False Man Overboard Report: Radiance of the Seas Recovers Body of Missing Fishermann

Today a number of people contacted me believing that a passenger had gone overboard from the Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas near Auckland, New Zealand. 

The cruise ship notified the local coast guard last night and a helicopter arrived from Auckland. The cruise ship turned back to guide maritime authorities to the location where the body had been seen. The cruise ship sent a rescue boat to the scene. 

It turns out that no one went overboard and the body in the water was that of a missing fisherman.

Radiance of the Seas Here is an account by a passenger on the cruise ship:

"At approximately 7:45pm on Dec. 3, 2014, as the ship sailed from Auckland to Tauranga, New Zealand, an "Oscar" alert (port side) was announced from the Bridge. The ship was stopped and the emergency rescue operation was immediate.

I viewed the activity from Deck 11 (Windjammer) as the yellow ship rescue boat retrieved an orange life ring from the ocean on the port side of the ship. It made many passes as it looked for the person. A dark colored rescue helicopter was also present.

While it was after sundown, there was still light to conduct the operation. However, they were going to lose the light soon.

At approximately 8:35pm, from the starboard side of the ship, the yellow rescue boat appeared to have the person at the side of the boat. There were three crew on the rescue boat: one navigating and the other two holding on to the person over the side of the boat. From what I could see, the person appeared to be wearing a dark shirt or sweater and appeared to be large in size. It appeared the person could not be lifted onto the rescue boat by the two crew holding on.

A red and yellow rescue helicopter joined the dark colored helicopter on the starboard side of the ship near the rescue boat. A wet-suited diver with swim fins jumped from the red/yellow helicopter into the ocean, holding some sort of harness (it appeared to be black and bright pink in color). The diver swam to the yellow rescue boat.

An orange and white boat drove up and appeared to be some sort of Coast Guard vessel. From what I could see, the Coast Guard vessel did not get close enough to the yellow rescue boat to allow a handover of the person. There did not appear to be a hoisting of the person into the red/yellow helicopter via the harness.

At approximately 8:45pm, the yellow rescue boat left the scene and proceeded to return to the port side of the ship (from which it was launched). I was standing at the aft end of the ship and watched as the yellow boat drove by me. It appeared to contain only three people: the navigator and two crew members in white RCCL jumpsuits.

The red/yellow rescue helicopter appeared to fly over the ship once before returning to shore. The white/orange Coast Guard vessel departed the scene, but did not appear to be traveling at a great rate of speed.

The Captain made an announcement from the Bridge (this is the general jist of what he said....any direct quotes are noted with "......"): "This is the Captain speaking from the Bridge. As you can see, we have deviated from our course." This is because a guest noticed a person in the water and we started a rescue operation. "The person was recovered and is in the care of the Coast Guard. We are hopeful for a happy ending." This will not impact our arrival at our next port of call. We appreciate your patience and are grateful for the help of all guests involved."

. . . The crew sprang to action at once and crew not involved in the operation directly appeared somber as they continued their duties . . .

The Captain made an announcement at dinner tonight: The "Oscar" incident did not involve a passenger or crew member from the ship. It was a local fisherman who had been reported missing at sea earlier. He obviously did not survive the incident, but the Chief Safety Officer and the rescue crew were able to find the body and hand over to the Coast Guard. At least his family has closure and he can be laid to rest properly . . . ."
 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Fletcher6 Creative Commons 3.0

Cruise Passenger Missing From Sun Princess Again

A cruise passengers is missing from a Princess cruise ship heading towards Sydney today. The ship in question, the Sun Princess, is completing a 13-day cruise to New Zealand.

There is no explanation how or when the passenger went overboard.

Unfortunately, it again appears that this Princess cruise ship does not have am automatic man overboard system as required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act.

Sun PrincessLast year there was an overboard passenger from the Sun Princess. I wrote this article last October: Princess Cruises: Why No CCTV or Man Overboard Systems on the Sun Princess?    

Princess Cruises released the following statement: 

"Princess Cruises confirms that an 84-year-old male passenger was reported missing early today onboard Sun Princess, which was on the way to Sydney completing a 13-day New Zealand cruise.

A thorough search of Sun Princess was conducted but the passenger could not be located.

The Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) in Canberra was contacted and Sun Princess turned around and retraced its path off the coast of New South Wales.

Sun Princess was scheduled to arrive in Sydney this morning.

She will continue its search efforts until released by the RCC.

Sun Princess’ arrival in Sydney will be delayed and the next cruise will be impacted." 

You can see a video of the story here.

 

Photo Credit: Daily Telegraph

Despite the Hype, Quantum of the Seas is Just Another Dumb Cruise Ship

Quantum North StarThe cruise industry is abuzz with excitement about Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, the Quantum of the Seas. I wrote yesterday that during an interview with CNBC, cruise chairman Richard Fain called the giant ship "wonderful, exciting, fantastic and terrific." The CNBC reporter excitedly called the ship the "best and brightest."

The "smart ship" is how the cruise line pitched the $1,000,000,000 cruise ship. The media jumped aboard without first objectively testing the new ship. There are dozens of articles by travel publications endorsing the cruise line's marketing image of the giant ship as the "most technologically advanced ship ever to sail."

Putting the marketing-hysteria aside, just how smart is the cruise ship?

Yes, the Quantum has the North Star viewing pod, the first iFly simulated sky-diving on a ship (which will keep the personal injury lawyers busy for a decade), another FlowRider simulated-surfing-device (a real money-maker considering the cost of private lessons), a robotic bartender and the first (old school) bumper cars at sea. But these are just gadgets designed for passenger fun. Same goes for the virtual balconies for the windowless interior cabins, for which the cruise line can now charge a premium.    

The internet connection on the Quantum is reportedly faster than other cruise ships, so the kids can download movies I suppose. But it's still slower than land-based connectivity. Do you really want to Automatic Man Overboard see the kids turning into couch potatoes staring at their gaming devices during a cruise?

Unfortunately, Royal Caribbean didn't invest in technology to make the Quantum safer for the guests or the crew. In 2010, President Obama signed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, requiring the installation of automatic man-overboard devices. Other than Disney which reportedly has installed the safety devices, Royal Caribbean and the rest of the cruise industry refuse to invest the monies to utilize the technology, even though there is no question that the technology is available.

Automatic man-overboard systems are designed to immediately send a signal to the bridge and capture the image of the person going overboard so that prompt search and rescue measures can be undertaken. Royal Caribbean has experienced more than its share of passengers and crew going overboard in its fleet of ships. It needs to invest some of its tax-free bounty to install such safety systems. But instead it spent money on gee-whiz contraptions designed to WOW the public and increase profits. 

So as the Quantum passengers enjoy the iFly, FlowRider and North Star, drink gin-and-tonics served by robots, and gaze out of their simulated balconies, people will continue to disappear at sea. And the Quantum will continue to sail on without knowing, like the dumb ship that she is.  

 

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

Photo Credits: Top - Royal Caribbean; bottom - CruelKev2's blog         

Disappearance From the M/S Serenissima: Update on the Case of Denisa Markoska

News reports are saying that a body washed ashore from the the Aegean Sea with characteristics of missing crew member Denisa Markoska who disappeared from the M/S Serenissima under suspicious circumstances 24 days ago. 

You can read articles from Macedonia here and here.

There is reportedly a similarity in the clothes with those worn by Ms. Markoska and Denisa Markoskathose on the body of the deceased person who washed ashore island of Karpathos.

There will be an autopsy and DNA analysis which should confirm the identity of the body. Such analysis may shed light on the cause of death and whether she drowned or died on the ship. 

The articles discuss that suspicions surround what occurred to the young woman on the cruise ship. Her mobile phone was found with the SIM card removed. The captain continued to sail for many hours knowing that Ms. Markoska had gone overboard, and he let the passengers all disembark before police began investigating the woman's disappearance. There is widespread speculation in the Macedonian press that some women on the ship engaged in prostitution, although I have seen no direct evidence of that.    

We previously reported on the case in our article Mystery Shrouds Disappearance of 23 Year-Old Macedonian Crew Member from M/S Serenissima

Should you have any thoughts or have any information, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

False Man Overboard Alarm on the Royal Princess

A passenger commented on Cruise Critic this morning that the Master of the Royal Princess cruise ship announced that a person had been reported overboard and the ship was going to take a head count of the passengers and crew.  

The cruise ship performed a partial Williamson maneuver (as shown on AIS systems) and also deployed a rescue boat.

The passenger commented later that all that was found was a fishing marker. "Nobody missing from our crew and pax, so we've been given the all clear!" 

Royal PrincessThe ship was heading to New York.

It always good news when a man overboard turns out to be false.

But false positives are one of the reasons that the cruise industry claims that automatic man overboard systems (required long ago by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act) haven't been installed. The cruise lines claim (falsely I believe) that the man overboard systems are not reliable and can be triggered by birds or debris. The cruise industry says that it doesn't install man overboard systems because it would be too expensive to turn the ship around and deploy rescue craft if the automatic system malfunctioned. 

In my opinion lives are being lost because of the cruise lines refuse to comply with the law. It's excuse that responding to false man overboard alarms is too high is bogus. The cruise industry is already responding to false reports.  

This is the second man overboard report in less than two weeks.  We most recently reported on a false report on the Pacific Pearl on September 14th.  

There will be some false reports with both the automatic systems and with no automatic systems. There is no justification to ever say that it's just too expensive to invest money into saving lives. The cruise industry collects $40,000,000,000 a year and pays no taxes. Its CEO's make tens of millions of dollars. Its greed is endless.  

Automatic systems, even if not 100% perfect, are a far cry better than no automatic system on a cruise ship when a passenger or crew member goes overboard and disappears into the dark waters as the cruise ship continues to sail on.    

 

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

Mystery Shrouds Disappearance of 23 Year-Old Macedonian Crew Member from M/S Serenissima

A newspaper in Macedonia, Press 24, published an article "Семејството ја бара веќе 4 дена: 23 годишна Македонка отишла да работи на брод и исчезнала" ("A family looks for 4 days for a 23 year-old Macedonian went to work on the boat and disappeared.")

It's about the disappearance of a young crew member from the M/S Serenissima five days ago, as the cruise ship sailed between Rhodes to Crete. We mentioned the young woman's disappearance in an earlier blog.

The article in the Macedonian press identifies the crew member as Denisa Markoska. The article Denisa Markoska Cruise Ship describes Ms. Markoska as a happy person who shared the joy of her job with relatives and friends. Other news accounts (link here) indicate that she signed a new contract and looked forward to working on the ship when it re-positioned to the Caribbean. But then she just "disappeared," or so the story goes.

The article states (translated): 

"Denisa mysteriously disappeared from a ship that sails the seas, in the early hours of September 13. Serenissima ship sailing under the Russian flag in the territorial waters of Greece. And no one saw what happened ... investigation is conducted with many gaps and inconsistencies by Greek police in Crete.

Parents still have not received any official report from the captain of the ship, or from the Greek police, nor by any competent Macedonian institutions. Parents are desperate. Crying for help as well as pressure on the authorities of all the countries involved to find out what happened to Denisa and where she is. Perhaps the girl is kidnapped or killed ... God forbid."

We have spoken to people in Macedonia who know Denisa and her family.  The captain of the cruise ship, a Russian citizen, kept sailing the ship for two or three hours after Denisa was reported missing. He permitted all of the passengers to disembark the ship when it reached the next port, "not to disturb the guests," before notifying the police. Denisa was last seen smoking a cigarette on the open deck with several other Macedonian crew members around 2:30 A.M. There was a video camera on the ship; however, there was no recording device connected to the video camera.

No serious investigation of any type took place, is what I am being told. The captain sent a short note to the family expressing his condolences without an explanation regarding how Denisa disappeared.

Complicating matters is that the ship was registered in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to avoid taxes. St. Vincent obviously has no interest in Macedonians citizens or ability to investigate disappearances from vessels bearing its flag. There is information that the ship is owned and/or operated by Premier Cruises based in Finland. Premier is owned by Russian Vladimir Esakov, who owns the Russian Volga Dream company.  

There is a suggestion from the captain that the young woman must have committed "suicide."  But there is no evidence of that. The available information is to the contrary - that she was happy, popular, and a good employee, according to her friends and family. Denisa looked forward to continue her job, sailing in the Caribbean.

Unfortunately, "suicide" is the favorite excuse of cruise lines whenever a young woman disappears at sea. It's a cruel ploy. It is heartless to suggest such a thing when there is no evidence to make such an accusation.   

Are there crew members or passengers on the ship who have accurate information to share?

Please contact us confidentially if you want to pass on information directly to the family. Please email me at jim@cruiselaw.com 

If you wish to offer words of support for Denisa's family, join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Denisa Makoska

 

23 Year Old Crew Member Overboard From M/S Serenissima

Serenissima Cruises A reader of Cruise Law News has informed us that a 23 year old female crew member disappeared from the M/S Serenissima cruise ship.

A Greek newspaper has a short article about the disappearance.

The crew member is reported missing north of the island of Crete, Greece.

The cruise ship is a small vessel carrying only 110 passengers with 48 crew members.  You can read about Serenissima Cruises here.

Before this incident, cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has recorded 238 people going overboard from cruise ships since 2000.

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

Photo Credit: Serenissima Cruises.

Crew Member Disappears From Independence of the Seas: Why No Mention in the Press or Social Media?

A crew member disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas earlier in the week.

We were first notified of the crew member's disappearance from another crew member who was concerned about the incident. Today we received confirmation that a crew member went overboard from a reliable separate and independent source. 

The missing crew member was reportedly a galley worker from India. The crew member went overboard early in the morning before the cruise ship called on its scheduled port in France. 

The ship is currently on a two week cruise, starting on August 9, 2014 from Southampton and sailing to Independence of the Seas Gibraltar, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, before returning to Southampton.

This is the third time in two months a person has gone overboard from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship without any mention of the incident in the press or on social media. 

A passenger went overboard from the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas on August 7, 2014. There were no rescue attempts by the ship. The cruise ship, like all other Royal Caribbean cruise ships, has no automatic man overboard system which could detect someone going overboard and immediately alert the bridge. The passenger was not noticed missing until a cabin attendant entered the cabin over 14 hours later. There was no mention of the incident in the press or on social media until we first mentioned the incident.

Another passenger jumped from the Splendour of the Seas on June 13, 2014. The cruise ship personnel rescued him because he was seen going overboard by other passengers and crew members. Again, there was no mention of the incident until we reported on it. The incident demonstrates that even when a person intentionally goes overboard (an act often considered to be suicidal), the cruise ship can safely rescue them if man overboard steps are immediately taken.

A passenger also recently went overboard (August 2, 2014) from the Caribbean Princess. Like the situation on the Splendor, the passenger intentionally jumped overboard but was quickly rescued because he was seen going into the water.  Again, there was no mention of the incident until cruise expert Ross Klein first mentioned it on his website

Of course, many people going overboard are not witnessed. That's why automatic man overboard systems are important. The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 requires the installation of man overboard technology. The history of the legislation indicates that it does not matter whether the person intentionally went overboard (suicidal or not), accidentally went overboard (due to alcohol, recklessness or otherwise), or was thrown overboard. Cruise ships must install the available technology.  

Why are these incidents not being mentioned in the press or discussed on social media? Some people believe that it's nobody's business. They say that if someone wants to jump overboard, they must be suicidal and there's nothing the cruise line could do or should do.  

Other people say that I'm just making these incidents up. If they can't find confirmation of the overboard on the internet after a Google search, they say I must be lying. This view permeates the group-think, cult-of-personality, lynch mob mentality on Cruise Critic message boards

In situations like the Grandeur, or more recently the Independence, the person is not discovered missing until hours and hours later, when the ship reaches port or a crew member doesn't report to work in the morning or a cabin attendant finally enters the cabin.  The ship is then over a hundred miles away. 

My thought is that it comes down to a lack of transparency. Cruise lines don't like news of their guests or employees disappearing at sea. Cruise lines sell images of magical vacations with happy, smiling customers and friendly crew members. They don't like stories of out-of-their-mind-drunk-on-cruise-booze passengers, or over-worked and despondent crew members or, God forbid, passengers or crew thrown overboard into the dark waters. They suppress the information. They don't like lawyers who point out that their entire fleet is in violation of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act.

 

Interested in this issue? Consider reading Is Royal Caribbean Working Its Crew Members to Death? 

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

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Aztec06

Person Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas?

Cruise Law News has been told that a person allegedly went overboard from the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas as the cruise ship was returning from Bermuda to Baltimore earlier this week. 

The incident reportedly occurred around 3:00 AM late Wednesday night / early Thursday morning, August 7th.

According to a person on the cruise ship who wishes to remain anonymous, a state room attendant found a note when he entered the cabin on Thursday. The ship was searched, the CCTV Grandeur of the Seas cameras reviewed, and the overboard was eventually discovered.

The passenger was reportedly a U.S. citizen, 70 years old and traveling alone. The missing person alert was raised 12 hours or so after the overboard (from the CCTV review).

The cruise ship continued on to Baltimore. It didn't go back. There appears to be no search.

If this information is accurate, it appears that the incident may have involved a suicide. However, it also illustrates that the cruise line has still not installed automatic man overboard systems as required by the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010. The cruise safety law requires such technology regardless of whether the passenger or crew member intentionally jumped, accidentally went overboard, or was thrown into the ocean. 

There are lots of questions which remain unanswered. Did the captain of the cruise ship make any announcements?  Why didn't the ship turn around much earlier and conduct a search? Did the cruise ship notify the U.S. Coast Guard?

We have written about people going overboard from the Grandeur before.  

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein have documented 235 people (in addition to this one) going overboard from cruise ships since 2000. 

Are there passenger or crew members who have additional information to share?

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

August 10 2014 Update: This is the second overboard passenger from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in the last two months who was not reported in the press or discussed in social media. Three weeks ago, we reported on a passenger who went overboard from the Splendor of the Seas. Fortunately the cruise line personnel quickly rescued him. You can read about that incident here

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Citking

Passenger Disappears from the Costa Victoria

Costa VictoriaThe China Post reports that a female passenger disappeared from a cruise ship, during a cruise to Japan, which returned to Taiwan yesterday. 

The woman, whose last name is Hsieh, age 53, was aboard the Costa Victoria. She was supposed to leave the ship in Keelung Harbor, but did not. The Coast Guard said that her belongings were left in her cabin.

The Coast Guard said "it could be a case of suicide or an accident, but they are not ruling out any possibilities for her disappearance."

The newspaper says that Ms. Hsieh was part of a tour group that left Keelung for Japan on July 12th. The ship returned on July 17th without the passenger. 

According to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, this is the 235th person to have gone overboard from a cruise ship since 2000.  

July 19 2014 Update:  Why didn't the cabin attendant observe that the passenger was missing from the cabin?  Many crew members have commented on our Facebook page that it's not the cabin attendant's job to "babysit" the passengers.  But without an automatic man overboard system (none of the Carnival brands have implemented such technology), and if it isn't the cabin attendant's job to at least  make his or her observations known that a passenger is missing to their supervisor, whose responsibility at the cruise line is it?

Please leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook. 

Carnival Spirit: How Not To Respond To A Man Overboard

Carnival's handling of the most recent disappearance of a person overboard, a chef from India, has been a mess.

The Carnival Spirit is in violation of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act. Like all other Carnival cruise ships, the Carnival Spirit has no automatic CCTV man overboard system onboard. The technology exists for overboard passengers and crew members to be immediately detected so that search and rescue efforts can be promptly initiated. There's no excuse at this late date for lack of such standard equipment. 

Even when the ship personnel finally realized that the crew member had gone overboard, the master of the ship Carnival Spiritwaited an unreasonably long period of time to search for the overboard crew member.

In the Sydney Morning Herald article entitled Australian Cruise Passengers 'Frightened, Concerned' on Cruise Ship, a passenger on the ship said that an announcement was made at about 9.30 AM on Tuesday that a crew member had gone missing but the cruise ship did not turn around until about 2 PM.

The Australian newspaper reports that a passenger sent a "desperate email" to the government asking for help, saying that "everyone I have spoken to is frightened, concerned, anxious about where we're going and very confused."

The passenger complained "there are no planes, no helicopters, no nothing – just our cruise boat going at five kilometres an hour." 

Not surprisingly the New Caledonia Search and Rescue Authority declared the chances of finding the missing crew member were ''literally nil.''

It's not the first time people have gone overboard from the Carnival Spirit. Paul Rossington and his girlfriend Kristen Schroder fell off the ship last year.

Carnival Australia's CEO Ann Sherry was rather cavalier about that incident. She said, without qualification, “you can’t fall off the ship.” 

Even if that's true, that's little consolation for the crew member's family. That leaves two alternatives - being a victim of a crime (it wouldn't be the first time that someone was pitched overboard), or committing suicide (which is the cruise line's favorite excuse). But because the ship does't even have CCTV of the incident (much less man overboard technology), the case is doomed to be another mystery. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Jean-Philippe Boulet

Crew Member Overboard From Carnival Spirit Near Vanatu

Tonight we received information from a former crew member that a search and rescue operation is underway near Vanuatu after a Carnival employee has gone overboard from the Carnival Spirit cruise ship. 

There is an article from Australia stating that there is a man overboard lost from a Carnival cruise ship who is "believed to be a member of the kitchen crew" aboard the Carnival Spirit on a voyage out of Vanuatu.

The newspaper states that a passenger on the cruise ship, who did not wish to be identified, stated Carnival Spiritthat an announcement was made more than 10 hours ago that a crew member had gone missing "for up to 20 hours by that point." 

The Carnival cruise ship turned back towards Vanuatu, which is about 20 hours away from its current position. 

Under the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2010, cruise lines are suppose to have implemented automatic man-overboard CCTV systems to detect man-overboards as soon as they happen. Under applicable U.S. maritime law, there should never be this type of mystery when a crew member (or passengers) disappears on the high seas.

Does anyone have information regarding this incident to share?

Cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein reports that 233 people have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Hpeterswald

Passenger Overboard From MSC Divina

Univision reports that a passenger has gone overboard from the MSC Divina cruise ship.

In an article entitled "cae al mar un mexicano que viajaba en crucero mundialista," the network says that a passenger fell 50 meters from deck 15 into the water.  

The MSC cruise ship was sailing with around 3,500 Mexican citizens to various locations in Brazil for the World Cup. A Mexican newspaper, Tribun Digital de Quintano Roo, says that the cruise ship was transporting Mexican passengers between the three cities where Mexico plays in the first phase of the World (Natal, Fortaleza and Recife). 

MSC Divina The cruise ship stopped to search for the overboard passenger without success.  

The Consulate of Mexico in Rio de Janeiro confirmed that "a Mexican citizen who was aboard MSC Divina cruise ship fell into the sea after the ship sailed from the city of Fortaleza in northern Brazil, heading to port of Recife."

The report further states that it is unknown if the Mexican citizen was traveling alone, with family or with friends. 

The report says that the passenger was intoxicated. 

According to cruise ship expert Dr. Ross Klein, 232 people have gone overboard since 2000.

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

June 19 2014 Update: The missing passenger has been identifies as Jorge Alberto Lopez Amores

 

Photo Image: Tribun Digital de Quintano Roo 

No Answers, No CCTV & No Justice: P&O Ferries Leaves Fearnside Family in the Dark

It was a dark night when 30 year-old Richard Fearnside disappeared from P&O Ferries' Pride of Kent ferry as it was sailing from Calais back to Dover. His girlfriend said that he was going to the top deck to smoke a cigarette. Richard never returned. P&O didn't sound an alarm until the ferry returned to port.

P&O Ferries could offer no explanation to Richard's parents, Bob and Marianne, regarding what happened to their son while the P&O ferry was cruising in the middle of the English Channel. Although other passengers and crew had disappeared from P&O ferries under mysterious circumstances in the past, the ferry company had not bothered to install a single CCTV camera on the decks of its fleet of Richard Fearnside P&O FerriesP&O ships for safety and security purposes.  

P&O chose instead to install surveillance cameras only in its duty free shops on the ferries. Jewelry and alcohol, it appears, are more precious to P&O than its customers.

Richard vanished a year ago today.

It's an anniversary date no parent wants.

For a year, Richard's parents have faced what they believe to be P&O's cover-up of his disappearance. 

Richard's mother, Marianne, wrote a letter to P&O Ferries CEO, Helen Deeble, about her son's disappearance and sought information. P&O sent a boorish response, not from Ms. Deeble, but from a public relations clod at the ferry company. The PR company man told her that installing safety cameras was a silly, impractical idea.

Last December, I sent an open letter to Ms. Deeble about the absence of CCTV cameras on the P&O ferries. There are huge cruise ships in the U.S. that have literally over 1,000 CCTV cameras installed on board. Ms. Deeble chose to ignore my letter just like she initially ignored Marianne's letter. 

Ignored by P&O, Marianne started a petition to require P&O Ferries to install CCTV cameras on its passenger decks. The petition resonated with the public. To date, over 95,000 people have signed the petition while making insightful and poignant comments explaining why safety camera are required. You can see the petition here

Bob and Marianne FearnsideThe Fearnsides remain in the dark about what happened to Richard. P&O's attitude toward them, and its irresponsible refusal to install cameras on its ships, ensure that other passengers will disappear without explanation.  

Please take a moment to click on the petition. Please sign it. Please tell P&O why it should finally install cameras. 

 

Please read a few of our other articles:

P&O Ferries Refuses to Install CCTV or Man Overboard Systems after Passenger Disappears

P&O Ferries Plagued By Overboard Passengers & No Safety Systems

P&O Ferries Crisis Manager Is No Stranger to Ferry Disasters

P&O Ferries No-CCTV Camera Controversy: Expect a Long Fight

 

Bottom photo credit: Canterbury Times

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

FOX 4: "Couple Appalled By Cruise Line's Rescue Effort to Find Missing Man"

Man Overboard Bahamas CelebrationA couple from Cape Coral, Florida say that they are "shocked" at how ill-equipped and unprepared the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship and crew seemed during the search and rescue mission of the overboard passenger yesterday. FOX 4 / WFTX (Fort Meyers) reported on the man overboard situation via reporter @GabrielleSarann.

They send a letter to the cruise line which said in part:

" . . . In my opinion i think the cruise line should be better prepared for a man overboard situation. What we saw could have been better. 1 we noticed that the search light was broken we did see it working for a few minutes and then noticed crew members unsuccessfully trying to repair it. 2 we noticed that there were 2 boats on board that could have been used in the rescue attempt and only one was used, and the one that was used broke in the middle of the search i have on video the crew trying to start the boat and paddling back to the boat with oars. 3 the music on the pool deck was not turned off for about 40 min after the rescue attempt started which made it impossible to hear anybody yelling for help. 4 I noticed one crew member who I'm guessing was supposed to be searching for the person sleeping. I think that the cruise line could of and should of done a better job in this situation.

I know the coast guard got there quickly but those 30 to 40 min before they arrived i think are the most important only one life buoy ring with a light was thrown in. giving any possible survivor only one point of reference to see not to mention the ability to help track the currents. Please for the future safety of your future customers fix these things." 

You can watch the video here.

Man Disappears From Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship

Bahamas Celebration Cruise ShipA local newspaper in South Florida is reporting that a man disappeared from the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship operated by Celebration Cruise Line.

CBS Miami states that sometime shortly after 2:00 AM last night, the cruise ship notified the U.S. Coast Guard received that a man from South Carolina was missing from the ship. The article indicates that the cruise line did not know how the man went overboard. 

The ship had departed Freeport, Bahamas on Saturday around 6 PM and was heading to its home port in West Palm Beach when the man went overboard.

The cruise line says that it searched for the man but was unable to locate him. 

The Celebration Cruise Line is one of many cruise lines which has not bothered to install an automatic man overboard system, in violation of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act.

A Canadian passenger, Fariba Amani, disappeared from the Bahamas Celebration 2 years ago. Her disappearance remains a mystery.

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has documented 231 cases of overboard passengers and crew members since 2000.

This particular cruise ship has been the subject of cocaine smuggling arrests, sexual assault and fire in the last couple of years.

April 29 2014 Update:

FOX 4: "Couple Appalled By Cruise Line's Rescue Effort to Find Missing Man."

Palm Beach Post: "Uncle says man who jumped off cruise ship not suicidal."

 

Photo Credit: thebahamasweekly.com

Costa Cruise Passenger Disappears, Found Dead

Costa Fascinosa Cruise ShipThe Pefil newspaper reports that a Brazilian businessman traveling on a Costa cruise ship was reported missing by his wife. He was later found dead on the shores of Rio de la Plata.

The newspaper's headline is "Misteriosa muerte del pasajero de un crucero - Un empresario brasileño fue encontrado a 50 metros de la costa del Río de la Plata".

Tranlsated, that means: "Mysterious death of cruise passenger - A Brazilian businessman was found 50meters from the shore of the Río de la Plata."

The newspaper identifies the passenger as Odair Marcos Faria, who was traveling with his wife, Maria Cristina Florio Bonafin. They were sailing on the Costa Fascinosa.  His wife had reported her husband's disappearance to the ship's crew.

The body was found 50 meters from the shore of the Río de la Plata. There is an investigation underway to establish whether the overboard case was a suicide, accident or homicide.

The "Rio de la Plata" (River of Silver) is the estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay River and Costa Cruise Ship Passengerthe Paraná River on the border between Argentina and Uruguay.

Cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein has documented 229 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000. 9 people have gone overboard so far this year.

Update: The Clarin newspaper also reports on the case, stating that the cruise was a gift from the man's children. The newspaper suggests that shortly before the cruise, either the passenger or his wife apparently learned that one had a terminal illness (the translation is unclear).

 

Photo Credit: Top - Wikipedia / Abxbay; bottom - Clarin / Facebook

Passenger Reported Overboard From Costa Classica

Costa Classica Cruise Ship Man OverboardWe were notified a few minutes ago that a passenger has gone overboard from the Costa Classica cruise ship after the ship sailed from Casablanca, Morocco.  

The AIS tracking shows the cruise ship searching for the passenger.

A person from the ship contacted us about the man overboard and indicated that it was a male passenger.

It appears that the ship performed a Willamson turn to try and locate the person and then has been sailing in circles.

The cruise ship was sailing to Funchal, Madeira (autonomous Portugese island).

We will update this site as more information become available.

If anyone has update information, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Costa Classica Man OverboardFacebook page.

Update: The AIS tracking showed the cruise ship end its search after a couple of hours and sail on to Funchal.

It was disappointing to see a number of vessels in the area (within 50 kilometers) not join in to look for the passenger over the course of the search by the Classica.

A newspaper in Portugal identifies the passengers as a 70 year old man from Germany

 

Passenger Goes Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Splendor of the Seas

A newspaper in Brazil reports that a passenger went overboard on Friday February 7, 2014 from the Splendor of the Seas cruise ship while it was sailing in the waters of Uruguay.

The vessel reportedly docked later at the Port of Santos, São Paulo, on Sunday, February 9, 2014. The local police investigated the incident and believe that it was a case of suicide.

Witnesses indicate that the passenger, a 47 year old Brazilian man, was wearing a life vest when he jumped into the water from the 7th floor of the cruise ship. Ship passengers who disembarked at the Port of Santos on Sunday state that the cruise ship searched for the man and managed to locate his body.  

Royal Caribbean said that the guest threw himself overboard. The ship stopped and conducted a search, and alerted  Uruguayan Coast Guard.

According to the newspaper, the cruise line says the Splendor of the Seas left Santos on February 2, with stops in Punta del Este and Montevideo, Uruguay and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Splendor of the Seas DeathRoyal Caribbean also says it is focused on providing support to the man's family. 

This is the fifth person overboard from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in less than 2 months.

In addition to this latest case, crew and passengers have gone overboard from the Celebrity Constellation, Rhapsody of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Independence of the Seas.

 

Photo Credit:

Top: Wikipedia / Exequiel Pérez Millán / GNU Free Documentation License,

Bottom: Globo newspaper / Santa Casa de Santos / G1 Santos)

Royal Caribbean's Misplaced Priorities: Fast Internet, Virtual Balconies But No Automatic Man-Overboard Systems

Today I read an article by a popular cruise blogger that Royal Caribbean was on track to deliver a fast land-based internet experience to its guests.

The article went on to say that "cruise lines are working overtime, trying to enable passenger use of their electronic devices at sea just as they might at home."

I suppose this is of some interest to the cruising public, knowing that they can surf the internet on the high seas just as fast as they can at home.

Virtual Balcony Another article which caught my eye was in Wired magazine entitled "Cruise Ship’s 80-Inch ‘Virtual Balconies’ Livestream the High Seas." 

The article explains that on Royal Caribbean' Navigator of the Seas, the cruise line has installed, in 81 interior staterooms, floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall screens which display a live feed of the bow and stern video cameras. Those passengers "stuck" in interior, view-less cabins will be able to enjoy clear, beautiful images of the Caribbean waters.

The article explains that the high-tech video gear is marine compliant and can handle all of the sun, heat, salt, and water "that comes with being at sea." Further, "fiber-optic cable carries the video to a server, then to a set-top box that decodes and processes the video before it’s displayed on the screen." 

Consultants from MIT and Harvard were involved in the project in order to bring the best technology to the cruise ship. 

All of this technology is coming from the cruise line which prides itself in "Delivering the Wow!" to its guests. When it comes to designing cruise ships which incorporate the newest entertainment gadgets for its passengers to enjoy, Royal Caribbean is the best. This is the cruise line which will introduce the Quantum of the Seas later this year, filled with all types of technological marvels like simulated sky-diving and a gee-whiz" Jetson-family-like futuristic mechanical arm that magically transports passengers high above the ocean in a glass capsule called the "North Star."

But one thing which the Quantum of the Seas will be lacking is an automatic man-overboard (MOB) system which will signal the bridge when a passenger or crew member goes over the rails and into the sea. Such devices were required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act. But Royal Caribbean, like most cruise lines, has not bothered to install such systems onto its fleet of cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean has experienced the most passengers and crew going overboard in the last two months. In all cases there is no mention of the required MOB systems. In some cases its does not even appear that the ships were even equipped with a sufficient number of surveillance systems to determine how and why the guest or employee disappeared from the ship.

The cruise industry claims that technology doesn't exist to detect when people go overboard. Cruise lines also claim that salt deposits from the sea spray can obscure the view of the MOB cameras.

North StarWhen it comes to why it has not complied with the life-saving safety law, Royal Caribbean has a boat load of excuses. It is still using old school, outdated technology. It can't even figure out how to keep an exterior camera clean.

But when it comes to the technology for its gadgets like cameras for its live-streaming, virtual balconies, it involved experts from MIT and Harvard to design the best cameras for the marine environment.    

The difference is that Royal Caribbean can generate significant profits by selling higher speed internet and charging more for an interior cabin if it has a virtual balcony. Royal Caribbean will charge a premium fare for the Quantum of the Seas with its "North Star" ride in the sky.  

But a CVSSA-compliant MOB system creates more costs and no profits. You will hear nothing about Royal Caribbean involving experts from MIT and Harvard to create "gee-whiz" safety devices. Yes, crew members and passengers will continue to disappear at sea but, in the cruise line's view, they are both easily replaceable.

 

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean / Royal Caribbean via Wired

Passenger Missing From Fred Olsen's Black Watch

There has been some speculation over the last two weeks that a passenger went overboard from a Fred Olsen cruise ship sailing to South America.

Several newspapers have now reported that a passenger died "after falling overboard from the Fred Olsen Black Watch 70-miles off the coast of Brazil" on January 30th, after the cruise ship made its Transatlantic crossing. 

One newspaper quotes a spokeswoman for Fred Olsen saying that the passenger died "after falling overboard in rough seas" after the ship left Rio de Janeiro. The cruise line spokesperson also said that "a body was sighted floating in the water, but due to the bad sea conditions, with waves of up to three Fred Olsen Black Watchmetres and 30-knot winds, it was not possible for the ship to recover the body."

This incident sounds like a prior incident where a cruise passenger from the U.K. went overboard. The cruise ship was not identified in that prior story. 

Many readers commented that they find it difficult to believe that a passenger could "fall" off of a cruise ship, without being pushed, clowning around, or intentionally jumping. I don't necessarily disagree, except to say that it sounds like there were no surveillance cameras which recorded the event and certainly no automatic man overboard system installed.

The Black Watch is a old ship which started sailing in the early 1970's. 

The newspaper also reported that the cruise ship stopped near Isla Picton close to the Argentine border around 50 miles north of Cape Horn and was delayed because of a "technical issue with the ship's steering gear."

The ship is on a world tour and will continue its 114-night "South American and World Voyage" cruise when repairs are completed.

 

Photo Credit: RaBoe/Wikipedia Creative Commons License

Former Journalist Falls from Cruise Ship, Dies

Bob Horn Cruise Ship DeathThe press in the U.K. is reporting that a former newspaper reporter from Sunderland, England drown "after falling overboard from a cruise ship in South America."

Cruise passenger Bob Horn reportedly was on an Atlantic cruise with his brother when he fell from the liner shortly after a visit to Montevideo in Uruguay.

Mr. Horn previously worked for the Sunderland Echo newspaper. 

The cruise ship has not been identified.

Photo Credit: Sutherland Echo

 

Crew Member Overboard From Celebrity Cruises' Constellation Cruise Ship

Numerous news sources are reporting that a Celebrity Cruises' crew member went overboard from a cruise ship sailing off of the coast of Mexico.

Crew member Inyoman Bagiada, age 45, reportedly disappeared from the Celebrity Constellation at around 2:30 AM today, according to a press release by the U.S. Coast Guard. He was employed on the cruise ship as a cook.

The Constellation was returning from Cozumel, Mexico, to Port Everglades, Florida, after a five-day cruise. The incident reportedly occurred between Mexico and Cuba.

Celebrity Constellation Man OverboardThis is the sixth cruise ship disappearance in the last 5 weeks.

Royal Caribbean and sister company Celebrity have recently lost 4 people overboard. In addition to this latest overboard, people went overboard from the Rhapsody of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Independence of the Seas

Royal Caribbean is one of the cruise lines which is in violation of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) which requires the installation of automatic man overboard systems. Four years ago Congress passed the CVSSA nto law, over the cruise industry's objections, most cruise lines have not installed the required systems.

What typically occurs is that a person goes overboard without anyone seeing the passenger or crew member.  The cruise ship then sails on, often for many hours. Eventually the person's absence is noticed, but the ship is many miles away. At that point the cruise ship will notify the Coast Guard, which must then search vast areas of the ocean at the cost to U.S taxpayers of $1,000,000.

The Coast Guard sent a HC-130 Hercules aircraft Clearwater, Florida and the Charles David Jr., a 154-foot cutter from Key West. 

A man overboard system would result in an immediate notification of the person going overboard and a rapid search and rescue. Sending Coast Guard airplanes and vessels from long distances away could be avoided with the man overboard systems. Lives could be saved which are now being lost.

Royal Caribbean experienced 8 crew members going overboard from its fleet of ships in less than 2 years between January 2011 and October 2012. You can read about those cases here.

It's my belief that unless the cruise lines face steep fines, or are responsible for paying for the Coast Guard's search, they will continue to flaunt the law.  

January 30 2014 Update: The Daily Mail reports that "according to the Coast Guard, the cruise did not report Bagiada missing until eight hours after he fell overboard." 

 

Have a thought about this issue? Leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

Photo Credit of Celebrity Constellation - Wikipedia / Megadri   

Disappearance of Richard Fearnside, Missing P&O Ferries Passenger, Featured on U.K. Television

Richard Fearnside Missing at SeaITV television broadcast this video to a nationwide audience in the U.K. yesterday about the plight of the Fearnside family who lost their son, Richard (photo left), at sea from a ferry, the Pride of Kent.

The ferry is operated by P&O Ferries. The ferry line does not have any automatic man overboard systems or even surveillance cameras on its ferries.

In the U.S., virtually all cruise lines have many hundreds of surveillance cameras throughout their cruise ships. Some U.S. based cruise lines (but not many) also have automatic man overboard systems which send an alarm to the bridge when passengers or crew members go overboard.

I sent an open letter to P&O Ferries CEO, Helen Deeble (photo below right), which she ignored. 

It is amazing to me that P&O does not have such basic safety systems in place.

Helen Deeble P&O responded to the ITV program by saying that it is not required by law to install even a single camera on its ships. P&O has chosen to install cameras only in its duty free. Jewelry and alcohol  appear to be more precious to P&O than its customers.

Watch the video about the Fearnside - P&O Ferries dispute here.

Richard's mother, Marianne, started a petition to require P&O to install CCTV cameras on its ferries. Over 91,000 people have signed it so far. The petition is addressed to Ms.Deeble.

Click on the petition here and please sign it. You will have an opportunity to the reasons why cameras should be installed on the P&O ships.

ABC 20/20 Program "Controversy Around Man Overboard Systems"

Last night, ABC 20/20 aired a program about the controversy surrounding the cruise industry's refusal to install automatic man overboard systems.

There is no question that the systems exist and can be installed. However, the cruise industry refuses to do so. (Disney says that its cruise ships have the technology). But it's clear that Carnival and its brands (HAL, Princess for example) don't. 

The cruise industry has endless excuses why it has still not complied with the law enacted 4 years ago. It says that a bird or debris in the air can set the alarms off. The lawyer for the cruise lines in the 20/20 program says that the cruise lines have not "perfected" an automatic system yet. But there is no requirement for a "perfect" system. As matters exist now, the cruise lines have no system at all, in violation of the law.

The cruise lines' approach is to attack the victims. The cruise defense lawyer attacks the dead and injured saying: “I call it 'sail and sue.' We deal with it all the time.”  You can read my response here

I will admit that many people I have spoken to don't seem to care much about the fact that Carnival has no automatic system in place. Most blame the passenger for being intoxicated and are quick to insult her. That's what Carnival and the other non-compliant cruise lines are counting on.

It's a rather amazing phenomenon to see a non-tax paying foreign corporation which collects over $15 billion a year, from tax-paying U.S. citizens, and makes hundreds of millions of dollars pushing alcohol sales, blatantly ignore the law requiring overboard systems, and then shift 100% of the blame on to the passenger who got drunk on the Carnival booze. 

 


ABC News | More ABC News Videos

ABC 20/20 Tonight: "Woman's Terrifying Fall From Cruise Ship Caught on Tape"

Cruise Ship CameraTonight ABC's 20/20 will take a look at the case of a cruise passenger who fell from her balcony, struck a lifeboat below her, and then plunged into the water.

Although her fall was captured on the cruise ship's surveillance cameras, the ship sailed on. That's because Carnival did not have an automatic man overboard system in place to notify the bridge that a person went overboard.

The camera which recorded the passenger going overboard was not monitored by a cruise ship employee, nor was it tied to an alarm system of any type. 

It took an hour and one-half for the cruise line to figure out what happened and turn around and rescue the young woman.  The fact that she was still alive is a miracle.

I do not represent this woman although I was interviewed during the program, which you can see a portion of from this morning's Good Morning America program. 

Some people may say that it was the woman's fault for drinking too much and she's to blame for falling overboard. A jury can apportion fault to both the passenger and the cruise line. Cruise lines in our jurisdiction have legal liability when they over-serve alcohol to passengers. Selling booze is a major money maker for cruise lines. Cruise lines don't make money selling cruise tickets. The big money comes from "onboard purchases," like excursions, gift shop purchases, casino gambling and, number one profit center, pushing alcohol sales.

But the story is not just about who's to blame for the alcohol and the fall overboard.

Jim Walker Cruise Ship Man OverboardIn 2010, Congress passed a law requiring that cruise lines install man overboard technology. The cruise lines have come up with a boat load of excuses why they have not complied with the law, like the technology doesn't exist, or it's inaccurate and unreliable, or its just too expensive.

But there is no question the technology exists. My belief is that the cruise lines simply don't want to spend the money.

The systems are required irrespective of why a person goes overboard.  If they are drunk, or acting irresponsibly, or they fall by accident, or they want to commit suicide, or they are thrown overboard, it doesn't matter. The cruise lines must have the systems in place.

The vast majority of cruise ships don't.  

They would rather keep the money and accuse the passengers of being drunk on the alcohol the cruise ship sold.

Delays in promptly reporting overboard passengers to the U.S. Coast Guard causes the rescue to encompass massive areas of the ocean. This costs the Coast Guard a lot of money, sometimes $1,000,000 in unnecessary costs for helicopters, aircraft and cutters. Who pays for that? Not the cruise lines. They don't even pay any U.S. taxes. U.S. taxpayers do!

The 20/20 program airs tonight at 10:00 PM EST.

Have a thought?  Leave a comment below, or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

 Credit: "How prepared is your ship if you fall overboard?" ABC NEWS 20/20

 

"Sail & Sue" - Cruise Lines' Response to Dead Overboard Passengers and Crew is Cruel

There have been 5 persons overboard in the past 3 weeks. 

There will be many more this year.

None of the cruise lines involved in the overboard cases -  Royal Caribbean, Holland America Line & Princess - have installed automatic man overboard systems.

So a passenger disappears at sea. "A mystery," the cruise line says. "Not our problem." A crew member jumps overboard. "Suicide by sea," says the cruise line. "Not out fault." And the beat goes on. 

Cruise Ship Overboard Passengers The cruise lines don't seem too concerned about people disappearing on the high seas. 

Congress passed a law a couple of years ago, requiring automatic man overboard systems. It doesn't matter whether the person jumped, or slipped, or was drunk, or was engaged in horse-play, or was thrown overboard. The cruise lines have not complied with the cruise safety law. 

California lawyer Larry Kaye, the go-to lawyer for the cruise lines' trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), tells ABC News “These detection systems are not perfected yet."  (Mr. Kaye previously appeared on the cruise lines' behalf before Congress to argue that cruise lines should not be forced to turn over crime data to the American public).

Of course, the cruise safety law does not require a "perfect" man overboard system, only one that "reasonably" complies with the law.

The non-tax paying cruise industry's excuses are endless. "There is no technology available, or the systems are not reliable, or the systems are too expensive," the cruise lines say. The cruise lines' excuses are as seemingly endless as the billions of tax-free money collected each year by the cruise lines from tax paying Americas who take their families on cruises offered by these unlawful cruise lines.

ABC News will be airing a special tomorrow night on passengers going overboard. You will learn that the cruise industry has not installed the man overboard system. When a person falls into the sea, if they are not immediately spotted, the cruise ships sail on. The cruise lines have a million reasons why they have not complied with the law. 

Cruise lawyer Kaye has an answer for what the cruise lines view as a problem of people disappearing on cruise vacations.

“I call it 'sail and sue.' We deal with it all the time,” Kaye tells ABC News. “I think cruise ships are probably the safest vacation option available to most people."

That's what Kaye is paid to say.

For the families of passengers who have gone overboard under mysterious circumstances, or a crew member who decides to end his  life going over the rail, the "sail and sue" accusation is the final indignity. None of the last 5 cruise overboard victims have filed a lawsuit nor will they. 

I suppose that's impossible, isn't it? They are dead after all.

Cruise industry lawyer Kaye's vulgar comments are highly offensive to families grieving the loss of their loved ones.

Kaye's comments perfectly reflect the cruise industry's attitude to passengers and crew lost at sea. 

 

Photo Credit: ABC News

Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report Reveals Cruise Industry Failed to Implement Key Provisions of Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act (CVSSA) of 2010

Adventure of the SeasThe Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report regarding whether the cruise industry has implemented the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) of 2010. 

I have pointed out that the last several man overboard cases indicate that the cruise industry refuses to install the necessary man overboard technology. It's disgraceful that this is the situation in 2014.  

The GAO report indicates the cruise lines have still failed to implement four key provisions of the CVSSA:

  • (1) man overboard technology, which detects and alerts the crew to a person falling overboard;
  • (2) video recording requirements, which are to assist in documenting crimes on the vessel and in providing evidence for the prosecution of such crimes;
  • (3) acoustical hailing and warning devices, which provide communication capability around a vessel operating in high-risk waters; and
  • (4) certification of training providers that teach the CVSSA training course on crime prevention, detection, evidence preservation, and reporting.

The GAO report states that five companies have indicated that they have effective man overboard technology in order for the cruise lines to comply with the CVSSA. 

However, the cruise lines and its trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), claim that the man overboard technology does not exist. CLIA further informed the GAO that that man overboard technology is not reliable because of the movement of the ship, weather, sun glare, and "lens encrustation caused by saltwater." 

These seems like flimsy excuses to me.  We reported before on systems that exist and are readily Man Overboardavailable. Read here and here. If salt water on the lens of a camera is really a problem, then have a crew member wipe it off! 

The GAO met with five cruise lines about the non-compliance issue. Four of the five cruise lines claim that they are testing different technologies on their ships. One of the lines, which the GAO report did not identify, is not even bothering to conduct any testing. 

Some of the cruise lines complained about false readings. One unidentified cruise line representative complained that a false positive "could result in increased operational costs such as conducting unnecessary searches or disrupting an itinerary."

This cruise line argued that if the "technology failed to detect a passenger who had gone overboard, and as a result the vessel failed to conduct a search for that person, this type of error could expose the cruise line to costly litigation."

The cruise lines all complained about having to "invest significant amounts of money in man overboard technology." 

In my assessment, it seems like the cruise lines are more interested in avoiding costs rather than saving lives. 

The cruise industry's excuses are simply amazing. As matters now stand, there are no man overboard readings at all. Both passengers and crew members continue to go overboard undetected in most cases. This causes long delays before the Coast Guard is notified and vastly increases the area the Coast Guard helicopters and airplanes have to search. Some delayed searches cost the Coast Guard a million dollars.  Who pays for these costs? U.S. taxpayers, not the foreign flagged cruise lines which do not even pay any federal income taxes anyway.   

One other interesting issue which the GAO report revealed is that the cruise lines expressed frustration with the delay of the Coast Guard in making recommendations about suitable overboard systems and not communicating with the cruise lines. 

However, the cruise lines are not required to wait for the Coast Guard to design the systems for them. Our federal government may be skilled in quickly medevacing ill passengers on the high seas, but it is dreadfully slow in passing maritime laws that affect the cruise lines and enforcing them. The cruise industry has been in violation of the law for years. Blaming the Coast Guard is not an excuse.  

My recommendation for compelling the cruise lines to install the required systems is to make it in their best economic interests to do so.

All cruise lines not compliant with the CVSSA should to be 100% responsible for all Coast Guard costs when the cruise lines waste hours before notifying them of a person who has gone overboard. Installing a system which saves human lives is far more important than a $35 billion non-tax-paying foreign industry avoiding costs associated with a false positive once in a while. It's also far cheaper to U.S. taxpayers than having, as matter now stand, no system at all. 

 

Art Credit: CruelKev2's blog

Photo: ABC News

"An Unhappy Ship" - "This Will Be My Family's Last Cruise"

Last week, I reported on a Filipino crew member who apparently jumped off of the Grand Princess cruise ship after it left San Francisco. The 34 year old man was the fifth person to go overboard in the last 18 days. 

Although Princess did not notify the Coast Guard until approximately two hours after the crew member went overboard, it was quick to tell the press that the crew member intentionally jumped.  "Not our fault" seems to be the attitude.  Put the "suicide" label on the case and forget about it, seems to be the cruise line's usual response.

Putting the issue of legal blame aside for the moment, could the crew member's death have been avoided? Are there systems in place to provide counseling for crew members under stress?

Over the last year I have written about cruise lines overworking and underpaying their shipboard employees. I have discussed Princess working their employees to the bone. I've discussed the policies of parent company Carnival reducing pay, diverting the crew member's tips, suspending their retirement programs, and firing employees when they protest. There is only so much that anyone can take, working every single day far away from their families during a 8 month contract.

Is there a correlation between this more difficult work environment and an increased sense of hopelessness of the crew members who the cruise lines easily replace when they crack and jump?    

When a cruise line quickly explains that a crew member intentionally went overboard, it's not really an explanation. It seems to raise more questions than provide answers.  

In response to our article about the Princess crew member lost at sea, I received this message from a reader: 

"I was on the prior cruise to Hawaii for Christmas and New Years. This was my wife and my 7th cruise. But to me, this was an unhappy ship. The employees were not happy, and many passengers were also not happy. The workers had a palpable fear of their bosses. They were afraid to allow anyone to make a decision without consult from their supervisor. I mean, things like, I want a different table. The host would feel the need to ask their supervisor.

To me, this is not a surprise. I feel it is the industry's dirty little secret. The wage scale and treatment of replaceable employees. This will be my family's last cruise."

 

Photo Credit: Hakilon / Wikipedia

Cruise Critic's Man Overboard Article Misses the Boat

Yesterday the on-line cruise community Cruise Critic published an article "Man Overboards: Questions and Answers."

We previously criticized Cruise Critic after it deleted comments from its message boards about the passenger who recently went overboard from the HAL Veendam. We have also been critical of the cruise lines for not investing in installing the man overboard systems

The man overboard systems came to the public's attention because a non-profit victim's group, the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization, lobbied Congress to require the installation of these systems. The cruise industry vigorously fought against the requirement. Cruise lines argued that the systems were not needed.

The ICV attended a series of hearings before the Senate and the House Cruise Criticfrom 2005 through 2009 culminating in the passage of the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act (CVSSA) of 2010. This law required all cruise ships, effective January 2012, to install detection systems which immediately notify the bridge when a person goes overboard. 

Regarding its article yesterday, Cruise Critic did not interview anyone at the ICV, or independent expert engineers, or the companies which have developed man overboard systems. or Coast Guard officials, or any critics of the cruise industry.

Instead, Cruise Critic interviewed only one cruise line, Carnival, and the cruise industry's trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA).  Cruise Critic did not even mention the CVSSA in the article.

The bottom line is that the cruise industry is in violation of the CVSSA. It has broken the law, and continues to break the law every time a cruise ship - without a man overboard system - sails. Cruise Critic interviewed only the law-breaking cruise industry. Unfortunately, this is the style of the Expedia-owned, cruise friendly cruise site.

In Cruise Critic's article, the cruise industry claims that man overboard systems are not reliable and that the cruise lines are working hard to develop a system. Hogwash. The technology is available, reliable and ready to be installed. The cruise industry is just dragging its feet  

Carnival says that it has been trying to development a system since 2006. That seems like nonsense too.  In 2006, Carnival and CLIA were doing everything possible to convince Congress that the systems were not necessary. They were busy then spending millions lobbying Congress to kill the man overboard legislation, not to develop a man overboard system.   

Cruise Critic also gives an explanation why its doesn't "cover" all cases of overboard passengers. I could care less whether it does or not.  But we were not talking about articles, but comments left by cruisers. I was critical of Cruise Critic's decision to censor its message boards and to delete the innocuous comments of its members who decided to mention the overboard case which the cruise line wanted to keep secret.

Princess Cruises: Why No Automatic Man Overboard Systems on the Grand Princess?

Today's news that a search is underway to rescue a crew member who apparently jumped from the Grand Princess cruise ship early this morning illustrates a continuing problem with the cruise industry.

A Coast Guard spokesperson said that there was a 2 hour delay between the crew members going overboard and notification to the Coast Guard.    

The 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2010 required, effective January 1, 2012, that cruise cruise would install automatic man overboard systems.  The legislative intent of the cruise safety act was to make certain that cruise ships had systems in place to notify them immediately when Man Overboard Systemspassengers (or crew) went overboard so that the ship would initiate immediate search and rescue procedures. 

State-of-the-art systems currently exist. When a person goes overboard, the system will send a signal to the bridge, infrared images are recorded, and the cruise ship can mark the exact coordinates of the ship. 

It was extensively debated at several Congressional hearings that "old school" technology, of pouring through hours of surveillance videos after-the-fact, is inadequate to respond reasonably to emergencies when person go into the sea. 

Right now, the cruise message boards indicate that the Grand Princess, along with the nearby Star Princess, and an unidentified cargo ship, are searching the waters some 1,000 miles out at sea from Hawaii. A C-130 Hercules aircraft, courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard, is flying the great distance to assist in the search at considerable expense.

Unfortunately, this is not unlike searching for a needle in a haystack.  

The delay and substantial expense of a tardy search & rescue could be eliminated if cruise lines complied with the cruise safety law.  Rescue efforts could be initiated immediately if the existing technology were implemented. And the chances of a successful rescue could be substantially improved as well.

Another person disappeared from the same Princess cruise ship less than two months ago. A passenger went overboard from the Grand Princess on November 13, 2013.  

In both cases, the Princess ships apparently had no overboard systems. In both cases, Princess had to eventually review the surveillance video to find out what happened. In both cases Princess announced that the person committed suicide. Having old school video doesn't count. It does not matter either that the person went overboard because of a suicide, as opposed to an accidental fall or being thrown overboard. 

Cruise lines that have not invested in the new technology because of the costs of installing the new systems are causing massive costs to the Coast Guard that U.S. taxpayers pay. They are sloughing off their legal obligations and passing the costs to all of us. 

Non-compliant cruise lines like Princess should be responsible for all costs unnecessarily incurred by the Coast Guard in cases like this.  

You can see a video of the case by a San Francisco news station here.

 

Image Credit: gCaptain

5 Overboards in 18 Days: Crew Member Missing From Grand Princess Cruise Ship

A local CBS news station in San Francisco is reporting that a 34 year-old crew member is missing from the Grand Princess cruise ship approximately 1,000 miles northeast of Hawaii.

According to the internet news report, Princess Cruises says that the man reportedly jumped overboard last night or early this morning. 

The cruise ship, owned by Carnival Corporation and operated by Princess Cruises, left San Francisco last weekend on a 15-day round-trip cruise to Hilo.

The Coast Guard in Hawaii received a call from the cruise ship around 12:20 AM. The CBS station Grand Princess quoted a Coast Guard representative saying:

“The report indicated that crew member had been missing for approximately two hours and this occurred approximately 1,000 miles northeast of Oahu, Hawaii." 

A spokeswoman for Princess later told KCBS that surveillance footage shows the crew member intentionally jumping overboard.

The Coast Guard dispatched a C-130 aircraft to fly to the area. 

The Grand Princess, together with another Princess cruise ship, the Star Princess, is searching for the man. 

CBS says that the thousands of passengers on board were confined to their cabins for a head count.

This latest overboard means that five person have gone overboard since December 10, 2013. That's 5 people in 18 days.

Passengers went overboard from the Rhapsody of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Independence of the Seas, all operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises in just eleven days. Yesterday, we posted an article about a passenger going overboard from Holland America Line's Veendam.

The fact that there was a two hour delay between the crew member going overboard and notification to the Coast Guard suggests that this Princess cruise ship did not have an automatic man overboard system as required by the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act.

In November, a woman went overboard from the Princess Grand Princess. That cruise ship also apparently did not have a man overboard system.  Princess Cruises characterized that disappearance as a suicide too. 

 

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

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Ivan T.

Passenger Missing From Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas Sailing to Cayman Islands

According to news sources, a passenger is reportedly missing from the Independence of the Seas cruise ship which sailed to the Cayman Islands today. 

The missing passenger is a 65-year-old man from Canada who was reported missing by his wife, before the Royal Caribbean ship arrived at the Grand Cayman's port.

His name and hometown were not disclosed.

Independence of the SeasA search of the cruise ship and a review of closed-circuit camera footage provided no information. 

A Royal Caribbean spokesperson says that the missing man was last seen entering his room just before midnight.

You can watch a video from the Cayman's television station here.

Royal Caribbean's inability to explain what happened to its cruise guest reveals, again, that the cruise line is in violation of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act.

This law requires cruise lines to install state of the art automatic man overboard technology to detect persons going over the rails into the sea. Technology exists to detect when passengers or crew members go overboard and will record their images and send a signal to the bridge notifying the officers of the emergency in order to begin emergency rescue procedures.

Read our article: Cruise Industry Ignores Law Requiring Man-Overboard System.

Unfortunately Royal Caribbean has not implemented this system.

Two days ago, another Canadian went overboard from the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas as the cruise ship was sailing to San Juan.

Ten days ago, a passenger disappeared from the Rhapsody of the Seas in Australian waters. 

If you have a comment, please join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Aztec06

P&O Ferries Ignores Widespread Requests to Install Safety Cameras on its Ferries

PO Ferries Pride of KentLast week I wrote an article entitled Top 10 Most Outrageous Cruise Ship Stories of 2013. There were a lot out outrageous moments in the maritime community last year. I had to work hard to whittle my initial list of outrageous cruise stories down to just ten.  

One outrageous story which I had to cut from the list at the last moment was the story of the disappearance of Richard Fearnside from the P&O Ferries Pride of Kent. Earlier this year, Richard was a passenger on the P&O ferry sailing with his girlfriend back to the U.K. from Calais when he went to the top deck to have a smoke. He disappeared.

P&O could offer no explanation regarding what happened to its fare-paying guest. Why? Because the P&O ferry did not have an automatic man overboard system to detect persons going overboard. Incredibly, it did not even have a single CCTV camera on the exterior, top passenger deck.

Mysteries like this are unacceptable in a caring and civilized world. But they are not rare.

Two days ago, a Canadian man disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas as the cruise ship sailed on a Caribbean cruise to the Cayman Islands. The cruise ship had no man overboard system and no CCTV cameras which captured what happened to the cruise line passenger.

Just eleven days earlier, an Australian man fell from from Royal Carribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas. Again the ship had no man overboard system and no surveillance camera recorded how or why the passenger went overboard.  

P&O has also experienced a rash of overboards where the ferry line could offer no explanation what happened. 

Richard Fearnside's mother, Marianne, wrote to the CEO of P&O, Helen Deeble, and inquired why there were no cameras on the ferry. Her letter was sloughed off to a PR man who rudely told her to take a hike. Marianne made the mistake of pointing out that P&O has CCTV cameras in its duty free shops to protect the booze on its ship, so why no CCTV on exterior passenger decks?

The same problem exists with larger cruise lines like Royal Caribbean which monitors CCTV cameras in its casino to protect its casino chips. Companies like P&O and Royal Caribbean don't want to see their booze or casino money disappear. But they don't feel the same way about their passengers.     

Richard Fearnside Marianne Fearnside Marianne Fearnsie recently started a petition to require P&O Ferries to install CCTV cameras on its passenger decks. To date, over 90,000 people have signed the petition while making insightful comments explaining why surveillance camera are required.

I sent an open letter to P&O CEO Ms. Deeble, inquiring why something as simple and inexpensive as CCTV cameras have not been installed, which you can read here.

Unfortunately, P&O ignored my little letter. But P&O cannot ignore Marianne Fearnside's growing petition.

Victim advocate organizations and the media have taken notice of the Fearnside family's plight. Unexplained disappearances in the cruise industry and on P&O ships will surely continue in 2014. And just as surely, every time someone goes overboard from a P&O ferry, the advocacy groups, the media and this blog will protest loudly why P&O has done nothing about this problem.      

 

Sign the petition here.

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

Man Overboard from the Adventure of the Seas

Adventure of the SeasEarly this morning we received an email from a cruise passenger aboard the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas alerting us that a man had gone overboard last night. We received this message:

"Man overboard Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas. Close enough to San Juan to be getting AT&T service right now. At about 8:45 - 9:00 PM, the Captain came over loudspeaker and announced that a man had "jumped" overboard. They also said they believed he was in his mid 20s. About 30 - 45 minutes later they announced the arrival of a Coast Guard helicopter. I can verify. When the announcement was made I went on deck and witnessed the ship turning around. They launched life preservers with lights attached as well as two rescue boats. There were spotlights at first and brighter ones joined later. There was talk spreading throughout the shop that people had witnessed the pulling the spotlights out of the theater or ice rink.

I wrote that at about 11 last night. We are now heading to port. Captain told us there would be a 4 hour delay and that he extended condolences to the family. No more information at this time."

There have been at least 219 persons overboard since 2000, according to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein.

Nine days ago, we reported on another passengers who disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas.

If you are on the cruise or have any information or photographs you wish to share, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Update Sunday afternoon: The AP quotes a Royal Caribbean spokesperson saying that the captain of the Adventure of the Seas stopped the ship, turned around and alerted authorities after a passenger reported seeing the person going overboard late Saturday.The cruise spokesperson said footage of the incident was also captured by the ship's cameras.  You can read updated comments here.

According to the Coast Guard said that the missing man is Canadian Tien Phuoc Nguyen, age 26, and was sailing with his family.

There is an article in a Puerto Rican newspaper suggesting that the man may have been involved in an argument with his family & under influence of alcohol, and that ship security tried to intervene prior to him going overboard.

The U.K.'s Daily Mail also covered the story.  

 

Photo Credit: Top CC-BY-SA-3.0 / Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia

Man Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas

We have been notified from readers of Cruise Law News that a passenger has gone overboard from the Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas.

The cruise ship was reportedly 550 kilometres east of Brisbane on a trip from Sydney to the South Pacific.

The P&O's Pacific Pearl cruise ship was involved in the recovery of the body.

We have reported often that cruise ships do not have automatic man-overboard alarms to detect passengers and crew who go overboard.

If this case, according to the local press, the man was seen falling into the sea around 2:00 AM, but he was not rescued. The cruise line claims that crew members "immediately threw life rings and marker smoke into the water, turned the ship around and launched rescue boats," but this has not been verified by a passenger on board.  

We have not yet received details from any passengers regarding exactly what happened or how the cruise ship responded.

His body was located approximately 7 and one-half hours later, at 9:30 AM. 

If you have information, photographs or video regarding this incident, please contact us.

Photos Credit: Wikipedia / Lisa LushRhapsody of the Seas 

 

P&O Ferries' Competitors Weigh in on Man-Overboard CCTV Camera Debate in U.K.

We have asked P&O Ferries' primary competitors to answer whether they have CCTV cameras on the passenger decks on their ships. We'd like to see whether P&O Ferries is the only U.K. based ferry line not using CCTV cameras to monitor and record the activities on their passenger decks.

France's MyFerryLink answered today stating only "Yes." We're less than sure exactly what applications this ferry line is using surveillance camera for (gift shop, interior hallways or exterior decks), although we appreciate the (one word) response.

DFDS Seaways Dover to CalaisDFDS Seaways provided the following response to our inquiry:   

"DFDS Seaways has, to a varying degree, camera surveillance on all of our ships, monitoring indoor and outdoor areas, for both safety and security reasons. In our experience, we believe that cameras are a passive monitoring method that will not efficiently prevent people from falling overboard or lead to a faster response and life-saving action. We will always monitor and consider the latest safety developments, new methods and techniques, including onboard cameras, that could save people and prevent accidents. We are also always open for discussion and sharing both experiences and best practice with other operators in the industry."

Okay, its not exactly the response I hoped for.  Seems like DFDS is doing something but is not supportive of requiring CCTV cameras on all exterior decks on all ships.  But DFDS has voiced an open mind, unlike P&O Ferries, and has stated an interest in open discussions and best practices. 

When push comes to shove and the issue of mandatory legislation requiring CCTV cameras on U.K. ferries comes to a vote, at this point DFDS may side with P&O Ferries. But its responsiveness to our requests evidences a different and more respectful response compared to their ferry rivals.

There's no question that CCTV and man overboard detection systems can immediately notify the bridge of man overboards, hasten rescues, and save lives. Perhaps DFDS can meet with experts on this issue and can be a leader in this field.   

We previously requested our readers and Facebook followers to send us photographs of the CCTV cameras on P&O, DFDS and MyFerryLink.  We've received some responses and images but would like to see a broader response to this inquiry.  If you are crossing between Dover and Calais on one of these lines, please take a photo of any cameras on the exterior decks on these ferries and send us an email. If you know of any safety issues on these ferries, good or bad, we'd like to hear from you as well.

Don't forget Marianne Fearnside's petition to require CCTV cameras on ferries.  There are over 85,700 supporters so far!          

P&O Ferries Plagued By Overboard Passengers & No Safety Systems

P&O Ferries crisis management spokesperson Chris Laming recently responded to the disappearance of passenger Richard Fearnside.

He stated that P&O Ferries refuses to consider installing CCTV cameras on the Pride of Kent ferry.

He told a newspaper in Kent, U.K.:

"It is so rare. It is just not practical to consider doing this."

That's cruel, and it's hardly true.P&O Ferries - Passenger Missing - Teresa Cowley

Last December, a 43 year-old mother of twin girls disappeared from another P&O Ferries ship, the Pride of Rotterdam. Teresa Cowley (right) fell overboard following a night of drinking on board the P&O ferry as it sailed from Hull to Rotterdam in the early hours of December 31, 2012. 

The sale of alcohol is a major money maker for cruise lines and ferry operators. Excessive alcohol sales increase the likelihood of passengers going overboard and require effective safety protocols and systems.

The Daily Mail in the U.K. covered the story in an article: "British Mother of Twin Girls Feared Drowned After Flling Off Ferry During Night Drinking With Husband On Holland-Bound Ship."  

The newspaper article states that an after-the-fact review of "CCTV cameras on board the ship show Teresa staggering alone on deck shortly after 1 AM." But like Richard Fearnside's case, there was no CCTV showing the passenger going overboard, and apparently the P&O ship had no automatic overboard system signalling the bridge of the emergency. 

Five months later, Mr. Fearnside also disappeared. Two overboard, dead P&O passengers in just 5 months. Are man-overboard cases really "so rare" as P&O claims?

In August of this year, a passenger went overboard from the P&O Pride of Burgandy.

In January 2011, P&O Ferries notified the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency of a passenger missing from the P&O European Highlander ferry sailing from Larne to Cairnryan. The newspaper stated this was "standard procedure" when people go overboard from a P&O ferry. "A major air and sea search" was launched due to the emergency. Again, there were no CCTV images of the apparent overboard nor any type of automatic man overboard system on the ship. Eventually the expensive search & rescue operation was called off after the ferry company couldn't determine whether the passenger went overboard or was simply unaccounted for.

A similar incident occurred in 2006 aboard the Pride of Kent when P&O Ferries alerted authorities of the disappearance of a young couple leading to an early morning, 7 hour, international air and sea search involving four lifeboats, a rescue tug, two French helicopters and one coastguard search plane.  After this massive and expensive undertaking, it turns out that the two passengers has disembarked the ferry and were located in Belgium. All of this could have been avoided by the installation of CCTV and overboard systems.

The absence of safety systems presents a danger for crew members as well as passengers. In 2008, a crew member aboard the P&O ferry Pride of Rotterdam disappeared 20 miles out at sea. Seven lifeboats and two search and rescue helicopters subsequently tried to find the man; however, a Royal Navy spokesperson told the BBC that the water was "very cold" and the man's chances of survival were considered "very slim."

For U.S. based cruise lines, the use of CCTV cameras is standard operating procedure. As I mentioned in a previous article, cruise lines like Norwegian Cruise Line have over 1,000 CCTV cameras in operation on a single ship. Some cruise ships, although not many, have state-of-the art automatic man overboard systems. But the U.K.'s P&O Ferries appears to be decades behind in terms of basic safety and security systems.

CCTV systems play an important part of a vessel's safety and security system. A CCTV system with automatic alarms is essential to the timely search and rescue of passengers going overboard. Contrary to what many think, overboard passengers can be saved if the bridge is notified promptly of the emergency. A passenger who fell off of the P&O Express ferry was rescued in 2009 because other passengers immediately notified the ship's crew. Another passenger from the P&O ferry Pride of Calais was promptly rescued in 2010.  Similar success was not obtained when a passenger went overboard from the P&O ferry, the Pride of Burgundy, in October 2010.

But many overboards occur in the dark late at night when no other passengers are around which make the need for CCTV systems even more important. A sound vessel safety program should integrate state-of-the-art technologies and not rely on the customers to report emergencies when things go wrong.

You can see a successful rescue of a passenger from a different ferry company here. The woman reportedly fell from an upper deck after trying to light her cigarette.

CCTV is also effective in monitoring whether criminals or terrorists come onto a ship or whether Pride of Rotterdamcustomers go off the ship due to foul play or preventable accidents. They act as a deterrent to crime and have a wide range of safety applications. They can assist the operators in determining whether the passengers are in a state of intoxication which often leads to horse-play and accidents.  

In April last year, around 200 students in an intoxicated rampage from Manchester trashed a P&O ferry sailing from Dover to Calais ferry and frightened fellow passengers. CCTV cameras would have been effective in documenting the unsafe and reckless behavior and aiding in the prosecution of those involved in the drunken shipboard brawl.

There's no justification for not installing CCTV cameras on a commercial passenger ship. The costs are inexpensive and the cargo is precious. 

 

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

Call for help: The Fearnside family has started a campaign to require ferry operators to install CCTV cameras on their vessels.  Please click here and sign the petition.

Photo Credit: Newsteam via Daily Mail

P&O Ferries Refuses to Install CCTV or Man Overboard Systems after Passenger Disappears

The parents of a 30 year-old passenger who disappeared from a ferry sailing between Calais and Dover are petitioning for legislation requiring ships to install closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras.

Richard Fearnside, son of Marianne and Bob Fearnside, of Whitstable, Kent (U.K.), disappeared from the Pride of Kent ferry last May. He was last seen going to an exterior deck to smoke a cigarette. An alarm was not raised until the ship docked at Dover at the end of the cruise when his girlfriend could not locate him.

Richard Fearnside - Missing - Pride of KentThe delayed search and rescue efforts, conducted by ships and helicopters, were unsuccessful.

Richard's mother was quoted in a local newspaper stating "we don't know whether Richard slipped, fell, jumped or was pushed - we have no idea what happened to our son. He just vanished."

The ferry company, P&O Ferries, has been indifferent to the family's plight.

Mr. and Ms. Fearnside corresponded with P&O Ferries asking it to install cameras on passenger decks, but the ferry line rebuffed them. 

P&O Ferries crisis management spokesman Chris Laming wrote back to the Fearnsides claiming that it would be impossible for the ferry company to:

  • "Cover all of the open spaces with CCTV, 
  • Monitor such cameras 24 hours a day, or
  • Make and retain such recordings in perpetuity."

As anyone with a minimum understanding of the affordable technology readily available to the maritime community knows, these statements made on P&O Ferries behalf are patently false and misleading. It is easy to position CCTV cameras to cover all of the public areas, especially in small ferry boats like this. Reputable operators retain the electronic data for 30 days and automatic sensors do not require the cameras to be manned 24 hours. 

We have attended over a half-dozen U.S. Congressional hearings about cruise ship safety. There has been extensive debate about the need for CCTV cameras covering the public areas of cruise ships and automatic man-overboard systems to alert the bridge that a person has gone overboard from the ship. 

Automatic man-overboard systems exist and are easily installed. It is preposterous to suggest that it is not possible to cover all of the public spaces with CCTV cameras and man-overboard technology. Small ferries have limited open decks and no private balconies (see photo below). Watch this recent video which includes a former Coast Guard engineer who designed such systems.

Norwegian Cruise Line, for examples, has installed literally over a 1,000 cameras on its newest cruise ships. It can track every single inch of its cruise ships.

The only reason that a cruise line or ferry operator would refuse to install such systems is that they do not want to spend the money. They prefer profits over safety. Ironically, companies like P&O Ferries install cameras in their liquor and duty free shops to deter theft (cruise lines always install cameras in casinos to protect their money); however, they will take no steps to use cameras in other public spaces to deter sexual assaults and violence against passengers.

Protecting booze bottles and casino chips seems more important than protecting people on the high seas.

The result of such irresponsibility and greed is delayed rescue attempts of passengers and crew members who go overboard. Just like in Mr. Fearnside's case, the Coast Guard is typically called in late.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer's money is spent to search unnecessarily wide areas of the sea looking for the overboard person. It's like searching for a needle in the haystack.

Maritime operators like P&O Ferries would prefer taxpayers foot the bill rather than spending its own money on CCTV cameras and automatic overboard systems to protect its passengers and crew in the first place.

Cruise Expert Professor Ross Klein has documented 208 persons overboard from cruise ships and ferries since 2000.

The Fearnsides are doing something about this problem. They have started a campaign to require these irresponsible cruise and ferry operators to install CCTV cameras. BBC recently discussed the family's efforts to protect the public. Click on the link here and consider signing the petition.  

Also, please join our discussion on our Facebook page.  Please share the information with your friends and ask them to support the petition.

February 29 2013 Update: Think that cases of overboard passengers from ferries are rare? Hardly. read: P&O Ferries Plagued By Overboard Passengers & No Safety Systems

Photo credit (bottom): Wikipedia / Fabian318

Cruise Lines Continue to Ignore Cruise Safety Law's Requirement to Install Automatic Man-Overboard Systems

Grand Princess Cruise ShipIn the last week, there have been several articles about the cruise industry's refusal to comply with the requirements of the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act to install automatic man-overboard systems.

The spirit and intent of Congress in enacting the legislation, as expressed in several hearings in Washington D.C. which I attended over the years, was to require all cruise ships to implement system to alert the bridge when a passenger went overboard so that prompt rescue efforts could be undertaken.  

Unfortunately, the vast majority of cruise lines have not invested in the available systems.

A week ago the Miami Herald first published an article entitled "Overboard Cases on Cruise Lines Often Under-Reported to Public."   

The Huffington Post followed up with an article after a woman went overboard from a Princess Cruises ship, the Grand Princess, which apparently does not have an automatic man overboard system. The security personnel on the cruise ship were required to look through images on the cruise ship's CCTV system to look for the incident in order to confirm that the passenger went over the rail. 

Yesterday, a local South Florida NBC television station, WPTV, published an article entitled "Cruise Lines Are Slow to Implement a Man Overboard Detection System for Passengers."  It also aired the video segment below.

Our firm was mentioned in all of the articles.

Today Time magazine published an article "Cruise Industry’s Mysterious ‘Man Overboard’ Problem."

The cruise lines' refusal to comply with the law results in the U.S. Coast Guard having to deploy aircraft, helicopters and cutters over a wide search grid with the expensive and often million-dollar searches being paid for by U.S. taxpayers rather than the foreign-flagged cruise ships which pay no U.S. taxes in the first place. 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has documented over 200 person going overboard from cruise ships since 2000.  There is no question that the technology exists to automatically and instantly detect persons going overboard. 

Supporters of the cruise industry say that the percentage of overboard passengers is small compared to the total number of people going overboard.  That may be true. But the cruise industry's non-compliance with the cruise safety law ensures that the prospects of saving those overboard passengers are slim and their deaths are likely.

Watch the video below and let us know how you think how the cruise lines can be forced to comply with the law. Join the discussion on our Facebook page.  

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Ivan T.)

Miami Herald Looks at Cruise Ship Overboards

Today the Miami Herald published an article entitled "Overboard Cases on Cruise Lines Often Under-Reported to Public."

What jumps out from the article is that the cruise industry, as a whole, fundamentally still lacks transparency regarding the issue of cruise ship passengers and crew members going overboard on the high seas.

Miami Herald reporter Hannah B. Sampson was seemingly unable to obtain a straight answer from the cruise lines or the cruise trade organization regarding exactly which cruise ships have implemented automatic man overboard systems with an alarm to the bridge which comply with the 2010 Cruise Cruise Safety and Security ActVessel Safety & Security Act (CVSSA), and which cruise ships have no systems or "passive" system which don't notify the bridge and are in violation of the law. The closest the reporter could come to this basic issue is obtaining a quote from a company which installs both systems stating that “a significant number” of cruise ship just use passive technology.

The bottom line inquiry is whether the cruise industry is in compliance with the CVSSA. My assessment is that the industry is largely not in compliance at all.

A Carnival spokesperson told the Miami Herald that the industry needs to be transparent and showcase the steps it takes to provide the public with the "safest and highest quality vacation experience available." But Carnival won't state what basic steps it has taken to comply with the CVSSA, 

Does a single one of the 100 plus cruise ships owned by Carnival Corporation and sailing under the flags of Costa, Cunard, Holland America Line, P&O or Princess have an alarm system which provides real time data to the bridge such that emergency rescue measures can be immediately undertaken? I have seen no evidence of that. Cruise lines like Princess are still reviewing CCTV images to try to figure out what happened. Meanwhile, the ship continues to sail on and the prospect of a successful rescue diminishes.

The proof of compliance or not, of course, is simple enough. Has a single cruise passenger or crew member been successfully rescued after an automatic system has detected a person going overboard?  I have seen no evidence of that either.

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, who was quoted in the Miami Herald article, has documented 57 overboards from 2011 to the present since the 2010 safety law was enacted. Not one automatic overboard system has been documented to be in use and resulted in a saved life.

Take, for example, the latest passenger going overboard from a cruise ship a few days ago. A woman in her thirties went overboard the Grand Princess north of Hawaii. There were no announcements that a CVSSA-compliance automatic system detected and immediately signaled the woman going overboard. Instead, the cruise line announced that they were able to verify another passenger's account only after reviewing images discovered during an after-the-fact review of closed circuit television (CCTV) images.

The public relations team at Princess Cruises were quick to announce that the woman "intentionally" went overboard. The media was equally quick in extrapolating that comment to mean that the woman intended to end her life via suicide. Cruise fan sites like Cruise Critic were quick to bash the woman as selfish and responsible for ruining everyone else's cruise. Lost in the blame-the-passenger PR efforts were any discussions whether Princess was in violation of the CVSSA and whether the woman could have been rescued if the cruise line had been in compliance with the cruise safety law.

It is irrelevant under the CVSSA whether the person going overboard jumped to end their life, or jumped as a plea for help, or jumped in a state of confusion while intoxicated (we received at least one comment, to our article. that the woman may have been drinking heavily), or fell, or was pushed. This is a point I mentioned recently in an article in the Huffington Post.

Three years after the CVVSA the cruise lines find themselves substantially in violation of the cruise safety law. They are still playing the game of blaming "suicidal" passengers rather than admitting that they have not invested into the new overboard technologies to try and save everyone who goes overboard for any reason.  Unfortunately, there will be no widespread compliance with the CVSSA until substantial penalties are levied against non-compliant cruise lines.

Late discovery of a missing crew member or passenger results in massive search and rescue efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard costing literally a million dollars. Cruise ships not in compliance with the CVSSA should be required to reimburse the U.S. taxpayers who are paying for the unsuccessful rescue attempts. The costs associated with one search and rescue effort would pay for an automatic system.

Yesterday a reader of Cruise Law News made these comments about the Princess passenger going overboard:

Obviously the penalties for not complying with the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act are not sufficient. If the captain of the ship and the directors of the cruise line faced manslaughter charges every time someone disappeared from a non-compliant ship, the compliance rate would rapidly approach 100%

The cruise line should also be liable for search costs, and should be required to have a suitable rescue boat/vehicle ready to go at all times. Considering the size of some of these ships, they should probably be required to have several rescue boats ready, guaranteeing a mandatory maximum response time to the overboard person.

Particularly where jurisdictional issues could prevent prosecutions, non-compliant vessels could be prohibited from operating in US waters, or the waters of any other country with similar legislation, and the promotion and sale of cruises on these vessels could also be prohibited within these countries. Whilst there would be loopholes, such as internet sales, the financial impact on these vessels should be enough to ensure rapid compliance.

U.S. Woman Disappears From Grand Princess Cruise Ship

Multiple news sources are reporting that a woman is missing from the Grand Princess cruise ship.

The U.S. cruise passenger was last seen around noon. News accounts state that the crew of the Princess Cruises ship reported her missing to the U.S. Coast Guard around 1:00 PM.

The Coast Guard deployed a Hercules aircraft to search for the woman about 750 miles northeast of Hilo, Hawaii.

The Associated Press reports that Princess Cruises spokeswoman Julie Benson says that the Grand Princess Overboard Passengerpassenger intentionally went overboard.

The Coast Guard states that the woman is 30, while Princess Cruises says she is 54.

In 2010, Congress passed the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act which requires cruise ships to implement automatic man overboard systems to capture images of persons going overboard or to send notification to the bridge that someone has gone overboard.

The purpose of the law is to require cruise lines to institute immediate rescue action whether the passenger went overboard accidentally, intentionally or through foul play. Unfortunately virtually no cruise lines have implemented such technology even though automatic alert systems are available. 

The failire of cruise lines like Princess to comply with the cruise safety law results in passengers and crew members disappearing without a trace and reduces the chances of successfully searching for the person overboard. The absence of alert systems also results in the U.S. Coast Guard being called late to conduct search of large areas which is very expensive and is ultimately paid for by U.S. taxpayers. 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has documented over 200 passengers and crew members have gone overboard since 2000.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Ivan T.)

Human Remains at Costa Concordia Shipwreck Identified as Missing Italian Passenger Maria Trecarichi

Maria Grazia Trecarichi - Costa ConcordiaInternational news sources are reporting that remains located at the ship wreck of the Costa Concordia are of an Italian woman, an Italian prosecutor said.

"The human remains belong to Maria Grazia Trecarichi," prosecutor Francesco Verusio said.

Newspapers quote Trecarichi's widower Elio Vincenzi saying:

"I have learned from the press that the remains belong to my wife but have had no official confirmation. They assured me I would be the first to know, it didn't go that way."

Mr. Vincenzi had earlier identified shoes and a necklace found with the remains as belonging to his wife.

 

Princess Cruises: Why No CCTV or Man Overboard Systems on the Sun Princess?

Today, after a cruise passenger disappeared from the Princess cruise shipSun Princess, the cruise line admitted that "there is no CCTV footage of the man falling overboard" according to Cruise Critic.

How is this possible?

Sun PrincessOur U.S. Congress has already enacted legislation requiring that cruise ships implement state-of-the-art technologies to detect man-overboard situations. Perhaps the Sun Princess because it was operating in Australian waters didn't bother to comply with U.S. standards.

But what is the excuse for not having a single image of the passenger going overboard?  

Cruise ships like the Sun Princess are money makers, collecting many millions of dollars every single cruise.

So why no CCTV?  Why no automated man-overboard alarms? The technologies are old school at this point.      

Why should there ever be a controversy regarding how a passenger or a crew member goes overboard on the high seas? 

 

Photo Credit: The Australian 

Sun Princess Passenger Disappears

A passenger has gone overboard from the Sun Princess cruise ship.

News sources are reporting that a 73 year old man has disappeared from the Princess cruise ship which was sailing from Western Australia to Darwin.

The man was reported missing by his wife.

A search was conducted approximately 40 nautical miles north of Cape Londonderry.

NT News reports that the cruise ship was joined by patrol ship HMAS Maryborough, and three aircraft were involved in an aerial search. Although the weather was good, the missing passengers was not rescued or his body located.

The Sun Princess cruise ship was sailing on a 16-day cruise from Fremantle to Sydney.

Professor Ross Klein reports that 207 people have gone overboard since 2000. 

Image Credit: marinetraffic.com via NT News

Sun PrIncess Disappearance

Crew Member from India Disappears from MSC Opera

This evening a number of news organizations are reporting that a crew member went overboard from the MSC Opera cruise ship. 

BBC News reports that the crew member went overboard when the cruise ship was south of the Isle of Wright.  

The News identified the crew member as a 33 year-old Indian national named Fernandes Elroy.

The cruise ship was sailing into Southampton early this morning.

MSC Opera Cruise ShipMSC Cruises said staff were alerted at 5:30 AM on today that Mr. Elroy was missing.  The company claims that CCTV, which was checked at 6:30 AM, allegedly showed Mr Elroy jumping overboard around 1:30 AM, according to the The Isle of Wright Radio

A Coast Guard helicopter and lifeboat carried out an unsuccessful search. 

We have reported before on disappearances from MSC cruise ships in the past which you can read about here and here and here.

There is usually very little, if any, investigation conducted by the cruise lines to try and find out why crew members disappear on the high seas. Few cruise lines have automatic man overboard detection systems, unfortunately.  There is a tendency by the cruise lines to quickly conclude that the person committed suicide. Even if the evidence supports a suicide explanation, there is no effort to determine whether the working conditions (long hours, long contract, low wages and work pressure and emotional abuse) were factors involved in literally pushing the crew member emotionally over-the-edge.

Professor Ross Klein reports that 206 people have gone overboard from cruise ship since 2000.

If you have information about this latest overboard, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Consider reading another article about working conditions and crew members going overboard: Is Royal Caribbean Working Its Crew Members to Death?

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / VollwertBIT 

22 Year-Old Passenger Disappears From Hjaltland Ferry

Hjaltland FerryBBC News reports that a 22-year-old ferry passenger disappeared while sailing from Lerwick to Aberdeen yesterday. The young man was aboard the MV Hjaltland and was last seem early in the morning around 4:00 A.M.

An air and sea search, after the passenger was not located on the ship, was initiated but was unsuccessful. 

BBC News states that Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Aberdeen lifeboats were called out, and were assisted by a Sea King helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth, and two commercial vessels

The Hjaltland  retraced its route back up the coast, but was not successful in locating the passenger.

Aberdeen Coastguard, which was coordinating the operation, said given the sailing time which elapsed between the last sighting of the passenger and the deploying of lifeboats, the search area was extensive and time-consuming. 

Unfortunately this is another case where the vessel failed to have a state-of-the-art man overboard detection system. 

 

Photo Credit: thesun.co.uk

Korean Passenger Disappears From Cruise Ship

The Global Post reports that an elderly South Korean tourist fell off a cruise ship off South Korea's east coast today. 

The cruise passenger was identified as a 75-year-old male, with the family name of "Jeong." He reportedly fell overboard three kilometers northwest of Jumunjin, a port on the east coast, at around 2:50 p.m.

Coast Guard officials sent rescue vessels and a helicopter to the area to search for the missing man. The Korean Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the accident.

The cruise passenger fell from the Risabu Cruise, which was sailing to Gyeongpodae from Jumunjin.

Risabu Cruise declined to provide further details.

 

Cruise Industry Ignores Law Requiring Man-Overboard System

There have been 8 Congressional hearings in the House and the Senate since December 2005 regarding issues of cruise passenger safety. One of the most talked about problems has been the issue of passengers going over-board from cruise ships. 

Over the years, there has been a discussion about the problem and the necessity of requiring the cruise industry to install systems to detect when people go overboard from cruise ships.

The International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization has been responsible for bringing this issue to the public's attention. The CEO of the ICV, Ken Carver, lost his daughter, Merrian Carver, disappeared under suspicious circumstances from the Mercury cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises' subsidiary, Celebrity Cruises. Although the cabin steward knew that Ms. Carver was no longer in her Man Overboard System MOB - Cruise Shipcabin early on during the cruise, his supervisor instructed him to do nothing about it. The cruise line never reported the incident to the Alaska State Troopers, or the FBI, or the flag state. Celebrity then discarded the majority of Ms. Carver's clothes and personal effects. You can read about the disturbing story here

Mr. Carver attended the first Congressional hearing in 2005 which was convened following the disappearance of George Smith during a honeymoon cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas.  By all accounts, other passengers probably threw Mr. Smith over the railing of his cabin, but there have been no arrests over the last 8 years.

The cases of both Ms. Carver and Mr. Smith remain "mysteries."

Mr. Carver and the Smith family founded the ICV because their children disappeared at sea under suspicious circumstances with the cruise lines being uncooperative.  

Subsequent Congressional hearings has focused on the disappearance of other cruise passengers. Although the cruise industry claims that it does not track man over-board cases, cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein has a list of over 200 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000.  Of course, crew members in addition to passenger have disappeared from cruise ships. 

Royal Caribbean and its subsidiary Celebrity has experienced 11 people going overboard since October 2010

In 2010, after years of opposition by the cruise industry, Congress passed the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act to address the issue of properly detecting persons who go overboard.

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) requires that ‘‘the vessel shall integrate technology that can be used for capturing images of passengers or detecting passengers who have fallen overboard, to the extent that such technology is available.’’ 

Three years later, it appears that few cruise ships have been fitted with the required technology. (Editor;s note October 1, 2013: Since publishing this article, we have been informed that some Disney cruise ship have infra-red man overboard systems which are in compliance with the CVVSA, and these systems have been in place over a year). Cruise passengers and even a larger number of crew members have continued to disappear from cruise ships without explanation. 

There is no question that the technology exists to detect when a person goes overboard which will immediately signal to the bridge, capture an image of the person going overboard, and record the exact location.  See the video in this article I wrote about man overboard systems here

But instead of installing these systems, most cruise line are still having to review hours and hours of CCTV images after a report of a man overboard is made to try and figure out when and why a person went overboard. In the case of cruise passenger Jason Rappe who went overboard from Holland America Line (HAL) Eurodam cruise ship last year, HAL did not install the required man overboard system even though several cruise passengers recently disappeared on HAL ships.  

The delay in determining when a person goes overboard increases the area which the Coast Guard is required to search by air and sea, and reduces the chances of locating and rescuing the person overboard.  It also substantially increases the expenses borne by U.S. taxpayers.  The Coast Guard expenses in the Jason Rappe search efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard were almost $1,000,000.  

Another problem also exists. If a person can go overboard undetected, then people can just as easily come onto a cruise ship undetected - like terrorists, pirates or criminals.     

Last year, Congress commented on the cruise industry's lack of progress in implementing the requires man overboard systems. Congress commented: "the degree to which the cruise industry has complied with this requirement is entirely unclear. There may be additional camera surveillance (but no indication that this is the case), however there has not been adoption of any of the active measures recommended by the International Cruise Victims Association in discussions with the industry prior to the legislation being passed. There are many systems available, many manufactured and marketed in the U.S., but none of these appear to be under consideration for adoption, no doubt because of the cost involved."

In addition, the the U.S. Coast Guard posted a Federal Register Request for Input from the maritime security Industry, and received a number of proposals, but there is no indication that these have been acted upon. Proposals were received from Seafaring Security Systems and Radio Zealand DMP Americas, along with supporting documentation which was posted on the U.S. Coast Guard website.

I have found only one cruise line which has agreed to install a state of the art man overboard on some of its ships.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) recently agreed to install a system by Seafaring Security Systems on two of its newest ships which are being built.  The Seafaring company describes the "Varuna Man Overboard System," or V-MOB, as a "revolutionary system designed to enhance safety, security and situational awareness aboard ships." Here's the company's description of the product.  

"The V-MOB is a unique integration of advanced cameras, sensors and a customized graphic interface that automates surveillance and detection around the ship’s perimeter, alerting the crew to anomalies such as man-overboard, fires, and unauthorized boarding.

When an overboard incident occurs, the V-MOB sensors detect it, GPS coordinates to the overboard site are recorded, and designated personnel are alerted via specific alarms. The V-MOB significantly enhances the opportunity for rapid rescue of overboard personnel.

The V-MOB system detects the presence of fire sooner than contemporary fire detection systems (recent testing provided alarms two minutes before existing fire detection systems) commonly found on ships, thereby maximizing fire suppression and extinguishing efforts.

The V-MOB system also detects unauthorized attempts to board from deck railing, alerting security personnel onboard the ship to provide critical response time to meet and deal with the threat in a timely manner."

I first read about the Seafaring system in a July 24 2013 article in Maritime Executive entitled "Seafaring Security Systems Wins Surveillance Systems Bid on Norwegians New Ships."  (The article is no longer available on line.)

A system like this will reduce rescue time and expense, safe lives, and assist in apprehending criminals when foul play is involved. 

If the news is correct, then NCL should be applauded for being a leader in implementing the new man overboard technology.  It's a shame none of the other cruise lines appear to have have done so.

 

Photo Credit: Seafaring Security Systems 

Family of George Smith Supports New Cruise Safety Legislation

Over 8 years ago George Smith went overboard from the Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship in the Aegean Sea during his honeymoon cruise.

By all accounts, Royal Caribbean covered the true circumstances of the crime up. In the process, this less-than-honest cruise line sparked a national interest in what really happens on cruise ships which continues today.  

George Smith Royal Caribbean DisappearanceA Congressional hearing was convened in December 2005 which focused the public on cruise ship crimes, disappearances at sea and how cruise lines like Royal Caribbean handle public relation nightmares like this.  

Seven Congressional hearings later, the topic of cruise ship crimes, missing cruise passengers and crew members, and cruise cover-ups continues.

Senator Rockefeller has introduced new legislation designed to require greater transparency from the cruise industry. Sponsoring the bill is Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal who has stated that he is committed to requiring accountability aboard cruise ships.   

The Greenwich Times reports today that "Family of Man Lost at Sea Backs Cruise Ship Bill." The Smith family states in a letter: "We have encountered nothing but obstacles from both Royal Caribbean and those individuals last seen with George on the cruise ship."

The time for a law requiring cruise lines to be honest is long overdue.

 

Photo Credit: Greenwich Time

Cruise Line "Voluntary" Crime & Man-Overboard Disclosures: Royal Caribbean's Data Is Incomplete and Misleading

Senator RockefellerYesterday Royal Caribbean and a couple of other cruise lines "voluntarily" posted a limited amount of data on their websites regarding cruise crimes and disappearances of people from cruise ships.

Of course there was nothing remotely "voluntary" about the cruise lines' conduct.

Last week Senator Rockefeller convened a hearing where he introduced legislation intended to compel, under penalty of law, all of the CLIA cruise lines to divulge incidents of disappearances from cruise ships and theft, homicide and sexual assault on ships. On the day of the hearing, the president of Royal Caribbean, Adam Goldstein, announced that his cruise line, as well as Carnival and NCL, would agree to post crime data without the necessity of legislation.  Cruise executive Goldstein said that his cruise line would begin posting the crime and man overboard information on August 1st.

The cruise lines have been resisting and dodging disclosing truthful crime statistics over the course of the last 7 Congressional hearings I have attended. Cruise CEO Goldstein's new promises of transparency were made for PR purposes to try and stave off the tough legislation introduced by Senator Rockefeller. 

Senator Rockefeller is skeptical that the cruise industry can be trusted to self-report accurate crime statistics. The Associated Press quoted Senator Rockefeller stating: “If we’re really going to make a difference for consumers, I believe it’s going to take legislative action to make sure this industry is required to give customers the information they need and deserve when they’re making a decision about taking a cruise."

The CEO of the International Cruise Victims organization, Ken Carver, is also skeptical that the cruise industry can be trusted, The AP quoted Mr. Carver's belief that crimes reported by cruise lines are vastly lower than reality, because the initial investigations are handled by cruise line security personnel rather than law enforcement officials.

The skepticism by Senator Rockefeller and cruise victim advocate Carver is well founded. There is a well documented history of the cruise lines providing incomplete and misleading crime data to Congress and the American people. In some instances the information released by the major cruise lines is patently false.

In January 2007, the LA Times published an article looking into the problem of crime on cruise ships, entitled "Cruise Industry's Dark Waters." The article points out that Congressman Shays previously called for Congressional hearings where he requested crime statistics from the cruise industry. The cruise lines resisted the legislation arguing that it can be trusted to provide honest information. At several points in the hearings, when cruise line representatives extolled their safety statistics, Congressman Shays seemed skeptical. "I do not think we have all of the statistics," he told representatives of major cruise lines.

Royal Caribbean informed Congressman Shays that 66 sexual assaults occurred over a three year Adam Goldstein Senate Hearrng Cruise Ship Crimeperiod on its cruise ships. However, in a case we handled against Royal Caribbean involving 12-year-old twins who alleged that a crew member molested them, the cruise line was forced to hand over the internal records requested by our firm after a judge threatened to fine it $1,000 a day if it failed to comply. 

The Royal Caribbean data revealed not just 66 incidents, but 273 reports from passengers who said they were victims of sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual harassment and inappropriate touching during a shorter time period. The LA Times quoted me saying that Royal Caribbean "redefined things and in the process, magically, poof, what used to be a crime no longer existed. Then they served up these numbers and thought they could get away with it."

So with this history in mind, let's take a look at what Royal Caribbean just posted yesterday as part of its "voluntary" disclosure on its website.

It disclosed just three persons overboard for the time period beginning October 2010 through the end of June 2013. There is no information regarding these incidents on the cruise line's skimpy website chart. There is no way a consumer can understand what happened. One of the three incidents involved a young woman who went overboard in September 2012. You can read about in detail on our website here, here and here

What's even more troubling is that Royal Caribbean did not reveal that 8 other people went overboard from Royal Caribbean cruise ships and the ships operated by its subsidiary Celebrity Cruises for the time period in question. Consider  the following man overboard incidents which occurred in the Royal Caribbean / Celebrity fleet:

January 2011 - Passenger disappeared from the Liberty of the Seas

March 2011 - Crew member disappeared from the Grandeur of the Seas. 

March 2011 - Crew member disappeared from the Constellation.

May 2011 - Crew member disappeared from the Eclipse

May 2011 - Crew member disappeared from the Millennium (see cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's database)

December 2011 - Crew member disappeared from the Summit

January 2012 - Crew member disappeared from the Monarch of the Seas. 

February 2012 - Passenger disappeared from the Allure of the Seas. 

September 2012 - Crew member disappeared from the Serenade of the Seas.

October 2012 - Another crew member disappeared from the Serenade of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean's website indicates that the cruise line intends to reveal only those overboard situations involving U.S. citizens. But there is no reason to hide man overboard incidents involving passengers of other nationalities and crew members. Disney Cruise Line, for example, discloses overboard cases involving non-U.S. citizens.

The truth is that at least 11 people went overboard for the time period in question. But Royal Caribbean disclosed only 3 incidents. That's only around 27% of the true number.  If a cruise ship is a floating city, why exclude all of the crew members and non-U.S. citizens who are members of the city? Royal Caribbean includes crew members and non-U.S. passengers as part of its population in determining crime ratios, Allure of the Sea Crime Statisticsbut then excludes crew members and non U.S. citizens when they are victims. That manipulation of the data distorts the true crime ratios. 

The only explanation for doing this is that the cruise line wants to present an image that is markedly different from the truth. 

Royal Caribbean's "voluntary" disclosure reveals exactly why the cruise industry cannot be trusted. Senator Rockefeller, like Congressman Shays long ago, has every reason not to believe the cruise lines' "voluntary" statistics.

The American people and citizens of countries around the world deserve to know the truth about crime and overboard cruise passengers and crew members. Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean like to keep the public in the dark.

A well drafted law with stiff penalties is the only way to shed light on what really happens on cruise ships far out at sea. 

California Can Prosecute Lawyer Accused of Throwing Wife Overboard from Cruise Ship

Lonnie KocontesYesterday a judge held that a man accused of strangling and throwing his wife overboard from an Italian cruise ship should stand trial in California. The court rejected the argument of the cruise passenger's defense lawyers that the state prosecutors in Orange County lacked jurisdiction to prosecute the crime which occurred in international waters off the coast of Italy. 

The case involves a cruise ship crime alleged to involve Lonnie Loren Kocontes, a 55-year-old former Orange County attorney who s accused of killing his ex-wife, Micki Kanesaki, while they were on a cruise in May of 2006.

A local CBS affiliate in Los Angeles explains that during questioning in 2006, Kocontes told police that his wife was allegedly depressed and she likely jumped overboard. However, her body was found and an autopsy revealed that she had been strangled.

A case against Kocontes has previously been dismissed on jurisdictional grounds. However, the prosecutors immediately filed a new case, alleging murder with special circumstances of killing his wife for financial gain by transferring more than $1,000,000 from his ex-wife’s bank accounts and property to himself. 

Island Escape Cruise ShipThis is a case we have reported on before: Charges Dismissed Against Cruise Passenger Accused of Strangling and Dumping Ex-Wife Overboard.

You can read our first article about the case here.

The incident occurred aboard the Island Escape cruise ship.

The case is far from over. Expect an appeal to be resolved next year.

 

Photo credit: Top - CBS; Bottom - VIP.it

Crew Member Missing Overboard From "The World" Cruise Ship

The World Cruise ShipA newspaper in Spain is reporting that a crew member from The World cruise ship has gone into the Atlantic Ocean. AIS tracking systems currently show the cruise ship sailing in a search pattern off the west coast of Spain, northwest of Portugal. 

The newspaper states that the missing man is a Filipino crew member. His name and job position have not been identified, nor is there any explanation regarding what happened. The article states merely that the crew member fell into the water. 

The cruise ship alerted search and rescue bases in in Cee and A. Coruña, Spain, which deployed aircraft and helicopters.

The vessel left the port of Coruña at midnight yesterday.

The World is billed as the most luxurious floating residence in the world. There are 165 private residences on the cruise ship occupied probably by multi-millionaires, including U.S. citizens and citizens of some 40 countries. The residences consist of studios to three bedrooms and cost many millions of dollars. 

The ship is operated by ResidenSea, headquartered in Miramar, Florida. The World flies the flag of convenience of the Bahamas.  

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has documented over 200 cruise overboard cases on his website since 2000. 

If anyone has information about this latest cruise ship disappearance, please leave a comment below.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / VirtualSteve

Cruise Safety Advocate Paul O'Brien Dies

Paul O'Brien Death - Father of Lynsey O'BrienA newspaper in Ireland, the Irish Independent, reports today on the death of Paul O'Brien, age 49, in an article "Dad of Tragic Cruise Teen is Found Dead."

Mr. O'Brien was the father of Lynsey O'Brien, who died at age 15 during a cruise aboard the Costa Magica in 2006. Costa bartenders served the child 10 drinks in a short period of time. According to a newspaper in Ireland, "in a period of 45 minutes his 15-year-old daughter was served 10 drinks in a bar on the cruise ship, two Sex on the Beach, four Woo Woos, two vodka and mixers, a shot of vodka and liqueurs."

The child fell off of her cabin's balcony after trying to vomit overboard. Her body has never been found. 

Lynsey's case was the focus of a Congressional hearing in Washington D.C. in 2006 about cruise ship dangers. The hearing highlighted the out-of-control nature of drinking on cruise ships and the failure of the cruise line to have man overboard procedures.

The newspaper states that the cause of Mr. O'Brien's death will be confirmed by an autopsy. The newspaper states that Mr. O'Brien "fought tirelessly for better safety on cruise ships."  He released a book about his daughter's death called Lynsey's Law - Costa Coffin Cruise Ships.

You can watch a ABC News video about the incident below:

 

Happy Ending to Man Overboard: Passenger Rescued After Seven Hours in Baltic Sea

Finally, a man overboard situation with a happy ending. 

A newspaper in Sweden, the Local, reports the good news that a 36-year-old passenger survived seven hours in the Baltic Sea on Friday night after falling from a ferry bound to Stockholm. The newspaper's account was based on a report in a Swedish daily newspaper, the Ålandstidning Daily.

The passenger fell from the Baltic Queen ferry near the Finnish island of Åland, but the ferry did not notice that he was missing until the vessel docked in Stockholm on Saturday morning. There was Baltic Queen Passenger Overboardno explanation or speculation how the man went into the water.

The newspaper reports that the water temperature in the Baltic Sea was 60 - 64 F and there was initially little hope that the man had survived. However, Finnish sea rescue located the man two hours later, four kilometers from the closest island.

The passenger was found suffering from hypothermia with a body temperature of only 79 F. According to medical expertise he should have been unconscious by then and would have been in cardiac arrest had his body temperature dropped a further degree.

The man had no life jacket and had few clothes as he had shed them in a bid to remain afloat in the bracing waters.

The man is reported to be 36-years-old and originates from Estonia.

I'm sure he's saying his prayers tonight.

 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Pjotr Mahhonin

The George Smith Cruise Ship Disappearance Case: Will the FBI Finally Make An Arrest?

News sources are reporting that the FBI office in New York will be reviewing file materials maintained by the FBI's office in Connecticut to determine whether arrests should be made regarding the disappearance and presumed death of cruise passenger George Smith.

George Smith vanished from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship in the early morning hours of July 5, 2005, leaving behind a pool of blood on a lifeboat awning below his cabin.

In the video below, you can finally see expressions of optimism from the Smith family that there may finally be an arrest in George's case. The Smith family is represented by attorney Mike Jones from Greenwich Connecticut.    

Disappearances at Sea: Cruise Industry Refuses to Comply with Cruise Safety Law

Another cruise ship overboard has dominated the cruise news lately. A couple went overboard from the Carnival Spirit cruise ship. The cruise ship did not notice that the passengers had fallen from the ship until after the cruise ship returned to port in Australia  Later, their images were found on the cruise ship's closed circuit television (CCTV) system but the ship had already sailed to the next port at this point.

In this day and age, no one should go overboard from a cruise ship without being immediately detected. The technology exists. See the video below. There are systems in place which can detect overboard passengers and crew members, then signal the bridge, capture the images of the overboard person, and drop a buoy into the water.  The sooner the cruise ship reacts to a man overboard, the Cruise ship Overboard Detection Systemquicker emergency procedures can be followed and the greater the chances of the person being rescued.  

According to the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act which went into effect last year, cruise ships are required to "integrate technology that can be used for capturing images of passengers or detecting passengers who have fallen overboard . . . "

Congress passed this new cruise safety act into law after listening to the testimony of families who traveedl to Washington D.C.to testify about the horror of their loved ones disappearing from cruises, like Merrian Carver and Daniel DiPiero  

But the cruise industry is ignoring the law.

The Safety at Sea magazine reported long ago that the cruise industry is unwilling to pay for dedicated man overboard (MOB) systems that detect an individual falling overboard. Equipment sellers have been rebuffed by the cruise industry, which seems more interested in investing its money into all types of new water-slides, rock climbing walls and other amusements. The cruise lines remain unwillingness to invest in life-saving overboard detection systems.

Cruise expert Ross Klein was quoted in Safety at Sea as saying that the cruise industry is “looking for loopholes” to avoid the new safety law.“

In the latest overboard case, Carnival was quick to point out that the height of its balcony railings comply with the existing safety law (42 inches) but it did not mention that the law requires a system to detect overboard persons which the Spirit obviously lacks. 

There are lots of reasons why passengers go overboard: being over-served alcohol, foolish or reckless behavior, accidents, and murder, as well as reasons not known. But most cases remain mysteries. The cruise lines don't monitor their CCTV cameras (except in their casinos because they don't want their money to disappear). And they have not even implemented the most rudimentary overboard detection systems.

The result is no rescue or delayed rescue attempts which are unsuccessful.  Even when there are witnesses to a person going overboard, often the captain of the cruise ship will ignore the witness accounts and continue sailing until the entire ship has been searched, leading to unnecessary delay in tragic cases like this and this. The result is also increased governmental expenses incurred due to the necessity of searching a much larger grid (many hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent in deploying Coast Guard cutters and aircraft), unnecessary deaths, and unnecessary heartbreak of the surviving family members.   

Image Credits: gCaptain

48 Hours Update: "New" Evidence in Disappearance of Cruise Passenger George Smith

Cruise Passenger George SmithSaturday night, CBS's "'48 Hours" will air what is being described as "important new evidence" in the mysterious disappearance of George Smith during his honeymoon cruise. The episode is called "48 Hours: Murder at Sea?"

You may recall that George Smith from the Greenwich Connecticut area was enjoying his honeymoon with his newly-wed bride Jennifer Hagel when he disappeared from the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas in the early morning hours of July 5, 2005, leaving a blood-stained awning behind him. 

The cruise line quickly concluded that Mr. Smith was intoxicated and must have been sitting on a balcony railing and fell overboard, and it reported this self-serving opinion as its official report to the flag state. Royal Caribbean ignored the fact that four young men were last seen in the Smith's cabin and that there were sounds of an argument and loud noises consistent with a struggle, followed by a resounding "thud" on the awning below.  

Gregory Rozenbeg - Cruise Disappearance of George SmithWe represented George's wife, Jennifer, who instructed us to retain noted forensic scientist Henry Lee in the face of the cruise line's lack of cooperation.

Last year, CBS reported that the FBI had possession of a videotape taken by the four men where they talk callously of George's death. The video captures one of the men saying "we gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute." Cruise passenger Greg Rosenberg reportedly flashes gang signs and says "Told ya I was gangsta." 

We have written prior articles about Gregory Rozenberg such as "Disappearance of George Smith Update: Do You Have Information About Gregory Rozenberg?"   Rozenberg's mugshots are readily available online, including the one to the right taken last fall.

Royal Caribbean concealed this tape from us throughout our representation of Jennifer Hagel. The tape's existence was revealed by the FBI last year to the lawyer for the Smith family. 

Its disgraceful that the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice have not proceeded with a criminal case. Its been going on eight years since George's disappearance. A prosecution is long overdue.

Read our other articles about the case:

Disappearance of George Smith - Trouble as the Cruise Ship Sails to Kusadasi

A Frantic Call Back to Connecticut

Media Frenzy Follows Case of "Missing Honeymooner"

Dr. Henry Lee Boards the Brilliance of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Blocks Dr. Henry Lee's Dummy Experiment

The International Cruise Victims Organization Is Born!

Royal Caribbean Captain Says Its Just an Accident Involving a Bloody Nose

Larry King Live & the "Missing Groom Mystery" 

 

Two Passengers Overboard From Carnival Spirit Cruise Ship

Carnival Spirit Cruise ShipNewspapers in Australia are reporting that two passengers disappeared from a Carnival cruise ship. A 26-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man were unaccounted for when the cruise ship docked in Sydney Harbor today. 

The couple were last seen on deck last night, but failed to disembark when the Carnival Spirit cruise ship docked in Australia.

A Carnival spokesman said that crew members had become concerned only at 9:15 AM after it was discovered during disembarkation process that the passengers were missing.

Cruise ships are required by law to have technologies in place to detect when passengers go overboard. CCTV and motion detection technologies exist today but the majority of cruise lines refuse to implement the systems.

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has listed almost 200 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000.

Do you have information about what happened?  Please leave a message below.  

May 9 2013 Update:  New sources in Australia report that Kristen Schroder, 27, and Paul Rossington, 30, were last seen on the Carnival Spirit on Wednesday as it was sailing off the coast of Australia. CCTV appears to show them going overboard around 8:50 pm, according to a statement from the local New South Wales Police Force.

Read article from Australia: Cruise Industry Urged to Report Missing People Earlier

Here's the PR statement which Carnival issued today:

"We have naturally been concerned since we became aware that two passengers were missing from Carnival Spirit and our thoughts are clearly with their families at this difficult time. We are working closely with New South Wales Police and assisting them in their inquiries.

At approximately 9:15am today Australia time during the debarkation process for Carnival Spirit at the conclusion of a 10-night cruise in Sydney, it became apparent that two guests, a 26-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man, were unaccounted for. The guests in question were travelling with family and friends and initial reports indicate that the couple was last seen onboard the vessel last night. As part of our standard protocol, a full ship search was conducted as well as examination of closed circuit video. There is indication from the shipboard video of what transpired. There is no evidence of foul play. However, out of respect for the families, we are not going to publicly disclose the details of what occurred at this time."

May 10 2013 Update: How Love Turned Tragic on the High Seas

May 11, 2013 Update: "The footage shows Ms Schroder climbing over the railing and standing on the other side of it as she faced towards the sea. Police did not reveal how long she was standing there and were unable to determine if she intended to jump or simply fell." Read article here.

 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Jean-Philippe Boulet

"Missing at Sea" - NBC Investigates Another Passenger Disappearance from a Holland America Line Cruise Ship

Tonight local ABC Channel 6 news station aired a special program Missing at Sea regarding the disappearance of cruise passenger Jason Rappe' from the Eurodam cruise ship operated by Holland America Line (HAL).

Mr. Rappe' went overboard last November after participating in a "Pub Crawl" on the HAL cruise ship where the cruise line plied the passengers with alcohol at various locations.

You can see some video of Jason on the deck after the cruise sponsored drinking event.  Curiously, Cruise Law Miami Jim Walkerthere has been no clear video released of Jason going overboard. 

Although the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act requires cruise lines like HAL to install systems to signal when cruise passengers and crew members who go overboard so that the cruise ship can promptly respond, HAL had no such systems in violation of the new cruise safety law.

Cruise lines are also responsible when they over-serve passengers alcohol.

The FBI and Coast Guard are suppose to disclose to the public on an online database when crimes occur or when passengers go overboard but the database does not even mention Mr. Rappe.' 

You can read an article about the program here by Jason's brother Eric who was featured in the program. 

See photos about the case here.

You can read our prior articles about this case:

Passenger Missing From HAL's Eurodam Cruise Ship - Why Do All HAL Overboard Cases Remain Mysteries?

Family Searching for Answers After Disappearance Aboard Holland America Line Cruise Ship

Best of Cruise Line Hate Mail: Holland America Line Wins the Award

If you have information about this case, we would like to hear from you.  Please leave a comment below or contact me confidentially at jim@cruiselaw.com 

 

 

Royal Caribbean Cruise From Hell Allegations: Mom Falsely Imprisoned While Cruise Ship Refuses to Rescue Daughter

Courthouse News Service published a shocking article today entitled A Caribbean Cruise From Hell

The article involves the story of the disappearance of a young woman from Tennessee, 21 year old A'riel Marion, and the cruise lines outrageous mistreatment of her mother, Vera Marion, during a cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas.

Last September, A'riel Marion fell overboard around 9:30 EST. She first struck another passenger who was on a lower balcony, and then fell into the sea. The incident was promptly reportedly through the vessel's 911 system but the cruise ship Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas refused to stop notwithstanding the eye witness account and CCTV images which documented the overboard.

The mother's lawsuit alleges that Royal Caribbean did not notify the U.S. Coast Guard of the overboard situation until approximately 11:30 EST, approximately two hours after the crew first received report of the emergency.  In the interim, Mrs. Marion was interrogated, confined to a cabin under the supervision of cruise lines guards, and not permitted to communicate with her family back home. There are lots of things that the cruise line did which are inexcusable.

You can read the lawsuit allegations here.   

We wrote a series of articles about the disturbing story. Royal Caribbean falsely reported that it "immediately" reported the overboard to the Coast Guard, but in truth it delayed for 2 hours. You can read our articles here: 

Passenger Missing From The Allure of the Seas Cruise Ship

Why Didn't Royal Caribbean Immediately Notify the Coast Guard that a Passenger Went Overboard from Allure of the Seas?

Delay, Deny, Deceive & Defend: Royal Caribbean Shows How Not to Respond to an Overboard Passenger

Passenger Overboard From Coral Princess Cruise Ship - Does Anyone Care What Happened?

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein and the Cruise Critic message boards are reporting that on Sunday, March 24th a passenger was reported overboard from the Coral Princess cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises.

There is a vague reference to a passenger-possibly-going-over-the-rails on the Cruise Critic site, but as is the case with most overboard cruise ship cases there are no clear facts and lots of speculation.

There should never be a debate about what happens when a passenger or crew member goes overboard.  All cruise ships should have state-of-the-art surveillance cameras to document what Coral Princess Cruise Shiphappens when a person goes overboard. The ships should also have motion detection systems which signal the bridge immediately when someone leaves the cruise ship on the high seas - whether it be intentionally or accidentally or criminally.

All of the Cruise Critic members jumped immediately to the conclusion that the case involves a suicide. They just as quickly offered their on-line-prayers and condolences.  

But there is no statement by Princess Cruises about what happened, assuming you were naive enough to believe the cruise line PR. There's no report of the results of an official investigation, but that's not unusual because Princess Cruises is incorporated in and registers it cruise ships in Bermuda, to avoid U.S. taxes and safety regulations, which is indifferent to what happens on Bermuda flagged cruise ships. And there is no report of an investigation by law enforcement officers in the next port of call.

Was this an accident, a suicide, or a crime?  I don't know.

It's a real shame that there are no news accounts, no official investigation and only lots of speculation by cruise fans who blame the dead passenger, say a hollow prayer and then forget about it.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia 

New Zealand Passenger Missing From Celebrity Solstice

A newspaper in New Zealand reports that a passenger, identified only as a man from Dunedin, New Zealand, is missing from the Celebrity Cruises' Solstice cruise ship which left Port Chalmers, New Zealand today. 

It is less than clear whether the man disembarked from the cruise ship, leaving items, including his passport, on board, and didn't return. Or whether he disappeared at some earlier time while the cruise ship was sailing. 

The article does not state when the man was last seen. It should be easy to determine whether the Celebrity Solstice Cruise Ship passenger used his sea pass card which should have been scanned when he boarded or disembarked the cruise ship.  Unfortunately, this does not always occur.

In another case, American passenger Sarah Tessier Powell set sail on the Holland America Line Veendam cruise ship last year. She disappeared.  Police in Canada speculate that Ms. Powell may have walked off of the HAL ship and didn't return.  

But how is that possible?

Passenger gangways are supposed to be heavily monitored by security with each passenger's sea pass card scanned and the gangways always covered by closed circuit television cameras.

Is this another one of those cases?  Or is this a passenger overboard case which the cruise line didn't realize until the ship arrived in port?

Anyone with information please contact us.

 

Photo Credit: Constantine Kulikovsky via Wikimedia

False "Man Overboard" Alarm on P&O's Pride of York

Pride of YorkShipworld.org reports that there was a false alarm earlier this week regarding an overboard passenger from P&O's Pride of York.

The Shipworld website mentions that at 10:45 PM on Monday February 25, 2013, the Pride of York notified the Dutch Coastguard Center that a male passenger may have gone overboard 90 kilometers west of Hoek van Holland. The ship was sailing from Zeebrugge to Hull when the incident was reported.

The Dutch Coastguard sent two helicopters along and two rescue vessels, the Koopmansdank from Neeltje Jans and Jeanine Parqui from the Hoek van Holland station. The Dutch naval vessel Schiedam and the Rijkswaterstaat vessel Arca also joined the search.

However, after a headcount established that everyone was accounted for, the search and rescue operation was called off around 11:50 PM.

There was also a false alarm of a person overboard from the Sapphire Princess cruise ship on Monday. A head count revealed that all passengers and crew were on the cruise ship, which was sailing from Los Angeles to Hawaii. 

 

Photo credit: theferry.wikia.com

Family Searching for Answers After Disappearance Aboard Holland America Line Cruise Ship

A news station in Oregon aired a story about a missing 42 year old cruise passenger last night.

The story is about Jason Rappe' who was last seen on a Holland America cruise with his wife last November. He disappeared from the HAL Eurodam. Jason's family retained our firm to help them find answers to the circumstances surrounding his disappearance. You can read our prior article: Passenger Missing From HAL's Eurodam Cruise Ship - Why Do All HAL Overboard Cases Remain Mysteries?

You can watch the video below.

The article explains that Jason's brother. Eric, says that the family "still don’t know what happened to Jason, and the company refuses to give them any information . . . “They don’t care. They just don’t care. All they want is for it to go away.”

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office in Florida still lists Jason as a missing person. 

HAL has refused to cooperate with our requests for information.  

Read: "Suicide" - One of the Cruise Lines' Favorite Excuses When a Passenger Disappears at Sea (involving another HAL disappearance).

 

Passenger Overboard From the Sapphire Princess?

A reader of this blog emailed me for information after reading comments on the Cruise Critic message board that the captain of the Sapphire Princess announced that a person was sighted overboard from the cruise ship. 

The passenger commented that the ship was currently stopped as of around 11:00 PM last night. The crew was reportedly taking a head count of everyone on the ship.  

The cruise ship is sailing from Los Angeles to Hawaii. There have been no updates on the message board since late last night.

I requested information from Princess but have not heard anything yet.

February 26 2013 Update:  False alarm:

Princess says that there was "no person overboard. A passenger they thought they saw someone in the water. As we take reports such as this seriously we mustered all passengers and crw and all were accounted for. There were also no reports from any ships in the area about a missing person."

Mystery & Suspicion at Sea: What Happened to Fariba Amani?

Cruise Ship Disappearance A year ago we mentioned the disappearance of Fariba Amani, age 47, from Vancouver, Canada who was cruising aboard the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship operated by the Celebration Cruise Lines.  

Ms. Amani was cruising with her boyfriend, Ramiz Golshani, also from Vancouver, when she disappeared from the cruise ship between Florida and the Bahamas.

Golshani claims that he allegedly last saw Ms. Amani around 1:00 AM on February 29th in the cruise ship's gift show and then he retired to the couple's cabin to go to sleep. He allegedly awoke the following morning and she was not in the cabin.   

A suspicious story no doubt.

You can read our prior blog about the disappearance here.   

A newspaper in Canada has an article as we approach the one year anniversary of this sad story: "One Year After Woman’s Disappearance From Cruise Ship, Family Still Has No Answers."

Do you have information?  Leave a comment or contact us confidentially and we will relay the information to the family.

 

Photo Credit: The Province via Globaltvbc

 

Another Passenger Goes Overboard from a MSC Cruise Ship - This Time the MSC Fantasia

Cruise Law News received a message late Saturday night indicating that a passenger went overboard from the MSC Fantasia.  Here's the message:

MSC Fantasia is in first day of a Carnival cruise. It embarked 4000 drunk pax today in Santos, Brazil and around 7 PM, the time to leave the port, we had one passenger go from deck 11 straight into the sea. It's 11.30pm and we're still looking for the passenger. We have the Federal Police on board and divers and we don't know where is the passenger . . .  was to drunk so he couldn't save himself.  Then they lowered a lifeboat but by the time they manage to get close to him, Costa Favolosa was getting out from the port so two small waves and the passenger was nowhere to be found.  We're standing by now but the party at the pool is at the MAX.  Drinks, music and naked pax. This is Brazil!

A newspaper in Brazil is covering the story.

MSC Fantasia Cruise Ship

This is the second passenger overboard from a MSC cruise ship in two days. Yesterday we reported on a Portuguese passenger who went overboard from the Divina in the Mediterranean.  

In December 2012, we reported on a cruise passenger who fell from an upper deck of the MSC Fantasia and died.

As you can see from the Fantasia's web cam, there seems to be quite a partying crowd on the cruise ship.

MSC Fantasia WebcamPlease leave a comment if you have information about what happened.

February 10 2013 Update: The missing passenger was identified as Luciano De Lucca, age 30, from passenger cabin number 11063, located on the 11th deck.

Portugese Cruise Passenger From MSC Divina Found Dead

MSC Divina Cruise ShipA reader of Cruise Law news has alerted me to another person going overboard from a cruise ship.

A newspaper in Italy states that a Portuguese man, 46 years old, was found dead off of the coast of Corsica. He was sailing as a passenger on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean sea when he went overboard for reasons not disclosed.

The Expresso XL newspaper reports that "the victim has been formally identified as a Portuguese man of 46 years who had disappeared from the vessel MSC Divina . . . "

The passenger had been reported missing from the MSC cruise ship at 1:00 PM today. The weather was calm.

Helicopters and a jet searched for the unidentified man after he was reported missing.  An investigation is being conducted into the case by shoreside maritime officials in France.

The French maritime authorities released the following statement (translated):

"This Saturday, February 9 shortly before noon, the body of a lifeless man spotted ten miles southwest of Bonifacio by a customs plane. He had taken part in the device search to try to find a passenger MSC Divina missing since 1am in the area.

Hoisted by the helicopter PUMA Solenzara, the victim has been formally identified as a Portuguese man of 46 years who had disappeared from the ship.

An investigation will be launched to determine the exact circumstances of his death."

Anyone with information please leave a comment below. 

 

Photo credit MSC Divina - Wikimedia Commons / Mllturro

Stonewalling at Sea - Cruise Lines Continue to Cover Up Disappearances on the High Seas

The disappearance of passengers and crew members at sea is one of the cruise industry's real problems.  The problem is compounded by the tendency of the cruise lines to place their reputation as a priority rather than providing information to the grieving families.  If the evidence tends to suggest that a crime occurred, or the circumstances involve facts that may place the cruise lines in an embarrassing light, the cruise lines suppress the information.

Most investigations fall to the country where the cruise ship is registered, such as countries like the Bahamas or Bermuda. These countries depend on the revenue generated from the cruise lines and assist the cruise lines in covering the true facts up.

The video below provides a look into cover-ups alleged against Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line (the Magical Company) and Holland America Line.   

January 7, 2012 Update: Follow the discussion on Facebook: What's more important to the cruise lines when someone disappears on the high seas?

A. The truth, or
B. The cruise line's reputation?

 

Seven & One-Half Years After Disappearance, George Smith's Family Still Seeking Answers From Royal Caribbean

The Greenwich Time newspaper reports that the family of cruise passenger George Smith, who vanished from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas, wrote a letter to the cruise line's CEO, Richard D. Fain, on Christmas Eve seeking information about what happened aboard the cruise ship which lead to their son going overboard. 

In July of 2005, Mr. Smith was on his honeymoon with his newlywed bride, Jennifer Hagel, when he disappeared from the cruise ship.  Although the cruise line quickly labeled the incident an accident, there was blood found in his cabin as well as on an awning below his cabin. Four men who were last seen with George Smith Disappearance - Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the SeasMr. Smith were suspected of either being involved in or knowledgeable of the circumstances surrounding his death. 

Last year, there was a bombshell revelation that shortly after the incident, Royal Caribbean had possession of a video taken by one of the four men which revealed one of the other men saying "we gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute." Our firm represented Mr. Smith's wife, and the cruise line kept this videotape secret from us. The question arises what other information the cruise line has not revealed to Mr. Smith's grieving family.

The Smith family noted that it has been 2,729 days since their son and brother went overboard in the Aegean Sea as the cruise ship headed to Turkey. The newspaper quotes from the Smith family's letter to CEO Fain:

"After seven and one half years, we still do not know who murdered George on your cruise liner. His murderer(s) remain at large. Your cruise ship, the floating crime scene, continues to hop from port to port carrying happy-go-lucky passengers seemingly unaware of the atrocities that were inflicted upon our son and brother on that very boat."

"Does Royal Caribbean have information which it did not provide under the terms of its settlement with our family that would finally get justice for George and allow George's soul to rest in peace?"

The George Smith case captivated the nation's attention in 2005 when it became obvious that there was a lot more to the story than what Royal Caribbean wanted the public to believe that this was a passenger simply falling overboard. A number of Congressional hearings were scheduled which brought focus on the problem of crimes and unsolved disappearances on the high seas.

If you want to learn more about this case, consider reading our series of articles about Mr. Smith's disappearance.  

As the Disney Wonder Sails From Miami, the Cover-Up Continues: What Happened to Rebecca?

Disney Crew Member Rebecca Coriam Wonder Cruise ShipThis morning the Disney Wonder arrived in the port of Miami for the first time. It quietly slipped through government cut and nestled itself along side the cruise terminal at the port of Miami where it will start taking families on cruises with their kids dreaming of sailing with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

Disney decided to stop sailing the Wonder on a Mexican Riviera route and re-positioned the cruise ship to here in Miami to begin taking passengers on Caribbean cruises. Later today, at 5:00 PM, the Wonder will be departing with a boat-load of families on its inaugural Caribbean cruise from Miami.

What fun for the kids and the proud parents. Certainly a happy time for families to be sailing with their children on a tropical Christmas cruise.

But for one family this Christmas season is a rather somber and frustrating time of year.

Mike and Ann Coriam from Chester England lost their daughter, Rebecca, age 24, from the Disney Wonder off the coast of Mexico last year.  Rebecca was a highly regarded youth counselor whose job was to take care of the kids on the Wonder.  She did not appear at the cruise ship's child facility for work one day. Because Disney flags its cruise ships in the Bahamas to avoid taxes and labor & wage laws, the responsibility for investigating the disappearance fell to a lone policeman in Nassau.

If you have ever traveled to Nassau, you will quickly learn that the police can't solve a crime when a thief rips a gold necklace from the neck of a visiting cruise passenger even if the robbery takes place across the street from the police station. The notion that a Bahamian police officer could solve a disappearance of a young woman during a cruise from California to Mexico is laughable if the situation were not so sad.

I sent a letter to Disney asking for some basic information and was completely ignored. The Magical Cruise Line people claimed that all information must come from the police in Nassau who refuse, as Disney knows, to cooperate with the Coriam family.        

The policeman eventually prepared a report regarding his "investigation," for what that's worth, but refuses to provide a copy to the Coriam family. Disney is indifferent to the Coriam's plight, and is hiding behind the stonewalling in the Bahamas. 

Mike and Ann Coriam Disney Wonder Cruise ShipA newspaper in the Coriam's home town, the Chesterfirst, has published an article about the tragic and maddening tale, "We Want the Truth." 

“It will be two years in March since Rebecca’s disappearance and we are still no closer to knowing what happened to her on that ship,” said Mike.

“All we want is to know what happened to Rebecca so that we can have some closure, as it is the not knowing that is the most difficult thing to deal with.”

Mike and Ann are hoping that a new appeal for information, now raised in the House of Commons by Chester MP Stephen Mosley, will help bring the Corian family a step closer to establishing what exactly happened to their beloved daughter.

Mr Mosley had told Mike Penning, the U.K. Minister for Shipping, last month that the investigation by Bahamanian police had been “appalling” and that they had made “virtually no attempt at investigating Rebecca’s disappearance.”

“We are having to seek information from the other side of the world and it has been really hard for me, Ann and the rest of the family to deal with . . . the fact is that Rebecca isn’t here with us and we just don’t know what has happened to her."

“She is in our thoughts every single day and Christmas time makes it especially hard for us all. We miss her terribly.”

Later this afternoon, the Disney Wonder will sail out of the port of Miami filled with smiling-faced children. Whether they realize it or not, every family on the Disney Wonder is only a railing away from experiencing the same horror the Coriam family is suffering this Christmas Season.  

Disney Wonder Cruise Ship Inaugural Cruise Miami

Photo Credit: Rebecca & Corian Family - Coriam Family 

Photo Credit of Disney Wonder - Jim Walker

Have info about Rebecca? Please contact the Coriam family website.

Watch a video about the case from Australia's Dateline program. Click on Lost at Sea.

Chairman of International Cruise Victims Discusses Cover-Up By Royal Caribbean & Celebrity Cruises of His Daughter's Disappearance

Merrian Carver Cruise Ship Cover UpCoast to Coast Radio has a rather fascinating interview with Ken Carver, the Chairman of the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization.

Mr. Carver talks about "odd and mysterious disappearances on-board cruise ships and how the industry stonewalls investigations of crimes on the high seas. He recalled how his daughter, Merrian, disappeared from a cruise in August of 2004, which led him on a quest to find out what happened to her. Carver detailed how the cruise ship company forbid its employees from discussing the case with his investigators and repeatedly lied about video tape evidence which would have shed light on Merrian’s fate. Based on his research, Carver revealed that Merrian’s story is not unique and that once every two weeks someone disappears from a cruise ship.

Carver also shared a number of other troubling details about the cruise ship industry, such as that they “take the legal position that they are under no obligation to investigate a crime,” whether it be a disappearance, sexual assault, or robbery. Additionally, the companies and their ships are registered in Ken Carver International Cruise Victimsforeign countries, which makes criminal investigations the responsibility of those host nations and allows for the companies to avoid paying any U.S. taxes despite utilizing up to 21 different American government agencies.

Furthermore, Carver lamented that many former high ranking FBI and Coast Guard officials later find employment with cruise ship companies and, thus, those agencies frequently work against efforts to hold the industry accountable for these crimes."

Take a minute and listen to this information.

Mr. Carver discusses how the Miami-based cruise lines Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises lied and stonewalled to cover-up the disappearance of his daughter.

The website of the ICV is here.

The interview starts at 1:19:35.

  

 

Walker & O'Neill Retained to Investigate Disappearance of Cruise Passenger Jason Rappe' From HAL's Eurodam

Today, our firm was retained to help the family of missing HAL cruise passenger Jason Rappe' find answers to what happened during the evening of November 28th and the early morning hours of November 29th aboard the Holland America Line Eurodam cruise ship.

On November 24th, 41 year old Jason Rappe' and his wife, Tine, left Fort Lauderdale on a 7 day Caribbean cruise aboard the Eurodam.

Jason is believed to have gone overboard on November 29th as the cruise ship was sailing from St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) to the Bahamas, somewhere north-west of Puerto Rico. The U.S. Coast Guard eventually was notified but the search was called off after approximately 36 hours. You can read our article here which we published on the day of Jason's disappearance. 

Jason and his wife were married 17 years ago and live in Olympia Washington. Jason works as a carpenter and is a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.

Jason served in the U.S. Army and is a veteran, and was honorably discharged as a sergeant.

Jason's wife, brothers and father released a statement which is repeated below. The family is seeking any information which may explain how and when Jason apparently went overboard. Please help. If you were on the cruise, please contact us.  

Contact:  Jim Walker: telephone - 305 995 5300 or 1 800 526 1518.

Please note that the comment section below is closed, and no further comments will be published. If you were on the cruise and have information, please contact us directly.   

Jason Rappe - Holland America Line - Eurodam Cruise Ship

 

Statement by the Rappe’ Family Regarding Missing HAL Cruise Passenger Jason Rappe’

On behalf of the Rappe’ family, we would like to extend our gratitude to all of you who have shown so much love and support for us during this time of crisis. We are all still trying to come to grips with this awful event of losing Jason at sea.

For those of you who are not familiar with what happened, Jason and his wife, Tine, from Olympia Washington, went on a 7 day cruise aboard the Holland America Line Eurodam out of Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean. On November 29, 2012, Jason apparently went overboard and has not been located.

We pray that somehow Jason is out there, and that he is ok. There are not many people on this planet with the grit and toughness that Jason has demonstrated in his life. Between Jason’s training in the U.S. Army and his stubborn, never-fail attitude, we know that if anyone can survive this it is him.

Jason is the type of person who could easily be imagined making a rope from his goatee, and lassoing a pair of sea turtles on which he would triumphantly stand as they lead him back to safety.

Our family is seeking information regarding what happened during the cruise. If you were on the cruise ship, we would to like obtain any information that you may have regarding Jason and the circumstances surrounding him going overboard. A maritime attorney is helping us investigate what happened, and we ask that you contact him with your information. His name is Jim Walker and his contact information is below.

Jason’s wife and father will not be conducting any interviews at this time, and we ask that you respect their privacy.

Thank you again for your support and prayers as we deal with this horrible family event.

Wife: Marie Christine (“Tine”) Rappe'
Father: Dana Rappe’
Brother: Ross Rappe’
Brother: Eric Rappe’


Please contact:

James (“Jim”) M. Walker 
Walker & O’Neill P.A. 

Telephone:  305 995 5300 or 800 256 1518

Email:  jim@cruiselaw.com

Passenger Missing From HAL's Eurodam Cruise Ship - Why Do All HAL Overboard Cases Remain Mysteries?

Multiple news sources are reporting that a passenger has gone overboard in the Caribbean earlier this morning. The passenger, age 41, is from Washington and was traveling with his wife.

The passenger's wife reportedly discovered her husband missing from the Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship Eurodam.  The U.S. Coast Guard said that, according to HAL, a baseball cap was located on one of the decks that was allegedly confirmed by the wife of the missing passenger as belonging to him. The ship was sailing from St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) to the Bahamas when the man disappeared early today. 

The Coast Guard issued a statement that it was conducting a search after being notified of the incident at 5:00 AM. Two Coast Guard ships and a helicopter have been dispatched to search for the passenger, whose name has not been released.

Eurodam Cruise Ship - HAL - Passenger OverboardHAL issued a statement that the cruise ship turned around at some point and has joined the search for the missing passenger. The ship left Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Saturday for a seven-day cruise.

You can read about prior recent disappearances from HAL cruise ships:

The Veendam just last month.

The Oosterdam involving a young man.

The Maasdam involving an elderly man. 

The Zaandam involving a young woman.

The overboard from the Zaandam revealed a lack of credibility by HAL's PR department.

Cruise line expert Professor Ross Klein has documented 197 over-boards from cruise ships since the year 2000. 

HAL has had 5 passengers overboard from its cruise ships in just the last couple of years. All remain mysteries.

As best as I can tell, there has never been a determination regarding the cause of any of the HAL over-boards and there has never been a case where HAL admitted that it had closed circuit television (CCTV) images of what happened.

It's disturbing that people can somehow just disappear on the high seas with no explanation and no video of what happened.  You'd think that the cruise line would revamp its security systems when not one single overboard has been solved in the last three years. It also raises the issue whether HAL is being transparent with the public. 

November 30, 2012 Update: The missing passenger has been identified in the press as Jason Gregory Rappe. HAL issued a statement to the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel newspaper, which you can read here.The statement is silent regarding when the wife reported her husband missing to the cruise line and when the cruise line notified the Coast Guard.  In recent overboard cases, the cruise lines have delayed as long as several hours before notifying the Coast Guard.

December 1, 2012 Update: The Eurodam returns to Fort Lauderdale this morning and the FBI should Jason Rappe - HAL Eurodam - Missingbe boarding the cruise ship. At the same time, over two thousand passengers will disembark and begin to head home.  

December 3, 2012 UpdateWalker & O'Neill Retained to Investigate Disappearance of Cruise Passenger Jason Rappe' From HAL's Eurodam  Our firm was retained today to represent the Rappe' family find answers to what happened on the cruise ship.

Please help!

If you were on the cruise and have information about Mr. Rappe's disappearance (photo right), please contact me directly - jim@cruiselaw.com     

Please note that the comment section below is closed, and no further comments will be published. If you were on the cruise and have information, please contact us directly.

 

Photo credit:

Top: Welkinridge / Wikipedia

Bottom: Rappe' family

Disney Ready to Start Inaugural Season from Miami, While Questions Remain About Disappearance of Disney Youth Counselor

Disney Cruise Line has kicked off its promotion of the Disney Wonder cruise ship sailing from Miami starting December 23, 2012.  

Fort Lauderdale's Sun Sentinel newspaper reports today that "Captain Mickey Mouse officially kicked-off the countdown for the arrival of the Disney Wonder to PortMiami with a Disney-style unveiling of a larger than life banner proclaiming “See You Real Soon.”

This will be the first time a Disney cruise ship has home-ported in South Florida.

Readers of my blog will recall that the Disney Wonder has a rather notorious history as the cruise ship from which a young English woman "disappeared" last year.

In March 2011, twenty-four year old Disney crew member Rebecca Coriam somehow "vanished" from the Wonder while it was sailing on a Mexican itinerary from Southern California. The Coriam family feels that Disney has been less than forthcoming with information regarding their daughter's situation. They believe that the cruise line has not cooperated with them in finding out exactly what happened on the Disney cruise ship.

Because Disney flagged its ship in the Bahamas to avoid taxes and labor laws, official responsibility for Rebecca Coriam - Disney Cruise - Disney Wonder Cruise Shipinvestigating disappearances from Bahamian flagged ship falls to the Bahamas. A single policeman from the Bahamas investigated Rebecca's disappearance. The investigation took only a few hours. The Bahamas refuses to provide the Coriams with the results of its investigation and is concealing the official report from them.  Disney refuses to release information to the family saying that they must obtain the information from the Bahamas which, Disney know, won't cooperate at all.

A sorry state of affairs with these foreign incorporated cruise lines sailing under foreign flags of convenience concealing information from grieving families.  

By the way, Rebecca was employed as a youth counselor for Disney. You'd  think that a corporation touting "family cruises" and promoting special vacations for kids would try to get to the bottom of the disappearance of a youth counselor whose job was to take care of children, as well as being sensitive and transparent with the employee's family. Think again.

Below is a video about how cruise lines cover up disappearances at sea, of both passengers and crew.  The Coriam family is interviewed and so am I.  Ask yourself whether Disney will be transparent with you if your daughter disappears from the Disney Wonder when it sails out of Miami next month.

Do you know what happened to Rebecca? Please contact her family: Web: Rebecca-Coriam.com Email: help@rebecca-coriam.com

 

Crew Member Fakes Disappearance From Container Ship - Faces Fine of $1,062,423

A Filipino crew member working aboard a large container ship was arrested after allegedly staging his own disappearance as part of a plot to sneak into the U.S.  

Dexter Desquitado, age 38, worked as a crew member aboard the Singapore-flagged MSC Tokyo. On October 25, 2012, a federal grand jury indicted him on charges that while the container ship was in the Gulf of Mexico heading for Alabama, he staged a scene aboard the ship to create the impression that he had gone overboard. Meanwhile, he hid in another part of the ship, with the intention of sneaking into the United States.  When the MSC ship reached the Port of Mobile, he apparently Fake Disappearance - MSC Tokyo Container Shipentered the U.S. during the vessel's cargo operations. 

In legal papers filed by the prosecuting attorneys, the U.S. Government said "The very offense involved staging his disappearance at sea, hiding in a secluded area of the ship, and then surreptitiously escaping into the United States under the cover of night."

An earlier account of the incident indicated that at approximately 2:30 a.m. on October 15th, the missing crewmember was responsible for recovering the Jacob’s ladder after the pilot arrived. The ladder was later observed down with a shoe on deck indicating the possibility of the crewmember falling overboard.

The U.S. Coast responded by launching a large (and expensive) search and rescue effort. The vessels and aircraft involved in the unnecessary search included:

  • Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew;
  • Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane crew;
  • Coast Guard Station Dauphin Island 45-foot Response Boat—Medium crew;
  • The 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Seahawk crew;
  • A 40-foot Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla boat crew;
  • A 32-foot Mobile Police Department contender crew;
  • A 32-foot Alabama Marine Resources jet boat crew;
  • A 23-foot Daphne Search and Rescue boat crew; and
  • A 27-foot Bon Secour Fire Department boat crew.

If convicted, Desquitado faces a $5,000 civil penalty and $1,062,423 for the cost of the search conducted by the Coast Guard as well as Alabama and local authorities.

Our blog has covered all types of crew member disappearances, including foul play, suicides and mysteries.  This is the first time that we have learned of a crew member faking a disappearance.  

Can anyone cite to a case involving a fake disappearance of a crew member from a large commercial vessel or a cruise ship?  Please leave a comment below or comment on our facebook page.   

 

Story and video credit: Mobile News 15

Tonight: Update On Missing Cruise Passenger George Smith

As I mentioned earlier this week, tonight the Nancy Grace program takes a look back at the mystery of the George Smith case. 

Mr. Smith "disappeared" from the Brilliance of the Seas during his honeymoon cruise with his newlywed wife, Jennifer Hagel, in July 2005.

There has been some mystery and intrigue over the years. But there have been developments this year which point the finger squarely at some of the men last seen with Mr. Smith as being involved in his disappearance.      

Seven years ago, Nancy Grace interviewed me on her show about the case (we represented George's widow, Jennifer)George Smith Disappearance - Cruise Ship. Ms. Grace spent more time attacking Jennifer, than focusing on those responsible for George's death and the cruise line which tried to cover it up.

The photo to the right is of George and Jennifer at the beginning of their honeymoon cruise. (We distributed the photo at the Congressional hearing into Mr. Smith's death in 2005).

This was a couple deeply in love, with a life together ahead of them. 

Let's hope that tonight's program is really an update on who was involved in George's death over seven years ago, and not a platform to attack his wife, Jennifer.

This is a case where there needs to be an arrest of those who were involved in George's death and those who covered it up.

Unsolved Cruise Disappearance: What Happened to George Smith?

George Smith - Cruise Ship - Missing HoneymoonerOver seven years ago, newlywed cruise passenger George Smith disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas into the Aegean Sea. The cruise line quickly concluded that Mr. Smith probably sat on the railing of his balcony and fell overboard, but there is absolutely no proof of that.

What Royal Caribbean knew but did not reveal to the families of George Smith and his bride, Jennifer Hagel, was that it had seized a video camera from other men last seen with Mr. Smith. The day after Mr. Smith's disappearance, these passengers were eating breakfast in the cruise ship's dining room when they began filming each other. According to a CBS program this year, the men were recorded laughing about the situation and mocking Mr. Smith.

The camera then stops on one of the three men who said: "We gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute."

Our firm represented Mr. Smith's widow and we hired forensic expert Dr. Henry Lee back in 2005 to investigate the case. The cruise line never revealed this video to us, or to Dr. Lee, or to the public. Instead, it launched a scandalous media campaign to portray Mr. Smith as a drunk and his bride as unfaithful. 

This Friday, the Nancy Grace program is airing a special look back at this case entitled "What Nancy Grace Mystery - Disappearance of George Smith Happened to George Smith?" The program will take a look back on some of the developments in the case. This "mystery" is no mystery at all. Those involved should be prosecuted. 

We have written a series of articles about Mr. Smith's case, including Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later. We discussed what happened on the cruise and how the cruise line and the media responded to Mr. Smith's disappearance.  

I am not a fan of Nancy Grace. Her program lost focus on the cruise line's cover-up and the incompetency of the FBI in investigating the crime, while unnecessarily pitting the Smith family against their daughter-in-law. But her program is one of the few that continues to cover Mr. Smith's disappearance. I'll be watching this Friday.

Was Cruise Passenger Murdered in the Mediterranean?

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website refers to a case of an Israeli passenger who went overboard in the Mediterranean Sea during a vacation cruise earlier this month.

According to the Y News Net newspaper in Israel, the passenger was identified as a 43 year old Israeli taxi driver from Hadera who did not return from a leisure cruise to Cyprus he went on three weeks ago.

Police officials said there was a chance that the man had fallen off the ship and drowned.

However, an Egyptian newspaper, al-Masry al-Youm, reported that the man had been shot dead. 

The police launched an investigation into the incident after learning of the man's disappearance, taking collecting statements from the ship's crew and passengers and checking security cameras.

The man was reportedly seen in the ship's bar and pool area a day before the ship docked at Haifa Port.

The body was discovered by Egyptian authorities and was transferred to Israel on Friday. It was taken to a forensic institute, where the circumstances of death are being examined.

Carnival Destiny Passenger Rescued After Going Overboard

Carnival Destiny Cruise - Passenger Jumps  WSVN - Miami Channel 7 reports that a cruise ship passenger went overboard from the Carnival Destiny Saturday night after the ship left the port of Miami.

The news station states that the 29 year old female apparently jumped from the cruise ship but was rescued by the ship's crew who used a rescue boat to pick her out of the water.

The Destiny diverted from its scheduled port in Ocho Rios, Jamaica to Key West where the woman was disembarked yesterday for medical treatment at a hospital. The cruise ship will now head for Grand Cayman.

A number of passengers left comments on Twitter to the effect that the overboard passenger may have struck a lifeboat on the way down and treaded water for over one and one-half hours. One passenger took a photo of the lifeboat (below) involved in the rescue. 

Anyone with photos, video or information about what happened please leave a comment below. 

October 25, 2012 Update:  Why Did Carnival Delay Rescuing An Overboard Passenger From The Destiny?

Carnival Destiny Lifeboat - Rescue - Overboard Passenger 

Photo credit:

Top: WSVN 7

Bottom: @NStookey Twitter 

Is Royal Caribbean Working Its Crew Members to Death?

Two weeks ago a television program in the U.K., "Cruises Undercover: The Truth Below Deck," revealed the harsh working conditions aboard cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises' subsidiary, Celebrity Cruises. The difficult working conditions and low pay are almost unimaginable by U.S. standards: 12 plus hour days, 7 days a week, 30 days a month with no days off over the course of 6 to 10 month contacts, for as little as $550 a month for non-tip earning ship employees.

The result of such a grueling schedule is exhausted and demoralized crew members who are often isolated from their families whose birthdays and anniversaries they miss on a regular basis.  

The mental health and emotional well being of crew members is not a topic that is discussed in the U.S.

Few Americans seem concerned with the working conditions on cruise ships faced by citizens of the greater world community.  Most U.S. citizens respond to the exploitation of crew members from India or Jamaica with the rationalization that whatever pittance the "foreign" crew members are receiving for Missing Royal Caribbean Crew Membersworking 90 hour weeks is more than the workers can receive back home. "If they don't like the work, they can quit" is the common wisdom. No doubt many crew members are easily replaceable considering that a country like India has hundreds of millions of people unemployed.

A week before the "Cruises Undercover" program aired, a Royal Caribbean crew member disappeared from the Serenade of the Seas as it sailed to Italy. The incident was briefly mentioned in the Italian press, as well as in newspapers in Croatia and Spain. We mentioned it in our article "Crew Member Goes Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas," but no major media outlets in the U.S. was interested in covering the story.

For a U.S. based cruise industry whose mantra is the "safety of our passengers and crew is our highest priority," there is little expression of such a sentiment when a crew member disappears at sea.

This weekend another Royal Caribbean crew member disappeared. While this is not uncommon as I will explain below, what is unusual is that the disappearance involved the the same Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Serenade of the Seas. This incident was briefly mentioned in an Italian newspaper but, again, no one in the U.S, mentioned it.  We reported on it on Saturday - "Another Crew Member Goes Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas." Now two days later, no one else in the U.S. has reported on the story.

Yesterday, I posted a photograph of the Serenade of the Seas on our facebook page and asked "why are so many crew members going overboard from Royal Caribbean cruise ships? A number of former crew members commented and the consensus seems to be that cruise employees are working harder than ever for less money,  One crew member said that working on a ship is "like going on a marathon before preparing yourself for it." Several former Royal Caribbean crew members left their thoughts which are worth reading. 

The concern that I have is that there are so many crew members employed by Royal Caribbean who have gone overboard. Were these employees overwhelmed by work and felt hopeless away from their families? There is great stress placed on the cleaners, cabin attendants and waiters by their supervisors and department heads as Royal Caribbean struggles to stay profitable. Consider that in the three years I have written this blog, the following crew members have gone missing from Royal Caribbean / Celebrity cruise ships:

December 2009 - Majesty of the Seas - crew member jumped.

December 2009 - Monarch of the Seas - crew member jumped.

March 20102 - Radiance of the Seas - crew member jumped.

May 2010 - Explorer of the Seas - crew member jumped.

May 2010 - Oasis of the Seas - crew member disappeared.

March 2011 - Grandeur of the Seas - crew member disappeared.

March 2011 - Constellation - crew member disappeared.

May 2011 - Eclipse - crew member jumped.

December 2011 - Summit - crew member jumped.

January 2012 - Monarch of the Seas - crew member disappeared.

September 2012 - Serenade of the Seas - crew member disappeared.

October 2012 - Serenade of the Seas -crew member disappeared.

The official investigation into these types of incidents lies with the flag state.  But countries like the Bahamas will never go onto a Royal Caribbean ship to investigate a crew death or disappearance and will never, ever criticize the cruise line.

An independent and objective investigation is needed to determine why crew members are going overboard from Royal Caribbean ships. If the cases involve suicides, an inquiry is needed to determine whether the long hours and low pay are contributing causes. There is no question that the crew members need greater rest and greater pay. 

If I ran a large business and one dozen of my employees ended their lives or just "disappeared," I would launch an investigation and get to the bottom of the problem.

But cruise line executives think differently.  None of this puts money in the cruise line's pockets. The crew are viewed as cogs in the machine. When they break, they are easily replaced. 

 

If you have thoughts about this issue or have information about any of these cases, please leave a comment below, or join the discussion on our facebook page.  

Photograph: 24ORA.com

Another Crew Member Goes Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas

A newspaper in Italy is reporting that a Royal Caribbean crew member disappeared from the Serenade of the Seas earlier this morning.

The Adnkronos newspaper in Rome reports that the Serenade of the Seas was sailing from Mykonos. Upon arrival at the next port around 7:00 AM this morning, it was discovered that a cabin steward was missing. (Another news account says he was a cleaner).  The newspaper mentions that the last CCTV image of the crew member on the cruise ship was around 1:00 AM and shows the employee walking through a door.  There apparently are no images of the crew member going overboard.  The crew member is reportedly from the Philippines. 

The newspaper states that a search was conducted by five Coast Guard patrol boats and two aircraft.

Royal Caribbean Serenade of the SeasThis is the third person to go overboard from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in the last three weeks.

On September 20th we reported on another crew member who went overboard from this same cruise ship, the Serenade of the Seas, as it was sailing to Italy. You can read our article here

On September 17th a passenger disappeared from the Allure of the Seas shortly after it sailed from South Florida.

In addition to these three Royal Caribbean overboard cases, on September 29th a passenger went overboard from the P & O Aurora cruise ship.

On October 9th we reported on a Holland America Line passenger who disappeared during a cruise on board the HAL Veendam. 

Five passengers missing from cruise ships in the last month. Unfortunately there is no news coverage of cruise ship overboard cases unless the person is a U.S. passenger.  The U.S. press has virtually no interest if a "foreign" crew member goes overboard. Royal Caribbean will not make a statement unless a major media outlet makes an inquiry.  

If you have information about this latest overboard please leave a comment below, or join the discussion on our facebook page.

Holland America Line Cruise Passenger "Disappears" - How Is That Possible?

American passenger Sarah Tessier Powell set sail on the Holland America Line Veendam cruise ship the last week of September.

Two weeks later, no one has any idea where she is.

CBC News in Nova Scotia Canada reports that Ms. Powell, age 70, from Louisiana, was last seen September 30th on the Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship Veendam, as it sailed from Quebec City to Charlottetown.

The HAL cruise ship's next stops were scheduled in Charlottetown, Sydney, and Halifax on October 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respectively

Halifax police speculate that Ms. Powell "may have walked off the ship without being checked by the Sarah Tessier Powell - HAL Cruise Passengercruise ship security," as CBC reports.  Let's hope that's the case. Assuming that's true, the Canadian police admit that it's not clear where Ms. Powell may have disembarked.  

How on earth is that possible?  Passenger gangways are supposed to be heavily monitored by security with each passenger's sea pass card scanned and the gangways always covered by closed circuit television cameras.

Cruise ships can easily trace the passenger's onboard purchases and use of their cabins by "lock-link" reports which document the opening of cabin doors. When did the passenger last use her card to either charge a purchase or open her cabin door?  The shipboard security should easily be able to know when there was any documented activity by Ms. Powell on the ship.

And why do the police think she left the ship?  If she did, then there should be CCTV film documenting her exit even if the gangway security guards were asleep at the wheel.    

There are a number of news outlets covering the story. That's good news. Passengers should not disappear during cruises, with loved ones wondering whether the passenger went overboard or is wandering around somewhere ashore.

It's been ten days since anyone say this cruise line guest.  Where is she?

This reflects poorly on HAL and the security systems on HAL's Vandeem.  Wasn't the Vandeem the same HAL ship which just  flunked the Centers for Disease Control inspection of the ship's cleanliness

It looks like the HAL Vandeem's security procedures are no better than its failed sanitation system.  

Video: Royal Caribbean Delayed Reporting Overboard Passenger

A'riel Marion - Overboard Cruise Passenger - Allure of the SeasLocal NBC 6 reports that Royal Caribbean delayed reporting the disappearance of Allure of the Seas cruise passenger, A'riel Marion, for two hours, even though another passenger on a lower balcony was literally hit on the arm as Ms. Marion fell to the water.

Based on the official report from the United States Coast Guard, the cruise line did not report the incident to the Coast Guard until 11:30 PM even though a passenger immediately reported the overboard to the ship around 9:27 PM.

Royal Caribbean's initial press release falsely claimed that the cruise line "immediately" reported the overboard. 

Our articles about this case are here:

Passenger Missing From The Allure of the Seas Cruise Ship

Why Didn't Royal Caribbean Immediately Notify the Coast Guard that a Passenger Went Overboard from Allure of the Seas? 

Delay, Deny, Deceive & Defend: Royal Caribbean Shows How Not to Respond to an Overboard Passenger  

 

View more videos at: http://nbcmiami.com.

Cruise Passenger Charged with Attempted Murder in Man Overboard Case

Viking Cinderella Cruise ShipA Swedish newspaper reports that a 28 year old man who forced a younger man to jump off the deck of a cruise ship is under arrest in Stockholm on suspicion of attempted murder.

The incident occurred aboard the Viking Cinderella cruise ship, operated by the Viking Line, last Sunday as the ship was moored at the Stadsgårds terminal in Stockholm.

The man who went overboard was threatened and jumped 88 feet into the water. The newspaper indicates that he managed to survive the fall and swam back to the pier and then got back onboard the ship. He was subsequently taken to the hospital.

Both men were passengers.

A Swedish police officer said:

"He was really lucky to survive. If he'd twisted in the slightest, we would have been killed by the impact with the hard water."

The 28 year old man was apprehended by the ship's security and then arrested by the police. 

 

Photo credit:  The Local newspaper

Delay, Deny, Deceive & Defend: Royal Caribbean Shows How Not to Respond to an Overboard Passenger

Overboard passengers are hardly unexpected.  

All cruise lines have man overboard (MOB) procedures required by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).  The procedures are fundamentally no different that what is taught to the public in United States Coast Guard (USCG) powerboat courses.  

My family took such a USCG course many years ago.

One of the operational courses involves simulating a man overboard by throwing a life-vest overboard. We all practiced performing a "Williamson Turn" where the person operating the powerboat turned the wheel to the side of the overboard and then, at around 60 degrees, turned the wheel back to the opposite side to come around and position the boat to speed back to the location of the man overboard. As one person handled the helm, others stayed focused on the overboard or obtained the equipment necessary to bring the overboard back on the boat as soon as possible.

By the end of the course, even my youngest, 5th grade son understood the importance of promptly powering the boat back to initiate the rescue.  We learned that every second was important.

Cruise ships are obviously not as maneuverable as a small powerboat. But the rescue protocols are fundamentally the same and equally important to passengers whether they went overboard from a small pleasure craft or a giant cruise ship.. 

A'riel Marion - Overboard Allure of the Seas Cruise ShipWe also learned that if the person overboard cannot be "immediately" located, we were required to notify the Coast Guard right away. All of the cruise lines are required to do so as well. 

So when I learned that Royal Caribbean waited over two hours after a passenger observed another passenger go overboard from the Allure of the Seas to contact the USCG, I was absolutely shocked.

Not only did Royal Caribbean delay, it delayed outrageously so.

But it gets worst.

It not only delayed but it denied it delayed. It deceived the public by claiming that the captain of the Allure of the Seas "immediately" turned the ship around and notified the Coast Guard. Its corporate communication department set out to deceive the public by releasing a false and misleading PR statement claiming "immediate" action when, in truth, it delayed for hours.

Delay, deny, and deceive.  We now have a dead passenger.

The young woman who went overboard has now been identified as A'riel Marion, a pretty young model with the rest of her life ahead of her.  Her mother, Vera Marion, has hired a maritime lawyer in Miami, Brett Rivkind, to try and find out what happened and why Royal Caribbean didn't do at least what my young son would have done - turn the damn ship around and, if the young woman was not "immediately" located, notify the Coast Guard?

WMC-TV, a television station in the small Tennessee town of Bartlett where A'riel is from, interviewed A'riel's mother. Another passenger reportedly notified the cruise ship that she observed a passenger go overboard around 9:25 PM.  Ms. Marion is quoted saying:          

"They knew she had gone overboard. The woman called and said something from the deck fell and hit her arm. They immediately cleared off that side of the ship, but they never started the search." 

Her attorney Rivkind added: "This is a very specific 911 call that a passenger from the cabin below was actually struck on the arm by the person who fell from the cabin above." 

At 9:30 PM, the ship's staff brought Ms. Marion to private room. 

Ms. Marion states: "They started asking me, could she swim?  And that's when I panicked and knew that they knew that she had gone overboard."

Two hours later, at 11:30 PM the U.S. Coast Guard was called. 

At 1:30 AM, the search for A'riel began.

"I believe they could save my daughter if they had began the search immediately," Ms. Marion told the news station.

Royal Caribbean has a lot of explaining to so.

But if history is any lesson, this cruise line will engage in more delay, denial and deception as it defends the lawsuit Ms. Marion will be forced to file to try and find out what happened to her daughter.

 

Read our other articles about this case:

Passenger Missing From The Allure of the Seas Cruise Ship

Why Didn't Royal Caribbean Immediately Notify the Coast Guard that a Passenger Went Overboard from Allure of the Seas?

 

Photo credit:  WMC-TV 

Another Cruise Passenger Overboard - This Time From P & O Aurora

P & O Cruises Aurora Web CamMultiple news sources are reporting that a passenger went overboard from a cruise ship in the Mediterranean Sea yesterday.  Little information is being released except that the passenger is described as a "British woman" and is apparently in her seventies. 

The incident occurred on the Aurora cruise ship as it sailed from the Oporto, Portugal to to Barcelona, Spain.  The news accounts state that the woman "fell" although there is no real description whether she jumped, or was thrown overboard, or she somehow fell into the water.

Cruise ship overboard cases are rarely solved. In this case, there is no real information being released to explain what happened.  

The Telegraph newspaper in the U.K. quotes a passenger saying that "we heard that the woman is 72 and was on holiday with her daughter but we don't know how she fell in. The passengers are all very sad and subdued as the outlook doesn't look good. The sea is very choppy. We are just so concerned for this woman and her family. It is awful."

P & O states that "the ship's crew were alerted and ordered an immediate search of the area," although cruise lines often say this when it's not true. There is no information when the woman was reported Aurora Cruise Ship - P & O Cruisesmissing and when the search was initiated.

Investigations fall to the flag state which for P & O cruise ships is Bermuda.  That country has a dreadful record conducting investigation involving overboard passengers and crew members or crimes on cruise ships at sea.

According to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, this is the 188th person overboard from a cruise ship in the last decade or so.

The last cruise ship passenger overboard from a cruise ship was 2 weeks ago when a 21 year old passenger disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas.  

The cruise ship had left Southampton on Wednesday September 26th and was sailing on a 14 day cruise.

Anyone with information about this latest overboard, please leave a comment below.

 

September 29 2012 Update:  A comment to this article below states that the passenger committed suicide, although this cannot be confirmed. 

Credits:

Aurora Web Cam: P & O Cruises 

Aurora cruise ship photo: SOLVENT via Telegraph 

Hat tip Goatys' News

"Lord Keep Us Safe On This Gigantic Cruise Ship"

Allure of the SeasA news station in Memphis has identified the 21 year old woman who went overboard from Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas cruise ship on September 16, 2012.

There has been speculation about what happened. This was the overboard where the cruise ship delayed reporting the incident to the Coast Guard for two hours. Some people have speculated that the young lady may have committed suicide, although there is no evidence of that.

That scenario seems highly unlikely given the comments that she was posting on Twitter leading up to the cruise, including many tweets expressing her excitement about the trip.  Consider one of her last tweets upon boarding the cruise ship:   

"Lord keep up safe on this gigantic cruise ship! Let the festivities begin!! See you suckers in a week . . ."

After the delayed Coast Guard search ended, the matter was turned over to the FBI for investigation.

Here's our initial article about this case: Passenger Missing From The Allure of the Seas Cruise Ship.

 

Crew Member Goes Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas

Serenade of the Seas Overboard CrewAlready reeling from the publicity of its delayed reporting of a 21 year old passenger who went overboard from the Allure of the Seas, Royal Caribbean is now facing the scrutiny of the international press regarding the disappearance of a crew member from the Serenade of the Seas yesterday.

Several newspapers in Italy and Croatia are reporting that a Royal Caribbean went overboard from the Serenade yesterday morning while the cruise ship was sailing in the Adriatic sea.

The Bahamian flagged Serenade of the Seas was crossing the Adriatic for Venice.

There are conflicting reports of the time of the overboard as occurring between 4:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. when the ship's passengers reported that a person had fallen into the sea.

An Italian newspaper reports that the unidentified crew member went overboard in off the Italian coastal city of Ancona. The waters are described either as international waters or waters under the jurisdiction of Croatia. The sea was reportedly rough with winds gusting close to 100 kilometers per hour. 

Coast Guard vessels from Croatia and Italy have searched for the crew member without success.

Cruise lines don't voluntarily disclose information about overboard passengers and crew members. Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has tracked 187 people going overboard from cruise ships in the last ten years or so.

Anyone with information about this latest case, please leave a comment below.

September 21, 2012:  So far, not a single U.S. newspaper or media outlet has covered the story.  No press statement by Royal Caribbean.  Disturbing that no one cares about cruise overboards unless they involve a passenger from the U.S. 

September 22, 2012: Several people informed us that the overboard Royal Caribbean crew member is from Panama and one reader said that he was employed in the facilities department on the ship.

October 13, 2012: Another crew member goes overboard from the Serenade of the Seas. 2 crew members from the same cruise ship in 3 weeks. What's going on with this ship? 

Photo credit: Il Messaggero.it

Why Didn't Royal Caribbean Immediately Notify the Coast Guard that a Passenger Went Overboard from Allure of the Seas?

Yesterday the first media source which reported that a cruise passenger went overboard from Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas was Cruise Critic.  Notwithstanding its name, Cruise Critic is not remotely a critic of the cruise industry.  It's one of the cruise lines greatest fans and supporters. It will publish cruise line PR statements without question or hesitation.

When Cruise Critic broke the story, Royal Caribbean's PR department had already fed Cruise Critic a statement claiming that another passenger witnessed the 21-year-old American go overboard at about 9:25 p.m. EDT. "The ship's Captain immediately stopped the ship, turned around, and alerted the U.S. and Bahamian Coast Guard," read the cruise line statement.

The next time entry mentioned by Cruise Critic was 3:30 a.m., when the U.S. Coast Guard assumed control of the search and released the Allure of the Seas as well as Carnival's Fascination and Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas cruise ships which had joined in the search for the missing woman. 

Allure of the Seas The impression created by Royal Caribbean and its friends at Cruise Critic was that Royal Caribbean "immediately" notified the proper authorities and "immediately" searched the waters for the young woman and that the search lasted six hours from 9:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. until the Coast Guard released the cruise ship to continue with itinerary. 

What Cruise Critic didn't mention was that, based on an article in the Sun Sentinel newspaper, Royal Caribbean was notified of the 9:25 p.m.overboard at 9:30 a.m. but the cruise line delayed two hours until 11:30 p.m. before notifying the U.S. Coast Guard. The Sun Sentinel article was based on comments directly from the U.S. Coast Guard.  

But no other news sources mentioned the two hour delay; instead, CNN, Miami Herald, CBS FOX News, and others published the false and misleading cruise line statement that Royal Caribbean "immediately" stopped the cruise ship and notified both the U.S. and Bahamian Coast Guards following the 9:25 p.m. incident. 

Coast Guard regulations and the requirements of most cruise ship safety management systems (SMS) required by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) state that the vessel must notify the Coast Guard and other vessels in the vicinity if the overboard person is not "immediately" located in the water. Once a man overboard is reported, most SMS cruise line policies require a prompt reduction of speed of the ship, a "Williams Turn" to head the ship back to the location of the overboard person, the deployment of extra look-outs, the use of spotlights, and preparation to deploy life craft. While this is happening the captain can order a muster and head count if there is any doubt about whether a passenger went overboard.

It is inexplicable that the cruise ship would sail on if an eye witness reported the overboard to the cruise line at 9:30 p.m. Two hours later, the ship would be 30 - 40 miles away not even considering the effect of the current on the person overboard.  The chances of drowning would increase substantially and the search area would increase dramatically due to the delay. 

The Allure is the world's largest cruise ship with 5,400 passengers and 2,300 crew members aboard. A search of this huge ship would take many hours. Did the cruise line really ignore the man overboard report and sail away? Why search the ship or order a muster and head count if an eye witness saw the woman go overboard as initially reported?  It is against basic maritime protocols.

In cases like this, wild speculation follows a delayed rescue attempt. Was this a suicide, foul play or the results of excessive serving of alcohol?  

I don't believe that people wanting to commit suicide take the time and incur the expense of booking a cruise, buying an airplane ticket, packing a big suitcase, and then flying across the U.S. to South Florida for a week long cruise to the Caribbean with the thought of killing themselves.  

But readers commenting on the cruise message boards at cruise fan sites like Cruise Critic have already labeled the case a suicide or 100% her fault for partying.  Sites like Cruise Critic perpetuate the cruise line's misleading PR campaign by ignoring the cruise line's two hour delay and then letting its readers assassinate the woman's character.

Unfortunately, there is no independent police authorities onboard cruise ships to gather the true facts and conduct an objective and timely investigation. Cruise lines investigations are often conducted with the cruise line's reputation and legal interests in mind.

This is a real disservice to families of missing passengers who need transparency in such a time of despair. 

 

September 19, 2012 Update: Royal Caribbean tries to justify why it delayed stopping the ship and notifying the Coast Guard. Coast Guard ends its delayed search. FBI now involved.

Passenger Missing From The Allure of the Seas Cruise Ship

Last night a young woman from Bartlett, Tennessee disappeared from the world's largest cruise ship, the Allure of the Seas.

According to experts who track cruise ship disappearances, she was the 186th person to go overboard from a cruise ship in the last ten years.

At the time of the overboard last night, the Allure was sailing to Nassau after leaving Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades).

Royal Caribbean Cruises issued a press release that the 21 year old U.S. passenger went overboard Allure of the Seas OverBoard Passengerat 9:25 PM Eastern Standard Time last night.  The incident was apparently captured on the cruise ship's CCTV cameras. 

Royal Caribbean Delays Notifying the Coast Guard

The Sun Sentinel reports that the incident was reported to the cruise line around 9:30 PM, but the cruise line delayed reporting the incident to the Coast Guard for 2 hours until 11:30 PM. According to the Sun Sentinel. the cruise line apparently searched the ship for two hours to look for the young woman.

Only after the shipboard search was unsuccessful did the ship contact the Coast Guard.

Royal Caribbean Denies Delay

According to Cruise Critic, Royal Caribbean says that there was no delay.  It released a statement claiming that after another passenger observed the overboard and reported it, "the ship's Captain immediately stopped the ship, turned around, and alerted the U.S. and Bahamian Coast Guard."  This is inconsistent with the Coast Guard statement that Royal Caribbean waited until 11:30 PM to notify it and then search in the water for the passenger.

The Allure is a huge ship with some 8,000 passengers and crew members. As the cruise line likes to advertise, the massive ship comprises some seven neighborhoods.  Why would the cruise line waste valuable time searching such a big ship while sailing for two hours away from where the overboard was observed? 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein reports that 186 people (passengers and crew members) have gone overboard in the last decade or so.

The last overboard from the Allure of the Seas was in early February of this year when an Irish passenger in his 20's went overboard.  

In instances where suicide is suspected, the cruise lines usually allude to that in their initial public statement. There is no mention of that so far.

Alcohol is often involved in cruise ship overboards, but there is no mention of that factor one way or the other.

Please leave a comment below if you have information about what happened, or click on our facebook page to see what other people are saying about this case.

 

September 18, 2012 Update: Cruise line's 2 hour delay in inconsistent with Coast Guard regulations, International Maritime Organization (IMO) recommendations and cruise line safety management system (SMS) procedures - read here..

September 19, 2012 Update:  Royal Caribbean tries to justify why it delayed stopping the ship and notifying the Coast Guard.  Coast Guard ends its delayed search.  FBI now involved. 

September 20, 2012 Update: Royal Caribbean Struggles to Justify Delayed Notification to Coast Guard.

September 22, 2012 Update:  Allure of the Seas: "Profits Over Passenger Safety?

September 27, 2012 Update: Passenger identified.  One of her last comments on Twitter: 'Lord Keep Us Safe On This Gigantic Cruise Ship." 

October 3, 2012 Updates: Delay, Deny, Deceive & Defend: Royal Caribbean Shows How Not to Respond to an Overboard Passenger 

Video: Royal Caribbean Delayed Reporting Overboard Passenger

Founder and CEO of International Cruise Victims Discusses Cruise Line Cover-Ups

Ken Carver - International Cruise VictimsFormer insurance company president, Ken Carver, discusses the disappearance of his daughter, Merrian Carver, from the Celebrity Cruises ship, the Mercury, and the lies and cover-up by the cruise line which followed.

Ken is the founder and the CEO of the International Cruise Victims (ICV) which he formed in 2006 with a few other families who had lost loved ones at sea.  

The ICV is now truly an international organization with members in twenty-four countries around the world.

You can read about Ken and the remarkable story of the ICV here.

The audio can be listened to here.     

American Crew Member Goes Overboard From Costa Cruise Ship

An Italian newspaper, Articolo Tre, and the Crew Center website, are reporting that a U.S. female crew member disappeared from the Costa Favolosa in the sea near Istanbul.

The victim reportedly is an American crew member employed by Costa as a dancer. There are no details in the news article.  The Italian newspaper article states that "according to the preliminary findings, the woman committed suicide by jumping from the ship off the coast of Istanbul."

Costa FavolosaThere is no confirmation by Costa. Crew members who work on the cruise ship are silent, especially if they are asked by passengers about the incident.

The ship will not stop tomorrow in Dubrovnik, as planed and but instead will go directly from Istanbul to Venice.

A few months ago a young woman went overboard from another Costa cruise ship, the Costa Magica. A 21 year old Brazilian waitress disappeared from the Magica near the coast of Sicily. The company quickly labeled the incident a suicide too. 

Unfortunately suicide seems to be the cruise industry's explanation for most over-boards.  This is because the cruise lines like to blame the victim rather than admit that there are safety and crime issues on cruise ships. 

Anyone will information, please leave a comment below.

Update August 31, 2012:  Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein received information that the overboard crew member is from South Africa - not the U.S.  We also received a comment to this article stating that the woman is from South Africa.  

There have been 185 people overboard from cruise ships in the last decade or so. 

Update September 2, 2012: The Italian newspaper, Articolo Tre, has another short article.  The title of the article states that Costa "confirms suicide" and yet the text of the article (if I am translating this correctly) states that the crew member "fell" into the water.  Unfortunately there is really no information contained in this article either, other than the Captain explaining why the cruise ship was skipping Dubrovnik, reassuring the passengers that they would receive a credit and wishing them a "happy" rest of the cruise.   

 

Photo credit: Wikimedia / Andrsvoss

Man Overboard: What Really Happened Aboard the Carnival Fascination?

After a 31 year old passenger went overboard from the Carnival Fascination cruise ship into the dark waters off of the Florida coast last night around 2:00 AM, all of the major news sources and cruise friendly bloggers all lined up to dutifully repeat verbatim what the Carnival PR people fed to the public:

  • A passenger jumped overboard; and
  • A security guard witnessed the jump and immediately threw life rings overboard. 

End of story.

Sounds like a suicide to me, everyone thought. How sad, a man overcome with the weigh of the world's Cruise Ship Overboard - Suicide?  pressures. What a pity. Pray for his family.

But was this a suicide as the cruise line wants you to believe?

The first thing that struck me strange about the story is that a security guard just happened to be at the precise spot where a passenger chose to jump overboard from the top deck of the Carnival cruise ship.

One thing i have learned over the past 29 years as a maritime lawyer is that there are virtually no security on duty and patrolling at two in the morning on a cruise ships. Perhaps a guard or two around the bars and discos where drunken fights break out, but a guard patrolling randomly on a top deck who just happened upon a passenger choosing to end his life?  No way.

The International Maritime Organization ('IMO") regulations suggest that cruise lines have just two security personnel on duty on the entire ship at night.  This is a ridiculously insufficient number of security guard to maintain order and safety on a cruise ship, particularly aboard the drunk fest atmosphere associated with the anything goes attitude on Carnival's "fun ships."  

There must be more to the story, I thought. What really happened to the Carnival guest who fell 90 feet into the deep waters 25 miles off of the coast of Florida?

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has studied cruise overboard cases over the past decade. He has documented some 185 passengers and crew who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000. Most are never found. Most cases remain "mysteries."   

That's the way cruise lines want it.  The cruise line PR people trot out the it-must-be-a-suicide-so-let's-blame-the-passenger game.  90% of the public accepts the first thing they hear or read and lack the healthy cynicism to look behind the curtain.

When the cruise ship returns from the cruise at the end of the week we will see passengers returning to their computers and commenting about what they heard or saw on the cruise ship.  A different story will emerge. Already there are comments on Cruise Critic's boards that this was no suicide but what is being called a strange situation where a Carnival security guard was chasing the passenger who grabbed a life ring and then jumped overboard.

Was excessive alcohol involved?  It would be surprising if not given the late hour and Carnival's booze cruise reputation.  

But in a week from now, will anyone be concerned with what really happened?

Overboard number 185.  Carnival's PR people have done their work.  Another mystery it seems.

Does anyone really care?      

August 30, 2012 Update:  Looks like the initial information released by Carnival is misleading.  Cruise Critic has this information today:

The case involves an "U.S. Army sergeant who was taking a vacation before shipping out to duty in Afghanistan. Sergeant Ronald Kemp, our source tells us, was intoxicated and had entered a crew-only area of the ship. There he was confronted by a female crewmember, who told him to leave. A physical confrontation ensued, during which time a security officer pepper sprayed Kemp, who then fled. Security gave chase, and Kemp ran up to the Verandah deck, one deck above the Lido deck. In order to evade security, he jumped over the railing, falling one level and landing on the Lido, and then continued to flee before grabbing a life ring and leaping overboard."

Cruise lines face liability when they serve passengers alcohol to the point of intoxication.

In the case of Hall v. Royal Caribbean, an appellate court here in Miami held that the cruise line can be sued in the following circumstances:

"  . . . a paying passenger on the defendant's cruise ship, was injured on the high seas when, after having been served alcohol by the vessel's employees to and obviously past the point of intoxication, he staggered from a lounge, and while unable to look after himself fell down two flights of open stairways." 

 

Art Credit:   CruelKev2's blog

Passenger Missing From Carnival Fascination Cruise Ship

Several news stations are reporting that a 31 year old man went overboard last night from the Carnival Fascination cruise ship. 

Newspapers are reporting that a Carnival crew member observed the passenger jumping off the top deck of the ship into the water.  The ship had left Jacksonville around 5:00 P.M and was heading to Key West. The ship was 25 miles off the Coast of Florida near Volusia County.

The incident reportedly occurred around 2 a.m. 

A Carnival spokesperson said that the crew threw life rings into the water and the ship then turned back Carnival Fascination Cruise Ship Overboard Passenger - Jump?to the location where the man went overboard.

Bay News 9 reports that the Coast Guard deployed considerable resources in searching for the man, including the 210-foot Coast Guard Cutter Resolute, the 154-foot Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber, a Sentinel Class Fast Response Cutter, the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Shrike, a 47-foot Motor Life Boat and a HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter.

No information has been released regarding why the man jumped, if that is really what happened.

Given the late hour, one of the things that I would inquire about is whether the passenger was drinking alcohol.  I would request the ship's records regarding the passenger's on board purchases to see how many drinks he purchased. There is a 100% certainty that Carnival's lawyers in Miami have already looked at this information, as well as any CCTV images of the passenger on the ship.

As usual, there is a spirited debate about the story at the CruiseCritic boards, with one member suggesting that the case was not a suicide but involved the passenger allegedly running away from a security guard and jumping overboard with a life ring.  Can't verify this of course.

Anyone on the cruise ship have accurate information?

Another U.S. Cruise Passenger "Missing" in Jamaica

Carnival Cruise Passenger Fredrick Lauritzen - Missing - JamaicaThe Jamaica Gleaner reports today that an American cruise ship passenger is missing in Jamaica after disembarking from an unidentified cruise ship that apparently called on Ocho Rios.

The Gleaner states that the police are seeking the assistance of the public in locating an American who has been missing since Thursday.

The Ocho Rios police say 50 year old cruise passenger Fredrick Lauritzen disembarked a cruise ship and has not been seen or heard from since.

Anyone knowing the whereabouts of Fredrick Lauritzen is being asked to contact the Ocho Rios police at 974-2469, Police 119 emergency number or the nearest police station.

This is the second time in the last two weeks that U.S. cruise passengers have not returned to a cruise ship which calls on Jamaica. The last incident involved passengers who failed to return to a Carnival cruise ship. There was a great deal of speculation what happened to the American family of three who were reported missing from a Carnival cruise ship, the Freedom, which docked in Ocho Rios.

Jamaica - Carnival Cruise Passenger Fredrick Lauritzen - Missing The three were 45-year-old Donald Henderson, 43-year-old Maria Henderson and 21-year-old Aja Henderson. Jamaican police found the passengers vacationing in a villa in Discovery Bay, St Ann, and were deported back to the U.S.   

It is against both Jamaican and U.S. law to fail to return to a cruise ship in the middle of a cruise.

We hope that this latest passenger turns up relaxing somewhere in a hotel drinking Red Stripes.

August 11, 2012 Update:  Blogger Mickey Faust tells me that the only cruise ship in port in Ocho Rios last Thursday was Carnival's Freedom.

Photo Credit: Jamaica Observer

Three Carnival Cruise Passengers Disappear in Jamaica

Multiple news sources are reporting that three U.S. cruise passengers from the Carnival Freedom cruise ship are missing since yesterday after disembarking the cruise ship in Ocho Rios.

USA TODAY states that the three passengers, all from the same family, failed to return to the cruise ship on Thursday following a day-long call in the Jamaican port of Ocho Rios.

The Associated Press reports that missing Americans are Donald Freedom Cruise Ship - Ocho Rios - Missing PassengersHenderson, age 45; Maria Henderson, age 43; and Aja Henderson, age 21.

The Freedom is on a six-day cruise that departed Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, and returns to South Florida tomorrow (Saturday).

There are comments to some of the on line articles speculating about what might have happened, including the passengers being victims of crime.  We have written many articles about Jamaica, a beautiful country with wonderful people, but it's a destination which suffers from violence and drug trafficking.  At this point there is simply no information on way or the other.

Newspapers in Jamaica are asking that anyone knowing the whereabouts of the Henderson family contact the Ocho Rios Police at 974-2533, Police 119 emergency number.

If you were on the cruise and have information which may lead to the location of this family, please leave a comment below.

July 27, 2012 Update: ABC Radio reports that the cruise passengers apparently left the ship with their belongings and the Jamaican police found them safe and sound in a villa on the northern coast of Jamaica. Here is the ABC account:

Three Americans who failed to return to their Carnival Cruise ship after a stopover in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Thursday, were found safe and unharmed this afternoon at a villa in Discovery Bay -- approximately 40 minutes west, on Jamaica's northern coast.

The three passengers, whom the cruise line earlier identified as members of the same family, went missing after disembarking the Carnival Freedom for a day-long port call in Ocho Rios, the cruise line said in a statement obtained by ABC News.

Jamaican authorities had classified the disappearance as a missing persons case, saying it was odd that the family took all of their belongings off of the ship before vanishing. The family has no known ties to anyone in Jamaica.

It was not immediately clear why the family left the ship and never returned. They are in the custody of Jamaican police and will be questioned about their mysterious departure. Police have not yet said whether charges will be brought against the three passengers.

 

Photo credit: Cruise Critic

Seven Year Anniversary of Disappearance of Cruise Passenger George Smith: When Will the FBI Make an Arrest?

Yesterday was the seven year anniversary of the disappearance of George Smith from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship.

You will recall that Mr. Smith was on his honeymoon cruise with his newlywed bride, Jennifer Hagel, when he went over the railing of his balcony early on the morning of July 5, 2005.  Although the cruise line quickly concluded that this was just an "accident," passengers took photographs of a blood-stained awning and heard sounds consistent with violence in Mr. Smith's cabin.

George Smith - Disappearance - Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Murder?I have always believed that Mr. Smith was a victim of foul play.  Mr. Smith's wife retained our firm to represent her and the interests of Mr. Smith's estate.  The deeper we looked into the case, the more certain we were that this was no accident. 

Last year we wrote a series of articles Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.  We discussed what happened on the cruise and how the cruise line and the media responded to Mr. Smith's disappearance.

Two months ago, CBS interviewed a former Assistant FBI Director who discussed a video tape recorded by three passengers last seen with Mr. Smith. The day after Mr. Smith's disappearance, these passengers (known as the "Russian men" - the two Rozenbergs and "Rusty" Kofman) were eating breakfast in the cruise ship's dining room when they began filming each other.  According to the CBS program, the men were recorded laughing about the situation and mocking Mr. Smith.

The camera then stops on one of the three men (who was not identified) who said: "We gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute."

Obviously this statement is incriminating, considering Mr. Smith went over the railing of his balcony and the Royal Caribbean security report on the morning of the disappearance states that young men were seen leaving the area near the Smith's cabin at around 4:30 AM.

With this statement as well as other evidence we are familiar with in the case, it is disturbing that the FBI has not made an arrest.

It's long overdue. 

  

 

Cruise Ship Disappearances Continue, Families Stay Vigilant

Fariba Amani - Missing - Cruise Ship DisappearanceA newspaper in Canada published a couple of interesting articles this weekend about a story that won't go away - the disappearance of passengers and crewmembers from cruise ships.

The Star newspaper published Families Search for Cruise Ship Passengers Lost at Sea which discusses the circumstances surrounding the disappearances of Canadian citizen Fariba Amani who vanished from the Celebration cruise ship as it was returning to Florida from the Bahamas.  Ms. Amani was cruising with her boyfriend, in what is described as a difficult relationship, who could offer no explanation for his girlfriend's disappearance at sea in the middle of the night.

The article also mentions the plight of Son Michael Pham, from Seattle, whose parents disappeared from a Carnival cruise ship in the Caribbean. Hue Pham, 71, and his wife, Hue Tran, 67, had been married 49 years and were with their daughter and granddaughter when they disappeared from the Carnival Cruise Line ship Destiny in 2005.

The article also touches upon the story of a woman, Arlene Pretty, who was drugged during a cruise aboard a Celebrity Cruises ship.  By the time she returned to her cabin, she was staggering. Within minutes her legs went numb and she couldn’t breathe. She was rushed to sick bay, where she was stabilized and where blood and urine samples were taken from her.

“The FBI refused on two requests to take the blood and urine samples and have them tested,” she says. “My samples are still on the ship, going to the Caribbean every 14 days, or they probably just got rid of them . . .   What happened to me was absolute hell,” says Pretty, who has been on 19 cruises. “I thought I was going to die."

Merrian Carver - Missing - Cruise Ship DisappearanceThe Star newspaper also published another article The Mystery Surrounding Two Cruise Ship Deaths

Merrian Carver disappeared while cruising on the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship. "Security on board these vessels is severely lacking," Kendall Carver, president of International Cruise Victims, is quoted as saying. His daughter, Merrian, went missing on a cruise ship sailing from Vancouver to Alaska in 2004, when she was 40.  Celebrity thereafter engaged in a cover up of the disappearance.

The other disappearance mentioned in the article involved George Smith, who vanished from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Sea cruise ship in the Mediterranean in July 2005.  The Smith family and their counsel in Connecticut are continuing to search for answers.

All of the stories contain common themes -  indifference of the FBI, lack of cooperation by the cruise lines and families who continue to search for answers against all odds. 

Young Brazilian Woman Missing From Costa Magica Cruise Ship

Cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein reports on his website that a young Brazilian woman working as an assistant waiter on the Costa Magica has disappeared from the cruise ship in the Mediterranean. She was last seen on Friday, June 1 but authorities were not notified of her disappearance until yesterday, Saturday. The Magica had sailed from Malta towards Catania, Sicily and was about 20 miles from the Sicilian coast when the young woman disappeared.

According to a Brazilian newspaper Globo, the crewmember is Lais Santiago, age 21.  She is from Lais Santiago - Costa Magica Cruise Ship - Missing Cremember - BrazilSantos, on the coast of Sao Paulo, Brazil.  

Her brother, Lucas Santiago, confirmed his sister's disappearance.  There are conflicting accounts about her boyfriend who is described as being either from Brazil or India, with most accounts suggesting that he is also a Brazilian. The crewmember's family stated that they have had no contact with him, but he was questioned by police.  Some internet accounts suggest that she may have made a call late at night with the next account indicating that her boyfriend reported her missing the following morning after she allegedly did not return to the cabin.

The family also spoke with her co-employees, one of whom stated that Lais was friendly and had no enemy on board. She didn't drink, smoke or do drugs, "which is very common on ships." 

According to Dr. Klein's database of passengers and crewmembers missing from cruise ships, this is the 182nd person to go overboard from a cruise ship since 2000. 

In this day and age, and with all of the incredible technology available, how can anyone "disappear" from a cruise ship without the closed circuit television video cameras not capturing the event?  

Do you have information about this case?  Please leave a comment below.

June 4, 2012 Update: There are a couple of comments, one from Brazil and one from Portugal, suggesting that the vessel's video camera captured images of Ms. Santiago going to the rail, hesitating, and then going overboard around 2:00 AM.

The Brazilian newspaper Globo published a report  today confirming that Ms.Santiago apparently jumped as indicated above.

Ms. Santiago's brother is quoted saying that his sister loved working on the ship, but had been complaining a lot lately. "Lais would resign and return to Brazil in the next 28 days. She loved working in the ship, but was tired."

 

Photo credit:  Facebook

New Clues Emerge in Case of "Missing Honeymooner" George Smith?

In the video below, MSNBC interviews the editor of the Greenwich Magazine which published an article this weekend about the death of George Smith.  We mentioned the new article, written by Timothy Dumas, last week in our blog: "New Information in the Unsolved Murder of Cruise Honeymooner George Smith."

You will recall that Mr. Smith disappeared off of the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas in July 2005. Although the cruise line tried to shrug the event off as a drunken accident, suspicions pointed to four men last seen in the early morning hours of July 5, 2005.

The "new" clues include a video of the men on the cruise ship.  The men recorded themselves at some point on the cruise ship after George Smith's disappearance and may have said something incriminating.

There is also mention that the criminal investigation may be transferred from the Connecticut FBI to the New York FBI where some of the men live.

The video below shows  a number of old photographs associated with the case including a press conference I held in Miami in January 2006 (second photo, below right).   Last summer I published a series of articles about the case: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later

Update George Smith Cruise Ship Disappearance Here is the transcript of the interview:

New details have surfaced in the disappearance of George Smith who vanished from his honeymoon cruise in 2005. Greenwich magazine's Cristin Marandino discusses the case with MSNBC's Thomas Roberts.

"There is some new information about to talk about in the case of a Connecticut man lost at sea on his honeymoon. it happened seven years ago. you'll probably remember that George Smith went overboard while on his honeymoon in 2005. The FBI investigation into his death is still open.

Greenwich Magazine has exclusive details about new evidence that may lead to an arrest.  Explain to all of us -- you said yourself this is a story with a lot of twists and turns.  What's the new evidence that may lead to an arrest?

Well, good morning.  There is a bunch of new evidence going on here.  One of the probably biggest and most exciting pieces that really is going to hopefully help push this case forward is the existence of a videotape that is in the possession of the FBI. On that videotape there are certain individuals that make very self incriminating statements following the death of George Smith.

Cristin, when you talk about videotape, this is not surveillance video from the actual ship. This is something shot after the event itself?

No, that is correct.  This is a videotape that the gentlemen made of themselves. And in their room, sort of passing around a flip phone.

So lots of people remember this. This was a beautiful young couple on their honeymoon. This was such a horrific incident. there was, you know, correlations, though, or kind of scandalous questions brought up about what this couple was doing that night, how much both parties had been drinking, and things trying to make them look somehow as if he deserved this in some way, shape, or form.  The family has disputed that.  The wife has moved on. even gotten a settlement.  How is the family responding to this new information that you're working on?

The family is obviously thrilled about this new information, and they have been working very carefully with a Greenwich based attorney, Mike Jones, who in large part has been responsible for helping to push this forward and making sure that this evidence does get into the right hands, which now it has. and, yeah, there's been a lot of misconceptions, a lot of in inconsistency with this case.  And i think Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker - Cruise Ship Crimethat's what we tried to do and why we tried to get in the game at this point, put all of that stuff to rest, and really start talking about what did happen and helping to put the pieces of the puzzle together. And, you know, exonerate the people that should be exonerated and put a little bit of a light on people who maybe should be looked at more closely.

When you talk about the family, explain the relationship between George Smith 's parents and his wife.

At this point, I think everybody's sort of moved on. I think it's, you know, as you said, Jennifer has moved on.  She is also living in Connecticut. I don't -- you know, i think they are just living their own lives.

if you were to guess, hazard a guess as to when we may hear of an arrest or arrests are made, what timetable would you suggest?

I really at this point don't know.  And the people that i have spoken with, the hope is that because of this tape, and because of the fact that they are trying to get the case transferred from the Connecticut FBI to the New York FBI, which is a good sign on a lot of levels.  One, it shows that two of the targets that they are looking at do indeed live in New York. So it shows they are trying to push it forward in that way.  And that this tape is out there, and the information is out there that this tape exists. so hopefully, you know, i would say hopefully soon.

It's certainly a case that gripped the attention of the American people. And i can imagine for the Smith family, it will be nice if they can find some forward motion and see justice in all of this. But we'll continue to watch. Cristin, thank you for your coverage this morning." 

Watch the video below. If you don't subscribe to Greenwich Magazine, read the first part of the article "Mystery at Sea" here.

  

 

Celebrity Cruises Passenger Missing Off Coast Of Mexico

Christina Cassin - Celebrity Equinox - MissingThe Atlanta Constitution Journal reports that a 49 year old woman from Georgia disappeared last week while diving on a reef near Cozumel

The newspaper states that Christina Cassin, age 49, and her husband, Scott Turco, were passengers on the Celebrity Equinox cruise ship, which docked in Cozumel on March 28th.  The couple were diving with a group on a reef about a kilometer from the coast when she disappeared.

"They were about 10 minutes into the dive when Cassin decided to return to the surface. She said Turco turned to tell the dive master, who was right next to them, that she was going back to the surface, and when he turned back around, Cassin was gone."

The newspaper suggests that Ms. Cassin may have been caught in a strong downward current along the reef wall. 

Ms. Cassin worked as a nurse and lived with her husband in Acworth, Georgia, which is northeast of Atlanta.

 

Photo credit:  Atlanta Constitution Journal 

Documentary: Disasters at Sea - Why Ships Sink

The U.K.'s Channel 4 broadcast a cruise documentary tonight called "Disaster at Sea:  Why Ships Sink."

"Why Ships Sink" examines the issue of passenger safety at sea since the Titanic.  A film crew came to Miami last month and interviewed me and others involved in the cruise and maritime industries.

Unfortunately, the documentary is not yet available for airing in the U.S. so please excuse the "watch now" teaser on the website. The program will air in the U.S. in two weeks.  But if you are from the U.K. you should be able to watch the program online or catch it the next time it airs on Channel 4 (Tuesday April 10, 2012 12.05AM on Channel 4). 

Channel 4's write-up of the show is below:    

Disasters at Sea - Why Ships Sink"Nowadays, huge, extravagant cruise ships tower above the ocean surfaces, boasting state-of-the art shopping malls, cinemas and tennis courts, and offering arrays of bars and restaurants.

In spite of a century of advanced design and new technology and being built by the world's greatest expert marine engineers and scientists, lessons from the past are being constantly overlooked and these ships continue to sink.

The Titanic embarked on her maiden voyage in April 1912 and was the largest, heaviest, most expensive luxurious man-made moving object on the planet, built by the world's most skilled labour force.

Regardless of this, the ship sank after striking an iceberg, with catastrophic consequences, shocking the world and prompting a thorough investigation into the dangers at sea.

One hundred years later, the world received a frightening reminder of such deadly events when luxury cruise liner the Costa Concordia suffered a similar impact.

The ship was a palace of the ocean: it had a capacity of 3780 passengers and was 290m long and 31m high. Yet in January 2012, it capsized and sunk off the Tuscan coast in one of the worst disasters in the cruise industry's history.

Disaster at Sea: Why Ships Sink examines the complex web of design and construction weaknesses, navigational and human errors, and failures in evacuation plans, which contribute to the sinking of ships and the loss of passenger lives.

The documentary examines the science behind the individual tragedies of ships and features in-depth interviews with marine engineering experts to find out whether we can prevent another devastating disaster at sea."

 

Credit: Channel 4 

 

 

Passenger Missing From Condor Rapide Fast Ferry

Numerous news sources in the UK are reporting that a passenger is missing overboard from a high speed ferry this afternoon in England. 

The passenger was aboard the Condor Rapide Fast Ferry, which was en route from Guernsey to Poole in Dorset. The ferry's crew raised the alarm at 5.35 PM, British time.

The Guardian newspaper reports that British and French coastguard, as well as lifeboats from Weymouth and Alderney and a search plane from the Channel Islands, are searching the route of the Condor Rapide Fast Ferry - Passenger Overboardferry to find the missing passenger, according to the HM Coastguard.

A spokesman for Condor Ferries said: "At 5.35pm today crew were made aware of a possible missing person situation onboard Condor Rapide.

"The captain raised a Pan Pan with the coastguard and a full search was conducted of the vessel.

"The passenger was unable to be found and the Pan Pan was upgraded to a Mayday."

Other newspaper are reporting that several helicopters are also involved in the search.

The passenger is a woman.  Her name has not been released.

 

Photo credit:  Condor Rapide Fast Ferry via Guardian

A Parent's Worst Nightmare - Disappearance Of Disney Crew Member Rebecca Coriam

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the disappearance of youth counselor Rebecca Coriam from the Disney Wonder cruise ship.  

BBC News published an article which summed up the problems caused when a cruise line like Disney chooses to fly a flag of convenience in a country like the Bahamas.  You can read the article here

A press release with video is here.

Our last article about Rebecca's disappearance is here.

Watch a dateline video from Australia about Rebecca's disappearance below:   

   

 

If you have information about Rebecca's disappearance, please contact us and / or the Coriam family using the contact information below.  We are interested in hearing from former employees of Disney Cruise Lines, particularly youth counselors who used to work aboard the Disney Wonder

Jim Walker:

Telephone:  305 995 5300

Toll Free:  800 256 1518

Email:  jim@cruiselaw.com

Coriam family:

Telephone: 011 44 774 735 9968

Email:  help@rebecce-coriam.com 

What Happened to Disney Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on the Disney Wonder Cruise Ship One Year Ago?

The following is a copy of a press release issued today regarding the disappearance of Rebecca Coriam:

What Happened to Rebecca

One year ago tomorrow, twenty-four year old Rebecca Coriam disappeared from the Disney Wonder. Rebecca worked aboard the Wonder as a youth counselor.

She was responsible for taking care of the children aboard the cruise ship. Rebecca was last seen just before dawn on March 22, 2011, and then she did not report to work at 9.00 AM.  Disney Cruise Line listed Rebecca as "missing at sea."

A police officer in the Bahamas is responsible for the investigation of Rebecca's disappearance because Disney Cruise Line registered its cruise ship in that country.

Rebecca Coriam - Missing - Disney Cruise LineRebecca's family, Mike and Ann Coriam from Chester, England, have received little information from either Disney or the Bahamas regarding what happened to Rebecca in the early morning hours of March 22, 2011.  It has been one year since Rebecca has been lost.  The family has more questions than answers at this point.

Rebecca's Parents Retain Miami Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker to Help Find Answers

To help find information about what happened to their daughter, the Coriam family retained maritime lawyer Jim Walker of the Miami-based law firm of Walker & O'Neill.  Mr. Walker is an internationally know lawyer whose practice focuses on cruise ship matters, including disappearances of passengers and crew members and crimes on the high seas.  

"In this day and age," Mr. Walker commented, "it is inconceivable that anyone would vanish from a cruise ship - particularly a ship catering to families and children -  without the circumstances being recorded by closed circuit television cameras." 

Rebecca's disappearance has received attention in the United Kingdom.  BBC covered the story and the Guardian newspaper, among many others, published an article "Rebecca Coriam - Lost at Sea." 

Rebecca's case has been discussed in the House of Commons in England. Her MP, Stephen Mosley, says Disney was “ "more interested in getting the ship back to sea than in investigating the case of the missing member of their crew."  He also stated “it’s appalling” that only one policeman from the Bahamas – “an authority internationally recognized as almost toothless” – was called to investigate. He said “flag of convenience” countries such as the Bahamas – as they’re called in the shipping world – shouldn’t be left to conduct these kinds of investigations.

Countries as far away as Australia have demonstrated interest into what happened to Rebecca. Australia's "Dateline" recently aired a special program, "Lost at Sea," which you can watch here

Coming to America 

The United States media, so far, has demonstrated little interest in the case, although Disney and its cruise line, the Magical Cruise Company, are based in the U.S.   

The Coriam family will be traveling to the U.S. seeking information about their daughter.  If you have information about Rebecca or if you are interested in interviewing them or discussing the matter with their counsel, Jim Walker, please use the contact information below.

Jim Walker: 

Telephone:  305 995 5300

Email:  jim@cruiselaw.com

Web:  Cruise Law News

Coriam family:

Telephone:  011 44 774 735 9968

Email:  help@rebecca-coriam.com

Web:  Rebecca Coriam

 

March 22, 2012 Update:  BBC News: "Rebecca Coriam: 'Bad Dream' For Missing Girl's Parent"

What Happened to Fariba Amani Aboard the Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship?

The family of a Canadian passenger who vanished during a cruise between the Bahamas and Florida last week continue to seek information about the disappearance.

Fariba Amani, age 47, from Vancouver, was cruising aboard the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship operated by the Celebration Cruise Lines.  In a prior article, we explained that Ms. Amani was cruising with her boyfriend, now identified as Ramiz Golshani, also from Vancouver, when she disappeared.

The story mentioned in the press is that Mr. Golshani allegedly last saw Ms. Amani around 1:00 AM on February 29th in the cruise ship's gift show and then re retired to the couple's cabin to go to sleep.  He awoke the following morning and she was not in the cabin.  

After looking for her on the ship as it approached port in Palm Beach, Mr. Golshani notified the cruise ship personnel.  At this time, the cruise ship was docking and the passengers disembarked without being interviewed by either the local police or the FBI.   

Fariba Amani - Bahamas Celebration Disappearance

Canadian television has a video interview of Ms. Amani's sister who describes Ms. Amani's relationship with her boyfriend as rocky.     

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein tracks people missing from cruise ships on his website.  179 people have gone overboard since 2000.

If you have information about this latest cruise disappearance, please leave a message below.  

 

Photo credit: iranto.ca

Congress Studies Cruise Ship Safety While Passenger Disappears From Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship

While the U.S. Congress addressed the safety of the foreign flagged cruise industry today in Washington D.C., a passenger disappeared from a cruise ship sailing between the Bahamas and Florida.

ABC News reports this evening that a Canadian woman in her 40's disappeared during a Celebration line cruise aboard the Bahamas Celebration between the Grand Bahama island and Florida.  The woman was reported missing by her boyfriend at 8 AM this morning.  He told the police and FBI that he last saw his girlfriend at the cruise ship's gift shop before heading to the casino at around 1 AM and then retiring to their cabin to sleep

Missing Passenger Bahamas Celebration After the cruise ship docked at the Port of Palm Beach at 7 AM, he awoke and and searched the ship but could not find her.  At around 8 AM, the ship's crew and Coast Guard searched the cruise without success. 

According to ABC, the Coast Guard believes the woman was on the ship when it left Freeport at around 8 PM Tuesday night, because every passenger must swipe a card to get on the cruise ship.

The issue of cruise passengers and crew who "disappear" during cruises is a problem which the cruise industry has failed to adequately address. 

Australia's popular television program Dateline aired a cruise special today about missing passengers & crewmembers and crime at sea.

Well over 150 passengers and crew have disappeared from cruise ships over the last decade.

The cruise industry claims that it has an "incredibly safe" record.  

If you have information about this disappearance, please leave a comment below. 

Update: The passenger has been identified as Fariba Amani from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Lost at Sea: Australia's Dateline Features Cruise Law & International Cruises Victims

Dateline Lost at Sea Cruise Disappearances and Cruise CrimeAustralia's popular television program Dateline aired a cruise special today about missing passengers & crewmembers and crime at sea.  

The program starts with the case of missing Disney youth counselor Rebecca Coriam who disappeared from the Disney Wonder cruise ship last year.  Her parents Mike and Ann Coriam were interviewed and express their thoughts about how the case is being handled.

The program also features the case of missing Holland America Lines (HAL) passenger Blake Kepley who vanished from the HAL's Oosterdam.  

The CEO (Ken Carver) and President (Jamie Barnett) of the International Cruise Victims (ICV) are on the program.  Mr. Carver lost his daughter Mirian Carver on the Celebrity Mercury and Ms. Barnett's daughter Ashley died during a Carnival cruise.

I am interviewed and I discuss the problem of cruise ship crime and the cruise industry's lack of transparency.

Take a minute and watch the program below: 

 

Carnival Cruise Crewmember Goes Overboard - Did He Slip or Jump?

There are conflicting reports regarding why a Carnival cruise employee ended up overboard yesterday about a 100 miles south of Galveston. The crewmember was employed on the Carnival Magic cruise ship and went overboard while the cruise ship was underway around 10:30 PM Saturday night. The ship called the U.S. Coast Guard, but the ship's crew rescued the crewman before the Coast Guard could arrive. 

A news station in Galveston was on of the first to report on the overboard situation. The station indicates that the cruise line indicated that the employee was working on the deck when he slipped over the railing. Other news sources indicate that he was wearing a life vest when he fell.  If these accounts are correct, my speculation is that perhaps the crewmember was working for some reason Carnival Magic Cruise Ship - Man Overboard - Crewmemberon or near the railing and had not properly attached his safety harness.      

Subsequent accounts, however, suggest that the crewmember "jumped."  A second news source in Galveston quotes the cruise line saying that at about 10:53 p.m. on Saturday, the crewmember “was witnessed jumping overboard.” 

In over 25 years of practicing maritime law, I have never heard a cruise line admit that a crewmember or passenger went overboard due to an accident or foul play.  If a cruise line is going to say anything, it will always be that the person intentionally jumped overboard.  In other words, its their fault.

Perhaps the crewmember did jump.  I don't know.  But if he was working and wearing a life vest, why would he decide to jump?

The good news is that he was rescued and is alive.  But it's disturbing to have such varying accounts of the incident.

The Magic returns to Galveston today.  Does anyone who sailed on the Carnival ship know what really happened?  Please leave a comment below.

Cruise Ship Man Overboard Drill?

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website cruisejunkie.com contains interesting comments from a passenger from the Carnival Triumph regarding what some thought was a man overboard situation. 

The passenger commented that on February 6th, while the cruise ship was docked in  Progresso, Mexico, the cruise ship's PA speaker blared “Bravo,Bravo Starboard.”  A lifeboat was lowered to the water and 5 - 10 minutes later, retrieved what the passenger thought was a body in the water.  The passenger took a photo of the "body," which you can see was wearing a life vest.

Another person commented that this was apparently a drill involving a rescue dummy.  If you look closely at the enlarged photo you can see that this is not a real person - although it may have appeared to be from a far distance.

Nothing apparently was told to the passengers either before or after the exercise.  It seems strange to perform a rescue operation like this without notifying the passengers.  It's a good way to unnecessarily alarm them during what should be a relaxing cruise.

It made me wonder how often these type of drills are performed.  Are they "surprise" drills, made without any advance notice to the crew to see how they perform?   Are announcements made to the passengers?   Does anyone have information about these type of drills? 

 

Cruise Ship Man Overboard

Story/Photo Credit:  Professor Ross Klein / CruiseJunkie

 

Disappearance of Passenger From HAL's Oosterdam Reveals Cruise Line, FBI and Coast Guard Shortcomings

CBS television station in California aired an interesting program this week regarding the unexplained disappearance of a young man from a Holland America Line cruise ship last summer.

Blake Kepley, age 20, vanished from the HAL Oosterdam last July during a cruise from Seattle to Alaska.

The disappearance occurred when my family was vacationing near Seattle.  I wrote about the incident in my blog article:  Back From Vacation - Safe, Sound & Thankful

Months after Mr. Kepley's disappearance, his mom finally received a copy of the U.S. Coast Guard investigative report.  But it reached no conclusions.   It contained just one blurry surveillance image of a person walking on deck in the early morning hours when her son went missing.  The person's face was blacked out, and the names of witnesses who claimed to have seen Mr. Kepley on the ship were also redacted.

Holland America Line claimed that there was no surveillance video available to explain what happened.

No one should disappear from a cruise ship without closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras recording what happened, says Mr. Kepley's mom.

The case has the attention of the President of the International Cruise Victims organization.  Ken Carver lost his daughter on a Celebrity cruise ship in Alaskan waters and faced the indifference of the cruise line who did not even report her missing. 

Mr. Carver also discusses the problem of the FBI not releasing accurate number of cruise ship crimes, and the U.S. Coast Guard not implementing provisions of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act designed to protect cruise passengers. 

 

Family of Overboard Passenger From Allure of the Seas Asks Public For Information

A blogger of international news at the Examiner, Edward Owens, published an interesting article today regarding the disappearance of a passenger from Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas cruise ship.  

You will recall that last week, Irish cruise passenger Kenneth John Gemmell went overboard from the balcony of his cabin on the eleventh deck of the Allure cruise ship.  The initial reports stated that he "fell," although the cruise line was quick to issue a statement that a review of the ship's closed circuit television cameras eventually indicated that the passenger "intentionally" went over the railing.

We reported on the incident on February 3rd and have been updating the story since then.

Did Royal Caribbean Send A Crewmember Home After The Incident?

Kenneth John Gemmell - Allure of the Seas - MissingMr. Owen's article contains a new twist, perhaps, to the incident.   Mr. Gemmell may have argued with a Royal Caribbean crewmember at some point before he went overboard.  The crewmember then allegedly left the vessel in Cozumel.  Mr. Owens writes:    

The family says that some information has already come their way. One party told them that Kenneth may have been arguing with a ship's crew member (perhaps a bartender) in one of the bars late Thursday night or early Friday morning. They were also told that the crew member, a man they understood was sharing a room with a Canadian citizen, left the ship in Cozumel. 

Is this gossip or accurate information?  If this is true, then the crewmember would have been removed from the cruise ship before the law enforcement authorities or representative of the flag state (Bahamas) boarded the cruise ship when it returned to port in Fort Lauderdale two days later.   If you know anything about this, please leave a comment below and contact the family.

Family Seeks Information

Mr. Gemmell's family is seeking answers to the circumstances surrounding their son's death.  The article states that they are issuing an appeal to anyone on board the ship who might have met their son during the cruise.  They especially wish to hear from the passenger who witnessed him going overboard. 

Anyone who has information about this tragedy is asked to email the family spokesperson at the following email address: michael@mhynes.com 

 

Story credit:  Examiner

Photo credit:  Kenneth John Gemmell - Anglo Celt newspaper

Passenger Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas

Allure of the Seas OverboardThe AP is reporting that a Irish cruise ship passenger went overboard from the Allure of the Seas, which is the world's largest cruise ship cruise ship.

(Update: If you are searching for the overboard involving a twenty-one (21) year old woman from Bartlett Tennessee who disappeared on September 16, 2012 from the Allure, click here.)

Royal Caribbean states that another passenger allegedly saw the British passenger, age 30, go over the railing from his stateroom on the Allure.  The cruise line then apparently verified the overboard by viewing images from closed circuit television.  

The incident occurred as the cruise ship was heading to Cozumel.  Announcements were made around 6:45 AM.  The cruise ship then stopped off the coast of Mexico near Cozumel. and participated in a brief search.  The ship was to depart tonight at 8:00 PM tonight and was scheduled to be at sea tomorrow, with a return to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday.

There are rumors that the passenger may have left a suicide note and then stepped on a table and went overboard.

The last British citizen who disappeared in international waters near Mexico is Rebecca Coriam, a Disney cruise member employed as a youth counselor aboard the Disney Wonder.    

The last reported incident aboard the Allure of the Seas involved multiple rapes earlier last month

The cruise ship was under charter by Atlantis, which hosts parties for the gay and lesbian community.  The Allure had sailed from South Florida on January 29, 2012 to Labadee Haiti, Costa Maya Mexico, and then to Cozumel. 

In the past, the Atlantis - Royal Caribbean cruises have been marred by controversy, with drug overdoses, suicide, and a travel agent busted for selling drugs (arrested with 142 ecstasy pills, 3 grams of methamphetamine, ketamine and about $51,000 in cash).  You can read about these incidents below.

One year ago:  Passenger Busted for Selling Drugs on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas

Two years ago:  Another Death on a Royal Caribbean - Atlantis Cruise

Three years ago: GLAAD Board Member Dies Aboard Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas

And don't forget to read:  Is Royal Caribbean Ready for Medical Emergencies During the World's Largest Gay Cruise?

Does anyone know what happened on this latest Atlantis cruise party?

 

Allure of the Seas Atlantis Cruise

 

Photo credit:  Atlantis Events

Crewmember Overboard From Royal Caribean's Monarch of the Seas Cruise Ship

We have been contacted by several different individuals today inquiring into the facts and circumstances surrounding a crewmember going overboard from the Monarch of the Seas cruise ship.

We are informed that the overboard involved a crewmember from India.  No other information is known at this time.  The cruise ship is in Nassau today and was in CoCo Cay yesterday.  There are no news outlets reporting on this incident so far.

Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas - OverboardRoyal Caribbean / Celebrity cruise ships have seen the most overboards over the course of the last 2 years.

On December 27, 2011 we reported on a Celebrity crewmember's disappearance - Celebrity Crewmember Missing From Summit Cruise Ship.  Here are other recent stories:

Another Celebrity Crewmember Goes Overboard

Crew Member Goes Overboard from Celebrity Constellation Cruise Ship

Crew Member Missing from the Grandeur of the Seas - Why Are So Many People Disappearing From Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships?

Another Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship? - Oasis of the Seas

Crew Member Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas

"Man Overboard" Reported on Radiance of the Seas

Asleep At the Wheel: What Does the Delayed Reporting of Neha Chhikara's Disappearance from the Monarch of the Seas Reveal About Royal Caribbean's Shipboard Security?

Wife of Royal Caribbean Crew Member on Monarch of the Seas Goes OverBoard

The last two articles involve a wife of an Indian crewmember going overboard from the Monarch of the Seas. 

The last time the Monarch of the Seas was in the news was when it failed a CDC inspection in November - Dirty Dishes & Fruit Flies Flourish on Royal Caribbean's Oldest Cruise Ship

Does anyone have information about this latest crew overboard?   If so, please leave a comment below.

January 12, 2012 Update:

DIS, the "Internet's largest unofficial on-line guide to Disney Cruises," contains the following information:

This report is coming live from the Disney Dream.  An unknown Carnival Cruise Line ship and Coast Guard helicopters are currently next to the Dream helping with a search for a man overboard from the Monarch of the Seas.  On schedule today for the Dream is a day at sea, but overnight, guests began noticing unusual movement from the ship.  Guests later learned that the ship had docked at Nassau overnight, but weren't sure why.  An officer from the Dream made an announcement overhead at 9:00 am alerting guests of the situation.  This is the first official notification passengers have received; if any news-worthy updates are given, this story will be updated.

Disappearance of George Smith Update: Do You Have Information About Gregory Rozenberg?

Gregory Rozenberg - George Smith - Cruise DisappearanceThis weekend saw a renewed interest of the public into the disappearance of cruise passenger George Smith with the airing of a "update" of the unsolved case by Dateline NBC called "Overboard."

The Dateline program focused on the four men last seen with Mr. Smith: Gregory Rozenberg, Zachary Rozenberg, Rostislav ("Rusty") Kofman, and Josh Askin.  These four cruise passengers were in Mr. Smith's cabin after 4:00 AM in the morning shortly before Mr. Smith went overboard. 

Although Dateline suggested there is a new focus by the FBI on these four passengers, the truth of the matter is that the FBI focused on these four shortly after Mr. Smith's death in July 2005 - over six and one-half years ago.

Many news sources, including the New York Post, are reporting that the "Russians" (the two Rozenberg brothers and Rostislav Kofman) all reside in New York and allegedly are now subject to the scrutiny of the FBI "mafia team" in New York.  Hogwash.  Greg Rozenberg lived in South Florida (Boca Raton) for years.  He has spent years in a prison in Florida.  He now lives in Dade City, Florida.

Greg Rozenberg has been arrested multiple times in Florida for various alleged offenses ranging from driving with a suspended license to possession of cannabis to trafficking oxycodone.  His mug shots are readily available on line, including the one below taken in 2009.  

The Dateline show showed snippets from the deposition of Mr. Rozenberg which was taken by one of the lawyers for the Smith family while Mr. Rozenberg was in jail in Florida.  My impression of the Gregory Rozenberg - George Smith - Cruise Disappearancecomplete deposition is that the Smith family's lawyer did his best to try and lead inmate Rozenberg to testify against Mr. Smith's wife, Jennifer Hagel.  To see a lawyer for the Smith family try and lead a felon into implicating a completely innocent widow is one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen. 

Jennifer Hagel passsed a FBI polygraph in 2005.  The FBI never considered her a suspect in her husband's death.   

You can watch parts of the video deposition of Greg Rosenberg shown on dateline here.

We will show other portions of the two hour Rozenberg deposition, and explain why that deposition was taken, in another article.

Do you have information about Greg Rozenberg, or fellow cruise passengers Zach Rosenberg, Rusty Kofman and Josh Askin, which may provide answers to solve the George Smith case?

 

Photo credits:

Top:  Greg Rozenberg's Facebook

Bottom:  Palm Beach Sheriff's Office 

Update on Disappearance of George Smith From Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Ship

George Smith Disappearance Update This evening Dateline NBC will air what it is calling an "update" on the story of missing cruise passenger George Smith who disappeared under suspicious circumstances during his honeymoon cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship in the summer of 2005.

I am glad to see that Mr. Smith's case  is receiving additional attention.  

I have always thought that foul play was involved in Mr. Smith's disappearance.  Hopefully the renewed media attention will motivate someone to come forward with information which may help solve the case.    

That being said, I am skeptical whether anything "new" will be revealed by the Dateline program tonight.  

Dateline advertises that its program will tell " . . . the story of an active, ongoing investigation whereby FBI agents won't talk on the record.  However, the cruise line Royal Caribbean has conducted its own internal investigation and Dateline has the exclusive update about what George Smith Murder Updatehappened aboard the ship in the early hours of July 5, 2005."

Let's keep a few things in perspective.  Mr. Smith's disappearance, or murder as many people including me believe, occurred on July 5, 2005 - six and one-half years ago. 

In 2005, Royal Caribbean provided us with copies of photographs of the cabin and awning, statements, security reports and other information about Mr. Smith's disappearance.  The case was discussed regularly on all of the nightly cable news shows and major networks which broadcast a great deal of information about what happened on the night in question. 

Royal Caribbean's investigation into what happened ended in 2005.  The cruise line defense lawyers who were sent to the cruise ship have subsequently switched to representing passengers and crewmembers.  Believe it or not, they are now employed by a firm which sues Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines.  There has been no "internal investigation" by Royal Caribbean into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Smith's death for over 6 years. 

Now, lets consider the so called "open and active" FBI investigation.  Six and one-half years George Smith Death Update - Dr. Henry Leeago, the FBI was investigating the case, although I would consider it rather amateurish.  The FBI had not even interviewed the passengers on either side of the Smith's cabin a month after the cruise.  These individuals were first interviewed by Joe Scarborough on cable news.  The investigation did not get serious until we boarded the cruise ship with forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee and a team of investigators.  It was only after we retained Dr. Lee did the FBI test the carpet in the cabin for blood stains.

Our firm was in constant contact with the FBI (we represented George Smith's widow Jennifer Hagel) in 2005 and 2006.  It was clear to us that the FBI investigation lost steam in early 2006.  A  Grand Jury was convened and called witnesses but returned no indictments against anyone.  There has been no real investigation by the FBI for well over five years as best as we can tell. 

What the Dateline television show will discuss are certain documents, photographs and video which the cruise line has been offering to the families since June of 2006.  At that time, we reached a settlement with Royal Caribbean where the cruise line would pay $1,060,000 in compensation, as well as turn over all of the cruise line's documents, photographs, CCTV images, statements and other information in order for the families to try and learn what happened to Mr. Smith.  Much of the George Smith Murder - Cruise Ship  information was confidential and privileged which  the cruise line had no legal obligation to disclose.

The Smith family objected to the terms of the settlement.  A probate court in Greenwich upheld the settlement, finding that it was fair and in the best interests of all concerned.  But the Smith family appealed the Greenwich probate court's ruling and this delayed the cruise line's release of information.  Several years later, Royal Caribbean increased its settlement offer by $250,000 for a total of $1,310,000 and again agreed to provide exactly the same documents, photographs and information it offered back in 2006.

In 2010, Royal Caribbean turned all of its internal information over to the families.  There was nothing new in these documents most of which we obtained in 2005.  The attorney for the Smith family provided copies of these documents to the producers of Dateline which tonight will disclose the "new" information.      

Jennifer Hagel - Disappearance of George Smith In truth, Dateline is now airing the same old photographs, cruise line documents and statements which we obtained in 2005 and which the cruise line has been offering to all of the families since 2006.

The Smith family apparently has a new theory into their son's death, namely that he was killed in an attempted robbery.  The New York Post contains a quote, this morning, from the Smith family's lawyer that “The family believes it was a robbery-gone-bad." 

The New York Post's article contains the provocative title: "Feds' Mafia Team Join Probe into Disappearance of Conn. Newlywed."  The alleged "mafia" connection to some of the men last seen with Mr. Smith and who were in his cabin around 4:00 AM on the morning of his disappearance is nothing new.

The Post also published a couple of CTTV images of Mr. Smith and his wife Jennifer Hagel which Royal Caribbean released several years ago.  

Last summer, we published a series of articles on the sixth year anniversary of Mr. Smith's death:George Smith Disappearance Update

Trouble as the Cruise Ship Sails to Kusadasi

A Frantic Call Back to Connecticut

Media Frenzy Follows Case of "Missing Honeymooner" 

Dr. Henry Lee Boards the Brilliance of the Seas 

Royal Caribbean Blocks Dr. Henry Lee's Dummy Experiment 

The International Cruise Victims Organization Is Born! 

Royal Caribbean Captain Says Its Just an Accident Involving a Bloody Nose 

Larry King Live & the "Missing Groom Mystery"

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you.

  

 

Photo credit:  Bottom 2 photographs (CCTV images) Royal Caribbean / New York Post

Man Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas Cruise Ship?

This evening we received inquiries for information whether there was a "man overboard" from Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas cruise ship.  

The last time we received such direct inquiries was last Sunday when we received emails asking us whether a crew member went overboard from the Celebrity Summit cruise ship.  We did not have any information.  But two days later the U.S. Coast Guard issued a press release indicating that that a 30 year crewmember went overboard.  The Coast Guard's statement contained the cruise line's statement that the crewmember allegedly "jumped" but it is less than clear what happened.

Does anyone have information whether there was a passenger or crew member overboard from the Radiance?  We are informed that the cruise ship is sailing from Sydney at the moment. 

According to our records, the last overboard situation on the Radiance of the Seas occurred in March 2010.  it involved a crewmember and can be read here

If anyone sailing on the Radiance has information, please leave a comment below. 

We hope that this is a false alarm and 2012 finds all of the crew and passengers safe and sound.

January 2, 2012 Update:  See passenger comment below:

Celebrity Crewmember Missing From Summit Cruise Ship

On Sunday we received emails inquiring about a Celebrity crewmember who went overboard from the Summit cruise ship.  The Summit was sailing from San Juan, Puerto Rico, where it is currently based, to Barbados when the cruise employee disappeared. At the time we had no information.

Today the U.S. Coast Guard issued a statement that the missing crewmember is a Filipino woman, age thirty, employed as a bartender aboard the cruise ship.  The cruise line states that she was seen jumping overboard Sunday morning, approximately 6 - 7 miles off the northeastern coast of Culebra Island, Puerto Rico.  It is less than clear whether eyewitnesses observed this, or whether the incident was captured on the ship's CCTV cameras.

Summit Cruise Ship The cruise ship notified the Coast Guard of the incident from the cruise ship at approximately 12:50 a.m. Sunday.  We would be interested in learning when the cruise ship left San Juan, as the incident occurred shortly after departure. 

The Coast Guard suspended its search last night.

Royal Caribbean / Celebrity cruise ships have seen the most alleged suicides over the course of the last 2 years.  As we have said before, the Filipinos on cruise ships work incredibly long hours and are away from their families for long periods of time.  At this point, it is unknown what led this young woman to jump if this is what happened.

A Filipino crewmember allegedly jumped from a Celebrity ship earlier this year - Another Celebrity Crewmember Goes Overboard

You can read about RCCL / Celebrity crew overboards (all nationalities) below: 

Crew Member Goes Overboard from Celebrity Constellation Cruise Ship

Crew Member Missing from the Grandeur of the Seas - Why Are So Many People Disappearing From Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships?

Another Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship? - Oasis of the Seas

Crew Member Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas

"Man Overboard" Reported on Radiance of the Seas

Asleep At the Wheel: What Does the Delayed Reporting of Neha Chhikara's Disappearance from the Monarch of the Seas Reveal About Royal Caribbean's Shipboard Security?

Wife of Royal Caribbean Crew Member on Monarch of the Seas Goes OverBoard

Does anyone have information about this latest incident? 

Mickey Mouse Games: Is Disney Cruise Line Engaged In A Cover-Up On The Disney Wonder?

When I think of Disney Cruise Lines these days, the popular saying "the cover up is always worse that the crime" comes to mind.

I'm sure that I am not the only one who thinks that.  Disney Cruise Lines's conduct over the last nine months after the unexplained disappearance of Disney youth counselor, Rebecca Coriam, has a number of people questioning Disney's moral compass.

Just the other week, the Liverpool Daily Post blasted the headline "Shipping Minister Mike Penning Attacks Disney Over Missing Cruise Ship Worker Rebecca Coriam."  The head of the U.K.'s Rebecca Coriam - Disappearance - Disney Wonder Cruise Shipshipping ministry remarked that Disney is "more interested in getting the ship back to sea than in investigating the case of the missing member of their crew."

Stephen Mosley, the MP of the city of Chester in England, where Rebecca is from, condemned the so-called investigation after young Rebecca's disappearance as "appalling."

Perhaps the most insightful, and damning, look at Disney Cruise Line's corporate culture is from an article by noted reporter Jon Ronson in the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper.   Mr. Ronson's investigative report, 'Lost at Sea," is a must read if you are interested in the culture of a feel good corporation like Disney which chooses obfuscation rather than transparency and cover-up over truth to protect its brand. 

Mr. Ronson, a journalist, documentary filmmaker, and the best selling author of "Them" and "The Men Who Stare at Goats," took a cruise last month aboard the Disney Wonder to take a hard look at the cruise line and cruise ship which are at the center of the mystery surrounding Ms. Coriam.

He quickly learned that the crewmembers on the cruise ship, although trained to maintain a happy I-don't-know-what-you-are-talking-about disposition, apparently all knew where Ms. Coriam went overboard - the front of deck 5, at the crew pool.

"Disney knows exactly what happened," one crew member told Mr. Ronson.  Referring to a telephone call Ms. Coriam had on the morning in question, the crewmember said: "It was taped.  Everything here is taped.  There's CCTV everywhere.  Disney have the tape."

Mr. Ronson also learned that Disney put flowers at the wall next to the crew pool, although it refused to answer any questions why - leading many crewmembers to become convinced that Disney knows what happened but is not telling anyone.

Disney Wonder Crew Pool There is also the issue of a pair of flip-flops, found on a deck on the morning at issue.  Instead of securing them as evidence and conducting forensic testing to determine whether there was any connection to Ms. Coriam, Disney instead placed them in her cabin when her parents got on board.    

But family members and friends rejected the connection between the sandals and Ms. Coriam, finding them too big and not her style.  Rebecca's cabin mate, her intimate friend and other crewmembers were never asked to identify the flip-flops.  Instead, it was as if Disney wanted Rebecca's family to conclude that she must have slipped the sandals off before she voluntarily went overboard - even if it meant spoliating the evidence by moving the sandals from the open deck into her cabin, after-the-fact. 

The article raises also the basic question of how someone can go overboard from the cruise ship without the CCTV cameras capturing the event.  If Rebecca really went overboard at deck 5 by the crew pool, a crewmember confided: "there's HR offices, the crew gym, the crew office that deals with passports, money, documentation.  And they're saying there's no CCTV cameras?"

If Rebecca really went overboard at this location, it means that it occurred right below the bridge. 

There is something not quite right on the Disney Wonder.  If Disney knows why Rebecca went overboard, her family deserves to know the truth.

The Coriam family does not deserve Mickey Mouse games. 

 

Photo credit: 

Top - Guardian newspaper

Bottom  - davidstauffer.com

Passenger Goes Overboard From NCL's Norwegian Sun in Falmouth Jamaica

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein reports that a NCL passenger went overboard from Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Sun shortly after the cruise ship pulled out of the Falmouth shipping pier in Jamaica late Wednesday. 

Professor Klein has the most complete list of passenger overboards over the course of the last ten years.

Professor Klein's website refers to an article in the Jamaica Observer which reports that the Trelawny police responded to an incident late on Wednesday involving a passenger who died after going overboard from the top deck of the cruise ship Norwegian Sun.

The newspaper quotes the head of the Falmouth Police Division, Superintendent Andrew Lewis, stating that he was informed that the cruise passenger was taken from the water by crew members of the vessel, which had turned around after an alarm was raised that the passenger had jumped.

Famouth Jamaica Passenger OverboardThe police reported that the incident occurred 25 minutes after the vessel left the Falmouth cruise shipping pier about 6:00 pm.

The article is confusing, claiming that the passenger allegedly "jumped" while  Superintendent Lewis referred to "the man falling in the water."

Yesterday, the Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett issued a bizarre statement, expressing regret over the incident but said he stating that "the circumstances has nothing to do the destination."

NCL, which is based here in Miami, has not issued a statement about the incident.  The only reports I have seen about the passenger overboard are from Professor Klein who is in Canada, and the newspaper in Jamaica.  

The Miami-based cruise lines do a remarkable job keeping these type of incidents under the radar.

Like many overboards, it is less than clear whether the passenger jumped or fell, and if so whether alcohol was involved.

If you were on the cruise or have information, photographs or video regarding the incident, please leave a comment below. 

November 4, 2011 Update:Norwegian Sun Passenger Overboard

Tonight NCL issued the following statement:

"At approximately 7 pm ET on Wednesday, November 2, 2011, a guest traveling on Norwegian Sun was observed jumping overboard from a public area on Deck 12.  The ship immediately turned around, launched rescue boats and conducted a search.  At approximately 8 pm ET, the guest was located in the water, returned to the vessel and pronounced deceased by the ship’s doctor.

All appropriate authorities have been notified.  Out of respect for the family, the company will not be releasing any further details.  Norwegian Cruise Line extends its deepest sympathies to the guest’s family and friends during this difficult time.

Norwegian Sun departed Port Canaveral, Florida on October 29, 2011.  The ship is sailing a Western Caribbean itinerary and had visited Falmouth, Jamaica on Wednesday."

November 7, 2011 Update:

Several passengers have left comments below.  One passenger, Kate, sent us a photograph of one the rescue boats.  (The exposure of the photo was adjusted substantially because it was very dark).

Disappearance of Disney Cruise Line Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam Reveals Indifference of Foreign Flag State

Today the case of missing Disney Cruise Line youth counselor Rebecca Coriam is again in the news as a MP from her hometown of Cheshire England spoke before the House of Commons.

You will recall that last March, Ms. Coriam "disappeared" from the Disney Wonder as the cruise ship was sailing a Los Angeles - Mexico cruise itinerary. 

How could a young woman, especially one who is charged with taking care of children, simply vanish during a cruise? 

Disney Cruise Lines - Rebecca Coriam - Disney WonderThe disturbing incident raises serious questions regarding not only the safety and security of the passengers and crew on foreign flagged ships but whether there are acceptable systems in place to conduct objective and aggressive investigations into such incidents.

Because the Wonder is flagged in the Bahamas, the Bahamas has the responsibility to investigate Ms. Coriam's disappearance.   This is so even though the cruise ship was based in Los Angeles, and her employer (Magical Cruise Company, Ltd.) is incorporated in the U.K.

In this case this means that a single policeman from Nassau flew to Los Angeles.  Only one policeman from the Bahamas was responsible for conducting a forensic investigation and interviewing the thousands of passengers and crew on the cruise ship once it returned to Los Angeles. 

The local FBI offices in Los Angeles have literally dozens of FBI agents and forensic experts and were readily available to meet the ship at the port.  But they were not invited to become involved, either by the Bahamas or at the urging of the Disney cruise line.

The BBC published an article today about the dilemma.  MP Stephen Mosley asked the House of Commons: "How could we have allowed this to happen to a British citizen?"

Mr Mosley warned people on cruises were not covered by British laws in cases of disappearance, theft or sexual assault at sea.  He said:

"We have the disappearance of a young English woman hired by an English corporation to sail on a cruise ship out of a US port and yet not a single British or American police or forensic team went on board the cruise ship in the days following her disappearance."

Rebecca's parents, Mike and Ann Coriam, are working to change in the law to allow British authorities to investigate cases when British nationals go missing on vessels registered in places like the Bahamas.

 

Do you know what happened to Rebecca?  Please contact her family:

Email:  help@rebecca-coriam.com
Coriam Family:  07747359968
Media Spokesman:  07932815970

You can read our articles about this case here.

A Miracle in Dark Waters - P & O Cruises Passenger Rescued from Middle of Atlantic Ocean

Passenger Overboard - P O Cruises Ventura Cruise ShipWhile the P & O Cruises Ventura cruise ship sailed from Southampton to the Caribbean, a passenger went overboard.

Falling into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean at night should be the beginning and the end of the story.  But this passenger overboard story is different from the many other cases we have discussed before.    

The Mail Online newspaper in the U.K. reports that passengers on the cruise ship "were woken by a huge lurch in darkness at 5:30 AM, while horns sounded . . . "  Life rings were thrown out and lifeboats were deployed.  The overboard passenger was pulled aboard a lifeboat and, once aboard the cruise ship, he was sent to the ship infirmary to recover.

There is no explanation regarding what happened.

The newspaper quotes another passenger, Julie Lourens, saying  ‘It has all been very dramatic. It was pitch black. This guy is so, so lucky."

 

Were you on this cruise?  Do you have information to share?  Please leave a comment below. 

Photo Credit:  Mail Online

Update on Disappearance of Princess Cruises Chef Angelo Faliva

The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera contains an interesting update today on the mysterious disappearance of a young Italian chef from a Princess Cruises cruise ship in November 2009.

The story involves Angelo Faliva, a chef from Cremona Italy who was employed by Princess Cruises aboard the Coral Princess.  Mr. Faliva was last seen working in the Sabatini's restaurant on November 25, 2009.  Although his work shift did not end until 10:00 PM, and he essentially disappeared around 8:15 PM, no one sounded an alarm until the following day.

Angelo Faliva - Princess Cruises - Coral Princess - MissingThe cruise ship was heading toward Cartagena, Columbia while some 2,000 passengers enjoyed their dinners and the entertainment during the evening of Mr. Faliva's disappearance.  What happened to this outgoing young man?

The Italian article, "The Mystery of the Chef who Disappeared on a Cruise," touches upon some of the theories which we have discussed in prior articles.  Did Mr. Faliva observe something he should not have, such as drug trafficking?  Certainly there is nothing about this handsome out-going man to suggest that suicide is a reasonable explanation.

The article contains some new information, such as someone logging on to Mr. Faliva's laptop after his disappearance and downloading files, printing documents and deleting e-mails.  There is also a reference to a hotel in Cartagena - Capilla del Mar - which was hand written inside of Mr. Faliva's chef hat.  This is the same hotel referenced in online research performed on Mr. Faliva's computer on the day he disappeared. 

It is now going on two years since Mr. Faliva was last seen on the Coral Princess.  There are hundreds of closed circuit television cameras on this cruise ship.  Indeed Princess is well known for its fleet-wide bridge cams and wedding cams where you can watch passengers get married on the cruise ships with remarkable clarity from the comfort of your home computer.  But when someone goes into the water?  Like other cruise lines, Princess seems to always have problems with its CCTV cameras when someone involuntarily goes over the rails. 

The article mentions that Mr. Faliva's younger sister, Chiara, is the only person genuinely motivated to search for answers.  The official "investigation" is the responsibility of Bermuda where Princess flags its cruise ships to avoid U.S. taxes and labor and safety laws.  As other families have learned dealing with foreign flagged cruise ships, the "investigation" by the flag state into shipboard crimes and disappearances is a low priority. The cruise line is indifferent.  

As the article explains, Mr. Faliva's story is " . . . segnata dall’incompetenza degli investigatori, l’insensibilità della compagnia di navigazione . . ."

 

Some crewmembers must have information about Mr. Faliva.  if you know something, please leave a tip at lawinfo@cruiselaw.com

You can read other articles about Mr. Faliva here

Body of Missing Holland America Line Passenger Found Near Prince Edward Island

HAL Maasdam Cruise Ship Missing Passenger CBC News Canada is reporting that a 75 year-old passenger from the Holland America Line MS Maasdam was reported missing by his wife shortly after 8 AM. yesterday after the HAL cruise ship docked in Charlottetown, Canada.

The Maasdam left from Montreal on Saturday on a seven-day cruise,

The newspaper states that the vessel's crew conducted a shipwide search but could not locate the passenger on the cruise ship. The Canadian Coast Guard searched the cruise ship's route but could not locate the man.

According to the newspaper, a lobster fisherman found a body around 8:30 AM. in the Northumberland Strait near western Prince Edward Island. 

The cruise line confirmed that the body was that of a passenger from the cruise ship, although the Canadian police have not yet confirmed that the body was the missing passenger.   An autopsy has been requested.

If you have information about this latest cruise overboard, please leave a message below.

October 5, 2011 Update:

The CBC News identifies the deceased passenger as William Cureton, age 75, of Port Dover, Ontario.    

Photo credit:  Robert F. Bukaty / AP  (via MSNBC)

Missing at Sea - Parents of Missing Disney Cruises Youth Counselor Discuss Disappearance of Daughter

Mike and Ann Coriam appeared on CNN International yesterday to discuss the "disappearance" of their daughter, Rebecca Coriam, from the Disney Wonder cruise ship.  Ms. Coriam worked as a youth counselor aboard the Wonder and went missing six months ago while the cruise ship was sailing a Los Angeles - Mexico itinerary. 

The Coriam family are campaigning for greater accountability of the foreign flag cruise industry.  Because Disney chose to flag its cruise ship in the Bahamas, only one police officer in Nassau is responsible for investigating Rebecca's disappearance. 

The Coriam family thanked Victim Support UK which has been providing assistance and emotional support for the family in this time of crisis.  They also thanked Ken Carver, President of the International Cruise Victims, who lost his daughter from the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship seven years ago, for his "lots of support and help."

Do you know what happened to Rebecca?  Please contact her family:

Email:  help@rebecca-coriam.com
Coriam Family:  07747359968
Media Spokesman:  07932815970

You can read our articles about this case here.

Passenger Missing From Carnival Conquest Cruise Ship

A local television station in Galveston, Texas is reporting that a 39 year old passenger is missing after going overboard from the Carnival Conquest after the cruise ship left Cozumel, Mexico. 

Carnival Conquest Cruise Ship - Overboard Passenger The incident occurred Friday evening.

ABC affiliate Channel 13 Eyewitness News' article states that  "according to a statement from Carnival Conquest, a 39-year-old male was seen jumping overboard around 6:30pm Friday while the ship was in the Gulf of Mexico, shortly after departing Cozumel."

This statement likely indicates that other passengers observed the passenger go overboard and/or ship personnel observed him jump overboard.

The article indicates that the cruise ship returned to the location where the passenger was seen going overboard in order to conduct search and rescue operations.  

Mexican vessels apparently were also in the search efforts.

The Carnival Conquest is returning to Galveston today.

This cruise ship has had passengers go overboard in the past.  In October 2006, a 48 year old woman apparently committed suicide by jumping from an upper deck.  You can read about that incident here.  Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website mentions another incident in November 2006 when a 42 year old passenger fell/jumped from his cabin and was not found. 

Professor Klein's website lists 167 incidents (not including this one) where passengers and crew have gone overboard from cruise ships in the last 10 years.  

Were you on the cruise?  Do you have information, or photos or video of the rescue attempts, to share?  Please leave a comment below.  

September 24, 2011 Update:

The passenger has been identified as Clint Wayne Markham of Forney, Texas.

The Carnival cruise ship captain, Antonio Sammartano, sent a letter to the passengers stating:

“We’re sorry to say that at this time, the missing guest has not been located. However, the Mexican navy remains on site and continues with the search.  We continue to provide support to his family and friends during this difficult time.  We ask that you please continue to join us in keeping them in your thoughts and prayers."

A Fox News station in Dallas has accounts from friends and family of Mr. Markham that he was a fine son, father and husband and that he would not have voluntarily gone overboard.  He apparently sailed on cruises every year to celebrate his birthday.  He would have been 40 years old today.   

 

Photo credit:

Wikipedia/Wikimedia Klobetime

British Press Focuses on Missing Cruise Passengers and Crewmembers Following Disappearances of Disney Cruise Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam

Today the Mail Online published an article today entitled:  The Vanishing Passengers: It's A Mystery As Bizarre As It Is Disturbing - Why Have 165 People Gone Missing From Cruise Ships In Recent Years?

The article discusses the cases of "missing' passengers and crew from cruise ships and the lackluster efforts of the cruise lines and foreign flagged investigations which are doomed to failure.  

If you are interested in learning about missing passengers and crewmembers like Rebecca Coriam who "disappeared" from the Disney Wonder cruise ship, please read this article.

Rebecca Coriam - Disney Youth Counselor - Disappearance

AOL Travel in the U.K. also published an article "165 People Have Gone Missing From Cruise Ships Since 1995."
 

Do you know what happened to Rebecca?  Please contact her family:

Email:  help@rebecca-coriam.com
Coriam Family:  07747359968
Media Spokesman:  07932815970

You can read our articles about this case here.

  

Photo Credit:   Coriam Family via Mail Online

Another Passenger Disappears from Fred Olsen "Balmoral" Cruise Ship

Mail Online in the U.K. is reporting on the disappearance of what is described as an "elderly" passenger who was traveling alone on the Balmoral cruise ship operated by Fred Olsen Lines.

The story made the news when the cruise ship returned to the port of Southampton after an eight day cruise in the Norwegian fjords.  Around 1,000 passengers were detained on the cruise ship while authorities showed photographs of the missing passenger and questioned them whether Balmoral Cruise Ship - Missing Passenger - Overboardthey had any knowledge about the passenger.

The detaining of passengers is somewhat unusual because most cruise lines and investigating agencies let the passengers disembark without ever questioning them.

The newspaper article indicated that the passenger was in his late 70's or early 80's and also referenced a "note which was discovered by a cabin stewardess."

The passenger was apparently last seen around 9:00 PM on Sunday night, and was discovered missing yesterday morning.

Does the presence of a "note" and the fact that the passenger was elderly suggest that he committed suicide?  I don't know.  What is the height of the rails?  Was he over-served alcohol?  Where are the CCTV images if the passenger went overboard, voluntarily or involuntarily?

We reported on the disappearance of an eighty year old passenger last year from the Balmoral, without explanation.  Did the cruise line improve its CCTV capacities following that incident?

This incident occurred as the parents of missing Disney Cruise youth counselor Rebecca Coriam appealed to the U.K. Shipping Minister to introduce tougher laws to protect British citizens from crimes at sea, as we mentioned in an article yesterday.

Last year, the Balmoral was dubbed the "Cursed Cruise Ship of the High Seas" following a series of norovirus bouts which sickened hundred of passengers and crew.  The Balmoral also narrowly averted disaster when it was attacked by pirates last year.   

Anguished Parents of Missing Disney Cruise Youth Counselor: Where Is Our Daughter?

Disney Cruise youth counselor Rebecca Coriam disappeared from the Disney Wonder in the early morning hours of March 22, 2011.

Her parents, Mike and Ann Coriam from Chester England, know no more today than in March when the cruise line told them their daughter was missing from the cruise ship.  

How, exactly, can a person simply disappear without a trace from a cruise ship, particularly a ship employee responsible for the welfare of children and from a cruise ship which caters to families?  How can there be no CCTV images which provide an answer?

Rebecca Corian - Disney Cruise - MissingSomething is not right with this situation.

Last March, we talked abut the problems families face when their loved ones "disappear" from foreign flagged cruise ships in a number of articles, including Who Investigates Disappearances on Cruise Ships?  and What Happened to Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on Disney's Wonder Cruise Ship?

This past week a number of news paper articles have been published in the U.K. such as:

'Did She Fall? Was She Taken Off the Ship?' Anguished Parents No Closer to the Truth About Daughter’s Disappearance from Disney Ship

Anguish of Rebecca Coriam's Parents Six Months After Cruise Ship Mystery

Scores of People Have Gone Missing from Cruise Ships, It's Time to Find Out Why, Say Parents of Girl who Vanished from Disney Liner

Lost at Sea

The articles above describe the "investigation" into the mystery as a "farce."  The Express states " . . .  the investigation into Rebecca’s death has been so lacklustre that it is barely worthy of the name." 

A single police officer in the Bahamas is supposedly conducting the investigation.  But within a week, the officer announced that the shipboard investigation was over.  

A number of news sources, including the BBC, quoted Superintendent Paul Rolle of the Royal Bahamas Police Force in March saying:  "With respect to the investigation into the disappearance of Miss Rebecca Coriam from the Disney Wonder cruise ship, the Royal Bahamas Police have concluded its investigation on board the vessel.  "At the present time there is no evidence to suggest foul play."

Although the Bahamas police state that the case remains open and under active investigation, Superintendent Rolle is not telling anyone much of anything assuming he is still working on the case.

The Coriam family remains respectful of the involvement of the Bahamian police officer but quickly notes that the Bahamas clearly do not have the resources to conduct an investigation involving a ship sailing between Los Angeles and Mexico.

Rebecca Coriam - Disney Wonder - DisappearanceIt is also questionable that a police officer in the Bahamas is going to be critical of a cruise line which pays the Bahamas to flag its vessels there. 

A particular irony in this case is that Disney Cruise is actually incorporated in the U.K. as the Magical Cruise Company.  So we have a British citizen working for a British cruise line yet only a single policeman in the Bahamas is investigating?  

Faced with these obstacles, the Coriam family is meeting today with U.K. Shipping Minister Hugh Penning to seek the introduction of a law in the U.K. so that British authorities can investigate incidents involving British citizens on international waters.

The Express quotes Mr. Coriam: “I am not sure we will ever know for sure what happened to Rebecca . . .  my mission now is to bring in laws to protect ­others.”

For more information about the petition for a new cruise safety law in the U.K., go to the Coriam family's website.  

If you have information which may help the Coriam family find answers about about Rebecca, please use the following contact info:

help@rebecca-coriam.com  

 

Photo credits

Top:  Corriam family

Bottom:  LA Times

Cruisemates Misses the Boat Regarding Overboard Passengers

Yesterday, Paul Motter's popular online cruise community "Cruisemates" published an interesting article entitled "Mainstream Media Stupidity over Cruising."  The article is about the weird and sad story of an irate and perhaps drunk father throwing his 7 year old son overboard during a cruise around a harbor in Southern California on a sight-seeing boat.   

Cruisemates was upset that most of the stories carried headlines that the incident occurred aboard a "cruise ship" as opposed to a tour boat. 

I was initially sympathetic to Cruisemates' plight.  Most media reports characterized the tour boat as a "cruise ship" when in fact the overboard incident occurred on a little 100 passenger tub cruising around the harbor.    

I was one of the first to blog and tweet about the bizarre story about the dad who pitched his crying 7 year old son over the rails and into the water (the child was rescued and is physically okay).  I was careful not to label it as a "cruise ship" incident.  And I also offered my perspective that I have never heard of a child ever being thrown from a cruise ship, or any other type ship, for that matter.  

But Cruisemates then went overboard in its defense of the cruise industry.  Passenger safety is a touchy issues for Cruisemates.  When the cruise lines were under siege in a series of U.S. Congressional hearings over the past many years inquiring into the disappearance of passengers on cruise ships, Cruisemates was on the front line defending the cruise industry in the media.  Every single overboard incident, according to Cruisemates, was a suicide or due to drunken recklessness.

Cruisemates's unequivocal defense of the cruise industry has been unwavering, but has left it blind as a bat.  Cruisemates writes yesterday:

"There is absolutely NO documented crime where a person, dead or alive, was ever thrown off of a cruise ship, and I expect the news media to know and respect that fact."

The family of Karen W. Roston may tend to disagree with this statement. 

Ms. Roston was 26 years old when she went overboard on the last night of her honeymoon cruise Scott Roston - Karen Roston - Murder - Cruise Ship Overboardfrom the Sundancer cruise ship operated by Admiral Cruises of  Miami.  Her husband, Scott Roston (photo right), claimed that high winds blew her overboard as she ran on the jogging track on an upper deck.  But evidence introduced at his criminal trial indicated that the winds were just 4 - 5 mph.

An article in the LA Times explained that investigating FBI agents found Ms. Roston's hair embedded in the rubberized jogging track along with a broken earring matching one she was wearing in a photograph taken at a shipboard dinner.  Mr. Roston was observed with scratches on his face after her disappearance.  A medical examiner concluded from an autopsy that Ms. Roston had been strangled.  Mr. Roston was tried for murder.  The prosecutor stated "she was strangled and then thrown overboard . . . " 

A jury convicted Mr. Roston of murder.  An appellate court affirmed his conviction in the case of United States v. Roston, 986 F.2d 1287 (9th Cir. 1992).  In affirming the murder conviction, the court noted: 

Here, there was evidence of a substantial struggle.  Parts of the decedent's earrings and remnants of her hair were found on the deck 11 1/2 feet from the railing where she went overboard.  The injury to her forehead was consistent with the prosecution's theory that her head had been smashed against the deck of the ship.  The hemorrhaging and bone warping in her neck indicated she had been strangled.  The cumulative effect of this evidence suggests that the decedent's assailant, over the course of a fairly prolonged struggle, intended to kill her.  Moreover, the killing process continued beyond the struggle and strangling.  The decedent was not dead, but only unconscious when she was pushed or thrown into the ocean.    

Cruisemates' claim that there is no documented crime where a person was thrown off of a cruise ship is false.  Its claim is disrespectful to the families of loved ones like Ms. Roston, and others thrown overboard from cruise ships.  

 

Photo credit:  AmericanTribune.org

"Man Overboard - Inside the Honeymoon Cruise Murder"

Man Overboard - George Smith - Cruise CrimeThis week I received a copy of a paperback book about the disappearance of George Smith IV during his honeymoon cruise on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas in July 2005.

The book is written by a reporter from the Greenwich Post, Joan Lownds, who covered the story from the beginning. 

The back cover of the book promises "the inside story of America's most notorious murder cases that shook the cruise industry to the core."   Although I have always opined that the case probably involved foul play, there is no explanation in the book regarding who, how or why someone allegedly murdered Mr. Smith.

"Man Overboard" contains a good history of the series of Congressional hearings from 2005 - 2010 into the issue of cruise ship crime.

The book also discusses many of the stories of members of the International Cruise Victims organization (ICV), as well as the cases of firm clients Laurie Dishman, Lynette Hudson and Janet Kelly.  

Disappearance from Celebrity Century Cruise Ship - Rest in Peace Jimmy Ewan

Cruise disappearance James EwansIn November 2006, a 73 year old Scottish passenger was reported missing from the Century cruise ship while the vessel traveling near Madeira in the Canary Islands.  The disappearance was discovered when a crew member reported that passenger James ("Jimmy") Ewan, of Fife, Scotland, had not used his cabin the previous night. 

Ship logs indicate that Mr. Ewan, who had been traveling alone, did not disembark in the previous port.   The cruise ship conducted a cursory search and then continued on its 14-night trans-Atlantic cruise from Barcelona, Spain, to Miami. 

Today a newspaper in Scotland is reporting that the mystery of Mr. Ewan's disappearance five years ago has been solved.  The newspaper reports that Mr. Ewan's "best pal and executor of his will," John Cooper, has been struggling with settling his estate for the past several years.  The U.K.'s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Portuguese Consulate apparently were of little help. 

Mr. Cooper complained that he could not obtain a certificate of death so that Mr. Ewan's business could be wound up and his will could be executed.

The newspaper reports that Mr. Ewan had lost his wife 20 years ago and had no children.

Cabin attendants found his personal belongings neatly laid out in his cabin, including the executor of his will's name and telephone phone number.  Mr. Ewan reportedly stated that " . . . he didn't want to be a burden to anyone as he got old . . . "  The newspaper reports that "he scrapped his car two days before leaving, which was odd because he couldn't do without it."

Mr. Cooper stated that "I'm the executor of his will and the fact my details were sitting on top of his wallet in his cabin rang alarm bells.  It's like he tied everything up and not left anything outstanding."

If I decided to end my life like this, I hope that someone would remember me - like Mr. Ewan - with a big smile on my face, waving goodbye.   

 

Photo credit: dailyrecord.co.uk

Back From Vacation - Safe, Sound & Thankful

Whistler mountain bikingLast night our family arrived back in Miami after a three week vacation in the Pacific North West.  We enjoyed Pike Place Market in Seattle, kayaked in the Orcas Islands (amazing), mountain biked in Whistler, and hiked Mt. Rainier.  What a blast.

Aside from a spectacular wipe-out on a mountain bike trail by my youngest son, we returned to Miami safe and sound.  

Given the nature of my profession, I am ever mindful that some family vacations do not turn out to be happy memories. 

An experience while visiting Orcas Island reminded me of that.  My wife and law partner Lisa was visiting a quilting store when she overheard the store owner talking about just returning from a Holland America cruise to Alaska with her partner.  Lisa asked how they enjoyed the cruise.  The store owner's face turned grim.  She paused and said a young man disappeared during the cruise.     

The store owner was referring to twenty year old Blake Kepley, who disappeared during an Alaskan cruise with his family aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam on July 22nd.  Like many cruise ship disappearances, the cruise line has not disclosed whether there are closed circuit television images of the young man which may explain what happened.  This lack of transparency causes great stress to the surviving family members who must struggle not only with the misery of losing a child but the confusion of not knowing what really happened.

Kayaking Orca's IslandWhen I hear of incidents like this, I see images of other young men and women who have disappeared from cruise ships without explanation.  Like Amber Malkuch from Holland America's ZandaamRebecca Coriam from the Disney WonderMerrian Carver from the Celebrity Mercury MercuryAngelo Faliva from the Coral Princess, George Smith from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas, and Amy Bradley from Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas.

I do not know how these families endure their grief.  In the case of Amy Bradley, the Bradley family has suffered through twelve years of missing their daughter with no answers from the cruise line. 

When I hear of incidents of loved ones lost at sea I pray that my children, and all children, remain safe when they travel and vacation.  And when I return home, I am thankful that my family stayed safe from harm.    

Coast Guard Calls Off Search for Missing Passenger, Blake Kepley

Blake Kepley, a Fallbrook High School graduate was last seen between 12 and 1 a.m. on Friday, July 22, 2011. His family reported the 20-year-old missing at about 2:30 p.m. that same day according to the Village News; however, Sign On San Diego reports that the family notified the cruise line as early as 7:00 a.m. Both reports maintain that Holland America waited until 4:00 p.m. before contacting the Coast Guard to report that Kepley possibly went overboard.

The Coast Guard immediately began the search; however, was unsuccessful in locating Kepley and the search was suspended nearly 24 hours later after covering more than 352 miles. Kepley went missing between Sikta and Ketchikan during his Alaskan cruise aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam.

For more information click on NBC’s San Diego News Report:

If you have any information or tips regarding the disappearance of Blake Kepley, e-mail us at jwalker@cruiselaw.com

Video credit: NBC San Diego

Rally for Rebecca Coriam

The Rebecca Coriam Search Foundation is holding a fundraiser and rally to help raise money to continue the search and investigation into the disappearance of Disney crew member, Rebecca Coriam.

The rally is being held on July 23, 2011, from 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. at the Chester Race Course Pavillion. For more information visit the event web page at: A Night for Rebecca Coriam.

Additional information can be found on Rebecca Coriam’s Twitter and Web Page.

Rebecca went missing on March 22, 2011 while working in the youth activity center aboard the M/S Disney Wonder. Cruise Law News (CLN) has previously reported on the disappearance and investigation of Ms. Coriam.

To read more about Rebecca Coriam’s disappearance click on the following:

What Happened to Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on Disney’s Wonder Cruise Ship?

Parents of Missing Disney Crew Member Return to England with Daughter’s Belongings, But No Answers

After Quick Investigation, Bahamian Police Proclaim "No Foul Play" in Disappearance of Disney Crew Member

Update on Missing Disney Crewmember Rebecca Coriam

Disappearance of George Smith - Larry King Live & the "Missing Groom Mystery"

Larry King Live - George Smith Disappearance - Cruise ShipThe media's interest into the "missing groom" story was unparalleled in the history of the cruise industry.  Royal Caribbean had been able to dodge bad press about the disappearance of passengers and women and children sexually assaulted on its fleet of cruise ships for decades.

But the case of George Smith was different.  Every network was covering the story, non-stop. 

I will never forget sitting behind my desk speaking on the telephone with Greta Van Sustern about the case when my secretary, Betsy, buzzed me saying: "Larry King is holding on line 2."  I suppose it was a tad obnoxious to respond to Betsy: "tell Larry that I will call him back in a couple of minutes." 

But that was the way it was with the most popular case involving a cruise ship mystery like this.  We were receiving letters, Fed Ex packages, flower arrangements, notes, and invitations to stay in hotels before and after high profile interviews on a weekly basis.  

We used the media to our advantage.  We were dealing with Royal Caribbean, an admitted corporate felon which was just coming off a five year period of probation for lying to the U.S. Coast Guard about wide spread illegal dumping of chemicals and blackwater into the aqua, warm waters of Biscayne Bay in Miami to the dark, cool waters of Alaska.  This was a corporation with a reputation for dishonesty. 

Larry King Live - George Smith Missing - Royal Caribbean Cruise ShipLarry King invited me on his show twice.  First in August 2005 before I was hired by Jennifer Hagel to talk about the issues in the case.  The second time was in January 2006, together with the Smith family and their counsel, after I was retained, to talk about the details of the case. 

Shows like Larry King Live, with literally millions of viewers, were instrumental in educating the public about the problems of crimes and disappearances on cruise ships which the cruise industry had kept hidden for years.  The publicity would continue as the U.S. Congress convened five hearings in the House of Representatives and Senate into the issue of crimes and disappearances of passengers on cruise ships. 

 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you.

Disappearance of George Smith - Royal Caribbean Captain Says Its Just an Accident Involving a Bloody Nose

Two days after George Smith went overboard from the Brilliance of the Seas, the cruise ship's captain prepared a casualty report concluding that Mr. Smith accidentally fell off of the railing.   The official report did not mention any of the suspicious noises in the Smith's cabin heard by other passengers or that other young men (later accused of raping a passenger during the cruise) had been observed leaving the cabin around 4:30 AM.  

George Smith Disappearance - Royal CaribbeanCaptain Michael Lachtaridis' conclusion fit the usual Royal Caribbean play book of "blame the passenger."   The cruise line would later dance around this quick self-serving official report to the maritime authorities by suggesting that this was just a "preliminary" conclusion or just the captain's "personal opinion."

MSNBC's Dan Abrams invited Captain Lachtaridis onto his cable news program and interviewed him over the course of two nights.  It was a rather amazing experience to watch the captain, who retired shortly after Mr. Smith's disappearance but was nonetheless still wearing his stripes on TV, stick with his theory that it was just an "accident."  

Quote: 

"He wanted to get some fresh air from the balcony.  He was sitting on the railing and he lost his balance."

Quote:

"Now if George - let‘s say he fell and then if you fell, you break your nose and start bleeding and then you take a towel and then you wipe it there and then you go outside to get some fresh air.  And then you are sitting on the railing and you fell over, so, that‘s the whole thing.  I mean blood on the towel or wherever you pass by to go outside to the balcony to get some fresh air and you fall over."  

George Smith Missing - Cruise Ship DisappearanceCaptain Lachtaridis was very theatrical in his demonstration of how a nose bleed could account for the large amount of blood which covered the awning below the Smith's cabin. 

He thought that it was fine that the cruise line power-blasted the blood off of the awning by early afternoon, after the Turkish police's lighting fast two hour investigation.

He saw nothing wrong with the four men last seen with George Smith, and who had been previously warned for rowdy behavior and using foul language, continuing on with the cruise.  Until, at least, a young passenger accused them of raping her two days after George Smith went overboard.  Only then did Captain Lachtaridis kick them off of the cruise ship in Italy.

George falling in the cabin?  A bloody nose?  Sitting on the rail to get fresh air?  Falling a second time, this time off of the railing? 

Captain Lachtaridis gave quite a performance for the TV audience.

  

Photo credits:  MSNBC Dan Abrams 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you.

Disappearance of George Smith - The International Cruise Victims Organization Is Born!

George Smith Disappearance  In December 2005, Congress convened its first hearing on the issue of the safety of U.S. passengers on foreign flagged cruise ships.  The hearing came about primarily due to the efforts of several families who had lost loved ones from cruise ships on the high seas, under suspicious circumstances. 

George Smith's family was instrumental in bringing a great amount of much needed publicity to the issue of passenger "disappearances" and the shoddy manner in which cruise lines respond to such tragedies.  George III and Maureen Smith and their daughter Bree Smith of Greenwich Connecticut contacted Congressman, Chris Shays (R-CT).   

The Smith family joined forces with the father of a young woman who also "disappeared" from a cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean's sister cruise line Celebrity Cruises.  Ken Carver, a former president of an insurance company in New York, lost his beloved daughter, 40 year old Boston resident Merrian Carver, who went missing 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 The Arizona Republic published an excellently researched and written story, revealing the hideous manner that this cruise line acted when people disappear at sea. 

Mr. Carver's situation is simply the worst conduct I have ever seen by a cruise line.

One of Mr. Carver's daughters had been an intern of Congressman Shays when Mr. Carver had lived in Connecticut.  Mr. Carver's story was featured on CNN's Anderson Cooper's show.  The  producer for the program, CNN's David Fitzpatrick (a resident of Connecticut), recommended to Mr. Carver that he call on Congressman Shays and tell him about the way the cruise line treated his family. 

Ken Carver - International Cruise VictimsAs a result of the convergence of tragedies suffered by the families of George Smith and Merrian Carver, Congressman Shays convened a hearing to study the problem of passengers disappearing on cruise ships and the manner that the cruise industry treated the surviving the surviving family members.  He opened the hearing by stating:

"The bottom line is we are suspicious, candidly, that there's some huge problem in the cruise industry.  We think that people are not aware of some of the challenges and some of the potential problems they encounter."   

Mr. Carver attended the December 2005 hearing.  I attended the hearing with my client Jennifer Hagel.  Mr. Carver introduced himself to me at the hearing.  He asked me if I was interested in supporting legislation making cruising safer for the public?  I saw a conviction in Mr. Carver's eyes six years ago.  I realized that he was serious.  

Mr. Carver realized that he could not fight the cruise industry alone.  He thereafter created an organization called the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization, effective January 1, 2006.   As a former executive, Mr. Carver had the leadership and management skills to create a highly effective organization.  Like the many other ICV members, Mr. Carver also had a passionate dedication to his daughter and a desire to protect other families from going through a similar nightmare. 

Mr. Carver was responsible for convening four additional Congressional hearings, taking the ICV organization internationally, and organizing a team of victims who were responsible for the enactment of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act

George Smith, Merrian Carver and other victims may be gone from this lifetime, as we know it.  But their legacies continue today. 

The cruising public is safer for the efforts of their families.  

 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.  Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you. 

Disappearance of George Smith - Six Years Later - Royal Caribbean Blocks Dr. Henry Lee's Dummy Experiment

One of the tests which Dr. Henry Lee wanted to perform during his inspection of the Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship was dropping a life size mannequin from the rail of the balcony.

Dr. Henry Lee - George Smith Cruise DisappearanceA metal awning is located several floors below the balcony.  It is around 12 feet wide and ran the length of the cruise ship, covering the lifeboats on each side of the ship.  It is convex in shape with the high point in the middle, sloping gradually on one side toward the ship and on the other side gradually toward the water.

Before we boarded the cruise ship, Dr. Lee explained the tests he wanted to perform.

One of the issues which we wanted to determine was where the mannequin would land on the surface below.  What was the most likely location where the “dummy” would land if it was sitting on the rail and slipped and fell straight down?  Where would the dummy land if thrown from the balcony?  On which side of the high point of the surface would it land?  Would the mannequin tend to roll toward the water or safely back toward the side of the cruise ship?

Answers to these questions may assist in answering the basic question of whether Mr. Smith slipped off of the balcony or he was thrown overboard.  There was great debate in the media about this.  Was there a fight in the cabin which led to Mr. Smith going over the rail?  Or was this a simple case of falling overboard?  Vanity Fair magazine published an article which concluded that Mr. Smith was intoxicated and decided to sit on the balcony rail and fell off while smoking a cigarette - a conclusion I thought was unsubstantiated and silly.   

Dr. Henry Lee - George Smith Cruise DisappearanceBefore we arrived at the port, the cruise line notified me that Dr. Lee would not be permitted to conduct the test.  With news reporters and camera crews at the port covering Dr. Lee's inspection and helicopters hovering overhead, the images of a mannequin repeatedly being thrown over the rail was obviously a spectacle Royal Caribbean wished to avoid being shown on the nightly news channels.   

On the morning of the inspection, I decided that our team would not take "no" for an answer.  So I placed the dummy in a six foot box, tucked the box under my arm, and walked toward the cruise terminal with Dr. Lee and our team.

One of the senior security officials at the cruise line stopped me outside of the entrance to the terminal.  He told me that I would not be allowed to enter the terminal with the mannequin.  About a hundred news reporters and cameras were watching about 50 feet away.   I smiled and asked him if he wanted to get into an arm wrestling match before the reporters?  He smiled back and said no.  We entered the terminal with the mannequin. 

Once I and the dummy were inside the terminal and outside of the view of the cameras, the cruise line security personnel confiscated the mannequin.  The test would not take place. 

Dr. Henry Lee - Jim Walker - George Smith Cruise DisappearanceRoyal Caribbean would later tell the media that it did not permit the tests for the "safety of passengers."   The cruise line also offered an opportunity for us to conduct the test while the vessel was in dry-dock in the Bahamas, safely outside the view of the U.S. media.  But flying Dr. Lee and his team around the country was not an inexpensive undertaking.  

Dr. Lee never performed this experiment.

I have always wondered what the tests would have revealed.  Is it possible to fall off the balcony and roll off of the awning?  Or could this have happened only by being thrown over the rail and/or dragged off of the surface below?

 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you. 

Photo credits:  MSNBC

Disappearance of George Smith - Six Years Later - Dr Henry Lee Boards the Brilliance of the Seas

After months of silence, the Hagel and Smith families were losing their patience with Royal Caribbean.  By Thanksgiving it had been almost five months since George's death.  The cruise line had released no information about the circumstances surrounding George Smith's disappearance.

Dr. Henry Lee - Forensic Scientist - George Smith DisappearanceAs soon as Jennifer Hagel retained our firm to represent her, we retained forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee.  I had met Dr. Lee for the first time in August 2005 before I was hired on this case, when the Larry King Live show invited me and others to discuss the cruise disappearance.  Dr. Lee was also on the program and he mentioned the types of tests which would be appropriate to conduct in a case like this.  

Once we were involved in the case, we immediately requested Royal Caribbean to permit us to board the cruise ship with Dr. Lee and his team of forensic scientists and detectives.  We wanted to inspect the Smith's cabin and balcony, and the awning below the balcony.  We were interested in re-tracing George's final hours on the ship, as well as the paths that the four passengers of interest (Greg Rozenberg, Zachery Rozenberg, Rusty Kofman, and Josh Askin) may have traversed between the Smith's cabin and their respective cabins.

The cruise line finally agreed on an inspection when the Brilliance of the Seas was in port in January 2006.  However, it insisted that we agree to limit our inspection to only two hours.  It also insisted that we agree to a confidentiality agreement and never disclose to the press the results of Dr. Lee's inspection.

Of course it was impossible to conduct a thorough inspection and analysis of the cabin, balcony and awning in just two hours. We also refused the "gag" agreement. The rushed initial investigation by the Turkish police and the cruise line's secrecy were part of the problems in the first place.

Cruise Ship Inspection - Dr. Henry Lee - George Smith DisappearanceWe made arrangements for Dr. Lee and his team to arrive in Miami over the weekend before the Monday morning inspection.  Royal Caribbean acquiesced to a ship inspection with no time limitation, but it insisted on the gag agreement.  As of 6:00 PM Friday evening when I left the office, Royal Caribbean would not budge on this issue - if we did not agree, then we would not be permitted to board the cruise ship. 

Over the weekend, however, Royal Caribbean sent us a facsimile stating that it was withdrawing the request for confidentiality.  On Monday morning, we arrived at the port and began the inspection which lasted all day.  Although I was paying for Dr. Lee and his team, I made certain to invite the maritime attorney for the Smith family, Brett Rivkind, to monitor the ship inspection so the Smith family could stay informed.   

Dr. Lee and his team photographed, video-graphed, measured, and tested virtually every inch of the cabin, balcony and awning.  He found biological materials on the balcony and on the awning, which he turned over to the FBI.  We finally learned where Jennifer Hagel was found on the ship, and we learned the location of the cabins for the other passengers of interest.   

The cruise line was actually very accommodating to Dr. Lee during the ship inspection.  The only lack of cooperation from Royal Caribbean came when Dr. Lee wanted to conduct an experiment tossing a mannequin over the railing - which we will discuss next.  

 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you. 

Photo credits:  CNN, MSNBC

Disappearance of George Smith - Six Years Later - A Frantic Call Back to Connecticut

Royal Caribbean did not permit Jennifer Hagel back into her cabin after blood was discovered on the awning below the cabin.  No one on the ship explained to Jennifer that she had been found unconscious on the floor near a stairwell early in the morning, or that her husband's blood was covering the awning. 

Eventually, the cruise line permitted Ms. Hagel to call her parents back in Connecticut to tell them that George was missing from the cruise ship.  It must have been a terrible ordeal for a father several thousands of miles away to listen to his daughter consumed with grief and confusion on the other end of a long distance telephone call. 

The hardest call to be made, however, was yet to be made.  Jennifer's father, John Hagel, was tasked with having to call the Smith family and tell them that their son had vanished from the Royal Caribbean ship.

George Smith - Missing - Royal Caribbean - Cruise Ship OverboardGeorge's mother, Maureen Smith, later told CBS News: "6:30 in the morning the phone rang, and I heard this crying on the phone and it was Jennifer's father . . . he was sobbing uncontrollably and he said, 'Something terrible has happened to George on the cruise ship. He's missing.'"

This news must have torn the Smith family's hearts into millions of frantic little pieces. 

Just ten days earlier George and Jennifer were happy newlyweds about to embark on a honeymoon cruise not to mention the rest of their lives.  George was poised to take over his father's wine and liquor store, and Jennifer who had obtained her Master's Degree in teaching was about to begin her career as an elementary school teacher in Westport.  And now the Smiths were were being told that George had somehow disappeared somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea.

Of course, neither John Hagel nor his daughter had any details of what happened, other than being told that George could not be found on the cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean would prove to be less than forthcoming regarding the happenings in and around George's cabin on the morning in question.

Royal Caribbean knew that George's blood covered the awning below his cabin.  The cruise line knew that passengers on both sides of his cabin had complained of noises in the cabin, an argument on the balcony, and things being thrown against the cabin walls.  It knew that its security logs recorded that when security personnel arrived at the Smith's cabin around 4:30 AM, the time that George probably went overboard, a guard observed "teens leaving the area." 

But the cruise line would tell the Smith and Hagel families nothing.    

George's sister Bree Smith told CBS News that she she repeatedly asked the cruise line whether they had searched the ship: "And they said, 'Yes we searched the boat.' I said, 'Well continue to search the boat, my brother has to be there.' They knew otherwise. Because they knew about the blood on the overhang. But they never told us about the blood on the overhang." 

George Smith - Jennifer Hagel - Royal Caribbean Cruise Disappearance

George Smith was not the first person to disappear from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  This cruise line had been faced with overboards under suspicious circumstances before.  Its game plan was to stay tight lipped.  Just nine months earlier, a crew member went overboard from the same cruise ship, the Brilliance of the Seas.  Although many crewmembers suspected a murder, the case never even made its way into a single newspaper.    

Royal Caribbean's response was to keep the dead crewmember's family in the dark and hope that they would forget about it.  This would be the cruise line's game plan for George Smith's disappearance too.

 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you. 

Photo credits:  MSNBC

Disappearance of George Smith - Six Years Later - Media Frenzy Follows Case of "Missing Honeymooner"

Larry King Live - Gearoge Smith Cruise DisappearanceFollowing Mr. Smith's disappearance, the Master of the Brilliance of the Seas quickly concluded that his disappearance was simply an “accident.” 

Royal Caribbean never told the families that there was blood on the awning below the cabin (which the cruise line quickly cleaned off with high pressure hoses) or that four men had entered Mr. Smith’s cabin shortly before he went overboard, or that passengers in the cabins on both sides of the Smith's cabin had heard strange noises on the night of his death.

George Smith was not the first passenger to “disappear” under suspicious circumstances on a cruise ship. 

Canadian cruise expert professor Ross Klein has tracked overboards and disappearances at sea for the past decade.  As of today, there are 164 cases of crewmembers and passengers going overboard in the past 15 years.  In my experience, most people are never found. Criminal prosecutions are rare and convictions are virtually nil.  Most cases receive little if any press coverage.

Nancy Grace - George Smith Cruise DisappearanceGeorge Smith’s cases was different.

When photographs of the blood covered awning taken by passengers began appearing on the cable news shows, the U.S. public began doubting what the cruise line was saying.

Soon, the story of George Smith became a topic on every cable news show, every night.

Joe Scarborough was the first to begin covering the story.  He invited me onto his program in early July 2005.  Then the Rita Cosby show covered the story, followed by Court TV with Catherine Crier, MSNBC’s Dan Abrams, FOX News’s Hannity and Colmes, CNN’s Larry King, Anderson Cooper and Nancy Grace.

Joe Scarborough began interviewing passengers on either side of the Smith’s cabin who had never been interviewed by either the cruise line or the FBI.  On one side was police officer Clete Hyman who described an argument between in the Smith’s cabin followed, eventually, by what he described as a “horrific thud.”  On the other side were other passengers, Mr. and Mrs. Lawyer, who described what Joe Scarborough - George Smith Cruise Disappearancesounded like a brawl, with furniture being moved and things slamming into the wall, leading them to complain to cruise line security personnel that they had "better get in there," because the cabin was probably "trashed."

All of these witnesses were coming forth, for the first time, on TV.  Few of them had ever been contacted by either the investigating authorities in Turkey (no surprise) or by the FBI.

From July through December 2005, the story of the “missing honeymooner” was a nightly event, covered by CNN, MSNBC and FOX news non-stop.  The coverage forever changed the public’s perception of the cruise industry and raised the issue of just how safe, or dangerous, cruising really was. 

What happened in the Smith's cabin?   

Was the cruise line covering up a crime? 

 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you.  

 

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Disappearance of George Smith - Six Years Later - Trouble as the Cruise Ship Sails to Kusadasi

George Smith and Jennifer Hagel married in late June 2005 in Newport Rhode Island.  Their honeymoon was a cruise in the Mediterranean Sea aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas, which departed from Barcelona to ports in Italy, Greece and Kusadasi Turkey.

George Smith - Jennifer Hagel - Cruise DisappearanceLittle did George and Jennifer know that these would be their final days together.

In the early morning hours of July 5, 2005, at around 4:30 AM, George Smith would go over the rail of the couple's balcony, land on the metal awning over the lifeboats two floors below, and then fall into the waters in the Aegean Sea.  At the same time, his wife Jennifer Hagel was unconscious on the other side of the cruise ship in an alcove next to a stairwell adjacent to a passenger hallway some 400 feet away.    

The passengers on both sides of the Smith's cabin had previously complained to security about noise coming from the Smith's cabin.  On the fore side of the cabin, passenger Clete Hyman called the ship's security and complained about loud noises and partying.  He would later tell television reporters that he heard sounds of an argument out on the balcony.  On the aft side of the cabin, passengers Mr. and Mrs. Lawyer complained to security personnel that they should enter the Smith's cabin because they heard loud noises like furniture moving around, consistent with a struggle.

But no cruise line employees entered the cabin or called to determine what was happening. 

Cleaning personnel would later find Jennifer Hagel unconscious lying in the alcove.  Security personnel would then take her by wheelchair - not to the ship infirmary - but back to the cabin where the sounds of an argument and perhaps violence were heard.  The cruise line would make no effort to look for Mr. Smith, who was either lying on the metal awning over the lifeboats or fighting for his life in the water as the cruise ship sailed away.  Instead, the cruise line security personnel would put Ms. Hagel in bed, turn out the lights, and close the door.

Awning Over Life Boats - Brilliance of the SeasLater in the morning, after the Brilliance of the Seas had reached port in Turkey, 16 year old cruise passenger Emilie Rausch took a photograph of a large blood stain on the awning. 

Ms. Rausch would later tell CBS News, "when I took the picture, one of the things that made me think that this could have been blood - I saw a hand print running off the side of it."  

Young Ms. Rausch's eerie recollection was 100% accurate. 

Six months later when Ms. Hagel hired our firm and we retained Dr. Henry Lee to inspect the cruise ship for evidence, he would find a bloody hand print in the gutter of the awning over the lifeboats which George Smith had apparently grabbed before he went overboard.

 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you.  

Photo credits:

Top:  Oprah Show

Bottom:  Emilie Rausch

Cruise Ship Sinks in Volga River in Russia - Up to 100 Feared Dead

Sinking of Bulgaria Cruise Ship - Volga River - RussiaNumerous news sources are reporting that a cruise ship carrying 173 passengers and crew sank in Russia's Volga river today. 

The sinking involved the Bulgaria cruise ship, which had 140 passengers and 33 crewmembers aboard.

To date, there have been reports of two confirmed dead bodies recovered and 96 people unaccounted for after the Bulgaria sank at 1358 local time (0858 GMT) in the Tatarstan region, 500 miles east of Moscow. 

A helicopter and two rescue vessels are reportedly at the scene of the sinking.

According to the Mail Online, the Bulgaria sank near the village of Syukeevo in the Kansko-Ustinovsky district near the region's capital, Kazan. The Bulgaria belongs to a local tourism company and was on its way from the town of Bulgar to the regional capital, Kazan.

The ship was built in 1955 in Czechoslovakia.

 July 9, 2011 Update

Russian authorities initiated a criminal investigation into the river sinking, according to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation.  This Russian website identified the operator of the river cruise as  "Argo Rech Tours."  

There are conflicting accounts of the number of people missing.  The Russian website states that 169 people have been rescued, although most news accounts state that there are 80 -100 still missing. 

Bulgaria Cruise Ship - Volga River Sinking- Russia

July 10, 2011 Update:

Russian website has heart wrenching photographs of the survivors.  Updated information from Russia regarding the recovery efforts can be located here.

July 11, 2011 Update The Rianovisti newspaper in Russia reports that although the Russian Transport Ministry stated that the vessel had passed a regular "technical inspection" on June 15th and was certified for further use, investigators discovered that the ship "had a list to starboard and its engine was broken" when it left port.  It was "heavily overloaded with passengers."  There now appears to have been 196 people on the cruise ship.  Only 79 were rescued.  The video below depicts disturbing images of some of the deceased passengers.


 

Photo credits: 

Top:  Survivors of Bulgaria sinking - Rianovisti newspaper

Bottom:  AFP, Mikhail Mozzhukin 

Video credit:  The Guardian newspaper

Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later

This past week marked six years since George Allen Smith IV disappeared from Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas.

Mr. Smith’s disappearance, and the manner in which Royal Caribbean chose to handle the incident, brought much needed attention to the cruise industry.  The events which followed Mr. Smith’s death led to five Congressional hearings into disappearances and crimes on cruise ships, culminating in the passage of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act in 2010.

Our firm represented Mr. Smith’s wife, Jennifer Hagel.  She hired us to obtain answers to what George Smith - Cruise Disappearance  happened to her husband and to seek compensation for his death.

Starting on Monday, I’ll publish an article each day about the facts and circumstances surrounding the ill fated cruise.

What happened on the night in question?  What did the cruise line do when Mr. Smith was discovered missing from the cruise ship once it had reached the port of Kusadasi Turkey the following morning?  Did Royal Caribbean voluntarily provide any information to the families of Mr. Smith and his bride Jennifer Hagel for the next several months?  What role did the media play in maintaining focus on the story?  What led the families to hire maritime lawyers?  How did the cruise line respond?

I’ll address these issues.  I’ll talk about hiring Dr. Henry Lee and bringing a team of forensic experts and detectives aboard the cruise ship to try and find answers.

How did the legal cases turn out?  What is the status of the FBI investigation today?

Most importantly, has there been justice for George Smith?

 

Articles in this series:

Trouble as the Cruise Ship Sails to Kusadasi

A Frantic Call Back to Connecticut

Media Frenzy Follows Case of "Missing Honeymooner" 

Dr. Henry Lee Boards the Brilliance of the Seas 

Royal Caribbean Blocks Dr. Henry Lee's Dummy Experiment 

The International Cruise Victims Organization Is Born! 

Royal Caribbean Captain Says Its Just an Accident Involving a Bloody Nose 

Larry King Live & the "Missing Groom Mystery"

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you.

LA Times Features Case of Missing Disney Cruise Line Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam

The Los Angeles Times has an interesting although very sad article about the mystery of a missing crewmember from the Disney Wonder cruise ship.  Written by Corina Knoll, the LA Times article is entitled "Bereft Parents' Loss is as Deep as the Ocean."

Rebecca Coriam, a 24 year old from Chester, England, joined Disney Cruise Line to work with kids as a youth counselor.  On March 22nd of this year, she failed to show up for work.  As the article explains, she was last seen speaking on the telephone early in the morning and was apparently crying.  A closed circuit television camera (CCTV) recorded these images, yet Disney claims that Rebecca Coriam - Missing Disney Crewmemberthere are somehow no CCTV images of her going overboard.

Rebecca's parents, Mike and Ann Coriam, traveled to California to meet the cruise ship when it returned to port.  They met with the police officer who flew from the Bahamas which is responsible for conducting an investigation because Disney chose to register its cruise ship in that country to avoid U.S. taxes and safety regulations.

It is hard to imagine what the Coriam family was feeling when the Disney Wonder quickly unloaded several thousands of passengers and just as quickly reloaded the ship and set sail from the port in San Pedro.

What type of investigation could a single police man conduct in such a short period of time?  When I was retained by the widow of missing passenger George Smith to search for answers about what happened to him during their honeymoon cruise, we hired world renown forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee and we boarded the Royal Caribbean cruise ship with a team of ten forensic experts, photographers, videographers, and detectives.  How on earth could one cop from the Bahamas think he could accomplish anything in such short order?

The real irony here is that the Disney Cruise Line is actually incorporated as the Magical Cruise Company in England.  So we have the disappearance of a young English woman hired by a English corporation to sail on a cruise ship out of a U.S. port and yet not a single English or American police or forensics team were permitted on the cruise ship.  I was quoted in the LA Times article criticizing the token investigations by the cruise friendly flag states, saying that "the families are caught in no-man's-land between the cruise line and the foreign authorities."

There will be no answers from the one policeman in Nassau.  He will not write anything  embarrassing about a cruise line which flies the flag of the Bahamas. 

But someone working on this cruise ship knows more than they are saying.  How can a popular crew employee charged with the responsibility of the cruise guests' children on a Disney cruise ship just "disappear" with no explanation?

The LA Times article lists the Coriam family's website which was created to bring awareness to this cause.  If you know something about Rebecca's disappearance, please contact the family using the information below:

Website:    Rebecca-Coriam.com
Email:         help@rebecca-coriam.com
Coriam Family:         011 44 7747359968
Media Spokesman:     011 44 7932815970

Rebecca Coriam - Disappearance - Disney Cruise Lines

Photo credit:  Coriam family via Los Angeles Times. 

Cruise Passenger Disappears on Jet Ski In Nassau, Bahamas

The Nassau Guardian reports that a cruise ship passenger went missing sometime Saturday after he left a Paradise Island beach on a rented jet ski and did not return.  The newspaper reports that the U.S. Embassy has been notified of the passenger's disappearance, and that two friends who accompanied the passenger on the cruise left with the ship.

The Bahamas Tribune also reports on the story and states that the missing passenger is a 32 year old man from West Chester, Ohio, was last seen on the jet ski which he rented on Cabbage Beach at around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Missing Cruise Passenger - Nassau Bahamas - Jet SkiPolice informed the Tribune that the passenger arrived in Nassau on the Carnival Imagination cruise ship at around 10:45 a.m. on Saturday, and was reported missing at 10.30pm.

His wife, identified as Cincinnati resident Sonia Wells, called and reported her husband missing.

Officers from various police, airforce and marine agencies reportedly searched the area where the passenger disappeared without success. 

The U.S. Department of State has the following warning about water sports rentals in the Bahamas:

"The water sports and scooter rental industries in The Bahamas are not carefully regulated.  Every year people are killed or injured due to improper, careless, or reckless operation of scooters, jet-skis, and personal watercraft or scuba/snorkeling equipment.  Visitors should rent equipment only from reputable operators, and should insist on sufficient training before using the equipment. There have been reports that some operators do not actually provide insurance coverage even when the renter opted (and paid) for insurance coverage.  Visitors should insist on seeing proof that operators have sufficient medical and liability insurance."

Nathan You can read about other jet ski accidents in the Bahamas here

"Jet Ski Operators Defend Industry After Death" explains some of the problems with renting jet skis in the Bahamas.

June 7, 2011 Update:  Newspapers and television stations in Ohio are reporting that the missing passenger is Nathan ("Nate") Wells, from West Chester Ohio, married with one daughter.  The jet ski was located in the waters off of Nassau.  He had cruised to Nassau with two friends.  In additionto the Bahamian authorities, the U.S. Coast Guard is searching for him. 

WLWT television in Cincinnati has a video interview with friends and family about Mr. Wells.  

Another Celebrity Crewmember Goes Overboard

Multiple new sources in the U.K. are reporting that a crewmember from the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship went overboard last night and is presumed dead.

Sky News reports that, according to the cruise line, a Filipino crewmember was captured on closed circuit television (CCTV) climbing over a railing and jumping from the cruise ship.  The luxury cruise ship, operated by Celebrity Cruises here in Miami, was eight miles north of Cherbourg, France, heading to Southampton when the incident happened.  The cruise ship alerted the French Coast Guard Celebrity Eclipse Cruise Ship Overboard - Missing Crewmemberand turned the vessel around in an attempt to rescue the crewmember.

The French Coast Guard stated "We deployed our resources to find him but it was to no avail and we can now presume that he is dead . . . The water was very cold and there is no hope for him."

We last reported on a Celebrity crew overboard just two months ago - Crew Member Goes Overboard from Celebrity Constellation Cruise Ship.

Unfortunately, overboards from cruise ships in the Royal Caribbean / Celebrity Cruises fleet appear to be a regular occurrence.  In March, we wrote an article about another crew member disappearing - Crew Member Missing from the Grandeur of the Seas - Why Are So Many People Disappearing From Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships?

Of course, missing crew members are not limited to Royal Caribbean cruise ships - Carnival Cruise Employee Goes Overboard - Does the U.S. Media Care When Foreign Crew Members Disappear at Sea?

There is no official database of passengers and crew who go overboard from cruise ships. The cruise lines say that this is something that they just don't track.  Perhaps they should start studying the problem.  The best source for tracking cruise overboards is cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website which lists 160 overboards in the past ten years.

In this latest case, the news sources are indicating that the crew member was a Filipino, which probably means that he was a waiter.  The Filipinos on cruise ships work incredibly long hours and are away from their families for long periods of time.  At this point, it is unknown what led him to jump if this is what happened.

Does anyone have information about what happened?  Please leave a comment below.   

 

Photo credit:  Travel Weekly Blog  

Update on Missing Disney Crewmember Rebecca Coriam

Local ABC affifilaite channel 7 in Los Angeles has this update on the disappearance of Rebecca Coriam, a youth counselor employed on the Disney Wonder cruise ship:

 

 

If you have information about Rebecca, please contact her family:

Website:    Rebecca-Coriam.com
Email:         help@rebecca-coriam.com
Coriam Family:         07747359968
Media Spokesman:     07932815970

You read other articles about Rebecca's disappearance, click here.
 

Passenger Missing From Celebrity's Millennium Cruise Ship

Millenium Missing Passenger - OverboardNews sources are reporting that a 65 year old passenger is missing from a cruise ship which ported in San Diego on Tuesday. 

The unidentified passenger was aboard the Celebrity Millennium cruise ship which was was on a 15-day cruise.

The cruise line did not realize that the passenger was missing until she did not show appear for a customs check when the cruise ship docked in San Diego.  The ship had previously stopped in  Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  The Millennium left Cabo on Sunday at about 3 p.m.  According to the AP, the missing woman was apparently last seen on board the cruise ship about 10 p.m. Monday.

The passenger apparently went overboard somewhere between Cabo San Lucas and San Diego.  A C-130 aircraft, helicopter and Coast Guard vessel searched an area that spans 175 miles between the cities.

We have discussed many overboards on the Royal Caribbean and Celebrity fleet of cruise ships.  Click on "disappearances" (to the left) to read about other disappearances of cruise ship passengers.  As we have reported before, there have been over 150 overboards from cruise ships in the past decade.

There is no acceptable excuse why a passenger or crew member should ever simply "disappear" during a cruise.  Such an incident exposes deficient security and closed circuit television (CCTV) systems on the cruise ship.

 May 4th Update:  The cruise line subsequently went back and reviewed the CCTV images and determined that the woman climbed over the ship's railing and let go about 9:15 p.m. Monday.

Mystery Continues Over Missing U.K. Cruise Passenger and Crewmember

In the past two months, two citizens from the United Kingdom have disappeared during cruises.  Disney crewmember Rebecca Coriam went missing from Disney's Wonder in March while the cruise ship was sailing from California to Mexico.  This month, U.K. passenger John Halford vanished from the Spirit cruise ship operated by Thomson Cruise Lines while the ship was approaching Egypt. 

Disappearances from cruise ships are an issue the cruise lines hate to talk about.  In an age where the shipping industry faces the risk of terrorism and pirates and there is a need to focus close attention on the rails of cruise ships to protect the passengers and crew, it is inexplicable that anyone can simply vanish into thin air during a cruise.  The fact that it happens raises two possibilities in my opinion:  The cruise ships have insufficient security personnel and an absence Rebecca Corian - Missing - Disney Wonder Cruise Ship of an effective closed circuit television (CCTV) apparatus to monitor who enter or exit (voluntarily or involuntarily) the ships.  Or, the cruise ships have adequate CCTV and security systems in place, but they are simply not being honest with the families about what happened to their loved ones.

In both cases, the families have gone public to state that their missing family members were happy and enjoying life.  In Rebecca Coriam's situation, the disappearance involved a popular and cheerful young woman, undoubtedly adored by her family and well liked by her friends, who enjoyed her job.  Our web site has received at least one comment from a Disney passenger who raved about Rebecca's wonderful skills at interacting with and entertaining the passenger's daughter.  

Mr. Halford's family describe their missing father in similar terms.  According to the Milton Keyes Citizen newspaper, Ruth Halford described her husband, John, like this: "He was happy, certainly not depressed, enjoying his cruise and meeting people but looking forward to getting home again to be with me and the children . . . "

The last known publicly disclosed facts about each disappearance leave room for speculation.  CCTV showed Rebecca speaking on the telephone in a public area the night before she went missing.  A search was not initiated until she did not appear for work until the next morning at 9:00 a.m.  Certainly there must be additional CCTV images if she went overboard from one of the decks.  Crew members obviously do not have private balconies.  Where is the CCTV of what happened?  Why didn't Rebecca's cabinmate or friends notice her missing earlier?

The last known facts about Mr. Halford indicate that he was last seen on board the cruise ship at 11:45 p.m. the night before he disappeared, drinking cocktails in the bar when the ship was approaching its final port, according to the Milton Keyes newspaper.  But when the ship reached port and the passengers were disembarking at 7:00 a.m., there was no trace of him. 

John Halford - Missing - Thompson Spirit Cruise Ship Did he end his own life?  That seems far fetched.  He was looking forward to his silver wedding anniversary in June and dearly loved his three children by all accounts.

The fact that there are two families grieving about these "mysteries" reflects poorly on the cruise industry.  It is inexcusable that no CCTV tape exists to reveal what happened, if in fact no CCTV tape exists. 

Ruth Halford tells her local newspaper:  “It’s terrible for the children. We are trying to cope together and not to give up hope but it is so difficult.”

“If anyone has seen him or knows what happened that night it would be so helpful. Not knowing is terrible and it is getting worse and worse by the day.”

If foul play was involved in either situation, the fact that a victim can "disappear" without a trace on a cruise raises profound questions about the issue of shipboard crime and whether the concept of "cruise ship justice" is at best an illusion.  If the disappearances involved accidents or intentional decisions to go overboard, the families deserve to know this and try and understand why this happened. 

They should not live a lifetime of doubt and speculation.  They are entitled to some sense of closure, if that is possible.

 

To contact the Coriam family, go to the family's website: Rebecca-Coriam.com

To read about other articles about Ms. Coriam, click here.

To contact the police in Mr. Halford's case, please call 845 8 505 (country code 41).

To read other cases about Mr. Halford, click here.

Passenger Disappears from Cruise Ship in Red Sea

A local newspaper in the U.K. is reporting that a 63 year old passenger is missing from a cruise ship in the Red Sea. 

The MK News in Milton Keyes is reporting this morning that John Halford, age 63, from Greenleys in Milton Keynes, left the airport in Luton on Thursday March 31st for a cruise aboard the Thomson Cruise Line.  The cruise finished in Sharm al-Shaykh in Egypt on Thursday April 7th, when he was found to not be on board. 

John Halford - Missing - Thompson Cruises - EgyptSharm al-Shaykh is a city situated on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, on the coastal strip along the Red Sea.

The newspaper reports that it is believed that Mr. Halford went missing sometime between 11.45 p.m. on Wednesday April 6th and 7.30 a.m. on Thursday April 7th.

People who were on the cruise, or know where he might be, are asked to contact Thames Valley Police via the 24-hour Police Enquiry Centre 0845 8 505 505. 

There have been over 150 passengers and crew members who have gone missing from cruise ships in the last decade. 

The cruise industry trade organization, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), states that it does not keep statistics of people missing from the 25 cruise lines which are members of CLIA.  The most definitive source of cruise disappearances is found in cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website.   

 

Photo credit:  MK News 

BBC Radio Interviews Cruise Law's Jim Walker Regarding Disappearance of Disney Crew Member Rebecca Coriam

This afternoon BBC Radio (Radio Merseyside) interviewed maritime lawyer Jim Walker in Miami regarding the disappearance of Disney youth activities worker Rebecca Coriam from the Disney Wonder cruise ship.

Rebecca was reported missing when she failed to report to work aboard the cruise ship on March 22, 2011.  You can listen to the BBC Radio interview here.  It runs just five minutes or so.    

Disney Cruise Line  - Rebecca Coriam - MissingIt has been almost a month and Rebecca's family continue to seek answers about her disappearance.

Ironically, Disney Cruise incorporated its cruise line as the Magical Cruise Company in the U.K. (for tax purposes) where Rebecca's family resides.  Yet, there are no investigators from the U.K. invested with jurisdiction for investigating her disappearance.  Instead, the "investigation" is being officially conducted by a policeman from the Bahamas because Disney flagged its cruise ship in that country (again primarily for tax purposes).   

How is it that the Scotland Yard or someother competent agency are not involved in investigating the disappearance of a U.K. employee from a cruise ship operated by a company incorporated in the U.K.? 

Ms. Coriam's family created a website which contains contact information.  The site is Rebecca-Coriam.com.  If you have information about Rebecca, please click on the website and e-mail the family.     

You can read our other articles on this case here.  

 

Photo credit:  KTLA.com

Family of Missing Disney Crew Member Rebecca Coriam Create Website

The parents of missing Disney Cruises youth counselor, Rebecca Coriam, recently launched a website Rebecca-Coriam.com seeking answers to the disappearance of their daughter from Disney's Wonder cruise ship.  The family's website states:

"Rebecca was last seen just before dawn on the 22nd March 2011, where she worked on the Disney Wonder Cruise liner as a youth activities worker.

Rebecca Coriam - Missing Disney Cruises - Youth Activities Counselor The alarm was raised when she failed to show for duty at 09.00hrs. The crew searched the ship but could not find her; Rebecca has since been listed 'Missing at sea.'

Rebecca’s parent’s Mike and Ann Coriam with Rebecca’s Aunt flew to LA on Friday 25th March 2011 to meet with the Disney Wonder when it arrived in port. They returned home on Monday 28th March 2011 with no answers and no clue to what has happened to their daughter and niece.

Father Paul of St Werburghs, of Chester has contacted the Mexican Catholic Churches along the Pacific coastline asking them to aid the coastline search for Rebecca.

The Investigation is still under way; the family and authorities are doing all they can to find Rebecca."

The family recently told their local newspaper, the Chester Chronicle, that "they are still being left in the dark over their daughter’s disappearance." 

Were you a crew member or passenger on the Wonder when Rebecca went missing?

If you have information about Rebecca, please contact the family:

Email:  help@rebecca-coriam.com
Coriam Family:  07747359968
Media Spokesman:  07932815970

You can read our articles about this case here.

After Quick Investigation, Bahamian Police Proclaim "No Foul Play" in Disappearance of Disney Crew Member

Over the past years, we have been involved in a number of cases where cruise passengers and crew members have been victims of crimes on cruise ships heading to the Bahamas or ashore in downtown Nassau.  We have witnessed the local police bungle the cases miserably and quickly close their files. 

The Bahamian police cannot solve crimes against cruise passengers and employees which happen across the street from their police station.  So the notion of the Bahamian police solving the disappearance of a young woman from England lost in the Pacific ocean off of the coast of Mexico is a rather ludicrous proposition.

This afternoon, the Bahamian police announced in the case of missing Disney crew member Rebecca Coriam  ". . . there is no evidence to suggest foul play." 

A number of news sources, including the BBC, are quoting Superintendent Paul Rolle of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, saying today:  "With respect to the investigation into the disappearance of Miss Rebecca Coriam from the Disney Wonder cruise ship, the Royal Bahamas Police have concluded its investigation on board the vessel.  "At the present time there is no evidence to suggest foul play. The case remains open and under active investigation.''

What on earth does this mean?  No evidence of foul play?  Does this mean that there is evidence of something other than foul play?  Does it mean that the police think that Ms. Coriam inadvertently or intentionally went overboard?   Or does it mean simply that the police in the Bahamas don't  have any idea what happened and instead of admitting that, they are doing Disney a favor by trying to convince the public to keep sailing on cruise ships flagged in the Bahamas?  

Remember this is not an announcement from the Bahamian Maritime Authority (BMA) which is suppose to investigate casualties on cruise ships which are registered in the Bahamas to avoid taxes.  This is the Royal Bahamas Police who flew from the Bahamas to meet the ship on Sunday in Los Angeles, quickly conducted some type of "investigation" on the ship on Sunday (five days after the disappearance), let the ship return on its regularly scheduled  itinerary, and then quickly flew back to Nassau yesterday for a press statement today.  

There were over 1,700 passengers on the Disney Wonder and many hundreds of crew members.  The ship is over three football fields long and over a dozen decks high.  There are hours of CCTV Marching Military Band Greet Bahamian Flagged Cruise Shipfootage to sit and review, electronic telephone and link-lock data to analyze, polygraphs to administer, and detective work to perform.  It is not possible to interview witnesses and inspect the premises with a competent forensic team in such short order.

In our prior articles about this disappearance, we discussed the limitations of the "authorities" which are suppose to investigate cruise disappearances and the type of investigation that the family needs to conduct on its own initiative. 

The Bahamas, whether it be the BMA or the local police, is not interested in and otherwise incapable of conducting an aggressive, competent, fair and impartial investigation into the affairs of the cruise ships which pay to incorporate in that country.  The conflict of interest is glaring and repugnant.

Making a press statement of "no foul play" at this early date is like punting on first down in order to avoid embarrassing the other team. 

The Royal Bahamas Police's services are advertised on its website, including ". . .  temporary liquor licenses, firearm licensing, vendors permits, online character certificates, and barricade rental."   "Conducting international investigations" does not seem to be a service it provides.  

So what are the real skills of the Bahamas when it comes to the cruise industry?  Entertainment.  Beaches.  The straw market in Nassau.  And its wonderful military bands, which march along side the Miami-based but Bahamian-flagged cruise ships when they port in Nassau. 

In fact, the Bahamas sends 10 times more military musicians to greet its cruise ship friends at port than it sent police to investigate Ms. Coriam's disappearance.          

Parents of Missing Disney Crew Member Return to England with Daughter's Belongings, But No Answers

Michael and Ann Coriam returned to the U.K. with their younger daughter's belongings but no answers regarding the circumstances surrounding her disappearance.  Sky News released a video today of the Coriam family's interview with the media in Los Angeles before their return home. 

 

 

Credit:  Sky News via The Sun Newspaper  

Read our other stories about this case:

What Happened to Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on Disney's Wonder Cruise Ship? 

Who Investigates Disappearances on Cruise Ships? 

Parents of Missing Disney Cruise Line Youth Counselor Arrive in Los Angeles Seeking Answers 

Mystery Regarding Missing Crew Member Remains as Disney Wonder Cruise Ship Returns to Sea

Mystery Regarding Missing Crew Member Remains as Disney Wonder Cruise Ship Returns to Sea

A number of different news stations are reporting that the Coriam family remains without an explanation regarding the circumstances surrounding the apparent overboard disappearance of their daughter, Rebecca, from Disney's Wonder cruise ship last week.

The Wonder returned to port in California yesterday amidst reports that the Coriam family had flown to Los Angeles to meet the cruise ship.  Newspapers are reporting that the "Royal Bahamas Police Force" had also flown to the U.S. to meet the ship as well.  This is an unusual development because the Bahamian police are a separate entity from the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) which is charged with the investigation because Disney chose to flag its vessel in the Bahamas for tax purposes.  We have been involved in cases where the Bahamian police will be involved in a criminal investigation when the cruise ship sails into the port of Nassau after a crime occurs on the ship and Nassau is the next port.  We are not aware of police officers from the Bahamas traveling to an United States port to investigate in conjunction with investigators from the BMA.

The BMA and the cruise line are issuing the usual press statements.  The BMA states that "Disney is fully cooperating," and Disney states that "we've been in close contact with the Coriam family, and we're assisting them in any way we can."  At the same time, the Coriam family states that Disney is not providing an explanation regarding what happened to their daughter.

The Wonder left the port in L.A. in the the early evening yesterday and has returned to its routine cruise schedule.  FOX News published an article "Mystery Surrounds Disappearance of 24-Year-Old Disney Cruise Line Employee" which includes a video (below) of several passengers speculating about what happened.  

It must be maddening for the family to see people talking about such circumstances, without knowing their identity and an opportunity to question the passengers and crew members directly.  I have always thought that passengers should be given contact information for the family and/or an opportunity to meet with the family members at the port to discuss what they observed before they scatter across the U.S. after the cruise.  At a minimum, the family should be provided with a complete list of the passengers and contact information so that they have an opportunity to conduct their own investigation.  In many cases we have been involved in the witnesses with the most relevant information are not interviewed by either the cruise line or law enforcement following a disappearance or shipboard crime.  

 

 

Video credit:  FOX News

Read our other stories about this case:

What Happened to Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on Disney's Wonder Cruise Ship? 

Who Investigates Disappearances on Cruise Ships? 

Parents of Missing Disney Cruise Line Youth Counselor Arrive in Los Angeles Seeking Answers

Parents of Missing Disney Cruise Line Youth Counselor Arrive in Los Angeles Seeking Answers

The parents and aunt of missing Disney Cruise Line employee Rebecca Coriam arrived in Los Angeles today from the U.K. seeking information about the young woman's unexplained disappearance from the Wonder cruise ship.  The video of Mr. and Ms. Coriam from ABC-7 Los Angeles is below.

We have written a number of articles about this situation:

What Happened to Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on Disney's Wonder Cruise Ship?

Who Investigates Disappearances on Cruise Ships?

Did a Crew Member Go Overboard from the Disney Wonder Cruise Ship?

 

 

The local CBS station in Los Angeles is reporting that: 

"Her family said her roommate told them Coriam had called a friend, but Disney representatives were not releasing information regarding the call.  'They say they know what the conversation was but they’re not telling us,' Coriam’s aunt, Trish Davies, told ABC7. They say they’ve got to wait for the investigation.” 

What Happened to Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on Disney's Wonder Cruise Ship?

The press in the U.S. and in the U.K. are continuing to cover the story of the disappearance of a Disney Cruise Line youth counselor who apparently went overboard from the Wonder last Tuesday during a 7 day "Mexican Riviera" cruise.  BBC News reports that the parents of Rebecca Coriam flew from the U.K. to be present when the cruise ship returns to Los Angeles.    

We reported on the disappearance on Thursday and yesterday we published our perspective on who investigates disappearances from cruise ships

In our article yesterday, we were very critical of the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) for being either disinterested in passenger and crew member deaths or being beholden to the cruise line's interests.   In 2005, we were involved in one of the highest profile cruise ship disappearances when U.S. passenger George Smith disappeared during his honeymoon with his wife while aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas.  We represented Mr. Smith's wife. 

The BMA was suppose to be involved in the investigation because like the Wonder, the Brilliance is flagged in the Bahamas.  However, the BMA did nothing as far as we could tell.  It appeared to be satisfied with receiving the casualty report from the cruise line speculating that Mr. Smith was intoxicated and may have fallen over the railing, a quick and self-serving conclusion which became questionable once we began our investigation and retained the renowned forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee to assist us.  To our knowledge, the BMA did not even prepare a report. 

In this case, it is reported that the BMA sent investigators to Cabo San Lucas yesterday.  Tomorrow the cruise ship will return to Los Angeles where Ms. Coriam's parents will be waiting.

As we explained yesterday, trusting that the BMA will perform an energetic, fair and impartial investigation, or relying on the transparency and honesty of a foreign flagged cruise line, are naive and inherently risky propositions.  Any family seeking answers under these circumstances should consider retaining their own experienced investigators like Ken Carver, the President of the International Cruise Victims, did following the mysterious disappearance of his daughter during an Alaskan cruise.  

There are a number of issues which the cruise line has already focused on.  it is prudent that certain information be reviewed as soon as possible by someone other than the cruise line or the BMA.  

CCTV:  There should be closed circuit television images of the crew member indicating when she was last seen on the ship.  When a crew member goes overboard, there should be images of the crew member on a deck and walking around the ship.  There should be a review of the location of the CCTV cameras, an inspection of the CCTV / security office and equipment, a review of the diagrams for all CCTV cameras, and a walk-around of the cruise ship from the crew member's cabin, through all connecting hallways, stairs, and elevators, to the upper decks.   

Locklink reports / C-Pass cards / Telephone print-outs:  All crew members have their "C-Pass" cards swiped by the security guards when they board and exit the cruise ship.  This will establish when the crew member last embarked/disembarked.  Crew members use electronic cards to enter and exit their cabins.  There is a print out (often called lock-link reports) for each cabin, indicating when the doors are opened and who opened the door.  Cruise lines can also print out details of when the cabin telephones were used, and who the calls were made to and from on the ship.  A time line can be created in correlating the information available from the CCTV, C-Pass, lock-link and telephone print-outs.  

Computer / iPhone / Backberry / Android:  The crew members computer and hand-held devices contain information when they were last used and when emails, test messages, skype and social media were used.    

Cabin mate / co-employees / supervisors / employment records:  Cruise lines quickly take statements from the missing crew member's cabin mates, friends, co-workers, and supervisors for relevant information.  They review the missing employee's employment records and electronic data.  A security officer will take statements and prepare reports.

As we previously explained, although the cruise line's public relations department will state they are cooperating with all authorities, the truth of the matter is that they subsequently assert that the results of their own internal investigations are "legally privileged"  and are not to be shared with the missing crew member's family.  A request for access to the above described information and access to the ship for an inspection and to co-employees for independent questioning should be made promptly. 

If the cruise line resists these reasonable requests, the issue arises whether there is a conflict of interest between the missing crew member's employer and the surviving family members.

Who Investigates Disappearances on Cruise Ships?

The disappearance of a youth counselor from the Disney Wonder cruise ship this week raises the issue of who is responsible for conducting investigations when crew members disappear at sea.

Disney released the following statement to us yesterday:

"The Mexican Navy has been conducting searches since Tuesday, and we immediately contacted the FBI and the Bahamian Maritime Authority, which is leading the investigation on this matter.  We have also conducted a thorough and comprehensive inspection of the ship and spoken with the crew member’s colleagues to gather as much information as possible.”   Disney also told us that Mexican Navy - Cruise Overboards - Crew Passenger Disappearancesthe cruise line notified the U.S. Coast Guard. 

But what is the reality of who does what in cases like this?  What is the true involvement of the Mexican government, the U.S. Coast Guard, the FBI, the Bahamas Maritime Authority, and the cruise line in these type of circumstances? 

The Mexican Navy:  Because the incident appears to have occurred off of the coast of Mexico, the Mexican Navy is involved.  Now, some people will say that the "Mexican Navy" conjures up an image of "three men in a row boat."  Such criticism, although disrespectful, may accurately characterize the small scale of the Mexican maritime operations.  When you think of dramatic search and rescue operations, the "Mexican Navy" does not come to mind.  Rather, one would hope that the U.S. Coast Guard, with its quick deployment of cutters, jets and helicopters, is involved.  

Mexico is a country of limited resources.  Its is questionable what motivation Mexico has to expend money and resources searching for a citizen of another country who went overboard from a ship registered registered in the Bahamas.  Once its navy ends its search (which it has probably already done), the country of Mexico will have no further involvement.  

The U.S. Coast Guard:  CNN's article "Disney Cruise Employee Missing Off Mexico" indicates that while the Mexican navy is leading the search, it asked for the U.S. Coast Guard's help early in the effort.  The Coast Guard provided long-range search aircraft but was not now actively involved in the search as of yesterday.  The U.S. Coast Guard is an impressive and highly experienced group of men and women, but there is only so much it can do when cruise overboards occur around the FBI - Cruise Disappearances - Passenger Crew Overboardsworld.

The FBI:  CNN's article contains a revealing quote from a spokesperson from the FBI. "The FBI is not involved because it does not have jurisdiction, as the ship was off the coast of Mexico flying under a foreign flag," said spokeswoman Laura Eimiller of the agency's Los Angeles office. 

This is a typical comment from the Los Angeles office of the FBI which, unlike the U.S. Coast Guard, is filled with bureaucrats with little motivation to leave their desks and head over to the port when the cruise ship returns to L.A.  The fact of the matter is that the FBI has special maritime jurisdiction to investigate incidents which occur on U.S. based cruise ships around the world, especially when a U.S. citizen is involved, even though the ships fly flags of convenience.

The statement of the FBI spokesperson that the FBI has no jurisdiction because the ship was in Mexican waters is preposterous.  Last month, the FBI investigated the murder of a Polish crew member from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship calling on Cozumel which was allegedly committed by a Mexican citizen, even thought the victim was employed on a foreign flagged ship and the crime occurred ashore in Mexico.

The Bahamas Maritime Authority:  Under the Bahamas Merchant Shipping Act 1976, the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) is supposedly responsible for investigating incidents involving Bahamas-registered ships worldwide.  The BMA has been criticized for being being beholden to large shipping companies like Disney and Royal Caribbean which register their cruise ships there to escape U.S. safety rules and regulations and U.S. taxes.  

Bahamas Maritime Authority - Cruise DisappearancesThe BMA has a deplorable record responding to serious injuries, deaths or crimes involving passengers passengers and crew members on cruise ships flying the Bahamian flag.  Often no real investigation is performed.  Often the "investigation" will consist of a representative or two from the BMA appearing at the next port of call, sometimes working with the cruise line's defense lawyers or risk management team.  No BMA report concluding malfeasance of the cruise line in a passenger or crew death will ever see the light of day.

If foul play is involved, the BMA will do nothing.  As the BMA concedes on its website, "in fact, reports and documents may not be used as evidence in the event of any subsequent criminal proceedings. If a criminal investigation proves necessary, the entire incident should be investigated by a body independent of the original investigating authority."

So if foul play is involved (and there is no indication of that one way or the other), then who will be involved?  The FBI has already declined to get involved.  No police detectives from Nassau will fly to California to investigate.  No police or sheriff agencies in California (where the vessel is ported) will become involved.  No police agency from Florida (where the cruise line is located) or the United Kingdom (where the cruise line is incorporated) will investigate a disappearance at sea involving a cruise ship sailing between California and Mexico. 

The Cruise Line:  The Wonder cruise ship is operated by the Magical Cruise Company, Limited, d/b/a Disney Cruise Line, which is incorporated in the United Kingdom for tax purposes.  Although Disney is saying that it is speaking with its crew member’s colleagues "to gather as much information as possible," these statements and reports will never become public knowledge and will usually be kept away from the crew member's family.  Cruises line have exclusive control of the scene of the incident, witnesses, and evidence such as CCTV tapes.  Cruise lines consider their own Disney Cruise Wonder - Passenger Crew Disappearancesinvestigation to be privileged "work product," conducted for the purpose of defending them from potential law suits.  Disney usually hires some of the top maritime defense firms here in Miami to defend their legal interests. 

The Crew Member's Country: An issue remains of the nationality of the crew member.  Most youth counselors on cruise ships are American, Canadian, or English.  If you are from the U.S. and it was your child who went overboard, who would you want investigating the disappearance?  The FBI or the Bahamas Maritime Authority?   If a Canadian or English citizen is involved, no one from these countries will be actively involved with an investigation. 

The Bottom Line:  Disappearances at sea like this fall into "no man's land."   The FBI takes the "not my problem" approach.  The flag state's investigation will end up in a file cabinet in an old building in Nassau.  Disney's investigation files will never leave the cruise line's risk management and legal departments.  

According to cruise expert Ross Klein's website, 157 people have gone overboard from cruise ships in the last decade.   Many appear to be due to intoxication, negligence, suicide, and sometimes foul play, but many remain unsolved mysteries.  Often there is a delay in reporting the Rebecca Coriam - Disney Crew Member - Chester England disappearances to the authorities and the crew member's family.  Uncertainly, confusion and a lack of closure are the usual outcomes.   Certainly there must be a better way to investigate disappearances from cruise ships than this.  The families of loved ones lost at sea deserve better.    

 

March 25th Update:  BBC News identifies the crew member as Rebecca Coriam of Chester England.  The BBC article states that England's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has been "in touch with the relevant organisations and authorities" and identifies the Bahamas Maritime Authority and Interpol.  

Photo credit:     BBC News

Did a Crew Member Go Overboard from the Disney Wonder Cruise Ship?

In the past day our office has received numerous requests for information about a woman who apparently went overboard from the Disney Wonder cruise ship two days ago.

There are no reports of this alleged incident in the mainstream press.  This does not necessarily mean anything because the last three cruise line overboard were either not reported in the press at all or the stories were mentioned only in non-U.S. newspapers.

Disney Wonder Cruise Ship OverboardCruise expert Ross Klein's website contains a short reference to the incident, stating: "From a crew member (unconfirmed):  Two days ago one of the youth activities counselors apparently jumped over board.  It was at 3 am.  They are still searching the ship without any news about her."  

Professor Klein reports that there have been 157 cruise ship overboards in the last decade.

There have been five other cruise ship overboards this year, involving crew members from Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, Celebrity Cruise's Constellation, Carnival's Miracle, and Costa's Atlantica, as well as a passenger from Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas.

Neither the cruise industry nor the U.S. maintain a list of cruise overboards.  

Disney responded to our request for information indicating that the cruise line reported the incident to the Mexican Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard, the F.B.I., and the Bahamas Maritime Authority.   Disney sent us the folowing statement: 

“Given the circumstances we are very concerned about this situation and are doing everything possible to assist with the search effort and investigation. The Mexican Navy has been conducting searches since Tuesday, and we immediately contacted the FBI and the Bahamian Maritime Authority, which is leading the investigation on this matter. We have also conducted a thorough and comprehensive inspection of the ship and spoken with the crew member’s colleagues to gather as much information as possible.”   

Consider reading:  Who Investigates Disappearances on Cruise Ships?

Do you have information about this latest overboard?  Please leave a comment below. 

 

March 24th Update:  The crew member apparently disappeared off of the coast of Mexico.  The ship is sailing to Cabo San Lucas today.  Here is a video from ABC-7 News (Los Angeles):

  

 

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

Officials are searching for a female Disney Wonder cruise ship crew member who has been missing since Tuesday.

We have also conducted a thorough and comprehensive inspection of the ship and spoken with the crew member's colleagues to gather as much information as possible," a Disney Cruise Lines statement indicated.

The Disney Wonder, which sailed out from the Port of Los Angeles, has been on a seven-night cruise to the Mexican Riviera.

Disney Cruise Lines spokeswoman Rena Langley said the Mexican Navy is conducting the search. The U.S. Coast Guard and the FBI also is assisting. The Bahamian Maritime Authority is investigating the incident.

Langley said the crew member, who has been with the cruise line since 2010, never returned for her scheduled shift. She did not identify the missing woman. It's unclear if she fell overboard, but Langley said it's "certainly a possibility."

"Given the circumstances, we are very concerned about this situation and are doing everything possible to assist with the search effort and investigation," Disney officials said.

March 25 Update:  BBC News identified the crew member as Ms. Rebecca Coriam, age 24, from Chester, England.

Crew Member Goes Overboard from Celebrity Constellation Cruise Ship

Celebrity Cruises Cruise Ship - Crew Member Overboard A reader of Cruise Law News informs us that a crew member from a Celebrity Cruises ship disappeared at sea. 

Indian crew member Anthony Rodrigues went overboard on March 10, 2011 from the Celebrity Constellation.  Mr. Rodrigues was a 19 year employee of the cruise line.  His family members in Mumbai were not notified for two days and were not given an explanation for him going overboard.

Unfortunately, overboards from cruise ships in the Royal Caribbean / Celebrity Cruises fleet appear to be a regular occurrence.  Two weeks ago, we wrote an article about another crew member from India disappearing - Crew Member Missing from the Grandeur of the Seas - Why Are So Many People Disappearing From Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships?

Of course, missing crew members are not limited to Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  Yesterday, we commented on a Carnival crew member who went overboard - Carnival Cruise Employee Goes Overboard - Does the U.S. Media Care When Foreign Crew Members Disappear at Sea?

There is no official database of passengers and crew who go overboard from cruise ships. The cruise lines say that this is something that they just don't track.  Perhaps they should start studying the problem.  The best source for tracking cruise overboards is cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website which lists 155 overboards in the past ten years.  

If you have information about this incident, please leave a comment below.

 

Photo credit:    dsparku

Carnival Cruise Employee Goes Overboard - Does the U.S. Media Care When Foreign Crew Members Disappear at Sea?

Carnival Cruise Ship Miracle - Missing Crew MemberA reader of Cruise Law News alerted us that the Carnival Miracle lost a crew member overboard late in the night on March 14th or in the early hours of March 15th.  The cruise ship was sailing between Curacao and Aruba.

A newspaper in Curacao reports that the missing crew member was a 47 year old man from the Philippines.

The incident is listed on cruise expert Canadian Professor Ross Klein's website which lists 155 crew member and passenger overboards from cruise ships in the last year. 

There have been a large number of overboards recently, with some occurring in this area of the southern Caribbean.  Many suspect that they are related to the increasing drug smuggling on cruise ships. 

As with this case, the U.S. media rarely publishes stories about missing crew members - even though most cruise lines are based here in Miami.  One of the most disturbing overboard cases we have seen involved Princess crew member Angelo Faliva, who disappeared as the cruise ship sailed between Aruba and Cartagena, Colombia.  Mr. Faliva was from Italy and the case received lots of attention in Italy, but virtually no coverage in the U.S.     

If you have information about this incident, please leave a comment below.

Another Passenger Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

A newspaper in Belize is reporting that a 21 year old cruise passenger went overboard from Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas cruise ship and disappeared today. 

7 News Belize reports that the passenger went overboard from the 12th deck of the cruise ship.  The passenger's family noticed that he was missing around 9:00 a.m. this morning.  When the young man could not be located on the ship, the crew reviewed video from the security cameras that showed him going overboard from the twelfth deck of the ship at 3:25 am.  The article indicates that is is unclear whether the passenger jumped or fell. 

Liberty of the Seas - Royal Caribbean - Cruise Overboard This is a story which has not been reported in the mainstream press, yet.  It is highly unlikely that the young man jumped as speculated by the media in Belize.  Was he over-served alcohol, which would reflect negligence by the cruise line?  Was there evidence of foul play, again not likely but to be considered.  

A pro-cruise website "Cruise News Daily" has a few sentences on the incident which seems to be based on the Belize newspaper.  But the website claims that "a review of the ship's security cameras found footage of the man climbing over the railing on Deck 12, and then letting go."  There is no reference to a source for this allegation.     

Does someone on the cruise have information regarding this sad story?    

January 7, 2011 Update:

A radio station in Belize has the following information regarding this incident:

"Search efforts for a missing cruise ship passenger were halted today as the Port Authority of Belize and National Coast Guard Service were given directives to discontinue their efforts. 53-year-old Puerto Rican Margarita Sandini Tello reported that her son 21-year-old Jose Miguel Pietri Tello was missing off the cruise ship, Liberty of the Seas. Surveillance cameras showed the young man jumping or falling off the twelfth deck of the ship shortly after three thirty on Wednesday morning. The family of the twenty one year old reported to cruise personnel that they noticed that he was missing around 9:00 on Wednesday morning and when he could not be located on the ship, the crew reviewed video from the security cameras. The Belize Port Authority along with the National Coast Guard were called in to search for the body as the incident occurred in Belize waters  . . . " 

A newspaper in Belize contains a quote from the local police that  “video footage was obtained where it was observed that Jose [Jose Miguel Pietri Tello, 21, of Puerto Rico] jumped off the Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship at 3:38 a.m.”    

January 9, 2011 Update:

Passengers from the cruise ships are indicating that the young man may have been over-served alcohol which resulted in him becoming disoriented and falling from the cruise ship. The Belize translation of events that this young man "jumped" seem bogus.   Is this an incident like young cruise passenger Daniel DiPiero who was over-served alcohol and disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas after being over-served alcohol? 

January 19, 2011 Update:

We received a number of comments (below) emailed from a "Joe" using a hotmail email account.  The comments are the usual its-a-matter-of-personal-responsibility rather than corporate responsibility type of thing.  Very disrespectful.  We have determined, 100%, that the comments came from a computer at Royal Caribbean.  Is it a PR person or someone in a position of management?  Or a misguided  employee?  We don't know, but we know the comments came from Royal Caribbean.  Pitiful than a cruise employee uses an alias and a bogus hotmail account.  Only at Royal Caribbean does this foolishness occur.  

Mystery of Missing Royal Caribbean Passenger Amy Bradley Returns to the News

The mysterious case of cruise passenger Amy Lynn Bradley is again in the news.  Amy was traveling with her brother and parents when she disappeared 12 years ago while aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Rhapsody of the Seas.  The ship had left Oranjestad, Aruba, and was sailing to Curaçao, in the Netherlands Antilles.  On March 24, 1998, at age 23, Amy vanished. 

Amy Bradley - Missing - Disappearance - Royal Caribbean The Bradley family was highly critical of Royal Caribbean who they faulted for the delay in responding to the incident and for what they felt was insensitivity toward their plight.  Like most disappearances at sea, the cruise line's "investigation" seemed designed to protect the cruise line's image and legal interests.  The FBI investigation, as usual, went no where.    

Amy's disappearance in 1998 occurred 6 to 7 years before the highly publicized cases of  Merrian Carver in 2004 and George Smith IV in 2005, before the formation of the International Cruise Victims organization, and before five Congressional hearings which led to the passage of the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2010.  The Bradleys were fighting the cruise line largely alone. 

The International Cruise Victims organization contains a story about Amy's disappearance.

The Bradley family's website is here

CNN Justice is now raising the issue whether fragments of a jaw bone found in Aruba, reportedly that of a Caucasian, may possibly be Amy's.  You may recall that there was a great deal of speculation that the jaw bone may have been connected to the disappearance of  Natalee Holloway.  Forensic testing concluded that it was not.

By my reading, the CNN article contains no information providing a reasonable basis to connect this evidence to Amy's disappearance 12 years ago.  The cruise ship had left Aruba and was closer to Curaçao when the family realized that Amy was missing.  So it seems like a stretch to believe that evidence washing ashore in Aruba is tied to this mystery.  Hopefully, additional forensic testing will provide a clue. 

The story brings the public's attention to this unsolved cruise passenger disappearance and the parent's continuing search for answers to what happened to their daughter during this ill fated Caribbean cruise.         

Gather covered this sad story today, and summed up the point exactly:

"It is a terrible thing that the families of Natalee Holloway and Amy Lynn Bradley have had to endure these past many years.  It is incredibly sad that there wasn’t more urgency in these cases and that they have never been solved.  It has to be hell on the families to not have any idea what happened to their daughters.  The not knowing can be quite miserable."

 

Update:  Lifetime has a video / movie "Vanished" (with Beth Holloway) about Amy's disappearance. 

Passenger Missing From Sea Princess Cruise Ship

This weekend we received an anonymous email that a passenger died while waiting for an airlift off of the Sea Princess.  Also a passenger had gone overboard from the Sea Princess and is still missing. The ship stopped, turned around, and was still looking for the passenger as of yesterday.

As usual, passengers aboard the Sea Princess were the first commenting on these developments via the Cruise Critic online cruise community.  Dan Askin, an associate editor at Cruise Critic, Sea Princess - Princess Cruises - Missing Passengerpublished a statement from Princess Cruises which said:

We regret to confirm that early this morning as Sea Princess was cruising in the Caribbean between Curacao and Grand Turk, a 50-year-old British female passenger went overboard. 

"The ship was alerted by her husband, who had discovered her missing from their cabin, and our missing persons routine was immediately begun to account for all passengers onboard. A review of CCTV footage confirms that the passenger went over the side of the ship from a balcony cabin.

The ship immediately turned around to search the location, while also alerting the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Curacao, who launched a search plane. The search is currently continuing.

We have contacted the US FBI and the Bermuda Police Service, and we will cooperate fully into any investigation. We have also activated our Care Team.

Sea Princess - Overboard PassengerSea Princess is currently on a two week cruise from Barbados. The ship was on the fifth day of the sailing, which is scheduled to conclude on December 27." 

Over the past year, Princess Cruises has experienced high profile disappearances of a crew member Angelo Faliva from the Coral Princess and a passenger Ms. Edelgard Carney from the Sapphire Princess.

December 24, 2010 Update:

The British press finally picked up the story with an article "British Tourist Missing From Cruise Ship." 

Photo credit: 

Flickriver (blmiers2 )

Princess Cruises web cam

The Right Way To Report A Sad Cruise Story

A Carnival crew member went overboard around 1:00 a.m. yesterday from the Carnival Splendor cruise ship.  According to crew members, the crew member jumped.  Unfortunately, despite a prompt search, the crew member was lost.

The incident was not reported by Carnival's corporate headquarters, nor was the incident reported by the press.  Instead the first person to report on it was a popular Cruise Director, John Heald, who was aboard the cruise ship at the time of the tragic incident.  Mr. Heald is employed as Senior Cruise Director - John Heald Carnival's Senior Cruise Director and writes a very popular blog named, naturally enough, John Healds Blog

The article Mr. Heald wrote - A Very Sad Day -  explains what happened in a clear and sensitive manner.  You will not find any hint in the blog of the stiff corporate mumbo-jumbo which we see from most cruise lines.  One of the problems cruise lines face is that they are afraid to reveal tragedies like this.  When they say nothing, or delay, or sugar coat ugly facts, they lose credibility at best or look like they are hiding things at worst.

But Mr. Heald's informative and respectful blog timely explained the circumstances which brought the cruise ship to a stop in the middle of the night.  It avoided speculation and conspiracy theories. It was the right thing to do.  Over a hundred readers commented, almost all 100% in support of the thoughts expressed in his article. 

Over 140 people have gone overboard in the last decade.  This is the first time I have seen such a prompt statement of a crew or passenger overboard by anyone associated with the cruise line which contained accurate and timely information and also conveyed the story in human terms. 

The industry's trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association, should invite all of the public relations and corporate communications experts from all of the other cruise lines to a cruise with Senior Cruise Director Heald so they can watch a real pro in action.       

 

Photo credit:   Carnival-News.com

Passenger Missing from Balmoral Cruise Ship

Fred Olsen - Balmoral Cruise Ship - Missing PassengerBBC News reports that a passenger is missing from the Fred Olsen 1,350 passenger cruise ship Balmoral, which is due to return to Dover tomorrow after a 21-day Adriatic cruise.

The cruise ship was in the English Channel when the unidentified passenger was noticed to be missing.  A Royal Navy frigate, the HMS Westminster, is taking part in the search for the passenger, along with a U.K. Coast Guard helicopter, a French Coast Guard aircraft and a French warship.

The Daily Mail in the U.K reports that a "man overboard" alert was issued after the 80-year-old's wife reported him missing to staff on the cruise ship in the early hours of October 11th. His wife is beleived to have woken in their cabin on the ship to find he was no longer in bed. 

Were you on the Balmoral and have information to share?  Please leave a comment below or post your information or photos at Cruise Law News' facebook page.

Passenger Missing from Cruise Ship in the Mediterranean

Mirage cruise ship - passenger overboardA 26-year-old passenger from Israel is missing from a cruise ship in the Mediterranean Sea.  

According to Y Net News,  helicopters and rescue vessels from Cyprus, Israel and the United Nations are searching for the passenger after a SOS signal was received at around 3:00 am (0000 GMT).  The Israeli was missing at sea after "falling overboard" from the Panama-flagged cruise ship Mirage, which was sailing to the southern Cyprus port of Limassol from Haifa. 

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that the young man may have been depressed, and he apparenly left a suicide note on the cruise ship.

According to Professor Ross Klein who is an expert on the cruise industry, over 140 passengers and crew members have gone overboard from cruise ships in the last decade.  

 

Photo credit:   Eerik Laine (via shipspotting.com)

Cruise Crime: Husband Arrested After Throwing Wife Overboard

The police in Hong Kong arrested a 47 year old passenger after he reportedly pushed his 43 year old wife overboard from the MV Macau Success cruise ship yesterday.

The cruise ship made an emergency call to police at 7:40 a.m. reporting that a woman had been pushed into the sea at 7:20 a.m.   The police sent rescue vessels to the scene and pulled the unconscious passenger out of the water at about 8:10 a.m.  She as pronounced dead shortly afterward. 

Macau Success Cruise ShipThe police handcuffed her husband took him to the marine department's regional crime unit, in Sai Wan Ho. 

The South China Morning Post quotes a police officer stating: "Initial investigations indicate that the woman was pushed into the sea from the deck close to the front of the casino ship. Witnesses have been located. Officers also arrested her husband on board the vessel in connection with this murder case."

A week earlier a Chinese passenger jumped from a cruise ship after losing several hundred thousands of dollars gambling on the ship.

Epilogue:  Professor Ross Klein's Cruise Junkie tracks cruise ship overboards.  There have been over 130 in the last decade.  Most do not end up with either an explanation or an arrest Ike this case. 

 

Photograph Credit:        MV Macau Success - South China Morning Post

Cruise Disappearance Case of George Smith IV - Civil Case Settled But Is Justice Done?

The AP is reporting that a final settlement has been reached between Royal Caribbean and the wife and family of George Smith IV.  Royal Caribbean has paid the families and their counsel $1,310,000.  The cruise line has also turned over copies of certain investigation materials to the families.

George Smith IV - Disappearance - Royal Caribbean CruiseThe settlement arises out of an incident on July 5, 2005, when Mr. Smith disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship between Greece and Turkey.  Mr. Smith was on his honeymoon with his new wife, Jennifer Hagel, following their wedding the week before. 

Before the cruise ended, the cruise line, Royal Caribbean, quickly concluded that Mr. Smith's death was an accident.  However, when photographs of Mr. Smith's blood on an awning below Mr. Smith's cabin began appearing on nightly television, the U.S. public began to question exactly what happened that night. 

Mr. Smith's bride, Jennifer Hagel, hired our firm to represent the estate of her husband. In turn, we retained a number of experts including forensic scientist Henry Lee to board the cruise ship and assist us in searching for answers.  Two Congressional hearings were convened, in December 2005 and March 2006, to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the cruise line's response to Mr. Smith's disappearance.  Subsequent Congressional hearings into passenger disappearances and cruise ship crime followed in 2007 and 2008. 

In June 2006, our client Jennifer Hagel reached a proposed settlement with Royal Caribbean on behalf of her husband's estate in the amount of $1,060,000 and an agreement by the cruise line to turn over its investigation materials to the Smith and Hagel families.  The Smith family objected to the settlement. 

In 2008, a Probate Court in Greenwich, Connecticut approved the settlement - finding that is was reasonable and in the best interests of all concerned.  The Smith family again objected to the Probate Court's order and the Smith family and Ms. Hagel have been litigating in Superior Court in Connecticut for the past two years.

The civil and probate cases are now settled.  Royal Caribbean increased its settlement offer by $250,000.  The cruise line has also made its investigation materials available to the families as originally agreed to in June 2006.

Mr. Smith's disappearance brought much needed attention to the issue of mysterious overboard passengers and shipboard crime.  These events set the stage for an unprecedented five Congressional hearings leading to President Obama's signing of the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act.       

To date, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has not concluded what happened in Mr. Smith's cabin in the early morning hours of July 5, 2005.  One of the four men last seen with Mr. Smith on the morning of July 5th, Gregory Rozenberg, is serving time in prison for drug trafficking.   

The AP article indicates that the FBI investigation is officially "open and active."  

The Greenwich Time, which was one of the first newspapers to cover the story in July 2005, published an article today "Smith Family Hopes for Answers After Cruise Ship Case Settles."  

January 6, 2012 Update:

Update on Disappearance of George Smith From Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Ship

 

Another Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship? - Oasis of the Seas

Has another person disappeared from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship?

A passenger on Royal Caribbean's mega ship Oasis of the Seas is commenting on Cruise Critic that the Captain announced earlier this afternoon that the cruise ship was turning around to search for a missing person.  

Passengers aboard the cruise ship (see the comments below) are telling us that a crew member went overboard.

Overboard - Missing - Royal Caribbean - Oasis of the Seas If this information is correct, then this is the fourth overboard from Royal Caribbean cruise ships this year.  On May 6th we reported on Royal Caribbean crew member Satianand (Satyanand) Buddaru who disappeared from the Explorer of the Seas -  Crew Member Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas

In March a crew member employed by Park West Gallery jumped overboard from the Radiance of the Seas.  Our stories about the incident are available here: "Man Overboard" Reported on Radiance of the Seas and here Master of Radiance of the Seas Praised for Rapid Response to Crew Overboard.

On New Year's Eve Royal Caribbean crew member Neha Chhikara jumped from the Monarch of the Seas.

These type of incidents raise questions whether this cruise line has adequate security systems in place to address the issue of passenger and crew member overboards.  Last year, the  popular web site Jaunted published an article "Enough With People Jumping Off Cruise Ships Already!" The article refers to ". . . an assistant purser on Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas (who) apparently hated his job so much that he couldn't wait until he was back on land to quit, hopping overboard as the ship steamed from Key West to Miami . . . "  Fortunately, he was rescued.

Royal Caribbean has had more than its share of unexplained "disappearances" of passengers and crew, including the very disturbing case of Mirrian Carver who vanished from the Mercury cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean's subsidiary Celebrity Cruises.  ABC's Primetime covered the story in an article "Cruise Cover-Up?  Cruise Line Doesn't Notify Anyone When Woman Disappears On Second Day Of Trip."  

Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean have a reputation of being very secretive when people go overboard.  Following the last crew overboard from the Explorer of the Seas, we received sixty-three (63) comments to our article.  Most of the comments were from passengers or crew members on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  Passengers are often the only source of accurate and timely information when things go wrong on the high seas.

Were you on the Oasis of the Seas during this latest disappearance?  If you have information to share, please leave a comment below.

May 25th 2:00 p.m. Update - Crew Member Identified:

The Coast Guard News identifies the crew member as 45 year old  Dillon Roache, of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  The Coast Guard states that Mr. Roache was "confirmed overboard" between Nassau and St. Thomas.  This means that the cruise ship's surveillance cameras captured images of the crew member going overboard.  As we have mentioned in prior articles, Royal Caribbean apparently does not monitor its exterior cameras or use technology to alert the bridge when the security cameras detect persons going overboard. 

Many male crew members from St. Vincent work as manual laborers (utility cleaners, night cleaners, etc.).  The work is hard and the pay is as low as $137 for 85 hour work week.  Read "Screwed If By Sea" for an idea of the working conditions on Royal Caribbean.  

May 26th Update - Crew Members Reported Mr. Roach Missing around  1:00 p.m. on Monday  

The Virgin Islands Daily News reports that according to a statement issued by Royal Caribbean, "about 1 p.m. on Monday, May 24th the Oasis of the Seas’ crew reported that one of their co-workers was missing. Security searched the ship and paged the missing crew member, then contacted the U.S. Coast Guard and the Bahamian Coast Guard."  According to the newspaper, "closed circuit camera footage revealed that the missing crew member fell from the ship, Royal Caribbean said."  But the cruise line did not disclose the circumstances to explain why the crew member went overboard.

May 27th Update - Questions Remain How Crew Member Went Overboard:

In prior incidents when crew members went overboard from Royal Caribbean cruise ships, the cruise line claimed the crew members jumped.  But in this situation, the cruise line has stayed Oasis of the Seas - Crew Overboard - Webcam - Surveillancemum.  The Norwegian shipping magazine Tradewinds just published an article about this latest disappearance from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  The article states that the crew member "fell' and referred to the incident as a "horrific accident."   Notably absent from this article, as well as the  statements from the Coast Guard or cruise line, is any indication that the crew member was suicidal and "jumped."     

The Oasis of the Seas has hundreds of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras.  It has several webcams where you can even watch what's happening on the cruise ship from your home computer, like the webcam of the pool and sports zone (above right).  Royal Caribbean knows what happened, but is not telling.

This is the type of case where the cruise lines could establish some degree of credibility and transparency with the American public.  Instead, this cruise line has defaulted to its usual character of secrecy.

Does anyone has information regarding how the incident occurred?  Please leave a comment below. 

May 29 Update - Passengers Return to Fort Lauderdale:

Some passengers returning home from the cruise today have emailed us.  A few have left comments, including one passenger, "Dave," who writes that the crew member jumped off of deck five at 3 a.m. in the morning and was "seen on the camera swimming in the ocean."   Can other passengers confirm this?   Leave us a comment below if you have information to share .  .  . 

May 30 Update - Interview with Wife:

The Caribbean Daily News interviewed the crew member's wife, Doris Roache, who indicated that her husband had worked for Royal Caribbean for five years, and was employed as an assistant waiter.  He left St. Vincent on Friday May 21st after spending two months vacation with her.  He flew to Miami and stayed in a hotel Friday night and joined the cruise ship on Saturday, May 22nd. The ship sailed at 5 p.m. Saturday evening.  Mrs. Roache received a call from her husband between 11:00 -12:00 p.m. Saturday night. He told her he was okay and that the ship was sailing towards the Bahamas.  She later received a call on Monday morning, May 24th, between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. from the "ship’s administration" saying that her husband was missing and that he was last seen aboard the ship at 11:00 p.m. Sunday, May 23rd. while the ship was sailing.  "They said that he did not come to work; he is an assistant waiter and he is never late so they sent somebody to look for him and he was nowhere to be found.” 

 

Credits:

Oasis of the Seas       Kenneth Karsten via shipspotting.com

Oasis of the Seas webcam       Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. 

Crew Member Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas

A member of Cruise Critic sailing aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas cruise ship is commenting that a crew member apparently went overboard from the cruise ship last night.  There is a suggestion by those on the cruise ship that the crew member is a waiter and may have jumped. 

We reported earlier this year on two other crew members who jumped from Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  On December 31, 2009 we posted the article " Wife of Royal Caribbean Crew Member on Monarch of the Seas Goes OverBoard" involving an apparent suicide of Royal Caribbean crew member Neha Chhikara who jumped from the Monarch of the Seas.  Her case involved allegations that her husband, Ankit Delal, also working on the cruise ship, physically and emotionally abused her.

Explorer of the Seas - OverboardIn March, another crew member jumped from Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas.  You can read about that incident here:  "Man Overboard" Reported on Radiance of the Seas.   We reported that the Master of the  cruise ship responded quickly; however, the crew member (an employee of Park West Gallery) did not survive - "Master of Radiance of the Seas Praised for Rapid Response to Crew Overboard."

It is currently unknown whether the crew member was rescued.  139 people have gone overboard from cruise ships in the last ten years, according to Professor Ross Klein's Cruise Junkie web site.

We will update the article as more information becomes available.  Were you on the cruise or have information to share?  Please leave a comment below. 

May 6, 2010 Update:

FoxNews.com is reporting that the U.S. Coast Guard is conducting a search for the 26 year old crew member 138 miles north of the coastal town of Isabela, Puerto Rico.  

Royal Caribbean's PR spokesperson Cynthia Martinez is quoted as saying that an after-the-fact review of closed circuit television tapes (CCTV) reveals the crew member lowering himself over the side of the cruise ship around 8:15 p.m. last night.  However, a passenger commenting on the Cruise Critic web sites indicates that the ship did not turn to search for the crew members until around 10:20 p.m. - around two hours later.

These types of incidents reveal security deficiencies on cruise ships.  If a crew member can lower himself over the rail and into the water without being spotted by security or detected by cameras, a terrorist can just as easily come over the rail and onto the ship without being detected. 

Does anyone on the Royal Caribbean cruise ships monitor the exterior cameras? 

We have reported on this problem on other Royal Caribbean overboards - "Asleep At the Wheel: What Does the Delayed Reporting of Neha Chhikara's Disappearance from the Monarch of the Seas Reveal About Royal Caribbean's Shipboard Security? "

May 7, 2010 Update - Search begins:

The Coast Guard News reports that Coast Guard watchstanders in San Juan received a call at approximately 9:15 p.m. Wednesday from the cruise ship Explorer of the Seas reporting the incident.

Coast Guard rescue crews then began searching for the man overboard.  The Coast Guard deployed a HU-25 Falcon jet crew from Air Station Miami, a C-130 aircraft from Air Station Clearwater, and Coast Guard Cutters Matinicus and Chincoteague (110-foot patrol boats) homeported in San Juan.

May 7, 2010 Update - Comments by family:

The brother and sister of the crew member have left comments below, seeking information and an explanation regarding what happened.  We hope that the cruise line will provide the necessary information and assistance.  Condolences to the Buddaru Family. 

May 8, 2010 Update - Search ends:

According to the Daily Sun newspaper in Puerto Rico, the Coast Guard suspended its search for the crew member yesterday morning at "about 7 a.m.”  A Coast Guard spokesperson said "regrettably we did not find him alive."  

 May 8, 2010 - Crew member identified:

A newspaper Defi Media Group is reporting that the Royal Caribbean crew member is Satianand (Satyanand) Buddaru, age 26, whose family lives on the island of Mauritius.  The newspaper suggests that he worked as a bartender on the cruise ship, although most comments indicate that he was a waiter or assistant waiter.  His sister, Anuradha, stated that she spoke to him "on the telephone Wednesday Satianand Buddaru - Satyanand Buddarumorning.  It seemed normal.  He had no personal problem."

May 9 Update - Passengers applaud Master and crew: 

Passengers aboard the cruise ship are commenting that the cruise ship responded promptly and the crew handled themselves profesionally during this difficult experience. 

A newspaper in Mauritius LexPress.mu reports that Mr. Buddaru had worked for three years for Royal Caribbean.  

May 10, 2010 Update:

Defi Media in Mauritius has an article today on Mr. Buddaru's disappearance, and incudes a photograph (above right) of the young man.

May 11, 2010 Update:

A newspaper in the cruise ship's home port in New Jersey is reporting that the FBI is investigating the incident.  The article also mentions that crew members reported Mr. Buddaru missing around 8:40 p.m.  The Coast Guard issued a statement that they were notified around 9:15 p.m.  The CCTV images apparently show the crew member going overboard at 8:13 p.m.

 

Credits

Photo of Explorer of the Seas       Luke Redmond's Fickr photostream

Photograph of Ms. Buddaru  DefiMedia Mauritius

"Deadly Honeymoon" - Lifetime Movie Network - Cruise Disappearance

After endless promotional movie clips, Lifetime Movie Network (LMN) finally premiered "Deadly Honeymoon" tonight.  The movie is loosely based (very loosely based) on the tragic death of George Smith IV during his honeymoon cruise with our client, Jennifer Hagel, aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship in July 2005. 

The movie follows two young newlyweds from Denver, Colorado as they embark on their honeymoon cruise from their "picture-perfect" wedding in Hawaii.  The actors in the TV movie are Chris Carmack as "Trevor Forrest" and Summer Glau who plays his newly wed wife, "Lindsey."

Chris Carmack - Trevor Forrest - George Smtih - Summer Glau - Lindsey - Jennifer Hagel - Deadly Honeymoon  LMN describes the dream vacation evolving into a night of "wild partying, infidelity and strange encounters with a group of passengers."

The next morning the passengers awake to find Trevor missing, presumed to have fallen overboard to his death.  But as the investigation proceeds, an FBI Investigator who just happens to be aboard the cruise ship questions whether Trevor’s death really was just an accident.

I had never heard of the Lifetime Movie Network before.  Now I know why. 

The movie is very dramatic.  But like most Hollywood productions it is ridiculous, having little to so with the actual facts of the case.  I can't imagine being a member of the Hagel or Smith families having to watch this nonsense.

In reality, was there "partying" during George Smith's cruise?  Yes, but what cruise ship doesn't have partying and drinking?  Was there "infidelity?"  No.  Were there "strange encounters" with other passengers?  Yes.  Passengers Josh Askin, Rusty Koffman and the two Rosenbergs who were last with George Smith on the night in question are motley characters, in my opinion.  Two nights after George Smith disappeared, they were accused of raping or watching the assault of a young woman on the cruise ship.  But Royal Caribbean had already sent their defense lawyers to the scene, and the charges were quickly dropped.  Greg Rosenberg, one of the men in George Smith's cabin before Mr. Smith went overboard, is reportedly serving time today on drug trafficking charges.  He is in prison at this moment. 

But does this movie, provide any insight into what happened on July 5, 2005 when the Brilliance of the Seas was sailing to Kusadasi, Turkey?  No.  

In real life, disappearances on cruise ships, whether due to crime or not, are rarely solved.  This is due to the failure of the cruise industry to protect U.S. passenger on foreign-flagged cruise ships like the Brilliance of the Seas. And the failure of the Federal Bureau of Investigations to prosecute crimes which occur on the high seas.

In the last 10 years, over 130 passengers have "disappeared."  Most cases remain mysteries. This is something that cruise lines don't want the U.S. public to know.

July 6, 2010 Update - Five Years Later:

The Death of George Allen Smith IV - Five Years Later

September 14, 2010 Update On George Smith Disappearance Case:

There is now a final settlement - Cruise Disappearance Case of George Smith IV - Civil Case Settled But Is Justice Done?

January 2012 Update: Update on Disappearance of George Smith From Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Ship

May 2012 Update: "New" Evidence in George Smith Case: "We Gave That Guy A Paragliding Lesson Without A Parachute"

 

Credit:            Lifetime Movie Network 

Trial Continued In Cruise Disappearance Case Of George Smith IV

The Greenwich Time newspaper reports that a trial scheduled for tomorrow in the disappearance of George Smith IV has been postponed.

The case arises out of the highly publicized disappearance of George Smith who was sailing on Royal Caribbean's cruise ship, the Brilliance of the Seas, in July 2005. 

A year later, the Smith family filed a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean which was dismissed at the trial court level, then re-filed and dismissed again.  An appellate court in Miami affirmed the dismissal.   

Smith Family - George Smith IV - MissingMr. Smith's widow, Jennifer Hagel, elected not to file suit and reached a proposed settlement with the cruise in the amount of $1,085,000.  In addition to the settlement funds, the cruise line agreed to permit Ms. Hagel and George Smith's family to review Royal Caribbean's internal investigation materials which would otherwise be privileged and immune from discovery. 

The Smith family objected to the settlement and tried to remove Ms. Hagel as the administrator of her husband's estate. 

After two years of litigation, in 2008 a probate court denied the Smith's family's motion to remove Ms. Hagel.  The Court approved the settlement, finding that it was reasonable and in the best interests of all concerned.

The Smith family appealed the probate court's order.  Appeals of probate cases in Connecticut result in new trials, rather than a decision by an appellate court.  The Smith family has been litigating against Ms. Hagel for the last two years and is continuing to try and remove her as the administrator of the estate. 

The trial scheduled for tomorrow has now been continued until October.        

Our firm represented Ms. Hagel in her case against the cruise line.  

 

Credits:

Photograph        CBS

Your Dream Cruise - The Perfect Place For The Perfect Crime?

A blockbuster story has been published in Germany tracking crimes and the "disappearances" of passengers and crew members from cruise ships over the past decade.

Published in the popular German magazine "Wunderwelt Wisen," the article discusses the cases of passengers James Scavonne, Dianne Brimble, Merrian Carver, Christopher Caldwell, and George Smith IV, as well as the recent disappearance of Italian crew member Angelo Faliva.

Under the title "Dream Boats," the author, Philipp Saller, informs the reader that a tourist who chooses a cruise ship is choosing a holiday in a small town without a police station.  He concludes that "dream ships are perfect for the perfect crime." 

I first heard this analogy when I attended the December 2005 Congressional hearing regarding cruise crime issues, following the disappearance of George Smith IV.  His Congressman, Christopher Shays, raised the question at the hearing - "is going on a cruise the perfect way to commit the perfect crime?"

Cruise lines currently have no legal obligation to report crimes and disappearances which occur on the high seas to the FBI.  Not surprisingly, there have been very few FBI investigations over the course of the 40 year history of the cruise industry.  Prosecuting crimes on cruise ships is rare. 

A reprint of the article is below.  We are in the process of having the article translated and will update this article when we have the English translation.  

Cruise ship - The Perfect Place For The Perfect Crime

Cruise Ship - Perfect Place For The Perfect Crime?

Cruise Ship - Perfect Place For The Perfect Crime?

Cruise Ship - Perfect Place For The Perfect Crime?

 

Credits:

Wunderwelt Wissen (Philipp Saller) 

Ken Carver Pushes For Cruise Law After Daughter "Disappears" From Celebrity's Mercury Cruise Ship

A local news station in Phoenix, Arizona,  ABC-15 (KNXV), is reporting on the latest efforts by Kendall Carver to protect families who cruise in international waters.

In a video interview entitled "Valley Man Pushes for New Laws after Daughter Vanishes,"  Mr. Carver explains that his 40-year-old vanished on the second day of a seven-day Alaskan cruise aboard Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship back in 2004.  The cruise ship covered the incident Merrian Carver - Celebrity Mercury Cruise Ship - Disappearance up and then lied to Mr. Carver.

ABC-15 reports that for more than a year, Mr. Carver says the cruise line "provided little information.  He hired private detectives, lawyers and spent quite a bit of money searching for any indication as to what happened.  Eventually, he said they found an employee on the boat who had some information."

"We deposed the steward to find out that he had reported our daughter missing daily for five days on that ship and his supervisor told him to forget it and do his job," said Carver.  "They had not notified the FBI, they had not notified anybody, in fact, they gathered her belongings and got rid of them."

Carver says what many people may not know is that the cruise ship industry doesn't even have to report crimes ranging from theft to a disappearance.

"You can get the crime report for any city in the country, by zip code, by name, but you can't get that for cruise ships," Mr. Carver told ABC-15.

To push for new laws and help victims of cruise ship crimes, Carver formed the organization - International Cruise Victims (ICV).  He has been working on this cause everyday for the past five years.

"We have hundreds of volunteers, with next to no money and as of this week we are now in 20 countries around the world," said Carver.  "It's one of those things as a father I couldn't walk away from, I still want answers and people need to know what's going on."

As a result of the ICV's efforts, a cruise law - called the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2009 - passed the House of Representatives last year.  The bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate this year.

"This would make it mandatory that they immediately advise the FBI," said Carver.  "They (travelers) don't realize when they get onto these ships they're going into a foreign country."

To learn more, read about the story of Merrian Carver on the ICV website. Please consider joining  the ICV and making a small donation to keep the grass root organization operating.

The ABC-15 video with Mr. Carver is below:

 

 

For additional information about Ken's fight to protect the cruising public, consider reading:

Family Wins Battle Against Cruise Ship Industry After Daughter's Disappearance

 

 

Credits:

Photograph of Mirrian Carver        Ken Carver  

Video        ABC-15 (KNXV) Phoenix, AZ  (Christopher Sign reporting)

Master of Radiance of the Seas Praised for Rapid Response to Crew Overboard

In most cases involving overboard passengers and crew, the cruise line faces criticism that it failed to respond quickly to the emergency.  Cruise lines are often guilty of trying to bamboozle the passengers after-the-fact and act like nothing happened.

So with the recent tragedy of a crew member jumping overboard from Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas, we were expecting the usual criticisms from both passengers and crew that the situation was handled poorly.  But instead, we have received calls and emails that the cruise ship Master - Captain Eric Tengelsen - Royal Caribbean - Radiance of the Seasresponded rapidly to the crisis.  The officers on the bridge quickly slowed the cruise ship and turned the vessel to begin rescue efforts.  The crew member was back on the cruise ship withi