Donkey Kills Cruise Tourist in Santorini

SantoriniThere are lots of things that can go wrong during a shore excursion. Some are foreseeable, like injuries on a zip-line or being robbed during a stop-over on a Caribbean island. But some things are not.

The Greek Reporter covers the bewildering story of a German tourist, a 67 year old woman, who was killed yesterday during a cruise in the Aegean Sea when she and her husband went ashore on the Greek island of Santorini.

The Greek newspaper reports that "a donkey, used by tourists to navigate around the island, freed itself from its owner and ran away . . . the animal hit the 67-year-old woman and then trampled her while its owner was frantically running behind it trying to subdue the animal."

Her husband, who celebrated his wife’s birthday one day ago, was left alone and bewildered. He was helped back to the unidentified cruise ship, holding only his wife’s watch and jewelry. 

Photo Credit: Berard Gagnon via Wikipedia Creative Commons 3.0

NCL Names Pittbull Godfather of the Norwegian Escape

Norwegian Cruise Line announced that Miami remix rap artist "Pitbull" (Armando Christian Pérez) will become the Godfather of the company's newest cruise ship next month at the Port of Miami.

NCL cruise executives CEO Frank Del Rio and President Andy Stuart will attend the naming ceremony of the Norwegian Escape on November 9th. 

Pitbull will perform at the christening ceremony.  He has performed on NCL ships in the past

I have not been invited.  

Part 2: Cruise Critic Picks Viking Star As Best New Cruise Ship?

A number of people contacted me after I wrote about the editors at Cruise Critic picking the Viking Star (Viking's first ocean-going cruise ship) as the "Best New Cruise Ship" for 2015.

Cruise passengers and crew members brought to my attention that there have been problems with the Viking Star from day one. They mentioned "technical" issues like the failure of the propulsion systems only five months in service. Apparently, no one from shore-side management from the home office appeared in Tallinn following the fiasco.

A major issue faced the cruise ship this summer when glass shower doors, that has been installed wrong, began exploding while in use, leaving passengers bleeding.  

There has reporedly been a significant turnover of ship employees. Many crew members were not provided with written contracts until later and the financial terms were allegedly lower than verbally promised.

The new ship apparently did not have employment or technical manuals. Many crew members were told to bring manuals and procedures from their former cruise ship. There were inconsistent procedures from a mishmash of cruise line protocols. Some people even allegedly started to put Viking logos over the former logos just to have procedures.

Many crew members were frustrated that there seemed to be a general lack of experience of operating ships at sea rather than in a river. One person sent us a video of an anchoring mid fjord when the Viking Star almost ran aground. 

Another reader talked about the scandal surrounding the Godmother for the new cruise ship, Trude Drevland, the mayor of Bergen City in Norway. She is recently under police investigation due to allegations of bribery by the ship owner.  You can read an article here (it is Norwegian, so you will need to translate it). Among other things, Godmother Drevland is accused of being flown in a private jet, to Venice in June to participate in the launch of Viking Star. The air travel and stay at a luxury hotel were allegedly paid by the chairman and chief executive officer Torstein Hagen. You can read more details here.

In an industry which relies on marketing images and rave reviews, it appears that there is dirt behind the scenes that neither Cruise Critic nor the Viking Star owners want you to know.   


U.S. Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Norwegian Breakaway

The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a woman from a NCL cruise ship approximately 165 miles east of Virginia Beach today.

The Coast Guard was called for assistance after a 30-year-old woman complained of abdominal pain.

The Coast Guard helicopter crew responded to the Norwegian Breakaway and flew the woman to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

Cunard Crew Mess Food: Good or Gross?

Cruise Ship FoodThe other day I posted an article entitled Grub on the High Seas.  I also posted photographs on Facebook of the food served in the crew mess, primarily on MSC, Costa and Cunard cruise ships.

A number of crew members sent me photos of some nasty looking stuff (photo left from Cunard).  One cruise passenger who follows me on Facebook asked me to delete a photo because she claimed that a pan of greasy-looking undercooked meat of some kind was causing her extreme mental anguish.

But other crew members commented that food on their cruise ships was fantastic.

One crew member from the Cunard Victoria posted photographs of delicious looking meals with fresh-looking vegetables, soups and cakes & pastries (photo bottom). These photos contrasted sharply with the photo of disgusting gruel served on another Cunard ship.

So I organized his photos in this album on Facebook. You can contrast them with the prior album I posted.

I suppose the food varies a bit from time to time from ship to ship.  That being said, which album best illustrates the food served to you in the crew mess on your ship?

Please leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Or send us a photo of what is served on your ship.

Please feel free to message me confidentially on Facebook or email be privately at with your photos if you are afraid that your company will fire you.      

Cruise Ship Food


Cruise Critic Picks Viking Star As Best New Cruise Ship?

Viking StarThe Cruise Critic Editors' Picks Awards selected the "best new cruise ship" to be the Viking Ocean Cruises' Viking Star

I first heard of the Viking Star two months ago when the new cruise ship lost power in Tallinn, Estonia. After a great deal of confusion, the cruise was canceled amidst a storm of controversy. I received a lot of comments from passengers and crew members alike, critical of Viking, on both this website and on our Facebook page.  

But it doesn't seem that any of the Cruise Critic judges were on the Viking Star back in August when its power failed. The judges wrote that the ill-fated ship was a "state of the art cruise liner that has earned rave reviews." The judges described the cruise ship as having the "charm of a boutique hotel - homely and comfortable after a long day exploring in port. In fact, the ship is so beautifully designed - with terrific afredo restaurants, beautiful pool area, a superb spa and the two-level Explorer's observation lounge - you will be tempted not to go ashore." 

Gobbledygook like this drives me crazy. It seems far more relevant to me if the cruise ship has a history of power failure, or fires, and how the company handles an emergency. How are the crew members treated? Cruise Critic is silent on these basic issues.

TripAdvisor, a unit of Expedia, owns Cruise Critic. So hype like this is to be expected, I suppose. The Cruise Critic community is the largest group of cruisers in the world. And they are probably the most fanatical in their love for cruising; however, a discussion of a controversial issue on the CC message boards often turns turns into an ugly brawl. The editors and moderators at Cruise Critic act like cruise industry cheerleaders. Criticize a cruise line? Chances are that your comments will be deleted. 


Photo Credit: "MS Viking Star passing the O2 dome" by NFH Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons - Wikipedia

Star Princess Sickens Dozens with Norovirus

Tonight I received the following message from a Princess Cruises' passenger just off the Star Princess:

"I just arrived in Vancouver on the Star Princess. Cruise was September 19 - October 4 2015 Vancouver-Hawaii-Vancouver. I contacted the worst type flu of my life on the 21 September afternoon. By the third day I notified Medical Services after 2 days in bed running a unbelievable fever and was given tamiflu medication. I was sick almost the total cruise and was still coughing when I left the Star Princess.

I am a totally healthy individual, normal weight, & have no history of illness in years. Later, I heard many were sick on the ship, the Captain announced 2 separate viruses on board. We were 3 days from Star Princess returning to Vancouver before they started taking precautions in the dining areas.

We have traveled by ship for many years & all has been great until this trip. The worst & most expensive holiday of my life. The cruise ship needs to be held accountable for their careless hygiene on board & should give some compensation to individuals suffering such a miserable vacation. They keep piling them on larger & larger ships without any regard for the individuals exposed to all the germs being circulated. Extreme cleanliness was exercised only when there is a outbreak on board.

I feel for the elderly who are not in good health & are being exposed to these terrible viruses."

The press in Canada has picked up on the story. CBC News reports that a least one norovirus-stricken Star Princess passenger flew home from Hawaii, instead of cruising back to Canada. When the Princess cruise ship docked this morning in Vancouver, two passengers were transported by ambulance from the dock to hospital with norovirus. 

Princess told the newspaper that there were allegedly 78 people infected with norovirus during the two week cruise. The actual number is probably higher than that because many passengers do not report their symptoms and the cruise lines are quick to under-report the disease outbreaks.

Despite the extended outbreak during the last 2 weeks, the Star Princess is scheduled to depart tonight after a so-called "enhanced cleaning." 

The Star Princess had a noro outbreak last May.  

Princess Cruises has experienced 4 of the last 11 cruise ship norovirus outbreaks reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Photo Credit - Jim Walker

Ship Life - Grub on the High Seas

In past months, I have posted photographs and videos sent to me by crew members depicting life on cruise ships. 

The "ship life" photos are not the pretty images carefully arranged for the guests to see during behind-the-scene tours.

Ship Life - The Pot Wash Blues revealed the incredible amount of work required daily by the pot wash crew responsible for the non-stop cleaning of hundreds or pots and pans in the galley.  These cleaners work a minimum of 10 to 12 hours a days, 7 days a week, 30 or 31 days a month for 6 to 8 months Cruise Foodstraight, for as little as $550 a month.

Some photographs are more dramatic, like MSC crew members were ordered to throw black plastic garbage bags into the sea at night. Or when Silversea crew members were ordered to hide trolleys of food from USPH inspectors, in the Silversea crew quarters.

Some cruise passengers could care less about what life is really like for the crew. Many heartless cruise passengers justify the long hours and low pay by arguing that crew members receive "free" food and lodging. 

Today a crew member sent me photos of the food he eats on the cruise ship.  

Anyone familiar with this food like this?  Heavy gravy, mystery meat and lots of salt.  Certainly not suitable for a healthy lifestyle over the course of 6 months of hard work. Grub for the grubs?

See the photos here on our Facebook page.

If you are a crew member, feel free to send us your photos and videos of the working and living conditions you face on a daily basis.  Your name will remain confidential. 

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


Definition of "grub:"  Noun, 1. the short legless larva of certain insects, esp beetles; 2. food; 
3. a person who works hard, esp in a dull plodding way.

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Carnival Triumph

Defense Video and Imagery Distribution Services (DVIDS) reports that the United States Coast Guard medevaced a passenger passenger from a Carnival cruise ship about 115 miles southeast of Galveston yesterday morning.

At around 3:47 a.m., the Carnival Triumph contacted a Coast Guard  station in Galveston requesting a medevac for a 43 years old female passenger suffering from a heart attack.

A MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew shortly flew to the cruise ship and arrived at the ship approximately 4 hours later. The helicopter hoisted the woman and ship’s nurse aboard. They were flown to the airport in Galveston and then by ambulance to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

China, China, China.

China CruiseEvery day it seems that there is an article about another cruise line expanding into China.

The Wall Street Journal just reported that cruise lines are posting some of the strongest earnings in history with profits this year for Carnival more than quadrupling. Earnings at Norwegian grew 26% and Royal Caribbean earnings rose 20%. Much of these profits are coming from China. The cruise lines are all charging premium fares for the China market.

The cruises lines are all mercenaries, selling their cabins to the highest bidder. Why sail from New York or Miami if the Chinese will pay 50% more for the Quantum? These flags of convenience have no loyalty to the U.S.

MSC announced that the Lirica will home port in Shanghai from May 2016. Princess is already over there, of course. Royal Caribbean seems to be taking the lead in China. Next year the Ovation of the Seas will be joining the Quantum of the Seas in China. together with the Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas.   

Carnival CEO Arnold Donald, whose cruise line is also making a play for China, and Adam Goldstein, COO at Royal Caribbean, are headlining the 10th China Cruise Shipping show in two weeks. 

All the cruise executives want to talk about is China.

China, China, China.

The China frenzy reminds me, in a way, of the Donald Trumph campaign.  He can't say a sentence without mentioning China. 

And yes, the Chinese are pretty weird passengers, as you can read here and here.  


Insanity: Caymans to Build Cruise Pier

Cayman Island Cruise PierAccording to the Cayman Compass, the premier of the Cayman Islands says the government intends to build a huge, monolithic concrete cruise pier in George Town harbor.

The environmental impact assessments indicate that the controversial dredge and fill project will cause significant and irreversible environmental damage to the ancient beautiful reefs in the Caymans.

The cruise industry is itching for the Caymans to start on the project.

One of the comments to the article says: "Shameful is all I can say. The very thing thing that attracted me and so many others to Grand Cayman is being destroyed by short sighted people whose only motive is money. Sad day for this great Island. When you let the cruise lines dictate to you, you have lost!"

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

Photo Credit: Cayman Compass


Bahamian Buffoonery: Nassau Politicians Spat Over Carnival Cruise Crime Warnings

Crime BahamasThe Bahamian newspapers report today on a dispute which has arisen between the government of the Bahamas and the competing party, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), over Carnival Cruise Line's apparent intention to issue crime warnings to its passengers.

A DNA official produced copies of e-mails which seem to reveal that Tourism Director Obie Wilchcombe failed to respond to repeated concerns from Carnival about the crime problem in Nassau. Mr. Wilchcombe denied receiving the emails.

The DNA official contended that Carnival was going to issue Nassau "crime warnings" this week. The Tribune newspaper says that that Mr Wilchcombe "angrily refuted Mr McCartney’s allegations" and claims that "Carnival had yesterday confirmed to him it was not intending to issue such Nassau 'advisories.’"

Both parties, to me, seem out of touch with reality. There is no question that crime in the Bahamas, including the rape and armed robbery of tourists, is a major problem for the country. Carnival's decision to warn its customers of the danger in the port is not dependent on whether the tourism officials respond to Carnivals' inquiries. I thought that this cruise line was already warning its passengers about the high crime rate in  Nassau. 

For those cruise passengers and travel agents in the know, it is common knowledge that there is an epidemic of crime in Nassau as the country heads to a record high number of murders. Many cruise passengers know that it is prudent to stay on the cruise ships when they arrive in Nassau. 

The problem remains for those tourists who are swayed by the marketing images of Carnival and the Bahamas and who cruise their families into the Nassau-war-zone with no knowledge of the considerable danger there.

Carnival owes its customers honesty. The cruise line should disclose to their guests the dangers in Nassau. The local politicians are just a sideshow. Carnival owes its passengers the same warnings that the U.S. and the U.K. and the Canadian governments have provided to their citizens.  Neither the PLP nor the DNA want to truth to be known - that Nassau represents an unreasonable danger to tourists.

Photo Credit: Caribbean 360

Crime in St. Lucia Worries Cruise Merchants

St. Lucia The St. Lucia Times reports today that, according to the the Saint Lucia Vendors Association, crime is escalating to the point that cruise lines may consider dropping Saint Lucia from their itinerary. Five years ago, Norwegian Cruise Lines, (NCL) dropped St. Lucia because of attacks on cruise passengers (see below).

The president of the vendors association described several incidents of what he said are "daily muggings of both visitors and locals in the Saint Lucia capital."

Last year I named St. Lucia as the tenth most dangerous port in the world.  I cited:

55 Celebrity Cruise Passengers & 2 Crew Members Robbed at Gun Point in St. Lucia.

14 Cruise Passengers Robbed at Anse-La-Raye Waterfall in St. Lucia.

Norwegian Cruise Line Drops St. Lucia.

U.K. Couple Attacked on Yacht in St. Lucia, Husband Killed.

Liar, Liar Pants On Fire? St. Lucia Tourism Board Denies Prior Armed Robbery of Cruise Passengers.

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

Photo Credit: Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons -

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger from Carnival Pride

The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an 80-year-old passenger from a Carnival cruise ship yesterday, according to a news station in North Carolina

Yesterday afternoon, a Coast guard station in North Carolina received an emergency call from the Carnival Pride that a woman on the cruise ship was having health complications.

The Coast Guard sent a helicopter crew to the cruise ship and hoisted her aboard around 3:15 p.m. The helicopter flew her to Carteret General Urgent Care in Morehead City. 

Video Credit WITN

Like a Broken Record, U.S. Warns of Crime in Nassau

As reported in the Nassau Guardian yesterday, the United States Department of State again warned U.S. citizens about traveling to the Bahamas because of high crime.

A recent travel advisory posted on the Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) website warns visitors of an increase in armed robberies in tourist areas in New Providence (Nassau).

The reports says that “an apparent two-year rise in armed robberies in The Bahamas has spurred Cruise Law Jim Walker Nassaunumerous warnings by foreign governments to their citizens visiting the country. Given the large volume of US tourists that visit The Bahamas and recent criminal incidents in popular tourist destinations, American visitors to tourism hubs in Nassau should be cognizant of heightened criminal risks.”

I have lost track of exactly the number of warnings issued by the Unites States, whether it be from the Department of State or the U.S. Embassy in Nassau. 

I have also conveyed numerous warnings from the U.K. and Canada official governmental sites.

I have been warning cruise passengers of the dangers in Nassau since I started this blog in 2009. 

There is a major problem in Nassau with armed robbery, murder and rape.

There have been around a dozen warnings from these three countries in the last couple of years, more for any other tourist destination.  

There have been 111 murders in 2015 in the Bahamas, primarily in Nassau. The country will establish a record number of murders this year. The murders include citizens of the U.S., U.K. and Canada. 

Nassau was recently embroiled in a controversy when two Disney cruises crew members were terminated from their jobs after making a satire video of the capital city, portraying it as a dirty, smelly crime-filled port.

Nassau is one port which I recommend avoiding. Many passengers stay on the cruise ship when it gets to port out of safety concerns. 

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