"Irie Namma captured a video (posted on YouTube and posted below) of a fight at Lido deck restaurant on cruise ship. The incident started with a group of man and women arguing next to the buffet line. From the video you can see a man throwing chair at the opposite group, hitting one lady in blue dress. Cruise ship security reacted fast and with help of other passengers managed to break up the brawl."
I first wrote about violence like this on cruise ships back in an article titled Cruise Ship Brawls - A Problem that Will Get Bigger with Bigger Ships. As Carnival Chairman Micky Arison acknowledged years ago, “cruise ships are a microcosm of any city or any location and stuff happens . . . The negatives of discounting might be less commission for agents and less revenue for us but the positive is it opens up the product to a wider audience.”
As the Crew Center sites points out, this the third cruise ship fight in 16 days, all involving Carnival cruise ships. Carnival, however, doesn't hold a monopoly on ship violence, as this video of a fight aboard a NCL ship points out.
A cruise passenger aboard the Carnival Legend notified me yesterday that the Carnival cruise ship experienced a brief power loss causing a blackout on at least her deck.
The incident occurred yesterday when the cruise ship was leaving the port of Seattle.
The passenger said:
"Very strange thing happened been 4:05 pm on carnival legend just as the safety briefing is over everybody goes back to their rooms . . . And the power goes off its been like 4 minutes already no announcement has been made about it / Pitch dark in the room. I'm in deck X fwd port side / Its back but nothing was said about it. (deck number omitted to maintain passenger's confidentiality).
The passenger sent a short video of the blackout which I posted on my YouTube page.
I'm told that power outages are relatively common. But this comes just a week after this ship suffered what many say was either a propulsion issue or a steering problem leading to the Carnival Legend listing heavily.
A passenger has been reported going overboard from the Carnival Ecstasy this morning.
The Carnival cruise ship is currently searching waters to the west of Freeport, Bahamas for the person.
AIS services show the ship slowing and turning around in what appears to be a classic Wlliamson turn.
According to cruise expert Ross Klein, this is the 275th person to go overboard from a cruise ship since the year 2000. The last overboard from a Carnival ship occurred earlier this summer when a 33 year old woman disappeared from the Carnival Libertyin May.
We have asked Carnival for a statement.
The Ecstasy was returning to Charleston from a cruise to the Bahamas and had sailed from Nassau.
Update: Carnival issued the following statement this morning:
"Early this morning, a 32-year-old female guest was witnessed jumping overboard from the cruise ship Carnival Ecstasy. The ship was approximately 15 miles off the coast of Grand Bahama island. Man overboard procedures were initiated immediately along with notification to the U.S. Coast Guard. Cruise ship personnel have been participating in the search and rescue operation throughout the morning. At 9 a.m., USCG released the cruise ship to resume its course for Charleston. USCG remains on site to continue the search. The company’s CareTeam is providing assistance and support to the missing guest’s family on board and our thoughts and prayers are with her and family and loved ones during this difficult time.
Carnival Ecstasy is based year round in Charleston, SC and operates five to seven-day cruises to the Bahamas and Caribbean."
Last Monday I received messages from a crew member friend on the Carnival Legend who said: "im on carnival legend / just as we are almost arriving in victoria canada 6:30 pm, local time, the ship experience a heavy swing towards the side / lots of things fell of in my cabin and for a second got scared then they made an announcement that there was a problem with an azipod on the stb side that caused that and nobody should be concerned and we will be on our way but the speed went down a lot was a bit scary but they say everything is fine . . . / going very slow arriving late in victoria canada, all shore excursions are canceled."
A few days later, I received an email from a passenger who described the listing incident as follows:
"I recently finished a one-week Alaska cruise out of Seattle from Tuesday, August 23 to Tuesday, August 30. All went well until the last evening. In accordance with the itinerary, the ship was headed to a final port of call evening at Victoria, BC.
At about 6:00 pm on Monday (August 29, 2016), I was sitting with a friend in a lounge when we felt the shop tilt and stay tilted. A few cups & napkins began sliding off tables. Looking out the windows near
to where we were seated, we could see only the upper sky. When I looked across the lounge to the windows on the other of the ship, all I could see was water, the sea, as though it were a wall facing us!
This tilt occurred while the ship was still traveling at speed, which made the sensation worse.
After about a moment the captain, one Captain Gazzano, addressed the passengers by the public address system. His command of English was so poor that I could only understand 2 or 3 words of what he said: propeller, engine, disengaged.
Immediately after the captain's address, the cruise director, Jaimie Dee, spoke over the public address system. She was superb, essentially re-saying in comprehensible English what the captain had tried to say.
After about 3 or 4 minutes, the ship was righted and slowed its speed.
As I was leaving the lounge to go to the second seating dinner, passengers was leaving the restaurant from the first seating. Some were chatting about the incident, saying that the plates sliding off the table was what made them frightened. I myself saw four or five cakes slide right out of the refrigerated display case in the lounge where I was seated during the incident.
After the ship was righted, the captain addressed the passengers once more as I recollect, perhaps twice. And again, immediately after the captain spoke, the cruise director spoke to re-state clearly what the captain had tried to say.
Apart from the frightening aspects of the mechanical failure, the inability of the captain to address the passengers in basic English was deplorable."
A reader sent also me a jink to a YouTube video taken by a passenger on the Carnival Legend at the time of the incident. He writes on YouTube:
"Watch the water flow from the pools aboard the Carnival Legend. There was a failure in the ships propulsion system about an hour and a half away from Victoria, British Columbia on Sunday, August 28th, 2016 at around 6:00 pm PST. The ship started to list heavily to the port side. I just happened to be in the area when it happened. Instead if panicking, I decided to film it!"
Wikipedia, strangely enough, already has this description of the incident:
"On August 29, 2016 at approximately 6:15 pm PT while sailing to Victoria, British Columbia, the turning valve in one of the ship's four engines failed, causing the ship to make a hard starboard turn and listed 30 degrees to the port side, only 10 degrees away from capsizing the vessel. This caused hundreds of dishes to fall over and break and caused both pools to drain out and items to be thrown off the deck. Passengers were directed by crew members to all stand on the left side of the ship to even out the listing. Captain Giuseppe Gazzano had to manually control the ship towards Victoria. There were no reported serious injuries but the ship arrived at Victoria two hours behind schedule."
September 4 2016 Update: Other videos of the listing were posted by passengers on YouTube; credit Randy Gibbs YouTube page and Nate Kosch YouTube pages.
We recently received a longer explanation of what happened from another passenger on the cruise ship, who said, in part:
"Towards the end of dinner we heard a ve loud mechanical noise and the ship began to shake violently. The ship then went into a sharp turn. The ship then began to list. I had figured since the seas were so calm it was likely an evasive maneuver to avoid hitting something. I had told my wife to brace for a possible impact. However, the ship continued to turn and continued to list at a greater degree and you could see the water line come up to the window. The entire ship made a creaking sound. We were seated at the aft port side of the dining room and had a good view. Glasses and plates began to fall and shatter. Then a Carnival crew member yelled out for everyone at dinner to get to the starboard side of the ship. My wife and I had already started to do so. The direction was the correct one so no criticism there, but the alarm in the crew member's voice was disconcerting. My wife then said we had to find the kids that she did not want them to be alone. We knew that both were with their kids clubs and where they were. We, and hundreds of others, left the Truffles dining room, there was some panic and shoving but overall not too bad under the circumstances. I had advised my wife to exit bygoing through the waiters serving area on the starboard side of the dining room. I did so for two reasons, one it was as far starboard as we could go, but if the ship tipped to its side, it would give us a barrier so we wouldn't slide across the width of the ship. Right before we stabilized into a stable port side list, it did feel as
though the ship may tip over. In fact, one woman yelled out, "my god we are going to tip over." We made our way out of the dining room somewhat consistently stepping on broken dishware and food. We went
up the stairs. On the third deck, many people had already began assembling at their muster stations, one crew member was directing people to do so. However, the general alarm had not sounded and we
were not going to the muster station without our kids
We made our way to the lido deck (deck nine) where my son was. He stated that they were all advised to go to the starboard side of the ship and did so, but that his counselor had left. He said he was not scared, but hugged us so we know he was. He said he was on his way to get his sister and then the muster station. We were most concerned about her since she was playing mini golf on an open deck
with her group. It was at this time, the captain got on the PA system and announced that, "nothing has happened," to which several passengers responded with expletives.
We were able to get to deck ten and find my daughter, she was visibly very upset. My daughter's counselor was about to take the children to their muster station and had prepared them for what to
expect. We were able to speak with my daughter and her friends afterwards. She had directed all on the deck to the starboard side. She originally advised the kids it was only a sharp turn, but at some point yelled out, "oh s--t." I can't blame her for her choice of words but again it underscored that the crew was alarmed. Two of the kids had stumbled while on the way to the starboard side. One fell into the net roping off the basketball court, one slide part way down the deck. The basketball and several golf balls went over the side of the deck. Shortly thereafter, the ship had been stabilized and was now slightly listing to the starboard side, likely a slight overcompensation. We spoke to one of our daughter's friend's parents
later. They were on the first floor, their room was completely underwater. (There is at least one deck below deck one where there are crew quarters). They had put on their life vests and headed to their
muster station. I have travelled extensively by sea and air and have never seen anything like this before.
Before we got underway later that evening, we went to guest services for an explanation. By the time we were done we had gotten four different ones, that it was the stabilizers, it was the propulsion system, it was the steering system, and finally that nothing had really happened. They advised nothing like this had ever happened before, but we later found out that this has happened at least once prior on the Carnival Legend. They were unapologetic and unmoved. They denied that any crew members directed people to their muster stations. This was simply not true. We called Carnival again today. We received a similar response. The representative said they really can't do anything about it because everyone on the ship was affected. We received no explanation, no apology, and were informed we would not receive a follow-up phone call from anyone. There would simply be too many people to call. It is as though they want to cover it up. Perhaps the situation was not as bad as believed at the time. In reading, apparently this happens from time to time. However, generally it is a weather event which this was not. Rarely it is
significant mechanical failure which this appeared to be. A listing of only 14% can cause dishes and plates to fall and shatter and apparently a cruise ship can sustain up to a 40% before it capsizes. Nonetheless it was pretty scary at the time and we were shaken . . .
. . . Only Carnival can manage to have an incident in near perfect weather and seas. It would have been more understandably if it was the weather . . ."
According to several passengers on the Carnival Vista, the cruise ship swamped piers and many smaller boats moored there yesterday afternoon when leaving the port of Messina, Sicily.
We were contacted and told about the mishap today. The port of Messina has a protective industrial zone in the shape of a reverse shaped "C" for large vessels and cruise ships. At the entrance/exit of the port, there are piers (at 10:00 o'clock, in the left upper corner of the photo to the right) which provide mooring and protection for smaller boats. You can see a close up here. While the Vista was leaving port, it came perilously close to the piers and the thrust from its stern created a turmoil which turned over the piers and swamped smaller moored vessels, sinking several of the boats.
While these passengers wished to remain anonymous, there is a description of what happened as well as dramatic photographs of and comments about the damage to the pier and the smaller vessels on the closed Facebook page of Carnival Vista August 26, 2016 (hopefully someone in the group will send us copies of the photographs or post their photos or video on an open Facebook page).
The damage to the piers was so severe that some of the passengers thought that the Vista must have hit the piers and boats.
The passengers stated that it was a "beautiful, sunny and calm day" when the accident occurred.
I am assuming that a local pilot may have been on-board at the time, although it is less than clear who was in control of the cruise ship when it damaged the piers and boats. There were reportedly no announcements afterward from the captain regarding what happened. According to these passengers, the Vista "didn't stop and we were slightly delayed out of port."
A number of Italian newspapers published articles today, saying that the local port authority is conducting an investigation regarding the incident. One newspaper reports that the Vista caused damage to two concrete piers and sank several boats "under the astonished gaze of several citizens." This newspaper further states that "for a moment, it was feared that the situation could escalate and that the same cruise ship might not be able to straighten the course and regain the open sea."
The photo below is from the Tempostretto. The Dream Blog Cruise Magazine has posted the video below, with a credit to Gazzetta del Sul:
Update: An Italian newspaper says that that there was reportedly 250,000 euros in damage caused by the Carnival ship due to "two piers destroyed, one beyond repair, a number of ancillary facilities (such as anchor lines of the boats) damaged, a pilot of the mooring sunk and another dozen small boats in poor condition."
August 30 2016 Update: Another Italian newspaper accurately characterized the waves generated by the Vista as "a small tsunami," which trampled two wharves and boats moored at Marina del Nettuno.
September 4 2016 Update:You can see another video of the incident here, from the Facebook page of Ships of Messina, showing another angle of the disaster caused by the Vista's wake.
Last Friday evening, there were comments on social media that a fire had broken out on the Carnival Sunshine which caused damage to a passenger balcony.
The initial comments, on Facebook, were to the effect that the cabin was located on deck 6, fire doors were closed and a number of firefighters responded to the fire. The initial speculation was that the fire was started by a smoker on the balcony or perhaps from a flicked cigarette which landed on a balcony towel?
Carnival released an official statement the next morning, stating that: "A small fire occurred yesterday evening on a passenger cabin balcony on Carnival Sunshine. The specific location of origin appears to have been a towel on a balcony chair. The fire was quickly extinguished. Guests were advised of the situation and all operations on board continued per normal."
Many people have suggested that the fire wasn't serious because it was characterized as "small" and "quickly extinguished." Of course, every fire on the high seas is potentially very serious and starts out small.
The issue remains whether the balcony in question was equipped with a "fixed pressure water-spraying and fixed fire detection and fire alarm systems," as required by amendments to the SOLAS regulations when the furniture and furnishings on cabin balconies are not of "restricted fire risk."
These amendments to SOLAS came about after the deadly fire aboard the Star Princess in 2006 which burned through over a hundred cabins after a flicked cigarette caught a towel on a passenger balcony on fire. The MAIB was critical of the fact that the balcony chairs and balcony partitions were highly combustible and caused heavy, toxic smoke. None of the balconies had heat or smoke detectors or sprinkler systems.
We represented the family of Richard Liffridge who died in the fire. After his death, Princess said that it quickly replaced the balcony partitions, furniture and furnishings with fire-resistant items and installed fixed sprinkler and fire detection systems on the balconies of its fleet of cruise ships.
However, when the International Maritime Organization (IMO) amended SOLAS, it did not require all cruise ships to install balcony fire systems. It waived the requirement where the cruise line balcony furniture and furnishings were of "restricted fire risk."
Other than Princess, few other cruise lines publicly state whether their ships are retrofitted with balcony sprinkler systems or whether the newly built cruise ships (after July 1, 2008) are equipped with such safety features.
Do all of the 100 plus cruise ships owned by Carnival Corporation, and operated by its numerous brands, have fire detection, alarm and suppression systems on the passenger balconies? How about other cruise lines? Have some cruise lines just replaced the balcony partitions and furniture with less combustible and less toxic-when-burned substances and deck coverings?
We have asked Carnival for an explanation whether the balcony on the Sunshine was equipped with a heat detection and sprinkler system. We will report if Carnival answers us. Did the fire proceed from the balcony and enter the passenger cabin? We would also like to know whether the fire was extinguished with an automatic system or whether firefighters had to go to the scene and manually extinguish it.
Was the bridge automatically notified by a balcony alarm system when the fire broke out or was the fire first observed by passengers who reported it?
Perhaps the Sunshine has such a system. Was it functioning correctly? SOLAS requires that the system be periodically tested and sprinkler heads should be maintained, cleaned and inspected.
It was fortunate that this fire happened in the evening (between 8 and 9 P.M.) and did not break out in the early morning hours when most passengers were asleep.
There should be an investigation into these basic facts rather than a quick conclusion that the fire was small and not serious.
If you are taking a cruise, walk out to the balcony and look up. Is it is equipped with a fire detector (heat or smoke) and sprinkler system? Let us know.
Three years ago this month, the Carnival Elation suffered a problem issue with one of the two units used to propel and steer the cruise ship and had to resort to the use of a tug to make it back to port in New Orleans. That was at a bad time for Carnival. The cruise line was at a low ebb in terms of public relations when four of Carnival's ships, the Triumph, Elation, Dream and Legend, all faltered in the course of a couple of weeks, experiencing propulsion, electrical or mechanical problems at sea.
Last night around 1:45 A.M., the Elation lost power. According to passengers tweeting about the incident, the Elation drifted for an hour in the dark as the ship was heading back to port in Jacksonville.
News4Jax reports that notwithstanding the captain's announcements, "panicked passengers grabbed life vests and ran to the deck." WJXT news reporter Heather Leigh posted photos on Twitter showing cruise passengers descending stairs on the cruise ship with life jackets in their hands.
News4Jax reported that "passengers said that were very concerned and that they never really got an explanation as to what was happening and why."
The news station said that according to the U.S. Coast Guard, "an air compressor went out on one of the air conditioning units. When the crew tried to reset the system, it shorted out the power to the propulsion system. It didn't last longer than an hour and they ended up using power from the emergency generators to get back into port."
Some passengers commented that they smelled something burning on the ship, as mentioned in the video below. Once the power was established back on the ship, it turned on and off repeatedly.
Late yesterday afternoon, Fathom's Adonia experienced a power loss, causing its elevators, bathrooms and air conditioners to stop working for around 30 minutes. "Following orders from the U.S. Coast Guard," the Adonia returned to Miami yesterday.
Fathom downplayed the incident saying that it was only a "short-term electrical difficulty.”
Prior to being the flagship for Carnival's so-called "voluntourism" brand, Fathom, the Adonia was in the fleet of the Carnival brand P&O Cruises. After drydock, it was brought to Miami but quickly failed an initial Coast Guard inspection leading to Fathom canceling its first cruise. The Coast Guard said the most serious remaining problem were with "numerous sliding fire screen doors that are inoperable."
Once cleared to sail, the Adonia experienced a relatively small norovirus outbreak during the ship's first cruise to Cuba.
Social media, including Twitter, has not given the Adonia's latest trouble much attention. One of the few tweets about the Adonia yesterday was posted by Carnival chairman Micky Arison before the power failure, saying: "I'm preparing #Adonia to sail to Havana with Capt Sarah Breton." It's a confusing tweet because Fathom subsequently released a statement saying that the Adonia was cruising to the Dominican Republic.
There is some discrepancy in reports about the incident whether the cruise ship was heading to Cuba or the Dominican Republic. News 7 quoted a Fathom statements saying that the power failure occurred "on the initial leg of its journey from Miami to the Dominican Republic." But another local news station, Local 10, quoted a second statement by Fathom: "Fathom will now arrive into Havana for the two-day call at 7:30 a.m. May 31, and will depart at 18:00 (6:00 p.m.) on June 1. Unfortunately it has been necessary to cancel the call to Cienfuegos and the ship will proceed to Santiago de Cuba as scheduled."
The news account also said that the Adonia apparently left PortMiami at 3 A.M. this morning.
Passengers aboard the Carnival Liberty and a local news station in Houston are reporting that a thirty-three year old passenger went overboard early this morning.
The missing passengers has been identified as Samantha Broberg who was initially reported missing by her traveling companions.
The Carnival cruise ship was apparently not equipped with a automatic man overboard system which should have alerted the bridge immediately when the young woman went over the rail so that immediate rescue measures could have been undertaken.
Carnival determined that she went overboard only after reviewing surveillance camera footage which "appears to show the woman going overboard around 2 A.M," according to a local ABC news channel in Houston. Previously, the crew engaged in the futile act of posting a photograph of the missing woman on the ship and conducting a search on the cruise ship.
Carnival confirmed the overboard in a statement released to Houston station KHOU.
The Carnival cruise ship departed from Galveston on Thursday on a four-day cruise to Mexico.
Cruise lines may be unable to prevent overboards but there is reliable technology available to automatically detect and quickly respond to these type of emergencies. The cruise industry has come up with irresponsible reasons to delay the installation of the life-saving systems. One such system, the Mobtronic™ system, reportedly delivers more than 95% detection accuracy and low false alarm rates. Such technology is required pursuant to the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act but most cruise lines refuse to install the technology due to costs.
The last passenger to go overboard disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas earlier this month.
May 15 2016 Update: A fifteen hour delay? ABC News says that there was a delay from when the passenger went overboard, at around 2:00 A.M., until 5:00 P.M. before the search was initiated. An automatic MOB system would have obviously immediately notified the bridge, eliminating the fifteen (15) hour delay and increasing the chances of survival and a successful rescue.
Also the PR team at the cruise line is stating "based on the video analysis, we can confirm that it appears she climbed up and sat on a deck railing and subsequently fell backwards." Such conduct is foreseeable if someone is over-served alcohol.
Several people on our Facebook page are already blaming the passenger who many claim was intoxicated.
My thought is that cruise lines owe a duty of reasonable care to passengers pursuant to maritime law. Cruise lines face potential liability if they over-serve alcohol to a guest past the point of intoxication and the guest is injured or killed. Carnival collects $500,000,000 a year selling alcohol on its cruise ships, plus it pays virtually no U.S. taxes. Its bartenders and waiters make greater gratuities the more Carnival booze they sell. On land, bars face liability when they over-serve people to the point that they become literally falling-down drunks. The same liability on cruise ships. Intoxicated guests acting foolishly are foreseeable, especially on cruise ships. Carnival encourages the drunkenness with all-you-can-drink packages. Carnival knows that people will become highly intoxicated but does not have reasonable policies to deal with the problem. Then it does not invest in the proven technology of automatic MOB systems to immediately alert the bridge when someone goes overboard. It is a failure driven by the cruise line's overarching priority to place profits over safety.
May 19 2016 Update:Photos by passengers have appeared on social media bringing into question what a half dozen Carnival officers were inspecting the day after the passenger disappeared. Carnival's PR claims that the stains on the deck were from a spilled "red drink" and later said that it was from a "strawberry daiquiri." Another passenger pointed out what appears to be a broken light fixture lying on the deck.
The Epoch Times picks up on the lack of an automatic man overboard system.
The Sun Sentinel is reporting that the Fathom Travel's historical first cruise on the Adonia cruise ship to Cuba may have experienced a norovirus outbreak aboard the ship sickening passengers, according to reports from the captain.
At around 2:45 P.M. this afternoon, there were at least 14 people on the ship complaining of diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps mentioned by the captain according to the Sun Sentinel. With only around 600 people aboard the cruise ship, that's over 2% of the cruise passengers which is near the threshold where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) become involved.
The photos and video from the cruise ship show crew members already rubbing and scrubbing the surfaces of the ship. Norovirus is primarily a foodborne virus although the virus can last for weeks on contaminated surfaces. It can also be spread by person to person contact. Hand shaking on the ship is apparently discouraged. Self-serve buffets have also reportedly been replaced with service by crew members wearing gloves.
The cruise ship, of couse, quickly blamed the passengers with the ship doctor writing a letter saying "we suspect that the virus may have been inadvertently introduced on board by embarking travelers, even though the ship had not even performed tests to make such a determination. One of those sick, a former public health social worker, said "I think it was something I ate." Read Fears of Norovirus mar last day of cruise to Cuba.
Carnival Cruise Line is hiking its gratuity charge by nearly 8 percent, according to an article in Travel Agent Central today. The charge will rise to $12.95 per person, per day for passengers in most cabins, or $13.95 per person, per day for passengers staying in suites, effective September 1, 2016. There is a question posed on the comments section of the article; "does the charge actually go to the staff as a tip? or is it just a fare increase?" The question remain unanswered.
Carnival said that passengers can lock in the current gratuity rate by pre-paying before Monday, May9, 2016.
The gratuity charge, which crew members tell me does not all go to the crew members but is diverted to pay salaries or is considered revenue (profit) for the cruise line, is only a suggested amount. Carnival says that passengers can adjust it, or remove it entirely, by visiting the Guest Services desk while onboard the cruise ship.
Earlier this week, a Facebook page called "Complaining Crewship" complained that Carnival passengers were not paying tips and posted about 30 pages of photographed pages showing the names and cabin numbers of Carnival passengers (from an unidentified ship) who had their prepaid tips removed. There were hundreds and hundreds of passengers who removed their tips. Some of these people may have removed the pre-paid gratuities and paid cash but I was left with an unpleasant feeling that they were largely stiffing the crew.
I then shared the posting and photos on my Facebook page and started a discussion regarding the problem of passengers not tipping the crew members. A firestorm of controversy then erupted. Some passengers did not like the fact that the names of passengers who removed the tips were revealed. Others expressed their feelings that it was outrageous that many people refused to pay any tips to the hardworking crew members.
Some readers seemed not to care at all about the crew and seemed concerned only with protecting the identity of those removing the tips. I guess the power of Wikileaks, Julian Assage and the Panama Papers escapes them. Several people complained to John Heald, the Carnival head cruise director and blogger at Carnival, about the release of confidential data. Others may have complained to Facebook about the "Complaining Crew ship" page, which may have been a page operated by either current or former Carnival crew members who were tired of being cheated by the guests.
The reality of the matter is that Carnival pays crew members like waiters. bartenders and stateroom attendants a small pittance by the cruise line (around $50 a month) and then requires them to work incredibly long hours, relying on tips for the majority of their compensation. It's quite a business model. Carnival incorporated in Panama and registered its cruise ships in Panama and the Bahamas to avoid virtually all taxes and then requires U.S. taxpaying public to pay the bulk of the crew member compensation. But many passengers view a gratuity as reserved only for spectacular and far-beyond-normal service. These guests obviously don't tip at all or only occasionally and say that it's the cruise line's responsibility to pay the ship employees.
Well, the original post by "Complaining Crewship" seem to have been taken down (as well as the entire Facebook page), voluntarily of involuntarily I can't tell, and so did the photos I shared in the process. But I had previously copied them all and am posting a few here (with the names redacted of those who removed their tips) to show the large number of tips removed.
Cruise lines do not like their ship employees to "out" the guests or to name and shame them, although these type of people seem to be largely deadbeats in my view, or to reveal the cruise line's unfair treatment of the hard working crew members. For example, when a Royal Caribbean created a You Tube video a few years ago showing that the cruise line was in essence stealing automatic gratuities from the crew, Royal Caribbean threatened the crew members with legal action and petitioned You Tube to ban the video. Read: "Screw the Crew" Video: Banned By Royal Caribbean & YouTube!
So the cruise line gratuity scam continues. Carnival will create the impression that the increased gratuities are for the crew who, in reality, will never see a penny of the increase. Many passengers will remove all of the gratuities in their entirely and hide their cheapness behind their anonymity.
Yesterday. a lawsuit was filed against Carnival Corporation and Fathom Travel for discriminating against Cuban-Americans who were excluded as passengers on the the May 1st cruise to Cuba. The lawsuit alleges that these cruise lines violated the civil rights of two Cuban-Americans by denying them reservations on the Adonia because they were born in Cuba.
The lawsuit seeks class action certification. It was filed by the law firms of Koyzan, Tropin and Throckmorton and Robert Rodriguez P.A.
Yesterday, the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale published an article by its editorial board stating that until Cuba changes its policy of prohibiting native-born Cuban Americans from arriving by sea, "all American cruise lines, ferry operators and shipping companies should collectively call a time-out on plans to sail to Cuba." The newspaper states:
"It is not OK for an American business to abide by policies that discriminate against Americans. It is not OK for an American business to check the birthplace on citizens' passports before letting them aboard. It is not OK for an American business to create two classifications of Americans, no matter the rhetoric of presidential candidates who would discriminate against Muslim-Americans ."
John Kerry: "American citizens, Cuban Americans have a right to travel, and we should not be in a situation where the Cuban government is forcing its discrimination policy on us . . . Carnival needs to not discriminate."
April 18 2016:Former Miami U.S. attorney had asked Justice Department to investigate Carnival cruise to Cuba ("Shamelessly, Carnival tries to absolve itself from its illegal conduct by pointing its finger at the Cuban Government and blaming it for its discriminatory laws. But, it is Carnival that is playing the role of the Cuban Government police, doing its dirty work by enforcing the Cuban Government's discriminatory laws. Carnival is willing to play that role for business reasons.")
Written by Fabiola Santiago, the article quotes Cuban American Maria de los Angela Torres, who came to the U.S. as a Pedro Pan child in the early 1960's, after she tried to book a cruise to Cuba. Everything was proceeding smoothly in booking her cruise until the Fathom agent learned that she was born in Cuba. The agent then told her that "Current Cuban law prohibits Cuban-born individuals from entering Cuba via ship or other sea vessel, regardless of U.S. citizenship status. For that reason, at the present time, Fathom cannot accommodate Cuban-born individuals."
The Herald analogized the discrimination to a cruise line refusing to take American Jews to Israel or African Americans to Africa.
Two years ago, the Tunisian government prohibited Israeli passengers from disembarking from the Norwegian Jade during a stop at the Tunis (La Goulette) cruise port. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) told the Israeli citizens that they were not welcome by the Tunisian government and had to stay aboard the cruise ship.
“We want to send a strong message to Tunisia and ports around the world that we will not tolerate such random acts of discrimination against our guests. We are outraged by this act and the fact that we were not notified in advance of this practice. We apologize sincerely to our guests who were affected and want them to know that we have taken the appropriate action in response.”
Carnival, on the other hand, is acting in "cahoots" with Cuba, as the Herald points out. It's pathetic and disgraceful on Carnival's part. Carnival acquiesced to the discriminatory policies of the totalitarian Castro regime as a quid pro quo to be the first cruise line to do business in Cuba. When faced with an important principle, Carnival sold out for profits.
April 8 2016 Update: Breitbart asks whether Carnival has violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act in an article titled Cuban-Americans Banned from Carnival Cruises Trips to Cuba. Title II of the act prohibits American “places of public accommodation” from discriminating on the basis of “race, color, religion, or national origin.” Place of birth, naturally, would fall under “national origin.” In federal caselaw, the U.S. Supreme Court held that foreign flagged cruise ships were subject to federal statutes which prohibited discrimination against U.S. citizens.
In breaking news, Cruise Law News has learned that Royal Caribbean will be home-porting the refurbished Empress of the Seas in Havana, Cuba.
Effective August 14, 2016, the Empress of the Seas, originally named the Nordic Empress, will be sailing 7 day cruises from Havana to Nassau Bahamas, Labadee Haiti, Falmouth Jamaica and Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. In a starting move, the cruise line will be changing the name of the cruise ship to the Cuban Empress.
The cruise shipleft the Royal Caribbean fleet in 2007 and, since then, has sailed for Royal Caribbean's Spanish subsidiary Pullmantur Cruises. Last year, Royal Caribbean announced that the cruise ship would be returning to its fleet in March of this year. The ship has been undergoing extensive renovations, first in Cadiz Spain and currently in Freeport Bahamas for the past several weeks. The ship was supposed to be sailing a Caribbean itinerary this summer but recently canceled six weeks of cruises because the cruise ship's renovations were behind schedule.
Many travel agents have speculated that the cruise ship, because of its smaller size, is well suited to be the first ship for Royal Caribbean to enter the Cuban cruise market. It will be the smallest cruise ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet behind the Majesty of the Seas. Many travel agents have noted that the cruise line has not booked any cruises on this ship after July as a sign that Royal Caribbean has planned all along try to get the Empress into Cuba before the end of the summer.
Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain commented that "Cuba is a great opportunity for us in the cruise business because we bring our own hotels and our own infrastructure . . . "
Earlier this month, Carnival announced that it had obtained approval from Cuba to sail from the U.S. into Cuban ports. On May 1st, Carnival's new "social impact" brand, Fathom, will be sailing passengers from Miami to several ports in Cuba, on the Adonia, a cruise ship with around 700 passengers. This will be the first time in 50 years that a cruise ship from Miami will call on a port in Cuba.
Motivated by profits (fares on the Adonia are 2 to 3 times the average cost of a Caribbean cruise) and its competition with cross-town rival Carnival, Royal Caribbean pulled off a coup by one-upping Carnival by becoming the first U.S. cruise line which will base a cruise ship in Cuba. Royal Caribbean's Chief Operating Officer Adam Goldstein, who reportedly has spent several weeks in Havana meeting with Cuban officials, is expected to speak at a press conference later today.
Royal Caribbean will utilize Havana's relatively modern cruise facility where two European lines, Costa Cruises and Pullmantur, used to operate. But both pulled out after Costa was acquired by Carnival Corporation in 2000 and Pullmantur by Royal Caribbean in 2006 due to the U.S. ban on travel to the communist nation.
Royal Caribbean has made several Cuban-themed renovations to thecruise ship which executive Goldstein will be announcing shortly. The Cuban Empress will feature the "Che Guevara cigar room" which will feature hand-rolled Cohibas cigars. The cruise ship will also unveil the "Royal Castro Grill" where cruise passengers can enjoy fine Cuban cuisine. Late night entertainment will take place in the "Fidel & Raul's" nightclub where guests can dance the Mambo and sip Cuban "Havana Club" rum.
The cruise line will be offering excursions to Cuba's famous Combinado del Esto prison which houses thousands of dissidents and political prisoners. Also imprisoned are hundreds of Cuban families who tried to flee Cuba to the U.S. on make-shift rafts but were intercepted by U.S. based cruise ships and then forced to return to Cuba (no photos allowed).
A crew member on the Carnival Splendor informed me that on the morning of March 24th, "we had emergency alarm on pa of a fire then several more announcements saying it was not a fire just smoke coming out of an electrical locker still peoples cabins had smoke and force people to wait till going back the general emergency was not sounded as the smoke as they said was controlled and everything was ok anyway announcements went from 5 am till past six." The crew member wishes to remain anonymous.
The crew member added that the alarm included "a call for the alpha team to go to the scene. Was an electrical locker . . ."
"We also had a small fire during dry dock very small quickly contained. But that makes a small fire and a fire with smoke alert in two weeks. And the ship just came out of drydock so should be ship shape."
There has been no mention of this incident in any newspapers or magazines. The fire/smoke incident was mentioned by a cruise passenger on Twitter: "#carnival #splendor was waken up by a fire onboard our ship at 445 AM. This is the same ship that caught fire a while back. #SMH,"
The incident was also referred to on a Facebook page ("Carnival Cruisers...Past, Present, Future") and there were around 20 comments.
Two and one-half years later, the Coast Guard released its final report on the fire. Although the Coast Guard was highly critical of the maintenance of the cruise ship engine and the cruise line's firefighting technique, the Coast Guard had conducted an annual Control Verification Exam the day before the fire and permitted the poorly maintained cruise ship to sail with passengers.
Another interesting point is the time line of the fire in 2010. The fire was not finally and completely extinguished for over nine hours. This is a far cry from the initial reports from the cruise line which tried to reassure the passengers that the fire was not a big deal and was under control.
Marine experts say there is no such thing as a "small fire" on a ship at sea.
I have asked Carnival for an explanation and will publish what it says if it responds.
We have heard the only-smoke-no-fire excuse before, like a fire on the Carnival Pride last year. Carnival even tried to convince the passengers in the Splendor fire that what they smelled was just a "flameless fire." You can hear "there's-smoke-but-no-flames-or-fire" lies on this anouncement recorded on this YouTube video of the Splendor fire which disabled the ship.
Later this morning, Seatrade's State of the Global Cruise Industry Conference, moderated by CBS Travel Editor Peter Greenberg, will feature four cruise executives: Frank Del Rio, President & CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, Arnold Donald, President & CEO, Carnival Corporation, Richard Fain, Chairman & CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman, MSC Cruises.
Three additional cruise line leaders will conclude the presentation: Charles A. Robertson, Chairman & CEO, American Cruise Lines, Edie Rodriguez, President & CEO, Crystal Cruises, and Tara Russell, President, Carnival Corporation's Fathom ('impact travel").
Shortly, if this Seatrade is like any other, we will hear about the growth of the industry and the increasingly larger cruise ships built to accommodate the 24,000,000 people who will decide to vacation on the high seas this year. There is no doubt that the cruise industry, a rich and powerful industry, continues to grow at a record pace.
But there will be little mention of the hard work by the tens of thousands of crew members from around the world who are the backbone of the industry. Seatrade Global (and its predecessor Cruise Shipping Miami) measures itself in terms of the number of the passengers and giant ships and the money which these cruise customers and cruise ships generate for the ports and the industry as a whole. The cruise executives will tell us about a Florida port, Port Everglades, just setting a new record for the most cruise ship passengers in a single day, 54,700 passengers last Sunday.
Crew members are working harder and longer than anytime in the history of the cruise industry. MLC2006 was suppose to result in the protection of the crew members, by ensuring that men and women who work on ships at sea are guaranteed a reasonable number of time resting. But, in reality, crew members hired as waiters state that they can't log their time in when they arrive in the dining hall at 6:30 A.M to prepare their stations for the rush of passengers who enter the dining rooms for a 7:00 A.M breakfast. And they are often required to sign out and continue to work "off the clock" when they exceed the maximum hours theoretically limited by MLC2006.
Crew members also complain that they attend meetings only during their "breaks." Many crew member who accurately log their long hours into the electronic time systems have their real hours worked changed by managers to comply with the MLC2006 auditors hired by the Carnivals and Royal Caribbeans. Take a minute and read the comments left by crew members on our Facebook page commenting on the sad state of MLC2006 non-compliance by the major cruise lines today.
Crew members like waiters, cabin attendants, galley workers and cleaners work regular 12+ hour days, seven days a week, for months at a time. They work even harder and longer when their cruise ships call on U.S. ports and their department heads are concerned of a surprise USPH inspection as well as when norovirus breaks out and "enhanced cleaning" is required.
The industry's trade organization, CLIA, meanwhile touts in a recent tweet that "Our work never ends. Crewmembers continually clean & sanitize cruise ships to ensure passenger & crew #health." True indeed as far as "continually cleaning" goes. Yes, this may be one of the few CLIA statements that is factually true given the seemingly endless hours worked by the crew. But there is no overtime or extra pay when the crew members work around the clock as a recent gastrointestinal outbreak during an Oceania cruise demonstrated. Crew members reported working 18 to 20 hours a day.
The cruise executives know that such long hours result in low morale and burn-out, but they look the other way. Ironically, cruise executive Micky Arison just re-tweeted a post by @ProjectTimeOff designed to encourage potential Carnival cruise customers to take time off from work and cruise - "The truth is out: time off work reduces burnout, improves morale, and boosts creativity." @MickyArison tweeted "Absolutely the case on a #cruise." Maybe so if you're a guest.
The CDC says that 118 of 3,005 (3.93%) of passengers sickened with noro during the cruise in addition to 5 crew members out of 1,142 (0.43%).
As I have mentioned in other recent articles, Carnival cruise lines has reported only three norovirus outbreaks to the CDC for U.S. based cruise since since 2006. This is to be sharply contrasted with the norovirus outbreaks reported by Carnival owned Princess and HAL which have reported 32 GI outbreaks between them in the last decade.
We were informed yesterday that a Carnival cruise passenger from the Carnival Glory died in St. Kitts during a SNUBA excursion booked on the ship.
A cruise passenger who witnessed the spectacle but wishes to stay anonymous states that it allegedly took an ambulance 20 minutes to arrive. The vehicle allegedly had no medical equipment or defibrillator. The passenger who contacted us says that there was "zero medical help" from the St. Kitts paramedics. "They just looked at the guy, said he's dead, and walked away."
Nurses and a firefighter vacationing on the Friar's Bay beach reportedly performed CPR on the passenger for 15 minutes without success.
The passenger complained that there was allegedly no doctor available who could even pronounce the passenger dead so they could take his body away instead of being left in the sun for hours.
Cruise lines need to require every tour operator to have defibrillators and proper first aid equipment with them, particularly in countries where they take their passengers that have ambulances without defibrillators or basic emergency equipment.
Carnival declined to respond to our request for a comment.
An appellate court in Miami has ruled that Costa Concordia passengers, both U.S. residents and non-U.S. residents, cannot seek compensation in the U.S. for any injuries which they suffered arising out of the Concordia disaster in 2012.
Yesterday, the Third District Court of Appeal published its decision in Denise Abeid-Saba, et al. vs. Carnival Corp., Carnival PLC, Costa Crociere, S.p.A., Costa Cruise Lines, Inc., and Joseph Farcus Architect, P. A.
The appellate court was faced with two orders of trial courts in litigation filed shortly after the Costa Concordia disaster. The cases involved two groups of passengers: one case involved fifty-seven plaintiffs, of whom five are United States residents. The other case involved fifty-two plaintiffs, of whom seventeen are U.S. residents. Carnival moved to dismiss the cases based on the legal doctrine of "forum non conveniens," arguing that the U.S. is not an appropriate location to litigate the cases. In one case, the trial court ruled that both U.S. residents and non-U.S. residents were prohibited from pursuing their cases here in Miami. In the other case, the trial court permitted U.S. residents to continue to pursue their cases here in Miami.
Long ago, we advised passengers on the ill fated cruise ship to either consider accepting Carnival's minimal settlement offer or proceed to Genoa, Italy to make a legal claim against Costa and its parent company. Costa of course is based in Italy; the shipwreck, Italian Coast Guard and most of the witnesses and evidence are located there; and the passenger ticket requires that legal claims be pursued in Genoa which is the principal place of Costa's business and the location where criminal proceedings were pursued against the infamous captain Schettino. It was our opinion that all of the factors favored the filing of cases in Italy and that there was little chance that a Florida court would entertain litigation here.
In a twenty-two page order, the appellate court ruled that none of the passengers, whether U.S. residents or not, could pursue their cases here in Miami or anywhere in the U.S. They must all pursue their cases in Italy where the accident occurred and most of the witness and evidence are located. You can read the twenty-two page opinion here.
There are nearly 500 comments to the article some of which are quite interesting to read.
The Yahoo article does not really touch upon the issue that cruise ships are largely unarmed. So regardless how you feel about the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the cruise ships by and large don't have armed security guards. Contrary to people who want to believe that the ships are armed but the cruise lines don't want to tip their hand to the terrorists, there is in fact no hidden cache of weapons ready to be deployed by the cruise ship's security forces.
Cruise ships are flagged in foreign countries like the Bahamas or Panama. The international Maritime Organization (IMO) has no authority to regulate the use of guns on these foreign flagged ship. The IMO does not even recommend that cruise ships have guns.
We have written about the dangerous current set of affairs where some cruise ships are sailing into Somali pirate infested waters where the few security guards had to use fake wooden rifles, deck chairs and water cannons to fight off pirates armed with rocket propelled grenades. You can read about pirate attacks against cruise ships here:
Some cruise ships go as far as to install razor wire around the rails and position logs to be dropped on the pirates below if they run their skiffs up to the cruise ship. You can see a photo of this spectacle here.
As we explained in this article, the IMO issued "guidance" on the use of armed guards on ships, but stresses that it is still not recommending them. Instead it states that shipping companies should consider arming crew members or hiring private armed guards on board only after conducting a risk assessment subject to approval by the flag state. The IMO also recommends that shipping companies follow all laws and regulations imposed by that flag state regarding the use of armed guard apply to their vessels.
The only cruise ships which seems to permit weapons aboard are flagged in Italy, which seems to have a different attitude towards guns and permits cruise ships flagged there (like Costa) to have weapons aboard.
A Costa ship got itself into a bit of scandal a couple of years ago when a female crew member was photographed holding a huge automatic weapon in the bridge of the cruise ship. The Italian newspaper Oggi published photographs of the 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.
But cruise ships from Carnival, Royal Caribbean or NCL, flying the flags of the Bahamas or Panama, have no weapons at sea.
FOX 4 Fort Myers aired a gruesome video last night taken by passengers on the Carnival Ecstasy of blood pouring out of the top of the elevator running down the elevator door like a sheet. The passenger said "it sounded like a rainstorm . . . "
The news account reported that the couple were heading to dinner on the 10th floor of the ship Sunday night when they saw the horrifying scene.
The video apparently shows the aftermath of an elevator accident where a crew member who was in the elevator shaft was mortally injured.
The FOX channel reported that cruise ship employees told the couple that the accident seriously injured an electrician who later died.
The Miami-Dade Police Department identified the victim as 66-year-old Jose Sandoval Opazo.
The family reportedly said that Carnival offered to pay for them to go to three counseling sessions.
WARNING: Graphic content.
January 5 2016 update: Ms. Sandoval's daughter left a message (below) seeking relevant information, saying in part: "Does anyone know the truth, and why he was there alone. anyone who wants to help me, my contact is email@example.com Thanks Carolina"
Today the Nassau Tribune reports that a garbage truck ran over and dragged a passenger who was ashore from the Carnival Sensation. The Canadian was traveling with his family. He received "serious injuries to his lower extremities and was pronounced dead on the scene.”
The truck driver told police that his brakes failed as he was entering a roundabout and he swerved to avoid oncoming traffic.
A comment to the article said:
"Vehicle Inspection here is a complete joke - just another way to collect money under false pretenses. They check neither brakes nor the condition of the tires - two things of critical importance. No need to go on."
The company operating the garbage truck was not identified.
We have reported on other casualties where trucks have killed cruise passengers while ashore or on an excursion.
I have written many articles about the numerous crimes which pose a risk to cruise passengers going ashore in Nassau.
An updated article identifies the victims as 43–year-old Rong Gu, of New Market, Ontario. Mr. Gu was photographing the Baha Mar resort when the truck hit him on the sidewalk.
The Carnival Spirit has developed a problem with its propulsion system, forcing it to reduce its cruising speed. As a result, the Spirit will be delayed arriving in Sydney on Wednesday, and will arrive at approximately 3:00 PM.
According to Carnival, the cruise ship obviously needs to disembark its current passengers.So check-in for the next cruise is delayed and will not begin until 6:30 P.M. The ship will not sail until midnight.
Carnival plans to send "technicians" to meet the ship when it returns to port "to make the necessary repairs." Carnival plans to operate its current scheduled itinerary.
Carnival is giving the boarding guests a 100.00 AUD per person credit to their Sail & Sign accounts.
Defense Video and Imagery Distribution Services (DVIDS) reports that the United States Coast Guard medevaced a passenger passenger from a Carnival cruise ship about 115 miles southeast of Galveston yesterday morning.
At around 3:47 a.m., the Carnival Triumph contacted a Coast Guard station in Galveston requesting a medevac for a 43 years old female passenger suffering from a heart attack.
A MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew shortly flew to the cruise ship and arrived at the ship approximately 4 hours later. The helicopter hoisted the woman and ship’s nurse aboard. They were flown to the airport in Galveston and then by ambulance to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
The Bahamian newspapers report today on a dispute which has arisen between the government of the Bahamas and the competing party, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), over Carnival Cruise Line's apparent intention to issue crime warnings to its passengers.
A DNA official produced copies of e-mails which seem to reveal that Tourism Director Obie Wilchcombe failed to respond to repeated concerns from Carnival about the crime problem in Nassau. Mr. Wilchcombe denied receiving the emails.
The DNA official contended that Carnival was going to issue Nassau "crime warnings" this week. The Tribune newspaper says that that Mr Wilchcombe "angrily refuted Mr McCartney’s allegations" and claims that "Carnival had yesterday confirmed to him it was not intending to issue such Nassau 'advisories.’"
Both parties, to me, seem out of touch with reality. There is no question that crime in the Bahamas, including the rape and armed robbery of tourists, is a major problem for the country. Carnival's decision to warn its customers of the danger in the port is not dependent on whether the tourism officials respond to Carnivals' inquiries. I thought that this cruise line was already warning its passengers about the high crime rate in Nassau.
For those cruise passengers and travel agents in the know, it is common knowledge that there is an epidemic of crime in Nassau as the country heads to a record high number of murders. Many cruise passengers know that it is prudent to stay on the cruise ships when they arrive in Nassau.
The problem remains for those tourists who are swayed by the marketing images of Carnival and the Bahamas and who cruise their families into the Nassau-war-zone with no knowledge of the considerable danger there.
Carnival owes its customers honesty. The cruise line should disclose to their guests the dangers in Nassau. The local politicians are just a sideshow. Carnival owes its passengers the same warnings that the U.S. and the U.K. and the Canadian governments have provided to their citizens. Neither the PLP nor the DNA want to truth to be known - that Nassau represents an unreasonable danger to tourists.
MIAMI -- At approximately 1.15am this morning, the Carnival Pride experienced a mechanical failure of one of its diesel generators which triggered the automated fire suppression system. It is unclear as to whether there was an actual fire and the matter is presently under investigation. At no time did the ship lose power and the vessel is currently continuing on its itinerary which involves a seven-day cruise from Baltimore that departed Sunday. The ship is currently in Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas for its regularly scheduled port visit there. There were no injuries to guests or crew and all safety, hotel and other operational systems are fully functional.
Carnival subsequently added the followng statement:
"CCTV footage has confirmed that there was not an actual fire, only smoke."
A local news station in Boston (MyFoxBoston.com) reports that a young woman from New Hampshire is "fighting for her life after falling on a cruise ship."
MyFoxBoston reports that Christina Ricci was on the Carnival Victory with her boyfriend when she fell shortly after the cruise began.
She reportedly hit her head hard and not taken off the cruise ship (via medevac) to the hospital for six to eight hours during which time she suffered several strokes. She reportedly may be partially paralyzed and may not walk again.
Her family started a GoFundMe page. Take a moment and help her family out.
Multiple news sources are reporting that a Carnival crew member was detained today in Puerto Rico on allegations that he raped a woman onboard the Carnival Liberty cruise ship.
Yahoo News says that, according to police, the alleged rape occurred in one of the cabins on the Carnival cruise ship which is now docked in San Juan following an engine room fire in St. Thomas, USVI last week.
The Carnival crew member was not identified nor charged with a crime.
Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer De La Cruz said the woman is a cruise ship employee from Australia.
Yesterday, while the cruise world was following the news of the fire aboard the Carnival Liberty, a cruise passenger went overboard from the Carnival Breeze.
Reportedly, a highly intoxicated passenger (people are saying 30 - 35 years of age) went overboard while the Carnival cruise ship was off the coast of Cuba.
Fortunately, the Carnival crew rescued the man. Passengers took photos and video of the rescue (you can watch a video here from my Facebook page).
The usual response we see when someone ends up in the water like this is to call him "stupid" and wonder how he survived the fall and not get sucked under the ship. But I always visualize a drunk overboard passenger's bar tab (i.e., a print-out of onboard purchases).
The most I have seen on a passenger's tab is 23 drinks in the course of around 5 hours. Serve that much booze to anyone and you are guaranteeing that something bad will happen. Unless it can be shown that the passenger smuggled a bottle of booze aboard, a bartender or group of bartenders who over-serve that mush accohol to a passenger should be immediately fired.
There is a direct correlations between intoxication and violence, sexual assault and reckless conduct. Drunks flying over the rails is a clear indication that Carnival has a drinking problem on its cruise ships.
There are reports that the Carnival Liberty cruise ship sustained an engine room fire today.
The fire took place when the cruise ship was docked in St. Thomas USVI. Cruise passengers were reportedly evacuated ashore, some wearing life vests.
John Heald, the popular blogging cruise director for Carnival, posted this statement in his Facebook page:
"Earlier today, while the Carnival Liberty was docked in St. Thomas, there was a fire in the ship’s engine room. There were no reported injuries to guests or crew. All guests are ashore in St. Thomas. Crews are working to confirm the fire has been completely extinguished."
CARNIVAL LIBERTY STATEMENT September 8, 2015 – 5pm EDT The Carnival Liberty continues to remain in St. Thomas following an engine fire that occurred yesterday while the ship was docked there during a scheduled port of call visit. The ship’s command is presently awaiting permission from authorities to sail. Once the vessel departs, it is scheduled to return to its homeport of San Juan. Guests will have the option of remaining on board through the rest of the week and exploring San Juan or disembarking and traveling home. If clearance to depart St. Thomas is not received by later this evening, the company will move forward with arrangements to fly all guests home from St. Thomas. All guests are being provided with a full refund of their cruise as well as a 50 percent discount on a future cruise. This is in addition to a $150 per person credit that has already been applied to guests’ shipboard accounts. There were no injuries to guests or crew as a result of the fire which was extinguished by the ship’s automated suppression system. All hotel services including air conditioning, elevators, toilets, galleys, etc. are fully functional and the ship's normal array of activities, entertainment, dining options and programming are being offered. We apologize to our guests for this unexpected disruption to their vacation and the inconvenience they are experiencing. Carnival Liberty departed San Juan on Sunday for a seven-day Caribbean cruise with 3,346 guests and 1,150 crew on board.
Photo Credit: Chargarther licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons
There is a report of a "man overboard" this afternoon from the Carnival Glory cruise ship.
A reader from Honduras listening to channel 16 heard the report and said that the Honduran Navy and locals were searching for a person overboard at certain coordinates in Honduran waters.
A person also notified me on my Facebook page.
Richard Elston has a friend on board the Glory and tells me that a passenger went overboard from the cruise ship.
This is the third person overboard from a cruise ship in four days. A crew member from Chile went overboard from the Queen Mary 2 over the weekend. A 23 year old passenger went overboard from the MSC Magnifica this morning.
WFTV reports that a crew member on a Carnival cruise ship allegedly sexually assaulted a teenage boy last Friday.
The news station says that Carnival announced the incident, although it is less than clear when or how the cruise line made the statement.
The incident allegedly occurred on board the Carnival Valor, which is based in Port Canaveral.
The news article reports that the cruise line notified the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI of the incident. Here's how WFTV described the case, based on the Sheriff's office.
"Yovany Sauzo-Batiz, 46, of Honduras, was working on the Carnival Valor as a stateroom steward Friday when he tried to start a conversation with a teenage passenger in a sauna. The victim then moved to a shower area to avoid the suspect when the alleged sexual conduct occurred. Immediately following the incident, the victim identified the crewmember to his father, who detained him with the assistance of other passengers until ship security arrived.”
Sauzo-Batiz was charged with sexual battery of a person under 16 years of age and lewd and lascivious molestation.
A reporter for the Marketplace interviewed me yesterday regarding the state of the cruise industry.
I explained that compared to a year or two ago, the general perception of cruise lines is up. More than 23,000,000 passengers will cruise this year. Bigger and bigger cruise ships are being constructed. Travel agents seem more energized than before and appear to have lost their funk brought about by the Costa Concordia and Triumph "poop cruise" disasters.
Industry leader Carnival Corporation, with over 100 cruise ships in its multi-brand fleet, is reaping the rewards of hiring Arnold Donald with his dynamic and charismatic style of leadership.
Cruise fares are up, prices for excursions and alcohol are up while the cruise CEO's are driving costs down.
On the other side of the coin, critics say that the same-old-problems remain in the industry. Last week the Freedom of the Sea erupted in flames and literally burned from bottom of the ship to deck 15. Royal Caribbean tried to down-play the fire, but YouTube videos and photos posted on Facebook and Twitter showed that the fire was indeed dangerous and that the cruise lines still suffer from a lack of transparency that has tarnished the industry for years. Our friend and former Royal Caribbean cook Kevin Chamber's video of the ship on fire has been viewed well over a million times.
Crew members and passengers tell me that contractors aboard the Freedom of the Seas were installing a scrubber system when the fire erupted. The captain of the ship says that the cruise line will disclose why the fire broke out, which the suits at Royal Caribbean's headquarters in Miami will never do. Its been over two years since the Grandeur of the Seas ignited near the Bahamas and the cruise line still refuses to tell the public what happened. The Freedom of the Seas fire will become just another mystery where the cruise line will keep its customers in the dark.
Just a couple of days ago, the Safari Voyager also erupted in flames in Seattle, due to welding operations. Welding at sea rather than in dry-dock is one of the risks of cruising and only one of many dangers that the cruise industry won't tell you.
This week two crew members were seriously injured when a rescue boat was being lowered from the NCL Pride of America in Hawaii when the cables broke.
In just the last couple of months, passengers and crew members disappeared from Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Costa, MSC, NCL and HAL cruise ships. Yet, the industry as a whole still refuses to invest in automatic man overboard technology.
Sexual assaults at sea still occur with alarming frequency. In the last month, the news mentioned a passenger and a crew member assaulting women on Celebrity cruise ships in separate incidents. A sexual predator employed by Disney Cruises was recently sentenced to over 5 years after pleading guilty to molesting a 13 year old passenger on the Disney Dream.
Four months ago, twenty-two cruise passengers from Costa and MSC cruise ship were murdered by terrorists in Tunis, after these cruise lines sailed them into danger without a single warning. The specter of ISIS terror remains a dark cloud over cruise ships which risk proceeding along itineraries across North Africa.
But the 40 billion-dollar-a-year cruise industry is rich and powerful. As a result of incorporating its businesses in place like Liberia or Panama and registering its ships in third world countries like the Bahamas, cruise lines avoid U.S. taxes and can pay their crew members peanuts. The industry has a huge advantage over U.S. resorts and hotels. It's cheaper to sail on a Carnival cruise out of Galveston than it is to stay in a Motel 6.
That's why Royal Caribbean's stock price was largely unaffected after the Freedom of the Seas burned last week. CNBC's Simon Hobbs reported that as long as propulsion is not lost and passengers are not stranded at sea, a cruise ship fire is "not material for investors." Mr. Hobbs is right about that, it seems. That's probably why the cruise executives decided not to comply with the International Maritime Organization's recommended Safety of Life at Sea regulations, which require a post-fire investigation and survey, but instead chose to keep the cruise ship sailing on to the Caymans and Mexico.
The cruise ship was approximately 90 miles northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico when the passenger needed emergency medical treatment.
The Coast Guard helicopter hoisted the patient and a cruise ship nurse and transported them to the Isla Grande Airport, where emergency medical services transported them to the "Centro Medico" Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
A 41 year old man returning on a cruise was arrested on child pornography charges last Thursday after his cruise ended and the ship returned to Charleston, South Carolina, according to a report in the Post and Courier newspaper.
The newspaper reports that Eric Jason Blankenship of West Virginia was charged with one count of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. He disembarked from the Carnival Fantasy.
The Charleston Police Department, a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, acted on information that Blackenship had received child pornography.
The police detained him when he was disembarking the ship and found multiple images containing child pornography on his phone,
Blankenship was reportedly released on a $100,000 bail,
We have written about dozens of cases where cruise passengers and crew members have been arrested for child pornography.
I didn't trust Carnival for a second that it really wanted to build a sustainable business relationship with the Dominican Republic through its "voluntourism" brand, "fathom" (not capitalized). I expressed my doubts here.
Hiring pseudo-sustainability expert and faux-celebrity Tara Russell to market the brand seemed as un-authentic as the "workers" who posed in the new cruise brand's advertising photos. Next to the poor Dominican farmers standing in the photos, the "fathom" crew looked more like United-Colors-of-Benetton models who got lost during a South Beach photo-shoot.
Well the truth is out. Carnival's much ballyhooed new social travel brand "fathom" will operate to Cuba next year after Carnival won the right to start doing business in that country. The catch was that Carnival couldn't just detour a crowd on the Triumph swigging buckets of Bud Lights to Havana; it had comply with strict "U.S. Department of Treasury rules that allow licensed travel companies to transport approved travelers to Cuba to engage in activities that support the Cuban people," says Travel Weekly.
It seems like this was Arnold Donald's plan all along. Mr. Donald was using all of the right words in the announcement today: "We look forward to working with the Cuban authorities for their approval to help make the social, cultural and humanitarian exchanges between US citizens and the people of Cuba a reality."
But Cuba is no Dominican Republic whose claim to fame is, well, that it is not as poor as Haiti and that it could actually use volunteers. Cuba, on the other hand, will become the economic powerhouse of the Caribbean, to the detriment of Nassau and all other cruise ports in the region. So the Adonia will be one of the first cruise ships to officially enter the former communist island from the U.S. Carnival will use the fare-paying, feel-good cruise tourists to subsidize the soon-to-be-highly-profitable enterprise. Yes, Carnival's CEO Donald is a genius. Tricky but a genius.
Was Ms. Russell in on the switch-a-roo from the start? Was she part of the cruise team lobbying Washington for the Cuba gig? The Adonia will still sail to the Dominican Republic for a while it seems (but it will doubtlessly be phased out as people will prefer Havana). But anyway, Ms. Russell is happily singing the corporate cruise gobbledygook: “Our goal remains the same for both destinations – to enable travelers to immerse, learn, serve and flourish while making enduring, sustainable contributions on a scalable and systematic basis."
The United States Coast Guard is reporting that it last night it medevaced a 77 year old female cruise ship passenger suffering from a stroke approximately 200 miles east of Wilmington, North Carolina.
The ill woman was on the Carnival Pride.
The Coast Guard air crew arrived on the scene at at sea on scene and hoisted the passenger, a family member and a nurse from the cruise ship into a MH-60 helicopter at about 7:30 p.m.
The helicopter flew the woman to the Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, North Carolina, arriving at about 9 p.m.
A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew, dispatched from Elizabeth City. North Carolina, assisted in the medevac.
Video Credit: Defense Imagery and Information Systems
Carnival Corporation announced its second quarter profits today.
Its revenues to date for 2015 (June 30th) were $7,180,000,000 (billion), consisting of passenger fares (tickets) of $5,425,000,000 and onboard purchases (booze, spa, specialty meals, casino) of $1,755,000,000. It's net income was $271,000,000.
And Carnival paid taxes of? Nothing.
You have heard me say this before. By incorporating in Panama and registering its cruise ships in third world countries like Panama and the Bahamas to avoid taxes (and wage and safety laws), Carnival enjoys an enormous advantage over land-based business by paying virtually no U.S. taxes.
But Carnival uses our Federal agencies daily: the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs & Border Protection, FBI, USPH, EPA, DOT, Homeland Security and many others. It pays nothing for these services.
Those federal agencies are paid for by U.S. taxpayers, like you and me.
I have paid many millions of dollars in U.S. income over the years. I'm not complaining. I love the U.S. and know that it takes money to operate a country like ours.
But there is something fundamentally wrong when Carnival avoids taxes, enriches its executives hundreds of millions of dollars a year and pays its crewmembers around the world only a small pittance for their hard work.
Last week Carnival announced its new brand "fathom" as the first "first voluntourism cruise line." It said that the new cruise line will focus on the "environment" and "sustainability," which seem like ridiculous propositions to me given Carnival's deplorable record of polluting the air and water. Plus the new brand is going to operate the bunker-fuel burning and smoke-belching ship Adonia cruise ship.
Today, Carnival released a PR statement that it signed a multi-billion dollar contract to build four "next-generation" cruise ships with the largest guest capacity in the world. The new ships will be able to carry 6,600 passengers which is 200 more passengers than Royal Caribbean'd gigantic Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. However, the news ships will at 180,000 gross tons which is 45,000 gross tons less than the Royal Caribbean "monsters of the seas."
Most significantly, Carnival says that it's four new ships will feature a revolutionary "green cruising" design. "The ships will be the first in the cruise industry to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) -- the world's cleanest burning fossil fuel, representing a major environmental breakthrough."
The four new ships will be the among the first in the cruise industry to use LNG to power cruise ships in port and on the open water which will eliminate emissions of soot particles and sulfur oxides. I have written many times about the harmful effects of the tremendous amount of bunker fuel burned by the cruise industry. Carnival's announcement, admittedly long overdue, is truly unprecedented by a major cruise line.
Carnival and its PR agency just won an award for improving a brand's reputation after a crisis. They recovered from an "onslaught of negativity" over the last two years. Some of the initiates of the new successful PR campaign include launching a “good news” storytelling campaign to change the tone of the conversation about the brand, and positioning CEO Arnold Donald as a "leader, change agent and collaborator."
I may be skeptical that "fathom" will be anything other than another polluting cruise line, but it certainly seems that the new ships Carnival announced today will be a major step in the right direction in reducing air pollution.
The new ships will sail for the AIDA and Costa brands.
The U.S. Coast Guard is reporting that it medevaced a sick passenger from a Carnival cruise ship on Monday. The cruise ship was approximately 140 miles east of Cape Charles, Virginia at the time.
The Carnival Splendor notified the Coast Guard at approximately 5 p.m., requesting a medevac for a 73-year-old passenger experiencing health complications.
An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Elizabeth City, North Carolina, launched at approximately 6 p.m.
The helicopter crew arrived at the Splendor at approximately 7 p.m. and hoisted the man and a nurse to the helicopter and flew to a hospital in in Norfolk.
No video is currently available.
The Splendor is perhaps best known for an engine room fire in 2010 which disabled the ship. The Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier had to ferry it food for the passengers. The stricken ship was towed to San Diego.
Photo Credit: "Carnival Splendor 2009" by Sparrowman980 via Wikipedia commons 3.0.
Multiple crew members are confirming that a young woman employed in the Carnival entertainment department was found dead on the Carnival Sensation.
The cruise ship was last in Nassau, Bahamas. Bahamian news sources reported that "on Monday 1st June 2015 shortly after 6:00am, police received information that the lifeless body of a female crew member was reportedly found dead on board a cruise ship while in Bahamian waters." The Bahamian police never disclose the specific name of cruise ships involving such incidents.
The woman was reportedly found hanging in an officer's quarters. We are withholding the crew member's name and other details.
This is the second apparent suicide within a 24 hour period involving a crew member. Yesterday, we reported on the death of an officer on the Disney Dream.
Like the Disney Dream, the Carnival Sensation is flagged in Nassau, Bahamas in order for the cruise line to avoid U.S. taxes and labor laws. Any investigation into this incident will be conducted by the Bahamas. Unfortunately, it is our experience that the Bahamas refuses to cooperate with the families of crew members who die or are missing from cruise ships flagged in the Bahamas.
There is always mixed reaction and debate when we report on crew member deaths on cruise ships. Cruise lines don't like there to be any mention of it. There have been literally dozens of crew members who have gone overboard and lost at sea in apparent suicides since we have been writing this blog over the past six years.
A number of news sources report that SeaWorld's Chief Financial Officer (CFO), James Heaney, will be joining Carnival Cruise Line as CFO next month. Mr. Heaney worked at SeaWorld since 2011.
As the movie Blackfish reveals, SeaWorld profits by forcing captive orcas, which swim a hundred miles a day in the wild, to entertain tourists. The orcas spend the majority of their lives virtually motionless in concrete tanks that are the human equivalent of a bathtub until their dorsal fins collapse. Have you read of the plight of Tilikum?
I responded to the news on Facebook with a single comment: "ugh." Here's how readers of our Cruise Law News Facebook page reacted:
Now they can identify the marine mammals stuck on the bow of their ships.
Going from a company that is sinking to a company that runs ships is not a good combination.
Bad business ... Carnival is the worse, low quality company I've ever know.
Before SeaWorld, Mr. Heaney worked at Disney Cruise Line for 17 years.
The Cayman News Service is reporting that a 31 year old cruise passenger from the Carnival Conquest was killed after his jet-ski was struck by a jet-ski operated by a fifteen year old boy from the Carnival Paradise.
The 31 year old had rented a jet-ski with his 37 year old girlfriend and they are from Virginia. A Carnival PR representative told the AP that the couple were not participating in a shore excursion sold through the company.
The incident occurred the Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa.
The 15 year old boy is from New York and was jet-skiing with his brothers and father. He reportedly was driving the jet-ski alone at the time of the accident. It is unknown whether his family had rented the jet-ski independently or they were on a cruise excursion.
One issue we write about often is the cruise industry's refusal to refund cruise fares when tragedy strikes their customers.
We have seen cruise lines refuse to accommodate their guests when family members die unexpectedly, natural disasters destroy their customers' homes, and even when children develop cancer. The cruise lines pocket the fares and then often sell the ship cabins for what turns out to be a double profit for the cruise line.
Seems heartless to me. Some people think its okay because the customers didn't buy insurance (which the cruise lines also sell for additional profit). But there are exceptions to every rule. It's bad karma to obtain a double profit when your customers face the heartbreak of losing a child, especially if he's a slain police officer.
As WKMG explains, the Carnival representative not only denied a refund to the father of slain Ocala police officer Jared Forsyth, she rubbed salt into the wound. "Well, if you want to play the dead son angle," she told the dad of the dead son.
Carnival eventually refunded most of the cruise expenses (except $1,500) only after the grieving father complained to the local news station which contacted the cruise line's public relations spokesman.
"Mad Money" host Jim Cramer is a fan of Carnival Corporation (CCL).
He used to associate the word "disaster" with Carnival Cruise Lines. Between the Costa Concordia sinking, engine room fires, the Triumph "poop cruise," passengers sick with norovirus, the Arab Spring - it "seemed the company was doomed," says CNBC.
But Carnival has enjoyed a turnaround with its stock hitting new highs.
I think its a tad late to get in on the CCL run, plus it takes only one Carnival cruise ship hijacked or attacked to send all cruise stock falling dramatically. But its always fun to watch Cramer ramble on in his unique way.
In my opinion, the answer is simple: cruise lines are cutting corners to increase profits. Plus, cruise lines face no legal consequence if the child dies. The cruise industry doesn't face financial accountability because a child's life has no financial worth under the Death on the High Seas Act.
Lots of cruise fans like to assign 100% fault on the parents. However, that won't prevent children from drowning in unattended cruise ship pools in the future. Cruise lines have a legal obligation to exercise reasonable care to keep kids safe. Not hiring a lifeguard is reckless. A warning sign by itself won't work. Kids don't pay attention to signs. Some kids can't even read. Small children can't comprehend the risks involved, especially if they can't swim.
The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) says that it attempts to manage pool safety for kids only by using signs. It's a flawed policy that will ensure that children drown while on cruise vacations.
In an exclusive story, Cruise Law News has learned that cruise industry giant Carnival Corporation plans to incorporate its business in the United States (in Florida). Carnival intends to announce this historic development tomorrow, April 2nd, at Carnival's headquarters in Miami.
Since 1972, Carnival has incorporated its business and registered its cruise ships in the country of Panama. For over 40 years, Carnival cruise ships have flown the flag of Panama in order to avoid the onerous safety regulations, excessive labor laws, unreasonable environmental laws, and high taxes of the United States of America.
Cruise Law News learned of this historic event when high-profile maritime lawyer Jim Walker bumped into Carnival's Chairman Micky Arison at court side last night when Arison's basketball team, the Miami Heat, lost to the San Antonio Spurs. Maritime ace lawyer Walker asked Arison: "Micky, if Dwayne Wade earns several hundreds of million dollars from Carnival and pays tens of millions of dollars in U.S. taxes, don't you think it is fair that Carnival - which earns over 16 billion dollars a year in cruise ticket sales - pays its fair share of U.S. taxes?"
Perhaps it was the euphoria of Carnival repealing the automatic man overboard safety law, but Micky was ecstatic. "Yes, let's do it!" he said handing maritime lawyer Walker a half-eaten hot dog and three-quarters of a warm Bud Light which a Miami cheerleader handed Micky in the first quarter of the previous game a few days earlier.
While quickly consuming the beer and hot dog in the excitement of the moment, cruise lawyer Walker happened to have Florida articles of incorporation which he handed to Micky to sign as well as U.S. flags to fly on the Carnival fleet of cruise ships.
Arison has been under intense pressure lately following fires, collisions, sinkings, poop-cruises, pirate-attacks, norovirus outbreaks and a Jon Secada concert which have ruined the last 100 Carnival cruises. Senator Jay Rockefeller recently called Arison a "scallywag" on national TV. Rockefeller challenged Arison to pay his fair share of U.S. taxes on the billion-dollar bounty his foreign-flagged cruise ships collect from the U.S. taxpaying citizens on the high seas.
Micky commented that he was embarrassed that his father Ted, the founder of Carnival Cruise Lines 40 years ago, denounced his U.S. citizenship in order to avoid paying some 10 billion dollars in U.S. taxes.
"I want to make certain that Carnival pays one hundred percent of our U.S. tax obligations (estimated to be over $5,000,000,000 a year) plus be subjected to the most rigorous U.S. safety, wage,and labor laws and the most stringent U.S. environmental regulations, Micky announced over the arena's PA system: "It's time that poor, over-worked crew members from India and Nicaragua who earn $500 working 360 hours a month be entitled to the full benefit of U.S. employment laws, a 401(k) retirement fund, severance pay, and a college fund for their children!"
While appreciative of Arison's change of heart, sources say Walker was miffed that Arison demanded that he pay $6 for the remains of the hot dog and $7.50 for the rest of the Bud Light.
A passenger on the Carnival Triumph appears to have gone overboard last night.
Another passenger tweeted "Little boy fell overboard on carnival triumph still haven't found him." You can see photographs taken by the passenger here. (Update: This information is incorrect. Carnival states that the missing passenger is a 54 year old man. See below)
The incident allegedly happened when the cruise ship was near Progreso, Mexico.
Carnival Cruise Director John Heald states on his Facebook page that "they are conducting a search and rescue - thoughts with the family at this time."
According to AIS tracking systems, the Triumph arrived in Progreso in the early afternoon yesterday. It did not leave until around 11:00 P.M. last night, The tracking systems show no Williamson turn or circles indicating that the cruise ship itself was involved in a search. Perhaps the ship deployed rescue craft.
I have requested information from Carnival tonight but have not yet received a response.
March 18 2015: I received this statement this morning from Carnival:
"Yesterday evening, a report was received of a potential man overboard on Carnival Triumph which was confirmed through a review of the vessel's camera footage. The missing guest is a 54-year-old male. The ship is presently conducting search and rescue operations in conjunction with Mexican authorities who also have vessels on site at a location off the coast of northern Mexico in the Gulf of Mexico.
Carnival Triumph was on the last leg of a four-day cruise from Galveston, Texas. The ship's arrival into Galveston tomorrow is expected to be delayed until approximately 11 a.m.
Our foremost care and concern is with the loved ones of our missing guest at this very difficult time. Carnival's CareTeam is providing support to the individual's traveling companions."
Read our recent articles about passenger overboards:
This week the cruise industry is meeting in Miami as part of the annual trade show, Cruise Shipping Miami #CMS2015. One topic that cruise lines will avoid talking about is automatic man overboard systems and the industry's refusal to comply with the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act.
Last week, Senator Robert Blumenthal (D-CT) accurately summed up the disappearance of a 21 year old Virginia Tech student during spring break vacation, saying that the young man "didn't have to die."
". . . the stark tragic fact is that readily available life-saving technology could have spared him. Reprehensibly, five years after the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 was enacted, cruise lines still refuse to upgrade outdated video surveillance technology for the latest in automatic man overboard detection. The cruise industry should be ashamed and embarrassed by this failure to embrace this lifesaving technology. Such technology could have immediately detected Cameron’s fall and made sure valuable time was not wasted reviewing camera footage."
Carnival responded to the overboard from the Glory like it usually does in man overboard cases - it said nothing. But after the story of the young man disappearing during his vacation cruise gained traction on social media and found it's way into the national and international press, Carnival released a carefully crafted press statement from its trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), to blame the young man for his death.
CLIA claims that “while incidents of man overboard in the cruise industry are rare, and typically found to be the result of an intentional or reckless act, cruise lines take a number of steps to help prevent such situations. These include mandatory railing heights, well-trained personnel, and video cameras.”
First of all, CLIA claims that it does not even keep statistics of man overboard cases. The most accurate list by far is Professor Ross Klein's statistics on his website showing that an average of 20 people a year go overboard from cruise ships. It's cavalier for CLIA to brush the deaths off as "rare" when they are occurring an average of over one and a half times a month.
CLIA takes credit for the heights of vessel railings but the higher rails came about only through the legislative efforts of a victim organization which the cruise lines have been fighting against for a decade.
Video surveillance cameras, not connected to automatic man overboard systems, are useless to deal with people falling overboard. The cruise industry as a whole refuses to implement true life-saving devices including infra-red, motion-detection, radar, and tracking technologies which are ready, reliable and long overdue.
Time after time, missing passenger after missing passenger, cruise lines will claim that its "highest priority is the safety of its guests." "Our thoughts are with the family" is a common phrase when a passenger disappears. Hogwash. This is entirely a profit driven industry where cutting costs and increasing revenue are the goals.
If it really cared about it's guests, the cruise industry wouldn't sell endless amounts of booze, refuse to implement the legally required automatic man overboard systems, and then accuse the very guests it grossly intoxicates of reckless conduct when they go overboard.
What will it take for cruise lines to install the available MOB technology? What type of sanction is necessary before Carnival and Royal Caribbean follow the law? Will cruise executives have to face jail time before the industry complies with the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act?
Two years ago, I wrote about the prospect of suing Carnival for the infamous Triumph "poop cruise" where an engine room fire knocked out the propulsion to the cruise ship and left the passengers and crew members with no air conditioning, over-flowing toilets, and other disgusting conditions.
"Unless you have a serious physical injury or physical illness, families on the disabled cruise ship face an uphill climb proceeding with a lawsuit against Carnival for the inconvenience and unpleasant circumstances they suffered last week," I said in an article Carnival Triumph Cruise From Hell: Here Come the Lawsuits!
You can hear my prediction two years ago that any lawsuits against Carnival will be unsuccessful. Listen to my radio interview with WGN (Chicago) Radio.
Well, the first verdicts are in. A Florida federal judge recently awarded a combined $118,500 in damages to 27 Carnival Cruise Line passengers from Texas who sailed on the ill-fated cruise ship from Galveston. U.S. District Judge Donald Graham (a conservative Bush appointee) zipped 6 of the passengers who will now be faced with Carnival's motions to tax costs against them.
Three passengers received $15,000 each and the remaining 24 passengers who did obtain compensation received varying amounts averaging less than $3,000 each. After deducting attorney fees and costs, and considering the passengers had to come to Miami for trial and incur lodging and travel expenses, they're lucky if they didn't lose money. There were 10 lawyers from Texas listed for the plaintiffs.
Although a financial disaster for the passengers' attorneys, the case did reveal that Carnival knew that there were dangerous problems on the cruise ship due to its shoddy maintenance. The Triumph was essentially a ticking time bomb ready to catch on fire, Court ordered Carnival records demonstrated.
Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein reports that a cruise passenger has gone overboard from the Carnival Glory. According to his CruiseJunkie website:
"From a reader: RE: Carnival Glory, departing Miami, Florida 2015-03-07 16:00. Sometime in the early morning hours of 2015-03-08, en route to Half Moon Cay, Bahamas the passenger went overboard. Carnival verified passenger was onboard and reviewed ships security tapes (according to passenger). Passenger indicates they DID NOT make port call at Half Moon Cay. They continued to do 'circles' along with another Carnival ship, looking for passenger."
As I have said many times, it's a shame that Carnival did not equip its cruise ships with the latest automatic man overboard system which can easily detect people going overboard and send a signal to the bridge in order to initiate immediate search and rescue operations.
Most cruise line are resisting compliance with the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security System's (CVSSA) requirement for an automatic MOB, claiming that man overboard technology is not reliable. That's patently a false and misleading argument. The technology clearly exists but the cruise industry simply does not wish to spend the money necessary to save lives.
Carnival's blogging Cruise Director John Heald confirms the man overboard, a 21 year old man, stating: ". . . . the ship is currently en route to the location where the individual was seen on the camera footage and will commence search and rescue operations upon arrival."
It should be embarrassing for Carnival to have such antiquated old school technology where an officer has to search through the surveillance camera footage after-the-fact to find evidence of a person going overboard and then turns the ship around after it sailed for one or two hundred miles.
March 12 2015 Update: Statement by Senator Richard Blmenthal:
BLUMENTHAL STATEMENT ON END OF SEARCH FOR STUDENT WHO FELL OVERBOARD CRUISE SHIP AND CRUISE INDUSTRY’S CONTINUED FAILURE TO IMPLEMENT STRONGER SAFETY MEASURES
(Washington, DC) – Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued the following statement after the U.S. Coast Guard announced that they have suspended their search for a student who fell overboard while on a Carnival Cruise ship and was first reported missing Sunday morning.
“Today, as our thoughts and prayers with the family and friends of Cameron Smook, the stark tragic fact is that readily available life-saving technology could have spared him. Reprehensibly, five years after the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 was enacted, cruise lines still refuse to upgrade outdated video surveillance technology for the latest in automatic man overboard detection. The cruise industry should be ashamed and embarrassed by this failure to embrace this lifesaving technology. Such technology could have immediately detected Cameron’s fall and made sure valuable time was not wasted reviewing camera footage. In the last two months four individuals have fallen overboard from cruise ships. I will continue to fight for more effective commonsense safety and security measures, such as those included in the Cruise Passenger Protection Act, which I was proud to lead last Congress and intend to see strengthened and reintroduced this Congress.”
In 2013, Blumenthal introduced the Cruise Passenger Protection Act with Senator Rockefeller to address the serious incidents that continue to occur on cruise ships – a result of the industry’s failure to prioritize consumer awareness, safety, and security. The bill called for providing the over 20 million Americans who plan to take a cruise every year with critical information about the limited scope of their current consumer protections and would take steps to improve accountability in the industry.
March 12 2015 Update: A news station WDBJ 7 (CBS) in Virginia interviewed me regarding this overboard. I comment about regarding Carnival's lack of an automatic mad overboard system on the ship:
Photo Credit: Jordandkatz / Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0
Carnival's Arnold Donald is not a typical cruise line executive. He's not white; he wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth; and he's not arrogant.
He was born in New Orleans. His parents didn't finish high school. They raised him and his three siblings in the Ninth Ward (which is now largely destroyed due to Hurricane Katrina). He achieved great success in the segregated south due to his commitment to education, hard work and the confidence instilled in him by his parents and teachers at St. Augustine High School.
Mr. Donald has given back to New Orleans and has awarded over two dozen scholarships to his college and business school alma maters. He also donated funding to build a new wing at St. Augustine, named after his mother and father Warren and Hilda Donald.
He's now the top executive of the largest cruise line in the world. Read the article and watch the video by WVUE FOX 8 New Orleans:
By my calculations he has sold well over $900,000,000 of his cruise line's stock in the last 12 months.
After this latest sale, the Arison family reportedly still has about 159,200,000 shares of Carnival stock.
This vast wealth was generated by incorporating the cruise line in Panama and registering Carnival-owned cruise ships in places like Panama and the Bahamas in order to avoid all U.S. taxes, safety regulations, and wage & labor laws so Carnival can pay the bulk of its crew members peanuts.
Carnival-owned Costa paid just a little over $1,000,000 in fines after the Costa Concordia disaster, which killed 32 people, in order to escape accountability in the criminal trial of Captain Schettino.
A news station in Cleveland, Ohio aired a consumer investigation segment yesterday about a young couple whose engagement ring was stolen during a recent cruise.
The couple was upset because Carnival refused to replace the ring after it was stolen from the couple's cabin and the ring box was found floating in the toilet.
All cruise lines have exclusions and limitations of liability in the passenger tickets which form the contract between the cruise lines and the guests. Passengers are usually out of luck when they lose a personal item due to theft.
Our firm is contacted several times a year by passengers who claim that their jewelry was stolen during a cruise. But we never take these type of cases because the courts routinely enforce the cruise lines' fine print.
I was surprised to see that the news station included a video of me discussing the issue of cruise ship crime. I was not interviewed by this station. It's old tape of an interview years before.
Even more surprising is that the video of the engagement ring caper ended with the reporter saying that Carnival reimbursed the value of the ring (plus $100) and also refunded the cruise for the couple. Why? I'm not sure. I have never heard of this happening before. But it's certainly good public relations to do so. The couple needs to say a big "thank you" to Carnival (and the investigative reporter). It seems only fair for Carnival to get some much needed PR when it does the right thing.
The Defense Imagery and Video System reports that the U.S. Coast Guard rescued a 51-year-old woman off a Carnival cruise ship approximately 184 miles offshore of Galveston late Saturday night.
The Houston-Galveston Coast Guard station received a call at approximately 9 P.M. on Saturday from the medical staff aboard the Carnival Magic, reporting that a 51-year-old female passenger was experiencing respiratory problems and requested a medical evacuation.
The Coast Guard station dispatched a helicopter to medevac the passenger and an aircraft to assist in the operation.
The helicopter crew arrived on scene and hoisted the woman and a Carnival Magic nurse aboard the helicopter and transported them to the Scholes Airport in Galveston.
Last night Carnival aired its new Super Bowl commercial with images of the sea and a voice-over by John F. Kennedy from a speech he gave at a dinner for the America’s Cup crew in 1962:
“I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.”
Of course the speech had nothing whatsoever to do with cruising.
The Kennedy family had a long standing tradition of sailing which reflected their competitive nature and love of racing small sailboats.
"Over the years the images of the Kennedys at sea defined the family brand and gave birth to the Kennedy myth. Kennedys under sail were the picture of adventurousness, wholesomeness, vigor, and family. They commanded the elements and the political world. Jack Kennedy’s navy experience in World War II became an epic tale of seafaring heroism, retold throughout his political career. A 1953 Life cover photo of Jack and Jacqueline on the bow of Victura, along with their larger storyline, presented them as beautiful, privileged, sophisticated, glamorous, and destined for something great."
It is incongruous to associate President Kennedy and his family's love of sailing their 25-foot little wooden gaff-rigged boat (the Victura) from Cap Code with the bunker-fuel burning, black-air belching, bilge-dumping massive ships cruising out of Miami.
If Democratic President JFK and his brother Bobby had survived the 1960's, their interest in cruise ships likely would have been to regulate them, not unlike the way that Senator Rockefeller has done.
There's no indication that JFK ever sailed on a cruise ship. For that matter, a Kennedy would no more "sail" on one of today's Carnival Cruise Line monsters than shop at Walmart.
We have been contacted by a half-dozen passengers from the Carnival Dream ship sailing out of New Orleans. They have inquired about the death last week of a 30 year-old man (passenger) sailing with his wife and other couples.
He apparently fell from his cabin's balcony and landed on an exterior deck that runs above the lifeboats (deck 5 I believe). This occurred on Tuesday, January 20th.
The cruise ship called on Cozumel on Tuesday, Grand Cayman on Wednesday and Montego Bay on Thursday.
The FBI was supposed to board on Sunday when the ship returned to New Orleans. There have been no reports we know of foul play.
He is from Missouri. Carnival flew his wife home during the cruise.
A newspaper in Alabama reports that a United States Coast Guard helicopter medevaced an 8-month-old baby girl from a Carnival cruise ship early yesterday morning.
Reporter Debbie Lord reported that the Carnival Triumph contacted the Coast Guard in Houston Sunday evening to request a medical evacuation when a baby began suffering from seizures and trouble breathing.
A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter flew around 230 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico and back to transport the the baby, her mother and a nurse to a hospital in Houston, landing after 2:00 A.M.
Video credit: Defense Video and Imagery Distribution Systems.
According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, West Yorkshire Police officers arrested a crew member on a Southampton-based cruise ship for possession of a vast amount of child pornography.
The newspaper article identifies the crew member as Howard Ellis, age 60. He reportedly worked as a musician on a cruise ship. The police arrested him when his ship came returned to the port at Southampton.
The police seized "three lap top computers, four hard drives and a mobile phone" which reportedly contained 625 images and movies of children, some as young as seven years old, being sexually abused.
The article does not identify the name of the cruise line, however Mr. Ellis' website states that he has worked as a musician for MSC Cruises for the last two years.
What's particularly disturbing is that this is not Mr. Ellis' first conviction for child pornography. The newspaper article indicates that he has two previous convictions for downloading abusive images of children in January and March 2010 and was sentenced to 18 months in jail.
His resume indicates that he has worked as an entertainer in the cruise industry for the better part of two decades. He worked for Carnival from 1994 to 2004; Royal Caribbean from 2005 to 2006; P&O Cruises from 2006 to 2009; and DFDS Seaways (a ferry line) from 2009 to 2010.
Although Mr. Ellis was the "subject of a community order and a sexual offences prevention order," after his 2010 convictions, MSC Cruises hired him after he served his jail sentence. It's a pity that MSC doesn't have adequate vetting procedures to screen a pervert like this from its cruise ships.
You can read about the problem of child porn on cruise ships below:
Advertising Age reports that Carnival Corporation will be advertising its first Super Bowl commercial next year. Carnival has prepared four possible one-minute commercials as part of its multi-brand marketing initiative.
Each year, around ten million people a year sail on a Carnival brand, such as Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Seabourn and P&O Cruises.
Carnival is asking the public to vote for their favorite commercial.
According to Advertising Age, the four potential commercials are "Getaway, emphasizing the chance to get away from all the stresses of life; Cruise Virgin, where people recollect their first cruises; Message in a Bottle, which features special moments of cruising; and Mystery Spot, which contains a surprise that will remind people just how special the sea can be."
Carnival is trying to forever replace the revolting images associated with the Triumph engine room fire from consumer's minds. Will a 60 second commercial erase the images associated with the four-day, overflowing-toilet-bowls, disgusting Poop Cruise which CNN broadcast non-stop?
I was sitting in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport this morning when I read a travel publication’s headline that Christine Duffy was just named president of Carnival Cruise Lines. Reading the headlines made me feel like I was having an out-of-body experience.
Christine Duffy president of Carnival?
I stopped for a moment and thought, is today April Fool’s Day? Or was the article, perhaps, a satire from the Onion?
But it’s true. Effective February 1, 2015, Ms. Duffy will become president of the largest cruise line in the world. Carnival sent out a press release this morning indicating that Ms. Duffy will officially replace Gerald Cahill who resigned as president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines last month.
Ms. Duffy, as we know, is the president and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). CLIA is the cruise industry’s trade organization which has lobbied against the cruise victim organization’s efforts to make cruising safer and more transparent to the public.
I have always viewed Ms. Duffy, like the CLIA president before her (Terry Dale), as little more than an energetic, smiling cheerleader doing the dirty work of the cruise line executive men like Micky Arison, Richard Fain, etc. She was thrown into the mix quickly after she replaced Mr. Dale when she had to appear before Congress to explain embarrassments like the Costa Concordia disaster, the cruise line's avoidance of U.S. taxes, and the cruise industry's refusal to recognize basic rights of cruise passengers.
During a cruise safety hearing before the Senate, Senator Rockefeller questioned Ms. Duffy's credibility and admonished her to "speak more truth." Referring to the cruise industry which she represented, he stated "You are A World Unto Yourselves."
Carnival’s press statement says that “Ms. Duffy has more than 30 years' experience in the travel industry, most notably on the trade side, having started her career as a travel agent. She later served as president and CEO of Maritz Travel, one of the country's largest corporate meeting, incentive and event companies, for seven years."
That's a nice way of saying that former-travel-agent Ms. Duffy, notwithstanding her enthusiasm, has no experience operating a cruise line whatsoever.
She seems most suited to be a rubber-stamp for Micky Arison and Arnold Donald.
I realize that I'm wading out into dangerous territory here, and will likely be receiving hate-mail with accusations of being misogynous.
But Ms. Duffy seems like Sarah Palin of the Seas. Lots of spunk and personality but little experience and substance. She is not a force who will lead the largest cruise line in the world to become a responsible and transparent leader in the cruise business.
Breitbart reports today that a member of the Kansas National Guard pleaded guilty to transporting a minor across state lines for the purposes of having sex on a Carnival cruise ship.
Paul Francis Grimm, age 43, from Wichita, Kansas flew a girl under 18 from her home in Ohio to Houston in order to take her on the Carnival Triumph cruise ship sailing from Galveston, Texas.
Grimm used to live in Ohio and his daughter was friends with the underage girl. Grimm falsely told the girl's mother that he was taking his children on the cruise and wanted the girl to accompany them.
At the end of the cruise, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) became suspicious when they realized that Grimm and the minor had different last names. The CBP separated Grimm from the child and found out that Grimm possessed nude photographs of the girl, brought sex toys with him, and had engaged in sexual conduct with the underage girl.
There is a lot of blame to pass around in this situation. No parent should ever permit a man to take their child on a cruise. A cruise line should never sell a single cabin to a man and an unrelated child twenty-five (25) years younger than him.
The Customs and Border Patrol should begin vetting the name of passengers before the cruise starts, rather than screening passengers only at the end of the cruise. Unfortunately this is standard practice for the CBP, which routinely permits rapists, criminals with outstanding warrants and other misfits to board cruise ships. Then there is great fanfare at the end of the cruise when the CBP finally take a look at the ship manifest.
Cruise passengers Steven Mark Anthony Requena (photo right), age 28, was arrested while disembarking the Carnival Inspiration at the Port of Tampa. His name was flagged by a sweep of the manifest of passengers by Homeland Security officials who determined that the passenger was wanted for sexual assault in addition to assault with a weapon and forcible confinement. The U.S. Marshals arrested Requena only after the cruise ship returned to port. Regretfully, our federal government routinely looks at the ship passenger list only after the bad guys have already boarded the cruise ship.
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 Carnival 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.
This morning the Carnival Magic returned to the U.S. as the sun arose over the sleepy little town of Galveston.
The Texas Presbyterian Hospital worker who handled Ebola-infected Thomas Duncan samples disembarked the ship after attempts to fly her back to the states from Roatan failed. As the Magic headed back from Mexico, a helicopter arrived courtesy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to pick up her blood samples to make certain that she was not infected with the deadly disease.
Ms. Clueless-Cruising-Ebola-Handling-Healthcare-Worker is probably the most hated cruise passenger in the world right now after a boat load of fun seeking cruisers had to miss two ports of call and endure wild speculation whether they all could become infected during what Twitter was calling the #EbolaCruise.
Carnival is telling everyone that the healthcare worker was at low risk of becoming infected because the virus is difficult to contract and she was already at day 19 of the 21 day incubation period. But this is a cruise line which refuses to consider issuing a refund to a passenger who discloses that they may have come into contact with Ebola. And this begs the question why Ms. Typhoid-Mary-Cruiser was on the cruise during the incubation period of such a deadly disease in the first place,
Carnival didn't bother to have an Ebola health questionnaire in place to screen the worker from the cruise ship (assuming it would be answered honestly) , a major faux pas from a cruise line still stinging from the Triumph "poop cruise" and Concordia "crash cruise" blunders.
Carnival also invented a new phrase during the #EbolaCruise scare - "self quarantine." I would have loved to have seen the Cruise Director's face when the CDC informed the Carnival ship that the Texas Presbyterian Hospital worker was aboard. I wonder where they found her? On the Lido deck by the pool? In a jacuzzi with a pina colada in her hand? Loading her plate at the buffet?
Carnival assures us that she had "self quarantined" herself in her cabin. B.S. I say. The cruise line tried to get her the hell off of the ship and into a waiting jet in Roatan until Honduras government officials nixed the emergency flight.
I wonder whether Carnival insisted that she use a red bio-hazard bag when she emptied her bowels and bladder during the cruise? Or did she just use the cabin bathroom and her feces and urine were dumped untreated at sea by Carnival with everyone else's raw sewage? Oysters-Ebola anyone?
There is a joke circulating on the internet that the first symptom an Ebola patient suffers from is an uncontrollable urge to go on a cruise.
Carnival was not going to let this lady wander around the decks for no other reason than drunk angry passengers might have thrown her overboard.
A week ago, I went to Twitter and complained that the cruise industry had not issued an Ebola-specific protocol for the cruise lines to follow. The threat of Ebola was growing, but the cruise lines seemed asleep at the helm. Neither the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) nor its CEO Christine Duffy had even mentioned Ebola.
I had received many inquiries from the public about whether it was safe to cruise. So I tweeted:
"Passengers fearing #Ebola asking me whether its safe to #cruise / Why no statement by @CruiseFacts or @CLIACEO?"
The popular cruise blog Cruise Hive (@CruiseHive) followed up on the issue and asked via Twitter about the cruise industry's protocols: "I asked the major cruise lines about their Ebola preparation but not one replied! Costa did but no details . . ."
CLIA and its CEO didn't tweet or blog or post a story on Facebook about the threat. This is during the heart of the popular CLIA "Cruise Week" when travel agents are in a marketing frenzy to sell cruises. Better-not-scare-the-business-away seemed to be the attitude.
So today we learn that a Dallas health care worker who handled clinical specimens from Ebola-infected Thomas Duncan is on a Caribbean cruise aboard the Carnival Magic. She apparently went ashore with other passengers in Roatan. When the cruise ship sailed to Belize, the government barred her from going ashore. The government of Belize and the U.S. State Department were in discussions to permit her to board an air ambulance and be flown back to the U.S. When Belize prudently refused, she was stuck on the ship, which sailed on to Cozumel which also barred the ship from port. The Magic is now returning to Texas.
Carnival calls this a "self quarantine." That's hardly true. The U.S. scrambled to fly a jet to medevac her back to Texas. Carnival negligently permitted her aboard in the first place and is not going to let her wander around the ship while she is still within the incubation period.
Carnival didn't even have a questionnaire to ask passengers whether they had come into contact with an Ebola patient or had worked at a hospital or healthcare facility which treated such a patient in the last three weeks.
Certainly it was easily foreseeable that a nurse might drive down to Galveston for a cheap cruise on a Carnival fun ship.
The reality is that cruise ships are perfect petri dishes for diseases to flourish. 5,000 passengers and crew members are mashed together for a week on the Carnival Magic, using public restrooms and spooning food using the same ladle from gigantic buffets. No wonder in the last ten years we have seen ships plagued not only by outbreaks of gastrointestinal diseases, noro virus and e-coli, but measles & rubella, Legionnaires Disease, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and other infectious diseases.
It's outlandish that the cruise industry has no protocols specifically related to Ebola to keep hospital workers who worked around Ebola the heck off of cruise ships. And if this lack of preparation is any indication, I shudder to think how ill prepared the cruise ships are to respond if an outbreak occurs.
This afternoon, ABC News published a photo taken by a Carnival Magic cruise passenger Jeremy Malone who saw 30 to 40 crew with buckets of disinfectant to deal with the Ebola scare. I think the photo says it all. No protective clothing, no protective boots, no protective masks, etc. Just tired, hard-working, low-paid Filipino crew members assigned yet another extra job without sufficient training or equipment.
Think that the cruise lines' slogan that the "health and safety of our guests is our highest priority" is true regarding Ebola? Think again.
ABC News reports that a Dallas health care worker who handled clinical specimens from Ebola-infected Thomas Duncan is on a Caribbean cruise aboard the Carnival Magic.
The cruise line says that the female worker is allegedly being "self-quarantined" and is being monitored for signs of infection. She apparently has no symptoms yet.
She departed on a cruise ship from Galveston, Texas, on October 12th was out of the country before being notified of active monitoring required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She works at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, which treated Mr. Duncan (who died) where nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson tested positive for Ebola.
The hospital is being roundly criticized for having sloppy and irresponsible procedures to respond to an Ebola patient.
Carnival released a statement, saying:
"We are in close contact with the CDC and at this time it has been determined that the appropriate course of action is to simply keep the guest in isolation on board."
But there is a dispute whether Carnival had any choice but to keep the worker on the cruise ship.
Belize (the port of call yesterday) banned the passenger and her traveling partner from entering the country. The ship has already stopped in Mahogany Bay, Honduras on Wednesday and is scheduled to sail on to Cozumel.
A newspaper in Belize contains dramatic information indicating that the Prime Minister in Belize denied entry into Belize for the "stricken U.S. nationals to be air lifted to the U.S.A. for treatment."
A news reporter in Belize quotes on her Facebook page an official source in Belize that after talks were concluded between Belize and the US State Department officials, Belize will not be permitting access of the Dallas hospital worker into the country to fly back to the states.
So it seems unlikely that this case simply involves a situation where the woman is simply "self quarantining" as Carnival suggests. It appears more likely that efforts were unsuccessfully made to get her off of the cruise ship.
The cruise lines need to institute a protocol where they simply ask all passengers whether they have worked around an Ebola patient in the last three weeks. The cruise lines should prohibit them from cruising and refund their cruise fare.
Update: Carnival sent me a statement this morning which you can read here. Meanwhile, Mexico bars the cruise ship from disembarking passengers. Over two weeks ago, I was tweeting and asking why the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) had not issued Ebola-specific protocols.
ABC News reports that the reaction on the Carnival cruise ships ranges from passengers being completely unfazed sitting by the pool to others being panicked and crying. The news accounts includes a photograph taken by cruise passenger Jeremy Malone who "saw 30 to 40 crew members with buckets of disinfectant who were lined up on along his hallway as they prepared to clean the ship . . . " It looks like these poor crew members not in protective suits were completely unprepared if this was really Ebola.
Last week, the Third District Court of Appeal in Florida enforced the terms of a Royal Caribbean passenger ticket and dismissed a lawsuit filed at the last minute in the wrong courthouse.
The case was filed on behalf of a passenger against Royal Caribbean for personal injuries sustained in a cruise ship accident. The passenger hired a local law firm which filed suit a few days before the expiration of the one-year limitation period set forth in the ticket. But instead of filing in federal court as required by the terms of the ticket, her attorneys filed in state court in the Miami-Dade courthouse where most negligence cases can be pursued.
Royal Caribbean filed a motion to dismiss the case. The trial court denied the motion, and the cruise line appealed.
The appellate court reversed the trial court. The appellate court ruled that the cruise line had reasonably communicated the important terms and conditions of the ticket to the passenger before she boarded the cruise ship. The ticket stated in bold and capital letters that the ticket contained important terms and conditions, including a one year limitations period to file suit and a forum selection clause indicating that suit must be filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
The appellate court held that it is irrelevant whether the passenger actually received or read the ticket contract, as long as the ticket contained conspicuous terms and conditions.
The decision was consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Shute, 499 U.S. 585 (1991).
The appellate court also ruled that Royal Caribbean had no obligation to remove the case to federal court after the lawsuit was mistakenly filed in the wrong state courthouse. Because of her counsel's error in filing suit in state court rather than federal court, and the running of the one year limitations period in the interim, the passenger was prohibited from filing suit against the cruise line in the right courthouse.
The only lawsuit the passenger can possibly pursue under these circumstances at this time is a legal malpractice claim against her attorneys.
Practice Tips for Passengers:
The cruise line must receive a written notice of your intention to seek compensation within six (6) months of your accident. Have your lawyer write the letter.
You must file your lawsuit within one (1) year of the accident.
The lawsuit must be filed in the location specified in your ticket. Most cruise lines like Carnival, Celebrity, NCL and Royal Caribbean require that lawsuits be filed in federal court in Miami.
Read the terms of your ticket! The terms are legally enforceable.
I have received a dozen inquiries in the last few days about the chances of contracting Ebola during a cruise. My thought is that the chance is slim that anyone is going to go on a cruise and return home infected with the virus. But there are some issues that concern me.
For U.S. Travelers, Chances of Infection Are Slim at this Time
From what I have learned, it's very difficult to contract the the virus. A cruise passenger would first have to come into close personal contact with an infected person. The infection could come from contact with the infected victim's bodily fluids (blood, saliva, vomit, feces, urine, or semen) or through contaminated needles. This would first require travel to the affected countries in West Africa (Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea) and then intimate contact with an Ebola victim.
So far, the only victim in the U.S. is Thomas Duncan who traveled to Dallas from Liberia and since died. There is a chance that the persons who he came into contact with could develop the disease, but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is carefully monitoring the health of all persons who possibly could have come into contact with Mr. Duncan.
Cruise lines are prudently avoiding ports in West Africa. Holland America Line, Seabourn Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Fred Olsen are dropping West African ports in Ghana, Gambia and Senegal. Princess Cruises is considering rerouting its 30-day "West Africa Adventure," according to the L.A. Times.
Royal Caribbean does not call on any ports in West Africa, although ironically Royal Caribbean is incorporated in Liberia to avoid taxes and regulations.
Bloomberg says that the Ebola scare has lowered cruise stocks. Carnival's stock price fell 5.5 percent, NCL was down 2.8 percent, and Royal Caribbean fell 5.9 percent even though it doesn't sail near the affected (infected) area.
There are some factors, though, that make me nervous about the future.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that as many as 1,400.000 people could be infected with Ebola by January 2015.
The virus will get worse in the West African countries.
Experts predict the virus to appear in Europe within the month.
There are reports that Ebola can survive on surfaces for anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on the type of surface, the temperature, and the amount of light.
According to the CDC, the average time for symptoms of Ebola to appear is 8-10 days.
Many travelers don't disclose illnesses either before or during their cruises because they don't want to be barred from the ship or confined to their cabin.
Some employees don't report to the ship infirmary because they don't want to lose their tips.
My concern is that the outbreak will continue and expand. It has already reached Spain. Jacquie Kubin writes in her article Ebola: Lessons Learned from SARS, the Flu, and HIV / AIDS that there is a 75% probability that the virus will reach France by the end of October and a 50% chance that Ebola will migrate to the U.K.
If the virus reaches Europe so quickly, future cruise travelers and employees could become infected. If those infected are booked on cruises, it is foreseeable that an infected person will fail to disclose the early symptoms of Ebola (intentionally or simply because they doesn't know they have been infected) when they appear at the airport or terminal and then embark the aircraft or cruise ship.
We already know from noro virus cases, many cruise passengers are ill when they come to the cruise ship. Unfortunately, they sometimes lie to get on the ship, and they won't stay in their cabins even when they are infectious.
We also know from past experiences that some crew members report to work when they are ill, including food handlers. This is documented in the CDC literature.
Cruise ships are not prepared to handle a situation with an infected Ebola victim aboard. Any crew members called upon to clean up the vomit and diarrhea and other bodily fluids of a sick passenger would likely become infected. An infected chef or waiter shedding Ebola would be a disaster and could potentially infect hundreds of passengers.
We have seen that cruise ships can easily be plagued by outbreaks of diseases which include not only gastrointestinal diseases, noro virus and e-coli, but measles & rubella, Legionnaires Disease, SARS and other infectious diseases.
Unlike noro virus which lasts a few days, Ebola is potentially deadly. The victim needs immediate and specialized treatment that a cruise ship can't provide. An Ebola outbreak on a cruise ship could result in deaths as well as a public relations disaster.
Stay Tuned and Hope for the Best
There currently is no vaccine for Ebola. Clinical trials are just starting.
For the next many months, cruise lines will consider West Africa to be a no-man's land. Until the disease is eradicated, the cruise lines must avoid the ports there. Cruise ships will continue sailing wide of West Africa until the coast is clear. Hopefully the virus will not spread to Europe and find its way onto cruise ships.
There's more to the story regarding how 20 year old Kendall Wernet, a student at Clemson, died aboard the Carnival Ecstasy than the cruise line disclosed in its carefully crafted PR statement on Monday.
Carnival claimed that Mr. Wernet climbed up onto the cruise ship’s forward mast and "subsequently fell and landed on the deck." But Carnival left out some key facts from its statement.
Mr. Wernet was an outstanding student who was on an "awards cruise" with other top achieving students who decided to walk up to the radar platform at the end of the cruise, according to a news station in South Carolina, quoting the organization owner, Steve Acorn.
"They had seen a group up there the night before and thought it would be a good idea to go there at about 5 a.m. to see the sun rise over Miami," Mr. Acorn says. No drinking was involved.
Mr. Acorn tells WYFF News 4 that a small group of students decided to go to the "top of the front mast to watch the sunrise, and talk about how happy they were in their life, and started planning their next journeys . . . They had been up there for approximately 45 minutes, just talking about life. There had be no drinking or any drugs involved, during that time, or prior. They had witnessed 4-6 individuals do the same thing the previous night. It was not their original idea, and they thought they would do the same for the last night on the ship."
Mr. Acorn said that four students had laid down on the platform, but Mr. Wernet had not. When the radar disc was turned on and began to rotate, it knocked Mr. Wernet to the deck below.
Given the Carnival reputation for out-of-control partying, there was wide-spread speculation that alcohol was involved in the accident. Carnival's press release about the student "climbing up the mast" created the false image that Mr. Wernet was perhaps a drunk and reckless person, like a scene out of Forrest Gump when Lieutenant Dan climbs to the top of the Jenny shrimp boat.
Carnival claims that the area was "restricted" which raises more questions than provides answers.
Were the "restrictions" enforced? Other students had reportedly gone up on the radar platform the night before without consequence. The students had also reportedly been up on the platform for 45 minutes before the accident. Where were the cruise line security personnel? Was the area protected by a locked door or security fence? Were alarms in place? Were CCTV cameras covering the area and were the cameras monitored? Or was the area "protected" by just a sign?
Carnival needs to spend more time providing greater security measures and protecting its guests rather than writing incomplete and misleading PR statements to protect its reputation.
October 2 2014 Update: "Personal responsibility" proponents keep in mind that a corporations is considered to be a "person" in the eyes of the law. Unfortunately many people (see below) don't hold corporations to the same standard as a person. They use the term "personal responsibility" to mean "no corporate responsibility." Of course the passengers have a legal obligation to use reasonable care for their own safety, but corporations also have the legal duty to use reasonable care for their guests' safety. They go hand in hand. The greater the risk of danger to the passengers, the higher the care owed by the cruise line to the passengers. Carnival apparently used only a "restricted area" sign. It did not cordon off the entrance, didn't use a lock, didn't use an alarm, didn't use CCTV cameras, didn't monitor the area, didn't use security personnel, etc.) The cruise line used virtually no reasonable care at all. It just posted a sign, and if all the sign said was "restricted area" that's not much of a warning.
Does anyone have up close photos of the sign and entrance to the mast / radar tower?
Yesterday was the worst day in the lives of a family from North Carolina. A 20 year old fell twenty to thirty feet from a mast on the Carnival Ecstasy at the port of Miami. The young man was later pronounced dead at the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami.
What started as a tropical dream vacation instantly turned into a nightmare.
The local news stations rushed teams of reporters and film crew over to the port to cover the sad story. The reporters were all solemn and respectful in their tone and demeanor while covering the tragedy.
Joanna Medvesek commented: "WTF was he doing up there in the first place. Some people are just plain stupid. Did it not even enter his pea brain that it was RESTRICTED because it may be dangerous. Serves him right."
Samantha Mills de Rosas said "Idiot . . . Sorry no sympathy from me here."
Troy Madsen called the dead young man a "dumb ass."
Monte Mathews called him a "moron."
Ms. Medvesek's cruelty was "liked" by 14 others on Facebook. Saying that a young person involved in an accident deserves to die ("serves him right") infuriates me. It literally spikes my blood pressure. How can people be so uncaring and abusive?
But others who commented on Facebook were kind.
Marianne Fearnside, who lost her son last year during a ferry cruise, summed up my feelings perfectly, saying "how very sad."
Leslie Hall was obviously troubled by all of the selfish and mean-spirited comments. She gave the matter some sensitive and meaningful thoughts:
"A man fell to his death on the Fantasy during my first cruise several years ago. He had been extremely verbal throughout the entire cruise, loud, obnoxious, he stayed hammered the whole time, and spent his evenings at the various bars complaining to everyone about how he didn't want to work in the family business. One evening he decided that he should do handstands off the atrium balcony after a night of drinking and it ended in his death. Needless to say, even after witnessing his behavior throughout the whole trip, I could never think of a reason why it would have "served him right" to be dead.
That's what's wrong with so many people in this country these days - empathy and humanity have been replaced with the ease of speaking the hatred in their hearts without thinking first. For the [selfish], inhuman people who think death is deserved just because someone entered a restricted area, I truly hope no one close to you ever dies due to a sudden accident. I'm sure you wouldn't walk up to his grieving parents at the wake and shake their hand and say 'well, the moron deserved it'. No one should break the rules and go into a restricted area, of course, but by no means does that give any imperfect human being the right to place judgment on his lost life."
25 people on Facebook "liked" Ms. Hall's comments. Others left respectful comments offering their blessings to his family.
I can offer no explanation for the wide disparity between the hateful words of some and the compassionate words of others.
September 30 2014 Update: USA TODAY reports that the young man "had been on an awards cruise for Macomb, Mich-based Student Painters, the company's owner, Steve Acorn, said Tuesday. A group of five or six climbed up on the platform as the Carnival Ecstasy returned to port at the end of a three-day cruise. "They had seen a group up there the night before and thought it would be a good idea to go there at about 5 a.m. to see the sun rise over Miami," he said. No drinking was involved. "They were up there talking ... and the radar system went on," Acorn said. "Based on where you were standing, it caught Kendall and threw him down."
The Coast Guard is back in the news with emergency medical supplies delivered to a cruise ship passenger in distress.
Yesterday a C-130 Coast Guard aircrew flew over 400 miles to drop units of blood to a Carnival cruise ship northeast of a island (Oahu) in Hawaii.
The Carnival Miracle contacted the Coast Guard in Honolulu Sunday afternoon requesting medical assistance for an ailing 76 year old passenger with internal bleeding.
After the passenger's condition worsened, the Coast Guard launched the C-130 from Air Station Barbers Point in Honolulu early Tuesday morning. It arrived at the cruise ship in the afternoon and dropped the blood via a small parachute.
Photo and Video Credit: U.S. Coast Guard via KHON 2
Carnival Chairman and major stockholder Micky Arison sold 212,474 shares of Carnival stock on Friday, September 19th at an average price of $40.22 for a total of $8,545,704.28, according to the Securities & Exchange Commission.
Yes, this is a serious amount of money. But its peanuts for this cruise tycoon.
The United States Coast Guard News reports that a Coast Guard helicopter from San Diego performed a medical evacuation of 34 year old a passenger who was suffering from appendicitis aboard a cruise ship 35 miles southwest of San Diego on Sunday.
The Carnival Inspiration contacted the Coast Guard early Sunday morning and requested a medevac for the passenger.
An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter flew to the cruise ship, hoisted the passenger aboard, and transported him to San Diego for emergency medical treatment.
WTSP 10 in Tampa reports on a cruise where Carnival disembarked a couple in Cozumel from the Legend after the husband had a "minor Alzheimer's episode, leaving his stateroom alone at 4 a.m. for a cup of coffee."
Carnival personnel claim that they found the husband disoriented and the ship doctor declared him to be a danger to himself, so the ship disembarked the couple off the ship at the next port.
But when the news station contacted Carnival, the cruise line "quickly admitted the situation was mishandled" and reimbursed the cost of the cruise and the airfare home.
Carnival claims that it initially provided a future credit for the unused days of the couple's cruise. However, given the "specialized circumstances" in this case, Carnival said that it was proceeding with a full refund for the unused days of the cruise as well as reimbursement for their flights home.
The strange thing about the story is that neither the cruise line nor the passengers explained what the "specialized circumstances" were.
Cruise lines are legally entitled to remove a passenger from a cruise ship if the captain or ship physician determine that they present a risk to their own well-being or that of any other passenger or crew member.
King 5 TV reports that there has been a drop in the number of departures of cruise ship and cruise passengers through Seattle.
The video below features the Carnival Miracle which arrived back in Seattle after a cruise to Alaska.
805,000 passengers and 178 cruise ships will pass through Seattle during the May-September cruise season. That's compared to 870,000 passengers and 187 ships in 2013, and 934,900 passengers and 202 vessels in 2012.
The estimated drop of 8% in passengers equates to a loss of $30 million hit to the local economy.
The seafood businesses and selling fresh salmon at Pike Place Market are a major attraction to cruise passengers arriving in Seattle.
I'm currently in Seattle with my law partner (and spouse). We attended a vessel inspection of the Carnival Miracle yesterday.
The Miami Coast Guard station received a message this morning that a 26-year old man aboard the Carnival cruise ship Fascination was suffering symptoms of appendicitis. At the time, the Carnival cruise ship was about 32 miles east of Lake Worth, Florida.
The cruise passenger was medevaced by a small Coast guard vessel and taken to a marina where local emergency medical workers were waiting.
Providing emergency medical services like this is one of the many services which our federal government provides for free to cruise lines like Carnival.
A reader of Cruise Law News brought to our attention that Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe recently tweeted:
"Le Gouvernement a signé aujourd'hui un protocole d'accord avec Carnival Cruises pour la construction d'un resort sur l'Ile de la Tortue."
Translated, this says that Haiti and Carnival have struck a deal to develop a resort on the Ile de la Tortue (Tortuga Island).
Prime Minister Lamothe later tweeted that Carnival will initially invest $70 million into the development.
Tortuga is a very popular place in Haiti for tourism. In the 17th century, it was a major center of Caribbean piracy. Some say that it is synonymous with the Pirates of the Caribbean. There are many people in Haiti excited by the news.
But the devil is in the details. Will this be a private island for the exclusive benefit of Carnival and its passengers? Will this be a lease similar to the 260 acres of prime waterfront property (Labadee) which Royal Caribbean leased (ripped off) from Haiti?
Will Haitians really be employed? Royal Caribbean initially employed only Europeans on its private resort in Ladadee.
Will a pier be developed which can accommodate giant cruise ships? This would involve substantial dredging and environmental destruction to a beautiful, pristine area.
The Haiti Internet Newsletter covered the story. There are interesting comments to the article, including this one which was spot on:
It is very likely going to be private on long term lease, run by them, not much employment for Haitians and we'll never know how much they are polluting the environment on and around the island since it's probably a long term lease with all kind of exclusions since they will basically own it for the terms on the lease.
Unlike so many, I'm not having a party over this. I know the cruise industry too well to trust that this is going to benefit Haiti in any significant way. I can guarantee you Carnival is getting more out of this than Haiti ever will.
Cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean are inherently predatory (see articles below). Let's hope that Prime Minister Lamothe has his eyes wide open while dealing with Carnival.
One of the dangers which cruise passengers face is incompetent medical care provided by non-U.S. doctors and nurses. And when these go wrong in the high seas, most cruise passengers don't realize that the cruise lines are not legally responsible for the malpractice of the cruise ship medical team.
Tomorrow at the Senate hearing on cruise safety there will testimony that it took 15 minutes before cruise ship medical employees arrived after Armada Butler's 51 year old mother collapsed during a cruise aboard the Carnival Conquest. In a NBC Channel 6 interview, Amanda said it took even longer to get inside the closed medical facility on the ship where the defibrillator was located.
The family flew Ms. Butler from the Cayman Islands (where she was medically disembarked) to the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami via private jet, but she died two weeks later
Local cruise celebrity Stewart Chiron defended the industry, telling NBC 6 "It looks like in some cases, persons are upset about certain responses . . . but you see the same types in complaints on shore."
But unlike shore-side cases where doctors commit malpractice, the cruise lines are largely immune from legal liability arising out of the malpractice of the cruise ship doctors. Without legal and financial consequences, cruise lines like Carnival have little incentive to voluntarily invest in better medical facilities or more experienced and trained doctors and nurses.
Tomorrow Amanda Butler will discuss the circumstances surrounding her mother's death at the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing titled “The Cruise Passenger Protection Act (S.1340): Improving Consumer Protections for Cruise Passengers.”
The hearing will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 2:45 p.m. at the 253 Russell Senate Office Building in Washington D.C.
November 11, 2014 Update: Breaking News! Cruise passengers are now permitted to sue the cruise lines for medical negligence. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that cruise lines are no longer permitted to assert an "immunity defense" when their ship doctors and nurses commit medical malpractice. Read: 11th Circuit Rejects Cruise Lines' Immunity Defense to Medical Malpractice Claims. Contact us for further information.
Carnival's handling of the most recent disappearance of a person overboard, a chef from India, has been a mess.
The Carnival Spiritis in violation of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act. Like all other Carnival cruise ships, the Carnival Spirit has no automatic CCTV man overboard system onboard. The technology exists for overboard passengers and crew members to be immediately detected so that search and rescue efforts can be promptly initiated. There's no excuse at this late date for lack of such standard equipment.
Even when the ship personnel finally realized that the crew member had gone overboard, the master of the ship waited an unreasonably long period of time to search for the overboard crew member.
The Australian newspaper reports that a passenger sent a "desperate email" to the government asking for help, saying that "everyone I have spoken to is frightened, concerned, anxious about where we're going and very confused."
The passenger complained "there are no planes, no helicopters, no nothing – just our cruise boat going at five kilometres an hour."
Not surprisingly the New Caledonia Search and Rescue Authority declared the chances of finding the missing crew member were ''literally nil.''
It's not the first time people have gone overboard from the Carnival Spirit. Paul Rossington and his girlfriend Kristen Schroder fell off the ship last year.
Carnival Australia's CEO Ann Sherry was rather cavalier about that incident. She said, without qualification, “you can’t fall off the ship.”
Even if that's true, that's little consolation for the crew member's family. That leaves two alternatives - being a victim of a crime (it wouldn't be the first time that someone was pitched overboard), or committing suicide (which is the cruise line's favorite excuse). But because the ship does't even have CCTV of the incident (much less man overboard technology), the case is doomed to be another mystery.
The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an ill 65-year-old woman from the Carnival Paradise early this morning.
The Carnival cruise ship was approximately 70 miles west of Boca Grande, Florida.
According to the Coast Guard, the master of the cruise ship notified the Coast Guard station in St. Petersburg, around 10:46 p.m. last night, that the passenger needed medical assistance due to chest pains. A Coast Guard flight surgeon was consulted and recommended that the passenger be medically evacuated from he ship.
At approximately 1 a.m. this morning, a Coast Guard helicopter, a MH 60 Jayhawk, lifted the passenger and a cruise ship nurse aboard and transported them to Tampa General Hospital.
Video Credit: dvidshub.net via News-Press; Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Beau Hudspeth - Digi-Gen Design Studios
Tonight we received information from a former crew member that a search and rescue operation is underway near Vanuatu after a Carnival employee has gone overboard from the Carnival Spirit cruise ship.
There is an article from Australia stating that there is a man overboard lost from a Carnival cruise ship who is "believed to be a member of the kitchen crew" aboard the Carnival Spirit on a voyage out of Vanuatu.
The newspaper states that a passenger on the cruise ship, who did not wish to be identified, stated that an announcement was made more than 10 hours ago that a crew member had gone missing "for up to 20 hours by that point."
The Carnival cruise ship turned back towards Vanuatu, which is about 20 hours away from its current position.
Under the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2010, cruise lines are suppose to have implemented automatic man-overboard CCTV systems to detect man-overboards as soon as they happen. Under applicable U.S. maritime law, there should never be this type of mystery when a crew member (or passengers) disappears on the high seas.
Does anyone have information regarding this incident to share?
Unfortunately, the Herald article is mostly a feel-good piece. The reporter interviewed only Mr. Donald's friends, other cruise executives or financial analysts. It contained absolutely no critical insight into Mr. Donald.
There's no question that Mr. Donald is an interesting and impressive fellow, growing up in up in New Orleans as a child and overcoming the challenges which came with being an African-American born in the 1950's in the deep south. He excelled as a student and became a successful executive of chemical-giant Monsanto Corporation. He's certainly no born-with-a-silver-spoon-in-his-mouth Micky Arison.
But what has he done for the crew members, who are the heart and soul of the company, after joining Carnival?
In my assessment, Carnival cruise ship employees are collectively in their worst shape in the forty-plus history of the company. They are working harder than ever before for less money and fewer benefits. Shortly after Mr. Donald appeared on the scene, Carnival gutted the meager retirement benefits of its crew members. I mentioned the massacre of the retirement program in an article entitled Cruise CEO Arnold Donald's First Blunder: Carnival Guts Crew Retirement Benefits.
Like other cruise line employees, Carnival crew members have no union representation and no bargaining power. Carnival can easily exploit them. Mr. Donald has taken the exploitation to a higher level.
Mr. Donald has also drawn the ire of unionized workers in a company, Crown Holdings, in Canada where he sits on the board of directors. Crown became involved in a labor dispute after it demanded that Crown's new employees agree to wage cuts. When the union employees would not agree, Crown replaced them with non-union workers.
In response to Mr. Donald's actions, the United Steel Workers (USW) of Canada recently organized a boycott of Carnival cruise brands. The boycott includes the million-member Ontario Labor Federation and the 500,000-member Congress of Union Retirees of Canada.
News sources are reporting that a Carnival cruise passenger was busted at Port Canaveral with 12 pounds of cocaine in his suitcase after returning from a Caribbean cruise.
The Orlando Sentinel says that Ishermon Tafari, age 31, from the country of Granada, was arrested over the weekend when federal officers entered his cabin on the Carnival Liberty cruise ship.
The officers had obtained arrest and search warrants in Orlando federal court before the cruise ship returned to port.
When the officers searched the passenger's cabin, they found powder laundry detergent poured onto clothes at the bottom of Tafari's luggage. Approximately 12 pounds of cocaine were inside the lining of the luggage.
WFTV reports that the cruise ship made stops in Turks and Caicos, Aruba and Curacao before returning to Port Canaveral.
Investigators are looking to see if Tafari is part of a bigger smuggling operation, after discovering that he sent a text to a friend while on the trip saying, "I'm on a mission [same one, different island]."
Last year, we reported on the tragic death of 42 year old Birdie Africa, who drowned in a hot tub aboard the Carnival Dream cruise ship during a vacation cruise.
Back in 1985, Mr. Africa was a child who survived an attack by the Philadelphia Police Department which dropped explosives on the row house of the radical group MOVE. The explosives sparked a blaze that destroyed 61 homes and killed 11 people, including five children. You can read our prior article here.
We first heard of the incident on the Carnival cruise ship when a passenger on the ship notified us that a passenger was found on the bottom of a hot tub. In turn, we asked Carnival for an explanation regarding what happened. Carnival released this statement to us:
"On Friday evening, while the Carnival Dream was en route to its homeport of Port Canaveral, Fla., the shipboard medical staff was notified that a 42-year-old male guest was experiencing a medical emergency. The medical staff responded to the location, one of the ship's Lanai areas, and administered emergency aid but, tragically, the guest passed away."
The newspaper reports that Mr. Africa's father subsequently spoke to a doctor, vacationing on the Carnival cruise ship with his wife. The doctor said that a "flustered passenger" burst into the ship and told a bartender that "someone was at the bottom of the nearby hot tub."
"The doctor ran outside and saw a crowd gathered around the tub . . . the crowd included members of the ship's staff, seemingly spellbound."
The doctor had to tell the crowd to pull Mr. Africa out of the tub.
" A nurse on the ship's medical staff arrived soon after . . . but she didn't have a defibrillator or other vital equipment.
"Even worse . . . , when the nurse obtained a defibrillator, she was hesitant to use it and allegedly asked a colleague if it was safe to use on a wet body - basic knowledge when using that device."
Mr. Africa's father told the newspaper: "It's just devastating in the fact that there was a potential that he could've lived. Especially the callousness of not only ship's personnel, but the mere aspect of society - that people would rather stand and watch than do something."
Over the past 20 years, we have heard of stories of medical delay and incompetence like this on the part of the cruise ship medical personnel and crew members responding to shipboard drownings.
A cruise ship is the last place that you want to experience a medical emergency. Moreover, most people don't realize that the cruise lines will always argue that cruise ship doctors and nurses are "independent contractors" for whom the cruise lines are generally not responsible. (Read story number three here). In most situations, passengers' families cannot sue the shipboard medical team even when their negligence kills the passenger.
The autopsy report on Mr. Africa indicates that he was heavily intoxicated. Cruise ships over-serving passengers alcohol is a major problem. Cruise lines make enormous and tax-free profits selling booze on the high seas. If cruise lines like Carnival are going to sell such huge quantities to passengers, this is another reason why they should employ lifeguards around the pools to oversee passenger safety and to be trained in emergency life saving procedures when things go wrong.
Speculation in publications like this and this suggest that he may be interested in buying the U.K. Aston Villa soccer club.
Considering how badly Arison's Miami Heat have been playing basketball in the NBA finals (now down 3-1 to the San Antonio Spurs), perhaps Arison will be spending some time in the future in England watching soccer.
Today the SKNVibes newspaper in St. Kitts reports that a crew member aboard a cruise ship docked in St. Kitts (Port Zante) sexually assaulted a cruise passenger.
You can read the article below.
It's a strange article. The newspaper decided not to name the cruise line or the cruise ship, which is something we see in a few other countries where the local press prefer not to embarrass the cruise lines.
The newspaper also contacted the police department which would not comment whether a rape occurred on the unidentified cruise ship or not.
" . . . the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force is making investigations into an incident of assault that occurred on a cruise vessel which was berthed at Porte Zante yesterday (Jun. 6).
Unconfirmed reports suggest that an act of sexual assault may have been perpetrated against one of the cruise passengers by one of the vessel’s crew members.
SKNVibes understands that the authorities on St. Kitts were made aware of the situation and investigations had begun.
The Police Force’s Press and Public Relations Officer Inspector Lyndon David - when contacted by this publication and questioned about this issue - declared that he could not confirm or deny at that moment.
And he promised to look into the matter."
June 8 2014 Update: A reader pointed out that the Carnival Valor was in port at St. Kitts on June 6 2014.
June 10 2014: The St. Kitts and Nevis Observer reports "Cruise Ship Employee Charged With Rape." This newspaper states that the Carnival Valor was in fact the cruise ship in port (Port Zante). It says that St. Kitts police took a crew member into custody the day of the report of the sexual assault and that the Valor left port later than its scheduled time due to the incident.
The Observer understands the individual was charged with the offense over the weekend following the arrest on a Friday.
Upon questioning the local police would say nothing other than “someone has been charged for an incident.”
The newspaper also says that it is "not known if the alleged offence was committed while the vessel was docked, however the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force has jurisdiction to investigate and/or arrest once a crime has been reported in sovereign waters or airspace."
June 15 2014 Update: A radio station in St. Kitts states that the local police in St. Kitts has finally acknowledged that a crew member from the Carnival Valor was arrested on charges of raping a cruise passenger while the cruise ship was in territorial waters of the island. However, the police still refuses to release the alleged assailant's name. The radio station says:
"In St. Kitts and Nevis, the names of persons accused of sexual offenses against minors are not released, however WINN FM is not aware that those charged with offences against adults are withheld by the authorities."
WKMG Local 6 (ClickOrlando) aired a special report last night on the issue of children drowning on cruise ships. In the last year, four children 6 years old or younger have drowned or nearly drowned in the pools of Carnival, Disney and Norwegian Cruise Line cruise ships.
In all cases, the cruise lines did not employ lifeguards.
The news station interviewed the parents of a 6 year old child, Qwentyn Hunter, who drowned during a cruise aboard the Carnival Victory.
I believe that it's clear negligence for a cruise line not to employ a lifeguard to supervise cruise ship swimming pools. Yes, it a matter of personal responsibility of the parents to supervise their children, but its also a matter or corporate responsibility of the cruise lines to staff their pools with trained lifeguards. A sign saying things like "swim at your own risk" or "no lifeguard on duty" is not only meaningless to a child, but it's legally insufficient to exculpate a cruise line.
The cruise lines are able to hide behind a maritime law also known as the "Death on the High Seas Act" which prohibits the recovery of emotional damages such as pain and suffering, grief, bereavement, and mental anguish. As matters now stand, the cruise line face virtually no financial consequence when children die in cruise ships pools with no lifeguards.
The news station interviewed me during the program. Here's what I said:
"'Children are not wage-earners and because of this archaic law pertaining to cruise ships there’s no financial incentive for cruise lines to do the right thing,' said Jim Walker whose law firm deals exclusively with legal issues on cruise ships.
Walker called it the cruise industry's dirty little secret.
'The cruise lines love that law that doesn’t permit any recovery so they’re completely isolated and when you isolate a large corporation from all legal and financial consequence basically what you’re saying to them is it’s OK if children die in your pool because it doesn’t really affect your bottom line. That’s a terrible situation. That needs to change,' said Walker.
. . . Walker contends there's another troubling issue. He says no cruise employees, other than medical personnel are trained in CPR.
'If you're going to assign someone to a pool deck to hand out the towels and take drink orders, you’ve got to train them on basic CPR because CPR can save a life,' said Walker who also says he believes the cruise line industry could pass the cost of employing lifeguards on to the passengers.
'If you charge each one a dime you’re going to have enough money for a lifeguard. How about a dime for each person? Isn’t a child worth a dime?' said Walker.
Walker believes it is going to take some type of legislation really to force the cruise lines to take added safety precautions."
It said that it targets cruise ships with a history of safety problems. That's a good idea, of course. But the NTSB failed to ask the Coast Guard a simple follow-up question - what cruise line(s) and what cruise ships have demonstrated a pattern of poor maintenance and safety concerns?
The Coast Guard didn't point the finger at any particular cruise line and the NTSB didn't ask the question that the public needed to know.
My thought is that the NTSB didn't want to embarrass the cruise lines who organized the conference. This reveals one of the major problems inherent in cruising. The federal agencies which are suppose to be watchdogs of cruise safety are in bed with the cruise lines.
In response to this situation, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-W.V.) (Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation), and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Coast Guard Admiral Robert Papp, Jr. asking that that inspection reports be made available to the public over the Internet.
The senators wrote “ . . . we respectfully request that the records and results of the unannounced inspections be made public and easily available over the Internet for prospective cruise passengers to peruse before booking a trip.”
The senators added:
“We agree it is strategic of the Coast Guard to target ships and vessels that have a pattern or history of safety problems, but we further expect that consumers should also be privy to the insights and patterns that the Coast Guard already knows, in addition to the ones it discovers in the future. Furthermore, the Coast Guard does a disservice to the public when it shields from consumers the identity of cruise ships and lines that have a pattern of noncompliance.”
Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System reports that a San Diego-based Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter evacuated an ill woman from a Carnival cruise ship yesterday.
The Carnival Imagination was approximately 30 miles off the coast of Point Loma, California on May 7, 2014 when it contacted the Coast Guard and requested a medevac for a 41-year-old American woman, believed to be a passenger. She was experiencing abdominal pain.
Video (no audio) credit to U.S. Coast Guard video.
The Telegraph reports that Cruising Excursions, a company which operates tours exploring Roatan's "fishing villages, mangroves, iguana farms and beaches," announced that it is canceling its tours on the island.
An excursion company representative said that “a string of reports of robberies, violence against visitors and now this horrific murder have forced us to suspend our cruise excursion programme on this beautiful island. "
The newspaper further quoting the spokesperson saying that it is “very sad for the majority of law abiding island residents, especially those who make a living from tourism but we cannot recommend cruisers go ashore until we are reassured that measures are in place to protect visitors."
The excursion company also said that all bookings have been canceled with full refunds.
Roatan is in crisis mode trying to respond to the murder of a Filipino crew member from the Norwegian Pearl a week ago. We previously reported on the horrific crime.
The excursion company's withdrawal from Roatan is significant because it was based not only on the recent homicide but on what it describes as a string of violent robberies this year.
Roatan attended the Cruise Shipping Miami convention in Miami Beach last month to promote its port. I stopped and took a photo of the booth. I thought that it was just a matter of time before something like this happened.
CLIA's Christine Duffy moderated the conference attended by the travel agent loyals. She discussed the future of cruising with the executives of the major cruise lines like Richard Fain (Royal Caribbean), Arnold Donald (Carnival), Kevin Sheehan (NCL) and Pierfrancesco Vaga (MSC Cruises).
To attract more first-time cruisers, CLIA is targeting the "Millennials" (consumers born between 1980 & 2000).
The Sun Sentinel quotes Ms. Duffy saying: "This demographic group offers a window into the next generation of travelers and provides opportunity for serious growth. They have a strong desire to travel and to share experiences."
In simple terms Ms. Duffy is talking about the next generation of young people from age 14 to 34 (like my children and nieces) who CLIA is targeting as the next wave of 25 to 55 year-old cruisers.
Who are these "Millennials?" What will they be interested in for their vacations?
Selling cruises to the the "Millennials" will not be an easy task.
First, they are poorer than prior generations. They have more debt and student loans. And it won't be difficult to sell them cruises just because they will have lower incomes and less wealth. It's because there will be a disconnect between what the Millennials are interested in and what the cruise lines are offering, and because the Millennials will have a greater social consciousness than the current cruisers.
Wow Gadgets Won't Wow the Millennials
The articles report that the cruise industry is trying to attract more first time cruisers by offering the public "more innovative ships with 'wow' features."
A recent publication correctly called the Millennials "digital wizards." Like my kids, they have grown up with high tech gaming toys seemingly before they could walk or talk. I don't see the Millennials being impressed by the "gee-whizz" and so-called "wow" gadgets being touted by Royal Caribbean (virtual balconies & the "North Star" device) or Princess (the "SeaWalk"). The Millennials are smart and their taste for technology is sophisticated. My kids have been mastering Apple products for 15 years. They are not easily impressed with what I or the 60 and 70 year old cruise executives think are "cool."
Some of the new attractions touted by the cruise lines are hardly wow gadgets in the first place. The bumper cars projected to appear on Royal Caribbean's next ship are a silly, old-school idea. The Travel Weekly article even talks about "bowling alleys and self-leveling pool tables" and quotes Royal Caribbean's Chairman Richard Fain saying: "All of that conveys what cruising has to offer. It says something about what the industry stands for.” Circa 1950 bumper cars, bowling alleys, pool tables for the Millennials? You have to be kidding me.
The Millennials are less privileged, more diverse, and more liberal than today's cruisers. 4 out of 10 will not be white. They will be more sensitive to the plight of workers in the international community being over-worked and underpaid. They will be more attuned to environmental issues. They will have a greater understanding of the fragility of the air and water ecosystems that the cruise lines routinely abuse.
These are important issues that the Millennials will focus on. In the next 10 to 20 years, we will see the continued rise of social media and the presence of more contemporary publications focusing on issues of relevance to the Millennials.
Old school newspapers, which often blindly cater to the cruise industry, will continue to decline in readership and relevance.
The bumper-car-and-pool-table and gadget-promoting cruise lines will lose the Millennials as customers unless they understand what the future really holds and begin to address issues of crime, crew member rights and environmental problems.
In an exclusive story, Cruise Line News has learned that cruise industry giant Carnival Corporation recently incorporated its business in the United States (in the state of Delaware). Carnival intends to announce this historic development tomorrow, April 2nd, at Carnival's headquarters in Miami.
Since 1972, Carnival has incorporated its business and registered its cruise ships in the country of Panama. For over 40 years, Carnival cruise ships have flown the flag of Panama in order to avoid the onerous safety regulations, excessive labor laws, unreasonable environmental laws, and high taxes of the United States of America.
Cruise Law News' discovery of this historic event came about when prominent maritime lawyer Jim Walker bumped into Carnival's Chairman Micky Arison at court side when Arison's championship basketball team, the Miami Heat, won another game. Maritime ace lawyer Walker asked Arison: "Micky, if Dwayne Wade and LeBron James earn several hundred million dollars from Carnival and pay tens of millions of dollars in U.S. taxes, don't you think it is fair that Carnival - which earns over 15 billion dollars a year in cruise ticket sales - pays its fair share of U.S. taxes?"
Perhaps it was the euphoria of the Heat beating the Portland Trailblazers by two points in a close victory, but Micky was ecstatic. "Yes, let's do it!" he said handing maritime lawyer Walker a half-eaten hot dog and three-quarters of a warm Bud Light which a Miami cheerleader handed Micky in the first quarter of the previous game a few days earlier.
While quickly consuming the beer and hot dog in the excitement of the moment, expert cruise lawyer Walker happened to have U.S. articles of incorporation which he handed to Micky to sign as well as U.S. flags to fly on the Carnival fleet of cruise ships.
Arison has been under intense pressure lately following fires, collisions, sinkings, poop-cruises, pirate-attacks, flounderings, Concordia-disasters, norovirus outbreaks and a Jon Secada concert which have ruined the last 37 Carnival cruises. Senator Jay Rockefeller recently called Arison a "scallywag" on national TV. Rockefeller challenged Arison to pay his fair share of U.S. taxes on the billion-dollar bounty his foreign-flagged cruise ships collect from the U.S. taxpaying citizens on the high seas.
Micky commented that he was embarrassed that his father Ted, the founder of Carnival Cruise Lines 40 years ago, denounced his U.S. citizenship in order to avoid paying some 10 billion dollars in U.S. taxes.
"I want to make certain that Carnival pays one hundred % of our U.S. tax obligations (estimated to be over $5,000,000,000 a year) plus be subjected to the most rigorous U.S. safety, wage,and labor laws and the most stringent U.S. environmental regulations, Micky announced over the arena's PA system! "I want Carnival Cruise Line to be synonymous with Old Betsy - the U.S. Stars and Stripes - what the U.S. stands for! Its time that indigent crew members from India and Nicaragua who earn $500 working 360 hours a month be entitled to the full benefit of U.S. employment laws, a 401(k) retirement fund, severance pay, and a college fund for their children!"
While appreciative of Arison's change of heart, sources say Walker was miffed that Arison demanded that he pay $6 for the remains of the hot dog and $7.50 for the rest of the Bud Light.
Multiple news sources are reporting that a Carnival cruise ship spotted a boat packed with dozens of Cuban migrants in the Florida Straits Tuesday night.
The Coast Guard says the Carnival Ecstasy spotted the migrants' vessel Tuesday evening. Officials say the small boat wasn't seaworthy and lacked lifejackets and navigation equipment. I think that goes without saying when Cubans or others from Caribbean islands take to sea in rafts or make-shift boats.
The Ecstasy stopped and took 41 Cubans aboard. Carnival then transferred the Cubans to the Coast Guard for return to Cuba. Under the "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy, Cubans who make it to U.S. soil are allowed to stay in the U.S., but Cubans stopped at sea are returned back to Cuba. home.
We have mentioned many stories like this over the years. Usually there is great excitement by the cruise passengers that they were involved in the "rescue" of people at sea. Yes, the Cuban people were rescued from the sea but they are returned to Castro's Cuban and the conditions which caused them to risk their lives.
This weekend saw the epic failure of Royal Caribbean's corporate communications department after two of its cruise ships, the Adventure of the Seas and the Navigator of the Seas, encountered difficulties returning to their respective ports.
The Adventure of the Seas encountered propulsion problems last week and, eventually, a total failure on Saturday night, after the cruise ship's "fixipod" leaked oil and the ship lost propulsion. The ship limped back to San Juan on Sunday with great uncertainty whether it could possibly be repaired in time for it to sail. The ship is scheduled for a drydock at the end of the month, but it appears that Royal Caribbean decided to try and do a quick-fix of the damaged "fixipod" and squeeze in one more cruise to avoid having to refund their several thousands of passengers millions of dollars in refunds. Families who had flown to San Juan to board the Adventure were not told of the propulsion issues and found themselves standing in a long line in the hot sun while the cruise line's public relations department said nothing. As of this morning (Monday), the ship has still not sailed.
While the Adventure of the Seas saga was unfolding, the Navigator of the Seas was delayed returning to port by an oil spill caused by a collision between a ship and a barge. Families who had driven and flown into Houston to make the cruise where not advised of the oil spill or the delay embarking the ship while the Royal Caribbean department remained quite. Meanwhile the Carnival PR department was routinely posting updates on Twitter and Facebook about the problem which its ship, the Magic, faced with the oil spill. Carnival maintained a centralized "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)" on its website. It timely notified its guests that the cruise aboard the Carnival Magic would be delayed until Monday and that they should locate a hotel and get a good night's sleep.
By early Sunday afternoon, the Royal Caribbean passengers began openly complaining on Twitter and Facebook about the cruise line's refusal to keep them up to date. A public relations nightmare was unfolding.
Numerous passengers and family members began bitterly complaining that Royal Caribbean was not notifying them via email, test messaging or telephone, and the cruise line was not utilizing its Twitter or Facebook feeds. Royal Caribbean has a public relations account of Twitter, called @RoyalCaribPR, but it had remained silent for the psst 48 hours. People calling the cruise line were placed on hold, or the service representatives didn't know what was going on. It was as if the entire customer relations department has outsourced to a distant village in India.
The passengers in San Juan were congregating in long lines in the hot son without water or food (photo left, via @_DanielnPearson). There was reportedly a single restroom with long lines. People were suffering, particularly the elderly. One passenger sent me a photo of the long lines via Twitter.
One passenger commented on Cruise Critic that Royal Caribbean "is refusing water and people are leaving in ambulances." Some passengers reportedly collapsed due to the heat and lack of water. And @It'sYourWorld tweeted a photo (photo below right) of a San Juan ambulance which arrived at the port to attend to one of the passenger trying to board the ship.
Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean's Facebook page said nothing about either the Adventure or the Navigator. While people began demanding an update on Twitter, Royal Caribbean posted a photograph of a beautiful tropical port of call (photo bottom left). At a time of crisis with customers begging for information, Royal Caribbean was clueless. It was trying to sell cruises with images of paradise when people in the sun needed water.
As the afternoon dragged on into the evening and night, the passenger attempting to board these Royal Caribbean ships were kept in the dark. When Royal Caribbean finally began to tweet, its tweets were meaningless. One tweet it made over and over said: " We will provide more information . . . as information is available."
Hundreds of passengers and the usual "Loyal-to-Royal" cruise fans began tweeting every few seconds. Of the hundreds of tweets, here are a few.
A cruise social media expert said: 'Hey @CCLSupport any way you can help out @RoyalCaribbean on their updates? They don't seem to be taking your lead :)" He added another tweet: "@RoyalCaribbean's last tweet was promo for Ibiza & @RoyalCaribPR's last tweet was Friday. #FAIL"
Another woman from Texas tweeted: "My mom received no email or call updates. Found all the update info on Twitter. Pathetic!"
A man from Ohio tweeted: "@RoyalCaribbean why are your offices closed when you have 1000s of passengers waiting for information about boarding the Navigator of Seas?"
A cruise fan from Denver tweeted: "@RoyalCaribbean I understand the oil spill is out of your control but do you know how to use technology to communicate with your passengers?"
He added: "@RoyalCaribbean = confusion."
A member of Cruise Critic left this comment:
" . . . I am appalled by the lack of communication. Problems happen, (like busted ships and oil spills) but this is a problem that they knew they would have today given that it started Wednesday. There absolutely should have been a corporate plan in place to communicate with extra staff at port (3 days to fly staff from MIA to SJ is plenty of time) even if the only thing they would be able to communicate was that they don't know anything yet. Despite what anyone thinks, in corporate America today if you are not ahead of the news cycle you are behind...tweets, FB etc are required, and certainly emails, phone calls, texts, to passengers sailing are required, not 'optional.'
If as reported, no water or accommodations for elderly and special needs passengers were made while waiting to board; that's another major failure given the huge amount of time the company had to prepare for what they knew would be a problem. A hotel ballroom and shuttle could have been arranged cheaply.
This is completely unacceptable and another huge black eye for the Royal and the cruise industry."
Throughout Sunday afternoon, we received emails and comments on our blog and Facebook page asking for basic information about these two Royal Caribbean cruises from passengers at the ports, travel agents and concerned family members at home. A cruise line has a major PR problem when guests and travel agents are ignored and have to seek information from a maritime lawyer rather than a cruise representative. We directed a number of people calling us to the Carnival updates about the Galveston situation and also sent the link to the webcam at the port of Galveston so that they could see when the Navigator finally arrived in port (photo top right).
It still remains uncertain whether the Adventure of the Seas will sail today. The Royal Caribbean PR Twitter feed @RoyalCaribPR remains silent. The Royal Caribbean main Twitter page @RoyalCaribbean has offered no updates for 14 hours. The page claims that it offers "inspiration and information from the official sponsor of WOW. Living the #cruiselife 24/7." Hardly.
The problem here is that cruise lines like Royal Caribbean try and squeeze their ships (and employees) to make every dime possible. It could have decided to take its crippled Adventure of the Seas out of service a week early for dry-dock but instead loaded the new round of passengers aboard to avoid paying a hotel for the night or refunds for the missed cruise.
This is not Royal Caribbean's first PR blunder in San Juan. In August 2011 as a hurricane headed to the island, Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas sailed 6 hours early. But Royal Caribbean did not contact its guests via the emergency contact information about the new itinerary. It didn't provide the passengers, who arrived in San Juan to find that the ship had left, with hotel rooms. It abandoned its guests in the middle of a hurricane and didn't bother to tell them.
Super cruise fan Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor of Cruise Critic, expressed outrage in her blog Bad Weather Blunder: A Lesson in Cruise Crisis Control? "This takes my breath away. And it’s not about the fact that it didn’t offer to pay for hotels and flights . . . . It’s about dropping the ball in a risky situation. Clearly, I’m not the only one who is shocked at Royal Caribbean’s lack of responsibility to its customers. On Cruise Critic’s forums, its blog, and its Facebook page, travelers are incredulous."
One of the continuing criticisms of the cruise industry is that it may be skilled at marketing fantasy images of idyllic cruise vacations but it is not prepared when disaster strikes one of its increasingly gigantic cruise ships. It's clear that Royal Caribbean has not invested into the infrastructure of its crisis management department and developed policies and procedures to effectively communicate meaningful information in real time. If Royal Caribbean can't handle a weekend when two cruise ships are delayed, one for an oil slick and another for a known propulsion issue, do you think that it can communicate effectively when a fire strands either the Oasis or the Allure on the high seas in rough weather or, God forbid, a huge ship sinks at sea?
WAVY.com reports that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaces a cruise passenger from a carnival cruise ship last night.
The Carnival Splendor notified the Coasy Guard around 10:45 p.m. last night that a 66 year old man was in medical distress. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was dispatched from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina to assist.
The helicopter crew arrived at the cruise ship around 1:30 a.m. about 50 miles east of Wilmington and hoisted the passenger. The Coast Guard took him to Wilmington International Airport where he was transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
The U.S. Coast Guard announced today that it rescued a 51-year-old cruise passenger who was suffering from undisclosed medical issues while aboard a Carnival cruise ship approximately 130 miles southwest of Key West, Florida.
Shortly after noon yesterday, the Coast Guard in Key West received a report from the Carnival Liberty indicating thata cruise passenger suffered an illness while crossing the Gulf of Mexico.
The coast Guard launched a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Clearwater. When the helicopter arrived, the aircrew hoisted the passenger transported him to Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West.
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?
Last week I wrote an article about Royal Caribbean CEO and President Adam Goldstein cashing in over $2,300,000 worth of Royal Caribbean stock, still leaving him with around $19,000,000 worth of his company's stock.
It's difficult to justify the enormous wealth of the cruise executives given the fact that the cruise business is rigged to create gigantic profits free of U.S. taxes. Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean (Liberia) and Carnival (Panama) incorporated in foreign countries in order to avoid U.S. taxes, labor and wage laws, and safety regulations. The cruise lines pay dirt cheap wages to laborers from India and the Caribbean islands. They provide no benefits at all to their loyal crew members.
Cruise executive compensation isn't tied to whether the line's ships sink or catch on fire. One of the Royal Caribbean cruise ships, the Grandeur of the Seas, caught on fire for two hours last year yet cruise CEO Goldstein still raked in millions. Cruise executives are rewarded for squeezing blood out of the stone.
Tax-fee Royal Caribbean pays a salary of only $50 a month to its waiters and cabin attendants who it works like dogs, relying on the tax-paying cruise passengers to pay tips so the employees can try and make a living. Yet Royal Caribbean is stealing, some say, some of the passenger money intended for tips and using the "tips" to pay the salaries of the non-tip earning crew members. Last year Royal Caribbean fired over one-hundred employees in its corporate offices here in Miami because of "tough economic times." Yet the cruise line executives like CEO Goldstein and chairman Richard Fain still pocketed millions and millions and millions at the end of the year.
No doubt the cruise employees are getting the shaft. The crew is getting poorer while the fat cat executives are getting richer and richer.
The greediest cruise executive in my opinion is, hands down, no doubt-about-it, by-far Micky Arison. He makes Goldstein look like chump change. Arison is the news this weekend after agreeing to sell up to 10 million shares of Carnival Corporation stock. At $39.50 per share, that's $395,000,000. 5 million shares were sold on Friday and the remaining shares will be sold over the next 15 months, After the sale is complete, the Arison family will still own 188,000,000 shares worth over $7,426,000,000.
What will multi-billionaire Arison do with the $395,000,000? Build medical clinics in Goa, India where most of his crew members come from? Fund the retirement benefits for his hard working Filipino crew members who have slaved away far-from-their-children for decades on his ships? Create schools in Nicaragua where thousands of family members of Carnival crew members reside? No, no, no. The nearly $400 million in cash will be solely for his own tax and estate planning.
CEO Arison paid himself a $90,000,000 bonus in 2002 - the same year of the Costa Concordia disaster. In my assessment, he seems like a money hoarder without a social conscious. Here are some of the infamous incidents involving Carnival Corporation and its brands over the last few years:
It is an amazing spectacle to watch Arison enrich himself irrespective of the Concordia capsizing and the Triumph engine room fire.
Just last week we commented on Carnival's press release, issued during the middle of the Triumph "poop cruise" trial here in Miami. Carnival characterized the cruise passengers, who endured four days in the Gulf of Mexico after the negligently maintained old ship caught fire, as greedy.
I suppose it's business as usual for Carnival to malign its Triumph cruise guests while chairman Arison is cashing in a fraction of his cruise stock during the middle of the Triumph trial for $395,000,000.
Lawyers involved in a trial are not suppose to make comments during trial which are likely to affect the jury or trier of fact. The theory is that trials are suppose to be decided based on the testimony and exhibits introduced into evidence, and not by PR statements which are not subject to the rules of evidence and which may be designed to sway the jury.
Yesterday Carnival send a written statement to NBC News, Carnival said: "The current litigation by a handful of individuals is an opportunistic attempt to benefit financially . . . principally based on claims of alleged emotional distress."
A nasty statement no doubt. There is no indication that Carnival's trial lawyers made the statement. But press releases like this from the Carnival PR team are obviously not released to the public until after they are vetted by Carnival's in-house lawyers.
It's a statement designed to try and send a signal to the trier of fact. Carnival is trying to sway the trier of fact to believe that the Triumph cruise passengers are just a greedy bunch of people who are not to be believed and are just looking for a pay out.
What Carnival doesn't say, however, is that the cruise line made a business decision last year not to pay a dime to any passengers who elected to file suit. Carnival was clearly negligent. Any other cruise line would have resolved this type of case on a reasonable basis long ago. But not Carnival. It would rather pay its defense lawyers a few million dollars to try and squash the Triumph passengers who decided to seek compensation.
Remember that Carnival Cruise Line's parent company is Carnival Corporation. This is the same company which owns the Costa Concordia which capsized with over 4,000 passengers and crew on board, killing 32 souls. The passengers on the Concordia lost not only their vacations but all of their clothing, cameras, iPhones, and computers which they brought on board. They lost any jewelry or cash in the cabin safes. They were terrorized as the cruise ship tilted over and the coward captain abandoned ship.
Carnival offered the passengers 11,000 euros on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. If that seems like a pittance to you, you're right. But remember that Carnival didn't offer the crew member anything.
To add salt into the wound, at the end of the year, Carnival Chairman Micky Arison (already worth close to $6,000,000,000) paid himself a $90,000,000 bonus.
In the same year, the CEO of the Carnival owned Costa cruise line, Pier Luigi Foschi, received $3,970.000 and later received a bonus of $1,700,000 when he retired. He also reportedly has shares of cruise stock worth $4,700,000.
This is the way it works with the Carnival brands. They have tens of millions in salary and bonuses to reward their CEO's even when their ships catch fire or sink. They have millions and millions to spend on defending lawsuits. But for the nice people who boarded the dangerously neglected and unseaworthy Triumph cruise ship last year, Carnival doesn't have a penny. It has only disdain.
The U.S. Coast Guard reports that it medevaced a 66-year-old passenger from a Carnival cruise ship yesterday when the ship was approximately 180 miles southwest of Marco Island, Florida.
The Carnival Paradise contacted the Coast Guard around 2:00 PM yesterday regarding a male passenger who was suffering from an undisclosed medical illness while the cruise ship was sailing to Tampa.
A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was dispatched from the Coast Guard's station in Clearwater.
FOX News reports that when the Coast Guard helicopter crew arrived at the cruise ship, the aircrew lowered their rescue swimmer, hoisted the ill cruise passenger and transported him to Tampa General Hospital for medical care.
WPTV West Palm Beach aired an interesting program last night indicating that the cruise industry reports only a small percentage of crimes committed on cruise ships.
Last year the cruise lines reported only 78 crimes on cruise ships. However, pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the news station located reports of more than 300 crimes on just cruise ships leaving from Florida ports.
In 2013, the cruise lines disclosed only 14 thefts from cruise ships. However, WPTV's Dan Krauth stated that a FOIA request uncovered 75 thefts on cruise ship on Florida-based cruise ships alone. Under current U.S. law, cruise lines have to report only thefts involving property worth $10,000 or more. So if $9,999 of a passenger's stuff is stolen, the cruise lines keep it secret.
Jewelry, computers, money and other valuables were stolen essentially on every single cruise leaving Florida last year but only a tiny fraction of the thefts were reported by the cruise lines to the police.
The cruise industry conceals the vast majority of physical assaults, sexual assaults and thefts which happen during cruising. It also touts crime statistics based on the incomplete database, creating a false and misleading impression of what really happens on the high seas.
WPTV interviewed me during the program. The news station also cited a publication by our firm's former law clerk, Caitlin Burke, explaining that cruise ships evade U.S. law by incorporating in foreign countries and registering their cruise ships in places like the Bahamas. “Flags of convenience” date all the way back to the 1920s, according to Caitlin E. Burke, an advocate for cruise victims. “Flagging a ship under a foreign flag for the convenience of the cruise line is nothing new, nor is it rare,” Burke wrote in A Qualitative Study of Victimization and Legal Issues Relevant to Cruise Ships.
In the last nine months, four children age 6 or younger have drowned or nearly drowned on cruise ships.
A 4 year child remains brain damaged after he nearly drowned on a Disney cruise ship, the Fantasy. A 6 year old child is dead after drowning on a Carnival cruise ship, the Victory. A 4 year old is dead and his 6 year old brother is seriously injured after similar tragedies on NCL's Norwegian Breakaway.
Cruise passenger Joe Boris, age 39, witnessed the NCL tragedies. He is motivated to convince the cruise industry to provide greater protection to children.
WTSB quotes Mr. Boris saying: "How can this happen? Why was there no lifeguard on board?" Boris said. "These cruise ships are money-making cash cows and to (make you) pay $11 for one drink. There's no reason why they can't supply a lifeguard at the pools."
"They boast on how this is a $900 million vessel holding almost 4,100 passengers, 1,600 crew members and they always say safety is of course their number one priority.
"I honestly have to say to them, shame on you," Boris said. "Shame on you because there's no reason you cannot have or you shouldn't have a lifeguard present on board those ships."
There is absolutely no excuse for a cruise line, which pays absolutely no U.S. income taxes, not to invest in lifeguards. a dime from every passenger would more than pay for the lifeguards. Here are some of our recent articles:
After the Costa Concordia capsized, travel agents began telling their clients that such incidents were "rare" and that cruising was "absolutely safe." Some travel agents went as far as to claim that the last time a cruise ship sank was over a 100 years ago when the Titanic struck an iceberg.
Of course this was false. But the travel agents were repeating the talking points issued by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). This was part of a campaign by CLIA to assure the public that cruising was safe and sound. You can read about the false and misleading campaign by the cruise industry here: Six Lies The Cruise Lines Will Tell You After The Costa Concordia Crash.
It seems like the cruise industry is now back at work spreading falsehoods again.
Following the vicious rape, beating and attempted murder of the 31 year old passenger aboard the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam, HAL's president Stein Kruse released a statement claiming that "no incident like this has occurred in our company's 140-year history."
Of course this is false too. Just last month a 18 year old girl was raped by an officer on the Amsterdam cruise ship, according to an article written by another lawyer here in Miami who represents victims of sexual assault on cruise ships.
The official Coast Guard portal also reveals that there recently have been reported rapes of women on HAL cruise ships, including assaults committed by crew members.
The sexual assault of women and children is a problem which the cruise industry avoids discussing. When pressed to mention the issue, the cruise lines always say that sexual assaults are "rare."
But the cruise lines will never acknowledge the true numbers. In its press releases, the cruise industry invariably fudges the numbers. The cruise lines were successful in altering the language of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act such that only those cruise ship crimes reported to and closed by the FBI needed to be disclosed to the public. The problem was that not all cruise ship crimes are reported to the FBI and the FBI keeps most files open.
If the 31 year old woman recently victimized on the Nieuw Amsterdam had not fought her attacker off, and she disappeared during the cruise, what would HAL be saying about her now? Would it accuse her of committing suicide? Would the violent crime become just a "mystery?" A cruise line capable of a whopper like there-has-been-no-woman-attacked-for-140-years is capable of saying anything.
"Another week and another negative story hits the consumer media in regards to cruising. The latest issue involved a crewmember who is accused of raping and beating a passenger on board a Holland America Line charter.
It’s another challenge for the cruise lines, but an even bigger one for the travel agents who are on the front lines.
* * * *
Despite what you might see or hear in the consumer media, travelers should seek out the insights and advice of a professional travel agent. They’ll get the true story, and the real numbers, when it comes to that particular story." (Emphasis added)
So what is the "truth" that the cruise lines and travel agents want us to believe in order to buy cruises from them?
What is the "true story" about the HAL crew member who was, as the travel publication puts it, "accused" of "raping and beating" the passenger? He has already confessed to raping as well as beating, choking and attempting to murder the poor woman who he tried to throw into the sea.
And what are the "real numbers?" Do the travel agents really want us to believe that the last time a ship sank before the Concordia was the Titanic in 1912? And there had never been a prior rape of a passenger by a crew member on a HAL cruise ship for 140 years dating back to 1874?
A travel agent that repeats the tall tales and skewed crime statistics of the cruise lines to their clients, tells them to ignore the media stories (like CNN), and represents that cruising is absolutely safe has a good chance of being sued for fraud if their clients are victimized.
Photo Credit: Nieuw Amsterdam Wikipedia / Cybergoth
KTAS - ABC television reports on an undergraduate from Texas who was assaulted while ashore in the Bahamas during a Carnival cruise.
The young woman states that she wanted to smoke marijuana during her stop over in Freeport, but she was assaulted while in port.
The story was previously reported by WKMG.
The Bahamas is one country where crimes in general and sexual assaults in particular pose a substantial danger to cruise ship passengers. We have written many times about crimes in the ports of call in the Caribbean. But a cruise passenger invites trouble trying to buy pot while ashore.
The television discusses that the murder rates in many of the countries in the Caribbean where the cruise lines sail have a serious problem with crime. For example, the murder rate in St. Thomas is 10 times higher than the U.S. and the murder rate in Honduras is 20 times higher.
Inside Edition aired a video this week about a 28 year old woman who alleges that two crew members raped her during a Carnival cruise aboard the Victory last year.
The young woman told Inside Edition that Carnival served her a lot of alcohol and she has no recollection of how she ended up in the crew quarters. She indicates that once in the crew members' cabin, the two Carnival employees held her down and raped her repeatedly. She feared that the men were going to throw her overboard.
As is the situation with most alleged crimes on the high seas, the FBI declined to prosecute. Our experience with the FBI is that federal agents (unlike state prosecutors) typically decline to pursue a prosecution whenever alcohol is involved. The irony, of course, is that Carnival makes hundreds of millions of dollars in alcohol sales each year. Alcohol is often involved in rape crimes on cruise ships.
Inside Edition later sent an undercover video crew aboard another Carnival cruise ship, the Fascination, to determine whether Carnival employees were fraternizing with the female passengers. Such conduct is supposedly prohibited by Carnival's policies, but things are often quite different on the high seas than what is written in the rule books.
During a four day cruise to the Bahamas, two uniformed officers were reportedly observed cruising in the ship’s main bar. They even flirted with one of the Inside Edition employees and asking her to try their alcoholic drinks.
The Inside Edition crew later saw the two officers with their white uniforms in the ship's disco. The officers reportedly were dirty dancing with 20-year-old twins, making out with the passengers, and standing by the girls' cabins in the passenger area.
Carnival responded to the expose by stating “the safety of our guests and crew is our foremost priority."
The program disclosed that there have been more than 150 reported allegations of rape and sexual assault aboard cruise ships that visit U.S. ports since 2010.
Tonight at 11:00 P.M. WKMG-TV 6 (CBS Orlando) will air a special report on crimes which occur during cruises, including ports of call.
Investigative producer Lauren Sweeney and investigative reporter Tony Pipitone take a look at dangers ashore in countries like the Bahamas where cruise passengers have recently been robbed at gunpoint and sexually assaulted.
If you are a victim of crime in a place like Nassau, unfortunately neither the local police or the cruise line will do much at all.
Last year this WKMG investigative team aired the disturbing story of a 33 year old waiter on a Disney cruise who molested an 11 year old girl. Rather than report the crime immediately to the FBI, local police in Port Canaveral, or the sheriff's office, the cruise line sailed the ship out of the U.S. port to Nassau where the police there did nothing. Disney then flew the pedophile crew member back home to India.
Photo Credit: WKMG TV-6 (CBS Orlando)
The video below is a three minute introduction of the special tonight.
Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates in the world.
The newspaper quoted the president of the Nueva Esparta Chamber of Tourism, stating:
"This was expected to happen, because security has a direct effect on tourism; hence we insist on saying that time has come to go from words to action. Not only we need police, but the fact of the matter is creating wellbeing in the region in order to minimize crime; there is the need to combat impunity with all the strength we have."
In many ways, there are other countries in the Caribbean which are exactly in this Venezuelan island's precarious situation. I was interviewed by the Nassau Guardian last month about the high crime and murder rates in Nassau and the threat presented to cruise passengers. I said that Nassau was "one gunshot away" from losing its cruise ship business. I expect Carnival to up and leave if and when a Carnival passenger is shot.
In Margarita Island, which is in the Caribbean, this turned out to be the case.
The Aida Luna is owned by Carnival Corporation and operated by AIDA Cruises.
I suspect other islands in the Caribbean are holding their breath, afraid that a cruise tourist will become a murder statistic.
The video shows images of 15 cruise passengers who were victimized during cruises.
Although cruising appears to be a "hassle-free" vacation, there are crimes which occur. The number one crime is sexual assault, with over 30% of such crimes involving minors.
One of the problems with crimes on cruise ships is that there is no independent police force. The security personnel are employees of the cruise line. There is a conflict of interest which occurs when a passenger is victimized, particularly when the assailant is a crew member.
Interviewed during the program are Jamie Barnett, the President of the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization, and Laurie Dishman who was sexually assaulted during a Royal Caribbean cruise to Mexico.
We have been notified that there was a fire which affected a "few cabins" this afternoon on the Carnival Valor, which is currently docked at port in St. Thomas U.S.V.I.
A person on the cruise ship informed us that the cruise ship was supposed to depart St. Thomas at 5:00 P.M. but the captain of the ship announced that the departure was delayed due to the fire which apparently (reportedly) went from one cabin to another. The cause and type of fire has not been explained to us.
The ship reportedly will sail later tonight.
We are awaiting confirmation and an explanation from Carnival which we contacted upon receipt of the information.
Update: Here's the statement which we received today from Carnival at 6:21 P.M.:
CARNIVAL VALOR STATEMENT
February 10, 2014 - 5:15 pm EDT
Earlier today while the Carnival Valor was docked in St. Thomas, a small fire was detected in one stateroom located on deck 8. The ship’s automatic sprinkler system activated and quickly extinguished the fire. All of the ship’s hotel and safety systems continued to function as normal.
Although there was smoke in the area, there were no injuries to guests or crew. Other than the one affected cabin, all other cabins in the area are undamaged.
The ship, which departed on a seven-day cruise from San Juan yesterday, is scheduled to sail from St. Thomas later this evening and arrive in Barbados on Wednesday.
Carnival Valor operates year-round seven-day southern Caribbean cruises from San Juan.
Yesterday a cruise passenger was murdered while ashore in Venezuela's Margarita island.
The international press reports that "a gunman shot dead an elderly German tourist on Venezuela's Margarita island," in the latest incident "illustrating the country's rampant crime."
Reuters identified the dead man as Goldhahm Hors Kurt, age 76, from Germany.
A German cruise blog explains that the cruise tourist had gone ashore on an excursion from the Carnival owned Aida Luna cruise ship. The crime occurred at a tourist shop in a shopping center.
The El Universal newspaper says that two armed robbers on a motorcycle tried to rob the tourists. A struggle ensued and Mr. Kurt was shot and killed.
Venezuela's murder rate is one of the highest in the world, and reflects a trend we have observed of substantially higher crime against tourists in the Caribbean region. Last month a former Venezuelan beauty queen and soap opera star Monica Spear was shot and killed when she returned to her homeland.
The Venezuela Tourism Minister tweeted (@IzarraDeVerdad) his condolences and said that authorities were pursuing the criminals. However, newspapers state that over 90% of murders in Venezuela remain unsolved.
The Aida Luna is a Sphinx class cruise ship, owned by Carnival Corporation and operated by AIDA Cruises.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Frank Schwichtenberg / GNU Free Documentation License
News sources are reporting that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a woman from a Carnival cruise ship in the Atlantic Ocean off Toms River, New Jersey yesterday.
The Coast Guard in Philadelphia was notified by the Carnival Splendor that an 84-year-old Canadian woman fell, and sustained injury to her hip, and needed emergency medical treatment.
A Coast Guard helicopter flew from Atlantic City and medevaced the injured woman from the cruise ship to Atlantic City.
Carnival released the following statement to Cruise Law News:
"On Wednesday night a female guest on the Carnival Splendor in need of immediate medical attention was airlifted by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter shortly after the vessel departed New York on an eight-day cruise. The guest was taken to a shoreside medical facility for further treatment.
Carnival Splendor is sailing on an eight-day cruise that departed New York on Feb. 5 and is scheduled to return on Feb. 13."
Marine Traffic AIS shows the following tracking for the Splendor:
Photo Credit: Wikipedia - top; Marine Traffic - bottom
The Tampa Tribune reports that the Coast Guard medevaced an ill passenger via helicopter from a Carnival cruise ship today.
The Coast Guard in Miami sent a helicopter to medically evacuate a 27-year-old man from the Carnival Fantasy after he began experiencing severe abdominal pain.
The cruise ship was reportedly more than 80 miles northeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida. The helicopter hoisted the sick passenger and a cruise ship nurse off the cruise ship and then transported the ill man to Cape Canaveral Hospital in Cocoa Beach around noon today.
The cruise ship was heading back to Charleston, South Carolina.
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.
Carnival told a television station last evening that after an "electrical breaker failed," the Triumph cruise ship lost power. This "affected ventilation in the ship's incinerator, sending smoke into limited areas of three decks."
Well, that's not what the Cruise Director told the passengers last evening on the ship.
According to a passenger, the Cruise Director said that "frazzled wires" caused the smoke. This was broadcast over the intercom throughout the ship. The smoke from the electrical fire entered the ventilation system.
Here's what the Cruise Director said in the video below:
"I'm telling you the truth right here. So folks, if there is a bit of smoke anywhere near you, head on up to the open decks. Just a couple of wires have been kind of frazzled. So big apologies about that. Once again, absolutely folks nothing to worry about at all. We're getting the power restarted as soon as possible and we will be off and on our way. Thank you very much everybody."
Yesterday a television station in Louisiana reported that the infamous "poop cruise" ship Triumph suffered a power story.
Carnival told KATC that the power outage was extremely brief - "8 minutes."
Because it was Friday evening, no major news stations covered the story. We published a short article and reported the Carnival quote that the outage was allegedly just "8 minutes." I placed quotes around eight minutes because it sounded bogus to me.
I thought that as soon as the passengers got off the Triumph, we would hear a different story that what Carnival was saying.
All of the popular cruise bloggers, who are essentially cheerleaders for the cruise lines, repeated the Carnival quote - "8 minutes." The bloggers took the Carnival PR statement hook, line and sinker. They "reported" on the brief power loss as no big deal.
This morning, passengers are beginning to leave comments on our article. The first person said the power was out for almost one hour. The second person said there was considerable confusion with the crew telling them to put on their life jackets and go to the muster station while other crew members told them to take their life vests off and report to the Lido deck. A third person said that the outage was 1 to 2 hours and there was substantial confusion. A fourth person said the power was out for one hour but the crew handled the situation well.
Another person said there was burnt and frazzled wiring which caused the smoke. Carnival said yesterday that it was just some smoke from an incinerator.
The cruise lines' problems with their image and reputation have more to do with how they act and what they say after a problem like this than the problem itself. Being dishonest about a loss of power on the high seas is a serious breach of the public's trust.
If the cruise line is lying about the length of the power outage the question arises whether it is lying about the cause of the power loss too?
If you were on the cruise, does anyone believe that the power was for just eight minutes? How long was it?
KATC reports that the infamous "poop" cruise ship, the Triumph, lost power today as the Carnival cruise ship was sailing from Cozumel, Mexico back to Galveston, Texas.
According to KATC, Carnival says that the Triumph lost power "for eight minutes" after an electrical breaker failed. Carnival says the loss of power "affected ventilation in the ship's incinerator, sending smoke into limited areas of three decks."
Everyone will remember the Triumph which floated around in the Gulf of Mexico last year after an engine room fire knocked out power to the ship. Whatever happens with this infamous cruise ship will forever be closely monitored. Carnival denies that a fire broke out on the ship and denies that a fire caused the electrical outage. We have heard these denials before, like this case and this one too.
Carnival notified the U.S. Coast Guard of the incident.
KATV reports that passengers are still on the deck waiting for the smoke to clear.
Whether a fire broke out or not, what caused the breaker to fail?
If you are on the cruise, we'd like to hear the passenger's view of what happened. Was the power out for just "8 minutes?"
Two and a half days ago, a cruise passenger on the Carnival Magic emailed us and told us that: (1) the ship was delayed returning to Galveston by fog (2) a fire had apparently broken out on deck 11 causing smoke and ending up with the hallways drenched with water, and (3) a Coast Guard helicopter medevaced an ill passenger from the cruise ship.
The email from the Carnival passenger came to me early Sunday morning shortly after 7:30 AM as the ship waited for the flog to lift and I waited for my first cup of coffee. We emailed Carnival for confirming information, and then published our article around 1:00 P.M. We included Carnival's comments that a fire allegedly didn't break out and that the smoke was caused, as Carnival says, by an "overheated electrical component." Carnival also confirmed the Coast Guard helicopter medevac.
Today, two days after we published our article, Cruise Critic published an article entitled: Smoke Scare Onboard Carnival Cruise Ship. The Cruise Critic article discussed the smoke versus fire issue and mentioned that a cruise passenger was medevaced Saturday afternoon and fog caused a delay in the ship getting back to Galveston.
The Cruise Critic article relied on information we released (and spun the story in favor of Carnival) without any credit for the story to us.
It is the norm in reporting and the world of social media to acknowledge sources of information. For example, when the Daily Mail in the U.K. (one of the most widely-read internet newspapers in the world) writes a cruise story which we break, it will cite us and link to us. You may think that the Daily Mail is sensational, but linking to sources is what reputable, professionals do. For example, read this Daily Mail article based on information in our blog which we broke after a cruise passenger emailed us.
One thing that we take seriously here at Cruise Law News is being 100% accurate and transparent in crediting the right people and organizations responsible for breaking news stories. None of our stories ever go out without a credit. It does not matter if it's our rival law firms. If someone had a big verdict against a Miami-based cruise line, we report it. We name the lawyer and include a photograph. No other law firm does that.
If Cruise Critic, USA Today's CruiseLog, Cruise Currents, CruiseMates or who-know-who breaks a story, we will of course name them and provide a link to their site.
Many people criticize us for writing about negative cruise stories and having a vendetta against Carnival and Royal Caribbean. You may not like our opinions. Readers should take our articles with a grain of salt. After all, our motto here is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know." We are often on television, cable news, radio and in newspapers sending our view of cruising out into the stratosphere. We know it is irritating to the hard core cruise fans.
You can disagree and criticize us for our opinions, but you cannot ever fault us for being anything other than honest in crediting the sources of our stories.
Cruise Critic, on the other hand, is not transparent. It takes credit for other's information. It can be a shill all it wants. But it should not take credit when it is not due.
I suppose, from that perspective, it is the perfect publication to cover the far-from-transparent cruise industry.
The Bali Discovery reports on the sad case of a young man who died at sea.
The 21-year-old Balinese man was working as a crew member on the Carnival Splendor anddied shortly after joining the cruise ship.
Wayan Barsiana died on December 23, 2013 after joining the cruise ship on December 6, 2013.
The young man’s body was returned to his family in Bali three weeks later on January 13, 2014, after undergoing a post mortem examination.
The Bali Discovery states that:
"The young man was said to be diligent in calling or texting his family and girlfriend on a daily basis, contact that suddenly stopped on December 21, 2013, when he told his family he had developed a cough. Two days later on December 23, 2104 a manager from Carnival Cruise Lines telephoned the mother to advise her son had died in his crew cabin."
The family reportedly received no further details regarding their son’s death. Wayan Barisana’s body was buried in his home village shortly after it was shipped back to Bali.
On Twitter today, a travel agent bemoaned that a video entitled "Cruise Ship Nightmares" was airing. What particularly perturbed the travel agent was the fact that the CNN video first aired last summer and was recirculating as fresh news.
This particular video was well produced and quite provocative. Images of burned cruise ships and passengers sleeping out on mattresses on the decks, with the caption "Keeping Secrets on the High Seas - Crashes, Fires, Stalls Plague Secretive Cruise Industry."
I remember this video well. I was interviewed in it.
I had an opportunity to talk about a number of issues which the cruise lines and many travel agents don't want the public to know. Like the fact that Miami-based cruise lines, such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean, are incorporated in places like Panama and Liberia and register their ship in other foreign countries like the Bahamas to avoid all U.S. taxes, labor, wage and safety laws.
So when a fire breaks out or a rape occurs on these cruise ships flying the flag of the Bahamas, it's this little island which is incapable of keeping its own citizens safe that is responsible for investigating what occurs on cruise ships full of U.S. citizens.
It would be a joke if it was not so disgraceful.
My favorite CNN video involved Silversea Cruises caught hiding trolleys of perishable food down in the crew quarters in an effort to bamboozle sanitation inspectors for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Crew members complained to us about this nasty practice. We told them to notify the CDC about the cruise line scheme. We involved CNN after the haughty cruise line refused to communicate with us. The CNN video told the story beautifully.
CNN's video of the Carnival Triumph disaster revealed that Carnival knew that there were major problems with not maintaining the ship's engines and fuel lines but the cruise line intentionally sailed when the cruise ship was unseaworthy.
You can complain all you want that CNN covered the Carnival "poop cruise" 24 hours a day, it seemed. But the coverage was thorough and the specials are excellent. People love to watch them. That's why CNN plays them over and over.
So the next time that a ship catches on fire, or become disabled, you can bet that CNN will be covering the story.
This morning at 7:39 AM, I received the following information from a passenger on the Carnival Magic returning to port in Galveston:
"We sit outside the harbor in the fog this morning. Last night the coast guard had to airlift a passenger for medical reasons and yesterday morning we had a fire. Deck 11 forward. The crew says it was not a fire but hot electrical. Smoke was coming down to other decks, there is water and wet floors up there so they can call it what they want . . . Pic of the chopper attached."
We are also told Carnival had fans and machines out on deck 11 and there was standing water in the halls. One passenger said "it might have just been a hot circuit but they sure used a lot of water, which made no sense on electrical."
Passengers are now disembarking from the cruise ship.
Does anyone on this cruise have information, photos or video to share?
"On Saturday morning aboard the Carnival Magic, there was a smell of smoke reported along a guest corridor. The issue was identified as an overheated electrical component within an air conditioning vent located within a guest stateroom. There was no fire. The issue has since been fixed. Guests were kept apprised of the situation with announcements over the ship’s public address system and shipboard staff were positioned in the area where the smoke was reported to advise guests and answer any questions.
Additionally, on Saturday afternoon, the ship rendezvoused with a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter to airlift a guest in need of immediate medical attention. The guest was taken to a shoreside medical facility for further treatment.
Carnival Magic was on a seven-day cruise to the Caribbean that returned to its home port of Galveston earlier this morning."
Last night, ABC 20/20 aired a program about the controversy surrounding the cruise industry's refusal to install automatic man overboard systems.
There is no question that the systems exist and can be installed. However, the cruise industry refuses to do so. (Disney says that its cruise ships have the technology). But it's clear that Carnival and its brands (HAL, Princess for example) don't.
The cruise industry has endless excuses why it has still not complied with the law enacted 4 years ago. It says that a bird or debris in the air can set the alarms off. The lawyer for the cruise lines in the 20/20 program says that the cruise lines have not "perfected" an automatic system yet. But there is no requirement for a "perfect" system. As matters exist now, the cruise lines have no system at all, in violation of the law.
The cruise lines' approach is to attack the victims. The cruise defense lawyer attacks the dead and injured saying: “I call it 'sail and sue.' We deal with it all the time.” You can read my response here.
I will admit that many people I have spoken to don't seem to care much about the fact that Carnival has no automatic system in place. Most blame the passenger for being intoxicated and are quick to insult her. That's what Carnival and the other non-compliant cruise lines are counting on.
It's a rather amazing phenomenon to see a non-tax paying foreign corporation which collects over $15 billion a year, from tax-paying U.S. citizens, and makes hundreds of millions of dollars pushing alcohol sales, blatantly ignore the law requiring overboard systems, and then shift 100% of the blame on to the passenger who got drunk on the Carnival booze.
Tonight ABC's 20/20 will take a look at the case of a cruise passenger who fell from her balcony, struck a lifeboat below her, and then plunged into the water.
Although her fall was captured on the cruise ship's surveillance cameras, the ship sailed on. That's because Carnival did not have an automatic man overboard system in place to notify the bridge that a person went overboard.
The camera which recorded the passenger going overboard was not monitored by a cruise ship employee, nor was it tied to an alarm system of any type.
It took an hour and one-half for the cruise line to figure out what happened and turn around and rescue the young woman. The fact that she was still alive is a miracle.
I do not represent this woman although I was interviewed during the program, which you can see a portion of from this morning's Good Morning America program.
Some people may say that it was the woman's fault for drinking too much and she's to blame for falling overboard. A jury can apportion fault to both the passenger and the cruise line. Cruise lines in our jurisdiction have legal liability when they over-serve alcohol to passengers. Selling booze is a major money maker for cruise lines. Cruise lines don't make money selling cruise tickets. The big money comes from "onboard purchases," like excursions, gift shop purchases, casino gambling and, number one profit center, pushing alcohol sales.
But the story is not just about who's to blame for the alcohol and the fall overboard.
In 2010, Congress passed a law requiring that cruise lines install man overboard technology. The cruise lines have come up with a boat load of excuses why they have not complied with the law, like the technology doesn't exist, or it's inaccurate and unreliable, or its just too expensive.
But there is no question the technology exists. My belief is that the cruise lines simply don't want to spend the money.
The systems are required irrespective of why a person goes overboard. If they are drunk, or acting irresponsibly, or they fall by accident, or they want to commit suicide, or they are thrown overboard, it doesn't matter. The cruise lines must have the systems in place.
The vast majority of cruise ships don't.
They would rather keep the money and accuse the passengers of being drunk on the alcohol the cruise ship sold.
Delays in promptly reporting overboard passengers to the U.S. Coast Guard causes the rescue to encompass massive areas of the ocean. This costs the Coast Guard a lot of money, sometimes $1,000,000 in unnecessary costs for helicopters, aircraft and cutters. Who pays for that? Not the cruise lines. They don't even pay any U.S. taxes. U.S. taxpayers do!
Although Princess did not notify the Coast Guard until approximately two hours after the crew member went overboard, it was quick to tell the press that the crew member intentionally jumped. "Not our fault" seems to be the attitude. Put the "suicide" label on the case and forget about it, seems to be the cruise line's usual response.
Putting the issue of legal blame aside for the moment, could the crew member's death have been avoided? Are there systems in place to provide counseling for crew members under stress?
Over the last year I have written about cruise lines overworking and underpaying their shipboard employees. I have discussed Princess working their employees to the bone. I've discussed the policies of parent company Carnival reducing pay, diverting the crew member's tips, suspending their retirement programs, and firing employees when they protest. There is only so much that anyone can take, working every single day far away from their families during a 8 month contract.
Is there a correlation between this more difficult work environment and an increased sense of hopelessness of the crew members who the cruise lines easily replace when they crack and jump?
When a cruise line quickly explains that a crew member intentionally went overboard, it's not really an explanation. It seems to raise more questions than provide answers.
In response to our article about the Princess crew member lost at sea, I received this message from a reader:
"I was on the prior cruise to Hawaii for Christmas and New Years. This was my wife and my 7th cruise. But to me, this was an unhappy ship. The employees were not happy, and many passengers were also not happy. The workers had a palpable fear of their bosses. They were afraid to allow anyone to make a decision without consult from their supervisor. I mean, things like, I want a different table. The host would feel the need to ask their supervisor.
To me, this is not a surprise. I feel it is the industry's dirty little secret. The wage scale and treatment of replaceable employees. This will be my family's last cruise."
The Courier Mail newspaper reports today on a case involving the death of a 72 year old passenger aboard the Sun Princess cruise ship. The circumstances surrounding the passenger's medical treatment on the ship have led the Attorney General of Queensland to order an inquest into the death.
Australian cruise passenger Betty Virgo was sailing on the Princess cruise ship from Brisbane to New Zealand in November 2012 on a two week cruise.
Ms. Virgo became ill at dinner on the fifth day of the cruise while the cruise ship was in port in Napier.
Ms. Virgo's daughter, Gayle, was sailing with her.
Her daughter observed that although all four medical bay beds were empty, the ship's medical staff refused her requests to keep her mother there under observation that night.
The following morning Ms. Virgo's condition continued to deteriorate.
Gayle remained with her mother throughout the day in their cabin, leaving only briefly to eat because she is diabetic. When Gayle returned to the cabin, her mother was gasping for breath. Ms. Virgo was taken by stretcher to the medical center that evening and died soon afterwards as the ship sailed.
The ship doctors diagnosed "angina" as the cause of death. Gayle disputes the diagnosis.
When Ms. Virgo's body was returned several days later, it had been embalmed without a post mortem examination being conducted or Gayle being consulted.
To add insult to injury, Carnival Australia, which owns the Sun Princess, offered Gayle a credit of $1,100 towards another cruise.
Carnival denies that its medical staff neglected Ms. Virgo or provided bad medical care.
We will report on the medical inquest when it become public.
Bad medical care and a lack of responsibility of the cruise lines are issues which we discuss often here on Cruise Law News. A case involving issues of medical malpractice and a cruise ship doctor evading jurisdiction made our list of the top ten most outrageous cruise ship stories last month.
November 11, 2014 Update: Breaking News! Cruise passengers are now permitted to sue the cruise lines for medical negligence. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that cruise lines are no longer permitted to assert an "immunity defense" when their ship doctors and nurses commit medical malpractice. Read: 11th Circuit Rejects Cruise Lines' Immunity Defense to Medical Malpractice Claims. Contact us for further information.
Photo Credit: Adam Head / News Limited via Courier Mail
Today the cruise line responded to my interview. A representative of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) was interviewed in an article "Passenger perception is the key for cruise lines." Her opinions were interesting. She said that its not the crime, but the passengers' perception of whether Nassau is dangerous, which is important. I suppose that raises the issue of whether the cruise lines and travel agents are warning passengers before they buy their cruises, which doesn't seem to be the case.
As matters now stand, most travel agents don't warn passengers about Nassau. When challenged on social media whether they issue warnings to their clients about armed robbery in Nassau (which the U.S. Department of State warns about), most travel agents didn't want to talk about it.
Carnival warns passengers before they cruise into Nassau. The FCCA representative disputes the term "warning." She said that the advisories are "merely information the cruise lines are obligated to provide."
So we are left with the reality versus perception game. Expect a renewed effort in the media from the Bahamas tourism officials to convince the U.S. public that cruising to Nassau remains safe, irrespective of the actual crime rate.
Its been nearly two years since the Concordia recklessly crashed into the rocks surrounding the little port of Giglio, killing 32 passengers and crew and terrorizing thousands.
The officers of the operator of the cruise line, Costa, and the owners of the owner, Carnival corporation, quickly dumped 100% of the blame on the now disgraced captain, Francesco Schettino, who remains on trial for manslaughter and abandoning ship.
Although salvors have up-righted the cruise ship during the highly published "parbuckling" maneuver at a cost of nearly one billion dollars, the ship is still sitting in the water at the port.
The big news this week has been Carnival's announcement yesterday that the former CEO of Costa Cruises is retiring.
Pier Luigi Foschi was CEO at Costa Cruises at the time of the disaster. Many people believe that Foschi and other senior Costa officials knew that their captains were altering the cruise routes and performing dangerous "flybys" but diverted attention from themselves by foisting all of the attention and blame on Captain Schettino.
Carnival announced yesterday Foschi is retiring from the Carnival organization after 16 years. He had retired from Costa in the summer of 2012, six months after the Concordia capsized. Carnival Corporation then named him as the CEO of the Carnival-Asia operations.
The Miami Herald says that Foschi is receiving a bonus of 1,250,000 euros ($1.7 million) as part of a separation agreement.
According to the Independent newspaper, Foschi was paid $3,970,000 in 2012, for the one year period after the Concordia debacle. He also reportedly has shares worth $4,700,000.
Carnival Chairman Micky Arison praised Foschi yesterday for his contribution to Carnival's business.
Meanwhile, those Concordia passengers who did not accept Costa's settlement offer of 11,000 euros are continuing to pursue lawsuits against Costa and Carnival. The Costa crew members affected by the Concordia disaster were essentially left out in the cold and were lucky if they ended up on another Costa ship.
Its a telling list of financial priorities. A billion dollars to salvage the Costa ship, millions of dollars for the Costa CEO, peanuts for the Costa passengers, and nothing for the Costa crew members.
Cruise fan sites rushed to Carnival's defense following the CNN special on the Triumph fire.
CNN cited maintenance records and advisory notices showing one of the generators on the cruise ship was poorly maintained and lacked the recommended spray guards to prevent ruptured fuel lines from igniting. The documents revealed a ship not in compliance with the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) recommendations from the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
But cruise fan sites, primarily Cruise Critic and the increasingly popular Cruise Currents (formerly Mikey's Blog), cited documents which Carnival leaked to the press suggesting that the cruise line was in compliance with SOLAS.
You can see documents provided to cruise-friendly Cruise Currents here.
Cruise Critic quoted Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen saying that the U.S. Coast Guard inspected the Carnival Triumph days before the February 7th sailing and allegedly found it to be in compliance with all SOLAS requirements.
"The ship would not be allowed to sail if it were not in compliance with SOLAS requirements," Gulliksen said.
But this is where Carnival's argument falls apart.
The Coast Guard also inspected the Carnival Splendor a few days before it caught fire in November 2010. Remember a U.S. aircraft carrier had to sail to the scene and drop food from helicopters to the stranded passengers? The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard spent millions attending to the sticken ship before it was towed back to the U.S.
Does the fact that the Coast Guard inspected the Splendor and permitted it to sail mean that the cruise ship was seaworthy and in compliance with SOLAS? Hardly. The Coast Guard investigated the Splendor and prepared a scathing report of its many SOLAS violations and deficiencies.
One of the Carnival ship's large diesel engines sustained a catastrophic failure with the rods and pistons cracking and exploding out of the engine which permitted lube oil and fuel oil to ignite. The post-fire investigation conducted by the Coast Guard revealed that the pistons sustained long term metal fatigue which was not checked due to an absence of appropriate maintenance and record keeping by Carnival. Other parts of the engine showed severe, advanced corrosion reflective of an absence of regular inspection and maintenance.
Although the Coast Guard was critical of Carnival's neglect in inspecting and maintaining the engine which failed, it should be pointed out that the Coast Guard conducted an annual Control Verification Exam on November 7, 2010 and passed the vessel. What an embarrassment for the Coast Guard to have inspected the cruise ship right before the fire and permitted it to sail with passengers.
The root of the problems with the Splendor and the Triumph is that the inspections conducted by the flag and port states of these poorly maintained ships were inadequate.
The port state (where the ship is registered, like Panama or the Bahamas) is indifferent and incompetent. The reason why foreign corporations like Carnival flag their ships like the Triumph in places like the Bahamas is that it knows that the Bahamas will leave it alone. The business model of the Carnival's of the world is to avoid all U.S.taxes, wage and labor laws, and health and safety laws. A poop cruise is the result.
Yes, the U.S. Coast Guard conducts inspections sometimes when the cruise ships are in U.S. ports, but these "port state" inspections are hardly vigorous. The Coast Guard is facing a budgetary crisis and is grossly under-funded. They need a small army to perform a thorough inspection during the short time a single cruise ship is in a U.S. port. There are sometimes nearly a dozen ships in port over a weekend. The ships are huge of course. Coast Guard inspections are skimpy and are at the opposite end of the spectrum compared to the rigorous Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspections.
The cruise industry is extremely wealthy, but the cruise lines don't pay U.S. income taxes. There is simply not enough money in the U.S. budget to hire a sufficient number of Coast Guard inspectors to check on the every-increasingly large fleet of cruise ships.
As matters now stand, the U.S. spends many millions for Coast Guard and Navy services when the foreign-flagged cruise ships break down due to a lack of maintenance.
The coverage of the fire-stricken Triumph was brutal earlier this year. CNN aired the disgusting story of the powerless poop cruise ship adrift in the Gulf of Mexico literally 24 hours a day. Never before in the history of the televised world have the words "feces" and "urine" been broadcast so many times in such a short time period.
Carnival tried to make things right. It reimbursed everyone completely, paid for all transportation expenses, and gave everyone a free cruise. Carnival President Cahill apologized to everyone he could find. He looked as distraught as a cruise executive could be.
I quickly went on record saying that we would not represent anyone for the debacle because claims for inconvenience and annoyance without a physical injury are excluded by the terms of the passenger ticket and are not compensable.
Carnival made some major changes to try and avoid this from happening again. It tried to cast its beleaguered brand in a more positive light.
It invested some $300 million in the much needed deferred maintenance of its neglected ship. Carnival and its brands brought in some new marketing companies and embarked on new advertising campaigns. It took the seemingly indifferent (and Miami Heat obsessed) CEO Micky Arison out of public scrutiny by hiring a new CEO. Carnival brands Princess and Holland America also reshuffled their decks to bring in new leadership.
But then the CNN special aired Monday night. The images of the damning inspection reports and maintenance deficiencies juxtaposed with the feces and urine bio-hazard bags were devastating. Then the AP article, which further revealed the outrageous decision to risk human life by selling tickets on this fire-trap-of-a-ship, dropped on the cruise line liked an atomic bomb.
These explosive articles and videos were followed by a series of shock waves from the likes of TIME magazine, the Miami Herald, and hundreds of AP associated newspapers across the country.
Carnival tried to fight back. But it could find only a couple of cruise line fan publications, like their friends at Cruise Critic, to present a contrary view in fluff articles. But this only made matters worse. Cruise Critic quoted a PR crisis manager saying: "Exceeding the manufacturer's suggested time between overhaul does not implicate safety concerns with the engines." (Every lawyer who sues Carnival saved that quote for future use.)
Today a cruise travel agency publication quoted Carnival saying that the allegations in the CNN and AP stories were "frivolous." But no one was listening. The damage had already been done. The CNN images told the story. Carnival's excuses seemed flimsy and contrived. The cruise line sounded bitter, desperate and ultimately unbelievable.
Where did all of the goodwill generated by the $300 million improvements, the new advertising and the new leadership go?
Behind the scenes, Carnival decided not to try and settle the many hundreds of lawsuits and claims filed (notwithstanding my opinion) by the aggrieved passengers who were not satisfied by reimbursements and free cruises. They are pissed off, and rightfully so, because they believe that Carnival played Russian roulette with their lives, as the CNN special seems to reveal.
Why is Carnival in this spot? It decided not to pay a penny to their guests in compensation and instructed their defense firms to vigorously defend the claims. Millions to the wealthy defense lawyers but not a penny more to the cruise guests.
So the lawyers for the passengers press forward. In the process, the documents revealing the truth are handed off by the lawyers for the passengers to the producers at CNN and the AP reporters.
More damaging documents will follow. These documents will show a pattern of neglect of the cruise ship and pressure to keep the cruise operating 24 hour hours a day, risking passenger and crew member lives.
Whatever eventually happens with the lawsuits seems irrelevant to me. The "Poop Cruise" PR debacle continues. And notwithstanding free cruises, new marketing, and fresh faces in management, Carnival's reputation remains in the pooper.
Reeling from a CNN special report indicating that it delayed maintaining the diesel engines and fuel lines in the Triumph and other cruise ships, Carnival was hit last night with an article published by the Associated Press stating that the cruise line knew that the Triumph was a fire trap but it took chances with its passengers' lives.
In the article titled Suit: Fire Risk Known Before Carnival Ship Sailed, the AP cited deposition testimony from the Triumph's captain admitting that Carnival had known about the fuel leak problem since March of 2012, a year before the fire. The captain stated that spray guards, a makeshift measure to deal with leaky fuel lines, were partially installed on the cruise ship but not on the engine which caught fire.
The CNN program and the AP article paint a grim image of a ship with a neglected engine room, in violation of the International Maritime Organization's Safety of Life at Sea recommendations, which was ready to ignite with 4,000 souls aboard.
According to the AP, Houston lawyer Frank Spagnoletti characterized Carnival as reckless: "It was unbelievable to me that you would take 4,000 people and put them in a situation of basically Russian roulette. Basically every time that vessel went out they never knew whether they were going to have a fire or not."
Responding to these allegations yesterday, Carnival played dumb and denied everything. The AP quoted Carnival saying: "The leak in the flexible fuel hose was a completely unexpected accident that took place. What ignited the fuel is unknown." Carnival called the spray guards a "best practice."
Carnival may be trying to distance itself from the negative press surrounding the Triumph debacle (and the Concordia disaster before that), but denials and flimsy excuses like these demonstrate that the cruise line's reputation seems as poorly maintained as its cruise ships.
Anderson Cooper aired a short special last night on his program AC360.
Over and over again, Carnival engineers indicated on their Triumph inspection reports and maintenance records that one of the ship's diesel generators was way past due for maintenance. The cruise ship was out of compliance with the IMO's Safety of Life at Sea requirements.
Carnival irresponsibly delayed and deferred maintenance and overhaul of the diesel engine.
The program indicates that the Triumph had a dangerous propensity for a fire problem but Carnival neglected the engines and then set sail anyway. CNN said that the fire was a disaster waiting to happen and the cruise line risked the passengers' lives and well being.
The problem could be traced back for over a year to a "dangerous pattern" of fuel line leaks on other ships, including the Carnival owned Costa Allegra which previously erupted in fire.
This fire, which disabled the Allegra, fore-shadowed the Triumph fire. There were reportedly nine instances of fuel leaks from flexible fuel hoses throughout Carnival's fleet. The cruise line was recommending the installation of spray shields on some but not all of its ships to protect the flanges and hoses from leaking fuel on hot spots which would ignite.
The hose which was not shielded on the Triumph sprayed fuel which ignited the fire. This was foreseeable and preventable.
The documents were produced by Carnival in a lawsuit filed by a lawyer in Houston.
Carnival is defending the lawsuit by saying that no one was physically injured. Plus it claims that the cruise line offers no promise of a safe trip and passengers have no right to sue for unsafe or unsanitary conditions during the cruise.
Carnival also says that it is spending 300 million dollars to make improvements and prevent fires.
The last two days have been busy for the U.S. Coast Guard medevacing ill passengers from cruise ships.
The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an 87-year-old woman from the Norwegian Breakaway cruise ship off the coast of Ocracoke, North Carolina yesterday.
The NCL cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard yesterday shortly before noon regarding an elderly passenger who required unspecified medical assistance.
A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter flew to the cruise ship from Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
The cruise ship was approximately 38 miles off the coast. the helicopter crew hoisted the woman aboard the helicopter and flew her to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, North Carolina.
The second medevac involved the Coast Guard hoisting a woman from the Carnival Fascination cruise ship. The Coast Guard in Miami said that the Carnival cruise ship contacted it after a woman was showing signs of cardiac arrest on Sunday night.
The ship was approximately 38 miles offshore from St. Lucie County.
The Coast Guard helicopter flew the woman to Broward General Hospital where she was reportedly in stable condition.
ABC News reports that a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter (MH-60) and aircraft (C-130) were dispatched from Clearwater Florida in response to an emergency request from the Carnival's Victory cruise ship this morning.
The cruise ship was reportedly near Cuba at the time of the call.
Cruise passenger Herman Lebron, age 88, was suffering from internal injuries and needed evacuation.
Mr. Lebron was flown to Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West, Florida.
His current medical condition is unknown.
You can see the video of the medevac below, courtesy of defense video and imagery distribution system.
Tomorrow the lawyers here at our firm are traveling again to Jamaica.
We'll be visiting our clients to see how they are doing. I will be meeting friends in Falmouth and will see if there has been any signs of the revitalization of the town after the new Royal Caribbean port destroyed ancient coral reefs and native mangroves to make way for the Oasis and Allure of the Seas.
We will also make ourselves available to meet with any crew members who need to learn about the legal rights of cruise ship employees who become ill or injured on cruise ships.
I will be arriving at Montego Bay tomorrow morning and I will be available to meet with crew members or their family for two days (Monday and Tuesday). I'll be hosting a free conference at the "Jamaica No Problem Room" in the beautiful Hibiscus Lodge in Ocho Rio. The address is 83 Main Street in Ocho Rios. Please come with your questions or concerns. No fee or obligation of course.
My co-counsel Jonathan Aronson will be will me.
The photo above was from a prior visit to the famous "No Problem Room."
If Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Celebrity, Disney or some other cruise line has treated you poorly after you were injured on the ship, or if you have medical problems like hypertension, diabetes, cancer or other illnesses which require treatment, please don't hesitate to contact me.
And if you can't come to the clinic, no problem. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have and can call you to discuss your concerns if you wish.
A local news station WSVN - 7 reports on a lawsuit filed by a South Florida family after their son was allegedly beaten up by a security guard on board an unidentified Carnival cruise ship.
The lawsuit contends that a 14 year-old boy snuck into a nightclub on the cruise ship with his friends. When spotted by security, the boy ran out of the club and into a stairwell where he claims that the security guard roughed him up. He says the guard "grabs me by the shirt, slams me like really heard against the wall."
The family's lawyer, Spencer Aronfeld, sued Carnival because the family wants the security guard fired and to prevent another family from going through a similar experience. Aronfeld is seeking damages for what he claims are serious neurological and psychological damages suffered by the boy.
But just last week the Motley Fool published a chart (right) showing that Carnival's earning growth has lagged substantially behind competitors Royal Caribbean and NCL ever since the Concordia disaster. Its article was entitled "Not All Is Smooth Sailing for These Cruise Lines."
Will Donald be successful in turning things around at Carnival? He certainly is trying hard. Under his management, Carnival invested heavily in new safety systems, terminated retirement benefits of the crew, created new marketing strategies, and reshuffled the management of Carnival and its Princess and HAL brands.
But the single most important factor, which none of the financial guru's are mentioning, is avoiding another Costa Concordia or Carnival Triumph disaster. With the largest cruise ship fleet in the world, Carnival statistically has the greatest likelihood of something going wrong on the high seas. There's not much the new CEO can do about that. Except say a little prayer every night before he goes to sleep, for his 100 + cruise ships.
The international media is abuzz over the plight of a young man suffering from obesity who has been refused transportation by planes, trains and even a cruise ship in his efforts to return from the United States to his home country of France. His family claims that he was discriminated against because of his weight (500 lbs) and deemed "too fat to travel."
He was in the U.S. undergoing medical treatment, and ran into a wall of resistance when he tried to return home.
British Airways first considered him too heavy to fly. Then Carnival Corporation, the owner of the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship, refused to transport him across the Atlantic.
Virgin Atlantic stepped up to the plate and flew the young man to the United Kingdom. But the Eurostar under-sea train service refused to transport him to France, according to press reports.
The train company said that Mr. Chenais posed a safety risk "to himself, our crew and all of the other passengers on board."
With the involvement of French consular staff, Mr. Chenais was transported by ambulance to Dover where he caught a ferry with the P&O Ferries company. A ferry representative said: "It's difficult to imagine the frustration that this gentleman has gone through. But for us, it's very straightforward as we are set up to carry people who have medical needs."
According to Mr. Chenais, Carnival, which rejected his request for a cabin on the trans-Atlantic voyage from the U.S., "declined to comment."
Should cruise lines, air carriers and trains be required to accommodate obese passengers under these circumstances?
A local news station in Houston is reporting that for the first time, a cruise ship has sailed from its home port at the Bayport Cruise Terminal in Houston. Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess set sail earlier this week for a four day cruise to Progresso, Mexico.
The remarkable part of the story is that the cruise terminal was built long ago and has sat largely unused. The cruise terminal was completed in 2009 at a cost of $108 million with bond money that the local taxpayers have been paying for the past 4 to 5 years.
Empty and abandoned cruise terminals are a risk that struggling U.S. cities and powerless Caribbean islands run while dealing with the rich and powerful cruise lines.
A Houston port official excitedly talked about all of the employment benefits which finally are coming from the cruise terminal:
"You have the line handlers, you have our wonderful longshoreman association that's providing the handling of the baggage, stevedores that are handling our parking, so there are just a variety of jobs and economic impact that's created from this cruise operation."
But such success is usually a long time coming and is often fleeting.
The city built an expensive cruise terminal as part of its "partnership" with Carnival Cruise Line. When the cruise line pulled its cruise ship from the Alabama port, the city was left with a debt of $35,000,000.
Carnival thought that it could make more money by re-positioning its cruise ship in either New Orleans or Tampa, and left Mobile high and dry. Ironically, the only cruise ship to return to Mobile in the last couple of years was the Carnival Triumph which had to be towed to port following the infamous "poop cruise' earlier this year.
Carnival never enters into a contract with a port promising to commit ships to the port for a finite number of years. So cities like Mobile build their new terminals on a wish and a prayer.
One-sided deals in favor of the cruise lines are the business norm. Carnival is the proverbial 800 pound gorilla. Port cities can either sign the bad deal or the cruise line goes elsewhere. And Carnival can break the deal whenever it wants and for any reason, good or bad.
Just ask Norfolk, Virginia. Carnival abandoned it last month leaving the city with a $30,000,000 debt for a new cruise terminal that the local taxpayers are stuck with paying. Carnival cited the additional operating costs associated with new environmental emission regulations which prohibit the use of cheap, toxic bunker fuel which can still be burned on cruises out of Miami.
The here-today, gone-tomorrow exploitation of cities like Houston, Mobile and Norfolk is particularly bad in the Caribbean ports. Take, for example, Antigua. Carnival dropped Antigua like a hot potato. Carnival broke up with its Caribbean "business partner" with a "Dear John" letter sent via e-mail. The sudden and unexpected pull-out costs the Caribbean island $40,000,000 annually.
Consider what's happening in Tortola too. Carnival cruise ships announced that it is pulling the Sunshine, Freedom, Liberty, Glory and the Valor from the island. Carnival may return if and when Tortola invests into improving its cruise facilities.
The latest news from the Caribbean is that the Cayman Islands is trying to figure out how to pay $200,000,000 for two new cruise ship piers so that Carnival and Royal Caribbean passengers don't have to tender in from the cruise ships to the island. The Cayman Islands has a GNP of less than one billion dollars a year; however, Royal Caribbean alone will collect closer to 7 billions dollars a year. Carnival will collect far more than that.
The Caymans can't possibly pay for the news cruise piers by itself. But if it decides to "partner" with these giant, rich cruise lines, it may find itself paying for much of the cruise project and ongoing operating expenses with no legally enforceable assurances from the cruise lines.
It's risky business for poor cities and tourist-dependent Caribbean islands with no sustainable businesses to trust the cruise lines. Cruise lines like Carnival are cutthroats. They hold all of the cards and will up and leave in a split second if they can make a better deal elsewhere.
Ever since the Costa Concordia disaster, cruise lines have increasingly resorted to paying for press releases to try and convince the public to cruise.
The latest press release was by Carnival Cruise Line yesterday, announcing that the cruise line has partnered with the New Orleans Saints.
Carnival will be sponsoring some type of half-time promotion where a Saints fan will get a free cruise aboard the renovated Carnival Sunshine cruise ship, which sails on its inaugural voyage from New Orleans the following day.
I'm not sure I understand this type of marketing. Carnival is headquartered in the cruise-ship-capital-of-the-world Miami and is associated with the Miami Heat (owned by Carnival's Micky Arison).
But Carnival is not the first Miami-based cruise line to associate itself with a sports team outside of Florida.
NCL just issued a press release announcing that it has partnered with the New York Knicks. I suppose that this makes sense because NCL's Norwegian Breakaway is a New York City-inspired ship that sails year-round from the Big Apple.
But why does New Orleans or the Saints want to associate themselves with Carnival, now asociated with poop cruises? The days of being the losing "Aints," when the New Orleans fans wore bags over their heads, are over.
Carnival has some lessons to learn from the Big Easy. New Orleans suffered from having the worst football team in the league decades ago. Howard Cosell even called the Saints a disgrace on Monday night football thirty years ago. And then New Orleans and the Saints had to endure the spectacle of the Superdome being trashed in Hurricane Katrina and people suffering miserably inside.
But since then, New Orleans recovered and the Saints won a Super Bowl. The Superdome is a raucous, fun place to watch football. And the Saints are now considered an elite, well-run and winning program.
Let's hope that Carnival's partnership with the Saints brings the cruise line equal success.
Several news sources are reporting changes in the executive ranks at Carnival Corporation and its brands, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line.
Carnival Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Howard Frank will step down. He is slated to be an adviser to CEO Arnold Donald and Chairman Micky Arison. Jan Swartz becomes the new president of Princess Cruises, replacing President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alan Buckelew who moves into the COO role at Carnival. Holland America Line CEO Stein Kruse will begin overseeing Princess Princess under the newly formed entity "Holland America Group."
It seems like a family affair to me. Everyone is just changing hats.
The changes become effective December 1, 2013.
I'm pleased to see Ms. Swartz promoted from vice president of sales, marketing and customer service at Princess to the position of president. It's nice to see women advance in the men's club.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words.
Well today I agree with that expression after watching a nine minute video that a former crew member sent me.
Earlier today I posted two videos showing the Carnival Pride experiencing rough weather back on November 5, 2011. High waves crash over the bow which resulted in a window being blown in and a children's play area (Circle C) being flooded. Water enters the area at high speed covering all of the walls and ceiling and dousing the televisions and electrical equipment.
The video below is a continuation of those videos. It shows the kid's area flooded. One of the televisions on the wall begins to short circuit. There are about 5 minutes of the television sparking, smoldering and emitting black smoke until a fire erupts.
A crew member eventually shows up two and one-half minutes later. He kneels down and tries to splash water onto the burning television. Bad idea. It also looks like he tries to pull the television off of the wall.
A couple of crew members then quickly enter the area and put the fire out with fire extinguishers.
I never could have imagined that just a few minutes after Circle C was flooded, a fire would break out there from a television. I would not have believed it unless I saw the video.
The Carnival Pride was heading to port in Baltimore when it encountered the rough weather.
It's unusual to see photographs or videos of floods or fires on cruise ships. Cruise lines don't release images from their surveillance cameras to the public. Thanks to the former crew who sent us these images.
The Carnival Glory made its last home port stop today in Norfolk. It's now heading here to Miami.
According to the Washington Post, Carnival said this summer that it would not deploy the Glory (or any other Carnival cruise ship) from Norfolk in 2014.
According to ABC-13, Carnival cited new environmental regulations on emissions (requiring more expensive but far less toxic fuel) as a factor behind the decision: "The 2015 North America Emission Control Area (ECA) requirements would significantly impact our fuel costs for operating cruises from Norfolk and many other ports around North America."
Only Carnival could justify abandoning a cruise port by explaining that it wants to avoid compliance with an environmental law.
The Glory has been seasonally based in Norfolk since 2001.
Easy come, easy go. Here today, gone tomorrow.
But don't be sad Norfolk. Carnival is one fickle lover.
Last month, the Sun Sentinel reported that Carnival's earnings "continue to be hurt by a series of embarrassing mishaps and softened demand for certain cruises that has kept fares low." The world's largest cruise operator reported a 30 percent drop in third-quarter profits.
Critics have attributed Carnival's woes to damage to its namesake cruise line's "Fun Ship" image after several cruise ships caught fire and/or lost power at sea. The most serious incidents involved loss of propulsion and power to the Carnival Splendor and the Carnival Triumph, stranding many thousands of passengers under unsanitary and unpleasant conditions.
This summer Micky Arison stepped down as Carnival CEO and a businessman, Arnold Donald, formerly of chemical giant Monsanto, stepped in as the new cruise CEO to try and right the ship. In June, Forbes magazine published an article about Mr. Arnold. The magazine quoted him saying the following about Carnival: "Here’s what success looks like. Our employees feel very confident in the future of the company. They legitimately feel like winners . . ."
But Forbes didn't share the CEO's gushing enthusiasm. In order to be successful, Forbes cautioned, "Donald has to cut costs."
But at what cost in loss of morale? I doubt that the affected crew members "feel very confident in the future of the company" now, considering the comments to our article yesterday:
A comment from a crew member: ". . . This is terribly disadvantageous and unfair if not outright discriminatory to the more than 6,000 Filipino crew members who have been working hard for Carnival Cruise Lines all these years. This retirement benefit is so important and is the very reason crew members chose to stay with Carnival for at least 10 years . . ."
A comment from a former crew member: "I retired from Carnival 4 years ago in order to pursue a university education. At that point I was at cross roads whether to stay or go. I am glad I choose go."
A tweet by a cruise fan: "This will trickle down 2 to me the passenger & not in a good way. Carnival could become the Self Serve Cruise Ships."
As of publishing this article, Carnival still describes its "Fun Ship Retirement Plan" as providing a "lump-sum benefit upon team members’ retirement from Carnival, provided they have at least 10 years of continuous service . . . The longer a team member is employed beyond the initial 10-year period, the faster the benefits increase. Simply put, the longer you stay with Carnival, the larger your benefit payment will be upon your retirement."
But that's no longer true.
Carnival announced over the last two years that it is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in its ships in technology, equipment and safety systems to avoid a repeat of the Splendor and Triumph mishaps and the Concordia disaster. But it is taking money out of its loyal crew members to do so. It's no different that robbing Peter to pay Paul.
There's not much the crew can do. The last time Carnival crew members went on strike for protesting low wages and the cruise line's withholding of their tips, they were all terminated, sent back to India, and blackballed from ever working on the cruise industry.
Do Carnival crew members feel like the "winners" Mr. Arnold described this summer? Should the crew feel confident in their future with Carnival?
I suspect right now that the crew members feel like losers, cheated by the company which still promises on its website that ship employees will benefit by staying longer at Carnival.
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 "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."
A news station in Norfolk Virginia reports that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an ill passengers from a Carnival cruise ship near Norfolk to a local hospital today.
The news station states that this morning at around 10:45 A.M., the Carnival Splendor cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard regarding a 57-year-old woman who required medical assistance.
Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C. dispatched a helicopter crew to respond to the medical emergency.
The Coast Guard helicopter flew to the cruise ship, which was about 80 miles east of Norfolk, at around 12:30 P.M. The Coast Guard crew then hoisted the woman into the helicopter and flew her to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.
Cruise Law News has received inquiries from several Carnival Cruise Lines crew members complaining that the cruise line recently terminated the retirement benefits for crew members.
Like many other cruise lines, Carnival Cruise Lines previously offered a small retirement benefit which crew members were eligible to receive for working a number of years of uninterrupted service to the company. Although the benefits were small, many crew members we spoke to considered the benefits to be an important reason why they worked long hours under difficult circumstances away from their loved ones. Some viewed the benefits as a means to make payments toward a house when they retire.
However, the crew members recently received a short memo from the cruise line telling them that their retirement benefits were suspended. Many of the crew members who contacted us felt betrayed that Carnival had promised them retirement benefits which they relied upon to continue working with the cruise line.
It is well known that Carnival Cruise Lines is under severe financial constraints following the Triumph "Poop Cruise" fiasco including other other engine room fires (such as the Splendor) and propulsion failures. And cruise fares are historically low following the public relations fall-out.
The question remains whether the termination of benefits applies to all crew members at Carnival Cruise Lines of all nationalities. As best as we can tell, it does not apply to the other Carnival Corporation brands, such as HAL, Princess Cruises, or other companies.
We reached out to Carnival Cruise line for an explanation regarding the end of the retirement benefit program. Here were some of our questions:
Does this apply to all Carnival Cruise Line crew/staff/officer positions?
Does this apply to all nationalities?
How many crew members are affected? What is the anticipated savings to the company?
How does the termination of benefits work? For example, if a Carnival ship employee worked 14 & ½ years, he or she will not be entitled to the 15-year retirement benefits upon reaching 15 years of service. Is this correct? Will that employee be entitled to the retirement benefits associated with 10 years because he or she have already worked over 10 years?
Below is the response from the cruise line late this afternoon.
The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC 2006), which came into effect on August 20, 2013, embodies up-to-date standards of international maritime labor laws and recommendations. As of August 20, 2013, MLC 2006 was ratified by 50 countries representing 75% of global shipping. The enactment of MLC 2006 resulted in several changes to our benefits and compensation plans for shipboard employees. One such example is that we will begin paying contributions to government mandated social security programs for applicable seafarers instead of providing a company-run retirement plan. As a result of MLC 2006, Carnival Cruise Lines’ total financial investment in benefits and compensation for shipboard employees has increased significantly.
Carnival does not explain which crew member nationalities are subject to "government mandated social programs." If the crew member is not part of such a governmental program, then it appears that the crew member is left without a retirement benefit of any type from this point forward.
Also the question arises whether the crew members themselves will have the amounts paid to the governmental programs deducted from their pay.
Is the ending of the retirement benefits program really tied to the MLC as Carnival claims? Or is this an excuse and diversion to the fact that Carnival is simply slashing benefits of its ship employees to add to the company's profitability?
If you are a crew member with Carnival Cruise Line and just had your retirements benefits terminated, please tell us what you think about the situation. Please leave a comment below.
Do you have to make payments for the social programs of your home countries? Do you know what, if anything, the government social programs provide to you for retirements benefits?
"To acknowledge and reward Team Carnival’s significant contributions to The Company's success, and to help team members plan and save for retirement, Carnival has developed 'The Fun Ship Retirement Plan.'
This plan provides a lump-sum benefit upon team members’ retirement from Carnival, provided they have at least 10 years of continuous service.
A prorated lump-sum benefit will be paid based on the individual's position within the company. The amount of the lump sum payment will be based on the last position held for the previous five years prior to the retirement date.
The longer a team member is employed beyond the initial 10-year period, the faster the benefits increase. Simply put, the longer you stay with Carnival, the larger your benefit payment will be upon your retirement."
A federal judge denied Carnival Cruise Lines' motion to punish a teenager who admitted that she lied when claiming that the cruise ship's security personnel forced her to remove her tampon in a search for marijuana.
Courthouse News Service reports that one of Carnival's security officers noticed that a 17-year-old passenger on Sensation cruise ship dropped a container of what he believed to be marijuana in an elevator.
The chief security officer subsequently ordered a search of the girl's cabin. This is when the girl claimed that a female security officer strip-searched her and made her remove her underwear and tampon. The search apparently took place without the girl's mother present.
The minor and her mother were removed from the cruise ship. The girl spent the night and most of the next day in jail in the Bahamas until the U.S. Embassy intervened and the girl was released.
A lawsuit followed and the case headed to trial. But during trial, the girl testified that although she felt like she "had to" take off her underwear and remove her tampon, she admitted that she voluntarily did so that the search "would be over with."
After a jury found for Carnival, the cruise line sought to punish the girl by forcing her to pay all of the the cruise line's attorney fees. The federal court refused to impose the sanctions sought by Carnival, citing her young age and her efforts to set the record straight. The judge also found that the girl was under the influence of her mother who encouraged her to pursue the legal claim in the first place.
The court also took into consideration that the young woman, now 19, is unemployed and is a student on financial aid at a small college. The court already taxed costs of $4,364.06 against her out of the $9,305.14 sought by Carnival. The court concluded that fining her additional money for the cruise giant's attorney fees would be meaningless.
What do all of these seemingly unrelated incidents have in common?
Because of antiquated laws and recent legal developments advanced by the cruise industry, the cruise line will escape virtually all legal accountability for the deaths.
Let's look first at the sad case of little 6 year old Qwentyn Hunter who died on the Carnival Victory last week. He died underwater in a swimming pool that Carnival decided not to supervise with a lifeguard for, what I believe to be, purely financial reasons.
A child on vacation dead at age 6.
Is it foreseeable that a child may drown in a pool? Of course. We have written recently about a 4 year old boy who is severely brain injured after slipping under the water on a cruise ship Disney which also didn't bother to assign a lifeguard to the pool.
Put aside the debate whether the boy's death was a lack of personal responsibility of the parents or a lack of corporate responsibility due to the the malfeasance of the cruise line (or both), what is the maximum exposure presented to Carnival?
The answer, sadly, is just the child's burial and burial expenses. How is that possible?
There is a law in the U.S. called The Death On The High Seas Act ("DOHSA").
DOHSA is an archaic law enacted in 1920 which provides only "pecuniary" losses to the survivors of someone who dies on the high seas. "Pecuniary" damages means only those financial losses, such as lost wages or medical expenses, suffered by those who are dependent on the dead person. In cases of a dead child or a dead retiree, there are no lost wages and no one dependent on the child or retiree for support. In Qwentyn's situation, there are obviously no lost wages or medical expenses. So all that the family could possibly receive in compensation after an expensive, long-drawn-out lawsuit is whatever it costs to bury a child these days.
If the cruise line is negligent for a child's death in an unattended pool, it will pay a maximum of $10,000 or so if liability is proven. Big deal. From a financial perspective, the cruise line is ahead of the game by not paying millions to employ lifeguards on over a hundred Carnival cruise ships to keep the kids safe. Carnival's Micky Arison, worth around 6 billion dollars, gets to keep his bounty.
Crew members who die due to the negligence of the cruise lines face the same hardship of DOHSA.
But that's not all. The cruise lines have also fought tooth & nail to keep the claims of "foreign" crew members outside of the U.S. legal system and deprive injured crew members from having their cases heard by U.S. juries by insisting that they resolve their cases through "arbitration."
Read about this injustice here. The Filipinos face a "schedule" of compensation depending on the injury. A lost finger, or hand, or an arm may result in an award of only $7,500 or $25,000 or $35,000. A death? $50,000, plus only $7,000 per child with a limit of 4 children.
One of the worst cases involved a Filipino crew member who received 35% burns on his body in a clear case of the vessel operator's negligence. At the ship owner's request, the disabled and disfigured crew member's case was dismissed from the U.S. legal system and sent to Manila where a Kangaroo Court awarded the burned Filipino just $1,870.00 (US).
The cruise lines don't want you to understand what happens when the nice, smiling Filipino waiters or bartenders who serve your family are subsequently seriously injured or die on cruise ships. It is fundamentally different and absolutely unfair compared to when people are injured or die on land.
And this is exactly how the multi-billion dollar cruise industry wants it.
The Times Picayune on line newspaper reports that a Carnival Cruise Line crew member died today while the Carnival Conquest cruise ship was at port in New Orleans.
The accident occurred while the crew member was using a operating a "man lift" (also called a "cherry picker") which raises workers up the exterior of the ship.
Carnival said the crew member was performing maintenance work when he became wedged between the lift and a platform holding a lifeboat.
Carnival described the accident as follows:
"Earlier today, while a crew member from the Carnival Conquest was elevated in a cherry picker performing maintenance work on the side of the vessel, he became wedged between the cherry picker and a platform holding one of the ship's lifeboats. The ship's medical team responded, along with local paramedics, but, tragically, the crew member died. The ship was docked in its home port of New Orleans at the time."
Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise Lines via Times Picayune
Inside Edition aired a program about a 29 year old woman "Sarah" who sailed on the Carnival Destiny to celebrate her 30th birthday. After too much drinking, she fell from the balcony into the water.
Despite the pleas of her cabin mate and another passenger, the captain sailed on. It took an hour and a half to turn around and rescue her. Carnival then allegedly delayed her medical treatment by refusing to call for emergency medical evacuation.
Carnival says that it acted properly.
The case has ended up in court and raises a number of issues common in the cruise industry.
Is this a case simply of a passenger exercising a lack of personal responsibility by drinking too much? Or is this a case which involves a lack of corporate responsibility by over-serving the passenger too much alcohol and then sailing on after there was a reasonable indication that she had gone overboard?
Why didn't the cruise line have an automatic man overboard system as required by the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act which was enacted into law to deal with this exact situation?
I was quoted by the AP about this latest fatality:
"There is a great deal of debate on whether cruise lines should have lifeguards, according to Jim Walker, a Miami maritime attorney . . . "
"This involves the debate between personal responsibility and corporate responsibility," he wrote in an email to the Associated Press. "Yes, parents should have responsibility for watching their children but at the same time cruise corporations have a duty to watch over the parents and children and provide a reasonably safe place for them to have a family vacation."
Earlier this year, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee convened a hearing about protecting cruise ship passengers. Senator Rockefeller planned to introduce legislation which required the cruise industry to report crimes and overboards which occur on cruise ships.
Under intense pressure before the Senate committee, the executives of the three major U.S. based cruise lines (Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean) promised at the outset of the hearing to begin to "voluntarily" report cruise ship crimes and man overboard situations. Was this an earnest commitment to transparency or a last ditch effort to stave off legislation?
My son and I were at the hearing. The first thing I thought was "sounds good, but what tricks are the cruise lines up to this time?"
Shortly after the hearing, the cruise line began to post their crime and man-overboard data.
Royal Caribbean was particularly sneaky. It chose to define man-overboards as excluding all crew members and included only U.S. passengers. In the process, Royal Caribbean summarily excluded eight men who were either crew members or were non-U.S. citizens who went overboard.
So instead of learning the complete story about people disappearing from Royal Caribbean ships, the public learned of only 27% of the truth (only 3 out of 11). This is exactly the type of deceitful conduct that Senator Rockefeller wanted to avoid.
So what tricks were played by Royal Caribbean's competitor, Carnival?
The ICV press statement today reveals that Carnival Corporation, which owns Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa, HAL, P&O Cruises, Princess and many others, combines all of its its cruise brand data in one tally in order to dilute the rate of crime on its cruise brand with the most crime.
Why does Carnival Corporation (the parent company) do this? Because it gives the false appearance that Carnival Cruise Lines is much safer than it actually is. Based upon research by cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein, Carnival Cruise Lines makes up less than half the total of the Carnival brands but accounts for a whopping 88% of all the crimes for the parent company, Carnival Corporation. (The conclusions are based on crime data obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request for the period covering October 1, 2007 to September 30, 2008.)
The purpose of the cruise crime disclosure is to permit consumers to determine the safest / most dangerous cruise lines to take your family on cruises.
But the cruise lines are playing a big game. Trickery and dishonesty are the names of the game.
The Carnivals and Royal Caribbeans can't help themselves. They are incapable of telling the U.S. public the truth.
That's one reason why the House and Senate have introduced the Cruise Passenger Protection Act (H.R. 2800 and S.1340). And that's why you should insist that these bills are enacted into law.
The incident involved a man who was found unconscious under the water in a hot tub on the cruise ship.
Several news outlets are reporting today that the man was 41 year-old Michael Moses Ward, also known as "Birdie Africa," who at age 13 was the only child who survived the bombing of the radical group MOVE in 1985.
As explained in Philly.com, back in 1985 there was an armed confrontation between the city police and MOVE members in West Philadelphia. Police dropped explosives on the group's row house, which sparked a blaze that city officials allowed to burn. The fire destroyed 61 homes, although the city finally tried to extinguish the blaze with water canons from fire trucks. The fire killed 11 people, including five children.
Newsworks comments that the one redeeming part of the story was the rescue of a 13-year-old "Birdie Africa" who emerged out of one of the flaming row houses and was plucked from waist-deep water, from the fire trucks, by a police officer.
Newsworks said that his father, Andino Ward, gave his son the middle name "Moses" because he was saved from the water.
Ironically and sadly, Michael Moses Ward died in the water of a hot tub during a cruise on a Carnival fun ship 28 years later.
Photo Credit: Credit H. Rumph Jr. / AP / via wdiy.org
Several cruise passengers have stated that a passenger died aboard the Carnival Dream on September 20 2013.
Cruise passengers indicate that they got into one of the hot tubs on the cruise ship Friday evening and realized that another passenger, a man, was under the water. The man reportedly was removed from the tub, and the medical staff was notified and arrived at the scene. They tried to resuscitate the man for a period of time but were unsuccessful in doing so. The incident apparently happened around 7:45 P.M. Friday evening.
A passenger on the ship contacted us and inquired whether we have other information about this incident. We contacted Carnival and informed them of what we leaned and sought a comment from the cruise line.
Today at noon, Carnival provided the following statement:
"September 22, 2013 - 12 noon
On Friday evening, while the Carnival Dream was en route to its homeport of Port Canaveral, Fla., the shipboard medical staff was notified that a 42-year-old male guest was experiencing a medical emergency. The medical staff responded to the location, one of the ship's Lanai areas, and administered emergency aid but, tragically, the guest passed away.
Carnival's CARE Team is providing assistance and support to the guest's family.
Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the guest's family and our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time.
Carnival Dream operates seven-day cruises from Port Canaveral."
Last week the public was transfixed on the incredible spectacle of the "parbuckling" project which, at a cost of $800,000,000 and rising, finally but successfully righted the capsized Costa Concordia in the port of Giglio.
The major news networks offered live streaming video of the event. Social media, especially Twitter, provided non-stop, second-by-second updates of the stricken Carnival-owned Concordia emerging from its watery grave.
Although there was some excitement that the Concordia didn't break-apart and topple into the sea, the expressions of success were muted by the fact that the Carnival ship was still a crime scene relevant to the criminal proceeding against disgraced Captain Schettino, as well being the tomb of passenger Maria Trecarichi, and Costa crew member, Russel Rebello (photo left), whose bodies have not yet been recovered. The images of the salvaged cruise ship showed what appeared to be a stained, stinking, and grotesquely warped ship still partially submerged in the water.
A sad sight.
The following day, incredibly, Carnival launched a new marketing campaign, called "Moments that Matter." The television advertising depicts U.S. families walking by picture frames showing wonderful moments on a Carnival cruise ship. (You can watch the video below.) A voice says:
“We never forget the moments that matter. We hang them on our walls. We share them with everyone. And hold onto them forever.”
For a second, I thought that perhaps this was going to be a tribute to the 32 dead passengers and crew from the Concordia. But it had nothing to do with the Concordia disaster. In fact, the advertising was intentionally designed to try and take the public's mind away from the Concordia and everything which has gone wrong with Carnival, and that's saying a lot, over the last several years.
I thought to myself how inappropriate the ad was. Certainly the timing was terrible. The Concordia with dead people aboard is being raised and Carnival is hawking cruises with a sentimental ad like this? The smiling U.S. citizens in the video certainly don't look like the dead people and missing people from the cruise ship. If you think of cruise ships sinking, capsizing, and catching on fire, aren't the "moments that matter" getting off of the ship alive?
The image which comes to me instantly is a photo (right) of two young women surviving the Triumph debacle and cheering in their robes when they were finally ashore in Mobile.
And what exactly is a "moment that matters?" I think I know. But it's certainly not frolicking around foolishly on a bargain-basement-fare Carnival cruise ship which flies a flag of convenience, underpays it's non-U.S. crew, and avoids virtually all U.S. taxes.
The timing of the newly trotted-out ad was terrible, at a minimal. And at the worst, the ad was insensitive, manipulative and offensive.
I'm not the only one disturbed by Carnival's efforts to sell cheap cruises by trying to take us away from the images of the deadly Corcordia, and the Carnival Triumph poop cruise, and the disabled Carnival Splendor with a U.S. aircraft carrier dropping provisions from navy helicopters to the rattled guests on the ship below.
The New York Times published an article about the new Carnival marketing scheme. The newspaper interviewed travel and marketing experts who were highly critical of the ad campaign. The Times published:
John Greening, a professor of branding and marketing communications at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, said the campaign was premature. Carnival “needs to let more time go by. It’s too soon to be promoting itself. They might do more P.R. efforts than advertising,” he said.
Maurice Schweitzer, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who does research in trust recovery, said the campaign was lacking “evidence of any new procedures and processes that make Carnival a more effective, safe and competent operator.”
Henry Harteveldt, travel analyst for Hudson Crossing, called the TV spot “trite and lacking in authenticity and credibility.”
"It’s almost as if Carnival is hoping that by watching its commercial filled with” smiling people, 'consumers’ memories will be magically erased of any memories regarding the series of unfortunate events that the line recently experienced,' he said.
Newspapers in Nassau continue to cover the bickering over whether Carnival Cruise Line should be warning its passengers about the high rate of crime in the Bahamas.
In an article last week, we pointed out the criticism leveled against Carnival by the Atlantis mega-resort that Carnival's warning letter provided to cruise passengers had the potential to scare them from leaving the cruise ship and coming ashore with their money. Local vendors in Nassau were making the same complaints.
A Senator in the Bahamas, John Bostwick, jumped into the controversy by publicly accusing Carnival of unnecessarily frightening its passengers over crime in Nassau to divert them to the cruise line's new private island, Blackbeard’s Cay.
Shortly after these accusations against Carnival, Senator Bostwick wrote a letter to the Tribune newspaper talking of "regular random robbery of tourists" at gunpoint, including a 74 year-old diplomat robbed in Nassau while walking to church and the armed robbery of tourists outside of Atlantis. He also complained that there was a developing sex industry at the port involving boys.
Mr. Bostwick recommended an urgent saturation of tourist zones with CCTV cameras, increased police funding, and additional police patrols, K-9 units & undercover operations. He also suggested the removal of all "vagrants, negative characters and known criminals" from downtown and efforts to avoid Nassau turning into a place of sex and narco-tourism.
Meanwhile, the latest news is that the Bahamian Tourism Minister, Obie Wilchcombe, has promised to investigate the Senator's accusations against Carnival.
In a showdown between Carnival and the tourism-dependent Bahamas, the cruise line has the upper hand. Carnival can pull out of Nassau in a second and leave the island reeling. Just ask St. Croix, Acapulco and Mazatlan.
Carnival responded to the controversy by pointing out that it sent the Bahamas with a “draft” warning during a May 2013 meeting of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) members. A vice president of Carnival stated “the Bahamian government was made aware in advance that cruise lines were planning to warn their guests.”
“The US Embassy in Nassau recently issued a security message advising US citizens traveling to the Bahamas to be aware of their surroundings and remain on heightened alert to avoid being a victim of crime.
The Bahamian government is taking this situation very seriously and has committed to providing significant additional security personnel and resources, with particular focus on the tourist areas.
We wanted to bring this to your attention as a reminder to enhance your personal security by exercising good judgment and taking certain precautions as you would when visiting any foreign destination.
If you decide to venture into town, we encourage you to stay in the main tourist areas, return to the ship before sunset, and refrain from wearing any jewelry or carrying large sums of cash or other valuables.
Compared to the grim warning of the situation in the Bahamas contained in the U.S. State Department on-line warnings, the Carnival letter is rather innocuous and is really not much of a warning at all. It's incomplete and understates the critical nature of the crime problem in Nassau.
It's often hard for the cruise lines and the local tourism officials in the Caribbean ports of call, which rely on U.S. dollars from cruise passengers, to have a transparent conversation about the risks associated with crime in the ports of call.
The cruise industry promotes the safety and security of cruising by telling the public that all luggage is carefully x-rayed before being loaded onto cruise ships.
Post 9/11, the concern that terrorists may target cruise ships led to the implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code which requires that all cruise passenger baggage be subjected to x-ray machines to check for explosive devices.
Sounds comforting, right? Maybe not.
It seems that two security officers at the Port of Miami operating the baggage x-ray machines were not looking for bombs or detonation devices. They were looking for stuff to steal.
According to the Miami New Times and Local NBC Channel 6, two security officers were involved in a scheme to steal electronic equipment from cruise ship passengers luggage and sell the stolen goods on Craigslist.
Jean Russell Thomas, age 30, and Sherece Renee Nelson, age 25, were arrested in the criminal operation.
Earlier this month, a passenger from the Carnival Victory complained that that after checking her bags for departure, they did not arrive in her cabin. When the bags finally arrived, the woman's iPad was missing. She notified police.
Security video showed security guard Thomas, working as an x-ray screener, handling a bag that had been removed from the belt. The police report said:
"The defendant is then observed standing up and adjusting an item in which he had placed into his pants (rear) underneath his shirt and then placing the bag back onto the belt where it would be transferred to the ship."
Thomas later listed two iPads for sale on Craigslist. The iPads matched the description of the missing iPad as well as another iPad reported missing from luggage of another cruise passenger.
Undercover police officers called Thomas and arranged to buy an iPad. Thomas showed up along with Nelson, who acted as a look out according to the newspapers.
Nelson was arrested for dealing in stolen property.
Thomas was arrested for grand theft, dealing in stolen goods and, this one cracks me up, driving with a suspended driver's license (habitual).
Where did the cruise port find these dim whits to work as security guards?
The U.S. Coast Guard released a statement that a helicopter crew medevaced a 34-year-old Indonesian crew member from the Carnival Conquest while the cruise ship was sailing 172 miles southeast of New Orleans yesterday.
The 8th Coast Guard District received a report from the Carnival cruise ship that a crew member fell and struck her head on the deck. At the time of the report, the cruise ship was out of the flight range of the helicopter in the Gulf of Mexico. The Coast Guard directed the Carnival cruise ship to head toward New Orleans.
The MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans launched at 9:30 A.M. It refueled on an offshore drilling rig en route to the cruise ship. The helicopter arrived on scene at 11:20 A.M. and safely hoisted the crew member. The Coast Guard then flew her to Interim LSU Public Hospital for further medical treatment.
Earlier this year, the Coast Guard station in New Orleans medevaced a 46-year-old passenger from the Carnival Conquest cruise ship when the ship was approximately 60 miles south of Southwest Pass. That rescue occurred on February, 16, 2013. The cruise passenger was suffering from a brain hemorrhage and needed medical evacuation to a hospital ashore via helicopter.
Photo Credit: Above Carnival Conquest - Wikimedia / Norman Einstein; below Coast Guard medevac of crew member from Conquest - Jim Zimmerlin
The Journal explains that the Lacek Group (TLG) is a Minneapolis-based agency known for its expertise in "loyalty marketing" and "customer retention." It will provide Carnival with "strategic services and the development and management of customer communications and engagement initiatives."
Rob Borden, Carnival Cruise Lines' vice president of customer marketing, said in a statement. “TLG brings significant expertise utilizing state-of-the-art tools to identify insights from customer data and to find creative and compelling ways to engage guests through print and digital media. They are the ideal partner to help us take our customer communications and engagement to the next level."
That sounds like a lot of marketing mumbo gumbo to me. Carnival has a major image problem. It seems that cruise lines today are seeking new outside experts to help them with their tattered images.
Engine room fires, disabled cruises, no air conditioning, and toilets that don't work require some seriously talented public relations and advertising professionals.
Carnival scored some much needed public relations points during an interview with CBS News' travel expert Peter Greenberg. Following several high-profile mishaps (the Costa Concordia disaster and the Carnival Triumph "poop cruise"), the cruise giant is reportedly spending more than half-a-billion dollars for improvements on its fleet of cruise ships.
Of particular interest during the interview was that new CEO Arnold Donald (who replaced Micky Arison, photo left, as CEO) was featured. He appeared relaxed during the interview with Greenberg while discussing some serious issues. Some points made by CEO Donald during the CBS interview:
"Not only did no one die, no one was hurt, no one was sick, so there was no safety health issue involved with the Triumph at all."
"In the highly unlikely event we should ever lose power again we'd be able to have a system to back that up and we'd have a process to keep from losing power in the first place."
Carnival rerouted 63 miles of cable, so that a fire would be less likely to take out both engine rooms, as it did on the Triumph. "If one room is lost, we don't lose the other."
Fire suppression was increased: water mist nozzles were increased from 30 to about 500, and a 24 / 7 manned patrol was added to look for oil or fuel leaks. And finally, a second backup generator (nowhere near the engine room) was installed just in case.
Photo Credit: local10.com / Video Credit: CBS News
There has been a great deal of debate over the past decade regarding the amount of crime which occurs on cruise ships. The cruise industry claims that crime is "rare," whereas at least one cruise expert who testified before Congress stated that the rate of crime on cruise ships is twice that of crime ashore.
Of course one crime is too many if it affects you or your family.
The most likely crime on cruise ships is sexual assault. The most likely victim is a woman or child aboard the ship as a passenger. And the most likely perpetrator is a crew member.
Strict Liability: Cruise lines are strictly liable to pay compensation when a crew member sexually assaults a passenger. There is no need to have to prove that the cruise line knew that the ship employee had a record of assaulting other passengers and/or that the cruise ship was negligent in failing to warn the passenger of the danger of being attacked on the ship. If the crew member rapes a passenger, then the cruise line is vicariously liable.
Our firm has education and substantial experience to handle maritime sexual assault lawsuits against the major cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines.
Education: Jim Walker focused on maritime law at Tulane University School of Law. He studied all of the maritime law personal injury courses and graduated in 1983. He has practiced maritime law for 30 years.
Experience: The firm has handled sexual assault cases against Carnival, Celebrity, Cunard, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean where women and children have been victimized on cruise ships. Three of our clients have testified before the U.S. Congress about being sexually assaulted during cruises. We have attended eight Congressional hearings about issues regarding the safety of cruise ship passengers.
Reputation: Jim Walker has referred to as a "Prominent Private Practice Maritime Attorney" by Fox News; a "Top Maritime Lawyer" by the ABA Journal; a "Premier Lawyer for Cruise Passengers" by Reuters; a "Top Cruise Lawyer" by USA Today; and a "Leading Miami Attorney" by Newsweek Magazine. Read "about Jim Walker" for further details.
Results: We have obtained compensation for victims in a wide variety of cruise ship rape, sexual assault, and molestation cases, including the following recoveries: over $3,000,000, $2,500,000, $1,500,000, $900,000, $650,000, $500,000, $385,000, $250,000, and $115,000. (Please note that all cases are unique. These results may or may not reflect the compensation obtainable in your case).
Clients: We have represented women from ages 18 to 45 and parents of children from age 3 to 17. We have represented over 75 women and children sexually assaulted on cruise ships.
Types and Locations of Sexual Assaults: Cases we handled include a variety of cruise ship employees - staff captain, ship doctor, chief engineer, hotel director, security guard, cabin attendant, bartender, cleaner, and child supervisor. The rapes and molestation cases occurred in various locations on the cruise ship. The most common locations are passenger cabins, storage rooms, and crew bathrooms.
We have studied the problem of cruise ship crimes extensively. Consider reading:
Yesterday we mentioned that the first case filed in Galveston by a passenger following the infamous Triumph "poop cruise" was voluntarily dismissed. But today there is news that additional lawsuits were just filed in southeast Texas for damages alleged by passengers who sailed aboard the ill-fated Carnival cruise.
The Southeast Texas Record reports that twenty passengers filed suit in federal court for the eastern district of Texas (Beaumont Division) for compensation due to the February 11, 2013 engine room fire which caused the cruise ship to drift for five days in the Gulf of Mexico.
The lawsuit alleges facts well known to the public at this point: passengers claim that they were "exposed to urine and feces, along with odors of raw sewage, which spilled and leaked through the ceilings, walls, and floors". In addition, the passengers allege that they were exposed to extreme heat and cold temperatures, and waited in long lines for hours for inadequate and rationed water and food.
The passengers allege theories of negligence, breach of maritime contract, negligent misrepresentation, fraud by non-disclosure, and fraud.
The newspaper indicates that the lawsuit seeks damages for discomfort, medical expenses, mental anguish, emotional distress, lost earnings, lost vacation time, pecuniary and out-of pocket damages, including cost of cruise, transportation, additional food and lodging and incidentals costs, punitive damages, interest and court costs.
A separate lawsuit was also filed in the same courthouse in Beaumont by a passenger and his eye care clinic claiming that business was lost because employees were stranded at sea on a the disabled Cruise ship.
According to allegations in the lawsuit reported by the Southeast Texas Record, Carnival was aware of the mechanical problems on board the cruise ship and knew the vessel was not “sufficiently seaworthy” to provide a safe, sanitary and enjoyable voyage.
The lawsuit alleges theories of unconscionability, misrepresentation, fraudulent inducement, negligence and fraud.
A legal journal in Texas is reporting that the first and only lawsuit filed in Galveston County regarding the disabled Carnival Triumph cruise ship has ended with a voluntary dismissal.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Kathy Marie Armstrong who was among the 3,000 or so passengers who sailed from Galveston on February 7 2013. The Carnival cruise ship became stranded in the Gulf of Mexico after a fire in the ship's engine room knocked out power.
The Southeast Texas Record explains that Ms. Armstrong lawsuit alleged that she endured what she described as deplorable, unsafe and unsanitary conditions, including “sweltering temperatures, lack of power and air conditioning, lack of hot or running water and lack of working toilets.” Ms. Armstrong claimed that she “feared for her life and safety, under constant threat of contracting serious illness by the raw sewage filling the vessel, and suffering actual or some bodily injury” as the cruise ship was towed back to the U.S.
The lawsuit further alleged “the vessel listed sharply several times, causing human waste to spill out of non-functioning toilets, flood across the vessel’s floors and halls and drip down the vessel’s walls.”
Ms. Armstrong labeled “a floating toilet, a floating Petri dish . . . a floating Hell.”
The Carnival passenger ticket requires that all claims involving Carnival must be filed in federal court here in Miami. Carnival did not file a response to the lawsuit. The probable outcome was either a nominal settlement or Ms. Armstrong's lawyers agreed to a request to voluntarily dismiss the case.
Still pending in Miami is a lawsuit filed by passengers seeking to assert a class action against Carnival for the cruise in question.
CBS travel expert Peter Greenberg has interesting comments on the recent crime statistics released by the three major cruise lines.
Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean posted 237 crimes which allegedly took place on their cruise ship over the last 2 to 3 years. This is the first time that the cruise industry has ever publicly posted their onboard crime statistics.
The information, however, is very limited. The cruise lines do not mention the name of the cruise ship, or the date of the incident, or where the incident is alleged to have occurred or any explanation regarding what happened. The companies also do not disclose whether the victim is a child.
Legislation proposed by Senator Rockefeller will require the cruise lines to provide greater specificity about the crimes. For example, the public should know whether a particular cruise ship has experienced multiple incidents where child counselors are accused of molesting children in a child-care facility on the ship. As matters now stand, it's impossible to tell from the cruise lines' skimpy crime charts what the crime reports really involve.
Tonight NBC News aired a segment on the recent hearing before the Senate regarding the issue of cruise ship crimes.
Senator Rockefeller scheduled the hearing in a year filled with high-profile cruise ship mishaps. NBC correspondent Mark Potter reports that lawmakers are turning their attention to the amount of crime that takes place while vacationers are out at sea.
Senator Rockefeller's staff conducted an exhaustive analysis of cruise ship crimes. Senator Rockefeller discovered that of the 959 crimes alleged to have occurred on cruise ships since 2011, only 31 crimes were disclosed to the American people.
Concealing the accurate number of crimes, particularly sexual crimes against children, is a real disservice to the cruising public.
I was interviewed at the Port of Miami about the need for cruise passengers to remain vigilant during cruises.
Professor Ross Klein, a cruise expert who has testified before Congress on several occasions, explained that 18% of the sexual assaults on cruises, occur against minors.
A reader of this blog from Italy just sent me several articles regarding what many are describing as a near miss between a Carnival cruise ship and the Riva Sette Martiri, close to the Piazza San Marco (the principal public square of Venice, Italy).
An Italian newspaper reports that the Carnival Sunshine was sailing in the basin near Venice when its stern swung perilously close to the Riva Sette Martiri. Onlookers estimated the distance to be approximately 20 meters from the historic site.
A local commissioner complained that around 11 AM on July 27th, the Carnival ship, weighing over 102 thousand tons, 272 meters long, 35 meters wide and 62 meters high, almost struck one of the piers near Venice's Piazza San Marco.
The impression was that is was either error in the operation of the cruise ship, or that the ship was conducting a "flyby" (also referred to as a "bow") for the thrill of the passengers.
The newspaper article contains several first hand accounts that the Carnival ship was "tailing" out of the channel and close to the shore. One person said It's not the first time that happened."
Carnival responded by stating that this was a "false story." The cruise line was quoted stating that the news is "completely false." Carnival claims that its cruise ship was over 72 meters from the shore and was following the planned route and was well within the permissible limits. Carnival also stated that the ship was under the command of a local port pilot. The distance from the shore was tested both by Carnival and the Italian Coast Guard based on the data of the VDR (voyage data recorder) of the ship.
Its hard to tell from the video below exactly how close the cruise ship came to shore. My thought is that whether it's 20 meters or 70 meters, either way that's too close to the shore of this beautiful city.
But whatever happened, it's sure to rekindle the debate whether monster cruise ships have any business in these waters.
Italians are naturally sensitive to the prospect of a massive ship causing damage to its historical treasures. The Costa Concordia disaster is still in everyone's minds. Even more recent was the Jolly Nero incident. A large container ship cashed into a pier at a port in the Italian city of Genoa, causing numerous deaths and catastrophic damage.
There has been a great deal of controversy whether huge cruise ships like this should be permitted to sail into the basin by Venice. Environmentalists argue that cruise ships are overwhelming Venice with tourists and causing significant air pollution and eroding the foundations of the historical city.
July 29 2013 Update: Some newspapers in the U.K. are suggesting that the Carnival cruise ship was saluting CEO Micky Arison who was on a yacht nearby. Arison defends the maneuver on Twitter, tweeting: "To all my Venetian friends. Capt, Pilot, & Coast Guard with GPS evidence agree that the ship made a normal & safe transit thru the lagoon."
A cruise blogger, John Honeywell, who was on the Carnival Sunshine at the time of the alleged flyby, confirmed that Arison's yacht, Sirona III, was moored in the basin and that Arison was standing at the stern of the yacht when the cruise ship came by. Honeywell was an invited guest and was part of a group of U.S. and U.K. travel writers. He later wrote a piece defending his cruise line host, calling the articles about the incident "ludicrous" and "complete nonsense."
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?
I 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."
The Virgin Islands Daily News reports that a 19-year-old Kentucky man pleaded not guilty in District Court in St. Thomas on charges that he raped another passenger during a Carnival cruise. The charges specifically "sexual assault with intent to commit a felony."
Cruise passenger Conner Layne was arrested after a 18-year-old woman's complaint that he tried to rape her while on board the Carnival Dream during a June 4th cruise.
The newspaper states that the alleged crime took place while the Dream was in international waters sailing to St. Thomas.
According to an affidavit written by FBI special agent Rafael Fernandez, an 18-year-old woman reported that she and Layne were "having drinks in the ship's club when Layne invited her back to his room. Once there, she had another drink and sat on the bed, and she and Layne began kissing and Layne started 'touching her about the body'." Layne then forcibly "held her down, pulled up her dress, pulled down her underwear and penetrated her with his penis."
The woman said that because Layne was intoxicated, she was able to push him off of her, and she ran out of the cabin.
The District Magistrate released Layne from custody after he posted a $10,000 bond.
The newspaper states that Layne was allowed to return to his home in Kentucky but had to provide DNA samples as a condition of his release.
Several newspapers in St. Maarten report on the death of a passenger aboard the Carnival Dream cruise ship yesterday shortly after the ship left St. Thomas.
One newspaper states that the captain of the Carnival cruise ship learned "shortly after leaving the port of Saint Thomas on Tuesday July 16th," heading to Saint Maarten, he received a report a female U.S. citizen, age 40, allegedly committed suicide. The cruise ship alleges that the passenger "took her own life by hanging herself." The newspaper states that the investigation "will be done by U.S. authorities once the ships docks at the nearest U.S. port."
The newspapers mention the woman by name and state prominently that she killed herself.
Irrespective of what happened, it is disturbing to hear that a cruise line has determined the official cause of death of a passenger in such a summary manner. That's the responsibility of highly educated, trained and experienced medical examiners. Not cruise ship employees.
And why did the Carnival cruise ship captain, who learned of the death of a guest "shortly after leaving St. Thomas," sail on to the next port?
Here's what some of the local residents in St. Marteen are saying:
". . . Sxm has a bad reputation when it comes to murders that looks like suicide. They always take the easy way out. what a thing if it turned out to be death by poisoning or strangulation."
"The captain of the ship stated that shortly after leaving the port of Saint Thomas." Why didn't the captain return to St. Thomas? Apparently the mighty dollar reigns supreme & the inherently trivial cruise schedule is sacrosanct. I suspect the captain of this particular vessel could be investigated for (mildly) improper conduct under international maritime law."
Photo Credit: Carnival dream - Wikipedia / Kuloskulos
Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Coast Guard finally released its report regarding the engine room fire which disabled the Carnival Splendor cruise ship on November 8, 2010.
The Coast Guard's reported concluded, in a nutshell, that cylinders in one of the large diesel engines sustained a catastrophic failure with the rods and pistons cracking and exploding out of the engine which permitted lube oil and fuel oil to ignite. The pistons sustained long term metal fatigue which was not checked due to an absence of appropriate maintenance and record keeping by Carnival. Other parts of the engine showed severe, advanced corrosion reflective of an absence of regular inspection and maintenance.
The fire was not suppressed due to the failure of the CO2 system and mistakes and a lack of training by the ship's crew. The crew reset the automatic suppression alarm and failed to manually activate the water mist system which permitted the fire to spread. It took the crew two hours to locate the fire due to the firefighters' unfamiliarity with the engine room. The Coast Guard faulted the crew for using portable dry chemicals and carbon dioxide extinguishers rather than fire hoses. And the captain permitted the fire to continue by trying to ventilate the engine room before the fire was completely extinguished.
Although the Coast Guard was critical of Carnival's neglect in inspecting and maintaining the engine which failed, it should be pointed out that the Coast Guard conducted an annual Control Verification Exam on November 7, 2010 and passed the vessel. What an embarrassment for the Coast Guard to have inspected the cruise ship the day before the fire and permitted it to sail with passengers.
Another interesting pint is the time line of the fire. The fire was not finally and completely extinguished for over nine hours. This is a far cry from the initial reports from the cruise line which tried to reassure the passengers that the fire was not a big deal and was under control,
Its curious why it took well over two and one-half years for the Coast Guard to release its report. The reality is that the Coast Guard and the cruise line and the companies which the cruise line pay to become involved in the investigation exchange information and review a draft copy of the Coast Guard report before it is "official" and is released to the public.
News stations in Orlando are reporting that a 12 year old child was airlifted from a Carnival cruise ship after falling on the ship.
Port Canaveral authorities state that the child fell on the cruise ship on Wednesday while aboard the Carnival Sensation and was medevaced to Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando this morning in stable condition.
News stations in Houston are reporting that a 39 year old man fell from a balcony during a cruise on the Carnival Magic cruise ship.
The accident happened Tuesday morning while the cruise ship was sailing in the Gulf of Mexico heading toward Mahogany Bay in Roatan. The cruise line states that the passenger was sitting on his cabin balcony railing when he fell onto an open deck area three decks below. He died.
The newspaper accounts do not disclose the time of the incident or whether alcohol was involved.
The Magic is on a seven-day cruise to the Caribbean. It left out of Galveston last Sunday.
July 5 2013 Update: A news station has identified the man who died during the cruise.
A newspaper in Romania reports on injuries suffered by a crew member from Romania who was seriously burned while working on the Carnival Dream cruise ship.
The accident occurred on June 20th after the Dream departed from Port Canaveral in a 7 day cruise. The Romanian crew member is 35 years old.
The crew member suffered severe burns to the face, hands, chest and legs and requires extensive medical care. These major burns were caused by a blast of steam from a hot water pipe that ruptured. The crew member's condition was so serious that the cruise ship diverted to San Juan in order to be rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter. The victim was transported to the hospital in San Juan and, later, to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Jackson has one of the best trauma centers in the world.
The Romanian newspaper states that no one from Carnival came to see the burned crew member at the hospital in Miami, even though the cruise line is headquartered here, according to the injured crew member's girlfriend.
Carnival Cruise Line requires most crew members to resolve their legal claims through an arbitration process outside of the U.S. and often applying laws from foreign countries, even thought Carnival is based in Miami and the cruise ship was based in a port in Florida.
There are videos of the Coast Guard medevac on YouTube. The video below explains that the incident happened while the Carnival cruise ship was heading back to the United States "from St. Maarten, St. Thomas and the Bahamas."
"A crew member was severely burned and in need of immediate medical care. The night before the hot water stopped working, about 3 hrs later the hot water was fixed, but the morning after they told everyone a crew member was in hurt and in need for a doctor. The captain of our ship made the decision to change our course and head to Puerto Rico to meet with a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter for a medical evacuation . . . Please pray for the injured man and his family as he goes through the painful and dangerous recovery from his burns . . ."
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."
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!"
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.
Today CNN and other networks have repeatedly aired images of the burned Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Grandeur of the Seas.
I clicked on the flat screen TV in my office this afternoon and took the photos below, of the burned stern of the cruise ship and passengers with life-vests on, in the casino and on deck at their muster stations.
Royal Caribbean's handling of the fire was considered a lot more transparent than the way Carnival communicated with the public following the fire which disabled the Carnival Triumph. But the Grandeur never lost power, whereas the Triumph was disabled 90 miles from shore and then drifted to 150 miles offshore before a tug arrived. Yesterday Royal Caribbean's president, Adam Goldstein, took a 45 minute flight from Miami to Freeport. Photos of him speaking with passengers while drinking ice tea in a cafe on the cruise ship seemed reassuring to the U.S. public who have been inundated with images from CNN of the last cruise-from-hell stories.
But when is enough bad publicity enough? I read many comments to news stories of this latest cruise fire from readers who thought this was another Carnival cruise ship fire. And even if the general public can distinguish between Carnival and Royal Caribbean, there is clearly a consensus of people who believe that there are far too many cruise ships catching on fire these days.
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.
Newspapers in Australia are reporting that two passengers disappeared from a Carnival cruise ship. A 26-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man were unaccounted for when the cruise ship docked in Sydney Harbor today.
The couple were last seen on deck last night, but failed to disembark when the Carnival Spirit cruise ship docked in Australia.
A Carnival spokesman said that crew members had become concerned only at 9:15 AM after it was discovered during disembarkation process that the passengers were missing.
Cruise ships are required by law to have technologies in place to detect when passengers go overboard. CCTV and motion detection technologies exist today but the majority of cruise lines refuse to implement the systems.
Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has listed almost 200 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000.
Do you have information about what happened? Please leave a message below.
May 9 2013 Update: New sources in Australia report that Kristen Schroder, 27, and Paul Rossington, 30, were last seen on the Carnival Spirit on Wednesday as it was sailing off the coast of Australia. CCTV appears to show them going overboard around 8:50 pm, according to a statement from the local New South Wales Police Force.
Here's the PR statement which Carnival issued today:
"We have naturally been concerned since we became aware that two passengers were missing from Carnival Spirit and our thoughts are clearly with their families at this difficult time. We are working closely with New South Wales Police and assisting them in their inquiries.
At approximately 9:15am today Australia time during the debarkation process for Carnival Spirit at the conclusion of a 10-night cruise in Sydney, it became apparent that two guests, a 26-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man, were unaccounted for. The guests in question were travelling with family and friends and initial reports indicate that the couple was last seen onboard the vessel last night. As part of our standard protocol, a full ship search was conducted as well as examination of closed circuit video. There is indication from the shipboard video of what transpired. There is no evidence of foul play. However, out of respect for the families, we are not going to publicly disclose the details of what occurred at this time."
May 11, 2013 Update: "The footage shows Ms Schroder climbing over the railing and standing on the other side of it as she faced towards the sea. Police did not reveal how long she was standing there and were unable to determine if she intended to jump or simply fell." Read article here.
Cruise lines hate U.S. governmental scrutiny of their business operations.
The whole purpose of incorporating their businesses and flagging their cruise ships in foreign countries is to avoid U.S. taxes and the scrutiny of federal regulators. This business model permits the cruise lines to pay virtually no U.S. taxes and to avoid U.S. wage, labor and safety laws. Cruise lines often conceal shipboard crimes and the industry's abuse of crew members.
But one U.S. Senator, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, is taking the cruise lines' lack of transparency head on. Following Carnival's string of disabled cruise ships and nonchalant attitude towards its quests, Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Carnival billionaire cruise CEO Micky Arison in March, inquiring into issues pertaining to the cruise line's avoidance of taxes as well as issues regarding the safety of cruise passengers. You can read the letter here.
Carnival's letter back to Rockefeller dodged and weaved and argued and mostly avoided responding to Senator Rockefeller's concerns. Carnival refused to disclose, for example, the number of victims of sexual assault - a topic that the cruise lines strenuously try to avoid talking about. We summarized Arison's defiant attitude in our article: Carnival CEO Arison's Letter to Senator Rockefeller: Screw You!
Undaunted, Senator Rockefeller has sent another letter to Arison and has also sent letters to the CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises (Richard Fain) and Norwegian Cruise Lines (Kevin Sheehan).
In his letters yesterday, the Senator is inquiring into the internal safety audits which the cruise lines and the cruise association are allegedly conducting. At the recent cruise trade show on Miami Beach, the Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL cruise executives talked at length about their ability to learn from their own internal investigations but never stated that they would release the reports from the investigations.
This is the usual cruise line ploy: assuring the public that they are busy at work investigating themselves after cruise ships sink or catch on fire; however, they never ever disclose the results of their alleged investigations. Carnival said that it was conducting an internal audit of its operations after the Carnival Splendor was disabled after an engine room fire in 2010. But Carnival has never released the results of its investigation. The public remains in the dark.
Senator Rockefeller is also again demanding that the cruise lines disclose the number of crimes, particularly sexual assault, on cruise ships. The cruise industry has been notoriously dishonest in revealing accurate crimes statistics. It usually defaults to conclusory, self-serving opinions that crime is "rare" while simultaneously concealing the true crime statistics.
At a prior Congressional hearing, Royal Caribbean responded to a Congressional inquiry by stating that 66 women were raped during a three year period. But in a court case we handled, the cruise line was ordered to reveal that the actual number of such crimes was much higher.