Carnival Glory Loses Anchor in San Juan

A reader of Cruise Law News informs us that the Carnival Glory became stuck near the port of San Juan, Puerto Rico this afternoon after the cruise ship dropped several hundred feet of anchor chain and an anchor. The Carnival ship had just left Old San Juan (El Morro). A Carnival crew member states that the cruise ship's starboard anchor became stuck after the ship left port. 

There are several on line videos of the Carnival Glory stranded outside of the port.  

A crew member states that the anchor chain was cut and the anchor left in the water, and the ship finally was able to sail away, headeding toward the next stops on its itinerary, the Turks and Caicos.

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The last time that I heard about an anchor being dropped at sea while the ship was underway was when an intoxicated passenger aboard Holland America Line's Ryndam snuck into a restricted area on the ship and released the vessel's anchor as the cruise ship was returning to Tampa from Costa Maya, Mexico over seven years ago. The FBI arrested the passenger on felony charges of attempting to “damage, destroy, disable, or wreck a vessel."

Video: Seguridad Noticiasd


Reef Damage Adds to Cruise Industry's Image as Enemy of Environment

The cruise industry has always struggled with its environmental image. The "big three" cruise lines (Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean) were fined tens of millions of dollars collectively in the 1990's and 2000's for dumping pollutants into the water and lying to the U.S. Coast Guard.  

Cruise lines argue that their days of dumping at sea are over.  But its hard to convince a skeptical public with YouTube broadcasting what is actually happening at sea. Like last year, when MSC crew members sent us several videos showing dumping of plastic bags off the mooring deck of a MSC Cruise Ship Dumpingcruise ship into a marine sanctuary at night.  

The public is not as dumb as the cruise industry treats them.  Calling yourself a guardian of the seas is not going to work when you are caught by cruise passengers and your own crew members dumping plastic bags into a marine sanctuary over the side under the cover of night.

The cruise industry should be embarrassed after YouTube videos are now showing the destruction of a coral reef in the Cayman Islands by an anchor and chain dropped by the Pullmantur Zenith cruise ship (an old ship last operated by Celebrity Cruises), owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises.  

Coral reefs and cruise lines, it seems, are as incongruous as cats and dogs. Just ask the formerly quaint little port of Falmouth, Jamaica where the port was dredged for Royal Caribbean's monster ships, the Allure of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas to squeeze in, This required the destruction of some 35,000,000 cubic feet of coral reef and the annihilation of two square miles of mangroves which are now buried under pulverized reef material.  

Last year, a Carnival cruise ship (the Magic) crushed a coral reef in the Caymans after a local pilot boat operated by Bodden Shipping Agency guided the Carnival cruise ship to anchor outside of the designated public port anchorage. You can read about that situation in Carnival Magic Crushes Coral Reef in Cayman Islands

The Cayman Reporter described the situation as involving an "anchor on the reef rolling over the coral sending plumes of dust and broken coral in its wake."  But the governing authority is the weak Department of the Environment of the Cayman Islands which did not even bothered to hold anyone responsible for last year's massive damage to the coral reef by the dropping of the Carnival anchor. The agency has already exonerated the Zenith cruise operator and the harbor pilot from negligence. Royal Caribbean then immediately took advantage of this free pass to defend itself from criticism on Twitter, tweeting: "When Pullmantur Zenith arrived in Grand Cayman it was directed to a government-designated anchorage spot, not in a protected area."

The fact of the matter is that live coral was directly under the Zenith cruise ship which made no efforts to verify the underwater conditions.  

As the Huffington Post points out, the Cayman Islands' Marine Conservation Laws, seen on the islands' tourism website, state that "Damaging coral by anchor, chains or any other means ANYWHERE in Cayman waters is prohibited."  This is clearly a case where the cruise line, the pilot agency and the Cayman's Department of the Environment should all be held accountable. Strict liability (i.e., no-fault liability) should always apply in matters this important.

The ultimate irony, of course, is that protecting the Cayman's beautiful reefs may well be a moot point. The country has decided to cater to the cruise industry's goals of building a large dock, so that cruise ships no longer have to tender passengers ashore, which will sit over the reefs. This will require extensive dredge and fill operations which will destroy large portions of the island's ancient coral reefs. Such is the result of a short sited, docile, tourism-dependent Caribbean nation trying to please its Miami coral-reef-destroying cruise line masters.     

Video Credit: YouTube  

December 16 2015 Update: Our article above was mentioned in Caribbean 360 - Investigation launched as video shows cruise ship damaging Cayman Islands reef.

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

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