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

WPTV Cruise Ship CrimeWPTV West Palm Beach aired an interesting program last night indicating that the cruise industry reports only a small percentage of crimes committed on cruise ships.

Last year the cruise lines reported only 78 crimes on cruise ships.  However, pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the news station located reports of more than 300 crimes on just cruise ships leaving from Florida ports. 

In 2013, the cruise lines disclosed only 14 thefts from cruise ships. However, WPTV's Dan Krauth stated that a FOIA request uncovered 75 thefts on cruise ship on Florida-based cruise ships alone. Under current U.S. law, cruise lines have to report only thefts involving property worth $10,000 or more. So if $9,999 of a passenger's stuff is stolen, the cruise lines keep it secret.

Jewelry, computers, money and other valuables were stolen essentially on every single cruise leaving Florida last year but only a tiny fraction of the thefts were reported by the cruise lines to the police. 

The cruise industry conceals the vast majority of physical assaults, sexual assaults and thefts which happen during cruising. It also touts crime statistics based on the incomplete database, creating a false and misleading impression of what really happens on the high seas. 

 

 

WPTV interviewed me during the program. The news station also cited a publication by our firm's former law clerk, Caitlin Burke, explaining that cruise ships evade U.S. law by incorporating in foreign countries and registering their cruise ships in places like the Bahamas. “Flags of convenience” date all the way back to the 1920s, according to Caitlin E. Burke, an advocate for cruise victims. “Flagging a ship under a foreign flag for the convenience of the cruise line is nothing new, nor is it rare,” Burke wrote in A Qualitative Study of Victimization and Legal Issues Relevant to Cruise Ships.

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

Credit: video and photograph WPTV

Cruise Censorship: Does Cruise Critic Delete Discussions Embarrassing to Cruise Lines?

Yesterday several passengers from the Holland America Line Veendam contacted us because they were upset that a passenger went overboard during a cruise to the Mexican Riviera. They returned from the cruise knowing that someone had died at the end of the cruise as the ship sailed back to SanDiego, but they did not know why the passenger went overboard, or whether it was a murder or a suicide. Some passengers thought that a child went overboard. They were very concerned.

Without exception, these passengers told us that there was no information available from the cruise line or anywhere on the internet about the overboard.  Its was like there was a blackout imposed.

These individuals  seemed genuinely concerned about the passenger who died. These were not "rubberneckers" wanting to take part in some type of morbid gossip. They had seen bits and pieces of Cruise Critic Monkeysa sad spectacle during what was otherwise a pleasurable cruise.  They were worried when they went home. They wanted basic information about what happened around them and, in many ways, what happened to them to the extent that they and their children had witnessed an unsettling tragedy.  

Some of the people who contacted us said that there were initially some comments posted on the message boards at Cruise Critic.  But, according to the people contacting us, these comments were quickly deleted by Cruise Critic.

I have heard of these type of criticisms of Cruise Critic before. Message boards which contain information of potential embarrassment to the cruise lines are often pulled from the cruise-friendly Cruise Critic.    

So I went online to see if anyone was reporting on the HAL overboard other than this blog. 

What I found was interesting, 

There were several links indicating that there were a number of people who left comments on the Cruise Critic message boards. But when I clicked on the links, all of the links were disabled. First, there was the link on Google "Veendam-New Years cruise sad ending reported by a passenger ..." There was the link "We had a strange last sea day, with a report of somebody falling past a window, a man-overboard signal, dropping a smoke flare and life ring, ..." And there was the link "Person overboard on the Veendam New Years cruise??"

But clicking on all of these links led to an error message: "Invalid thread specified. If you followed a valid link, please notify the administrator."

The index to the threads under Holland America Line also contained no messages about the overboard. It had also apparently been scrubbed clean.

In my view, the Expedia-owned Cruise Critic is still the same online community of cruise fans who were exposed several years ago for being paid cruise line cheerleaders and shilling for Royal Caribbean on cruise reviews and message boards.

The cruise industry has suffered through lots of bad press in the past couple of years. Travel writers, most cruise bloggers, and other friends of the industry have leaned over backwards to give the cruise lines a break. But censoring cruise passengers who make legitimate inquiries on a message board relating to the cruise lines is a disservice to the cruising public. It perpetuates the lack of transparency which is part of the the cruise lines' problem in the first place.

One of the passengers on the Veendam left us the following comment to our article:

"Thank you for the post, Jim. As a passenger that witnessed part of the discovery I do feel entitled to an explanation. While the crew seemed to handle this professionally, this was indeed a disturbing event. An explanation did not have to include the details, but may have at least provided some closure for at least those humans who were traumatized by "the incident" (to which it was referred by the captain). To carry on like nothing happened--on ship and in the media--was and continues to be even more disturbing."

P&O Ferries Refuses to Install CCTV or Man Overboard Systems after Passenger Disappears

The parents of a 30 year-old passenger who disappeared from a ferry sailing between Calais and Dover are petitioning for legislation requiring ships to install closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras.

Richard Fearnside, son of Marianne and Bob Fearnside, of Whitstable, Kent (U.K.), disappeared from the Pride of Kent ferry last May. He was last seen going to an exterior deck to smoke a cigarette. An alarm was not raised until the ship docked at Dover at the end of the cruise when his girlfriend could not locate him.

Richard Fearnside - Missing - Pride of KentThe delayed search and rescue efforts, conducted by ships and helicopters, were unsuccessful.

Richard's mother was quoted in a local newspaper stating "we don't know whether Richard slipped, fell, jumped or was pushed - we have no idea what happened to our son. He just vanished."

The ferry company, P&O Ferries, has been indifferent to the family's plight.

Mr. and Ms. Fearnside corresponded with P&O Ferries asking it to install cameras on passenger decks, but the ferry line rebuffed them. 

P&O Ferries crisis management spokesman Chris Laming wrote back to the Fearnsides claiming that it would be impossible for the ferry company to:

  • "Cover all of the open spaces with CCTV, 
  • Monitor such cameras 24 hours a day, or
  • Make and retain such recordings in perpetuity."

As anyone with a minimum understanding of the affordable technology readily available to the maritime community knows, these statements made on P&O Ferries behalf are patently false and misleading. It is easy to position CCTV cameras to cover all of the public areas, especially in small ferry boats like this. Reputable operators retain the electronic data for 30 days and automatic sensors do not require the cameras to be manned 24 hours. 

We have attended over a half-dozen U.S. Congressional hearings about cruise ship safety. There has been extensive debate about the need for CCTV cameras covering the public areas of cruise ships and automatic man-overboard systems to alert the bridge that a person has gone overboard from the ship. 

Automatic man-overboard systems exist and are easily installed. It is preposterous to suggest that it is not possible to cover all of the public spaces with CCTV cameras and man-overboard technology. Small ferries have limited open decks and no private balconies (see photo below). Watch this recent video which includes a former Coast Guard engineer who designed such systems.

Norwegian Cruise Line, for examples, has installed literally over a 1,000 cameras on its newest cruise ships. It can track every single inch of its cruise ships.

The only reason that a cruise line or ferry operator would refuse to install such systems is that they do not want to spend the money. They prefer profits over safety. Ironically, companies like P&O Ferries install cameras in their liquor and duty free shops to deter theft (cruise lines always install cameras in casinos to protect their money); however, they will take no steps to use cameras in other public spaces to deter sexual assaults and violence against passengers.

Protecting booze bottles and casino chips seems more important than protecting people on the high seas.

The result of such irresponsibility and greed is delayed rescue attempts of passengers and crew members who go overboard. Just like in Mr. Fearnside's case, the Coast Guard is typically called in late.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer's money is spent to search unnecessarily wide areas of the sea looking for the overboard person. It's like searching for a needle in the haystack.

Maritime operators like P&O Ferries would prefer taxpayers foot the bill rather than spending its own money on CCTV cameras and automatic overboard systems to protect its passengers and crew in the first place.

Cruise Expert Professor Ross Klein has documented 208 persons overboard from cruise ships and ferries since 2000.

The Fearnsides are doing something about this problem. They have started a campaign to require these irresponsible cruise and ferry operators to install CCTV cameras. BBC recently discussed the family's efforts to protect the public. Click on the link here and consider signing the petition.  

Also, please join our discussion on our Facebook page.  Please share the information with your friends and ask them to support the petition.

February 29 2013 Update: Think that cases of overboard passengers from ferries are rare? Hardly. read: P&O Ferries Plagued By Overboard Passengers & No Safety Systems

Photo credit (bottom): Wikipedia / Fabian318

"No Further Information is Available"

Miami Port - Cruise ShipThis weekend, KHOU news station reports from Galveston, Texas that the Carnival Triumph returned to port Saturday afternoon "after a passenger had a medical emergency."

KHOE didn't explain the medical emergency but reported that the U.S. Coast Guard said the medical emergency was not life-threatening, "so they did not fly out to the cruise ship." The cruise ship then told the Coast Guard that it would be "just easier for the ship to return to port and drop the passenger off."

That's the end of the reported story.

If that's not sufficiently uninformative, here's another one from Canada's Herald News: the police are investigating a "sudden death" aboard Holland America Line's Eurodam after a woman was found dead. 

The police in Canada said that the death of the 59-year-old passenger “is not considered suspicious at this time.” 

The newspaper also reports that medical examiner’s officer was called to the scene and "no further information is available."

Are you satisfied with this type of "news?"

Do you believe that the details of stories like this are any of your business? 

Do you think that the cruise lines and official authorities will tell you all you are entitled to know?

 

 Photo Credit: AP Photo / Andy Newman

Miami Herald Editorial: "Report, Punish Crime on Cruises"

The following is an editorial / opinion piece by the Miami Herald which was published tonight:

"Crime on the high seas isn’t just about illegal commercial fishing practices, drug-running and Somalian pirates. Unfortunately, it also comes in the form of sexual assault, theft and suspicious disappearances on what are supposed to be pleasure cruises.

Under pressure from Congress, specifically, a consumer-safety bill introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, of West Virginia, the three largest cruise lines, Miami-based Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, agreed to release the data of alleged crimes reported on their ships. Combined, they make up 85 percent of the industry. The crime stats will allow potential passengers to make better-informed decisions, just as the flying public can access information on airline safety and car buyers can find out which are the most road-worthy.

The crime data’s release should also propel cruise lines to take the problem as seriously as their CEOs say they do. In South Florida, cruises are a bread-and-butter industry, boosting the economy and luring tourists back again and again.

Given the multitude of cruises that depart annually, there isn’t anything akin to a crime wave on cruise ships. However, Sen. Rockefeller is right to be perturbed by how many cruise lines handle — or fail to handle — crime reported on board. Cruise-industry leaders announced their crime-data release agreement last week during a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation.

It’s been a rough 18 months for the cruise industry. The public has heard unsettling news of cruise ship fires, read published messages sent from frightened and beleaguered passengers adrift in the dark and, most disturbing, seen dramatic photographs of the Costa Concordia, beached off the Italian coast, lying on its side, swamped with water, 32 passengers dead. Because of the public nature of these incidents, cruise-line leaders were equally as public in taking responsibility for what went wrong.

Less so, however, when it comes to crime aboard cruises to exotic locales. Legislation in the U.S. House and Senate would require the information be made available to the public. Before, only crimes that no longer were being investigated by the FBI were made public. As a result, potential passengers only had misleading information to go on. A report showed that 130 alleged crimes in categories specified by the cruise safety act had been reported to the FBI in 2011 and 2012, but only 31 of those had been reported to the public during that time. Cruise lines reported a total of 959 alleged crimes overall to the FBI, the document says.

There’s another serious problem that lawmakers should address: Some cruise lines egregiously help crew members accused of sexual assault and other crimes elude prosecution. Unfortunately, it’s an old story being given new life in an awful case reported by WKMG-Channel 6 in Orlando. A crew member on a Disney cruise was caught on video molesting an 11-year-old girl while the ship still was in port. Ship authorities waited a full day before reporting the crime to the FBI. By that time the ship was on its way to the Bahamas, where the alleged perpetrator was allowed to disembark, out of the reach of U.S. law enforcement. Disney then did the guy a further favor and flew him home to India.

According to the website cruiselawnews.com, “Disney was able to avoid the U.S. investigation into the incident while making certain that any investigation was handled only by the Bahamas which, theoretically can investigate shipboard crimes because Disney cruise ships fly Bahamian flags of convenience.” But the Bahamas has a lousy record of investigating such crimes.

Lawmakers must pressure guilty cruise lines to confront and end this deplorable practice. Merely reporting the number of onboard crimes brings little comfort if perpetrators are not brought to justice." 

Disney Cruise Line Sexual PredatorRead other articles regarding this problem with Disney Cruise Line:

"Sickened" By Molestation of Child on Disney Dream, Brevard County Attorney General Vows to Zealously Prosecute Cruise Ship Crimes

Images of a Disney Nightmare: Are Your Kids Safe Sailing With Disney?

Did Disney Cruise Line Really Sail a Crime Scene from the U.S. to Nassau? International Press Focuses on Disney Child Molestation Case
 

Silver Shadow Sanitation Scandal: Silversea Cruises Finally Speaks, But is It the Truth?

The cover up is always worse than the crime, the saying goes.

When we first contacted SilverSea Cruises earlier this month, we asked the cruise line for an explanation regarding the Silver Shadow's failed CDC sanitation inspection. This was before the CDC report was issued and before the CNN story aired. We specifically asked for a comment about the tactic of hiding food and pot & pans in the crew quarters, which we learned from a number of different Silversea crew members.

We received no response, of course, just like crew members who had directly notified senior Silversea management ashore of the unsanitary ship practices long before contacting the CDC in frustration.    

Silversea's first public response was rather tepid, indicating only that that the cruise line was Silver Shadow - Silver Shadow CDC"disappointed" in the failed score. But Silversea offered neither an apology nor an explanation regarding who ordered the food and galley equipment to be hidden in the cabins or what steps it took in respond to the serious violations of the USPH standards and the public's trust. 

It was not until CNN aired a special program about the mess aboard the Silver Shadow (watch video here), did Silversea finally release more detailed statements on its Facebook page about what happened.  

Are these statements truthful? Was this really just an isolated event, or part of an ongoing systemic scheme to trick the USPH inspectors?   

Let's consider a couple of Silversea's claims:

The cruise lines says:

"Silversea Cruises has fully investigated this matter and the accusations of a previous crew member."

Is the public to believe that only one single former crew made the accusation which resulted in the verification by the CDC that food and galley equipment from fifteen trolleys were hidden in several cabins shared by 10 crew members?

Before we first broke the story two weeks ago, we had communicated with several crew members who informed us that the "hide & seek' games were widespread, not only on the Silver Shadow but other Silversea cruise ships as well. Some crew members showed us emails sent to the upper management complaining abut the situation long before the CDC inspection. After the CNN took the story to an international audience, additional crew members contacted us and verified the complaints. And remember, the Silversea crew member interviewed by CNN is not one of the crew members who first contacted us or reported the disgusting circumstances to the CDC in the first place.    

The cruise line also says: 

"The unannounced inspection on June 17 occurred at the end of the breakfast period where pots, pans and utensils were on working stations and items to return to the galleys were on Shilver Shadow Cruise Ship CDCtrolleys as were stores from the fridges ready for use. It is clear that when the galley staff heard that inspectors were on board, instead of continuing their work in the understanding that they were in the middle of a meal service, they tried to quickly remove all trolleys and any items not in the fridges and place them in cabins out of the way."

This is an absolutely fantastic claim. Silversea blames the galley cooks for deciding to hide the food without any instructions from their supervisors?  We know this to be untrue based upon what both low level crew members and managers tell us.

Silversea's tactic of throwing the lowest level ship employee under the bus reveals that instead of being transparent, the cruise line chose to bamboozle the public.  Isn't this exactly what got Slversea in trouble in the first place?

One other thing to keep in mind is that the photographs which CNN aired (and which are on our Facebook page) were taken by several different Silversea crew members on various occasions in 2012 and early 2013. They are not photos of the failed inspection in June 2013.  

After the crew members sent the photos to the CDC this year, a CDC epidemiologist thanked the crew members and wrote:

"The pictures and information you provided were very accurate and reflected what was seen and experienced by the inspectors yesterday on the ship . . ."    

If photographs taken in 2012 accurately reflect what the CDC inspectors discovered 6 to 12 months later, the unsanitary practices clearly date back at least a year.

Silversea wants you to believe that just a few panicked cooks took it on themselves to push fifteen large trolleys out of the galley, through the hallways, down the elevator, and hid food under bunk beds in the bowels of the ship without any order to so so. Do you believe that this was just a secret, spontaneous, isolated event?

Other crew members obviously witnessed this circus parade of food and cutlery and pots & pans clanking on trolleys which rumbled through the hallways.  And security officers and guards could not help but to observe this Silversea Cruises Silver Shadow CDCspectacle which was captured on closed circuit television cameras throughout the ship. This was no aberration; this was business as usual.   

I just returned from Washington D.C. where I attended the eighth Congressional hearing about the cruise industry since 2005. This hearing was called for by Senator Rockefeller who has studied the industry and judged it not to be trustworthy of cruise passenger safety.  

For the first seven hearings, I watched and listened to the cruise lines executives say that crime is rare and the lines transparently report all crimes committed against passengers. But Senator Rockefeller is no fool. He issued a report at this latest hearing which revealed that only 3% of crimes on cruise ships are reported to the public. 97% of cruise ship crimes are hidden. 

Hiding food and galley items in crew member cabins may seem unbelievable to the American public, but as many crew members may tell you, it's a part of "ship life."  And lying when caught is another part of a cruise line culture which has never been broken.    

 

Photo Credit:

Top - Wikimedia / Petey21

Middle and bottom - Silversea crew members 

Did Costa Cruises Assist an Alleged Rapist Escape Justice?

The  Philippine Daily Inquirer reports on the case of a a Filipino crew member who alleges that her supervisor raped her while she was working on board the MV Costa Classica last year.

The victim worked as a security guard on the cruise ship. She alleges that she was summoned to the security office on the cruise ship where she observed two security officers drinking alcohol. The men are of Indian nationality: Joseph Chacko (Chief Security Officer) and Anoop Palatty (Assistant Security Officer).

The crew member claims that Palatty made indecent advances, but she left the office and continued with her security patrol. Later that night, she was summoned again, this time to Chacko’s cabin, where Costa Classica Cruise Shipshe went believing it was official business. She claims that the two officers were still drinking when she arrived at the cabin.

According to the crew member, Chacko then allegedly sexually abused her as soon as Palatty left the cabin. The victim alleges that she tried to resist but she was overpowered.  

She reported the incident to the ship's captain, Italian Pierre Paulo Gallastroni, who told her to make a statement. She also reported the alleged crime to the Philippine consulate in Hong Kong where she was medically and physically examined.

The newspaper article states that the two security officers disembarked in Hong Kong and escaped before the police police could begin their investigation.

This case illustrates a problem in the cruise industry we have seen over the years. When crew members commit crimes, there is a conflict of interest in having shipboard security being involved in the ship's investigation. The problem is really bad when a security guard or security officer commits a crime.  Security personnel are suppose to provide law and order on cruise ships.  But cases like this illustrate the need for laws requiring independent police officers to be present on all cruise ships.

Two weeks ago we wrote about a 34 year old waiter sexually molesting an 11 year old girl on the Disney Dream while the cruise ship was at a port in Florida. But Disney Cruise Line refused to report the crime to either the local police or the FBI and then sailed to the Bahamas where it knew that the police would not do anything. Disney flew the waiter back to India rather than return him to the U.S. where he would have been arrested and prosecuted.

A trial involving the Costa case is scheduled to begin in Genoa, Italy on June 18th. Costa has some explaining to do, like why didn't the company apprehend the security officer? Why did the cruise line permit him to leave the ship? Who paid for the two men to fly back to India?

 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia / 663highland

Police in Bahamas Defend Dropping Disney Child Molestation Case: "There is No Complaint in the Bahamas and There is No Issue"

A police officer in Nassau, Bahamas finds himself in the middle of a controversy regarding another botched investigation by the Bahamas into a Bahamian-flagged cruise ship matter.    

Nassau police superintendent Paul Rolle is quoted in an article in the Nassau Guardian about the molestation of an 11 year old girl by a 33 year old crew member aboard the Disney Dream cruise ship, saying: "As far as I am concerned there is no complaint in the Bahamas and there is no issue."

These remarkably insensitive comments by police officer Rolle in the Bahamas are an insight into how indifferent many law enforcement officials are in the flag-of-convenience countries where cruise lines register their cruise ships to avoid the scrutiny of the United States.      

Disney Dream Cruise Ship Molestation CaseJust today an article appeared in the Australian press discussing how cruise ship passengers who fall victim to serious crime may find their cases handled in countries like the Bahamas with poor human rights records. The articles states: "More than half of the world's cruise ships are registered in Panama, Liberia and the Bahamas . . . passengers could have their case heard in countries with a poor human rights records and a history of ignoring crimes against women."

In the Disney Dream case, the shipboard video clearly shows the Disney crew member stalking the child and following her into an elevator. The child promptly reported to cruise ship security that the Disney crew member grabbed her breast and kissed her. This occurred an hour and one-half before the ship's departure time. (The Nassau Guardian erroneously reports that the incident occurred on the cruise "shortly after it left Port Canaveral.")  But Disney decided not to promptly report the crime to the Port Canaveral police, choosing instead to sail out of the U.S. jurisdiction. It reported the matter the next day to the Bahamas which permitted the crew member to fly home to India.

In an article "Police Defend Action in Cruise Ship Matter," Officer Rolle says:

"The Americans already have their laws as to how they deal with matters on-board any ship that is owed by Americans or an American company. The fact is that the individuals at the time did not wish any complaint and no one has since come forward and indicated that they wanted to make a complaint."

Rolle is wrong on both counts.

Disney Cruise Line is not an "American" company. It legally operates as the "Magical Cruise Line" and incorporated itself in the U.K. and registered its cruise ships in the Bahamas to avoid U.S. taxes, labor laws and oversight. 

Regarding the victim's alleged decision not to make a complaint, the fact is that the little girl and her Disney Cruise Sexual Assault - Child Molestationgrandmother did make a complaint to the security personnel of the Bahamian-flagged cruise ship. A victim does not have to make multiple complaints on and off the ship over multiple days. The girl cooperated in answering the security officer's questions (in tears), completing forms and identifying the Disney perpetrator. The girl and her grandmother demonstrated courage by pressing criminal charges when they should have been enjoying the beginning of a cruise of a lifetime. 

If Disney had reported the crime immediately to the police in Port Canaveral or provided the child's grandmother with the local police's telephone numbers, the case would have turned out differently. As the Brevard County Attorney General said: "the decision to prosecute that serious a crime in Florida rests with a prosecutor, not a grandmother."

Plus, there are many reasons why a child and her grandmother may have decided not to make a second complaint in the Bahamas. How was the child treated after making the first complaint?  The Disney perpetrator should have been handcuffed and taken off the cruise ship and the girl should have seen a counselor. Instead, the girl was forced to sail on the ship with the perpetrator still aboard.

The reporter investigating the crime, Tony Pipitone, said that the cruise line repeatedly provided him with false information. Did Disney also lie to the child and her grandmother?  In many cases, we see the cruise lines and police officers at the next port of call intimidate the victim's family. They tell them that they will have to travel back to port of call repeatedly for criminal hearings and trial. By the time the cruise ship arrived in Nassau, the little girl and her grandmother were undoubtedly tired and traumatized. They had not been permitted to speak with U.S. law enforcement, a social worker or counselor, or their own legal representatives.  Instead they had to deal with Disney and the Bahamas which have their own agenda to keep matters like this quiet.

Rolle is sensitive to issues of tourism. He understands the effects of crime on tourism both in the Bahamas and on Bahamian-flagged cruise ships. When a U.S. crew member was shot and killed in Nassau two weeks ago, Rolle defended himself saying "We aren’t no play-play cartoon police force." He told the Nassau Guardian "Tourism is our life blood.”  

Nassau Bahamas Paul Rolle Police Superintendent Bahamas police officer Rolle is also no stranger to Disney cruise ship controversies and protecting Disney's image. When a Disney crew member, Rebecca Coriam, disappeared from the Bahamian-flagged Disney Wonder two years ago under disturbing circumstances, it was Rolle who the Bahamas tasked with flying over to Los Angeles to briefly board the cruise ship to investigate what happened.  Rolle conducted a quickie investigation which of course exonerated Disney. The international media characterized Rolle's efforts as a "farce" designed to assist Disney in covering the matter up. 

Rolle promised the Coriam family that he would release the results of his "investigation" into their daughter's disappearance. But he has persistently refused to do so. To date, the Bahamas refuses to cooperate with the Coriam family and has kept Rolle's report secret from the family. Disney and the Bahamas have erected a wall of silence when the Coriam family seek information about Rebecca.      

With the likes of tourism-sensitive Officer Rolle responsible for official cruise ship investigations, it is no wonder that Disney refused to timely report the child molestation to the U.S. police in Port Canaveral. By sailing the crime scene over to the Bahamas, media-sensitive Disney assured that its police friends in Nassau would do nothing. Disney could then fly its child-molester employee home with Rolle's blessings.  

 

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

Photo Credit:

Top: WKMG Channel 6 in Orlando

Middle: Jim Walker

Bottom: Nassau Guardian

Did Disney Cruise Line Really Sail a Crime Scene from the U.S. to Nassau? International Press Focuses on Disney Child Molestation Case

In a case likely to have long term ramifications for the image of Disney Cruise Line (Magical Cruise Company), the story of Disney-flying-a-child-molester-back-to-India which was broken by a local news station in Orlando last night has already reached a national and international audience.  

The case is essentially no different that an airline learning that one of its flight attendants, age 33, molested an eleven year old child on an airplane and then flying the crime scene, the assailant, and the victim to a foreign country where it knows that criminal prosecution is impossible. Then, to top it off, paying for the crew member to fly home to the other side of the world rather than returning him to the U.S. for prosecution.

Disney Dream Cruise Ship Sexual Crime Cover UpDisney's outrageous conduct is not lost on reporters from around the world. 

Daily Bhaskar (India) reports Caught on camera: Disney Cruise Line employee molests 11-year-old in ship elevator.

The U.K.'s Daily Mail published The Shocking Moment Disney Cruise Line Dining Room Server, 33, Molested Girl, 11, in Ship Elevator.

The International Business Times reported: Did Disney Cruise Line Let A Child Molester Go Free?

News Beat (Greece) reports Ship worker sexually harassed 11 year old girl

The New York Daily News published Disney Cruise Line Failed to Promptly Notify Police that Crew Member Molested an 11-Year-Old Girl.

The highly respected travel writer Peter Greenberg wrote: Cruise Scandal: Did Disney Cover up Employee Sexual Misconduct?

The Stir (a popular blog catering to moms) got it right in the article Disney Cruise Employee Caught on Camera Molesting 11-Year-Old But Goes Free Anyway

There are other news articles on line from China, Romania, Turkey, and Germany about the case.

Expect others in the news media to cover the disturbing story of how the family-friendly Disney Cruise Line responds to crimes against kids on its cruise ships.  

 

Read our other articles on the case:

Images of a Disney Nightmare: Are Your Kids Safe Sailing With Disney?

Did Disney Cruise Lines Cover Up Sexual Molestation of 11 Year Old Girl on Disney Dream? 

Image credit to WKMG Channel 6 in Orlando.

Images of a Disney Nightmare: Are Your Kids Safe Sailing With Disney?

Last night a local news station in Orlando Florida aired a blockbuster investigation into a crime aboard a Disney cruise ship (the Disney Dream) at Port Canaveral where a Disney waiter stalked an eleven year old girl and molested her in an elevator.

Yes, crimes occur everywhere. But the disturbing thing thing about this story is that Disney clearly knew what happened and who did it, but it took steps that resulted in its crew member avoiding prosecution. Instead of reporting the crime promptly to local law enforcement in Port Canaveral which has jurisdiction over crimes in the port, Disney left the port without reporting the crime to U.S. authorities. Disney reported the crime to the police at the next port in Nassau, Bahamas. But Disney flies the flag of the Bahamas and has a cozy relationship with that island.  

A prosecution of a Disney employee in Nassau? Never going to happen. Sure enough, Disney quickly flew the child molester back to his home country in India rather than return him to the U.S. for prosecution.   

We covered the story which you can read here: Did Disney Cruise Lines Cover Up Sexual Molestation of 11 Year Old Girl on Disney Dream?    

We created a Facebook photo album of images from the program aired by WKMG Channel 6 in Orlando, which you can see here.  A couple of images from WKMG Channel 6 Orlando are below:

Disney Dream Child Molester

Disney Dream Child Molester

Disney Dream Child Molester

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 15 2013 Update:

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Hanseaticus

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

Stonewalling at Sea - Cruise Lines Continue to Cover Up Disappearances on the High Seas

The disappearance of passengers and crew members at sea is one of the cruise industry's real problems.  The problem is compounded by the tendency of the cruise lines to place their reputation as a priority rather than providing information to the grieving families.  If the evidence tends to suggest that a crime occurred, or the circumstances involve facts that may place the cruise lines in an embarrassing light, the cruise lines suppress the information.

Most investigations fall to the country where the cruise ship is registered, such as countries like the Bahamas or Bermuda. These countries depend on the revenue generated from the cruise lines and assist the cruise lines in covering the true facts up.

The video below provides a look into cover-ups alleged against Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line (the Magical Company) and Holland America Line.   

January 7, 2012 Update: Follow the discussion on Facebook: What's more important to the cruise lines when someone disappears on the high seas?

A. The truth, or
B. The cruise line's reputation?

 

Chairman of International Cruise Victims Discusses Cover-Up By Royal Caribbean & Celebrity Cruises of His Daughter's Disappearance

Merrian Carver Cruise Ship Cover UpCoast to Coast Radio has a rather fascinating interview with Ken Carver, the Chairman of the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization.

Mr. Carver talks about "odd and mysterious disappearances on-board cruise ships and how the industry stonewalls investigations of crimes on the high seas. He recalled how his daughter, Merrian, disappeared from a cruise in August of 2004, which led him on a quest to find out what happened to her. Carver detailed how the cruise ship company forbid its employees from discussing the case with his investigators and repeatedly lied about video tape evidence which would have shed light on Merrian’s fate. Based on his research, Carver revealed that Merrian’s story is not unique and that once every two weeks someone disappears from a cruise ship.

Carver also shared a number of other troubling details about the cruise ship industry, such as that they “take the legal position that they are under no obligation to investigate a crime,” whether it be a disappearance, sexual assault, or robbery. Additionally, the companies and their ships are registered in Ken Carver International Cruise Victimsforeign countries, which makes criminal investigations the responsibility of those host nations and allows for the companies to avoid paying any U.S. taxes despite utilizing up to 21 different American government agencies.

Furthermore, Carver lamented that many former high ranking FBI and Coast Guard officials later find employment with cruise ship companies and, thus, those agencies frequently work against efforts to hold the industry accountable for these crimes."

Take a minute and listen to this information.

Mr. Carver discusses how the Miami-based cruise lines Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises lied and stonewalled to cover-up the disappearance of his daughter.

The website of the ICV is here.

The interview starts at 1:19:35.

  

 

FBI Cruise Ship Crime Cover-Up Continues

Journalist Robert Anglen has an article today in the Arizona Republic entitled "Stats Don't Fully Account For All Cruise-Ship Crime."  The article was also published in USA TODAY and discusses the false and misleading cruise ship crimes statistics in the FBI database which mentions only 2 cruise ship crimes for the second quarter of this year. 

You will recall that the cruise lines were suppose to be required to report the hundreds of crimes which occur each year, pursuant to the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Law.  But the language of the new law was altered at the last minute to permit the cruise lines to cover the crimes up.  Lawmakers said the FBI demanded the alterations to benefit the cruise lines.  There is no doubt that the cruise lines and Bogus FBI Cruise Ship Crime Statisticstheir trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"), were behind the last minute shenanigans.

Mr. Anglen wrote an article earlier this year (in June) entitled "Law Shields Industry On Cruise-Ship Crime Information" which exposed the manipulation of the law which was originally designed to require greater transparency from the cruise industry.  The public was suppose to be able to access an accurate public database with all of the crime allegations available. But the behind-the-scenes alteration of the law has resulted in an unprecedented concealment of crimes by the cruise lines with the full cooperation and assistance by the FBI.

Is it just a coincidence that many of the top security personnel at the cruise lines today used to be senior FBI officials?  The FBI has an open dialogue with the cruise lines but routinely keeps the victims in the dark.

This cozy relationship between the FBI and the cruise lines is a great disservice to the cruising public.

The article mentions Ken Carver, CEO of the International Cruise Victims organization. 

Mr. Anglen's article also quotes me referring to the FBI database as "bogus" and only 2 crimes in the last quarter as "lies." These comments were from from a blog I wrote in August - "Lies, Lies & Lies - FBI & Cruise Industry Continue to Publish Bogus Cruise Crimes Statistics."

The cruise lines must be chuckling after thumbing their collective nose at the legislative process. They have proven that foreign off-shore industries can easily circumvent the U.S. democratic process, as long as they have friends in high places.  

 

Photo credit: FBI

CNN's "Safe at Sea" Series Investigates Sexual Assault of 15 Year Old Girl on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

Royal Caribbean Child Rape - Cruise Ship Crime Tonight, the CNN Anderson Cooper AC360 program aired a short documentary into the issue of the safety of children on the high seas, entitled "Safe at Sea."

The program focuses on a fifteen year old girl sailing with her family on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in 2010.  While her parents and siblings were at a different part of the ship, the young girl was in her cabin alone.  A crew member in uniform uses a pass key and enters the cabin unannounced and violently forces her to perform oral sex.

Terrified and distraught, the child did not immediately report the crime to her parents.

Our investigation into other crimes against children on Royal Caribbean cruise ships led us to the court ordered production of an internal report by Royal Caribbean which concluded that sexual misconduct occurs "frequently." The report concluded that as many as one-third of women and children sexually assaulted on Royal Caribbean cruise ships report the crime only after they have left the cruise ship and are back in the security of their home.  

In this case, the parents informed the local police in California of the shipboard crime who found the child's complaints to be "credible."  The police forwarded the complaints to the FBI.  The FBI investigation included collecting photographs of crew members selected by the cruise line which, not surprisingly, did not contain the predator's photo. The family thereafter never heard back from the FBI.

Child Sexual Assault - Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship The cruise line, however, paid a settlement to the child. On the CNN program tonight, the child (whose identify was protected for her privacy) stated that she felt the crew member was a predator and had done it before.

The program also contained an interview with a former U.S. Customs and Border official who stated that, in her experience, 85% of cruises contain at least one sexual predator on the cruise ship.  

The cruise industry's trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), attacked the former federal employee and released a statement to CNN stating that:

" . . . . it is disconcerting that this individual would irresponsibly offer such inflammatory and unfounded accusations."

This, in a nutshell, is the attitude of the cruise industry and cruise lines like Royal Caribbean toward victims.

A fifteen year old child is sexually assaulted during a cruise. Yet, the cruise line and the cruise industry offer no apologies to the child or her family.  

Instead, they attack those who dare to speak out in public about crimes on cruise ships.

Cruise Line International Association - CLIA Attacks Cruise Victim

L.A. Times Weighs In On Cruise Crime Cover-Up

The L.A. Times is the latest major newspaper to discuss the behind-the-scenes alteration of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act.  

In Drop in Cruise Ships' Reported Crimes Raises Questions written by Dan Weikel and an accompanying editorial Cruise ship crimes: Why so hush-hush? by Paul Morrison, the L.A. Times takes a look at the reporting of cruise ship crimes after the new cruise safety law came into effect. 

Designed to require greater transparency from the cruise lines in reporting shipboard crimes, the new cruise safety law was watered down to require the disclosure of only those alleged crimes which the cruise lines reported to the FBI and the FBI then closed.

This altered language was designed to cover up the majority of crimes on cruise ships.  Before the new Cruise Ship Crime Lawcruise safety law came into effect, the FBI was known for its disinterest in investigating crimes on cruise Cruise Ship Crime - Cruise Crime Lawships. For those few crimes it investigated, the FBI solved few of them.  It also seemed to never close their files even when in truth it was not doing anything to investigate the crimes.  By altering the language of the law, the cruise lines knew that it would keep the actual number of crimes under wraps.

The cruise lines deny that they were involved in the cover-up.  And so far Congressman Kerry's office (who was instrumental in passing the new law) is pointing to the FBI and Coast Guard as requesting the change.  Here's what the L.A. Times is saying:

"The FBI and the Coast Guard had asked Congress for wording that means, under the law, that the public only is allowed to be told about the number of closed cases that are no longer being investigated.

That’s just about 180 degrees opposite what law enforcement agencies do on land: All reported crimes are public record, not just those under investigation or resolved.

See how insidious such a policy can be?

If we heard only about the LAPD’s closed cases, nobody would have heard of the Black Dahlia, and the recent murders of two USC graduate students from China might not be public knowledge. Women in South L.A. wouldn’t have been told to be on alert for the "Teardrop Rapist," who has raped nearly three dozen women in the course of about 15 years, one as recently as last month.

This kind of result is hardly what a law called the "Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act" sounds like it was meant to achieve. Turns out, the security and safety being protected here are the economic security and fiscal safety of cruise lines."

The question at this point is not whether there was a behind-the-scenes cover-up, but who in addition to the FBI and Coast Guard were engaged in the cover-up.  Were the cruise lines and their trade organization, Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"), involved?  Of course, but they would never admit it. But why would the FBI alone take such steps, which as the L.A. Times concludes, were designed to protect the "economic security and fiscal safety of cruise lines" and not the passengers victimized on cruise ships?

With an industry known for its secrecy, it will take some time before the ugly truth comes out.  But it eventually will. The public will then see that the cruise lines and their CLIA representatives worked overtime with federal agencies against transparency. For the time being, they were successful in thwarting the democratic process and turning the cruise safety law into a joke. 

FBI Cruise Crime Cover Up Story Goes Viral

FBI Cruise Crime Cover Up - Royal Caribbean - FBI AgentsEvery once in a while a story comes along which blows the lid off of the status quo.

Such a story broke yesterday when Salon Magazine published a blockbuster article "Erasing Cruise Ship Crime." Written by Matthew Harwood, the Salon article tackles the ugly spectacle of our nation's FBI sabotaging the efforts of a grass roots cruise victims organization.  

The story goes like this. The International Cruise Victims Organization (ICV) labored for the past six years to enact a cruise safety law to require the cruise lines to report the many cruise ship crimes which occur each year.  All of the cruise victims' stories are compelling - a son or daughter who vanished at sea under mysterious circumstances, a child lost due to gross medical negligence by shipboard doctors, a woman raped at sea - all real tragedies that happened to real people. 

The cruise lines fought tooth and nail against the passage of the ICV supported law, but dropped its opposition at the last minute.  Why?  The fix was in. The FBI altered the language in the cruise crime bill at the last minute. Instead of reporting all crimes (averaging over 400 a year), the cruise ship crimes which are now disclosed on the FBI database average barely one tenth of that figure. As a final indignity, the cruise lines and some travel agents point to the bogus database as proof that cruising is absolutely safe.  

The Salon article points out the fact that cruise lines hire FBI officials to maintain the status quo. The result is that the FBI and its fraternity alumni brothers on the cruise ships all scratch each other's backs. No one will give their friend a hard time.  No need for anyone to be embarrassed. The cruise lines even invite the FBI to private wine and dinner parties, but exclude the victim's group.

The truth here is ugly. It involves behind-the-scenes shenanigans by large offshore corporations and a large federal agency.  The secret deals stifle democracy. The editing of Congressional bills by a self-dealing FBI perpetuates a system which rewards the indifference of federal law enforcement officials who are suppose to respond to victim's horror stories on the high seas but, in truth, are deep in the FBI - Cruise Line Cruise Crime Cover Upcruise lines' pockets.  It condones and encourages cruise lines to cover up ship crimes whenever and wherever they can, while the FBI looks the other way.

The Salon story hit a nerve. 

The conservative South Florida Business Journal asked whether the Salon article was the "smoking gun" which revealed a cozy relationship between the FBI and the Miami-based cruise lines, particularly Royal Caribbean which hired many FBI agents as well as senior FBI officials.  Is it a coincidence that the cruise lines' friends at the FBI were the ones who watered the cruise crime bill down?

Many other reporters and bloggers picked up the story and added a sense of outrage to the FBI cover up.        

Jezebel wrote "FBI Works With Cruise Lines to Bury Reports of Rapes at Sea," and added a photo of a huge Royal Caribbean cruise ship (photo top).

Inquisitir published "FBI Involved In Cruise Line Sexual Assault Crime Coverups."

Newser added "FBI Muzzles Cruise Line Rape Cases - Salon Says Bureau Too Cozy with Cruise Line Industry."

Leisure Guy said "Concealing Crime: How the FBI Improves Its Crime Fighting Statistics."

Raw Story reported "Loophole Lets Cruise Ship Rapes Go Unreported."

Grey haired old-school PR experts will tell the cruise lines and FBI not to worry about the bad press because the bloggers are not writing for the major newspapers.  But with the explosion of social media today, no one cares what the AP or Reuters are saying.  Now it's the Huffington Post types who are spreading the word and influencing public opinion.  

Other stories will follow.  You will see major newspapers and networks come with the next round of stories exposing the FBI cruise crime cover up.

The cruise lines and their trade organization, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) will FBI - Cruise Lines Cruise Crime Cover Upeventually respond with their own spin.  CLIA will open the prepared, canned statements: "Crime is rare. Our number 1 priority is the safety of our guests. We reports all allegations of crime to the appropriate law enforcement." But the tide has turned.  The public knows these types of official statements are gobbledygook.  

Truth be told, the FBI, which is suppose to watch over the foreign cruise line corporations and protect the public, has acted like a secret lobbyist for the cruise lines.

Should you trust the cruise lines and a corrupt FBI organization with the most precious cargo carried on cruise ships - your family?

 

Photo credits from the original media sources, top to bottom:

Jezebel, Inquisitir, Salon.

"Erasing Cruise Ship Crime" - Why Did the FBI Gut a Bill Requiring the Cruise Industry to Report Rapes?

Salon Magazine published a blockbuster article today about how the FBI gutted a cruise safety law designed to protect the cruising public.

The article states that the grassroots International Cruise Victims (ICV) association worked for years with Congress to pass, on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis, the Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act.  The new cruise law required the FBI to post incidents of cruise ship crimes on an internet database maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.

But shortly before the act passed into law, the FBI inserted language which watered the reporting requirements down to the point that the database is worthless.  Before the law passed, each year hundreds of rapes and violent crimes on cruise ships were reported by the cruise lines.  Now, only a handful are reported.  For some quarters, nothing is reported.  

You can see the bogus database here

Was the cruise industry behind the changes to the cruise safety bill?

The article points to the incestuous relationship between the FBI and the cruise lines which hire former FBI officials to maintain a cozy relationship with the FBI.  Although the new cruise safety law was designed to force greater transparency from the cruise lines, the FBI's manipulation of the bill results International Cruise Victims - ICV - Cruise Crime Lawin just the the opposite result - greater secrecy and opportunity for the cruise lines to cover the crimes up.

The bottom line? The cruising public is kept from reviewing the true crime statistics.  And the cruise lines and some travel agents use the bogus database to advertise that cruising is safe! 

The article quotes ICV CEO Ken Carver, President Jamie Barnett, (photo, in Washington D.C.) and board member (and our client) Laurie Dishman.

Cruise expert Ross Klein, who has testified before Congress several times, is also mentioned.

The article refers to a couple of articles from Cruise Law News as well.

The behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the FBI and its friends frustrated the democratic process and the hard work of the ICV organization.  But one thing is certain, the ICV under the leadership of CEO Carver and President Barnett will keeping working until the original language is back in the cruise safety law.

 

Photo credit:  Ken Carver and Jamie Barnett - by Jim Walker

Cruise Ship Rapist Pleads Guilty and Sentenced to Jail, But the FBI Refuses to Post Crime Data for Public Viewing

Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas Cruise Ship RapeOne of the purposes of the new Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Law is to educate the public regarding the sexual assaults and other crimes which occur on cruise ships.

But as we reported in our article Cruise Lines, FBI & Coast Guard Caught Altering Cruise Crime Law, the FBI and Coast Guard - acting to promote the cruise lines' interests - undercut the Congressional purpose of the new cruise crime law. The cruise lines and these two federal agencies changed the language of the law to eliminate most cruise ship crimes from being reported.  

Originally all cruise ship crimes were required to be disclosed to the public.  But with the altered language, cruise crimes not reported to the FBI, or those crimes reported to the FBI and still under investigation, do not need to be disclosed to the public. 

You can read about about this issue in the Washington Post, USA TodayArizona Central and NBC Bay Area.

A good example of how the cruise lines are trying to hide crime statistics is a recent case this year involving a young girl raped on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas. We reported on the crime in January.  A fifteen year old girl was lured from a teen club and raped by another teenager and a 20 year old man, Luis Scavone (photo left), on the last night of the cruise. The minor promptly reported the crime after she escaped from the rapists' cabin.

Royal Caribbean allegedly "sealed" off the crime scene and reported the crime to the FBI and the Broward County's Sheriff's Office in the cruise ship's home port. In Florida, local law enforcement also have jurisdiction over crimes on the high seas on cruise ships which return to a port in Florida.    

But rather than preserving evidence of the crime scene, Royal Caribbean unlocked the "sealed" cabin and cleaned the cabin.  It destroyed evidence in the crime scene.  Once the FBI learned of the cruise line's misconduct, it left the cruise ship and declined to prosecute.

The FBI was willing to let the two rapists (from Brazil) walk free after raping a girl. Even more disturbing is that the evidence destruction occurred on a cruise ship supervised by a former top FBI officer, Gary Bald (photo below left), who now heads Royal Caribbean's security department.

The FBI agents should have arrested cruise line employees for the destruction of evidence, but the FBI looked the other way and simply closed its investigation. The cozy relationship between the FBI and its former FBI agents, who are now working for the cruise lines, sometimes leads to the former and present FBI agents scratching each other's backs rather than protecting the public.

The Broward County Sheriff's Department, on the other hand, was not deterred by the cruise line's misconduct and arrested the two Brazilians. The State Attorney's Office for Broward County then prosecuted the two suspects and obtained guilty pleas from both.  The 20 year old Brazilian man pled guilty last week to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery in the rape of the girl.  He is now behind bars.   

Royal Caribbean Cruise - Director of Security Gary BaldYou would think that the rape of a child on the world's largest cruise ship would be documented on the online database maintained by the FBI and Coast Guard.  That was the intent of the cruise crime law. But the FBI decided not to report it. Take a look here at the FBI statistics.  There is not a single report of a sexual assault for Royal Caribbean in 2012. In fact, there is not one report of a violent sexual crime against a cruise passenger for the entire cruise industry this year.

In prior years, the FBI reported over 400 crimes on cruises a year.  But now with the altered language in the cruise crime law, the FBI and cruise lines are concealing crimes. The FBI online database lists only 13 sexual crimes for all of last year.   

The bottom line is that even thought the cruise rapist is in jail after pleading guilty to state prosecutors, the FBI refuses to reveal the crime to the U.S. public on the online database required by the cruise crime law.

There is monkey business going on here.

The FBI and the cruise lines who routinely hire FBI agents are in cahoots. Congress needs to investigate how they derailed the law.  And the U.S. public needs to know how a law designed to protect women and children on cruises has been sabotaged to protect the image of the billion dollar cruise industry.     

Did the Cruise Industry Sabotage the New Cruise Crime Law?

The Arizona Central newspaper published a blockbuster article this morning, Law Withholds Cruise Safety Information, which reveals how the cruise industry avoids reporting crimes.

In 2010, Congress passed a federal law which requires cruise lines to report missing passengers, murders, sexual assaults, and other crimes on cruise ships. Over the years there has been great debate over the frequency of crimes during cruises.  Some experts have reported that the likelihood of being a victim of rape is twice as high on a cruise ship compared to on land, whereas cruise lines conclude - without reference to actual statistics - that cruise crime is "rare."

Cruise Ship CrimeThe new law, called the "Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act," was designed to force greater transparency from cruise lines regarding just how many women are raped and children molested during cruises. But instead of revealing the true number of crimes which take place, the new law permits cruise lines to cover the crimes up. 

As originally written, the law required the Coast Guard to post on an internet site, "a numerical accounting of the missing persons and alleged crimes . . ." However, shortly before the bill was enacted into law, the language was changed to "a numerical accounting of the missing persons and alleged crimes . . . that are no longer under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

As the article explains, this means that the public is not allowed to see reports of:

  • Cases handled only by the cruise lines; 
  • Cases not investigated by the FBI; 
  • Cases under active investigation by the FBI; and
  • Cases left open after the FBI files charges.

The result is that only a tiny fraction of cruise ship crimes are being disclosed to the public. The Arizona Central newspaper states:

"The public is not allowed to see reports of all alleged crimes aboard ships. Where the FBI once publicly reported more than 400 crimes a year, only six crimes on ships in the past nine months have been listed on the public database. And cases not investigated by the FBI -- for example, allegations handled by a ship's security staff -- never will be reported in the database under the new law."

6 crimes on 200 gigantic floating cities?  Give me a break. Earlier this year I reported on 13 sexual crimes committed by a single pedophile crewmember on just a couple of Cunard cruise ships. None of these crimes against little kids ever found their way onto the database. Hundreds of thousands of parents booked cruises and took their kids into the cruise ships' "playzones" without knowing a child predator worked there. That's exactly how the cruise lines want the cruise crime law to work.  

The International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization worked hard for six years to see that the new cruise law came into effect.  The cruise industry and its trade organization, the Cruise Line International Organization (CLIA), fought tooth and nail against the ICV.  But at the last minute, CLIA dropped its opposition to the new law.

I attended the five Congressional hearings in Washington D.C. leading up to the new law (including the June 19 2008 hearing before the Senate, photo below).  I remember thinking that it was funny (i.e., odd, Cruise Ship Safety Hearing strange, suspicious) that CLIA rolled over at the last minute.  Well, now it's clear, the cruise lines were just playing possum.

Cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean are full of former FBI agents and Coast Guard officials who go into the private sector to make the big bucks working for the cruise lines at the end of their careers.  

While the victims of cruise ship rapes and families of missing cruise passengers were celebrating the passage of the cruise crime bill, the cruise lines were at work with their former colleagues at the FBI and Coast Guard to water the language of the new law down.

The newspaper quotes a FBI spokesperson Denise Ballew saying "We are not at liberty to discuss any information we may have fed into the legislative review process." 

Before the cruise crime bill passed, cruise lines were self-regulating and not required to report crimes that took place in international waters.  Now, there is a law but it was subverted to provide greater secrecy for the cruise industry than ever before.

Cruise lines can now safely hide before the loopholes that were inserted at the last minute without the knowledge of the cruise victims' organization.  The result is that the public cannot learn of the actual number of crimes on cruise ships.

Take a look at the cruise crime statistics here.  They are a joke.   

Let's hope that Congress will not let cruise lines get away with these shenanigans.  Congress needs to change the language of the bill back to as originally drafted.  Otherwise, families thinking of cruising will be tricked and their family members potentially victimized if they rely on this incomplete and deceiving information. 

 

June 10, 2012 Update:  USA Today re-printed the article and there are some brutally honest comments being made in the comment section about the cruise industry, corporate lobbying, Federal government and FBI and pay-offs & sell-outs . . .  

Mickey Mouse Games: Is Disney Cruise Line Engaged In A Cover-Up On The Disney Wonder?

When I think of Disney Cruise Lines these days, the popular saying "the cover up is always worse that the crime" comes to mind.

I'm sure that I am not the only one who thinks that.  Disney Cruise Lines's conduct over the last nine months after the unexplained disappearance of Disney youth counselor, Rebecca Coriam, has a number of people questioning Disney's moral compass.

Just the other week, the Liverpool Daily Post blasted the headline "Shipping Minister Mike Penning Attacks Disney Over Missing Cruise Ship Worker Rebecca Coriam."  The head of the U.K.'s Rebecca Coriam - Disappearance - Disney Wonder Cruise Shipshipping ministry remarked that Disney is "more interested in getting the ship back to sea than in investigating the case of the missing member of their crew."

Stephen Mosley, the MP of the city of Chester in England, where Rebecca is from, condemned the so-called investigation after young Rebecca's disappearance as "appalling."

Perhaps the most insightful, and damning, look at Disney Cruise Line's corporate culture is from an article by noted reporter Jon Ronson in the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper.   Mr. Ronson's investigative report, 'Lost at Sea," is a must read if you are interested in the culture of a feel good corporation like Disney which chooses obfuscation rather than transparency and cover-up over truth to protect its brand. 

Mr. Ronson, a journalist, documentary filmmaker, and the best selling author of "Them" and "The Men Who Stare at Goats," took a cruise last month aboard the Disney Wonder to take a hard look at the cruise line and cruise ship which are at the center of the mystery surrounding Ms. Coriam.

He quickly learned that the crewmembers on the cruise ship, although trained to maintain a happy I-don't-know-what-you-are-talking-about disposition, apparently all knew where Ms. Coriam went overboard - the front of deck 5, at the crew pool.

"Disney knows exactly what happened," one crew member told Mr. Ronson.  Referring to a telephone call Ms. Coriam had on the morning in question, the crewmember said: "It was taped.  Everything here is taped.  There's CCTV everywhere.  Disney have the tape."

Mr. Ronson also learned that Disney put flowers at the wall next to the crew pool, although it refused to answer any questions why - leading many crewmembers to become convinced that Disney knows what happened but is not telling anyone.

Disney Wonder Crew Pool There is also the issue of a pair of flip-flops, found on a deck on the morning at issue.  Instead of securing them as evidence and conducting forensic testing to determine whether there was any connection to Ms. Coriam, Disney instead placed them in her cabin when her parents got on board.    

But family members and friends rejected the connection between the sandals and Ms. Coriam, finding them too big and not her style.  Rebecca's cabin mate, her intimate friend and other crewmembers were never asked to identify the flip-flops.  Instead, it was as if Disney wanted Rebecca's family to conclude that she must have slipped the sandals off before she voluntarily went overboard - even if it meant spoliating the evidence by moving the sandals from the open deck into her cabin, after-the-fact. 

The article raises also the basic question of how someone can go overboard from the cruise ship without the CCTV cameras capturing the event.  If Rebecca really went overboard at deck 5 by the crew pool, a crewmember confided: "there's HR offices, the crew gym, the crew office that deals with passports, money, documentation.  And they're saying there's no CCTV cameras?"

If Rebecca really went overboard at this location, it means that it occurred right below the bridge. 

There is something not quite right on the Disney Wonder.  If Disney knows why Rebecca went overboard, her family deserves to know the truth.

The Coriam family does not deserve Mickey Mouse games. 

 

Photo credit: 

Top - Guardian newspaper

Bottom  - davidstauffer.com

Disappearance of George Smith - The International Cruise Victims Organization Is Born!

George Smith Disappearance  In December 2005, Congress convened its first hearing on the issue of the safety of U.S. passengers on foreign flagged cruise ships.  The hearing came about primarily due to the efforts of several families who had lost loved ones from cruise ships on the high seas, under suspicious circumstances. 

George Smith's family was instrumental in bringing a great amount of much needed publicity to the issue of passenger "disappearances" and the shoddy manner in which cruise lines respond to such tragedies.  George III and Maureen Smith and their daughter Bree Smith of Greenwich Connecticut contacted Congressman, Chris Shays (R-CT).   

The Smith family joined forces with the father of a young woman who also "disappeared" from a cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean's sister cruise line Celebrity Cruises.  Ken Carver, a former president of an insurance company in New York, lost his beloved daughter, 40 year old Boston resident Merrian Carver, who went missing under suspicious circumstances during a cruise to Alaska aboard the Mercury cruise ship.  

The cruise line tried its best to cover the incident up.  It didn’t report Merrian missing to either the FBI or the Alaskan State Troopers, even though the cabin attendant reported her missing early in the cruise. The cruise line either gave her personal items away or put them in storage. 

When Mr. Carver asked for an explanation, Royal Caribbean responded by lying to Mr. Carver and disposing of evidence.  Mr. Carver didn’t go away.  The story went public.  The The Arizona Republic published an excellently researched and written story, revealing the hideous manner that this cruise line acted when people disappear at sea. 

Mr. Carver's situation is simply the worst conduct I have ever seen by a cruise line.

One of Mr. Carver's daughters had been an intern of Congressman Shays when Mr. Carver had lived in Connecticut.  Mr. Carver's story was featured on CNN's Anderson Cooper's show.  The  producer for the program, CNN's David Fitzpatrick (a resident of Connecticut), recommended to Mr. Carver that he call on Congressman Shays and tell him about the way the cruise line treated his family. 

Ken Carver - International Cruise VictimsAs a result of the convergence of tragedies suffered by the families of George Smith and Merrian Carver, Congressman Shays convened a hearing to study the problem of passengers disappearing on cruise ships and the manner that the cruise industry treated the surviving the surviving family members.  He opened the hearing by stating:

"The bottom line is we are suspicious, candidly, that there's some huge problem in the cruise industry.  We think that people are not aware of some of the challenges and some of the potential problems they encounter."   

Mr. Carver attended the December 2005 hearing.  I attended the hearing with my client Jennifer Hagel.  Mr. Carver introduced himself to me at the hearing.  He asked me if I was interested in supporting legislation making cruising safer for the public?  I saw a conviction in Mr. Carver's eyes six years ago.  I realized that he was serious.  

Mr. Carver realized that he could not fight the cruise industry alone.  He thereafter created an organization called the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization, effective January 1, 2006.   As a former executive, Mr. Carver had the leadership and management skills to create a highly effective organization.  Like the many other ICV members, Mr. Carver also had a passionate dedication to his daughter and a desire to protect other families from going through a similar nightmare. 

Mr. Carver was responsible for convening four additional Congressional hearings, taking the ICV organization internationally, and organizing a team of victims who were responsible for the enactment of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act

George Smith, Merrian Carver and other victims may be gone from this lifetime, as we know it.  But their legacies continue today. 

The cruising public is safer for the efforts of their families.  

 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.  Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you. 

Did Cruise Industry Hide Evidence of Toxic Water Tanks?

The Telegraph newspaper in the U.K. contains an interesting story today about the use of gag orders by large corporations in England to prevent the public from learning of potential safety hazards.     

Called "hyper-injunctions," the gag orders are used to protect a corporation's reputation by barring an individual from discussing embarrassing information which may affect a corporation's business and legal interests.  

Cruise Ship Water Tank - Potable Water - Toxic?The newspaper reports that  a hyper-injunction was obtained at the High Court in 2006 which prevented an individual from "saying that paint used in water tanks on passenger ships could break down and release potentially toxic chemicals." 

The injunction barred the person from discussing the case with members of Parliament, journalists and lawyers, along with the US Coast Guard and any ship owners, and also forbids any speculation linking chemicals in the paint with the illness of any individuals.

According to the Telegraph, the unidentified individual was given a two-week suspended sentence after talking to a lawyer about whether he would take the case.  A U.K. politician commented on the situation saying: 

"What we have, therefore, is passenger vessels trundling around the world with potentially toxic substances being released into the tanks.  One of those who worked on the tanks collapsed as a result.

From a health and safety point of view, we want to think that the water we are drinking is safe and that it will not cause health problems.  The difficulty in this case is that we do not know.

What we do know is that corporations used the massive force of the law to gag an individual and truss him up so much that he could not really challenge the process."

The article does not mention who obtained the gag order.  Did a cruise line use the "hyper-injunction" to suppress information from a former employee?

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

November 13, 2011 Update:  Looks like NCL and Royal Caribbean cruise ships contained the paint in question.  The terminated paint inspector was Brian Bradford.  You can read about the new information here.

 

Cruise Lines Often Don't Report Crimes

A local ABC affiliate in Boston WCVB TV5 recently aired a special investigation into the issue of cruise ship crime: "Crimes On Cruise Ships Often Not Reported - Local Victims Hope Laws At Sea Change."

The ABC affiliate accurately concludes that cruise lines are not required to report crimes on cruise ships in international waters.  The consequences of having no legal obligation to report a crime means that there is no consequence when the cruise line does not report the crime - such as in the case of Merrian Carver.  

Ms. Carver "disappeared" from the Mercury cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean's subsidiary Celebrity Cruises.  But Royal Caribbean did not report her missing and tried to cover the incident up.  ABC PrimeTime aired a special on this disturbing case "Cruise Cover Up - Cruise Line Doesn't Notify Anyone When Woman Disappears On Second Day of Tour."  

We have written many articles about the cover up by Royal Caribbean, and the fight by Ms. Carver's Angela Orlich - Sexual Assault - Cruise Victimfather Ken Carver who continues to advocate for the safety of cruise passengers and demand transparency by the foreign flagged cruise industry.     

The ABC TV5 investigation also focused on the story of our firm client, cruise passenger Angela Orlich, who was sexually assaulted during a diving excursion while on a Royal Caribbean cruise.  The program also touches upon the well known case of George Smith IV who died during his honeymoon cruise on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas.  We represented Mr. Smith's widow, Jennifer Hagel.

After the story aired, the cruise industry's trade group, the notorious Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), complained on the station's web page that the story was "inaccurate."  CLIA George Smith IV - Missing - Cruise Victimclaimed that the story misled the public because U.S. law allegedly "requires cruise lines to report allegations of crime involving U.S. citizens no matter where the ship is in the world."  This is not true.  CLIA has no credibility and earned a reputation for bogus statements like this long ago.  Take a moment and read "Cruise Line Pravda" or learn about CLIA's dubious cast of characters here

In truth, there is absolutely no law requiring cruise lines to report crimes outside of 12 miles from shore.  

It also telling that CLIA took the time to complain about the news program, but didn't bother to apologize to Ms. Orlich or express sympathy to the parents of Ms. Carver and Mr. Smith who lost a child during a CLIA cruise. 

Unfortunately, such dishonesty and insensitivity characterizes CLIA and the cruise industry. 

 

 

 

 

Credits:

Video           ABC affiliate in Boston WCVB TV5

What's Up With The Water on Carnival's Liberty Cruise Ship?

Obtaining accurate information from the cruise industry is difficult.  Whenever passengers have a complaint, the cruise lines either ignore them or the cruise lines' customer relations departments send them a nonsensical letter several weeks later dismissing their complaints or offering a 25% on a future cruise.  This often infuriates the passengers who have no intention of ever sailing on a particular cruise line again and are seeking specific information to their legitimate inquiries. 

There are websites which provide an excellent source of information that the cruise lines don't want you to know.  One is CruiseJunkie, run by Professor Ross Klein in Canada.  Dr. Klein tracks safety issues, environmental concerns, and passenger and crew complaints. He has testified several times regarding cruise ship crime before our U.S. Congress.

Carnival Cruise Ship Liberty - WaterThis morning I read an interesting article on CruiseJunkie regarding a passenger's complaint that the water in the sink and toilet was brown and disgusting looking.  The passenger was a cancer survivor and was concerned whether the water may have been toxic.  Photos of the sink and toilet are courtesy of CruiseJunkie.  Take a look. 

Gross!

But the purpose of writing about this is not just to gross you out.  It is to demonstrate how cruise lines respond to concerns like this.

The shipboard officers and crew offered no assistance or explanation, and would not even send a few complimentary bottles of water to the cabin.  And when the passenger returned home and wrote to Carnival, the cruise line's "Guest Care" team sent what the passenger accurately characterized as a "nonsensical letter" stating "Designing memorable trips is the heart of our business . . . Great food and service . . . will create wonderful memories . . ."  The letter ended with no explanation regarding the source of the contaminated water but regretted that the passenger "felt let down."

The passenger contacted the Florida Division of Consumer Services, the US Public Health Service, and the Federal Maritime Commission - all of whom informed him that they have no regulatory authority over the cruise line industry.

This is what happens when the cruise industry is unregulated and is not obligated to report incidents to health or safety regulators.  Cruise lines like Carnival are not forthcoming with truthful information.  Whether it's the senior PR spokesperson or a low level clerk in the customer services' department, they will write a letter or issue a press statement treating the U.S. public like idiots.  

So the mystery of the disgusting water on Carnival's Liberty will remain, like many disturbing incidents on cruise ships, a mystery.    

Carnival Cruise Ship - Liberty - Water

Photographs courtesy CruiseJunkie.com

May 3, 2010 Update:

This is not the first time passengers have complained about the water on Carnival's Liberty cruise ship.  A reader brought the following YouTube video to our attention.  Take a look: 

 

 

 

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Carnival Ecstasy Listing Update: Smooth Sailing to Chaos & Confusion

We have been inundated with emails and calls from passengers who were injured or traumatized during the "listing incident" involving the Carnival Ecstasy cruise ship on April 21, 2010. 

We have received over 30 comments alone on our article "Did Carnival's Ecstasy Cruise Ship Almost Hit A Sand Bar?"  Take a moment and read about the terror these families experienced.

Carnival Ecstasy - Cruise Ship - Listing - Buoy - Smooth Sailing?The comments fall into two categories - (1) passengers who observed or believed that a buoy, sand bar, shoal or island was involved which the cruise ship tried to avoid; or (2) skeptical readers who claim that there are no sand bars, shoals or islands in the Gulf of Mexico (these people usually were not on the cruise).

One thing that everyone who who was on the cruise has confirmed - the water in the Gulf of Mexico at the time of the incident was absolutely calm.  So calm that you could water ski or skip a rock across the water.  Ironically, the cruise was advertised as "Smooth Sailing" by swing dance instructor "Big Smooth" who was apparently teaching swing dance during the five day cruise (photograph above).  

Most passengers who have contacted us believe that Carnival has not told the truth.  They tell us that the cruise line lacks honesty by either under-reporting the number of injuries, or claiming that a loose buoy could not be detected by radar, or by claiming that the ship listed only 12 degrees, or by denying that the cruise ship may have been trying to avoid a sand bar or island in its path.

Several passengers have emailed us photographs of the TV monitors which show that the Ecstasy was passing or had just passed two islands at the time of the listing (photograph below).  Photographs and video of this type were take by several passengers of the TVs on the ships.

Did the cruise ship almost run into a shoal or small island?  I don't know.  The water was deep at this location in the Gulf of Mexico.  But what about the "islands" on the TV?   It is less than clear what was going on.  We are not going to know the truth until the U.S. Guard finishes its investigation.

But assuming that Carnival is right (which I am reluctant to admit), and the Ecstasy was just trying to avoid a buoy, how on earth could the vessel's officers not have detected the buoy on the cruise ship's radar?  Even small power-boats with modest radar systems can easily pick up a buoy like this many miles away.  There is no possible excuse for a large cruise ship with sophisticated radar systems not to have detected the buoy - whether it was marking a hazard or was adrift as Carnival claims. 

Probably the Master was not on duty, and the officers on duty (assuming someone was on duty) were asleep at the helm.  

There is something very fishy with Carnival's story . . .  it stinks. 

Carnival's passengers paid several thousands of dollars for this cruise, only to go from smooth sailing to chaos, panic and confusion. 

These nice people are not as stupid as Carnival thinks. 

They deserve straight talk and a truthful explanation regarding what happened.    

Carnival Ecstasy - Listing - Buoy - Islands? - Chaos

 

Credits:

Carnival Ecstasy TV navigational photo                Cory Forister

YouTube Video of Carnival Ecstasy Listing - "The Rest of the Story"

The video below is from a passenger who was on Carnival's Ecstasy with his family when the cruise ship listed in the Gulf of Mexico on April 21, 2010. "Mattyhiway" writes:

The Ecstasy made a sharp turn at sea to avoid a wayward buoy.  The ship listed to port hard causing dozens of injuries and traumatizing many more. What the news showed was only part of the story, this is the REST of the story told from passengers who survived this incident.  

 

 

 

We have commented on this incident in an article "Did Carnival's Ecstasy Cruise Ship Almost Hit A Sand Bar?"   If you were on this cruise, click on the link and leave a comment!

See our updated story: Carnival Mocks Injured and Traumatized Cruise Passenger Complaints As "Completely Ridiculous"

 

Credits:    Mattyhiway's YouTube Channel

"Danger On The Love Boat: Cruise Ship Crimes, Disappearances & Cover Ups"

For the past three years, I have written several hundreds of pages of stories about the cruise ship cases we have handled.  The cruise lines' skill, in engaging in an endless number of stunts and cover ups before judges and juries, our U.S. Congress and the American people, never ceases to amaze me. 

I have written these stories with an eye toward incorporating these experiences into a book about cruise ship crime.  We have represented over 70 victims of sexual assault on cruise ships.  Some cruise lines are nasty and other lines are even nastier regarding how they treat the victims.  A central focus of my writing has been the extraordinary steps taken by the cruise lines to keep the public from knowing the truth about what happens on the high seas. 

"Danger On The Love Boat - Cruise Ship Crimes, Disappearances, Cover Ups"®I have released tidbits of these stories as blog articles here on Cruise Law News ("CLN") to see if there is an interest.

So far, I have received a lot of encouragement.  Most recently, I received a nice recommendation via a #FollowFriday recommendation on Twitter from a very talented paralegal, Kristina Duncan, whose Twitter page is @legalninjaKris.  A reader to her blog made the following comment:

Mr. Walker’s series is a compelling presentation of cruising’s nasty underbelly.  It should be read by everyone considering a cruise, so they will be aware of the risks before signing a contract.  It is shocking to see how much support in law cruise operators have in defense of the outrageous behavior Mr. Walker documents.  There is an obvious need for serious legislation to deal with these issues.  I hope Mr. Walker will see his series titles as chapters in a much-needed book exposing cruise operator conduct to the American public.  Thank you for publicizing this informative series.

So with thanks to Ms. Duncan, I'll admit that a cruise book has been in the works for a while.  I have a commitment from a good publishing house. There are many stories that are not well known, yet.  Like the outrageous circumstances surrounding the "disappearance" of Italian crew member Angelo Faliva (photo above), as well as other equally disturbing crimes not yet revealed to the public.  The task now is to figure out which stories are the most compelling and to turn the manuscript over to the publishing company.  

I will donate 100% of the "profits" (if any) to a non-profit organization involved in cruise safety issues.  If no one buys a copy, I'll buy a 1,000 myself and pass them out to my friends and family - and then send the other 993 copies to whoever wants one!  

I hear that most publishing companies like to make the decision to name the books they publish.  We'll see if that happens.  I am struggling with the title.  I am thinking of: "Danger On The Love Boat: Cruise Ship Crimes, Disappearances & Cover Ups."®

The lawyers and support staff at Cruise Law don't like the title.  What so you think?

Contact me on the "Ask Jim A Question" box to the left, or leave a comment below, or call me at (305) 995-5300 with your thoughts.  I'll send a couple of free copies to anyone who can think of a good name for the book.

Thanks!  

 

Credits:       vascellor.it 

Did Carnival's Ecstasy Cruise Ship Almost Hit A Sand Bar?

We have written a couple of articles about the recent incident when Carnival's Ecstasy cruise ship heavily listed in the Gulf of Mexico, injuring 60 passengers and frightening many hundreds more. 

Carnival Ecstasy - Listing - Bouy?  -  Or Sand Bar?We received a message from one of the passengers on the cruise, suggesting that the Carnival cruise ship was about to hit a sand bar which was marked by a buoy.  And the cruise line is covering up the true circumstances of the incident.  Here is the message:   

"I was on that cruise. There was a buoy, but the buoy was there marking a sand bar that we almost ran aground on!! The land mass was on the radar. You can see the radar, direction and course of the ship on one of the channels in each cabins TV. The ship made a NINETY DEGREE TURN!! You dont do that to avoid a buoy! I was also told by a crew member that someone on the bridge was getting fired over the mistake. The cruise line is covering its butt!!"

But Carnival's PR person Jennifer de la Cruz told CNN "the ship listed 12 degrees to the right to avoid hitting a large, adrift buoy . . ." 

Who is telling the truth?  There are also some comments on Cruise Critic debating this.  One reader posted this comment: 

"Hmmm.. Not buying the official story. I was on the ship, and minutes before the sharp turn we were near a TV in the Rolls Royce cafe where they show the position of the ship on a map, speed, etc.  We noticed the ship was heading directly towards 2 very small (submerged?) islands on the map . . . and no one on board is buying this "phantom buoy" story . . .   

Carnival Ecstasy - Buoy? - Accident - List 

But another Cruise Critic reader suggested that the cruise ship was in water several thousands of feet deep.

So what really happened? 

Was there really a loose buoy floating around? Or was the buoy marking a navigational hazard?  Are there really sand bars (or reefs) in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, 200 miles off of the coast of Louisiana?

What are the exact coordinates of the incident?

The U.S. Coast Guard will be investigating, but it will take some time to get to the bottom of the incident.  Are there other passengers who know what really happened? 

Does anyone have a photo of the phantom buoy?

Let us hear from you in the comment section below . . .   

Carnival Ecstasy Cruise Ship - Empty Pool Following List - Buoy?

 

There are many videos on the internet regarding the listing incident.  The video below is raw video from a reporter with the Galveston County Daily:   

 

 

Be sure to read our updated article: Carnival Ecstasy Listing Update: Smooth Sailing to Chaos & Confusion and Carnival Mocks Injured and Traumatized Cruise Passenger Complaints As "Completely Ridiculous"

 

Photograph credits:

Ecstasy cruise ship        Carlos Javier Sanchez, Bloomberg News / Getty Images (via AOL News)

Injured passenger and empty pool        Brandy and Ashley Vickery (via ABC13 "Sixty Passengers Hurt on Galveston-Based Cruise Ship") 

Video interview of passengers  Galveston County Daily

Reason No. 2 Not To Cruise: Cruise Ships Are A Perfect Place to Commit A Crime, And Get Away With It!

This is reason no. 2 in the series: Top 10 Reasons Not To Cruise

Imagine owning a business where one of your employees drugged and raped a patron.  What would you do?   

Would you interrogate the victim before calling the police?  Would you tape record the victim without her permission?  Would you demand that the victim prepare written statements before she could receive medical treatment?   Would you scramble your defense lawyers to the scene to look for a way to build a case against the victim?  Would you refuse to provide the name and address of your Cime Rocks The Boats - Cruise Ship Crimeemployee to the victim?  Would you work with your employee's criminal defense lawyers, and meet the assailant in jail, in an effort to help him win an acquittal at the criminal trial?   

Of course not, but this is exactly what happens on many cruise ships today.

Unlike airplanes with Federal Marshals, cruise ships have no police authorities aboard.  The few security guards on the ships are loyal to their employer who pays their salary - not to the passenger. 

When a crime occurs, the cruise lines first notify their risk managements departments and their defense lawyers.  If the closed circuit television (CCTV) tapes exculpate the cruise line, the cruise line keeps the tapes.  Otherwise, the CCTV images are invariably taped over, "lost" or the cruise line will claim that the CCTV system was not working.  The cruise lines will protect their own employee's legal interests - not the passenger's rights. 

In some criminal cases we have handled, the cruise lines did not bother to notify the FBI; in other cases, the cruise lines notified the FBI only after they destroyed evidence and sanitized the crime scene. The result is that criminals on cruise ships are rarely prosecuted.

In fact, some cruise lines have never had a crew member ever convicted of a sex crime or other felony.

Most crew members know that nothing will happen to them if they commit a crime on the ship.  Because there is no criminal accountability, there is no deterrence to crimes on cruises ships.  This is not my opinion, but the conclusions reached by security and sexual harassment experts who have studied the problem. 

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.

The experts concluded that male cabin attendants and bartenders were the most likely crew members to commit a crime.  The most likely location?  The passengers cabin.  The experts recommended a number of improvements, such as placing CCTV cameras in the passenger hallways, deactivating passenger cabin key cards used by crew members after working hours, and implementing steps to collect and preserve evidence to be used against the crew members at trial.  Without having a system in place that will result in crew members being arrested, the experts concluded that the crimes would continue.    

Unfortunately, when the executives at Royal Caribbean received the reports - they did not implement any of the recommended improvements.  Instead, they chose to tell the U.S. public that crime on cruise ships was "rare."  When a crime inevitably occurred, the cruise line then sent their defense lawyers to the next port to board the ship long before the FBI arrived. 

The result is that by the time the FBI arrives or the cruise ship returns to a foreign port, the evidence is long gone. 

In an article entitled "Crime Rocks The Boats," TIME Magazine addressed this problem.  TIME reported on troubling cases involving two of our clients - Janet Kelly who was drugged and raped during a cruise from Los Angeles to Mexico, and Jennifer Hagel whose husband George Smith IV "disappeared" from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship during their honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean.  In both cases, the cruise lines scrambled their defense lawyers to the cruise ships and quickly began compromising the passengers' potential criminal and civil cases.  TIME raised the question why "only 7% of the 135 federal investigations into sexual assault over the past five George Smith IV - Missing - Royal Caribbeanyears were prosecuted.  Why were 93% of the cases dropped?"  TIME reported on the FBI's explanation, as follows:

"By the time we can get to [the victim and witnesses], a period of time has passed, people's memories change, they were intoxicated, or there is a lack of evidence because it was cleaned."

TIME addressed the problem of crimes on the high seas and the cruise industry's efforts to cover the problem up, and quoted me in the process:

".  .  .  the only authorities most cruise-crime victims can turn to are the ship's security personnel, who have a strong incentive to protect the industry's fun-in-the-sun image.  'The cruise line controls the scene of the crime, controls the witnesses, controls the evidence,' says Miami attorney James Walker, who represented Kelly.  'It's all being filtered through the company's risk-management department.'  Court documents seen by TIME back up that contention. In one case, a passenger who was examined on board for evidence of gang rape sued the cruise line after ship security, by allowing housekeeping to repeatedly steam-clean the carpet, failed to preserve the alleged crime scene.  In another case, a passenger accused of sexual assault testified that a ship security officer coached him to state that "no sex was performed by anyone."

TIME also quoted another maritime lawyer in Miami that cruise lines " .  .  . are silently working against the victim. They're busy trying to make sure criminal cases don't see the light of day."

The LA Times also discussed the lack of prosecutions of cruise crimes in a blockbuster article entitled "Cruise Industry's Dark Waters - What Happens At Sea Stays There As Crimes On Liners Go Unresolved."  The newspaper reported on the cruise industry's lack of candor to the U.S. Congress during hearings on cruise crimes and the cruise lines' under-reporting of such crimes.  During one of the Congressional hearings which took place from 2005 - 2008, Congressman Christopher Shays questioned whether the cruise lines are keeping some crimes off the books:

"There's a huge incentive to downplay any incident, to sail on .  .  .  Is going on a cruise the perfect way to commit the perfect crime?"

In the last two years, some cruise lines have changed their approach to handling shipboard crimes.  Royal Caribbean, for example, stopped sending trial lawyers to the cruise ships, but other cruise lines still do so.  Royal Caribbean now has a "Global Security" team, consisting of former FBI agents, which handles the investigations.  But the FBI never had a good record investigating cruise crimes in the first place.  Will this lead to a greater number of arrests and convictions - or is this just more of the same?       

Recent incidents suggest that the problem continues. 

In November of last year, an Italian chef, Angelo Faliva, "disappeared" from a Princess Cruises cruise ship after the ship left Fort Lauderdale.  Mr. Faliva, like George Smith IV, was a healthy, happy, energetic and well-liked young man with a bright future ahead of him.  But when he went overboard between Aruba and Columbia, the cruise line's crisis management team took center stage.  Princess claimed that it was "puzzled" and didn't know what happened - a claim considered to be dubious given the hundreds of surveillance cameras throughout the cruise ship.

Angelo Faliva - Missing - Princess CruisesThe "mystery" of Mr. Faliva soon resembled  the typical case of corporate malfeasance which has characterized the cruise industry.  According to the Faliva family, Princess Cruises refuses to cooperate.  

The case also illustrates the indifference exhibited by the flag state, in this case the country of Bermuda which is responsible for investigating and prosecuting criminals on Princess cruise ships which fly Bermuda flags.  It took two weeks before Bermuda bothered to travel to the cruise ship.  Like the Bahamas, Liberia, and Panama where the cruise lines register their cruise ships, Bermuda has done little to investigate the disappearance.  

There seems to be a "quid pro quo" in place.  In exchange for the hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars paid by the cruise lines in registration fees, flag states like Bermuda will conduct no real investigation.  The cruise line is left to handle criminal incidents "internally."   The worst that happens is the offending crew members receives a one way ticket home.  The victim's family is left to deal with the cruise line's stonewalling and the flag state's indifference.      

Earlier last year, Bermuda refused to arrest a bar employee, aboard the Coral Princess cruise ship, who admitted raping an unconscious woman after a crew party.  Princess Cruises then flew the rapist from Seattle back to the Philippines with only a slap on his wrist. 

Where is Princess Cruises' self-admitted rapist today?  Is he working for another cruise line serving drinks to cruise passengers?   Did Princess notify Royal Caribbean, NCL, or its parent corporation Carnival about the rapist so that they would not hire a known rapist?

In the case of Janet Kelly, the cruise line flew her rapist (also a bar employee) from the cruise ship in Los Angeles back to his home country (Jamaica) after he drugged and raped her.  We learned that he then applied for a job with Princess Cruises which accepted him into its fleet of cruise ships.  He then freely interacted with the Princess passengers, who were unaware of his criminal past.

The current system of flying rapist crew members back to their home countries with no criminal accountability - only to be re-hired by another cruise line - is exactly the problem which Dr. Wunderwelt Wisen - Cruise Crimes and DisappearancesKay Krohne warned about over a decade ago.  It is a rotten and disgraceful practice.  Sexual predators are emboldened by the cruise line's malfeasance.  They will strike again.   

Given the work of victim organizations, like the International Cruise Victims, there is an increasing international awareness that cruise lines like Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean frequently cover up crimes and work to make certain that mysterious "disappearances" remain just that - "mysteries."  

Just the other week, the German magazine "Wunderwelt Wisen" discussed the string of disturbing cases of passengers James Scavonne (Carnival), Dianne Brimble (P and O Cruises), Merrian Carver (Celebrity Cruises), Christopher Caldwell (Carnival), and George Smith IV (Royal Caribbean), as well as the recent disappearance of Italian crew member Angelo Faliva (Princess Cruises).

Under the title "Dream Boats," the magazine analogized a tourist who boards a cruise ship as someone going on a holiday into a small town without a police station, concluding that:

"Dream ships are perfect for the perfect crime." 

 

Tomorrow, we will discuss Reason No. 3 Not To Cruise: Carnival, Royal Caribbean And NCL Are Corporate Felons  

Do you have a comment?  Let us hear from you below.

What Happened to Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva? The Faliva Family Seeks Answers

The popular Italian TV Show "Chi l'ha Visto?" featured the story of Angelo Faliva last night.

Mr. Faliva was a healthy, happy and well-liked chef aboard the Coral Princess cruise ship when he "disappeared" on the high seas near Columbia last November.  The cruise line is content with throwing its hand up and claiming "we don't know what happened" - a less than believable explanation given the fact that the Princess cruise ships have hundreds of video cameras all over Coral Princess - Where Is Angelo Faliva? - Princess Cruises their cruise ships.

We have written many articles about Mr. Faliva and his family's struggle to seek information about his disappearance.

The "Chi l'ha Visto?" program in Italy is a cross between the U.S.'s Sixty Minutes and America's Most Wanted television programs.  

The Italian producers interviewed Angelo's sister, Chiara, who has taken the lead in searching for answers, as well as Mr. Faliva's mother and father, Giuseppina and Roberto.  There are very insightful videos of Angelo showing his dynamic and fun-loving personality.

The Faliva family expresses their appreciation of the efforts of the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization to publicize this latest cruise ship disappearance and the indifference of the cruise line and the flag country (Bermuda) to seriously investigate and solve this mystery.  

The ICV's story regarding Mr. Faliva can be viewed here.  The "Chi l'ha Visto?" video is below.  It is in Italian, but the images are compelling.  Even if you can't  speak Italian, you can feel what the family is saying.    

 

 

If you have information about this story, please contact us.

 

Credits:

Coral Princess Bridge Cam        Princess Cruises

Video                   "Chi l'ha Visto?" 

Italian TV Show "Chi l'ha Visto?" Features Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva

The hometown newspaper for missing crew member Angelo Faliva, reports that the popular Italian program "'Chi l'ha Visto?" will again feature the mysterious circumstances surrounding the disappearance of young Mr. Faliva from the Coral Princess cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises.   

Cremona On Line's website states:

"Questa sera a 'Chi l'ha visto?' sarà trattato il caso di Angelo Faliva, il cuoco di 32 anni scomparso misteriosamente sulla Coral Princess il 25 novembre scorso. La nave da crociera su cui lavorava era in crociera nei Caraibi."

Angelo Faliva - Missing - Coral Princess - Princess Cruises "'Chi l'ha Visto?" is a very popular television show in Italy which covers the disappearances of loved ones who vanish under uncertain and discomforting circumstances.  (We will link the video of the show once it is available.) 

The mystery of Princess crew member Angelo Faliva is a story which we have carefully followed since his "disappearance" last November.  

This type of incident - which has not received much coverage in the U.S. yet - demonstrates the fundamental corruptness of the foreign flagged cruise industry.  Crimes and disappearances often go un-reported, un-investigated and un-prosecuted because of the indifference of the flag countries and the desire of the image-obsessed cruise lines to sweep the problem under the rug.

This is a particularly disgraceful story because the cruise line, Princess Cruises - of "Love Boat" fame - has provided no useful information to the grieving Faliva family.  The "investigators" in Bermuda, where the cruise line registered the cruise ship to avoid taxes, labor and wage laws as well as legal accountability, are doing nothing.  This is exactly why cruise lines pay countries like Bermuda - in the middle of nowhere - to register their cruise lines.    

We will be following this story closely.  To bring yourself up to date regarding the plight of the Faliva family, consider reading:

Crew Member Missing from Princess Cruises' Coral Princess Cruise Ship 

 Family of Missing Crew Member Seeks Answers - Princess Cruises Claims "We Are Puzzled"

2009 Ends With Family of Missing Princess Cruises Crew Member Continuing to Seek Answers

Top Cruise Story of 2009 - Sister of Missing Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva Speaks Out: "Vogliamo la Verità!" - "We Want the Truth!"

The Case of Missing Crew Member Angelo Faliva - Is Princess Cruises Engaged In A Cover Up?

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

Angelo Faliva Case: Were You on the Coral Princess on November 25, 2009?

Neither Dead Nor Alive - The Faliva Family Remains In Limbo

International Cruise Victims - the Story of Angelo Faliva

Update on Missing Crewmember Angelo Faliva - a Story of "Pain & Incompetency"

 

Do you have information about Mr. Faliva?  Please contact us. 

Princess Cruises Uses Surveillance Film to Kick Kids Off Cruise Ship for Throwing Food Overboard

While reading cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein's most excellent cruise site - Cruise Junkie - I found an excerpt of a letter written by a grandmother who was upset that her two grandchildren were booted from the Sapphire Princess cruise ship.  As it turns out, security personnel reviewing the Princess Cruises - Wedding Cam - Sapphire Princesssurveillance cameras spotted the kids throwing some food overboard

Dr. Klein found the conduct of the cruise line "outrageous" for no other reason than the cruise ship itself regularly discharges liquefied food waste as part of normal discharge operations. 

Indeed, as I have written about in prior blogs, this is more than a little bit ironic because  Princess Cruises has repeatedly violated waste water regulations:    

In September, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific  PrincessSapphire Princess and Sea Princess were cited for violating the Alaska waste water quality standards.  Again, in October, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific Princess, Sapphire Princess and Sea Princess - together with the Golden Princess - were cited for water discharge violations.  In November, the same culprits - the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Sea Princess, Golden Princess and Diamond Princess were busted for pollution.

Princess Cruises ruined a family's vacation for some kids throwing a couple of chicken wings overboard while the cruise lines routinely discharges copper, ammonia, zinc, bacteria and nasty fecal matter into Alaska's pristine waters?

Nuts!

While I agree that Princess Cruises' conduct is ridiculous, my perspective is a little bit different.

As we have written about in prior articles, a Princess Cruises' crewmember Angelo Faliva "disappeared" from one of the Princess cruise ships last November.  There are hundreds of surveillance cameras throughout the cruise ship.  Yet the cruise line claims that it has no idea what happened to this young man?

Princess Cruises - Bridge Cam - Caribbean Princess Nuts! 

Now let me ask you this:  How can the Princess security kick some teenagers off a cruise ship after seeing them throwing some food overboard based on their surveillance cameras - and then claim that its surveillance cameras could not detect a 6 foot tall man going overboard?

Like the Coral Princess where Mr. Faliva "disappeared," the Sapphire Princess has lots of surveillance cameras, as well as wedding cams and bridge cams which you can see detailed images 5,000 miles away from the comfort of your home.  But the Coral Princess doesn't have a single surveillance cam of an adult man going overboard? 

Nuts!  

Does this cruise line destroy surveillance films when its crewmembers go overboard but arbitrarily use surveillance films to kick children off of its cruise ships?   

You decide.  Read some of the articles about the plight of the Faliva family, and then consider how this family on the Sapphire Princess was abused by Princess' selective use of the cruise ship's surveillance cameras: 

For Christmas, my husband and I gave our two grown sons and their families a cruise to Mexico on the Sapphire Princess departing and returning to Los Angeles. We were spending Christmas on the ship. It would have been the first time I had managed to get both families together in 20 years for the holiday. On Dec. 23, at sea between Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, my two grandsons, age 13 ands 15, were in a cabin of another boy they had met on the ship and they had thrown some Princess Cruises - Wedding Cam - Emerald Princessarticles of food overboard including a fork. Apparently, they were spotted on camera by security.

The next day in Cabo San Lucas (Christmas Eve day), my son, his wife and the two boys were ordered off the ship by Captain Tony Herriott and had to pay their own way back to Los Angeles. Three other families whose sons were also involved were ordered off the ship. The Captain's actions devastated us all. Needless to say, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were very depressing days for the seven of us that remained on board.

There is now a new Christmas Grinch out there and he is the Captain of a Princess cruise ship!

 

Credits:    Wedding and Bridge Cams             Princess Cruises

 

The Case of Missing Crew Member Angelo Faliva - Is Princess Cruises Engaged In A Cover Up?

Chiara Faliva - Angelo Faliva - Missing - Princess Cruises - Coral Princess  The case of the "missing" crew member from the Coral Princess cruise ship continues to dominate the press in Italy.

Angelo Faliva "disappeared" from the cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises of Santa Clarita California on November 25, 2009 during a two week cruise which left South Florida and ended in Los Angeles, California. 

Mr. Faliva's younger sister, Chiara, has taken a leadership position on behalf of the Faliva family to prod the cruise line and the authorities to release information.

So far, no one is cooperating with the Faliva family.

Ms. Faliva has gone on Italian television and explained that neither the cruise line nor the government of Bermuda (the cruise ship flies the flag of Bermuda) are cooperating.  Princess Cruises has refused to provide the family with the reports of the security officers or any basic information regarding what happened to her brother.

In a blockbuster news story in Italy available online at  vascellor.it, Ms. Faliva complains that she was treated rudely by the Master of the cruise ship after she traveled to the U.S. seeking answers.

Most shocking is that the cruise line claims to be "puzzled," but has not even sent the surveillance films to Bermuda to be examined by investigators, according to Ms. Faliva.       

Chiara Faliva has continued to fight to seek answers regarding what happened to her brother, Angelo.  She has traveled from Italy to Columbia and the U.S.  The Italian newspaper characterizes Ms. Faliva as demonstrating: 

.  .  .  di amora, dignità e coraggio  ( .  .  .  love, dignity and courage) .  .  . 

in the search for truth regarding what happened to her brother on the Princess cruise ship.

Angelo Faliva - Missing - Coral Princess - Coral Princess - Cover Up?

These type of stories demonstrate the difficulties families experience trying to find basic information when a family member disappears on foreign flagged cruise ships.  Although Princess Cruises is based in Santa Clarita, California, it is incorporated in Bermuda and flags its cruise ships in that country in order to avoid U.S. taxes and wage and labor laws.  Bermuda has demonstrated very little interest in conducting serious investigations into shipboard crimes on Bermuda flagged cruise ships.  Often, Bermuda defers to the "investigation" by the cruise line which, unfortunately, is designed to advance Princess Cruises' legal interest and to protect its "love boat" marketing image.

There remain many unexplained questions surrounding the story of young chef Angelo Faliva.

Will the "love boat" cooperate with the Faliva family? 

Why has Princess Cruises still not sent the surveillance films to the Investigators in Bermuda?

How can a young man disappear without a trace? 

We have written a number of articles regarding this sad story and the disturbing handling of the investigation by the cruise line:

Crew Member Missing from Princess Cruises' Coral Princess Cruise Ship

Family of Missing Crew Member Seeks Answers - Princess Cruises Claims "We Are Puzzled"

2009 Ends With Family of Missing Princess Cruises Crew Member Continuing to Seek Answers

Top Cruise Story of 2009 - Sister of Missing Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva Speaks Out: "Vogliamo la Verità!" - "We Want the Truth!"

Were you a passenger or crew member on the Coral Princess?  Do you have information to share to help the family find answers?  Let us hear from you.

 

Credits:       vascellor.it 

2009 Ends With Family of Missing Princess Cruises Crew Member Continuing to Seek Answers

Angelo FalivaThe Italian family of crew member Angelo Faliva is continuing to search for answers to explain the circumstances regarding his disappearance from the Coral Princess, a cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises which is based in Santa Clarita, California.
 
There continue to be newspaper articles in the Italian press as well as television stories regarding this troubling case.  We have  included a video, below.  Its not current, but it has many images of Mr. Faliva.  Perhaps someone on the Coral Princess recognizes him and has some information to share. 
 
The issue of "missing" passengers and crew member became known to most Americans following the disappearance of George Smith during his honeymoon on the Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas in July 2005.  Since then, there have been five Congressional hearings in the United States, four in the House of Representatives and one in the U.S. Senate culminating in the House passing the Cruise Safety and Security Act of 2009. The Act awaits passage in the Senate before President Obama can sign the bill and the much needed cruise law will be in effect.  
 
These hearings were primarily the result of the dedication and hard work of my friend Ken Carver, President of the International Cruise Victims organization.  Mr.Carver's daughter, Merrian, "disappeared" on a cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean's sister brand, Celebrity Cruises in 2004.  Royal Caribbean engaged in a cover up of the incident.  
 
Mr. Carver took on the non tax paying multi billion dollar corporation, and won.
 
All of these cruise crime/safety hearings addressed the problem of "overboards" - when passengers and crew members "disappear" - and yet the cruise lines, suspiciously enough, choose to offer no explanation of what happened.
 
Princess Cruises - Coral Princess - Angelo Faliva Disappearance Mr. Faliva's disappearances is a story that we will continue to watch and report on.  
 
The cruise industry is big business.
 
And cruise lines do not like stories like this.
 
Princess Cruises spends millions of dollars for advertising, as we have mentioned in other articles to paint a picture of care-free getaways and romance associated with its "Love Boat" theme. 
 
But our opinion is that this cruise line is the typically non-transparent, truthless & ruthless foreign corporation which has given the cruise industry a tawdry reputation.  
 
Princess Cruises wants this story to disappear as just another "mystery."  We have commented on Princess Cruises' "we-don't-know-what-happened" attitude in prior articles.  The cruise web site CruiseLineFans named this incident at the top of its "Top 5 Unfortunate Incidents in 2009," and criticized Princess Cruises for its lack of a clear response to the matter. 
 
Unfortunately, the FBI did not board the cruise ship until after it sailed all the way from South Florida to California - about a week after Mr. Faliva's disappearance.  The country of Bermuda, which is the Angelo Faliva - Disappearance - Coral Princessflag of the vessel and  primarily responsible for investigations, did not get involved until very late. 
 
It remains to be seen whether Bermuda, which has a very cozy relationship with Princess Cruises, will devote the time and genuine effort to investigate a case like this.
 
We hope so.
 
We know that many crew members and passengers read our blog.  If you know something about the circumstances surrounding Angelo Faliva's disappearance, do something.  Speak out.  Contact the FBI in Los Angeles.  
 
And contact Ken Carver at the International Cruise Victims organization - kcarver17@cox.net - who is fighting an endless battle to bring transparency to the cruise industry over such "disappearances."
 
Don't let another family anguish over the unexplained loss of a loved one. 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
Credits:
 
Photograph of Coral Princess cruise ship   Noticias de Cruceros "Desaparece el chef de un crucero en navegación"
 
Photograph of Mr. Faliva in Cabo and video  LA7.it

 

Former Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Captain Dies of Legionnaire's Disease After Sailing on Liberty of the Seas

There have been a few news stories about a cruise ship "passenger' dying of Legionnaire's disease after sailing on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas

The Miami Herald and the South Florida Business Review ("Legionnaire's May Be Linked to Ship") Libert of the Seas - Disease of the Seas? published articles last week about Mr. Tore Myhra - described as an "English tourist" - who died November 1st at Jackson Memorial Hospital after sailing for a week on the Liberty of the Seas. I commented on the story - Liberty of the Seas & Legionnaires' Disease - Disease of the Seas?

The Miami medical examiner's office reported that Mr. Myhra became sick on the cruise ship and suffered "nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory difficulty and dry cough.''  His symptoms worsened and he died of "Legionella pneumophila pneumonia" the day after he departed the cruise ship.

The popular on-line cruise community CruiseCritic.com also reported on the story in an article entitled "Cruise Passenger Among Recent Legionnaire's Victims." Cruise Critic tried to interview Royal Caribbean who refused to disclose the name of its "passenger." 

Instead of discussing the death of the passenger, Royal Caribbean crisis management spokesperson, Cynthia Martinez, released a statement which is posted on the Cruise Critic site as follows:

"Although we do not know the source of the guest's legionellosis, we have taken more than 90 Legionnaire's Diseasedifferent water samples from the ship over the past few months as part of our routine water testing program, and all those tests have come back negative regarding the bacteria that can cause the illness.

Nevertheless, we are taking some precautionary steps onboard, which are being done in an abundance of caution, to maintain our high health standards, and as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These include special sanitizing of key areas onboard, including whirlpools and the H2O Zone. Like our guests, we take all health issues seriously."

This is a disturbing statement.

Only 90 water samples over the course of several months?  If a "passenger" became diseased and the routine tests results are negative, this could mean that the cruise line simply did not test a sufficient number of locations. 

The Liberty of the Seas is a huge cruise ship.  90 samples is a grossly insufficient number of water samples over the course of many months.  There are thousands of water faucets, drinking fountains, shower heads, whirlpools, saunas, flo-riders, spas, H2O zones, and other water sources on a ship this large. It is widely known that Royal Caribbean is making financial cutbacks throughout its fleet.  Testing water samples is expensive. 

Has Royal Caribbean cut back on the number of water samples to save money?

The cruise line should be taking several hundreds of samples a month on a routine basis, with repeat testing. And the samples should be tested at national laboratories whose reputations are beyond reproach. Liberty of the Seas - H2O Zone - Legionnaire's Disease?After a death like this, there should be literally over a thousand tests conducted to test every possible source of this disease.   

What is also disturbing is that Royal Caribbean failed to mention that Mr. Myhra was not only a "passenger" but was the former Captain (i.e., Master) of several Royal Caribbean cruise ships. Captain Myhra was the Master of the Monarch of the Seas and one of the cruise line's very first cruise ships, Song of America.  

Captain Myhra is of Norwegian descent. He lived in England after he retired from Royal Caribbean.  By all accounts, Captain Myhra was an a good guy and an accomplished mariner.  He was well liked by the crew of the cruise ships on which he served as Master.  

In 1998, he ran into a bit of bad luck when the Monarch of the Seas ran into a reef after entering the harbor in St. Maarten in the middle of the night to bring a sick passenger ashore for emergency medical treatment. The incident occurred on December 15, 1998, when the cruise ship grounded on Proselyte Reef, in Great Bay, Philipsburg, St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles. The vessel Monarch of the Seas - Grounded - St. Maarten - Tore Myhrasustained heavy damage to the hull and began to take on water, requiring Captain Myhra to ground the ship to keep it from sinking. The passengers were taken from the beached cruise ship via tenders. 

There are a number of interesting reports of this incident, including a detailed marine casualty report from the U.S. Coast Guard and Norwegian maritime investigators (which contains Royal Caribbean Safety Management System - SMS - documents available on line). 

In 1999, shortly after this debacle, Captain Myhra resigned from Royal Caribbean.  Even though he was not at the helm when the ship hit the reef, he took responsibility. 

Word has it that after retirement from the cruise business, he began a highly successful camping business called Rose Farm Touring & Camping Park in England with his wife, Susan, and their children.  

Captain Myhra ended his career with Royal Caribbean trying to help a sick passenger in the middle of the night by diverting the cruise into port for emergency medical care. 

It is beyond irony that "passenger" Myhra's life was cut short when he became ill and Royal Caribbean kept him on the Liberty of the Seas until the end of the cruise, only to die in a public hospital in Miami the next day.    

September 26, 2009 Update: The story gets worse. "Royal Caribbean Delivers Cruel Blow to Widow of Beloved Captain Tore Myhra."

 

Credits:

Liberty of the Seas   BobDarling1956 Webshots

Legionella cells  Scienceblogs.com

Liberty of the Seas H2O Zone  The Travel Advocate

Monarch of the Seas   CaptainsVoyage         

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

AF Family.com in Phoenix, Arizona reports on the story of the family of Merrian Carver, a 40 year old who "disappeared" from a cruise ship.  The cruise line, Royal Caribbean, tried to cover the incident Merrian Carver - Cruise Ship "Disappearance"up.  The Carver family fought back. 

And won.

We have commented on the Carver family's struggle and other "disappearances" in a prior article.

ABC News / Primetime published a story on this case called "Cruise Cover-up? - Cruise Line Doesn't Notify Anyone When Woman Disappears On Second Day of Trip."  

The article below was written by Jared Dillingham of AF Family.com.  The video below is from the same source.

PHOENIX -- A Valley family says a cruise ship company covered up their daughter's disappearance a few years ago. But they fought back, and won.

When the family tried to get answers from the cruise line about what happened to their daughter, they found there isn't much oversight in the cruise ship industry. What happens at sea seems to stay at sea. But that's about to change.

On an Alaskan cruise in 2004 Merrian Carver, a 40-year-old investment banker, vanished. Her family in Phoenix called the cruise line.

"[They said] ‘We don’t know whether or not she got off,’” Ken Carver recalled. “That's it."

Equally stunned by Merrian's disappearance and the cruise line's response, the Carver family hired lawyers to try to get some answers, and surveillance video from the ship.

“I finally got them to admit in writing, in fact, they did have a video,” Ken said. “[But] they said they got rid of it.”

Ship staff also got rid of Merrian's clothes and belongings -- all part of what her father calls an attempt to erase any evidence that Merrian was ever on board.

"It's obstruction of justice,” Ken said.

What if the Carvers had never called the cruise line?

“Nothing would've ever happened,” Ken said. “Most people wouldn't have gone to the extent we did.”

From his home office, Ken worked with other cruise victims from around the world, together launching a campaign to bring some law to the high seas. After five years of lobbying Congress, they were successful.

"This will make those cruise ships more accountable and safer,” Congressman John Shadegg said on the floor of the House.

The new legislation will require cruise lines to file crime reports, preserve evidence, have rape kits and U.S. doctors on board, and install more video cameras and peepholes on cabin doors.

"This is an historic development,” Ken said.

And one that's brought the Carvers some peace and satisfaction, even though their daughter's disappearance remains a mystery.

The Carvers say the cruise ship industry spent millions lobbying against the changes. But the new oversight bill just overwhelmingly passed the House and should soon pass the Senate.

 

 

The original article can be viewed here.

For additional information, please go to the website of the International Cruise Victims and read the story of Merrian Carver and other victims.

 

Credits:

Merrian Carver Photo   Ken Carver

Video           AZ Family.com 

Congressional All Stars Pass Cruise Crime Law By Vote of 416 to 4

The House of Representatives passed the Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act (HR 3360) today. This cruise bill was previously part of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2009, but was voted on today as a 'stand alone" bill to speed up its enactment.  

Elijah Cummings - Cruise Safety LawCongress approved the bill by a resounding vote of 416 to 4.

A number of "All Star" Congressmen and Congresswomen spoke at the hearing today.  Here are the highlights of this historic event:

Cruise Ships - "Floating Pieces of Other Countries" - and the Need for  U.S. Laws to Protect Americans 

Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) explained the problem of a lack of accountability of the foreign flagged cruise ships which become "floating pieces of other countries" once the ships are outside of U.S. waters. He recognized the need for cruise lines to adopt reasonable safety measures to protect U.S. passengers.  Some of the measures are simple and a matter of common sense, such as the Doris Matsui - Cruise Crime Law requirement that all doors be fitted with peepholes so that passengers inside cabins can determine who is outside of their doors.  Congress was previously provided with testimony of passengers who opened their doors and were raped by crew members. 

Other safeguards include the requirements that cruise ships maintain supplies of anti-retroviral medications for rape victims (to prevent HIV / AIDS) and employ trained personnel to collect and preserve evidence following sexual assault.  Cruise lines are also required to report sexual assaults and other crimes to the F.B.I. and U.S. Coast Guard and maintain a link to this data base on the cruise lines' websites.  This last measure is important because cruise lines have a well deserved reputation for concealing cruise crimes from the public.  

A Cruise Victim's "Courage, Conviction & Dedication"           

Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA), who introduced the crime bill, thanked her constituent (and our client) Laurie Dishman for her "courage, conviction, and dedication" after she was raped aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  Ms. Matsui explained that after the crime, the cruise line provided no assistance whatsoever to Ms. Dishman in securing the crime scene, or John Shedagg - Cruise Crime Lawidentifying the attacker, or in prosecuting the crime. The ship doctor gave Ms. Dishman a trash bag and told her to return to the crime scene and collect the evidence herself.  Congresswoman Matui characterized the need for the cruise crime bill as "urgent and necessary." 

Cruise Line "Outrageous Conduct and Callous Disregard" 

Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ) spoke of the "terrible story" of Merrian Carver who disappeared on a Celebrity cruise ship. Although this is any parent's worst nightmare, Celebrity's parent company Royal Caribbean tried to cover the disappearance up and then labeled it as a "suicide."  (We have commented on the cruise industry's nasty habit of claiming all "disappearances" are "suicides" in a prior blog "Suicide" - One of the Cruise Lines' Favorite Excuses When a Passenger Disappears at Sea)  

Congressman Shadegg described Royal Caribbean's conduct of obstructing the efforts of Ms. Carver's parents to find out what happened to their daughter as "outrageous" and exhibiting "callous disregard."  He urged the adoption of the cruise law to protect other families who lose loved ones on the high seas.  A video of Mr. Shadegg is below.

"Disturbing & Startling" Large Number of Cruise Ship Crimes

Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) criticized the cruise industry for concealing the large number of shipboard rapes.  He mentioned a "disturbing and startling" article in the LA Times ("Cruise Industry's Dark Waters") which revealed  that in a period of only 32 months Royal Ted Poe - Cruise Crime LawCaribbean had over 250 incidents of where cruise victims were sexually assaulted, battered or sexually harassed. (Our firm handled the case where a Court in Miami ordered the cruise line to reveal this information under a threatened sanction of $1,000 a day).   

Congressman Poe discussed Ms. Dishman's case where Royal Caribbean did nothing to assist her but sent her a letter after the rape thanking her for her business and enclosing a discount coupon for a future cruise!  He recognized Ms. Dishman for exposing the "atrocities" on this cruise line's fleet of cruise ships.

Cruise Ship "Culture of Indifference" Toward Victims

Congressman James Oberstar, the Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, also thanked Ms. Dishman who overcame her "terrible experience" with Royal Caribbean, found the "courage to testify" before Congress regarding her ordeal, and was "determined to see justice done."  He praised her for working to change "the culture aboard cruise ships of indifference" toward  crime James Oberstar - Cruise Crime Lawvictims.

On to the Senate!

The next step toward protecting the cruising public is a vote in the Senate.  

Great thanks for the tireless dedication of the International Cruise Victims ("ICV") organization for supporting the introduction of this cruise safety bill!

Want to get involved in the ICV?  Contact the ICV's President Ken Carver kcarver17@cox.net

We have ordered the C-SPAN coverage of the hearing today and will be posting the ventire ideo in the next week.  Below is the video of Congressman Shadegg's comments regarding the daughter of one his constituients, Ken Carver: