Polluting Princess Cruises Named "Best Ocean Cruise Line?"

Yesterday, Princess Cruises isued a press statement via PR Newswire that it had been voted the "Best Ocean Cruise Line" in the USA TODAY and 10Best Readers Choice cruise travel awards. 

The press release highlighted comments made by Princess Cruises president, Jan Swartz: "We're incredibly proud to be named 'Best Ocean Cruise Line' by the experts and readers of USA TODAY as it's our goal to provide our guests memorable and inspiring cruise vacation experiences."

A panel of cruise experts (cruise bloggers, travel agents, & industry friends) picked the initial nominees; the top 10 winners were then determined by popular vote.

The judges who nominated Princess are notable people in the world of cruising (I'm friendly with some of them) who author high quality articles and operate popular sites about the cruise industry: Carrie Finley Princess Cruises Pollution Bajak - Cruise Buzz; Fran Golden - USA TODAY; Sherry Laskin Kennedy - Cruise Maven; Jason Leppert - Popular Cruising; Chris Owen - Chris Cruises; Doug Parker - Cruise Radio; and Aaron Saunders - From The Deck Chair.  But, quite frankly, I am embarrassed for them.

Last month, the Department of Justice leveled a fine of $40,000,000 against Carnival Corporation for Princess Cruises' deliberate discharge of oil via "magic pipes," alteration of oil logs regarding at least five of its cruise ships, and lying to the Coast Guard over the course of nearly a decade. Ms. Swartz was featured in a video trying her best to appear apologetic as part of Princess' multi-media response to the revelations.

Its an embarrassing indictment of the cruise industry for a corporate felon to be voted the "best ocean cruise line" after it polluted the oceans and lied about it for so many years.  A better approach would have been for the judges to have disqualified any company which is on probation for environmental crimes or for the cruise executive to have politely declined the award, saying that the cruise line promises to do much better in the future.  

I posted Princess' patting-itself-on-its-back PR statement on our firm's Facebook page; we received these comments:

  • Should have been disqualified . . . 
  • Wow, I would have assumed "best ship", included due diligence on (environmental) issues but I guess not?
  • What a crock of s**t!
  • I agree they should be banned from these polls or disqualified.
  • . . . It's all a farce.

MSC Cruises DUMPINGThe other cruise lines voted in the list of "top 10 ocean cruise lines" have all been fined for polluting the oceans. Carnival was voted no. 3, even though it owns the polluting cruise ships operated by its Princess brand. Even MSC Cruises, which was voted no. 10, has a notorious reputation after a series of videos were released showing MSC crew members throwing garbage bags into a marine sanctuary at night. 

Yes, the award is a farce. The award should be embarrassing to the cruise industry, the cruise line "winner," the judges, and the cruise fans who voted for a corporate felon which intentionally polluted the oceans for years. 

Photo credit: Top - Department of Justice via CURT ANDERSON/AP via US News; bottom - anonymous via Cruise Law News.

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

An Unexpected Blog Award

Today, I was picked by Go Port Canaveral (a publication of Florida Cruise Ports, Inc.) as one of "Our Favorite Cruise Blogs."

Admittedly, I am (very) critical of the cruise industry and, as such, I assumed that automatically disqualified me from a cruise sponsored competition. 

But lo and behold Cruise Law News was not only picked as one of the top eight cruise blogs but the Go Port Canaveral people gave my law blog Cruise Blogtop billing to boot. Here's what Go Port Canaveral had to say:

"Jim Walker is a partner at the law firm Walker & O’Neill and the go to source for legal services on the high seas. If there’s a question of liability or a crime committed on a cruise ship Mr. Walker and Cruise Law are usually the first to report it. If you have a concern about safety on ship or during a port call Cruise Law is the place to visit to find out what to watch for and where. He’s been the go to source for news outlets like the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Mr. Walker also takes a moral stance on some issues like whaling in the Faroe Islands or drinking aboard. You may not necessarily agree with his opinions, but it is nice to see a lawyer with scruples, and one that is honest with them."

Thanks Go Port Canaveral! 

Photo Credit:  Go Port Canaveral Favorite Cruise Blogs

USA TODAY / 10 BEST Announce John Heald As Best Cruise Blogger, Cruise Law News Comes In Sixth Place

USA TODAY / 10 BEST announced the winners today in the "10Best Readers’ Choice New Media Award for Best Cruise Blogger."

An initial list of 20 cruise bloggers was selected by a panel of experts.  The experts were USA TODAY Cruise Log blogger Gene Sloan, long-time Cruise Diva Linda Coffman, Doug Parker with Cruise Radio, and Stewart Chiron a/k/a The Cruise Guy. All of these expert bloggers could have been picked as top 5 cruise bloggers themselves.

 John Heald Carnival After the initial list of 20 was selected, the "top 10" cruise bloggers were determined by popular vote. John Heald (photo right), the witty Cruise Director for Carnival, seems to have won in a land-slide. 

Our blog came in 6th place, not a bad result considering that many people consider me the "anti-cruise" blogger.  I am surprised that Cruise Law News was voted that high.

Here is the top ten list:        

  1. John Heald - John Heald's Blog
  2. Matt Hochberg - Royal Caribbean Blog
  3. Anita Dunham-Potter - Expert Cruiser
  4. Scott Sanders - Disney Cruise Line Blog
  5. Chris Gray Faust - Cruise Critic's The Lido Deck
  6. Jim Walker - Cruise Law News
  7. Fran Golden - Porthole Cruise News
  8. Chris Owen - Chris Cruises
  9. Danielle Fear - Cruise Miss
  10. Sherry Laskin - Cruise Maven

The other ten nominees included Aaron Saunders (From the Deck Chair), Anne Campbell (Ship Critic Blog), Carrie Finley-Bajak (Cruise Buzz Blog), Jason Leppert (Popular Cruising), John Honeywell (Captain Greybeard), Linda Garrison (About.com Cruises), Mike Faust (Cruise Currents Blog), Paul Motter (CruiseMates Blog), Peter Knego (Peter Knego’s Sea Treks and Peter Knego's Decked!), Ralph Grizzle (Avid Cruiser), and Steve Newman (Time Spent At Sea).

I voted for Peter Knego's blogs on Maritime Matters.

Thanks to everyone who voted for us.

Yes, it's true that our blog is often viewed as "negative."  But the voting proves that there are cruise fans out there who like to hear the "con" as well as the "pro" aspects of cruising and understand that being forewarned is being forearmed!

Thanks again and safe cruising!

 

Photo Credit: Carnival Corporation

USA TODAY's "Best Cruise Ships For Infants & Toddlers" Misses the Boat

USA TODAY published an article today entitled "Baby on board: Best cruise ships for infants, toddlers." 

Like most USA TODAY articles, it was mostly a "puff piece," trying hard to praise all of the cruise lines while writing nothing provocative or controversial.

The article picked four Disney cruise ships, three Royal Caribbean ships, two Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ships and one ship from Cunard.

The factors for being the best were not identified. The article mentioned things like providing baby Cruise Ship Kids formula, diapers, organic baby food, cribs, high chairs, booster seats and strollers.

But are these really the issues that parents of minors should be worried about? 

The articles doesn't mention serious issues that parents should be concerned with - like minors drowning in swimming pools without lifeguards or little kids being molested by predator crew members or perverted passengers.

Swimming Pools Without Lifeguards:

Disney is the only cruise line that assigns lifeguards to all of its cruise ship pools. It took this step only after a six year child slipped under the water and is now severely brain injured.

NCL and Royal Caribbean haven't bothered to employ lifeguards to protect little kids in and around the cruise ship pools even though several minors have drowned or been seriously injured in pools without lifeguards.

The USA TODAY article picked the NCL Breakaway as one the best cruise ships for minors but two children were pulled from a swimming pool on this cruise ship by other passengers just last February. One child is dead.

The article also selected a Royal Caribbean ship too, but last month a child nearly drowned on the Independence of the Seas

If you are worried about the potential that your little kid could drown in the ship's pools, Disney is the only cruise line that I would recommend.

Sexual Perverts and Predators:

Minors including toddlers have been sexually abused on cruise ships. Take a minute and read:

Sexual Perverts & Pedophiles on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships

Royal Caribbean is hardly the only cruise line with this problem. You can search this site and read of minors being victimized on cruise ships operated by Disney, Celebrity, and the Carnival brands. Yes, even cruise ship baby-sitters have been accused of molesting minors.

The article mentions "play zones" or "kid zones" on cruise ships.  Before you leave your minor kid in one of these places, do your homework. Don't assume all of the employees have been carefully vetted. 

Child pornography is also a problem on cruise ships.  There are frequent arrests by custom officials of crew members whose iPhones and laptops are loaded with hundreds/thousands of photos and videos of child pornography. You can read our many articles about this problem here

Have a Healthy Skepticism of Paradise:

Don't trust best-cruise-ships-for-kids articles written by cruise fans and travel writers. They are often given free cruises and other perks. They will go out of their way to avoid embarrassing the cruise lines. They do the public, who doesn't know any better, a disservice. Read other sources of information. Check around. Educate yourself as a parent before you take your child unwittingly into danger. And once you're on the cruise ship, keep your eyes on your kids at all times. 

 

Photo Credit: Frommers

Top 12 Blogs & Websites for Cruise News in 2012

Today is January 1st.  The first day of 2012!  This year over 14,000,000 people will sail on cruise ships.  Cruising continues to be one of the fasting growing travel industries, with a wide variety of cruise ships and destinations.  It is not a perfect industry and I consider myself one of its harshest critics.  But If you are considering taking a cruise this year, be safe and have a good time.  There are lots of good sources of information online.  I picked my favorite 12 blogs for 2012, from number 12 to number 1 (twitter name follows website/blog):   

12.  Mikey's Cruise Blog  by @mikeycruiseblog. This is a blog which I started following this Mikey's Cruise Blogyear.  The founder is Mikey Faust who, although just 15 years old, is the head blogger of this increasingly popular blog.  Mikey's Cruise Blog contains interesting articles written by Mikey and two other bloggers.  He just awarded the 2011 "Cruisey Awards" for best cruise line, best cruise director, best new ship, and so forth.  Somehow I won best cruise blog.  That automatically makes his cruise blog a top dozen blog in my book.  Keep an eye on Mikey's Cruise Blog this year.      

11.  CruiseMates - the "Complete Online Guide Cruise Guide and Community."  An online cruise community and message board somewhat like Cruise Critic (see below) but on a smaller scale.  I have bumped heads over the years with its chief author, Paul Motter, regarding the issue of cruise ship crimes and unexplained disappearances of cruise passengers.  But CruiseMates nonetheless contains tons of information and has knowledgeable and pleasant bloggers.  If you want cruise friendly editorials, this is the one channel for you.  It needs to become active on Twitter to become a top 10 player in the cruise world of social media. 

10.  The Ocean Escape, by @CruiseMan3000 This high energy cruise blog is authored by Shon The Ocean Escape "Cruise Man 3000" Ford, who is an unabashed cruise fan and NCL fan in particular.  His blog contains a "cruisetacular" (trademark pending) collection of Shon's personal cruising experiences, cruise ship reviews, and cruise line ratings.  Feeling blue?  Read Shon's exuberant & joyful articles.  If his blog were a church, I would join just for the fellowship.

9.  (Tie) Cruise Line Fans by @CruiseLineFans, a friendly cruise community with cruise reviews and a cruise forum / message board, and Cruise-Addicts by @CruiseAddicts, another popular cruise community.  Its website has a good cruise news section, a forum, cruise tracking application and gallery.  I don't know the principals behind either site but enjoy the interesting articles.   

8.  Cruise Maven by @CruiseMaven.  This is another cruise blog that I just started reading this year.  Authored by Sherry Laskin, a  freelance travel writer, blogger and photographer, Cruise Cruise MavenMaven's blog is bright and airy and contains well written articles and sharp photos.  She occasionally blogs on her first hand observations about potentially embarrassments to the cruise lines, such as when a cruise ship recently flunked a CDC inspection.  A real pro, Sherry's articles have appeared in many travel industry publications such as Travel Trade, Travel Weekly, Travel and Leisure News, and Senior Scene Magazine, as well as online media such as Travel Market Report, and CruiseReviews.com.   

7.  Chris Cruises by @OrlandoChris.  Chris Owen is the editor of his blog which has a reputation Chris Cruises - Chris Owenfor straight forward and insightful information about cruising.  I like Chris' blog because it strikes the right balance between cheerleading for the cruise industry and frank discussions about parts of the cruise industry which need improving.  For example, he has written articles about the need for parents to supervise kids on cruises which are right on the mark.  Chris is from Orlando and writes for Examiner and Gadling in addition to his website, LifeIsCruising.   

6.  Cruise Critic by @CruiseCritic This cruise community is a real juggernaut.  It has by far the most members and the most hard core cruise fans.  Its members will often report on an outbreak of a virus or an overboard passenger - often before the cruise ends and before the mainstream media publishes anything.  On the down-side, its community seems like the least diversified place on the planet.  Its message boards often turn vicious with flame wars, and a dissenting opinion is often ridiculed.  Threads critical of the cruise lines are sometimes pulled.  The usual comment from a CruiseCritic fan left on my blog is something like "feed the lawyers to the sharks!" or something equally enlightened.  Cruise Critic has not overcome the stigma of  being exposed for being a paid cruise line cheerleader and shilling for Royal Caribbean on its reviews and message boards.  Whenever the cruise industry needs some good Captain GreyBread - John Honeywellnews, Cruise Critic will interview a couple of PR people at CLIA and deliver a puff piece for their cruise line friends.

5.  Captain Greybeard by @CaptGreyBeard.  Perhaps its the British accent or the fact that my parents lived in London, but John Honeywell is one of my favorite cruise bloggers.  He writes for the U.K.'s Mirror about cruises.  Insightful.  Witty.  Good stuff.  He is also the only person I know who can type while holding a martini.   

4.  Cruise Radio by @CruiseRadio.  Doug Parker and his sidekick Matt Baisford are the geniuses Cruise Radio - Doug Parker behind this ridiculously popular blog and radio show which contains a continuous stream of interviews with travel agents, cruise executives, crew employees and tourism representatives.  Doug is the founder and friendly face of Cruise Radio.  He exploded onto the scene in 2009 and has risen to the top of the world of cruise social media.  He seems to be the one person in the world of cruising who is perpetually on a cruise ship having a good time.  Why do I think he has a beer koozie in one hand and a microphone in the other when he conducts his witty interviews?  A great, fun show with some good info to boot.   

3.  Cruise Junkie by Professor Ross Klein (no twitter).  While the U.S. media refused to take a Ross Klein Cruise Junkiecritical look at the shortcomings of the North American cruise lines over the past five years, Canadian sociology professor Ross Klein has been a diligent watchdog of the cruise industry.  He has testified before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives about the problem of crime and sexual assaults on cruise ships.  In an industry known for secrecy where what happens at a sea stays at sea, Professor Klein is the only credible independent source accurately tracking issues such as cruise overboards and noro-virus outbreaks.      

2.  Expert Cruiser by @ExpertCruiser.  Anita Dunham-Potter is a rare find - a travel enthusiast who Anita Dunham-Potteris as principled as she is intelligent.  She is experienced about the cruise industry and her articles reflect that.  She recently  joined the USA Today cruise team along with Gene Sloan.  It really not fair to the other cruise bloggers.  Its like teaming up Dwayne Wade and LeBron James.   

1.  CruiseLog by CruiseLog.  Gene Sloan is the perfect host for the perfect blog about cruising.  The blog is light on editorial opinion and encourages discussion and debate on all sides of the issue.  The marketing people at USA Today were ahead of the curve when they launched their "capture the national conversation" mission many years ago, and it worked particularly well with its travel section around cruises with Gene Sloan as Gene Sloan - USA Today CruiseBlog the host.  You can read about the success of the CruiseLog community in the best selling book  "The Hyper-Social Organization."  Gene will pen a short article about some newsworthy cruise topic.  He has nothing to sell and no ax to grind.  The USA Today readers will leave their comments pro and con, including some really thoughtful ideas.  A lively debate mostly by intelligent travelers.  A far cry from the lynch mob mentality at Cruise Critic.   

OK.  That's the top 12 (actually 13) to watch for 2012.  I feel guilty leaving out @Cruise Buzz, @Cruise Guy and @StarshineCruise so be sure to click on these friends and follow them on twitter.

Did I leave your favorite out?  Leave a comment below . . .

Cruise Law News' Best Blogs of 2010

As year 2010 comes to a close, it's time to look back at some of the highlights of Cruise Law News (CLN).  

CLN reached the top 10 most popular law blogs, placing us above such heavyweight blogs as the China Law BlogSimple Justice, Jonathan Turley and Overlawyered.     

CLN also became a "top cruise vacation influencer," which consists of cruise lines, travel agents, and cruise fans who dominate social media affecting the cruise industry.  I'm sure having a Royal Caribbean - Adam Goldstein - Sex and Booze Sells Cruisesmaritime personal injury lawyer in the top 10 drives the cruise industry bonkers.

Here are some of my favorite blog posts for the past year: 

Most popular article: The Splendor Cruise Ship Fire - Three Reasons Why You Will Lose If You Sue Carnival  The blog was picked up by the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, the ABA Journal, South Business Law Journal, Gadling, Slate, the U.K.'s Guardian and others.  Everyone loves it when a personal injury lawyer tells the public not to sue following a cruise disaster . . .    

Most ironic articles:  Former Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Captain Dies of Legionnaire's Disease After Sailing on Liberty of the Seas and Cruise Passengers Attacked & Robbed in Antigua While Cruise and Tourism Officials Meet

Best article with the word "sex" in the title: Marketing "Sex at Sea" on Cruise Ships (includes my favorite photo of a cruise line executive, in bed with booze surrounded by women with the Royal Caribbean logo across their bikini tops??)

Most comments to an article:  Crew Member Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas 

Second most comments to an article:  Another Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship? - Oasis of the Seas  

Most positive reaction to an article:  Royal Caribbean "Returns" to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® - While Haiti Suffers

Most negative reaction to an article:  Royal Caribbean "Returns" to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® - While Haiti Suffers

Splendor - carnival Cruise Fire Happiest article:  Three Happy Cruise Stories - Salvation, Generosity & Rebirth

Most inspiring article:  The Compelling Story of Jamie Barnett - Living Through the Loss

Saddest article:  More Caribbean Crime - Carnival Passenger Killed In St. Thomas

Most disturbing article: Neither Dead Nor Alive - The Faliva Family Remains In Limbo

Most bitter article: What Does BP, Al Qaeda and a Cruise Line Have In Common?  Unfortunately you have to lose a loved one before you can figure the answer out.

Scariest articles:  Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise ShipCarnival Cruise Ship Bartender Arrested On Charges Of Raping 14 Year Old Passenger and Most Wanted Rape Suspect Arrested On Carnival Cruise Ship - Worked As Manager Of Onboard Hair Salon

Best social media articles: The Cruise Industry's Reputation - A Sinking Image and Travel Writers and the Ethics of Reporting Cruise News

Best series of articles:  Top 10 Reasons Not To Cruise  

Clelia II - Video - StormBest article the cruise lines don't want you to read:  "Cruise Ship Sickness" - Is Norovirus In The Food and Water? 

Most terrifying cruise video (over 296,000 views and counting!): The Clelia II Skirts Disaster Again in Antarctica

Best sports article:  Oysters, Dixie Beer & My New Orleans Saints

Best personal article:  Switching Sides And Finding Your Soul

Best article not read by the cruise industry: Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything? 

Thanks to our readers for a great 2010!   Do you have an idea for blog articles for 2011?  Leave us a comment below. 

 

Bottom photo credit: Clelia II   Fiona Stewart/Garett McIntosh (via jonbowermaster.com)