Carnival's CEO Gerry Cahill to Retire - Why?

Carnival released a statement this morning that Gerry Cahill will retire as the CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines at the end of next month. 

Mr. Cahill, age 63, has been with Carnival for 20 years. He joined Carnival Corporation in 1994 as vice president - finance. In January 1998, he was promoted to senior vice president - finance and chief financial officer. In 2007, Mr. Cahill became the CEO of Carnival Corporation's largest cruise brand, Carnival Cruise Lines. 

Mr. Cahill guided Carnival Cruise Lines during its expansion. He introduced a new class of cruise ship (the Dream class), which included the Carnival Dream, Carnival Magic and CarnivalGerry Cahill Carnival Retires Breeze. He appears to have a likeable, easy-going personality. 

Mr. Cahill was often on the proverbial hotspot during the last several years. He had to respond when the Carnival Splendor lost power in 2010 and had to be towed into San Diego. He also was at the helm of the cruise line during the disastrous PR debacle when the Carnival Triumph suffered an engine room fire and had to be towed across the Gulf of Mexico.

The incident was covered by CNN extensively. Carnival's brand recognition suffered dramatically as it became know as the "poop cruise" line. 

Mr. Cahill also caught the wrath of Senator Jay Rockefeller who conducted a series of cruise safety hearings last year and this year following the Costa Concordia disaster. Rockefeller voiced his disapproval of the short prepared statement that Mr. Cahill read at the 2013 hearing (photo, second from right). 

In what seemed like a vote of no confidence for Mr. Cahill, Carnival invited former Carnival Cruise Line president Bob Dickinson back as a "special consultant" to Carnival Cruise Line in June 2013.

In all fairness to Mr. Cahill, Micky Arison was missing in action when the Splendor and Triumph went adrift and Carnival's reputation began to sink following the Concordia debacle. Mr. Cahill took a lot of heat for cruise line issues outside of his responsibility. 

He will retire on November 30th. Carnival has not announced his replacement yet. 

 

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

Emergency Liferaft Deployed on Drunken Celebrity Solstice Cruise to Nowhere

This morning I received messages from readers of Cruise Law News indicating that a passenger deployed a liferaft from a canister during a three night "cruise to nowhere" sailing from Australia. One person on the ship said:

"I have just returned from a 3 night cruise on the celebrity Solstice out of Sydney, Australia. On the 2nd night we saw one of the inflatable life boats had been deployed and the ship had to actually turn around and go back to retrieve it. We were told by several people that it was actually a passenger that threw the capsule overboard."

Other passengers mentioned that the cruise was a real booze fest during which someone apparently thought that Celebrity Solsticeactivating the liferaft was a good college-type-of-prank to perform.

I received a photo from another passenger, apparently posted on Facebook, but I don't have a name for attribution. 

Activating a liferaft canister like this can be written off as a hair-brain shenanigan, but it is alarming to me. No one should have access to the canisters nor should they be able to deploy one. A terrorist or someone wanting to cause harm to the vessel's operations could easily deploy a dozen of them if they are so easily accessible & deployable and there are no security precautions in place.

It reminds me of a situation several years ago when a drunken passenger entered a "restrictive" area and dropped the ship's anchor on a Holland American Line cruise ship. You can read about that combination of drunken passenger conduct and ship security lapse here: Drunk Passenger Drops Cruise Ship Anchor.  

October 27 2014 Update: We received a comment from the IP address of Royal Caribbean (see below) stating that "Nobody deployed the raft . . . the raft fell in the water as the strap failed . . . we did check the CCTV cameras on Deck and we also have the video already . . ."

So what happened?  Did the canister deploy by accident? Seems like this should have been disclosed on the ship. Anyone have additional info?

 

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

Photo Credit:  Facebook

Captain Schettino Lectures Graduate Students on "Management of Panic Control"

Disgraced Costa captain Francesco Schettino is back in the news after a professor at the University of Rome invited him to lecture to a class of graduate students studying forensic science.

A number of news sources quote Schettino saying: "I was called in because I am an expert. I had to illustrate the management of panic control."  He later said: "I have sailed the seas of the world and I know what to behave and how to react."

Of course it was Schettino, now known as "captain coward", who killed 32 passengers and crew members because he was frozen with panic after he ran the cruise ship into the rocks off of Giglio. He fled the scene of the disaster he caused, by hopping Schettino the Deadly Buffoonin a lifeboat and abandoning his responsibilities. 

When I think that this debacle couldn't get any more absurd, this deadly buffoon re-emerges to pour salt in the wounds of the victims' grieving families. 

Last month, the tan, slick-haired captain was photographed jetting around the holiday island of Ischia, surrounded by a "gaggle of glamorous women" while celebrating signing a book deal.

Meanwhile, a newspaper reports today that a human skull was found in the remains of the Concordia cruise ship, which has been towed to  the port town of Genoa for scrapping.

 

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

Image credit: National Post

Royal Caribbean Premiers Google Street View of Allure of the Seas

Royal Caribbean is using Google Maps Business View (the commercial version of Google’s Street View) to advertise the Allure of the Seas. 

The Telegraph newspaper writes that "visitors to the website select from a series of options to enable them to 'tour' the ship’s restaurants, cabins and pools as well as the ship's 'unique activities,' which include a surfing machine, rock-climbing wall and zip wire."

Take a tour here. It's pretty cool.

Its too bad that Royal Caribbean hasn't invested the same time and effort into implementing automatic man overboard video camera technology required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act. Read: Royal Caribbean's Misplaced Priorities: Fast Internet, Virtual Balconies But No Automatic Man-Overboard Systems.

Royal Caribbean Google Tour

Boondoggle Idea of the Year - Raise the Skyway Bridge or Build a New Terminal for Tampa?

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is about to release its study into whether to raise the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in order to accommodate the newer huge cruise ships which can't fit under the bridge.  

A Tampa news station reports on the issue in a story entitled "Mega Cruise Ships Present Mega Problems for Tampa." The station says that "officials could do nothing, replace the bridge, build a drawbridge on one side or build a new cruise terminal near the Hillsborough/Pinellas line to avoid it all together."

The FDOT is spending over $150,000 of taxpayer money to determine whether it is feasible to raise Skyway Bridge the bridge. The FDOT is also studying whether new cruise ship terminals should be constructed to avoid the the bridge. 

The Skyway bridge was re-designed after a cargo carrier slammed into it in 1980, toppling a span and killing 35 motorists. It was raised when it was re-built and can still accommodate most cruise ships today. It's a beautiful design, beautifully landscaped, and in outstanding condition.

Raising the bridge again would certainly take a couple of years. It would result in stopping all traffic on the bridge or detouring all traffic to one span. This would be a major hassle for commuters crossing from Bradenton to St. Petersburg or from St. Pete to Bradenton. Why should the residents of South Pinellas or North Manatee County be inconvenienced to accommodate a cruise terminal in Hillsborough county?

Plus, the project would likely cost over $500,000,000 and as much as $1,000,000,000 (billion). Spending that much money in hope of attracting more passengers from a gigantic ship is a foolhardy adventure especially considering that cities like Mobile, Houston and Norfolk spent tens of millions building new cruise terminals for the cruise lines which left them high and dry.

Last year, the Bradenton Herald reported that bridges "have been raised to accommodate ships in the past, but it is a costly and time-consuming process." The newspaper cites the Bayonne Bridge in New York which has been in the slow process of being raised for the past several years at a cost of over $740,000,000.

I have discussed this issue before. One reader of our Cruise Law News Facebook page said: 

"How about building ships that are appropriately sized to fit ports (and destinations) rather than the push for ever bigger ships, demanding bigger, new and different infrastructure (costs pushed off onto port communities to extent possible). Wouldn't it be grand if all the best ports simply united and said no. This is the maximum we are built for."

You can see the Skyway bridge in a photo (above) I took last year from my father-in-law's dock.

I say leave the bridge the hell alone.

July 3 2014 Update: The Bradenton Herald says that the cost of replacing the bridge would be $2,000,000,000 (billion).  Given the cruise industry's track record over the years, there is no way that cruise lines like Carnival or Royal Caribbean would pay a dime of it.

 

FOX 13 News

Royal Caribbean Tries to Block David Beckham's Soccer Stadium

International soccer star David Beckham plans to build a soccer stadium at the Port of Miami with the dramatic vista of downtown Miami in the background. But the Chairman of Royal Caribbean Cruises is doing everything possible to block Beckham's plans. 

In an interview with television station Local 10, cruise executive Richard Fain says that the port isn't a suitable location for the stadium. 

It's also a location where Fain's cruise line built a parking lot and a gym for its employees, which are David Beckham Soccer Stadium obviously not the best uses of the 12 acre property. Unlike Norwegian Cruise Lines and Carnival which operate their headquarters on the north and north-west sides of the Miami International airport, Royal Caribbean's headquarters are located right at the port.

Fain and his "well-funded Miami Seaport Alliance" seem to be using scare tactics, arguing that the new stadium "will jeopardize more than 200 cargo and cruise-related jobs," a claim that newspaper researchers find false.

Fain doesn't want to talk about losing his parking lot and the gym. He couches his argument against the soccer stadium in terms of "protecting our port."  But the land is not suitable for deep water use by today's mega-liners.

May it just be that Fain doesn't want to see the new stadium towering over his cruise line's offices and causing traffic delays disrupting his daily drive into the office?     

Miami's mayor, Tomas Regalado, says the decision on the new stadium site will rest with the people of Miami. 

Photo Credit: Design Boom

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

 

Red Bugs in Bahamian Palms? Nassau Vendors in Uproar Over NCL Straw Market Ban

Red Palm Mite Straw MarketThe Tribune newspaper in Nassau reports on a controversy which developed when a Miami-based cruise line apparently banned its passengers from buying items at the local straw market due to fear that the straw may be infested with a pest called the "red palm mite."

The Tribune says that Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) has apparently prohibited straw crafts from being brought back on its cruise ships in Nassau for the past several weeks.

Tourism officials told the Tribune that the ban was connected to the infestation of the palm mite in the Caribbean. However, Bahamas allegedly has no incidents of palm mite infestation according to the tourism officials. They also say that the straw in the Bahamas is cured anyway.

Local vendors are complaining that NCL cruise passengers are saying that anything they buy in the straw market will be confiscated by cruise ships guards when they return to the ship.

According to the Tribune, the tourism officials have tried to resolved the issue with NCL and have alerted the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association about the problem. 

The issue shows how dependent the Bahamas is on cruise ship tourists.  

NCL sails nearly 15,000 passengers to Nassau on a regular basis on five cruise ships - the Breakaway, Gem, Pearl, Sky, and Getaway

 

Photo Credit: University of Florida

Quadcopter Buzzes the Allure of the Seas in Fort Lauderdale

This week I ran across a video of a "quadcopter" (also called a quadrotor helicopter or a quadrocopter) flying over the beach in Fort Lauderdale.

What's interesting is that the quadcopter quickly catches up with Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas. It flies behind and far over the giant cruise ship for a few minutes. 

It seems rather amazing that a little copter like that can fly so far and high and fast, and it can be safely controlled from so far away.

The video was shot and edited by Carlo Vaccari.  You can see his Facebook page RC Copters here.  

It was disappointing, however, to see an incredible amount of diesel / bunker fuel smoke billowing out of the ship. It's particularly nasty around the 5:00 minute mark. 

A year ago we blogged about a quadcopter buzzing the Costa Concordia - QuadroCopter Operators Arrested in Giglio for Filming Costa Concordia.

Broken Thruster or Strong Currents? Norwegian Breakaway Delayed Returning to Pier 88

A number of news sources are reporting that a NCL cruise ship, the Norwegian Breakaway, was delayed in the Hudson River after one of its thrusters malfunctioned this morning.

The Daily News reported that the Breakaway, while returning to New York after a week-long Caribbean cruise, lost its steering as it headed toward Pier 88 on the West Side when a thruster malfunctioned. 

NCL Norwegian Breakaway Cruise ShipCoast Guard officials said they were notified of the predicament around 7:45 AM, and a tug boat assisted the cruise ship to the pier around 10 AM.

NCL didn't mention any type of propulsion problem. A NCL spokeperson said “The ship was slightly delayed because of strong currents in the Hudson River.” 

A cruise passenger @NoelDallacco tweeted that the incident was not a big deal. She posted a photo of a tug pushing the NCL cruise ship to port. 

NCL cruise ships have experienced problems trying to make it into New York piers in the past. In 2012, the Norwegian Star cruise ship struck the pier next to an aircraft carrier at the Intrepid Museum in Manhattan. In 2008, the Norwegian Spirit smashed Pier 90 while trying to dock at Pier 88. 

Ten days ago, there was dramatic video posted on Facebook and Twitter when NCL's Norwegian Gem was attempting to return to port to attempt a medical disembark after a passenger was injured. The cruise ship began drifting sideways toward an anchored tanker and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. (The pilot aboard the NCL ship sounds like Woody Allen). The video is from NY Harbor Webcam: 

 

 

 

 

May 6 2014 Update: According to a NBC news station, "A dead 30-foot whale found on the Brooklyn side of New York Harbor Monday morning may have gotten tangled in the steering system of a cruise ship, disabling the boat for several hours, authorities said Tuesday.

The whale was found near Pier 4 on Monday, and towed to the New Jersey side of the harbor.

The NOAA Fisheries Service said it is believed to have been struck by the Norwegian Cruise Lines ship, which then stalled for several hours in the Hudson River as it was preparing to dock in Manhattan Sunday. 

Former Royal Caribbean Crew Member, Acquitted of Raping Passenger, Wins Unlawful Detention Lawsuit Against the Bahamas

The Nassau Guardian published an article yesterday about a former Royal Caribbean crew member, Ruel Lockwood, previously employed as a stateroom attendant, who was accused of raping a young woman on Royal Caribbean's Sovereign of the Seas cruise ship during a cruise to Nassau in 2006.

The crew member entered the college student's cabin with a key card, which he used to enter cabins to clean them.

The jury in the Nassau, Bahamas acquitted the crew member of the rape in the criminal case, although Nassau Bahamas CourthouseRoyal Caribbean paid $1,500,000.00 to settle the civil case which we filed here in Miami.

After crew member Lockwood was acquitted, he remained in jail for 4 days in Nassau. For that, he sued the Bahamas for "unlawful detention."

The Bahamian judge entered the order of acquittal on November 19, 2007, but immigration officials kept him in jail until November 23, 2007. The immigration officials contended that the cruise line did not complete the travel arrangements for Lockwood until November 23rd. However, Lockwood contended that Royal Caribbean had a ticket for him to fly home to Nicaragua earlier but the immigration officials refused to release his passport and kept him in jail unnecessarily. 

In 2011, Lockwood filed a civil case against the Bahamas for the extra days he stayed in jail. Yesterday the Bahamian trial court found that Lockwood should have been released by November 21st and awarded him compensation and legal costs to be determined at a later date.

We wrote about this weird situation back in 2011.  Lockwood spent approximately a year in a Bahamian jail for the alleged rape. But after the immigration officials and/or Royal Caribbean screwed up, Lockwood will receive compensation for 2 days. I wonder what a Bahamian judge will think that's worth?

Carnival "Poop Cruise" Passengers Seek $5,000 a Month for Life

Carnival Poop Cruise LawsuitReuters is reporting that the Carnival "poop cruise" passengers are seeking $5,000 a month for life. Ridiculous, many people will say. I don't disagree.

I went on record a year ago saying that Triumph passengers should not bother suing because they are not going to get anything - read Carnival Triumph Cruise From Hell: Here Come the Lawsuits!

Carnival's lawyers responded by telling Reuters that "this is an opportunistic lawsuit brought by plaintiff's counsel and plaintiffs who seek to make a money grab."

That's like the pot calling the kettle black. Carnival CEO Micky Arison is worth $7 billion and just sold $395 million of stock. But Carnival still felt compelled last year to raid the crew member's tips and suspend their retirement benefits. Talk about a money grab.

I say what do the hard-working Carnival crew members get for cleaning up the filthy ship?

MSC Magnifica Stuck in Port of Santos, Brazil With Fouled Propeller

A newspaper in Brazil reports that the MSC Magnifica, scheduled to depart from the Port of Santios, Brazil this evening at 6:00 P.M., remains in port after a mooring line became caught in the cruise ship's propeller.

A Tribuna states that that "one of the mooring lines to the pier got stuck in one of the propellers of the vessel."  

Santos is in the state of São Paulo, Brazil.

The Brazilian newspaper explains that precisely at 6:00 P.M., while the Magnifica was performed an undocking maneuver, a tether line (rope used to attach the ship to the pier) tangled in a propeller. MSC MagnificaThe operation was canceled and divers were deployed to try to solve the problem.

According to the newspaper, a spokesperson for the MSC said that the vessel encountered "technical-operational" problems. MSC further released a statement that  the delay in the departure of MSC Magnifica in the port of Santos "was due to a scheduled maintenance that took longer than expected."

The captain also informed the passengers, through the intercom speakers, that first departure, scheduled to take place at 6:00 P.M. on Sunday, was delayed by so-called "operational problems." The passengers were notified that the cruise ship would leave at 8:30 P.M., which it failed to do, and the departure time was further delayed until midnight.  

The cruise ship's webcams indicate that the ship remains in port at this time (1:00 A.M.).

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Bracodbk

Sign of the Apocalypse? Royal Caribbean Cruises for $32 a night

Motel 6 - Cheap Cruise FaresMarket Watch says you can cruise on Royal Caribbean for $32 a night.

Yes, it may be an interior cabin. And yes, you run the risk of catching norovirus like a record number of passenger did recently on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas. But what the heck, its cheaper than staying at a Motel 6 which starts at $39.99.

Market Watch says that the low price may be a result of Royal Caribbean's recent woes with the Explorer. When disaster strikes or a "cruise for hell" affecting thousands of people hits the press, cruise lines often drop their fares. Of course, the cruise line is also trying to prime the pump for wave season.  

An article in Reuters, As Outbreaks Hit Cruises, Are Deals Worth Risking Illness?, explains that "potential travelers need to weigh the odds they'll get sick against the amount of money they might save now, and see what they can stomach."

Cruise Passengers Picket & Protest When Costa Ship Misses Port in Vietnam

Costa Victoria Cruise ShipHere is something you will never see in the world of cruising: Cruise passengers so unhappy with their cruise that they won't leave the ship!

As reported in the South China Morning Post, the Costa Victoria could not enter a port in Vietnam because a sunken ship blocked the harbor.  This resulted in a shore excursion to Halong Bay being cancelled.

The travel agency offered the 1,000 or so passengers a refund of around $40 each and the cruise line offered them $50 each.  Most accepted the offers, but over 100 passengers demanded a refund of up to 70% of their cruise fares. They refused to leave the ship and protested loudly.

The next sailing was delayed due to the protest.      

I can't remember ever seeing or hearing about passengers picketing and protesting like this before.

A cruise line would quickly terminate and blacklist a crew member who ever did anything like this. Most disgruntled passengers just want to get off the ship, make their flight connections, and go home.  

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / HG32

 

 

Madness Aboard a Carnival "Fun Ship:" The Cruise Customer is Always Wrong

Carnival Cruise ShipKATC news station in Louisiana is reporting on the proverbial "cruise from hell" when a "woman's fun getaway turned into what she calls a nightmare."

According to the news station, the woman and her friend were looking forward to their Carnival cruise to Mexico.

On the second day of her cruise, all her money and travel documents, birth certificate and driver's license were stolen from her cabin, she claims. Watch what unfolds thereafter in the video here.

The passenger claims she was harassed when she complained. Carnival accuses her of harassing the cruise line. By the end of the cruise, Carnival considered the matter to be closed. The passenger felt abused. 

Whether you are a fan of the "Fun Ships" or skeptical of cruise passengers when horror stories emerge like this, one thing is certain. Cruise passengers have few if any legal rights on the high seas. Hiring a lawyer is a waste of time. All that most passengers can do in a "she-said, he-said" dispute is go to the media and let the public decide. 

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

Country Cruising Fiasco: Star Trace Adkins Allegedly Falls Off Wagon, Fights Himself and Leaves Cruise

A cruise ship is a terrible place to go if you have a drinking problem.

The gossipy TMZ and the New York Daily News say that country music star Trace Adkins allegedly got drunk on a country music cruise, fought with an impersonator singing karaoke, and then left the ship in mid cruise when the ship arrived in Jamaica. He subsequently checked into a rehabilitation center.

The tabloid media says that Mr. Atkins struggles with alcoholism but has been sober for 12 years, until the cruise this week. The AP has confirmed that he has entered a rehab program. The newspapers indicate that he has discussed the issue of alcoholism publicly.

Country Cruise NCL Pearl Trace AdkinsMr. Adkins was the top bill on a "Country Cruising" week-long cruise on a Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ship (the Pearl) which left  Miami on Sunday, January 12th with stops in Ocho Rios (yesterday), Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. The ship will return on Sunday.

You can click on the cruise website and listen to him invite you personally "to the best country cruise ever . . . I sailed on this cruise last year and I can tell you it was a hoot . . .  it was a blowout!"

So right now a boatload of country music fans are sailing without the headlining act. Let's wish Mr. Adkins well and hope the fiasco doesn't end up in litigation.  

I suspect that his fans will take the incident in stride.

Mr. Adkins is active on Twitter. On the first day of the cruise, he left his tweet: "Up here in my suite, overlooking the pools. Behave yourselves."   

We have heard of other stars falling victim to the tendency to over-drink on cruises.

A couple of years ago one of the Backstreet Boys got so hammered during a fan cruise that some fans asked Carnival for a refund. 

ABC has a video of the story which you can see here.

Another Blonde-Bimbo-in-the-Bridge Scandal Rocks Costa

Costa Concordia Domnica CemortanIts been two years since the deadly Costa Concordia disaster. It's much safer now the cruise lines assure us. 

The cruise line trade organization, CLIA, reminds us of all of the new protocols which the cruise industry implemented shortly after the Concordia capsized.

One of the new rules prohibits family, guests or other persons not essential to the navigation of the vessel from being on the bridge. This was to prevent "disruptions and distractions to the bridge team members while monitoring the navigation of the ship."

This new proposal came about because at the time of the disaster, disgraced Captain Schettino had invited his (often-photographed-in-a-bikini} paramour, Moldovan dancer Domnica Cemortan, to the bridge.

I call this the "no-bimbo's-on-the-bridge" protocol. 

It's pretty embarrassing that this is how the playboy officers on the Costa cruise were acting at the time of the disaster. It's even more embarrassing that the cruise lines had so little confidence in their navigational crew that they had to adopt a policy outlawing such immature, fraternity-like behavior.

Sasha Alexandra Costa CruisesBut today it appears that nothing has changed at the Costa boys club.The Italian newspaper Oggi published photographs of an attractive Romanian blonde, Sasha Alexandra, posing in the bridge of the Costa Atlantica. She was photographed next to the captain in a tight cocktail dress holding a large machine gun.

I can hear the Costa captain thinking: These former-communist women from post-Cold War eastern Europe holding guns are so hot!

The Italian magazine explains that the Atlantica cruise ship was sailing through the Gulf of Aden with armed security guards to protect the cruise ship from  attack by Somali pirates. That's when the captain invited the lovely Sasha Alexandra onto the bridge.

Oggi further explains that someone who obtained the photographs tried to extort money from Costa in return for not selling them to the press. It looks like Oggi was willing to pay more money than Costa for the embarrassing photos.

The timing of the latest-blonde-in-the-bridge photo couldn't have been worse. Yesterday was the two year anniversary of the Concordia crash which claimed 32 lives. 

For all those naive cruise fans who want to believe the cruise lines when they say that things have changed, the sad truth is that the cruise industry is no safer now than it was two years ago.

The photos prove it.

I can't wait when the Playboy edition entitled the "Girls of Costa Cruise Lines" comes out.

I suspect that it may consist entirely of photos shot in the bridges of the cruise ships in the Costa fleet. 

Costa Atlantica Cruise Ship 

Photographs: 

Top: Domnica Cemortan / Costa Concordia / Fransesco Schettino - http://www.stiri.com.ro/stire

Middle: Sasha Alexandra - Facebook via Telegraph

Bottom: Oggi via Telegraph

Worst Cruise Line Headline of the Day: "Cruise Industry is Going Overboard to Make Sailing Safe for the Environment"

Today the travel section of the New York Daily News published an article entitled the Cruise Industry is Going Overboard to Make Sailing Safe for the Environment.

In light of the many recent overboard passenger cases, the title is inappropriate. After all, there have been four passengers who have gone overboard in less than three weeks. Passengers have gone 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. Just this morning, I posted an article about a passenger going overboard from Holland America Line's Veendam

So I clicked on the link, which goes to a puff piece by a writer for the Daily News claiming that:  

Garbage Bags Cruise Ship DumpingThe "major lines have reportedly reduced waste, garbage and other forms of pollution by nearly 50% in the past decade through a conscientious, industry-wide effort to go green."

"Conscientious, industry-wide effort to go green?"  Egads!

The last news about the cruise industry, involving environmental issues, involves a MSC cruise ship which is alleged to have recently dumped bags of garbage overboard into Brazilian waters after making a Transatlantic crossing.    

It's cruise passengers, not the cruise lines, who are going overboard. And it's the cruise industry which is treating the oceans like a garbage dump. 

Stupid Cruise Idea of the Year: Raise the Bradenton - St. Petersburg Skyway Bridge to Accommodate Gigantic Cruise Ships for Tampa

Sunshine Skyway BridgeI could not believe my eyes when I read the headline in the Bradenton Herald this morning: "Raising Sunshine Skyway Bridge Could Accommodate Jumbo Cruise Ships."

Is this some type of April Fools joke?

Apparently not. The newspaper reports that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is studying whether to raise the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in order to accommodate the newer cruise ships which can't fit under the bridge.

The FDOT is spending over $150,000 of taxpayer money to determine whether it is feasible to raise the bridge. The FDOT is also studying whether new cruise ship terminals should be constructed west of the bridge, either in St. Petersbug or Bradenton. 

A FDOT spokesperson told the Bradenton Herald: "Given the economic impact from the cruise business on the region, the FDOT wants to look into possibilities for mitigating possible future negative impacts on the loss of this cruise business in the region, including whether constructing a new terminal outside of the Skyway Bridge, or perhaps even raising the bridge, should be considered."

Of course, the FDOT also has an obligation to Florida taxpayers not to waste their money in considering silly, hair-brain ideas like this.

The Skyway bridge was re-designed after a cargo carrier slammed into it in 1980, toppling a span and killing 35 motorists. It was raised when it was re-built and can still accommodate most cruise ships today. It's a beautiful design, beautifully landscaped, and in outstanding condition.     

Raising the bridge again would probably take a couple of years. It would result in stopping all traffic on the bridge or detouring all traffic to one span.  This would be a major hassle for commuters crossing from Bradenton to St. Petesburg or from St. Pete to Bradenton.  Why should the residents of South Pinellas or North Manatee County be inconvenienced to accommodate a cruise terminal in Hillsborough county?

Plus, the project would likely cost over $500,000,000 and as much as $1,000,000,000 (billion). Spending that much money in hope of attracting more passengers from a gigantic ship is a foolhardy adventure especially considering that cities like Mobile, Houston and Norfolk spent tens of millions building new cruise terminals for the cruise lines which left them high and dry.        

The newspaper says that bridges "have been raised to accommodate ships in the past, but it is a costly and time-consuming process." The newspaper cites the Bayonne Bridge in New York which has been in the slow process of being raised for the past several years at a cost of over $740,000,000. 

You can see the Skyway bridge in photos I took last year.  

I say leave it the hell alone.  

 

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

Photo Credit: Jim Walker  /  Original story credit: Sara Kennedy, Bradenton Herald reporter, follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge 

Rock Star's Cruise Phobias: Ships Upside Down, Bathrooms Not Working

Match Box 20 Sail the Sea CruiseI'm a fan of Matchbox 20's lead singer Rob Thomas. You know his hits: 3:00 AM, Someday, & Smooth with Carlos Santana. Watch She's Gone with Daryl Hall, pretty amazing, best played loud.

So it was weird to watch an interview of Thomas talking about the upcoming Sail the Sea tour aboard a Carnival cruise ship to Nassau during the first part of December.

Its seems that Thomas may have watched too many hours of CNN's endless "poop cruise" coverage or he suffers from PTSD after watching the Poseidon Adventure.  Here's what he says to Fuse during an interview promoting his upcoming cruise concert:

"I was pretty scared of luxury liners on vacation. As soon as it left port, I would start having a panic attack."

He adds with a smile on his face:

"You start seeing [news] about ships turning upside down, the bathroom's not working. We're just trying to figure out an escape clause. If something happens, I'm not going to be rude, but screw everyone else on that boat. I'm getting a helicopter, getting out of there and we're going to move on with our lives . . . 

 

Video and story credit: Fuse

Why was the Thomson Dream Sailing in Circles?

A reader of cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website raised an interesting question why a AIS chart of the Thomson Dream cruise ship (via marinetraffic.com) showed the ship sailing in a weird pattern.

The experts I have discussed this with don't think that the pattern resembles one to be taken if the ship were conducting a man-overboard search. Another thought was that the cruise ship may have been responding to another vessel in distress perhaps, although this seems unlikely too. An practice exercise is also a possibility, although nothing in particular comes to mind. 

No ship would take this course as a part of its normal itinerary considering the fuel that would be wasted.

Assuming the AIS positioning is accurate, what was going on?  I don't know. Can anyone on the Thomson Dream explain the ship's maneuvering? 

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

Thomson Dream AIS

Lawsuit: Couple on Carnival Triumph Endured "Deplorable, Unsafe & Unsanitary Conditions," But They Weren't on the Cruise Ship!

It's hard to develop a reputation worse than Carnival Cruise Lines these days but a lawyer in Houston may have accomplished that feat.  

According to the Houston Chronicle, Houston lawyer John Bruster Loyd filed a lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Lines on behalf of a couple in Texas.

He alleged that they had been victims of the disgusting conditions on the ill-fated Triumph "poop cruise." He said that his clients were forced to endure Carnival Poop Cruise - Triumph"deplorable, unsafe and unsanitary conditions." 

The problem is that the couple were never on the cruise ship.

The couple's beef with Carnival was that they lost the value of their pre-paid wedding in Cozumel when subsequent sailings of the Triumph were canceled. The cruise line allegedly promised to reimburse the couple but failed to do so.

But it seems that their attorney, who had not spoken to his clients for 6 to 7 months, forgot that they never sailed and got carried away with his allegations.

The newspaper quotes the embarrassed lawyer saying "I screwed up." 

  

Is Jamaica's Ganga Tour the Best Cruise Excursion?

There's an interesting article today by the Associated Press about the lesser publicized side of cruise ship excursions entitled Jamaica's "Ganja Tours Draw the Tourists" (with subtitle: "Cannabis connoisseurs can enjoy trips to hidden plantations and sample strains of the drug that inspired Bob Marley.")

Jamaican ganja like "purple kush" and "pineapple skunk" are some of the favorites of "pot tourists" who cruise into Falmouth and then head up to the mountains. 

The AP article says that many tours pass through Nine Mile, the mountain hometown of famous reggae star and pot lover Bob Marley, where Jamaican men can escort tourists to locations Falmouth Jamaica Ganja in the mountains where pot grows. 

The newspaper writes about a "couple of busloads of cruise-ship tourists arriving at Bob Marley's childhood home," where "more than a dozen lined up enthusiastically to buy bags of weed . . . through a hole in the wall of the museum compound."

You won't see any of the official cruise excursions labeled as ganja tours as such. But there is big money to be made by the cruise lines in driving passengers into the mountains where the potent sinsemilla is cultivated.

Royal Caribbean promotes an excursion from its new port development in Falmouth where passengers from the Oasis and the Allure can participate in the aptly entitled "Bob Marley Experience." (Are you experienced?)

According to the Royal Caribbean website, the excursion's "HIGHLIGHTS" (a Freudian slip or pandering to potheads?) include listening to reggae music on the bus ride from the port and back through the "narrow winding country roads to the mountain village of Nine Miles" to visit the birthplace and resting place of the late & great Bob Marley.  And of course there's time to trek into the pot fields.

Bob Marley Excursion - Crnival CruiseThe Royal Caribbean "Bob Marley Experience" is available starting at $99. The cruise line excludes minors, with the minimum age being 18 year-olds. This is no Dunn's River Falls excursion for kids, Dude.

Carnival offers an identical tour in their "Zion Bus" (for cruise passengers 18 and older) where you can "listen to Bob Marley’s hits as your dreadlocked driver takes you into the hills."

A Carnival passenger wrote in a review of the tour:

"Like the guide told us - You get high, high up to the mountains!"

A Jamaican jerk chicken lunch is offered too.  All the cruise lines need to add is a dozen brownies to make the experience complete.  

 

Photo: Top - Falmouth, Jamaica by Jim Walker; Bottom - Bob Marley Tour Bus - Carnival.

You can see some interesting photos and information about the Bob Marley experience here.

Millennium Passengers Fear Riot & Call 911

KRBD FM Community Radio for Southeast Alaska has an interesting story today about cruise passengers aboard the broken down Celebrity Millennium cruise ship calling 911 in Ketchikan out of fear that a "riot" would break out. 

It seems like some cruise passengers were unruly about the cancellation of the cruise and communications about where the passengers were to be flown.

A local police chief told KRBD:

“We, the police department, received three 911 calls from passengers on the MV Millennium who stated that people were getting unruly on board the ship, and they believed a riot was about to begin. Officers responded to the ship, met with ship security and advised them of the 911 calls. Ship security and officers contacted approximately 500 guests on the third floor of the vessel, and subsequently peace was restored and officers left.”

Read more: Passengers on Troubled Cruise Ship Near Rioting, Callers Told Ketchikan Police

Just imagine if the Millennium was stuck in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico for four or five days.

Millennium Cruise ship Alaska

Story & Photo Credit: KRBD

And Just When It Couldn't Get Any Worse for Carnival: Flesh Eating Bacteria Hot Tubs on Carnival's Fun Ships!

Carnival has been under the spotlight for everything that can go wrong on the high seas.

Fires, poop cruises, an Italian playboy captain who crashes a $600 million luxury ship on the rocks, sexual assaults, non-payment of U.S. taxes and so forth and so on.  The news was so bad and so often bad that Carnival sent long term CEO Micky Arison to the sidelines.

The news can't possibly get any worse for Carnival. Could it?

Flesh Eating ZombieI think so.

Today we hear about a cruise passenger who contracted "hot tub folliculitis" from a hot tub aboard the Carnival Paradise. His lawyers issued a press release which alleges they are seeking class action status for other cruise passengers who were injured by a "dangerous, flesh-eating bacteria" in the cruise ship's whirlpools.

The passenger's leg sustained a severe infection which nearly cost him his leg, the PR statement reads. "The entire leg turned black and they wanted to amputate." After a week in the hospital and $70,000 in medical bills later, the leg was saved, but remains scarred from the flesh-eating infection according to the lawyers.

The statement also says that when the passenger contacted Carnival, a guest relations specialist told the injured passenger that there were more than fifty other passengers on the same cruise who came down with the same illness from using the hot tubs.

A little know fact - the passenger's lawyer is a former defense lawyer for Carnival who switched sides. A smart fellow.  He knew when to jump ship! 

The allegation sounds like something out of a 1970's exploitational horror film!  But because it involves Carnival, its probably true . .  

July 20, 2013 Update: We received the following statement from Carnival:

"The lawsuit is meritless. All pools, whirlpools and water-based amenities on board our ships are properly maintained and their water content properties are routinely monitored. We take sanitation and cleanliness on our vessels very seriously and water quality is confirmed through periodic inspections by the U.S. Public Health service. Our guests may rest assured that these shipboard amenities are maintained via strict standards and practices to ensure a clean and safe environment. We decline to comment further given the pending lawsuit."

Captain Schettino Changes Course While Costa Concordia Trial Starts & Stops

The criminal trial against Captain Schettino finally started this week but, believe it or not, was suspended due to a national strike of lawyers in Italy.

Captain Schettino showed up for the first day at the theater in Grosseto where the trial will be held. The paparazzi photographed him wearing a snappy blue sports coat. No tie. An open collar shirt. Cool sunglasses. Tan. With his I'll-say-anything-attitude. This guy is too much. On trial for abandoning ship and manslaughter with 32 dead on his watch and he appears like a playboy vacationing on a yacht in Monaco.

All he needed to complete his image was his blonde former cruise ship dancer Moldovan paramour at his side.   

The Telegraph newspaper reports Captain Schettino's story changed. His lawyers stated that he really didn't abandon ship. He was "inadvertently thrown from the ship" is the latest excuse.

From "I-slipped-and-fell-into-a-lifeboat" whopper to "I-was-inadvertently thrown-off-the-cruise-ship" tall tale. Oh boy.

What a soap opera will unfold when the lawyers come back to work from their strike.

Captain Schettino - Costa Concordia Cruise Ship

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

 

Photo Credit: AP / Giacomo Aprili via Telegraph

More Concordia Craziness: Scorned Woman Sues Costa

The Costa Concordia disaster has created some of the weirdest stories I have ever heard of in the field of maritime law. The notion of a playboy captain dining with a young blonde former ship dancer while the cruise ship heads towards disaster would be an improbable movie script if the story were not so real.

Captain Schettino is, of course, the central actor in this absurd drama. “Captain Coward,” as the press labeled him, is heading to trial later this year for manslaughter and abandoning ship. But that did not stop him from filing a lawsuit last year against Costa Crociere alleging that the cruise line wrongfully fired him. A 600 million dollar cruise ship ruined and many passengers and crew dead under his watch, but Master Schettino becomes Plaintiff Schettino looking for compensation himself.

Domnica Cemortan - Costa ConcordiaHow does a disgraced captain who abandoned ship have the chutzpah to seek money damages after causing such death and destruction?

Schettino has a boatload of excuses. Remember that he claims that he “slipped and fell into a lifeboat.” I am surprised that he didn’t hire a personal injury lawyer to sue the cruise ship company for that too.

And now the Schettino-Costa Concordia story gets even weirder.

According to the Telegraph, Schettino’s alleged girlfriend on the ship, Domnica Cemortan, has announced that she too is suing Costa as well as Schettino himself.

You will recall that Ms. Cemortan was the captain’s dinner companion on the night of the disaster who somehow ended up on the bridge when all hell was breaking loose. She claims that Costa failed to re-hire her and she lost income as a result. She also claims that Costa and Schettino failed to protect her image and reputation. She is threatening to sue the Italian newspapers which labeled her as Schettino’s paramour and portrayed her in an endless series of bikini photos.

Isn’t this the same person who reportedly professed her love for the captain shortly after the disaster? Did Ms. Cemortan really expect that this coward of a captain, who abandoned his ship and thousands of his passengers and crew members, would somehow protect her honor?

I suppose that it’s expected to have hard feelings when your dinner date kills 32 passengers and crew members, abandons ship, and doesn’t call you the next morning. 

 

Photo Credit: genova.ogginotizie.it

Desperate? Carnival Goes Old School & Brings Bob Dickinson Back

In what seems like a vote of no confidence for Carnival Cruise Line's current president Gerry Cahill, Carnival Corporation has invited former Carnival Cruise Line president Bob Dickinson back as a "special consultant" to Carnival Cruise Line as well as Carnival Corporation's other brands including Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Seabourn.     

Seatrade Insider broke the story this evening with a positive spin, quoting Dickinson: ". . . we offer really terrific vacations and strong satisfaction at a very high value, and we’ve gotten away from that. We’re a vacation industry. We need to get back to our core values and be much more dynamic."

Bob Dickinson - Carnival Cruise Line Dickinson was an integral part of Carnival Cruise Lines back in the 1970's to 2007 when he retired.

When new president Cahill appeared at the next SeaTrade Convention in 2008, he brought a stick mask of Dickinson with him as a joke.  But the joke seems to be on Cahill now with Dickinson re-appearing after the Carnival Splendor and Carnival Triumph ship fires occurred on Cahill's watch.    

Travel agents and cruise old timers may remember Dickinson fondly from the "good old days."  But critics of the cruise line will remember him at the helm of Carnival Cruise Line in the "bad old days" when Carnival engaged in widespread and systematic dumping of waste everywhere, and when sexual assaults, shipboard crime and cover-ups on Carnival ships were at an all time high.

Dickinson is a relic of the 80's and 90's. He wrote a book long ago about cruising, "Selling the Sea," where he praised the role of the Captain of Carnival cruise ships, always on the sexual prowl:

" . . . we have observed that some captains, because of their social and sexual prowess, have contributed meaningfully to the revenue occupancy of the vessel. Clearly, there are passengers who are drawn to the Captain's insignia and crisp white uniform. Imagine being entertained in the Captain's quarters (often a two or three room spacious suite with leather sofas, a library, and a stereo) with a polite wait staff pouring Dom Perignon and serving Beluga caviar!"       

Bob Dickinson - Adam Goldstein - Cruise Line Dickinson is perhaps best remembered when he appeared at the SeaTrade Convention in 2006 following the disappearance of George Smith during his cruise honeymoon under disturbing circumstances.

He characterized Mr. Smith's disappearance from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship as an overblown "non event" before the SeaTrade audience. He was photographed snickering with Royal Caribbean's president, Adam Goldstein, at the convention. He received praise from the cruise fan faithfuls but received scorn from the public.

Dickinson is emblematic of the cruise industry's arrogance.

What a step backwards for Carnival, and the cruise industry as a whole, to bring this dinosaur out of retirement to try and mentor this troubled cruise line back to favorable public opinion.

 

Photo Credit: Top - Southern Cruising 

QuadroCopter Operators Arrested in Giglio for Filming Costa Concordia

Team Black sheep - Costa Concordia GiglioA company called Team Black Sheep, specializing in remote controlled, model-copter photography and video services, captured some interesting images while travelling to Giglio, the site of the infamous Costa Concordia disaster.

Using a device referred to as a "quadrocopter," which they flew over the port of Giglio, the Black Sheet Team recorded video of the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship.

The team members were later arrested because videoing or photographing the area is now banned according to the Black Sheep YouTube page.   

You can see some photos of the stricken cruise ship here on the Black Sheet Facebook page.

Hat tip to gCaptain for the story.

 

Fire Trucks Respond to Carnival Cruise Headquarters - Carnival Denies Fire

Carnival Cruise Ship FireAnd time for weird cruise news.

A local news station in Miami reports that smoke was seen coming from the Carnival Cruise Lines headquarters today, prompting worries of a fire inside.

Smoke could be seen coming from the top of the Carnival headquarters.

Carnival denied there was a fire, and released a statement stating that an elevator transformer on the roof overheated and generated smoke.

This story reminds me of an incident a year ago when a small fire broke out on the Carnival Breeze but was quickly extinguished. When the story of the fire made the news, Carnival denied that a fire occurred and said instead that "a fan belt inside an AC unit in a crew area overheated and started generating smoke."

It seems that with Carnival where there's smoke, there's no fire.

Billion Dollar Law Firm Spends Millions to Charter Liberty of the Seas Cruise Ship

Today the Washingtonian reported on a gigantic law firm, DLA Piper. chartering a gigantic cruise ship for a partner retreat. The 4,200-lawyer international firm selected Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas.

The Washingtonian calls the Piper firm a "legal behemoth" which has over 100 worldwide offices. It seems like only the partners are invited but that's enough to require a cruise behemoth like the Liberty of the Seas.  The cruise will begin in Barcelona and the ship will then sail up the coast to Nice. Sounds nice.   

DLA Piper Liberty of the Seas CruiseThe charter costs over $3,000,000 plus the costs of booze, excursions, and of course flying the partners around the world to Spain. I don't see these fat cats flying economy.

How can a law firm afford such an extravaganza? Don't worry. The firm represents mostly gigantic corporations as clients and has money to burn. The Wall Street Journal just reported that DLA Piper collected over $2,400,000,000 last year.  Yes that's right, $2.4 billion.

I'll keep my personal opinions about this to myself for a change, but let me just say that there is a reason I chose to work at my own small firm and not at a gigantic law firm with so much money that it can go on a boondoggle like this.  

I asked readers of my Facebook page to come up with one word which describes the cruise.  The response are pretty funny.  Read the comments here and give us your thoughts.   

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Hassocks5489

Quantum of the Seas - A Cruise Lawyer's Dream?

Richard Fain Bumper Car Quantum of the SeasToday was another weird day in the world of cruise law.  Sitting in my office I watched CNN coverage of the bombing in Boston on my big screen TV's most of the day while also following the travel industry's internet coverage of the unveiling of images of Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas (as well as filing a few lawsuits against my favorite cruise line).

It was a strange contrast watching the somber coverage of the deadly Boston bombing with the gushing praise by travel agents and cruise fans of artist-drawings of a silly looking, gigantic but-not-yet-built-cruise ship which touts all types of frivolous contraptions. 

I didn't see any photos or video of larger and better equipped medical facilities to take care of the residents and guests of this gigantic floating city, or police substations for this sometimes dangerous maritime community, or helicopters to medevac ill guests and crew to safety or to assist in rescuing overboard passengers, or top notch security systems to keep the terrorists at bay.

The cruise ship has not been built yet (it is scheduled to come on line in the fall of 2014) but that did not stop the cruise line CEO and cruise president from showing digital images and video of all types of weird and futuristic things. 

One of the first images I saw on Twitter was a photo taken by the popular @CruiseGuy of Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain arriving at theQuantum of the Seas Virtual Balcony Quantum of the Seas presentation in a bumper car with a Royal Caribbean logo painted on the top. You guessed it - Royal Caribbean will offer the first cruise ship with a bumper car rink! Hundreds of drunk passengers without helmets smashing into each other on the high seas! That should keep the defense lawyers at the cruise line busy for a decade.

CEO Fain seems like a good sport. Years ago he was photographed riding on the carousel on the new Oasis of the Seas and he surfed a FlowRider when the Independence of the Sea debuted a while back. So why not ride a bumper car which he could smash into President Goldstein on stage?    

A big hit seemed to be the "virtual balcony" for the dark, interior cabins for those passengers who can't afford the real thing.  Hhmmhh . . .  a virtual view. Sounds depressing to me. Every time I look out at my virtual view I realize that I can't afford a real view, like from the Royal Loft. But the real question is who will be the first lawyer to file suit when a tipsy passenger breaks his nose smashing into the wall after forgetting its just a virtual balcony?  It won't be me, but trust me it will happen. How many broken noses will it take before the virtual balcony doors have virtual warning signs?

Quantum of the Seas North StarThen there is something called simulated sky-diving which the Quantum will premier. Sure sounds dangerous, but again it is "simulated" right? Looks like flying to me (broken neck anyone?). Take a look at the video here.  

Royal Caribbean has been sued for injuries and death on its FlowRiders (simulated surfing), rock walls, skating rinks and zip-lines. Simulated sky-diving may continue Royal Caribbean's tradition of having the most innovative and dangerous attractions on the seas. Let's hope that the sky-diving injuries are just "simulated" too.    

But the best "gee-wizz" attraction will be a Jetson-famiy futuristic mechanical arm that magically transports passengers high above the ocean in a glass capsule. Its called the "North Star." Kinda like a amusement park ride of the future that has never been tested on land, so-let's do-it-on-the-high-seas!

I'm going to go ahead and file a lawsuit on that one today.

If you missed the debut, watch below for a summary!

 

Leave a comment or join the discussion on our Facebok page.

Does the Dubai Cruise Safety Campaign Assure You or Frighten You?

Abu Dhabi CruiseI have a section in this blog called "weird" cruise news. This is one of those stories.

Dubai has been very active as of late conducting PR work to encourage cruises from its port in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Another city in the UAE, Abu Dhabi (the capital), made an impressive showing at recent Cruise Shipping Miami 2013 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. It had, in my view, the most beautiful exhibit at the trade show (photo left).     

The "Dubai Maritime City Authority," which is the official group responsible for the maritime operations in Dubai, recently announced a highly publicized cruise ship fire drill aboard Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas at the Mina Rashid Cruise Terminal. 

The photo (below) which the Dubai officials released announcing the fire drill may do more harm that good. Dubai did not release any photos of the crew members on the Serenade wearing life-vests or congregating at their muster stations.

Instead, the photos show 10 Dubai officials, wearing traditional dress, holding or trying to wear 6 life-vests. 4 men have no life-vests.  3 men are holding the vests as if they were just presented with a prize. And 3 men have them hanging around their necks. No one has the vests properly fitted with the straps in the correct locations and secure.

Does anyone in Dubai know how to wear a life-vest?

Where are photos of the the families and kids or the diverse array of multi-national crew members or at least a token woman or two wearing the vests properly and securely? 

Does this make you want to cruise out of Dubai?

Dubai Cruise - UAE

Star Princess Responds to Malvinas Protest at Port of Ushuaia By Playing "God Save the Queen"

Malvinas - Falkland Island - Cruise Ship ProtestsOver the past year, there have been a number of protests at ports in Argentina against cruise ships which stop in the Falkland Islands.

Argentina asserts sovereignty of what Argentinians refer to as the "Malvinas."  Britain claimed sovereignty over the islands in the late 1700s; Argentina claimed possession in 1820; and the islands were a British protectorate from 1887 to 1965. 

The dispute resulted in a war between Britain and Argentina back in 1982, resulting in a death toll of 900 between the two countries.

Cruise ship flying the "red ensign' flag (U.K., Bermuda) have been the target of protests which have resulted in the ships not being permitted to dock or detained at port.

With the discovery of oil on the islands, the matter has become even more contentious. Several Patagonian provinces have passed what is called the "Gaucho Rivero bill" which bans the calling of red ensign vessels linked to the Falklands’ oil industry.  Certain groups have interpreted this bill to include all ships flying the red ensign flag including cruise ships.

Last weekend a protest was staged when the Star Princess operated by Princess Cruises arrived in the Argentinian port of Ushuaia. Protesters posted banners protesting the arrival of the cruise ship and burned tires outside the fence of the port.

The newspaper Merco Press covered the story and posted photographs (below) of the demonstration.

The newspaper reported that the Princess cruise ship responded to the demonstrators by blaring "God Save the Queen" though the ship's loudspeakers.

The protesters blocked access to the port for several hours to express its side of the Falklands / Malvinas dispute. But with the support of what was reported to be "over 200 provincial riot police including mounted police and dogs, plus a hundred members from the Coast Guard," authorities opened another gate at the port to permit excursion buses to take the cruise passengers from the Star Princess on a local tour. 

Falkland Islands Maldives Cruise Ship Protest

Photo Credit: Merco Press

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

Safety at Sea? Dangerous Practices on MSC Cruise Ship

MSC Unsafe at Sea A reader of Cruise Law News sent me these photographs today showing crew members on an unidentified MSC cruise ship washing the tops of tenders.  

The two crew members to the left seem to be wearing life vests but its less than clear whether they are wearing harnesses and are tethered to the ship.

Upon closer inspection, the bottom photo shows an employee obviously wearing no life vest or harness.

A slip and fall from that height would be a good way to drown or suffer serious injury.

Crew members who contact us often talk about "ship life."

"Ship Life" seems to be the state of reality that actually exists on cruise ships.  It is different from what the company policies and procedures say and what the cruise line projects as the company's image.

Sometimes upon the rush to get the job done, there is pressure to cut corners and not use the proper safety equipment. The same pressure to proceed to get the work accomplished often exists even if the proper equipment is not available or the equipment is faulty or not adequately maintained.

We all remember the five deaths and three injuries in January when a Thomson Majesty lifeboat with 8 crew members dropped upside down into the water.   

What do you of the photo below?  Whose responsibility is it that work is not performed under these circumstances?

MSC Cruise Ship - Danger  

PS. I don't know who took these photos so please contact me if you want credit. Anyone know which ship this was and where it was docked? 

Leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Cruising with Carnival? Return Home with an "Angry Passenger Cruise Ship Dartboard"

Today I read a press release announcing "Cartoonist Creates World's First Angry Passenger Cruise Ship Dartboard."  Well I certainly had to read about that!

The tongue-in-cheek product is made by Rick London of Londons Times Cartoons. The artwork is perfect with a huge toilet on the bow of the Carnival Triumph poop ship. The mast of the cruise ship is a gigantic roll of toilet paper. As the ship enters the Port of Mobile, you see a pelican with a clothes pin on its beak.

I visited the Rick London store and decided that I'd prefer a clock of the stricken ship rather than a dart board. Only $20.40.  A bargain.  Order here. It would make a great present for all of the defense lawyers at Carnival too.

You can follow Rick London on Twitter - @ricklondon.

Angry Passenger Cruise Ship Dartboard - Clock

Credit: Rick London / Tom Kerr Artwork 

Groping on the High Seas? John Travolta - Fabian Zanzi Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Over, Finally

Fabian Zanzi - Royal CaribbeanA year ago. Cruise Law News was the first one in the U.S. to report that a Royal Caribbean crew member, Fabian Zanzi, claimed that movie celebrity John Travolta sexually harassed and assaulted him during a cruise.  We had first heard of the alleged incident several years ago from a crew member client who worked on Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship. 

We were told that a Royal Caribbean crew member claimed that Travolta came-on-to-him during a cruise on the Enchantment in 2009.  

Zanzi's lawsuit claims that after he served Travolta room service, Travolta disrobed, "forcibly embracing" Zanzi while naked, and engaged in "nonconsensual, inappropriate, extreme and outrageous" contact. 

Zanzi reported the incident to his supervisors at the cruise line. Royal Caribbean then punished Zanzi and kept him confined to his cabin. Travolta ended his cruise early and took a jet back to the U.S.    

Travolta denied everything of course. 

Travolta's lawyers responded to Zanzi's lawsuit by moving to dismiss it and to send the case to arbitration. This way Travolta could avoid the publicity of a jury trial. Arbitration usually results in lower damages awarded to the aggrieved party. This is how cruise lines respond to lawsuits by injured crew members.

A federal court judge recently denied Travolta'a motion to arbitrate the case. You can read the well reasoned opinion here. This means that the case would head toward a jury trial.

But yesterday, the Hollywood news reporters said that Zanzi's lawsuit had been "dropped," after the John Travolta - Fabian Zanzi - Cruise Shipparties had stipulated to a dismissal.  Sounds to me like Travolta paid a settlement, after losing his arbitration motion, in order to avoid the prospect of all of his dirty laundry being aired out before a jury in Los Angeles. The parties probably agreed to keep the settlement terms secret.  A good move by Travolta to put this spectacle to bed.

Meanwhile, Zanzi is proceeding with his claim against Royal Caribbean that it falsely imprisoned him in retaliation for reporting the alleged sexual harassment.

The Zanzi - Royal Caribbean false imprisonment claim is in arbitration, so there will be no jury trial for the Hollywood reporters to attend. My prediction is that eventually the cruise line will agree to a settlement, subject to a confidentiality agreement.

Then the case will end like it began, with everyone trying to keep what happens on cruise ships secret. 

 

Photo credit - John Travolta - WENN

What's Happening to the FlowRiders on the Allure of the Seas?

For those of you who cruise regularly, you know that Royal Caribbean has two FlowRider attractions on both the Allure of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas. The FlowRider is a surfing simulation where a thin wave of water is shot across a rubber surface and the passengers tries to surf or boogie board. 

Today I posted an image of what looks like repairs or major maintenance to one of the FlowRiders on the Allure.  You can see another image of the FlowRider below as the work continues.

Anyone know what's going on with the FlowRiders on the Allure?

If you know, join the discussion on our Facebook page.  

Allure of the Seas - FlowRider - Oasis of the Seas

WESH-2: Worst News Station in the World Broadcasts Arrest of Mother of Two Children, Returning From Disney Cruise, Over $85

Arrest of Disney Cruise Ship PassengerWhen I started this blog, I included a section where I award cruise lines and cruise executives the title "worst cruise line in the world" for the company or person in the cruise industry engaged in the most outlandish conduct.

Some months it has been hard to award just one cruise line or person because there have been so many outlandish things happening lately in the cruise industry.  When the Costa Concordia disaster struck, I discontinued the practice because there were not enough award trophies to pass out. 

But today I decided to return to the "worst in the world" award after reading a news account involving a woman arrested after cruising with her family because of $85 in court costs which she didn't pay twenty-two years ago.  

The story involves a forty-one year old woman from Connecticut who sailed on the Disney Dream cruise Arrest of Disney Cruise Ship Passengership with her husband and two kids. When the cruise ship returned to Port Canaveral today, the Brevard County Sheriff's office was waiting to handcuff her and haul her off to jail.  

It turns out that the woman, whose name I will not mention because she has been humiliated enough, owed the state of Florida $85 in court costs for an misdemeanor arrest for the theft of a pack of cigarettes in 1991 when she was 18 years old.  

Over the last two decades, she became married, paid for college, received a degree in architecture, had two kids, and is gainfully employed designing jet engines for a major aircraft manufacturer.

A cruise for 4 aboard a Disney cruise ship is a pricey ticket. And I bet she is a good mom who planned to take her kids to Disney World as well.  Certainly the economy of Florida benefits from her paying for the cruise out of a local port, flying into a local airport, renting a car or taking a taxi, paying tolls, buying food and staying in hotels.     

But instead we'll let the taxpayers pay for her to sit in jail in the Brevard County jailhouse which will not let her post bail because the court costs were levied in Orange County and she has to be transferred from Brevard County before she can be bonded out. It looks like she may spend as long as 4 or 5 days in jail before she is transferred to Arrest of Disney Cruise Ship PassengerOrlando and released. 

Arresting a mother of two for non-payment of $85 in court costs is ludicrous. Why not arrest grandmothers for library books returned late? Yes, personal accountability is important but an arrest for $85 in court costs after 22 years given the significant amount of violent crimes on cruise ships today?

Ridiculous!  

I thought about giving the "worst in the world" award to the Brevard County Sheriff's Office because it does such a poor job arresting child predators and rapists on cruise ships. The port police and sheriff's department in Brevard seem to look the other way when foreign crew members steal jewelry and iPhones and computers from passengers on the high seas.

But I thought that the award should go to the news station, WESH-2 in Orlando, which ran the preposterous story. In addition to its article on line which you can read here, the news station aired a sensational piece showing the woman's mug shot, video of the woman in hand-cuffs, images of her being placed in the jail cell, photos of barb wire and high fences of the jail house, and the woman sobbing in contrition.

Arrest of Disney Cruise Ship PassengerIn a cruise industry with an alarmingly bad record for drunken shipboard violence and un-prosecuted sex crimes against women and children, we have the action team at WESH-2 grilling a mother over $85 dating back to when she was a teenager.    

The news station included video of the news reporter, Dan Billow (resembling Will Ferrell in his role as Ron Burgundy in Anchorman), chastising the poor woman in jail with these comments:

So, you know, isn't that just tough luck? This is your, er', problem. Uhm, I mean, you're the one who did this . . .     

Billow ends the nasty little segment with a friendly reminder to his viewing audience:

So it's worth remembering, before taking a cruise, pay any unpaid traffic tickets or any other outstanding legal matters, or a dream vacation might wind up like ****'s.

Thanks Dan, asshole! 

WESH-2 OrlandoCruise Ship Arrest 

Leave a comment below or discuss the case on our Facebook page.  

News story & images: WESH-2 Orlando

F***ing Cruise Ship!

If you like F*** bombs, you may find a video by comedian Greg Benson humorous.

It seems that funny man Benson has a cynical view of cruising. He gets right to the point with the video below. I suppose he shares David Foster Wallace's view of cruising (""A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again") except that he has kept his humor intact.

I first saw the video via an article by Gawker's article Cussing Cruise Ship Passenger Gives Explicit Tour of His Vulgar Surroundings. So I owe a hat tip to the people at Gawker. 

P.S. the F*** words are beeped so you can't really hear them.

 

"Boob Cruise" Charter Boat Captain Ordered to Pay $350,000 in Compensation to Injured Woman

And now for some weird cruise news . . .

The owner and operator of  an Australian "boob cruise" charter boat, Dennis Healey, who was below deck with strippers when his boat collided with another smaller vessel, has been ordered to pay an injured woman almost $350,000 in compensation.

The incident involved the 56 foot catamaran "Two Up" which was under charter for a party. The charter boat had 30 passengers aboard including several strippers according to a newspaper in Australia.

An eighteen year old woman was seriously injured when she jumped into the water as the catamaran sailed into the vessel she was on.  

The judge presiding over the trial heard evidence that  the charter boat's captain was on the lower deck with the topless entertainers when the collision took place. The judge held that "his absence from the helm meant that no one was either manning it or keeping a lookout ahead." 

The young woman suffered lower back injuries which prevented her from working for 6 months. Her mother had to help her with cleaning, washing, shopping and taking her to medical appointments.

In addition to the civil compensation, the distracted captain was was fined $50,000 after pleading guilty to unsafe operation of a boat.

Mystery of the Seas?

Royal Caribbean - New Name for Cruise ShipIt seems that Royal Caribbean has plans for a half-dozen new names for its cruise ships of the future.

Cruise Critic and a Royal Caribbean fan web site report that Royal Caribbean trademarked the names Anthem of the Seas, Passion of the Seas, Vantage of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas and Pulse of the Seas in trademark applications filed on November 2, 2012.

Royal Caribbean previously announced that it is building a new Oasis-class cruise ship. Perhaps Quantum of the Seas will be an appropriately ironic name for Royal Caribbean's next gigantic ship.

Royal Caribbean obviously has some long term plans in mind to have trademarked six new names. Previously Royal Caribbean announced that it will be building new cruise ships as part of its "Project Sunshine" with a new cruise ship coming on line in late 2014.

Right now the cruise line is keeping the name of its next ship a mystery.

What do you think of the new names?  What's your best guess for the name of the next Oasis-class ship?

Join the discussion on our Facebook page. There are some hilarious alternative names being suggested.

Bust a Move! Cruise Dance Video Goes Viral

With the New Year here, I'd like to start the year on a happy note.  No talk about fires or sinkings or other bad news involving cruise ships.

I have always thought that good things happen to people who dance. Well today I read about the guy who danced behind people on a cruise ship while his wife videotaped him. Sounds silly but I thought it was funny once I watched it.

Take a look. I think that it's a good way to start Year 2013. 

 

Captain Schettino to Tell "Shocking Truth" in New Book

Just when you'd think that the Costa Concordia story could not get any weirder, this week the infamous Captain Francesco Schettino announced that he is writing a book about the events surrounding the disaster. He promises to tell a "completely different story" than what has been reported to date.

So what is the "shocking truth" he teases the public about?

That "I am not captain coward."

Oh Lord save us all.  First we have him cavorting about the cruise ship with his blonde girlfriend. Then Captain Coward - Schettino - Chicken of the Seashe goes into a funk for an hour or two after he crashes the cruise ship into the rocks. When he returns to reality and tries to save his own hide from the sinking ship, he "slips and falls" into a lifeboat. When the Italian Coast Guard commander catches up with the fleeing captain, Schettino ignores the Coast Guard's order to return to the ship. He hires a lawyer and sues the cruise line for wrongful termination. He later says that he's really the hero for saving lives and, to top it off, says that the "Hand of God" touched him to navigate the ship to safety.

Oh Captain, may the hand of God be placed squarely over your babbling mouth!

Now we have a tell-all book from the Costa captain to look forward to.  Maybe a great Christmas present for your friends?

Let's hope that someone sues Schettino and obtains a judicial decree ordering all of the proceeds of the captain coward's book sales to go to the families of the people he killed. 

 

Thought for the day:  Will you buy the captain's new book? Vote on our facebook page

Cruise Law Visits Royal Caribbean in Oregon

Royal Caribbean Cruises calling Center Springfield OregonFor the past week I have been visiting my sister in Oregon. She and her husband have a cottage on the McKenzie River outside of Vida, Oregon, some 30 miles to the east of Eugene. 

The cottage is an idyllic location, nestled under towering Evergreens, overlooking the roaring McKenzie River filled with salmon and trout. Compared to the Miami's bright skies and heat and humidity, Vida has seen cloudy skies, rain and cold nights which call for an extra log or two on my sister's fireplace.

Vida is a particularly great location to get away from Miami, and all of the hustle-and-bustle which comes from being the cruise-ship-capital-of-the-world. It's in a rural location connected to the outside world by a meandering river road traveled by log trucks hauling fallen hardwood trees to the paper mill in nearby Springfield.

Today, I took a 25 minute drive into Springfield with my sister to go to a Fed Ex facility. Nearby I noticed a nautical looking building with a mast-like structure and wave-like roof line which caught my attention. We drove over to the building and, to my surprise, there stood three words that suddenly Springfield Oregon - Royal Caribbean Cruises brought me back to Miami: "Royal Caribbean Cruises." 

The building appears to be designed to look like a cruise ship. We got out of the car and I look a few photos, one of the dramatic, cantilevered entrance (above) and one of my sister standing in front of cruise line sign (right). 

We went inside and I introduced myself. I learned that the building housed a calling center for the cruise line which handles reservations.

I took photos of the Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises model ships and toured the lobby before we left to return to the cabin.

Chutzpah: Captain Schettino Sues Costa

Everyone is talking about the disgraced Costa cruise captain Schettino's outrageous lawsuit against Costa claiming that the cruise line wrongfully terminated his employment.

The outrage is appropriate.  After all, this is a captain who interrupted dinner with his mistress only long enough to run his ship into the rocks and kill 32 of his crew and guests and then hop into a lifeboat and leave the carnage he caused behind. 

What are the words that come to mind when you think of this captain?  "Coward" and "chicken" come to my mind.

With news of his lawsuit against Costa, another word which starts with "c" comes to mind - "chutzpah," a Yiddish word meaning audacity.  

Law blogger Eugene Volokh noted in an article entitled Lawsuit Shmawsuit that the word chutzpah has been used 231 times in American legal opinions, 220 times after 1980.

Shortly after the Concordia disaster, I tweeted what I thought was an outlandish joke, namely that captain Schettino had hired me to file a slip-and-fall lawsuit against Costa after Schettino tried to justify his abandonment of the ship by claiming that he somehow slipped and fell into a lifeboat.  Little could I comprehend that the captain would have the audacity to actually file a lawsuit against Costa.

When the criminal trial against Schettino is over, lets hope that he is convicted of all charges pending against him. And he is also found guillty of chutzpah.  

The Titanic Movie: A Blockbuster Love Story Starring Leonardo DiCaprio & Kate Winslet? Or a Nazi World War II Propaganda Film?

When most people think of Titanic, the movie, they think of the 1997 blockbuster love affair starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet written and directed by James Cameron.  

But in truth Titanic was originally a German propaganda film made during World War II. It was commissioned by Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels to discredit British capitalism and glorify Germany.

The film opens with news that White Star Line stock is falling. The president and board of Titanic Movie 1943White Star believe that Titanic can break the world cruise liner speed record and speculate that this will raise the stock value. They plot to lower the stock price further by selling their own stocks, and then buy the stock back at a lower price just before the news of the record speed is released to the public.

The hero of the film is fictional German First Officer Herr Petersen who begs the cruise line's rich president to slow down the ship's speed, but he refuses. The Titanic, as we all know, hits an iceberg and sinks. At the end of the movie, Petersen leaps from the ship's deck with a little girl in his arms. They are pulled aboard a lifeboat to watch in horror as the Titanic sinks beneath the waves.

The president of the cruise line is saved and goes on trial before the British Maritime Board of Inquiry. The cruise line blames the captain who perished when the ship sank.

I won't give the ending away, but it involves the same issue presented by the Costa Concordia disaster, is the captain alone at fault or was the sinking due to the greed of the cruise line president and board of directors?

Although a propaganda movie, it was skillfully directed and filmed. It captured perfectly the panic, fear, Titanic Movie 1943confusion and impending doom of the cruise passengers. You do not want to watch it if you are a survivor of the Costa Concordia.

The propaganda film was scheduled to be released in early 1943, but the theater was bombed by British planes the night before the premiere. The original director, Herbert Selpin, was opposed to the Nazis. Goebbels arrested him and he was hung in prison with the Nazis labeling his death a "suicide."

With Britain and the USA winning the war in 1945, Goebbels poisoned his 6 children and had a guard shoot him and his wife.

You can watch the original movie on YouTube in 9 segments. It is interesting to see scenes which James Cameron ripped off from the 1943 film while directing his 1997 hit movie. 

NCL Passenger Arrested for Stealing Painting the "Size of a Door" From Cruise Ship

The Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda reports today that a passenger from the NCL Norwegian Star was arrested as he tried to disembark the cruise ship with a painting described as the "size of a door." 

The 43 year old passenger from Kentucky admitted that he stole the painting from the NCL cruise ship once it docked in Bermuda.  The newspaper states that the painting was "an official copy of a Rembrandt painting valued at $13,114.06."  

When the NCL cruise ship staff confronted him, the brazen thief claimed “I’m going to mail it home.”

Stolen Painting - Cruise ShipHe then gave various excuses regarding how he obtained the painting, claiming that he "bought it at auction, painted it himself and won it in a raffle."

One thing that the passenger didn't realize is that NCL cruise ships have the most CCTV surveillance cameras in the cruise industry. The newspaper states that the ship’s video footage showed him removing the painting from the wall and carrying it towards his cabin. 

His public defender told the Magistrate that he was a "recovering drug addict" and the medication he was on to treat opiate withdrawal caused him to act "oddly."  

The Judge went light on the recovering-drug-addict-turned-cruise-art-connoisseur and fined him $500.

An Awkward Award: Costa Concordia Crew Members Win "Seafarer of the Year"

Lloyd's List, the well respected shipping industry newspaper, issued its "Seafarer of the Year" award today. And to the surprise of many, the recipients were the crew members of the doomed Costa Concordia cruise ship. 

Lloyd's List explains that the media has painted the Costa crew with a broad brush as lacking competence, training, and experience. They allegedly added to the confusion surrounding the delayed evacuation of the cruise ship after captain Schettino steered the ship into the rocks off of Giglio.

I must admit that I have lumped them all together as well. 

Costa Concordia GiglioBut the initial reports of the four Italian experts investigating the disaster has also been critical of the crew members.  The experts have concluded that some crew members were unaware of the ship's emergency instructions and had difficulty communicating with each other. 

Lloyd's List's stated: "What was largely missed in the media storm that ensued were the genuine examples of bravery and professionalism displayed by members of the crew . . it should not be forgotten that without the skilled response of the majority of the crew, the loss of life could have been far higher."

Yes there were indeed many heroic stories which involved the crew members.  Many crew members lost their lives trying to help the passengers escape the nightmare. 

But the crew of a cruise ship is a team of individuals. Teams should not receive awards when some of the team members fail miserably in performing their professional duties.   

And there is the matter of the many dead passengers. Their surviving families, still grieving, may have a hard time wondering why anyone is receiving awards when the disaster killed their loved ones, some of whom remain trapped in the cold, dark hull in Giglio. 

Passenger Seriously Burned in Cruise Ship Bar

Cruise Passenger Burn Victim James BailyNewspapers in the U.K. and Australia are covering a horrific story involving a 28 year old man who was reportedly sailing on an Amsterdam "booze cruise" when he awoke in the ship's bar on fire.

Cruise passenger James Bailey had what he describes as a "few drinks" and fell asleep in the cruise ship's bar on the deck 8.  Most of his cruise mates who were on what is being called a "stag party" cruise were either asleep or back in their cabins.

According to the Daily Mail, Mr. Bailey stated: ‘I suddenly awoke in extreme agony and quickly realized my clothes were on fire. The bartender assisted in removing my shirt and putting out the flames."  His back and hands were severely burned.

There were a group of 20 to 30 people in the bar when the incident occurred.

The cruise staff refused his requests for an air ambulance claiming that his injuries were not deemed serious enough for emergency medical treatment.  

The cruise ship was operated by DFDS Seaways which denies liability for what happened and would not comment. 

Mr. Bailey states that he suffers from first, second and third degree burns, as well as psychological trauma.  He adds that "I have no idea what happened that night. As it stands there is no one to blame, so I can only blame myself right now until other evidence is found."

In the U.S., there is a legal principle called "Res Ipsa Loquitor," which is Latin for "the thing speaks for itself."  This a legal doctrine that a company or person is presumed to be negligent if they had exclusive control of whatever caused the injury even though there is no specific evidence of an act of negligence, and without negligence the accident would not have happened.

Short of spontaneous combustion, Mr. Bailey obviously did not catch himself on fire.

Cruise ships cannot legally serve passengers alcohol until they pass out in the ship bars and then permit other passengers or crew members to catch their guests on fire.  

There are some very gruesome photos of Mr. Bailey on the Daily Mail site, but be warned that they are disturbing.

DFDS Cruise Ship - Cruise Ship Passenger Burned

Photo Credits:

James Baily - Sam Hardie via Daily Mail

DFDS cruise ship - Daily Mail 

Costa Concordia's Captain Schettino Returns to the Sea

The Sun newspaper in the U.K. published a photo this weekend of disgraced Costa Captain Francesco Schettino aboard a power boat in the Mediterranean. 

The Sun reports that Captain Schetino "wore swimming trunks as he took to the waves near his home in Sorrento, Italy."

A friend of his was at the helm for a while, according to the newspaper, and then handed control of the recreational boat over to Schettino.

Apparently, nothing prevents the former Costa captain from operating pleasure craft even though he sailed a $500 million luxury liner into a reef earlier this year and killed 32 of his passengers. 

Images like this of the captain must make the families of the victims blood boil.

Cruise Ship Whacks Bridge in China

Chinese Cruise Ship Strikes BridgeAnd here's some weird cruise news from China.

A new cruise ship under tow in China struck a passenger bridge in eastern China, causing damage to the vessel's funnels.    

According to the Xinhua News agency, the bizarre incident involved a newly constructed cruise ship, called the No. 7 Mingzhu Pearl cruise ship.

Four tugboats were towing the cruise ship on the Ou Jiang river when the ship struck a bridge in the city of Wenzhou in the eastern province of China called Zhejiang.  

There were no casualties reported.

There is a suggestion that the height of the vessel's structure was miscalculated because there were no passengers or cargo or provisions on the vessel when it was under tow.    

 

 

Photo credit: Sina.com

Video credit: ITN News

Bogus Cruise Ship Accident Exposed

Closed circuit television (CCTV) video helped the Sun Cruz Casino defend a claim made by a passenger who staged a fake accident at the bottom of a stairwell on the ship.

The video shows an elderly man walking repeatedly up and down a stairwell, apparently rehearsing how the accident will unfold.  When no one is looking, he gently kneels down and rolls over. That's when the acting starts.  He begins squealing in pain and claims that he sustained injuries to his neck, back, hip, knee and ankle.  He is taken from the "accident scene" on a stretcher.

The cruise passenger retains a lawyer who is smart enough to verify whether an accident really occurred by requesting "all video of the accident."

The cruise line complies. Upon receiving the video below, the lawyer drops the claim like a hot potato. 

Do fake accidents like this occur? Yes, as this video proves.

The first thing that we do when we represent a cruise passenger who alleges a serious accident or being a victim of a crime is to request CTTV of the circumstances surrounding the accident or crime. Sometimes cruise lines will show us videos which contradict our client's account.  That's a good thing. No one wants to have anything to do with a bogus or exaggerated claim. But that's extremely rare.

Most of the time, the cruise lines ignore us.  When we press the matter, the cruise lines claim that there is no video of an accident.  I have never seen a cruise line produce an incriminating video which confirms an accident or crime. Cruise lines typically argue that there is no CCTV cameras at that location, or the cameras didn't work, or the tape was inadvertently erased, or the dog-ate-it type of excuse.  

I even had a case where I proved that there was CTTV video of my client's accident that was given by the ship security to the defense lawyer.  But at the hearing on my motion to compel the production of the video, the defense lawyer argued that the video was in a video player which was allegedly stolen during a break-in at the law firm. Evidence destruction is a problem in the cruise industry.

In this case, its nice to see the fake claim against Sun Cruz exposed.  Now only if the cruise lines will produce video of all of the legitimate accidents and crimes.      

 

Video Credit: My Fox Tampa Bay / Peter Linton-Smith, FOX 13 Pasco Bureau Reporter

$200,000,000 False Imprisonment Lawsuit Filed Against Royal Caribbean, in Wrong Courthouse

There are lots of strange things that happen on cruise ships. I've written many articles about excessive alcohol consumption and aberrant conduct during cruises.  I even created a category of "weird" cruise stories. 

This morning I read an article which fits squarely in the "weird" category.

The New York Post writes about about "two pals" who jetted from New York to Fort Lauderdale to board Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas cruise ship.  But instead of a fun cruise with stops in Jamaica and the beautiful private cruise destination of Labadee, the two men found themselves locked away in the Liberty of the Seas - False Imprisonmentcruise ship's brig, accused of raping a young woman.   

The case involves Eviatar Mor, celebrating his 22nd birthday, and his "buddy," fellow New Yorker David Amsalem, age 26.

After the two men went to bed on the first night of the cruise, Royal Caribbean's security personnel woke them up around 5:00 AM.  The two men claim that they were forced into wearing "prison garments issued by Royal Caribbean" and paraded "through public areas of the ship to a lock-up facility. The Post tells us about their allegedly "grueling" treatment in a “small, windowless cell” after they were accused of raping a passenger.  

The Post quotes Mor saying: "I was in such stress. I can't explain how scared I was."  

The men allege that the alleged victim "recanted" and the ship doctor allegedly found no evidence of a sexual assault, but they were still held in the brig. 

They hired a lawyer, Paul Batista, who filed suit in Manhattan seeking what is described as "at least $100,000,000 each" on allegations including false arrest and imprisonment, assault and battery, and “outrageous conduct causing emotional distress.”

So, what's my take on these allegations?

I don't like to hear about attorneys inserting astronomical demands for money in lawsuits. $200,000,000 for a week in the cruise ship slammer?  This isn't torture in the dungeon in Midnight Express.  The public hates to read about trial attorneys trying to make their clients overnight multi-millionaires based on dubious or overblown allegations.  It's a publicity stunt and it's a bad idea.  Just last week another lawsuit against a cruise line seeking $200,000,000 for 4 crewmembers was filed in New York.  So in one week 6 people are seeking $400,000,000 from 2 cruise lines?

Secondly, the forum selection clause in the men's ticket requires that the lawsuit be filed in Miami, not Manhattan. There is a 100% certainty that the case will be dismissed from the New York court.

Now, let's turn to the men's allegations.  They claim that they were "dressed in prison garments" and "paraded through the ship? Royal Royal Caribbean Prison - Liberty of the SeasCaribbean doesn't have "prison" attire. Even if the cruise line put the men in striped zoot suits, it was 5:00 AM and no one is up that early in the morning anyway. 

For some strange reason, the article makes a point of describing them as "both Orthodox Jews from Israel," with their lawyer accusing the cruise line of "Gestapo tactics inflicted on two innocent men." Nazi-Jew analogies are disrespectful in this context, particularly considering that Royal Caribbean hires many, many security guards from Israel.  I hardly think that cruise line president Goldstein hires Nazi's to oppress Orthodox Jews on his fleet of ships.  

The most disturbing thing about this messy case is the refusal by the two men to state whether they had sex with the woman. If you're really looking for $200,000,000 you better be prepared to talk about some embarrassing issues. Plus consider their lawyer's comments that the rape claim “came from a woman who was drunk and who was plainly goaded into making it by a group of people with whom she was traveling.”

Of course it is highly relevant whether the woman was so intoxicated that she could not consent to sex. Since when is claiming that the alleged victim was drunk a defense to a rape allegation?

The Post quotes Amsalem reminiscing on his experience saying: "The next time we go on vacation, no girls."

Meanwhile, a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman said the men had been accused of “a serious crime,” and that the company “takes all allegations of crime seriously."

Just yesterday I blogged about out-of-control drinking on the Liberty of the Seas and the correlation to sexual assault allegations.  This is the type of mess that comes out of that environment.

Cruise booze.  Allegations of rape, recanted or not?  Allegations of false imprisonment, worth $200,000,000, filed in the wrong jurisdiction?  

Whoever you believe, this is an ugly story.     

May 19, 2012 Update:  Video interview of the two men by local TV station.

Royal Caribbean Crewmember Sues John Travolta For Sexual Harassment

Fabian Zanzi - Royal Caribbean  - John Travolta - Sexual Harassment?This week there has been a whirlwind of media attention surrounding allegations by a masseur that John Travolta sexually harassed and assaulted him in Hollywood earlier this year.  TMZ posted the lawsuit on line. The lawsuit reads like a pornographic paperback.  Travolta denies the lurid allegations in what is being called the "massage lawsuit."    

A second masseur also came out with allegations of similar conduct by Travolta. 

Now, there's a third sexual harassment allegation (actually made before the first two) involving another similar lawsuit recently filed against Travolta - this time by a cruise line employee.

Chilean Fabian Zanzi (photo left via facebook), a former employee of Royal Caribbean Cruises, alleges that in May 2009 Travolta was cruising aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship as a guest.

As reported by ABC.es,  Zanzi was working as a manager on the unidentified Royal Caribbean cruise ship and was responsible for taking care of VIP's. Travolta "said he had something on his neck. I thought it was a fuzz. As I approached, he took off his white coat and was naked. He hugged me and asked me to do a massage."  Zanzi said that Travolta offered him $12,000 to have sex with him, but he refused. 

According to Zanzi, he reported the incident to his supervisors at Royal Caribbean who not only did not believe him but confined him to his cabin.  Royal Caribbean later fired him.

Zanzi originally told his story to Peru's 24 Hours. The allegations have been circulating in newspapers in South America.

I suppose it's only a matter of time before TMZ or another TV tabloid picks up on the John Travolta-harasses-cruise-employee lawsuit story.

I have heard rumors over the years about John Travolta sexually harassing crew aboard Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship, although this is the first I have heard of a lawsuit filed by a crewmember.  

Travolta is one of my favorite actors.  He was great in Civil Action.  But I find these allegations quite, shall we say, travolting . . . 

You can hear Zanzi's allegation in the video below: 

 

 May 10, 2912 Update:

Perez Hilton, Huffington Post and a hundred other media outlets have picked up the story.  (It's strange to think of Perez Hilton linking to Cruise Law News).

Travolta's lawyer, Marty Singer, issued a statement that "this is just another ridiculous claim by someone hopping on the bandwagon to get his 15 minutes of fame with a story about something that supposedly happened over three years ago.”  Mr. Singer apparently does not realize that Zanzi made his allegations public before the two other allegations.

May 11, 2012 Update:

A reader of Cruise Law News brought to my attention that Travolta cruised with Royal Caribbean, on the Enchantment of the Seas, in June 2009, out of Miami.  He apparently did not finish the cruise and return with the cruise ship  to Miami.  Instead, he disembarked the ship in Belize and flew a jet back to the U.S.  

May 14, 2012 Update:

TMZ has a link to certain cruise line documents indicating that Travolta was on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship in June 2009.  

 

 

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

The Cruise Industry is Now Officially Out of Control

Yesterday was one of the stranger days in the weird world of cruising.

Royal Caribbean reported a 40% drop in net income for the first quarter of this year.  Its net income was $47 million, down from $78.4 million a year earlier. Royal Caribbean's CEO Richard Fain attributed the decline in net income on the Costa Concordia tragedy but said that he doesn't think that the effects of the Concordia disaster would be long term. "We did not expect the impact of the tragedy to be long term and we are seeing evidence the effects are waning.”

Perhaps the effects of the Concordia may fade, but not if the the cruise disasters keep coming. A month after Concordia, the Costa Allegra suffered a disabling fire and floated around in waters where pirates lRoyal Caribbean - Reputationike to also cruise. Things like this make families nervous.  Satirist Andy Borowitz published an article "Citing Safety Concerns, Somali Pirates Refuse to Board Cruise Ships - Fires, Capsizings Top Pirates' Concerns, Spokesperson Says."  Lots of cruise fans thought the article was serious.

This last week, the cruise industry has been rocked with the Star Princess scandal, when the Princess cruise ship sailed happily by a disabled little fishing boat drifting 100 miles off coast of Panama. World opinion came crashing down on Princess Cruises (also owned by Carnival) when the public learned that 2 of the young men (one just 16) died due to Princess' nonchalant attitude while several passengers pleaded for the cruise ship to assist the stricken boat.  

Speaking of outrageous conduct, this month started out with news that a Carnival security officer and housekeeping manager (both male) were involved in the strip searching of a girl on the Carnival Sensation which included allegedly making her remove her tampon while they watched.

While Fain was quick to point blame his company's sinking profits on his competitor (Carnival), he didn't mention that one of his cruise ships, the Azamara Quest, suffered an serious engine fire which disabled the vessel last month.  He also didn't mention that he still pocketed $5,900,000. Poor bastard. How can he survive on that?  

But seriously, lets think about this for a moment.  One of Fain's ships caught fire last month and he still makes around $6,000,000 with declining bookings and increased fuel and operating costs while a cruise disaster happens every other week it seems.  Royal Caribbean pays its waiters only $600 a year working over 12 hours a day. So Fain still makes 10,000 times more than he pays a waiter to serve your family.     

CBS indicated that the declining profits at Royal Caribbean were because passengers may be "spooked by the high profile cruise problems."  

Later that evening (last night) an engine room fire broke out on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Sea. Cruise Law News was the first to report on the cruise ship fire yesterday.  This is the 80th cruise fire in the last 22 years. The Miami Herald, which is a supporter of the cruise industry and rarely covers negative cruise news, passed along the cruise line's PR statement that the fire was "small and quickly extinguished."  Why does that not make me feel any safer?  

The Allure is the largest cruise ship in the world with 7,500 passengers and crew.  All fires start small. Its a bad thing for a small fire to break out on the world's largest cruise ship in the middle of the sea. Like the Carnival Splendor which recently suffering an engine room fire, the Allure is a new ship.  Why are new ships catching on fire?  Most cruise fans could care less. The most important thing to them seems to be whether the fire will disrupt their cruise next week. 

The Miami Herald chose not to report on a blockbuster story which we reported on yesterday.  A Cunard cruise line youth counselor under arrest admitted that he sexually abused 13 boys on three Cunard Cruise Child PredatorCunard cruise ships which he worked on (Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth) over the course of four years.  A prolific child sexual predator running amok on the cream of the cream luxury Cunard brand of cruise ships for four years.  The sick pervert also videotaped himself abusing the children on the cruise ships, either for his viewing pleasure later or perhaps for trading with other pedophiles.

If there is a sexual predator on Cunard ships, do you think that there are no perverts taking your child into a bathroom alone on Royal Caribbean and Carnival brands?  Wait a second, Cunard is owned by Carnival here in Miami.  Why wouldn't the Miami Herald report on 13 little boys being diddled on one of the Carnival brands?  You think that your kids are safer on a Carnival fun ship running out of Galveston than a Cunard ship sailing from Southampton?

I shouldn't be so hard on the Miami Herald.  It sold out on any type of investigative journalism a decade ago, and it was not the only newspaper not to report on the cruise line sexual pervert.  Not one other media outlet in the U.S. covered the story.  Only Cruise Law News did.  Major newspapers alternate between being cheerleaders for the cruise lines to being indifferent to something as shocking as 13 little kids targeted and preyed on by a cruise ship employee whose parents entrusted their kids literally into his filthy hands.  

What is going on?

Cruise executives make 10,000 times more than a waiter who works 360 hours a month, and can still rake in $6,000,000 in the worst economy while cruise ships sink, collide and burn around them.  Luxury cruise liners like the love boats of Princess look the other way while people are dying at sea. Newspapers rush out the cruise line's talking points of a supposedly "small and short" fire, but refuse to mention 13 child abused on the most prestigious cruise ships sailing today. A strip search of a girl on the Carnival "fun ships?"

The cruise industry appears out of control to me.

Titanic Memorial Cruise Delayed By High Winds & Medical Emergency

Is nature trying to tell us something?

First high winds and rough weather delayed the "Titanic Memorial Cruise" as 30 foot winds forced the Balmoral cruise ship to turn around with a little over 1,300 passengers aboard.  Now news sources area reporting that a medical emergency involving a passenger has complicated matters.  The cruise is detouring closer to shore in order for a helicopter from the Irish Coast Guard to medevac the passenger to safety.

Titanic Memorial CruiseThe cruise set sail from southern England on Sunday and stopped in Cobh, Ireland  on a cruise to retrace the Titanic voyage.  On Monday, the cruise was delayed because of foul weather. 

Once the sick passenger airlifted off the ship for medical treatment, the cruise will continue to New York as scheduled.

Two special memorial services are to take place over the weekend (1) midnight April 14, when the Titanic hit the iceberg, and (2) early April 15, when the cruise ship sank.

I am wondering if the Balmoral has a web cam or whether other cruise ships or vessels will be streaming video live?

 

Photo credit:  ibiblio.org

Drunk & Naked Students Trash P & O Cruise - Ferry

College students, booze and ships are often a recipe for bedlam.  Being "cruise drunk" can lead to violence.  

Spirit of France - Drunk Passengers The media in the U.K. is reporting that around 200 college students headed to France on a skiing trip stripped naked, smashed glasses and overturned furniture during a drunken night of havoc on the P&O Spirit of France. 

The ferry was sailing from Dover to Calais when University of Manchester students clashed with students from the Manchester Metropolitan University in the ship’s bar.

The U.K."s Mail Online writes:

"Passengers, many with young children, had to be moved to a secure room for their own safety. 

Crew members said many of the students, who were going skiing, were drunk before they boarded the ship.

It has been reported that students were seen dancing on the tables and were even exposing themselves.

Men and women are believed to have been streaking and fighting at the bar and a P&O spokeswoman said they were forced to take all non-university passengers to an area of the ship which is usually an exclusive lounge so they were 'out of harm's way'."

P & O stated that it would not permit the students back on the ferry to return to the U.K.

Earlier in the week 100 drunken and brawling young adults were booted from a harbor cruise in Australia. 

Lawsuit: Carnival Cruise Lines Strip Searches Girl Looking For Pot

"Please remove your tampon, I have a job to do."

I have heard some weird and outrageous cruise ship stories over the years, but if this one is true it takes the cake.  

A lawsuit filed last month alleges that Carnival cruise employees suspected that a 17 year old girl on the Carnival Sensation possessed marijuana after she returned to the cruise ship after going ashore in Nassau. The lawsuit alleges that the girl had returned with her mother and a friend when a Carnival security officer found a bag of pot on the floor of the elevator that the group was riding on.  

Cruise Ship Drugs - Pot - Carnival SensationAccompanied by a female crew member and a male assistant housekeeping manager, the security officer entered the cabin of the girl and her friend, also a minor.  The security officer allegedly made no effort to locate the child's mother or advise the children of their rights, and then threatened and intimidated the girl into a confession that the weed in the bag was hers. 

The three crew members then searched the girls' cabin, and found no contraband or illegal substances.  Undaunted, the three crew members alleged "threatened, coerced, and required J.G. to remove her panties, lift her dress to her waist and expose her nakedness to all agents in the cabin."  Then things got especially weird.  The lawsuit alleges:

  • 41. J.G. was forcefully escorted to the restroom wherein all Defendant Agents were permitted to watch her urinate before returning her to the main area of the cabin.
  • 42. Without cause, the DEFENDANT AGENTS threatened, coerced and required J.G. to remove a tampon and her genital cavity was inspected visually by the female currently known only as LETICIA.
  • 43. This strip and cavity search took place in the plain view of male Security Officer TRAPA and male assistant housekeeping manager YUZON . . .

No additional pot was found, but the girl and her mother were reportedly escorted off of the ship where the Bahamian police placed the girl in a cell with adults where the child was allegedly assaulted. The lawsuit alleges that after the girl was released, she and her mom had to locate their own accommodations and travel arrangements home.   

Courthouse News Services uploaded a copy of the lawsuit papers here.

The girl's lawyer sued on grounds of negligence, fraud, intentional infliction of severe emotional distress and is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

This type of lawsuit comes at the wrong time for Carnival which is still suffering from the fall-out of the Costa Concordia disaster and the Costa Allegra cruise ship fire.

There are two sides of every story, and I can't wait to hear Carnival's side.  I hope it's not "we can't comment on matters in litigation but rest assured the safety and security of our guests are our highest priorities."

I asked Carnival for a comment and will publish it as soon as I receive it.

 

April 4, 2012 Update:  Here's Carnival's response in its entirety:

Carnival does not typically comment on pending litigation, but feels compelled to do so given the far-fetched claims made in this lawsuit. The claim that the plaintiff was strip searched is patently false, and obviously made in retaliation for the cruise line having disembarked the plaintiff and her mother part-way through the voyage in Nassau where the plaintiff was taken into custody by the Bahamian police.

 

Hat tip to Miami New Times which has also blogged about this story.

Cruise Ship Door Locking Devices - What On Earth Is This?

A member of Cruise Critic posted a photograph of some kind of device designed to prevent the insertion of a key card to unlock a passenger cabin door as well as to padlock the door handle from moving.

The passenger apparently sailed aboard an unidentified Royal Caribbean cruise ship last month, and invited the fellow Cruise Critic members to speculate on why this device was used.

Cruise Passenger Door Locking DeviceWas the device used to lock a passenger in the cabin? This seems very unlikely.

Or was the device used to keep the cabin secure for an investigation by law enforcement officials to search for drugs or to investigate a crime scene?

Aren't these cruise ship doors designed such that there is a master lock or key which can prevent cleaning personnel out of the cabins following crimes?

What happened on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship at the end of last month?

Which cruise ship was this (some speculate the Liberty of the Seas or the Monarch of the Seas)?    

As a maritime lawyer who has represented many passengers whose family members have been sexually assaulted in their cabins, I have seen many incidents where the passenger cabins were meticulously cleaned when the crime scenes should have been preserved.

Is this a device designed to prevent that from occurring? 

I am curious why any cruise line would use this particular type of locking device?

Anyone have information to solve this riddle?  Please leave a comment below.

 

Photo credit:  Cruise Critic member SSPhone

"Rouges & Vagabonds:" Gay Cruise Couple Fined, Insulted & Deported From Dominica

Dominica Senior Magistrate BaptisteIn a weird ending to a weird cruise story, two California men who were arrested on the Celebrity Summit cruise ship while it was docked in Dominica pleaded guilty to indecent exposure at a hearing yesterday and were then ridiculed by a local magistrate.

Yesterday we mentioned the bizarre circumstances surround the Atlantis Events cruise: Busted for Buggery: Controversy Surrounds Another Atlantis Gay Cruise.  

A newspaper in Dominica "DaVibes" described the incident as follows:

"Local taxi operators expressed outrage as they reportedly witnessed the defendants engaged in sexual activity on the balcony of the ship."  When the local police boarded the Celebrity cruise ship, one of the passengers responded “we were naked on our balcony but were not having sex.”

Today another newspaper in Dominica reports that the two men's lawyer in Dominica told the local magistrate at a 30 minute hearing yesterday that her clients were "remorseful" and  overcome by the beauty of the island:

"They were struck by the beautiful mountains, clear fresh air and had a few cocktails and having a few cocktails they found themselves in this indiscretion. They threw caution to the wind, they came here to have a good time and they did not mean to offend anyone” she told the court.

According to the newspaper, Chief Magistrate Baptiste (photo above left) denounced the men's  actions Dominica -Cruise Ship Passengers Arrestedas “an outrage” that was “morally wrong” in any country.  She described the men as “rogues and vagabonds.”  She fined them around $900. 

After the hearing, the local police drove the two men (photo right) to the airport to be flown out of the country.

Many Caribbean islands like Dominica, Jamaica and Barbados are openly hostile to gay travelers. Nonetheless, sex on a balcony at port seems like a good way to be arrested.  

However, the two men, Dennis Mayer and John Hart who have been partners for 17 years, deny that they were engaged in sex on the balcony.

They state that they were arrested by military police and placed in a small cell for 19 hours. They told the LA Times that "we were taunted all night long. They paraded us around like we were some oddity." They were led to a ATM at a bank to withdraw money for their fine as a crowd of residents watched. "I've never seen something like this," Mayer said. "I've never seen people chanting and protesting in the street. It was amazing."  

An AP article quotes Dominica Tourism Minister Ian Douglas as saying that tourists should abide by local laws regardless of their religious or sexual orientation, and that cruise ship officials should make passengers aware of these laws.

 

Photo credits:  

Magistrate Baptiste - Dominica News Online 

Cruise passenger - Carlisle Jno-Baptiste / AP 

Busted for Buggery: Controversy Follows Another Atlantis Gay Cruise

Another Atlantis gay cruise resulted in public controversy yesterday when police in Dominica arrested two passengers on the Celebrity Summit on suspicion of indecent exposure and “buggery” (sodomy).

Someone on the dock supposedly observed the passengers having sex on the cruise ship. The two arrested passengers were men in their 40's from California. Newspaper accounts suggest that if convicted, each one could be fined and face jail time up to 6 months.

The Celebrity cruise ship has been chartered by Atlantis Events, which specializes in gay travel.

Atlantis Events - Gay Cruise - Celebrity SilhouetteFive Atlantis cruise with Royal Caribbean / Celebrity Cruises have been plagued by arrests or deaths.

Last month, a young man went overboard from Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas cruise ship off of the coast of Mexico during an Atlantis cruise.

One year ago, a passenger, Steven Barry Krumholz, was busted for selling a large amount of drugs during a gay cruise on the Allure of the Seas.  

Two years ago, a young man died during a Royal Caribbean - Atlantis cruise aboard the Liberty of the Seas while it was in the Caymans.

Three years ago, a GLAAD board member died of an apparent drug overdose on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas

This latest incident takes the controversial history of the Royal Caribbean - Atlantis relationship into the realm of the absurd.  With as many sexual assaults of women which occur on Royal Caribbean / Celebrity ships with no arrests or prosecutions during straight cruises, it is bizarre to think of passengers being arrested for engaging in consensual sex like this.  

 

Photo credit:  Alamy via Mail OnLine

39 Costa Concordia Passengers File $528 Million Lawsuit in Miami - Weird Press Conference Follows

Yesterday, New York lawyers for Costa Concordia cruise survivors filed an amended lawsuit in Miami, adding 33 additional passengers as plaintiffs.  The lawyers are seeking $78 million in compensatory damages and $450 in punitive damages for a total amount of $528 million on behalf of 39 passengers.

Although the lawyers called the original filing a "class action" lawsuit, the case was first filed by only 6 passengers, two from New York, two from Florida and two from Italy.  The amended filing does not seek class action status.

The prospects of this lawsuit filed in state court in Miami surviving a motion to dismiss is slim, Oceanos Sinkingnotwithstanding the ordeal suffered by the completely innocent passengers.  Seeking $528 million dollars for just 39 of the over 3,000 passengers seems like a publicity stunt. 

The lawyers held a press conference yesterday afternoon, which was one of the weirder developments in the Costa Concordia saga.

New York lawyer Marc Bern, of the law firm Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik and Associates said "Only one cruise ship has gone down in over 100 years, the Titanic.  Now the Costa Concordia will live in infamy with it." 

Of course, this is not true. Over the years there has been numerous sinkings of cruise ships.

Just five years ago, the Sea Diamond sank after the captain hit a charted reef in Greek water, resulting in the loss of passengers' lives. 

Then there is the infamous sinking of the Oceanos cruise ship (photo above left), where the captain abandoned ship leaving women, children and elderly passengers to die (they miraculously survived). 

The sinking of the Oceanos is featured on my list of top 5 cruise ship disasters - watch the video here

Other spectacular sinkings of cruise ships include the loss of the Sun Vista (photo below right) which burned and sank.

Sinking of the Sun VistaNo one can forget the sinking of the Andrea Doria, which ironically enough was home ported in Genoa, Italy where Costa is based.  It sank in the Atlantic after a collision with another cruise ship (my great aunt was a passenger and was rescued). 

The fire and sinking of the Yarmouth Castle resulted in nearly one hundred dead passengers and crew.

Add to this list, the sinking of the SeaBreeze I, the Majestic Explorer, the Al-Salaam Boccaccio, Explorer, M/V Saurav, Queen Of The North, Senopati Nusantara, M/V Bulgaria and the Mikhail Lermontov (which sank in 100 feet of water off the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island after hitting a reef).  

One of the goals of the highly publicized $528 million lawsuit is supposedly to make cruising safer.  It's painful to watch non-maritime lawyers seek over one-half billion dollars for 39 survivors without acknowledging the numerous passenger and crew deaths caused by cruise ship sinkings over the years, from the Andrea Doria to the Sea Diamond

February 15, 2012 Update:  A friend emailed me and brought to my attention that I forgot to mention the fire and sinking of the famous Achille Lauro, which sank in 1994 in the Indian Ocean.  

Do you know of additional cruise ship sinkings?   Please leave a comment below.

Yahoo Spoofed: Caribbean Ski Season Opens Atop Innovative Cruise Ship

Today I was reading Yahoo News when I saw a weird story featured on the front page about a cruise ship named "iglu cruise ship" in the Caribbean where you can snow ski on the top deck.  I clicked on it the link which took me to the article below.  

Yes, there is an iglucruise website; it is a travel agency in the U.K.  But no, there is not an iglu cruise ship where you can ski.  I remember receiving a link to a story similar to this earlier this year, and it turned out to be an April Fool's joke.  Yahoo just picked up the story which has been floating around since April, and didn't check out whether it was legitimate. 

Looks like Yahoo turned into the fool this year.  Here's the story which punked Yahoo:

CARIBBEAN SKI SEASON OPENS ATOP INNOVATIVE CRUISE SHIP

"The most unusual ski adventure of the season will occur beginning this week in the unlikeliest of destinations: the Caribbean Sea, where dressing in layers will not be required and sunscreen will be at a premium.

The cruise got underway Thursday in Barbados aboard a custom-built ship that boasts a tall slope and lift at its stern (see image at right), a rental chalet, an apres-ski bar, saunas and hot tubs.

Purists may cringe at the notion. The snow is not real and there is no tree skiing, obviously, because there are no trees; and there is no wintry crispness to the air.

But consider the bright side: Bluebird skies and balmy temperatures every day. A vast and placid sea with islands on on the horizon.

The company offering this first-ever Caribbean ski excursion is Iglucruise, a British travel business whose inaugural eight-day voyage includes stops at Tobago,Isla Margarita, St. Lucia, Grenada and St. Vincent.

The ski slope is almost 500 feet long, built atop the upper deck to afford fantastic views of the blue water. The slope is covered with a Perma-Snow carpet, which is said to almost feel like real snow. The lift is operated with the touch of a button.

Iglucruise states on its website that it's "proud to announce the launch of their first cruise ship, a ground-breaking new ship to combine the passions of their loyal customers; skiing and cruising."

It figures to be crowded on the hill, though, as the ship can carry 1,129 passengers.

News of this crazy adventure spread among the ski community earlier this fall, when the voyage was announced, and the ski community wasn't quite sure how to react. Reads a post on the Unofficial Networks website:

"I think it's a stretch to actually call it skiing, then again, speaking to the uniqueness of this idea, what a trip it's going to be for people to be linking turns on a cruise ship sailing across the famed waters of the Caribbean Sea. This is not a ski trip most of us would ever consider, then again name another time you've heard of such a trip being offered."

Prices for this ski cruise were as low as 799 British pounds, or about $1,240."

Court Rejects Mezcal-Scorpion Defense, Sentences Cruise Passenger to Life for Killing Wife Aboard Cruise Ship

Robert McGill - Murder - Carnival Elation Cruise ShipA life sentence in jail was imposed today on a cruise passenger by a Federal District Judge for a murder on a cruise ship which occurred two years ago. 

In July 2009, Robert and Shirley McGill cruised to Cabo San Lucas aboard the Carnival Elation cruise ship to celebrate Mr. McGill's 55th birthday and his wife's retirement.  

But following heavy drinking ashore in Mexico, McGill strangled and beat his wife to death in their cabin.  McGill was arrested when the Elation arrived in San Diego.

We wrote about the cruise crime last year - Prosecutors May Seek Death Penalty In Carnival Cruise Murder Case.

McGill apologized for his actions at the court sentencing today although he didn't explain why he killed his wife.  

Mezcal - Scorpion Made Me Do ItHis defense attorney argued that McGill was a good man who made a horrible mistake after getting drunk. 

According to the AP, the defense lawyer argued that his client hallucinated after drinking a half bottle of Mezcal and seven or eight beers.  He was so intoxicated that he had to be helped up the gangway after drinking in Cabo.  McGill said he believed a scorpion that was in the Mezcal bottle had "set him off."

U.S. Chief District Judge Irma Gonzalez said she didn't buy the scorpion-made-do-it excuse.

The Court noted that after killing his wife, McGill cleaned himself up and then went to an upper deck to smoke a cigar.   Other news accounts report that he ordered a bucket of beer which he continued to drink as the cruise ship headed back to the U.S.

Woman Alleges False Imprisonment on Scientology Cruise Ship "Freewinds"

Scientology - L. Ron Hubbard - Freewinds Cruise ShipThe Australian Broadcasting Network just published a weird and disturbing report that the Scientology organization held a young woman against her will on its cruise ship, the Freewinds, which the Scientologists home port in Curaçao. 

The report involves Valeska Paris who was born into a Scientology family.  Her father, once a millionaire, alleged that the organization fleeced him and he became impoverished.  After he committed suicide, her mother denounced Scientology on national television.  Scientology "church" leaders then instructed Ms. Paris to have no further contact with her family and placed her on the organization's cruise ship where she has been held for twelve years.

As a child, Ms. Paris had enlisted into Scientology's "Sea Organization" which required her to agree to a "one billion year contract" of service. 

It seems that the Scientology cult uses the cruise ship to teach "specialized services . . . in advanced spiritual concepts" based on lectures that its leader L. Ron Hubbard gave in the 1960s.  Hubbard thought that the path to higher spirituality could be found in settings like cruise ships sailing to tranquil locations.  Hubbard was often photographed wearing a captain's hat.

The "Church of Scientology International" calls Ms. Paris a "liar" and an "apostate."  It refers to Ms. Paris' claims as "wholly irresponsible, ludicrous, sad, spurious, dishonest, ridiculous, unreliable,  uncorroborated, and totally false."  You can read the over-the-top Scientology denials here.   

The Scientology statement says that the Freewinds cruise ship is a "wonderful place."

The last time the Freewinds was in the news was in 2008 when asbestos was located on the ship and the cruise ship was declared a health hazard.  It was dubbed the Death Ship

The Freewinds also came under criticism for discharging waste and polluting the waters of southern Caribbean islands.

 

Life In Jail For Cruise Passenger Who Threw Wife Overboard

Yesterday, a jury convicted a Chinese passenger of murder after finding that he threw his wife off a cruise ship.   

The Standard newspaper in Hong Kong reports that Wang Weile, age 49, shook his head in disbelief when the seven member jury returned its guilty verdict.  The judge then sentenced him to life imprisonment.

Charlie Chan's Murder CruiseAs we reported in our article about this bizarre crime earlier this week - Sea Burial or Cruise Murder? - the cruise passenger claimed that he accidentally injured his wife while trying to keep her from committing suicide.  When she lost consciousness, he thought that she was dead. 

Wang claims that he suddenly remembered that she wanted a burial at sea.  He then pitched her overboard to honor her wishes.

The couple have a nine year old child.  

However when he took the stand at trial, he retracted the "sea burial" story.  He admitted being partially responsible for his wife's injuries, explaining that he struggled with her after she asked him to leave her alone and find another woman.

He also alleged his wife wanted to borrow 400,000 yuan (around $63,00) for her niece's business.

The incident occurred on the Macau Success, a casino cruise ship, while it was in Hong Kong waters.

As bizarre as Wang's defense sounds, the guilty verdict was not unanimous. 

One juror voted to acquit Wang.

Sea Burial or Cruise Murder?

What do you do if you accidentally knock your wife unconscious when she tries to commit suicide on a cruise?  Do you throw her overboard after suddenly remembering that she wanted to be buried at sea?

Yes, pretty far fetched.  But that is exactly the defense offered in a criminal trial against a Chinese cruise passenger who is accused of murdering his wife and then pitching her overboard during a cruise aboard the Macau Success last year.  

The Standard newspaper in China explains that Wang Weilie, age 49, stands accused of murdering his wife Yang Wenjuan, age 43, during a cruise on September 24th last year.

Macau Success - Cruise Ship Murder - Passenger OverboardA cruise passenger witnessed the couple on a deck when Wang pushed Yang's head backwards towards the railing.  He rushed to notify the cruise staff but returned to find the couple gone but blood covering the deck.

Cruise security guards observed bloodstains on Wang's fingertips.  He said the injuries to his fist, chest and knee were caused during a struggle to prevent his wife from killing herself.  However, when she lost consciousness, he threw her overboard.

A post-mortem examination found bruises, abrasions and a broken arm.  A pathologist concluded Yang "died of drowning after sustaining significant but otherwise non-fatal injuries."

According to an article published last year, the couple have a nine year old son.

The bizarre story reminds me of the violent death of cruise passenger Karen Roston whose husband threw her overboard on the last night of her honeymoon cruise from the Sundancer cruise ship operated by Admiral Cruises of Miami.  Scott Roston concocted a story 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. 

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.  Her husband was observed with scratches on his face after her disappearance.  A medical examiner concluded from an autopsy that Ms. Roston had been strangled and then thrown overboard . . .

 

Photo credit:    shipphotos.com.au

Accused Royal Caribbean Cruises Rapist Sues Bahamas for Spending Four Nights in Jail After Acquital

One of the categories I have for my Cruise Law News blog is "weird cruise news." 

Why such a category? 

For stories just like this:

Soveriegn of the Seas Cruise Ship - RapeThe Nassau Guardian published an article today about a Royal Caribbean crewmember, employed as a stateroom attendant, who was accused of raping a young woman on Royal Caribbean's Sovereign of the Seas cruise ship. 

The incident involved a student from Florida State University who reported being raped back in 2006 on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship while it was docked in Nassau. 

The accused crewmember was Ruel Lockwood from Nicaragua.  He entered the young woman's cabin with a key card, which he used to enter cabins to clean them.

Why Royal Caribbean lets single men have key cards to women's cabins on their cruise ships remains an unpleasant mystery for me. 

I was young Jane Doe's Miami counsel, appointed by the Washington D.C. law firm of Winston & Strawn to act as co-counsel for Jane Doe after the shipboard rape.

The job of prosecutors in foreign countries of convincing juries to convict a cruise ship employee for raping an American woman is a daunting task, especially when the cruise line sent its defense lawyers to Nassau to assist the Bahamian criminal defense lawyers defend the case - which we alleged in the lawsuit filed against Royal Caribbean.

Yes, as expected, the jury in the Bahamas acquitted the cruise line employee accused of the rape.  The legitimacy of the verdict should be considered with the fact that Royal Caribbean paid $1,500,000.00 to settle the civil case where we alleged that the crewmember raped our client.

In my opinion, cruise lines don't pay that type of compensation if a rape did not occur.

Now here comes the weird part. 

After crewmember Lockwood was acquitted, he remained in jail for 4 days in Nassau.   For that, he sued the Bahamas for "unlawful detention."  Although he spent months and months in jail for the rape charges, he is now seeking damages for the 4 days he spent in jail after the jury acquitted him.  

Crewmember Lockwood should count his blessings for not spending the next 20 years of his life in the bowels of the Nassau jails.

Seeking compensation for 4 days in jail after his "acquittal" of raping an innocent coed during a cruise is a sick joke.

 

Photo Credit:  usscusk.com

Newborn Baby Dies on Carnival Cruise Ship

A Carnival crewmember found a dead baby in a passenger cabin this week.  The child is apparently the newborn baby of a twenty year old passenger. 

The disturbing discovery occurred aboard the Carnival Dream cruise ship.  Carnival released a statement indicating that Dutch authorities detained the mother in St. Maarten, where the cruise ship called on Wednesday.  The FBI boarded the Dream when it returned to Port Canaveral.  The FBI has special maritime jurisdiction to investigate alleged crimes involving U.S. passengers in international waters.      

Carnival does not permit pregnant women to cruise if their estimated gestational age on the day of disembarkation is 25 weeks or more. 

There is no indication whether the baby was stillborn or died after the mother gave birth.  An autopsy should provide answers.

 

 

If you have additional information about this incident, please leave a comment below. 

Video credit:  CBS / Today Show

Passenger Throws 7 Year Old Son Overboard

Pavillion Queen - Sloane Briles - Overboard SonMultiple news sources are reporting that a passenger threw his 7 year old son overboard from the Pavillion Queen, which is being referred to as either a cruise ship or sight seeing boat.

The incident occurred yesterday afternoon, when Sloane Briles, age 35, was sailing on a sight seeing cruise in Newport  Harbor, California with his girlfriend and two sons, ages 7 and 6.

According to news sources, Briles began arguing with his girlfriend and struck his older boy and then threw him overboard.

NBC LA reports that the boy was pulled from the water and onto a nearby boat, according to  Orange County Sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office arrested Briles for child endangerment and resisting arrest.  He was released after posting bond. 

Briles' facebook page indicates that Briles was in the U.S. Marine Corps for 5 years from 1995 to 2000.

This is the first time I have ever heard of a child being thrown overboard.  This is why I have a section in this blog called "Weird Cruise News."

 

Photo credit:  LA Sheriff's Office via NBC LA 

Cruise to No Where . . . No Where to Cruise

The Miami Herald reported that Discovery Cruise Line, which is known for operating day cruises to the Bahamas plans to discontinue services starting September 7.

It is unknown whether this is a temporary hiatus or whether the cruise liner is going out of business for good. According to the Herald, the cruise line announced its suspension is a result of necessary repairs to the cruise liner's sole cruise ship, the M/S Discovery Sun. No timetable for its return has been released.

Photo credit: Casinos Austria Maritime

Rick Ehlert's Attorney Says: Jokingly Dropping a Cruise Ship Anchor is "Silly," But Not a Crime!

Last November, Cruise Law News (CLN) reported on the drunken cruise ship passenger who reportedly snuck into the control room and dropped anchor while the ship was sailing back to Tampa from Mexico.

Daniel Castillo, Ehlert’s defense attorney now claims that Rick Ehlert admits to being intoxicated and sneaking into the control room to drop the M/S Ryndam’s anchor; however, what his client did was not a crime.

Castillo claims that while his client was certainly acting stupid, Mr. Ehlert did not commit a federal crime. Castillo says that no persons were injured or property damaged as a result of his client’s stupidity. Ehlert admits to being drunk around 5:30 a.m. when he stumbled into the control room and released the anchor while the cruise ship was out at sea.

Ehlert was arrested on felony charges for attempting to “damage, destroy, disable, or wreck a vessel.” However, according to Tampa Bay Online, Castillo stated that his client is only “guilty of felony stupidity.” 

While the charges Ehlert faced could have placed him in jail for 20 years, Castillo reported that prosecutors have told him to expect some form of probationary period for his client.  

Who is to blame? The passenger for getting wankered and pulling a not-so-funny prank? Or the cruise line for continuously pushing alcohol and failing to monitor and/or lock the control room? Should Rick Ehlert be sentenced to more than probation? Should he have to serve time?

Photo credit: Gawker

Creepy Dead Cruise Ship

This weekend I ran across an interesting tweet "Scuttled cruise ship on Google Maps" from Brian Major (@cruiseprguy) who handles PR for some of the cruise lines.  I could not resist clicking on the link.

His tweet linked to an interesting article in Geek O System about the World Discoverer, a German cruise ship built in 1974.  In 2000, the ship captain decided to ground the ship in Roderick Bay in the Solomon Islands after hitting an uncharted reef.  The ship was subsequently ransacked and its equipment and furnishings were stolen. 

Gizmodo originally ran the story pointing out the weirdness of finding a scuttled cruise ship on a Google Map.  

World Discoverer Cruise Ship  

 

Passenger Smuggles Nine Illegal Immigrants into New York on Queen Mary 2

Queen Mary 2 Cruise Ship - New YorkThe New York Daily News published a weird cruise story this morning about a man from Malaysia who smuggled nine illegal Chinese immigrants into Brooklyn aboard the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrested five women and four men after the luxurious QM2 arrived at the New York Cruise Terminal in Red Hook.

Fatt Kwee Wong told the federal agents that he was paid $3,000 for each of the nine passengers who also paid him around $500 each when they boarded the cruise ship in Dubai.  Wong aroused the suspicion of the U.S. immigration officials when he was stumped when asked the names of his nine travelling companions.

The illegal immigrants were not stowaways and their names appeared on the boat's manifest.

It is a rather amazing spectacle for nine Chinese people to board a cruise ship in Dubai and sail into the harbor in New York.  So much for Cunard's security protocols.    

 

Photo credit:  AFP
 

Booze, Drugs & Sex in a Royal Caribbean Cruise Commercial?

Before Royal Caribbean lost its mind and created the 'Nation of Why Not" (which seems like a rip-off of Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Neuman's "What Me Worry?"), the cruise line used a snappy song called "Lust for Life" as part of its Get Out There! marketing campaign.

You remember the video - passengers hiking on a glacier, dog sledding and kayaking, while a  upbeat tune with a heavy base blared out the refrain Lust for Life!   Take a look and listen:

 

 

But few people (except those Iggy Pop fans like me) knew what the song was really about - booze, drug addiction, a dead heroin dealer, and sex.   Here is a portion of the lyrics: 

Here comes Johnny Yen again
With the liquor and drugs
And the flesh machine
He's gonna do another striptease
Hey man where'd you get
That lotion? I been hurting
Since I bought the gimmick
About something called love
Yeah something called love
That's like hypnotizing chickens
Well I am just a modern guy
Of course I've had it in the ear before

'Cause of a lust for life
'Cause of a lust for life .  .  .

Both of my boys have Iggy Pop loaded on their iPods.  They used to break out in laughter when they heard this commercial.  They'd say "hey Dad, isn't that the cruise line you sue all of the time?  Why is Iggy Pop singing for them?"    "Yes," I would tease them.  "Royal Caribbean's CEO Richard Fain may seem like a Tony Bennett or Perry Como fan, but he secretly loves Iggy Pop!" I would tell my kids.

Take a minute and listen to Iggy's original version of "Lust for Life" back in 1977 ( when I was a freshman in college):   

    

 

Royal Caribbean, Iggy Pop, drugs, booze and sex - strange bedfellows in the weird world of cruising . . .  

A Cruise to Libya?

Gene Sloan's popular cruise blog on USA Today's CruiseLog has an article today of particular interest to me - A Cruise to Libya? Another Line Puts it on the Schedule.

Gene reports that Azamara Cruises' 694-passenger Azamara Quest will visit Libya's Al Khums and Tripoli during a Mediterranean voyage that begins on Oct. 16, 2012.

This is not the first cruise line which plans to visit Libya this year.  CruiseLog previously reported that Crystal Cruises announced plans for the Crystal Serenity to call on Libya later this Cruise Law Jim Walker Cruise to Libyafall.  A Crystal spokeswoman told CruiseLog that a reversal of Libya's longtime ban on American tourists is behind the addition of a Libyan port to the line's schedule.

"Libya has loosened its ban on American tourists once before -- after President Bush lifted U.S. sanctions on the country in 2004 -- in a move that didn't last long. Back then, a number of cruise lines that carry Americans including Crystal, Silversea and Oceania announced plans to begin calling on the country only to have to scuttle the plans after new tensions between the countries prompted Libya to once again raise obstacles to American tourists."

Cruise passengers on the Crystal cruise "will be able to see some of the world's best-preserved archaeological relics from Roman, Greek, Byzantine, Phoenician and Arab-Islamic civilizations; mix with local and tribal groups; feast on traditional cuisine; and visit the Saharan desert."

So why is this of interest to me?  My family lived in Libya from 1965 to 1988.  My Dad was the head of the geophysical department of a large American oil company.  I attended school from second to ninth grade in Tripoli. 

My brother and sister and I had the time of our lives.  We grew up swimming in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, took trips into the Sahara desert, dove for pottery off the coast of the incredible Roman ruins of Sabratha, pick Roman coins from the Libyan sands and made many friends with Libyans.  Unlike the images broadcast in the U.S. of crazy Iranians and Iraqis, the Libyans (largely Sunni Muslims) were peaceful and patient people, especially considering that they were confronted with red neck Americans of the 1960's from Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas (where my family is from).     

At the last Seatrade conference on Miami Beach earlier this year, I had a chance to meet the Libyan representative promoting cruising in Libya.  He has a small booth and seemed to be wrongfully treated like a pariah.  

But it was nice to see an old friend and shake his hand. 

Perhaps I should cruise back to Libya, a land of nice people and fond memories. 

Maltzman Foreman Becomes Foreman Friedman

Over a decade ago, maritime attorney Jeffrey Maltzman (photo below, middle) opened up the Miami office of the California law firm of Kaye Rose and Partners.  Over the course of the past ten years, Mr. Maltzman created a firm of around twenty-five lawyers which represented Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises in a variety of passenger and crewmember cases.  He teamed up with ace litigator Jeffrey Foreman (photo below, left), broke away from the Kaye Rose firm, and re-named his firm Maltzman Foreman.  

Mr. Maltzman's firm handled cruise line crisis management issues, such as when the Star Princess caught fire off of the coast of Jamaica.  He defended some of the most high profile cases against the cruise industry, including many cases involving young women who Jeffrey Maltzman - Foreman Friedman - Cruise Lawyers  disappeared on the high seas or were the victims of violent crimes, including:

The disappearance of Amy Bradley from Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas.

The disappearance of Merrian Carver from Celebrity Cruise's Mercury.

The sexual assault of Janet Kelly on a cruise ship (a confidentiality order prohibits us from mentioning the name of the cruise line).  

The sexual assault of Laurie Dishman on Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas.

Mr. Maltzman's firm was well known for its methodical and exhaustive investigation into the background of personal injury claimants and cruise ship crime victims.  A good example of the aggressive style of defending cruise line cases is found in articles "Defense Team Found the Needle in the Haystack" and  "When Winning is Everything, Maltzman Foreman is There."  After winning a case filed by a group of elderly passengers against Cunard, the firm was quoted saying "there's a saying that pigs get slaughtered . . . If you make them look like they're greedy . . . that usually has an impact. So we tried to paint them as greedy, exaggerating, malingering."    

We have litigated many cases against Mr. Maltzman's firm.  I have given him kudos in at least one prior blog article involving a disastrous bus excursion crash in the British Virgin Islands where a passenger was killed.  

However, the result of the harsh personal style of attacking sexual assault victims and grieving families members is that the cruise industry, particularly Royal Caribbean, has created life time enemies.  Many passengers who were raped or lost children on cruises and then subjected to the "make them look greedy, exaggerating, malingering" treatment have not forgotten their ill treatment following their personal cruise tragedies.  These victims created the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization.  The ICV soundly defeated the cruise industry in the arena of public opinion.  Ken Carver and firm clients Laurie Dishman and Janet Kelly all appeared on national television and testified before our U.S. Congress regarding cruise crime issues.  There have been hundreds of articles in national and international publications involving the ICV members over the last several years.  Their compelling stories were integral in Congress passing the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act which now protects Americans on the high seas. 

Whereas the Maltzman firm was skilled at winning the small battles involving individual cases, it was consistently trounced in the larger war being fought by victims demanding cruise line transparency and accountability.

So this year began with word that Mr. Maltzman had suddenly and unexpectedly left the firm he created long ago. The firm, now called Foreman Friedman, dropped Mr. Maltzman's name and added the name of Mr. Maltzman's partner, Darren Friedman (photo above, right).  What happened?  Who knows?  Who cares?   Mr. Maltzman will create another dynamo of a new firm, no doubt.  Now there will be two firms where there was once one, both aggressively defending high profile cruise cases with a "winning is everything" attitude. 

 

Photo Credit: South Florida Business Leader

Cruise Refunds and a Drunken Backstreet Boy?

We receive a lot of weird emails and telephone inquiries from cruise passengers about all types of things.  Can we get our money back because the waiter was rude?  Can we get a free cruise because the weather was bad and we missed a port, etc . . . etc. . . . etc.

I'll be honest.  I hate these type of inquiries.  They are a waste of everyone's time.

Last month we received one of these type of complaints.  Passengers on some type of music fan cruise on a Carnival cruise wanted us to help them obtain a refund because they claimed A. J. McLean - Carnival cruise - Backstreet Boys Fan Cruisethat some of the band members were drunk and disrupted their enjoyment of the cruise.  We couldn't help them.  Bad cruise experiences (not involving a serious injury) like this have no place in our legal system.  The passengers we talked to agreed with us after a few minutes.

This weekend one of the passengers emailed me a link to the TMZ web site (not something I read everyday), joking about their experience.  TMZ gossiped about one of the members of the Backstreet Boys becoming so intoxicated that many passengers wanted a refund.  Its turns out that the Backstreet Boys had a fan cruise in December on a Carnival cruise ship leaving from Miami to Cozumel and back.  TMZ claims that A.J. McLean (who I learn is a Backstreet Boy) "was so hammered and rowdy on a BB fan cruise last month, that several passengers lodged complaints ... with some even demanding a refund .  .  .  one cruise staffer tells us A.J. and his crew acted like 'drunken fools' for the entire five-day trip." 

Drunks during a Carnival cruise?  Sounds like business as usual on the Carnival "fun ships."

 

Photo credit:  TMZ

Drunk Passenger Drops Cruise Ship Anchor

Rick Ehlert - Drunk Passenger - Arrested - AnchorThe Smoking Gun reports that a drunk passenger aboard the Ryndam cruise ship, operated by Holland America Line (HAL), released the vessel's anchor as the cruise ship was returning to Tampa from Costa Maya, Mexico.

Under the category "drunk, stupid, crime," the article identifies the intoxicated passenger as Rick Ehlert, age 44, from Thousand Oaks, California. 

The Smoking Gun website contains an affidavit from a FBI agent who noted that a subsequent review of the ship's surveillance video showed cruise passenger Ehlert  releasing the anchor around 5:30 in the morning while wearing the same clothing he was photographed in Friday while attending the ship’s formal night. 

Ehlert was arrested on felony charges of attempting to “damage, destroy, disable, or wreck a vessel.”

Its a pity that cruise ships have such poor security with so much alcohol aboard the ships.  How can a single and very drunk passenger release a anchor without anyone noticing?  Doesn't the security personnel monitor the surveillance cameras?  Shouldn't the anchor be locked?  I would love to take a look at this passenger's bar bill and see how much money HAL collected serving Mr. Ehlert booze on the night in question. 

Rick Ehlert - Drunk Passenger Drops Anchor

 

Article credit:  Smoking Gun

Photo credit:  Gawker

Map credit:  Mail OnLine

Will Cruise Ships Use Water Guns Against Pirates?

Pirate attacks against cruise ships have occurred and will continue to occur in the future.  It's a subject we have written about:  Cruise Line Liability for Injuries to Passengers and Crew Members Caused by Pirate AttacksAre Cruise Lines Taking Adequate Steps to Protect Passengers from Pirate Attacks?, and Somali Pirates - A Threat To Cruise Ships? 

A marine expert warned that the successful capture of a cruise ship with thousands of passengers on board would provide Somali pirates with “the mother of all ransoms.”

Cruise ships have used a wide variety of measures against pirates, including Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD) which emit powerful sound waves. 

A  company Security Alliance For Effective Solutions, LLC (SAFE) has designed a new device designed to prevent pirates from boarding ships. Called the "Nemesis 5000," the revolving water gun shoots an 80mph “360-degree curtain of water” to blast the pirates and keep them from using harpoon ladders to scale the side of vessels. The water blast is twice the blast as a high pressure fire hose.

The Express newspaper in the U.K. reports that at least 28 vessels and more than 500 hostages are currently being held by Somali pirates who netted more than $120 million in ransom payments last year. 
 

 

 

44 Chinese Passengers Jump Cruise Ship in South Korea

A Korean television station is reporting that more than 30 Chinese tourists remain missing in Korea's southern resort island of Jeju after 44 of them abandoned a tour group from a cruise ship.

The Chinese passengers arrived on the Italian cruise ship Costa Classica Sunday in Jeju  from Shanghai and went to visit tourist sites on the island but did not return for the 3 p.m. departure. 

South Korean police apprehended eleven of the cruise passengers, but the other 33 remain unaccounted for.   The South Korean port of Jeju has been a frequent stopover for illegal immigrants from China seeking employment in Korea. The Chinese passengers took their luggage with them, and apparently intended to work illegally in South Korea.

 

Spy Cruise?

Just when you think you have seen everything, I ran across an advertisement for a "Spy Cruise." 

"SpyCruise®"  advertises itself as "a private group aboard a cruise ship where members attend exclusive lectures and talks on espionage, spies, intelligence, counterterrorism and more. Speakers are intelligence experts, leaders, officers, operatives, analysts, authors and historians, many of whom served in the US Intelligence Community."

Spy Cruise - James Bond The cruise will be into the Caribbean aboard Holland America Line's Eurodam cruise ship, leaving Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) on November 13th.  

The cruise is sponsored by the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies (CI CENTRE) whose motto is "Detect, Deter & Disrupt," Henley-Putnam University and The Counter Terrorist magazine which is discussing "The Radical Islamic Threat" and "Mass Casualty Protection" in its publication.

Now, to be honest, I have never heard of this organization, or this university, or this anti-terrorist magazine (which actually sounds quite interesting).  Perhaps because they are run by spies and operatives? 

But all kidding aside, the line-up seems impressive if you like this kind of stuff, and includes a couple of former CIA and NSA Directors as well as some top generals and commanders from the U.S. Army and Navy.  According to the Washington Post, its also for a good cause - part of the cruise proceeds go to a scholarship fund for the children of fallen CIA officers and another memorial fund for a U.S. Army soldier.

The cruise website includes links to prior spy cruises, to the Western Caribbean in 2002, and Hawaii and London in 2003.

But I can't help thinking about the potential dangers involved in such an event.  Is it a smart idea to load up a cruise ship with a group of former CIA, NSA, FBI directors and operatives and retired U.S. Army and Navy types to sail around on a foreign flagged cruise ship where the passengers' safety is protected only by a small number of unarmed Filipino security guards?   

Spy Cruise

 

Credits:

Photo and ad banner  SpyCruise®  

Cruise News Round-Up: A Cruise Billionaire, Cruise Industry Lies, Royal Caribbean Monkey Business, and Good News For Cruise Law News

This week was another interesting week in the strange world of cruise law.  Just consider:

A Cruise CEO With Billions of Dollars But No Soul?

Carnival Cruise's CEO Billionaire Mickey Arison was named the richest man in Florida again by Mickey Arison - Carnival Cruise CEO - Billions for him - Peanuts for Crew Fortune magazine with a net worth of $4,100,000,000.  So why does he pay his injured and ill crew members slave wages of only $12 a day? 

Arison owns the Miami Heat and is paying basketball stars Dwayne Wade and LeBron James hundreds of millions of dollars, but he treats his crew employees like dog crap.  

Arison and the other cruise line tycoons Leon Black and the Pritzker families are stereotypes of greedy shipping executives.  Earlier this year I wrote about these Cruise Line Fat Cat Billionaires.  Here we are again with these billionaires counting their pennies.  

Billions for me, peanuts for the crew.  

More Lies By the Cruise Line International Association

The notorious Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"), which rivals the former communist regimes of Russia in trying to control the flow of information (Pravda anyone?), released a major marketing PR effort this week to promote itself as a green industry.  CEO Arison is quoted as saying that the cruise industry is "committed to the highest environmental standards through cutting-edge environmental policies, procedures, technologies . . . "

Ha.

The truth is that Arison and CLIA fought tooth and nail this year to avoid Alaska's high wastewater restrictions.  A green company?  Hardly.  CLIA opposes the Clean Air Law and its cruise ships are still burning nasty bunker fuel.  Technologies needed to meet the "highest" wastewater and emission standards cost money, that billionaire Arison has historically avoided spending unless forced to do so.     

Bunker Fuel - CLIA - Cruise Line International AssociationAt the same time CLIA issued its grandiose environmental press statement, numerous newspapers published articles revealing that the cruise industry still has a long, long way to go to protect the seas in which its cruise ships still pollute: "Cruise Ships Continue Dumping Sewage,"  "The Dark Side of Cruising: Waste Disposal," and "Cruise Ships Continue to Foul the Baltic Sea."

More Monkey Business By Royal Caribbean

My blog this week contained two of my most widely read articles over the course of the last year.  Royal Caribbean's Deep Throat focused on the corruption in Royal Caribbean's risk management department.  

The "Deep Throat" article about the cruise line's indifference toward its own corrupt employee should be read in contrast to the cruise line's diabolical conduct toward a former cruise line lawyer who decided to "switch sides" and represent injured passengers and crew members - Royal Caribbean Forces Defense Lawyer to Switch Sides.  This article was widely circulated by email within Royal Caribbean's legal department and its outside law firm who are teaming up in a campaign of malicious prosecution against our firm.

The "Deep Throat" article was named as one of the "best in blogs" by LexBlog yesterday.

More Good News For Cruise Law News (CLN)

Speaking of the best blogs, CLN has reached another milestone as one of the most read legal blogs in the U.S.  Three months ago, I was excited to mention that this blog was the 55th most popular legal blog per the Alexa rankings and was rising fast. I predicted by the end of the year that CLN's popularity would place it in the top 25 law blogs.

Well today Alexa's ranking shows that CLN moved up from the 55th to the 32nd most popular law blog.   

It seems that the public is hungry for a source of information about cruising other than the slick corporate statements from billionaire executives and bogus facts from the cruise industry's PR people. 

 

Interested in how your blog or website is ranked?  Click here and download the Alexa toolbar.  It will take 20 seconds . . .

Credits:  Mickey Arison - David Adame AP (via Cruise Blog)

Gambling Cruise Passenger Loses $650,000, Jumps From 13th Deck

SuperStar Aquarius - Star Cruises - Man OverboardOnlinePoker.net reports that a 51 year old passenger aboard the SuperStar Aquarius lost HK$5 million ($650,000) playing baccarat.  He then leaped to his death from the top floor of the 13-deck cruise ship.

The article identifies the passenger as "Xu" and states that he gambled at the baccarat table until it closed at 8 a.m. on Sunday.  After losing this staggering amount, "Xu then wandered the deck for an hour before he was seen jumping to his death .  .  ." 

A police spokesman classified the incident as “man overboard,” with no suspicious circumstances.

The cruise ship is operated by Star Cruises.

Cruising to Canada? Drunk Drivers Beware!

Just when you think you have heard everything  . . .  along comes a story like this.

Dianna Hilliard, an attorney in Missouri with 25 years of experience handling drunk driving cases, explains that if you are a passenger with a DWI / DUI conviction you may have a problem entering Canada during your cruise.  In a blog entitled "On a Cruise to Canada???  DWI Conviction?  May need a special waiver to enter Canada," Ms. Hilliard writes:

"A DWI incident will effect your ability to go to Canada.

Canada - Cruise - DUI - DWICanadian authorities are reported to be refusing admission to drivers with a DWI conviction in the USA.  Such records are immediately available on Canada Immigration computers and may show convictions as far back as 20 years ago.  Those with such convictions may be able to get a waiver for up to 30 days visitation upon payment of a $200 (Canadian) fee.  A single DWI conviction may be permanently expunged from the Canadian computers for payment of $400 (Canadian).  Canadian officials are reported justifying the fees because they feel DWI is a serious crime and it is a way of keeping "undesirables" out of Canada. 

This includes passengers on a cruise.  What should you do?  First, plan ahead, way ahead as Canada may take over 6 months to decide on a special waiver .  .  ."

It seems strange that a passenger who enters Canada only for an afternoon and returns to the cruise ship which leaves at 6:00 p.m. (and doesn't even rent a car) could be be prevented from entering the country for a drunk driving arrest 5 or 10 years ago.  It seems particularly strange because at any given time there are hundreds of drunk passengers on the cruise ships as they enter Canadian waters.  

Does anyone know of a passenger who was denied entering Canada because of a DWI / DUI conviction?