Emergency Liferaft Deployed on Drunken Celebrity Solstice Cruise to Nowhere

This morning I received messages from readers of Cruise Law News indicating that a passenger deployed a liferaft from a canister during a three night "cruise to nowhere" sailing from Australia. One person on the ship said:

"I have just returned from a 3 night cruise on the celebrity Solstice out of Sydney, Australia. On the 2nd night we saw one of the inflatable life boats had been deployed and the ship had to actually turn around and go back to retrieve it. We were told by several people that it was actually a passenger that threw the capsule overboard."

Other passengers mentioned that the cruise was a real booze fest during which someone apparently thought that Celebrity Solsticeactivating the liferaft was a good college-type-of-prank to perform.

I received a photo from another passenger, apparently posted on Facebook, but I don't have a name for attribution. 

Activating a liferaft canister like this can be written off as a hair-brain shenanigan, but it is alarming to me. No one should have access to the canisters nor should they be able to deploy one. A terrorist or someone wanting to cause harm to the vessel's operations could easily deploy a dozen of them if they are so easily accessible & deployable and there are no security precautions in place.

It reminds me of a situation several years ago when a drunken passenger entered a "restrictive" area and dropped the ship's anchor on a Holland American Line cruise ship. You can read about that combination of drunken passenger conduct and ship security lapse here: Drunk Passenger Drops Cruise Ship Anchor.  

October 27 2014 Update: We received a comment from the IP address of Royal Caribbean (see below) stating that "Nobody deployed the raft . . . the raft fell in the water as the strap failed . . . we did check the CCTV cameras on Deck and we also have the video already . . ."

So what happened?  Did the canister deploy by accident? Seems like this should have been disclosed on the ship. Anyone have additional info?

 

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

Photo Credit:  Facebook

Celebrity Says Goodbye to Century Cruise Ship

Multiple sources are reporting that Royal Caribbean entered into an agreement to sell the Celebrity Century cruise ship to a Chinese cruise company. 

The company buying the Century is identified as Exquisite Marine Ltd., a holding company controlled by Ctrip International Ltd.

Royal Caribbean says that the Century will "complete its scheduled sailings through the March 22, 2015, itinerary. The 15-night, Dubai to Rome sailing on April 5, 2015 is being redeployed to a 14-night sailing from Dubai to Singapore. Guests with affected individual bookings and named group bookings Celebrity Centuryon Celebrity Century's April 5, 2015 sailing from Dubai to Rome have the option to either cancel their booking and receive a full refund or move to an alternative sailing and receive a re-accommodation onboard credit as well as compensation to cover air change fees. Guests with reservations affected by the transition will be proactively contacted by Celebrity Cruises. Guests and Travel Agents with specific questions are welcome to call 1-888-283-7275."

The Century joined the Celebrity fleet in December 1995. 

On of my first cases against a cruise line involved the Century. An elderly woman fell on a worn-out, slippery deck, breaking her hip.    

It was a different era back then. The Century was a 70,00-ton ship carrying only 1,800 guests with 860 crew. We will see more and more cruise ships of this vintage appear in the Chinese and European markets as Royal Caribbean brings its monster ships on line.  

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Riley Huntley (Huntley Photography)

Propulsion Problems Plague Celebrity Silhouette

Celebrity Silhouette Cruise Critic reports that a unspecified propulsion problem is slowing the Celebrity Silhouette down, causing it to shorten time spent in certain port of calls.

Celebrity does not specify the nature of the problem or indicate when the problem will be fixed.

A Celebrity Cruises spokeswoman provides this gobbledygook explanation: the "slight restriction" on the ship's top speed "is due to a portion of the propulsion system operating at less than optimal efficiency."

The Celebrity Reflection was recently delayed in Civitavecchia due to unspecified mechanical problems. Celebrity was secret about that problem.

A Celebrity cruise ship was delayed in port was last December when the Celebrity Constellation suffered an engine problem in Key West.  

Anyone know what's the problem with the Silhouette?

 

Photo Credit: Wikepedia / Kyle.died.rich

Celebrity Reflection Delayed in Civitavecchia Due to Unspecified Mechanical Problems

Over the weekend, we received word from a cruise passenger aboard a Celebrity cruise ship, the Reflection, that the ship was forced to stay overnight in Civitavecchia (Rome) due to unspecified mechanical problems.

The cruise line reportedly refused to disclose the nature of the problem to passengers on the ship.

The Reflection was delayed in port overnight in Italy until July 5th at 3 p.m. 

 Celebrity ReflectionThe passengers missed the next port of call in Messina, Italy.

The ship is sailing to Piraeus, Greece, where it is will arrive today. Its sounds like everything is going well at this point. The passengers were scheduled for a 10 day cruise. 

Celebrity reportedly provided a onboard credit of $200 a cabin plus an additional $50 credit for the third and fourth passengers. 

The last time we wrote about a Celebrity cruise ship delayed in port was last December when the Celebrity Constellation suffered an engine problem in Key West

Does anyone know what type of mechanical problem the Reflection was experiencing and what type of repairs took place?

Celebrity Constellation Loses Power, Again

Celebrity ConstellationCruise Fever reports that a Celebrity cruise ship lost power yesterday morning for about one and one-half hours while the ship was at port in Key West.

Cruise Fever says that the Celebrity Constellation lost power Sunday morning from approximately 7:15 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. A writer for Cruise Fever was aboard and first reported on the power failure.  

Over 7 weeks ago, the same ship experienced a power loss at the same port. You can read about that incident here: Celebrity Constellation Suffers Engine Problems in Key West

If you have information to share, please leave a comment below.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Megadri

Crew Member Overboard From Celebrity Cruises' Constellation Cruise Ship

Numerous news sources are reporting that a Celebrity Cruises' crew member went overboard from a cruise ship sailing off of the coast of Mexico.

Crew member Inyoman Bagiada, age 45, reportedly disappeared from the Celebrity Constellation at around 2:30 AM today, according to a press release by the U.S. Coast Guard. He was employed on the cruise ship as a cook.

The Constellation was returning from Cozumel, Mexico, to Port Everglades, Florida, after a five-day cruise. The incident reportedly occurred between Mexico and Cuba.

Celebrity Constellation Man OverboardThis is the sixth cruise ship disappearance in the last 5 weeks.

Royal Caribbean and sister company Celebrity have recently lost 4 people overboard. In addition to this latest overboard, people went overboard from the Rhapsody of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Independence of the Seas

Royal Caribbean is one of the cruise lines which is in violation of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) which requires the installation of automatic man overboard systems. Four years ago Congress passed the CVSSA nto law, over the cruise industry's objections, most cruise lines have not installed the required systems.

What typically occurs is that a person goes overboard without anyone seeing the passenger or crew member.  The cruise ship then sails on, often for many hours. Eventually the person's absence is noticed, but the ship is many miles away. At that point the cruise ship will notify the Coast Guard, which must then search vast areas of the ocean at the cost to U.S taxpayers of $1,000,000.

The Coast Guard sent a HC-130 Hercules aircraft Clearwater, Florida and the Charles David Jr., a 154-foot cutter from Key West. 

A man overboard system would result in an immediate notification of the person going overboard and a rapid search and rescue. Sending Coast Guard airplanes and vessels from long distances away could be avoided with the man overboard systems. Lives could be saved which are now being lost.

Royal Caribbean experienced 8 crew members going overboard from its fleet of ships in less than 2 years between January 2011 and October 2012. You can read about those cases here.

It's my belief that unless the cruise lines face steep fines, or are responsible for paying for the Coast Guard's search, they will continue to flaunt the law.  

January 30 2014 Update: The Daily Mail reports that "according to the Coast Guard, the cruise did not report Bagiada missing until eight hours after he fell overboard." 

 

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

Photo Credit of Celebrity Constellation - Wikipedia / Megadri   

Celebrity Constellation Suffers Engine Problems in Key West

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's web site indicates that the Constellation cruise ship was forced to spend an extra day in Key West.

Professor Klein reported yesterday about a passenger's complaint that the "Constellation scheduled to leave Key West yesterday, Dec. 15 @ 5pm. Repair needed and waiting on part(s). At 8:05am, December 16, still no evidence of upcoming departure. Scheduled to be 'at sea' day on the way to Cozumel."

The repairs were needed after the Celebrity cruise ship experienced engine problems.

Cruise line spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said that the Constellation had "technical issues" with one of its gas turbine engines during its departure from Key West on Sunday afternoon.

The Key West Citizen indicated that the ship's departure was delayed until 10 p.m. Monday while crews made repairs. The ship carries more than 2,160 passengers.

The newspaper explained that because of the mechanical delay, and the time and speed needed, Constellation was unable to make its scheduled port of call into Cozumel, Mexico, on Tuesday. Instead, it will call on Nassau, Bahamas, on Wednesday. 

The Key West newspaper characterized the Celebrity Constellation as an aging member of the Celebrity fleet. It made its initial cruise in May 2002.

Celebrity Constellation Cruise Ship

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Megadri

Celebrity Cruises Kicks Elderly Couple Off Millennium Cruise Ship

A Cruise Law News reader from Australia alerted me of a newspaper article published on Thursday discussing how Miami-based Celebrity sent an elderly couple packing from the Millennium cruise ship a month ago. 

The Cairns Post reports on the disturbing story of Celebrity kicking 78 year old cruise passenger Adry Arnold and her husband off the cruise ship while it was docked at Yorkeys Knob, Queensland, Australia. 

The Arnolds were enjoying their vacation cruise. Mr. Arnold went to visit nearby Cairns. While alone on the ship, Ms. Arnold apparently had difficulty locating her her cabin. She became upset and began to Celebrity Millinnium Cruise Shipcry.  

The newspaper states that when Mr. Arnold returned to the cruise ship, he was not allowed back on the ship. Celebrity allegedly told them that their cruise was over "because the doctor did not think they were the kind of people who should be on the cruise ... if she was left alone." The article suggests that Ms. Arnold may have had dementia and that's why Celebrity sent them involuntarily from the ship.

The Arnolds are pensioners and paid over $12,000 for the cruise. 

The couple's nephew told the newspaper "this is a disgusting way to treat anybody, let alone an elderly couple, without even trying to resolve the issue at hand."

The Celebrity passenger ticket drafted by the cruise line's defense lawyers states that the cruise line can disembark passengers for any reason. However, from a public relations point of view, I would think that the couple should have been provided with a full refund rather than left behind at a port with no transportation back home.

Celebrity said that it would provide a "pro-rata refund" for the remaining nine days of their sailing. But as of the time of the newspaper article, Celebrity had not issued the refund.

A mean corporation versus a nice, elderly couple? Should the husband have stayed with his wife? Should the cruise line have treated the retirees nicer including getting them safely home?

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

December 7 2013 Update: The popular cruise on line community Cruise Critic has comments about the story on its board under the topic "Bad Publicity for Celebrity."  As usual, the Cruise Critic cruise line supporters defend Celebrity's callous conduct and blame the passengers.  Cruise Critic is best known for being exposed as a paid cruise line cheerleader shilling for Royal Caribbean on its reviews and message boards.

December 9 2013 Update:  Watch the video below: 

 

 

Photo Credit: Millinnium cruise ship - Wikipedia / Captain Tucker

Celebrity Summit "Cruise From Hell:" Another Passenger Speaks Her Mind About Norovirus

Celebrity Summit Cruise ShipLast week we published an article which featured a comment by a passenger aboard the noro-infected Celebrity Summit cruise ship. 

A number of people commented or contacted our office about the comment, both pro and con. 

We rarely handle norovirus cases, but the discussion around the subject, we think, is still important. How the cruise industry treats gastrointestinal infection cases reflects the cruise lines' standards for hygiene and the cruise companies' attitudes toward their customers.

Here's the latest comments about the situation on the Summit:     

We too were on the Summit recently. We reported how dirty our Royal Suite was. They said they cleaned it, but the only evidence was that they used epoxy on the dining area parkay floor. The smell was horrendous.

I had allergic reaction tongue swelled, face, nose, eyelids and had hives on face and upper body. The doctor on call would not acknowledge this and commenced to tell me that I was having an allergic reaction to blood pressure and cholesterol medications I have been on for years. He told me to stop taking these medications and he filled new prescriptions together with benedryl. They put in a IV to rehydrate me two times.

At the end of the cruise I was taken off the ship in a wheelchair. I had been sick the entire second week. Our butler was under orders to charge us for all the bottle water we needed. They clean the suite with a dirty rag and some kind of spray they use in all the rooms and hallways. It's disgusting! You wouldn't use someone elses used tissue. How sanitary is that?

They charged our ship account $600 for the doctor and pills (that I didn't use except for the benedryl). When we questioned the charge even though we had bought the travel insurance, the Concierge said we "must read the fine print." Three days after my allergic reaction, my disabled husband got the norovirus. Through all of this the doctor refused to come to our suite. They said we needed to come to the doctor office.

This trip was from hell!

Have a comment? Leave your thoughts below or join the discussion on on our Facebook page.

Norovirus Outbreak Aboard the Celebrity Constellation

We received information that the Celebrity Constellation has been hit with a norovirus outbreak during the September 25, 2013 to October 7, 2013 cruise.

A passenger informed us:

Just off the Celebrity Constellation Black Sea cruise Sept. 25th - Oct. 7th. Over 300 sick with Norovirus etc . . . Crew did their best but the sickness progressed rapidly . . . no time to really get rid of the problem between cruises. Expensive problem for passengers traveling from far Celebrity Constellation Norovirusaway places and not being warned prior to boarding the ship. This produces lots of anxiety for all who look forward to a wonderful time. Celebrity should do better for their loyal customers. 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein also commented on his popular web site CruiseJunkie that passengers had complained about the disease outbreak on the Constellation.

This outbreak was taking place at the same time as another norovirus outbreak on another Celebrity cruise ship, which you can read about here:

G.I. Blues: Over 300 Sick on the Celebrity Summit.   

We commented on Celebrity Cruises' problems with norovirus aboard the Constellation last year.

If you were on the Constellation, please leave a comment below regarding how Celebrity handled the situation or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Photo Credit: Getty Images 

Norovirus on the Celebrity Summit: A Reader's View

From time to time, we will feature a reader's comments to one of our articles. The motto of our blog is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know," so we like to offer our readers a peek inside what really happens during cruises.

Here are the comments from a passenger who was aboard the Celebrity Summit during the recent norovirus outbreak we reported on last week:     

"While just more than 300 passengers is the official number, I was on that cruise and I can assure you that many, many more were sick.

Celebrity Summit - NorovirusThe majority of people did not report to the ship's doctor, preferring to stay in their rooms and tough it out. Each night during the height of the infection, many of the large tables in the dining rooms were virtually empty. Crew members and entertainers were also sick. Many people we're overtaken with little warning, and some did not get to the bathroom before vomiting or experiencing diarrhea. Often the halls in the stateroom areas reeked of excrement.

The staff worked very hard to keep things cleaned up and sanitized, but there were not sufficient staff on board to deal with this huge health issue. Unaffected staterooms were not kept up to the expected standard, as staff were always busy dealing with cleaning and disinfecting rooms where people were sick."

Do you have a comment or a story to tell about your recent cruise experience?  Let us hear from you.

 

Photo Credit: News 12 New Jersey

G.I. Blues: Over 300 Sick on the Celebrity Summit

Celebrity Summit Cruise ShipCruise expert Professor Ross Klein reports that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that 307 of 2112 passengers (14.5%) and 14 of 952 crew (1.5%) aboard the Celebrity Summit have reported sick with "gastrointestinal illness."

You can read about the outbreak on the CDC website here.

There is no indication whether the illness is due to norovirus, e-coli or some other virus or bacteria. 

The CDC is working with Health Canada officials as the cruise ship sails in Canada on its way to Bayonne, New Jersey,  The cruise ship will arrival in Bayonne on October 5, 2013.

The CDC will send an epidemiologist and an environmental health officer to meet the ship and conduct an epidemiologic investigation and environmental health assessment, and monitor the sanitation procedures onboard prior to the embarkation of new passengers.

Over 14% of the passengers being sick with gastrointestinal illness is a very high percentage.  

In the past week, we have reported about cruise ship norovirus outbreaks on two Fred Olsen cruise ships, the Black Watch and the Boudicca.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Yankeesman312

Celebrity Cruises Hit with $2,500,000 Verdict

A blog discussing Goa India, and Miami's Daily Business Review, are reporting on a significant verdict that was recently reached against Miami-based Celebrity Cruises. 

The jury verdict involves a Celebrity crew member, Vincente Fernandes, from Goa, India. Back in September 2009, Mr. Fernandes was an assistant stateroom attendant on a Celebrity cruise ship. He alleges that there were shortages of sheets and towels for passenger cabins on the cruise ship. Cabin attendants had to compete to obtain them.

When Mr. Fernandes requested linens & towels to assist in preparing the passenger cabins, the linen keeper verbally abused him and then physically assaulted him. Fernandes was just 5 feet, 4 inches in height and weighed just 140 pounds. The linen manager who attacked him? He was twice Fernandes' size - 6 feet, 6 inches and weighed 280 pounds. Fernandes suffered a badly fractured leg which required surgery with the insertion of plates and screws.  

Celebrity flew Mr. Fernandes back home to Goa, India after the surgery. Celebrity paid no compensation to Fernandes and did not timely pay monies for the injured crew member's food and lodging, medical care, therapy or medication. Mr. Fernandes's lead trial lawyer, Ervin A. Gonzalez of the Colson Hicks law firm, assisted by Christopher Drury and Tonya Meister, argued that Fernandes suffered a deformed leg which will need several additional operations, including a knee replacement. 

The trial addressed only the issue of compensation. The trial court, the Honorable David Miller, struck the cruise line's defenses for pre-trial discovery violations. 

The cruise line was defended by David Horr and Eddie Hernandez of the Horr, Novak & Skipp law firm.

The jury awarded a total of slightly over $2,496,000 in damages, consisting of $1,750,000 in pain and suffering & mental anguish, $350,625 for medical expenses, and $395,400 for lost wages and loss of earning capacity.

Mr. Fernandes counsel, Ervin Gonzalez, summed the case up as follows: 

"Celebrity pounded Mr. Fernandes, a five foot four and 140 pound cabin steward, to a pulp, through its employee, a six foot six 280 pound assistant linen manager brute. As a result, Mr. Fernandez's leg was shattered. His knee was destroyed and will need to be replaced in ten years. The 2.5 million dollar verdict cannot replace his knee and make him healthy but it will at least help him find economic stability. Without the civil justice system, Mr. Fernandes would be broken, financially devastated and discarded."

Engine Problems Disable Celebrity Millennium in Alaska

Millennium Cruise ShipA newspaper in Alaska is reporting that the Celebrity Millennium cruise ship, which was suppose to have sailed on Friday from Seward, will be stuck in port until at least Tuesday due to engine problems.

The cruise ship arrived four hours late to Seward on Friday after experiencing an electrical problem with one of the ship’s two propulsion systems while at sea. 

The newspaper says that over 2,000 passengers are stranded. Many people were left scrambling to find a way back to Anchorage. Rental cars are scarce and buses dedicated to pre-booked excursions are not available to the majority of the passengers. The scheduled port stops in Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway will be missed.

Celebrity is saying that it will refund the passengers' ticket fares plus provide a credit toward another cruise in the future. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Captain-Tucker

Story Credit: Professor Ross Klein's website CruiseJunkie.com

Celebrity Cruise Passenger Robbed of Rolex Ashore in Naples

A British cruise passenger from the Celebrity Reflection was robbed ashore on July 28th while the ship was docked in Naples

An Italian newspaper Il Mattino reports that the robbery was committed by two brothers who targeted the British cruise ship passenger.  The unidentified passenger was wearing a Rolex watch, worth around 12,000 euros, while she was walking in the center of the city.

The two men, Mirko Candida age 36 and Luciano age 24, were on a motor scooter at the time of the Celebrity Cruises Reflection Cruise Shiorobbery.

The Italian police apprehended the brothers and the watch was returned to the tourist. The woman was injured and received medical treatment when she returned to the cruise ship. 

This is not the first time that a cruise passenger wearing a Rolex while ashore in Naples was targeted to be robbed by thieves on a scooter.

In May of 2011, an American tourist from the Celebrity Solstice died in Naples after thieves assaulted him while trying to steal his Rolex.

Oscar Antonio Mendoza, age 66, and his wife cruised to Naples on the Celebrity Solstice. After they disembarked the cruise ship to tour the city, two men approached them on a scooter, grabbed Mr. Mendoza's arm and tried to take his Rolex.

Mr. Mendoza struggled with the men and was thrown to the ground, hitting his head. He was taken to the hospital where he was operated on; however, he did not regain consciousness and died nine days later.

As we have stated before on this blog, Naples is an interesting place to visit, but it has a reputation for pick pockets, purse snatchers, and drive-by-scooter robberies..  

 

Story Credit: Crew Center

Photo Credit: Celebrity Cruises

Hot Potato: No One Arrested After 12 Year Old Alleges Sexual Assault Aboard Celebrity Century Cruise Ship

KTOO in Alaska reports on what is being described as an alleged sexual assault by a thirty year old man against a 12 year old girl on a cruise ship operated by Celebrity Cruises. 

KTOO states that a "30-year-old Japanese man allegedly groped a Canadian girl near the pool of a Celebrity cruise ship on June 28th. The alleged attack took place after the ship had departed Ketchikan, but while it was still in Alaska waters."

The incident was reported to ship security who apparently did not detain the man but reported the Cruise Sexual Assault - Celebrity Century Cruise Ship  incident to the Vancouver Police Department. Vancouver authorities initially investigated but turned the matter over to the the FBI, The FBI, in turn, then referred the case to Alaskan State Troopers.

The Alaskan Troopers say the case has been referred to the District Attorney in Ketchikan, Alaska for review.

KRBD identifies the cruise ship as the Celebrity Century. The news station states that no one has been arrested.

The case illustrates the difficulties prosecuting crimes on cruise ships.

A 30 year old Japanese man apparently molests a 12 year old Canadian girl in Alaskan state waters. The cruise ship apparently does not apprehend the man or return to an Alaskan port. The ship sails on to Vancouver, Canada which does not arrest the man even though the victim is Canadian, but reports the crime to the FBI which does not have jurisdiction because the incident occurred in state territorial waters of Alaska. The FBI sends the matter back to Alaska where the crime is alleged to occur.  By the time the Alaskan Troopers are involved, the Japanese man is long gone. 

Around and around we go, with no one wanting the hot potato, and the cruise line hoping the situation will just disappear.

The local District Attorney in Ketchikan Alaska is now looking at trying to figure out how to prosecute a Japanese cruise passenger, who allegedly molested a little Canadian girl, and who probably escaped to Japan and will never return to the U.S. again.

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

 

Photo Credit: Cruise Critic

Passengers on Celebrity Eclipse Sickened By Norovirus

Celebrity Eclipse Cruise ShipA newspaper in the U.K. reports that dozens of passengers were struck down by a "vomiting bug" on board a cruise ship which docked in Southampton yesterday.

The Celebrity Eclipse returned from a two week Mediterranean cruise which departed on May 11th. 

77 passengers and five crew members - 1.8 per cent of those on board the ship - were "laid low" by an illness thought to be the winter vomiting bug norovirus.

A spokesman for Celebrity Cruises said it would undergo an “extensive and thorough” clean now that the vessel had returned to Southampton.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Jonathan Schilling 

Celebrity Millennium Puke Cruise Arrives in Alaska

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the Celebrity Millennium cruise ship sailed to Seward, Alaska last Friday, May 10th, with an elevated number of passengers and crew with a gastrointestinal illness.  164 of its 1,963 passengers and 30 of its 935 crew members experienced the gastro-illness.

The CDC states that the "causative agent" (type of pathogen) is "unknown," although at least one newspaper, the Seward City News, states that the sickness outbreak is believed to be caused by norovirus.

Comments to the newspaper complained about cruise passengers coughing and hacking in public and the locals having to be on higher alert to wash their hands when cruise ships come into port.  

Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Captain-Tucker

Celebrity Millennium Cruise Ship Norovirus

 

Celebrity Crew Member Arrested for Cruise Ship Theft

HuanHuan Shen Celebrity Cruises Eclipse TheftThe Broward County Sheriffs Office has posted a mug shot of a 27 year old Celebrity Cruises crew member arrested over the weekend on two counts of charges of grand theft (over $300 and less than $5,000).

According to the Sun Sentinel newspaper, HuanHuan Shen was arrested when the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship returned to Port Everglades on Saturday. He is accused of stealing cash from two crew members who he shared a cabin with on the cruise ship.

The newspaper states that Shen opened safes in his cabin and took $4,600 belonging to cabin mate Yang Zhang and $3,300 from cabin-mate Zhibao Dong for a total of $7,900.

Most Chinese ship employees on Celebrity cruise ships are employed in the laundry department earning only around $1,000 a month. 

Its good to see a local sheriff's office involved in responding to cruise ship theft like this. Under federal law, cruise lines are not even required to report a theft of under $10,000. The FBI will not even respond to reports of cruise ship thefts of under $10,000. Unless a local law enforcement entity gets involved, crew members can steal from passengers and other crew members and know that the worst that will happen is they may be fired and sent home.      

The Eclipse was last in the news when 55 passengers were held up at gun point in St. Lucia ten days ago.  

Here We Go Again: 55 Celebrity Cruise Passengers & 2 Crew Members Robbed at Gun Point in St. Lucia

Cruise Critic reports that 55 cruise passengers and two crew members from the Celebrity Eclipse were robbed at gunpoint by three men on Friday, April 12 2013 while in St. Lucia. 

Celebrity Cruises issued a statement indicating that passengers were visiting the Botanical Gardens in Soufriere at the time of the robbery and were on two Celebrity-sponsored shore excursions, "Breathtaking Soufriere and Warm Mineral Baths" and "Land and Sea to the Pitons."  Passengers were traveling on the same bus.

Celebrity Cruises EclipseCelebrity states that "none of our guests were injured in this unfortunate event," but Cruise Critic states that passengers reported that "one woman fell and broke her leg."

No one is talking about the potential emotional trauma and psychological effects of the armed robbery.  

All the cruise passengers aboard the bus had their money and jewelry taken.

Cruise passengers to St. Lucia have been targeted in St. Lucia the past. We have written articles about the crime problem in that island: 14 Cruise Passengers Robbed at Anse-La-Raye Waterfall in St. Lucia.

The problem got so bad that NCL dropped the island for its 2010 to 2012 schedule. Read Norwegian Cruise Line Drops St. Lucia.

Robbing passengers on cruise-sponsored bus excursions is hardly rare. In 2010, 17 Celebrity cruise passengers were robbed in a bus by gunmen in St. Kitts.  "Robbing cruise passengers in bulk" in the Caribbean islands and Mexico is not uncommon and I have written about it: Robbing Cruise Passengers in Bulk - Yes, It Happens!   

I wonder whether Celebrity provided any warning to its guests about the problem with cruise passengers being targeted for armed robbery in St. Lucia and other Caribbean islands? 

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

April 14 2013 Update: A video from a local news station in St. Lucia is below.  You will hear tourism officials stating that they told the cruise passengers that such incidents against tourists are "rare," St. Lucia Celebrity Cruise Crime Victimswhich is obviously untrue if a major Miami based cruise line like NCL pulled out in 2010. 

The U.S. national media has picked up the story with Fox News carrying a AP story which mentions the incident. Not much information except the St. Lucia tourism people already hard at work. The article quotes St. Lucia Tourist Board Chairman Mathew Beaubrun portraying the robbery as a "rare incident."  Damage control is underway.

April 15 2013 Update: USA TODAY assists in the PR damage control, repeating the St. Lucia talking point that crime in that country is "rare."

Several newspapers are reporting that the police on St. Lucia have arrested one or more of the men involved in the robbery. Fox News says that the police arrested one of "four masked men armed with homemade shotguns and pistols held up the passengers from Celebrity Cruise."  The Times mentions that three men were arrested.

April 20 2013 Update: I stumbled across a discussion on the Cruise Critic site where just 2 months ago passengers from the Celebrity Eclipse were accousted by a man ashore with a knife which sparked a discussion about crime in St, Lucia.  Meanwhile the cruise line and the PR people on the island are saying that such crime is rare. Read our article Liar, Liar Pants On Fire? St. Lucia Tourism Denies Prior Armed Robbery of Cruise Passengers.

Photo Credit: DBS TV St. Lucia via the Times
 

 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia /  Jonathan Schilling

Report of Gastrointestinal Sickness Outbreak on Celebrity Infinity Disappears: Honest Mistake or Diabolical Cover-Up?

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I find lots of information about things that the cruise lines would prefer you not know on Professor Ross Klein's website called CruiseJunkie.com.  A silly name I know, but the information is quite serious if you are interested in accurate information about cruise passengers and crew who disappear under mysterious circumstances, fires and collisions, and disease outbreaks on the high seas.  There is no other credible website like this anywhere which tracks such information in the cruise industry. 

Yesterday Professor Klein's website contained information about a gastrointestinal illness (GI) outbreak aboard the Celebrity Infinity cruise ship. He linked to the CDC Vessel Sanitation website which contained a report that 101 of 2086 passengers (4.84%) and 17 of 927 crew (2.05%) have reported ill Celebrity Infinity Cruise Shipwith gastrointestinal illness. Two CDC Vessel Sanitation Program environmental health officers and an epidemiologist boarded the ship on arrival in Fort Lauderdale on April 1, 2013 to conduct a targeted environmental health assessment and evaluate the outbreak and response activities. 

But when I clicked on the link to the CDC information, the website said:

"The page you requested cannot be found at this time. It may be temporarily unavailable or it may have been removed."

So what happened?  I don't know. 

Professor Klein questions whether this is a mistake of some sort or whether there is a cover-up at play.

Again I don't know. But I do know after being a lawyer for 30 years that there is a very cozy relationship between the cruise lines and federal agencies like the CDC whose surprise inspections are hardly a surprise. And last year it became obvious that after Congress passed a law requiring the cruise lines to report crimes to the FBI which had to post the data on a Coast Guard website for the public to view, these federal agencies worked behind the scenes with the cruise lines to cover the crime statistics up.  

So what's up with the CDC posting a GI outbreak and then the information disappearing?

Celebrity has had difficulties with its shipboard sanitation this year with the Summit and the Century failing CDC inspections for health and sanitation.  

Is the removal of the report of the outbreak aboard the Celebrity Infinity a mistake or is something else more sinister going on?

I'd like to hear from passengers and crew members whether there was a recent gastrointestinal illness or norovirus outbreak on the Celebrity Infinity?  Please let us know.

Am I being overly-suspicious? Maybe so. But I'd rather be paranoid than a naive sap who looks the other way while another federal agency and a cruise line play games behind the public's back.

April 7 2013 9:30 PM: The CDC report on the Celebrity Infinity has reappeared. Here it is.  Celebrity Cruises has the dubious distinction of 2 failed CDC inspections and a GI outbreak for 2013.

 

 

Photo Credit: Celebrity Infinity  - Wikipedia / Yankeesman312

Celebrity Cruises Passenger Sentenced to 12 Years for Attempted Cocaine Smuggling into Bermuda

The Royal Gazette reports that a 52 year old U.S. cruise ship passenger was sentenced to prison for 12 years for attempting to smuggle cocaine into Bermuda. 

Jane Carmichael, from Hazelhurst, Georgia, was arrested on the Celebrity Summit when the Bermuda police accompanied by sniffer dogs came aboard the cruise ship in May of last year. 

Ms. Carmichael said that a Celebrity Cruises crew member asked her to deliver the cocaine to a bar which the newspaper did not identify. She was caught on the ship with four packages strapped to Celebrity Cruises Summit Cruise Ship Drug Busther body. The packages contained 3,452 grams of cocaine.

Ms. Carmichael had compelling circumstances for a shorter sentence.

She reportedly had been sexually abused as a child and she spiraled into depression following the death of a grandson. Her mother died a year before the cruise and she was also struggling financially after losing her job. She made several attempts to commit suicide.

Her defense lawyer argued that Ms. Carmichael had led a tragic life and had been “a victim of manipulation.”

We first wrote about this case a year ago. At that time a second passenger had been arrested, and a Celebrity crew member had been taken into custody as well. It sounds like only the drug mule and no crew members were prosecuted.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Yankeesman312

Another Celebrity Cruise Ship Flunks Health & Sanitation Inspection

Celebrity Century Cruise Ship - Failed CDC ScoreAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), another Celebrity Cruises ship flunked a surprise inspection.

The Celebrity Century failed the CDC inspection, receiving a score of only 78.

Last week we reported that another Celebrity cruise ship, the Summit scored, flunked an inspection with a score of only 81. Three other cruise ships received failing scores as well.  So far this year there have been five cruise ships with failing grades. Read our article: Disease Breeding Grounds: Three Cruise Ships Fail Health & Sanitary Inspections.

The most disturbing finding was not just that the Century was dirty with contaminated food debris, but that crew members worked while ill with gastrointestinal sicknesses. Several of the ill ship employees worked in the galleys or interacted with passengers while ill.  The other cruise ships who flunked the inspections earlier this year also had ill crew members who worked with food and around passengers as well.  

These findings are significant because the cruise lines always blame the passengers when there are norovirus outbreaks and accuse the quests of not washing their hands.  The outbreaks may be due to ill employees who may be contaminating the food and infecting passengers.  

Celebrity Cruise Ship - Failed CDC ScoreYou can read the report of the Century here

The report indicates that two cruise ship cook worked while ill before reporting to the ship's medical infirmary.  A sick hair stylist worked all day around passengers before going to the medical center. And an ill gift shop attendant worked before going to the medical center and continued working after he was suppose to be in isolation.

A particularly disgusting finding was that the toilet intended for galley workers was found locked when the galley was in service, and when the inspectors opened the door, the bathroom had no toilet paper.

And you wonder why there are norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships?

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

 

Photo Credit: Celebrity Century Cruise Ship - Wikipedia / Emesbe

Disease Breeding Grounds: Three Cruise Ships Fail Health & Sanitary Inspections

Centers for Disease Control - Cruise Ship CDC Cruise Critic is reporting that three cruise ships recently failed inspection by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The cruise ships are the Celebrity Summit, Princess Cruises' Golden Princess and the SeaDream II.  

Take a moment and read the actual CDC reports of these ships. They are disgusting.

You can understand how easily norovirus and other gastrointestinal viruses can spread after reading about cooks and food handlers working while they are suffering from acute gastrointestinal symptoms. The monitoring of water treatment on some of these cruise ships is spotty and there was even one ship using a reverse osmosis system (which is suppose to be used only when the ship is underway) that was sucking up nasty water in the ports.    

The report for the Celebrity Summit is here. You will read about several crew members, including food handlers, who were suffering from acute gastrointestinal (referred to as AGE) symptoms but were still working, including handling food. The gastrointestinal surveillance logs were not being completed. There were widespread dirty and greasy conditions with flies and insect droppings in the bars and galleys.

The report for the Golden Princess is here. The Princess Cruises ship also had crew members with acute gastrointestinal symptoms continuing to work throughout the day even though they were Celebrity Summit Cruise Shipobviously ill in the morning.  An assistant buffet steward was suffering from GI problems but worked the buffet from 9:30 Am and did not report to the ship infirmary until 4:00 PM. There were inadequate reports regarding potable water facilities.  The ship had dirty and soiled areas, including the signature Princess restaurant Sabatini's.        

The report for the Sea Dream Yacht Club's Sea Dream II is here. This is the ship that was operating its water system continuously, including at port, and had been doing so for years. There were also dirty and unsanitary conditions noted.

The next time there is a norovirus outbreak and the cruise line instantaneously blames the passengers for not washing their hands, there may be a lot more to the story.

March 27, 2013 Update: In reading cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website, I realized that Cruise Critic omitted another failed CDC score by the Caribbean Fantasy operated by America Cruise Ferries. You can read the report here. The deficiencies include failing to maintain acute gastrointestinal sickness logs, potable water deficiencies, galley and potwash cleaning shortcomings, and the failure to maintain cleaning equipment in proper order including several dish-washing machines and conveyors which had been not in proper condition for over a year. 

 

Photo Credit:

Celebrity Summit - Wikipedia / Yankeesman312

New Zealand Passenger Missing From Celebrity Solstice

A newspaper in New Zealand reports that a passenger, identified only as a man from Dunedin, New Zealand, is missing from the Celebrity Cruises' Solstice cruise ship which left Port Chalmers, New Zealand today. 

It is less than clear whether the man disembarked from the cruise ship, leaving items, including his passport, on board, and didn't return. Or whether he disappeared at some earlier time while the cruise ship was sailing. 

The article does not state when the man was last seen. It should be easy to determine whether the Celebrity Solstice Cruise Ship passenger used his sea pass card which should have been scanned when he boarded or disembarked the cruise ship.  Unfortunately, this does not always occur.

In another case, American passenger Sarah Tessier Powell set sail on the Holland America Line Veendam cruise ship last year. She disappeared.  Police in Canada speculate that Ms. Powell may have walked off of the HAL ship and didn't return.  

But how is that possible?

Passenger gangways are supposed to be heavily monitored by security with each passenger's sea pass card scanned and the gangways always covered by closed circuit television cameras.

Is this another one of those cases?  Or is this a passenger overboard case which the cruise line didn't realize until the ship arrived in port?

Anyone with information please contact us.

 

Photo Credit: Constantine Kulikovsky via Wikimedia

Helicopter Medevacs Sick Celebrity Crew Member from Solstice Cruise Ship

Celebrity Solstice Helicopter Pad - MedevacA newspaper in Australia is reporting that a Care Flight helicopter rescued a 22-year-old crew member off a cruise ship off the coast of Arnhem Land.

The helicopter flew to the Celebrity Solstice which was sailing 500 kilometers north east of Darwin, Australia. 

The Celebrity crew member reportedly suffered a "cardiac problem." A nurse and doctor accompanied the helicopter after notification from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

The helicopter was expected to refuel at the remote town of Maningrida before flying  another 100 kilometers km out to sea to reach the cruise ship. Unlike many cruise ships, the Solstice has a helipad on the bow.

The newspaper reports that the Celebrity Solstice left Darwin yesterday on a two-day cruise to Cairns, in north Queensland.

 

Photo credit: Harrogate Flickr

Citing Tight Cruise Itinerary and Jurisdictional Issues, New Zealand Police Decline to Arrest Crew Member in Alleged Cruise Ship Sexual Assault

Millinnium Cruise Ship  -Sexual Assault Last Friday, I wrote an article about a cruise ship incident where a passenger reported that a Celebrity Cruises crew member "indecently assaulted" her aboard the Celebrity Cruises' Millennium cruise ship as it sailed from Fiji to New Zealand. 

The cruise ship arrived early in the morning on Friday and was scheduled to depart later the afternoon of the same day. 

In my article, I mentioned that in our experience, rape cases involving women and children by cruise employees are rarely prosecuted in the criminal courts.

One of the problems is that crimes on the high seas fall into a jurisdictional "no-man's land." The Celebrity cruise ship flies the flag of Malta, an island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. The alleged rape reportedly occurred in the waters of Fiji.  The nationality of the alleged perpetrator and victim are unknown, but they are probably not citizens of New Zealand which was conducting the investigation.    

Today, we learn that the local police in New Zealand declined to arrest anyone. A newspaper in New Zealand states that a police detective involved in the investigation cited, as one of other factors, "jurisdiction" as one factor in declining the case for prosecution.  Unless the cruise ship was flagged in New Zealand, or the assailant or victim were a citizen of New Zealand, or the alleged crime occurred in its waters, New Zealand would have no jurisdiction over the incident. 

The police detective said that there was "insufficient evidence" for a prosecution which is the usual type of comment we hear in cases like this.  The detective did not cite exactly what other factors may have played a part in declining the case, but he made disturbing comments about making certain that the cruise ship kept its scheduled itinerary.

Recognizing that the the Millennium was due to sail to at 4:15 PM last Friday afternoon, the detective pointed out that the cruise ship sailed on time: “We were aware of those tight time lines and our team got right into it from the first opportunity, and it wasn’t held up at all.”  This is interesting because an earlier account of the story said that the cruise ship captain didn't notify the local police of the alleged sexual assault until after the cruise ship arrived in port. How do you assemble a forensic team, conduct multiple interviews, administer polygraph tests, look for trace evidence, review video tape surveillance, conduct medical and laboratory tests and get your team off the ship for a timely 4:15 PM departure?  

Why should a professional law enforcement care about boat schedules when the vessel contains an alleged crime scene? 

One of the criticism of cruise ship crimes investigations is that the investigating law authorities are Jim Walker - Dr. Henry Less - Cruise Crime Scene Investigationdeferential to the cruise ship schedule and rush their investigations. Some suggest that local ports are afraid to jeopardize their relationship with large cruise lines by delaying a cruise ship's departure from port. Anger a large cruise line and you run the risk that it will drop your port like a hot potato. Unfortunately, crimes on cruise ships literally involve a moving crime scene that is often compromised due to the cruise line's business interests.

In the infamous case of honeymoon groom George Smith who "disappeared" from the Brilliance of the Seas under disturbing circumstances (we represented his widow in litigation against the cruise line), the local police investigation was so rushed that the Royal Caribbean cruise ship actually left the Turkish port of Kusadasi 45 minutes ahead of schedule

Later, I hired Dr. Henry Lee who assembled a team of nine forensic investigators, video and photography experts and detectives. When we boarded the cruise ship to inspect the Smith's cabin and balcony, the cruise line placed us under substantial time pressure not to interrupt the cruise ship's scheduled itinerary.    

 

Photo:

Top: Bay of Plenty Times

Bottom: MSNBC

Passenger Reports Sexual Assault By Crew Member Aboard Celebrity Millennium Cruise Ship

Tauranga New Zealand - Celebrity Millennium Cruise Ship - FijiA New Zealand newspaper reports that the police in the port city of Tauranga are investigating sexual assault allegations made against a crew member of the Millennium cruise ship which docked at the port yesterday morning after sailing from Fiji.

Police state a woman in her late 40's or early 50's accuses one of the crew members of the Celebrity Cruises ship of "indecently assaulting her" while the cruise ship was in Fiji waters.

Police state that the passenger alerted the ship’s captain who then informed Tauranga Police once the ship docked at the port in New Zealand.

The newspaper reports that "police are looking into the matter."

Cruise ship rapes are one of the problems which cruise lines try and keep secret.  

A decade ago, we represented a victim of a rape which occurred on this cruise ship. In our experience, the rape of women and children by cruise employees are rarely prosecuted in the civil courts. Behind the scenes, cruise lines work to defend their employees and build a case against the victims. 

In the civil courts, cruise lines are strictly liable when their employees sexually assault passengers on the high seas.  

November 18, 2012 update: No Surpirse - New Zealand declines to make arrest: "Citing Tight Cruise Itinerary and Jurisdictional Issues, New Zealand Police Decline to Arrest Crew Member in Alleged Cruise Ship Sexual Assault"

 

Photo credit: Sun Live 

Cruise Puke Fest: Norovirus Strikes Celebrity Constellation

Yesterday we received an email from a cruise passenger planning to board the Celebrity Constellation, indicating that embarkation would be delayed several hours today because of a norovirus outbreak on the cruise ship.

Today news outlets are reporting that there has been a large outbreak of the dreaded disease on this ship. BBC reports that Celebrity Cruises' Constellation arrived in Southampton at 06:00 GMT at the end of a 12-night cruise. The local port health authority said about 350 passengers had fallen ill with norovirus and were exhibiting vomiting and diarrhea. 

Its departure has been delayed until 20:00 while "deep cleaning" takes place. Of course this type of Celebrity Constellation Cruise Shipcleaning is not much good if there is contaminated food or water or a sick crew member in the galley or waiting on tables. 

The BBC report further reports that around 2,200 passengers and 900 crew members had been on a wine cruise around the coasts of France and Spain. Passenger David Mattey said his holiday had been "completely ruined" when he went down with severe vomiting and diarrhea. He said: "The sanitation on that ship is bad."

The U.K.'s Daily Echo mentions that passenger Mattey was bed bound for seven days, and had to go to the medical center several times for an intravenous drip to rehydrate his body. Mattey told the newspaper: “For elderly people to go down with something like this is horrendous. I have never suffered from anything like it before I still feel very weak and I am relieved I am home.”

Celebrity Cruises is quoted telling the newspaper that only "a small number of guests" were affected by the virus. The 350 sickened passengers as reported by the BBC is a very high number to become sick.

This outbreak does not have to be reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) because the cruise ship does not call on a U.S. port. The last outbreak affecting this ship which was reported to the CDC occurred in February this year

The last outbreak reported about a Royal Caribbean / Celebrity cruise ship was last month and involved the Rhapsody of the Seas.

The cruise ships ported out of Southampton have experienced problems with norovirus outbreaks in the past which you can read about here and here

How did the cruise line handle this latest outbreak? 

 

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons (Megadri).

Is Royal Caribbean Working Its Crew Members to Death?

Two weeks ago a television program in the U.K., "Cruises Undercover: The Truth Below Deck," revealed the harsh working conditions aboard cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises' subsidiary, Celebrity Cruises. The difficult working conditions and low pay are almost unimaginable by U.S. standards: 12 plus hour days, 7 days a week, 30 days a month with no days off over the course of 6 to 10 month contacts, for as little as $550 a month for non-tip earning ship employees.

The result of such a grueling schedule is exhausted and demoralized crew members who are often isolated from their families whose birthdays and anniversaries they miss on a regular basis.  

The mental health and emotional well being of crew members is not a topic that is discussed in the U.S.

Few Americans seem concerned with the working conditions on cruise ships faced by citizens of the greater world community.  Most U.S. citizens respond to the exploitation of crew members from India or Jamaica with the rationalization that whatever pittance the "foreign" crew members are receiving for Missing Royal Caribbean Crew Membersworking 90 hour weeks is more than the workers can receive back home. "If they don't like the work, they can quit" is the common wisdom. No doubt many crew members are easily replaceable considering that a country like India has hundreds of millions of people unemployed.

A week before the "Cruises Undercover" program aired, a Royal Caribbean crew member disappeared from the Serenade of the Seas as it sailed to Italy. The incident was briefly mentioned in the Italian press, as well as in newspapers in Croatia and Spain. We mentioned it in our article "Crew Member Goes Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas," but no major media outlets in the U.S. was interested in covering the story.

For a U.S. based cruise industry whose mantra is the "safety of our passengers and crew is our highest priority," there is little expression of such a sentiment when a crew member disappears at sea.

This weekend another Royal Caribbean crew member disappeared. While this is not uncommon as I will explain below, what is unusual is that the disappearance involved the the same Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Serenade of the Seas. This incident was briefly mentioned in an Italian newspaper but, again, no one in the U.S, mentioned it.  We reported on it on Saturday - "Another Crew Member Goes Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas." Now two days later, no one else in the U.S. has reported on the story.

Yesterday, I posted a photograph of the Serenade of the Seas on our facebook page and asked "why are so many crew members going overboard from Royal Caribbean cruise ships? A number of former crew members commented and the consensus seems to be that cruise employees are working harder than ever for less money,  One crew member said that working on a ship is "like going on a marathon before preparing yourself for it." Several former Royal Caribbean crew members left their thoughts which are worth reading. 

The concern that I have is that there are so many crew members employed by Royal Caribbean who have gone overboard. Were these employees overwhelmed by work and felt hopeless away from their families? There is great stress placed on the cleaners, cabin attendants and waiters by their supervisors and department heads as Royal Caribbean struggles to stay profitable. Consider that in the three years I have written this blog, the following crew members have gone missing from Royal Caribbean / Celebrity cruise ships:

December 2009 - Majesty of the Seas - crew member jumped.

December 2009 - Monarch of the Seas - crew member jumped.

March 20102 - Radiance of the Seas - crew member jumped.

May 2010 - Explorer of the Seas - crew member jumped.

May 2010 - Oasis of the Seas - crew member disappeared.

March 2011 - Grandeur of the Seas - crew member disappeared.

March 2011 - Constellation - crew member disappeared.

May 2011 - Eclipse - crew member jumped.

December 2011 - Summit - crew member jumped.

January 2012 - Monarch of the Seas - crew member disappeared.

September 2012 - Serenade of the Seas - crew member disappeared.

October 2012 - Serenade of the Seas -crew member disappeared.

The official investigation into these types of incidents lies with the flag state.  But countries like the Bahamas will never go onto a Royal Caribbean ship to investigate a crew death or disappearance and will never, ever criticize the cruise line.

An independent and objective investigation is needed to determine why crew members are going overboard from Royal Caribbean ships. If the cases involve suicides, an inquiry is needed to determine whether the long hours and low pay are contributing causes. There is no question that the crew members need greater rest and greater pay. 

If I ran a large business and one dozen of my employees ended their lives or just "disappeared," I would launch an investigation and get to the bottom of the problem.

But cruise line executives think differently.  None of this puts money in the cruise line's pockets. The crew are viewed as cogs in the machine. When they break, they are easily replaced. 

 

If you have thoughts about this issue or have information about any of these cases, please leave a comment below, or join the discussion on our facebook page.  

Photograph: 24ORA.com

NCL Conducts Undercover Investigation on Itself - Will Royal Caribbean Do the Same?

Kevin Sheehan - NCL - Undercover BossRoyal Caribbean and its subsidiary, Celebrity Cruise, have been in a state of panic lately frantically trying to fend off bad publicity surrounding an expose' on crew member hours, wages and working conditions on the Eclipse which aired in the U.K.

The British television station sent two "undercover" reporters on to the cruise ship, one as a passenger and the other as an assistant waiter. They painted a grim image of work on the Celebrity cruise ship: long hours, grueling conditions and low pay.  

Royal Caribbean and Celebrity rallied their friends in the travel community to try and refute the harsh image of "ship life" which crew members face as portrayed by Channel 4 Dispatches program "Undercover Cruises - the Truth Below the Deck." At the end of the day, all the cruise lines accomplished was to bring more attention to the exploitation of crew members and to create the image that they had something to hide. 

But not all cruise lines have this type of knee-jerk reaction to undercover reporters.

An article today in Travel Weekly reveals that at least one cruise CEO would rather see first-hand what the crew members really face, rather than claim that there is a conspiracy every time a reporter goes undercover with a video camera.

Travel Weekly's article "Big Interview: Cruise Boss Kevin Sheehan Learns From Fife on Deck," states that Norwegian Cruise Lines' President Kevin Sheehan went undercover himself to experience first hand the working conditions which his ship employees face. He was filmed as part of the TV program "Undercover Boss." The article explains that the NCL cruise CEO spent one day as a deckhand, another Kevin Sheehan - NCL - Undercover Bossday cleaning cabins and toilets, and a day working in the galley.

I was impressed with this comment he made to Travel Weekly: 

“We made a lot of changes. For example, there was an ice skating rink at the top of Norwegian Epic that had to be set up every evening. There were hundreds of pieces, each weighing 70 lbs, and women crew members doing it. It was back-breaking work and a disaster in my view. We discontinued it.”

Not many cruise line presidents have the transparency to admit something like this.  

Much of the work on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise ships is truly "back-breaking." But you will never see the CEO's from these cruise line admit it or do anything about it. They are too busy sitting in their executive offices protesting that undercover reporters are biased.   

Case Study: Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. - Avoiding U.S. Taxes, Labor Laws, Environmental Regulations & Criminal Accountability

Royal Caribbean Cruises - A Liberian CoporationToday I read an interesting case analysis from the Journal of Business Case Studies (May/June 2012), which studied the business model of the second largest cruise company in the world, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.   

The article is entitled "Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.: Innovation At A Cost?" (click on the pdf link)

The article focuses on Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. which was formed in 1997 when Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (founded in 1968) and Celebrity Cruises (founded in 1988) merged together. 

The article explains that the foundation of Royal Caribbean is the avoidance of U.S. taxes and regulation. It accomplishes this by:

  • Incorporating in a foreign country (Liberia, Africa), and
  • Registering its cruise ships in weak, poor and disorganized foreign countries (mostly Liberia and the Bahamas).  

By registering its corporation and ship overseas, it avoids U.S. taxes, labor and environmental laws, and criminal culpability.  U.S. executives are offered millions in bonuses while the cruise line itself pays no U.S. taxes, which is the key to its profitability. The Journal writes that Miami based cruise lines, like Royal Caribbean:

" . . .  take advantage of maritime laws to avoid paying U.S. taxes, gain immunity from American labor laws, avoid U.S. courts in workplace disputes, and fend off new environmental regulations, government records and industry reports show. They have done this by incorporating in Central America and Africa and registering their ships under the flags of foreign nations . . ." 

Although this theoretically gives tiny countries regulatory power over one of some of Florida's Flag of Convenience - Royal Caribbean Cruiseslargest corporations, the flag states " . . . are not only reluctant to discipline major contributors to their economies, but also do not have the resources to enforce regulations or even punish polluters."

Flying flags of convenience has historically been used to conceal criminal activities, and is now "used primarily for economic reasons and sanctuary from restrictive regulatory environments."

Tonight in England a documentary will air about the exploitation of crew members on the Eclipse cruise ship which is operated by Royal Caribbean's sister company, Celebrity Cruises, out of Southampton England.  Crew members work 12 hours a day (sometimes more), every day, every week for the length of their 6 - 8 month contracts with no time off. When injured, the crew members  are often dumped back in their home countries and paid only $12 a day and denied competent medical treatment.

You can trace the root cause of this abuse back to the earliest days of Royal Caribbean in the late 1960's when the cruise line decided to skirt U.S. laws by incorporating in the lawless country of Liberia.       

 

Don't miss:

"Celebrity Cruises Crew Member Controversy Brewing in Britain"

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

"Royal Caribbean Executives Get Richer While Crew Members Get Poorer"

 

Credit: Flags of convenience article - "Flags at Sea . . . "

Norovirus Outbreak on Celebrity Solstice?

Celebrity SolsticeWe received complaints from cruise passengers that there was a gastrointestinal outbreak on the Celebrity Solstice at the end of August. One cruise passenger contacted us and stated: 

"Our Celebrity Solstice cruise out of Barcelona on 8/27/12 had a huge outbreak of the norovirus. People were sick at the end of the cruise, however Celebrity loaded up the ship to head back out the same day. I don't see how in the world the boat could have been cleaned thoroughly."

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) do not document cases of cruise ship norovirus / gastrointestinal illness when the cruise ships do not call on a U.S. port.  

There have been 11 official cases of such illnesses on cruises calling on U.S. ports this year, all of them declared by the CDC to be norovirus cases. Passengers aboard the Celebrity Silhouette and the Celebrity Constellation were struck by norovirus earlier this year.

 

Photo Attribution: Maprie at en.wikipedia  

Coast Guard Medevacs Crew Member From Cruise Ship, 290 Miles at Sea!

Just another day (or night) for the Coast Guard.

When a crew member from the Celebrity Summit cruise ship began experiencing severe abdominal cramping,  a Coast Guard station in Elizabeth City, North Carolina launched a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter as well as a HC-130 Hercules aircraft to assist in the medevac. The helicopter had to lower one of its crew members, pick up a nurse from the cruise ship and then hoist the sick cruise employee to fly him to a hospital in Norfolk Virginia.  All of this happened at night, 290 miles out at sea. 

I didn't know that helicopters could fly that far and back.

 

 

Video credit: U.S. Coast Guard

Coast Guard Busy Making Long Distance Medevacs of Ill Cruise Ship Patients

The U.S. Coast Guard has been busy rescuing ill people from cruise ships in the past few days.  Last week Coast Guard helicopters flew over 1,000 miles round trip to save lives.  

Last week started off with the Coast Guard medevacing a 40 year old male crew member from a Celebrity cruise ship approximately 290 miles off the eastern coast of the U.S.  That's a long way to go to rescue a sick person and then return!

The Celebrity Summit notified the Coast Guard, via VHF channel 16, that  one of its crew members was suffering from abdominal pain and was in need of medical attention.  The Coast Guard 5th District Coast Guard Medevac Jayhawk Helicopterduty flight surgeon consulted with the medical officer aboard the cruise ship and recommended a medevac.

Rescue air crews from Elizabeth City, North Carolina launched a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and an HC-130 Hercules aircraft.  With the Hercules crew providing radio and air cover, the Jayhawk hoisted the man and a ship's nurse aboard the helicopter and took them to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

Later in the week, A 72 year old female passenger was medevaced by a Coast Guard helicopter from the Carnival cruise ship Elation approximately 250 miles south of Mobile Bay in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The passenger reportedly experienced kidney problems.

The Eighth Coast Guard District command center in New Orleans received a maritime satellite call from the Carnival Elation and launched a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter.  The aircrew transported the sick passenger to Mobile, Alabama where she was treated at Providence Hospital. 

Who pays for these extraordinary services?  Me and you (if your a taxing paying U.S. citizen)  None of the cruise lines pay U.S. taxes on their $35,000,000,000 (billion) in revenue, so the expense of the Coast Guard to rescue people from the foreign flagged cruise ships is borne by all us in the U.S.   

British Cruise Passenger: Crew Member Raped Me on the Celebrity Equinox

The U.K.'s Mail Online reports today that a 27 year old British passenger alleges that a Celebrity Cruises ship employee raped her in her cabin aboard the Celebrity Equinox.

The article reports that the crew member, believed to be working on the cruise ship in the entertainment department, met the passenger in a bar and spent several hours drinking with her.  He then allegedly followed her back to her cabin where he raped her.  The articles states that although she said she was tired and going to bed, the crew employee attacked her. 

The Celebrity Equinox had left the Italian port of Civitavecchia and the arrest came some 17 hours later.

Rape Aboard Celebrity Equinox cruise ShipThe arrest took place after ship video showed the crew member and passenger in the bar, with him then following her back to her cabin. 

The woman was seen by a doctor on board the ship.

Celebrity's parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises, has not made a comment to date about this alleged crime. 

The last rape aboard the Celebrity Equinox we reported on was last September - Perfume Sales Assistant Alleges Rape Aboard the Celebrity Equinox

As we mentioned in our prior article, Celebrity and its parent company Royal Caribbean have known about the high rate of sexual assaults on cruise ships for over a decade.  

In 1999, Royal Caribbean hired two top notch firms to study the problem of sexual assaults on the Royal Caribbean and Celebrity fleet of cruise ships. The cruise line retained a consulting firm called "Sheridan, Swailes" to study the company's security systems. Royal Caribbean also retained a nationally recognized expert on sexual harassment issues, Dr. Kay Krohne, who previously was a commanding officer at the Naval Training Station in San Diego.

After conducting an extensive analysis of the Royal Caribbean / Celebrity fleet, these experts concluded that sexual misconduct occurred "frequently" during cruises. They attributed this problem to the fact that most crew members were not afraid of being arrested, much less convicted.  

Unfortunately, Celebrity Cruises does not warn its guests of the history of men attacking women during cruises.

Women on cruise ships need to be aware of the danger of rape by crew members, especially after drinking alcohol.

 

July 20, 2012 Update: We were informed that the crew member who allegedly raped the passenger was an IT employee. 

July 21, 2012 Update: A newspaper in Italy identified the alleged rapist as an American. 

Guilty Pleas in Celebrity Cruises Excursion Bus Robbery in St. Kitts

The St. Kitts & Nevis Observer reports today that five men accused of robbing a tour bus full of cruise passengers in November 2010 pleaded guilty to the crime.

Elroy “Stanny” Williams, Junior “Que” Sobratie, and Curtis Long were charged with four counts of robbery, one count of conspiracy and one count of assault with intent to rob, while Delvin Francis and George Welsh were charged as accessories to the crime.

The men were involved in the armed robbery of the 17 cruise passengers who were aboard a tour bus on its way to Brimstone Hill Fortress.

St. Kitts Cruise Ship RobberyThe robbery targeted 17 cruise passengers from the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship. They were on a cruise sponsored excursion called the "Caribbean Journey Masters tour bus." While the tour bus was heading towards a historic site, rocks and branches were strewn across the bus' path. The driver exited to investigate, and the robbers threw a rock into the windshield of the bus. Two armed, masked men rushed from the bushes and entered the bus.

A local newspaper reported that seventeen passengers, including an infant, were aboard the bus at the time of the robbery. The cruise passengers were robbed of their money, cell phones, jewelry and other personal items.

We wrote a number of articles about the crime:

More Cruise Tourists Robbed, This Time In St. Kitts

Celebrity Cruise Passenger Robbers Face Trial in St. Kitts

Coke Bust on Celebrity Sumitt Cruise Ship

The Bermuda Sun newspaper reports that Bermuda police officers arrested a 53 year old cruise passenger who tried to smuggle cocaine into Bermuda.

The newspaper states that the American cruise tourist allegedly strapped $369,000 worth of cocaine to her body and sailed to Bermuda on board the Celebrity Summit cruise ship.

The passenger is reportedly from Georgia.  Bermuda charged her with possession of cocaine with intent Celebrity Summit Cruise Ship - Drug Bustto supply on May 3rd.

After the Bermuda police were tipped that there was drugs in her cabin, they boarded the cruise ship and searched  her cabin.  She then allegedly admitted having the drugs strapped to her body. Officers then found four off-white packages inside a girdle. 

Cruise Critic has additional information, apparently based on information from Celebrity Cruises. It reports that "two female passengers and a Celebrity Summit stateroom attendant were arrested on drug charges on May 3 while the ship was docked in King's Wharf, Bermuda . . . law enforcement officers entered the passengers' cabin and found three kilograms of cocaine. At that time, the passengers implicated a stateroom attendant from Jamaica, who was also taken into custody."

Celebrity Cruises Passenger Missing Off Coast Of Mexico

Christina Cassin - Celebrity Equinox - MissingThe Atlanta Constitution Journal reports that a 49 year old woman from Georgia disappeared last week while diving on a reef near Cozumel

The newspaper states that Christina Cassin, age 49, and her husband, Scott Turco, were passengers on the Celebrity Equinox cruise ship, which docked in Cozumel on March 28th.  The couple were diving with a group on a reef about a kilometer from the coast when she disappeared.

"They were about 10 minutes into the dive when Cassin decided to return to the surface. She said Turco turned to tell the dive master, who was right next to them, that she was going back to the surface, and when he turned back around, Cassin was gone."

The newspaper suggests that Ms. Cassin may have been caught in a strong downward current along the reef wall. 

Ms. Cassin worked as a nurse and lived with her husband in Acworth, Georgia, which is northeast of Atlanta.

 

Photo credit:  Atlanta Constitution Journal 

"Rouges & Vagabonds:" Gay Cruise Couple Fined, Insulted & Deported From Dominica

Dominica Senior Magistrate BaptisteIn a weird ending to a weird cruise story, two California men who were arrested on the Celebrity Summit cruise ship while it was docked in Dominica pleaded guilty to indecent exposure at a hearing yesterday and were then ridiculed by a local magistrate.

Yesterday we mentioned the bizarre circumstances surround the Atlantis Events cruise: Busted for Buggery: Controversy Surrounds Another Atlantis Gay Cruise.  

A newspaper in Dominica "DaVibes" described the incident as follows:

"Local taxi operators expressed outrage as they reportedly witnessed the defendants engaged in sexual activity on the balcony of the ship."  When the local police boarded the Celebrity cruise ship, one of the passengers responded “we were naked on our balcony but were not having sex.”

Today another newspaper in Dominica reports that the two men's lawyer in Dominica told the local magistrate at a 30 minute hearing yesterday that her clients were "remorseful" and  overcome by the beauty of the island:

"They were struck by the beautiful mountains, clear fresh air and had a few cocktails and having a few cocktails they found themselves in this indiscretion. They threw caution to the wind, they came here to have a good time and they did not mean to offend anyone” she told the court.

According to the newspaper, Chief Magistrate Baptiste (photo above left) denounced the men's  actions Dominica -Cruise Ship Passengers Arrestedas “an outrage” that was “morally wrong” in any country.  She described the men as “rogues and vagabonds.”  She fined them around $900. 

After the hearing, the local police drove the two men (photo right) to the airport to be flown out of the country.

Many Caribbean islands like Dominica, Jamaica and Barbados are openly hostile to gay travelers. Nonetheless, sex on a balcony at port seems like a good way to be arrested.  

However, the two men, Dennis Mayer and John Hart who have been partners for 17 years, deny that they were engaged in sex on the balcony.

They state that they were arrested by military police and placed in a small cell for 19 hours. They told the LA Times that "we were taunted all night long. They paraded us around like we were some oddity." They were led to a ATM at a bank to withdraw money for their fine as a crowd of residents watched. "I've never seen something like this," Mayer said. "I've never seen people chanting and protesting in the street. It was amazing."  

An AP article quotes Dominica Tourism Minister Ian Douglas as saying that tourists should abide by local laws regardless of their religious or sexual orientation, and that cruise ship officials should make passengers aware of these laws.

 

Photo credits:  

Magistrate Baptiste - Dominica News Online 

Cruise passenger - Carlisle Jno-Baptiste / AP 

Norovirus Update: Celebrity Constellation Cruise Ship is Latest to Join List of Sick Ships

A number of cruisers have been contacting our office asking about a sickness outbreak aboard the Celebrity Cruises' Constellation cruise ship. 

The Centers for Disease Control ("CDC") officially placed the Constellation on its vessel sanitation list of ships with sickness.  The Constellation sailed on January 28th from Fort Lauderdale and returned yesterday, February 11th. 

95 out of 1,992 passengers reported being ill during the voyage (4.77%).  12 crewmembers reported being ill. The sick passengers and crew reported symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.

Only cruise lines calling on U.S. ports are required to report disease outbreaks to the CDC.  Cruise Celebrity Cruises' Constellation Cruise Ship - Norovirus?lines are required to make the report only when 3% or more of passengers or crew reported symptoms of diarrheal disease to the ships medical staff during the voyage.  Under-reporting occurs regularly because many passengers can't make it away from their toilets due to diarrhea, and some passengers don't want to be confined to their cabins. 

This is the fifth "official" cruise ship sickness outbreak which has found its way onto the CDC database which lists the Celebrity Silhouette, Celebrity Constellation, Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas, Princess Cruises' Crown Princess and P & O Cruises Aurora cruse ships.  The CDC data does not include the outbreak on Princess Cruises' Ruby Princess, which we reported on last week

The CDC has confirmed norovirus only on the Crown Princess and Aurora.  It is disappointing that the CDC can't figure out the type of disease on the other ships.  In no cases did the CDC pin-point the cause of the outbreak, to either a virus brought on the cruise ships by a passenger, or unsanitary handling of food by a crew, or infected food and/or water.  If the CDC can't figure out how the outbreak occurred, it seems hard to respond to the problem and eradicate the causative factors.

There has been a lot of criticism on how Celebrity Cruises handled the latest outbreak on the Silhouette.  You can read the comments by passengers here.   

How did Celebrity Cruises handle the outbreak on the Constellation?  If you were on the cruise, please leave her comments below, pro or con.

November 5, 2012 Update:

News sources are reporting that the Constellation suffered another outbreak of norovirus, this time during a 12 day cruise which just returned to Southampton.  BBC reports that 350 passengers became ill with vomiting and nausea. Read our article: Cruise Puke Fest: Norovirus Strikes Celebrity Constellation. if you were ill on that cruise please leave a comment at the end of that article.    

 

Photo credit:  Getty

Cruise Sickness Hits Celebrity Cruises' Silhouette Cruise Passengers

ABC News reports tonight that over 30 cruise passengers were suffering from sickness when the Celebrity Silhouette cruise ship called on St. Maarten today.

Over the last few days, at least four cruise ships have suffered from outbreaks of illness, including norovirus: the Oasis of the Seas and the Voyager of the Seas (both operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises) and the Crown Princess and the Ruby Princess (operated by Princess Cruises).

If you have information about the illness aboard the Silhouette, please leave a comment below.

Celebrity Crewmember Missing From Summit Cruise Ship

On Sunday we received emails inquiring about a Celebrity crewmember who went overboard from the Summit cruise ship.  The Summit was sailing from San Juan, Puerto Rico, where it is currently based, to Barbados when the cruise employee disappeared. At the time we had no information.

Today the U.S. Coast Guard issued a statement that the missing crewmember is a Filipino woman, age thirty, employed as a bartender aboard the cruise ship.  The cruise line states that she was seen jumping overboard Sunday morning, approximately 6 - 7 miles off the northeastern coast of Culebra Island, Puerto Rico.  It is less than clear whether eyewitnesses observed this, or whether the incident was captured on the ship's CCTV cameras.

Summit Cruise Ship The cruise ship notified the Coast Guard of the incident from the cruise ship at approximately 12:50 a.m. Sunday.  We would be interested in learning when the cruise ship left San Juan, as the incident occurred shortly after departure. 

The Coast Guard suspended its search last night.

Royal Caribbean / Celebrity cruise ships have seen the most alleged suicides over the course of the last 2 years.  As we have said before, the Filipinos on cruise ships work incredibly long hours and are away from their families for long periods of time.  At this point, it is unknown what led this young woman to jump if this is what happened.

A Filipino crewmember allegedly jumped from a Celebrity ship earlier this year - Another Celebrity Crewmember Goes Overboard

You can read about RCCL / Celebrity crew overboards (all nationalities) below: 

Crew Member Goes Overboard from Celebrity Constellation Cruise Ship

Crew Member Missing from the Grandeur of the Seas - Why Are So Many People Disappearing From Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships?

Another Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship? - Oasis of the Seas

Crew Member Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas

"Man Overboard" Reported on Radiance of the Seas

Asleep At the Wheel: What Does the Delayed Reporting of Neha Chhikara's Disappearance from the Monarch of the Seas Reveal About Royal Caribbean's Shipboard Security?

Wife of Royal Caribbean Crew Member on Monarch of the Seas Goes OverBoard

Does anyone have information about this latest incident? 

Celebrity Solstice Hit By Cruise Ship Virus?

The Centers for Disease Control ("CDC") report that 118 of the 2,730 passengers aboard the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship have reported to the ship's medical facility with vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms of gastrointestinal illness.

The Solstice is currently on a 14 day cruise and will return to Fort Lauderdale on December 11, 2011.

Pursuant to the CDC Vessel Sanitation Program, environmental health officers and an epidemiologist will board the cruise ship, once it returns to Fort Lauderdale tomorrow, in order assess the outbreak and the cruise line's response activities.

It has been our experience over the years that the "official" CDC numbers of ill passengers and crewmembers is usually less than the true number of those afflicted with viral illnesses.  This is because many sick passengers know that they will be quarantined in their cabins or they simply do not want to wait in the long lines outside of the ship infirmary.  Often, sick crewmembers are Celebrity Solstice - Cruise Ship Sicknesspressed to work notwithstanding their sicknesses.  

We wrote about the problem of under reporting last year when the Celebrity Mercury experienced a prolonged outbreak of norovirus: Is Celebrity Cruises Under-Reporting Sicknesses to the CDC?

This is not the first time the Solstice has experienced an outbreak this year.  In January and February, there were norovirus outbreaks on the Solstice with one passenger dying due to exposure to the virus. 

Celebrity Cruises has experienced other bouts of widespread illnesses in 2011.  Over 100 passengers became sick on the Millennium in May of this year. 

Not all gastrointestinal outbreaks are documented with the CDC.  The cruise lines do not have to report the outbreaks when the cruise ship does not call on a U.S. port.  In September, norovirus broke out on Celebrity's Eclipse sailing out of Southampton, England.  You will find no mention of it in the official CDC database.

Earlier this week, we discussed Is there a Cure for the Cruise Ship Virus?

If you were on the Solstice and have something to add to this story, please leave a comment below.  Was the sickness more widespread than reported?  How did the cruise line handle the situation?   

 

Photo credit:  Examiner

Celebrity Cruises Passenger Killed in Parasailng Accident in St. Thomas

A news source in the U.S. Virgin Islands reports that two passengers from the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship were involved in a serious parasailing accident on Tuesday in St. Thomas.

The incident occurred late Tuesday afternoon while the passengers were on an excursion.  One of the passengers died, and the other was seriously injured and remains hospitalized.

There are comments from an online cruise community suggesting that the deceased passengers was celebrating  her 60th birthday and her daughter was the one seriously injured.     

Celebrity Cruises Parasailing Accident - St. ThomasCelebrity Cruises advertises parasailing "400 feet over St. Thomas" on its website.  You can watch's Celebrity's brief  video about parasailing in St. Thomas here which describes the excursion as an "experience of a lifetime." 

A number of agencies are apparently involved in the investigation into this incident, including the Virgin Islands Police Department, Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Attorney General’s Office, and the U.S. Coast Guard. 

Last year we reported on the death of a Carnival cruise passenger parasailing in Cozumel during an excursion. 

 if you know how the accident occurred, please leave a comment below.

November 17, 2011 Update:

Caribbean Water Sports and Tours - Parasailing DeathThe Virgin Islands Daily News published an article this evening stating that "squalls and wind gusts Tuesday afternoon may have factored into the death of Bernice Kraftcheck, 60, and the serious injury of her daughter Danielle Haese, 34, who was hospitalized overnight at Schneider Hospital." 

The mother and daughter purchased a parasailing shore-excursion from Celebrity Cruises which was conducted by Caribbean Watersports and Tours.  The excursion company conducted the parasailing trip aboard the 31-foot powerboat Turtle.  The newspaper reports that two crew members operated the Turtle, which was carrying five passengers. 

"All parasailing shore excursions in the Caribbean have been cancelled indefinitely, pending the outcome of the investigation," said Celebrity Cruises spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez.

Cruise lines face legal liability when they fail to vet the safety policies and procedures of the excursion companies which the cruise lines select to do business with. 

For example, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises' Summit cruise ship were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica.  We represented passengers against the cruise line and the excursion company in that accident.  Information on the Dominica excursion accident is contained in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."

December 3, 2011 Update:

Coast Guard Continues to Investigate St. Thomas Parasailing Accident

 

Photo credit:  Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Century Cruise Ship Rescues Injured Sailor in Pacific

Earlier this month, crewmembers aboard the Celebrity Century cruise ship recorded interesting video of the rescue of an injured skipper in the Pacific as the cruise ship sailed to Hawaii.

The incident involved the Quantum Leap, a 49 foot sailing yacht which was being delivered from San Diego to Honolulu by captain Phillip Johnson, together with his nephew and another friend. 

After the sailboat left California, it began experiencing problems with its generators and batteries, which compromised power to the sailboat's satellite phone and GPS. 

Captain Johnson was injured badly when rough weather struck the sailboat. Because of the distance to the closest port (some 700 miles), the U.S. Coast Guard was unable to send a helicopter but contacted vessels in the area.

In this case, the Celebrity Century was sailing to Hilo.  As explained in an interesting account from Sail World,  Celebrity Captain Konstantinos Patsoulas turned the 815 foot cruise ship around and headed for the sailboat which took approximately 12 hours. 

You can see how the cruise ship deployed the rescue boat and took the crew of the Quantum Leap aboard the cruise ship, to the applause of the passengers and crew.  The sailboat was adrift as the Century then continued it cruise to Hawaii.  

Sail World also explains about how, three weeks later, the Quantum Leap washed ashore on a beach in Maui without its captain or crew . . . 
 

 

An interesting account of the rescue is also contained in an article "Rescue at Sea" by Lorraine Thompson who was cruising with her husband, Charles, on their 56th cruise. 

Video credit: wb6jao (YouTube)

24 Year Old Passenger Falls to His Death on the Celebrity Equinox

Multiple sources are reporting that a U.S. passenger fell from an upper balcony to his death while cruising aboard the Celebrity Equinox in the Mediterranean Sea.

The incident occurred on September 26th while the Equinox was sailing toward the port of Kusadasi Turkey.

I first learned of the incident today while reading cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's blog, which contains an account from a cruise passenger that: " . . . a man of age 25ish jumped from the 11th floor and died.  Do you know any thing about this as it has been kept very much in the dark as we were on the side of the ship from where he jumped. Some say he had a disagreement with his girlfriend and some say he was sleep walking. 

The account states that the passenger " . . .  hit the life boat metal rigging gear, it took about 30 mins to get to him but was dead at the scene."

A newspaper in Turkey states that the passenger was allegedly sleepwalking when he went overboard around 3:00 AM.  The cruise ship then arrived in Kusadasi around 8:00 AM.  After an investigation by Turkish police, the cruise ship sailed on to Rhodes Greece as part of its regular itinerary.

Some real conflicting stories, it seems?

Another quick investigation by the Turkish police?  Were these the same police in Turkey which conducted the quick investigation into George Smith's disappearance during his honeymoon

Were you on the cruise?  Do you have information which may shed light on this case?  Please leave a comment below.

Celebrity Equinox Cruise Ship - Passenger Death

 

Photo credit:  Krafft Angerer/Getty Images (via New York Times blog)  

Norovirus on Celebrity Eclipse Cruise Ship Sickens Passengers

Celebrity Cruises Eclipse - NorovirusThe Southern Daily Echo newspaper in Southampton England is reporting that the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship was delayed for “enhanced sanitation” after dozens of passengers returning to Southampton from a 11 night eastern Mediterranean cruise had been struck down by norovirus.

Sick passengers disembarking the cruise ship at the city's terminal reported seeing “people walking around in Ghostbusters suits” ready to disinfect the vessel and the terminal.

Cruise ship norovirus cases often take several sailings before the virus runs its course.  Perhaps the Eclipse needs a major cleaning and spray down.  But "enhanced cleaning" may or may not help, depending on whether the virus is passed hand-to-hand between crew and passengers or passenger to passenger - or is contained in contaminated food or water. 

If you were on the Eclipse, please leave a comment below about how the cruise line handled the situation.  We would be interested in hearing from passengers on the ship now whether additional passengers have been sickened or whether everyone is well and enjoying the cruise.

 

Photo credit:  UK Telegraph

Perfume Sales Assistant Alleges Rape Aboard the Celebrity Equinox

Courthouse News has published a copy of the lawsuit our firm filed against Celebrity Cruises following the alleged rape of an unconscious female crewmember aboard the Celebrity Equinox.  You can read the allegations in the lawsuit here.

According to the lawsuit papers, in October 2010, a crewmember employed as an assistant sales clerk working for a perfume concessionaire aboard the Celebrity Equinox, was raped on the cruise ship in the early morning hours after leaving the crew bar.  "Jane Doe" awoke to find another crewmember sexually assaulting her.

Celebrity Equinox Cruise ShipShe reported the incident to her supervisors and was examined and treated in the ship infirmary.  Police in the next port of call in Israel interviewed her, and the assailant crew member was eventually terminated and sent home.  Like most cruise ship sexual assault allegations, the assailant crew member was not arrested and there was no criminal prosecution.

The ship doctor did not administer any anti-retroviral medications to Jane Doe.  She was permitted four days off from work and thereafter returned to full time duty.  Neither Celebrity Cruises not her employer, Harding Brothers which operates the perfume concession, provided her with a psychiatrist, psychologist or counselor despite her many requests for help dealing with the trauma.

Jane Doe ended her employment on the cruise ship in February 2011.  Jane Doe is from South Africa.  She is unemployed.  Neither Celebrity nor Harding Brothers have provided her with any medical treatment or assistance after she left the cruise ship as required by the doctrine of "maintenance and cure."   

Celebrity and its parent company Royal Caribbean have known about the high rate of sexual assaults on cruise ships for over a decade.  

In 1999, Royal Caribbean hired two top notch firms to study the problem of sexual assaults on the Royal Caribbean and Celebrity fleet of cruise ships.  The cruise line retained a consulting firm called "Sheridan, Swailes" to study the company's security systems.  Royal Caribbean also retained a nationally recognized expert on sexual harassment issues, Dr. Kay Krohne, who previously was a commanding officer at the Naval Training Station in San Diego. 

Kay Krohne - Cruise Sexual Assault - Cruise Sexual HarassmentAfter conducting an extensive analysis of the Royal Caribbean / Celebrity fleet, these experts concluded that sexual misconduct occurred "frequently" during cruises.  They attributed this problem to the fact that most crew members were not afraid of being arrested, much less convicted.  Dr. Krohne reported that the worst thing that could happen to a crew member who committed a crime on a Royal Caribbean or Celebrity cruise ship was to be sent on a one way flight home.

Last summer, we reported on a similar sexual assault allegation involving a crewmember from South Africa. "Taryn" was employed as a beauty therapist on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  Another crewmember employed as a fitness instructor allegedly raped her.  The cruise line reportedly sent her home after reporting the incident and refused to provide her with medical treatment or living expenses as required by the maritime law.  Her assailant was not prosecuted. 

We wrote about the case in an article Cruise Rape - Is Royal Caribbean Up To Its Old Tricks?

Women on cruise ships need to be aware of the danger of rape, especially after drinking alcohol.  Crewmembers should also know that if they are sexually assaulted on a cruise ship, they entitled to treatment with psychiatrists and counselors until they reach their maximum medical improvement.   

 

Photo credit:

Celebrity Equinox in Haifa Port, Israel - Wikipedia (Shlomiliss)
 

Disappearance from Celebrity Century Cruise Ship - Rest in Peace Jimmy Ewan

Cruise disappearance James EwansIn November 2006, a 73 year old Scottish passenger was reported missing from the Century cruise ship while the vessel traveling near Madeira in the Canary Islands.  The disappearance was discovered when a crew member reported that passenger James ("Jimmy") Ewan, of Fife, Scotland, had not used his cabin the previous night. 

Ship logs indicate that Mr. Ewan, who had been traveling alone, did not disembark in the previous port.   The cruise ship conducted a cursory search and then continued on its 14-night trans-Atlantic cruise from Barcelona, Spain, to Miami. 

Today a newspaper in Scotland is reporting that the mystery of Mr. Ewan's disappearance five years ago has been solved.  The newspaper reports that Mr. Ewan's "best pal and executor of his will," John Cooper, has been struggling with settling his estate for the past several years.  The U.K.'s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Portuguese Consulate apparently were of little help. 

Mr. Cooper complained that he could not obtain a certificate of death so that Mr. Ewan's business could be wound up and his will could be executed.

The newspaper reports that Mr. Ewan had lost his wife 20 years ago and had no children.

Cabin attendants found his personal belongings neatly laid out in his cabin, including the executor of his will's name and telephone phone number.  Mr. Ewan reportedly stated that " . . . he didn't want to be a burden to anyone as he got old . . . "  The newspaper reports that "he scrapped his car two days before leaving, which was odd because he couldn't do without it."

Mr. Cooper stated that "I'm the executor of his will and the fact my details were sitting on top of his wallet in his cabin rang alarm bells.  It's like he tied everything up and not left anything outstanding."

If I decided to end my life like this, I hope that someone would remember me - like Mr. Ewan - with a big smile on my face, waving goodbye.   

 

Photo credit: dailyrecord.co.uk

Passenger Medevac & Crew Suicide Mar Celebrity Eclipse Cruise

Yesterday, we discussed the latest overboard from a Celebrity cruise ship, this time involving a 31 year old Filipino on the Eclipse who by all accounts committed suicide by climbing a rail and jumping into the English Channel.

While some people may be inclined to say oh,a suicide end of the story, my thought is that an investigation is warranted to study the significant number of crewmembers who decide to end their life in this manner.  Is there a correlation between the long hours and difficult working conditions of "ship life" and crew suicides?   

There are a number of interesting comments posted on line about this sad incident, which apparently occurred shortly after an ill passenger was medevaced from the Eclipse.  A medevac of an ill passenger and a crew suicide is not how you want to remember a family cruise holiday.   

One post links to Ship Finder which charted the cruise ship altering course and returning to the location where the crewmember went overboard.  It looks like the Eclipse may have originally  altered course to sail closer to France to meet the helicopter involved in the passenger medical evacuation.  

Eclipse Cruise Ship Medical Evacuation

  

Image credit:   Lee Armstrong via Pinkfroot

Another Celebrity Crewmember Goes Overboard

Multiple new sources in the U.K. are reporting that a crewmember from the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship went overboard last night and is presumed dead.

Sky News reports that, according to the cruise line, a Filipino crewmember was captured on closed circuit television (CCTV) climbing over a railing and jumping from the cruise ship.  The luxury cruise ship, operated by Celebrity Cruises here in Miami, was eight miles north of Cherbourg, France, heading to Southampton when the incident happened.  The cruise ship alerted the French Coast Guard Celebrity Eclipse Cruise Ship Overboard - Missing Crewmemberand turned the vessel around in an attempt to rescue the crewmember.

The French Coast Guard stated "We deployed our resources to find him but it was to no avail and we can now presume that he is dead . . . The water was very cold and there is no hope for him."

We last reported on a Celebrity crew overboard just two months ago - Crew Member Goes Overboard from Celebrity Constellation Cruise Ship.

Unfortunately, overboards from cruise ships in the Royal Caribbean / Celebrity Cruises fleet appear to be a regular occurrence.  In March, we wrote an article about another crew member disappearing - Crew Member Missing from the Grandeur of the Seas - Why Are So Many People Disappearing From Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships?

Of course, missing crew members are not limited to Royal Caribbean cruise ships - Carnival Cruise Employee Goes Overboard - Does the U.S. Media Care When Foreign Crew Members Disappear at Sea?

There is no official database of passengers and crew who go overboard from cruise ships. The cruise lines say that this is something that they just don't track.  Perhaps they should start studying the problem.  The best source for tracking cruise overboards is cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website which lists 160 overboards in the past ten years.

In this latest case, the news sources are indicating that the crew member was a Filipino, which probably means that he was a waiter.  The Filipinos on cruise ships work incredibly long hours and are away from their families for long periods of time.  At this point, it is unknown what led him to jump if this is what happened.

Does anyone have information about what happened?  Please leave a comment below.   

 

Photo credit:  Travel Weekly Blog  

Norovirus Aboard Celebrity Solstice Kills Father of Eight

Courthouse News Service reports that a lawsuit has been filed against Celebrity Cruises for the death of a father of eight after he died from incompetent medical care for norovirus he contracted during a vacation cruise aboard the Celebrity Solstice

The lawsuit alleges that Joseph Gavigan Jr., from Orleans, Massachusetts, embarked the Solstice cruise ship in January of this year in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  During the cruise, a norovirus outbreak occurred and Mr. Gavigan contracted the illness.

The lawsuit alleges that Celebrity failed to take adequate precautions to screen passengers and crewmembers, failed to sanitize and disinfect the cruise ship and disinfect plates, cups, food trays, Joseph Gavigan Jr. - Norovirus - Celebrity Solstice Death utensils, ice machines and drinking fountains, failed to quarantine infected passengers and crewmembers and failed to warn Mr. Gavigan about the virus. 

The lawsuit also alleges that Celebrity provided negligent medical care to Mr. Gavigan, and negligently selected the cruise ship medical staff who held themselves out as agents of the cruise line.

A copy of the lawsuit is available on line and can be viewed here.  The lawsuit was filed by attorney Keith Brais, a very experienced maritime lawyer who used to be a defense lawyer for Celebrity Cruises and other cruise lines.  

The Centers for Decease Control and Prevention reports that 118 cruise passengers and 10 crewmembers reported ill during the voyage.  You can read more about the CDC's report for this voyage aboard the Solstice here.  

The popular on line community Cruise Critic contains Celebrity's official press statement about the norovirus outbreaks (which preceded Mr. Gavigan's cruise) as well as the accounts of unhappy cruisers some of whom felt that the medical staff was incompetent and the cruise line was trying to cover-up and down-play the outbreaks. 

An on line obituary indicates that Mr. Gavigan, nicknamed "Junior," is survived by 21 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren in addition to his 8 children and companion.

 

Photo credit:  Dockray & Thomas Funeral Home

Passenger Missing From Celebrity's Millennium Cruise Ship

Millenium Missing Passenger - OverboardNews sources are reporting that a 65 year old passenger is missing from a cruise ship which ported in San Diego on Tuesday. 

The unidentified passenger was aboard the Celebrity Millennium cruise ship which was was on a 15-day cruise.

The cruise line did not realize that the passenger was missing until she did not show appear for a customs check when the cruise ship docked in San Diego.  The ship had previously stopped in  Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  The Millennium left Cabo on Sunday at about 3 p.m.  According to the AP, the missing woman was apparently last seen on board the cruise ship about 10 p.m. Monday.

The passenger apparently went overboard somewhere between Cabo San Lucas and San Diego.  A C-130 aircraft, helicopter and Coast Guard vessel searched an area that spans 175 miles between the cities.

We have discussed many overboards on the Royal Caribbean and Celebrity fleet of cruise ships.  Click on "disappearances" (to the left) to read about other disappearances of cruise ship passengers.  As we have reported before, there have been over 150 overboards from cruise ships in the past decade.

There is no acceptable excuse why a passenger or crew member should ever simply "disappear" during a cruise.  Such an incident exposes deficient security and closed circuit television (CCTV) systems on the cruise ship.

 May 4th Update:  The cruise line subsequently went back and reviewed the CCTV images and determined that the woman climbed over the ship's railing and let go about 9:15 p.m. Monday.

New Study Reveals Little New About Norovirus on Cruise Ships

The medical journal "Clinical Infectious Diseases" published an article entitled "Disease Transmission and Passenger Behaviors During a High Morbidity Norovirus Outbreak on a Cruise Ship, January 2009."

Of some 1842 passengers on the cruise ship, 1532 (83%) returned questionnaires provided by the researchers.  236 (15%) met the norovirus definition.  

Cruise Ship Norovirus This particular cruise had a passenger vomit in a public area during boarding, as well as 7 other incidents where passengers vomited in public.  The Centers for Disease Control ("CDC") investigators concluded that some sick passengers may have been infected by the vomit (through aerosolized vomit or by touching contaminated surfaces) or they were infected by person-to-person contact, particularly by an ill cabin mate. 

The CDC investigators also concluded that some of the public toilets on the cruise ship were out of hand soap and paper towels and dish washing machines did not do an adequate job sanitizing eating utensils.  These shortcomings might have contributed to the outbreak.

Nothing new with these conclusions.

The two interesting points in my opinion revealed in the study:

Of the 236 ill passengers, 95 (40%) did not report to the infirmary.  We have been told by many passengers on cruises plagued by norovirus that the actual number of sick passengers reported by the cruise lines to the CDC was far less than the actual number of passengers with norovirus.  Cruise lines report only the number of passengers who report to the ship infirmary.  This is a problem we have discussed before - Is Celebrity Cruises Under-Reporting Sicknesses to the CDC?

Perhaps the most interesting statistic is that 62% of ill passengers did not decrease their participation in public activities.  Over 200 passengers ill with norovirus walking around the ship?  Yuck.  This undoubtedly led to the spread of the outbreak.

But most outbreaks of norovirus on cruise ships are no so clear cut.  There appears to be no effort to scientifically determine the source of norovirus outbreaks.  

As we have reported in prior blogs,  the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concludes that whereas "person to person" transmission of norovirus has been documented, "norwalk gastroenteritis is transmitted by the fecal-oral route via contaminated water and foods."  The FDA reports that "water is the most common source of outbreaks and may include .  .  . water stored aboard cruise ships."

When will the CDC conduct a recent study analyzing the potable water and food products after an outbreak?  Compare this study with a study by the CDC in 2002 which the CDC "suspected that initial infection among passengers on cruise 1 originated from a common food or water source and then continued to spread from person to person" and "we identified that eating breakfast at restaurant A on day 2 of the cruise was associated with illness . . ."  Or consider "Characterization of a variant strain of Norwalk virus from a food-borne outbreak of gastroenteritis on a cruise ship in Hawaii" (pin-pointing fruit at a buffet as the likely culprit).
 

Read some of our other articles about cruise ship norovirus:

Cruise Ship Norovirus - Clean the Damn Toilets!

"Cruise Ship Sickness" - Is Norovirus In The Food and Water?

Cruise Ship Norovirus - Something in the Water?

March 24, 2011 Update:  USA Today's CruiseLog has a story today about this study, indicating that the study involved Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship in January 2009.  As we pointed out in an earlier blog, the CDC investigated outbreaks on the Celebrity Mercury in  January and February 2009. 

The interesting thing about the Mercury was that it experienced four cruises a year later, in 2010, with repeated outbreaks of norovirus until the CDC took the unprecedented step of issuing a no sail order, an event we covered last March: Centers for Disease Control: "Shut Mercury Cruise Ship Down!"   It would have been interesting for the CDC to have studied the cause of the norovirus on this cruise ship for months in early 2010.  Why did this particular cruise ship experience so many problems with norovirus?  Certainly it was not just because a passenger puked on embarkation in January 2009?

Crew Member Goes Overboard from Celebrity Constellation Cruise Ship

Celebrity Cruises Cruise Ship - Crew Member Overboard A reader of Cruise Law News informs us that a crew member from a Celebrity Cruises ship disappeared at sea. 

Indian crew member Anthony Rodrigues went overboard on March 10, 2011 from the Celebrity Constellation.  Mr. Rodrigues was a 19 year employee of the cruise line.  His family members in Mumbai were not notified for two days and were not given an explanation for him going overboard.

Unfortunately, overboards from cruise ships in the Royal Caribbean / Celebrity Cruises fleet appear to be a regular occurrence.  Two weeks ago, we wrote an article about another crew member from India disappearing - Crew Member Missing from the Grandeur of the Seas - Why Are So Many People Disappearing From Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships?

Of course, missing crew members are not limited to Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  Yesterday, we commented on a Carnival crew member who went overboard - Carnival Cruise Employee Goes Overboard - Does the U.S. Media Care When Foreign Crew Members Disappear at Sea?

There is no official database of passengers and crew who go overboard from cruise ships. The cruise lines say that this is something that they just don't track.  Perhaps they should start studying the problem.  The best source for tracking cruise overboards is cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website which lists 155 overboards in the past ten years.  

If you have information about this incident, please leave a comment below.

 

Photo credit:    dsparku

Celebrity Cruises Crew Member Arrested on Child Porn Charges

Several newspapers in California are reporting that the FBI arrested a crew member aboard Celebrity Cruises' Constellation on child-pornography charges after the cruise ship arrived at the Port of San Diego. 

According to the Union Tribune newspaper in San Diego, Amado Nicholas Hernandez, age 31, was employed by Celebrity Cruises as an audiovisual manager and provided onboard guest-entertainment services. 

Amado Hernandez - Cruise - Child PornographyHernandez was arrested after he apparently abandoned his computer which was subsequently purchased at an estate sale.  The computer reportedly contained 450 photographs and about 250 video files of child pornography portraying a total of 44 different victims.  The computer contained information which permitted the FBI to trace the pornography back to the crew member. 

The criminal complaint filed against Hernandez alleged that upcoming cruises included several stops in Mexico.  Hernandez, in documented online chats, reportedly had bragged that he had bought young boys for sex in Mexico and “almost offed one,” the criminal complaint alleges.

The issue of child predators and crew members with child pornography on cruise ships is something we have written about frequently.  It's not an isolated problem: 

Nabbed at Pier 21 - Another Crew Member Busted with Child Porn in Halifax

Another Carnival Crew Member Busted for Child Porn

Costa Crew Member Caught With Child Pornography 

Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships

Another Crew Member Arrested for Child Pornography 

Cruise Ship Passenger Sentenced in Child Porn Case

 

Photo Credit:    roadiejobs.com

More Cruise Tourists Robbed, This Time In St. Kitts

The Observer in St. Kitts-Nevis is reporting that cruise passengers on a tour bus were robbed this morning, apparently during an excursion from a cruise ship  - "Busload of Tourists Robbed at Gunpoint." 

The robbery reportedly occurred in the Sandy Point area on the island.  A "local tour bus of cruise passengers had been robbed at gunpoint along the island’s main road as the bus made its way to Brimestone Hill."

St. Kitts - Cruise Tour Bus RobberyThe tour bus is identified as the "Caribbean Journey Masters tour bus," which was being driven by owner Urban Herbert at the time of the incident.  While the tour bus was heading towards a historic site, rocks and branches were strewn across the bus' path.  Mr. Herbert exited the bus to investigate, and the robbers threw a rock into the windshield of the bus. Two armed, masked men rushed from the bushes and entered the bus.

The newspaper reported that seventeen (17) passengers including an infant were aboard the bus at the time of the robbery.  The cruise passengers were robbed of their money, cell phones, jewelry and other personal items.  The police  released a statement that no one was physically injured.

As is often the case, the police did not release the name of the cruise line or cruise ship.  Local police and tourism bureaus in the Caribbean are very sensitive to bad press and avoid embarrassing the cruise lines on which they rely for the U.S. tourist dollar.   

It turns out that the passengers were from the Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship. 

The St. Kitts police / tourism people claim that crime like this is unheard of; however, another local newspaper SKNVibes reports in an article - "Tourists Robbed at Gunpoint Near Brimstone Hill" - that local taxi drivers state that this is nothing new and security needs to be improved, particularly when cruise ships arrive. 

I have written many articles about the high crime rates in many of the Caribbean islands frequented by cruise lines - Crime in Caribbean Ports of Call Against Cruise Passengers.  Consider the following articles in the last year alone: 

Antigua - Cruise Passengers Attacked & Robbed in Antigua While Cruise and Tourism Officials Meet and Passenger From Star Clippers Murdered in Antigua

Bahamas 18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the BahamasEleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau, and Cruising To The Bahamas - Is It Safe?

Guatemala - Norwegian Cruise Line Passenger Murdered in Guatemala  

Mexico -  Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines Pull Ships From L.A. Due To Crime In Mexico

St. Lucia - Norwegian Cruise Line Drops St. Lucia and 14 Cruise Passengers Robbed at Anse-La-Raye Waterfall in St. Lucia

St. Thomas - More Caribbean Crime - Carnival Passenger Killed In St. Thomas

 

Additional information: Tourism and Crime in the Caribbean  

December 3, 2010 Update:

"Visitors Warned About Safety in St. Kitts After Tourist Robbery"

Passenger Jumps From Celebrity's Solstice Cruise Ship

Professor Ross Klein's Cruise Junkie web site contains an account of a passenger jumping overboard from Celebrity Solstice last Friday:

From a reader:  The story on the cruise that I was on goes like this:  On early Friday morning around 1:30 am a person fell overboard from the 5th floor.  It took them about an hour to locate and rescue the person who was alive (amazing).  He was fighting and very belligerent when he was rescued.  They put the person in handcuffs and he was taking off the ship in the next port of sail Celebrity Solstice Passenger OverBoard Rescuewhich was Roatan Honduras.  The gentleman of approximately 65 years of age had an argument with his wife at an 80's party being held in the Sky Lounge near the bow.  At about 1:30 am on deck 5 starboard he removed most of his clothing and dove off the deck.  Fast acting crew members threw a flashing buoy overboard immediately to mark his location and the man-overboard call was made. 

The Captain was summoned and many of us heard the code "Oscar, Oscar" Apparently 2-zodiacs were launched the second after some issues with the first .... of this I am not certain.  Upon reaching the very lucking gentleman he did not wish to be rescued and when pulled on board the zodiac became belligerent and hence was cuffed.  We were told he was removed from the ship in Roatan.  Yesterday in the afternoon, on our last day at sea, the Captain came on the loudspeaker and thanked his hard working crew for their efforts for the rescue. 

Last November, a passenger disappeared from this cruise ship.  You can read about the prior incident:  Passenger Reported Overboard from Celebrity's Solstice Cruise Ship

Norovirus Update on Celebrity's Mercury Cruise Ship - March 21st Sailing

A local news station in Charleston South Carolina is reporting that passengers aboard the Mercury cruise ship on the March 21st sailing are ill.  The story is entitled  "Five Cases of Norovirus on Celebrity Mercury Cruise Ship."

The article suggests that the information came from the cruise line, although I do not see a quote or a press release from Royal Caribbean / Celebrity.  The article is rather vague, as I'm sure it's more accurate to say that some passengers have norovirus-like symptoms.  Stool samples have to be taken and analyzed ashore before anyone can conclude that norovirus exists. (There is still no official determination regarding the cause of the last round of sickness on the Mercury).  

Mercury Cruise Ship - Celebrity Cruises - Norovirus?If this information is accurate, five cases of gastrointestinal sickness is not particularly significant.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) "Vessel Sanitation Program" does not require the data to be reported until at least 2% of the passengers are affected (around 37 passengers).

It is possible that all five passengers were infected before they boarded the cruise ship, because there are reports of norovirus ashore of course.  It is also possible that they contracted a virus after they boarded.

We have received a number of calls and emails asking for information about the Mercury's March 21st sailing.  Here are some suggestions:

The Cruise Critic message board has a posting "People are Sick Again on the Mercury," where there is mention of a small number of passengers who may be ill.  The cruise community message boards are sometimes a good source of information, particularly when the cruise lines are not forthcoming with information.

I have found that the CDC eventually responds to e-mails and telephone calls.  The email for the CDC is cdcinfo@cdc.gov - be sure to include "Celebrity Mercury Cruise Ship - March 21st sailing" in the title of your email.  The telephone number is 800-232-4636.

The PR person at Royal Caribbean who handles crisis management statements, including norovirus outbreaks, is Cynthia Martinez.  Her email is CynthiaMartinez@rccl.com  I would be interested if anyone receives a response. 

We often hear from passengers directly from the cruise ships.  If we hear something, we will update this article.

March 27, 2010 Update:

The Charleston Regional Business Journal reports that the Mercury has only 6 sick passengers -"Celebrity Mercury Sees Huge Dip in Sickness After Extra Cleaning Measures."  Good news for Celebrity Cruises and the next round of passengers who will be sailing this Monday, March 29th. 

 

Credits:

Photograph         Directory of Charleston

Ken Carver Pushes For Cruise Law After Daughter "Disappears" From Celebrity's Mercury Cruise Ship

A local news station in Phoenix, Arizona,  ABC-15 (KNXV), is reporting on the latest efforts by Kendall Carver to protect families who cruise in international waters.

In a video interview entitled "Valley Man Pushes for New Laws after Daughter Vanishes,"  Mr. Carver explains that his 40-year-old vanished on the second day of a seven-day Alaskan cruise aboard Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship back in 2004.  The cruise ship covered the incident Merrian Carver - Celebrity Mercury Cruise Ship - Disappearance up and then lied to Mr. Carver.

ABC-15 reports that for more than a year, Mr. Carver says the cruise line "provided little information.  He hired private detectives, lawyers and spent quite a bit of money searching for any indication as to what happened.  Eventually, he said they found an employee on the boat who had some information."

"We deposed the steward to find out that he had reported our daughter missing daily for five days on that ship and his supervisor told him to forget it and do his job," said Carver.  "They had not notified the FBI, they had not notified anybody, in fact, they gathered her belongings and got rid of them."

Carver says what many people may not know is that the cruise ship industry doesn't even have to report crimes ranging from theft to a disappearance.

"You can get the crime report for any city in the country, by zip code, by name, but you can't get that for cruise ships," Mr. Carver told ABC-15.

To push for new laws and help victims of cruise ship crimes, Carver formed the organization - International Cruise Victims (ICV).  He has been working on this cause everyday for the past five years.

"We have hundreds of volunteers, with next to no money and as of this week we are now in 20 countries around the world," said Carver.  "It's one of those things as a father I couldn't walk away from, I still want answers and people need to know what's going on."

As a result of the ICV's efforts, a cruise law - called the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2009 - passed the House of Representatives last year.  The bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate this year.

"This would make it mandatory that they immediately advise the FBI," said Carver.  "They (travelers) don't realize when they get onto these ships they're going into a foreign country."

To learn more, read about the story of Merrian Carver on the ICV website. Please consider joining  the ICV and making a small donation to keep the grass root organization operating.

The ABC-15 video with Mr. Carver is below:

 

 

For additional information about Ken's fight to protect the cruising public, consider reading:

Family Wins Battle Against Cruise Ship Industry After Daughter's Disappearance

 

 

Credits:

Photograph of Mirrian Carver        Ken Carver  

Video        ABC-15 (KNXV) Phoenix, AZ  (Christopher Sign reporting)

Celebrity's Mercury Cruise Ship - Free of Norovirus?

So far, no one is reporting an outbreak of sickness aboard Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship for its latest - March 21st - sailing.  This is good news after the last three disastrous cruises.

Today's South Carolina Post and Courier newspaper runs the headline "Mercury Appears Free of Norovirus" in which the newspaper reports: "after several days at sea, the Celebrity Mercury seems finally free of a stomach bug that afflicted nearly 1,000 passengers on its previous three voyages Norovirus - Cruise Ship - Contaminated Food, Water - Infected Food Handler? from Charleston." 

The Cruise Critic message boards for the Mercury also seem to suggest that there is not a problem with gastrointestinal sickness, yet.  

The question remains what was the cause of the last illness outbreak on the Mercury?  Was it norovirus?  Was it transmitted due to contaminated water or food?  An infected food handler?  

So far the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have not said.

Let's hope that the cruise ship passengers do not get sick for the remainder of the cruise.    

If you are on the cruise and know otherwise, let us hear from you.  Otherwise, enjoy your cruise! 

 

Credits:

Chart        Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, Virginia Tech

Celebrity's Mercury Cruise Ship - Ready to Sail?

At 8:00 p.m. this evening, Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship will sail for an eight day cruise to the Caribbean.

The Mercury has been called the "sickest sea at sea."  Even ABC's Good Morning America posed the question: Celebrity Mercury - Sickest Ship At Sea - Can Cruise Ship Be Cured? 

Local South Carolina ABC affiliate WCIV News - 4 is optimistic that the cruise ship has been thoroughly cleaned over the past 72 hours after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a rare "no-sail" advisory.  The ABC affiliate reports that "officials are now confident the ship is safe."

Celebrity Mercury Cruise Ship - Norovirus? - Confined to CabinBut I would not be so sure.  Gastro-intestinal illnesses can be caused by contaminated food or water, from fecal-oral transmission from crew member to passenger, or from sick passengers who come aboard and infect others.

And the CDC has not determined the cause of the last sickness outbreak.  The CDC report for the Celebrity Mercury's March 8th -19th sailing indicates that the "causative" agent for the widespread illnesses is "unknown."

Not sure I would set sail on a "sick" cruise ship where the CDC can't exclude contaminated food or water or ill crew members as the causes. 

Let's cross our fingers and hope another round of passengers don't find themselves confined to their cabins.  

March 22, 2010 Update:

According to USA Today, only 1,076 passengers are cruising on the Mercury (which is about 60% full).  Around 800 passengers canceled and obtained what is described as a full refund.

Is Celebrity Cruises Under-Reporting Sicknesses to the CDC?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 406 of the 1829 passengers (22.1%) aboard Celebrity's Mercury cruise ship have reported fever, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.  These CDC statistics are based entirely on the information provided by the cruise line.

In the past week, we have received information from crew members that although they were sick, they were required to continue working.  This raises the issue whether the cruise line is not reporting all ill crew members to the CDC.

We just received the following comment from a passenger, who suggests that you can't trust the official CDC numbers:  

"We just got back from this cruise March 18th (one day early) and we were ready to come home. Don't believe the official count of sickness on this boat, I became ill on the second night out around 2 AM. At around 8 AM, my wife called for medical attention and was told they would be to see us in our cabin. We waited. At 5 PM, my wife called medical again and were told they had no record of our calling earlier but the medical crew was on its way around the ship and they would be to our cabin soon. As of today, March 19th., no one from medical has seen me yet unless they saw me passing in the hallways. I heard of many others who were sick and were not seen as well.

My suggestion if you decide to go, carry your own medication with you and be prepared to quarantine yourself to protect others while you are sick if you do get sick. Room service is good."
 

Celebrity's Mercury Returns to Charleston - Over 400 Sick - Centers for Disease Control Investigating

The Celebrity Mercury cruise ship returned to port in Charleston South Carolina today with over 400 sick passengers.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 406 of the 1829 passengers (22.1%) have reported fever, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.

Unlike the last two cruises where the CDC determined that norovirus caused the outbreak, the CDC has not yet determined the cause of the outbreak.  This is probably one of the reasons that the CDC issues a "no travel" advisory for the sick cruise ship.

The traveling public is faced with a cruise line who blames passengers for not washing their hands - the CDC who does not know what the pathogen is or where it's coming from - and the ugly likelihood that the vessel's food, water, crew or public surfaces could be contaminated.

We have been inundated with calls and emails from concerned Americans who are scheduled to travel on the Mercury over the course of the next several months.  We also have heard from crew members, including some crew members who complain that although they are sick they are required to keep working.  Some of the work includes changing linens, serving food and delivering ice.  Very disturbing information. 

There is a lot of pressure on crew members to keep outbreaks secret.  We recently ran across a blog from a former crew member who wrote:

I worked on a cruise ship at the beginning of 2001 and we had a lengthy norovirus outbreak - interestingly, the ship did not make the CDC list for that year. Perhaps because we were far away in South America? Or perhaps it was because we were instructed to deny, deny, deny when any passenger asked: No sir, you're mistaken - the dining rooms are all closed because all the guests are off on tour...not sick in their beds along with half the staff. (Yeah, I was never able to look anyone in the eye and say that.) I never got it, thank God .  .  . "

Here is a recent video from the AP: 

 

 

 

Were you on the last cruise?  Do you have photographs, video or information which may help explain what is happening on the Mercury?  

Let us hear from you.

 

Credits:

Video      AP

 

Celebrity Mercury - Sickest Ship At Sea - Can Cruise Ship Be Cured?

ABC's Good Morning America (GMA) discusses Celebrity Cruises' sick cruise ship, the Mercury, in this morning's program. 

The Mercury has been hit with three continuous outbreaks of sickness which has plagued hundreds of passengers.  We have covered the outbreaks in prior articles

GMA begins its show by describing the Mercury as the "cruise ship which just can't seem to be cleaned."

The video contains the caption - "Sickest Ship at Sea - Can Cruise Ship Be Cured?" and explains how norovirus can thrive on cruise ships.

The GMA video is below.  One passenger askes: "Why do you keep on letting people on this ship when people continuously get sick?"

 

 

ABC interviewed its senior health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser to explain the norovirus and how passengers are infected on cruise ships: 

"The norovirus is highly contagious and its symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps and chills, Besser said.

The illness typically lasts 12 to 72 hours and usually occurs in places where people are in close quarters, such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes and cruise ships, according to Besser. It is the leading cause of foodborne outbreaks of diarrheal disease, accounting for more than 50 percent of these outbreaks

It spreads through food, water, contaminated surfaces and person-to-person contact, Besser said. He added that the reason it could be so hard to get rid of on a cruise ship is because people can also bring it on board and it can live on surfaces for more than a week.

Cruise ships often visit places that have poor sanitation, so passengers can easily catch it from a restaurant they visited at a port, Besser explained.

Additionally, the infection dose of norovirus is very low, Besser said. It takes only 10 particles of the virus to make you stick, as opposed to the 100,000 particles of salmonella you would have to be exposed to in order to get sick."

The Mercury returns to Charleston tomorrow.  The CDC issued a "no sail" advisory for the sick ship.  It will undergo another round of "enhaced cleaning" - as the cruise line calls it. 

 

Credits:

Video              ABC Good Morning America

Centers for Disease Control: "Shut Mercury Cruise Ship Down!"

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a rare no-sail advisory for Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship.  The CDC has instructed Celebrity not to sail the sick cruise ship until Sunday in order to permit its inspectors to investigate the ongoing outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness. 

Over the course of the last month, hundreds of passengers have become sick on the Mercury over the course of its last three sailings. 

Cruise Ship Norovirus - CDC - Centrers for Disease ControlAccording to CNN, members of the CDC's Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) boarded the cruise ship looking for causes of the latest wave of illness.

Although the CDC determined that norovirus was the cause of the outbreaks for the first two sailings, the CDC could not determine the type of pathogen for the latest outbreak on the Mercury.

A no-sail advisory is an extreme step.  Its like a city inspector shutting down a dirty restaurant for code violations which pose a health hazard to the city residents. 

The Mercury has been a sailing nightmare for the past month.  First, a half dozen crew members were sickened in what the cruise line thought was carbon monoxide poisoning -  Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Reported Aboard Celebrity's Mercury Cruise Ship - when the cruise ship returned to port in Baltimore.  After the ship was re-positioned to South Carolina, all cruises have been plagued by what many call "cruise ship sickness."

The Mercury is an old ship and Royal Caribbean / Celebrity will be selling it later this year. 

For a chronology of the diseased ship, read our blogs over the past month regarding the Mercury.

March 16, 2010 Update:

USA Today reports: "Celebrity to Offer Full Refunds to Passengers on Delayed Mercury Cruise"

Credits:

Cruise Cleaners              Telegraph.co.uk  "Cruises: Norovirus Questions & Answers

 

Celebrity's Mercury Hit By "Cruise Ship Sickness" Again

Celebrity Cruises' disastrous string of "diarrhea-cruises" out of South Carolina continues with the cruise line's decision to return the Mercury to port in Charleston a day early.

USA Today's Cruise Log reports that sickness has marred three straight voyages in "Celebrity to End Cruise Out of Charleston Early as Outbreak Continues."  Royal Caribbean indicates that 342 of the 1,829 passengers on the cruise ship became ill since the cruise began.  The article mentions that the cruise ship will skip its scheduled stop in Tortola British Virgin Islands and head straight back to the U.S.  The cruise ship will arrive in Charleston on Thursday.

Celebrity Mercury Cruise - Sick Ship?This is now the third cruise on the Mercury where passengers have become sickened with a gastrointestinal sickness.  

The USA Today article reads not unlike the typical cruise line press release - mentioning that norovirus is the most common cause of stomach illness in the U.S. and breaks out regularly in schools, nursing homes, and hospitals.  But the article does not inquire into the specific cause of this outbreak, nor question why three straight cruises have sickened passengers.

The report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on the Mercury's last cruise does not even contain a conclusion regarding the "causative agent" for the sickness and is a week out of date.  If the CDC can't pinpoint the type of virus or pathogen from last week's cruise - why does anyone think that another round of "top-to-bottom" cleaning will make a difference?  

As we have reported in prior blogs,  the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concludes that whereas "person to person" transmission of norovirus has been documented, "norwalk gastroenteritis is transmitted by the fecal-oral route via contaminated water and foods."  The FDA reports that "water is the most common source of outbreaks and may include water from municipal supplies, well, recreational lakes, swimming pools, and water stored aboard cruise ships."

What are the test results of the cruise ship's water supplies?  The Mercury is one of Celebrity's oldest cruise ships, and is scheduled to leave the Royal Caribbean - Celebrity fleet later this year. Is there something wrong with this ship?  Is this a sick ship?

 

For prior articles:

Stomach Bug Hits Celebrity's Mercury Cruise Ship Again

Will the Celebrity Mercury Infect Another Round of Passengers?

Celebrity Cruises Postpones Cruise From Charleston After Massive Norovirus Outbreak On Mercury Cruise Ship

Can Sick Cruise Ships Cause Norovirus Outbreaks in Ports?

Additional Passengers Sickened on Mercury Cruise Ship

Celebrity Cruises' Mercury Returns to Port with 182 Sick Passengers - Sailing Postponed

"Cruise Ship Sickness" - Is Norovirus In The Food and Water?

 

Here is a statement from Celebrity Cruises / Royal Caribbean issued today:

During Celebrity Mercury’s current sailing, a number of guests onboard experienced a gastrointestinal illness, thought to be a norovirus.  Over the course of the sailing, crew onboard has been conducting enhanced cleaning, to help prevent the spread of the illness. 

While there was a decline in the spread of the illness during the sailing, in an abundance of caution, and in order to prevent additional guests and crew from becoming ill, we have decided to bypass Celebrity Mercury’s port of call today to Tortola, British Virgin Islands, and return to Charleston a day earlier than originally scheduled.  Celebrity Mercury will now arrive in Charleston early Thursday morning.  The enhanced cleaning of the ship, all of which is being done in close coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will continue until the ship arrives in Charleston.

“I would like to apologize for the inconvenience this modified itinerary will cause our guests currently on Celebrity Mercury,” said Daniel Hanrahan, president and chief executive officer of Celebrity Cruises.  “I have made this decision to delay the sailing because we want to maintain our high health standards onboard our ships, while providing our guests with the best cruise experience possible.  The extra time we are taking to sanitize the ship will help prevent any additional guests from becoming ill.”

March 15, 2010 Update:

Centers for Disease Control: "Shut Mercury Cruise Ship Down!"

Celebrity Cruises' Mercury Returns to Port with 182 Sick Passengers - Sailing Postponed

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship has returned to Charleston, South Carolina with 182 ill passengers. 

According to its web page "Investigation Update on the Mercury,"  t'he CDC reports 182 of 1749 passengers (10.41%) are ill with diarrhea and vomiting, and 14 of the 850 crew (1.65%) are sick.

With the sick passengers disembarking, another 1,800 passengers are boarding.  (I wonder whether the cruise ine discloses to the new passengers which cabins had sick passengers in them?) 

Cruise Ship Norovirus

The Mercury has experienced more than its fair share of problems in the last month.  There was a report of carbon monoxide poisoning on February 13th when the cruise ship returned to Baltimore.  After the ship re-positioned to Charleston, its inaugural cruise from that port resulted in over 400 passengers coming down with the dreaded norovirus

The ship was delayed a day until February 26th for what the cruise line calls "enhanced cleaning," and we questioned "Will the Celebrity Mercury Infect Another Round of Passengers?"

Now close to 200 people another passengers and crew have fallen ill.   

The most troubling information is that the CDC reports that the "causative factor" (i.e., whats causing the sickness) is "unknown." 

Norovirus can be caused by sick passengers coming aboard, or sick crewmembers greeting the passengers or, more concerning, infected food and/or water supplies.  The cruise supporters always blame the passengers for not washing their hands - which may be the case.  But the issue whether there is a problem with the cruise ship cannot be excluded.  Many people refer to Cruise Ship Sickness - Norovirus - Ill Passengers - Sick Crew norovirus as the "cruise ship sickness."

If the potable water or food have norovirus particles, all of the external cleaning in the world is not going to make a difference.  It only takes a few fecal particles in the food, drinking water or shower.

USA Today reports that the Mercury's departure today is delayed for another round of "enhanced cleaning."  

But without determining the "causative factor" and determining whether the passengers, the crewmembers, or the food and water supplies are spreading the virus - it seems like the cruise line is shooting into the dark.

Stay tuned. 

 

Health Tips: @OrlandoChris has some helpful precautions to help prevent the spread of the infection.

 

Credits:

Cruise desserts     nbnpress.com

 

Additional Passengers Sickened on Mercury Cruise Ship

Celebrity Cruises is again reporting that at least 55 passengers have fallen ill on its Mercury cruise ship with norovirus-like symptoms. 

In a prior article we questioned: Will the Celebrity Mercury Infect Another Round of Passengers?

Here We Go Again

A local news source in South Carolina, the Palmetto Scoop, reports on the latest cruise Cruise Ship Norovirus - Sick Passengersship sickness in an article entitled "Sickness Again Plagues Charleston Cruise Ship:" 

The crew of the Celebrity Cruises “Mercury” ship, which docks in Charleston, thought they had thoroughly sanitized the vessel after nearly one-quarter of the 1,800 travelers came down with a norovirus-like illness on their last voyage. 

Turns out they didn’t do a very good job.

The Mercury ship set sail from Charleston on Saturday and within days, dozens of passengers became sick.  As of Friday, 55 of the 1,880 travelers had fallen ill with the norovirus stomach bug.

Norovirus is a disease common to cruise ships because it is highly contagious and affects confined communities. The unpleasant disease usually runs its course after a day or two and spreads through food, water, or person-to-person contact.

Celebrity Cruises has based the Mercury in Charleston, South Carolina where officials have reported twice as many cases of norovirus as normal this winter. The Associated Press reports that the virus may have come aboard the cruise ship by passengers, crewmembers or infected supplies.

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrity Cruises is owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises whose cruise ships have experienced a large number of norovirus cases this season. 

Other Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships Experiencing Widespread Illness

The Huffington Post reports that at least 310 passengers were sickened aboard Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas. A spokeswoman for the Brazil's National Agency for Sanitary Vigilance stated that the sickness was caused by "some kind of food poisoning aboard"  the cruise ship.  Earlier this week, Brazil ordered all 1,987 passengers and 765 crew members to remain on the ship anchored near Rio de Janeiro.  The passengers were just recently permitted to leave the ship. 

Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises' Millennium cruise ships have also reported of a large number of ill cruise passengers. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 102 passengers and 14 crewmembers suffered gastrointestinal illness on the Jewel of the Seas, and 157 passengers and 23 crewmembers became ill on the Millennium

You can track cruise norovirus cases via the CDC has a web page which tracks "Outbreak Updates for International Cruise Ships," although not all cruise illnesses are required to be reported to the CDC.  For example, the recent outbreak of illness on the Vision of the Seas was not reported to the CDC. 

For other information about norovirus on cruise ships, consider reading Cruise Ship Norovirus - Clean the Damn Toilets!

 

Video:          WCSC (AP)

Can Sick Cruise Ships Cause Norovirus Outbreaks in Ports?

A headline in the NoroBlog intrigued me - "Cruise Ships Causing Norovirus Outbreaks in Ports?" - indicating that norovirus is "often associated with cruise ship sickness."  The article also raises the question whether cruise ships can infect the local port communities. 

The cruise industry's PR people have been fighting the connection between norovirus and "cruise ship sickness" for many years.

Sick Cruise Passengers - Norovirus - Sick Cruise Ships Last week the cruise industry's trade organization, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), wrote a letter to the Daytona Beach News Journal complaining that a writer made a connection between the virus and cruise ships and concluded that this is an illness that happens "often" on cruise ships.

CLIA's letter to the editor stated: "the overwhelming majority of norovirus outbreaks take place at land-based locations, such as schools, day care centers, hospitals and nursing homes."  The one comment to the letter, from a passenger on the norovirus infected Queen Victoria cruise ships, dismissed the letter as "more cover-up from the cruise spokes people."

CLIA has made the "its-a-lot-worse-ashore" argument before.  But arguing that it has a better record than day care centers and nursing homes seems counter-productive to the cruise line's image.  Of course day care centers with a million kids who have not mastered the art of going to the toilet and washing their hands and then wipe their runny noses all over the toys are going to be a hotbed of viruses.  And anyone entering a nursing home filled with incontinent geriatrics can instantly smell feces entering the facility.

The Food Poison Journal (affiliated with the Noroblog) reports that "outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness, and norovirus in particular, are not new to the cruise industry.  In fact, the phenomenon prompted the CDC to create and oversee a "vessel sanitation program (VSP)." 

Arguing against the label "cruise ship sickness" is a waste of time.  The real debate should be whether sick cruise ships pose a health hazard to the local port communities.

In the past six weeks, the United States considered blocking the arrival of the Queen Victoria because of a norovirus outbreak - U.S. to Block Arrival of Queen Victoria After Norovirus Outbreak?  - and a week earlier the U.K. considered impounding the Balmoral cruise ship because of a similar outbreak -  "Cursed Cruise Ship" Balmoral At Risk of Being Impounded As Hundreds More Suffer Vomiting Bug.

Norovirus - Sick Cruise Ships The South Carolina Post and Courier ran an interesting article "Norovirus Confirmed Aboard Mercury" which reported on the concern that the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship - with over 400 norovirus infected passengers - could infect people living in Charleston.  

The newspaper reports that Katie Zimmerman, a project manager with the Coastal Conservation League, received frantic calls and e-mails from residents concerned not only about infected passengers entering the city but also about trash from the ship entering local waters.

Cruise ships like the Mercury can dump completely untreated sewage 12 miles offshore.  Although the article concludes that waste from the Mercury poses no risk to marine life or people who eat local seafood, there is a risk of contaminated water infecting shellfish which filter-feed. 

In this day and age, it is barbaric to think that hundreds of CLIA cruise ships routinely dump human waste into the sea.  Cruise lines dump waste because they register their cruise ships outside of U.S. jurisdiction in places like Liberia and Panama which don't care what the cruise lines do. 

The thought of a cruise ship like the Mercury dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of norovirus infected feces just 12 miles offshore South Carolina is particularly disgusting. 

Even the worst run child care facilities and nursing homes don't do that.

 

Credits:      

Sick cruise passenger           Bill Mahler's Food Poison Blog

Cruise Cleaners              Telegraph.co.uk  "Cruises: Norovirus Questions & Answers

Celebrity Cruises Postpones Cruise From Charleston After Massive Norovirus Outbreak On Mercury Cruise Ship

The departure of Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship, scheduled for today, has been delayed so that the cruise line can make a last ditch effort to try and kill the norovirus which sickened over 20% of the passengers and crew during its last cruise. 

Celebrity is offering vouchers to accommodate the passengers or staying overnight in Charleston.

Celebrity Cruises - Norovirus - Mercury Cruise Ship - Sick Ship?The ship is now scheduled to depart on Saturday at 5 PM.

A large number of newspapers and blogs are covering the plight of the sick cruise ship.  The highly respected Food Poison Blog by super-lawyer Bill Mahler covers the problem in an article "Over 400 Sickened with Norovirus on Cruise."  NPR (my favorite) has even gotten involved with a story entitled "Stomach Flu Hits Caribbean Cruise Ship."

Celebrity Cruises president Daniel Hanrahan issued a statement: "I would like to apologize for the inconvenience this delay will cause our guests on Celebrity Mercury's next sailing . . . the extra time we are taking to sanitize the ship will help prevent any illness from affecting the next cruise."

Let's hope so.

 

February 27, 2010 Update:

Passengers who live more than a 2 hour drive from Charleston arte staying in area hotels paid by the cruise line, and credited $50 for expenses incurred.  According to the Post and Courier, the cruise's itinerary was shortened by a day, with a call in Key West canceled. Passengers who sail today will be given on-board credit for two-days worth of their fare and a 25 percent discount on future Celebrity cruise bookings

 

Read other Cruise Law News articles regarding the sick Mercury cruise ship.

 

Interested in other cruise - norovirus articles?  consider reading:

Cruise Ship Norovirus - Clean the Damn Toilets! 

Cruise Ship Bathrooms, Norovirus and Medical Care

"Cursed Cruise Ship" Balmoral At Risk of Being Impounded As Hundreds More Suffer Vomiting Bug

U.S. to Block Arrival of Queen Victoria After Norovirus Outbreak?

 

 

Credits:

Mercury cruise ship and passengers             AP (Mic Smith) via Washington Post 

Will the Celebrity Mercury Infect Another Round of Passengers?

Around 450 passengers and crew are sick with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea aboard Celebrity's Mercury as the ill cruise ship completes its inaugural cruise to the Caribbean from the port of Charleston, South Carolina.  The cause of the illness is unknown.  The cruise ship will sail again from Charleston tomorrow, and many new passengers don't want to set foot on the ship.

This is not what the city of Charleston or the thousands of passengers who paid for a relaxing cruise to the Caribbean bargained for.  

The media is focusing on this nauseating story. The Baltimore Sun has an article "More Than 400 Sick Aboard Celebrity Mercury Cruise Ship" (the comments are brutal).  The Consumerist's headline says it all: "Caribbean Cruise Ship Turns Into Diarrhea Nightmare Vessel." 

Cruise Ship Sickness - Norovirus - Pepto Bismol?In ABC News' story "400-Plus Passengers Get Sick on Cruise," the cruise line's PR spokesperson, Cynthia Martinez, says that the ship doctors are giving passengers anti-nausea and diarrhea medication such as Pepto-Bismol . . . "   

Pepto-Bismol?  

The cruise line is in overdrive trying to clean the cruise ship. The web site of a local news station in Charleston carries the story "Mercury Crews Scramble to Clean Cruise Ship."  The ship's crewmembers are "conducting some 'enhanced cleaning,' according to Ms. Martinez. 

"Enhanced cleaning?"  What the heck does that mean?  And what exactly are they cleaning?

The cruise line has not even established the type of pathogen or virus involved and its source.  Large scale sickness like this on a cruise ship can come from numerous sources - such as a contaminated water supply, improperly prepared food, or norovirus in bathrooms. The Norovirus Blog reports that cruise ship norovirus outbreaks are linked to the ship's bathrooms, and we addressed this issue last year in our blog "Cruise Ship Norovirus - Clean the Damn Toilets!"

But so far, there is no indication that norovirus in the ship's bathrooms is the culprit.  If the ship's water supply is contaminated, all of the external cleaning in the world is not going to eradicate the problem.

And at this point, it does not look like the cruise line knows, or at least it is not disclosing the source of the problem to the public or the next 1,800 passengers who are boarding the cruise ship tomorrow.  Instead, the cruise line is implying that its the passengers who are the problem because they are not washing their hands, rather than the ship which is infecting the passengers.    

This week our office has received a number of inquiries from passengers who are frightened to sail on the Mercury tomorrow.  They wonder whether they can cancel their cruise and get their money back.  Unfortunately, the cruise line's lawyers have spent years crafting terms and Celebrity Cruises - Mercury - Sickness - Illnessconditions in the passenger tickets which protect the cruise line, not the consumer.  And if the passenger has travel insurance, the insurance company probably won't pay if the passengers cancel because they are not sick (yet) and the cruise ship will sail again tomorrow, come-hell-or-high-water.    

The cruise line is promising to give sick passengers a voucher "based on the number of days a guest is isolated divided by the total of cruise fare paid."  Huh?  These nice people are sitting on a crapper in their cabins, vomiting into a waste can on their lap.  All they get is a voucher for partial payment for another cruise?  That's a crappy deal, excuse the pun.

What a predicament for these folks.  Tomorrow, the cruise line will unload the 1,800 passengers from the Mercury and load another 1,8000 back on.  And the Mercury will set sail again, this time for a 10 day cruise to Mexico, Belize, the Bahamas, and Key West. 

We wish the passengers luck.

And don't forget to take a large bottle of Pepto-Bismol with you . . .

 

February 25, 2010 Update:

The Washington Post reports that the CDC is confirming the presence of norovirus on the cruise shp.  

Our prior article on the Mercury's history of shipboard illnesses: Stomach Bug Hits Celebrity's Mercury Cruise Ship Again

February 26, 2010 Update:

Celebrity Cruises Postpones Cruise From Charleston After Massive Norovirus Outbreak On Mercury Cruise Ship

March 4, 2010 Update:

The Baltimore Sun reports that "about 55 guests have been treated for gastro-like symptoms" on the Mercury cruise ship.

 

Credits:

Pepto Bismol     Shakespeare's Monkey (fark.com)

Itinerary                Celebrity Cruises  

Stomach Bug Hits Celebrity's Mercury Cruise Ship Again

Sick passengers - Celebrity Mercury Cruise Ship The Associated Press reports that hundreds of passengers have fallen ill with a stomach ailment aboard the cruise ship Mercury, operated by Celebrity Cruises, which is sailing in the Caribbean.

Over 300 of the 1,800 passengers are experiencing upset stomachs, vomiting and diarrhea. Another 25 or so crewmembers are also ill. The Mercury left Charleston, South Carolina on February 15th and this is the first cruise from Charleston.

The PR person for Celebrity / Royal Caribbean stated that the cruise ship's medical facilities were "overwhelmed" and another doctor and nurse boarded the Mercury in St. Kitts.

The cruise line did not report what virus or pathogen was involved, but the cruise ship dropped samples off in Puerto Rico for testing. The ship is scheduled to return to Charleston on Friday.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recorded two outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness on the Celebrity Mercury last year. The CDC investigated outbreaks on the Celebrity Mercury in  January and February 2009.

The CDC has a web page which tracks "Outbreak Updates for International Cruise Ships."

Celebrity's Mercury was in the news just last week when a Hazmat team and ambulances arrived at the port in Baltimore after 6 crewmembers became ill after inhaling fumes while welding on the cruise ship. The crewmembers may have poisoned due to carbon monoxide as reported in the press, although there was no carbon monoxide detected when the cruise ship arrived in port the following day. The cruise ship then repositioned to Charleston for this cruise.

We reported on the incident - Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Reported Aboard Celebrity's Mercury Cruise Ship.  There has been no follow up stories on the cause of the illnesses or the condition of the sick crewmembers.

February 24, 2010 Update:

Will the Celebrity Mercury Infect Another Round of Passengers?

 

Credits:

Artwork          Maxim magazine

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Reported Aboard Celebrity's Mercury Cruise Ship

Carbon Monoxide - Celebrity Cruises - Mercury Cruise ShipMultiple news sources are reporting that six crewmembers on Celebrity's Mercury cruise ship at the Port of Baltimore are being treated for exposure to carbon monoxide. 

Fire rescue officials took the the six crew members  to local hospitals. 

According to WBAL TV in Baltimore, the Baltimore fire department spokesman Chief Kevin Cartwright said crews responded to the scene at about 11:30 a.m. Saturday to treat the victims.

Cynthia Martinez, the PR spokesperson for Royal Caribbean Cruises (the parent company of Celebrity Cruises) issued a statement that crew members were performing a welding operation on board the ship inside the engine room Friday. The members began to report respiratory problems and other medical issues after they completed their work and reported to the ship's medical facility.

A local ABC station reports that "at least 5 medical units, a Hazmat team, and an EMS Commander are currently at the scene treating the victims and taking carbon monoxide readings to Mercury Cruise Ship - Celebrity Cruises - Carbon Monoxide determine the air's quality."

The cruise line PR spokesperson also said: "Out of an abundance of caution, the ship staff contacted city fire and rescue, which responded Saturday to treat the 6 crew members and transport them to hospitals."   Ms. Martinez claims that all six crew members were walking when they entered the ambulances to go to the hospitals. 

The TV station in Baltimore also reports that a Hazmat crew is trying to determine where the leak was coming from.

Update February 14, 2010:

One of the writers at the online cruise community CruiseMates.com brought the following article to my attention: "6 Workers Sickened On Cruise Ship In Baltimore" written by the AP and published on the web site of a local CBS affiliate WJZ in Baltimore. The article contained the photo below.  It has  a little more detail and indicates that the Hazmat team did not find carbon monoxide on the ship: 

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning - Mercury Cruise Ship - Celebrity Cruises"Baltimore City Fire and hazmat officials went on the ship and tested for CO and found nothing."

This does not appear particularly surprising, because the testing was done 12 to 18 hours after the suspected exposure.

Cynthia Martinez, the PR spokesperson for the cruise line, is attributed saying that the Mercury cruise ship can hold a couple thousand passengers.  The cruise ship was heading to Baltimore at the time of the incident. She indicated that the six ill six workers had been working in the engine room, welding pipes with welding gear Friday night at the time of the suspected exposure.

There have been no reports by the hospitals or the cruise line regarding the current medical condition of the ill crewmembers.  

The Mercury was cleared to sail to South Carolina and has no passengers are on it until they board in Charlston. 

 

 

Credit:

Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship        Baltimore Sun

Hazmat photograph               AP  / CBS Baltimore affiliate WJZ 

Passenger Reported Overboard from Celebrity's Solstice Cruise Ship

Professor Ross Klein's CruiseJunkie website reports a passenger is missing from the Solstice cruise ship, operated by Celebrity Cruises.  Another passenger notified the CruiseJunkie website Missing Cruise Passengerthat a passenger may have jumped from the cruise ship on November 6th:

I'm a passenger on Celebrity Solstice between Santorini and Naples. At 9PM local time tonight, a female passenger jumped purposefully from Deck 14. She has been identified by the crew but the name not released. The coast guard are conducting a search but she has not been found as yet.

No other information is available from newspapers or on line media sources at this time.

Assuming this information is accurate, this is the 125th passenger who has gone overboard from a cruise ship or ferry since 2000, based on Dr. Klein's data.

November 8, 2009 - 9:30 a.m. Update:

The passenger remains missing.  Professor Ross Klein's website CruiseJunkie received the following message from another passenger aboard the Solstice:

Solstice searched in the darkness with spotlights for 10 hours assisted by at least one more cruise ship as well as at least one coast guard boat and an aircraft. Flares were deployed too, but to no avail.  She ws not found.  We continued on to Naples and will arrive about an hour late.

We have reported on other passenger overboards in prior articles.  Although the Celebrity Solstice does not have a webcam for public viewing, technology exists for passenger overboards to trigger an alarm to the bridge to alert the cruise ship's officers that a passenger has gone overboard.  This system would capture the video and permit immediate notification of the emergency. Tracking devices would drop into the water so that the exact location of the passenger overboard could be determined. 

Whether Celebrity Cruises utilizes this technology is not known. 

November 8, 2009 - 9:30 a.m. Update:

Celebrity Cruises issued the following PR statement:

On November 6, at approximately 9 pm local/Greece time, three hours after departing Santorini, Greece, a guest onboard Celebrity Solstice reported seeing a person jump overboard from one of the ship's uppermost decks. The ship's Captain immediately turned the ship around, marked the position on the ship’s Global Positioning System (GPS), notified other ships in the area, and alerted Greek authorities, as well as the FBI. The Greek Coast Guard immediately assisted with air and sea searches. Shipboard closed-circuit camera footage captured the guest going overboard and has  been made available to authorities.

Public announcements were made onboard immediately following the report, and a complete search of the ship was completed in efforts to identify the individual who went overboard. The identity of the missing guest was confirmed, and the family was notified. Celebrity’s Guest Care Team is providing support to the family, and Celebrity Cruises is cooperating fully with government officials.

The Greek Navy and Coast Guard assisted Celebrity Solstice with air and sea searches until 3:45 am Greece time, when the authorities released Celebrity Solstice from the search. Most unfortunately, the missing guest has not yet been found. The Navy and Coast Guard are continuing the air and sea search.

Celebrity Solstice is on a 10-night Eastern Mediterranean itinerary that departed Civitavecchia, Italy, October 30, and returns to Civitavecchia November 9.

 

Credits

Overboard drawing               CruelKev2's blog regarding overboard cruise passengers