,000 including a nominal payment of $1,000 toward the family's funeral and burial expenses.

Once a crew member or or their families receive a death or disability payment, they waive the right to file a claim against the cruise line employer and operator of the cruise line. This is in violation of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Such low payments trivialize the worth of a Filipino life. It is an insignificant if not meaningless amount in the eyes of the billion dollar, non-tax paying U.S. based cruise industry. Compare, for example, the money collected by the far cat cruise executives here in Miami (like NCL executive Frank Del Rio who collected over $31,000,000 in 2015).  A common thought of a cruise line risk adjuster or P&I representative when a davit fails and a lifeboat from a cruise ship falls several stories into the sea is that it's cheaper to have a Filipino aboard who's killed than any other nationality.  

Further injustice occurs when crew members suffer from ill health such as high blood pressure, heart problems and other sicknesses caused by the stress of hard work and long working hours. Manning agencies and cruise line employers are increasingly refusing to acknowledge that the injuries and illness suffered by crew members are "work-related," a requirement for the payment of such benefits. Crew members must submit to an examination of a single doctor, retained by the employer, who often assign a low impediment percentage, resulting in a minimal benefit, or claim that the illness pre-existed the crew member's shipboard work, resulting in no payment.  Company doctors are known to work with an eye toward pleasing the employer and its lawyers, at the detriment of the injured seafarer.

Even when a crew member receives an award by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), maritime employers often choose to appeal the award and seek a deduction.

Several years ago, I wrote about the plight of a Filipino seafarer Lito Asignacion who worked as a Burn Unitsenior engine fitter on board a bulk carrier who sustained serious burns of his abdomen and legs when scalding water overflowed a tank do to unsafe working conditions on the vessel. The crew member underwent extensive and painful medical treatment in the burn units of West Jefferson Medical Center and Baton Rouge General Medical Center in Louisiana, U.S.A.  Asignacion was treated and underwent skin grafting burns of 35% of his body.

Mr. Asignacion thereafter returned to the Philippines where he continued undergoing medical treatment at a number of hospitals and with a number of doctors who performed plastic surgery. He is now unemployed, disabled and scarred for life.

His employer argued that under the POEA, the burned crew member suffered a grade 14 disability which would entitle him to only 3.74% of USD $50,000. 

The Filipino Labor Board agreed and awarded Asignacion just $1,870.

The labor board made a point of stating that the shipping company had offered the disabled crew member $25,000 “out of compassion and generosity," implying that the injured crew member had foolishly rejected the "generous" offer. 

The vindictive labor board also cited language from a prior decision that compensation for serious injured Filipino seafarers is low because Filipino seafarers are perceived as crew members "who complain too much.”

This patronizing and inherently evil sentiment is alive and well in the cruise industry today. Insurance entities like protection & indemnity clubs in the U.K. who are responsible for minimizing payments by its rich shipowner members are taking steps to make it even harder for Filipino crew members to receive reasonable compensation for career-ending injuries and illnesses.

Recently, a claims director at UK P&I Club in a P&I Club publication praised the new Seafarers’ Protection Act. Ironically enough, the new law does not protect the Filipino seafarer from the greedy cruise lines, or the P&I companies and defense lawyers who do their bidding, but targets who UK P&I Clubthe P&I Club villainize as the "ambulance-chasing" lawyers who pursue "spurious claims." 

The claims representative, Tony Nicholson (photo left), argues that the new "Seafarers’ Protection Act is designed to protect Filipino seafarers and their families from the unscrupulous practices of such lawyers and came into force on 21 May 2016. Under the new law, any individual or group - whether lawyers or not - found to be soliciting directly or via agents will be imprisoned for one–two years and/or fined PHP 50,000–100,000 (approximately US$1–2,000)."

The UK P&I Club further proposes permitting maritime employers, which are ordered by arbitration panels to pay benefits to the disabled seafarers, permission not to pay the awards pending an appeal. This will encourage the wealthy employers and cruise lines to place financial pressure on the injured seafarers and force them to accept cheap settlements. 

As the sad case of Lito Asignacion demonstrates, the Filipino labor system already permits maritime employers and their insurance companies to abandon those seafarers who have sacrificed and suffered greatly for their families. Imprisoning lawyers who advocate greater rights for seafarers, and permitting maritime employers to withhold the payments of arbitration awards, make a further mockery of a system which works to protect the rich while screwing the injured and impoverished seafarer. 

August 19 2016 Update:  The Inquirer in Manilla publshed this article as an op-ed titled Seafarer ‘Protection Act’ shields ship owners, not seafarers.

Photo Credit: Top - By Maxime Felder - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia; bottom - UK P&I Club

Caribbean Fantasy Catches on Fire

Caribbean FantasyNews sources are reporting that the Caribbean Fantasy ferry has caught fire after sailing from the Dominican Republic to San Juan, forcing passengers to evacuate the vessel.

The fire reportedly broke out as the Caribbean Fantasy sailed near Puerto Rico's north coast, according to the Mirror

Photographs posted on social media show show the black smoke coming out of the ferry which is operated by the American Cruise Ferries.

Emergency slides can also be seen in the photos leading from the ferry down to the water and an inflatable life boat. It remains unclear how many of the over 500 passengers on the ferry went into lifeboats.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the ferry is reported to have run aground 800 yards off Punta Salinas.

Update: NBC News reports that "Gyno Funes said he was one of two mechanics in the control room when a hose carrying fuel burst open and caught on fire. 'We were trying to extinguish it for two hours, but couldn't,' said the other mechanic, Marlon Doblado, after the two reached shore. The extent of injuries was not immediately clear. Several dozen people who were carried in on stretchers were being treated for dehydration, high blood pressure and respiratory problems from the smoke, said fire department spokesman Juan Vega." 

August 19 2016 Update:  Caribbean Fantasy Detained in 2015 Over Fire Prevention Violation.

Puerto Rico: 105 Injured In Fire on Cruise Ship

Video credit: Mirror.

Photo credit:  @PRPDNoticias/twitter via Mirror.

Grandeur of the Seas Spots Abandoned Vessel Near Bermuda

Grandeur of the SeasThis morning the Grandeur of the Seas, cruising from Bermuda to Baltimore, changed course and took steps to assist what turned out to be a small abandoned vessel adrift on the high seas.

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship stopped and investigated the derelict vessel. Cruise ships often stop and administer assistance in circumstances like this. Royal Caribbean deployed a rescue boat and the crew also threw life rings into the water in the event that there were people aboard the vessel.  

The crew of the rescue boat observed that that there were signs that another vessel has visited the stranded boat before. The crew of the Grandeur then collected the life rings and brought the rescue crew back aboard, and returned on its cruise back to the U.S.

Lowering and raising rescue boats like this is potentially dangerous, but it is a task that crew members often perform on the high seas.

Photo credit:  Anonymous (above); cruise passenger Natt Penn (below).  

Grandeur of the Seas Bermuda to Baltimore (dereliict boat)

Paul Gauguin Cruise Ship Loses Propulsion in Bora Bora

Paul GauguinThe Paul Gauguin cruise ship reportedly lost propulsion and has been stuck in Bora Bora for the last several days, according to an article in Cruise Critic.

The popular online cruise community publication says that "Paul Gauguin has been stuck in Bora Bora for the past several days because of a propulsion issue, which interrupted its Society Island itinerary but didn't affect ship services for passengers."

A technician from France is supposedly meeting the cruise ship and the ship may sail as early as today.

In the last three months, there have been as many as seven occasions, including this one, where a cruise ship lost power and/or propulsion. The Thomson Celebration, Carnival-owned Fathom's Adonia, Carnival Elation, the expedition cruise ship Ortelius, Viking Sea and Caribbean Princess all lost power and/or propulsion.

Photo credit: By DonFilipo at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain.

Crystal Serenity Cruises Into Uncharted Waters

Crystal SerenityToday, the largest cruise ship ever to try and navigate the NorthWest Passage is sailing from Seward, Alaska in an effort to reach New York via Canada and Greenland.

Much has been written about the environmental damage which will be caused by the Crystal Serenity over the nearly 1,000 mile journey.  The Telegraph published an article titled The world's most dangerous cruise? 1,070-capacity ship takes on the Northwest Passage. Much has also been written about the environmental hazards which the Crystal cruise ship will face.  

The Telegraph writes that the NorthWest Passage is "not a defined route but a labyrinth of possible waterways, just 10 per cent of which has been charted. Unknown rocks, shallows and currents will present constant challenges. So will sea ice."

The Telegraph also reminds us that "things have gone wrong in the past. In 2010 it took a Canadian icebreaker 40 hours to evacuate just 120 passengers from the 330 ft Clipper Adventurer when it ran aground on an underwater cliff." 

As a history major, I tend to look back in time to determine the likelihood of things going wrong in the future.  I wrote about the Clipper Adventurer hitting what was described as an "uncharted rock" back in 2010. One commentator remarked that "the problem is cruise ships want to go off the safe shipping lanes where there is more dramatic topography or stunning wildlife." 

Of course, cruise ships have hit rocks and run aground even in the best of weather and sea conditions. Putting the Costa Concordia showboating disaster aside, in 2007 the Sea Diamond cruise ship struck a reef and eventually sank in good weather off the coast of Santorini. The Windstar Cruises' Star Pride hit underwater rocks near Isla de Coiba, Panama, and NCL's Norwegian Dawn hit a reef near the port shortly after leaving Bermuda. The last two incidents occurred in good weather last year.   

The most infamous incident occurred back in 2007 when the Explorer (photo right) was sailing in the Explorericy waters of the Antarctic Ocean and hit an unidentified submerged object, reported to be ice, which caused a gash in the vessel's hull. The Explorer had intended to trace the route of 20th century explorer Ernest Shackleton through the Drake Passage. The Explorer sank and all 91 passengers, 9 guides and 54 crew were evacuated and drifted for 5 hours in lifeboats before they were rescued. The sinking fortunately happened in good weather, permitting a safe rescue.  

In 2010, the 100 passenger cruise ship Clelia II averted disaster after it scrapped underwater rocks and began to take on water in the Antarctica Peninsula.  

In 2013, I wrote about a series of cruise ships striking underwater rocks in the Fjords of Norway.

Just yesterday, I wrote about the recent sinking of an excursion vessel carrying 23 passengers from the small, luxury cruise ship, L’Austral (operated by Compagnie du Ponant), near Ilulissat Icefjord, Greenland which apparently struck an underwater rock or iceberg. The incident received little media attention, notwithstanding the environmental damage and the risk posed to the cruise ship passengers who faced a certain death if they had not been saved. 

The Telegraph says that the Crystal Serenity will be accompanied by the RRS Ernest Shackleton, an icebreaker, and two helicopters "to help scan for ice," so it appears that the cruise line has taken some extra precautions.  

The Arctic cruise, reportedly at a cost of over $20,000 to $120,000 per passenger, plus the cost of the excursions, is a clear money-making deal for Crystal, assuming all goes well. Let's hope that the Ernest Shackleton guides the Serenity safely through the ice and avoids the fate of the Explorer, which is sitting somewhere on the bottom of the Antarctic Ocean.  

Photo: Top - Crystal Cruises via the Telegraph; bottom - AP 

Med Star Ferry Erupts in Flames in Tripoli, Lebanon

Med StarVessel Finder reports that on August 9th, the ro-ro (roll on / roll off) passenger ferry Med Star caught on fire while in port in in Tripoli, Lebanon.

The ferry was preparing to depart for Turkey when the fire was spotted by the crew.

"The fire quickly engulfed the ferry as the crew and local fire brigade attempted to extinguish it. Reports state the fire swept through the superstructure before it was brought under control." 

Photo credit: ulastirma.com.tr via Vessel Finder

Video credit: ShipWreckLog

Moby Zaza Ferry Catches On Fire in Nice, France

Moby ZaraYesterday, the Moby Zaza, a "roro" (roll on / roll off) ferry operated by Italian ferry company Moby Lines, caught fire at the passenger terminal in Nice, France.

A bystander sent us a short video of the fire while it was happening. 

Today, the Maritime Herald published a short article, stating that the fire erupted into the engine room after a short circuit of the diesel generator leading to thick smoke billowing from the vessel's funnel.

According to the article, the fire caused panic among the passengers. The vessel arrived at the terminal after a voyage Bastia, Corsica and fire erupted when all the people were still on board. Some of the passengers reportedly jumped overboard in panic at the terminal.

The article further says that one crew member was injured, (and later treated at a local hospital), before the crew members could extinguish the fire. None of the passengers were injured.

The incident was reported to the port authorities and the official investigation for the cause is under way.

 

Excursion Vessel in Greenland Sinks, 23 Cruise Passengers Rescued

GreenlandThe Arctic Journal reports that police in Greenland are investigating the cause of a sinking yesterday of a vessel carrying 23 passengers from the small, luxury cruise ship, L’Austral (operated by Compagnie du Ponant).

The articles states that the cruise passengers were on board a "locally hired boat" near Ilulissat Icefjord when it began sinking and had to be rescued by another nearby vessel. The cause of the incident has not been disclosed, although it is suggested that the vessel probably struck an underwater rock or iceberg.  

Ilulissat Icefjord, on the west of Greenland, is listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Cruising the Arctic waters has been the subject of conversation recently. The Crystal Serenity will start its month long cruise on Tuesday through the Arctic. The Serenity will be accompanied by an ice–strengthened polar logistics vessel, RRS Ernest Shackleton, for safety backup, according to a recent article in the Guardian newspaper. The issue remains whether the cruise ship is prepared for what can go wrong in the Arctic.

In June, the Arctic expedition cruise ship Ortelius experienced an engine failure in Hinlopenstretet, near Vaigattøyane (to the east of Greenland) , and had to be towed' back to Longyearbyen. Mishaps when small cruise ships and expedition  vessels strike underwater rocks are not unheard of, and include the Clelia II and the Explorer, which sank in Antarctica.  

August 16 2016 Update: The Arctic Journal identifies the excursion vessel as the "Inuk II, a privately hired boat ferrying passengers from a cruise ship ifIlulissat Sunday night." The updated article contains several dramatic photos of the vessel sinking. "Inuk II, a 39-foot power boat rated to a capacity of 22 passengers, was 100 metres from the L’Austral, a French-flagged luxury expedition ship, when it began taking on water and rapidly sinking." The article also said that in addition to being overcrowded with 23 passengers aboard, the Inuk II struggled to manually release its life rafts, which by that point were submerged but had not released automatically.  "By the time the final cruise passenger left the Inuk II, the water had risen to waist level . . .  An Inuk II crewmember made a final check to make sure all passengers had been evacuated before the securing line was cut in order to prevent the Clane (a fishing vessel involved in the rescue) from being dragged down with the sinking boat."

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

Confusion Surrounds Medical Emergency in Swimming Pool on Anthem of the Seas

Anthem of the SeasLast Wednesday, I received a number of messages from cruise passengers about an incident on board Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas regarding what was described as a woman (passenger) who either suffered a heart attack or nearly drowned in one of the ship's swimming pools.

The cruise ship increased its speed to arrive back in port in New Jersey so that the passenger could receive shore-side medical treatment, although some people indicated that the woman died on the ship while it was returning to port.

This weekend, the Jersey Journal posted an article titled Cruise ship sped back to Bayonne after woman's medical emergency in pool: Royal Caribbean. The article quoted one of the ship's passengers who reportedly witnessed part of what happened when the Anthem was about halfway through its return voyage from Bermuda to Bayonne: 

"When we arrived in the area, she had just been pulled from the water and was unresponsive and had a pale/purple look." 

A press release issued by Royal Caribbean, however, downplayed the incident saying:

"On Tuesday, August 10, a 72-year old female from the U.S. onboard Anthem of the Seas was witnessed by guests having difficulty swimming in one of the ship’s pools. The guest was helped out of the pool, was initially treated by the ship’s medical team, but required additional medical attention. Therefore, the ship increased its speed for the earliest possible arrival into Cape Liberty, New Jersey for a medical evacuation. Royal Caribbean’s Care Team provided support to the guest’s family and our thoughts and prayers are with them."

The newspaper said that none of several area hospitals in Hudson County and Staten Island, or the U.S. Coast Guard for the New York/New Jersey area, or the Bayonne Police Department had "knowledge of any cases matching Royal Caribbean's description of the incident."

Did the woman pass away after being pulled from the water unresponsive (or "helped out of the pool" as the cruise line euphemistically puts it)? Why wasn't a medevac by helicopter requested? (We have reported on a prior medevac this June when a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flew 260 miles out to pick up ill passengers from a NCL cruise ship).

Royal Caribbean is no stranger to swimming pool medical emergencies. An eight year old boy died after being pulled from an unattended swimming pool on the Anthem of the Seas in June of this year. A four year old and a six year old nearly drowned in pools on the Oasis of the Seas and the Independence of the Seas respectively.

Before this latest incident, fourteen (14) passengers drowned or nearly drowned on cruise ships without lifeguards, including eleven children. After every such tragedy, many cruise fans quickly blame the children's parents for not paying attention.  But three adults drowned in cruise ship swimming pools without lifeguards in just the last two years. 

Lifeguards, of course, do more than just keep kids safe in pools.  A certified lifeguard, trained in life saving measures, can provide immediate CPR on the scene of a heart attack or other medical emergency.  

If a passenger suffers a near drowning or a heart attack, and a lifeguard is not on the scene to immediately provide CPR, it may be too late - for the medical team to run up from a lower deck on a huge ship, for ship personnel to decide whether to request a helicopter medevac, or for the ship to speed up to return to port. 

Photo Credit: By www.GlynLowe.com from Hamburg, Germany - Anthem of the Seas - Cruise Ship in Hamburg, CC BY 2.0.

Chinese Woman Falls From Cruise Ship, Swims for 38 Hours, Rescued

Chinese Woman Fell From Cruise ShipThe People's Daily China, a newspaper in China, reported on the "miraculous' rescue of a thirty-two year old woman from Shanghai, who reportedly fell from a cruise ship. The newspaper tweeted that she reportedly swam for 38 hours and was then rescued by fishermen. 

Earlier today the People's Daily's twitter page @PDChina tweeted:

@PDChina "32-year-old Shanghai woman miraculously saved by fisherman on Fri after she fell from a cruise ship & swam for 38hrs."

The newspaper posted two photographs. The first show shows a crowd surrounding a woman leaving a ship. The second photo (left) shows a woman, whose face is digitally obscured, being questioned.

There is no information regarding the name of the cruise ship, or a description regarding how or where the woman went overboard.

If you have additional information, please join the discussion on our Facebook page or leave a comment below.

Photo credit:@PDChina / People's Daily, China

August 14, 2016 Update: The popular Cruise Hive covers the story with interesting additional information.  In the article titled Overboard Royal Caribbean Passenger Rescued After 38 Hours Adrift At Sea, Cruise Hive sites the Chinese media and says that the woman was a passenger on board the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas who "accidentally fell overboard on August 10 when she  . . . was leaning too far over the railings she fell overboard at around 9 PM."  The cruise ship then returned to its home port in Shanghai the next morning at around 6 A.M. on August 11. It was not until Chinese authorities boarded the ship and the CCTV footage was finally reviewed was the woman seen on video going overboard. On August 12 around 11:00 A.M., fishermen rescued her.  

This situation is another reason why cruise lines like Royal Caribbean should be compelled to comply with the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act and install automatic man overboard systems.  

August 15, 2016 Update: Major newspapers like the BBC and the Telegraph are covering the story.

Viking Sea Temporarily Loses Power in Malta

Viking SeaThis evening, I received word from a passenger on board the Viking Sea that the ship had lost power in Malta.  

The passenger stated: 

"Viking Sea broken down in Malta today August 11th. We were due to sail at 6pm but we are now waiting on a technician who will not arrive until 0200hrs. We are due to sail to Athens and fly back from there this is causing major issues already as flights to the US will be missed and we don't know when we will leave and when we are due to arrive. The problem is the Starboard propulsion sounds similar to the Star issue."

In November of last year, we reported that the Viking Star cruise ship had lost power in port in Tallinn, Estonia.

AIS sites showed the Viking Sea had left port in Valletta slightly after 2:00 A.M. local time in Malta, heading for Piraeus, Greece, approximately eigth hours late.  

The Viking Sea is a small ship built by Fincantieri and christened for Viking Ocean Cruises earlier this year, carrying around 930 passengers with a crew of around 550.

The Thomson Celebration lost power in Malta while attemtping to leave the port of Valletta two weeks ago.  

This is the sixth time a cruise ship lost power and the seventh time a cruise ship experienced engine troubles in just the last two and one-half months. In addition to the Thomson Celebration, the Carnival-owned Fathom's Adonia temporarily lost all power leaving the port of Miami two and one-half months ago. The Carnival Elation drifted for an hour in the dark after the cruise ship lost power as it was heading back to port in Jacksonville. The expedition cruise ship Ortelius lost power in June and had to be towed to port. Later in June, Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas experienced engine problems. As mentioned, the Thomson Celebration suffered engine failure in Malta while leaving the port of Valletta and had to drop anchor to avoid hitting the breakwater. Last week, the Caribbean Princess lost power off the Irish coast for 12 hours.    

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

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Terminates Crew Member After He "Jokingly" Threatened to Rape Passenger

Bahamas Paradisw CruiseWTSP Channel 10 reports on a cruise aboard the Bahamas Paradise Cruise taken by a woman with her friends to celebrate a bachelorette party.

Last Friday, a crew member appeared at her cabin after knocking on the door.  When she opened the door, the crew member reportedly grabbed her hands and then said "I want to rape you." She slammed the door when he repeated the threats several times.

When she complained of the crew member's behavior on the cruise ship, a manager came to her cabin with the accused employee. Her friend recorded the crew member admitted saying: "I called you outside the cabin door and I said I want to rape you, but I promise I was playing."

The woman returned from the cruise. She contacted local law enforcement and the Coast Guard. She then went to the media after no one would take her complaints seriously.

WTSP called the cruise line. Shortly after that call, the cruise line's executive vice president called the woman and told her that the cruise line fired the employee and sent him back home to South America.

It is unknown whether the cruise line reported the incident to law enforcement or informed anyone that it was flying its ship employee out of the jurisdiction, which happens more often than cruise lines want the public to know.

You can watch the video here.

Photo credit: WTSP

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