Carnival's CEO Gerry Cahill to Retire - Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Carnival Magic Returns to Galveston - "#EbolaCruise" Scare Over?

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 Pier 23 Galveston Carnival Magicdeadly 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.  

 

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Photo Credit: Galveston.com Pier 23 Web Cam

Cruise Industry is Completely Unprepared for Ebola Outbreak

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 byCruise Ebola Scare - Carnival @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 . . ."

I wrote a short article Ebola on the High Seas: Should Cruise Passengers Worry About Becoming Infected?

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.

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

 Photo Credit:  Jeremy Malone via ABC News

Texas Hospital Worker Who Handled Ebola Samples is on the Carnival Magic

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 Carnival MagicNina 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. 

Carnival Cruise EbolaThe 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. 

I have written about Ebola and the safety of the cruising public issue last week: Ebola on the High Seas: Should Cruise Passengers Worry About Becoming Infected?

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.

Carnival Cruise Ebola Scare

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Update: Cruise Industry is Completely Unprepared for Ebola Outbreak

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Thomas Doerfer Creative Commons 3.0 (top); Jeremy Malone via ABC News (bottom) 

Cruise Ship Law: Don't File Suit at the Last Minute in the Wrong Courthouse

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 Roya; Caribbeanwhere 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.  

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Baldwin040 Creative commons 3.0

Ebola on the High Seas: Should Cruise Passengers Worry About Becoming Infected?

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, Cruise Ship EbolaSierra 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.

To my knowledge, there are no cruise lines which routinely hire from Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea. In fact, I have never met or even heard of crew members from these countries. I anticipate that if there are any crew members from these countries, they will not be be re-hired when they return home on vacation. Miami-based cruise lines enacted such hiring freezes on crew members from affected areas during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in the past.

But I'm Uncertain About the Future

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 Cruise Ship Ebolamembers 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. 

October 17 2014 Update: Texas Hospital Worker Who Handled Ebola Samples is on the Carnival Magic

October 18 2014 Update: Cruise Industry is Completely Unprepared for Ebola Outbreak

 

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Read circular letter (No. 3484) about Ebola published by the International Maritime Organization.

Photo Credits: Top - Daily Times; Botton - CDC via AP

Ecstasy Tragedy: Clemson Student Knocked Off Radar Platform

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 Carnival Ecstasy Radarstation 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.

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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?

     

 

Photo Credit: RyG's Cruise Guide

Agony on the Ecstasy: What Causes People to be Cruel in Times of Tragedy?

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.

Carnival EcstasyI wrote a short article about what happened and posted it on Facebook

Cruel and hateful comments soon followed.

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 UpdateUSA 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."

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Photo Credit: Local 10 via Cruise Fever

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger from Carnival Miracle

Yesterday we mentioned that the U.S. Coast Guard flew 400 miles out to sea from Honolulu to drop blood supplies to the Carnival Miracle to help the ship medical team treat a passenger with internal bleeding.

But the passenger's medical condition continued to worsen, and the Coast Guard returned to the Carnival cruise ship with a helicopter to medevac the sick man.

The Miracle was approximately 80 miles north of Oahu at the time of the rescue. The crew hoisted the man from the cruise ship around 9 p.m. Tuesday and took him for emergency medical treatment.

Video credit: U.S. Coast Guard via Star Advertiser 

 

Need Blood in the Middle of the Pacific Ocean? Call the U.S. Coast Guard!

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 

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September 25 2014 Update: The Coast Guard returned to the Carnival Miracle with a helicopter and medevaced the passenger after his medical condition continued to deteriorate.

 

Micky Arison Cashes In On Carnival Stock, Again

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. 

By last June, Arison had unloaded over $490,000,000 of Carnival stock in a little over 3 months.

Arison is the richest person in Florida. He's worth between 5 and 6 billion dollars.

I was interviewed in a special about him last year.

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Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Carnival Inspiration

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. 

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Carnival Inspiration

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Matthew Baker Creative Commons 3.0

Carnival Reimburses Couple for Cruise After Kicking Them Off For Husband's "Minor Alzheimer Moment"

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 Carnival Legendmishandled" 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. 

We have reported on cases similar to this before. It sounds like Carnival handled the situation better than Celebrity Cruises did when it kicked an elderly couple off the Millennium and abandoned them after the wife exhibited signs of dementia. 

Watch the video here.

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Robertsrules Creative commons 3.0

Coast Guard Medevacs Ill Passenger From Carnival Fantasy

Carnival FantasyAccording to First Coast News, a Coast Guard helicopter medevaced a 67-year-old woman from the Carnival Fantasy to a Jacksonville hospital yesterday evening.

The passenger was reportedly experiencing life-threatening symptoms.

The Coast Guard helicopter, based out of Air Station Clearwater, lifted the cruise passenger off the ship and flew her, along with her husband and a cruise line nurse, to UF Health Jacksonville.

Neither the cruise line nor the passenger has to pay for these emergency medevac services.

The United States taxpayers foot the bill.

Carnival Magic Crushes Coral Reef in Cayman Islands

A newspaper in the Cayman Islands reports that the Carnival Magic cruise ship severely damaged a pristine coral reef when it anchored in an unauthorized zone near George Town on Wednesday,

The newspaper quotes the deputy director of the Cayman's Department of Environment saying that “the impact where the anchor landed was very severe; there was a lot of crushed live coral and sediment.”

The newspaper says that local pilot boats operated by Bodden Shipping Agency guided the Carnival cruise ship to anchor outside of the designated public port anchorage.

There's no mention whether the tourism dependent island will fine either the cruise line or the shipping agency.

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

Coral Reef Cayman Islands

Photo Credit: Don Foster's Dive Cayman via Cayman Compass 

 

Fewer Cruise Passengers Sail From Seattle

Cruise Seattle Alaska 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.   

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger from Carnival Fascination

Carnival FascinationA local CBS news station reports that the Coast Guard medevaced an ill passenger from a cruise ship today. 

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. 

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Carnival Ecstasy

A local FOX News station in Clearwater, Florida reports that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a passenger with a medical emergency from a Carnival  cruise ship.

The Carnival Ecstasy was sailing around 250 miles southwest of the Florida Keys on Thursday, when a 51 year old male passenger began experiencing symptoms of a heart attack.

The Coast Guard crew flew out to the cruise ship in a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter. They hoisted the sick passenger onto the helicopter and flew the man to a hospital. 

FOX 13 News

Will Carnival Become the New Pirates of Haiti?

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).

Tortuga Island HaitiPrime 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.  

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

August 5 2014 Update: The AP covers the story and quotes Cruise Law News.

August 6 2014 Update: CBS covers the story and quotes Cruise Law News. 

 

Interested in the cruise industry's relationship with Caribbean islands? Consider reading:

Royal Caribbean "Returns" to its Trademarked, Private Fantasy Island of Labadee® - While Haiti Suffers

Falmouth Jamaica: Victim of the Royal Caribbean System

Belize Tourism Industry Association Sues NCL to Block Mega Cruise "Harvest Caye" Development in Belize

Photo credit: BriceFoundation.org

Bad Medical Care, Lack of Accountability, Plague Cruise Industry

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. 

One of our ten most outrageous cruise stories last year focused on the extraordinary steps the cruise lines take to avoid responsibility when cruise ship doctors maim or kill cruise passengers. I also suggest reading: If The Ship Doctor Kills You, Too Bad.

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 Carnival Conquestcruise 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.

The hearing will be webcast live via the Senate Commerce Committee website. Be sure to click on the link and watch the hearing.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Derek Kastner

 

 

Carnival Spirit: How Not To Respond To A Man Overboard

Carnival's handling of the most recent disappearance of a person overboard, a chef from India, has been a mess.

The Carnival Spirit is 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 Carnival Spiritwaited an unreasonably long period of time to search for the overboard crew member.

In the Sydney Morning Herald article entitled Australian Cruise Passengers 'Frightened, Concerned' on Cruise Ship, a passenger on the ship said that an announcement was made at about 9.30 AM on Tuesday that a crew member had gone missing but the cruise ship did not turn around until about 2 PM.

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. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Jean-Philippe Boulet

Carnival Finally Bans Smoking on Balconies

Carnival Cruise Lines announced today that smoking will be prohibited on stateroom balconies effective October 9, 2014.

Carnival Cruise Line  spokesperson Vance Gulliksen said that the new policy is in response to comments by the majority of its customers.  

It's about time. 

In 2007, our client Lynnette Hudson, testified before Congress after her father died on the Star Smoking Cruise ShipPrincess in 2006 because a passenger flicked a cigarette butt from an upper balcony on the cruise ship.

The cigarette butt landed in a lower balcony. It smoldered in a towel or clothing and then caught fire.

Due to the highly combustible balcony partition materials and the absence of heat detectors and sprinklers on the balconies, the fire rapidly spread and burned 100 cabins, killing her father.

Princess knew of the danger of permitting cigarette smoking on balconies but didn't do anything about it before the fatality

You can read about her story here

Carnival already prohibits smoking in cabins.

However, Carnival still permits smoking in designated open-deck areas, night clubs, casinos and casino bars. 

U.S. Coast Guard Medevacs Cruise Passenger From Carnival Paradise

Carnival ParadiseThe 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

 

 

Crew Member Overboard From Carnival Spirit Near Vanatu

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 Carnival Spiritthat 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?

Cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein reports that 233 people have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Hpeterswald

Arnold Donald, Interesting Fellow, But What Has He Done for Carnival Crew Members?

Arnold Donald Crown HoldingsThe Miami Herald just published an article about Arnold Donald, who has now spent one year at the helm of Carnival Corporation after Micky Arison selected him following a series of disasters (Costa Concordia, Carnival Triumph, etc.) The article is entitled One Year In, Carnival CEO Arnold Donald is Working to Right the Ship.

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. 

You can read the thoughts and comments of Carnival ship employees in this article on our Facebook page.

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 Arnold Donald Crown Holdingsthat 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.

Terminating employees for complaining about working conditions or wages is nothing new for Carnival. In 2012, Carnival fired and black-balled 150 cruise ship waiters from India who protested low wages.

Mr. Donald has an interesting past and he brings a dynamic personality to Carnival. But he's the perfect business executive to continue the cruise giant's exploitation of its crew members.  

 

Photo Credit: Top - Businessweek via Power in a Union; bottom - LaborNotes.org.

Passenger Smuggles Cocaine Aboard Carnival Liberty

Ishermon Tafari - Carnival Srug Smuggling - CocaineNews 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]."

Photo Credit:  Orlando Sentinel  

Death of Birdie Africa on the Carnival Dream Reveals Shortcomings of Emergency Medical Treatment on the High Seas

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 Carnival Dreamhappened. 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."

Today, the Philadelphia Inquirer provides an insight into what really happened. 

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.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Longbowe

In Last Week Micky Arison Sells Over $78,000,000 of Carnival Stock - He's Sold Over $473,000,000 of Carnival Stock in 3 Months

In the last week, Carnival's Micky Arison sold over $78,000,000 of his cruise line's stock.

On June 6th, Arison sold 961,717 shares of the cruise company’s stock at an average price of $40.24, for a total value of $38,699,492.08.

On June 10th, Arison sold 992,369 shares at an average price of $40.35, for a total value of $40,042,089.15.

Micky ArisonHe also sold $395,000,000 in Carnival stock in early March.  By my calculations, Arison freed up over $473,000,000 in cash in 3 months. You can track Arison's Carnival stock transactions here.

It's an extraordinary amount of money. Yet Carnival continues to screw its crew members, left and right. Consider reading Greed On the High Seas: "Poop Cruise" & Concordia Cruise Executive Cashes $395,000,000 of Carnival Stock.

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.

June 16 2014 Update: On June 12th Arison sold another 445,008 shares of Carnival stock at an average price of $40.15, for a total transaction of $17,867,071.20.  That means, by my calculations, Arison has unloaded over $490,000,000 in a little over 3 months. 

 

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports via 7500toholte.sbnation.com/

Sexual Assault on Cruise Ship in St. Kitts? No One's Talking

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.

Carnival Valor Cruise ShipThe newspaper also contacted the police department which would not comment whether a rape occurred on the unidentified cruise ship or not.

Earlier this year we named St. Kitts as one of the top 10 most dangerous cruise destinations in the world.  We also reported on a sexual assault of a Royal Caribbean cruise passenger during an excursion in St. Kitts two years ago,

The article is below:

" . . .  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."

 

 

Photo Credit: sknclt.com

No Lifeguards for Children on Cruise Ships? Maritime Law Encourages Cruise Lines to Act Irresponsibly

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 Carnival Cruise Ship Drowning 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."

We have discussed this issue in prior articles:

Imperfect Parents & Corporate Irresponsibility: Why No Lifeguards on Disney Cruise Ships? (Disney now has lifeguards on its cruise ships).

Dangerous Cruise Ship Swimming Pools: Thoughts from a Concerned Cruiser

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

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Photo Credit: Ariza Talent & Modeling Agency via CBS News

Time for Transparency: Senators Request Coast Guard to Make Cruise Ship Inspection Reports Public

The U.S. Coast Guard made a remarkable statement during the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conference in March regarding passenger safety aboard cruise ships.

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. 

Allure of the Seas Life BoatMy 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.”

No response from the Coast Guard so far.

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick Passenger from the Carnival Imagination

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.   

 

What Happened on the Carnival Paradise Last Night?

Carnival Paradise Cruise ShipLast night a cruise passenger, @omasaid, tweeted that a fire may have broken out on the Carnival Paradise after the cruise ship left Cozumel.

Around 12:36 AM, he tweeted: "Keep us in ur prayers folks, white smoke maybe a fire is billowing from top of our cruise #carnival#paradise we r in the middle of ocean" 

At 12:40 AM he tweeted: "Update #carnival #paradise still no A/C people appear to be calm, Captain stated we r proceeding to Tampa maybe cruise is shortened..."

At 1:29 AM, he left this final tweet: "Update: #carnival #paradise all systems appear to b stable. A/C is operational, although another carnival ship traveling oddly close to us"

This morning, we asked Carnival for an explanation. So far we have not received a response. We also asked @omasaid for another update.

Does anyone else on the Paradise have information to share?

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

May 7 2014 Update:

We received this statement from Carnival this morning:

CARNIVAL PARADISE STATEMENT
May 7, 2014 - 9 a.m. EDT

"Earlier this morning while the Carnival Paradise was en route from Cozumel to its homeport of Tampa, an air conditioning compressor overheated causing some smoke in the forward section of the ship.

Shipboard personnel immediately responded and addressed the situation. All safety and hotel systems are operating normally and the ship is expected to arrive in Tampa Thursday morning as scheduled.

Announcements were made keeping guests apprised of the situation and the U.S. Coast Guard was notified as per standard protocol.

Carnival Paradise is currently operating a five-day cruise that departed Tampa on Saturday, part of its year-round four- and five-day schedule from that port."

May 8 2014 Update:

The Paradise returned to Tampa this morning.  We are waiting to hear from cruise passengers whether this was a minor event as Carnival suggests. 

See comments below . . . 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Beau Hudspeth - Digi-Gen Design Studios - Photography

More Trouble for Cruise Tourism in Roatan

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 Roatan Hondurad Cruise Crimeabiding 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. 

We reported on prior armed robberies in January and March

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.

 

Photo Credit:  Jim Walker

Crime, Crew Member Treatment & Environmental Practices - Not "Wow" Gadgets - Will Shape the Millennials' View of Cruising in the Future

This week I have read a couple of articles about the Cruise Lines International Association's (CLIA) "Cruise 3 Sixty" conference in Fort Lauderdale. I read an article in the Sun Sentinel (Cruise Execs Talk About Industry's Future) and an article in Travel Weekly (CEOs Say Cruise Lines Must Wow Travelers).

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).

"The Millennials"

To attract more first-time cruisers, CLIA is targeting the "Millennials" (consumers born between 1980 & Millennials2000).  

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 Royal Caribbean Bumper Carsare 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.

Human Rights, Not Bumper Cars

In the last three months, one cruise line in particular, MSC Cruises, has repeatedly made the news in the worst sort of way. Just this year, passengers and crew members have accused it of dumping garbage bags at seas in marine sanctuaries. The police and labor authorities raided one of MSC's ship to investigate allegations of the cruise line abusing crew members. MSC has drawn the ire of environmentalists by sailing through the San Marco basin and damaging the port in Venice.  

The traditional newspapers, like the Sun Sentinel and the Miami Herald, and travel publications like Celebrity Crew MemberTravel Weekly, have given little attention to these type of horror stories.

The image of the cruise industry will be shaped by issues like crime on cruise ships (a Disney crew member allegedly molested a 13 year old girl yesterday), crime in ports of call (a NCL crew member was shot and killed this week in Roatan), treatment of crew members from around the world (Carnival & Royal Caribbean seem to be competing to see who can best screw the crew members), and the cruise industry's pollution of the air and sea (have you seen the videos of MSC dumping trash?)

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.  

Shocking News: Carnival Incorporates in the U.S. & Subjects Itself to U.S. Tax, Labor, Wage, Safety & Environmental Regulations

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 Mickey Arison Miami Heat Carnival Cruisemillions 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.

Arison admitted that he felt guilty selling 1% of his Carnival stock for a $395,000,000 profit while suspending the crew member's retirement benefits.

"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.

Carnival Ecstasy Intercepts 41 Cubans at Sea

 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.

Carnival Cruise Lines Rescues Cubans at SeaWe 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. 

Last week we commented on this issue in an article entitled Cubans "Trying for the American Dream" End With An Empty Boat. In that case, Carnival intercepted 24 Cubans who were escorted by the Coast Guard back to Cuba. 

I wonder whether any of the 41 Cubans picked up by the Carnival Ecstasy Tuesday night had tried to cross again after being picked up last week? 

 

Photo Credit: AP / Local 10 news

Royal PR #FAIL: Royal Caribbean Keeps Adventure & Navigator Passengers in the Dark

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 Port of Galveston - Navigator of the Seas - Oil Spillwho 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, San Juan Long Lines Adventure of the Seasbut 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"

A woman concerned for her elderly parents tweeted: "@RoyalCaribbean when can incoming guests check luggage? Senior parents (one disabled) have been up since 4am. They are exhausted."

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 Ambulance Stressed and Exhausted Cruise Passengers - San Juannot 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."

You can read the Cruise Critic comments here.

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 Royal Caribbean Fantasy VacationsWeather 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? 

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger from Carnival Splendor

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.  

 

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Carnival Liberty Cruise Ship

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greed On the High Seas: "Poop Cruise" & Concordia Cruise Executive Cashes $395,000,000 of Carnival Stock

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 Micky Arison Carnival CruiseRoyal 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. 

 

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

Triumph Trash Talk: Carnival Mocks Its "Poop Cruise" Guests

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 Poop Cruise Carnival Triumphpress 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. 

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick Passenger From Carnival Paradise

Carnival Paradise MedevacThe 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. 

Photo Credit: FOX 4

 

 

Cruise Crime Cover Up: Cruise Lines Report Only Small Fraction of Crimes to the Public

WPTV Cruise Ship CrimeWPTV 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.

Interested in this issue?  Read Cruise Industry Launches False Crime Statistics Campaign

Credit: video and photograph WPTV

Cruise Ships Without Lifeguards: Shame On You!

NC: Cruise Shihp DrowningIn 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:

Dangerous Disney Cruise Ship Swimming Pool: Thoughts from a Concerned Cruiser

Imperfect Parents & Corporate Irresponsibility: Why No Lifeguards on Disney Cruise Ships?

 

WFSB 3 Connecticut

Cruise Industry Launches False Crime Statistics Campaign

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.

Holland America LineIt 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." 

A year and a half ago, I wrote an article revealing 23 Reports of Sexual Assault on NCL Cruise Ships in 15 Months. I have also mentioned that Royal Caribbean reportedly experienced 24 sexual assaults during the same year. 

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.

The result is that only a tiny portion of cruise ship crimes is ever publicly disclosed, according to a report by the Senate Commerce Committee. Of 959 crimes reported to the FBI for a 18 month period in 2011 and 2012, only 31 were disclosed on a web site maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.

In addition to the cover-up of crimes, the cruise lines have been adept at keeping the cause of cruise ship disappearances secret. 

HAL has been unable to explain why the last five passengers who disappeared from HAL cruise ships Cruise Ship Crimewent overboard. Several of these passengers were women who disappeared from their cabins. HAL always seems to argue that the passengers committed suicide.

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.

The cruise lines are relying on the CLIA travel agents to relay their false crime statistics and misleading opinions to the public. Travel Pulse just published "Agents: The Front Line In Telling the Real Cruise Story."

The travel publication says:

"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

Passenger Reportedly Falls From Deck 6, Strikes Lifeboat on Deck 4, on Carnival Miracle

Carnival Miracle Cruise ShipThe Cruise Critic message board states that a passenger apparently went over her balcony railing on the Carnival Miracle during the most recent (February 15 - 22) cruise. 

A poster left a message that the cruise ship turned around to begin a search for the passenger. However, it was announced that the passenger was recovered on board. She was taken to the infirmary.

One passengers suggested that "the person was pushed off the balcony and the people responsible were turned over to the authorities in Cabo."

Other people posting on the message board indicate that the passenger may have fallen from deck 6 to deck 4 and struck a lifeboat.

This morning we requested Carnival to provide information regarding this alleged incident. We will post Carnival's response if and when it responds. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / HurricaneX31

Cruise Passenger Sexually Assaulted In Freeport, Bahamas

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 video also 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. 

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Passenger Alleges 2 Crew Members Raped Her on Carnival Victory

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 Carnival Cruise Sexual Assaulta 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. 

 

Photo and story credit: Inside Edition  

Tonight on WKMG -TV 6 Orlando: "Top Cruise Spots Also Top List for Crime"

Disney Cruise Ship Crime - ChildrenTonight 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. 

We have written extensively about the high crime rate in Nassau which has led to the U.S. State Department recently issuing two warnings that crime in Nassau is "critical."  

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.

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Carnival-Owned AIDA Cruises Pulls Out of Margarita Island, Venezuela After Murder of Passenger

Margarita Island Venezuela Cruise MurderToday there is a report in El Universal newspaper that German cruise line AIDA Cruises announced the suspension of its two next port calls on Margarita Island, Venezuela. 

Last week we reported that a 76 year old passenger was shot and killed while ashore on an excursion from the Aida Luna cruise ship.

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.  

 

Photo (Map) Credit: David Gouaze 

America Now: Cruise Ship Crime

Cruise Ship CrimeToday, "America Now - News You Can Use" aired a video about the issue of cruise ship crimes.

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.

Photo Credit: NBC

 

 

Cabin Fire Delays Departure of Carnival Valor from St. Thomas USVI

Carnival Valor St. ThomasWe 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.

If you have information about the incident, please leave a comment below, or join the discussion on our Facebook page .

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.

###

Update: The Cruise Critic message board includes comments from passengers, including this one:

"No power at lido buffet and still have not left port and we are a hour late. Some aft stairwells have been block of and aft elevators are not operating." 

  

Photo Credit: Wikipediia / ckramer

Cruise Passenger Murdered in Venezuela's Margarita Island

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 Aida LunaLuna 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 

Coast Guard Medevacs Injured Passenger From Carnival Splendor

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:Splendor Cruise Ship AIS 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia - top; Marine Traffic - bottom

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick Passenger From Carnival Fantasy Cruise Ship

Carnival Fantasy Cruise ShipThe 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carnival Triumph: "Frazzled Wires" Caused Smoke & Power Loss

Carnival TriumphCarnival 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."

Carnival also claimed that the power was off for a mere 8 minutes. Passengers are also disputing that too, saying that the propulsion was shut down for over an hour. 

It seems like the "incinerator smoke" excuse is as bogus as the "8 minute" power loss excuse.

I'm still receiving a lot of information from the passengers who were on the cruise so check back on this story. 

Photo Credit: Carnival Triumph - Reuters

 

How Long Was Power Failure on Carnival Triumph? "8 Minutes" or 1 to 2 Hours?

Carnival Triumph Power LossYesterday 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. 

Carnival Triumph Power LossYou can read the comments here.

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?

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

Update: Carnival Triumph: "Frazzled Wires" Caused Smoke & Power Loss"

Carnival Triumph Loses Power Again - "For 8 Minutes"

Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship 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?"

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

February 1 2014 Update: Passengers getting off of the ship are stating that the power was out for an hour.  Also passenger records Cruise Director announced  that "frazzled wires" caused smoke.  

 

Photo Credit: Dave Martin / AP

Cruise Critic Rips Off Cruise Law Article

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.

We have heard Carnival public relation tweets before that electrical fires causing smoke were not really fires

Cruise Critic - Cruise Industry ShillYou can read our article here: Fire, Fog & Medevac Mar Cruise Aboard Carnival Magic.

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.

Cruise Critic is a site we have openly acknowledged is the number one blog covering the cruise industry. I have also published rankings showing Cruise Critic is the number one blog covering cruising. 

But it is also a dishonest organization, in my opinion.

Owned by the Expedia travel company, Cruise Critic is often seen as a cheerleader for the cruise lines. We have criticized it for deleting comments on its message boards and censoring members who write about events embarrassing to the cruise industry. It heavily moderates its message boards. It's the first to write a puff piece for the cruise lines when they need some good news. It's also known for being a shill for the cruise lines.

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. 

Crew Member From Bali Dies on Carnival Splendor

Wayan BarsianaThe 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 and died 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.

The Bali Seafarer's Centre Facebook page shows photographs of the return of the crew member's body home.

The KPI union and hiring agency in Indonesia contributed to the funeral expenses in respect for the family.

If you have a comment, please join the discussion about this article on our Facebook page.

Photo credits: Bali Discovery - top; Bali Seafarer's Centre - bottom. 

Death on Carnival Splendor

To the Chagrin of Travel Agents, CNN Videos Keep Pressure on Cruise Lines

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 CNN Cruise Disastersdon'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.

Other CNN videos worth watching: 

Grandeur of the Seas fire;

Norovirus Sickens Passengers Aboard Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas;

Who's Keeping Passengers Safe? 

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.

And this travel agent will be complaining loudly.  

Fire, Fog & Medevac Mar Cruise Aboard Carnival Magic

Carnival Magic MedevacThis 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?

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

Carnival's response:

"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."

ABC 20/20 Program "Controversy Around Man Overboard Systems"

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. 

 


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ABC 20/20 Tonight: "Woman's Terrifying Fall From Cruise Ship Caught on Tape"

Cruise Ship CameraTonight 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.

Jim Walker Cruise Ship Man OverboardIn 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!

The 20/20 program airs tonight at 10:00 PM EST.

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

 

 Credit: "How prepared is your ship if you fall overboard?" ABC NEWS 20/20

 

"An Unhappy Ship" - "This Will Be My Family's Last Cruise"

Last week, I reported on a Filipino crew member who apparently jumped off of the Grand Princess cruise ship after it left San Francisco. The 34 year old man was the fifth person to go overboard in the last 18 days. 

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."

 

Photo Credit: Hakilon / Wikipedia

Coast Guard Medevacs 68 Year Old Passenger from Carnival Elation

Carnival Elation Cruise ShipDefense Video and Imaging Distribution System (DVIDS) reports tonight on another medevac of a cruise ship passenger by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Today, the Carnival Elation cruise ship notified the Coast Guard that a passenger was suffering from cardiac symptoms and needed to be medically evacuated.

The Coast Guard in New Orleans sent a MH-65D helicopter to the Carnival cruise ship and hoisted a 68-year-old man from the ship.

The Coast Guard said that the passenger experienced symptoms of cardiac arrest.

The cruise ship was 60 miles offshore of the Southwest Pass, Louisiana.  

The helicopter transported the ill passenger to the LSU Medical Center.

 

Video Credit: Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / P. Alejandro Diaz

Australia Investigates Death of Passenger on Sun Princess

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.

Betty VirgoMs. 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.

 

Photo Credit: Adam Head / News Limited via Courier Mail

 

Nassau Bahamas: "One Gunshot Away" From Losing Cruise Lines

Yesterday the Nassau Guardian published an interview of me discussing the crime situation in Nassau which cruise passengers face when disembarking at the port.

You can read that interview here: "U.S. attorney raises alarm over crime - Bahamas 'one gunshot away' from cruise line exit says maritime lawyer who represents victims." My opinion is that Carnival and the other cruise lines will let matters in Nassau play out as they long as they can. But an armed robbery of a passenger ending in death will probably result in the cruise lines pulling out, as they have done in the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Croix) and Mexico. 

Today the cruise line responded to my interview. A representative of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Jim Walker Cruise Lawyer Nassau CrimeAssociation (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. 

Concordia Two Years Later: Former Costa CEO Pier Luigi Foschi Retiring from Carnival with Bonus While Victims Remain Uncompensated

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. 

Pier Luigi Foschi Costa Cruises 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.    

 

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

Poop Cruise Reveals Shortcomings of Port and Flag State Inspections

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. 

Carnival Splendor Fire 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.

 

Photo Credit: cntraveler.com

Carnival Fights Losing PR Battle After Incriminating Poop Cruise Documents Surface

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 Carnival Triumph Poop Cruiseinconvenience 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. 

Russian Roulette: Did Carnival Sail Knowing that the Triumph was Unseaworthy?

Carnival Triumph Cruise ShipReeling 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.

 

See photos of the Triumph inspection reports and disabled ship here.

Phto Credit: Telegraph.co.uk

CNN Report on Triumph Fire: Carnival Cruise Line Knew of Danger Before Sailing

Triumph Cruise Ship FireAnderson 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 Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship Fireand 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 images are from the CNN special. You can see additional photographs on our Facebook page

Watch the video below. 

Double Duty: Coast Guard Performs Medevacs of Passengers From Norwegian Breakaway and Carnival Fascination

Carnival Fascination Cruise Ship MedevacThe 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.  

 

 

 

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Carnival Victory

Carnival Victory Cruise Ship 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.

Two days ago, we posted a story about the Coast Guard medevacing an ill woman from the Carnival Miracle cruise ship. 

Photo Credit: Carnival Victory - Wikipedia / Tomás Fano

Video: Coast Guard Medevacs 34 Year Old Passenger From Carnival Miracle

Coast Guard Medevac Cruise ShipChannel 7 San Diego reports that a Coast Guard aircrew medevaced a woman from a Carnival cruise ship today after she began internally bleeding approximately 600 miles south of San Diego.

The Carnival Miracle contacted the Coast Guard last night, requesting a medevac for the 34-year-old woman.

A helicopter flew from San Diego to met the ship, which was nearly 300 miles south of San Diego at the time of the rescue.

The helicopter crew hoisted the woman and transported her to San Diego where she was transferred to emergency medical personnel for further medical care. 

You can see a Coast Guard video of the amazing medical rescue below.

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Yah Mon! Cruise Law Goes to Jamaica

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 Injured Crew Members - Jamaica - Lawyers 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 jim@cruiselaw.com and I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have and can call you to discuss your concerns if you wish. 

Lawsuit Allegations: Carnival Security Guard Roughs Up 14 Year Old

Carnival Cruise Lawsuit 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. 

Expect a vigorous defense by Carnival.

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

 

Photo Credit: 7 - News / WSVN

 

Will New Carnival CEO Arnold Donald Save the Day or Sink the Ship?

Carnival Cruise This morning there's lots of news articles praising new Carnival CEO Arnold Donald and his cruise line.

Businessweek published "Carnival's Accidental CEO Plots New Course for Cruise Line" suggesting that CEO Arnold is the cruise giant's new messiah who's going to kill the weeds in the Carnival armada and turn things around.

The South Florida Business Journal's headline today is "Donald Making Waves at Carnival Cruise Company." And the financial blog Seeking alpha writes today "Is Carnival Sailing Into Calmer Waters?"

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."

Investors Business Daily also chimed in last week in an article "Carnival's Image Woes Linger, Good for Cruise Rivals."

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.  

 

Facebook Discussion: Will Carnival turn things around under CEO Arnold's leadership?  Join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

 

Carnival Joins Plane & Train Companies in Refusing to Permit Obese Passenger Aboard

Kevin ChenaisThe 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."

In an article entitled "Too Fat to Travel? Man Rejected by Plane, Train and Cruise Ship," the Associated Press writes about Kevin Chenais, age 22, who is under medical treatment due to a hormonal imbalance.

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?  

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

 

Photo Credit: Associated Press

New Cruise Terminals & Piers: A Risky Business?

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 Carnival Cruise Line - 800 Pound Gorilla 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.

Just ask Mobile Alabama.

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. 

Carnival Cruise Line Teams Up With New Orleans Saints

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 Carnival Cruise - New OrleansOrleans 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.    

 

P.S. Don't miss reading my article about favorite team, the Saints, and my favorite city, New Orleans: Oysters, Dixie Beer & My New Orleans Saints.

Carnival Executives Switch Roles

Carnival Cruise LineSeveral 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.  

Video: Flood & Fire on Carnival Pride

Fire on Carnival PrideThey 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 Carnival Pride Cruise Ship Firetelevision. 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. 

A reader left a comment to our first article and pointed out that Cruise Critic contains some passing comments about the flooding and the fire. 

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.

 

 

Video: Rough Weather Strikes Carnival Cruise Ship

A former employee of Carnival Cruise Lines sent us two short videos of rough weather striking an unidentified cruise ship.

The first video is from the bridge camera and shows waves striking over the bow.

The second and more dramatic video shows water smashing through a window and engulfing the interior of the cruise ship with water.

The videos both show a date of November 5 2011.  I'll post additional information as it becomes available. 

November 2 2013 Update: Several readers indicate that this was the Carnival Pride. If you have other info, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.  Thanks! 

November 3 2013 Update: Check out the video of the fire which broke out in the children's area (Circle C) on the cruise ship.

 

 

  

Carnival Drops Tortola

Tortola - Carnival Drops PortCarnival Cruise Lines is dropping the British Virgin Islands port of Tortola next year. 

Carnival intended to send five cruise ships to Tortola through April 2015.

The port is overhauling its cruise ship dock, and passengers may be required to tender from the ship to shore, Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz said.

The Carnival cruise ships involved are the Sunshine, Freedom, Liberty, Glory and Valor

Tortola was the port where a Princess cruise passenger died in an excursion bus tour three and one-half years ago. 

 

Photo Credit: cruisetimetables.com

Carnival Abandons Norfolk

Norfolk Virginia Port - Carnival CruiseThe 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.

Carnival talked Mobile, Alabama, among other broken hearts, into building a new cruise terminal for tens and tens of millions of dollars. After the new terminal was built, Carnival left Mobile high and dry. The city officials were shocked and the city was saddled with debt. Even today, Mobile is still lighting a candle like a spurned lover hoping that Carnival will return. 

And Carnival dropped Antigua like a hot potato; read how Carnival broke up with its "business partner" with a "Dear John" letter sent via e-mail.  

Norfolk, it's time to move on. It's time to look for sustainable industries and responsible maritime corporate citizens to fill your port.

Photo Credit: NorfolkVisitors.com

Carnival Cruise Compensation: The Rich Get Richer

Travel Weekly and Skift recently reported that the new CEO of Carnival Corporation, Arnold Donald, will receive the following in compensation:

Arnold Donald - Carnival Cruise Lines Compensation$1 million base salary to start, with reviews by the board of directors to increase or decrease his salary;

A fixed bonus of $1.125 million for 2013;

A one-time award of performance-based restricted stock with a target value of $3 million, although it could be 5 times that depending on company’s performance;

An annual stock award with a fair market value of $3.5 million in long term incentives;

$350,000 to cover relocation and temporary living expenses; and

A bonus for 2014 up to $2.65 million which could go up to $5.3 million in 2015.

You can read the official SEC filing here.

Mr. Donald must be so happy that he feels like dancing. 

The only things missing are a half dozen front row seats to the Miami Heat games.

This news must feel like salt into the wounds of the long term Carnival Cruise Lines crew members who lost their retirement benefits earlier this week. 

 

Photo Image: St. Louis Post Dispatch

Cruise CEO Arnold Donald's First Blunder: Carnival Guts Crew Retirement Benefits

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.

Carnival Donald Arnold - Micky ArisonThis 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." 

Yesterday I wrote that Carnival embarked on a major cost-cutting campaign by freezing all of the retirement benefits for the crew members working for Carnival Cruise Lines. There are some 24 Carnival Cruise Line cruise ships with over 20,000 crew members working aboard the ships.  Cutting an average of just $5,000 per crew member may result in a savings of $100,000,000 over the next few years.

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."

You can read other comments here or on our Facebook page.

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.   

 

Photo Credit: Local10.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  

Coast Guard Medevacs Carnival Passenger with Broken Legs

A local news station in Broward County reports that the U.S. Coast Guard has medevaced a seriously injured passenger from an unidentified Carnival cruise ship today.

The woman, who sustained injuries to both of her legs, was hoisted onto a Coast Guard helicopter and flown to St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach. 

The news station states that Coast Guard Sector Miami was notified by cruise personnel that the 52-year-old woman had fallen in an elevator, severely injuring both of her legs.

This was the second Coast Guard medevac of a passenger from a Carnival cruise ship today. Earlier this morning, a Coast Guard helicopter rescued a passenger from the Carnival Splendor.

Coast Guard Medevac Carnival Cruise Ship

 

Photo Credit: Local 10

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick Passenger From Carnival Splendor

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.

 

Carnival Cruises Lines Terminates Crew Member Retirement Benefits

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.   

Carnival Cruises Lines Retirement BenefitsThe 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?

Please feel free to leave an anonymous comment or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

October 24 2013 Update: Here's what Carnival's website says about "The Fun Ship Retirement Plan:"

"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."

"Strip Search" Lawsuit: Court Denies Carnival's Motion to Sanction Teenager for Telling Lies

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.    

You can read the order here

 

Photo Credit: Wknight94 via Wikipedia

Dead Filipinos, Dead Children & Other Cruise Line Madness

This week several people died during cruises on ships owned by Carnival Corporation.  A young seafarer died on the Carnival-owned Cunard Queen Victoria cruise ship.  A crew member from the Carnival Conquest was crushed to death at the port of New Orleans. And most tragically, a 6 year-old boy needlessly drown on the Carnival Victory in a swimming pool which, incredibly, did not have a life-guard.     

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 Qwentyn Hunter - Carnival Cruise Shipline 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.    

Cruise lines love DOHSA. It exculpates the cruise lines when they act irresponsibly.  The cruise industry has lobbied hard against amending the law.  Read about that here and here. Don't miss reading: What Does BP, Al Qaeda and a Cruise Line Have In Common?  

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 Filipino Crew Member - Cruise - Burn Unitinjury. 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.  

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

Carnival Conquest Crew Member Killed in New Orleans

Carnival ConquestThe 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

If you have information, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page,

Woman Falls Overboard, Treads Water Until Rescued: Who's Responsible?

Carnival Destiny Cruise Ship - Man OverboardInside 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?

Read our articles about the case:

Why Did Carnival Delay Rescuing An Overboard Passenger From The Destiny?

Carnival Booze Cruise Disaster Ends Up In Court,

Disappearances at Sea: Cruise Industry Refuses to Comply with Cruise Safety Law,

If you have a thought about this case, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

 

 

Photo credit: Jetaria Taylor

6 Year Old Drowns on Carnival Victory Cruise Ship

Carnival VictoryThe AP reports that a 6-year-old boy drowned in a pool on Carnival Victory cruise ship on Sunday. 

Carnival said that this was the first time a child drowned on one of its ships.  

But just last month a 41 year-old passenger drowned in one of the hot tubs on the Carnival Dream. 

We reported the last time a major cruise line experienced such an incident.  The Disney Fantasy has a small boy rendered brain damaged when he nearly drown.  You can read our articles:

Imperfect Parents & Corporate Irresponsibility: Why No Lifeguards on Disney Cruise Ships?

Dangerous Disney Cruise Ship Swimming Pool: Thoughts from a Concerned Cruiser

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."

Cruise Crime & Missing People: Are Cruise Lines Telling You the Truth?

The non-profit International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization released an interesting press statement today.

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 Cruise Ship Safety 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 and sister line Celebrity Cruises quickly proved that they can't be trusted. They chose to disclose only three (3) overboard persons for the time period from October 2010 to June 2013. As explained in our article Cruise Line "Voluntary" Crime & Man-Overboard Disclosures: Royal Caribbean's Data Is Incomplete and Misleading, at least eleven (11) persons went overboard during this time period.  

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.    

You can read the ICV press release here.

Carnival Hot Tub Death Involved Survivor of 1985 Philadelphia MOVE Bombing

Michael Moses Ward /  Birdie AfricaLast week we reported on the death of a passenger aboard the Carnival Dream cruise ship on September 20, 2013. 

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

Death Aboard the Dream

Carnival Dream Cruise ShipSeveral 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."

The last passenger death aboard the Dream occurred two months ago: Questions Swirl Around Death of Passenger Aboard Carnival Dream Cruise Ship.

In May of last year, we reported on the death of another passenger from the Carnival Dream who allegedly received bad medical care on the cruise ship: Carnival Dream Turns Into Deadly Nightmare

September 25 2013 Update: Carnival Hot Tub Death Involved Survivor of 1985 Philadelphia MOVE Bombing

 

Photo Source: Wikipedia / Kuloskulos

Carnival's "Moments that Matter" Marketing Campaign is Offensive and the Timing Couldn't Be Worse

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 Concordia Cruise Missingthe 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 Carnival Moments that Matter - Cruise Disasterthe 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. 

Bahamas Cruise Crime Controversy Continues: Is the Carnival Warning Adequate?

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 Cruise Ship Crime - Nassau Bahamasprivate 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 Bahamas Tribune newspaper contains the language of the Carnival letter to its 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.

Just today, an article was published in a newspaper in Trinidad & Tobago about the harm to the country's tourism industry caused by travel advisories about robbery, kidnapping and sexual assault involving cruise passengers and tourists.

It seems like many tourism officials in countries in the Caribbean view scary travel advisories as the problem rather than crime itself.

 

Photo Credit: meted.ucar.edu

Port of Miami Security Guards Arrested for Stealing Cruise Passenger iPads

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 Port of Miami Security Guardsbombs 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?

 

Like this story? Try reading Stolen iPhone Adventures Aboard the Disney Wonder Cruise Ship 

Coast Guard Medevacs Injured Crew Member From Carnival Conquest

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. Carnival Conquest Cruise ShipIt 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

Carnival Conquest Coast Guard Medevac

Reputation Ravaged Carnival Hires New Marketing Firm

Beleaguered Carnival Cruise Line, which in just a few months turned itself into the "poop cruise line," has hired a new marketing firm to turn its image around.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reports that Carnival Cruise Lines has named the Lacek Group (TLG) as its new customer marketing agency. 

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."

Carnival Cruise Line MarketingRob 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 Corporation subsidiary Princess Cruises just hired a new advertising agency to help rehabilitate ts image.

Will the Lacek Group turn Carnival back into "The World's Most Popular Cruise Line?"

I wonder why Carnival Cruise Line, based here in Miami, could not locate local talent from Miami to help with improving its marketing efforts?  

 

Photo Credit:  CollegeHumor.com

Carnival Scores PR Coup During Interview with CBS's Peter Greenberg

Arnold Donald Carnival CruiseCarnival 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

September 4 2013 Update:  The CBS Morning Show Segment That Looks Like a Carnival Cruise Commercial via Skift - Does CBS stand for Carnival Broadcasting Station?

 

 

Cruise Ship Crime & Sexual Assault Lawyer: Read About Our Experience, Reputation & Results

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 Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Crimehad 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:

Sexual Perverts & Pedophiles on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships

Rape of 15 Year Old Girl Is Latest Crime Against Children on Carnival Cruises

Another Child Porn Bust, This Time on Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas

How safe is a cruise? Even after new law, it's hard to say

If you have a question about cruise ship crimes, and in particular sexual assault during cruises, please call our office at (305) 995 5300. or email me directly at jim@cruiselaw.com.

New Lawsuits Filed Against Carnival for Triumph "Poop Cruise"

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 Carnival Triumph Poop Cruise"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.

You can read more about the claim from the Houston Chronicle: Beaumont Man Sues After Entire Staff Stuck on Carnival Cruise

The typical Carnival ticket requires that lawsuits of this type must be filed in federal court in Miami. 

Triumph Poop Cruise Lawsuit Abandoned

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 Carnival Triumph Poop Cruiseclaimed 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.  

"Voluntary" Cruise Crime Statistics Keep Public in the Dark

Cruise Ship CrimeCBS 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.     

 

 

NBC Covers Cruise Ship Crime: "Lawmakers Turn Attention to Crime on Cruise Ships"

Cruise Ship CrimeTonight 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.  

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

Watch the video below. 

  

 

Carnival Sunshine Buzzes Venice & Rekindles Controversy

Venice Carnival Sunshine Cruise ShipA 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." 

Venice Carnival Cruise Ship 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. 

My personal thoughts about the issue are expressed in an article Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth? 

Update / Correction: I erroneously referred to the basin by Venice as the "'Grand Canal."  The cruise ship was not in the Grand Canal, rather it was in the Guidecca canal,

The Daily Mail has an article about the incident with additional video and photos.  

Another newspaper, the Independent, published an article Cruise Ship Has Alleged Close Call in Venice.  It quotes Carnival saying that the captain was at the helm, not a port pilot.

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."  

 

 

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

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

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

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

Flesh Eating ZombieI think so.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man Arrested on Charges of Raping Passenger Aboard the Carnival Dream

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. 

Carnival Dream Cruise ShipThe 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.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia /  Kuloskulos

Questions Swirl Around Death of Passenger Aboard Carnival Dream Cruise Ship

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."

Carnival Dream Cruise Ship 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.

Why do the cruise lines think they can act like police officers and coroners and determine the cause of death?  Read:  "Suicide" - One of the Cruise Lines' Favorite Excuses When a Passenger Disappears at Sea"

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

Better Late Than Never? U.S. Coast Guard Releases Report Over 2 & 1/2 Years After Catastrophic Carnival Splendor Fire

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.

Carnival Cruise Line - Splendor FireThe 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. 

You can read the report here

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.

A month after the fire, the Coast Guard issued two Marine Safety Alerts regarding the CO2 firefighting system on the Splendor ship which failed to operate. Here's our article about the Coast Guard's initial finding in December 2010: Carnival Splendor CO2 Firefighting System: "A Recipe for Failure."

 

Photo Credit: Denis Poroy/Associated Press via New York Times

12 Year Old Child Medevaced from Carnival Sensation

Carnival SensationNews 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. 

The last time that a child was medevaced from a cruise ship in Port Canaveral was in March of this year when a 4 year old boy nearly drowned on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Wknight94

Death Aboard the Magic: Carnival Passenger Falls From Balcony

Carnival Magic Cruise ShipNews 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.

 

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Romanian Crew Member Seriously Injured on Carnival Dream

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. Carnival Dream Cruise Ship 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 . . ." 

 

 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Kuloskulos

Video Credit: YouTube / SuperDonovan911

Desperate? Carnival Goes Old School & Brings Bob Dickinson Back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dickinson is emblematic of the cruise industry's arrogance.

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

 

Photo Credit: Top - Southern Cruising 

Cruise Ship Fires: When is Enough, Enough?

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.

Cruise Ship Fire  

Cruise Ship Fire

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Carnival Dream Rescues Two Boaters

Carnival Dream Cruise Ship Following a year of fires, disabled ships, non-working toilets and bad cruise news, Carnival Cruise Line needs all of the help it can get.

This weekend Carnival received some free PR when the U.S. Coast Guard called upon the Carnival Dream cruise ship to rescue two Bahamian men stranded in the waters off Florida.

Deon Lathen and Ted Lainge's disabled vessel, Tera Bite, was 30 miles east of Sebastian Inlet when the Coast Guard called on the Carnival cruise ship to help with the rescue.

According to CBS News, the cruise ship picked up the stranded men and transferred them to a Coast Guard cutter. The men have been taken to Fort Pierce.

 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Kuloskulo

Fire Trucks Respond to Carnival Cruise Headquarters - Carnival Denies Fire

Carnival Cruise Ship FireAnd time for weird cruise news.

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

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

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

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

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

Two Passengers Overboard From Carnival Spirit Cruise Ship

Carnival Spirit Cruise ShipNewspapers 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.

Read article from Australia: Cruise Industry Urged to Report Missing People Earlier

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 10 2013 Update: How Love Turned Tragic on the High Seas

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.

 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Jean-Philippe Boulet

Senator Rockefeller Places Royal Caribbean & Norwegian Cruise Line Under the Microscope: Will Cruise CEO's Fain and Sheehan Be Honest?

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).

NCL Cruise CEO Kevin SheehanIn 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 Royal Caribbean Cruise CEO Richard Fainthat 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.

The LA Times reported on the cover-up in an article: Cruise Industry's Dark Waters.   

Royal Caribbean faced no consequence for misleading Congress back in 2006.  

The cruise lines' response to Senator Rockefeller in due on May 24th.  

Will RCCL CEO Fain and NCL CEO Sheehan be transparent? Or will they join Arison in a game of hide and seek?

Carnival Ecstasy Briefly Loses Engine Power

Carnival Ecstasy Power OutageThe popular cruise fan site Cruise Critic is reporting that the Carnival Ecstasy's return to Port Canaveral this morning was delayed due to a brief power failure last evening.  

Cruise Critic states that the Ecstasy lost power for around 12 minutes while sailing back to Port Canaveral at the end of a five-night Bahamas cruise. 

Carnival released a statement, saying that  "All hotel services and propulsion were quickly restored and the ship is currently underway on its way back to its homeport."

Carnival attributed the power outage to a "mechanical failure."

The Ecstasy is an old Fantasy class cruise ship launched in 1991. Carnival has been under criticism for neglecting maintenance on its ships.

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

 

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia / Sparrowman980 

 

Under Pressure, Carnival Agrees to Reimburse U.S. for Coast Guard & Navy Costs in Responding to Disabled Triumph & Splendor Cruise Ships

Under public criticism and pressure initiated by U.S. Senator Rockefeller, Carnival announced today that it will reimburse the federal government for costs of over $4,000,000 incurred by the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy in responding to its Triumph and Splendor cruise ships. 

Senator Rockefeller set his sights on the cruise industry at a Senate hearing last year following the deadly disaster of the Carnival-owned Costa Concordia cruise ship.  Rockefeller grilled the cruise industry's CEO and questioned why the cruise lines avoided most U.S. taxes and did not reimburse the federal government Senator Rockefeller - Micky Arisonfor the services of some 20 federal agencies.

Senator Rockefeller recently sent a letter to Carnival CEO Micky Arison, who is worth over 5.7 billions dollars, demanding an explanation why Carnival paid virtually no U.S. taxes even though the Panamanian incorporated cruise line uses the services of the U.S. Coast Guard and other U.S. agencies on a daily basis.  Carnival's response was labeled "shameful" by Rockefeller.

NBC aired a special on the story and interviewed Rockefeller (and me) during the program. NBC's Rock Center commissioned an audit of Carnival which revealed that Carnival paid 0.6% in international, federal, national, and local taxes on its many billions of dollars in income over the course of the last 5 years.    

Numerous news sources, including the Huffington Post, published articles highly critical of Carnival. Since then, Carnival has been the butt of "poop ship" jokes and ridiculed for non-payment of U.S. taxes. Carnival has been clobbered in the arena of public opinion.    

Carnival released a statement today saying: “Although no agencies have requested remuneration, the company has made the decision to voluntarily provide reimbursement to the federal government.”

Senator Rockefeller responded by saying: “I’m glad to see that Carnival owned up to the bare minimum of corporate responsibility by reimbursing federal taxpayers for these two incidents. I am still committed Micky Arison - Senator Rockefeller  to making sure the cruise industry as a whole pays its fair share in taxes, complies with strict safety standards, and holds the safety of its passengers above profits.”

The issue of Carnival's avoidance of paying taxes and for U.S. services has been brewing for years. The International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization, a non-profit organization focused on crimes and disappearances of passengers on cruise ships, has addressed the issue of cruise tax avoidance for years.  ICV CEO Ken Carver sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the costs associated with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard responding to the disabled Carnival Splendor in November 2010.

Mr. Carver's investigation led to a response from the Navy which revealed that the Navy incurred $1,884,376.75 in responding to the disabled Splendor which included sending the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and helicopters to the fire stricken cruise ship.

Read: Your Tax Dollars At Sea - Who Pays When Things Go Wrong on Cruises?     

Congratulations to the ICV and CEO Ken Carver for raising this issue over the past years.

Did Costa Cover-Up A Near Concordia-Like Disaster?

A newspaper in Italy is reporting that six and one-half years before the Costa Concordia disaster, another Costa cruise ship ruptured its hull during a "sail-by" maneuver off the coast of Capri.

Libero Quotidiano reports that in June 2005, the Costa Fortuna was sailing by the island of Capri off the western side of Italy.  The Fortuna, owned by Carnival and operated by Costa Crociere (Costa), had 3,500 passengers and crew members aboard.  According to the newspaper, the ship cruised into shallow water during what is called a "sail-by" or "salute" to entertain the quests.  Just like theCosta Fortuna Cruise Ship Sail By Concordia, the Fortuna's hull was ruptured by rocks in the shallow waters and the cruise ship began to take on water.

The Italian newspaper writes that the Master and officers of the Fortuna did not report the incident to the Italian Coast Guard or any maritime or port officials. The officers then ordered the use of pumps at maximum effort to keep the water from sinking the ship. The Fortuna was able to make it to the port of Palermo in Southern Italy. Once back in port, Costa had the hole repaired and then continued the cruise the following morning with all of the passengers.

The only thing reported by Costa was that there had been an abnormal rise in the temperature of an engine. After making this false report, Costa "buried" the incident.  

The incident came to light as part of the investigation into Costa following the 2012 Costa Concordia disaster. One of the photographers who worked in 2005 on Fortuna reported the incident to the Master of Palermo. His story has been verified.  Investigators said that there is "numerous and insurmountable" evidence to support the photographer's account. The incident was a "real critical situation," and it was only favorable weather conditions that avoided a disaster. 

Another Italian newspaper, La Nazione, covered this story and has additional information.  The reference to the 2005 incident is contained in a 700 page report about the Costa Concordia which focused on prior "sail bys."  On page 619 of the report, there is a reference to the Costa Fortuna cruising 300 meters from the coast near Sorrento when it hit a shoal and began to take on water, "just before a greeting to the island of Capri." The impact caused a gash in the hull "deep and ten meters long."  Passengers were disembarked from the ship in dry dock where the ship was repaired during the night by Fincantieri workers and set off on the morning of June 15 2005. The Master, Giuseppe Russo, did not report the incident, and the ship officers falsely stated that while cruising from Naples to Palermo there had been an unexpected rise of temperature.

La Nazione explains that there was never any indication of the incident to the maritime authorities until January 18 2012, when the wave of emotion caused by the sinking of Concordia and of the 32 victims, caused one of two Costa Fortuna photographers, Roberto Cappello, to come forward. 

This story was first reported last year by the U.K. press. The Sun reported that Fortuna ship photographer Cappello was on board the ship when he felt and heard a "loud bang" during the "sail by." The ship then rolled from left to right. Cappello later photographed damage to the cruise ship’s keel and broken propeller blade. However, Costa demanded and confiscated his photographs. Costa later claimed that the ship had "struck a whale."

Does anyone have information about this incident?  Are there any former crew member who worked on the Fortuna with information to share?  Leave a message or discuss the issue on our Facebook page.

April 15 2013 Update:

Costa sent a letter to the newspaper strongly denying the incident and threatening to sue.

According to La Nazione Grosetto, Costa categorically denies that the Fortuna was Involved in a collision in shallow water near Capri on June 13, 2005 which caused a leak in the hull, as reported by a photographer on board the ship. Costa states that after departure from the port of Naples, around 7:00 PM on June 13 2005, the Fortuna experienced only a "minor technical problem" to a propeller shaft which did not compromise safety or navigation. There was a short stop in the dock in Palermo, the next port, and repairs were successfully performed between 14 and 15 June 2005. On June 15 2005, the ship was permitted to leave the dock, with certificates issued by the certifying authority competent, and the cruise ship departed Palermo at 9.00 AM on its cruise itinerary.

Costa Cruises reserves all legal action against those who continue to spread news which is defamatory to the company's image.  

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Hanseaticus

More Toilet Problems for Carnival: Crown Princess Poop Ship!

Princess Cruises Crown Princess Toilet Problems"Poop ships" and Carnival have become synonymous this year following the public relations debacle as thousands of passengers aboard the Triumph cruise had to endure several days without working sanitation as they were towed to Mobile Alabama.

This evening, a news station in Houston is reporting that the Carnival-owned Princess Cruises' Crown Princess is experiencing grand problems with its toilet system as well.

KPRC-Houston reports that the Crown Princess experienced a blockage within the vacuum toilet system which affected some 410 staterooms in the aft part of the cruise ship. The news station quoted a passenger saying "by the bathroom, it was flooded, it was wet in the carpet." Another passenger said the ship "smelled of backed-up sewer." Many passengers couldn't use the toilets in their cabins. Passengers had to get up in the night and take elevators to use the public restrooms.  One passenger told the Houston news station: "I will never, ever, ever, ever cruise with Princess again, ever."

Our last articles about the Crown Princess included a passenger going overboard last month and a dreaded norovirus outbreak on the Crown Princess during its transatlantic voyage from Venice Italy.   

Hat tip to Professor Ross Klein's website CruiseJunkie where I first read about the story.

Photo Credit Wikipedia / CB2379  Watch the video below:

 

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

 

Carnival & Disney Cruise Ships Intercept Rafters Heading to South Florida

Cruise Ships Rescue Cuban ImmigrantsThe U.S. Coast Guard is reporting that yesterday two cruise ships responded to migrants at sea in two separate incidents. A Coast Guard representative characterized the migrants as floating in two "rustic vessels" south of Key West Florida.

The cruise ships involved are the Disney Wonder home ported in Miami, and the Carnival Conquest which is based in New Orleans. 

Carnival stated that the Conquest picked up 13 Cuban nationals about 40 miles from Key West. (The photo released by Carnival shows men aboard what appears to be a yellow rubber boat around 18'). The Carnival cruise ship then rendezvoused with a Coast Guard cutter near Key West to transfer the Cubans to the custody of the U.S.  

Disney stated that the Wonder picked up eight people about 45 miles from Key West, but did not disclose their nationality.  You can see photos of the boat of Cubans here.

Cuban Rafters - Cruise Ship RescueThe migrants were reportedly half way between Havana and Key West when they were stopped. 

Numerous media accounts are suggesting that it is currently unknown what would be done with the migrants, but that's nonsense. In all cases I have seen where cruise ships picked up Cubans on the high seas the Coast Guard sends them back to Cuba. 

Carnival has been under criticism for relying on the Coast Guard when its ships catch on fire and are disabled at sea but it does not reimburse the federal government, The cruise line took advantage of the event to try and get some good press. Its President Gerry Cahill stated in a press release:

“We are happy to have come to the aid of these individuals and to support the long-established tradition among the global maritime community of providing assistance to mariners in distress.” 

I'm not too sure that the Cuban refugees will be too "happy" when they end up in a jail courtesy of Castro's Cuba. 

Leave a comment or join the discussion on Facebook: Is this a "rescue" or an "interception?"

Cuban Rafters - Cruise Ship Rescue

 

 

Photo Credit:

Migrants in boat: Carnival via WWL TV

Chart: Daily Mail

Carnival Fascination Cruise Ship Flunks Health and Sanitation Inspection

A Carnival cruise ship has become the sixth cruise ship this year to flunk a sanitation inspection by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Carnival Fascination failed the surprise inspection with a score of only 84. You can read the report from the CDC here.  It's full of dirty and unsanitary conditions in the galley and food serving areas, as well as problems with the recreational water supplies.

The Fascination had a problem which we are hearing about more often, that is when crew members are experiencing acute gastrointestinal illness but keep working. This substantially increases the Carnival Fascination Cruise Shipchances that they will infect other crew members and the passengers that they come into contact with. The problem is particularly critical when the infected crew are food handlers. 

Five other cruise ships have failed CDC inspections this year.

Two weeks ago we wrote about the Celebrity Summit, the Golden Princess, the Sea Dream Yacht Club's Sea Dream, and the Caribbean Fantasy operated by America Cruise Ferries all of which flunked the CDC inspections. You can read our article: Disease Breeding Grounds: Three Cruise Ships Fail Health & Sanitary Inspections

A week ago, we wrote about another Celebrity Cruises ship, the Celebrity Century, which also failed the inspection.

Read the U.K.'s Daily Mail article:  Carnival Fascination Fails Health Inspection After Dead Flies, Leaking Brown Material and Cockroach 'Nymph' Found on Board

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Jonathan Schilling

Carnival Triumph Breaks Mooring in Mobile

Multiple news outlets are reporting that the infamous Carnival Triumph cruise ship has broken loose from its lines at a port facility in Mobile Alabama where it has been moored since February 14th and drifted from the dock.

The cruise ship sustained some damage, with one news outlet reporting that the ship sustained a hole on the starboard side of the stern.  You can see the damage to the vessel in a photo here and below via WKRG. Some news stations are reporting that dock workers may have fallen into the water.

We will update this once we receive additional information. 

April 3 2013 Update: An employee of BAE Systems that operates the shipyard fell into the water and remains missing.  

Photo Credit: Top - Melvin Evins / Twitter @mle724; Bottom - WKRG

Carnival Triumph Breaks Loose

 Carnival Triumph Breaks Loose

Carnival CEO Arison's Letter to Senator Rockefeller: Screw You!

Tonight Seatrade Insider published an article about Carnival CEO Micky Arison's letter to Senator Rockefeller who has been critical of Carnival cruise line's avoidance of taxes and non-payment of services to federal agencies like the U.S. Coast Guard.

You will recall that Senator Rockefeller, who convened a hearing last year after the Carnival-owned Costa Concordia cruise ship killed 32 passengers and crew members and injured or terrorized thousands of others, sent a letter to cruise tycoon Arison last week. Rockefeller asked Arison whether Panama-incorporated Carnival though it was fair that it paid a pittance in taxes. Rockefeller asked Carnival Cruise Line Tax AvoidanceArison to pay for the considerable services incurred by US federal agencies when Carnival cruise ships caught on fire or were disabled on the high seas.    

You will not find a copy of the letter from Arison to Rockefeller anywhere on line. The only one talking about the letter is Seatrade Insider, because Carnival sent an advance copy of the letter to its friends at that cruise publication. 

Why did Seatrade Insider receive an advance copy? Because that publication is an associate member of the cruise industry trade organization Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) whose goal is to advance the interests of the cruise lines. Seatrade Insider did not bother to publish the letter but obviously supports everything the billionaire cruise CEO said and it summarily dismissed all of Senator Rockefeller's well-founded points.

Arison's letter enclosed responses signed by Carnival vice president for corporate maritime policy James Hunn. Carnival says that is has no intention of reimbursing the U.S for anything. Carnival also does not contest the fact, brought out by a NBC special last week, that over the last 5 years it paid only 0.6% in local, state, national and international taxes on the many billions of dollars in revenues collected each year.  Last year, Carnival collected over $15 billion in revenues.

Earlier today, Carnival lost one of its greatest supporters when the editor of the Cruise Critic cruise fan site, Carolyn Spencer Brorwn, stated that she would not cruise on Carnival and she recommended that the Cruise Critic readers "book elsewhere."

We'll comment further on Arison's letter after it is received by the Senator and released to others outside of the cruise line's cheerleaders like Seatrade Insider.  

April 3 2013 Update: You can read the letter here.   It seems to dodge some of the requests for information and documents. It's argumentative.  And it down-plays the seriousness of most of the 90 incidents involving Carnival over the past several years.   

Photo Credit: Jim Walker

Breaking News: Carnival Incorporates in the U.S. and Subjects Itself to U.S. Tax, Labor, Wage, Safety & Environmental Regulations

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 CEO 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 Micky Arison - Miami Heat - Carnival Cruisetens 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 sale - pays a few billion dollars in U.S. taxes?"

Perhaps it was the euphoria of the Heat beating the San Antonia Spurs by two points in a close overtime 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, pirate-attacks, flounderings, norovirus outbreaks and a Jon Secada onboard concert which have ruined the last 37 Carnival cruises.  Just last week Senator Jay Rockefeller called Arison a "scallywag" on national TV. Rockefeller challenged Arison to pay his fair share of U.S. taxes on the bounty his foreign-flagged cruise ships collect 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.

April 1 2013 Update: South Florida Business Journal picks up on this shocking development in the cruise industry. Read here.

Over Past 5 Years, Carnival Paid Taxes of Only 0.6% on Billions & Billions

Last night NBC Rock Center with Brian Williams aired a special on Carnival CEO Micky Arison who has a net worth reportedly of around $5,700,000,000.

One of the secrets to Arison's wealth is that his cruise line, Carnival, according to NBC News, paid around 0.6% in taxes at the federal, state, local and international levels over the past 5 years. That's less than 1% tax on all of the billions and billions in revenues collected from U.S. tax-paying citizens. 

Plus Carnival does not pay for the services provided by the U.S. federal agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard or the U.S.Navy for responding to disasters at sea which disable Carnival cruise ships.

You can watch the video below produced by Tom Bettag and interviews by Harry Smith: 

 

 

Tonight on NBC: Carnival CEO Micky Arison Comes Under Congressional Scrutiny

Tonight NBC will take a hard look at Carnival CEO Micky Arison who I have written about on this blog. 

Micky Arison is well liked here in Miami, mostly for bringing a couple of NBA basketball championships to South Florida - first with Shaq and later with D-Wade and Lebron James who he has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on. He is extraordinarily wealthy with somewhere between 5 and 6 billion dollars.

Arison is also extraordinary in his ability to exploit crew members from impoverished countries like India and the Caribbean islands who work over 350 hours a month for as little as $550.

Carnival Cruise CEO Micky Arison - Tax Cruise ShipsAt 10:00 PM EST tonight, NBC's Rock Center television program will air its investigation into Carnival's cruise line business and how Arison has profited greatly from it. 

Carnival's CEO Micky Arison has incurred the wrath of Senator Jay Rockefeller who expressed his outrage to NBC over Carnival’s abuse of the loopholes in the tax system. Rockefller recently sent a letter to Arison which you can read about here.

Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, told Rock Center's Harry Smith that he regards Carnival “very poorly” as a corporate citizen. Rockefeller says Carnival's extremely low tax rate is "disgusting" particularly  because of the cruise line's extensive use of federal agencies like the US Coast Guard.

NBC points out that the cost of US assistance to the fire-disabled Triumph cruise ship was $779,914.26. And another Carnival ship, the Splendor, suffered an engine fire two years ago that required assistance from the US Coast Guard and the Navy. That cost each service more than $1,500,000 which Carnival did not pay.

During the program tonight, you will see veteran newsman Harry Smith interview me as well. You can watch the video here or wattch the video below.

Will CEO Arison be on the program? No. He's a no-show, just like he has never appeared at the scene of a cruise fire, collision, or catasrophe involving his cruise line guests.

 

 

Interested in this issue?  Here are some other articles I wrote on Micky Arison:

Carnival CEO Micky Arison's Net Worth Increases from $4,700,000,000 to $5,700,000,000, Notwithstanding Costa Concordia Disaster

Hard Times For Carnival? Hardly.

Profits Over People: Carnival's Exploitation of Crew Members is Standard Industry Practice

Cruise Crisis Management FAIL - How Carnival is Ruining its Reputation Following the Costa Concordia Disaster

Is Carnival's Micky Arison a Greedy Corporate Pig?

 

Art Credit: Nickolay Lamm from MyVoucherCodes.co.uk

What Have the Carnival Cruises from Hell Taught the U.S. Public? It's a Great Time to Get a Cheap Cruise!

Carnival Fun Ship Disasters - Lessons LearnedI have written around 1,500 articles about the cruise industry on this blog.

I've covered the issues which are important to me, like the negative environmental impact caused by cruise ships which dump raw sewage into the water and belch toxic high-sulfur smoke into the air. Like the exploitation of vulnerable citizens of India and the Caribbean islands who work over over 360 hours to earn less than $600 a month. Like the fact that cruise lines avoid all U.S. federal taxes, U.S. wage and labor laws, and U.S. safety regulations by incorporating their companies and registering their ships overseas in countries like Panama, Liberia and the Bahamas.       

But do Americans really care about these issues?

An article the other day from the Plain Dealer struck a strange chord with me.  The article was entitled Cruise Industry's Recent Troubles Could Mean Bargains on the Horizon. The newspaper writes that although the cruise industry is floundering again with images of stranded ships with over-flowing toilets (Image above courtesy Adweek), cruise lines will "fight back by throwing money at the image problem, lowering their prices until customers start buying again."

The newspaper's bottom line is that the recent spate of pseudo disasters may be a good thing for consumers - "this may be the time to find a bargain."

Americans love bargains.  They want affordable and fun vacations. That's what Carnival offers.

Americans don't want to think about 400,000,000 people in India living below the poverty line many of whom are easily exploitable on cruise ships. Or the burning of toxic bunker fuel. Or the fouling of the waters in Alaska with a billion gallons of cruise ship waste water. Or the cruise line's non-payment of U.S. taxes.

Americans want to enjoy a cheap vacation on a "fun ship."  The cruise lines provide that.  If fair treatment of Indian crew members, clean air and water, and the payment of taxes by the cruise lines will make cruising more expensive, most cruisers will choose the cheaper cruise.

Today I saw a tweet by the IrixGuy on Twitter. Seems like a nice fellow.  His YouTube video (below) explains why you should continue to cruise on Carnival.  His basic points:

1. Carnival is "great;" 

2. Carnival cruises have the "best prices;" and

3. With all of the "disasters" and negative press, it's a "really good time to get a really good deal."

I suppose that's basically what most cruisers want, right?

 

Lawsuits Arising Out of Triumph Fire Continue to be Filed Against Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Triumph LawsuitLawsuits continue to be filed against Carnival arising out of the fire-disabled Triumph cruise ship.

Passengers were subjected to disgusting conditions due to overflowing toilets and a lack of air-conditioning. We made a decision not to be involved in any lawsuits against Carnival in this case. Yes, many people were inconvenienced but most sustained no physical injury and certainly nothing permanent. Read our article: Carnival Triumph Cruise From Hell: Here Come the Lawsuits!  

Carnival offered a full discount, a future cruise credit, a waiver of charges for onboard purchases amd $500.  Crew members received nothing.

A copy of the lawsuit is below. It should make for interesting reading to scroll through the lawsuit and see the particular complaints made by these 17 passengers who decided to file suit in federal court in Dallas Texas.

The Carnival passenger ticket requires that all disputes like this must be filed in federal court in Miami.

 

A Look Back: The Carnival Ecstasy Fire of 1998 at Miami Beach

Carnival Cruise Ship Ecstasy FireThe media's microscope is focused on Carnival right now following the large number of recent engine and propulsion problems involving the Carnival Triumph, Dream, Elation & Legend and the Carnival-owner P&O Cruises' Ventura cruise ships.   

The defenders of the cruise line are responding to the PR mess by insisting that such incidents are "rare."  But you will find no historical perspective, and no reference to a data-base of any type.

Business Insider posted an article today: "A Photo History Of Carnival Cruise Ship Disasters."  There were a couple of interesting photographs of the fire which erupted aboard the Carnival Ecstasy in 1998 as the cruise ship was trying to said out of Government Cut at Miami Beach.  The two photos below, via Reuters, I have never seen before.

Carnival's passengers and crew members were extremely lucky in that incident. The ship's on-board system did not suppress the fire, which charred the entire stern of the ship. But the incident occurred near the port. Other vessels were able to quickly respond and eventually extinguish the fire. If the fire had occurred just an hour or two later on the high seas and away from the fire boats, the Ecstasy would have burned down to the hull.

The Business Insider article contains a link to the NTSB report of the fire, which is interesting reading.

I was disappointed that the article did not mention the deadly Star Princess cruise ship fire in 2006. This cruise ship was operated by Carnival-owned Princess Cruises. This fire is an important piece of evidence in the history of cruise ship fires. You can see some photographs in our article "Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?"    

Carnival Cruise Ship Fire - Ecstasy

Carnival Cruise Ship Fires - Ecstasy

Carnival ecstasy Cruise Ship Fire

Photo Credit:

Photos nos 2, 3: Business Insider / Reuters

Photo no. 4: ForeignPolicy.com

Carnival Cruise Strip Search Trial Continues

The case of a young girl strip searched by Carnival Cruise employees is expected to reach the jury early this week. 

The case involves allegations that over-zealous Carnival officers strip searched a 17 year old passenger suspected of possessing pot while aboard the Sensation cruise ship.

The search allegedly included a cavity inspection and the girl was told to remove her tampon in front of Carnival Sensation Cruise Shiptwo male ship officers.

Carnival usually does not comment on pending litigation but went out of its way to tell newspapers that the claims were "far-fetched" and to basically call the girl a liar.

We have written a couple of articles about the outrageous allegations in the case:

Lawsuit: Carnival Cruise Lines Strip Searches Girl Looking For Pot

Court Permits Teenager Strip Searched on Carnival Cruise Ship to Seek Punitive Damages

The jury's verdict, pro or con, will come at a particularly bad time for the cruise line. The media has Carnival under a microscope with fires and engine problems plaguing the Carnival Triumph, Dream, Legend and Elation over the past two months and revelations that Carnival does not pay U.S. taxes or reimburse the U.S. for the services of federal agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard.  

The jury trial, which began last week, is before U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenbaum down here in South Florida.

We will report on the verdict as soon as it is announced. 

March 18 2013 Update: Defense verdict for Carnival.  The case was defended by Miami defense lawyers Curtis Mase and Lauren DeFabio. We will update this once we obtain a copy of the verdict form and obtain additional information.. 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Wknight94)

Trending Now: Carnival Cruise Line's Reputation Circles the Drain

One of the interesting things about social media is that there are numerous services which track "what's tending now." Certain applications can also track words or phrases which are dominating the news.

I like to use TweetDeck as well as Monitter to follow trends involving the cruise industry.

"Carnival cruise" has been trending all week at a frantic pace. And the news is not good.

Carnival Cruise ship NightmareThe cumulative effect of the recent cruise ship fires, power failures and images of passengers on disabled cruise ships complaining about toilets over-flowing has turned Carnival's reputation into a joke.

Carnival's "fun ships" have been ridiculed on Saturday Night Live, David Letterman & Jay Leno, and featured in MAD Magazine (see below). 

Consider some of the comments which are twirling on Twitter right now:

Packing for my Carnival cruise: tent, sleeping bag for deck, iodine pills, generator, Cipro.

We all lose if CBS doesn't film the next Survivor aboard a Carnival Cruise Ship

Maybe we should shut down Abu Ghraib prison and send the terrorists on a Carnival Cruise

I wouldn't go on a Carnival cruise right now even if it were free

One of the secrets to Carnival Cruise’s unsinkable business model: free Coast Guard rescues

They have so many cruise commercials because Carnival is just sinking

Even with the 50% discount from Carnival it will be difficult to go on that cruise line again

Carnival cruise boats are shit LOL dont know why ppl go on them...

Decisions. Decisions. Trying to decide whether to take a Carnival Cruise or just stay at home and shit my pants

My new punishment for my 12 year old daughter: Do your chores or I'll send you on a Carnival Cruise

if its a carnival, there's a 96.13% chance something will go wrong and youll get a free cruise out of it... Have fun!

Last week I posed a question on Twitter whether Carnival was the Wal-Mart of the high seas? Several people said no way - don't insult Wal-Mart, Carnival is more like K-Mart.

What's the funniest comment about Carnival you have heard on Twitter this week? Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

MAD Magazine - Carnival Cruise Ship

Yet Another Carnival Cruise Ship Flounders - P&O Ventura Suffers Propulsion Problems

On the heels of power and propulsion difficulties facing Carnival Cruise Line cruise ships Triumph, Dream, Legend and Elation, it is now being reported that another cruise ship operated by a Carnival Corporation brand, P&O Cruises, is suffering propulsion problems.

Passengers are reporting that the P&O Ventura has broken down several times over the past three days and is having major problems with one of its two propulsion units.  The situation sounds similar to the problems which the Carnival Legend as it limps back from a Caribbean cruise to Tampa with only one of its propulsion system working. (Its has been pointed out to us that the Legend has two Azipod systems, whereas the Ventura has conventional diesel engines).  

I first heard of the Ventura's problems in an article by U.K. cruise blogger John Honeywell (Captain Carnival P&O Ventura Cruise ShipGreybeard) who writes:

"P&O's Ventura continues to make its way across the Atlantic at reduced speed thanks to a fault with the power to its starboard propeller, is expected to reach Southampton on schedule next Saturday, after missing a visit to Madeira scheduled for Tuesday.."   

Several people are leaving comments on the popular Cruise Critic forum:

The Ventura is ". . . broken down and just drifting!"

".  .  . they are now moving again but have been given no explanation."

P&O commented ". . .  We are currently working with the manufacturers and shore support to identify and rectify an issue with the starboard propulsion motor on Ventura. We can assure everyone that power and services on the ship are unaffected."

" . . .  looks like still having problems, the person on board has now said that as they were floating around so long and now cant seem to get over 18kts they now cant go to Madeira but will be diverting to Ponta delgada." 

The media is in a frenzy reporting on all of Carnival's problems. But, so far, no one is reporting on the problems facing Carnival Corporation's P&O Ventura.  

Carnival Corporation is the world's largest cruise owner and operator in the world. It operates: Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn in North America; P&O Cruises (UK), and Cunard in the United Kingdom; AIDA Cruises in Germany; Costa Cruises in Southern Europe; Iberocruceros in Spain; and P&O Cruises (Australia) in Australia.

The Ventura was built in Italy and is owned by Carnival Corporation. It is flagged in Bermuda and was launched in 2007.

Photo credit: Telegraph

Pod Problems: Carnival Legend Limps Back to Tampa

WTSP in Tampa reports on the plight of the Carnival Legend cruise ship which left last Sunday from the Port of Tampa under full power but will return limping home tomorrow.

There's a problem with one of the cruise ship's two propulsion pods that is substantially reducing the Legend's speed.

Carnival canceled the ship's port stop at Grand Cayman.

Ironically, the Legend came to the aid of the fire-stricken Carnival Triumph last month. 

 

 

Carnival Elation Joins Club of Disabled / Impaired Cruise Ships

Carnival Elation Cruise ShipWith Carnival under a microscope, the cruise line continues to experience bad PR as yet another Carnival cruise ship experienced a mechanical failure.

The Chicago Tribune reports that last weekend, the Carnival Elation had to get a tugboat escort down the Mississippi River after a mechanical problem.

In the last 2 months, four of Carnival's ship suffered full or partial power failures, the Triumph, Dream, Legend and the Elation

It's early in the year, stay tuned.

March 16 2013 Update:  That didn't take long: Yet Another Carnival Cruise Ship Flounders - P&O Ventura Suffers Propulsion Problems
  

Photo Credit: Vacay.ca / Why You Should Say No to a Vacation Cruise 

Latest Bad News For Carnival As Legend Experiences Mechanical Difficulties: Is Carnival Facing Management & Maintenance Problems?

Carnival Legend Cruise Ship - Propulsion ProblemsCNN reports that  the Carnival cruise ship Legend is experiencing mechanical problems that are affecting its sailing speed, the latest in a growing list of woes for the cruise line.

The Legend was on the last part of a seven-day Caribbean cruise that departed Tampa on Sunday. 

The cruise ship had to be escorted by a tugboat because of a malfunction in its steering system. 

A problem with one of the Azipod units on the Legend has caused Carnival to cancel a scheduled stop in Grand Cayman in order to try and return back to Tampa, Florida on time on Sunday.  One passengers is quoted saying: "Passengers are now really pissed off. Mood on the ship is getting worse among passengers, captain is giving limited information."

Cruise expert Ross Klein first reported the problems with the Legend in his blog earlier this week.

CNN aired an interview with an analyst stating that in light of the problems with the Triumph, the Dream and now the Legend, problems "run deep" at Carnival. There are problems with a lack of preventative maintenance and management issues. 

 

 

Carnival Booze Cruise Disaster Ends Up In Court

Courthouse News Service reports on a disturbing story of Carnival allegedly over-serving alcohol to a passenger who fell off the cruise ship and then not taking reasonable steps to rescue the overboard woman.

The case involves cruise passenger "Sarah."  As Courthouse News explains: 

"After Carnival cruises got her so drunk she fell overboard, and eyewitnesses reported it, the captain refused to turn around the ship for 90 minutes, then refused to airlift her to hospital to treat her fractured bones." 

The incident occurred aboard the Carnival Destiny in October of last year. Sarah was cruising to Jamaica with her fiancé and her friend Rebecca. We wrote about the incident when it happened: Why Carnival Destiny Passenger RescueDid Carnival Delay Rescuing An Overboard Passenger From The Destiny?

The lawsuit alleges that a bartender kept pushing drinks on her. To encourage more alcohol sales, the Carnival bartender offered them free $5 coupons for the ship's casino. As a result, Sarah became "extremely intoxicated" and fell into the ocean but not before first striking a life boat during her 100 foot fall.

Her injuries included what is describes as "fractured orbital bones, lung contusions, hypothermia, fractured ribs, dissection of the carotid artery, heart arrhythmia, broken optical shelves, blood clots in her eyes, arms, and legs, as well as extreme hematomas all over her body."

Sarah's friend, fiance and others on the ship saw and/or heard her fall into the ocean and immediately notified several Carnival staff members.  Carnival refused and delayed before they turned the ship to cruise ship around and eventually found her nearly two hours in the ocean, severely injured and without a life vest. 

But the woman's ordeal was not over. Carnival refused to airlift her to a hospital, but diverted the cruise to Key West, where "doctors explained that they did not have the equipment to handle the severe trauma that plaintiff had suffered. They also stated that the plaintiff should have been air evacuated from the cruise ship directly to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami."

The story was also covered by Cruise Critic, and the members of that on-line cruise site are blaming Sarah for not exercising "personal responsibility."

Bur cruise lines are considered to be persons under the law. Cruise lines have responsibility to their guests. There is case law in Florida that cruise lines face liability when they over-serve passengers past the point of intoxication which appears to be the case if the allegations are true.  Plus it's inexcusable to delay a couple of hours before trying to rescue an overboard passenger, whether they are drunk or not.

People may scoff at the case but Carnival earns hundreds of millions of dollars pushing alcohol on its huge fleet of cruise ships. It faces a multi-million dollar exposure in a case with such egregious allegations.   

Is Carnival Dream Turning Into the Carnival Nightmare?

CNN reports this morning that passengers aboard the Dream contacted the news channel, stating that there are power outages and overflowing toilets on the cruise ship which is in port at Philipsburg, St. Maarten, in the eastern Caribbean. The ship was supposed to leave port yesterday at 5:00 PM.

CNN quotes a passenger from North Carolina saying:

"We are not allowed off of the boat despite the fact that we have no way to use the restrooms on board . . . The cruise director is giving passengers very limited information and tons of empty promises. What was supposed to take a hour has turned into 7-plus hours."

Another passenger tells CNN: "There's human waste all over the floor in some of the bathrooms and they're overflowing -- and in the state rooms. The elevators have not been working. They've been turning them on and off, on and off." 

CNN quotes the U.S. Coast Guard saying that Carnival notified it that the Dream is experiencing "generator issues." 

The incident occurs while the cruise industry is conducting its annual convention, "Cruise Shipping Miami." Carnival President Gerry Cahill told the convention audience that disabled cruise ships are "very rare."

Early this morning Carnival released a statement saying: "At no time did the ship lose power but there were periodic interruptions to elevators and toilets for a few hours last night . . . At present the ship has full power and all hotel systems are functioning normally and have been functional since approximately 12.30 a.m."

If the ship never lost power why is it still in port 16 hours past schedule? 

A webcam link posted by a Cruise Critic member shows the Dream still in port as of 9:00 AM this morning.

The Dream's webcam is here.

Reuters quotes Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss in Miami saying “Right now the passengers are being kept on board the ship for accountability reasons.  They were scheduled to leave today so the captain has decided to have everybody remain on board at this time.”

If you are on the ship or have information to share, please leave a message or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons (Kuloskulos)

Court Permits Teenager Strip Searched on Carnival Cruise Ship to Seek Punitive Damages

A year ago I wrote an article about an over-zealous Carnival security officer who allegedly strip searched a 17 year old passenger suspected of possessing pot while aboard the Sensation cruise ship.

The search included a cavity inspection and the girl was told to remove her tampon in front of two male ship officers.  "Lawsuit: Carnival Cruise Lines Strip Searches Girl Looking For Pot

Carnival PR representatives were dismissive of the lawsuit, characterizing the claims as "far-fetched." The cruise line basically called the teenager a liar.

Carnival Sensation Strip SearchThe case has been litigated for the past 11 months. Carnival recently argued that punitive damages should not be permitted because none of the employees involved in the incident were working in a "managerial capacity." Carnival essentially argued that they were just low level employees and any wrongful conduct was not part of any type of policy or procedure condoned by the cruise line.

The federal court disagreed, holding that "the fact that these officers follow directives and protocol from their supervisors does not necessarily mean that they could not also possess the discretion to ultimately determine Carnival's strip search policy." 

The case is now heading toward trial.

Read lawsuit here.

Story credit: Courthouse News Service

Photo credit: Huffington Post

Where Are Photos of the Triumph Engine Room Fire?

Cruise lines do a great job keeping photographs and video of cruise ship fires away from the public.

Has anyone seen photos of the engine room of the Triumph, which is just the latest cruise ship to become disabled?  Or the engine room of the Carnival Splendor?  The Costa Allegra?  Royal Caribbean's Azamara Quest?

Cruise lines prefer to keep the images out of public sight and then say that the fire was "small" and "quickly Carnival Triumph Engine Room Fire Photoextinguished."  

A few photos have seen the light of day such as the catastrophic explosion aboard the Queen Mary 2 in 2010 and, of course, the deadly fire aboard the Star Princess in 2006.

I'd like to see exactly what happened on the Triumph.

But the chances of the Bahamas Maritime Authority releasing photos seems somewhere between slim and none. No need for the Bahamas to embarrass its customer, Carnival, I suppose.   

The only photo I am aware of involving the Triumph was released by the U.S. Coast Guard but it does not show much except the back of a Coast Guard representative in the engine room. Kinda of a PR shot for the Coast Guard, we-are-on-the-job-so-don't-worry kind of thing. Great, but how about a report and some friggin' photos for a change? We know the Bahamians won't release anything.

One crew member sent me the photo below of the Triumph after it was towed into Mobile and asked me not to mention his name.

But I believe that the soot on the stern shown in the photo was probably caused by smoke from the exhaust of the diesel engines of the tugs. You can also see where the tugs rubbed against the stern. I'm not 100% about this. If you have a thought, please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.     

So does anyone have photos of the engine room in the Triumph or, for that matter, the Splendor, the Allegra or the Quest?

Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship Fire

Cruise Ship Fires & Missing Children: Will the Bahamas Ever Release Reports?

The fire on the Carnival Triumph cruise ship is being investigated by the Bahamas because Carnival elected to register the Triumph in that country to avoid U.S. taxes, labor and safety laws. As the "flag state" for the Triumph, the Bahamas is charged with the responsibility of investigating fires, casualties and crimes on that ship. The Bahamas requested the involvement of the U.S. Coast Guard as well as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The questions arise will the Bahamas really conduct an objective and honest investigation? Will it ever release a copy of the final report into the investigation into the fire?  And if so, when?

Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship Fire In considering these questions, remember that in the last disabling fire on a Carnival cruise ship several years ago, the public has still not seen the report of the flag state. In November 2010, the Carnival Splendor caught on fire and was disabled.  Because Carnival flagged the Splendor in Panama, Panama was responsible for the official investigation. Panama called upon the U.S. Coast Guard to assist it. The Coast Guard finished its reports to the officials in Panama long ago.

The Coast Guard quickly sent out "marine safety alerts" about the design defects and construction and maintenance shortcomings in the Splendor engine room.  Remarkably, the Coast Guard did not even identify the Splendor in its alerts.

It's now going on two and one-half years later but Panama still has not released a report.

Will Panama ever release the report?  Not if Carnival doesn't want it to.

Who has authority to force Panama or the Bahamas to release a report or punish them if they refuseto do so?  No one. There is no U.S. federal oversight organization. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is toothless.  A former NTSB chairman called the IMO a "paper tiger."  This is exactly how the cruise lines want the system to work.

Two years ago, Disney youth counselor Rebecca Coriam disappeared from the Disney Wonder cruise ship.  The Bahamas was responsible for investigating the disappearance because Disney registered Disney Cruises Rebecca Coriamthe Wonder in Nassau to avoid U.S. taxes, labor and safety laws.  

The Bahamas sent a lone policeman to Los Angeles to meet the cruise ship when it returned to port. He conducted a short visit on the ship and concluded his report long ago. But the Bahamas refuses to send Rebecca's mother and father a copy of the report.  

After the Triumph was towed to Mobile, a newspaper article appeared in a Bahamian newspaper that the Bahamas was sending detectives to the U.S. to investigate a sexual assault on the Triumph. The Bahamas denied that the ship where the rape was alleged was the Triumph. It disclosed only that a Bahamian flagged ship was involved. The Bahamas promised to provide information once its detectives returned from the U.S. Of course, it has released nothing.    

If your child vanishes on the high seas, or you are raped during a cruise, or your family flounders for a week on a stinky fire-stricken ship, flag states like the Bahamas and Panama don't believe that they have any obligation to release any information to you.  Their alliances are with the cruise lines which fly their flags. Companies like Carnival and Disney hide behind the foreign flags and are complicit in the conspiracy to deceive the public.

It's a dishonest, secretive, rotten system.  Its a system designed to conceal the truth and to avoid the foreign flagged cruise lines from embarrassment.  

Passenger From Carnival Elation Drowns in Cozumel

A newspaper in Jacksonville reports that a local resident sailing on a Carnival cruise died earlier this week during a stop in Cozumel Mexico.   Andrew Wooten, age 50, was reportedly swept away by an undercurrent and drowned. 

Mr. Wooten was the president of Safety Awareness Firearms Education, a firm that conducts training. He was providing continuing education courses on the cruise. 

According to the newspaper, Wooten apparently drowned during an  excursion after sailing to Mexico on the Carnival Elation cruise ship. 

Costa Concordia Litigation: Tactical Blunder By Carnival Opens Door For Lawsuits in Miami

A couple of weeks ago (February 4th), Carnival won a major victory in defending the personal injury cases arising out of the Costa Concordia disaster when a federal judge in South Florida granted Carnival's motion to dismiss and ordered that the case must be filed in Italy if the passengers wish to proceed. 

In the case of Wilhelmina Warrick v. Carnival Corporation, Judge William P. Dimitrouleas held that he was "thoroughly convinced that dismissal in favor of an Italian forum is proper."  The order states that the Court carefully considered the matter and concluded that every single factor weighed in favor of dismissing the passengers' case from Florida. 

Costa ConcordiaYou can read the opinion here courtesy of another maritime law firm's website. I considered the decision to be essentially a final nail in the coffin regarding attempts to hold Carnival or Costa responsible here in U.S. courts.

But on February 15th, the same federal court judge reached an opposite result in two other cases involving 104 Costa cruise passengers claiming compensation arising out of the Concordia capsizing.  Denise Abeid-Saba et al., vs. Carnival Corporation (companion case is Scimone v. Carnival Corporation). 

These cases were filed in state court here in Miami.  Carnival removed the cases to federal court pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA)  of 2005 which permits defendants to remove cases which involve monetary relief sought by 100 or more persons.  However, there is an exclusion where there are 100 plaintiffs because the defendant seeks to consolidate the cases.  

The Court noted that the Abeid-Saba case involved 57 persona and the Simone cases involved 47 persons. Therefore, because neither case involved 100 or more person, there was no basis for removal of the cases from state court.

The Court further held that there was no foreign interest or foreign policies sufficient to create federal court jurisdiction.  Judge Dimitrouleas ordered that the cases should be remanded back to state court.

But then the judge went further. He held:

"There is no indication that the Italian government owned or ran the vessel. There is no evidence of the importance of the Costa Concordia or cruising to the Italian economy. Italy has not taken a position in this lawsuit. Put simply, there is a dearth of evidence to show that Italy has a strong foreign interest in this case. This case is about international and U.S. passengers injured on a pleasure cruise run by a private corporation and whether that corporation properly adhered to safety standards or was otherwise negligent. U.S. - Italian relationships will not be rocked if a Florida state court judge awards money damages because and Italian corporation was negligent."

The decision is surprising in so far as Judge Dimitrouleas essentially reached a completely different result in his orders just 11 days apart.  The lawyers for the 104 Concordia victims were understandably pleased with the outcome and issued a press release earlier this week.     

Judge Dimitrouleas' strongly worded opinion is hard to reconcile with his earlier opinion that he was "thoroughly convinved" that the cases should be filed in Italy.

But there are two things that all lawyers learn in law school: first, federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and in practical terms are always looking for a way to get rid of a civil personal injury case; and secondly, federal judges decide only those issues squarely before the court.   

Costa Concordia SimoneThe issue of forum non conveniens (whether the case should be filed in Italy versus the U.S.) was not before Judge Dimitrouleas. The only issue before him was whether the case belonged in federal court (as Carnival wanted) versus in state court (as the plaintiff wanted). The court did not conduct the same forum non conveniens analysis as in the earlier Warrick case. The court reached a decision solely addressing the issue whether federal jurisdiction was properly invoked.

Rather than moving to dismiss the state court cases based on the argument that the only proper location was in Italy, Carnival preferred to try and take the cases into the federal courts. This was a clever technical argument that turned out to be a bad idea. Carnival gambled with a removal argument based on CAFA. It lost and received some bad language from the federal court in the process.   

But the Concordia victims can't count their chickens yet.  Carnival will still have an opportunity to raise the forum non conveniens argument in the state court proceedings.  Carnival will argue that the language in the judge's order is just dicta, and is not binding on the state court in any event. The cruise victims will argue that the rationale in the court's latest ruling is correct and the cases should remain in Florida state court. 

I met the lead plaintiff in the Scimone case (photo above right) while attending the Congressional hearings last year. These families have experienced quite an ordeal and deserve a trial in Miami. I hope they are successful in keeping the cases here.  

New York Teenager Dies on Carnival Miracle Cruise Ship

This morning the Carnival Miracle returned to New York with the body of an 18 year old high school student aboard.

The young man, scheduled to graduate from Saratoga Springs High School this spring, reportedly died of alcohol poisoning last night. He has been described as a "polite young man" in a local newspaper and as a "great, gentle kid" by extended family members on an on line cruise community website Cruise Critic.

18 year old kids are not suppose to die on cruises or during school breaks.

There will be debate where the alcohol came from and who is responsible for the young man's death.

Carnival Miracle Cruise Ship One thing is certain. There's way too much emphasis on booze in the Carnival cruise experience. It's too easy for teenagers to gain access to alcohol on cruise ships. Its particularly easy when bartenders, working for tips, serve too many drinks without any regard to where the drinks eventually end up.  

In 1994, the LA Times published an article "Boy's Death Raises Issues of Drinking On Cruises." A 14 year old boy aboard Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas consumed so much rum and tequila that he literally drank himself to death. The cruise line corporate communications manager at the time responded to the minor's death cavalierly saying "the best advice that you can give is that a cruise is a resort vacation. It's not a baby-sitting service."

So should parents watch over their teenagers like they zealously do at home?  That's not what the cruise lines like Carnival tell you to do.  

If you click on the "Cruise Booze" category to the left you'll see dozens of articles about excessive alcohol sales on cruises. The more booze on cruises, the greater the risk of crimes and death. As a parent of an 18 year-old-about-to-graduate, I find it hard to even think for a second of going on a cruise and returning without my son alive. 

Many years ago, my wife and I took a vacation to Disney World with our two boys. While my wife was watching our kids in the pool, I ordered a beer for myself and a wine for my wife.  The Disney bartender said he could sell only one drink per adult.  So I had to ask my wife to come buy her own drink.  I thought what a pain this was, but it was a responsible policy designed to keep alcohol away from underage drinkers.

There is nothing remotely resembling such a policy on cruise ships. Pushing alcohol is the business model of the cruise industry.

If this death becomes a story covered by the major press, you will see attacks on the parents for not supervising their child.  But most parents have no idea just how out-of-control cruise ships like Carnival are. Carnival earns many hundreds of millions of dollars aggressively pushing the booze. There are few security guards, There are no real safeguards like I experienced at the Magic Kingdom.  

Most parents spend their lives watching their kids like a hawk, but once on a cruise they get caught up in the fantasy environment marketed and sold by the "'fun ships."  They let their guard down. The result is tragedies like this while the cruise line makes millions of dollars selling booze.    

February 27 2013 Update: Here's the statement from Carnival we received this morning:

"We can confirm that an 18-year-old male guest passed away in his cabin at approximately 3 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26 during an eight-day voyage of the Carnival Miracle which ended later that morning in New York. The cause of death has not been determined. With regard to speculation that he may have died from alcohol poisoning, we can confirm that, based on the preliminary investigation, there is no indication he was served any alcohol by shipboard personnel. Following his death, the cruise line contacted the FBI as per standard practice in this type of occurrence. FBI representatives boarded the ship on Tuesday morning to conduct an investigation. No foul play is suspected. We extend our deepest sympathies to young man's family and loved ones during this very difficult time."  
 

The Left Wing Conspiracy Against the Evil Cruise Industry & George Bush

Are there any Rush Limbaugh fans out there?

Today's blog may be of particular interest to you if you are.

It seems that Rush doesn't like the criticism voiced against the cruise industry as the Carnival Triumph was towed back to Mobile last week. He does not like the references to the fact that cruise lines are incorporated in foreign countries to avoid taxes, labor laws and safety regulations.

As you can read in the transcript here of his show, he quoted everyone who made a critical comment of Rush Limbaugh Cruise Ship DiatribeCarnival on the CNN broadcasts.  He mocked Erin Burnett, Howard Clark, Donny Deutsch, Martin Savidge. He even quoted me, for goodness sake, when I was on a CNN show as a set-up to his talking points:

JIM WALKER:  "Foreign-incorporated companies that are essentially registering their operations overseas to avoid US taxes."

Rush then launched into a classic diatribe, mocking the criticism of the cruise industry::

RUSH: "Yeah, but look at what they do. "They register these ships outside the US. They don't pay any US taxes. The cruise ship passengers have no rights. They're basically slaves -- and if there's sewage on the walls? Big whoop. We'll tow you in when we get a chance -- and after we get you, the bus that we transport you in will break down, and then for all your trouble we'll give you a refund and a 15% discount on the next cruise of your choice. What a bunch of rotten SOBs!" 

He eventually explained his argument that:  

"Make no mistake. Make no mistake. The whole point of this was to impugn the entire cruise industry and this particular cruise line as having some linkage to Bush." 

Rush then rambled on with his radio broadcast trying to tie in his diatribe about the alleged left-wing conspiracy against cruise lines and George Bush to his rant against women and Hispanics and farm workers and President Obama and Reverend Wright. After a few minutes I had no idea what he was talking about except that he somehow implicated me in some type of conspiracy against George Bush.

I suppose that it's funny to be accused of being part of such a clandestine plot. I must be a secret agent or master spy or spooky sleuth or member of an illegal coalition against America, according to Rush. I suppose that criticizing a major corporation or participating in anything not officially sanctioned by a corporation is an act of conspiracy, rebellion or Rush Limbaugh Taxestreason.

Why is it that ultra-conservative Republicans love cruise lines which pay no taxes?  Last summer, Newt Gingrich disappeared from his Republican Presidential campaign because he could not resist a luxury cruise aboard a foreign flagged cruise ship in the Mediterranean.

I have never reconciled the maniacal bashing of President Obama for somehow not being "American" enough with the hard core Republican love of the tax-avoiding-foreign-incorporated cruise industry.

At the bottom of Rush's web page I could not help but notice a banner ad featuring Rush posing for a company that fights paying taxes to the federal government.

Triumph Fire: Here Comes the Lawsuits! (Part 2): Miami Firm Files Class Action Lawsuit

Go big or stay home, so the saying goes.  

This weekend there have been several articles discussing the two lawsuits filed last Friday against Carnival arising out of the Carnival Triumph "cruise from hell."   I have thrown in my two cents in television & radio appearances and in a number of local and national newspapers. Bottom line:

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 Carnival Triumph Class Action Lawsuitcircumstances they suffered last week.

You can read my blog today about the issue of whether to sue or not. 

But one law firm here in Miami is going for broke by filing a class action lawsuit today against Carnival.

The firm's press release contains links to an appearance of one lawyer on Fox and another lawyer on CNN, but contains no information about the cruise-passenger client on whose behalf the proposed class action was filed.

Lawyers working on contingency fees in Florida collect up to 40% of the gross recovery. Passengers thinking of trying to join in this attempt at a class action need to act smart. If you want to gamble with a big case, make certain that you accept for yourself the cruise fare reimbursements, waiver of expenses, free cruise voucher and $500 (which you can accept without waiving your rights).

Don't let any lawyer suck you into a class action boondoggle and take 40% of whatever has been offered to you already.     

Sex Attack Alleged On Carnival Cruise Ship

Carnival Cruise Ship RapeJust when you think that things could not get any worse for Carnival, news is just breaking that authorities are investigating what is being characterized as a "sex attack" on a Carnival cruise ship. 

A newspaper in the Bahamas is reporting that a team of of detectives from Nassau to Galveston, Texas yesterday to investigate an alleged sexual assault that occurred on a Carnival cruise ship.

The newspaper identified the cruise ship as the Triumph, which has remained in the headlines after it caught fire and had to be towed back to port.  However, the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) reportedly stated that the incident did not involve the Triumph.  The BMA said that it was investigating a Bahamian registered vessel but not the Triumph. The BMA did not even acknowledge that they were investigating a cruise ship. 

The country of the Bahamas is responsible for investigating fires and collisions as well as crimes which occur on cruise ships flying the flag of the Bahamas.

Here's what the Bahamian newspaper is reporting: 

While the Bahamas Maritime Authority is leading the investigation into what caused the fire, detectives from the Royal Bahamas Police Force are also investigating a sexual offence claim, Assistant Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson said yesterday.

“We send some officers to Texas to head up the investigation. The ship is a Bahamian Flag Ship so wherever something happens we have to tend it. The officers went over there this morning and should be back sometime tomorrow. They are investigating a sexual offence matter that happened on the cruise. We should have some more information tomorrow on the matter.”

A statement is also expected from the Maritime Authority, according to London Representative Dwain Hutchinson. He said an investigation is underway and a statement will be released to the press “soon.”

Carnival flags six of its ships in the Bahamas, including the Destiny, Fascination, Imagination, Inspiration, Sensation and the Triumph.

Sexual assaults on cruise ships are one of the cruise industry's nastiest secrets.  We have attended several Congressional hearings which have studied the problem. There has been expert testimony before Congress that the risk of being raped at sea on a cruise ship is twice that of being attacked ashore.  

February 18, 2013 Update:  Carnival say that the incident but it does not appear to be related to any Carnival ships.

Carnival Triumph Cruise From Hell: Here Come the Lawsuits!

Last Friday, the day the Carnival Triumph passengers were finally going home from the "cruise from hell," the first two lawsuits were filed.

The first case mentioned in the press was filed by a Texas lawyer representing a woman from Brazoria County Texas. I printed a copy from the court's online docket to read this weekend. The lawsuit alleges that the passenger was forced to "endure unbearable and horrendous odors on the filthy and disabled" cruise ship.  Because of the "sweltering temperatures, lack of power and air conditioning, lack of running water, and lack of toilets," the woman "feared for her life" and was threatened with Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship Fire"contracting serious illness by the raw sewage" filling the ship. 

The problem with allegations like these is that they are excluded by the terms and conditions of the ticket issued by the cruise line.

Experiencing psychological distress or being afraid of getting sick are not a basis for a lawsuit unless there is a physical injury or actual physical illness.

The lady's lawyer later told the press that his client had a fever and felt nauseous, but notably lacking from the lawsuit or the lawyer's comments were any mention of an actual illness diagnosed by a doctor.  This may be explained by the fact that the woman probably had not been to a doctor yet.        

The other lawsuit was filed on behalf of another Texan passenger by a lawyer here in Miami. As described by USA Today's Cruise Log, the lawsuit alleges that the 42 year old passenger suffered severe dehydration and bruising from aggressive food lines on the crippled ship. Her lawyer said she was so ill from the five-day ordeal that she had to be given intravenous fluids in an emergency room when she returned home to Houston. Severe dehydration may be sufficient to meet the physical injury requirements of the law but it is unknown whether this is just a temporary injury.

I have made my thoughts of litigation in cases like this well know.

Following the last "cruise from hell" engine room fire disaster in 2010 when the Carnival Splendor was stranded off the coast of Mexico and had to be towed back to the U.S., I wrote an article "Three Reasons Why You Will Lose If You Sue Carnival."  The same conclusions I reached two years ago apply to this latest Carnival debacle. 

It's not that I am unsympathetic to the people's plight. But I have represented clients who waved goodbye to family members at the dock and their loved ones either didn't return from the cruise or they returned in a body bag.   

If you are on a cruise ship that catches on fire on the high seas and you return with your family physically uninjured, count your blessings.

Cruise passengers returning from the Triumph need to rest, relax and start trying to recover from the stress.  They should go to a doctor and be checked out. Get your blood tested if you are afraid.  Send the medical bills to Carnival to Carnival to be reimbursed. But filing a lawsuit before going to a doctor puts the cart ahead of the horse. 

Let's hope that no one develops a truly serious and permanent illness from sloshing around in sewage for a week. If the feces and urine cause an innocent passenger to contract hepatitis or Legionnaires Disease or some other debilitating or deadly illness, then the afflicted passenger should sue the hell out of Carnival.

But inconvenience, aggravation, anger and being afraid of disease won't get you very far in a federal courtroom here in Miami.

Update: Triumph Fire:  Here Comes the Lawsuits! (Part 2): Miami Firm Files Class Action Lawsuit!

 

Photo Credit: Fox40

Carnival's CEO Micky Arison: "Unfortunately We Have to Pay for Fuel, Food & Players"

Carnival CEO Micky Arison joined Twitter in 2010. I was curious to see how such a big shot cruise executive would interact with the common man on such a popular social media platform like Twitter.

After the Costa Concordia disaster killed 32 of his cruise guests and crew members, cruise CEO Arison made no public appearances. When he was first seen in public it was at the Miami basketball arena here in Miami to watch his Miami Heat play. His first tweet after Concordia sank was "Let's Go Heat." Even when the world press focused on his insensitive and selfish antics, Arison could have cared less it seems. He tweeted away about his celebrity friends and his star studded Micky Arison Carnival Cruise Twitterbasketball team as if Concordia never sank.     

Yesterday Forbes published an article how Arison's cruise empire avoids U.S. income tax - "Ship Isn't The Only Thing That Stinks At Carnival: Low Tax Rate Stirs Ire".  

Forbes explains that Carnival collects billions of dollars every year, but pays about a 1% tax rate because the Arison family incorporated the cruise line in Panama. Even though the cruise line benefits from being located here in Miami and uses the services of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and many other agencies, it essentially gets a free ride. 

As Forbes states: "While the U.S. Coast Guard patrols the seas for Carnival’s ships – and, in the case of the Triumph, towed them back to safety – Carnival ducks out on most U.S. taxes."

Carnival's CEO Arison is a shrewd businessman. He know how to work the system.  His cruise ships use the ports in the U.S. and foreign countries for free.  Local citizens like you or me pay for the port terminals. If there is a port fee or head tax, the passengers pay it. When it comes to his basketball team, the local citizens pay for that too.

The Arison family have been gaming the system for 45 years. They will say that they are taking advantage of legitimate tax loopholes in the I.R.S. Code.  But that begs the question of why the federal tax code is drafted as if it were written by Carnival's tax lawyers and why it has not been amended to result in Carnival paying a reasonable and fair shore of its share.  The truth is that Carnival and other cruise lines spend many millions of dollars lobbying Congress while hiring high ranking federal directors of federal agencies to keep the cozy status quo exactly like it is.

But how much is enough for Arison? Fifteen years ago a local journalist asked "Is Micky Arison a Micky Arison Carnival Cruise Triumph Tent CityGreedy Pig?"  I repeated the question here a few years ago.

Arison is the richest person in Florida, worth over $5,000,000,000. Two months ago, he paid himself a end-of-the-year bonus of $90,000,000 - in the same year where his Concordia killed 32 people. The stricken cruise ship still lies on its side in the waters of Giglio, and the victims of that terrible ordeal were offered only $15,000 by Carnival, but Arison pays himself a $90,000,000 year end bonus.

After the Carnival Triumph ignited off the coast of Mexico last weekend, Arison made no public statements.  Later that Sunday afternoon, there Micky sat at half-court at the Miami Arena watching his Heat beat the Lakers. His last tweet today was an instagram photo of him and Beyonce'.

Just how out-of-touch is this cruise CEO with the reality of the world around him?  Over 4,000 of his guests and ship employees endured a week-long-cruise-from-hell aboard the urine and fecal stained Carnival Triumph but Arison tweets a photo of him hanging with Beyonce'.

The question arises again. Is Micky Arison a greedy pig? In answering the question, consider Arison's bio on his twitter page:

"CEO of Carnival. Owner of your @MiamiHEAT I do not respond to requests for free cruises or Micky Arison Carnival Cruise Beyoncetix. Unfortunately we have to pay for fuel, food & players."  

"Unfortunately we have to pay for fuel, food and players?" What a cynical mantra for his luxurious life.

How much greed does it take to turn Arison's enormous prosperity into petty bitterness over having to pay for food for his cruise guests and pay for the salaries of basketball players who bring him so much wealth, power and prestige?

So if you are just arriving home today from Arison's disgusting & disabled cruise ship after another cruise-from-hell, whatever you do, don't ask Micky for a free Heat ticket or a free cruise. He's too busy hanging with Beyonce' to even consider such a request.        

Troubled Waters: The Carnival Triumph

Last night ABC News aired a one hour special on 20/20 following the Triumph cruise ship fire.

In the video below, you will hear from passengers on the "cruise from hell" talk about their experiences, and see the Carnival marketing and PR people run away from ABC's cameras.

I answered a few questions, and explained that unlike the U.S. commercial aviation industry with strict oversight by the FAA, there is no comparable federal oversight over the cruise industry. 

 

 

Carnival Triumph Passengers Happy to Be Home

Carnival Cruise Triumph FireThe long tortuous tow back to Mobile ended last night with smiles of relief on the faces of the over-3,000-passengers as they straggled off the stinking stricken Triumph.  It was a happy sight to me. Yes, there were people still upset, understandably so, but the sentiment seems to be that they had all encountered a surreal experienced and had survived.

Cruise ship fires do not always turn out this well.  I have represented clients who waved goodbye to their loved one as they boarded a cruise ship only to return in a body bag.

Yesterday I was asked a dozen times during interviews about the rights of passengers when things like this happen on the high seas.  

The cruise lines have drafted terms and conditions in the cruise passenger tickets (considered by the courts to be the legal, binding contract) to protect themselves in virtually every imaginable circumstance.  Unless a passenger is physically injured or become physically ill (say due to the unsanitary conditions of sewage on the ship), they have virtually no rights at all.

The good news is that It appears that there were no injuries due to the fire. There very well may be no serious medical illnesses notwithstanding the seriously disgusting circumstances aboard the ship.       

  

 

Photo credit: Getty Images / NY Daily News

CNN Opinion: What Cruise Lines Don't Want You to Know

Today CNN asked me to write an opinion piece regarding the state of affairs of the cruise industry following the fire aboard the Carnival Triumph.  CNN permits only the first 150 words of the article to be published so here you go:

Editor's note: James M. Walker is a maritime lawyer and cruise safety advocate involved in cruise ship law and maritime litigation with his law firm, Walker and O'Neill. He has represented crew members and passengers against cruise lines, including Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Formerly, he worked as a lawyer for the cruise industry.

Carnival Cruise Ship Triumph - Cruise Fire (CNN) -- A Carnival cruise ship was adrift 150 miles off the coast of Mexico after an engine room fire. Cruise passengers were complaining about the lack of air conditioning, hot cabins, cold food and toilets that wouldn't flush.

As I watched the news broadcast, I thought it was a documentary about the Carnival Splendor, which suffered a disabling engine room fire in November 2010 off Mexico. But the story was about the Carnival Triumph, which caught fire early Sunday after sailing from Galveston, Texas, with more than 3,100 passengers.

The cruise industry says cruise ship fires are rare, but they are not rare. They happen with alarming frequency . . .  

Read the rest of the article here. 

Who Pays for the U.S. Coast Guard to Respond to Cruise Ships in Distress? You Do!

At this moment the 210 foot Coast Guard cutter Vigorous is escorting the disabled Carnival Triumph back to the U.S. The Coast Guard performs a remarkable job responding to emergencies such as cruise ship fires and the numerous helicopter medevacs involving ill or injured passengers who need medical treatment back here in the U.S.

But who pays for these services?  

Cruise lines have no obligation to pay the Coast Guard or other U.S. federal agencies for services like this. Most people don't know this. Many people also don't realize that the cruise industry pays no U.S. federal taxes because companies like Carnival and Royal Caribbean are registered in foreign Coast Guard Vigorous - Carnival Triumphcountries like Panama and Liberia and fly the flag of countries like the Bahamas.  The industry collects around $35 billion a year, mostly from tax-paying U.S. citizens. But unlike you or me, the cruise lines are essentially exempt from paying the U.S. government anything on all of the billions and billions it collects each month.

So when it comes to paying for a Coast Guard escort of a foreign flagged ship back to an American port, you pay. That's right. Joe the plumber pays. Even though the cruise lines pay no federal taxes and you do, you pay. Even when the cruise ship fire occurs due to the negligence of the cruise line, you pay. 

Remember the last cruise engine fire which disabled the Carnival Splendor in November 2010?  The U.S. sent out an aircraft carrier (U.S. Ronald Reagan) and various U.S. Coast Guard vessels. You paid for all of that too.

The CEO of the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization Ken Carver, requested information from the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") request. The U.S. Navy timely responded to Mr. Carver's FOIA request. The Navy disclosed that it delivered 60 pallets, weighing over 37,000 pounds, of "bread, luncheon meat, pop tarts, canned crab, water and paper plates."

Considering the cost of positioning an aircraft carrier, dispatching multiple aircraft and helicopters, and delivering tons of food and water to be dropped onto the cruise ship, the Navy stated that it spent $1,884,376.75 responding to the fire aboard the Carnival Splendor cruise ship. 

This figure does not include the costs incurred by the U.S. Coast Guard in responding to the crisis. Unfortunately, the Coast Guard has not yet provided any information in response to Mr. Carver's FOIA request dating back to earlier last year.

The Coast Guard's costs were undoubtedly another $2,000,000 or so in personnel and fuel costs for their vessels and helicopters.

I mentioned this issue last year in an article Your Tax Dollars At Sea - Who Pays When Things Go Wrong on Cruises? 

So here we are again with another foreign-flagged cruise ship disabled due to fire, operated by a foreign incorporated cruise line which pays no U.S. income taxes calling on good ole Uncle Sam to spend a few million dollars to bail it out.

Its time to re-examine why these cruise lines collect billions but pay no taxes and why you and me have to pay when their cruise ships catch on fire on the high seas and they call on U.S federal agencies for help.     

Carnival Triumph Fire: "Nightmare Cruise" Stories Dominate the News

Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship Fire Yesterday all of the major news stations were airing updates on the latest Carnival cruise ship fire. "Cruise from hell, "nightmare cruise" and so forth were the headlines.

It was like deja vu hearing the stories of loss of power, no air conditioning, hot cabins, cold food and toilets on the Triumph that did not work.  

ABC aired a rather sensational program yesterday, with images of the disabled ship bobbing like a big cork in the water, passengers literally crying that they want to go home, and accusations by other passengers that Carnival risked innocent lives by ignoring prior engine problems.

It may seem like the end of the world to many passengers on the entirely unpleasant cruise ship as well as to the concerned families back home. If the fire had spread, it might have been the end for the passengers. But It seems that most people have forgotten about an identical engine room fire which disabled the Carnival Splendor cruise ship back in November 2010. After everyone received a full reimbursement of the fare and flight expenses, it seemed like everyone forgot about the cruise from hell.

There was no Congressional investigation and no calls for a fleet wide inspection of the engines on Carnival's ships.    

Will this latest Carnival cruise fire be as easily forgotten?   

I posted images of the ABC special here. Click on each photo for a larger image and the captions.

You can read our initial article about the fire here, and our article about prior engine problems on the Triumph here.  

Nightmare Cruise - Carnival Triumph

Photo credit bottom - Lisa Hirtz via ABC News

Carnival Triumph Plagued By Prior Propulsion Problems

When the news broke that the Carnival Triumph's engines failed due to a fire while the cruise ship was 150 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, passengers on prior cruises quickly began voicing their concerns about propulsion problems on prior cruises.

You can read the comments to our article on Sunday entitled Here We Go Again: Engine Room Fire Cripples Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship where Carnival passengers across the country stated that their cruises had been marred by missed ports and slow voyages due to propulsion issues.

Other websites, such as the popular Maritime Matters, posted numerous comments from concerned Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship Firecruisers about prior engine problems on the Triumph.  

There were also a number news stations which aired stories about persistent problems about this Carnival cruise ship. KLTV aired a program Texans Angry Over Cruise Experience (video) where one Carnival passenger complained about the cruise line's decision to "put money ahead of safety."

The problem in cases like this is that the cruise lines operate their ships virtually 24 hours a days, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.  The ships have a tight itinerary, rushing from port to port, and then disembarking several thousand passengers and re-loading the ship to head out again. Down time for a few days for maintenance means many millions of dollars lost and lots of unhappy customers. So the ships (as well as the crew) are pushed to and sometimes past their limits.   

One of the readers of our Cruise Law News Facebook page made this insightful observation yesterday:

"Money Talks - It is sad to hear that the news is now surfacing that prior to this ill-fated cruise that there were issues on recent previous cruises, which will cause a lot of backlash against the company. If an enquiry is launched it could mean trouble for Carnival. I just want to mention that crew onboard are mostly tip driven and senior officers are incentivised on revenue, so the motivation to ensure the cruise happens is pretty high from a crew and officer point of view. If the ship could not leave port it would mean that not only does the company lose revenue, the crew would be put at a disadvantage financially as well."

Have a thought?  Please leave a comment.

Photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard / Reuters

Here We Go Again: Engine Room Fire Cripples Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship

Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship FireThis morning, the Carnival Triumph lost propulsion in the Gulf of Mexico after an engine room fire disabled its main engines.  The cruise ship’s fire suppression system kept the fire from spreading.

No injuries have been disclosed. Carnival says that all guests will receive a full refund and transportation expenses.

The next cruise scheduled is for tomorrow, February 11th. Passengers have been told that the cruise will not depart and they can cancel and receive a full refund or wait and see if the ship will sail later on a shortened cruise. 

News sources say that the fire broke out while the cruise ship was sailing about 150 miles off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, after sailing from Galveston on February 7th.

The ship's generator power is working but the cruise ship has no propulsion to return to port in Galveston. Some news sources are saying that tugs were deployed.

Carnival has experienced more than its fair shares of fires. The best known incident was the fire aboard the Carnival Splendor in November 2010.  The ship lost all power and had to be towed to San Diego (photo below right). The U.S. Coast Guard investigated and said that the Carnival Splendor CO2 firefighting system was a "recipe for failure."

It will be interesting to hear about how this fire started. The Triumph is an old ship, coming on line in 1999. 

Carnival Splendor Cruise Ship FireThere have been lots of fires and explosions on the major cruise lines in the last two years, including the Queen Mary 2, MSC Musica, Ocean Star, another fire aboard the Queen Mary 2, Bahamas Celebration, Costa Allegra, Azamara Quest, the Allure, the Carnival Breeze, Crown Princess, and the Adventure of the Seas - not to mention the smaller river cruise ships. 

Cruise ship fires are not uncommon. There have been over 90 fires on cruise ships since 1990

That's a little more than 4 a year.

Expect the cruise lines and cruise cheerleaders to down-play this latest fire but don't be fooled. Read our article "Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?"

 

Photo credit: Carnival Triumph - Wikipedia / Scott L.

Bad Times Aboard the Fun Ships: Passenger Alleges Rape Aboard Carnival Victory Cruise Ship

A lawsuit recently filed here in Miami illustrates the danger of cruise ship rape which most families who cruise do not realize.

The lawsuit filed last week alleges that Carnival served a young woman two margaritas, a Mojito and three double vodka drinks. Weighing only 118 pounds, the passenger was visibly intoxicated but the Carnival bartenders kept pouring drinks to the woman and her friends, one of whom was so drunk that she vomited on her.

Carnival crew members and officers were observed openly fraternizing and drinking alcohol with women in the ship's bar and disco club. The lawsuit alleges after the woman was intoxicated, two Carnival Cruise Ship - Rape - Sexual Assaultupper level Carnival ship employees, both large men, physically pinned down the wrists of the petite, small framed woman and took turns raping her. One Carnival employee sodomized her. The lawsuit states that the two men humiliated the woman and laughed at her when she resisted and protested.  

The theory of liability against Carnival is that the cruise line routinely over-serves alcohol to its passengers in order to increase profits and it does not maintain an adequate level of security to protect women on its cruise ships. While Carnival encourages excessive alcohol consumption, it does not enforce its alleged "zero tolerance" policy against crew - guest fraternization. In addition to the negligence allegations, the lawsuit asserts that the cruise lines is vicariously and strictly liable for the criminal conduct of its employees.

We first mentioned the incident last March - Was a Passenger Sexually Assaulted on the Carnival Victory?

The correlation between excessive alcohol and sexual violence against women is a topic we have discussed often here on this blog. 

Serving a young women what turns out to be 9 drinks, permitting crew members and officers to mingle with the drunk women in the disco, and providing no real security or warnings to passengers about the risk of being raped is a recipe for disaster.

Carnival nonetheless continues to aggressively advertise the sale of virtually unlimited booze. Just recently Carnival announced that it would impose a "limit" of 15 alcoholic drinks as part of its all-you-can-drink package. Of course fifteen (15) drinks is no limit at all.  

If a bar or restaurant served a woman 10 or 15 drinks and then employees of the restaurant raped the guest, the local police would probably end up arresting the bartenders and restaurant owner in addition to the employees who committed the crime. But on Carnival cruises, this seems to be part of the "fun ship" experience.

In 2006, I attended a Congressional hearing where a subcommittee listened to testimony where bartenders of Carnival-owned Costa Cruises served a 15 year old girl 10 drinks. A newspaper in Ireland wrote that in a period of 45 minutes the 15-year-old girl "was served 10 drinks in a bar on the cruise ship, two Sex on the Beach, four Woo Woos, two vodka and mixers, a shot of vodka and liqueurs." The young girl went overboard while trying to vomit over the railing. She has never been found.    

If you are a woman sailing on a cruise ship, watch how much you drink. Bartenders earn their living on tips and the food and beverage employees are under pressure to meet drink quotas. If you drink too much, stay with your friends. If you are a parent with teenage daughters, don't think that the cruise line will strictly enforce a drinking age of 21 or that it is safe to leave your children unattended. 

Anger & Anguish Continue One Year after Costa Concordia

NBC News has an interesting article about the continuing struggle many survivors of the Costa Concordia disaster are experiencing one year later. 

The victims' anguish has been exacerbated by the insensitivity demonstrated by Costa and parent company Carnival.  

 A memorial service for the victims will mark the anniversary tomorrow. 

 

 

Carnival Threatens to Pull Out from Cayman Islands Over Small Price Increase to Tender Passengers

Michele Paige Florida Caribbean Cruise Association Mickey ArisonA newspaper in the Cayman Islands reports that Carnival is threatening to pull out of the Cayman Islands after a tender boat operator, Cayman Marine Services, made a tiny increase in the price for transporting passengers to and from cruise ships in George Town.

The newspaper states that Cayman Islands Marine Services operates 16 tenders in the George Town harbor and proposed an increase of 75 cents to take cruise passengers to and from port. The increase will take place in three phases over this year. On January 1st, the tender company increased the price by 25 cents. The next increases will be in June and then in October. 

The modest increase is the first increase in five years. The newspaper states that the increase reflects rising costs for labor, fuel, maintenance and materials. 

Carnival objects to the increase but is trying to keep its name out of the dispute. The Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), a Miami-based trade association for the cruise industry, is complaining of Carnival's behalf. FCCA president Michele Paige (photo above with Carnival CEO Micky Arison) reportedly said that the cruise industry is “not happy” with the 25 cent increase and is threatening that the increase will somehow “drastically affect” the number of ships arriving in Grand Cayman.

Paige is quoted: "this is a business and we are here to make a profit. If you have a 3,000-passenger ship, that is an extra $2,500 – and that doesn’t include the crew. If there are 50 trips per year, that is $150,000, and that erodes profit.”

The proposed price increase seems rather modest to me, particularly since there has been no increase dating back to 2007 or 2008.  And let's keep things in perspective. Carnival CEO Micky Arison paid himself a $90,000,000 bonuses last month. 

January 7, 2012 Update: Follow the comments on this story on our Facebook page.

Cruise Passenger Rights and Wrongs - Interview With Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker

Over 14 years ago, I was interviewed by Linda Coffman who has a very nice and exceedingly polite blog called CruiseDiva. Ms. Coffman's Twitter handle is @CruiseDiva

It was my first interview by anyone as best as I recall, long before I was interviewed on Larry King Live and Greta Van Sustern and the endless cable news talking heads.  I was a heck of a lot skinnier and had a nice head of hair 15 years ago. What the heck, 1,000 or so cases later, I certainly know a lot more now than I did then.

I have always felt a great appreciation to Ms. Coffman for the thoughtful interview well over a decade ago. I have added a few newer photographs, but the article is re-printed verbatim below:

CRUISES . . .  LIKE NO OTHER VACATION IN THE WORLD

Things that go bump in the night happen. And when they happen on a ship, the horror of the possibilities are heightened. Who would have paid to see the movie Titanic if the ship hadn't sunk? No one embarks on a cruise expecting the worst and no major cruise line purposely puts their guest and ships in danger, but the unexpected and unavoidable can occur during any voyage. In my travels, I've been rousted in the middle of the night by a fire alarm, spent the day at a Red Cross evacuation center, and suffered the indignity of Norovirus--all on dry land.

Cruise divaPerhaps the idyllic and carefree perception of cruise vacations is as much to blame as anything for passenger discontent when the slightest out-of-the-ordinary incident crops up. Cruise lines tout their products as 'simply the best' and 'like no other vacation on earth.' Are they telling the truth? Absolutely. It's true--the worst day on a cruise is better than any day on land. Unless, of course, your ship is on fire, the plumbing doesn't work, or you're dead in the water with a tropical storm fast approaching.  

No cruise line or ship's officers would purposely put their passengers and vessels in harms way. That simply wouldn't make sense. Often decisions to change course and skip a port are beyond their control, particularly when Mother Nature is calling the shots. And there are accidents. However, "unavoidable" is not much consolation to a cruising couple celebrating twenty-five years of marriage on the second honeymoon of a lifetime. 

Distracted by glamorous photos or dreams of moonlit walks on deck and midnight buffets, few passengers take the time to read the fine print, either in the cruise brochure or their ticket. Even if they do read it, the legal language can intimidate the average person.  

For an explanation of passengers' rights and assistance in translating the "contract of carriage" (cruise ticket), I turned to James M. Walker.  A specialist in maritime law, Mr. Walker is a member of the Miami Cruise Ship Lawyer - Miami Florida Maritime Law Association and serves on the Admiralty Law Committee of the Florida Bar. In addition to having the unique perspective of representing both cruise lines and passengers, he has handled cases for clients throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and South America.  

Mr. Walker graciously answered my questions, providing insight into passenger rights and what to do if things go terribly wrong on your vacation. 

How did you become involved in maritime law involving cruise ships? 

I grew up in a port city and our family traveled a lot. Our vacations seemed to revolve around the water - a trip down the Rhine, vacation in Malta, sailing in the Mediterranean Sea, and so on. I have always had an interest in the water. This turned into an interest in maritime law once I started law school at Tulane University, which has a pretty good maritime curriculum. Once I moved to Miami, rightfully called the “cruise ship capital of the world,” I joined a large firm which defended some of the larger cruise lines.  

Now that I am exclusively representing passengers and crew employees, I find myself traveling again on a regular basis. My practice provides me with the opportunity to travel to beautiful places like Vancouver and London, as well as small towns across the heartland of the United States, to meet with our clients.

What are your thoughts as a maritime lawyer regarding the collision involving the Norwegian Dream in the English Channel and the fire aboard Carnival’s Tropicale in the Gulf of Mexico some time back? 

These incidents raise important questions whether the cruise lines are devoting sufficient resources to protect passengers’ health and personal safety. Unfortunately, these mishaps are not isolated incidents. 

Cruise ship fireTake the fire aboard the Tropicale. Despite wide spread media coverage, few major news organizations reported the Tropicale’s prior problems which could be traced back to 1982 when a fire broke out during its inaugural cruise. 

Before the Tropicale fire, Carnival’s Ecstasy caught fire the previous year. Between those two incidents, the Sun Vista ignited off of the coast of Malaysia and 1,000 passengers found themselves in lifeboats in the Straits of Malacca. The video images of the Ecstasy on fire off of Miami Beach are hard to forget, but few people remember that the Ecstasy caught fire in 1996 as well. Carnival‘s experience with ship fires is not limited to the Tropicale or the Ecstasy. Remember the fire aboard Carnival’s Celebration in 1995 which forced 1,700 passengers to evacuate? All of this, and more, occurred in just four years.

Cruise ship fireAfter each incident of this type, the cruise lines immediately offer a reimbursement of some type and, perhaps, a free cruise. Inevitably, the story becomes old and everyone - including the cruise line - forgets about what happened, until the next collision, fire, or other mishap occurs.

A LOOK AT COMPENSATION

What do you think of the practice of some cruise lines offering free cruises to “compensate” for these type of mishaps?

It’s a good start, but is it adequate compensation? Lets look at the “cruise from hell” stories from the Tropicale. These passengers included families who brought their minor children aboard, couples honeymooning, or elderly citizens who used their limited savings for a relaxing vacation. Through no fault of their own, these nice people quickly found themselves in a nightmare - drifting in the Gulf of Mexico, nauseated, with a tropical storm approaching. Carnival’s offer of a full refund and a free cruise is a good idea, but is it adequate remuneration for their experiences? Does this reflect a greater commitment to safety, or just a more savvy public relations department?

The cruise lines are more likely to offer free cruises now than just a few years ago. Compare Carnival’s approach today with its attitude just a few years ago. In 1996, hundreds of passengers became sick and frightened when highs seas rocked the Tropicale as Hurricane Roxanne approached. 600 passengers signed a petition for a full refund. They believed that the captain threatened their safety by taking the cruise ship too close to the hurricane. Carnival responded with a $40 shipboard credit to make up for port charges on the missed ports in Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Does anyone really think this was sufficient compensation? Or was this just a public relations nightmare?       

Do you have any feel for how the passengers themselves regard these offers? 

Some passengers appreciate the “full-refund-plus-a-free-cruise” offer. But many people are not satisfied. The last thing they want to do is to step foot on a particular cruise ship again. 

Cruise law Of course, the debate of a “free cruise or not” ignores the real issue of passenger safety. The important question is whether the cruise industry is devoting adequate financial resources to make their fleet as safe as possible for families and their children. Things like state of the art sprinkler systems, sophisticated security monitoring, and vigorous background checks on their employees.

Remember, this industry earns literally billions each year in profits, and pays less than one percent in U.S. taxes by registering their vessels in Liberia and Panama. The notion that the traveling public should be happy with a free cruise and a tote bag trivializes the fundamental issue of protecting the precious lives and personal safety of millions of passengers every year.

What is the most common complaint you hear from a cruise passenger?

There are two general types of complaints. The first is what I call the “disappointed expectation” complaint. A passenger becomes disappointed because he or she feels that the service was poor, the weather was bad, their cabin had too much engine noise, or something like this. These type of complaints generally do not belong in a courtroom.

The second type of problem is when a passenger has been injured aboard the cruise ship, due to an accident, food poisoning, or an assault. The most common situation is when a passenger slips on a deck, trips on an elevated threshold, or falls down a flight of stairs. It happens on every cruise.

The most common complaint we hear is when a passenger writes to the cruise line regarding a particular problem, and does not receive a response after several months. Most passengers who contact us are not the least bit “lawsuit-minded.” Yet, they find themselves frustrated by the cruise line’s lack of response after they return home.

What are some of the interesting cases you have handled?

When we defended several of the cruise lines in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, we saw virtually every imaginable type of claim. Of course, with more than five million people sailing on cruises from U. S. ports each year - and everyone attempting to escape from reality - there are a lot of unrealized dreams which turn into strange lawsuits. Single women sue claiming that there were not enough single men aboard the cruise ship. The next week, single men sue claiming that there were not enough single women.

My favorite story involves an elderly widow from Miami Beach who loved to sail aboard from Miami at least three times a year. Unfortunately, she would trip or slip or fall every other cruise. She would file suit every year in December and then try to settle the case as soon as possible for at least two free cruises - first class no less. She still sends me a holiday greeting card every December. 

You would agree that there is no constitutional or absolute right to a perfect vacation or cruise?

True.

So what are the types of things which go wrong that are not the cruise line’s responsibility?

Most problems which fall into the “disappointed expectation” category are not the cruise maritime lawyerline’s legal responsibility. An example would be when cruise lines change the itinerary and the passengers miss a popular port.

The courts determine whether a cruise line is legally responsible to a passenger by reviewing the terms of the passenger ticket. I saw one judge literally pull out a magnifying glass to read the fine print buried in the ticket. The passenger invariably loses when this occurs, which is not surprising. The cruise lines have spent considerable effort drafting language which protects them from virtually every imaginable situation. The exception is when a passenger has been injured or assaulted - there is a federal statute which prohibits cruise lines from limiting their liability in these circumstances. However, this exception may not apply if the cruise ship does not call on a U.S. port. 

Cruise lines reserve the right to change their itineraries at their discretion. Do passengers have any right to compensation or a refund (other than port charges) if such a change is made?

No, based on the “fine print” in the ticket. For example, Royal Caribbean’s language says that it “may at any time and without prior notice cancel, advance, postpone or deviate from any scheduled sailing or port of call.” As a public relations gesture, some cruise lines offer $100 or so for missing a port. But this is dependent entirely on the cruise line; they hold all of the cards in these type of situations. 

Theft from staterooms is pretty uncommon on cruise ships, but if something disappears mysteriously from my cabin, what recourse do I have?      

Virtually none. Again, most tickets limit the cruise line’s liability for theft. Carnival excludes any liability for money, jewelry, or other valuables “left lying about the vessel or cabin.” This Cruise attorneyseems reasonable enough. But even if the cruise lines is negligent, there is a $100 limit of liability for lost valuables, and a $500 limit if the valuables are deposited in a safe-deposit box in the purser’s office and then lost or stolen. 

One reported case involved a passenger who reported the loss of several hundred thousands of dollars in jewelry. The court dismissed the case based on the language in the passenger’s ticket limiting the cruise line’s liability to $100. My only advice is to leave your priceless jewelry at home, or buy insurance before you sail. 
 
STEPS TO A RESOLUTION
 
Before seeking the assistance of an attorney, what steps should a passenger take to resolve a claim?

First, read your ticket and take steps to protect your rights! Passengers who are injured have to send a letter to the cruise lines within a short period, usually six months, advising the cruise line that they intend to seek compensation. Also, passengers have a very short period - usually only one year - in which to file suit when they have been injured. If they are one day late, they lose their right to seek compensation.    

When a passenger is injured on a cruise ship, what proof should they present to substantiate a claim for personal injury?

Of course, not all injuries are compensable. There are two issues to consider. The first issue is liability - it is the passenger’s burden to prove that the cruise line is legally responsible for the accident. The second issue is damages - medical expenses, lost wages, and other intangible losses caused by an injury. This issue is simple; keep receipts of all of your out-of-pocket expenses, insurance claims, and medical bills. Be sure to request your shipboard medical records before you disembark. The cruise lines will usually try to put you off the ship without them, but remember - these are records of your health, and you are absolutely entitled to obtain a copy before you leave. 

The most important issue is liability. A passenger will need proof that the cruise line was negligent. First, passengers have to establish that there was a danger aboard the ship, such as an unexpected step-down without any warning signs. Secondly, they must establish that cruise lawyerthe cruise line knew or should have known of the hazard, yet failed to correct the hazard or warn passengers of the danger. This is often quite difficult to establish.  

As a practical matter, passengers need to take photographs and video of the accident scene, take notes and document what occurred, and record the names and addresses of all witnesses. In seventeen years of practicing law, I have never seen a cruise line respond to a passenger’s complaint by saying “yes, we are responsible - sorry, here is your check.” Cruise lines are not in the business of giving away their money. You have to be prepared to fight for what you are entitled.   

What is the most important thing for a passenger to remember if they intend to seek compensation from a cruise line?  

Don’t forget the one year limitations period! Many cruise lines correspond, quite pleasantly, back and forth with passengers regarding their claims. They invite the passenger to submit medical reports. A month or two later, they request other documents, implying that additional information is necessary to evaluate the claim. The cruise lines never mention the one year limitations period, but they know that the clock is ticking away on the passenger’s rights. On the 365th day, when the limitations period has expired, they notify the passenger that the claim is barred. I cannot tell you how many times passengers contact us after the one year period has expired. The ball game is over! There is very little we can do at this point.

Could you explain what steps you take to negotiate a resolution between a passenger and a cruise line?

If we believe that the cruise line is at fault, our approach is always to send correspondence to the cruise line’s risk management department and attempt to establish a dialog.  

Cruise lawyerMany lawyers by-pass the negotiation stage and file suit immediately. This is not always in a passenger’s best interest. The passenger usually lives in a distant state or in Canada or Europe. All cruise lines require that the lawsuit must be filed in a certain city, such as Miami. The passengers will therefore have to travel to Miami to appear for a deposition and for trial. Over 90% of our clients live outside of Florida, and over 30% live abroad. It is expensive to travel to and from Miami, and these expenses usually cannot be recovered from the cruise line even if they are found responsible.     

We therefore try to make a good faith effort to present our client’s case efficiently, and to submit the medical documentation necessary for the cruise lines to make a reasonable offer without the necessity of a lawsuit. Certain cruise lines offer fair compensation in meritorious cases. Other companies play “hard ball” on every claim. They will not offer anything until the lawsuit is filed and the trial date is approaching.

When all else fails and a lawsuit is the last resort, how long can a passenger expect the process to take?

It depends from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In Florida, it can take a year to two years before the case is tried. Then there is the potential for another year if an appeal is taken. Patience is a desirable trait to develop.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

We hope that your readers have a safe and enjoyable cruise. 

 

Photo Credits 

Linda Coffman   Ms. Linda Coffman

Sun Vista cruise ship      Sun Vista "Were You There?" website

 

Hard Times For Carnival? Hardly.

The financial cruise news today is all doom and gloom with cruise giant Carnival reporting another major drop in profits which everyone is attributing to the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster last January. 

Carnival announced today that it made a net profit of $93,000,000 in the three months leading up to November 30th. Now, is 93 million dollars in profits a bad deal?  Well apparently so compared to the $217,000,000 in profits in the same quarter last year.  Carnival's stock dropped 5.4%. 

Carnival honcho Micky Arison lamented that "as a result of the Costa Concordia tragedy in January, Miami Hear Beer Micky Arison Carnival Cruisethe past year has been the most challenging in our company's history."

Sorry, Micky. I don't feel your pain.  

You seemed to be smiling on the front row at your AA basketball arena the other night as the Miami Heat trounced the Minnesota Timberwolves. Yes it was a great game. But $20 to park the car, $14 for a 16 ounce beer, another $14 for a hot dog, and $11 for two tacos seems a bit steep; I'm not going to even mention the ticket prices.   

Didn't you just pay yourself a $90,000,000 bonus a couple of weeks ago?  

$90,000,000 to you.  $93,000,000 to the stockholders.  Seems fair to me.  After all, I'm drinking your $14 beers.

Is Carnival the Pretty Girl & Mobile the Nerd?

A year ago, Carnival Cruise Line unexpectedly abandoned Mobile, Alabama as a cruise port. 

Carnival cited rising fuel costs and an inability to raise prices for its cruises out of the cruise terminal in Alabama.  The unexpected news shocked local officials in Mobile which had worked for a decade to lure the cruise line to the Alabama port.

Mobile over-extended itself financially to create the cruise terminal. With Carnival pulling its cruise ship, the city was faced with no cruise line customer and no revenue to pay the millions in debt remaining on the seven-year-old terminal.

But like a desperate suitor with no one left to court, Mobile is not giving up.  A local news station reports that rumors are that Mobile continues to talk with the cruise lines trying to lure a cruise ship back to town.

The news station compares cruise lines like Carnival to the popular, pretty girl in high school who can pick and choose her dates, while Mobile is "the nerd."  The problem seems to be that there are plenty of empty cruise terminals and not enough cruise ships to go around. Plus, Mobile has a lot of competition with other ports on the Gulf of Mexico like Houston, Galveston, New Orleans and Tampa, but its crossing its fingers for some good luck in 2014.

 

 

Carnival Cruise CEO Arison Pockets $90,000,000

Miami's Daily Business Review reports today that Micky Arison paid himself a "special year-end dividend" of $90,000,000. Yes, that's 90 million dollars.

Cruise CEO Arison is not the only executive in Florida lining his pockets, as the Review states that other executives in Florida are paying themselves dividends in the range of $250,000 to around $20,000,000. The newspaper states that the whopper of a dividend was probably paid due to expectations that federal tax rates will jump next year. I suppose that's called the "Romney-didn't-win-dividend."

Arison is already by far the richest person in Florida with a net worth of many billions of dollars. The last time I checked it was over $4,000,000,000, or maybe it was $7,000,000,000. I forget. What's an extra billion or two?

Costa Concordia - Micky ArisonI was thinking of entitling this blog "Micky Arison is a fat greedy pig" but at least one journalist already called him that over a decade ago. So I'll keep what I'm thinking to myself.

But, I have to add that it must be something to be the CEO of a foreign corporation that pays no U.S. federal taxes and owns a $600,000,000 cruise ship which sank (the Concordia operated by subsidiary Costa) and killed 32 people and at the end of the year you pay yourself an additional $90,000,000. Yes, the disaster caused some lost revenue for Carnival for a few months. But by the end of the year, Carnival profits are higher than ever. 32 dead customers and crew are not a problem if you keep them from filing suit in the U.S. 

While Arison pays himself a dividend of $90,000,000, he offered the families of the dead and traumatized Concordia passengers $15,000 each. 

When I think of Arison paying himself an extra $90,000.000, I also think of the 150 waiters from India who worked for P&O Cruises (another Carnival subsidiary) who were fired earlier this year at the instructions of Carnival's executives after they went on strike for about an hour in Seattle over low pay and the non-payment of tips. There are now 150 families struggling in India because Carnival made an example of them to show what happens if crew members in Carnival's fleet of 100 cruise ships complain about low pay.

Earlier this week, Arison's cruise line ignited controversy by issuing a last minute edict that passengers who bought tickets on Carnival's drag queen cruise would not be permitted to dress in drag in order to avoid offending "family values." When a boycott was threatened that might result in Carnival losing millions from the offended LGBT community, Carnival reconsidered and lifted the ban on dressing drag.

Always following the money, Arison obviously thought that paying himself a $90,000,000 dividend was not a drag either.   

I wonder what Arison will do with the extra $90,000,000?  Raise wages for his loyal employees on his cruise ships? Invest in a health clinic in India for Carnival crew? Donate the money to a charity for sick seafarers?  Ha. That's something Bill Gates or Warren Buffett would do.  

Read some of our other articles about CEO Arison and judge for yourself. 

Cruise Line Fat Cat Billionaires    

Breaking News: Carnival Cruise Lines Incorporates in the U.S. and Subjects Itself to U.S. Labor, Wage, Safety and Environmental Regulations

Is Carnival's Mickey Arison a Greedy Corporate Pig?

Consider leaving a comment below or on our facebook page.

Who Will Be The First Drag Queen Kicked Off The Carnival Glory?

Carnival Cruise Drag QueenThe America Blog published an article ("Carnival Cruises Bans 'Drag' on Drag Cruise") this evening about Carnival's bizarre decision to threaten to kick any of their guests who dress in drag off of the December 2nd cruise aboard the Carnival Glory cruise ship.

The particularly strange part of the story is that the sailing is a Drag Stars at Sea cruise!

The travel agency organizing the event promises "Drag Stars at Sea: The Largest Gathering in HISTORY! . . . This is the first event of its kind in the world."

Well, if Carnival goes through with its plan to manhandle drag queens down the gangway in their high heels into Caribbean ports of call, the cruise may well be the first and last event of its kind in the world.

The threats came in the form of a letter dated today sent by Carnival to the guests looking to board the Glory in Miami this weekend.  Now, this seems like a rather rude thing for Carnival to do.  Aren't the guests receiving the materially-altered conditions for the cruise a little bit late? After all, the prospective passengers have already packed their dresses and make-up for the trip, not to mention that they booked their now non-refundable cruise tickets months ago. 

The letter was signed by Carnival representative Vicki Ray who our law firm knows as the smiling face of the cruise industry at Congressional crime hearings over the last many years. Her letter starts out upbeat: "Greetings Fun Seekers!" (exclamation in original) but four paragraphs later the real purpose of the letter is revealed:

Carnival Cruise Drag Queen"These functions will be private and only the performers are permitted to dress in drag in the theater. Guests are not allowed to dress in drag for the performances or in public area at any time during the cruise."

Then comes the threat. Anyone violating the edict . . .  "will be disembarked at their own expense and no refunds given."  

Wow, that's some serious chutzpah! Take money from your guests for a drag queen cruise and tell them that, uh, they can't dress like a drag queen.

Can Carnival really enforce this ban as a practical matter?  There are 35 drag queen performers listed for the cruise, like Delta Work, Venus D Lite, and Phi Phi O'Hara (photos).  If someone in drag walks from his cabin to the theater will Carnival security really try to detain him? How can ship security distinguish the audience members in drag from the performers or, for that matter, attractive buxom women dressed up for the night?

How can the dozen or so Carnival security guards think they can possibly handle several hundred men (anyone remember the Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York City?) if they try and arrest everyone in drag who is on the cruise?

The duplicitous aspect of Carnival's conduct is that this cruise line has one of the worst reputations for permitting kids to run wild and drunks to disrupt the cruising experience of guests, all the while looking the other way when fights or sexual violence occurs.  Consider this video about a drunken brawl erupting during a Carnival cruise.  

Carnival Drag CruiseFor years, Carnival and their subsidiary cruise lines have hosted "cougar cruises," "swinger cruises" and "nude cruises" where men and women dress in provocative clothing or no clothing for that matter and engage in sexually promiscuous behavior in and around the cruise ship. What's the beef against drag queens walking around the cruise ship?  Just take a look at the sexually charged and semi-nude advertising for straight "swinger cruises" offered by other cruise lines.  

Is Carnival's intent really to protect children from seeing men dressed in women's clothing?  My kids laughed throughout Robin Williams' performance in Ms. Doubtfire and they somehow managed to survive The Birdcage with Nathan Lane.

America Blog has offered opinions about the basis for a lawsuit against Carnival if the cruise line proceeds with its threats. Although a lawyer, I offer no opinions here about that, except to say that there must be something unlawful about kicking a guest who has paid his full fare off a cruise for dressing in drag on a drag queen cruise.

Let's hope that Carnival comes to its senses.  If not, I'm afraid that next week I will be watching the ugly spectacle on a YouTube video which is eventually shown to a jury in a court of law.

Carnival President Gerry CahillNovember 27 2012 Update:  Under pressure, Carnival claims that there was just a "mistake" in communication, changes course and withdraws ban on dressing in drag.  According to Cruise Critic, the president of Carnival issued the following statement:

"When the group was presented to us we were advised that only the performers would be dressed in drag during the private events," Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, said in an e-mail to passengers booked on the December 2 sailing. "However, we are now aware that this was not clearly communicated to members of the group and therefore anyone who wishes to dress in drag may do so."

Smart move by Carnival, otherwise it would have faced a riot on the high seas. 

The Carnival statement continues:

"At Carnival, we are proud to carry more than 4.5 million guests every year and we welcome them all aboard. We do not practice any form of discrimination against the LGBT or any other community. We sincerely apologize for the miscommunication and for any unintended offense we have caused."

Cahill further stated that anyone booked on the cruise who wants to cancel "for any reason may do so and will receive a full refund of their cruise fare, as well as reimbursement for any non-refundable travel related expenses."

Carnival Letter - Vicki Rey

Who's covering this story?  

Daily Kos: Carnival Cruise Line Bans Drag On Their "Drag Stars At Sea" Cruise

Think Progress: Drag Cruise Refuses To Let Passengers Dress In Drag

America Blog (story # 1): Carnival Cruises Bans “Drag” on Drag Cruise

America Blog (story # 2): Carnival Ban on “Drag” During “Drag Cruise” is not Anti-Gay, it’s Cuz of 9/11

Huffington Post: AlandChuck.Travel: No Drag for Passengers on Drag at Sea Cruise?!   

Queerty: Carnival Cruise Line Bans Drag On Upcoming Drag Cruise

Village Voice: Carnival Bans Drag Patrons From Drag Cruise!

Miami New Times: Carnival Bans Drag Costumes from RuPaul's Drag Race Themed Cruise

USA Today: Carnival's Ban On Drag Costumes Sparks Controversy

Crushable (WTF Blog): Carnival Forbids People From Dressing In Drag On ‘Drag Stars At Sea’ Cruise

SFist: Carnival Cruises Forbids Drag Queens During Drag Cruise

NYMag: Carnival Bans Guests in Drag on RuPaul’s Cruise

Passport Magazine: Carnival Cruise Lines in Hot Water Over Drag Ban on a Drag Cruise!

Advocate: Drag Ban Creates Rough Sailing for Drag Star Cruise

Miami Herald: Carnival Apologizes and Says Cruise Passengers May Dress in Drag

 

 

Story credit: John Aravosis / America Blog

Photos: Al and Chuck Travel

Carnival letter: America Blog  ("Gay - A Great Nation Deserves A Great Debate")

Pregnancy & Cruising: What To Expect If You Are Expecting

The Washington Post published an interesting article about what pregnant women should expect when they go on a cruise. Written by Christopher Elliott, the article is entitled "What to Expect if You're Expecting to Cruise.

Different cruise lines have different policies when it comes to when a pregnant woman is no longer welcome on a cruise ship. Some cruise lines prohibit women who are 24 weeks pregnant to cruise. The theory, I suppose, is that the risk of something going wrong with the pregnancy, such as premature birth, increases once the pregnancy enters her third trimester?

As Mr. Elliott points out, just two weeks a go a pregnant woman aboard a Disney cruise ship had to be Cruise Ship Pregnancy Policymedevaced after developing complications shortly after the ship left Galveston. You can watch the dramatic hoisting of the passenger up to the Coast Guard helicopter here.    

Of course neither cruise lines nor pregnant passengers want to have to summons the Coast Guard to conduct a rescue on the high seas late at night. Once the ship is a few hundred miles away from port, no helicopter will arrive to save the day.

So everyone seems to be on the same page that cruise pregnancy policies are a good idea.  But the problem is - what happens when a pregnant customer does not read the fine print buried in the cruise ticket and is a few days past the cruise line's deadline? What rights does the cruise consumer have in this situation?  

None, it seems.  The Washington Post article correctly points out that the terms of the ticket control. Unfortunately, the cruise line is likely to block a "too pregnant" passenger from boarding while keeping the passenger's cruise fare. No refund. No exceptions. No future credit.

That's a harsh approach, particularly because some people buy cruises up to a eight months to a year in advance. If a baby is conceived after the cruise is purchased, you'd think that the cruise lines would say congratulations and be reasonable. They're not.  Cruise lines seem to take advantage of the situation.   

Mr. Elliott writes that it is almost like the cruise lines want to make an example by barring pregnant women who don't comply with the policy as a motivation for the public to purchase travel insurance which, not coincidentally, is also sold by many of the cruise lines.

The newspaper quoted me, for what that's worth;  Here's my take:

"I don't think it's unreasonable for the cruise lines to adopt pregnancy policies, particularly given the limited nature of the medical facilities on cruise ships and the absence of doctors who are experienced in obstetrics and gynecology," says James Walker . . . specializing in maritime law. "The problem arises when there is a good-faith misunderstanding by the pregnant passenger, and the cruise line takes a rigid attitude and pockets the consumer's money."

 

Photo credit: SheKnows.com 

Should I Send My Daughter on a Cruise?

Sexual Abuse of Children - Disney Cruise ShipOne of the web sites which I read from time to time is "TravelTruth." It is a site which describes itself as a "collaborative effort designed to offer the vacation consumer real world advice without exaggeration, deception, or sales bias. It is the ultimate insider’s view of how things really work, written by an award-winning team of travel consultants and journalists."  

TravelTruth recently addressed the issue raised by a mother who asked whether she should let her daughter vacation on a cruise ship in the Caribbean next spring.  The article is entitled "Bottom Line: Should My Daughter Do This Trip?"The article explains some of the dangers which we touch upon in this blog, namely the absence of independent police authorities on cruise ships, and the risk of sexual assault both on the ships and especially ashore in Mexico and the Caribbean islands.

If you are a parent thinking of taking your daughter (or son) aboard a cruise ship, consider reading the articles about the cruise lines below:

Sexual Assault of Children - Royal CaribbeanCarnival, Celebrity, Cunard, Disney, NCL, Oceania, Princess, and Royal Caribbean  

One of our goals at Cruise Law News is public awareness. Thus, the motto of our blog "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."  The TravelTruth site also provided a link to our blog for parents to read if they are considering taking their daughters on a cruise.  

Our goal is not to scare the public from cruising, but to educate the public that its not safe to let your guard down aboard cruise ships while cruising with your children.  

Photos:

Top: Disney cruise passenger Lucas George Wickes indicted for felony sexual abuse and aggravated sexual abuse of minor aboard Disney Wonder.

Bottom: Royal Caribbean crew member Fabian Palmer indicted for felony sexual abuse of minor aboard Adventure of the Seas.

Friends Bring Fellow Passenger Back to Life on Carnival Glory

This morning, the Free Lance newspaper in Fredericksburg, Virginia published a cruise story with a happy ending. Entitled "Friends’ Actions Aboard Ship Save Woman’s Life," the article is about cruise passenger Patty Bliss who joined 25 other women from the Sheriff’s Office and government offices in Stafford County for a weekend getaway two weeks ago on Carnival Glory’s “cruise to nowhere.” 

Shortly after boarding the cruise ship, the women were enjoying food and drinks on deck. Suddenly, Ms. Bliss slumped over in her chair.  

The women observed Ms. Bliss not breathing. She had no pulse. Her skin turned grayish–purple. She had suffered sudden cardiac arrest, causing her heart to stop pumping blood throughout her body.  “I thought she was gone,” said one pf the women, Sgt. Nancy Morin, who was also traveling with two Carnival Glory Cruise to Nowhere - Heart attackdaughters. Morin's oldest daughter was certain that Ms. Bliss was dead. She began crying.

But Sgt. Morin and Detective Christine Hammond sprang into action. They initiated cardiopulmonary resuscitation with Morin compressing her heart and Hammond blowing into Bliss’ mouth. The newspaper writes:

Bliss’ heart didn’t start beating on its own. Other women in the group asked crew members for an automated external defibrillator, a device that sends an electric shock to people suffering from cardiac arrest . . . .

. . .  crew members weren’t responding, but instead “ran around in circles trying to figure out what to do.”

One of the women in the group then clapped her hands in the face of one crew members and told him to get the device “and get it now!”

By this point, Morin and Hammond reportedly had given CPR to Ms. Bliss for 15 to 20 minutes.

According to the newspaper, when the defibrillator arrived, a crew member shocked Bliss once, but the device indicated another shock was needed. When the crew member hesitated, one of the women pushed the button to shock Bliss again and again. 

Finally an ambulance took Ms. Bliss off of the cruise ship to a hospital where the doctors implanted a defibrillator in her chest.  

Ms. Bliss may have missed the "cruise to nowhere," but she was fortunate to fall ill in port around a group of women trained on how to save her life. 

Busy Weekend For Cruise Ship Medevacs: Coast Guard Rescues Sick Passenger From Carnival Inspiration

Carnival Inspiration Medevac - Coast Guard HelicopterThe U.S. Coast Guard issued a press release indicating that it medically evacuated a passenger from a cruise ship 50 miles southwest of Point Loma yesterday afternoon.

The Carnival Inspiration cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard yesterday shortly before noon requesting a medevac for a 26 year old man who was experiencing rapid heart rate and possible cardiac complications.

Coast Guard Sector San Diego dispatched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew to fly to the cruise ship to perform the medevac.

The aircrew hoisted the man and the ship’s nurse to the helicopter and transported them to San Diego, where they transferred the ill man to emergency medical personnel.

This was the third medevac from a cruise ship this weekend.  Previously the Coast Guard rescued a pregnant passenger from the Disney Magic and flew her to a hospital in Galveston, Texas.  And an ill passenger was hoisted by a helicopter, operated by the Australian Navy, from the Sea Princess cruise ship and taken to a hospital in Australia.   

 

Photo / video credit: U.S. Coast Guard

Hurricane Sandy Causes Cruise Ships to Scatter

While some cruise ships have elected to hunker down in port and ride out Hurricane Sandy, other ships such as the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas and Carnival's Miracle are out at sea trying to skirt the high seas and high winds. ABC News reports: 

 

 

Why Did Carnival Delay Rescuing An Overboard Passenger From The Destiny?

One of the first comments from the Carnival Destiny cruise ship about a passenger going overboard earlier this week was by another passenger who remarked on Twitter that it took well over a hour to complete the rescue. The tweet stated that the overboard passenger had to tread the water for one and one-half hours.

Another person left a comment to my article about the incident, stating:

"The woman's friends who knew she had fallen had a difficult time convincing the crew to stop the ship. They chose to search the ship first. Fortunately a passenger in an above deck had reported hearing a splash and that info convinced them to stop the ship and look in the water. She was not rescued for over an hour. She tried to swim after the ship until it disappeared and she was left in total blackness. . . ."

Coast Guard regulations and the requirements of most cruise ship safety management systems (SMS) Carnival Destiny Cruise Ship Rescue required by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) state that the vessel must immediately take steps to rescue a person who goes overboard.

Vessel operators must also notify the Coast Guard and other vessels in the vicinity if the overboard person is not "immediately" located in the water. Once a man overboard is reported, most SMS cruise line policies require a prompt reduction of speed of the ship, a "Williamson Turn" to head the ship back to the location of the overboard person, the deployment of extra look-outs, the use of spotlights, and preparation to deploy life craft. While this is happening the captain can order a muster and head count if there is any doubt about whether a passenger went overboard. 

Why didn't this occur in this case?  If the comments by other passengers are true that the cruise ship did not promptly turn around and the overboard passenger was forced to tread water for over an hour, this is in violation of Coast Guard regulations and basic maritime rescue procedures.

Last month, a similar incident occurred on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Allure of the Seas. A young woman went overboard and reportedly struck the arm of a passenger standing on a lower balcony. The passenger reported the incident immediately but the cruise ship sailed on and did not report it for over two hours.  The cruise line initially falsely stated that it immediately initiated a search and notified the U.S. Coast Guard. When confronted with the fact that it actually delayed for over two hours, Royal Caribbean said that it decided to search the ship first so as to avoid unnecessarily causing the Coast Guard to deploy search aircraft and rescue vessels.  

Unlike the Carnival case where the passenger was eventually rescued and taken to a hospital ashore (photo above), in the Royal Caribbean case the passenger was never found and her body was never recovered.

There were many comments after the fiasco aboard the Allure of the Seas that no one can survive a fall of 100 feet from a cruise ship, but the Carnival Destiny incident shows otherwise. In both cases, there were criticisms by other passengers that they were inconvenienced by the delay and/or they missed the next port because of the overboard. Cruise lines have to then deal with whining customers and unhappy people demanding credits and discounts.  

Are cruise ships under so much pressure to keep their itineraries that they are ignoring basic search and rescue protocols? 

Yes, everyone should be happy that the Destiny passenger survived. But the issue needs to be explored to understand why the ship delayed in searching in the water rather than wasting time looking around the ship.The next overboard will not be so lucky. 

The notion advanced by Royal Caribbean's PR people that cruise lines can delay a rescue for a couple of hours is preposterous. It's exactly the opposite of what the applicable maritime rules and regulations require.  After all, the Allure of the Seas is touted as the largest cruise ship in the world. In an emergency, no one has the luxury of searching an entire floating city before initiating a search and calling the Coast Guard for help.

A person struggling in the water at night does not have time to wait a hour or two for help.    

 

Photo credit: Jetaria Taylor

Coast Guard Medevacs Cruise Passenger From Carnival Glory

A Coast Guard helicopter medevaced a sick cruise ship passenger suffering from chest pains from the Carnival Glory, which left Norfolk yesterday. According to WAVY, the 52 year old woman, her husband and a nurse were hoisted off the ship and flown to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. 

 

Carnival Destiny Passenger Rescued After Going Overboard

Carnival Destiny Cruise - Passenger Jumps  WSVN - Miami Channel 7 reports that a cruise ship passenger went overboard from the Carnival Destiny Saturday night after the ship left the port of Miami.

The news station states that the 29 year old female apparently jumped from the cruise ship but was rescued by the ship's crew who used a rescue boat to pick her out of the water.

The Destiny diverted from its scheduled port in Ocho Rios, Jamaica to Key West where the woman was disembarked yesterday for medical treatment at a hospital. The cruise ship will now head for Grand Cayman.

A number of passengers left comments on Twitter to the effect that the overboard passenger may have struck a lifeboat on the way down and treaded water for over one and one-half hours. One passenger took a photo of the lifeboat (below) involved in the rescue. 

Anyone with photos, video or information about what happened please leave a comment below. 

October 25, 2012 Update:  Why Did Carnival Delay Rescuing An Overboard Passenger From The Destiny?

Carnival Destiny Lifeboat - Rescue - Overboard Passenger 

Photo credit:

Top: WSVN 7

Bottom: @NStookey Twitter 

First Set of Costa Concordia Lawsuits Dismissed

Costa Concordia Lawsuit - Carnival Cruise LineCarnival won its first step in battling lawsuits filed against it arising our of the January 2012 Costa Concordia disaster when a a federal court judge in Florida dismissed a lawsuit filed by Italian businesses against it.

U.S. District Court judge Robin Rosenbaum held that the lawsuits against Carnival should be filed in Italy. 1,000 businesses on the island of Giglio where the Concordia cruise ship ran aground near the harbor tried to sue Carnival in Florida because it is the parent company for Costa which is based in Genoa, Italy.

Whereas we would like to see Carnival sued here in Florida for the disaster, this is an outcome that we expected. We recently wrote about whether the cruise lines can be sued here in the U.S. - "Will Costa Concordia Passengers Be Able to Sue Costa and Carnival in the U.S.?"

This development does not bode well for the lawsuits filed against Carnival on behalf of passengers and crew members who were aboard the Concordia when it capsized. 

Cruise Lawyers - You Can Love 'Em or Hate 'Em, But You Need Them.

Yesterday I mentioned our blog's three year anniversary. I was pleased to receive some positive comments back from our readers, particularly on our facebook page. Here is one comment that I received via email from a travel agent which I thought was nice: 

"Congratulations on three very successful, provocative, educational and to say the least enlightening years. As a travel professional your articles have caused me to reconsider may things I advise my clients on when it comes not only to cruising but while taking land vacations also.

Thanks for all the good work."

One of our goals is to educate the public about some of the hidden dangers of cruising. So it's encouraging to hear from travel agents who read our blog and learn that they are mentioning some of the issues and safety points we discuss here.

Cruise Ship Lawyer Miami - Royal Caribbean - CarnivalBut our anniversary also brought us hate e-mail as well.  

When I read emails like the one below, I realize that there is no question that we live in a polarized society. Half of the public understands the need for lawyers to help weak & injured people, and to try and keep large corporations in line. The other half of the public views trial lawyers are a sign of the apocalypse:   

"So why do we have to wait in line to sign the silly waivers to do anything like skate, climb or ride the flowrider? You Ambulance chasers make me ashamed to be an American! I've been on many cruises and they are working extremely hard providing an outstanding and safe product. You don't fool most of us -- we know it's all about money! Why don't you get a real job instead of feeding on the labor of others? I have had many conversations with workers on ships -- you know they think we Americans are a bunch of lazy bums looking to sue. It's true -- they laugh at our silly warning labels!

Thank you Mr Lawyer! Mr. Ambulance Chaser."

When I receive emails like this I have to stop and scratch my head. "Waivers" on cruise ships are against the law. There is absolutely no reason to ever stand in a line on a cruise ship to sign a waiver because they are null, void and unenforceable.

Why are they illegal?  Because lawyers fought for injured passengers. In a case we handled, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal recently struck down a cruise line waiver which purported to strip passengers of their legal rights before they can participate in activities like zip lines, wall climbing, flowriders, rock climbing and skating.

Cruise lines hire large teams of lawyers to advance their legal interests. Any case filed against a Miami-based cruise line will be assigned to a team of lawyers and legal assistants - a partner, senior associate, junior associate and a paralegal or two.

In big cases, cruise lines hire a proverbial city of lawyers. Costa cruise line hired dense lawyers in Rome, Genoa, New York, London, Washington DC and Miami to represent it following the Costa Concordia disaster.  

An average passenger or crew member does not stand a chance against a large corporation like Carnival or Royal Caribbean unless they hire a lawyer.

Yes, there are some silly warning signs on some products which are not needed. We can all agree on that and have a good laugh. But if you are a victim of a crime or serious injury during a cruise and don't hire a lawyer, it will be the cruise line who will be having a laugh at your expense. 

Costa CEO to Oversee Carnival Corporation Growth in Asia

Pier Luigi Foschi - Costa Cruise - Carnival AsiaThe cruise blog Noticias de Cruceros published an interesting article today about the former president and CEO of Costa Crociere, Pier Luigi Foschi.

It seems that Mr. Luigi, who supposedly "retired" last July following the Concordia disaster, has been selected by the Carnival Corporation as the president and CEO of a new business new unit in Asia to monitor the growth strategies of the company on that continent.

In his new position, Foschi will be responsible for setting up the new company's corporate offices in Singapore and to direct and assist the operating units of the company in its business ventures in Asia.

Currently, the Asian operations of Carnival Corporation include two ships of Costa Cruises, based in China and Singapore, as well as the Princess Cruises' Sun Princess which will will begin a series of routes from Japan next spring.

Mr. Foschi will continue in his current position as president and CEO of the Costa group, and will remain a member of the board of directors of Carnival Corporation.  As the president of Carnival Asia, he extensive experience in the Asian market, having overseen Costa entry in the region in 2006.

 

Photo Credit:  LaStampa.it

Leader of Carnival Cruise Gang Rape Indicted

A federal grand jury indicted a Florida man arrested for participating in and encouraging the gang rape of a 15 year old girl on a Carnival cruise ship last month. The grand jury indicted Casey Dickerson on sexual abuse charges Wednesday for engaging in the rape of a girl in a cabin on the Carnival Sensation cruise ship.

The victim told the FBI that she and a friend went to Dickerson's cabin with him and four other boys. She said that Dickerson and the boys held her down and took turns raping her. 

Dickerson denies the charges but said he was drunk and didn't know when anything got "sexual." 

This is a case we have blogged about before here and here and here.  

The case demonstrates the danger of free flowing cruise booze and the danger to minors of sexual assault on cruise ships.

The good thing, if there is such a thing, about this case is that the FBI actually made an arrest and there will be a federal prosecution - which is rare.

Casey Dickerson - Carnival Sensation Cruise Ship Gang Rape

Photo credit: FanDaily

Does Carnival Warn Passengers of the Danger of Sexual Assault in the Cayman Islands?

A couple of days ago I wrote a blog about the police in the Cayman Islands making an arrest of a local man who allegedly sexually assaulted a cruise passenger who was visiting the island.

The newspaper article that my blog was based on was very vague and mentioned only that the alleged rape occurred on July 27th and the arrest occurred some three weeks later.  It took almost a month later after the arrest before the newspapers in the Caymans covered the story.  There still is no mention of where the incident occurred other than "in the George Town area."  

A reader of my blog alerted me that an article from another media source in the Cayman Carnival Elation Cruise Ship - Cayman Islands - Sexual Assault Islands, Cayman News Service, contained a bit more information. The article "Visitor Sexually Assaulted" states that the only cruise ship in the Cayman Islands was the Carnival Elation and the cruise passenger was a "teenage visitor (who) was assaulted during an onshore tour."

There are some interesting comments to the article written, presumably, by people in the Cayman Islands.  The first two comments are "Been here 30 years. Not new" and "Alot of rapes happen here and not reported or covered up."  

Other comments raise the issue why this crime was not reported earlier and why the police is not disclosing exactly where it occurred. I find it fascinating that the police did not disclose the name of the cruise ship, and it was only by deduction that the Cayman News Service figured out that the victim was from a Carnival cruise ship.

Last week I wrote an article about a case we are handling where a federal appellate court re-instated a lawsuit against Carnival arising out of its failure to warn a family of dangers ashore in St. Thomas leading to the shooting death of their 14 year old daughter.  The 11th Circuit Court of Appeal held that cruise lines like Carnival owe a duty to warn passengers of crime in ports of call that they are aware of or should be aware of. 

Crime in the Caribbean islands is a problem. Cruise lines promote the ports of call as tropical paradises. Passengers who are lured into the world of cruise fantasies often lower their guard. Cruise lines and the tourism bureaus in the islands are notorious for covering up crimes so as not to hurt their business. 

Did the alleged rape in the Cayman Islands occur during an excursion advertised and sold by Carnival? Has the cruise line warned other families of the crime over the course of the last two months?  Are other cruise lines which unload passengers in the Caymans warning their guests?

 

Photo credit: Jim Walker

Should Carnival Be Liable When Drunken Passengers Go Overboard From The Fun Ships?

Cruise Booze - All You Can DrinkToday I was struck by the juxtaposition of two headlines - "Carnival Cruise's All You Can Drink Alcohol Package Expands" and Passenger "Claims Carnival Cruise Lines Left Her Drunk Husband to Die After He Fell Overboard."

I have been critical of Carnival's new all-you-can-drink cruise booze package which is similar to the booze policy that Royal Caribbean has been selling to its passengers.  I have been quoted before saying that there is a direct correlation between too much cruise booze and sexual assaults and overboard passengers - Boozy Cruises a Recipe for Disaster.

But truth be told the "new" alcohol policy is just an official designation of the all-you-can-drink atmosphere which has existed on Carnival's Fun Ships dating back over the decades. The drunken anything-goes party attitude results in violence and people going overboard - literally.   

According to the lawsuit papers filed against Carnival, the "drunk husband" was passenger Clint Markham, who drank heavily while ashore in Cozumel.  When he returned to the Carnival Conquest cruise ship, he was "inebriated to the point of being unable to care for his own safety or to think clearly and rationally. He wanted to continue drinking and partying . . .

What followed was a spat between Mr. Markham (photo right) and his wife who tried to calm her husband down and keep him in his cabin where he could take a shower and sober up. But Mr. Markham proceeded to an upper deck of the ship, where he engaged in animated conversation with friends and strangers. He then climbed up on the railing where he sat for a few moments and then fell face forward into the sea.  His body was never found. 

The lawsuit seeks to hold Carnival liable for creating an out-of-control environment where the cruise line encouraged its guests to drink to excess such that "even though he had consumed excessive amounts of alcohol, Clint Markham had been conditioned by defendant to want to keep partying, and to take it to Client Markham - Cruise Boozethe limit and beyond." The complaint (filed by another maritime lawyer in Miami) alleges:

"Defendant Carnival Corporation goes to great lengths to inebriate its passengers and, in so doing, to break down their inhibitions, and create an 'anything goes' atmosphere. Synonyms for the name of the defendant's corporation, Carnival, include 'bacchanal,' 'orgy,' 'debauch' and 'merrymaking.' The word 'carnival' has come to mean in the general lexicon a 'self-indulgent festival.' Defendant's business plan to cultivate this atmosphere among its passengers is no coincidence."    

I'm sure that many reading about Mr. Markham's situation (which I blogged about last year, here) will say that its a matter of "personal responsibility" and place all of the blame on him for what happened.

I am also a firm believer in personal responsibility.  But I must quickly point out that corporations are considered to be persons too.  Cruise lines like Carnival make hundreds of millions of dollars a year pushing the sale of alcohol. Carnival knows that lots of bad bad things happen when their guests drink too much.

Just last month a soldier who was about to be deployed to Afghanistan drank himself into a stupor while aboard the Carnival Fascination. He ended up allegedly running around the ship assaulting people and then apparently jumped from one deck down to another before he ended up jumping off the ship with a life ring when the cruise ship security personnel chased him.  

Robert McGill - Cruise BoozeAnd remember the case of cruise passenger, Robert McGill, (photo left) who drank himself silly with Mezcal and 7 or 8 beers while ashore in Cabo and then returned to the Carnival Elation where he staggered up the gangway, ordered more booze from Carnival, got into an argument and beat and strangled his wife?  Afterwards he ordered a bucket of beer to drink as the ship returned to port.

Yes, all of these individuals share responsibility for drinking too much. Its easy to blame them. But Carnival, which profits greatly from its all-you-can-drink atmosphere, also has personal responsibility for these deaths. 

 

Photo credit:

Client Markham KETK / KHOU / Houston Chronicle

Robert John McGill with FBI L.A. Times

Carnival's motto? Load em' off, load em' in. Let the drinking begin . . .

Will Costa Concordia Passengers Be Able to Sue Costa and Carnival in the U.S.?

Costa Concordia Lawsuit The Associated Press just published an article about the hundreds of passengers and crew members who have filed suit against Costa and Carnival here in the U.S. following the Costa Concordia disaster.

A number of newspapers are running the story, as well as TIME magazine which carried the article "Passengers Suing Carnival Cruises for Millions over Costa Concordia Shipwreck." 

Miami lawyer Gabrielle D’Alemberte, who represents five U.S. citizens suing in Florida, explains some of the drawbacks about trying to sue in Italy. She is quoted in the article explaining that Italy does not allow attorneys to work on a contingency fee basis in which the lawyer’s fee comes out of any settlement or verdict. She also states that compensation for pain and suffering and emotional distress are harder if not impossible to collect in Italy. “This was traumatizing at every level . . . That’s a cause of action in this country. It’s not in Italy.”

Travel Agent Central, in an article written by Susan Young, published an article today explaining the jurisdictional difficulties that the passengers will face suing here in the U.S.  The article is entitled Lawsuits Target Carnival Corp. in the U.S. But Will They Succeed? and quoted me extensively.

I would like to see all of the passengers and crew members obtain great success suing both Costa and Carnival here in the U.S. Costa's settlement offer of less than $15,000 is a joke, but I think that prospect of suing in Italy will be prohibitively expensive and time consuming and the outcome uncertain..  I think ultimately the cases here in the U.S. will be kicked out of court. 

I hope I'm wrong but I don't think I am.  You can read my thoughts about the prospects of successfully keeping the cases here in the U.S.in the article here.    

The Washington Post covered the story and included the video interview of lawyer D’Alemberte, as well as Miami attorney Robert Peltz below: 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Travel Agent Central

 

Coast Guard Medevacs Carnival Paradise Cruise Passenger

The U.S. Coast Guard reports that it medevaced a 50 year old passenger from the Carnival cruise ship Paradise approximately 30 miles west of Venice, Florida last night.

The Coast Guard station in St. Petersburg Florida received a request at 10:30 p.m., from the Carnival Paradise for a medical evacuation of a man who was suffering from a suspected cardiac attack. Crew members aboard the cruise ship were able to resuscitate the passenger and r