Jail Time for Captain of Reef-Destroying Caledonian Sky?

There's still considerable talk about the ecological damage caused by the Caledonian Sky cruise ship which smashed a wide area of coral reef in Raja Ampat, Indonesia two weeks ago.

The local Minister for Maritime Affairs was quoted as saying that the damage to the ancient coral reefs was "devastating and irreparable," according to an article in Rappler titled Indonesia says captain of cruise ship that destroyed coral reefs may face imprisonment.

The Bahamian-flagged cruise ship ran aground at low tide, although it was equipped with radar and GPS monitoring instruments.

The ship was reportedly carrying 102 passengers and 79 crew members on a 16-day trip from Papua New Guinea to the Philippines.

The ship's operator, Noble Caledonia, was operating the vessel under a long term charter from Salen Ship Management. Noble Caledonian offered a token apology but concentrated on defending itself and its master who grounded the vessel on the reef, saying: "We are one of the leading expedition cruise companies which specializes in expedition tours to remote locations such as this, in addition to which we take protection of the environment very seriously indeed. The Master on duty at the time is one of the world’s leading expedition Captains."

The master, Keith Michael Taylor, on paper at least, seems to be an experienced mariner, according to Captain Taylor Caledonia Sky his resume on Linked-In. Before working for Salen Ship Management for the past two years as the captain of the Calendonian Sky, he served as a captain with Orion Expedition Cruises from 2008 to 2014 and, before that, for Windstar Cruises for one year.  He also served as a captain for Clipper Cruise Line for eight years and for Spice Island Fleet, Great White Fleet and Windjammer Barefoot Cruises dating back to the early 1990's.

Newspaper accounts, however, are highly critical of the captain. Some suggest that he did not wait for a report of the damage to his vessel or the reef. Tugs pulled the cruise ship across the reef, further damaging the coral. One newspaper says that Captain Taylor attempted to break free from the reef and made the damage even worse even though he was ordered to stop. He then sailed the ship out of the jurisdiction. One newspaper said that the captain "seems to be content by leaving the matter to the insurance company." 

Approximately 17,200 square feet of coral were destroyed in the mishap, although a more recent estimate placed the extent of the damage much higher.  Estimates of the damages are in the range of a little over $1 million to over $18 million.  But the destruction cannot be easily fixed and the reefs may take over 100 years to regenerate.  

One newspaper reported that the local ministry said “the destruction of the Radja Ampat coral reefs, which were developed by nature over hundreds of years, occurred in less than one day. It is simply impossible to restore that part of Radja Ampat. Fish that were normally seen in that particular area are all gone.”

Photographs posted (bottom) after the grounding show rubber dinghies deployed bearing the name of the Swedish management company, Salen Ship (salenship.com).

Captain Taylor committed an environmental crime under Indonesian law; he is subject to imprisonment for recklessly destroying the country's natural coral resources. But whether he spends even a day in jail seems unlikely. As explained in my recent article The "Trump Effect" - Cruise Industry Reinforces Its Image as an Enemy of the Environment, there are few travel industries which can wreak havoc on rare, bio-diverse marine habitats as effectively as the cruise lines. And there are no cruise lines willing to see their captains face criminal responsibility when they run aground on or drop or drag an anchor over an ancient coral reef.

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

 Photo credit: Top - Linked-In; Middle - Indonesian Ministry of Maritime Affairs; Bottom - Indonesia Expats 

Caledonia Sky Reef Damage

 Salen Ship Management - Caledonia Sky

Master of the Anthem of the Seas: Storm Not Accurately Forecast

A YouTube video of the Master of the Anthem of the Seas was broadcast to the staterooms on the Anthem of the Seas internal channel the day after the storm. A passenger, Sean Ferguson, recorded it with his iPhone.

The captain stated that, in his opinion, the low pressure system was not forecast accurately and the Anthem of the Seas faced wind and wave conditions much worse than were forecast.

His comments are in stark contrast to a number of meteorologists who have stated that the storm was accurately forecast last week. Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell, a local meteorologist from Ohio, posted photographs of the damage on his Facebook page. Another meteorologist, Ryan Maue, a "digital meteorologist for WeatherBell Analytics, said it's hard to believe no one at Royal Caribbean had been aware of a storm system that had been forecast — and included in official advisories and warnings issued by the National Weather Service — days in advance, " says NJ.com in the article Royal Caribbean ripped by weather pro for routing 'Anthem' cruise ship into storm.

The meteorologists at the Weather Channel were highly critical of Royal Caribbean last night and stated that the storm was accurately predicted in several programs and widely reported. The Weather Channel broadcast images showing that the seas were predicted to be over 30 feet last week (see photo below), which sharply contrasted with the Royal Caribbean captain's claim that the waves were forecast to be only 12 to 15 feet in height.   

Of interest is the Master's statement that the winds which rocked the cruise ship were up to 170 MPH which is actually higher than the estimates of many terrified passengers who contacted us of around 150 MPH.  He also stated that the passenger were understandably extremely uncomfortable and fearful of the weather conditions.

Ar the 18 minute mark of the video, the Master used an online chart from PassageWeather.com which, ironically, accurately predicted the development of this storm before the Anthem of the Seas sailed into danger. 

Al Roker, the popular television weatherman on the Today Show, best summed up Royal Caribbean's claim that the storm was not predicted:  "Royal Caribbean's claim that this was not predicted is bullfeathers.

USA TODAY published Meteorologists: Royal Caribbean blew it on sailing into storm. 

Florida Senator Bill Nelson was quoted in the press asking why would the ship continue right into the path of the ferocious storm that had been predicted at least four days on February 3rd, before the cruise encountered it, according to the Daily Mail.

Storm Anthem of the Seas Cruise

 

Freedom of the Seas Fire: A Word From Your Captain

The captain of the Freedom of the Seas, Captain Ron Holmes, I am told by crew members is a good man. He is well liked and respected by the crew, from what the shipboard employees tell me.

After the fire, Captain Holmes, via a closed circuit television loop, explains to the passengers what just happened. He is obviously not reading from a script.

Captain Holmes says that the fire erupted from what he describes as the engine spaces. It spread, he says, from the bottom of the ship to the top, above the Viking Crown lounge via an exhaust stack through the ship. He says that the crew had to fight the fire in what he says are "multiple parts" of the ship. He says that due to the sparks and hot spots, it took around an hour to completely extinguish the fire.

He appears to be forthcoming and honest to me.       

His video is in stark contrast to the information which Royal Caribbean disclosed to the media and the misleading letter which the cruise line CEO Bayley sent to the crew members. The PR department and cruise executive said that the fire was allegedly "small" and contained in the ship's mechanical spaces, which are obviously untrue.   

Royal Caribbean can't seem to help itself. Its shore-side PR team was so quick to spin the story that it directly contradicted what the good captain was telling the passengers. Captain Holmes makes an earnest appearance, in my assessment. The cruise line's PR department should have just uploaded the captain's brief explanation to YouTube, rather than try and bamboozle the public. This is a cruise line which lies when the truth would do it better.  

 Video Credit: Michael Alden

Finally, First U.S. Female to Captain Cruise Ship

Celebrity Cruises announced with great fanfare today that it appointed Kate McCue as the master of the Celebrity Summit cruise ship. She reportedly will be the first U.S. woman to captain a large cruise ship when she joins the Summit next month.

McCue has been with sister brand Royal Caribbean for 15 years.  

Royal Caribbean first named a woman as a captain of a cruise ship in the male dominated industry in 2007 when it appointed Swedish mariner Karin Stahre-Janson as the master of the Monarch of the Captain Kate McCueSeas.

Royal Caribbean named its second female cruise ship captain, Lis Lauritzen, aboard its Vision of the Seas in 2011.   

In 2010 Inger Klein Olsen took the helm of Cunard's Queen Victoria and joined this very small group of women in the male dominated industry.

Later Sarah Breton became the first female captain in P&O Cruises’ 170 plus year history when she was appointed to sail the Artemis.

In 2012 Silversea Cruises promoted Margrith Ettlin to the position of captain aboard the Silver Explorer

Sexism has been a problem for the industry over the decades.  Having women in places of authority and control can only make the cruise lines a fairer place for crew members to work.

Kudos to all of these pioneers and best of luck to Ms., er, Master McCue!  

How Do You Say Schettino in Korean? Captain of Sinking Ferry Among the First to Abandon Ship

The captain of the sunken ferry Korean ferry Sewol reportedly was one of the first to abandon ship and make it safely to shore.

Only one of the 47 lifeboats were deployed. The abandon ship order was not made until 30 minutes after the ferry began to sink.

There are around 275 people, mostly teenagers, missing at sea.

Does anyone know how to say Schettino in Korean?

Salt into the Wound: Royal Caribbean Denies Legionnaires Disease Came from Liberty of the Seas

Last week we reported on an article in the BBC about a former Royal Caribbean captain who died after contracting Legionnaire's disease. BBC's story was entitled Ex-Royal Caribbean Captain Died of Legionella. His widow is now proceeding with an inquest back in the UK.    

This is a disturbing story which we looked into last year: Royal Caribbean Delivers Cruel Blow to Widow of Beloved Captain Tore Myhra.

Royal Caribbean initially declined comment to the BBC saying that it does not comment about pending legal cases, but it looks like the cruise line has changed its mind. Royal Caribbean just sent the BBC a statement saying for the first time that "Royal Caribbean is certain that Mr. Myhra did not contract Legionella while sailing on board Liberty of the Seas."  The cruise line further states that Captain Myhra reported to the Captain Tore Myhraship's doctor only with "flu-like symptoms."

It is interesting to contrast Royal Caribbean's denials today with what the cruise line stated when Captain Myhra fell ill on the cruise ship. Back in December 2009, Royal Caribbean did not deny that the cruise ship had the deadly bacteria. It stated only that ". . . we do not know the source of the guest's legionellosis . . " The cruise line further explained that in response to the legionella-related death it sanitized key areas onboard the ship, including whirlpools and the H2O Zone.  

As we reported in 2009 in our article Former Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Captain Dies of Legionnaire's Disease After Sailing on Liberty of the Seas, the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner concluded that Captain Myhra became sick on the cruise ship and suffered "nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory difficulty and dry cough.'' His symptoms worsened and he died of "Legionella pneumophila pneumonia" the day after he departed the cruise ship, on November 1, 2009.

The Miami Herald covered the story and interviewed the Centers for Disease Control: The Herald said that the CDC investigated "five or six cases of Legionnaires' disease aboard cruise ships going in and out of South Florida in the past three months" around the time of Captain Myhra's death.

The South Florida Business Journal reported that during the next cruise, a family on the Liberty of the Seas found the H20 water area and hot tubs were closed six out of seven days of the cruise. A passenger reportedly said "This cruise started off horrible as we were told there had been two cases of Legionnaire's disease on the 11/1 sailing and that Customs was also checking the entire ship . . . " Another passenger mentioned receiving a letter in the stateroom, indicating a passenger on the previous cruise had been diagnosed with Legionnaire's, so the H20 Zone and hot tubs were closed. 

Why is Royal Caribbean now so "certain" that its former captain did not contract the disease on its cruise ship and he had just "flu-like" symptoms?  

It seems like this cruise cruise line will say anything to avoid bad press, even if it means pouring salt into the wounds of Captain Myhra's grieving wife and daughter.  

Loyal to Royal? Inquest to be Held into Legionella Death of Former Royal Caribbean Captain

BBC published an article today about a story we have covered over the last three years.

The story involves a former Royal Caribbean captain who died due to sickness contracted while cruising with the same cruise line he and his wife had worked for.

Tore and Sue Myhra "met and fell in love" on board a Royal Caribbean ship in the 1980s.

Tore Myhra - LegionellaBut in 2009, the couple were on a Royal Caribbean cruise as passengers aboard the Liberty of the Seas when Captain Myhra became ill and four days later died of Legionella in a Miami hospital.

An inquest into the death will be held next month in the U.K. 

Mrs Myhra said her husband's case was "ironic" in that he had not been afforded the same consideration he had shown others when he was working.

In 1998, he sailed a Royal Caribbean cruise ship into a Caribbean port  at night so a sick passenger could receive emergency medical treatment. But Royal Caribbean kept the ill former captain on the cruise ship when he was dying.

Royal Caribbean did not treat his widow, a former long term purser on several Royal Caribbean cruise ships, or her daughter any better. 

You can read our article about this sad and disturbing case here. It should give new meaning to "Loyal to Royal."

Royal Caribbean Delivers Cruel Blow to Widow of Beloved Captain Tore Myhra

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

Recently released "black box" recordings from the Costa Concordia reveal that Captain Schettino deliberately misled his passengers, the Italian Coast Guard and even his wife about the true conditions of the doomed cruise ship.

Immediately after the collision at 9:45 PM, Schettino is heard saying: "Madonna what have I done?"

He then calls the engine room and asks: "Are we really going down?"

Three minutes later, after learning that the ship is sinking, Schettino instructs an officer on the bridge to tell passengers that "there has been a blackout."

Ten minutes later he calls the Italian Coast Guard and says: "We've had a blackout, we're just evaluating . . . at most we're going to need a tugboat."

For the next hour, he resisted his officers pleas to give an abandon ship order. 

As the delayed evacuation finally started, Schettino called his wife and told her that everything was "under control." 

The voice recordings are not particularly surprising. Remember this is the captain who made certain that his girlfriend was one of the first into a lifeboat.  He left the sinking ship before all of the passengers and crew were in lifeboats, leaving many to die. He tried to justify his abandonment of the ship by claiming that he "tripped" and fell into a lifeboat.  

 

Captain Schettino - Costa Concordia - Liar Liar Pants on Fire

 

“Liar, liar, pants on fire" is a paraphrased version of the 1810 poem “The Liar” by William Blake.

Deceiver, dissembler
Your trousers are alight
From what pole or gallows
Shall they dangle in the night?

When I asked of your career
Why did you have to kick my rear
With that stinking lie of thine
Proclaiming that you owned a mine?

When you asked to borrow my stallion
To visit a nearby-moored galleon
How could I ever know that you
Intended only to turn him into glue?

What red devil of mendacity
Grips your soul with such tenacity?
Will one you cruelly shower with lies
Put a pistol ball between your eyes?

What infernal serpent
Has lent you his forked tongue?
From what pit of foul deceit
Are all these whoppers sprung?

Deceiver, dissembler
Your trousers are alight
From what pole or gallows
Do they dangle in the night?

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.

Six Months After Costa Concordia Disaster, Ship Remains Offshore

 

Video: CBS  "Captain Schettino remains the most reviled man in Italy." 

Delusional & Grandiose: Captain Schettino Claims That He & God Diverted Disaster!

Captain Schettino - Costa Concordia Earlier today I blogged that the Italian judges released Costa Captain Schettino of the doomed Concordia cruise ship from house arrest. The judges also released him from the strict prohibition against speaking with anyone other than his lawyer and close family friends.  

So by this afternoon we have one of Captain Schettino's first statements.

It's a whopper.

AFP quotes Schettino saying that a "divine hand" guided him and saved lives. 

"A divine hand surely touched my head . . . If I had continued on that path the ship's prow would have hit the rock. It would have been carnage." 

"There are those who say the impact with the stern was caused because I was suffering from a hallucination. What hallucination! It was rather my instinct, my skills, the ability to know the sea and suddenly change direction."

Ah, a coward captain who killed 32 innocent souls but now thanks himself and his co-pilot God.

The Italian judges should send Schettino to a mental institution.   

Costa Captain Schettino Released From House Arrest

Captain Schettino - Costa ConcordiaReuters is reporting that yesterday Italian judges released the captain of the doomed Costa Concordia cruise ship  from house arrest. 

Francesco Schettino was arrested following his abandonment of the Concordia on on January 13th in a disaster in which 30 passengers and crew died and two people are lost and presumed dead.

The judges in Grosseto, Italy said Schettino would no longer have to remain confined to his home in Meta di Sorrento but would have to remain in his home town. He would also no longer be bound by the strict conditions of house arrest which prevented him from communicating with anyone other his lawyer and close family.

According to Reuters, the judges indicated that the time Schettino spent under house arrest had a deterrent effect and he would remain under supervision by authorities.

Schettino faces charges of multiple counts of manslaughter, causing the accident and abandoning ship prematurely. 

Captain Schettino: The Most Hated Man in the History of Cruising?

Just when you thought this National-Enquirer-like story of the cowardly Costa cruise ship captain could not get any weirder, the Italian magazine Chi published a photograph of Captain Schettino and former cruise dancer/hostess Domnica Cemortan.  It seems like the love birds were eating oysters and crab legs at a restaurant about a month before married  Capitano Amore wrecked his cruise ship and killed over 30 passengers and crew while again dining with young Ms. Cemortan during the ill fated cruise.

The spectacle of this foolish captain cavorting with his mistress must burn a hole in the hearts of the families of the dead and missing.   

Captain Schettino - Domnica Cemortan


 

Story credit: DailyMail

Photo credit: Chi Magazine

January 2012 - Spotlight on Cruise Ship Dangers - Do You Trust Cruise Lines and Travel Agents?

Last month was an ugly, ugly month for the cruise industry.

January 2012 will long be remembered as the month that brought us the death and destruction surrounding the the Costa Concordia cruise ship, resulting in the media asking us- is it safe to cruise?

Lots of other really bad things have been happening in the world of cruising this new year before the Concordia disaster, seemingly non-stop, since January 1st.

The month started ominously when multiple rapes were reported on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas which returned to Fort Lauderdale on January 2nd.  Sexual crimes against women and Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Rapechildren are the cruise industry's nasty secret.  Cruise lines say that such crimes are "rare."  But that's just PR spin.  Click on the categories "Rape," "Sexual Assault," and "Sexual Assault of Children" (to the left of my blog).  There are more stories than you can stand to read; you will never read them all.  And my blog is less than two and one-half years old.

On January 12th we reported on a Royal Caribbean crewmember raping a fourteen year old girl on the Adventure of the Seas cruise ship.  Yes shocking.  But not really if you have your pulse on the dark side of cruise industry.  There are numerous cases like this on Royal Caribbean and Carnival each year, that the cruise lines don't want you to know about.     

In-house attorneys at the cruise lines joked about all of this being "job security." 

On January 21st we reported on the blockbuster story out of the U.K. about a Cunard crewmember who is suspected of sexually abusing children during cruises.  Cunard refuses to identify the job position of the the former crew member, "but he is known to have been a low-ranking employee who had regular, close contact with passengers on board" according to the press in England.   

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Rape Was the Cunard employee a youth counselor or a stateroom attendant, the two most likely job positions for crewmembers who prey on innocent children?  We have been contacted by former passengers who are frightened by the prospect that a child predator was working for Cunard while they vacationed with their children aboard the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth cruise ships.  But Cunard will provide no details regarding when and where the alleged predator worked.

Sexual molestation of kids on cruises is well known to the cruise insiders.  Some cruise lines hide the problem and stay out of the press better than others.   

But who is thinking of children and infants being sexually abused by cruise line perverts when the  world is preoccupied by the Costa Concordia disaster?

The cruise lines were quick to claim that such incidents, like rapes, overboard disappearances and anything else that may embarrass them, are "rare."  But in truth, cruise ship catastrophes are not rare at all; just over four years ago the Sea Diamond sank in Greek waters, with loss of life, after the cruise ship's captain ran the ship into a charted reef.  Yes, a reef that had been there for like several hundred million years.

You can read about lots of other disasters, collisions, allisions, near-misses and fires, which the cruise lines don't want you to know about, here.   

Admittedly, disasters with such soap-opera-drama like the Costa Concordia debacle are not a dCaptain Schettino Girlfriendaily occurrence.  Can you believe that at the time of the crash the captain was eating dinner and drinking wine with a 25 year old woman, formerly employed on the ship, who I have called the cruise "blonde bimbo?" 

Just today, this young woman, whose photographs in a bikini are plastered all over the internet, announced her "love" for the married captain to Italian prosecutors.  She also admitted that if women's clothing were found in the captain's quarters, they were probably hers.  Why do I think that when Captain Schettino goes to prison the blonde-in-the-bikini will have his baby?  

Sordid details, no doubt.  17 people are confirmed dead and over two dozen missing, probably trapped in the bowels of the capsized ship, and we have to listen to National Enquirer details of this nutcake captain and his bizarro lover? 

The point being that any notion that the public had left of mature, safety-minded professional mariners at the helm of cruise ships should have been thoroughly destroyed, assuming it was not already by the disgusting circumstances surrounding Captain Schettino's abandonment of the ship as captured by the high spirited dialogue between the cowardly captain and Italian Coast Guard Commander Gregorio de Falco.

And what do you think subordinate women crewmembers face when they are sexually abused and harassed on cruise ships with the likes of cowardly Captain Schettino setting the moral compass?  

And speaking of cowards, Carnival CEO Micky Arison hides under the covers in his 200 foot luxury yacht.  He re-emerges only during a Miami Heat game while his cruise guests float and bloat in the sarcophagus of the sunken cruise ship.    

Captain Schettino - Coward of the Seas The hard core cruise fanatics and travel agents, who are flipped out by losing ticket sales posed by the ugly spectacle unfolding around them, are frantically trying to convince the public that cruising is the "safest method of mass transportation."  The talking points babbled by the cruise shills include the big lie that there have been only 16 dead in the last 100 million passengers on a cruise ship. 

Nonsense.

We have witnessed 33 dead or missing just the last month on the Concordia alone.  Our blog has reported on hundreds of dead passengers and crew (they are people too, right?) due to gross medical negligence, foul play, suicide, lifeboat accidents, slip and fall accidents, out-of-control drinking, violence, murder, excursion mishaps, fires,drownings, and so forth.    

Add to the numerous dead Costa passengers and crew this month, the dead Carnival passenger who fell from one deck to the atrium lobby below, and the dead Royal Caribbean passenger who slipped and fell on steps out side of a disco late at night and somehow died after an hour in the ship infirmary.  Don't forget the over-board from the MSC Poesia

Apologists for the cruise lines will suggest that these incidents may have involved some or a lot of alcohol consumed by the dead.  It's a matter of personal responsibility.  It's their fault, they say.

ABC News' 20/20 recent show contained lots of YouTube videos of wasted passengers on Costa Concordia Cruise Shipcruises.  Oh how the cruise fans were incensed by the 20/20 cruise ship special.  Say what you want, whether the ABC show was over-the-top or right-on-point, excessive alcohol consumption by many passengers is common and encouraged by the cruise lines.  There's a direct correlation between lots of cruise booze and sexual crimes, overboards and death. 

After all, it was Captain Schettino, who was into the vino with his blonde former-crewmember-squeeze, enjoying dinner with dreams of the evening ahead when all hell broke loose.  Yes, it's a matter of responsibility.  It's the captain's fault and his cruise line employer cronies who were running the floating cruise fraternity house, I say.   

Is cruising safe?   It depends who you ask.  Call one of the 16,000 CLIA travel agents. They will happily tell you (while they make their percentage on the sale) that cruising is perfectly safe!  Come aboard.  Leave your kids in the kid's center.  Trust us.  Have fun!

Does anyone believe the cruise lines and travel agents anymore after last month?

Unbelievable . . .

Click on "CC" on player for English subtitles: 

Costa Concordia Captain Schettino - Chicken of the Seas

The captain always goes down with the ship, the saying goes. 

Or at least the captain is the last to leave a sinking vessel.

But not on the Costa Concordia.

Passengers aboard the stricken Costa cruise ship say that they observed Italian Master Francesco Schettino draped in a blanket aboard a lifeboat heading to safety as the vessel's crew and passengers struggled for their lives.  There is also talk that the captain intentionally deviated from course to "buzz the island," which if true takes this case from sinple negligence to recklessness or intentional misconduct.   

Arrested in Rome for manslaughter and abandoning ship, Captain Schettino talked about "lateral projections of rocks" and other phantom rubbish, rather than his own foolishness, which tore the hull apart and doomed his cruise ship.  He boasted that he saved lives and was the last to leave the vessel, apparently forgetting about his chief purser who was trapped aboard the ship.  

The captain of a vessel is the supreme master of his ship at sea.  The captain is ultimately responsible not only for the safe navigation of the vessel, but for the discipline and order of the crew and the safety of all crew and passengers.

Initial reports suggest that Captain Schettino failed on all accounts.  In an unregulated industry which looks for a scapegoat, the cruise line will focus on an irresponsible and renegade captain as the sole cause of the disaster which unfolded this weekend.

If passenger accounts are correct, Captain Schettino will long be considered a coward who abandoned his responsibilities and duties after wrecking the Concordia and killing scores of innocents in the process.      

  

Francesco Schettino - Costa Concordia Captain - Abandon Ship

 

Photo credit:  Enzo Russo / EPA

Princess Cruises Captain Pleads Guilty to Sex Crime Against Girl on Princess Cruise Ship

A newspaper in the U.K. reports that a cruise ship captain pled guilty last October to sex crimes against a 14 year old girl.  The Spalding Guardian newspaper identifies the sex criminal as Captain Peter Russell, who entered the girl's cabin, apparently when her parents were not present, and performed an unidentified sex act on her.    

The U.K. newspaper indicates that after the cruise, Captain Russell contacted the girl on the internet and made obscene suggestions about the girl’s breasts, urged her to perform a sex act, and requested that the girl take a photograph of herself naked and send it to him.  According to the Captain Peter Russell - Princess Cruises - Child Predator - Sex Crime article, the disturbing circumstances were revealed to the child's parents when the girl broke down in front of her father and showed him the online conversations. 

Captain Russell subsequently admitted to the unlawful sexual activity with a child on the cruise ship and over the internet.

As is often the case, the newspaper did not identify either the cruise line or the cruise ship where the crime occurred.  The available information on the internet indicates that Master Russell captained a number of different cruise ships for Princess Cruises, including the Sun Princess and Sea Princess.  We asked Princess Cruises for information about when this occurred, what cruise ship was involved, how long Captain Russell worked for Princess and what, if anything, it did when the crime was committed.  No response so far.      

We have written many articles about the danger of passengers leaving their children alone in cabins on cruise ships, and trusting the cabin stewards and waiters.  Little did even we consider the depravity of a captain of a cruise ship targeting a little girl like this.  Consider this observation of Captain Russell during a Princess cruise from an unsuspecting passenger:

"After a day or so at sea we realised the ship's good-humoured tone was hugely influenced by Captain Peter Russell, a warm Englishman who spreads himself around the passengers like a favourite uncle at a wedding. The crew adore him. Forty-five years at sea, from tankers to cruise ships, Captain Russell exudes nautical wisdom and is also a bubbling fount of humorous stories  .  .  ."  

Yikes!

We have also written several blogs about the problem of sexual predators on Princess Cruises and the disturbing attitude that this cruise line, known ironically for the iconic "Love Boat" series, has toward sexual crimes against women and children like this.  In my opinion, Princess Cruises has one of the best deserved reputations for sex crimes on its cruise ships and engaging in cover-ups of such crimes.  Take a moment and read:

Unsafe on the "Love Boat?" - Sexual Assaults on Princess Cruise Ships

Sexual Assault Reported on P & O Cruises' Pacific Sun Cruise Ship     

Below is the unedited article from the Spalding Guardian:

SHIP CAPTAIN JAILED FOR TEEN SEX OFFENSES 

"A 'world class' cruise ship captain from Donington has been jailed for nine months for sex offences against a 14-year-old girl while she slept in her cabin.

Lincoln Crown Court heard on Thursday how Peter Russell (64), of Bicker Road, performed a sex act on a teenage girl while she was asleep in her bunk.

The victim thought she had dreamt the incident but it later came to light when Russell chatted to her on the internet on MSN Messenger and made obscene suggestions.

Matthew Lowe, prosecuting, said Russell made comments about the girl’s breasts and urged her to perform a sex act while chatting to him over the internet.

Princess Cruises - Sex Crimes - Child Molestation Russell went on to request that the girl take a photograph of herself naked and send it to him.

The incidents came to an end when the girl broke down in front of her dad and showed him the records of her online conversations she had with Russell.

Russell admitted two charges of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity together with sexual activity in the presence of a child and a further charge of sexual activity with a child.

Judge Sean Morris jailed Russell for nine months and placed him on the sex offenders’ register for ten years.

The judge told Russell: 'You are a sea captain of great distinction and have a glittering reputation.'

'You have brought that crashing down.'

Russell worked throughout the world as a captain of oil tankers for the Esso oil company and, following his retirement, went on to skipper cruise ships.

William Powell, defending, said: 'He stands before the court an utterly humiliated person.'

'His outstanding career is in complete ruins. He is a man who has disgraced himself to an appalling extent.'

'He has spent almost his entire career at sea.'

'He retired from Esso at the age of 50 with a reputation as a world class player.'

'He was up there with the elite. He was hugely regarded.'

Mr Powell said that Russell went on to skipper cruise ships but his job came to an abrupt end following his arrest.

He urged the judge to show mercy to Russell who was previously a man of 'good character.'

 

March 27, 2011 Update: Princess Cruises provided the following information to us:

"We only found out about this incident when contacted by the Linconshire Police in May 2010.  Nothing about this incident was ever reported to us.  We understand that this involved a family member, and that the incident occurred in 2008.  We tried to get more information from the Police but they would not give us much because they said it had nothing to do with Princess.  He worked for Princess at the most 4 years.  He signed off  from the Sea Princess at the end of his contract in Dec. 2009.  He did not work on board any of our ships again." 

 

Photo credits:

Captain Peter Russell - Dick Drayer / Picasa Photo

Princess Cruise Ship  - TravelServer

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

Master - Coral Princess - Princess Cruises - Captain Mariano ManfusoThe disturbing circumstances surrounding the "disappearance" of Princess crew member Angelo Faliva continue to fill the newspapers and television airways in Italy as the cruise line continues to keep the Faliva family in the dark. 

U.K. security officer, Officer Michael Groves, has weighed in with his opinion regarding the sorry state of affairs surrounding Princess Cruises' attempt to spin a story that it has no idea what happened to young Angelo Faliva.  Officer Groves writes:

"I read with sadness the news that yet another young, vibrant and seemingly happy crew member has apparently "disappeared" from yet another cruise ship, the Coral Princess and yet the company, his employers can only really round off the incident as “We are really very puzzled . . . We do not know what happened.”

Puzzled – lets look at that word. As we all know its definition means to be perplexed or confused, to ponder or study over some perplexing problem or matter.

Sorry I am more than puzzled, I am appalled! I am appalled that yet again a monolithic liner – a modern ‘floating’ city with reams of close circuit television camera’s (CCTV) affixed to numerous points both internally and most certainly externally on board the Coral Princess, appears to have yielded no footage at all?"    

Princess Cruises' deplorable handling of this case was highlighted by the reportedly cold treatment of Mr. Faliva's sister, Chiara, by the Master of the cruise ship, Captain Mariano Manfuso, after Ms. Faliva Coral Princess - Master - Princess Cruises - Captain Mariano Manfusotraveled from Italy to California - where Princess Cruises is based - to try and find information about her brother.

Why have Princess Cruises and Master Manfuso (photos above and to the right) not cooperated with the Faliva family?  Why has Master Manfuso not turned over copies of all of the vessel's logs and reports to the Faliva family?  

Why didn't Master Manfuso make certain that the cruise ship's surveillance tapes from hundreds of cameras were immediately turned over to the FBI or to the Bermuda investigators?  Why the delay? 

How can I sit in my office in Miami and look online at Princess' grainy bridge cam (below) for the Coral Princess, but Princess' security guards and supervisors can't monitor the hundreds of high resolution surveillance cameras on the ship itself to determine when a crew member goes overboard?

Was Master Manfuso put on the sideline after the cruise line lawyers and risk managers took over the "investigation?" 

Is the cruise line engaged in a cover up? 

What is going on aboard your cruise ship Master Manfuso?  

The world is watching.

 

 

Coral Princess - Bridge Cam - Princess Cruises - Surveillance Cameras - Angelo Faliva

 

 

Credits:

Top photograph of Captain Manfuso                Flickr photo.klick's photostream

Bottom photograph of Captain Manfuso          mincomercio.gov.co  

Coral Princess bridge cam                                 Coral Princess, Princess Cruises