From Toilet Bowl to Super Bowl: Carnival Advertises Vacation on the High Seas

Advertising Age reports that Carnival Corporation will be advertising its first Super Bowl commercial next year. Carnival has prepared four possible one-minute commercials as part of its multi-brand marketing initiative. 

Each year, around ten million people a year sail on a Carnival brand, such as Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Seabourn and P&O Cruises.

Carnival is asking the public to vote for their favorite commercial.

According to Advertising Age, the four potential commercials are "Getaway, emphasizing the chance to get away from all the stresses of life; Cruise Virgin, where people recollect their first cruises; Message in a Bottle, which features special moments of cruising; and Mystery Spot, which contains a surprise that will remind people just how special the sea can be." 

Carnival is trying to forever replace the revolting images associated with the Triumph engine room fire from consumer's minds. Will a 60 second commercial erase the images associated with the four-day, overflowing-toilet-bowls, disgusting Poop Cruise which CNN broadcast non-stop?

Which commercial would you pick?    

  

  

 

Cruise Law News Sneaks into "12 Awesome Law Blogs Of 2014"

Carnival Cruise Miami LawyerToday I was excited to read that Cruise Law News has been picked as one of the "12 Awesome Law Blogs Of 2014" by the premier law publication Above the Law.

Admittedly, we were the twelfth and last pick, but beggars can't be choosers. Here the write up:

No attorney’s passion shows through more than that of Jim Walker. Not only is Walker an advocate for cruise passengers, but a fervent watchdog for the industry as a whole. His 2014 included, among a multitude of accomplishments, traveling to Washington, D.C., to back Senator Rockefeller’s Cruise Passenger Protection Act and forcing government officials in the Bahamas to answer to their ranking on hitting the Top 10 worst destinations. If you’re planning to take a cruise in 2015, this is a blog you cannot miss.

Here are the other selections: The Art Law ReportTrademarkologyInside PrivacyCanna Law BlogEnergy and the LawThe D & O DiaryAll About Advertising LawBeLabor The PointAuto Industry Law Blog, Retail Law Advisor, and Cady Bar the Door.

 

Welcome to the Men's Club: Carnival Names Christine Duffy President

I was sitting in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport this morning when I read a travel publication’s headline that Christine Duffy was just named president of Carnival Cruise Lines. Reading the headlines made me feel like I was having an out-of-body experience.

Christine Duffy president of Carnival?

I stopped for a moment and thought, is today April Fool’s Day? Or was the article, perhaps, a satire from the Onion?

But it’s true. Effective February 1, 2015, Ms. Duffy will become president of the largest cruise line in the Christine Duffy Carnivalworld. Carnival sent out a press release this morning indicating that Ms. Duffy will officially replace Gerald Cahill who resigned as president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines last month.

Ms. Duffy, as we know, is the president and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). CLIA is the cruise industry’s trade organization which has lobbied against the cruise victim organization’s efforts to make cruising safer and more transparent to the public.

I have always viewed Ms. Duffy, like the CLIA president before her (Terry Dale), as little more than an energetic, smiling cheerleader doing the dirty work of the cruise line executive men like Micky Arison, Richard Fain, etc. She was thrown into the mix quickly after she replaced Mr. Dale when she had to appear before Congress to explain embarrassments like the Costa Concordia disaster, the cruise line's avoidance of U.S. taxes, and the cruise industry's refusal to recognize basic rights of cruise passengers

During a cruise safety hearing before the Senate, Senator Rockefeller questioned Ms. Duffy's credibility and admonished her to "speak more truth." Referring to the cruise industry which she represented, he stated "You are A World Unto Yourselves."

Carnival’s press statement says that “Ms. Duffy has more than 30 years' experience in the travel industry, most notably on the trade side, having started her career as a travel agent. She later served as president and CEO of Maritz Travel, one of the country's largest corporate meeting, incentive and event companies, for seven years."

That's a nice way of saying that former-travel-agent Ms. Duffy, notwithstanding her enthusiasm, has no experience operating a cruise line whatsoever.

She seems most suited to be a rubber-stamp for Micky Arison and Arnold Donald. 

I realize that I'm wading out into dangerous territory here, and will likely be receiving hate-mail with accusations of being misogynous.  

There's no doubt that the cruise lines need far more women elevated into positions of leadership. (I have written about the male-dominated cruise executives before).

But Ms. Duffy seems like Sarah Palin of the Seas. Lots of spunk and personality but little experience and substance. She is not a force who will lead the largest cruise line in the world to become a responsible and transparent leader in the cruise business. 

Broward Sheriffs Office Arrests Holland Line Crew Member for Grand Theft

Anthonius Novi Hartanto Cruise NCL TheftThe Sun Sentinel reports that the Broward County Sheriffs Office arrested a Holland American Line (HAL) crew member for grand theft after he was caught stealing than $10,000 on a HAL cruise ship.

The newspaper states that the sheriff's office charged Anthonius Novi Hartanto, age 42, from Indonesia with eleven counts of grand theft after he stole $10,220 aboard the HAL Noordam during cruises from Fort Lauderdale last month. 

Crew member Hartanto would apparently would take the stolen cash to a location outside the port when the cruise ship would come into port. He would then reportedly wire the stolen money to his bank account in Indonesia.

The articles says that the crew member worked as an auditor and he apparently embezzled the money.  

Photo Credit: Broward County Sheriff's Office

 

Finally, Law Requires Cruise Lines to Disclose Accurate Crime Data

Nine years ago, I attended my first Congressional hearing regarding dangers to cruise passengers on the high seas. George Smith, of the Greenwich Connecticut area, had disappeared in the Aegean Sea during his honeymoon cruise.  I represented Mr. Smith's widow. Senator Chris Shays (R-CT) convened a hearing to inquire into the disturbing circumstances surrounding Mr. Smith's disappearance.

The hearing took place on December 13, 2005.  Right before the hearing began, a gentleman introduced himself and asked if I wanted to help him support legislation making cruising safer for the public?  His name was Kendall Carver.

Mr. Carver, a former president of an insurance company in New York, lost his daughter, Merrian Kendall Carver Senator RockefellerCarver, from a cruise ship. Merrian disappeared under suspicious circumstances during a cruise to Alaska aboard the Mercury cruise ship.

The cruise line tried its best to cover the incident up. It didn’t report Merrian missing to either the FBI or the Alaskan State Troopers, even though the cabin attendant reported her missing early in the cruise. The cruise line either gave her personal items away or put them in storage.

When Mr. Carver asked for an explanation, Royal Caribbean responded by lying to Mr. Carver and disposing of evidence. Mr. Carver didn’t go away. The story went public. The Arizona Republic, in an excellent article written by journalist Robert Anglen entitled "Daughter Vanishes While on Alaskan Cruise," revealed the hideous manner that this cruise line acted when people disappear at sea.  

Shortly after the December 2005 hearing, Mr. Carver joined with the family of George Smith to create the International Cruise Victims Organization (ICV).  The ICV now has hundreds of victims of cruise crimes and their families as members in over a dozen countries across the globe.

With Mr. Carver's leadership as CEO (together with the work of the president, Jamie Barnett, and the board of directors) the ICV has been successful in convincing the House of Representatives and the Senate to convene a total of eight hearings into the issue of cruise ship dangers and the need for transparent crime reporting.   

The last hearing was in July of this year before Senator Jay Rockefeller.  Mr. Carver was there of course. My client Laurie Dishman (photo below), who was sexually assaulted on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, testified, in addition to others.  This was the eighth Congressional hearing I attended on the issue of cruise ship dangers. 

The cruise industry has spent millions of dollars and countless hours lobbying against the cruise crime bills. Several years ago, the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act was suppose to require the cruise lines to report all murders, rapes and other crimes to the U.S. public, but behind the scenes shenanigans by the cruise Industry and its trade organization, CLIA, so watered the cruise bill down that it became meaningless.

Senator Rockefeller introduced a bill at the last hearing designed to fix the shortcomings in the last bill. It will require greater transparency by the cruise lines in disclosing crime to the traveling public.  The bill will divest the Coast Guard (which has a cozy relationship with the cruise lines) of collecting the crime data and will transfer those responsibilities to the Department of Transportation (DOT). 

The best article on the development is written by Robert Anglen of the Arizona Republic. Mr. Anglen, you may recall, wrote the article in the same newspaper more than nine years ago about Mr. Carver's experiences with Celebrity / Royal Caribbean when Mr. Carver's daughter disappeared.  

It took nine years to pass a simple bill to require the cruise lines to tell the public the true crime statistics on the high seas. As you can read in Mr. Anglen's article, the cruise lines have operated far too long in the murky waters of "voluntary disclosure" where they continue to hide the truth behind slick marketing slogans and a decade of lobbying to keep the crimes secret. 

 

Photo Credits:  Upper: Ken Carver / Senator Rockefeller - Ken Carver / Below: Laurie Dishman, far left; Ken Carver, next to upper right; Jim Walker, upper right - C-SPAN. 

Congressional Hearing - Senator Rockefeller Kendall Carver Jim Walker Laurie Dishman

Bloody Nassau

Nassau BahamasThis weekend was one of the bloodiest in the Bahamas this year. Seven people shot and three dead.

By my calculations, the death toll for the year in the Bahamas is 118 (last year was 119 murders). The murders are primarily in Nassau. 

According to the Tribune, an 18-year-old out of jail on bail was killed on Saturday after attending the funeral of his brother who was murdered two weeks ago. He was leaving the funeral with his 14-year-old brother when they stopped at a traffic light. Two masked men jumped out of a vehicle and shot the two brothers multiple times before speeding off. The older brother died and the younger brother is in the hospital in critical condition.

The Tribune also reported on three separate weekend shooting incidents that placed four men in the hospital, as well as another shooting incident where a police officer killed a young man who reportedly tried to shoot him first.

The Bahamas Press also reports that the person who shot and killed police officer Sargent Dwayne Rolle last week outside a popular gambling spot turns out to be another police officer who was allegedly involved in gambling with police officer Rolle who he then killed when he left the gambling joint.   

Meanwhile the commanding officer and chief superintendent of the Central District Police Station, Leamond Deleveaux, claims that he has beefed up Police Nassauthe police presence in the tourist areas of Nassau. He told the the Guardian newspaper that "I've been putting a police officer on every corner for over six months, and over the last month we've gotten more officers."    

He also claims that tourists in Nassau are virtually immune from crime. He states "to be honest with you, crime against tourists are almost non-existent despite what you hear or is printed in the media." 

That's a bold claim when the Bahamas is the subject to four critical crime warnings to U.S.citizens (one from the U.S. State Department and three from the U.S. Embassy) and one warning from Canada, all in less than one year. The last U.S. warning mentioned that U.S. tourists have been raped and robbed at gunpoint, and there have been three reported sexual assaults on U.S. citizens, including minors, by jet ski operators on Paradise Island.

Police chief Deleveaux needs to spend less time playing for the tourism board and more time fighting crime.

 

Photo Credit: Tribune    Wikipedia / Ritchie Sieradzki Creative Commons 2.0.

Another Murder in Roatan . . .

This morning I received a number of emails from residents of Roatan about an extremely violent murder of a local merchant in Roatan (Coxen Hole) near the port. 

Four men attacked and repeatedly beat Mr. Marcelino Vásquez (age 58), the proprietor of a store called "Commercial Vasquez." An article in Teledifusora Insular states that Mr. Vásquez routinely went jogging with his wife at 5:00 o'clock in the morning.  But yesterday at dawn, four men attacked him and threw numerous punches to his head and face. He was taken to the hospital where he died. The beating reportedly took place on the main street of Coxen Hole.

Comments on the Teledifusora Insular site (warning extremely graphic photographs) include these:

  •  . . . our island is in a mess.
  •  . . . necessary to make a cleaning on all these rats which endanger the community of Roatan.
  • This truly is a wake up call to our authority's for us also but mostly for them what's your plans are you all going to sit and watch the island fall into a war zone Mr mayor, Mr deputy, Mr govener get up and do your job.
  • Lamentable la situacion en Roatan

We were the first to report on the murder of a Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) employee in Roatan (Coxen Hole) earlier this year, in addition to the armed robberies of cruise visitors and tourists.

Last week, we reported on the murder in Roatan of four boys / young men.  The Teledifusora Insular Facebook page contains a photo of the bodies of the boys being returned to Coxen Hole in a small boat and transported to a pickup truck, as a NCL cruise ship looks on not knowing of the deaths. 

Roatan

Insignia Fire Reveals Cruise Industry Remains Unprepared for Disaster

Many cruise passengers began asking us when the Insignia will sail again, even before the ship's burned-out engine room stopped smoldering.  

Of course we don't know. The investigation into the fire is just beginning. Investigators from the Marshall Islands (the flag of the Oceania cruise ship) has just started. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) flew from Miami to St. Lucia to accompany the Marshall Islands investigators.

The ship will undoubtedly sail long before the official investigations are concluded. I doubt that the Oceania Insignia Cruise Ship Fireofficial reports will be ready for publication by the end of next year. It remains to be seen whether the Marshall Islands will release the reports to the U.S. public, notwithstanding the involvement of the USCG and the NTSB. Pursuant to the flags-of-convenience scheme, the Marshall Islands has jurisdiction over the investigation and decides if the reports are published. This means that the reports won't be published if the owners and operators of the Insignia (Oceania, Prestige and now new parent company Norwegian Cruise Line) don't want the information released.  Trust me, the Miami-based Oceania/Prestige/ NCL people will keep the accident info secret. 

This morning, I read a few articles about the aftermath of the fire. 

The first article was in the St. Lucia News Online, which first covered the story, explaining that the last passengers out of St. Lucia spent "12 hours in the port terminal with very little food or water," and then another couple of hours in a bus and five and one-half hours stuck on an airplane before they finally headed to Miami without their luggage.

Another newspaper reported that a Canadian complained that the passengers were herded through the ship during the fire and into a warehouse at the port where they remained without water for nine hours in high heat and without any information about the fire. The passenger first learned of the plans to send them to Miami and the crew/contractor deaths via Google. All of this belied Oceania's press statement that "our top priority is ensuring all 656 guests return home as quickly and comfortably as possible." 

A third news station interviewed a couple from Long island who said that the fire fighters didn't seem trained regarding what to do nor did the cruise line keep the guests informed.

Amongst the death and destruction, the cruise line quickly announced that it will give the passengers their cruise fares back and a 50% credit toward a future cruise - a calculated and inexpensive way to hook them into another cruise.

But no one is saying anything about the crew members who just lost their jobs and won't be able to support their families in the foreseeable future. No, the cruise line doesn't pay salaries to the crew who are considered to be expendable. Many crew member work primarily on tips and without paying passengers there are no tips.  Yes, some of the lucky ones will be shuffled to other Oceania ships, but the majority will return to the Philippines, Indonesia, India, etc., unemployed and with no benefits and certainly no Christmas bonus. A bleak Holiday Season no doubt. 

But nowhere as bleak as what the families of the dead crew and contractors will face.

Maritime wrongful death claims are subject to the archaic Death on the High Seas Act (1920). "DOHSA" excludes emotional distress, sadness, bereavement, pain & suffering and other emotional damages suffering by the widows and children of the dead. Plus, Oceania will move to dismiss any claims asserted by the family members and seek to send them to "arbitration" in London, subject to the laws of the Marshall Islands. This is a strategy to make the crew claims more difficult and expensive to pursue while limiting the available damages to the suffering families. 

But no one seems to thinking about the crew members or their families. They just want to know when their cruise ship is ready to sail for their vacation.

December 15, 014 Update: We have been contacted by cruise passengers who dispute that the passengers were kept in the dark, or denied water, etc. One passenger videotaped the cruise line's interaction with the passengers in the port terminal and posted the videos on You Tube:  

Photo Credit:  St Lucia News 4

Video Credit:  C. Andrews You Tube Page

Don't forget to read an article I wrote nearly five years ago (before the Splendor, Triumph, Insignia, etc. cruise ship fires: Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?

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

Fire on Costa Luminosa Cruise Ship

Costa LuminosaThis morning I learned that a fire reportedly broke out on a Costa cruise ship in the early morning hours on December 11, 2014.

The cruise ship involved reportedly is the Costa Luminosa

Around 5 a.m. on December 11th, while the cruise ship was sailing in the North Atlantic, diesel engine number 4 reportedly caught on fire. 

The fire was confined to the engine room and was extinguished. There is no indication that any crew members were injured.

The fire reportedly occurred on the same day as the deadly engine room fire on the Oceania Insignia.

Interested in the issue whether cruise ship fires are "rare" as the cruise industry claims?  Read our article: Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?  (Written before the Carnival Splendor and Carnival Triumph engine room fires).

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / jpta Creative Commons 3.0

Whooping Cough Outbreak on the Voyager of the Seas?

Whooping CoughThe operator of a fan Voyager of the Seas Facebook page (not operated by the cruise line) posted the following:

"If you where on the Voyager of the Seas relocation cruise from Singapore to Sydney cruise and you have a really bad cough, then I suggest you got and see a Doctor as you may have Whooping cough . . . "

A large number of passengers have posted comments in response to this post. Many passengers on the cruise say that they are ill.  Many people say that they are having their blood drawn and are seeing doctors to have their throats swabbed. Others say that it has been confirmed that they have been diagnosed with whooping cough.

Passengers complain that they have hear nothing from Royal Caribbean. One person who heard back from the cruise line remarked: "I've heard from RC and they told me they are not compelled to notify all passengers . . . "

Whooping cough, also known as "pertussisis," is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the bacterium bordetella pertussis.

Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children. It can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age.

The best way to protect against pertussis is immunization.

Voyager of the Seas

Photo Credit: Antimicrobe.org / Wikipedia (Corgi5623)

Fire on the Oceania Insignia Cruise Ship Sends Three to Hospital

The St. Lucia News Online reports that a fire aboard Oceania Cruises' Insignia cruise ship has resulted in three people being sent to the hospital this morning.

The online newspaper states that a fire broke out on the Oceania cruise ship which was docked at Port Castries this morning.

The newspaper further states that according to the St. Lucia Fire Service, one of the three persons is being treated for exposure to the fire (smoke inhalation & respiratory distress). There are no reports Oceania Insigniaregarding the medical condition of the other two persons. The reports do not mention whether these individuals are passengers or crew members.

There are hearsay comments on the Cruise Critic boards that a crew member died, although this has not be confirmed at this time.

The information currently released is that sometime after 9:00 a.m., the fire broke out in the engine room of the Insignia which was moored in Berth 5 at Port Castries. 

The Insignia is an old ship, constructed in 1998. 

December 11 2014 Update: Oceania has confirmed that the fire caused three (3) deaths. The cruise line released this statement:

"Three crewmembers and two contractors who were working onboard were transferred to a local medical facility. We are deeply saddened to learn that two contractors and one crewmember did not survive. We extend our deepest condolences to their families during this very difficult time." 

According to the St. Lucia News Online, the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA) stated at a press conference that the three men died after sustaining "severe burns." 

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Ivan T.

Tragedy in Roatan: Two Boys, Two Young Men Murdered

On December 3, 2014, two teenagers and two young men reportedly went hunting iguanas in the Bay Islands (Roatan) and never returned home.   

A local television station in Roatan identified them as Cristian Leiva (age 15), Yeison Mejía (age 17), Marlon Reynaldo Lazar Melendez (age 24) and Luis Alberto Perez Chirinos (age 27). The names in the newspaper below are apparently incorrect.

Local police, friends and families of the missing together with local citizens and expatriate residents initiated searches over the course of the last week. A cell phone without a memory card and a shirt of one of the boys were reportedly initially found.

Yesterday the bodies of the boys and young men were found, apparently murdered. Some people say the bodies were located in Mangrove Bight (Flowers Bay) in Roatan. You can read accounts here.

Teleprensa Noticiero reports that two suspects were arrested. 

2014 has been a violent and tragic year in Roatan. 

Roatan Honduras

Photo Credit: Teledifusora Insular Facebook Page

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

Yahoo Travel's Worst Caribbean Cruise Ports of Call

Yahoo Travel published an article today that's certain to upset the tourism representatives in the Caribbean islands which are dependent on cruise tourism.

Entitled The Worst Caribbean Cruise Ports of Call, the article lists the five ports in the Caribbean with the worst reputations. Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis has heard of many of these locations. Here's Yahoo's selections:

Freeport and Nassau, Bahamas: At the top of the list is the Bahamas. Yahoo Travel writes that the Bahamas has fallen under crime warnings from the U.S. State Department this year due to the frequency of armed robberies, kidnappings, and rapes in Nassau. It includes this quote: “This is a shipping port. There is nothing Nassa Bahamasthere but a Senor Frogs and a few overpriced shops.”

Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, Jamaica:  The article says that the ports are "ugly and scary." I don't disagree, but I tend to like these places.

Belize City, Belize: Passengers have to tender in to the city but there's little to do, says Yahoo.

Roatan, Honduras:  The article mentioned the U.S. State Department warnings about crime in Honduras including the Bay Islands, saying although Roatan "has a lower crime rate than other parts of the country, thefts, break-ins, assaults, and murders do occur and are still high by international standards.” Roatan is currently struggling with the recent disappearance of four local boys who have not been seen since December 3rd, with fears that they have been murdered.  

Somana and LaRomana, Dominican Republic:  Yahoo says that "abject poverty, filth, and drugs in these two ports" leave many passengers wondering why they are included in any cruise itinerary.  

My view: There's no question that the Caribbean has some of the poorest and most dangerous ports of call in the world. There are more & more, new, and bigger & bigger cruise ships coming on line each year. The Caribbean is already crowded with ships. The cruise lines are left to market itineraries with ports which a prudent family would otherwise avoid. 

December 11 2014 Update: Nassau's Tribune newspaper comments on the Yahoo article and our coverage of the story.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / TampAGS, for AGS Media 

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

Don't miss reading: Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World.

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger from Vision of the Seas

Vision of the SeasLocal 10 News in St. Petersburg reports that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a cruise passenger suffering from heart-attack-like symptoms in Tampa Bay, Florida, on Saturday.

The Vision of the Seas contacted the Coast Guard in St. Petersburg about a a 59-year-old man was who was in need of emergency medical assistance.

A Coast Guard surgeon recommended that the passenger be medevaced from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship. 

A Coast Guard response boat from the Coast Guard station in St. Petersburg medevaced the man from the cruise ship.  

This medevac was one of at least five medevacs from cruise ships this weekend.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / ZipIt

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From NCL's Norwegian Breakaway

A local news station in North Carolina reports that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a a 71 year-old passenger from a cruise ship off the North Carolina coast on Saturday morning.

The passenger was in need of emergency medical care. She was aboard the Norwegian Breakaway, about 50 miles east of Cape Hatteras when the NCL requested assistance.

A Coast Guard helicopter and a Hercules airplane flew from Elizabeth City, North Carolina, to assist in the rescue. The helicopter took the sick passenger to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. 

 

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