Cruise Law News Facebook Page Reaches 100,000 "Likes"

100000 Facebook LikesThis week, our social media presence reached a milestone. 

The Cruise Law News Facebook page reached 100,000 "likes."

The majority of our Facebook fans are from outside of the U.S. We have tens of thousands of crew members who have "liked" us. We receive a great deal of information from crew members regarding a wide range of issues, like cruise ship fires, engine failures, man-overboard situations and the tough working conditions which crew members face.

Thank you very much for reading our page and providing information to us!  Our success would not be possible without the support of crew members on cruise ships around the world!

We have over 11,900 people following us on Twitter and many thousands of people who subscribe to our daily blog, Cruise Law News, via e-mail & RSS subscriptions.

Over 6,250,000 pages of Cruise Law News are projected to be read this year.

We are the 3rd most popular law blog (per AVVO rankings) in the U.S. and the 2nd most popular cruise blog which discusses cruise ship issues (again, per AVVO rankings).  

Cruise Law NewsThe motto of our  blog is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."  

No, we are not a travel site with glossy photos of happy crew members and smiling passengers enjoying a dream vacation cruise. The fact that millions of people are reading a critical blog by a lawyer (lawyers often write boring, stuffy articles) reflects that there are a lot of things that happen on cruises which the public wants to know and the cruise lines want to keep secret. 

Thanks for reading us!  And thanks to the many passengers and crew members who have sent us tips, photos and videos of things like hiding food from the USPH inspectors or dumping garbage at sea which no one would otherwise know about . . .   

Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas: "Full Speed Ahead?"

A reader of Cruise Law News sent us a humorous tweet from Royal Caribbean. The problem is that the cruise line didn't intend it to be funny.

Royal Caribbean tweeted a photograph of the Allure of the Seas (below left) with the caption "Full speed ahead."

Of course everyone following cruise news knows that the Allure of the Seas is experiencing a problem with its propulsion system which we have written about a couple of times. Read here and here.

Allure of the Seas Propulsion ProblemsThere is currently a debate in the cruise community between those die-hard cruise supporters who think the propulsion problems are a lot to do about nothing and those cruisers who are annoyed that their expensive cruise vacations involve leaving some cruise ports early and arriving late at others and missing some excursions in the process.  

I won't jump into that argument except to say that the cruise line is not helping its reputation by keeping its usually loyal-to-Royal customers in the dark.

I'm not the first to comment on the "full speed ahead" caption showing the Allure tearing up the waves.

Others on Twitter have had their fun.

@MartinosCafe tweeted: "@Royal Caribbean Is that your way of telling us the ship is fixed?"

And @linerlovers tweeted: "I wish they WERE at full speed!"

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

Senator Rockefeller to Cruise CEO Micky Arison: Carnival's Failure to Address Safety Issues - "This Needs to Stop"

Senator John Rockefeller TwitterTwitter Smack Down!

A few minutes ago Senator John Rockefeller tweeted to Carnival CEO Mickey Arison:

".@USCoastGuard responded to 90 incidents with Carnival ships in 5yrs- with passengers onboard. This needs to change" http://1.usa.gov/152nF2x "

Senator Rockefeller linked his tweet to a letter he sent to Micky Arison today expressing his deep concerns regarding the safety of Carnival ships and indicated that he was not surprised by the latest incident today regarding the Carnival Dream.  He also sent the Carnival CEO a list of questions and Carnival Triumph Cruise Shiprequested documents.  You can read the remarkable letter here

Senator Rockefeller also posted a Coast Guard spread sheet listing a "string of 90 marine casualty incidents with passengers onboard Carnival ships in the last five years." You can see the list here.

Senator Rockefeller wrote "just today, we’ve been reminded of Carnival’s dismal safety record with reports that the Carnival Dream is experiencing problems. The ship is stranded in a Caribbean port with no power and thousands of passengers trapped onboard. Last month, the Coast Guard spent almost $780,000 in responding to the Carnival Triumph incident – costs that are paid by federal taxpayers.” 

Rockefeller held a Commerce Committee oversight hearing in March 2012, following the Costa Concordia disaster, to examine deficiencies in the cruise line industry’s compliance with federal safety, security, and environmental standards and review whether cruise ship industry regulations sufficiently protect passengers and the environment.

We attended the hearing and blogged about the hearing where Senator Rockefeller said to the cruise Micky Arison Twitterline representatives: "You Are A World Unto Yourselves."

Senator Rockefeller's stinging rebuke of Carnival comes as the cruise industry just ended its annual cruise convention at the Miami Beach Convention Center.  The cruise executives all touted the safety of the industry and how "rare" cruise mishaps allegedly are.

So far, no tweets by Arison in response to Senator Rockefeller's tweet.

Arison spends most of his time on Twitter tweeting about his Miami Heat basketball team.

Is CLIA CEO Christine Duffy Really Ready For Twitter?

Today the cruise Industry trade organization, Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"), sent out a press release announcing that its CEO, Christine Duffy, now has a Twitter account: @CLIACEO 

I could not help but think, oh boy is this going to be fun.  

Ms. Duffy began her tenure at the helm of CLIA in January of last year.  She started her employment with a bang when she answered some friendly questions from a travel magazine about lobbying Congress for the cruise lines. Somehow she managed to criticize the U.S. automobile industry while trying to promote the cruise lines.  Listen to this whopper:  

CLIA CEO Christine Duffy - Cruise Line International AssociationPart of the message we delivered in D.C. is that the travel industry employs more people than the auto industry, and we didn’t get a bailout. We employ a lot more people than anybody recognized, and our impact is in all 50 states. We’re not going to offshore our jobs . . .

The fact of the matter is that all of the CLIA cruise lines are foreign corporations. Unlike Ford or Chevrolet which are U.S. corporations and employ U.S. employees, the CLIA cruise lines are 100% foreign corporations. Carnival was incorporated in Panama. Royal Caribbean was incorporated in Liberia (yes, Africa). And all of these cruise lines fly the flags of foreign countries like Panama, Liberia, Bermuda and the Bahamas.

By registering their companies and cruise ships overseas to avoid U.S. labor, wage and safety laws, the foreign cruise lines also avoid U.S. income taxes. The $35,000,000,000 (billion) cruise industry pays virtually no U.S. Federal income taxes. If the cruise lines were required to pay U.S. taxes, they would pay over $10,000,000,000 a year. The cruise industry receives a $10 billion bailout each year, year after year.

But that's not all. All of the cruise ships are manufactured and constructed in foreign shipyards, in Italy, Norway or France. And 99.9% of the officers and crew members (except some U.S. dancers, singers and an occasional assistant cruise director) are from "overseas." No U.S. workers are going to work 360 hours a month for around $545 like the incredibly hard working utility cleaners from India, Central America and the Caribbean islands.

The cruise industry is the most outsourced, non-U.S. industry in America. The industry is built on the business model of tax-paying U.S. citizens paying their hard earned wages to the foreign corporation cruise lines who pay no taxes to the U.S. 

This year, at a hearing in the U.S. Senate about cruise safety issues following the Costa Concordia disaster, Senator Rockefeller questioned Ms. Duffy's honesty when she testified about the cruise industry's failure to pay U.S. taxes.

A happy faced former travel agent, Ms. Duffy knows the importance of staying upbeat while selling cruise tickets. But the question remains whether she has the gravitas to actually discuss important issues regarding the safety of the cruising public.

Will Ms. Duffy use Twitter as just a PR platform to repeat the CLIA talking points laid out by the cruise line public relations experts and cruise lobbyists ( "cruising is safe . . . the security of our guests is CLIA's number one priority") or will she will actually engage the public and answer some tough questions about crime on cruise ships, sexual abuse of minors, and working conditions of the predominately non-U.S. crew members.

What will Ms. Duffy do when she receives a tweet from a mother whose daughter was served alcohol and taken to a crew member's cabin, or a father whose daughter disappeared overboard from a cruise ship, or a widow whose husband experienced a heart attack and was then dumped on a Caribbean island?    

My prediction?  Ms. Duffy will tweet happy gobbledygook carefully vetted by CLIA's PR consultants. She will chit chat with travel agents. But she will ignore the cries of those families who suffered death or injury.  She will avoid all spontaneous and genuine discussions of real issues. She will religiously avoid making direct comments about cruise ship fires, sinkings, deaths, disappearances, crimes and norovirus outbreaks.

And when the next disaster strikes the cruise industry, Ms. Duffy's Twitter account will go silent.    

 

Interested in other articles about CLIA?  Consider reading:

@CruiseFacts - Cruise Line Pravda

Six Lies The Cruise Lines Will Tell You After The Costa Concordia Crash

Did Cruise Line International President Christine Duffy Lie to Congress?

Bio-Terrorism Tweet Leads Carnival Cruise Line to Kick Dr. Kruse Off Low Carb Cruise

In one of the weirder cruise stories I have read in a time, Carnival Cruise Lines kicked off a passenger scheduled to speak on a "low carb diet" cruise on suspicion that he was going to explode dynamite or release Legionnaires virus on the ship.

The bizarre case involves a neurosurgeon from Tennessee who, ironically enough, is named Dr. Kruse (I'm not making this up). Jack Kruse is a popular diet guru / motivational speaker and lost some 130 lbs himself.  He was suppose to be one of the speakers on a diet cruise aboard an the Magic cruise ship operated by Carnival.    

But instead of sailing last Sunday afternoon out of Galveston, Dr. Kruse found his cabin being searched Dr. Jack Kruse - Diet - Motivationand being interrogated by Galveston police, Homeland Security, the FBI and the U.S. Coast Guard.  When it was all over, Carnival security removed his luggage from the ship and escorted him to the now empty pier.  He had to fetch a taxi and pay for an unanticipated flight back home.  

It turns out that Dr. Kruse has some mischievous enemies on Twitter.  A twitter user named @shitkrusesays (now deleted) tweeted: "Security confiscated dynamite. talk won't be as explosive as at PaleoFx. still have vial of Legionnaires for epic biohack"

Dr. Kruse had no connection to that Twitter account, but that did not stop the police from searching his computers and turning his cabin upside down.

In addition, Carnival was contacted by a caller named "Lance" who informed them a doctor aboard the Carnival Magic was planning a viral bio-hack.

Dr. Kruse says that eventually the FBI, Homeland Security and the Coast Guard were convinced that the incident was a hoax, but the Captain of the cruise ship exercised his discretion to send Dr. Kruse from the ship. 

The following day Carnival contacted Dr. Kruse and offered to fly him to Montego Bay to meet up with the cruise he missed. The doctor declined the offer.  The captain of the ship also sent a letter to the pssengers explaining the situation (below).

Meanwhile, the FBI is supposedly investigating who was behind the malicious tweets from @shitkrusesays. 

Perhaps Carnival was a little jumpy after the news last week that al Qaeda had considered seizing a cruise ship and terrorizing the passengers.  But Dr. Kruse's web site hardly looks like a front for an al Qaeda terrorist.

 

Sources: News Channel 5 - Tennessee;  News 5 - Nashville

Video: News Channel 5 

Photo: Dr. Jack Kruse

Letter: Scribd (cottrellrelocation)

Dr. Jack Kruse - Carnival Cruise Hoax

Carnival's @MickyArison is on Twitter, But How Long will He Stay?

The big news this week in cruise ship social media 2.0 is that no one other than Carnival's CEO Micky Arison just joined Twitter.  You can check out his tweets at @MickyArison.   He has received a warm welcome mostly by cruise fanatics and Miami Heat fans. 

It will be interesting to see if CEO Arison sticks around and really engages on Twitter. He has 4,800 followers.  So far he has Mark Cuban - Twitterfollowed pretty much just his cruise lines, basketball players and celebrities on Twitter. 

Speaking of CEOs and pro basketball, Mr. Arison's nemesis Dallas Maverick's Mark Cuban has over 637,000 followers on his Twitter account @mcuban, whose in-your-face avatar shows him holding the NBA trophy, smoking a cigar.    Don't let him trash talk you Micky!

When the week started, I could not help but think it only a matter of time that a dissatisfied Carnival customer began a campaign of tweeting Mr. Arison about an unpleasant cruise.  I wondered how this would turn out and whether Arison would ignore the passenger.

Sure enough a very unhappy disabled passenger by the Twitter name @MyLadyGuinevere began tweeting about a horrific cruise experience.  She suffered an asthma attack caused by a smoke filled stateroom.  Carnival's shipboard employees mocked her for using a wheelchair.  She suffered from food poisoning.  Carnival then inadvertently double charged for everything, and  ignored her when she complained.  She inundated the Carnival CEO with a dozen tweets like: 

"@MickyArison - Your cruise line made me ill, mocked me for my disability, doublecharged me and wiped out my bank account . . ."  

You can read about the debacle in an article in the Consumerist entitled Carnival Cruise Becomes Vacation Nightmare.

After a day of tweets, it looks like the Carnival guest now has high praises for Micky Arison - TwitterCarnival and Mr. Arison.  Her last tweets suggest that everything has been worked out: " A very, very nice person by the name of Alicia contacted us. We now understand things better . . . and feel like we were listened to. Thank you. We really appreciated it."  @MyLadyGuinevere deleted all of her complaints on Twitter and promised to update her story on the Consumerist article.

Did CEO Arison come to the guest's rescue?  Or was this a case where the Carnival customer support team realized that their CEO's debut on Twitter was being spoiled and they gave the guest some extra attention?  Not sure.  But the bottom line is that the dispute is resolved and eveyone seems happy.

Will Mr. Arison stick around on Twitter?  I hope so, for no other reason than I'd like to see him update his Twitter avatar at the end of the NBA playoffs with a photo of him holding the NBA trophy and smoking a cigar on one of his cruise ships.     

Twitter and Cowardly Cruise Lines

For the past two years, I have been interested in the use of Twitter as a method of educating the public about dangers on cruise ships.  Dangers that are real.  Dangers that the cruise lines don't want the public to read about.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter is well aware that I tweet daily on issues that the cruise lines don't discuss - sexual assaults of women and children, mistreatment of crewmembers, and the disappearances of people on the high seas. 

Yes, I know that I am annoying.  There are lots of cruise fans and travel agents on Twitter who use the #cruise hash-mark to market the joy of cruising, and I spoil the fun.  50% of the people who Oceania Cruises - TwitterI interact with on a routine basis disagree with me 100% of the time it seems.  But I know that my message is getting out there.  I would like to think that if one parent realizes that its not safe to leave your kids unsupervised on a cruise ship, then my last 5,500 tweets have been a worthwhile exercise.   

I am particularly fascinated by the way that cruise lines use Twitter and other social media.  Are they engaging in discussions with the public where they address unpleasant subjects with candor and in the process develop a reputation of transparency?  Or, are they just using Twitter and Facebook to create fan pages or other cult clubs?  Do they run and hide when they read tweets critical of their business practices? 

Earlier this week, I wrote an article about Oceania Cruises trying to convince a Judge in Miami to impose a limit of liability of only $65,000 in a case where it is alleged that an Oceania Cruises crewmember raped a 13 year old child on the Regatta cruise ship.  Stories like this are important.  Most parents don't understand the significant number of sexual assaults which occur on cruise ships.  Few parents could possibly imagine that if a crewmember raped their little girl, the cruise line would try and make certain that the child didn't receive fair and just compensation for her physical and emotional injuries.

I tweeted a few references to my blog article about Oceania Cruise's disturbing behavior.  I always invite a cruise line's response.  I even invite disagreeing cruise lines and travel agents an Oceania Cruisess - Twitteropportunity to write a guest blog - unedited - to tell the other side of the story.            

Oceania Cruises, which has been following me on Twitter for over a year, had no interest in discussing the story.   Instead, it "un-followed" me. 

"Unfollowing" critics seems like a poor way to manage a business' online reputation.  Instead of explaining its conduct or at least expressing concern for the girl's well being, the cruise line just turned and ran.   

Twitter is a proving ground of truth and transparency.  Twitter is not a place where slick unprincipled marketers can withstand scrutiny.  It is not a place where cowardly cruise lines like Oceania can survive.   

Cruise Law News Wins Shorty Award in Law

It's official.  Cruise Law is the top vote receiver in the Shorty Awards contest in crowd-sourced field of law for 2011. 

For those of you who follow this blog or interact with me on Twitter, you know that I am a lawyer who believes in the power of communicating via the social media of blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

Last year I tied for first place in the law category.  I then did the chivalrous thing of voting for my Shorty Award - Lawopponent, a lawyer in England, to break the tie.  Yes I believe in Karma.  What goes around comes  around.  This year I won in a landslide. 

So what is the significance of the Shorty Awards in law?  The Shorty Awards people say that the award recognizes the "best people and organizations on Twitter and social media."  

Our blog is just 18 months old but has been a top 10 most popular blog for going on a year now.

If you are looking for an insight into what is happening in the off-shore, multi-national, tax avoiding, and non-sustainable cruise industry - you will find it here first.  

Will Twitter Help Family of Missing Disney Crew Member Find Answers?

Today a newspaper in the U.K., the Chester Chronicle, contains an interesting article "Family Demand Answers as Investigation into Chester Disney Cruise Ship Worker Continues."   Although the article is a bit of a rehash of events since last week about the disappearance of youth counselor Rebecca Coriam from Disney Cruise Line's Wonder cruise ship, the newspaper reports that: 

" ... cousin Kerry Gaffney has been using the social networking website Twitter in a desperate bid for information on Rebecca’s whereabouts.  Her post read: 'My cousin, Rebecca Coriam, is missing and Disney is not as helpful as it makes out.  Please help put the pressure on them.'  Another post said the family are getting conflicting reports about what was seen and what went on."

Kerry Gaffney's witter name is @kerrymg and the tweet asked those on Twitter to "RT" (re-tweet) her message.

Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are useful tools to obtain information from the public about mysteries on the high seas.  Cruise lines maintain exclusive control of the scene of disappearances, and access to witnesses and evidence on cruise ships.  When the Disney Wonder returned to port in Los Angeles last Sunday, over 1,700 passengers scattered across the U.S., Canada and other countries without being interviewed by anyone.  This is fine with the cruise Disney Cruise Twitter - @DisneyCruiselines, who want this public spectacle to end sooner than later irrespective of whether the family finds answers to this latest mystery.

So how can you appeal to potential witnesses scattered around the country?  One way is Twitter.

Disney's Twitter page for its cruise line is @DisneyCruise.  It has 26,000 followers.  

Twitter, Facebook, websites and blogs can help level the playing field with cruise lines and their we-just-want-the-media-to-go-away attitude.   If you are reading this and have a Twitter page, send a message:

"What is @DisneyCruise doing to find information for the Coriam family about the #cruise disappearance of their daughter on the Wonder?" 

Ask your followers to re-tweet your question.

Vote for @CruiseLaw for a Shorty Award in #Law Because . . .

It's that time of the year where the Shorty Awards honor the "best people and organizations on Twitter and social media."  Throughout the month of January, people can nominate Tweeters in official categories and "crowd-sourced categories."  

I am seeking votes for the #law category.  For those of you who follow this blog or interact with me on Twitter, you know that I am a lawyer who believes in the power of communicating via the social media of blogs, Facebook and Twitter.  

Last year I tied for first place in #law and then did the chivalrous thing and voted for my opponent, a lawyer in England, to break the tie.

To vote for me this year, click on this link and you will see a proposed tweet that says: "I nominate @CruiseLaw for a Shorty Award in #law because . . ."  You have to give a reason after "because . . ."  It can be a serious reason (if you have one) or a silly one (like because he asked me).  But you have to give a reason or the vote will not count.

You can also vote simply by going to Twitter and tweeting "I nominate @CruiseLaw for a Shorty Award in #law because . . ."  (and then give a reason).

Thanks!

 Nominate James (Jim) Walker for a social media award in the Shorty Awards!  Nominate James (Jim) Walker for in #law in the Shorty Awards

Princess' Cult of a Cruise - FollowMeAtSea Folly - Part 2 - Fun At Sabatini's

Last November, Princess Cruises invited a number of cruise fans and travel writers on an all expenses paid cruise where they were encouraged to tweet wonderful things about cruising with Princess.  The group used the hashtag "#FollowMeAtSea."  

When a large billion dollar corporation provides "reporters" with a free cruise, and plies them with champagne and free i-pods, free publicity is the result. You know how it works - here's-a-free-cruise-so-write-something-nice-about-us.  Predictably, the pampered Twitter passengers gushed praise on their generous cruise hosts.  The typical comment on Twitter was something like "WOW! this is great!"    

But something interesting happened last year.  A number of people on Twitter, undoubtedly irritated by the mindless cheer-leading of the Twitter cruisers, began to ask fundamental questions about the sustainability of cruising.  After all, cruise ships burn the nastiest fuel in the world - bunker fuel.  And we are at a time when the endless spewing of millions of gallons of cruse oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil well demonstrates that reliance on fossil fuels is a doomed business model - not to mention the disastrous effects on our air, water, and marine life.

Twitter Cruise - #FollowMeAtSeaA heated debate soon erupted on Twitter.  The environmentalists asked pointed questions that the travel writers were completely unprepared to address and the cruise line was afraid to answer.  I commented on Princess Cruises' failed social media experiment in a blog Princess' Cult of a Cruise - #FollowMeAtSea Folly.

I asked questions on Twitter which I felt were important, like what excuse does Princess Cruises have for the worst environmental record for dumping illegal levels of copper, ammonia, zinc and fecal coliform bacteria into Alaska's pristine waters?  There were some nasty responses from the cruisers, who obviously wanted to party and not concern themselves with such thoughts. Finally, one of the travel writers promised to "grill" the environmental officer on the subject of Princess' history of dumping pollutants into Alaskan waters. 

But by the end of the cruise, most of the #FollowMeAtSeas groupies had given up any pretense that there was any legitimate "reporting" on anything having to so with the environment, or other important issues like crime on cruises.  The "reporter" who promised to grill the environmental officer about pollution never followed up on her promise.  Instead, she was later photographed with the Captain, including sitting on his lap while other "reporters" took turns posing for photos while wearing the officers' hats.  Oh well, so much for the rigorous cross-examination.    

So here we are at #FollowMeAtSeas - Part 2.  Princess has offered another free booze and cruise experience to entice another group of travel agents and cruise fans on the Coral Princess cruise ship sailing an Alaskan itinerary.  Free chocolates.  Free massages.  Free fruit baskets and champagne.  You know the drill - go tweet something nice about us.

Most of these cruisers I follow on Twitter, like @OrlandoChris and @CruiseBuzz, have mastered the art of social media and have great blogs and a big Twitter presence.  All of the members of this latest Twitter Press Group seem like great people, entertaining and fun to be around I am sure.

Captain Manfuso - Coral Princess - Princess CruisesSo I have been occasionally following the FollowMeatSea hashtag to see how the cruise is going. 

Most of the tweets from the group are what I expect.  Just this evening, there as an "AMAZING" tweet from @earthxplorer.  A "Wow" from @Travelogged.  Another "Wow" from @OrlandoChris, who touted the cruise line's C.R.U.I.S.E. program - "Courtesy, Respect, Unfailing In Service Excellence."  And finally @BethBlair gave the cruise line a "A+" and tweeted that all of the Princess employees were "friendly, helpful and professional."

There is no controversy on Twitter this year.  The environmentalists have their hands full with the oil spill in the Gulf and are directing their energy to tweets about BP and the mounting ecological disaster.  No one cares about another silly Twitter cruise.  

But there were three tweets from the Princess Twitter group this evening that put a chill down my back.  The first was a tweet by @OrlandoChris - "Looking forward to Sabatini's experience tonight . . .  The second tweet was by @theplanetd "14 courses and an elastic waistband a match made in heaven here at Sabatini's."  And the third by @CruiseBuzz referring to a blog about Princess Cruises' "Ultimate Ship Tour."  The article contained a photo of the Master of the Coral Princess, who I immediately recognized  - the infamous Captain Manfuso. 

You see, last November, a young, handsome and well liked Italian chef aboard the Coral Princess disappeared.  His name is Angelo Faliva.  He worked in Sabatini's.  He was last seen speaking Angelo Faliva - Princess Crew Member - Missing - Coral Princess with some passengers in the restaurant.  There was talk that he had a disagreement with a Filipino crew member in the galley.  There were also rumors that he saw something that he should not have - like drug dealing.  Was there a fight?  Was he thrown overboard?  Or did someone place him in the ship's incinerator as some crew members suspect?

Princess Cruises is not saying.  Even though there are many hundreds of closed circuit television cameras all over the cruise ship, the cruise line claims that they have absolutely no information about Mr. Faliva.  According to Princess, he just disappeared into thin air.

Mr. Faliva's family is devastated. According to news sources in Italy, Princess Cruises has treated the Faliva family rotten.  Mr. Faliva's younger sister, Chiara, traveled to the U.S. and tried to speak to Captain Manfuso who she characterized as cold and rude.  He would not explain anything to her.  

The Faliva family remains in the dark.  Take a moment and read a few of the many articles below which we published about the cruise line's refusal to cooperate with the Faliva family.

So here we have the newest group of "Twitter reporters" who are happy to be wined and dined at Sabatini's and tweet endless compliments about Princess.  But someone should sober up and ask a few meaningful questions. How can a crew members cook for guests in Sabatini's and then vanish without a trace?  What "courtesy" or "respect" was extended to the Faliva family?  If you lose a loved one from a Princess cruise, will Princess remain "friendly, helpful and professional?"

Princess' PR spokespeople Karen Candy and Julie Benson know the case well.  Try questioning them about it and see their response.

Will anyone ask Captain Manfuso what really happened to Mr. Faliva?  Will anyone print a copy of his photograph above and ask Mr. Faliva's fellow employees in Sabatini's what they know about his disappearance?

Or will we hear more comments like "WOW" the veal cutlet at Sabatini's last night was "AMAZING!" 

I'm not holding my breath.  I know this cruise will end with no real reporting about anything of importance to anyone.  

And I can't wait to see who gets tipsy on champagne and sits on Captain Manfuso's lap at the end of the cruise and poses for a photo wearing his hat . . .     

 

For information about crew member Angelo Failva missing from the Princess Coral Princess cruise ship, please consider reading:

Angelo Faliva - Missing - Princess Coral Princess Cruise ShipCrew Member Missing from Princess Cruises' Coral Princess Cruise Ship  

Family of Missing Crew Member Seeks Answers - Princess Cruises Claims "We Are Puzzled"

2009 Ends With Family of Missing Princess Cruises Crew Member Continuing to Seek Answers

Top Cruise Story of 2009 - Sister of Missing Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva Speaks Out: "Vogliamo la Verità!" - "We Want the Truth!"

The Case of Missing Crew Member Angelo Faliva - Is Princess Cruises Engaged In A Cover Up?

Update: Missing Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva - What Say You, Master Mariano Manfuso?

Angelo Faliva Case: Were You on the Coral Princess on November 25, 2009?

Neither Dead Nor Alive - The Faliva Family Remains In Limbo

International Cruise Victims - the Story of Angelo Faliva

Update on Missing Crewmember Angelo Faliva - a Story of "Pain & Incompetency"

Italian TV Show "Chi l'ha Visto?" Features Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva

What Happened to Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva? The Faliva Family Seeks Answers

 

Credits:

Twitter cruise photo             galavanting.tv/

Captain Manfuso photo    @CruiseBuzz's  Ultimate Ship Tour

Angelo Faliva photos            Faliva family

 

Cruise Shipping Miami (SeaTrade) - the Good, Bad and Ugly

Cruise Shipping Miami - SeaTrade - SloveniaThis week I attended "Cruise Shipping Miami" - formerly known as "SeaTrade" - at the cavernous Miami Beach Convention Center.  An intern at the firm, Caitlin Burke, also made her first appearance at the convention. Caitlin wrote a senior thesis at the University of Florida entitled  "Qualitative Study of Victimization and Legal Issues Relevant to Cruise Ships."  Caitlin is also a social media expert having written several blogs which were recognized as the "best in blogs" by the 3,000 member LexBlog network.

As you can see in my Flickr photographs, we made ourselves right at home and had a great time.

The first thing that strikes a first time visitor to the cruise convention is the size and energy of the event.  You can get an idea of how much money is involved in the $35,000,000,000 (billion) cruise industry.  The convention hosts hundreds of port and shipping agencies, tourist boards, shipbuilders, and vendors from places that you didn't realize even existed much less had a connection to cruising.  

With one exception, the vendor booths were friendly and very interactive.  Here's the good, bad, and ugly:

SeaTrade - the Good ...

The tourist board and port booths were outstanding.  The "Cruise Irish," Port of New Orleans Commission, and Slovenia Cruise booths were very friendly and the staff professional and informative.  The "Cruise Irish" delegates had a distinct advantage given the fact that its was St. Patty's Day and they were dispensing free Guinness!  The New Orleans Port contingency was doing a good job.  They handed out Pat O'Brien Hurricane punch and Mardi Gras beads as their band played "Hey Pockey Way" by the Neville Brothers.

I couldn't resist forcing Caitlin to stand for a photograph (photo above left) with the musicians at the Slovenia Cruise booth!

Cruise Shipping Miami - SeaTrade - Viking The tourist boards were without exception friendly.  They board members went out of their way to be conversational.  They handed out souvenir trinkets as they promoted the cruise services and tourist opportunities in their home countries. 

The technical / service vendors had an interesting array of products. Given the nature of our law practice, I was particularly interested in the safety and security products.  We stopped by and looked at the "Thermo Cruise Baby" by the Norwegian group Regatta ("Safe at Sea") as well as an impressive number of life saving preservers and and life boats sold by Viking, including another child's life vest (photo right).           

One of the more interesting booths was the "Castle Shipboard Security Program" which is run by Captain Jeffrey Kuhlman who has first hand experience being boarded by pirates.  He trains mariners to protect themselves and their vessel "from the ravages of piracy and terror."  His partner and spouse, Glenna Kuhlman (photo below, left), attended the booth and was very interesting as she explained their security program.  

The issue of piracy and whether the cruise industry has taken adequate steps to protect cruise passengers is something I have addressed in prior articles:   

Are Cruise Lines Taking Adequate Steps to Protect Passengers from Pirate Attacks?

Cruise Line Liability for Injuries to Passengers and Crew Members Caused by Pirate Attacks

We really appreciated Ms. Kuhlman's friendly description of her company, and we hope that the Cruise Shipping Miami - SeaTrade - Castle Securitycruise industry gets on board with the training program.

SeaTrade - the Bad ...

The Cruise Shipping "Social Media Suite" was the pits.  The Cruise Shipping Miami trade group advertised its "social media" lounge, which had four sets of tables and chairs, a sitting area with a couch and lounge chairs, and a couple of computers.  A sign invited the attendees to "get connected" and "stay connected" on FaceBook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

The weird thing was absolutely no was was there.  Only three employees sitting at a table.  I stopped briefly by one of the computers when I first entered the convention, and updated my status on my twitter page @CruiseLaw.

A few hours later, we returned to the "suite" and sat down at one of the empty tables adjacent to a number of cafes.  We thought we would have a quick lunch (a hotdog and fruit drink) and rest our feet before returning to see the remainder of the show.  But one of the Cruise Shipping Miami employees told us to leave because they "were tired of cleaning up after people who used their tables."  So we obliged.  As we began to take our 1/2 eaten hotdogs with us, we watched another employee chastise other attendees who had walked into the lounge with a soft drink. 

When we left, the lounge was completely empty.  Except for the three "Cruise Shipping Miami" employees talking to each other at one of the tables, drinking soda.

We have written about how some of the cruise lines, like P & O Cruises, have outstanding social media programs while others in the cruise industry are clueless. Take a moment and read  Cruise Lines and Social Media - P & O Cruises Hits A Home Run  to see how the cruise industry is handling social media. 

Cruise Shipping Miami - SeaTrade - Alaska Cruise Shipping Miami's Twitter page @CruiseShipping has a pitiful 137 followers and on only 2 lists.  In the world of "social media," it's clueless.  It's staff?  Boorish.  Walk by and take a look yourself today, but don't make the mistake of sitting down with a hotdog.               

SeaTrade - ... and the Ugly  

The buzz at the cruise convention has been the cruise line executives mocking Alaska's strict  environmental regulations. The CEO's of Holland American Lines and Celebrity threatened Governor Parnell, who was in attendance, that they will pull cruise ships from Alaska if the state did not ease up on the taxes and pollution regulations. The Alaska Dispatch and Travel Agent Central have excellent articles on this issue.

Unlike the powerless Caribbean countries who are desperate for U.S. tourist dollars, Alaska has a strong economy.  Its citizens voted long ago to impose a $50 head tax to protect its pristine waters.  Alaska has the only "ocean ranger" program in the nation where a state environmental official boards the cruise ship and monitors cruise ship discharges while the vessels are in Alaskan waters.

Alaska is smart to protect its natural resources.  The cruise industry has a deplorable environmental record and Carnival and Royal Caribbean have pleaded guilty to multiple felonies for wastewater violations and lying to U.S. Coast Guard.

The image of the CEO of HAL (which has recent wastewater violations on the books) lecturing a Governor of a progressive state like Alaska is rather repugnant (photo above, courtesy of Travel Agent Central).  The cruise industry already has an image of being arrogant and certainly the least diverse group of Cruise Shipping Miami - SeaTrade - CLIA - Norovirusprofessionals around. The image of six white, male, suited, Miami executives chastising Alaska should be a sign that Alaska is doing something right.  It should continue to resist the bullying and protect its waters from exploitation by the cruise industry. 

One of the strange things about this years convention is that there were no U.S. agencies in attendance.  Where was the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)?  Where was the Federal Drug Administration (FDA)?  The cruise industry is facing a crisis with norovirus and there is no focus on this issue at the convention?  Last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) was in attendance and assigned agents to respond to questions about crimes on cruise ships returning to ports in South Florida.  Where was the FBI this year?

Another strange thing was that the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA)'s booth was way in the back of the convention center.  It was poorly staffed and attended.  

The most prominent feature at the CLIA booth was a giant dispenser of Purell hand sanitizer, which by the way doesn't kill norovirus.           

   

Credits:

Cruise line executives       Travel Agent Central

All other photos                   Jim Walker's Flickr photographs

CruiseLaw Meets LexBlog

Last week I met Kevin O'Keefe.  Kevin is the genius behind LexBlog which designs and creates law blogs and supports legal bloggers like myself.  If you like the design and functionality of this blog, thank Kevin.  His Tobacco Road - Beer for Bloggersteam designed it.  

Kevin's company also runs LexMonitor, the best round-up of legal blogs around, as well as LexTweet which tracks lawyers who use Twitter.  Kevin also has an award winning blog "Real Lawyers Have Blogs" which is something every ahead-of-the-curve-lawyer should read.

Kevin was in Miami speaking at a convention and announced an-after-hours "beer for bloggers" get together at Tobacco Road via his blog and Twitter page.  For those of you not familiar with Miami, Tobacco Road is the oldest bar in Miami, with liquor license no. 001, and a relaxing place to hang out.

It was a nice time. Some of the lawyers drove for a couple of hours to Miami to make it. 

Legal marketing expert Paula Black, virtual law firm DirectLaw entrepreneur Richard Granat, international business lawyer Santiago Cuerto, estate planning lawyer David Shulman, business lawyer and Gulf War hero Juan Antúnez, and criminal defense lawyer and super-blogger Brian Tannenbaum all showed up. 

Kevin is an inspiring story. He was a real life lawyer and trial attorney in rural Wisconsin and then created Prairie Law (which he sold to Lexis).  He hit his stride by moving to Seattle to create his LexBlog success.  His company supports something like 3,000 law firms, from blogging law students to solo lawyers to the Am Law 200 big law firms.  LexBlog is an impressive network and helps small law firms like mine be the proverbial big fish in the small pond.  

I remember last year when I was searching for a company to host my blog.  I emailed and then spoke to the people at LexBlog.  I thought that I was interviewing them to see if they were going to meet my blog requirements.  Half-way through the 30 minute conversation, I realized that Cruise Law Meets LexBlog - Jim Walker - Kevin O'Keefethey were interviewing me to see if I met their criteria. 

There are a lot of top notch blogs and lawyers on the LexBlog platform - like Bill Marler's Blog which has expanded to include the NoroBlog and the Food Poison Journal which have touched upon cruise ship norovirus outbreaks. 

My first blog on Lexblog was on September 10th last year. Things started slowly.  Maybe only 20 or 30 people a day stumbled on to my blog, probably by accident.  But I'm now 171 days and 173 blogs down the road (who's counting?)  Last week alone, over 14,000 different people viewed over 25,000 pages on this little blog.  Not bad.  

More importantly, the blog has been cited in national law journals, local newspapers in Florida, and news sources in Europe and the Caribbean.  

Thanks LexBlog.   And next time I'll buy the beer at Tobacco Road.    

 

To see what other lawyers are saying about Kevin and LexBlog, consider reading "God Bless Mrs. O'Keefe" (pretty funny) by a South Carolina trial lawyer, David Swanner.

 

 

Credits:

Tobacco Road   Kevin O'Keefe

Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Ships Collide in Cozumel

In a prior article, I discussed how cruise lines can report on breaking news by using social media applications like Twitter and Twitpic and manage their reputations in the process.

Twitter was the first to report the collision between Carnival and Royal Caribbean's cruise ships at port in Cozumel. Neither Carnival nor Royal Caribbean used their Twitter pages.

Instead, Carnival employee @Dan85Poindexter was the first person to tweet that Carnival's Legend collided with Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas in Cozumel after the Legend's mooring lines were released.

Apparently, strong winds pushed Carnival's Legend into the Enchantment, causing relatively minor damage.  Some have characterized the incident as the two cruise ships "trading paint."

Another person on Twitter @enchantedtravel reported on Twitter: "RCCL damage not severe, no tears in hull, and have left for Belize City. Unsure re Legend." She then posted three photos of the collision: http://twitpic.com/jsnyw  http://twitpic.com/jso07 http://twitpic.com/jso18

In addition to the tweeting passengers, a resourceful passenger uploaded his video of the Carnival - Royal Caribbean collision to YouTube.  One of the passengers on the video is heard criticizing the Captain of the Carnival cruise ship: "you have the whole f - - - ing ocean to park on!"

It should be obvious to anyone with a computer that breaking news will no longer be covered first by newspapers or the conventional media, but by citizen journalists, iPhone photographers and YouTube videographers.

 

 

Its nice to see the Twitpics and YouTube videos for yourself rather than having to rely on cruise line press statements and the usual spin.

 

Photo credit: @enchantedtravel

Video credit: hedojake (via YouTube)
 

Cruise Lines and Social Media - P & O Cruises Hits A Home Run

Cruise lines which are in touch with their market understand the need to be versed with all aspects of Social Media 2.0.  Twitter, FaceBook, Flickr, and YouTube all present an inexpensive and highly effective way to get a company's message out to the public.  This is particularly important in times of crisis management, such when a fire breaks out or a bout of swine flu is running its course on a cruise ship.

Most cruise lines remain clueless.  Royal Caribbean, for example, has a Twitter page @royalcaribbean, but it has not been updated since June 19th.  The only tweet says: "Look for updates here soon!" - that was over three months ago. It resembles an abandoned store front.  

Other cruise lines which are using Twitter or FaceBook are not maximizing the potential offered by social media applications.  Companies like NCL  @NCLFreestyle have pleasant enough websites and utilize Twitter but are mostly just trying to push ticket sales.  Recent tweets by NCL: "hottest new cruise," cruises for "$249," etc.  You get the idea.

The problem with these tweets is that they flaunt the etiquette which has developed on Twitter.  Effective "twitterers" understand that hard sale tactics don't work.  In fact, they turn potential customers off.  But interacting with the public, and providing accurate and relevant information via a conversation, works.  You could imagine how ineffective and counter productive it would be if I took NCL's approach on Twitter - "hottest new lawyer," lawsuits for "$249," etc.  A bad idea.

Princess Cruises - What's Social Media?

When things go wrong at sea, the public deserves to receive accurate information, fast. And Twitter is the best way to do just that. 

When the Princess cruise ship "Royal Princess" caught fire on June 18th, the cruise line didn't release any information to the public.  But a passenger, a Pastor from South Carolina,  @gregsurratt tweeted about the fire from his iphone on the cruise ship.  He indicated that the fire was bigger than expected, that the cruise ship was dark, and that a tug had to tow the ship back to port in Egypt.  Frantic families in the U.S. had to rely on Pastor Surratt for information about their loved ones. He even tweeted photos of the fire, the passengers sprawling out on the deck in the dark, and the tug via "Twitpic" - an application which permits photos to be uploaded onto Twitter. 

When the cruise line finally awoke and posted its typical less-than-forthcoming corporate press statement, no one was paying attention to Princess Cruises.  Everyone was listening to Pastor Surratt tweeting away on the cruise ship in the Mediterranean.  Most troubling was that the press releases finally issued from Princess Cruises' corporate offices in Santa Clarita down-played the incident and provided incomplete and misleading information. 

Princess Cruises not only lost an opportunity to interact with the public via Twitter, but it lost credibility in the process.    

Twitter and YouTube - Effective PR Tools - P & O Cruises Gets An "A" 

Princess Cruises' sister brand P & O Cruises knows what it is doing in the world of social media.  P & O Cruises has had more than its fair share of bad things happen on its cruise ships.  It is best known for the tragic death of Dianne Brimble, who died due to a toxic mix of alcohol and a date rape drug several years ago.  The brand was known for heavy drinking, out of control parties and general debauchery.

But in the last two years, the cruise line has turned its image around.  The PR people at this cruise line rebulit P & O's reputation.  Social media played a big part.

For example, last May when the Pacific Dawn was sailing with passengers and crew infected with H1N1 swine flu, the news media in Australia went nuts. Front page news articles labeled the cruise ship the "swine ship."   

P & O went on the offensive. CEO Ann Sherry began giving short statements on the cruise line's blog.  The cruise line's website contains links to its Twitter and FaceBook pages as well as to "ship blogs" including the Pacific Dawn.  The cruise line knew how to upload videos of cruise activities to its ship blogs as part of its general marketing. It now had the experience to use this media to deal with this crisis. 

Ms. Sherry appeared on the scene, wearing a very smart red dress, and looked directly into the camera. She provided information about sick passengers and what the company was doing to address the issue. The cruise line used its Twitter page @POCruises to provide additional updates and links to the video.  It even uploaded a photo via "Twitpic" of Ms. Sherry, standing in the rain surrounded by reporters, while the beleaguered cruise ship with its sick passengers arrived at port. 

When the flu passed its course, the next ship blog, entitled "Clean Ship," showed photos of the Captain and crew having fun in the disco, smiling and laughing.  The message to the public was quite effective - everything is fine, come on aboard.

In the past several months, P & O Cruises continues to use social media effectively.  Ms, Sherry still appears regularly on YouTube videos, talking about the presence of surveillance cameras on the cruise ships, responsible drinking programs, and "customer care" teams.

it is nice to see a cruise line connecting with the public in this manner.     

 

 

Photo credits  

Photo no. 1 of Ann Sherry - Zimbio - "P & O Cruises Holds Swine Flu Conference" (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Other photographs and video - P & O Cruises

Cruise Law Meets Twitter

I first became intrigued with Twitter when I watched President Obama’s State of the Union speech in February of this year. The galley was filled with people twittering away on their Blackberries and iphones, sending out their own spin on the President’s speech. CNN covered the story and added their own perspective via @CNN.

A few days later I registered @CruiseLaw. I was hooked. In March, I started a Twitter forage that continues today.

Now a little over six months later, I can’t imagine not interacting with the people who follow me on Twitter. I have connected with more people on Twitter in the last 6 months than I have in real life in last 30 years. 6,700 followers. OK, I admit it. I don’t know them all. 

But the experience has led to newspaper and radio interviews, business referrals across the U.S., a modest group of fans and an even larger group of enemies who follow my tweets religiously for no other reason than to instantly and vigorously disagree with me. I like the agitators and detractors best.  It has been fun.

Lawyers USA Weekly recently ran an interesting article by Sylvia Hsieh which featured four lawyers who successfully turned their tweets into clients. Unfortunately, the article is no longer available on line without a subscription. But Bruce Carlton (@brucecarton) of Legal Blog Watch did a good job summarizing my small part in the article as follows:

"James Walker (@CruiseLaw) an attorney in South Miami, Fla., whose practice is devoted solely to suing cruise lines on behalf of injured passengers. Walker tweets about the three things he knows best: cruise ship law, cruise ship law and cruise ship law."

Its pretty funny to be pigeon-holed so accurately by a reporter in a 15 minute telephone interview.

Cruise Ship Law.  Exactly.  Welcome to my place in the Twitter Kingdom.

Don't be a stranger.  Follow me @CruiseLaw