Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World

Caribbean Crime Cruise ShipThe last thing that a family going on vacation wants to think of is being victims of crime. Cruise lines spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars a year creating idyllic illusions of tropical vacations on beautiful Caribbean beaches.  But behind that slick marketing facade lies danger.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime recently released a Global Study on Homicide 2013. The Huffington Post posted an article based on the study entitled the 10 Countries With The World's Highest Murder Rates

The most dangerous countries mentioned in the study read like a cruise line itinerary: Honduras (No. 1), Venezuela (No. 2), Belize (No. 3),  El Salvador (No. 4), Guatemala (No. 5),  Jamaica (no. 6),  St. Kitts - Nevis (no. 8), and Colombia (no. 10).  The UN executive summary says that Caribbean countries are home to to 8.5% of the world's population, but they account for about 27% of world crime. 

I made my own list of the most dangerous countries you can cruise to.  No, its not scientific in nature based on empirical evidence. It's anecdotal in nature based on information we receive from cruise passengers who contact us and complain about being a victim of crime in a port of call. 

99% of the people who contact us, both passengers and crew, are victims of crime in the Caribbean countries. A few people complained of being pick-pocketed in Italy. But we have received no reports of guns or knives from people visiting European or African ports ever. Of course, ports in Australia and New Zealand are fabulously safe. We have also never received a complaint about crime in the Asian ports.

We know what people will think when they read the list. "Crime occurs everywhere. Just use common sense. Stay with the cruise line excursions ashore." I say nonsense to that. The fact is that crime occurs in certain places far more than others. No one has ever contacted us about crime during a Seattle / Vancouver / Alaska cruise.

"Common sense" is no help when a port advertised as a peaceful getaway has a murder rate 25 times more dangerous than where you live and no one has bothered to tell you that. Some of the Caribbean countries have high homicide rates, one as high as around 90 murders per 100,000 people, whereas the average city in the U.S. is a little over 4 homicides per 100,000. 

The tourism officials in the islands? Worthless. They'd just as soon sell you a straw hat as a wooden box to transport your body back home.  And don't think that being on an official cruise tour is safer than exploring on your own. A busload of U.S. tourists may look like Fort Knox to a gang of armed banditos in an impoverished country, as you can read below.

Many people living in these Caribbean countries will be insulted and say how can you point the finger at us when you have cities like Detroit or Newark? But who on earth would ever vacation in one of these U.S. cities? Everyone knows Newark is dangerous. But few people who just bought a St.Lucia Cruise Ship Crimecruise realize that Nassau is also dangerous. 

The other problem facing cruise tourists in the Caribbean is that once you are victimized, the crooks are rarely apprehended. There is little justice. Of the last 50 U.S. citizens killed in Honduras, for example, the local police have solved just 2 cases.

Here's my list:

10. St. Lucia; This island is a good case study on what can go wrong during a cruise excursion. 69 cruise passengers were robbed at gun point on just two excursions. There were no warnings by the cruise lines or the local tourism officials, even though there had been prior crimes against tourists. The St. Lucia tourism officials lied to the victimized passengers, telling them that nothing like this had ever happened before.

55 Celebrity Cruise Passengers & 2 Crew Members Robbed at Gun Point in St. Lucia

14 Cruise Passengers Robbed at Anse-La-Raye Waterfall in St. Lucia

Norwegian Cruise Line Drops St. Lucia

U.K. Couple Attacked on Yacht in St. Lucia, Husband Killed

Liar, Liar Pants On Fire? St. Lucia Tourism Board Denies Prior Armed Robbery of Cruise Passengers

9. El Salvador: El Salvador is one of a few countries which is subject to a "critical" crime warning from the U.S. State De[partment. It has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world. In Carnival Cruise Passenger Robbed2012, it suffered from a murder rate of 69 per 100,000 people. By comparison, the murder rate in Massachusetts, with a similar geographical area and population, was 2.6 per 100,000. Murders and crimes against U.S. citizens are rarely solved. 

8.  United States Virgin Islands (USVI):  The cruise industry already abandoned one of the major islands in USVI, St. Croix, after tourists were murdered over a decade ago. Cruise ships are still sailing to the other major island, St. Thomas, after a 14 year old girl from a cruise ship visiting St. Thomas was murdered.

There are way too many guns, drugs, robberies, and murders to pretend the USVI are a place for a family to vacation. The leading maritime case involving a cruise line's duty to warn passengers of dangers ashore involves St. Thomas.

Carnival Passenger Killed In St. Thomas

Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals: Cruise Lines Have Duty to Warn of Danger of Crime in Ports of Call

Antigua Crime Cruise Ship7. Antigua; Like other beautiful but impoverished islands in the Caribbean, Antigua seems like paradise but it has seen more than its share of tragedies. The murder of a young woman during a cruise for her sister's wedding led to the cruise company dropping the island as a port of call, but it quickly returned. Travel writers and cruise bloggers tend to hide the ugly side of ports of call in exchange for free perks.

Passenger From Star Clippers Murdered in Antigua

Cruise Passengers Attacked & Robbed in Antigua While Cruise and Tourism Officials Meet

Travel Writers and the Ethics of Reporting Cruise News

Murder in Antigua: Store Employee Shot in Cruise Tourism Zone Heritage Quay

6. St. Kitts - Nevis;  Another pretty but poor island where cruise passengers have been robbed "in bulk." The disparity in wealth between the locals and the affluent cruise passengers often leads to armed robberies.

17 Cruise Passengers Robbed in St. Kitts

Visitors Warned About Safety in St. Kitts After Tourist Robbery

Royal Caribbean Passenger Alleges Sexual Assault During Sailing Excursion in St. Kitts & Nevis

Mexico Cruise Ship Murder5. Mexico; This country has suffered some of the worst crime stories over the years. Drugs and be-headings are usually not in the tourists areas, but the tourist spots suffer from the nation's poor image. Places like Acapulco are literally defended by army soldiers.   

Armed Banditos Rob 22 Carnival Passengers on Excursion in Mexico

Gun Fight in Cabo San Lucas - Is It Safe to Cruise to Mexico?

Royal Caribbean Passenger Alleges Gang Rape in Cozumel

Royal Caribbean Crew Member Murdered in Mexico

Mexican Violence: Does Anyone Cruise to Acapulco Anymore?

Mexico Vacation Awareness

4. Guatemala;  Guatemala is not a place where you should think of renting a car and driving in remote areas, as ambushes of tourists and armed robberies are not uncommon. Many people consider El Salvador equally dangerous to cruise tourists.

Norwegian Cruise Line Passenger Murdered in Guatemala

3. Venezuela:  Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates. Crime has increased substantially over the last few years.

Cruise Passenger Murdered in Venezuela's Margarita Island

Roatan Crime 2. Honduras:

Roatan Honduras has been in the news lately following the murder of a NCL crew member who was gunned down in a gruesome crime for his cell phone. The expatriate land and business owners are campaigning that crime is rare, but they are suffering violence and many break-ins and burglaries of their homes and businesses.

We have chronicled several armed robberies of cruise passengers and a sexual assault of a U.S. tourist this year. Like many other Caribbean islands, the police are either indifferent or corrupt. The legal system is somewhere between barbaric and non-existent. 

NCL Crew Member Shot & Killed in Roatan, Honduras

Roatan: The Irresponsibility of Travel Writers

U.S. Department of State Critical Crime warning

Cruise Ship Armed Robbery1. Bahamas: We have been warning about crime in Nassau ever since we started this blog in September 2009. In October 2009, two "vicious robbers" robbed a group of 11 terrified cruise passengers from a Royal Caribbean ship by gunpoint in Nassau. In November 2009, 18 cruise passengers were robbed during excursions from Royal Caribbean and Disney cruise ships.

Crime has gotten worse in Nassau, We receive more complaints about crime in Nassau than all of the other ports in the Caribbean combined. Armed robberies, sexual assault of teenagers and young women, and the murder of tourists makes this port a dangerous place to take your family. The second you step off the cruise ship you're likely to be offered drugs.

The U.S. State Department has issued multiple critical crime warning for the Bahamas.

The Bahamian archaic legal system is indifferent to the plight of U.S. crime victims and the country is inept at solving crimes in port or on Bahamian-flagged cruise ships.  

Warning: U.S. Citizen Murdered in Nassau - Cruise Passengers Urged to Avoid Travel to the Bahamas!

Cruise Passenger Beaten and Raped in Nassau

U.S. Attorney Raises Alarm Over Crime - Bahamas "One Shot Away" From Cruise Line Exit 

U.S. Embassy in Nassau Issues Critical Crime Warning

 

Additional Reading: The New York Times publishes an story called "When Crime Comes to Barbados Cruise CrimeParadise." Written by Michelle Higgins in the Times' "Practical Traveler" section, the article suggests that crime is rising in the Caribbean islands such as Belize, Dominican Republic, and St. Lucia.

Dis-Honorable Mentions:

Barbados: Two British Cruise Passengers Shot in Barbados During P&O World Cruise

Caymans: Police in Cayman Islands Investigating Sexual Assault of Cruise Ship Passenger 

St. Marteen: Crew Member Shot in St. Marteen

 

April 23 2014 Update:  St Lucia OnLine: St. Lucia ranked in top 10 most dangerous cruise destinations in the world (read comments to article)

St. Maarten Island Time: Port of St. Maarten Not Listed in Cruise Law News Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World - Destination must remain safe, secure and hospitable

The website Cruise Line Fans released its Top 5 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations a couple of years ago, as follows: 1. Antigua,  2. Jamaica,  3. Brazil,  4. Nassau Bahamas,  and 5. cruise ships.

The website Crew Center lists: Mexico, Brazil, Nassau Bahamas, Barcelona Spain and Naples Italy

Nassau Tribune: U.S. Girl Strangled, Sexually Assaulted in the Bahamas 

 

Photo Credit: 

Crime tape - Crime Will Destroy Us! bahamas B2B

St. Lucia armed robbery - DBS TV St. Lucia via the Times

Acapulco killings - "Drug Related Killings on the Rise in Acapulco"

Nassau armed robbery - Caribbean 360

Barbados Shooting: Splash News/Alamy

Roatan: The Irresponsibility of Travel Writers

The last two weeks has been an eye opener for knowledgeable tourists thinking of traveling to Roatan. A cruise line employee was gunned down near the port. The bloody death was widely reported in the local newspapers which published gruesome photographs of the dead crew member.

As a result, a major cruise line temporarily pulled out of Roatan. A major excursion company also canceled all tours of the island expressing concerns for the safety of cruise passengers.

The story revealed some disturbing information about the island.  A number of tourists, some arriving by cruise ship and some by air going to dive, have been robbed at gun point and machete point this year. 

Hundreds of people have left comments on our website and Facebook pages about what they think of Roatan Honduras Murder CruiseRoatan. Many islanders and expatriates who bought homes and invested in businesses in Roatan swear that the beautiful island is perfectly safe. Others have stated that it is a dangerous place, with corrupt and/or incompetent/indifferent policemen, where crimes are covered up.

I have received a wide range of responses to my articles, including curses and threats from those who feel an obligation to protect the island's reputation, whether it be for sincere, patriotic reasons or in the calculated defense of their financial investments. I have also received comments from expatriates who have fled the island in fear, or who are stuck with their debt on the island, saying you-have-no-idea-how-bad-it-is-here. 

The most expressive of expatriates in Roatan have informed me of the dangers they perceive presented by what they describe as the thugs in gangs or crack-heads desperate to feed their drug habits. These types intimidate the good people in the community who are afraid to swear out complaints to the police out of fear of retribution. There is animosity between the islanders and the people from the mainland where murders are so frequent as to earn Honduras the infamous designation of having the highest murder rate in the world since 2010. Honduras and the Bahamas are the only cruise destinations in the Caribbean with critical crime warnings from the U.S. State Department.     

Some defenders of Roatan argue that things will get better and justice is possible in Roatan, pointing out that the police quickly apprehended the man who shot and killed the cruise line employee. (Photo above) But others point out that police work really didn't solve the murder. Rather, the mayor's $5,000 reward led to the alleged murderer's friends shooting him in the leg and then calling the cops for the reward money. Some people has posed the question to me - do you want to live in a place where a ship employee will be gunned down for a $250 cell phone and the crime will be solved only when the murderer's friends commit another crime by shooting him for a $5,000 reward?

It is with this backdrop that I read an article today in the Huffington Post entitled "Your Next Trip Should Be to Roatan, Honduras. Here's Why."

It's what I call a "puff-piece" by a travel writer, extolling the quiet "authentic island charm" and the "warm and friendly" people. There is no mention of murder or robbery or crime in the article - only images of the beautiful blue waters, the white sandy beaches, and the thick green forests of the "paradise island of Roatan." 

The article has seemingly been liked and re-tweeted by virtually every resort, dive shop, and bar on Roatan Honduras CrimeRoatan.

Is Roatan the "paradise" portrayed by the article? The article mentioned several resorts and tourist attractions. Did the travel writer pay for her stay on the island or was this a quid-pro-quo great review for a free vacation?      

Some people have warned me that if I travel to Roatan to check things out for myself, not to take a taxi or rent a car.  Some of the tourists and locals have been held up by the taxi drivers. Tourists renting cars have been ambushed when they leave the main roads (photo right). If you complain to the police, I am told, there is an even chance the police will do nothing or, worse, they will be in cahoots with the crooks.

I have written before about travel writers ignoring crime and violence and painting a false and misleading image of travel destinations: Travel Writers and the Ethics of Reporting Cruise News.

As I said before, travel writers who ignore the murders and violence in the Caribbean ports are not doing anyone a favor. And they are providing a grave disservice to the next unsuspecting family who travels to Roatan blindly looking for paradise.  

April 21 2014 Update: Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World 

 

Read: Crime, What Crime? - Bay Village Voice January 2006  

Photo Credit: Cruise Critic (bottom) 

Reefer Madness: Bahamas Magistrate Taunts & Shakes Down Royal Caribbean Potheads

The Nassau Tribune reports on a criminal hearing last weekend in the Bahamas after five cruise ship passengers from two different ship were arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.  The five passengers each had between one and five grams of pot. I'm told that's enough pot for a couple of joints.

A 28 year old from Leesburg, Florida was apprehended by the Chief of Security on the Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas with 1 gram of pot. The ship's security invited the Bahamian police onto the Enchantment and handed the joint and the passenger over. The Magistrate filed him Pot Bahamas$500 and threatened that if he didn't pay the fine immediately he would throw him in jail, adding “and unlike US prisons, our prisons are not as hospitable.” 

A 27 year old man from Sarasota, Florida was arrested after he bought 2 grams of pot ashore in downtown Nassau. He arrived in Nassau on the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas. The Magistrate fined him $500 as well, telling him "some countries in Asia can carry a punishment as severe as death."

A 60 year old woman on the Enchantment of the Seas was arrested with 5 grams of pot. The magistrate filed her $800, stating (and I quote): "It is a shock that individuals at this age would be engaging in such illegal activities.” 

A 61 year old man from Fort Meyers on an unspecified cruise ships was arrested after the cruise ship turned him over to the Bahamian police with 5 grams of pot. He received a $800 fine.

The last pothead was a 37 year old who bought 2 grams for $50 at the straw market. The stoner told the judge “I was walking around the straw market. I was drinking. I had like two rums that morning . . " The judge was unimpressed and threatened him with a three month jail sentence if he didn't pay $500 right away.  

It never ceases to amaze me that cruise lines like Royal Caribbean make hundreds of millions of dollars pushing booze on their ships to the point that the passenger are knee-walking-and-puking drunk, but a cruise ship security officer will collar a guest for a single joint and turn them over to the police. 

The double standard also applies to the Bahamas where pot dealers canvas the port and sell pot up and down Bay Street and in and around every bar in town. One of the chief complaints we hear from Crime Nassau Bahamascruise passengers sailing to Nassau is that they are constantly harassed by the local citizens to buy pot the second they step off the cruise ship and walk into town.  

The Bahamas has one of the highest crime rates in the world. It lets child predators go free, it has a deplorable record solving crimes on Bahamian-flagged cruise ships, and it is clueless when it comes to solving murders and violent crimes against tourists

Nabbing cruise tourists with a joint or two, and teaming up with the cruise lines to pull passengers off the ship with small amounts of pot while Bahamians are openly selling the stuff at the straw market, are duplicitous revenue collecting exercises.

The Bahamas is one gunshot away from losing the cruise lines. It needs to concentrate its limited resources on protecting its citizens and visitors from armed bad guys and not hassle the tourists who bring money into its impoverished country. 

 

Photo Credit: Vibe (top); Nassau Tribune April 9 2014 newspaper - Tribune.

Arrest Made in Roatan for Robberies of Cruise Passengers & Tourists

A number of people have sent me links to news sources in Roatan indicating that the local police arrested a 20 year old islander, identified as Cory Lee Beckner, as a suspect in the robbery of several cruise passengers and tourists.

Teledifusora Insular indicates that the young man is the son of the owner of Palm Beach in Roatan. He allegedly is the "ringleader of a gang" which preyed on tourists to Roatan.

He reportedly was born in the U.S. although he was raised as an "islander" in Roatan. This comes to the surprise of many who blamed the Hondurans from the mainland for causing all of the trouble on their island.

The Trip Advisor site contains a comment by a cruise passenger (from Royal Caribbean) to Roatan which said this about Palm Cory Lee Beckner Roatan Honduras CrimeBeach after a cruise to Roatan last month:

"We booked an excursion from cruiseexcursions.com to go zip lining in South Side, and Eco-tour there and a beach trip to West Bay Tabyana. The local company who facilitated the tours was Christopher tours. For some non-understandable reason, we were taken instead to Palm Beach. There was only one other family there and we got eated up with sand flea bites within minutes of getting there. On the way out from the beach to the main road, we were shot at by robbers. They shot the tire out on our cab, held a gun to my 15 year old sons head and a knife to my 16 year old sons throat and robbed us of money, cameras, phones, shoes and clothes. Apparently this is common on Roatan."

Was 20 year-old Mr. Beckner really involved in this crime or any of the other crimes alleged by tourists who visited Roatan this year? 

Anyone with information regarding the suspect or crime in Roatan, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

More Trouble for Cruise Tourism in Roatan

The Telegraph reports that Cruising Excursions, a company which operates tours exploring Roatan's "fishing villages, mangroves, iguana farms and beaches," announced that it is canceling its tours on the island.

An excursion company representative said that “a string of reports of robberies, violence against visitors and now this horrific murder have forced us to suspend our cruise excursion programme on this beautiful island. "

The newspaper further quoting the spokesperson saying that it is “very sad for the majority of law Roatan Hondurad Cruise Crimeabiding island residents, especially those who make a living from tourism but we cannot recommend cruisers go ashore until we are reassured that measures are in place to protect visitors."

The excursion company also said that all bookings have been canceled with full refunds.

Roatan is in crisis mode trying to respond to the murder of a Filipino crew member from the Norwegian Pearl a week ago. We previously reported on the horrific crime

The excursion company's withdrawal from Roatan is significant because it was based not only on the recent homicide but on what it describes as a string of violent robberies this year. 

We reported on prior armed robberies in January and March

Roatan attended the Cruise Shipping Miami convention in Miami Beach last month to promote its port. I stopped and took a photo of the booth. I thought that it was just a matter of time before something like this happened.

 

Photo Credit:  Jim Walker

A Week the Cruise Industry Would Like to Forget

This week has been a public relations disaster for the cruise lines and the travel industry.

A Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) crew member from the Norwegian Pearl was gunned down in Roatan after he walked off the ship to call his wife and check on his child back in the Philippines (suspect photo below right). A Disney crew member sexually molested a 13 year old girl on the Disney Dream.  A visitor from Canada was murdered and his family terrorized in the Bahamas. A MSC cruise ship, the Magnifica, was raided by the police and labor officials in Brazil for human rights violations. Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise ships infected hundreds and hundreds of guests with norovirus aboard the Grandeur of the Seas and the Crown Princess

You can read about the stories here.

A month ago I attended the Cruise Shipping Miami (CSM) and listened to NCL CEO Kevin Sheehan Roatan Murder Suspect Cruisesay: "we are ruled by public opinion; unless we can keep our business running right we will always be on defensive." The NCL boss added: "a period of operational excellence and no media incidents are needed."

A month ago I wrote that the continuous stories about mistreatment of crew members, sexual assaults, and children victimization will continue to damage the cruise industry's image. Its like reputation death by a thousand cuts. I heard no PR plan by the cruise lines at CSM to turn things around.  I said at the time that the cruise lines were just "hanging in the balance hoping for the best."

Well the best didn't come and cruise executive Sheehan didn't get his prayer answered for "no media incidents."

This week Sheehan pulled his cruise ships out of Roatan after one of his crew members was murdered last Sunday, but the move is just temporary. His ships will again start calling on Roatan at some point. But the danger is still there. Many cruise passengers, from Carnival and Royal Caribbean, as well as other tourists, have been robbed at gunpoint or machete point in Roatan earlier this year.

Crime in Roatan will not magically stop.  Other cruise tourists will undoubtedly be robbed. Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world not to mention dysfunctional police and legal systems. Where do the cruise line go instead? Belize? The Bahamas? Their crime and murder rates are also some of the worst in the world.

Roatan, Belize, and the Bahamas are all beautiful but they are all dangerous places to visit. What families want to save up all year and go on a Caribbean vacation to get away from the stresses of their lives just to end up in some of the most dangerous countries in the world?

A new Harris Poll revealed that the cruise industry's image is sinking. The poll says that the U.S. public questions the safety and reliability of cruising. The poll cited the numerous norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships as one reason for the lack of confidence in the cruise industry. The poll was taken before the Roatan shooting or the Disney child molestation case this week.

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

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

CLIA's Christine Duffy moderated the conference attended by the travel agent loyals. She discussed the future of cruising with the executives of the major cruise lines like Richard Fain (Royal Caribbean), Arnold Donald (Carnival), Kevin Sheehan (NCL) and Pierfrancesco Vaga (MSC Cruises).

"The Millennials"

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

The Sun Sentinel quotes Ms. Duffy saying: "This demographic group offers a window into the next generation of travelers and provides opportunity for serious growth. They have a strong desire to travel and to share experiences."

In simple terms Ms. Duffy is talking about the next generation of young people from age 14 to 34 (like my children and nieces) who CLIA is targeting as the next wave of 25 to 55 year-old cruisers. 

Who are these "Millennials?" What will they be interested in for their vacations?

Selling cruises to the the "Millennials" will not be an easy task. 

First, they are poorer than prior generations. They have more debt and student loans. And it won't be difficult to sell them cruises just because they will have lower incomes and less wealth. It's because there will be a disconnect between what the Millennials are interested in and what the cruise lines are offering, and because the Millennials will have a greater social consciousness than the current cruisers.  

Wow Gadgets Won't Wow the Millennials

The articles report that the cruise industry is trying to attract more first time cruisers by offering the public "more innovative ships with 'wow' features."

A recent publication correctly called the Millennials "digital wizards." Like my kids, they have grown up with high tech gaming toys seemingly before they could walk or talk. I don't see the Millennials being impressed by the "gee-whizz" and so-called "wow" gadgets being touted by Royal Caribbean (virtual balconies & the "North Star" device) or Princess (the "SeaWalk"). The Millennials are smart and their taste for technology is sophisticated. My kids have been mastering Apple products for 15 years. They Royal Caribbean Bumper Carsare not easily impressed with what I or the 60 and 70 year old cruise executives think are "cool." 

Some of the new attractions touted by the cruise lines are hardly wow gadgets in the first place. The bumper cars projected to appear on Royal Caribbean's next ship are a silly, old-school idea.  The Travel Weekly article even talks about "bowling alleys and self-leveling pool tables" and quotes Royal Caribbean's Chairman Richard Fain saying: "All of that conveys what cruising has to offer. It says something about what the industry stands for.”  Circa 1950 bumper cars, bowling alleys, pool tables for the Millennials? You have to be kidding me.   

The Millennials are less privileged, more diverse, and more liberal than today's cruisers. 4 out of 10 will not be white. They will be more sensitive to the plight of workers in the international community being over-worked and underpaid. They will be more attuned to environmental issues. They will have a greater understanding of the fragility of the air and water ecosystems that the cruise lines routinely abuse.

Human Rights, Not Bumper Cars

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

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

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

These are important issues that the Millennials will focus on. In the next 10 to 20 years, we will see the continued rise of social media and the presence of more contemporary publications focusing on issues of relevance to the Millennials.

Old school newspapers, which often blindly cater to the cruise industry, will continue to decline in readership and relevance.  

The bumper-car-and-pool-table and gadget-promoting cruise lines will lose the Millennials as customers unless they understand what the future really holds and begin to address issues of crime, crew member rights and environmental problems.  

Cruise Nightmare: Disney Crew Member Arrested on Charges of Molesting Child on Disney Dream

Ahmed Sofyan - Disney Cruise MolestationNews sources in Florida are reporting that the Port Canaveral Police Department arrested a 36 year old Disney crew member today on charges of molesting a 13 year old girl on the Disney Dream cruise ship.

Florida Today states that "the Port Canaveral Police Department has arrested a Disney Cruise Line crew member today for alleged lewd or lascivious molestation of a minor."

WKMG Orlando, which has been a leader in covering cruise ship crimes, identifies the Disney crew member accused of molesting the 13-year-old girl as Ahmed Sofyan, age 36, of Jakarta, Indonesia.

He was charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of false imprisonment.

The alleged incident occurred aboard the Disney Dream ship while it was docked in Port Canaveral this morning. 

The Port Canaveral Police Department says that at approximately 8:12 AM, Canaveral Port Authority Police responded to the request of Disney Cruise Lines regarding a lewd or lascivious molestation that occurred aboard the Disney Dream cruise ship while docked at terminal 8 in Port Canaveral. Upon conclusion of the investigation, crew member Ahmed Sofyan (DOB: 07/22/77) of Jakarta, Indonesia, was charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of false imprisonment. The victim was a 13-year-old female not known to the suspect.

Last year Disney refused to timely report a similar incident when a 33 year old Disney waiter molested an 11 year old girl on the Disney Dream. Although the incident occurred while the cruise ship was in port in Port Canaveral, Disney sailed the cruise ship to the Bahamas in what appeared to be an attempt to aid the crew member in escaping justice.  The Bahamas, as expected, refused to arrest the molester and Disney then flew the crew member back to his home country, India. WKMG covered the disturbing story. You can see photos of the incident here and read our account of the crime here.

Indonesian crew members have received bad press lately.  In February an Indonesian crew member on a HAL cruise ship was arrested in a horrific case where he tried to kill and throw a passenger overboard from the Nieuw Amsterdam.

Sexual assaults against children is an issue we have discussed many times on this blog.  In 2010, we reported on a situation - Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise Ship 

A news report from WKMG on the latest Disney Cruises child molestation case is below: 

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

 

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

 

Norovirus Aboard Crown Princess Sickens 66 Passengers & 17 Crew Members

Multiple news sources are reporting that an outbreak of a gastrointestinal illness has stricken "at least 66 passengers and 17 crew members" aboard Princess Cruises' Crown Princess.

A spokesperson for Princess Cruises says that the nasty digestive bug is likely norovirus. 

There have been 6 prior gastrointestinal outbreaks on cruise ships calling on U.S. ports this year. There were just 9 in all of last year.

We have been contacted by passengers complaining that passengers were sick and there was a strong smell of vomit in the hallways.

Norovirus has plagued the image of the cruise line. There was a massive outbreak aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas in January. A recent Harris Poll revealed that norovirus was one reason why the public does not perceive cruising as safe or reliable.  

We previously reported on a norovirus case involving the Crown PrincessHere We Go Again: Norovirus Sickens 100 Passengers on Crown Princess Sailing to Galveston

April 10 2014 Update:  The infected count is now at 104 passengers and 25 crew members on the Crown Princess. 

 

 

Harris Poll Reveals a Lack of Confidence in Reliability & Safety of Cruise Industry

A Harris Poll released today reveals that the public has a lack of confidence in the reliability and safety of the cruise lines. Although the cruise industry was improving the public's perception of cruising, the numerous norovirus outbreaks aboard cruise line ships this year seem to have "effectively stolen the wind from the industry's collective sails." 

Just this week, the Princess Cruises' Crown Princess experienced a norovirus outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced six prior gastrointestinal outbreaks this year. That's 7 so far this year, compared to 9 all of last year. The public is questioning the cruise lines' usual excuse that it is always the passengers' fault for not washing their hands, as there is evidence Cruise Ship Norovirusthat many crew members work while ill in violation of the CDC protocols.

The Harris Poll reveals that the public's perceptions of "quality," "trust" and "purchase intent" are still below the scores before the Triumph debacle last year. 

"We've all heard the saying that a rising tide lifts all boats," says Deana Percassi, Vice President and Public Relations Research Consultant with Nielsen, "but the inverse also holds true. In a field as crowded as the cruise industry, bad press for a small handful of brands – or even a single one – can have negative repercussions for major players across the board."

Americans continue to have more favorable attitudes toward air travel than toward cruises. Roughly six in ten think that air travel is much more reliable than taking cruises and a majority agree that air travel is much safer than taking cruises.

A majority of Americans also agree that they're less likely to take a cruise now than they were a year ago. 

The cruise industry has also been rocked this year with a scandal that MSC Cruises has been dumping garbage bags at sea and have been exploiting its crew to the point that the police in Brazil had to raid a MSC cruise ship. Just this week, NCL decided to pull its cruise ships from Roatan following armed robbery of cruise passengers and the murder of a NCL crew member.

Last year, the cruise industry attacked the Harris Poll, accusing it of being "unscientific," "unreliable" and "flawed." The cruise lines, especially the trade group Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"), always say this when there are unfavorable reports criticizing the cruise industry. It tries to discount its annual failed environmental cruise ship scores by the Friends of the Earth in this way too. Last week, CLIA said that it was "disappointed" by a study criticizing it for abusing crew members and the environment. It said the report was "unscientific" and "flawed."

Expect a similar statement from the spin masters at CLIA about the latest critical Harris Poll.  

NCL Crew Member Shot & Killed in Roatan, Honduras

This evening we received reliable information that a Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) crew member was shot and killed in Roatan, Honduras earlier today.

The crew member reportedly was from NCL's Norwegian Pearl cruise ship.

The only information we received is that a Pearl crew member named "Jacob" from the Philippines was killed by a gunshot today while the Norwegian Pearl was in Roatan today. The murder apparently occurred when the gunman was trying to rob the crew member of his cell phone a short distance form the cruise ship. 

NCL Norwegian Cruise Line Pearl This year we have posted two articles warning about the high crime rate in Roatan. We published the articles last month and in January:

Travel Crime Warning: Tourists Assaulted, Robbed & Terrorized in Roatan, Honduras

Crime in Roatan: Shots Fired, Armed Robbery of Carnival Cruise Passengers

The U.S. State Department issued a warning that the murder rate in Honduras is the highest in the world. 

Before I learned of the murder today, I received the following message on this blog: 

"Honduras is rated the number 1 murder country in Central America for a reason.  . . . People, just remember this, anyone who lives there or owns property there is going to paint you a rosy picture of this place because they can't leave or they have their money invested there. Avoid Roatan."

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

Update: The Teledifusora Insular Facebook page identifies the Filipino crew member as Jacob Bagan. It states that the police are searching for someone called "Barrabas" who shot the man and then left his bicycle at the scene. The new mayor of Roatan offers a reward of 100,000 Lempiras (a little over $5,000 U.S.) for the capture of the murderer. There are numerous photographs on the Facebook page, including one of the deceased man that is graphic. Other newspapers are covering the story, including this one, which contains very disturbing images (warning). 

Below is a video from Roatan of the Mayor being interviewed.

April 7 2014 UpdateWill NCL's CEO Kevin Sheehan Pull the Norwegian Pearl, Dawn & Jewel Out of Roatan?

April 10 2014 UpdateHonduran Police Arrest Bay Islands Resident in Murder of NCL Crew Member

 

Photo credit: Wikipedia / Visitor 7  

San Marco Basin in Venice Re-Opens to Mega Cruise Ships, MSC Preziosa Smashes Passenger Corridor at Port

MSC Preziosa VeniceThe Italian publication Medi Telegraph reports that the MSC cruise ship, Preziosa, collided with a large passenger walkway at the port of Venice.

The newspapers in Italy, such as La Nuova, refer to the pedestrian corridors at the maritime station as "fingers" which provide access to the upper decks of the cruise ship..

Despite the presence of two tugs and a pilot on board the ship, the Preziosa, smashed into and destroyed one of the fingers. No one at the pier or on the cruise ship were injured.

The collision, which damaged the starboard bow of the ship, occurred on the day of the reopening of the San Marco Basin to the mega-ships. The incident will add to the debate whether gigantic cruise ship should be permitted to sail in the basin so close to the beautiful buildings of the old city.

You can see photos of the ship and the pedestrian "fingers" in the La Nuevo newspaper.

Vomiting & Diarrhea Bug Infects Passengers on Grandeur of the Seas

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 111 out of of 2122 passengers (5.23%) and 6 out of 790 crew (0.76%) have reported ill with gastrointestinal illness involving vomiting and diarrhea. The Royal Caribbean ship was on a 7 day cruise from Baltimore.

You can read the CDC report here. The CDC hasn't figured out yet whether the gastrointestinal outbreak was caused by norovirus. 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein reports that cruise passengers have received the following Grandeur of the Seasinformation in an email:

"Hello, this is Royal Caribbean International. We would like to provide you with some important information regarding your Saturday, April 5th, sailing onboard Grandeur of the Seas out of the Port of Baltimore. During the ship's last sailing, a number of guests experienced a gastrointestinal illness. We will conduct enhanced sanitizing onboard the ship and within the terminal to help prevent any illness from affecting your cruise. Therefore, your check-in and boarding will be delayed. Because space and seating in the terminal is limited, we ask that you not arrive to the port before 2:00 PM. Check in will take place between 2:00 PM and 4:30 PM."

I always wonder about the effectiveness of "enhanced cleaning" when the CDC can't determine what the disease is much less how it can aboard the cruise ship.

Any passengers cruising this week please let us know whether the virus was eradicated or whether the outbreak continues.

 

 Photo Credit: Wikipedia / J. Glover

Slave Ship? Brazilian Police Board MSC Magnifica after Crew Members Complain of Long Hours, Abuse, Intimidation & Sexual Harassment

The BBC reports that Brazilian police boarded a MSC cruise ship and rescued 11 crew members working in "slave-like conditions." 

Brazilian officials say that the 11 crew members were forced to work up to 16 hours a day on the MSC Magnifica. Some of the crew members were subjected to sexual harassment.

The Brazilian authorities have been investigating the labor abuses for the past month, following a tip-off MSC Magnifica - Slave Shipfrom MSC crew members. 

"The fact that they had signed a contract, even an international contract, does not mean that the basic human rights should not be respected," Labor Ministry director Alexandre Lyra said. 

A publication in Brazil contains additional details of the working conditions. The Blog Do Sakamoto talks of exhaustive work on the MSC cruise ship with stories of abuse, bullying and fraudulent time recording.

"We have no doubt that it is slave labor," said Alexandre Lyra, head of Brazil's Division of Surveillance for the Eradication of Slave Labor.

You can see two statements of the working conditions written by MSC crew members here.

Another newspaper in Brazil reported that crew members were subjected to racism and homophobic threats and taunts. 

MSC issued a statement denying everything.

In December and March, we posted videos and photos of MSC dumping garbage bags into the sea off the coast of Brazil from the MSC Magnifica.  If the recent allegations are true, it seems that MSC treats its employees worse than the sea it pollutes. 

 

Photo Credit: Reporter Brazil

Cruise Passengers on Excursion in Belize Involved in Head-On Collision

Belize Tour Excursion Van AccidentNews 7 in Belize published an article yesterday entitled Tourists Survive Head On Collision.

The story involves two cruise passengers who had taken an excursion ashore in Belize and were involved in a serious accident while riding in a van which had a head-on collision with another van. The tour van they were in was caused to flip over.

Here is the local news station's account:  

"Two cruise tourists and their driver were involved in  a serious collision within Belize City limits this afternoon. This picture provided to us by a viewer shows the tourists slumped over on the side of the road in front of the mashed up and overturned tour van they were in. The collision happened at around 2:30 at mile three and a half on the Western Highway - right at the spot where a new speed bump was installed just last week. The circumstances of the accident are unknown but it seems two mini-vans collided at the speedbump and the impact sent the gold van spinning across the highway, causing it to violently flip. The tourists were taken to a private hospital for treatment, while the condition of the driver is not known."

The news station did not identify the cruise line or cruise ship. 

Automobile, bus and van accidents ashore are an unexpected part of cruising and taking excursions ashore. Cruise lines have liability for injuries suffered during excursions under some circumstances, such as when the cruise lines offer the tour and fail to have in place procedures to properly vet the tour Belize Van Accident - Cruise Excursionexcursion's equipment and the driver's background, experience and driving record. Other excursions where cruise passengers have been injured include:

Excursion Tour Bus Crash In Tortola Injures Princess Cruises' Passengers From Caribbean Princess

Injured Clelbrity Cruises Passengers to Dominica Airlifted to Miami

 9 Cruise Passengers Killed, 14 Injured in Bus Excursion Accident

Royal Caribbean Sponsored Excursion Tour Bus Crashes in St. Martin

Royal Caribbean Cruise Passengers Injured During Excursion in St. Thomas

 

Photo Credit:  7 News Belize

Is Juneau's Cruise Ship Disaster Exercise A Joke?

KTOO in Alaska published an article today entitled "Is Juneau Ready for a Cruise Ship Security Threat?

The article states that Juneau, which receives over 1,000,000 cruise passengers a year, is conducting an emergency exercise today involving a "cruise ship security threat." 

The article quotes Emergency Programs Manager Tom Mattice saying that the emergency exercise involves cruise ship passengers and some type of "large-scale" security event. 

Coast Guard employees, city officials, fire and rescue personnel, police officers, cruise line officials and relief organizations like the American Red Cross will be involved in the drill.

The city official calls this a "large-scale event" but that seems hardly true. A reader of our Facebook page sent us a link from the Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska requesting " . . . up to (40) enthusiastic volunteers to role play as victims/patients for sheltering, mental health and medical victims." No actual cruise ships will be involved.

Three dozen volunteers playing injured and no cruise ship in sight? That's hardly a realistic or "large scale" test.  

The cruise ships sailing to Alaska today have 2,000 to 4,000 passengers aboard, in addition to crew members from 60 different countries. Many critics of the cruise industry are concerned that the local Emergency Cruise Ship Disaster Exerciseports and emergency response officials will be overwhelmed by a true large scale cruise disaster.  

A former cruise safety manager recently sent a letter to Senator Rockefeller outlining his concerns. Read "Let’s Not Wait for a Cruise Line Disaster to Protect Passengers." I have written many cautionary stories like this one - "Titanic Redux? Can Royal Caribbean Safely Evacuate 8,500 Passengers & Crew from the Oasis of the Seas?"

Many local emergency exercises like the one in Juneau today serve as little more than a public relations tool to tout that cruising is safe and everyone is prepared if something goes wrong.

Last year, the Coast Guard and the Bahamas participated in a emergency exercise where "actors"(photo above right) played injured cruise ship passengers and were attended to by the Bahamian police.  

I'm sure that the forty or so actors lying around down town Juneau with fake bandages around their heads today were well taken care of by the emergency response teams which probably had more emergency personnel than the "victims."

Anyone have photos of the event? We'd be pleased to post them . . .  

Additional Info:

Resolution Adopting the Cruise Ship Shore-Side Response Plan for Juneau

Cruise Ship Emergency Response Overview for Juneau 

April 3 2014 Update:  Scenario involved barge with explosives colliding with cruise ship at port in Juneau (make believe) with only 26 passengers going to the hospital . . .

And here are the PR comments:

“We have one of the best teams out there for emergencies."

"We’re like family, we’ve been doing this together for so long."

“I thought it was very successful."

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

In an exclusive story, Cruise Line News has learned that cruise industry giant Carnival Corporation recently incorporated its business in the United States (in the state of Delaware). Carnival intends to announce this historic development tomorrow, April 2nd, at Carnival's headquarters in Miami.

Since 1972, Carnival has incorporated its business and registered its cruise ships in the country of Panama. For over 40 years, Carnival cruise ships have flown the flag of Panama in order to avoid the onerous safety regulations, excessive labor laws, unreasonable environmental laws, and high taxes of the United States of America.

Cruise Law News' discovery of this historic event came about when prominent maritime lawyer Jim Walker bumped into Carnival's Chairman Micky Arison at court side when Arison's championship basketball team, the Miami Heat, won another game. Maritime ace lawyer Walker asked Arison: "Micky, if Dwayne Wade and LeBron James earn several hundred million dollars from Carnival and pay tens of Mickey Arison Miami Heat Carnival Cruisemillions of dollars in U.S. taxes, don't you think it is fair that Carnival - which earns over 15 billion dollars a year in cruise ticket sales - pays its fair share of U.S. taxes?"

Perhaps it was the euphoria of the Heat beating the Portland Trailblazers by two points in a close victory, but Micky was ecstatic. "Yes, let's do it!" he said handing maritime lawyer Walker a half-eaten hot dog and three-quarters of a warm Bud Light which a Miami cheerleader handed Micky in the first quarter of the previous game a few days earlier.

While quickly consuming the beer and hot dog in the excitement of the moment, expert cruise lawyer Walker happened to have U.S. articles of incorporation which he handed to Micky to sign as well as U.S. flags to fly on the Carnival fleet of cruise ships.

Arison has been under intense pressure lately following fires, collisions, sinkings, poop-cruises, pirate-attacks, flounderings, Concordia-disasters, norovirus outbreaks and a Jon Secada concert which have ruined the last 37 Carnival cruises.  Senator Jay Rockefeller recently called Arison a "scallywag" on national TV. Rockefeller challenged Arison to pay his fair share of U.S. taxes on the billion-dollar bounty his foreign-flagged cruise ships collect from the U.S. taxpaying citizens on the high seas.

Micky commented that he was embarrassed that his father Ted, the founder of Carnival Cruise Lines 40 years ago, denounced his U.S. citizenship in order to avoid paying some 10 billion dollars in U.S. taxes.

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

"I want to make certain that Carnival pays one hundred % of our U.S. tax obligations (estimated to be over $5,000,000,000 a year) plus be subjected to the most rigorous U.S. safety, wage,and labor laws and the most stringent U.S. environmental regulations, Micky announced over the arena's PA system! "I want Carnival Cruise Line to be synonymous with Old Betsy - the U.S. Stars and Stripes - what the U.S. stands for! Its time that indigent crew members from India and Nicaragua who earn $500 working 360 hours a month be entitled to the full benefit of U.S. employment laws, a 401(k) retirement fund, severance pay, and a college fund for their children!" 

While appreciative of Arison's change of heart, sources say Walker was miffed that Arison demanded that he pay $6 for the remains of the hot dog and $7.50 for the rest of the Bud Light.

The Norwegian Star Flunks Sanitation Inspection: Is There a Correlation Between Failed CDC Cruise Ship Inspections And Norovirus?

The first official norovirus outbreak on a cruise ship this year involved the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Norwegian Star

The outbreak occurred during a cruise from January 5-19, 2014. The virus sickened 130 of 2318 cruise passenger (5.61%) and 12 of 1039 crew members (1.15%).  You can read the CDC report here.

The CDC concluded that the virus in question which sickened the 142 or so people was norovirus. This was the "causative factor" in CDC parlance. The CDC can usually figure out the "causative factor" and NCL Norwegian Starmost of the time norovirus is the culprit. But I have never seen a CDC report in the last 10 or 15 years where the CDC figured out how the norovirus came aboard the cruise ship.

The cruise lines always blame the passengers. Sometimes the blame is direct with a cruise line public relations representative pointing the finger at their guests. Sometimes it is more subtle with no blame assessment but in the form of "passengers-need-to-wash-their-hands" type of admonishment. 

Determining the cause of a norovirus outbreak is a scientific process to be made by epidemiologists and doctors, not cruise line PR people.

The CDC is severely limited by the few inspectors and epidemiologists who are assigned to the cruise ships. The cruise lines are also eager to re-load their cruise ships and begin another cruise as soon as possible. Our federal government and the cruise lines work together to keep the cruise industry moving. No one wants to inconvenience the next round of passengers and hold a ship in port. Unfortunately, no one is advocating a more comprehensive (and slower) methodical analysis of data. 

My suggestion is that any time there is an outbreak, the CDC should automatically conduct a sanitation inspection as soon as the ship returns to port pursuant to its vessel sanitation program (VSP). The inspectors should determine whether the cruise ship's food or water supplies are contaminated. Medical literature indicates that many outbreaks are due to noro-laden food or water. Particular attention should be focused on the crew members' medical records, particularly the logs indicating whether food handlers (cooks and waiters) have reported to the ship infirmary with acute Cruise Ship Norovirusgastrointestinal symptoms of cramping, diarrhea and nausea.  

Yes, it will take greater resources from the CDC to accomplish this but it is worth it. The "enhanced cleaning" that takes place after an outbreak is "hit or miss." No one figures out what caused the outbreak. The ship is just pressing everyone to work overtime and spray and wipe everything in sight.

There was no CDC sanitation inspection on January 19th when the Norwegian Star returned to port. I would have liked to see the food handler's medical logs for the preceding two weeks in order to determine whether there were complaints of nausea, diarrhea, cramps, fever and headaches.  How did the cruise line handle the illnesses? Did they log all of the complaints and quarantine the sick crew members?  Did they interview the crew members' cabin mates to determine whether they were ill too?

The Norwegian Star underwent a CDC sanitation inspection on February 16th. The results were disgusting. Many crew members worked while suffering from acute gastrointestinal illnesses, threatening the health of passengers, and then appeared in the ship infirmary after working. The cruise line failed to properly document and log many of the sicknesses and report them to the CDC.  For the January 19th to February 2nd 2014 cruise, the number of sick passengers reached over 2% but the cruise ship did not notify the CDC. Many of the cabin mates of the sick crew members were not interviewed by the ship's medical staff, as required by the CDC protocols.  

The following violation was typical:

"Violation: On 28 January, the medical notes indicated a food worker had an illness onset at 0600 with Cruise Ship Food Handlers - Norovirusfour episodes of diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and a headache, but the AGE surveillance log indicated these symptoms started on 28 January at 1315. On the same day at 1315, this person had their last AGE symptom. There was no documentation indicating how long this person was isolated. This individual had four roommates, but there was no documentation the 48 hour interviews were conducted for three of the four roommates."

The CDC flunked the ship with a score of 82. You can read the CDC report here. In addition to the problems with the sick crew members, parts of the galleys and restaurants were filthy.

Does the CDC employ epidemiologists to study the results of vessel sanitation reports to look for trends to explain why gastrointestinal outbreaks occur?  Correlating the medical records of sick food handlers and their cabin mates with outbreaks may be a good idea. A scientific analysis of medical records and logs of crew members with GI problems would certainly be a better use of time than having to listen to the cruise line always blame the passengers for not not washing their hands. 

 

Photo Credit: Top: Wikipedia / Pjotr Mahhonin; bottom: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

U.S. State Department Issues Another Crime Warning About The Bahamas

Two and a half months ago, I was on the front page of the Nassau Guardian warning cruise passengers about crime in Nassau Bahamas following a critical crime warning from the U.S. Embassy.

Yesterday the U.S. Embassy in Nassau issued another crime warning, advising U.S. citizens residing in and traveling to the Bahamas to be aware of their surroundings and remain on "heightened alert" to avoid being a victim of crime. The warning referred to a number of armed robberies which occured in the last two weeks.

This is the thrid critical crime warning for the Bahamas since December 2013.

The most recent warning states, in part: 

"Armed robbery and violent crime remain major threats facing both U.S. citizens and residents of The Crime Cruise Ship Passengers Nassau BahamasBahamas, including in areas frequented by tourists on New Providence and Grand Bahamas Islands. In the past year, a number of U.S. citizens have fallen victim to armed robbery."

The advisory also suggested that U.S. tourists should "monitor local news stations for updates" and maintain a "high level of vigilance."

You can read the warning here

We have written over a dozen articles about the high crime rate in Nassau. Before booking a cruise, we suggest reading:

Nassau Bahamas Crime Watch: Cruise Passengers Beware

U.S. Attorney Raises Alarm Over Crime - Bahamas "One Shot Away" From Cruise Line Exit

Have a thought?  Please leave a message below, or join the discussion on Facebook.

Cruise Law News Facebook Page Reaches 100,000 "Likes"

100000 Facebook LikesThis week, our social media presence reached a milestone. 

The Cruise Law News Facebook page reached 100,000 "likes."

The majority of our Facebook fans are from outside of the U.S. We have tens of thousands of crew members who have "liked" us. We receive a great deal of information from crew members regarding a wide range of issues, like cruise ship fires, engine failures, man-overboard situations and the tough working conditions which crew members face.

Thank you very much for reading our page and providing information to us!  Our success would not be possible without the support of crew members on cruise ships around the world!

We have over 11,900 people following us on Twitter and many thousands of people who subscribe to our daily blog, Cruise Law News, via e-mail & RSS subscriptions.

Over 6,250,000 pages of Cruise Law News are projected to be read this year.

We are the 3rd most popular law blog (per AVVO rankings) in the U.S. and the 2nd most popular cruise blog which discusses cruise ship issues (again, per AVVO rankings).  

Cruise Law NewsThe motto of our  blog is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."  

No, we are not a travel site with glossy photos of happy crew members and smiling passengers enjoying a dream vacation cruise. The fact that millions of people are reading a critical blog by a lawyer (lawyers often write boring, stuffy articles) reflects that there are a lot of things that happen on cruises which the public wants to know and the cruise lines want to keep secret. 

Thanks for reading us!  And thanks to the many passengers and crew members who have sent us tips, photos and videos of things like hiding food from the USPH inspectors or dumping garbage at sea which no one would otherwise know about . . .   

Norwegian Gem Medevac Involved Honeymoon Couple

Two days ago we mentioned that the Coast Guard medevaced a sick passenger from the Norwegian Gem cruise ship. Like most other Coast Guard medevacs, there was not much information available regarding the identity of the ill passenger. 

Today a news station in Salt Lake Utah aired a short segment explaining who the passenger was and what happened on the NCL cruise ship.

KSL Utah explains that the medevac involved a honeymooning couple who were enjoying their cruise until the husband, Brent Killian, became ill and he needed medical evacuation.  

The Gem was approximately 180 miles east of North Carolina, requiring a Coast Guard helicopter to take him ashore for emergency medical treatment.

The wife, Jo, was naturally anxious when her newly-wed husband was hoisted into the sky, but she took everything in stride. The news station reports that the couple has already booked another cruise.

We have reported on other helicopter rescues of ill passengers from the Norwegian Gem.  Watch a video of the July 14 2014 medevac from the Gem here

  

High Waves Rock Grandeur of the Seas

This week we have been asked questions about rough weather which apparently bounced Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas around. Today I ran across this video about a passenger;s experiences abord the Grandeur.

A Pennsylvania news station, WHTM ABC 27, reports that passenger Patti Hill Bocassini was ending her 10 day vacation aboard the Grandeur when rough weather struck as the ship was heading back to Baltimore. 

The passengers had enjoyed great weather but the cruise ship encountered 20 foot waves and high winds which the captain said were caused by the Nor'easter ahead of the ship. A "rogue" wave allegedly hit the Grandeur and caused some damage.

If you were on the ship and have information to share, please leave a comment or join the discussion on Facebook.

abc27 WHTM

Bedfellows CLIA & NTSB Team Up for Cozy Meeting on Cruise Ship Safety

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is beginning a two-day meeting today in Washington D.C. regarding the topic of passenger safety aboard cruise ships. The meeting was requested and largely organized by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), the trade group for the cruise lines, to showcase the cruise industry.

Participating in the meeting will be NTSB members, CLIA representatives, cruise line employees, Coast Guard officials, and delegates from the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The IMO is an United Nations entity which makes safety recommendations for cruise ships but is powerless to enforce the recommendations or discipline or punish cruise lines which ignore the recommendations.

The NTSB refused to invite the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization to Washington D.C. and NTSB Meeting Cruise Ship Safetyrefuses to permit the ICV to participate in the meeting.  The ICV is a grass-roots, non-profit organization consisting of thousands of members who are dedicated to making cruising safer. Our firm has many former clients who are members of the ICV, including Lynnette Hudson, the daughter of Princess Cruises passenger Richard Liffridge from Georgia who perished in a fire aboard the Star Princess cruise ship.

The NTSB hearing is opening now with remarks from the Coast Guard about cruise ship accident investigations and fire protection. It is a shame that the NTSB and CLIA refuse to permit the ICV's involvement in the meeting given the first hand experience of the ICV members in dealing with dangers aboard cruise ships.  Ms. Hudson previously inspected the cruise ship which killed her father to make certain that it finally had a fire detection and suppression system installed. She testified before the United States House of Representatives regarding the cruise ship fire which killed her father. You can read about that fire and Ms. Hudson's recommendations to prevent similar fatalities here: Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?

Other ICV members were aboard the Costa Concordia when it crashed into the rocks and killed 32 souls. 

When I realized that the NTSB was excluding the ICV, I send emails to the NTSB spokesperson, Eric Weiss, requesting an explanation why only CLIA members and cruise line employees were welcome. Mr. Weiss ignored my emails. But he recently spoke to a Miami Herald reporter stating that: “Security and crime is not in our jurisdiction. This is about cruise ship safety, not security.” 

The ICV has many members personally affected by the absence of safety systems and protocols on cruise ships. The ICV has participated in five Congressional hearings addressing safety issues such as engine failures and fires. It appears that CLIA and the NTSB are systematically excluding any organization with victims who have personal experiences regarding cruise ship dangers while inviting only employees and friends of the cruise lines who wish to shield the industry from criticism. 

I realize that the cruise lines are desperate for favorable press after the debacle of the Carnival Splendor and the Carnival Triumph, with both cruise ships igniting shortly after Coast Guard inspections, as well as the deadly disaster involving the Carnival-owned Costa Concordia. But excluding cruise victims and orchestrating a rigged meeting with dog and pony shows by CLIA and cruise line representatives is shameful. 

NTSB's relationship with the cruise industry has always been a mixed bag.

Years ago, the NTSB's chairman was Jim Hall, a man of personal integrity who never wavered from who his commitment to the safety of the traveling public.

Mr. Hall earned a reputation for objectivity and credibility when he was the NTBS's top dog from 1994 - 2001. He was involved in investigating serious accidents in both the aviation and cruise industries. He NTSB Cruise Safety Meetingvoiced his concerns that there would be continued problems in the maritime industry because there was no real oversight over the cruise lines. Consider the comments which Mr. Hall made to Newsweek last year:

"Jim Hall, head of the National Transportation Safety Board during the Clinton administration, says the industry is watched over by “paper tigers” like the International Maritime Organization and suffers from “bad actors” much like in the poorly regulated motor-coach industry, which saw its latest fatal bus crash in Southern California earlier this month. “The maritime industry is the oldest transportation industry around. We’re talking centuries. It’s a culture that has never been broken as the aviation industry was, and you see evidence of that culture in the [Costa Concordia] accident,” says Hall."

After Mr. Hall retired as chairman, the NTSB went in a different direction. From 2006 - 2008, Mark Rosenker served as the NTSB chairmen but he catered to the cruise industry. In 2007, CLIA's Board of Directors wined and dined Rosenker during the annual Sea Trade cruise convention (now called Cruise shipping Miami) here in Miami. He gave a nice speech to CLIA (you can read here) which he began by stating " I am very pleased that your safety record is excellent." This was a rather amazing and outrageous thing to say given the fact that just a year earlier, the Star Princess ignited off the coast of Jamaica and burned through 100 cabins and killed our client's father, Richard Liffridge, mentioned above. 

Rosenker even promised CLIA that he would help the cruise lines keep "sensitive" information about maritime accidents away from the public, telling CLIA "there are provisions in the law to keep certain voluntarily provided safety information confidential."

Rosenker and CLIA were a perfect match. Both were interested in suppressing damaging information about cruise mishaps from the public.

After Rosenker retired from the NTSB, CLIA paid him as a consultant for the cruise industry. His job largely appears to tell everyone who will listen that  "the industry has an outstanding safety record and the most dangerous part of the cruise is undoubtedly the drive to the port. It is very rare that people are injured on a cruise ship,” as he told the cruise industry publication World Cruise Industry Review in 2010.  

In 2012 and 2013 Rosenker continued his gushing praise of a cruise industry which puts money in his pocket, telling a travel agent publication that “it is important for consumers to understand that cruise vacations are extremely safe. This industry is highly regulated with tremendous oversight.” Rosenker told another cruise industry publication that “every aspect of the cruise industry is heavily monitored and regulated under US, EU and international law.”

Senator Rockefeller admonished Rosenker during his testimony last year when he repeated the cruise industry's talking points before a Senate hearing on cruise ship safety issues last year, because of his obvious bias for the cruise lines.

The cruise line routinely hires from the NTSB, FBI, Coast Guard, USPH and other federal agencies. NTSB Cruise Safety MeetingMany former federal officials seem to pander to the cruise lines while in public office. Former Coast Guard officials often quickly turn into paid cruise line consultants who are pleased to appear in cruise industry publications still wearing their Coast Guard uniform and medals standing in front of an official Coast Guard logo while attesting to their wonderful experiences cruising.

Of course, no current or past federal employee should engage in such hyperbolic cheer-leading like this. It is unprofessional and unseemly. It is a conflict of interest. But some federal officials seem motivated to angle for private sector jobs in the rich cruise industry which pays no federal income taxes and is overseen, if all all, by poor, flag of convenience nations like Panama and the Bahamas and the "paper tigers," mentioned by Mr. Hall, at the IMO.

So the NTSB-CLIA love-fest begins this morning. Where is the integrity of Jim Hall? Where are the victims of cruise ship fires and sinkings? Who is speaking for the dead and injured?  Have all of the federal agencies crawled in bed with the cruise lines? 

Cocaine & Heroin Cruise Ship Bust: Bahamas Celebration Crew Member Arrested For Smuggling Drugs

Newspapers in Palm Beach Country are reporting that a 30-year-old crew member is facing drug charges after U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities say he smuggled cocaine and heroin from the Bahamas on the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship.

The Bahamas Celebration is operated by the Celebration Cruise Line and cruises between the Port of Palm Beach and Freeport, Bahamas.

A crew member, identified as Adrian Bradley Trench, was arrested last Thursday on charges of Bahamas Celebration Cruise Shipimporting more than 500 grams of cocaine and more than 100 grams of heroin. Crew member Trench had left the cruise ship after it arrived at the Port of Palm Beach from Freeport. When federal immigration officers asked Trench for his immigration forms, the crew member reportedly tried to run back to the cruise ship.

The officers apprehended him and noticed two packages wrapped around Trench’s calves, containing 1,043 grams of cocaine (about 2.25 pounds) and 674 grams of heroin (about 1.5 pounds). 

Drug smuggling from the Bahamas is not uncommon. Last Spring, we reported on two incidents where a crew member and a passenger were arrested for smuggling large quantities of cocaine from the Bahamas into the same port. Read Another Drug Bust on the Bahamas Celebration.

 

Photo Credit: thebahamasweekly.com

Propulsion Problems: Mis-Adventure of the Seas Limps Back to San Juan

Royal Caribbean Adventure of the SeasLast Wednesday, Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas canceled two port calls after the ship’s cruise ship' "fixipod" propulsion unit device lost oil as the ship headed to port in St. Kitts.

Royal Caribbean says that it placed oil booms around the ship to contain the leaking oil, and its engineers began addressing the problem.

Since then, cruise passengers and family members ashore have expressed concern with what happening with the ship and whether there will be a delay or changes in the itinerary of the cruise which leaves today.  

Their concerns intensified after the cruise ship lost all propulsion last night.

There have been on line discussions whether the "fixipod" will be repaired before the ship goes into dry dock on March 30th. The ship has limped back to San Juan at very low speed this morning. It looks like there have been additional issues which slowed the ship down further. At this point it looks like today's cruise may going forward (still anyone's guess) but it's less than clear how much of a delay there will be in boarding and/or sailing.

As usual, the discussion seem to be only when the ship will sail, not whether it's safe to cruise on a ship with 5 - 6 days of propulsion problems.

Cruise Critic members have expressed frustration over what they perceive as a lack of communication by Royal Caribbean. One member posted:

"They've posted NOTHING on the agent site, consumer site, their FB page, nor either the Public Relations nor regular twitter feeds, and I've asked!

And, no one knows diddly when you call...."

Fixipod Azipod On March 21, Royal Caribbean posted this one tweet:

"Adventure is sailing a modified itinerary due to a delayed departure from St. Kitts for required work on the ship's fixipod."

But nothing since then. It's surprising that a multi-billion dollar corporation which spends literally hundreds of millions a year in a big marketing campaign can't figure out how to utilize Twitter and Facebook (both are free) to communicate with their guests and the public.

I have not heard anything about whether the cruise line intends to compensate the passengers for the missed ports of call. Anyone know?

If you were on the cruise, please leave a comment or join the discussion on Facebook. If you have photos or a video of the tugs bringing the ship into port in San Juan, please send us a copy! 

March 24, 2014 Update: This is the most inept PR handling of a cruise problem I have ever seen. Read about Royal PR #FAIL: Royal Caribbean Keeps Adventure & Navigator Passengers in the Dark.

 

Photo Credit:

Top: CC-BY-SA-3.0/Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia

Bottom: Kvaerner Masa (image of Voyager of the Seas)

Cubans "Trying for the American Dream" End With An Empty Boat

Cubans "rescued" on the high seas are hardly rescued. They are brought aboard cruise ships only long enough to be transferred onto Coast Guard cutters to be taken back to Cuba.

According to WPTV:  

"Some were saying they should be sent back. Other people were sad. Some women were crying because they realized how sad it must be," Almashy said.

Almashy says a photo she snapped of the empty boat will stay with her forever.

"When I looked at that, it was a haunting image of people trying for the American Dream. It was very symbolic of the hopes and the risks."

 

Travel Crime Warning: Tourists Assaulted, Robbed & Terrorized in Roatan, Honduras

Roatan Honduras MapIn January we reported on an incident in Roatan where a U.S. family's rental car was shot up while on a beach access road. The family of four (with two children) were robbed at gunpoint and terrorized. The family had arrived in Roatan via a Carnival cruise ship.

This violent crime followed a warning issued in December 2013 by the the U.S. Department of State warning. You can read the warning here. Since 2010, Honduras has had the highest murder rate in the world. As I mentioned in our prior article, the warning indicates that "the vast majority of serious crimes in Honduras, including those against U.S. citizens, are never solved; of the 50 murders committed against U.S. citizens since 2008, police have only solved two."

This past week we have received complaints from tourists and cruise visitors to Roatan. One woman from the U.S. was attacked after she traveled to Roatan to dive.  Here are her comments:

"I ..i am female..came to roatan to dive and was basically attacked by 3 local men on this island. They assaulted me then robbed me..holding a knife to my neck. I heard them discussing kidnapping me for a ransom..or selling me to a slave market...to be taken out by boat. I got away when another tourist group drove by with several guys in the car. They saved my life. No one should go to this God forsaken island. I have learned a scary and nearly life ending lesson."

Another U.S. woman informed us that she and her two children (boys 15 and 16 years old) were robbed during a private excursion to a beach. They were held at gun point and knifepoint and robbed of all of their valuables. The woman, a single mother, stated that the cruise line, Royal Caribbean, did not warn them that there is a crime problem in Roatan or, in particular, armed robbery at the roads to and from the beaches in Roatan which seems to be a particular problem. The incident occured, according to the woman, at an access road to Palm Beach. 

In addition to these two recent incidents which were reported directly to us by the victims, concerned expatriate U.S. citizens living in Roatan have told us about armed robbery on the island, mainly against people riding in taxi's or driving on beach access roads. We have learned that a taxi with four cruise passengers was recently stopped by two local men at Palm Beach. The men held a knife to a woman's Roatan Honduras Crime - Cruise Passengersthroat and pointed a gun at a man's head. One robber reportedly fired a shot into the taxi. The men stole the cruise tourists' money, cell phones, cameras and other items. 

After our article in January, we received comments from U.S. and Canadians living in Roatan that it was unfair to lump the island of Roatan with the mainland of Honduras as a dangerous place to live or visit. Some property owners who have invested in real estate in Roatan under the hope and belief that they would live in a slice of paradise may be second guessing themselves considering what appears to be increasing violence against people arriving from North America.

Some people don't like us to write articles like this, arguing that "crime occurs everywhere" or just "use common sense." But all of the victims who contacted us were using common sense and doing what people normally do while on a vacation.  The point is that certain types of crime occur more often in certain places than others. The problem is that criminals in these poor countries are targeting U.S. passengers with iPhones, cameras, jewelry and cash. The New York Times recently published an article about crime problems in Roatan: Security Concerns on a Honduran Island.

From our view, there appears to be a rising tide of crime against cruise passengers throughout the Caribbean ports. Honduras and the Bahamas are the only countries we know with port facilities which are the subject of warnings about crime from the U.S. State Department. 

The cruise industry just convened their annual trade show, Cruise Shipping Miami, with much fanfare on Miami Beach. A delegation came from Honduras, promoting Roatan. I wonder what, if any, discussions the delegates from the Caribbean islands had with the cruise lines about keeping cruise passengers safe? 

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

Read our prior article about crime in Roatan.

 

Map & photo credit: Top - Global Healing; Bottom - Jim Walker. 

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger from Carnival Splendor

WAVY.com reports that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaces a cruise passenger from a carnival cruise ship last night.

The Carnival Splendor notified  the Coasy Guard around 10:45 p.m. last night that a 66 year old man was in medical distress. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was dispatched from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina to assist.

The helicopter crew arrived at the cruise ship around 1:30 a.m. about 50 miles east of Wilmington and hoisted the passenger. The Coast Guard took him to Wilmington International Airport where he was transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center.  

 

Costa Cruise Passenger Disappears, Found Dead

Costa Fascinosa Cruise ShipThe Pefil newspaper reports that a Brazilian businessman traveling on a Costa cruise ship was reported missing by his wife. He was later found dead on the shores of Rio de la Plata.

The newspaper's headline is "Misteriosa muerte del pasajero de un crucero - Un empresario brasileño fue encontrado a 50 metros de la costa del Río de la Plata".

Tranlsated, that means: "Mysterious death of cruise passenger - A Brazilian businessman was found 50meters from the shore of the Río de la Plata."

The newspaper identifies the passenger as Odair Marcos Faria, who was traveling with his wife, Maria Cristina Florio Bonafin. They were sailing on the Costa Fascinosa.  His wife had reported her husband's disappearance to the ship's crew.

The body was found 50 meters from the shore of the Río de la Plata. There is an investigation underway to establish whether the overboard case was a suicide, accident or homicide.

The "Rio de la Plata" (River of Silver) is the estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay River and Costa Cruise Ship Passengerthe Paraná River on the border between Argentina and Uruguay.

Cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein has documented 229 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000. 9 people have gone overboard so far this year.

Update: The Clarin newspaper also reports on the case, stating that the cruise was a gift from the man's children. The newspaper suggests that shortly before the cruise, either the passenger or his wife apparently learned that one had a terminal illness (the translation is unclear).

 

Photo Credit: Top - Wikipedia / Abxbay; bottom - Clarin / Facebook

Swiss Newspaper Covers the MSC Garbage Dumping Story

Today, a newspaper in Switzerland joined in the coverage of the story regarding the alleged dumping of garbage bags from the MSC Cruises Magnifica cruise ship.

Le Matin, the largest French-speaking newspaper in Switzerland, published the headline:

Des ordures jetées à la mer! — Vidéo à l’appui, un avocat affirme que la compagnie italo-suisse MSC Croisières jette des poubelles dans l’océan.   

MSC Cruises Garbage DumpingYou can read the article here.

Here are some of the comments to the article:

And one company in my black boycott list . . 

Hello in the late 80's I worked as a Chef on the Apollo Cruise Company based in Miami several times late at night I saw my eyes pour entire containers full Gulf of Mexico and offshore Brazil .. unfortunately .. I'm not surprised that 35 years later this terrible way "to do" is still in force .. Greenpeace .. Help!

Having traveled with MSC, and having followed the recommendations for "environmental protection" (reuse towels, etc..), When I see these images it disgusts me!

You can read the comments here.

So far, the story has received substantial international news coverage: New Times (U.S.A.), Cruise Hive (U.S.A.), Huffington Post (U.S.A.), Daily Mail (U.K.), AOL Travel  (U.K.), Cruising the Molly Way (U.K.), e Global Travel Media (Australia & New Zealand) and Le Matin (Switzerland).

The travel industry publication (Travel Weekly, Travel Pulse), and the cruise bloggers (Cruise Critic, Cruise Currents, Cruise Fever, Cruise Mates, Cruise Addicts, Captain Greybeard) have all stuck their heads in the sand. None of these types want to rock the boat and become blacklisted from the cruise lines' parties and free cruises. 

The cruise industry just finished their self-laudatory Cruise Shipping Miami trade show.  The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) and the CLIA CEO, Ms. Duffy, have not said a peep about the environmental abuse. The "One Industry, One Voice" cruise industry and its loyal-to-a-fault travel agent base are going to stay quiet and let this stinky story fade away.  

Photo Credit: Daily Mail

 

Passengers Report Gastrointestinal Outbreak Aboard the HAL Maasdam

Several cruise passengers have informed us that there is a gastrointestinal outbreak on the Holland America Line (HAL) Maasdam which is currently sailing routes in South America.

Passengers are stating that numerous people are sick with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other noro virus like symptoms. The number of sick passengers and crew has not been released to the people we have communicated with. 

Today one passenger reported: 

"MS Maasdam has been fighting NOROVIRUS pretty much most of the cruise from Rio to Ft Lauderdale. RED ALERT."

HAL MaasdamAnother passenger reported that he is ill and is tired of being blamed by the ship's captain for the disease:

"I am on the sick Holland America Maasdam which has had Noro virus ever since the departing Rio and won't be scheduled to be back in Fort Lauderdale until the end of the month. I'm getting tired of hearing the Captain blame the passengers for the spread of the disease. As a physician, I've clearly noted that the disease is passed by vectors such as cruise cards, bar staff and wait staff never washing their hands, and the tables and chairs being cleaned with the same rag. Captain it's not the passengers its your staff." 

The Maasdam is on a 26 day cruise, which started in Rio de Janeiro on March 2nd and will be ending in Fort Lauderdale on March 28th. 

We reached out to HAL and parent company Carnival this morning about this reported outbreak but have not yet received a response. Neither HAL nor Carnival responded. 

Are there other passengers or crew members with information about this alleged outbreak?  Please leave us a message or join the discussion on our Facebook page

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Andrew J Bryson

An Irreverent Look at the Top 10 Most Popular Law Blogs

What are the top law blogs? I suppose it depends on who you ask. Everyone has an opinion, at least lawyers who have blogs do.  

I'm listing the supposedly most popular law blogs based on supposedly objective criteria, using the Alexa ranking system which ranks blogs and websites based primarily on popularity. How many people actually click on the site, view a number of pages and actually stay for a while? 

Alexa ranks over 30,000,000 sites. Alexa assigns a numerical ranking to each website. The most popular sites have the lowest numbers. 

Google is ranked number 1, Facebook is number 2, and so forth. The highest ranked stand-alone law blog is ranked around 28,000. The lowest ranked blog is ranked over 20,000,000. If you're a law blogger and ranked under Top Law Blogs - Blah, Blah, Blah200,000, your blog is popular. 

If your ranking is over 1,000,000, sorry to tell you. No one is reading your blog. If you are in the 2,000,000 to 4,000,000 category, I suggest giving up.

If you are interested in seeing your site's ranking, go to the Alexa website and click on the "Toolbar" link at the top to download.

The top 10 blogs which I listed below are mostly ranked 100,000 or lower. They are popular and widely read. I listed their rankings as of the date of this publication. I have also mentioned whether they are advertising (desperate) or soliciting money (truly desperate). I have tried to identify the primary editor or writer.

10. SCOTUS (107,715) (advertising - Bloomberg Law) Two dozen people smarter than me writing minutia about Supreme Court decisions. Super popular when the Supremes are publishing cases.

9.  Patently O (105,835) (advertising) Law professors writing about patents. I remember why I hated law school. 

8.  China Law Blog (100,256) The blog of Seattle lawyer, Dan Harris, of the Harris Moure law firm. Why isn't it also written in Chinese?

7.  Volokh Conspiracy (92,779) (advertising) A butt-ugly site written by two dozen brainiac professors who need to get laid.  I'm not sure who reads this erudite stuff.  It recently moved to the Washington Post. 

6.  Althouse (78,079) (advertising) (solicits money) I don't get this site.  A law professor, Ann Althouse, Top Law Blogswrites and posts photos and videos.  She shares a photo of the side of her head. Random. Quirky. 

5.  Lawyerist (65,914) (heavy advertising) A nice site, mostly it seems written by Sam Glover about law practice technology, management, and marketing, also offering services to build web sites, since 2007.

4.  Food Safety News (60,812) This is one of the truly amazing law blogs by Seattle lawyer Bill Mahler who handles food poisoning cases. He is a great guy and a super lawyer. He surrounds himself with a very talented team to publish this really good stuff.

3. Cruise Law News (59,871) My blog Cruise Law News.  "Everything the Cruise Lines Don't Want You to Know" is our motto. "Why do I want to know that?" most people may be thinking.

2.  Legal Insurrection (45,434) (incredibly heavy advertising)(solicits money)(multiple writers) A law professor at Cornell oversees this gaudy conservative blog. Annoying, bizarre banner ads, like this lady-in-the-tight-dress Google ad which links to a rant against President Obama. Go figure. 

1.  Above the Law (28,096) (advertising) (multiple editors and writers) This number one law blog caters to big firm news, in-house counsel at major corporations, law school rankings and issues of largely no relevance to most lawyers' practices. Typical topics involve new partners at top 10 national firms, salaries in New York, and who'll be the next Supreme Court clerks. I suppose first year associates at Skadden Arps gossip about these important issues over their 15 minute lunches at their desks? 

A bizarre group of blogs no doubt.

Did I leave anyone out? 

 

Photo Credit Top:   lawyerfacts.biz

MSC Cruises Garbage Dumping Story Goes Viral

Two weeks ago we posted videos and photos of garbage and debris and crew members aboard MSC cruise ships apparently throwing the refuse into the ocean.  We first asked MSC Cruises for an explanation but were ignored. You can see the videos here and here and the photos here.

This weekend the story went viral.

First the Huffington Post posted an article Cruise Ship Workers Appear To Throw Bags Of Garbage Right Into The Ocean (VIDEO).

Then the U.K.'s Daily Mail posted an article Caught on Camera: The Moment Cruise Ship Crew Member Hurled Garbage Bags Straight into the Ocean Off Brazilian Coast in Violation of International MSC Cruises Cruise bags of GarbageLaw.  The Daily Mail has the largest number of internet readers of a newspaper in the world.

Today AOL Travel also covered the story Cruise Ship Worker Filmed 'Throwing Rubbish Bags Into Ocean' (Video).

The articles are being widely shared on Facebook and re-tweeted on Twitter.

MSC has continued to ignore us for the past two weeks, but tells the Huffington Post that the videos show nothing more than a single dumping video taken by a passenger last December. MSC says there is only one alleged incident.

I say rubbish to that. Former crew members we have spoken with tell us of systematic illegal dumping of prohibited items in prohibited area on numerous occasions. You can read our thoughts here.

As the dumping videos go viral, all of the usually talkative cruise and travel agents, writers, and bloggers promoting the cruise industry remain silent. 

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Carnival Liberty Cruise Ship

The U.S. Coast Guard announced today that it rescued a 51-year-old cruise passenger who was suffering from undisclosed medical issues while aboard a Carnival cruise ship approximately 130 miles southwest of Key West, Florida. 


Shortly after noon yesterday, the Coast Guard in Key West received a report from the Carnival Liberty indicating that a cruise passenger suffered an illness while crossing the Gulf of Mexico.


The coast Guard launched a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Clearwater. 
When the helicopter arrived, the aircrew hoisted the passenger transported him to Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West. 

 

Huffington Post Covers MSC Cruises Garbage Dumping Story

Today the Huffington Post covered the story we posted 10 days ago about MSC Cruises crew members throwing black bags overboard from the MSC Magnifica cruise ship into the water. 

MSC says there is nothing new shown in the photos and three videos we posted because they are just a different angle of an incident reported by a passenger last December.

I say hogwash to that.  The video taken by the passenger seems to show garbage bags thrown from the port side of the cruise ship; whereas, the videos taken by the crew member shows the garbage MSC Cruises Magnifica Cruise Ship Dumpingbags thrown from the stern.

Also, if you look at all three articles we posted, you will note that the piles of debris which the former crew members say were pitched overboard involved at least two different incidents from different MSC cruise ships at different times into different waters. 

The large pile of broken down pallets from the MSC Magnifica were reported thrown into Brazilian waters in November / December 2013. The pile of pallets from the MSC Poesia were reportedly thrown into the waters between Florida and Mexico in January 2013.  The crew members we spoke to said that this type of debris was systematically dumped overboard at least once a week while the ships were underway at night.

The former crew members also told us that the dumping of garbage bags were far from a single event from one single cruise ship. They have sent us many photographs of this practice, including incidents where bales of cardboard, plastic and debris wrapped in clear plastics were stacked from floor to ceiling and and then thrown into the sea (see photo above right).

It is not surprising to us that MSC Cruises has never responded to our requests for information. The cruise line refuses to inform us of the identity of the Brazilian authorities who are investigating these incidents. MSC may be trying to  keep the former crew members, who know that the practice is more widespread than MSC will admit, from talking to the authorities.

Former Norwegian Cruise Line Captain: "Let's Not Wait for a Cruise Line Disaster to Protect Passengers"

Former Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Safety Manager and and Master Mariner Bill Doherty has prepared an industry paper which has been submitted to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Senator Jay Rockefeller.

Captain Doherty is a principal in the expert maritime consulting firm, Nexus Consulting.

His cruise industry paper is entitled "Let’s Not Wait for a Cruise Line Disaster to Protect Passengers." 

William Doherty Nexus ConsultantsCaptain Doherty has over 45 years of experience in the maritime community and is a veteran of the U.S. Navy. He was the Head of Maritime Affairs for the Chief of Naval Operations during Operation Desert Storm. He previously was the manager of safety at NCL. His industry paper advocates for greater resources to be dedicated toward passenger safety and security.

Captain Doherty states that “cruise lines do not currently have a global plan to address ‘worst case scenarios. Similar to the oil industry’s unpreparedness prior to the ‘Exxon Valdez’ disaster in Alaska, there is no coordinated, global system in place in case of a disaster aboard a cruise line – and here we’re talking about human lives. We’re advocating a plan to preemptively safeguard souls at sea in case of tragedy. Let’s not wait for a cruise line to have an ‘Exxon Valdez moment' before we protect future passengers."

Captain Doherty previously testified before the U.S. Senate regarding cruise ship safety issues following the Costa Concordia disaster. He was featured in a New York Times article about the increasingly gigantic size of the modern cruise ships (and whether it is possible to safely evacuate such a ship). He was recently quoted in the Popular Mechanics article This is How to Prevent Cruise Ship Disasters.

His paper is a must read if you are interested in a true mariner's view of cruising and what must be done to make it safer. Read the paper here.

About Captain Bill Doherty: Captain Doherty is a 1967 graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, a licensed US Coast Guard Master-Unlimited tonnage, and qualified First Class Pilot, Prince William Sound, Valdez, Alaska. Captain Doherty has served on numerous U.S. Navy warships and was the Head of Maritime Affairs for the Chief of Naval Operations during Operation Desert Storm. Over the course of his career, he has commanded tankers, container ships, research vessels, high-speed ferries, and was an instructor at his alma mater. Before retirement, his latest position was as Safety Manager for Norwegian Cruise Lines. Captain Doherty now serves as the director of maritime affairs for Nexus Consulting, and has appeared as a cruise safety expert before the United States Senate.

About Nexus Consulting: Nexus is an ISO 9001:2008 certified Maritime Safety and Security Firm was established in 2005 with a focus on security operations in high-threat theaters and cruise passenger safety. In 2008, Nexus Consulting was the first maritime security firm to advocate for armed security teams embarked on commercial ships. In 2009, in the wake of the Maersk Alabama hijacking (made famous in the acclaimed film “Captain Phillips”), Nexus embarked one of the first armed security teams on commercial vessels to protect US mariners, and has been providing security services to protect merchant mariners ever since.

Correction to headline: Captain Doherty was the former safety manager at Norwegian Cruise Lines. I erroneously referred to him as a former captain at NCL.

Why the Cruise Industry Will Always Struggle With its Reputation

This week I listened to the multi-millionaire cruise executives praise the cruise industry at the "state of the cruise industry" at the Cruise Shipping Miami (CSM 2014) trade show.

As anticipated, Carnival's CEO and former Monsanto chemical executive Arnold Donald said cruise ship accidents are "so rare . . .  cruising is safe."  Royal Caribbean's long time executive Richard Fain claimed that cruise lines are "heavily regulated." The audience of travel agents and vendors tied to the cruise lines all politely clapped.  

The speeches contained little substance, no statistical support, and virtually all self-serving opinions. Carnival Cruise Ship FireI felt like I was at a motivational speaker convention sponsored by Amway.

The telling comments at the conference came from Norwegian Cruise Line's CEO Kevin Sheehan. He said: "we are ruled by public opinion; unless we can keep our business running right will always be on defensive." The NCL boss added: "a period of operational excellence and no media incidents are needed."

Of course, this was the real insight into the state of the cruise industry - the cruise lines are on the defensive. The cruise lines seem nervous as they claim that their troubles are behind them. They are in the business of selling fantasy dream-like vacations to ports in the Caribbean which are becoming more and more violent.  They are praying that the media doesn't bash them after a cruise ship catches on fire or a family is gunned down in the streets of Nassau. 

What's the industry's plan to pull itself out of the harsh media scrutiny? I didn't hear one at CSM. The cruise lines, it seems to me, are just hanging in the balance hoping for the best. 

But history tells us that more trouble lies ahead. 

There have been over 90 fires on cruise ships since 1990, according to testimony at one of the many Congressional hearing on cruise ships disasters. Some fires were big, some were small although there is nothing really insignificant about any type of fire on the high seas.

Last year, the big story involved the Carnival Triumph, of course, which CNN covered non-stop. But the more significant fire involved the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas which burned for two hours. Most people seem to have already forgotten the fire on the Grandeur. Yes there will be cruise ship fires this year; hopefully minor ones only with no injuries. The public knows that accidents happen. The most important issue is whether the cruise lines respond promptly and responsibly (like Royal Caribbean did after the Grandeur fire) or delays unreasonably (like Carnival after the Triumph fire) and / or acts outrageously (like Carnival after the Concordia disaster)  

The cruise industry's image problem is not just because of ship fires and Concordia-like disasters. The continuous stories about bad medical care, mistreatment of crew members, sexual assaults, children victimization, missing passengers, and so forth, coupled with a callous PR response, have more of an effect on the cruise industry's image. Its like reputation death by a thousand cuts.

Last December, I published Top 10 Most Outrageous Cruise Ship Stories of 2013 & the "Worst Cruise Line in the World" Award.

In my assessment, the factors which most harmed the cruise lines' reputation last year didn't involve accidents at all. Rather, the most damage came from incidents showing the cruise lines' egregious disregard of the law and a lack of care and compassion of their passengers and crew. The real damage comes from events like mishandling cases involving persons disappearing at sea, ignoring the man overboard laws, crew members arrested and sentenced to jail for child porn, fleecing crew members of their tips and retirement benefits, and a family cruise line aiding and abetting a child predator escape justice. 

One of the most embarrassing stories last year involved Silversea Cruises which was caught by the USPH hiding perishable food down in the crew quarters. We were contacted by crew members who complained about this, but Silversea ignored us when we contacted them. We sent the story to CNN. The special that CNN produced tarnished not only this luxury line but cast the entire industry in a bad light. The entire chain of events could have been avoided by Silversea just being honest and transparent.

The cruise lines suffer, in my opinion, from a combination of being arrogant and rattlebrained. The cruise industry engages in some really bad conduct on a continuous basis. It often makes things substantially worse when confronted by the media and bloggers like myself.

Last week, former crew members sent us video and photographs which seem to suggest that MSC MSC Cruises Cruise DumpingCruises has been dumping garbage, plastics and debris into the water in violation of international pollution law.

We asked MSC for an explanation. MSC ignored us just like Silversea Cruises did last year. MSC claims that un-named authorities in Brazil are investigating the allegations, but it refuses to identify the authorities or provide contact information. MSC is digging itself and the cruise industry into a deeper hole.

Cruise lines like MSC tout that they treat the maritime environment like this when in truth they may be treating the waters like this.  When the major media networks latch onto a story, the cruise industry is forced to make a statement, but the cruise lines often sound and appear evasive and unbelievable.

Until cruise lines act responsibly and treat all of their crew members, guests and the earth with respect and act with transparency toward the media, the cruise industry's reputation will continue to suffer. 

CSM2014: Who Will Be the First Cruise CEO to Claim Cruising is the "Safest, Safest, Safest" Vacation? And Where Are the Safety Audits?

Last year at Cruise Shipping Miami, all of the cruise CEO's talking at the "State of the Cruise Industry" presentation covered the CLIA talking points that cruising was "safe" and the cruise industry is also supposedly "highly regulated."

The hyperbole was extraordinary.

CLIA's Christine Duffy began the cheerleading by first announcing that the Carnival Triumph fire was "rare." Carnival's President Gerry Cahill topped her by saying: “Something like this is very rare." NCL's Kevin Sheehan's won the award by claiming that cruising was the "safest, safest, safest" vacation Cruise Shipping Miami 2014option.

Cruise executives never discuss actual statistics about fires, accidents and crimes on cruise ships. They would rather tell you their self-serving opinions than provide you with the actual facts and let you form your own opinions.

In truth, there have been over 90 cruise ship fires between 1990 and the present. That's hardly "rare." The "safest, safest, safest" form of transportation does not catch on fire every 4 months.

The horrific sexual assault which recently occurred on the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam should be a reminder that sexual assault is the number 1 crime reported on cruise ships. There will be no mention of that.

And there will be no meaningful discussions about other current topics, like the controversy surrounding recently released video and photos of MSC Cruises crew members dumping bags of garbage and debris - allegedly into the waters of Brazil. Pierfrancesco Vago, Chairman of MSC Cruises, will be speaking this morning. I'm sure no one will ask him about that.  I say that the chances are 50 / 50 he will claim that his cruise line is a "guardian of the seas" or something equally clueless. 

Last year, Carnival's Cahill told us that Carnival intended to conduct safety audit all of its ships. CLIA also promised regular audits as well.

I instantly tweeted "will the audits ever be disclosed of the public?" Of course not. This is just one of those things that cruise executives say. All the travel agents and vendors at CSM then politely clap.

So here we are at CSM again. Soon the CEO's will tell us that everything is great.

Who will be the first executive to tell us that cruise accidents and crimes are "rare" and cruising is the "safest" vacation you can have?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tunisian Government to Israeli Passengers: You Are Not Welcome, Stay on the Ship!

A number of news sources are reporting that the Tunisian government prohibited Israeli passengers from disembarking from a cruise ship at a stop at the Port of Tunis.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), a U.S.-based cruise line, told the Israeli citizens that they were not welcome by the Tunisian government and had to stay aboard the cruise ship.

The ship involved is the Norwegian Jade.

B’nai Brith Canada released a statement yesterday stating that there were approximately 20 Israelis Norwegian Jade - Tunis Tunisiaon board the NCL ship. They did not know in advance that they could not leave the ship during the port of call.

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), “the cruise line had a responsibility to its passengers and (to) advise them of this discriminatory policy in advance,” B’nai Brith Canada CEO Frank Dimant said in a statement. “Better still the cruise line should avoid ports that have such policies.”

The cruise blog Cruise Hive publishes a statement by NCL about the incident:

"During Norwegian Jade’s port call in La Goulette, Tunisia on Sunday, March 9, 2014, a small number of guests holding Israeli passports were not allowed to go ashore because of a last minute decision made by the Tunisian Government. Port taxes for the call in Tunisia are being refunded to these guests.

We apologize for any inconvenience to our guests and appreciate their understanding. We are reviewing this decision with the appropriate officials." 

NCL's statement is pathetic. NCL should not be down-playing the incident like this. The Tunisian government's action should be immediately and unequivocally denounced in the strongest language possible.  

This is not about returning nominal port taxes to inconvenienced guests. It is about much deeper and important issues. No citizens of any nation should be subjected to such discrimination.  The fact that an Arab nation would exhibit such contempt and hostility against Israel is particularly despicable.

What lessons were learned from the hijacking of the Achilles Lauro cruise ship and the murder of passenger Leon Klinghoffer? Have we forgotten his death and the terror inflicted by an Arab terrorist group against cruise ship passengers in the Mediterranean and ending in the murder of a Jewish passenger?  

Tunisia's actions sent a clear message to Israeli citizens.  NCL's response should be equally clear. The only reasonable action is for NCL and the cruise industry to boycott Tunis as a port.

Tunisia Cruise Shipping Miami 2014March 11, 2014 Update:  NCL is boycotting Tunisia.  Here's the NCL statement by CEO Sheehan:

“We want to send a strong message to Tunisia and ports around the world that we will not tolerate such random acts of discrimination against our guests. We are outraged by this act and the fact that we were not notified in advance of this practice. We apologize sincerely to our guests who were affected and want them to know that we have taken the appropriate action in response.”  

NCL announced the boycott during the Cruise Shipping Miami (CSM2014) today.  I walked by the Tunisia delegation (photo left). They must be feeling rather foolish.  

 

Photo Credit: Top - Wikipedia / Ivan T.; bottom - Jim Walker

Foreign Cruise Lines Propose Prohibiting Foreign Crew Members From Filing Suit in the U.S.

The cruise lines are at it again.  They are proposing a bill, HR 4005, which will prevent "foreign" cruise ship employees from filing suit in the U.S. for compensation for injuries sustained or bad medical care received on cruise ships.  The proposed legislation includes banning crew members who are injured on cruise ships owned and operated by companies with headquarters here in Miami, like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL. 

Who are these workers? They are the state room attendants, waiters, bartenders, and cooks who work 7 days a week for 12 hours a day, all month long. for many months at a time. They live and work on the cruise ships thousands of miles away from home for 6 to 10 months at a time. They are from India, Honduras, Jamaica, Trinidad and Croatia.  

Who are these cruise lines? They are multi-billion dollar corporations which are based in the U.S. and whose incomes are derived mostly from U.S. passengers. Over 13 million U.S. citizens take cruises Royal Caribbean Crew Memberevery year. Yet, these companies do not pay U.S. income tax and they do not follow U.S. wage & labor laws or U.S. safety laws.  

This proposal discriminates blatantly against crew members around the world. It is also a job killer for the American worker. This bill would guarantee that the cruise lines will never hire U.S. citizens to work onboard their vessels. If non U.S. citizens cannot recover anything in the United States under U.S. law even though the cruise line is negligent, the cruise lines will have a disincentive to hire American workers.

The concept of cutting off a seaman's right to file suit in the U.S. violates hundreds of years of maritime law.  "Foreign" crew members are the backbone of the cruise industry. This is a xenophobic effort to strike at the heart of the cruise industry by stripping the rights of the heart and soul of the employees who make the cruise ships work. It is unconscionable.  It is also a duplicitous effort, considering that all of the cruise lines are "foreign" corporations, incorporated in countries like Panama (Carnival) or Liberia (Royal Caribbean) and operating cruise ships registered in countries like the Bahamas or Bermuda.    

If the cruise lines are not held accountable in U.S. Courts, they will be free to abandon their employees back in countries like India, Jamaica and Honduras when they are injured and need medical care. 

There is a risk to the safety and security of cruising if cruise lines are permitted to overwork their crew members, including officers and staff, and not face any economic consequence. An overworked, exhausted and poorly treated crew is a danger to the cruise ship and all aboard.  

Cruise CEO's living here in Miami are making hundreds of millions of dollars over the years by operating businesses based in the U.S. which are "foreign" incorporated and registered. They should not be allowed to discriminate against the "foreign" men and women who sweat all day on cruise ships sailing in and out of U.S. ports and are injured.  

Cruise Shipping Miami (CSM2014) Starts With Usual Hype - Will There Be Substance This Year?

Cruise Shipping Miami ("CSM 2014") has officially started. 

Formerly known as "Seatrade," CSM is a huge trade show in the Miami Beach Convention Center with all types of cruise vendors, tourism delegates and port representatives. You can appreciate just how dynamic and wealthy the cruise industry is by attending the show. 

Here's the official schedule.

The big event, of course, is the the "State of the Global Cruise Industry" where the cruise CEO's tell everyone how incredibly safe the cruise industry is.Cruise Shipping Miami CSM2014

This year we will be hearing from Arnold Donald, CEO, Carnival Corporation; Richard Fain, Chairman Royal Caribbean Cruises; Kevin Sheehan, CEO, Norwegian Cruise Lines; and Pierfrancesco Vago, Chairman, MSC Cruises.

It will be interesting to hear from Mr. Vago in light of the recent allegations that MSC Cruises has allegedly been dumping garbage into the sea.

Here's my articles from last year's Cruise Shipping Miami trade show I attended:

Cruise Shipping Miami: What the Cruise Executives Did Not Tell You.

Cruise Shipping's State of the Industry: Where are the Women & Minorities?

Email me at jim@cruiselaw.com if you want to meet, discuss cruise issues such as safety & security, or have a beer over lunch or at happy hour. I enjoyed some interesting conversations last year.

My perspective - "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know" - is a little different than that of most people attending.

i will be blogging and tweeting all week.

See you there.

MSC Magnifica Stuck in Port of Santos, Brazil With Fouled Propeller

A newspaper in Brazil reports that the MSC Magnifica, scheduled to depart from the Port of Santios, Brazil this evening at 6:00 P.M., remains in port after a mooring line became caught in the cruise ship's propeller.

A Tribuna states that that "one of the mooring lines to the pier got stuck in one of the propellers of the vessel."  

Santos is in the state of São Paulo, Brazil.

The Brazilian newspaper explains that precisely at 6:00 P.M., while the Magnifica was performed an undocking maneuver, a tether line (rope used to attach the ship to the pier) tangled in a propeller. MSC MagnificaThe operation was canceled and divers were deployed to try to solve the problem.

According to the newspaper, a spokesperson for the MSC said that the vessel encountered "technical-operational" problems. MSC further released a statement that  the delay in the departure of MSC Magnifica in the port of Santos "was due to a scheduled maintenance that took longer than expected."

The captain also informed the passengers, through the intercom speakers, that first departure, scheduled to take place at 6:00 P.M. on Sunday, was delayed by so-called "operational problems." The passengers were notified that the cruise ship would leave at 8:30 P.M., which it failed to do, and the departure time was further delayed until midnight.  

The cruise ship's webcams indicate that the ship remains in port at this time (1:00 A.M.).

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Bracodbk

Coast Guard Responds to Injured Passenger on Grandeur of the Seas

The U.S. Coast Guard provided emergency transportation for an injured cruise ship passenger this morning.

The Coast Guard released a statement that it medevaced a 93-year-old man from Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas in the lower Chesapeake Bay.

The Royal Caribbean ship contacted the Coast Guard via VHF-FM at approximately 9 p.m. Saturday night and reported that a passenger suffered a head injury and was in need of medical assistance.

The Coast Guard crew, together with Virginia Beach Fire Department personnel, responded with a 45-foot response boat. The crew arrived at the cruise ship at approximately 1:30 a.m. this morning. They transferred the man and his wife aboard the Coast Guard boat and took them ashore. The passengers were then transferred to local emergency medical services and taken to Virginia Beach General Hospital.

There is no indication how the passenger was injured.  Many people have informed us that the Grandeur encountered rough weather heading back to port, although it is unknown whether the passenger's injury was related to sea and wind conditions.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / J. Glover

Grandeur of the Seas

Passenger Reported Overboard From Costa Classica

Costa Classica Cruise Ship Man OverboardWe were notified a few minutes ago that a passenger has gone overboard from the Costa Classica cruise ship after the ship sailed from Casablanca, Morocco.  

The AIS tracking shows the cruise ship searching for the passenger.

A person from the ship contacted us about the man overboard and indicated that it was a male passenger.

It appears that the ship performed a Willamson turn to try and locate the person and then has been sailing in circles.

The cruise ship was sailing to Funchal, Madeira (autonomous Portugese island).

We will update this site as more information become available.

If anyone has update information, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Costa Classica Man OverboardFacebook page.

Update: The AIS tracking showed the cruise ship end its search after a couple of hours and sail on to Funchal.

It was disappointing to see a number of vessels in the area (within 50 kilometers) not join in to look for the passenger over the course of the search by the Classica.

A newspaper in Portugal identifies the passengers as a 70 year old man from Germany

 

Child Porn Lands Cruise Passenger In Jail

The Palm Beach Post reports that a cruise passenger's vacation ended dramatically when he was busted by federal agents who found child pornography on his computer.

Incidents involving crew members and passengers, all men, arrested leaving cruise ships with child porn on their computers, iPhones and flash-drives occur all too often.

In this case,the Palm Beach Post says that the man was arrested when the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship returned to port in Palm Beach last Sunday.

Bahamas Celebration Cruise ShipThe newspaper identifies the passengers as Zachary Frederick-Scott Cunningham whose Acer laptop is alleged to contain images and videos of child pornography. According to the criminal complaint, subsequently filed by prosecutors in Palm Beach, Cunningham admitted that he downloaded the pornographic images.

These type of cases should act as a reminder to families vacationing on cruise ships that there are perverts everywhere, including the high seas. Here are some of the more notorious cruise ship child pornography / child predator cases:

Celebrity Cruises Crew Member Arrested on Child Porn Charges

Royal Caribbean Cruise Passenger Sentenced to Jail for Over 5,000 Images of Child Pornography

Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise Ship

Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships

Our advice? Watch your kids, parents. Yes, the U.S. federal agents and Canadian authorities will occasionally nab a child porno sicko with images on his iPhone or laptop but that's just a fraction of the child porn coming on and off cruise ships. But don't think that the port officials anywhere else will look for the porno or predator creeps.  With 21,000,000 people sailing each year there are many thousands of sick perverts out there on the high seas.

MSC Cruises' Garbage Dumping Scandal: Will Travel Agents, Travel Writers & Cruise Bloggers Look the Other Way?

Yesterday we wrote about MSC Cruises allegedly dumping garbage bags and other items into the ocean at night from the Magnifica cruise ship while it was sailing in Brazilian waters.

It's been 24 hours since we posted the article together with video and photographs provided to us by a former cruise line employee. Our article has gone viral, having been read several hundred thousands of times with over 7,000 Facebook "likes."

You can see the videos here and the photos here.  

We have received lots of comments by members of the public expressing their disappointment and outrage that this cruise line was allegedly engaged in this type of alleged conduct. But what's the reaction from the MSC Cruises Magnifica Cruise Pollution Garbage Dumpingcruise industry and the maritime authorities? The cruise lines want us to believe that authorities "rigorously" enforces "strict" environmental regulations? What's the reaction from travel agents and travel writers about this breaking news story?   Let's take a look:

The International Maritime Organization (IMO): The IMO is the international maritime authority which promulgated the pollution regulations (MARPOL) which the cruise lines are suppose to comply with. Cruise ships can't dump unprocessed food or other items within three miles of the closest shore. They are suppose to separate, process, grind, crush and/or incinerate the ship's refuse, paper items and/or garbage and then discharge the garbage at sea at various distances from shore or store the pulverized / incinerated materials for pick up at port after the cruise is over. Plastic is prohibited from being discharged.

But what happens when a cruise line ignores MARPOL? Nothing. The IMO is a United Nations entity. It's a "feel good" organization. It can't enforce its own rules and it can't punish cruise lines when they violate the rules.

Cruise Line International Association (CLIA): CLIA is the cruise industry trade association which promotes the image and the interests of the cruise lines. CLIA says that if a cruise line member violates safety or environmental regulations, it will take steps against the member including kicking the cruise line out of the organization. But that will never happen.  CLIA has never criticized, admonished or taken disciplinary action against a cruise line. It's sole function is to protect the cruise industry from public scrutiny or criticism. 

CLIA has not issued a public statement about the MSC dumping scandal. Don't expect one either. There would have to be a Congressional investigation taking place before CLIA would even acknowledge the issue and it would then spin the story with corporate gobbledygook. Today CLIA's CEO and former travel-agent Christine Duffy issued a PR statement on CLIA's behalf applauding the cruise industry's alleged efforts to create a "pristine environment." Ms. Duffy said: "We will continue to forge new paths toward a greener, more sustainable planet . . ." and "will make cruising more environmentally conscious than ever before."   

Travel Agents, Writers, and Cruise Bloggers:  So far not a single travel publication has touched the story. There are thousands of tweets and Facebook posts from the usual cruise bloggers (Cruise Hive, Cruise Currents, Cruise Fever, Cruise Critic) and travel writers (Travel Weekly, Travel Pulse) about the best deals on cruises. Many hundreds of travel agents are hawking cruises on Twitter. But no one is mentioning garbage bags in the sea dumped at night.

That's bad for the travel agents' business. And whether the cruise lines are polluting or not, travel agents are selling cruises on the MSC Magnifica right now. 99% of the travel writers and cruise bloggers just want the pollution story to go away. They don't want to embarrass their friends in the cruise industry. They're afraid that the cruise lines won't give them complimentary or heavily discounted cruises if they mention the story.

That's what MSC Cruises and CLIA are counting on. The cruise industry won't change a bit as long as the 16,000 CLIA travel agents and travel writers remain silent as the oceans are polluted with cruise garbage.     

 

Guardian of the Seas? Is MSC Cruises Polluting Brazilian Waters Again?

MSC Cruises Cruise Dumping - Garbage BagsTwo months ago, we posted a video from a Brazilian newspaper showing MSC Cruises crew members apparently throwing black garbage bags into the water (video at bottom).

The video, taken by a passenger aboard an unidentified MSC ship (later identified as the Magnifica), created a hue and cry among environmentalists and citizens of Brazil. Rightfully so. Dumping of plastics and unprocessed garbage is illegal according to the international MARPOL recommendations. This dumping allegedly took place in Brazilian waters near a marine sanctuary.

After the passenger video surfaced, MSC, seemingly unrepentant, released a PR statement calling its cruise ships "Guardians of the Seas." It said that it would investigate the alleged dumping and touted its environmental policies.

After we covered the story, a number of people within the industry contacted us. They suggested that dumping of garbage bags from cruise ships like this took place more often than the cruise lines would like the public to know.

Yesterday, we received photographs and videos from a concerned "Good Samaritan." The images appear to show MSC crew members throwing garbage bags out to sea. Unlike the video taken by the passenger from an upper deck of the ship, these videos were taken by a former crew member inside of the ship showing what he described as illegal garbage dumping. We have posted two of the videos below.

The videos shown are short "snippets," of only 10 seconds or so, of workers wearing blue MSC overalls carrying bags to the windowless portholes on a mooring deck and then heaving the bags out to sea.

MSC Cruises Cruise Dumping - Garbage Bags The video and photographs were taken by a former crew member who wishes to remain anonymous.

The former employee claims that MSC discarded garbage bags often filled with plastics, oily discharge and other materials which the cruise lines are prohibited from dumping. The former employee took photos of a lower mooring deck showing a pile of garbage bags which he said were later thrown into the sea, including a stack of wooden pallets which had been broken down to fit through the portholes and then pitched out to sea.  

The former employee told us that the dumping occurred from the MSC Magnifica within Brazilian waters.

Click on our Facebook page to see some of the photos of the dumping at sea.

The press in Brazil has focused on the cruise industry after bathers at a public beach called Praia da Tartaruga (Turtle Beach) near Búzios City in Brazil suffered irritated eyes, difficulty breathing, and gastrointestinal problems. The officials believe that cruise ships discharged noxious waste into the water. These images will add to the debate whether cruise lines are polluting the waters of Brazil.

This morning, we reached out to MSC Cruises's Fort Lauderdale office for an explanation regarding what is shown in the latest videos and photographs.  We have not received a response.    

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

Have a video or evidence of illegal cruise line conduct?  Contact us. We will bring the story to the public. 

 

MSC Cruises Cruise Garbage Bag Dumping

 

Norovirus Breaks Out On P&O Cruises' Oriana

Oriana Cruise ShipThe British press is reporting that the Oriana cruise ship has returned to port in Southampton with "dozens" of passengers sick with norovirus.

The 19 year-old P&O cruise ship ended its cruise around the Canary Islands early because of propeller problems. The Daily Echo newspaper in the U.K. is calling the ship "cursed" because of the norovirus outbreak.

The Daily Echo says that the ship returned to port on Wednesday due to propeller issues and passengers were permitted to stay on board and using the facility until Saturday. However, 57 passengers on board were then struck down with the highly contagious norovirus.

P&O Cruises offered refunds and credits to passengers, but some passengers said they might sue. 

The cruise line said that it started "enhanced sanitation" protocols.

P&O Cruises also released the familiar PR statement: "the safety and comfort of passengers and crew is always our number one priority.”

 

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia / Pjotr Mahhonin

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

Last week I wrote an article about Royal Caribbean CEO and President Adam Goldstein cashing in over $2,300,000 worth of Royal Caribbean stock, still leaving him with around $19,000,000 worth of his company's stock. 

It's difficult to justify the enormous wealth of the cruise executives given the fact that the cruise business is rigged to create gigantic profits free of U.S. taxes. Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean (Liberia) and Carnival (Panama) incorporated in foreign countries in order to avoid U.S. taxes, labor and wage laws, and safety regulations. The cruise lines pay dirt cheap wages to laborers from India and the Caribbean islands. They provide no benefits at all to their loyal crew members.

Cruise executive compensation isn't tied to whether the line's ships sink or catch on fire. One of the Micky Arison Carnival CruiseRoyal Caribbean cruise ships, the Grandeur of the Seas, caught on fire for two hours last year yet cruise CEO Goldstein still raked in millions. Cruise executives are rewarded for squeezing blood out of the stone. 

Tax-fee Royal Caribbean pays a salary of only $50 a month to its waiters and cabin attendants who it works like dogs, relying on the tax-paying cruise passengers to pay tips so the employees can try and make a living.  Yet Royal Caribbean is stealing, some say, some of the passenger money intended for tips and using the "tips" to pay the salaries of the non-tip earning crew members. Last year Royal Caribbean fired over one-hundred employees in its corporate offices here in Miami because of "tough economic times." Yet the cruise line executives like CEO Goldstein and chairman Richard Fain still pocketed millions and millions and millions at the end of the year.

No doubt the cruise employees are getting the shaft. The crew is getting poorer while the fat cat executives are getting richer and richer.  

The greediest cruise executive in my opinion is, hands down, no doubt-about-it, by-far Micky Arison. He makes Goldstein look like chump change. Arison is the news this weekend after agreeing to sell up to 10 million shares of Carnival Corporation stock. At $39.50 per share, that's $395,000,000. 5 million shares were sold on Friday and the remaining shares will be sold over the next 15 months, After the sale is complete, the Arison family will still own 188,000,000 shares worth over $7,426,000,000.

What will multi-billionaire Arison do with the $395,000,000? Build medical clinics in Goa, India where most of his crew members come from? Fund the retirement benefits for his hard working Filipino crew members who have slaved away far-from-their-children for decades on his ships?  Create schools in Nicaragua where thousands of family members of Carnival crew members reside? No, no, no. The nearly $400 million in cash will be solely for his own tax and estate planning.

CEO Arison paid himself a $90,000,000 bonus in 2002 - the same year of the Costa Concordia disaster. In my assessment, he seems like a money hoarder without a social conscious. Here are some of the infamous incidents involving Carnival Corporation and its brands over the last few years:

It is an amazing spectacle to watch Arison enrich himself irrespective of the Concordia capsizing and the Triumph engine room fire. 

Just last week we commented on Carnival's press release, issued during the middle of the Triumph "poop cruise" trial here in Miami. Carnival characterized the cruise passengers, who endured four days in the Gulf of Mexico after the negligently maintained old ship caught fire, as greedy.

I suppose it's business as usual for Carnival to malign its Triumph cruise guests while chairman Arison is cashing in a fraction of his cruise stock during the middle of the Triumph trial for $395,000,000. 

 

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

Brazilian Cruise Pollution Debate Continues: Sewage or Silt?

A week ago we discussed a controversy which erupted in Brazil when around 60 bathers on Turtle Beach in the beautiful resort town of Buzios became ill. Government officials suspected that a cruise ship discharged noxious liquids and waste into the waters. 

A newspaper in Brazil, Globo, covered the story and posted aerial photographs of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship with discolored water around it.  It looked to me that the muddy-looking water was probably sand and silt which had been churned up by the vessel's engines. We posted the photos on line. The issue nonetheless remained what made the bathers at the beach so sick?

Brazil took samples of the contaminated water at the beach, as well as samples from several cruise ships in the area. The test results were inconclusive. The cruise association in Brazil denies that any of the cruise ships discharged anything and maintains that all ships comply with international maritime standards addressing the discharge of waste water.

The controversy reported in the press has led to at least one cruise passenger coming forward to claim that other cruise ships may be fouling the waters in Brazil.

Globo reports that cruise passenger Jesus Alcinir, age 50, from Panama, was sailing on the MSC Orchestra with his family last November to Buzios. He observed what he believed was a nasty looking and terribly smelling liquid that seemed to leave the ship. He took a photograph which you can see below.

He told Globo: "I was watching the sea. That transparent color, that blue sea with green, when out of nowhere this spot that seemed to come out of our ship emerged. The smell was very strong at the time and I was upset to hear that it could be some fluid that would be polluting the environment."

A crew member said that because the ship just stopped and lowered an anchor, silt would have been disrupted and muddied the water.

Passenger Alcinar was unconvinced, particularly because of the strong smell. 

I suppose that the smell could have been from the muck and perhaps decomposing organic material like seaweed. I would also think that if the cruise ship was going to illegally open its bilges, it would do so at night while the ship was underway. 

No samples were taken of the water. 

Being accused of discharging waste in Brazilian waters in the last thing that MSC needs. Last December we posted a video of MSC crew members seemingly throwing garbage bags in the water near a marine sanctuary in Brazil. 

Sewage or silt? Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

MSC Orchestra Cruise Ship

Photo Credit: Jesus Alcinir via Globo

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

Lawyers involved in a trial are not suppose to make comments during trial which are likely to affect the jury or trier of fact. The theory is that trials are suppose to be decided based on the testimony and exhibits introduced into evidence, and not by PR statements which are not subject to the rules of evidence and which may be designed to sway the jury.     

Yesterday Carnival send a written statement to NBC News, Carnival said: "The current litigation by a handful of individuals is an opportunistic attempt to benefit financially . . . principally based on claims of alleged emotional distress."

A nasty statement no doubt. There is no indication that Carnival's trial lawyers made the statement. But Poop Cruise Carnival Triumphpress releases like this from the Carnival PR team are obviously not released to the public until after they are vetted by Carnival's in-house lawyers.

It's a statement designed to try and send a signal to the trier of fact. Carnival is trying to sway the trier of fact to believe that the Triumph cruise passengers are just a greedy bunch of people who are not to be believed and are just looking for a pay out. 

What Carnival doesn't say, however, is that the cruise line made a business decision last year not to pay a dime to any passengers who elected to file suit. Carnival was clearly negligent. Any other cruise line would have resolved this type of case on a reasonable basis long ago. But not Carnival. It would rather pay its defense lawyers a few million dollars to try and squash the Triumph passengers who decided to seek compensation.

Remember that Carnival Cruise Line's parent company is Carnival Corporation. This is the same company which owns the Costa Concordia which capsized with over 4,000 passengers and crew on board, killing 32 souls.  The passengers on the Concordia lost not only their vacations but all of their clothing, cameras, iPhones, and computers which they brought on board. They lost any jewelry or cash in the cabin safes. They were terrorized as the cruise ship tilted over and the coward captain abandoned ship.

Carnival offered the passengers 11,000 euros on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.  If that seems like a pittance to you, you're right. But remember that Carnival didn't offer the crew member anything.

To add salt into the wound, at the end of the year, Carnival Chairman Micky Arison (already worth close to $6,000,000,000) paid himself a $90,000,000 bonus.

In the same year, the CEO of the Carnival owned Costa cruise line, Pier Luigi Foschi, received $3,970.000 and later received a bonus of $1,700,000 when he retired. He also reportedly has shares of cruise stock worth $4,700,000.   

This is the way it works with the Carnival brands. They have tens of millions in salary and bonuses to reward their CEO's even when their ships catch fire or sink.  They have millions and millions to spend on defending lawsuits. But for the nice people who boarded the dangerously neglected and unseaworthy Triumph cruise ship last year, Carnival doesn't have a penny. It has only disdain. 

Measles Outbreak On Costa Pacifica Cruise Ship

According to the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero a measles outbreak has occurred on the Costa Pacifica cruise ship.

The newspaper says that dozens of cruise passengers were probably infected with the virus that causes measles. The cruise ship called on the port of Civitavecchia.

59 infected crew members were sent ashore for medical treatment.

Costa says, for what it's worth, that there have been no confirmed cases of passengers infected with the measles virus yet.

A measles outbreak is very serious. There is a particular danger to women of childbearing age with measles.  U.S. based cruise lines vaccinate for measles because the virus is so virulent.

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein was the first in the U.S. / Canada to report on this disturbing outbreak. 

If you have information about this viral outbreak, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on Facebook.

Costa Pacifica Measles

Photo Credit:  Luciano Giobb via Il Messaggero

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick Passenger From Carnival Paradise

Carnival Paradise MedevacThe U.S. Coast Guard reports that it medevaced a 66-year-old passenger from a Carnival cruise ship yesterday when the ship was approximately 180 miles southwest of Marco Island, Florida. 

The Carnival Paradise contacted the Coast Guard around 2:00 PM yesterday regarding a male passenger who was suffering from an undisclosed medical illness while the cruise ship was sailing to Tampa.

A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was dispatched from the Coast Guard's station in Clearwater.

FOX News reports that when the Coast Guard helicopter crew arrived at the cruise ship, the aircrew lowered their rescue swimmer, hoisted the ill cruise passenger and transported him to Tampa General Hospital for medical care. 

Photo Credit: FOX 4

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Credit: video and photograph WPTV

Cruise Ships Without Lifeguards: Shame On You!

NC: Cruise Shihp DrowningIn the last nine months, four children age 6 or younger have drowned or nearly drowned on cruise ships.

A 4 year child remains brain damaged after he nearly drowned on a Disney cruise ship, the Fantasy.  A 6 year old child is dead after drowning on a Carnival cruise ship, the Victory.  A 4 year old is dead and his 6 year old brother is seriously injured after similar tragedies on NCL's Norwegian Breakaway.  

Cruise passenger Joe Boris, age 39, witnessed the NCL tragedies. He is motivated to convince the cruise industry to provide greater protection to children.

WTSB quotes Mr. Boris saying: "How can this happen? Why was there no lifeguard on board?" Boris said. "These cruise ships are money-making cash cows and to (make you) pay $11 for one drink. There's no reason why they can't supply a lifeguard at the pools."

"They boast on how this is a $900 million vessel holding almost 4,100 passengers, 1,600 crew members and they always say safety is of course their number one priority.  

"I honestly have to say to them, shame on you," Boris said. "Shame on you because there's no reason you cannot have or you shouldn't have a lifeguard present on board those ships."

There is absolutely no excuse for a cruise line, which pays absolutely no U.S. income taxes, not to invest in lifeguards. a dime from every passenger would more than pay for the lifeguards.  Here are some of our recent articles:

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

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

 

WFSB 3 Connecticut

Royal Caribbean: The Rich Get Richer, the Poor Get Poorer

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line CEO Adam GoldsteinRoyal Caribbean Cruises President and CEO Adam Goldstein sold 44,256 shares of Royal Caribbean stock yesterday.  Zolimax News reports that Mr. Goldstein sold his stock at an average price of $52.96, for a total transaction of $2,343,797.76.

After the sale, Mr. Goldstein's stocks total 358,804 shares, valued at approximately $19,002,260.

Royal Caribbean (RCL) has a 52-week low of $31.35 and a 52-week high of $53.42. 

We last reported on the cruise president's stock sales in October of last year when he sold 7,855 shares of RCL stock at an average price of $43.22, for a total value of $339,493.10. At that time, he reportedly owned 335,654 shares of Royal Caribbean stock, valued at approximately $14,506,966. 

It looks like the cruise executive's net worth has increased by over $7,000,000.

Royal Caribbean pays a salary to its waiters and cabin attendants of only $50 a month; the cruise passengers pay tips to the waiters and stewards but Royal Caribbean is scooping up much of the tips to pay other crew member's salaries. Employees like utility cleaners earn a pittance of around $550 a month (with no tips) working around 11-12 hours a day, every day of the month during contracts that are 6-8 months long. 

In September of last year, Royal Caribbean fired over one-hundred employees in its corporate offices in order to increase profits. You can read about that here: Loyal to Royal? Royal Caribbean Axes 100 Jobs in Corporate Headquarters.

 

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

Photo Credit: Adam Goldstein - Cruise360 Vimeo

Cruise Industry Launches False Crime Statistics Campaign

After the Costa Concordia capsized, travel agents began telling their clients that such incidents were "rare" and that cruising was "absolutely safe." Some travel agents went as far as to claim that the last time a cruise ship sank was over a 100 years ago when the Titanic struck an iceberg.

Of course this was false. But the travel agents were repeating the talking points issued by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). This was part of a campaign by CLIA to assure the public that cruising was safe and sound. You can read about the false and misleading campaign by the cruise industry here: Six Lies The Cruise Lines Will Tell You After The Costa Concordia Crash.

Holland America LineIt seems like the cruise industry is now back at work spreading falsehoods again.

Following the vicious rape, beating and attempted murder of the 31 year old passenger aboard the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam, HAL's president Stein Kruse released a statement claiming that "no incident like this has occurred in our company's 140-year history."

Of course this is false too. Just last month a 18 year old girl was raped by an officer on the Amsterdam cruise ship, according to an article written by another lawyer here in Miami who represents victims of sexual assault on cruise ships.

The official Coast Guard portal also reveals that there recently have been reported rapes of women on HAL cruise ships, including assaults committed by crew members. 

The sexual assault of women and children is a problem which the cruise industry avoids discussing. When pressed to mention the issue, the cruise lines always say that sexual assaults are "rare." 

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

But the cruise lines will never acknowledge the true numbers. In its press releases, the cruise industry invariably fudges the numbers.  The cruise lines were successful in altering the language of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act such that only those cruise ship crimes reported to and closed by the FBI needed to be disclosed to the public. The problem was that not all cruise ship crimes are reported to the FBI and the FBI keeps most files open.

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

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

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

If the 31 year old woman recently victimized on the Nieuw Amsterdam had not fought her attacker off, and she disappeared during the cruise, what would HAL be saying about her now? Would it accuse her of committing suicide? Would the violent crime become just a "mystery?" A cruise line capable of a whopper like there-has-been-no-woman-attacked-for-140-years is capable of saying anything.

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

The travel publication says:

"Another week and another negative story hits the consumer media in regards to cruising. The latest issue involved a crewmember who is accused of raping and beating a passenger on board a Holland America Line charter.

It’s another challenge for the cruise lines, but an even bigger one for the travel agents who are on the front lines.

                                                     *              *            *             *

Despite what you might see or hear in the consumer media, travelers should seek out the insights and advice of a professional travel agent. They’ll get the true story, and the real numbers, when it comes to that particular story." (Emphasis added)

So what is the "truth" that the cruise lines and travel agents want us to believe in order to buy cruises from them?  

What is the "true story" about the HAL crew member who was, as the travel publication puts it, "accused" of "raping and beating" the passenger?  He has already confessed to raping as well as beating, choking and attempting to murder the poor woman who he tried to throw into the sea.  

And what are the "real numbers?" Do the travel agents really want us to believe that the last time a ship sank before the Concordia was the Titanic in 1912? And there had never been a prior rape of a passenger by a crew member on a HAL cruise ship for 140 years dating back to 1874?    

A travel agent that repeats the tall tales and skewed crime statistics of the cruise lines to their clients, tells them to ignore the media stories (like CNN), and represents that cruising is absolutely safe has a good chance of being sued for fraud if their clients are victimized.  

 

Photo Credit: Nieuw Amsterdam Wikipedia / Cybergoth

Did Splendor of the Seas or Other Cruise Ships Dump Sewage Near Turtle Beach in Brazil?

A reader of Cruise News in Brazil sent us an article from a Brazilian newspaper indicating that swimmers (including children) at a public beach near Búzios City, Brazil reported to the hospital with irritated eyes, difficulty breathing, and gastrointestinal problems.

The beach is called Praia da Tartaruga (Turtle Beach).

According to the newspaper Globo, public environmental officials in Brazil reportedly believe that the health problems may have been caused by discharge from one of three cruise ships in the area.

Samples were taken from the three cruise ships which called on the city of Búzios (north of Rio de Splendor of the Seas BrazilJaneiro) to compare them with contaminated water collected at the public beach. 

The three cruise ships have not been identified. However, the newspaper contains a photograph of the Royal Caribbean Splendor of the Seas. The newspaper indicates that the aerial photograph was taken by Secretary of State for Environment, Indio da Costa. Discolored water was observed around the cruise ship. The Brazilian official is quoted saying (translated):

"Still can not know what contaminated water, but we are almost certain that the problem was caused by the release of untreated sewage or treated irregularly by one of the ships docked in Buzios." 

The health authorities closed the beach due to the polluted water. 

The newspaper states that fines for polluting the waters of Brazil can reach $50 million, according to Brazil's Secretary of State for Environment.

The Brazilian cruise organization denied that the polluted water came from cruise ships. It said that the cruise companies comply with the guidelines a set by the MARPOL Convention (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships). 

It is unknown to us whether the Sovereign of the Seas or any other cruise ships were dumping anything in the Brazilian waters, or whether the discolored water around the Sovereign as shown in the photographs is attributable to silt being churned up by the ship's engines, the decomposition of algae or some other explanation. 

The test results are expected to be ready by Wednesday. We will identify the other cruise ships in the area as soon as we obtain this information.

We recently discussed an incident involving a MSC cruise ship which reportedly was caught dumping black garbage bags off the coast of Brazil near a marine sanctuary, after making a transatlantic crossing. A cruise passenger videotaped the dumpingSplendor of the Seas Brazil

 Photos Credit: Indio da Costa, Secretary of Environment from the State of Rio de Janeiro via Globo.com

Disease Outbreak on HAL Veendam

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that there has been a disease outbreak on the  M/S Veendam operated by Holland America Line (HAL)

The CDC states that the Veendam cruise ship has returned after a a 14 day cruise from February 8-22, 2014 with 114 of 1273 (8.96%) passengers suffering from norovirus-like symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. 10 of 575 (1.74%) crew members are reportedly ill.

The CDC has not figured out the type or cause of the disease outbreak.

Veendam Cruise Ship - NorovirusThe CDC has confirmed four disease outbreaks on cruise ships so far this year.

The story was first mentioned by the Cruise Fever blog.

The HAL Veendam was last infected with e-coli last year. You can read about that outbreak here: Gastrointestinal Virus Plagues Passengers Aboard HAL's Veendam Cruise Ship.

The Veendam has experienced problems with cleanliness and Illnesses over the years.

In 2012, this HAL cruise ship flunked a health inspection. That's hard to do. Read our article: Gross! Holland America Line's Veendam Flunks Health Inspection.

The Veendam also sickened 80 and killed one passenger during a gastrointestinal outbreak in November of 2011.

Over the years, HAL has one of the worst records with disease outbreaks.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Djheini

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / HurricaneX31

Cruise Passenger Sexually Assaulted In Freeport, Bahamas

KTAS - ABC television reports on an undergraduate from Texas who was assaulted while ashore in the Bahamas during a Carnival cruise.

The young woman states that she wanted to smoke marijuana during her stop over in Freeport, but she was assaulted while in port. 

The story was previously reported by WKMG.

The Bahamas is one country where crimes in general and sexual assaults in particular pose a substantial danger to cruise ship passengers. We have written many times about crimes in the ports of call in the Caribbean. But a cruise passenger invites trouble trying to buy pot while ashore. 

The video also discusses that the murder rates in many of the countries in the Caribbean where the cruise lines sail have a serious problem with crime.  for example, the murder rate in St. Thomas is 10 times higher than the U.S. and the murder rate in Honduras is 20 times higher. 

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Passenger Alleges 2 Crew Members Raped Her on Carnival Victory

Inside Edition aired a video this week about a 28 year old woman who alleges that two crew members raped her during a Carnival cruise aboard the Victory last year.

The young woman told Inside Edition that Carnival served her a lot of alcohol and she has no recollection of how she ended up in the crew quarters. She indicates that once in the crew members' cabin, the two Carnival employees held her down and raped her repeatedly. She feared that the men were going to throw her overboard. 

As is the situation with most alleged crimes on the high seas, the FBI declined to prosecute. Our experience with the FBI is that federal agents (unlike state prosecutors) typically decline to pursue Carnival Cruise Sexual Assaulta prosecution whenever alcohol is involved. The irony, of course, is that Carnival makes hundreds of millions of dollars in alcohol sales each year. Alcohol is often involved in rape crimes on cruise ships. 

Inside Edition later sent an undercover video crew aboard another Carnival cruise ship, the Fascination, to determine whether Carnival employees were fraternizing with the female passengers. Such conduct is supposedly prohibited by Carnival's policies, but things are often quite different on the high seas than what is written in the rule books.

During a four day cruise to the Bahamas, two uniformed officers were reportedly observed cruising in the ship’s main bar. They even flirted with one of the Inside Edition employees and asking her to try their alcoholic drinks.

The Inside Edition crew later saw the two officers with their white uniforms in the ship's disco. The officers reportedly were dirty dancing with 20-year-old twins, making out with the passengers, and standing by the girls' cabins in the passenger area. 

Carnival responded to the expose by stating “the safety of our guests and crew is our foremost priority." 

The program disclosed that there have been more than 150 reported allegations of rape and sexual assault aboard cruise ships that visit U.S. ports since 2010. 

 

Photo and story credit: Inside Edition  

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

Disney Cruise Ship Crime - ChildrenTonight at 11:00 P.M. WKMG-TV 6 (CBS Orlando) will air a special report on crimes which occur during cruises, including ports of call.

Investigative producer Lauren Sweeney and investigative reporter Tony Pipitone take a look at dangers ashore in countries like the Bahamas where cruise passengers have recently been robbed at gunpoint and sexually assaulted. 

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

If you are a victim of crime in a place like Nassau, unfortunately neither the local police or the cruise line will do much at all.

Last year this WKMG investigative team aired the disturbing story of a 33 year old waiter on a Disney cruise who molested an 11 year old girl. Rather than report the crime immediately to the FBI, local police in Port Canaveral, or the sheriff's office, the cruise line sailed the ship out of the U.S. port to Nassau where the police there did nothing. Disney then flew the pedophile crew member back home to India.

Photo Credit: WKMG TV-6 (CBS Orlando) 

The video below is a three minute introduction of the special tonight.

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Praising its Captain and Ship, Cruise & Maritime Voyages Quickly Returns the Deadly Marco Polo Back to Sea

Just two days ago, the news broke about a wave smashing windows out in the Waldorf Restaurant aboard the Marco Polo cruise ship killing one elderly passenger and injuring a dozen passengers and crew members. Passengers disembarking the 49 year-old former-Russian vessel this morning complained about the poor condition of the cruise ship.

The widow of the passenger who died when the windows exploded in said that the ship was "badly maintained." The Daily Echo quoted her saying that ''There's so much paint on the outside you can't see the rust, they just slop some more on when they get to port."

Marco Polo PassengersBut seemingly just as soon as the passengers had disembarked the old ship, the Marco Polo was already preparing to leave on its next scheduled cruise.

The cruise ship's operator, Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), was quick to issue a corporate PR statement downplaying the incident. It characterized the wave as a "freak" incident, a designation which was contradicted by numerous passengers who characterized the worsening rough weather as an ongoing process requiring them to ride the ship "like a bucking bronco."

CMV described the damage to the vessel as involving only a "small section of Marco Polo’s Waldorf Restaurant," but it neglected to mention that the entire restaurant was flooded with 3 to 5 inches of water. Today, somehow the ship had already completed the "required reparation works," and the cruise ship had already "been cleared to sail by the authorities."

Just who are the "authorities" who gave the old ship a green light to again sail on the same day that it returned to port after the deadly cruise?  The ship is registered in Nassau, Bahamas which could care less about inspecting the ship and will never conduct an analysis of the casualty nor issue a report for public reading.

Other basic questions need to be asked.

How were the "required reparation works" conducted so quickly during such a short turn-around?  Was the ship, constructed back in 1964, completely inspected from bow to stern by qualified experts? Were independent marine surveyors permitted to inspect the damage before the scene was altered?  Was the dead man's family members provided an opportunity to hire their own experts to assess the cause and origin of window failures?

If this casualty involved a U.S. commercial aviation incident where the windows of a Delta jet blew out causing death and injuries to the passengers and crew, the airplane would be shut down indefinitely pending an exhaustive inspection and analysis by the stringent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the aircraft manufacturer, component vendor companies, maintenance companies and other companies. Even the FBI would be a part of the investigation.

But this incident involved the largely unregulated "anything-goes" world of foreign-flagged cruise ships where the ships never stop and the cruise operator PR people are left to praise themselves rather than scrutinize what went wrong. 

CMV has already claimed that the wave was a "freak" which in legal terms means its was allegedly "unforeseeable" which CMV's lawyers will contend. The weather broadcasts, wind and sea forecasts, and nautical charts showing wind speed and wave heights are of no consequence it seems. The cruise operator has already settled on its defense strategy. The Marco Polo is already heading out to sea again.

CMV already boasts that its ship is allegedly in compliance with "strict" international maritime "requirements" (the International Maritime Organization has no authority to even enforce its own recommendations).  Remarkably, the cruise line praises its captain and officers who sailed into harm's way while inviting the elderly guests to sit like ducks next to the windows as the giant waves Marco Polo BBCcrashed upon the ship. 

Instead of such cheerleading and gushing praise, a criminal investigation should be initiated into whether manslaughter charges should be leveled against the captain, the navigational officers and the senior managers who permitted the passengers to sit precariously close to the restaurant windows under such dangerous circumstances.

The ship never should have been permitted to take new passengers aboard today. It should have been detained. The Marco Polo should be immediately returned to port and undergo a thorough and complete survey before it leaves port again anytime soon. 

February 18 2014 Update: A newspaper in the U.K. contains an interview of a couple of the cruise who "do not believe that the ordeal was the result of a freak wave but that of gale-force wind and said that there was an incident even on the first night of the 42-night cruise." A window blew in earlier.  A reader left this comment to the story:

We were on the ship too, in the restaurant and also found out that the man who died was our shipboard next door neighbour. I too take issue with the word 'freak' allowing commentators to write off the incident as tragic but one of those things. Others were seriously injured that day. If it was a freak wave it was one of a series . . . 
 

 

Photo Credits:

Marco Polo Passengers - BBC News

Marco Polo: BBC News / Martin Dalton

Crew Member Assaults Passenger Aboard HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam During "Bare Necessities" Cruise

Holland america Line Bare NecessitiesCruise Critic reports that a Holland America Line (HAL) crew member assaulted a woman aboard HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam yesterday.

According to Cruise Critic, HAL released the following statement:

"A 31-year-old female U.S. citizen on board ms Nieuw Amsterdam was assaulted by a crewmember in her cabin early this morning. The female guest was cared for in the ship's hospital and was in stable condition prior to disembarking the ship today in Roatan, Honduras, for air transfer back to the U.S. Holland America Line is providing full support to the woman. We are shocked and deeply saddened by this incident. The safety of our guests is our utmost priority.

The crewmember was placed under guard where he will remain until remanded to authorities. The FBI and other appropriate authorities were notified. A thorough investigation is in progress.

The ship is on a seven-day Western Caribbean cruise which departed on Feb. 9, sailing roundtrip Fort Lauderdale."

Holland America Line - Bare NecessitiesCruise Critic says that the cruise was organized by "Bare Necessities" which is a nude cruise travel company.

We last wrote about "Bare Necessities" when the Royal Caribbean cruise line kicked off a disabled cruise passenger from its cruise ship during a Bare Necessities cruise.

We have attended six Congressional hearing where crimes against cruise passengers have been discussed. Cruise lines will suggest that such incidents are "rare" but sexual assaults occur more often than companies like HAL will admit.

The HAL cruise ship returns to port in South Florida tomorrow. Will the FBI arrest the crew member?

February 18 2014 Update: HAL crew member held without bail after raping passenger and trying to throw her overboard.

 

Photo Images Credit: Bare Necessities

Read the Sun Sentinel data base of cruise lines assaults, including HAL.

1 Dead, 12 Injured: Pandemonium After Wave Breaks Window & Floods Cruise Ship Restaurant

Marco Polo ITV NewsMore details are coming in about yesterday's deadly incident where a large wave crashed through a window on the Marco Polo cruise ship.

As we mentioned in our article yesterday, a 85 year old man and a woman in her 70s were airlifted from the ship. The man later died due to his injuries. 

A cruise passenger gave the following account to the U.K.'s Channel 4 News:

"We were sitting at a table in the Marco Polo's Waldorf restaurant, located on deck six of the cruise ship. The table was on the starboard side. Lunch was just being served and most people were waiting for their orders.

The seas, visible through the windows, were very rough. Waves were peaking nearly parallel to the windows. Furniture in the restaurant was beginning to shift, so people were holding on to tables and chairs.

Suddenly there was a very loud 'bang' and the daylight in the room reduced as a wall of seawater covered most of the starboard windows. The bang was the breaching of a forward window in the restaurant."

On leaving the restaurant, I went up three decks to my cabin, when another large wave hit the ship and I was thrown across a connecting passageway and ended up in a bundle against a wall.

I was rescued by fellow passengers who called the ships doctors and crew. I was stretchered to the sick bay four decks below with a cut head and extensive bruising."

ABC News aired the video here: 

 

Another account stated that sea water rushed through the broken windows and flooded the restaurant to a depth of about three to five inches.

In all 12 passengers and crew members sustained injuries.

There is no indication in any of these articles that the captain has issued warning to the passengers. The cruise line is playing the "freak wave" a/k/a the "rogue wave" defense, suggesting that the wave was unforeseeable. That's hardly true. Storms like this create cyclical patterns of waves where one out of one hundred waves or so is of a substantially large size and velocity. The vessel's officer and senior officers should not permit passengers, particularly elderly guests, into public areas with large windows which can be breached.

Other cruise ships encountering rough weather have experienced smashed windows which killed and seriously injured passengers. 

The Channel 4 video is below:

 

 

Photo Credit: Marco Polo -  ITV News

Rough Weather Kills Cruise Passenger

CNN reports that a British cruise passenger was killed during rough weather which struck a ship sailing into the English Channel.

The death occurred aboard the Marco Polo cruise ship.

The cruise line tried to characterize the death as a result of a freak accident. The incident was described as a result of a "freak wave" according to a statement released Friday by the ship's owner, Cruise & Maritime Voyages. It is quite common for cruise operators to say that a "freak wave" was the problem, rather than admitting that the sea conditions were foreseeable and that the captain and officers failed to Marco Polo Cruise Shipwarn the passengers of the dangers inherent in the adverse sea conditions. 

There was nothing "freaky" about the waves. The U.K. is being racked by severe weather which includes driving rain and gale-force winds.

One of the most popular videos we have ever posted is that of a wave smashing through a window and causing death and destruction. You can see that video here on our YouTube channel.  It has been watched around 1,500,000 times: "Wave Hits Louis Majesty Cruise Ship." 

CNN says that "one elderly passenger has died and a further passenger has been airlifted for further shore-side medical assistance."

BBC News says that "water crashed through a window injuring several passengers. An 85-year-old man and a woman in her 70s were airlifted off the ship but the man later died."

The ship was sailing from the Azores to its home port in Tilbury, England and was carrying 735 passengers and 349 crew members.

February 15 2014 Update1 Dead, 12 Injured: Pandemonium After Wave Breaks Window & Floods Cruise Ship Restaurant.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Luca Riva 

Elderly Couple on Thomson Celebration Brutally Assaulted

A newspaper in the U.K. reports on a "dream luxury cruise turned into a holiday from hell" when an elderly couple were brutally assaulted by a fellow passenger. 

The Gazette Live states that the violent crime occurred aboard the Thomson Celebration. The woman suffered "serious spinal injuries" and her husband incurred "serious facial injuries." Both victims were taken to the hospital. 

A spokesperson for the cruise line said the assailant left the cruise after the attack, and that it "is very Thomson Celebrationsorry to hear of the injuries." 

“We would like to reassure our customers that their safety is of paramount importance and incidents such as this are extremely rare.”

Cases like this never cease to amaze me.

Instead of apprehending the assailant and confining him to the brig or secluding him to his cabin under the watch of a guard, the cruise line lets him disembark and escape justice. Invariably, the cruise line's PR team expresses condolences and claims that the crime is "rare."

In my opinion, the captains and security officers of cruise ships which permit assailants to flee justice should be arrested for aiding and abetting a criminal.

The cruise ship sailed from Santa Cruz in Tenerife to exotic ports like Las Palmas, Santa Cruz, Funchal and Agadir in Morocco.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / ozgurmulazimoglu

Baseball Great Jim Fregosi Suffers Stroke on MSC Divina

Jim Fregosi MSC CruisesNumerous sources are reporting that former baseball All-Star shortstop and manager Jim Fregosi suffered a stroke during a Major League Baseball alumni cruise and was taken to a hospital in the Cayman Islands.

MLB.com reports that Mr. Fregosi, age 71, suffered the stroke while the cruise ship was sailing in the Caribbean.

MSC Cruises advertises that as part of its "Baseball Greats Cruises," Mr. Fregosi was scheduled to cruise from Miami on Saturday, February 8, 2014 aboard the MSC Divina cruise ship. The cruise was scheduled for 7 days. The itinerary included stops at Falmouth Jamaica, Georgetown Cayman Islands, Cozumel Mexico and Great Stirrup Cay.

MSC sent Mr. Fregosi ashore to the Cayman Islands. His family then arranged for him to be flown here to Miami where he is receiving medical treatment.

MSC Cruises Divina Jim FregosiMSC Cruises describes Mr. Fregosi as follows: "The American League's All-Star shorstop 6 times who could hit, run, field and throw. He was a player for 17 years and was a Major League manager for 4 teams over 15 years and led the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series in 1993."

Baseball cruises are a popular theme and have sometimes met with misfortune for the celebrity athletes. A year ago, baseball legend and Hall of Famer Earl Weaver died while sailing aboard the Celebrity Silhouette after sustaining a heart attack.

 

Photo Credit: MSC Cruises

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

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

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

Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates in the world. 

The newspaper quoted the president of the Nueva Esparta Chamber of Tourism, stating:

"This was expected to happen, because security has a direct effect on tourism; hence we insist on saying that time has come to go from words to action. Not only we need police, but the fact of the matter is creating wellbeing in the region in order to minimize crime; there is the need to combat impunity with all the strength we have."

In many ways, there are other countries in the Caribbean which are exactly in this Venezuelan island's precarious situation. I was interviewed by the Nassau Guardian last month about the high crime and murder rates in Nassau and the threat presented to cruise passengers. I said that Nassau was "one gunshot away" from losing its cruise ship business.  I expect Carnival to up and leave if and when a Carnival passenger is shot.

In Margarita Island, which is in the Caribbean, this turned out to be the case.     

The Aida Luna is owned by Carnival Corporation and operated by AIDA Cruises.

I suspect other islands in the Caribbean are holding their breath, afraid that a cruise tourist will become a murder statistic.  

 

Photo (Map) Credit: David Gouaze 

U.S. Department of Justice Investigating Whether Caribbean Princess Violated Pollution Laws

A number of news sources are reporting the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) joined an investigation by the U.K. whether Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess cruise ship violated international pollution laws.

Bloomberg News states that Carnival Corporation announced that the DOJ joined an investigation being conducted by the U.K. Maritime & Coastguard Agency which had initiated an investigation last August. 

The news sources are reporting that last September, Carnival reached an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to spend $180 million to reduce sulfur emissions from its fleet of cruise ships. Carnival agreed to to install scrubbers and filters on its ships to reduce the toxic emissions of its cruise ships. 

This news account was posted on a Princess Cruises' message board but there has been no discussion yet.

It is not clear whether the joint U.S.-U.K. Caribbean Princess investigation is related to air emission issues or some other type of pollution violation. Princess Cruises' ships were often cited in the past for violating Alaska's waste-water regulations

The Caribbean Princess was last in the news when it returned to Houston after a norovirus outbreak.

Anyone with information exactly when and what the Caribbean Princess is accused of violating please leave a comment or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia / Yankeesman312

Popular Mechanics: "Troubled Waters - Cruise Lines Have Stumbled Badly Over Safety. Here's What They Need to Do."

Popular Mechanics - Cruise SafetyThe March 2014 edition of Popular Mechanics is out. It has an interesting article about cruising. 

The article is entitled "Troubled Waters - Cruise Lines Have Stumbled Badly Over Safety. Here's What They Need to Do."  

The article takes a look at some of the disasters and debacles over the last few years, including the Costa Concordia capsizing and the Carnival Triumph poop cruise. Its also takes a look at some of the lesser publicized although very deadly incidents such as the lifeboat failure two years ago on the Thomson Majesty which killed 5 crew and seriously injured three. 

Popular Mechanics interviews the who's who of experts in the cruise industry, including former NCL cruise ship captain Bill Doherty who has testified before Congress on cruise ship safety issues, International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization CEO Kendall Carver, and a Carnival security director Barry Marushi. It cites cruise safety expert Dr. Ross Klein's data base of man-overboard cases.  

The magazine takes a look at 4 problems with the cruise lines: (1) crew incompetence; (2) "breakdowns and blackouts," (3) poor passenger training, and (4) "security holes." The article analyzes the problems and offers practical solutions.

The article is an eye opener if you are an average family just looking for a fun and safe vacation.

One issue with the cruise industry is that it is crippled by its own arrogance, in my opinion. The cruise lines tend to instinctively reject anything proposed by victims groups or neutral and well-intended parties. 

Unfortunately, there is not a link to the article currently available.

If you are interested in these issues, be sure to head to the newsstand and pick up a copy. I bought 25 copies for friends so if you want a copy, send me an email with your address. I'll mail you the magazine while they last. (February 18, 2014 - No Longer Available)

America Now: Cruise Ship Crime

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

The video shows images of 15 cruise passengers who were victimized during cruises. 

Although cruising appears to be a "hassle-free" vacation, there are crimes which occur. The number one crime is sexual assault, with over 30% of such crimes involving minors.

One of the problems with crimes on cruise ships is that there is no independent police force.  The security personnel are employees of the cruise line. There is a conflict of interest which occurs when a passenger is victimized, particularly when the assailant is a crew member.  

Interviewed during the program are Jamie Barnett, the President of the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization, and Laurie Dishman who was sexually assaulted during a Royal Caribbean cruise to Mexico.

Photo Credit: NBC

 

 

Royal Caribbean's Misplaced Priorities: Fast Internet, Virtual Balconies But No Automatic Man-Overboard Systems

Today I read an article by a popular cruise blogger that Royal Caribbean was on track to deliver a fast land-based internet experience to its guests.

The article went on to say that "cruise lines are working overtime, trying to enable passenger use of their electronic devices at sea just as they might at home."

I suppose this is of some interest to the cruising public, knowing that they can surf the internet on the high seas just as fast as they can at home.

Virtual Balcony Another article which caught my eye was in Wired magazine entitled "Cruise Ship’s 80-Inch ‘Virtual Balconies’ Livestream the High Seas." 

The article explains that on Royal Caribbean' Navigator of the Seas, the cruise line has installed, in 81 interior staterooms, floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall screens which display a live feed of the bow and stern video cameras. Those passengers "stuck" in interior, view-less cabins will be able to enjoy clear, beautiful images of the Caribbean waters.

The article explains that the high-tech video gear is marine compliant and can handle all of the sun, heat, salt, and water "that comes with being at sea." Further, "fiber-optic cable carries the video to a server, then to a set-top box that decodes and processes the video before it’s displayed on the screen." 

Consultants from MIT and Harvard were involved in the project in order to bring the best technology to the cruise ship. 

All of this technology is coming from the cruise line which prides itself in "Delivering the Wow!" to its guests. When it comes to designing cruise ships which incorporate the newest entertainment gadgets for its passengers to enjoy, Royal Caribbean is the best. This is the cruise line which will introduce the Quantum of the Seas later this year, filled with all types of technological marvels like simulated sky-diving and a gee-whiz" Jetson-family-like futuristic mechanical arm that magically transports passengers high above the ocean in a glass capsule called the "North Star."

But one thing which the Quantum of the Seas will be lacking is an automatic man-overboard (MOB) system which will signal the bridge when a passenger or crew member goes over the rails and into the sea. Such devices were required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act. But Royal Caribbean, like most cruise lines, has not bothered to install such systems onto its fleet of cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean has experienced the most passengers and crew going overboard in the last two months. In all cases there is no mention of the required MOB systems. In some cases its does not even appear that the ships were even equipped with a sufficient number of surveillance systems to determine how and why the guest or employee disappeared from the ship.

The cruise industry claims that technology doesn't exist to detect when people go overboard. Cruise lines also claim that salt deposits from the sea spray can obscure the view of the MOB cameras.

North StarWhen it comes to why it has not complied with the life-saving safety law, Royal Caribbean has a boat load of excuses. It is still using old school, outdated technology. It can't even figure out how to keep an exterior camera clean.

But when it comes to the technology for its gadgets like cameras for its live-streaming, virtual balconies, it involved experts from MIT and Harvard to design the best cameras for the marine environment.    

The difference is that Royal Caribbean can generate significant profits by selling higher speed internet and charging more for an interior cabin if it has a virtual balcony. Royal Caribbean will charge a premium fare for the Quantum of the Seas with its "North Star" ride in the sky.  

But a CVSSA-compliant MOB system creates more costs and no profits. You will hear nothing about Royal Caribbean involving experts from MIT and Harvard to create "gee-whiz" safety devices. Yes, crew members and passengers will continue to disappear at sea but, in the cruise line's view, they are both easily replaceable.

 

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean / Royal Caribbean via Wired

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

Carnival Valor St. ThomasWe have been notified that there was a fire which affected a "few cabins" this afternoon on the Carnival Valor, which is currently docked at port in St. Thomas U.S.V.I.

A person on the cruise ship informed us that the cruise ship was supposed to depart St. Thomas at 5:00 P.M. but the captain of the ship announced that the departure was delayed due to the fire which apparently (reportedly) went from one cabin to another. The cause and type of fire has not been explained to us.

The ship reportedly will sail later tonight. 

We are awaiting confirmation and an explanation from Carnival which we contacted upon receipt of the information.

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

Update: Here's the statement which we received today from Carnival at 6:21 P.M.:

CARNIVAL VALOR STATEMENT

February 10, 2014 - 5:15 pm EDT

Earlier today while the Carnival Valor was docked in St. Thomas, a small fire was detected in one stateroom located on deck 8. The ship’s automatic sprinkler system activated and quickly extinguished the fire. All of the ship’s hotel and safety systems continued to function as normal.

Although there was smoke in the area, there were no injuries to guests or crew. Other than the one affected cabin, all other cabins in the area are undamaged.

The ship, which departed on a seven-day cruise from San Juan yesterday, is scheduled to sail from St. Thomas later this evening and arrive in Barbados on Wednesday.

Carnival Valor operates year-round seven-day southern Caribbean cruises from San Juan.

###

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

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

  

Photo Credit: Wikipediia / ckramer

Celebrity Constellation Loses Power, Again

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Megadri

Passenger Missing From Fred Olsen's Black Watch

There has been some speculation over the last two weeks that a passenger went overboard from a Fred Olsen cruise ship sailing to South America.

Several newspapers have now reported that a passenger died "after falling overboard from the Fred Olsen Black Watch 70-miles off the coast of Brazil" on January 30th, after the cruise ship made its Transatlantic crossing. 

One newspaper quotes a spokeswoman for Fred Olsen saying that the passenger died "after falling overboard in rough seas" after the ship left Rio de Janeiro. The cruise line spokesperson also said that "a body was sighted floating in the water, but due to the bad sea conditions, with waves of up to three Fred Olsen Black Watchmetres and 30-knot winds, it was not possible for the ship to recover the body."

This incident sounds like a prior incident where a cruise passenger from the U.K. went overboard. The cruise ship was not identified in that prior story. 

Many readers commented that they find it difficult to believe that a passenger could "fall" off of a cruise ship, without being pushed, clowning around, or intentionally jumping. I don't necessarily disagree, except to say that it sounds like there were no surveillance cameras which recorded the event and certainly no automatic man overboard system installed.

The Black Watch is a old ship which started sailing in the early 1970's. 

The newspaper also reported that the cruise ship stopped near Isla Picton close to the Argentine border around 50 miles north of Cape Horn and was delayed because of a "technical issue with the ship's steering gear."

The ship is on a world tour and will continue its 114-night "South American and World Voyage" cruise when repairs are completed.

 

Photo Credit: RaBoe/Wikipedia Creative Commons License

Rough Weather Rocks Royal Caribbean's Splendor of the Seas

Splendor of the Seas - Rough WeatherTwo weeks ago, a storm hit Royal Caribbean's Splendor of the Seas, breaking plates, bottles and glasses and causing concern among the passengers.

According to the Brazilian newspaper Diário Catarinense on the night of January 23rd, passengers who were aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship reported "moments of panic and tension" after a the ship faced a storm between Argentina and Uruguay.

The newspaper says that the cruise ship tilted 7 to 10 degrees, permitting water to enter parts of the ship.

The captain of the cruise ship had warned the passengers earlier in the afternoon that the ship would be encountering rough weather.

Nonetheless, the events that evening surprised and frightened many passengers.

"Many people shouted that the ship would sink, and all were going to die," said one passenger. Others screamed and some laughed nervously about the effects of the storm on the ship.  Watch the videos below.

 

  

 

Photo and Video Credit: Diario Catarinense 

Cruise Passenger Murdered in Venezuela's Margarita Island

Yesterday a cruise passenger was murdered while ashore in Venezuela's Margarita island.

The international press reports that "a gunman shot dead an elderly German tourist on Venezuela's Margarita island," in the latest incident "illustrating the country's rampant crime." 

Reuters identified the dead man as Goldhahm Hors Kurt, age 76, from Germany.

A German cruise blog explains that the cruise tourist had gone ashore on an excursion from the Carnival owned Aida Aida LunaLuna cruise ship. The crime occurred at a tourist shop in a shopping center.

The El Universal newspaper says that two armed robbers on a motorcycle tried to rob the tourists. A struggle ensued and Mr. Kurt was shot and killed.

Venezuela's murder rate is one of the highest in the world, and reflects a trend we have observed of substantially higher crime against tourists in the Caribbean region. Last month a former Venezuelan beauty queen and soap opera star Monica Spear was shot and killed when she returned to her homeland. 

The Venezuela Tourism Minister tweeted (@IzarraDeVerdad) his condolences and said that authorities were pursuing the criminals. However, newspapers state that over 90% of murders in Venezuela remain unsolved.

The Aida Luna is a Sphinx class cruise ship, owned by Carnival Corporation and operated by AIDA Cruises.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Frank Schwichtenberg / GNU Free Documentation License 

Coast Guard Medevacs Injured Passenger From Carnival Splendor

News sources are reporting that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a woman from a Carnival cruise ship in the Atlantic Ocean off Toms River, New Jersey yesterday. 

The Coast Guard in Philadelphia was notified by the Carnival Splendor that an 84-year-old Canadian woman fell, and sustained injury to her hip, and needed emergency medical treatment. 

A Coast Guard helicopter flew from Atlantic City and medevaced the injured woman from the cruise ship to Atlantic City. 

Carnival released the following statement to Cruise Law News: 

"On Wednesday night a female guest on the Carnival Splendor in need of immediate medical attention was airlifted by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter shortly after the vessel departed New York on an eight-day cruise. The guest was taken to a shoreside medical facility for further treatment.

Carnival Splendor is sailing on an eight-day cruise that departed New York on Feb. 5 and is scheduled to return on Feb. 13."

Marine Traffic AIS shows the following tracking for the Splendor:Splendor Cruise Ship AIS 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia - top; Marine Traffic - bottom

Nassau Bahamas Crime Watch: Police Refuse to Release True Rape & Shooting Statistics

Cruise Crime Nassau BahamasWe have recommended in prior articles that people thinking of cruising to the Bahamas should first read the local news papers in Nassau.

Today the Tribune published two interesting articles which cruise passengers and crew members should consider reading.

The first article is entitled "Hospital Reports Show 40% More Rapes Than Police Statistics." The newspaper reports that "Princess Margaret Hospital (where tourists are often seen after being raped in Nassau or on cruise ships arriving in port) officials dealt with 147 rape cases in 2013. However, official crime statistics released by the authorities last month, reported 104 cases."

A governmental official told the Tribune:

“Clearly there is a huge discrepancy with what the police are publishing. I don’t want to come out and say they are fudging the stats, but the actuality is that the police are not being upfront with the public on crime.”

Crime Nassau BahamasThe second article is entitled "Hospital Says 519 Shot Or Stabbed Yet Only 10 Attempted Murders Recorded."

519  people were shot or stabbed in 2013 according to Princess Margaret Hospital records, yet only 10 attempted murders were recorded by the local police department.

The newspaper concluded that the statistical disparities raise questions about the possible deliberate manipulation of crime statistics.

A doctor at the hospital told the newspaper that the "impact of violent crime on providing care to patients has been unbelievably onerous."

We have mentioned many times that crime has reached an epidemic level in Nassau.  

Mostly against the local citizens, the violent armed robberies and sexual assaults also affect cruise passengers who disembark in Nassau thinking it is a tropical paradise.

The U.S. Embassy and State Department have already issued two critical crime reports about murder, armed robbery and rape in Nassau in the last six weeks based on the "official" Bahamian crime statistics.

Cruise passengers traveling to Nassau should read these articles.

They should consider that the rapes, shootings and stabbings in Nassau are even worse than the local Bahamian police are reporting.

Sign of the Apocalypse? Royal Caribbean Cruises for $32 a night

Motel 6 - Cheap Cruise FaresMarket Watch says you can cruise on Royal Caribbean for $32 a night.

Yes, it may be an interior cabin. And yes, you run the risk of catching norovirus like a record number of passenger did recently on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas. But what the heck, its cheaper than staying at a Motel 6 which starts at $39.99.

Market Watch says that the low price may be a result of Royal Caribbean's recent woes with the Explorer. When disaster strikes or a "cruise for hell" affecting thousands of people hits the press, cruise lines often drop their fares. Of course, the cruise line is also trying to prime the pump for wave season.  

An article in Reuters, As Outbreaks Hit Cruises, Are Deals Worth Risking Illness?, explains that "potential travelers need to weigh the odds they'll get sick against the amount of money they might save now, and see what they can stomach."

Cruise Passengers Picket & Protest When Costa Ship Misses Port in Vietnam

Costa Victoria Cruise ShipHere is something you will never see in the world of cruising: Cruise passengers so unhappy with their cruise that they won't leave the ship!

As reported in the South China Morning Post, the Costa Victoria could not enter a port in Vietnam because a sunken ship blocked the harbor.  This resulted in a shore excursion to Halong Bay being cancelled.

The travel agency offered the 1,000 or so passengers a refund of around $40 each and the cruise line offered them $50 each.  Most accepted the offers, but over 100 passengers demanded a refund of up to 70% of their cruise fares. They refused to leave the ship and protested loudly.

The next sailing was delayed due to the protest.      

I can't remember ever seeing or hearing about passengers picketing and protesting like this before.

A cruise line would quickly terminate and blacklist a crew member who ever did anything like this. Most disgruntled passengers just want to get off the ship, make their flight connections, and go home.  

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / HG32

 

 

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick Passenger From Carnival Fantasy Cruise Ship

Carnival Fantasy Cruise ShipThe Tampa Tribune reports that the Coast Guard medevaced an ill passenger via helicopter from a Carnival cruise ship today. 

The Coast Guard in Miami sent a helicopter to medically evacuate a 27-year-old man from the Carnival Fantasy after he began experiencing severe abdominal pain. 

The cruise ship was reportedly more than 80 miles northeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida. The helicopter hoisted the sick passenger and a cruise ship nurse off the cruise ship and then transported the ill man to Cape Canaveral Hospital in Cocoa Beach around noon today.

The cruise ship was heading back to Charleston, South Carolina.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Former Journalist Falls from Cruise Ship, Dies

Bob Horn Cruise Ship DeathThe press in the U.K. is reporting that a former newspaper reporter from Sunderland, England drown "after falling overboard from a cruise ship in South America."

Cruise passenger Bob Horn reportedly was on an Atlantic cruise with his brother when he fell from the liner shortly after a visit to Montevideo in Uruguay.

Mr. Horn previously worked for the Sunderland Echo newspaper. 

The cruise ship has not been identified.

Photo Credit: Sutherland Echo

 

Drowning Tragedy Aboard the Norwegian Breakaway: Where Are the Lifeguards?

NCL Norwegian BreakawayNews broke tonight that two small children were pulled from a pool from NCL's Norwegian Breakaway as the cruise ship was sailing from New York to the Bahamas this morning. 

Both children were unresponsive. The younger child (age 4) died on the cruise ship. The other child (age 6) reportedly was medevaced by the U.S. Coast Guard accompanied by his grandmother a nurse from the ship.   

WBTW aired a video (below) of the sad events.

This is the third event in the last nine months involving children who have drowned or were permanently injured in cruise ship swimming pools.

The first tragedy involved a young child (also 4 yeas old) who slipped under the water on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship and sustained brain damage. You can read our articles below:

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

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

Swimming Pool Mishap on Disney Fantasy Sends 4 Year Old to Hospital

To Disney's credit, it subsequently began to assign lifeguards to the swimming pools on its cruise ships.

The second recent event involved the death of a young child who drowned on the Carnival Victory.  Our article is below:

6 Year Old Drowns on Carnival Victory Cruise Ship

There is never an excuse when a child drowns in a swimming pool operated by an amusement park or cruise ship. Protecting children is the joint obligation of the parents and cruise line. There needs to be a combination of both personal responsibility and corporate responsibility to take care of kids around a pool.  

The Breakaway is suppose to be one of the newer and bigger cruise ships NCL offers to the public.  It is a shame that NCL decided not to assign lifeguards to the pool from where the children were eventually pulled unconscious.  What lesson did NCL learn from the Disney and Carnival tragedies?

The cruise industry will collect between $35 and $40 billion a year, tax free, but NCL won't assign lifeguards to the public pools?      

NCL apologized. However, cruising families with children deserve reasonable care exhibited by the cruise lines and lifeguards to watch over the public pools, not after-the-fact apologies.   

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Dickelbers

Nassau Bahamas Crime Watch: Cruise Passengers Beware

Nassau Bahamas - Crime WarningThe newspapers in Nassau continue to report the high rate of armed robberies and murder. 

If you are thinking of taking a cruise to Nassau, don't trust the U.S. based cruise lines or U.S. travel agents to be transparent with you. That would be a mistake. There are hundreds of millions of dollars to be made in cruise fares, cruise excursions and cruise commissions from people sailing into Nassau. 

The local newspapers in Nassau are straight forward in reporting crime. The crime problem mostly affects the local Bahamians but it also involved crimes against cruise passengers and tourists. Check out these local newspapers in Nassau: Tribune; Guardian; Bahamas B2B, Bahamas Press, and Nassau Punch. And check out the Bahamas Police Depatrment. Bookmark them and read the news articles and information for a couple of weeks before you book a cruise. 

Here are a few highlights over the last month:

United States Issues Another Crime Warning For The Bahamas: 2 days ago the U.S. Embassy issued yet another crime warning. The new advisory warns US citizens traveling in the Bahamas of a “crime spike” in the country. "The Embassy said that a number of US citizens had fallen victim to armed robbery and two had been murdered in the last eight months." Read the chilling advisory here.

Two tourists were robbed of their belongings and a rental car at gunpoint: "The man and woman were on Jaws Beach in western New Providence when they were approached by two men who Crime in Nassau Bahamasproduced a weapon, took a backpack containing cash and other items." The U.S. Embassy says that the robbers carried an "assault rifle."

"Nassau is Bloodier Than New York" From the Tribune in Nassau: "New York City is much, much safer than small New Providence, despite that US city’s massive size. Of every 25,035 New York City resident, only one was murdered in 2013. Conversely, of every 2,100 Nassauvian, one was murdered in 2013."

Tourism Conference To Debate Issue Of Crime: "US Embassy officials issued a crime warning to Americans living in and travelling to New Providence and Grand Bahama. In the advisory, the murders of two Americans over the past eight months and numerous armed robberies were pinpointed."

Challenging the Status Quo of Crime in the Caribbean:  "2014 began with crimes rates soaring ridiculously high in the Caribbean."

Are Bahamian officials safe?  In December, the Acting Prime Minister Philip Davis was robbed at gunpoint. A few days ago, a police officer assigned to guard a residence of the Prime Minister Christie was arrested on suspicion of stealing a television at the residence. The latter is a petty crime I know, but you have to shake your head when the bad guys are bold enought to stick up the Acting Prime Minister and the police are stealing from the Prime Minister.

"Two men armed with guns robbed a pre-school while more than 100 students attended classes." From pre-schools full of children to the highest governmental officials, no one seems safe in this beautiful island. 

 

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

Photo Credit: 

Top: Bahamas B2B

Bottom: Tribune

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

Carnival TriumphCarnival told a television station last evening that after an "electrical breaker failed," the Triumph cruise ship lost power. This "affected ventilation in the ship's incinerator, sending smoke into limited areas of three decks."

Well, that's not what the Cruise Director told the passengers last evening on the ship.

According to a passenger, the Cruise Director said that "frazzled wires" caused the smoke.  This was broadcast over the intercom throughout the ship. The smoke from the electrical fire entered the ventilation system. 

Here's what the Cruise Director said in the video below:

"I'm telling you the truth right here. So folks, if there is a bit of smoke anywhere near you, head on up to the open decks. Just a couple of wires have been kind of frazzled. So big apologies about that. Once again, absolutely folks nothing to worry about at all. We're getting the power restarted as soon as possible and we will be off and on our way. Thank you very much everybody."

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Carnival Triumph - Reuters

 

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

Carnival Triumph Power LossYesterday a television station in Louisiana reported that the infamous "poop cruise" ship Triumph suffered a power story.

Carnival told KATC that the power outage was extremely brief - "8 minutes."

Because it was Friday evening, no major news stations covered the story. We published a short article and reported the Carnival quote that the outage was allegedly just "8 minutes." I placed quotes around eight minutes because it sounded bogus to me. 

I thought that as soon as the passengers got off the Triumph, we would hear a different story that what Carnival was saying.

All of the popular cruise bloggers, who are essentially cheerleaders for the cruise lines, repeated the Carnival quote - "8 minutes." The bloggers took the Carnival PR statement hook, line and sinker. They "reported" on the brief power loss as no big deal. 

This morning, passengers are beginning to leave comments on our article. The first person said the power was out for almost one hour. The second person said there was considerable confusion with the crew telling them to put on their life jackets and go to the muster station while other crew members told them to take their life vests off and report to the Lido deck. A third person said that the outage was 1 to 2 hours and there was substantial confusion. A fourth person said the power was out for one hour but the crew handled the situation well.

Another person said there was burnt and frazzled wiring which caused the smoke. Carnival said yesterday that it was just some smoke from an incinerator. 

Carnival Triumph Power LossYou can read the comments here.

The cruise lines' problems with their image and reputation have more to do with how they act and what they say after a problem like this than the problem itself. Being dishonest about a loss of power on the high seas is a serious breach of the public's trust. 

If the cruise line is lying about the length of the power outage the question arises whether it is lying about the cause of the power loss too?

If you were on the cruise, does anyone believe that the power was for just eight minutes?  How long was it?

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

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

Carnival Triumph Loses Power Again - "For 8 Minutes"

Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship KATC reports that the infamous "poop" cruise ship, the Triumph, lost power today as the Carnival cruise ship was sailing from Cozumel, Mexico back to Galveston, Texas.

According to KATC, Carnival says that the Triumph lost power "for eight minutes" after an electrical breaker failed. Carnival says the loss of power "affected ventilation in the ship's incinerator, sending smoke into limited areas of three decks."

Everyone will remember the Triumph which floated around in the Gulf of Mexico last year after an engine room fire knocked out power to the ship. Whatever happens with this infamous cruise ship will forever be closely monitored. Carnival denies that a fire broke out on the ship and denies that a fire caused the electrical outage. We have heard these denials before, like this case and this one too.

Carnival notified the U.S. Coast Guard of the incident. 

KATV reports that passengers are still on the deck waiting for the smoke to clear.

Whether a fire broke out or not, what caused the breaker to fail?

If you are on the cruise, we'd like to hear the passenger's view of what happened. Was the power out for just "8 minutes?"

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

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

 

Photo Credit: Dave Martin / AP

Princess Cruises' Defense Every Time Norovirus Strikes: "The Passengers Bring It With Them"

This morning I wrote an article about Princess Cruises immediately blaming the sick passengers for what appears to be the latest norovirus outbreak aboard the Caribbean PrincessBlame Game: Princess Accuses Passengers of Starting Norovirus Outbreak on Caribbean Princess. Princess's PR spokesperson Julie Benson accused the passengers of bringing the virus with them when they boarded the cruise ship.

She didn't mention that the virus was wreaking havoc during the prior cruise.

Blaming the passengers is part of the PR strategy of Princess and the cruise industry.  

This afternoon I remembered reading a book by cruise expert Professor Ross Klein about this public Cruise Ship Squeezerelations defense strategy by Princess. The book is called "Cruise Ship Squeeze."  Professor Klein has been recognized as an expert regarding cruise line issues by both the House of Representatives and the Senate before whom he has testified several times.

I suggest reading Chapter 8 of Dr. Klein's book. At pages 179 - 183, you can read about the cruise industry and Princess blaming the passengers. Eleven years ago during a 2003 cruise, passengers were stricken with a gastrointestinal illness. Princess accused their cruise passengers sick with norovirus of "bringing it with them." But the truth is that during the prior cruise, the cruise ship had experienced passengers sickened with the same sickness. 

No scientists arrived at this conclusion. And there was nothing remotely scientific about what Princess represented to the public. 

Ever since then Princess says the same thing over and over every time norovirus sickens the guests. 

Who needs epidemiologists when the cruise line PR team has already figured out what to say?

Norovirus on Explorer of the Seas: More Sick than Reported

Explorer of the SeasCNN interviewed a family who became sick with gastrointestinal illness while sailing aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas.  

These passengers (Mom, Dad and two kids), made some interesting comments. They disputed the official statistics reported by the cruise line to the Centers for Disease control (CDC) indicating that only 20% of the passengers were infected.  

They believed that a more reasonable estimate is that 80% were infected and 20% were not infected. At some point, they say, the cruise ship's medical infirmary was over-run with sick passengers. The facility could not process and treat the hundreds of people becoming ill. 

The family also said that the cruise line medical personnel "told us to stop coming down" (to the infirmary).

Watch the video below. 

Photo Credit: Roberto Schmidt / AFP / Getty

 

Blame Game: Princess Accuses Passengers of Starting Norovirus Outbreak on Caribbean Princess

Last night the Caribbean Princess cruise ship returned early to Houston, Texas with passengers and crew members suffering from a gastrointestinal illness (GI) outbreak. There are around 173 people officially reported to be ill on the ship, mostly passengers. A Houston news station says the outbreak was caused by norovirus.

Determining the type of GI outbreak and the origin of the outbreak is a deliberate, scientific process that is the work of trained and experienced expert epidemiologists.  

The experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have not yet determined either the type or the origin of the virus.  The outbreak could be attributed to contaminated food, or contaminated water, or galley or food handlers working while ill, or the ship failing to clean up after the last cruise when passengers became ill, or new passengers with the virus who were not properly Caribbean Princessscreened. But whatever the potential cause and origin, it's important to determine what the CDC says about the outbreak.

Princess Cruises, however, has already blamed its guests.  Princess PR spokeswoman Julie Benson tells CBS News that "the pattern suggests the illness was brought on board by passengers." Ms. Benson is not an epidemiologist of course. She has no medical or scientific education or training. Princess Cruises didn't fly a team of epidemiologists into the Gulf of Mexico and lower them down from a helicopter to the cruise ship to conduct tests and make a analysis.

Ms. Benson's comments, in my assessment, are a PR stunt. This is right out of the cruise industry's playbook of how to manage a crisis when a cruise ship sickness epidemic breaks out. Rule number 1: Blame the Passengers!

Cruise lines like Princess don't want the public to think that their cruise ships or crew members are the problem. To divert attention from the possibility of bad food or contaminated water or sick crew members, the cruise lines point the finger at their customers and accuse them of bring the virus aboard or having poor hygiene.

But could it be bad hygiene of the crew? The CDC has found crew working while ill before. That's why the public has to rely on the education and experience of the experts and not PR cruise line people.

Yesterday we wrote that there were passengers sickened during the last cruise. Did the ship clean up the contaminated surfaces and test the food and water after the last puke fest? How many people were sick last week?  Perhaps Princess will tell us? Perhaps not. 

I have mentioned before that cruise lines often don't want the CDC to make any conclusions about the cause or origin of widespread viral outbreaks. Why? So the PR people can spin the story for marketing purposes.

Princess would rather protect their own reputation and blame the sick passengers than wait for the CDC to finish its investigation. 

 

Photo BCredit: Mayra Beltran/Houston Chronicle

Norovirus Outbreak on Caribbean Princess Cruise Ship

Diamond Princess NorovirusThis morning I received an email from a reader of Cruise Law News who said that the Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess cruise ship will be arriving in Houston tomorrow night 36 hours or so early due to a norovirus outbreak. 

This evening the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the Caribbean Princess has suffered an outbreak affecting the following people infected during its current January 25th - February 1st cruise:

  • 162 of 3102 passengers (5.22%); and
  • 11 of 1148 crew members (0.96%)

The CDC has not yet announced the type of pathogens involved in this latest cruise ship infection.

A Houston newspaper said the virus was norovirus.

The newspaper also said that Princess Cruises issued a statement today saying "that the trip was cut short by one day because of thick fog expected over the weekend."

Yeah, right.

Princess Cruises was recently featured in Time Magazine's Top 13 Worst cruise Ship Norovirus Outbreaks.  

Princess Cruises had five of the worst outbreaks: Crown Princess (January 2010) - 396; Crown Princess (February 2012) - 363; Ruby Princess (March 2013) - 276; Coral Princess (February 2009) - 271; and Sun Princess (July 2012) - 216.

The last gastrointestinal illness outbreak on a Princess cruise ship involved the Diamond Princess just two weeks ago.

How is Princess handing this latest outbreak? Leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

January 30, 2014 Update:  Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein received information from cruise passengers indicating that there were problems with norovirus on the prior cruise:

"From a reader: Passengers have been notified that during the current cruise there has been an increase in the number of cases of gastrointestinal illness amongst passengers caused by Norovirus. In response, we have arranged for the ship to undergo a prolonged and additional disinfection in Houston on Saturday, January 11, 2014. As a consequence, cruise check-in and embarkation will be delayed until 2:00 pm.

This was also noted by a passenger who just disembarked the ship who said, "Cabins on both sides of us had to be sanitized due the passengers being sick."

January 31, 2014 Update: "Blame Game: Princess Accuses Passengers of Starting Norovirus Outbreak on Caribbean Princess."  "Not our fault" says the PR people at Princess Cruises. How about letting the experts conclude their investigation first?

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Yankeesman312

Why Cruise Lines Want the Cause of Norovirus Outbreaks to Remain a Mystery

One hundred and fifty passengers reported ill on the Explorer of the Seas on Tuesday January 22, 2014, according to the cruise line's records. The following day, Wednesday, another 300 passengers reported being sick. In the first couple of days into the 10 day cruise, the Royal Caribbean cruise ship was faced with a full blown gastrointestinal epidemic. 

The numbers increased from 450 to 684 by the end of the cruise, including crew members.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it sent one CDC sanitation inspector and one epidemiologist to the cruise ship when it arrived in St. Thomas, USVI on Sunday, Janaury 26, 2014. 

Cruise Ship NorovirusWhen I heard this news about the arrival of the CDC, I thought "just one epidemiologist?" The ship is huge - 15 stories high and longer than 3 football fields! It has over 4,200 people on board. How can one scientist possibly conclude not only the exact type of virus which was sickening the people on the enormous ship but also make an accurate determination how the virus came aboard and spread so quickly? There needs to be a team of a dozen epidemiology experts to handle such a task.

So the Explorer is back in New Jersey. Over 3,000 passengers will board tomorrow.

What type of virus sickened the ship and its passengers? The CDC has not yet concluded, assuming it will make a determination.

The CDC could not figure out the last two cruise ship GI outbreaks. The "causative agents" for the outbreaks on the NCL Star last week and the NCL Gem in November are listed as "unknown."  

The cause of the recent Explorer of the Seas outbreak may end up "unknown" as well.

If you look at the CDC data over the years, you will see that usually the CDC will at least figure out what type of pathogen is involved. It's usually norovirus, or e-coli or a combination of the two. But what you will never see is the CDC figuring out where the virus came from and how it spread.

Why? I believe that the CDC resources are so minimal and the time to conduct an investigation is so limited that it is virtually impossible to make a meaningful scientific analysis of the problem. All of the guests scatter back to their homes around the world. It's impossible to interview all of them. And the cruise line wants to re-rack the ship quickly. Ships don't make money sitting idle. The cruise lines depend on continuous rounds of customers buying booze, spending money on excursions and gift shop purchases, and gambling their money away. Investigating a cruise ship disease outbreak is completely different from an outbreak at a nursing home or child care facility where investigators can take their time, interview and test everyone and get to the truth of the matter.     

Look at the CDC data and you will learn that the CDC has not determined how norovirus comes aboard cruise ships for the last 50 outbreaks. Not one single time. They have failed miserably time after time in determining this causal issue.

The first two primary objectives of a CDC investigation are to:

  • determine the etiology of the outbreak; and
  • determine the method of transmission among the passengers.

There are a number of possible causes for a norovirus outbreaks. The CDC and FDA say that the most likely cause is often contaminated food or water.  The CDC has also flunked cruise ships during their sanitation inspections when they find evidence that galley employees kept working after they were Cruise Norovirussick. Earlier this year, a south Florida TV station aired a special about "Cruise Ship Workers Breaking Rules & Making Passengers Sick."

We also know that some galley employees hide food and cooking equipment from the CDC inspectors. Silversea Cruises was caught hiding 15 large trolleys of meat, fish, cheese and deserts down in the crew quarters. We revealed this last year and then CNN aired a special last year. Don't think that just Silversea plays hide-the-salami from the CDC sanitation inspectors. Unfortunately, the CDC inspects cruise ships which come into U.S. ports only twice a year.

Of course, passengers can be infected before they cruise and bring the virus onboard with them. They can also fail to wash their hands when they go to the buffet and make pigs of themselves at the buffet. Many passengers know that if they disclose their sickness they can be left behind. Many don't have insurance and the cruise lines never provide a refund to someone showing up ill. Some don't want to report sick to the infirmary because they are afraid of being quarantined and billed for the medical services.

The determination of exactly what caused the initial onset of the sickness and caused it to spread is a scientific / medical process. It should have nothing to do with the litigation blame game or public relations / reputation-protection issues.

But the cruise industry will always blame the passengers for bringing the virus onto the ship. They will not wait for the CDC to finish its investigation. The cruise trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), issues the same talking points after every single outbreak. The passengers need to wash their hands, CLIA will say. The 16,000 CLIA travel agents say the same thing, over and over, like trained parrots.

Today a well know travel agent tweeted: "It is the passengers!" as the only possible explanation for the outbreak on the Explorer.  Two days ago, Royal Caribbean Chairman Richard Fain was asked about the outbreak on the Explorer during a TV interview . He responded by saying that his cruise ship was "amazingly safe" and that the cause of the viral outbreak was because "they're having a lot of cold up in the north."  Of course norovirus has nothing to do with having a cold or cold weather. The cruise executive's off-the-cuff comments were just another way of delivering the "blame the passengers" message and diverting attention away from the ship and the crew. 

Passengers and crew members deserve to know why they are sick. 

Anecdotal stories, tall tales, PR statements and blame games will never solve the problem. Only scientific analysis from educated, trained and experienced epidemiologists will get to the bottom of the problem.

If I oversaw the cruise industry, which collects 35 to 40 billions dollars, tax free, every year, I would not be satisfied with the CDC never determining why a virus came aboard on my fleet of cruise ships and spread like wild fire, sickening my hard working crew and ruining the vacations of my guests. "Unknown" is not an acceptable answer. I would hire my own team of experts to get to the bottom of the matter. Then I would transparently tell my employees, customers and the public exactly what the scientists concluded, whether it was attributable to the ship food, or water, or the crew, or the Cruise Ship Noroviruspassengers.

But the cruise industry will never do that. They fear that perhaps 2 or 3 times out of 5, a group of experts may point to the cruise ship or crew rather than the dirty hands of the passengers as the cause of the outbreak.

That would be bad for the cruise industry's reputation and image. That would permit personal injury lawyers to file class action lawsuits. That would permit passengers to be fully compensated rather than having to accept 50% refunds and credits to sail on another cruise ship that they may never want to go on again.

As matters now stand, a scientific process designed to lead to the truth and the attendant medical and legal consequences gives way to a public relations effort full of speculation, untruthful talking points and finger pointing. 

And so the cause of viral outbreaks on cruise ships remains a mystery. And that's exactly what the cruise lines want. 

Will the Explorer of the Seas Be Ready to Safely Sail Tomorrow?

Explorer of the Seas Norovirus CleaningThe Explorer of the Seas arrived back in port in New Jersey yesterday.

ABC news interviewed some of the sick passengers. Its video below shows one passenger being taken away in an ambulance. ABC calls the incident a "horrific outbreak at sea." 

Incredibly, even though this is the largest gastrointestinal illness outbreaks on a cruise ship in 20 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still has not officially announced what is causing the widespread illnesses.  In addition, the CDC has not declared how the virus came on the ship. It is an impossible task for a single epidemiologist to make such a determination. Without figuring out where and how the virus started, it seems difficult to take steps to eradicate the virus and make certain that the ship is safe to sail on.

The cruise line crew members are busy spraying, wiping and scrubbing. The ship sets sail again tomorrow. I say good luck to the next round of guests. 

 


 

Crew Member Overboard From Celebrity Cruises' Constellation Cruise Ship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Photo Credit of Celebrity Constellation - Wikipedia / Megadri   

Norovirus on the Explorer of the Seas: Why No Compensation for Crew Members?

Crew members work hard on cruise ships. Waiters and cabin attendants earn wages from Royal Caribbean of only $50 a month. That's right. $50 a month. That's something like $1.67 a day. They depend almost exclusively on tips from the passengers to support their families back home.

Utility cleaners are not entitled to tips, and they earn around only $545 a month. That's around $18.30 a day. 

Crew members work a minimum of 12 hours a day, sometimes more.

Norovirus Explorer of the Seas - Royal CaribbeanThey work 7 days a week. Every single day of the month. For 8 months.

When a norovirus outbreak occurs, they are pressed into duty to try and sanitize the huge ship. That involves hours and hours of extra spraying and wiping and scrubbing everything in sight.

I cannot imagine the extra work required of the cabin attendants who clean as many as 18 cabins and bathrooms a day. I don't know how these men and women clean so many cabins and bathroom when there's no gastrointestinal illness outbreak. But when noro virus strikes and the puking and diarrhea starts, there are literally millions and millions of noro infected microbes floating around in an aerosolized form. The microbes can fall into the fabric of the furniture, the duvet covers on the bed, into the carpet fibers, and all the tiny nooks and crannies of the bathroom tiles.  

When the passengers leave the cruise ship at the last day of this cruise from hell, will they tip these hardworking crew members?  Many passengers are mad and feel ripped off. They didn't obtain the vacations which they paid for with their family. They want their money back from the cruise line. Are they going to track down the public bathroom cleaners responsible for sanitizing all of the public restrooms and give them a $50 tip?

Today Royal Caribbean announced "compensation" for the passengers: a 50% refund and a 50% future credit. Is that fair? Some will accept it. Others will think that they are being mistreated again. Some people were sailing on the Explorer as a replacement cruise after the Grandeur of the Seas caught on fire last year. Are they interested in testing their luck one more time? 

Whatever you think of the cruise line's offer of compensation, remember one thing. The crew is not getting a nickel extra from the cruise line. So if you are a passenger and want to bitch, whine, moan and complain, don't forget about all of those crew members you left behind. Remember that they were the ones cleaning up all of your vomit and removing your bio-hazard bags. They are not receiving any compensation at all.  They are busy trying to get the cruise ship in shape for the next 3,000 guests who will soon board.

Explorer of the Seas Norovirus

Photo Credit: Top - Getty Images

Time Magazine: The Top 13 Cruise Ship Norovirus Outbreaks

With the Explorer of the Seas sailing back to New Jersey with almost 650 victims of norovirus related nausea and diarrhea, Time magazine just published the article Cruise Out of Control: The 13 Worst Norovirus Outbreaks on Cruise Ships.

The worst outbreak is, of course, Royal Caribbean's Explorer but the cruise line and its sister line Celebrity Cruises have the top three worst outbreaks and five of the top 13 worst outbreaks.

The passengers and crew aboard the Celebrity Mercury suffered through outbreaks on five consecutive  sailings back in 2000, including 443 sick in February 2000 and 419 in March. The Centers Norovirus Cruise Shipfor Disease Control and Prevention finally issued a rare no-sail order because the ship kept infecting the passengers and the cruise line wouldn't stop sailing.

The overall winner of Time's top 13 list is Princess Cruises which had five outbreaks on its brand alone: Crown Princess (January 2010) - 396; Crown Princess (February 2012) - 363;  Ruby Princess (March 2013) - 276; Coral Princess (February 2009) - 271; and Sun Princess (July 2012) - 216.

The disturbing thing about the list is that the Centers for Disease Control were unable to publish a single conclusion about where the norovirus came from. The public is left with the "blame game" of wondering whether the cruise ship food or water was contaminated, or the outbreak was caused by a sick galley worker, or was brought aboard by sick passengers and then spread because of inadequate hygiene.

Royal Caribbean Chairman Places Blame for Norovirus: "They're Having a Lot of Cold Up in the North"

Richard Fain Royal Caribbean NorovirusWith the norovirus controversy swirling around the Explorer of the Seas, Royal Caribbean cruise line executive Richard Fain appeared on a CNBC financial program today with host Simon Hobbs. Chairman Fain was discussing the fourth quarter 2013 profits when the issue came up of the over 600 sick passengers and crew.

Mr. Fain seemed to become quite defensive. He placed blame for what the ship doctors believe is the dreadful norovirus, saying: "They're having a lot of cold up in the north."   

Of course norovirus is not a cold, and its not caused by the cold. Far from it.

Norovirus is transmitted by fecally contaminated food or water; by person-to-person contact; and via aerosolization of the virus and subsequent contamination of surfaces. It can linger around for a week or two on surfaces and fabrics and even months and years in contaminated water.

How and why norovirus appears on cruise ships is a hotly debated topic.

Unless and until the CDC epidemiologist locates how the norovirus came on the cruise ship, it will be anyone's guess where the nasty bug came from. Blaming the people from New Jersey for bring a cold aboard the Explorer of the Seas is preposterous, but that's part of the blame game that cruise lines play.

The game plan for cruise lines is to always blame the passengers for the virus and to take the focus off of the possibility that an ill galley worker spread the virus or there were contamination problems with the food or water in the first place.

Mr. Fain told CNBC "'we screen our passengers best we can." Again, blame the passengers who slipped through the screening process, rather than saying that they screen their crew, food and water. 

Mr. Fain said his ships are "amazingly safe and secure" but he "wished he didn't have to prove it so many times."

Well if you have over 600 passengers and crew sick with norovirus puking all over the place, you have some proving to do again.  Accusing the people from Hoboken of having a cold is not going to work.

 

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

When Norovirus Strikes, Cruise Line Cheerleaders Run & Hide

The news of 600 passengers and crew members stricken with what appears to be norovirus is dominating the cruise news today. The story broke on Friday with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announcing that a little over 300 passenger and crew aboard the Explorer of the Seas were suffering from nausea and diarrhea. 

The number rose to over 450 by the weekend. This morning the CDC raised the number of sick people to over 600.

This story came on the heels of another Royal Caribbean norovirus case last week. The Majesty of the Seas returned to Miami the other week with passengers and crew sickened by norovirus. The story Explorer of the Seas Noroviruswas heavily reported as well.

The cruise norovirus stories seem to bring the disgusting Triumph "poop cruise" stories back to life. Hundreds of people floating around on a nasty ship jammed with people who wanted off the cruise and away from all of the vomit and diarrhea.

This morning around 4:00 AM I published my second article ("A Royal Mess") on the outbreak. I then went to the airport in Miami at 5:30 AM to meet a client. A CNN special about the Explorer's gastrointestinal illness (GI) outbreak was on a flat screen television positioned above one of the baggage carousels. Hundreds of people who had just flown into Miami watched the television as they waited for their bags. I watched them either shake their heads in disgust or laugh, perhaps nervously, as the CNN anchor interviewed a Royal Caribbean passenger who described the widespread illnesses on the sick ship.

I was familiar with this particular passenger's plight because we had exchanged tweets on Twitter about the cruise ship GI outbreak. Passengers tweeted over the weekend to anyone and everyone who would listen to stories about the ordeal. I could see that reporters from ABC, CBS and other major networks were sending messages to anyone they could find on Twitter looking for a live voice to tell the story. Reuters reported that one passenger wrote on Twitter: "I've been sick and quarantined... Everything I touch goes in a biohazard bag." A newspaper in the U.K., the Daily Mail, embedded tweets from some of the sick passengers, including a couple of tweets that I shared with one ill passenger.

The puke-fest-on-the-cruise-from-hell-story was growing and growing. It became clear that far more than 300 people were sick. The story would shortly become viral.

As usual, CNN beat their competitors in covering the story with a couple of video interviews of passengers on the stricken ship. One passenger was angry about the cruise line's disorganization. He said his last cruise with Royal Caribbean also involved widespread gastrointestinal illnesses. Another passenger complained that no one in the ship's room service would answer his calls for water, and no one told him when the quarantine was lifted.     

Where were the public relation representatives of Royal Caribbean protecting the crew's and cruise line's reputations? Where were the PR experts for the cruise industry? Royal Caribbean finally sent out a formal statement to the press but there was no one on the cruise line's twitter feed interacting contemporaneously with the sick and suffering on the cruise ship. 

The trade organization for the cruise line, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), was asleep. Indeed, a check of the CLIA Twitter feed (@CruiseFacts) shows no tweets since December 18, 2013 - over a month! That's an eternity in the fast paced world of social media.

The CEO of CLIA, Christine Duffy, was no where to be seen. She needed to present the cruise industry's side of the story. She last tweeted on Thursday, the day before the outbreak from her handle @CLIACEO. Ironically, she last tweeted about a "great column" in Travel Weekly about the "new wave of attacks on the cruise industry" which featured a travel agent's criticism of me. (You can read my response here).

This shows a problem with the cruise lines' PR. The cruise industry PR is always late and in reaction to bad press. The cruise industry seems to be always complaining about CNN and the bad press, but it doesn't bother to interact with its aggrieved customers in real time. By the time it finally responds to bad news, there are other stories bringing even worse news. The travel writers will be pleased to write a puff piece whenever CLIA wants one, but the coverage is strictly after-the-fact. It lacks spontaneity and genuineness. There are no travel writers fast and nimble enough to react immediately when trouble comes.  

When disaster strikes, whether it's a fire, a capsizing, or just the latest norovirus outbreak, the cruise lines don't know what to do. Their twitter and Facebook pages are silent. Their executives go to the Miami Heat games. The travel agents and travel publications run and hide.

A crisis management expert, Rich Klein, just wrote a blog about the predicament facing Royal Caribbean. With the headline "Honesty Remains Lonely Word," he writes that the cruise line has active Twitter and Facebook pages "but 24+ hours into their respective crises, only customers are reporting the obvious news while the companies offer little insight into what happened."

As sick passengers lamented their cruise-from-hell on Twitter and aggressive news reporters brought their stories to an international audience, Royal Caribbean and CLIA were enjoying their weekend. No one had their hands on the wheels of the PR machine. When genuine sympathy and a quick refund were in order, the cruise industry engaged in slow motion corporate talk. Royal Caribbean has still not even mentioned whether or how it intends to compensate its sick guests for the unpleasant, aborted cruise. 

 

Photo Credit: Thomas Layer / AP Photo

A Royal Mess: Sick Count Increases to Over 600, Cruise Ends Early

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that over 600 people have been sickened by the gastrointestinal illness outbreak on the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas, CNN reports.

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship left Cape Liberty, New Jersey on January 21, 2014 for a 10 day cruise through the Caribbean. The ship missed a stop at its private stop in Labadee Haiti after the outbreak. It sailed to San Juan to be cleaned. 

The CDC initially stated that over 300 people (281 passengers and 22 crew members) were ill. (Its official report is here with the new statistics). However, over the weekend we began to hear reports from passengers that the number Royal Caribbean Cruise Explorer of the Seas Norovirusof people suffering from nausea and diarrhea had increased to to over 450 and, now, to over 600. 

CNN quotes a spokeswoman with the CDC that more than 600 people on the ship have become ill, reporting vomiting and diarrhea. The CDC spokeswoman said 564 passengers and 47 crew members reported being ill.

Royal Caribbean is ending the cruise two days early. The cruise line will "use the extra time to sanitize the ship even more thoroughly." 

We have been contacted by guests on this ill fated cruise as well passengers from the prior cruise who became ill. 

Passengers who contacted Royal Caribbean say that the cruise line is not considering refunds of any type.

We previously reported on the incident in our article: Puke Fest Aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas.

There has been no official word from the CDC whether this is in fact norovirus, although the symptoms are consistent with the virus. The cruise lines invariably blame the passengers, but the CDC has never in my experience ever pin-pointed the exact source of an outbreak like this.

NBC News raises the issue whether the outbreak on the Explorer is linked to a nasty new type of norovirus known as the GII 4 Sydney strain which caused an outbreak on the Queen Mary 2.

Join our discussion on Facebook about why norovirus outbreaks occur on cruise ships

 

Disney's Crime Warning for Nassau, Bahamas: Are Passengers Staying on the Cruise Ship?

Crime Nassau BahamasToday I received something from a cruise passenger who reads this blog that I don't see very often - a cruise line providing warnings to their passengers about crime in a port of call.

We have written a number of articles recently about the high rate of crime in Nassau.  The U.S. Embassy released the warning from the U.S. State department calling the armed robbery and murder rates in the Bahamas to be "critical."

The Nassau Guardian interviewed me about the problem and I said that Nassau was "one gunshot away" from the cruise lines leaving.

We have heard that Carnival and Disney are warning cruise passengers to be careful going ashore in Nassau. This is the first actual written warning we have ever seen.

I think the warning is missing some things, like a reference to the fact that the U.S. Department of State issued an official warning and characterized the armed robbery rate as "critical."

The warning is a bit watered down too. Disney says that you need to take precautions in Nassau "as in an large city" or in any "tourist destination." The truth is that Nassau has a higher violent crime rate than any large U.S. city other than, perhaps, Detroit. Everyone knows about Detroit being dangerous. But lots of tourists are fooled into believing that Nassau is a tropical paradise.

And what on earth does Disney mean when it says use the same level of precaution like you were in "any tourist destination." Like you were in Disney World? The warning loses its effectiveness. Lots of travel agents say things like this. "Crime occurs everywhere," but that's an assurance not a warning. The truth is that crime occurs more often in certain places, like Nassau. The point is that crime in Nassau is critical. Its unlike any other tourist destinations. That's the point of the State Department warning in the first place.

As I have suggested in prior articles, we suggest that people thinking of buying a cruise to the Caribbean first read the daily newspapers in Nassau before selecting Nassau as a destination on your cruise itinerary.  The Tribune (photo, above), the Bahamas Press and the Guardian are excellent sources of information. 

The passenger who sent us the warning, a mother traveling with her children, commented:

"I have never seen such a busy port day on board the ship. Hard to find room in a pool or a chair. Looks like many stayed on board."

I'm wondering how many passengers are deciding to stay on the ship, when they reach Nassau, because of concern that their family members could be a victim of crime.

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

Disney Cruise Crime Warning in Nassau

Puke Fest Aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that there is an outbreak of gastrointestinal sickness of a large percentage of cruise passengers aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas cruise ship.

The CDC indicates that 281 passengers (9.21% of total passengers) are suffering from norovirus type of symptoms. The symptoms include vomiting, nausea, headaches and diarehhea. You can read the report here

The pro-cruise site Cruise Critic calls the problem a "small outbreak" but the truth is that 9% is a high percentage.  It is not unusual for passengers not to report the illness in order to avoid being Explorer of the Seasquarantined in the cabin or for crew members who rely on tips to keep working after they are ill. The total numbers are often under-reported.

In addition to sick passengers, 22 crew members are reportedly ill according to the CDC. 

The CDC website states that an environmental health officer and an epidemiologist will board the ship in St. Thomas, USVI on January 26, 2014 to conduct an epidemiologic investigation. 

It may be possible to determine whether the outbreak is in fact related to norovirus. But the CDC will not have any success is determining why and how the virus came aboard. There is not enough time for the CDC to conduct an exhaustive scientific analysis and, as usual, the ship will not sit idle waiting for the test results. The cruise ship will continue to sail whether the CDC determines if it is norovirus or exactly why it is on the ship. 

Earlier this week, cruise expert Professor Ross Klein indicated that the CDC reported 130 passengers and 12 crew members became ill with gastrointestinal illness while cruising aboard the NCL Norwegian Star

The Majesty of the Seas returned to Miami a week ago with 70 people reported ill with gastrointestinal illnesses.

Were the outbreaks on the Royal Caribbean and NCL ships caused by the passengers not washing their hands? That's always what the cruise lines say.

Or was it due to crew members who kept working after they became sick and causing the outbreak? Or was it contaminated food or water, which is a common cause?

We will never know. The cause of gastrointestinal outbreaks is usually a mystery on cruise ships.

 

Have a comment? Please leave a message below or join the discussion on our Facebook page - what's the most common cause of norovirus on cruise ships?  

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Emma Jones

The New Wave of Attacks on the Critics of the Cruise Industry

Truth - Melissa PhillippeYesterday Travel Weekly ("travel industry's trusted voice") published an article entitled The New Wave of Attacks on the Cruise Industry

A vacation consultant/travel agent type and contributor to the travel magazine, Richard Turen, identified me and Dr. Ross Klein (a sociologist in Canada who has written and testified before Congress extensively about cruising) as cruise critics engaged in a "new wave" of "attacks" against the cruise lines. Mr. Turen didn't provide any examples, but he voiced his concern about what he characterizes as "unsubstantiated half-truths."

Mr. Turen has a travel site where he endlessly promotes his view of the top ten cruise lines. top 10 tour operators, top 10 secrets to traveling healthy, and so forth. His site is called, ready for this, "Travel Truth."

On Travel Truth, you can read all type of hype designed to sell cruises but not a word about crime against women and children traveling on cruise ships. 

Travel Truth is also a zealous defender of the cruise industry when things go wrong. Mr. Turen defended Carnival following the poorly maintained Triumph poop cruise fiasco, and concluded in a Travel Weekly article that there "simply is no other vacation option that can match the satisfaction level and the pure value of a cruise."  Mr. Turen even defended Costa Captain Schettino who smashed the Concordia into the rocks and killed 32 souls in an article "A SECOND LOOK AT THE CONCORDIA TRAGEDY." He bashes a maritime lawyer who criticized Costa for hiring captains who are risk takers like the disgraced captain. 

Yesterday I promised to publish a reply to Mr. Turen's article which would include some context and perspective to his comments.

Here it is:

First, there is nothing remotely "new" about my views of cruising or about what Mr. Turen characterizes, dramatically, as new "attacks" on the cruise lines. 

I switched from being a cruise ship defense lawyer to becoming an advocate for passengers and crew Cruise Ship Crimesmembers in the mid to late 1990's.  I've spent a lot of time disclosing incidents of crime which the cruise lines try to sweep under the rug.  Dr. Klein started compiling cruise information in the late 1990's dating back to the 1960's. He has been operating his informative web site since as early as January 2002. I started my blog in 2009 with the motto "everything cruise lines don't want you to know."

There are no "new attacks" on the cruise lines at all, as far as I am concerned. It's the same type of observations from Dr. Klein and the same old criticisms from me for the past decade, at least. The only thing relatively new is the proliferation of the methods of delivering information to the public. Twitter (we have over 11,500 followers) and Facebook (we have over 92,000 fans) deliver my opinions far faster and further than ever before.  

So let's turn to Mr. Turen's comments.

Mr. Turen says that I have "appeared on every major news outlet and frequently testifies before Congress." Well, the first part of the sentence is 100% accurate; I have appeared on pretty much every network and cable news outlet possible. Lord knows I have tried.

But the second part of his sentence is 100% wrong. I have never testified before Congress. There have been several Congressional hearings which have featured our clients. Five of our clients, primarily sexual assault victims, have made submissions and testified before both the House and the Senate, but not me.

Now, that's petty criticism on my part, I suppose. But if you are going to criticize someone for "unsubstantiated half-truths," you better do your homework and make certain that your representations are 100% substantiated and truthful. 

Cruise Ship NorovirusMr. Turen raises 5 major issues I have discussed in some of my prior 1,800 articles. I'll briefly address each issue, so you can read the substance of my comments and understand why they may be relevant to your family's decision whether to cruise. 

Cruise ships are "floating vomitoriums."  Norovirus, e-coli and other gastrointestinal outbreaks are regularly covered on this blog. We do not handle noro cases and will not represent passengers sickened with GI illnesses. Why? Because it is darn near impossible to prove where the virus originated. The ships sail in and out of port so quickly and never interrupt their itinerary to permit the CDC to conduct meaningful epidemiology testing. So why do I write about it? I find the issue to represent a microcosm of the larger cruise dynamic. The primary cause of norovirus is contaminated food or water according to the FDA and the CDC, but cruise lines insist that it's the unsanitary passengers who bring the nasty virus aboard and don't wash their hands. Meanwhile the CDC has documented many instances where ill crew members who handle food continue to work in the galley and dining rooms after they are ill because they rely on tips. I also must admit that it's fun to watch the Cruise Critic fans and travel agents turn red in the face trying to convince me that it's just the dirty fingers of the passengers causing all of the fuss. Is a "floating vomitorium" an unsubstantiated half-truth? Just ask the thousands of cruise passengers aboard the Celebrity Mercury who were sickened with norovirus during numerous consecutive sailings over the course of a month. The CDC finally shut the ship down because the cruise line wouldn't stop sailing and infecting a new round of guests. Celebrity later sold the sick, old ship. 

Disney is the world's "worst cruise line." After a 34 year old Disney waiter molested an 11 year old girl while the cruise ship was still in a U.S. port, and was caught red-handed on CCTV, did Disney promptly report the crime to the port police or the sheriff's office or the FBI? No, the Magical Kingdom sailed the ship (together with the crime scene, the assailant crew member and the victim) out Disney Cruise Line Pervertof the jurisdiction to Nassau where the local police could have cared less and Disney knew it. Case closed. Disney then flew the pervert back to India. The "worst cruise line?" You bet. This story was my number 1 most outrageous cruise story of 2013

Did Mr. Turen or Travel Weekly write about this crime and Disney's outrageous conduct? Of course not. The only time Travel Weekly writes about cruise crime is puff pieces like this one, where pro-cruise writers interview only cruise lines and cruise trade organizations and end up with what read likes a cruise line press release saying crime is rare.

Here's what Mr. Turen has to say about Disney: Disney at sea "is just as professional, elegant, and genuinely family friendly as Disney on land. For the majority of guests, as always, Disney will exceed expectations. It clearly exceeded ours."

"Cruise lines are a perfect place to sexually abuse children." This was one of the ten reasons I cited back in 2009 to perhaps consider taking a vacation other than a cruise. Congressional staffers have told me over the last five years that the cruise lines are obsessed with making certain that there is never a law requiring the cruise industry to disclose sexual crimes against children (no names or details of course, simply that the victim was a child). No cruise line has ever disclosed that a single child was molested. The cruise lines know that children have been raped and molested in cabins, hallways, crew quarters and in child care facilities. It's the cruise industry's nastiest secret. The Disney cover-up regarding the 11 year old girl is just one example. Dr. Klein has written and testified about this disturbing subject, but I have never read an article published by Travel Weekly or Mr. Turen which has touched upon crimes against children on cruises. That would be bad for the travel industry, wouldn't it? And it would be hard for a travel publication to sell advertisements for the cruise lines too.    

"Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL are corporate felons." Evidence that a party to litigation has been convicted of or pled guilty to a felony, or a crime involving dishonesty, can be disclosed to a jury who can take that into consideration in determining whether that party has a propensity toward dishonesty. This is one of the few things I remember from law school over three decades ago.  All of the major cruise lines based in Miami, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL, have pled guilty to lying to the U.S. Government, federal prosecutors, the Coast Guard and even the U.S. Attorney General. Think that these cruise lines, who are all corporate felons because of their lying ways, will be transparent to you when your children are molested? Jurors are entitled to be informed about felony convictions of corporations. Shouldn't you be too? 

"If you are retired or a child, the cruise line considers your life worthless." There is an old, archaic law called the Death On The High Seas Act (DOHSA)(1920) which prohibits the recovery of emotional damages (grief, sadness, bereavement, pain, suffering, mental anguish, etc.) when a loved one dies at sea. All that is potentially recoverable is financial losses (lost wages for example).  But if the cruise line or their doctors kill a child or a retiree, there are no lost wages. What can you recover? Zilch. Cruise lines are motivated by financial consequences. But dead children have no consequences (no wonder Mr. Turen states in his article that a child who drown in a Carnival pool without a lifeguard was of no significance to the cruise line). Legislation has been introduced to amend this unjust law, but the cruise lines have lobbied hard to keep it on the books. The cruise lines love DOHSA, because if you are retired or a child your life is worthless in the eyes of the cruise industry and their insurance companies. The cruise lines have spent millions making certain your family doesn't get a dime in death cases. This was the first issue I ever wrote about on this blog.  

Is this another "unsubstantiated half-truth?" Nope. Just another part of cruising that travel writers like Mr. Turen never write about and travel publications like Travel Weekly never publish. They prefer you not know.

Travel WeeklyA year and one-half ago, Mr. Turen wrote an article for Travel Weekly about crime in ports of call, stating that he would never warn a client if that meant "destroying the dreams of others as they try to complete whatever worldwide destination their bucket list might contain."  

I'm all for bucket lists, but not at the expense of a child killed or molested and the cruise line assisting the pervert escape justice or hiding the truth.  Mr. Turen's fanciful top-10-best-cruise-ships view of cruising, and his success making money selling such illusions, seem to me to be based on keeping the real truth away from the traveling public. 

This myth is perpetuated by pretending to be the only source of "travel truth" and attacking those who offer real-life stories about norovirus, molested children, outlaw cruise ships, and "family" cruise lines that really don't care about your children.   

 

Credits:

The Truth - Melissa Phillippe

Travel Weekly - Travel Weekly

Coast Guard Medevacs Injured Passenger From HAL Veendam

Veendam Cruise ShipThe U.S. Coast Guard Sector in San Diego sent a helicopter to a cruise ship approximately 150 miles west of San Diego yesterday (January 23rd).

The Defense Video and Imaging Distribution Services reports that a 69-year-old woman fell down a stairwell and suffered head injuries and internal bleeding.

The video was taken by U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Henry G. Dunphy.

The name of the cruise ship was not released. However, an AIS tracking site indicates that the Holland America Line Veendam turned around and began heading back toward San Diego.

You can watch the helicopter land after transporting the injured woman from the HAL ship.

The Veendam was last in the news when an elderly woman went overboard earlier this month. 

Photo Credit: Holland America Line via L.A. Times 

 

Travel Weekly: "The New Wave of Attacks on the Cruise Industry"

Travel Weekly published an article today entitled The New Wave of Attacks on the Cruise Industry. It was written by a contributing editor, Richard Turen, who runs a travel agency and a marketing group.

Its an interesting article which discusses who Mr. Turen views as the critics of the cruise industry.

He discusses cruise expert Ross Klein, a professor in Canada, who has testified before Congress several times about man overboard cases and crime against children on ships. Dr. Klein also operates the website CruiseJunkie which is the definitive compilation of most everything which goes wrong while cruising.  

Travel Weekly Richard TurenHe also discusses me and rewards me as the "king of anti-cruise tirades" and the "most visible critic of the industry."

Here are a few sentences from Mr. Turen's article:

"To give you a flavor of Walker's site, let me quote some of the reasons he does not recommend cruise vacations:

  • 'Cruise lines are a perfect place to sexually abuse children.'
  • 'Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL are corporate felons.'
  • 'If you are retired or a child, the cruise line considers your life worthless.'

Jim Walker has appeared on every major news outlet and frequently testifies before Congress. So his impressive background and litigation record against cruise lines must be taken seriously. His goal is clearly stated on his website:

'If travel agents are going to hawk cruises by advertising all the reasons why you should take your family on a cruise, trust us that we will provide you with the other side of the story.'

Check back on our blog later this afternoon. I'll publish my response to Mr. Turen's article and place some of his comments in context and perspective. He has raised some interesting issues which deserve discussion and a larger audience.

January 24 2014 Update: Don't miss reading our response to the Travel Weekly article.

 

Photo Credit: Travel Weekly

Cruise Critic Rips Off Cruise Law Article

Two and a half days ago, a cruise passenger on the Carnival Magic emailed us and told us that: (1) the ship was delayed returning to Galveston by fog (2) a fire had apparently broken out on deck 11 causing smoke and ending up with the hallways drenched with water, and (3) a Coast Guard helicopter medevaced an ill passenger from the cruise ship.

The email from the Carnival passenger came to me early Sunday morning shortly after 7:30 AM as the ship waited for the flog to lift and I waited for my first cup of coffee. We emailed Carnival for confirming information, and then published our article around 1:00 P.M. We included Carnival's comments that a fire allegedly didn't break out and that the smoke was caused, as Carnival says, by an "overheated electrical component." Carnival also confirmed the Coast Guard helicopter medevac.

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

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

Today, two days after we published our article, Cruise Critic published an article entitled: Smoke Scare Onboard Carnival Cruise Ship. The Cruise Critic article discussed the smoke versus fire issue and mentioned that a cruise passenger was medevaced Saturday afternoon and fog caused a delay in the ship getting back to Galveston.

The Cruise Critic article relied on information we released (and spun the story in favor of Carnival) without any credit for the story to us. 

It is the norm in reporting and the world of social media to acknowledge sources of information. For example, when the Daily Mail in the U.K. (one of the most widely-read internet newspapers in the world) writes a cruise story which we break, it will cite us and link to us. You may think that the Daily Mail is sensational, but linking to sources is what reputable, professionals do. For example, read this Daily Mail article based on information in our blog which we broke after a cruise passenger emailed us. 

One thing that we take seriously here at Cruise Law News is being 100% accurate and transparent in crediting the right people and organizations responsible for breaking news stories. None of our stories ever go out without a credit. It does not matter if it's our rival law firms. If someone had a big verdict against a Miami-based cruise line, we report it. We name the lawyer and include a photograph. No other law firm does that.

If Cruise Critic, USA Today's CruiseLog, Cruise Currents, CruiseMates or who-know-who breaks a story, we will of course name them and provide a link to their site.

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

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

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

Many people criticize us for writing about negative cruise stories and having a vendetta against Carnival and Royal Caribbean. You may not like our opinions. Readers should take our articles with a grain of salt. After all, our motto here is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."  We are often on television, cable news, radio and in newspapers sending our view of cruising out into the stratosphere. We know it is irritating to the hard core cruise fans.

You can disagree and criticize us for our opinions, but you cannot ever fault us for being anything other than honest in crediting the sources of our stories.

Cruise Critic, on the other hand, is not transparent. It takes credit for other's information. It can be a shill all it wants. But it should not take credit when it is not due.

I suppose, from that perspective, it is the perfect publication to cover the far-from-transparent cruise industry. 

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

On Twitter today, a travel agent bemoaned that a video entitled "Cruise Ship Nightmares" was airing. What particularly perturbed the travel agent was the fact that the CNN video first aired last summer and was recirculating as fresh news.

This particular video was well produced and quite provocative. Images of burned cruise ships and passengers sleeping out on mattresses on the decks, with the caption "Keeping Secrets on the High Seas - Crashes, Fires, Stalls Plague Secretive Cruise Industry."

I remember this video well. I was interviewed in it.

I had an opportunity to talk about a number of issues which the cruise lines and many travel agents CNN Cruise Disastersdon't want the public to know. Like the fact that Miami-based cruise lines, such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean, are incorporated in places like Panama and Liberia and register their ship in other foreign countries like the Bahamas to avoid all U.S. taxes, labor, wage and safety laws.

So when a fire breaks out or a rape occurs on these cruise ships flying the flag of the Bahamas, it's this little island which is incapable of keeping its own citizens safe that is responsible for investigating what occurs on cruise ships full of U.S. citizens.

It would be a joke if it was not so disgraceful.

My favorite CNN video involved Silversea Cruises caught hiding trolleys of perishable food down in the crew quarters in an effort to bamboozle sanitation inspectors for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Crew members complained to us about this nasty practice. We told them to notify the CDC about the cruise line scheme. We involved CNN after the haughty cruise line refused to communicate with us. The CNN video told the story beautifully.

CNN's video of the Carnival Triumph disaster revealed that Carnival knew that there were major problems with not maintaining the ship's engines and fuel lines but the cruise line intentionally sailed when the cruise ship was unseaworthy.

Other CNN videos worth watching: 

Grandeur of the Seas fire;

Norovirus Sickens Passengers Aboard Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas;

Who's Keeping Passengers Safe? 

You can complain all you want that CNN covered the Carnival "poop cruise" 24 hours a day, it seemed. But the coverage was thorough and the specials are excellent. People love to watch them. That's why CNN plays them over and over.

So the next time that a ship catches on fire, or become disabled, you can bet that CNN will be covering the story.

And this travel agent will be complaining loudly.  

Fire, Fog & Medevac Mar Cruise Aboard Carnival Magic

Carnival Magic MedevacThis morning at 7:39 AM, I received the following information from a passenger on the Carnival Magic returning to port in Galveston:

"We sit outside the harbor in the fog this morning. Last night the coast guard had to airlift a passenger for medical reasons and yesterday morning we had a fire. Deck 11 forward. The crew says it was not a fire but hot electrical. Smoke was coming down to other decks, there is water and wet floors up there so they can call it what they want . . . Pic of the chopper attached."

We are also told Carnival had fans and machines out on deck 11 and there was standing water in the halls. One passenger said "it might have just been a hot circuit but they sure used a lot of water, which made no sense on electrical."

Passengers are now disembarking from the cruise ship.

Does anyone on this cruise have information, photos or video to share?

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

Carnival's response:

"On Saturday morning aboard the Carnival Magic, there was a smell of smoke reported along a guest corridor. The issue was identified as an overheated electrical component within an air conditioning vent located within a guest stateroom. There was no fire. The issue has since been fixed. Guests were kept apprised of the situation with announcements over the ship’s public address system and shipboard staff were positioned in the area where the smoke was reported to advise guests and answer any questions.

Additionally, on Saturday afternoon, the ship rendezvoused with a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter to airlift a guest in need of immediate medical attention. The guest was taken to a shoreside medical facility for further treatment.

Carnival Magic was on a seven-day cruise to the Caribbean that returned to its home port of Galveston earlier this morning."

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

Last night, ABC 20/20 aired a program about the controversy surrounding the cruise industry's refusal to install automatic man overboard systems.

There is no question that the systems exist and can be installed. However, the cruise industry refuses to do so. (Disney says that its cruise ships have the technology). But it's clear that Carnival and its brands (HAL, Princess for example) don't. 

The cruise industry has endless excuses why it has still not complied with the law enacted 4 years ago. It says that a bird or debris in the air can set the alarms off. The lawyer for the cruise lines in the 20/20 program says that the cruise lines have not "perfected" an automatic system yet. But there is no requirement for a "perfect" system. As matters exist now, the cruise lines have no system at all, in violation of the law.

The cruise lines' approach is to attack the victims. The cruise defense lawyer attacks the dead and injured saying: “I call it 'sail and sue.' We deal with it all the time.”  You can read my response here

I will admit that many people I have spoken to don't seem to care much about the fact that Carnival has no automatic system in place. Most blame the passenger for being intoxicated and are quick to insult her. That's what Carnival and the other non-compliant cruise lines are counting on.

It's a rather amazing phenomenon to see a non-tax paying foreign corporation which collects over $15 billion a year, from tax-paying U.S. citizens, and makes hundreds of millions of dollars pushing alcohol sales, blatantly ignore the law requiring overboard systems, and then shift 100% of the blame on to the passenger who got drunk on the Carnival booze.

  

 

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

Cruise Ship CameraTonight ABC's 20/20 will take a look at the case of a cruise passenger who fell from her balcony, struck a lifeboat below her, and then plunged into the water.

Although her fall was captured on the cruise ship's surveillance cameras, the ship sailed on. That's because Carnival did not have an automatic man overboard system in place to notify the bridge that a person went overboard.

The camera which recorded the passenger going overboard was not monitored by a cruise ship employee, nor was it tied to an alarm system of any type. 

It took an hour and one-half for the cruise line to figure out what happened and turn around and rescue the young woman.  The fact that she was still alive is a miracle.

I do not represent this woman although I was interviewed during the program, which you can see a portion of from this morning's Good Morning America program. 

Some people may say that it was the woman's fault for drinking too much and she's to blame for falling overboard. A jury can apportion fault to both the passenger and the cruise line. Cruise lines in our jurisdiction have legal liability when they over-serve alcohol to passengers. Selling booze is a major money maker for cruise lines. Cruise lines don't make money selling cruise tickets. The big money comes from "onboard purchases," like excursions, gift shop purchases, casino gambling and, number one profit center, pushing alcohol sales.

But the story is not just about who's to blame for the alcohol and the fall overboard.

Jim Walker Cruise Ship Man OverboardIn 2010, Congress passed a law requiring that cruise lines install man overboard technology. The cruise lines have come up with a boat load of excuses why they have not complied with the law, like the technology doesn't exist, or it's inaccurate and unreliable, or its just too expensive.

But there is no question the technology exists. My belief is that the cruise lines simply don't want to spend the money.

The systems are required irrespective of why a person goes overboard.  If they are drunk, or acting irresponsibly, or they fall by accident, or they want to commit suicide, or they are thrown overboard, it doesn't matter. The cruise lines must have the systems in place.

The vast majority of cruise ships don't.  

They would rather keep the money and accuse the passengers of being drunk on the alcohol the cruise ship sold.

Delays in promptly reporting overboard passengers to the U.S. Coast Guard causes the rescue to encompass massive areas of the ocean. This costs the Coast Guard a lot of money, sometimes $1,000,000 in unnecessary costs for helicopters, aircraft and cutters. Who pays for that? Not the cruise lines. They don't even pay any U.S. taxes. U.S. taxpayers do!

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

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

 

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

 

"Sail & Sue" - Cruise Lines' Response to Dead Overboard Passengers and Crew is Cruel

There have been 5 persons overboard in the past 3 weeks. 

There will be many more this year.

None of the cruise lines involved in the overboard cases -  Royal Caribbean, Holland America Line & Princess - have installed automatic man overboard systems.

So a passenger disappears at sea. "A mystery," the cruise line says. "Not our problem." A crew member jumps overboard. "Suicide by sea," says the cruise line. "Not out fault." And the beat goes on. 

Cruise Ship Overboard Passengers The cruise lines don't seem too concerned about people disappearing on the high seas. 

Congress passed a law a couple of years ago, requiring automatic man overboard systems. It doesn't matter whether the person jumped, or slipped, or was drunk, or was engaged in horse-play, or was thrown overboard. The cruise lines have not complied with the cruise safety law. 

California lawyer Larry Kaye, the go-to lawyer for the cruise lines' trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), tells ABC News “These detection systems are not perfected yet."  (Mr. Kaye previously appeared on the cruise lines' behalf before Congress to argue that cruise lines should not be forced to turn over crime data to the American public).

Of course, the cruise safety law does not require a "perfect" man overboard system, only one that "reasonably" complies with the law.

The non-tax paying cruise industry's excuses are endless. "There is no technology available, or the systems are not reliable, or the systems are too expensive," the cruise lines say. The cruise lines' excuses are as seemingly endless as the billions of tax-free money collected each year by the cruise lines from tax paying Americas who take their families on cruises offered by these unlawful cruise lines.

ABC News will be airing a special tomorrow night on passengers going overboard. You will learn that the cruise industry has not installed the man overboard system. When a person falls into the sea, if they are not immediately spotted, the cruise ships sail on. The cruise lines have a million reasons why they have not complied with the law. 

Cruise lawyer Kaye has an answer for what the cruise lines view as a problem of people disappearing on cruise vacations.

“I call it 'sail and sue.' We deal with it all the time,” Kaye tells ABC News. “I think cruise ships are probably the safest vacation option available to most people."

That's what Kaye is paid to say.

For the families of passengers who have gone overboard under mysterious circumstances, or a crew member who decides to end his  life going over the rail, the "sail and sue" accusation is the final indignity. None of the last 5 cruise overboard victims have filed a lawsuit nor will they. 

I suppose that's impossible, isn't it? They are dead after all.

Cruise industry lawyer Kaye's vulgar comments are highly offensive to families grieving the loss of their loved ones.

Kaye's comments perfectly reflect the cruise industry's attitude to passengers and crew lost at sea. 

 

Photo Credit: ABC News

Country Cruising Fiasco: Star Trace Adkins Allegedly Falls Off Wagon, Fights Himself and Leaves Cruise

A cruise ship is a terrible place to go if you have a drinking problem.

The gossipy TMZ and the New York Daily News say that country music star Trace Adkins allegedly got drunk on a country music cruise, fought with an impersonator singing karaoke, and then left the ship in mid cruise when the ship arrived in Jamaica. He subsequently checked into a rehabilitation center.

The tabloid media says that Mr. Atkins struggles with alcoholism but has been sober for 12 years, until the cruise this week. The AP has confirmed that he has entered a rehab program. The newspapers indicate that he has discussed the issue of alcoholism publicly.

Country Cruise NCL Pearl Trace AdkinsMr. Adkins was the top bill on a "Country Cruising" week-long cruise on a Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ship (the Pearl) which left  Miami on Sunday, January 12th with stops in Ocho Rios (yesterday), Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. The ship will return on Sunday.

You can click on the cruise website and listen to him invite you personally "to the best country cruise ever . . . I sailed on this cruise last year and I can tell you it was a hoot . . .  it was a blowout!"

So right now a boatload of country music fans are sailing without the headlining act. Let's wish Mr. Adkins well and hope the fiasco doesn't end up in litigation.  

I suspect that his fans will take the incident in stride.

Mr. Adkins is active on Twitter. On the first day of the cruise, he left his tweet: "Up here in my suite, overlooking the pools. Behave yourselves."   

We have heard of other stars falling victim to the tendency to over-drink on cruises.

A couple of years ago one of the Backstreet Boys got so hammered during a fan cruise that some fans asked Carnival for a refund. 

ABC has a video of the story which you can see here.

Another Blonde-Bimbo-in-the-Bridge Scandal Rocks Costa

Costa Concordia Domnica CemortanIts been two years since the deadly Costa Concordia disaster. It's much safer now the cruise lines assure us. 

The cruise line trade organization, CLIA, reminds us of all of the new protocols which the cruise industry implemented shortly after the Concordia capsized.

One of the new rules prohibits family, guests or other persons not essential to the navigation of the vessel from being on the bridge. This was to prevent "disruptions and distractions to the bridge team members while monitoring the navigation of the ship."

This new proposal came about because at the time of the disaster, disgraced Captain Schettino had invited his (often-photographed-in-a-bikini} paramour, Moldovan dancer Domnica Cemortan, to the bridge.

I call this the "no-bimbo's-on-the-bridge" protocol. 

It's pretty embarrassing that this is how the playboy officers on the Costa cruise were acting at the time of the disaster. It's even more embarrassing that the cruise lines had so little confidence in their navigational crew that they had to adopt a policy outlawing such immature, fraternity-like behavior.

Sasha Alexandra Costa CruisesBut today it appears that nothing has changed at the Costa boys club.The Italian newspaper Oggi published photographs of an attractive Romanian blonde, Sasha Alexandra, posing in the bridge of the Costa Atlantica. She was photographed next to the captain in a tight cocktail dress holding a large machine gun.

I can hear the Costa captain thinking: These former-communist women from post-Cold War eastern Europe holding guns are so hot!

The Italian magazine explains that the Atlantica cruise ship was sailing through the Gulf of Aden with armed security guards to protect the cruise ship from  attack by Somali pirates. That's when the captain invited the lovely Sasha Alexandra onto the bridge.

Oggi further explains that someone who obtained the photographs tried to extort money from Costa in return for not selling them to the press. It looks like Oggi was willing to pay more money than Costa for the embarrassing photos.

The timing of the latest-blonde-in-the-bridge photo couldn't have been worse. Yesterday was the two year anniversary of the Concordia crash which claimed 32 lives. 

For all those naive cruise fans who want to believe the cruise lines when they say that things have changed, the sad truth is that the cruise industry is no safer now than it was two years ago.

The photos prove it.

I can't wait when the Playboy edition entitled the "Girls of Costa Cruise Lines" comes out.

I suspect that it may consist entirely of photos shot in the bridges of the cruise ships in the Costa fleet. 

Costa Atlantica Cruise Ship 

Photographs: 

Top: Domnica Cemortan / Costa Concordia / Fransesco Schettino - http://www.stiri.com.ro/stire

Middle: Sasha Alexandra - Facebook via Telegraph

Bottom: Oggi via Telegraph

Crime in Roatan: Shots Fired, Armed Robbery of Carnival Cruise Passengers

A week ago, a popular cruise line blogger wrote a glowing review of the port of Roatan, Honduras as a wonderful place that cruise passengers should consider. But nowhere in the review was there any mention of the high crime rate there. The murder rate in Honduras is the highest of any country that a cruise line could choose.

The blogger posted the review on Twitter. I thought that he was out of his mind.

So I questioned on Twitter why he didn't mention Honduras' high crime and murder rate? I posted the the U.S. Department of State's warning.

Carnival Conquest RoatanToday I read a message which had been posted by a Carnival cruise ship passenger, traveling with his wife and three girls, on a Facebook page of a friend called the "Missing America's Project:"

"ROATAN WARNING! 02 JANUARY 2014. SHOTS FIRED AT MY FAMILY. RENTAL CAR HIT BY BULLET, ROBBED AT GUNPOINT. Please use extreme caution if traveling to Roatan, an island cruise destination off the coast of Honduras."

You can read the rest of the message below.

One of the problems is that travel agents and cruise line do not warn cruise passengers of the dangers of crime in the Caribbean ports of call where crime is a real problem.  Some cruise lines provide luke-warm warnings in publications provided to the passengers on the cruise ship, but only after the families have already purchased their tickets and are sailing to the port.

The U.S. Department of State warning is accessible here. It is ominous. Since 2010, Honduras has had the highest murder rate in the world. In addition, "The vast majority of serious crimes in Honduras, including those against U.S. citizens, are never solved; of the 50 murders committed against U.S. citizens since 2008, police have only solved two."

The family robbed stated that another family sailing with Carnival had a shotgun pointed at them on a van during a sight-seeing excursion.

Here's the message posted on the Facebook Page:

"This past Thursday, during our Carnival Cruise port call, while driving on a beach access road on the northeast side of the island, a masked gunman sprung from the bushes about 30 feet in front of our car. With no warning he aimed and fired his semi-automatic weapon, striking the front hood of our rental vehicle. My wife and our three daughters, ages 8, 14, and 15, were with me. My immediate reaction was to put the car in reverse and try to back down the gravel/dirt access road to distance my family from the gunman. I wrecked the rental after driving approximately 75 yards in high speed reverse. The gunman pursued us on foot with pistol drawn. I got out of the car and when the gunman arrived he proceeded to rob us of cash, iPhones and camera. The encounter lasted approximately three minutes, and for most of that time he had his gun pointed either at me or at my daughters.

The gunman was 20-25 years old (best guess), brown native skin, black hair, about 5'8" tall, and weighed approximately 200 lbs. He spoke almost perfect "Island English".

Carnival has responded by providing comfort to my family, and has handled this incident in a caring and professional manner. The local police are investigating.

Roatan has only one major east/west running paved road. Many of the beaches and tourist destinations are located away from this paved road, and must be accessed by driving on un-paved secondary roads through rural "jungle" areas. Use extreme caution when off the main path, especially when in a highly noticeable rental car.

Also on the same day, another cruise guest had a shotgun pointed at his family while on a sight-seeing guided van tour. They were also on a remote un-paved side road." 

March 20 2014 Update: Travel Crime Warning: Tourists Assaulted, Robbed & Terrorized in Roatan, Honduras.

 

Thinking of visiting Roatan Honduras? Read the Missing Americans Project first.

Photo Credit: Sven Manguard / Wikimedia

Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report Reveals Cruise Industry Failed to Implement Key Provisions of Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act (CVSSA) of 2010

Adventure of the SeasThe Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report regarding whether the cruise industry has implemented the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) of 2010. 

I have pointed out that the last several man overboard cases indicate that the cruise industry refuses to install the necessary man overboard technology. It's disgraceful that this is the situation in 2014.  

The GAO report indicates the cruise lines have still failed to implement four key provisions of the CVSSA:

  • (1) man overboard technology, which detects and alerts the crew to a person falling overboard;
  • (2) video recording requirements, which are to assist in documenting crimes on the vessel and in providing evidence for the prosecution of such crimes;
  • (3) acoustical hailing and warning devices, which provide communication capability around a vessel operating in high-risk waters; and
  • (4) certification of training providers that teach the CVSSA training course on crime prevention, detection, evidence preservation, and reporting.

The GAO report states that five companies have indicated that they have effective man overboard technology in order for the cruise lines to comply with the CVSSA. 

However, the cruise lines and its trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), claim that the man overboard technology does not exist. CLIA further informed the GAO that that man overboard technology is not reliable because of the movement of the ship, weather, sun glare, and "lens encrustation caused by saltwater." 

These seems like flimsy excuses to me.  We reported before on systems that exist and are readily Man Overboardavailable. Read here and here. If salt water on the lens of a camera is really a problem, then have a crew member wipe it off! 

The GAO met with five cruise lines about the non-compliance issue. Four of the five cruise lines claim that they are testing different technologies on their ships. One of the lines, which the GAO report did not identify, is not even bothering to conduct any testing. 

Some of the cruise lines complained about false readings. One unidentified cruise line representative complained that a false positive "could result in increased operational costs such as conducting unnecessary searches or disrupting an itinerary."

This cruise line argued that if the "technology failed to detect a passenger who had gone overboard, and as a result the vessel failed to conduct a search for that person, this type of error could expose the cruise line to costly litigation."

The cruise lines all complained about having to "invest significant amounts of money in man overboard technology." 

In my assessment, it seems like the cruise lines are more interested in avoiding costs rather than saving lives. 

The cruise industry's excuses are simply amazing. As matters now stand, there are no man overboard readings at all. Both passengers and crew members continue to go overboard undetected in most cases. This causes long delays before the Coast Guard is notified and vastly increases the area the Coast Guard helicopters and airplanes have to search. Some delayed searches cost the Coast Guard a million dollars.  Who pays for these costs? U.S. taxpayers, not the foreign flagged cruise lines which do not even pay any federal income taxes anyway.   

One other interesting issue which the GAO report revealed is that the cruise lines expressed frustration with the delay of the Coast Guard in making recommendations about suitable overboard systems and not communicating with the cruise lines. 

However, the cruise lines are not required to wait for the Coast Guard to design the systems for them. Our federal government may be skilled in quickly medevacing ill passengers on the high seas, but it is dreadfully slow in passing maritime laws that affect the cruise lines and enforcing them. The cruise industry has been in violation of the law for years. Blaming the Coast Guard is not an excuse.  

My recommendation for compelling the cruise lines to install the required systems is to make it in their best economic interests to do so.

All cruise lines not compliant with the CVSSA should to be 100% responsible for all Coast Guard costs when the cruise lines waste hours before notifying them of a person who has gone overboard. Installing a system which saves human lives is far more important than a $35 billion non-tax-paying foreign industry avoiding costs associated with a false positive once in a while. It's also far cheaper to U.S. taxpayers than having, as matter now stand, no system at all. 

 

Art Credit: CruelKev2's blog

Photo: ABC News

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

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

Although Princess did not notify the Coast Guard until approximately two hours after the crew member went overboard, it was quick to tell the press that the crew member intentionally jumped.  "Not our fault" seems to be the attitude.  Put the "suicide" label on the case and forget about it, seems to be the cruise line's usual response.

Putting the issue of legal blame aside for the moment, could the crew member's death have been avoided? Are there systems in place to provide counseling for crew members under stress?

Over the last year I have written about cruise lines overworking and underpaying their shipboard employees. I have discussed Princess working their employees to the bone. I've discussed the policies of parent company Carnival reducing pay, diverting the crew member's tips, suspending their retirement programs, and firing employees when they protest. There is only so much that anyone can take, working every single day far away from their families during a 8 month contract.

Is there a correlation between this more difficult work environment and an increased sense of hopelessness of the crew members who the cruise lines easily replace when they crack and jump?    

When a cruise line quickly explains that a crew member intentionally went overboard, it's not really an explanation. It seems to raise more questions than provide answers.  

In response to our article about the Princess crew member lost at sea, I received this message from a reader: 

"I was on the prior cruise to Hawaii for Christmas and New Years. This was my wife and my 7th cruise. But to me, this was an unhappy ship. The employees were not happy, and many passengers were also not happy. The workers had a palpable fear of their bosses. They were afraid to allow anyone to make a decision without consult from their supervisor. I mean, things like, I want a different table. The host would feel the need to ask their supervisor.

To me, this is not a surprise. I feel it is the industry's dirty little secret. The wage scale and treatment of replaceable employees. This will be my family's last cruise."

 

Photo Credit: Hakilon / Wikipedia

Are the Last 2 to 3 Years of Cruise Ship Mishaps An Anomaly or a Trend?

Adam Goldstein Royal CaribbeanThis weekend, the Royal Caribbean Blog (an unofficial Royal Caribbean fan website) quoted Royal Caribbean President and CEO Adam Goldstein saying that the "last two or three years" of cruise ship mishaps are just  an "anomaly."

Goldstein made his comments to CNBC's Simon Hobbs who excitedly told the television audience that there was a disconnect between what the non-cruising public thought about cruising and what cruise president Goldstein told him in an exclusive interview:

"I having been in this cruise business for over 25 years now," Goldstein says. "My frame of reference is two and a half decades of an extraordinarily safe of track record of great duration. Tremendous attention to detail and training that prepares the crew and the officers to do everything that they need to do from to delivering satisfaction to the guests to being extremely safe and environmentally responsible." 

'Extraordinary . . . tremendous . . . extremely . . . everything they need." This is classic cruise CEO gobbledygook by CEO Goldstein. Over-the-top hyperbole in response to softball questions by a cruise friendly interviewer.  

But does CEO Goldstein really want to go back to the "good old days" of cruising 20 to 25 years ago? 

I don't think so.

Was Royal Caribbean and the cruise industry "environmentally responsible" 20 years ago as Goldstein claims?

I don't think so either.

The 1990's were the decade when Royal Caribbean was the environment's absolute worst enemy. Thousands of garbage bags washed ashore on Miami Beach and tar fouled the sandy beaches of South Florida and the Bahamas, while Royal Caribbean dumped waste and emptied its oily bilges from cruise ships sailing the pristine waters here in Key Biscayne to Glacier Bay in Alaska and back.

The Coast Guard caught Royal Caribbean with its bilges open. Environmentalist-from-Miami U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno slammed the dirty cruise line. Royal Caribbean pled guilty to multiple felonies, including lying to the Coast Guard and the U.S. government. Before it was over, the U.S. Department of Justice fined the cruise line a record $27,000,000 and forced Royal Caribbean to admit that it was a corporate felon. 

Has the cruise industry make progress regarding environmental issues as Goldstein tells CNBC?

That's debatable. Just last week we reported on MSC Cruises caught throwing bags of garbage overboard into Brazilian waters. Just today MSC called itself the "Guardians of the Seas" but it won't Carnival Ecstasy Cruise Ship Firetalk about dumping garbage bags overboard.

But lets go back to 20 to 25 years ago, were there Carnival poop cruises back then?

Yes, and worse.

In 1995, the Carnival Tropicale, lost all power and families who brought their children aboard, couples honeymooning, and elderly citizens  bobbed around in the Gulf of Mexico, nauseated. The Carnival passengers endured the same disgusting circumstances as the Triumph.  Then a tropical storm, Roxanne, struck the ship. The cruise from hell turned into a ship of terror when the passenger thought that they were going to die. Carnival offered the traumatized passengers a $40 credit because the ship missed ports in Grand Caymans and Mexico.

Were there other fires and disasters back in the late 1980's and 1990's too? You bet.

Some of the most publicized incidents in the 1990's involved Carnival's Ecstasy (above right). It caught fire in 1996 and again in 1998 shortly after leaving the port of Miami. If the fire had occurred thirty minutes later there would have been no fire boats to extinguish the flames. Local news helicopters from Miami flew to the scene and filmed the burning ship.

The next year, the Carnival Tropicale, caught fire again and the ship was adrift again in the Gulf of Mexico with 1,700 passengers and crew members for two days after the fire disabled the engines. This Oceanos Sinkingincident received national attention, particularly after passengers complained that some crew members did not speak English well enough to provide safety instructions. The New York Times reported on the debacle in an article "Language Barrier Cited In Inquiry Into Ship Fire."

During the ensuing investigation, the captain of the Tropicale testified that he was concerned that the engine room would explode. He kept information about the raging fire from passengers because he worried they might panic and jump overboard, according to the St. Pete Times article "Cruise Captain Feared Panic."

The 1990's began with the captain's abandonment of the sinking Oceanos (right), which made my list as the number 1 worst cruise ship video of all time.  

The 1990's also saw the Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Jim Hall, calling the cruise lines an "outlaw industry" which suffered from "bad actors." 

The difference between then and now is that the "good old days" of the 1990's did not have Twitter breaking embarrassing cruise news every day, or Facebook and YouTube hosting iPhone images and video of cruise ship disasters, or social media blogs, like this one, providing insight when cruise executives take you back to the past and try and pull the wool over your eyes.  

Coast Guard Medevacs 68 Year Old Passenger from Carnival Elation

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Video Credit: Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / P. Alejandro Diaz

Australia Investigates Death of Passenger on Sun Princess

The Courier Mail newspaper reports today on a case involving the death of a 72 year old passenger aboard the Sun Princess cruise ship. The circumstances surrounding the passenger's medical treatment on the ship have led the Attorney General of Queensland to order an inquest into the death.

Australian cruise passenger Betty Virgo was sailing on the Princess cruise ship from Brisbane to New Zealand in November 2012 on a two week cruise.  

Ms. Virgo became ill at dinner on the fifth day of the cruise while the cruise ship was in port in Napier.

Betty VirgoMs. Virgo's daughter, Gayle, was sailing with her. 

Her daughter observed that although all four medical bay beds were empty, the ship's medical staff refused her requests to keep her mother there under observation that night.

The following morning Ms. Virgo's condition continued to deteriorate.

Gayle remained with her mother throughout the day in their cabin, leaving only briefly to eat because she is diabetic. When Gayle returned to the cabin, her mother was gasping for breath. Ms. Virgo was taken by stretcher to the medical center that evening and died soon afterwards as the ship sailed.

The ship doctors diagnosed "angina" as the cause of death. Gayle disputes the diagnosis.  

When Ms. Virgo's body was returned several days later, it had been embalmed without a post mortem examination being conducted or Gayle being consulted. 

To add insult to injury, Carnival Australia, which owns the Sun Princess, offered Gayle a credit of $1,100 towards another cruise. 

Carnival denies that its medical staff neglected Ms. Virgo or provided bad medical care.

We will report on the medical inquest when it become public.

Bad medical care and a lack of responsibility of the cruise lines are issues which we discuss often here on Cruise Law News.  A case involving issues of medical malpractice and a cruise ship doctor evading jurisdiction made our list of the top ten most outrageous cruise ship stories last month.

 

Photo Credit: Adam Head / News Limited via Courier Mail

 

Cruise Critic's Man Overboard Article Misses the Boat

Yesterday the on-line cruise community Cruise Critic published an article "Man Overboards: Questions and Answers."

We previously criticized Cruise Critic after it deleted comments from its message boards about the passenger who recently went overboard from the HAL Veendam. We have also been critical of the cruise lines for not investing in installing the man overboard systems

The man overboard systems came to the public's attention because a non-profit victim's group, the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization, lobbied Congress to require the installation of these systems. The cruise industry vigorously fought against the requirement. Cruise lines argued that the systems were not needed.

The ICV attended a series of hearings before the Senate and the House Cruise Criticfrom 2005 through 2009 culminating in the passage of the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act (CVSSA) of 2010. This law required all cruise ships, effective January 2012, to install detection systems which immediately notify the bridge when a person goes overboard. 

Regarding its article yesterday, Cruise Critic did not interview anyone at the ICV, or independent expert engineers, or the companies which have developed man overboard systems. or Coast Guard officials, or any critics of the cruise industry.

Instead, Cruise Critic interviewed only one cruise line, Carnival, and the cruise industry's trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA).  Cruise Critic did not even mention the CVSSA in the article.

The bottom line is that the cruise industry is in violation of the CVSSA. It has broken the law, and continues to break the law every time a cruise ship - without a man overboard system - sails. Cruise Critic interviewed only the law-breaking cruise industry. Unfortunately, this is the style of the Expedia-owned, cruise friendly cruise site.

In Cruise Critic's article, the cruise industry claims that man overboard systems are not reliable and that the cruise lines are working hard to develop a system. Hogwash. The technology is available, reliable and ready to be installed. The cruise industry is just dragging its feet  

Carnival says that it has been trying to development a system since 2006. That seems like nonsense too.  In 2006, Carnival and CLIA were doing everything possible to convince Congress that the systems were not necessary. They were busy then spending millions lobbying Congress to kill the man overboard legislation, not to develop a man overboard system.   

Cruise Critic also gives an explanation why its doesn't "cover" all cases of overboard passengers. I could care less whether it does or not.  But we were not talking about articles, but comments left by cruisers. I was critical of Cruise Critic's decision to censor its message boards and to delete the innocuous comments of its members who decided to mention the overboard case which the cruise line wanted to keep secret.

Princess Cruises: Why No Automatic Man Overboard Systems on the Grand Princess?

Today's news that a search is underway to rescue a crew member who apparently jumped from the Grand Princess cruise ship early this morning illustrates a continuing problem with the cruise industry.

A Coast Guard spokesperson said that there was a 2 hour delay between the crew members going overboard and notification to the Coast Guard.    

The 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2010 required, effective January 1, 2012, that cruise cruise would install automatic man overboard systems.  The legislative intent of the cruise safety act was to make certain that cruise ships had systems in place to notify them immediately when Man Overboard Systemspassengers (or crew) went overboard so that the ship would initiate immediate search and rescue procedures. 

State-of-the-art systems currently exist. When a person goes overboard, the system will send a signal to the bridge, infrared images are recorded, and the cruise ship can mark the exact coordinates of the ship. 

It was extensively debated at several Congressional hearings that "old school" technology, of pouring through hours of surveillance videos after-the-fact, is inadequate to respond reasonably to emergencies when person go into the sea. 

Right now, the cruise message boards indicate that the Grand Princess, along with the nearby Star Princess, and an unidentified cargo ship, are searching the waters some 1,000 miles out at sea from Hawaii. A C-130 Hercules aircraft, courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard, is flying the great distance to assist in the search at considerable expense.

Unfortunately, this is not unlike searching for a needle in a haystack.  

The delay and substantial expense of a tardy search & rescue could be eliminated if cruise lines complied with the cruise safety law.  Rescue efforts could be initiated immediately if the existing technology were implemented. And the chances of a successful rescue could be substantially improved as well.

Another person disappeared from the same Princess cruise ship less than two months ago. A passenger went overboard from the Grand Princess on November 13, 2013.  

In both cases, the Princess ships apparently had no overboard systems. In both cases, Princess had to eventually review the surveillance video to find out what happened. In both cases Princess announced that the person committed suicide. Having old school video doesn't count. It does not matter either that the person went overboard because of a suicide, as opposed to an accidental fall or being thrown overboard. 

Cruise lines that have not invested in the new technology because of the costs of installing the new systems are causing massive costs to the Coast Guard that U.S. taxpayers pay. They are sloughing off their legal obligations and passing the costs to all of us. 

Non-compliant cruise lines like Princess should be responsible for all costs unnecessarily incurred by the Coast Guard in cases like this.  

You can see a video of the case by a San Francisco news station here.

 

Image Credit: gCaptain

5 Overboards in 18 Days: Crew Member Missing From Grand Princess Cruise Ship

A local CBS news station in San Francisco is reporting that a 34 year-old crew member is missing from the Grand Princess cruise ship approximately 1,000 miles northeast of Hawaii.

According to the internet news report, Princess Cruises says that the man reportedly jumped overboard last night or early this morning. 

The cruise ship, owned by Carnival Corporation and operated by Princess Cruises, left San Francisco last weekend on a 15-day round-trip cruise to Hilo.

The Coast Guard in Hawaii received a call from the cruise ship around 12:20 AM. The CBS station Grand Princess quoted a Coast Guard representative saying:

“The report indicated that crew member had been missing for approximately two hours and this occurred approximately 1,000 miles northeast of Oahu, Hawaii." 

A spokeswoman for Princess later told KCBS that surveillance footage shows the crew member intentionally jumping overboard.

The Coast Guard dispatched a C-130 aircraft to fly to the area. 

The Grand Princess, together with another Princess cruise ship, the Star Princess, is searching for the man. 

CBS says that the thousands of passengers on board were confined to their cabins for a head count.

This latest overboard means that five person have gone overboard since December 10, 2013. That's 5 people in 18 days.

Passengers went overboard from the Rhapsody of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Independence of the Seas, all operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises in just eleven days. Yesterday, we posted an article about a passenger going overboard from Holland America Line's Veendam.

The fact that there was a two hour delay between the crew member going overboard and notification to the Coast Guard suggests that this Princess cruise ship did not have an automatic man overboard system as required by the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act.

In November, a woman went overboard from the Princess Grand Princess. That cruise ship also apparently did not have a man overboard system.  Princess Cruises characterized that disappearance as a suicide too. 

 

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

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Ivan T.

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."

Worst Cruise Line Headline of the Day: "Cruise Industry is Going Overboard to Make Sailing Safe for the Environment"

Today the travel section of the New York Daily News published an article entitled the Cruise Industry is Going Overboard to Make Sailing Safe for the Environment.

In light of the many recent overboard passenger cases, the title is inappropriate. After all, there have been four passengers who have gone overboard in less than three weeks. Passengers have gone overboard from the Rhapsody of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Independence of the Seas, all operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises in just eleven days. Just this morning, I posted an article about a passenger going overboard from Holland America Line's Veendam

So I clicked on the link, which goes to a puff piece by a writer for the Daily News claiming that:  

Garbage Bags Cruise Ship DumpingThe "major lines have reportedly reduced waste, garbage and other forms of pollution by nearly 50% in the past decade through a conscientious, industry-wide effort to go green."

"Conscientious, industry-wide effort to go green?"  Egads!

The last news about the cruise industry, involving environmental issues, involves a MSC cruise ship which is alleged to have recently dumped bags of garbage overboard into Brazilian waters after making a Transatlantic crossing.    

It's cruise passengers, not the cruise lines, who are going overboard. And it's the cruise industry which is treating the oceans like a garbage dump. 

Person Overboard From Holland America Line's Veendam?

HAL VeendamThis weekend we received inquiries from passengers who had been on the Holland America Line Veendam cruise ship about a passenger who apparently went overboard. Passengers indicated that the incident apparently occurred off the coast of Mexico on January 3, 2014 as the ship sailed back to San Diego. 

Here are two of the comments:

"Was on the MS Veendam (Holland America) 7-day Mexican Riviera cruise and a woman mysteriously fell or jumped off the top deck the early afternoon of day 6 (last Friday, Jan 3) off coast of Mexico (coming back to San Diego). She had to be dead (body floating face down in water), as we were sent to cabin for an hour. But no news was shared or online. Crew was working on top rail, which someone (the crew?) had disassembled even before the FBI showed up Sat morning to inspect before disembarkation. Do you have any info on this?  Strange that there hasn't been any news. Rumors were suicide, but I'm really wondering."

"On MS Veendam (HAL) (Jan. 3, 2014) when we had a man overboard called. We were ordered to our cabins but never offered an expiation as what happened. Only rumors that it was murder, suicide or accident . . . How can we find out the truth?"

Anyone with information please leave a comment below, or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Update: Why is there no information about this overboard on the internet

Photo Credit: Holland America Line via L.A. Times

MSC Cruises Complains After Caught Dumping Garbage Bags in Brazilian Waters

MSC MagnificaToday I received a link to an article in Brazil regarding the allegations of a cruise passenger sailing on a MSC cruise ship (The MSC Magnifica) that the crew members were dumping garbage bags into Brazilian waters.

A local blogger in Brazil posted the embarrassing news and MSC, in turn, complained to its public relations firm. You can see the email (in Portugese) from MSC below ("Indeed, we have problems . . .")

It is interesting to read the comments to the article complaining about the cruise ship dumping. The Brazilians complained of being treating like its waters are a dumping zone for the cruise world's garbage. 

We posted the story about the MSC dumping before on our blog, Facebook and Twitter. The story has received some publicity in the U.S. but not as much as the story deserves, considering the stark discrepancy between MSC's image of being environmentally sensitive and the apparent reality that it may dump bags of garbage at sea in the darkness of night. 

The incident demonstrates that much cruise line talk about protecting the environment is just for PR purposes. The reality on cruise ships is much different. 

The blog article has a video of the dumping which you can see at the bottom: 

MSC Cruises Dumping Garbage

 

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

 

A Cruise Passenger's Perspective: Local Newspapers in Nassau, Bahamas Paint Grim Image of Armed Robberies & Murders

On Friday, I published an article regarding whether travel agents and cruise lines are warning passengers about the high rate of violent crime in Nassau. My article followed an article in the Tribune newspaper in Nassau reporting on the cruise industry's concern with crime against its passengers and crew members, as well as the U.S. State Department warning of the risk to tourists of armed robbery. 

My impression is that whereas Carnival is warning its passengers of high crime ashore in Nassau, the other cruise lines are not. And while some travel agents are transparent with their clients and tell them the sad news about Nassau, many have a cavalier attitude of "crime happens everywhere" or "nothing Nassau Bahamas Crimehas happened to me there" type of approach.

The article - Is Your Travel Agent or Cruise Line Warning You of Crime in the Bahamas? - also hit a nerve with the residents of the Bahamas. In comments to my article, I received two reactions from the Bahamas community. One sentiment was "yes, its dangerous here." The other reaction was a mixture of denial and strange patriotism "no, don't malign my country, Miami is more dangerous."

But the truth is that Nassau is more dangerous than Miami, New York, or Los Angeles, and does not compare well to even Detroit which is the murder capital of the U.S. In terms of armed robberies and murders, a U.S. citizen cannot travel to a more dangerous city in the U.S. compared to Nassau. And unlike these U.S. cities, Nassau is dependent on tourists arriving by cruise ship. The Miami-based cruise lines are finally talking about pulling out of Nassau if such high crime affecting their guests doesn't improve.   

The Bahamas used to advertise that "it's better in the Bahamas." I don't know if it does anymore. A more accurate description would be "it's more dangerous in the Bahamas."

Perhaps some of the remote islands of the Bahamas are safer, but that's not where the cruise lines unload thousands of people a day.

Last month, the Acting Prime Minister of the Bahamas was the victim of armed robbery (see photos on our Facebook page here).  Earlier this year, a 74 year-old female U.S. diplomat was the victim of an armed robbery on a Sunday morning downtown Nassau while walking to church. A few months ago, we wrote about the open letter to the Tribune newspaper about crime penned by Bahamian Senator Bostwick who talked about "regular random robbery of tourists."   

Many in the Bahamas dependent on the U.S. dollars of the cruise passengers say that violence finds only those tourists who "go over the hill" looking for drugs or sex. Similarly, many U.S. travel agents tell their clients that everything will be fine if you stick with the other passengers in the cruise approved excursions ashore.

But I will always think of the Bahamas as the only place where armed robbers have targeted cruise passengers to rob in bulk on multiple occassions. I'm talking about the armed robbery of 11 passengers visiting the Queen's Staircase on a quiet Sunday afternoon and, a month later, the armed robbery and terrorizing of 18 cruise passengers during a cruise excursion to a nature's preserve.

I have been accused of exaggerating things. My response is don't read my blog. Read the local newspapers in Nassau - the Tribune and the Guardian.  They are filled daily with stories of violent crime. I selected ten front page headlines from the Tribune in the last month or so to post on our Facebook page. Here are a few recent headlines:

"Man shot down in street," "7 shot, 1 killed at peace party," Murder count over 2012 total," and "Four dead in 36 hours of violence." The headlines go on and on.

You can see the articles from the Tribune here.

I doubt any cruise lines or travel agents want any of their customers to read these articles when deciding their cruise itinerary.  

Noro Virus on the Sun Princess?

This evening we received an email from a passenger on the Sun Princess cruise ship stating that the cruise ship is experiencing an outbreak of what is described as norovirus which is diminishing the cruise experience of the passengers. 

The primary complaint seems to be that the cruise line allegedly knew about the noro outbreak but did not tell the passengers until after the ship sailed. Earlier, on December 26th, we previously posted comments about noro virus on the Sun Princess.  Here's what we received this evening:

"The Sun Princess is again out in the South Pacific with about 2,000 "Guests," all of whom were boarded without advice that the ship was sailing at 'RED ALERT' levels for the NORO virus raging in the vessel. The company is clever at preserving their profits at the risk of passenger health in not advising passengers of the outbreaks until well out on the ocean.

Holiday pleasures diminished, no condiments on tables, no self-service buffers, constant urgings to use expensive bottled water, very expensive medical centre visits, confined to cabins etc. etc. etc This concealment of health risks is deeply concerning and must be addressed by the industry at large right now."

We have written hundreds of articles over the years about noro virus and how the cruise line handle (and don't handle) the outbreaks. The cruise lines always blame the passengers for not not washing their hands, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have concluded that the most common causative factor is contaminated food and water.

Irrespective of what side you are on in this debate, there are a couple of things that everyone should agree on.

First, there is not enough time during turn-around day for the cruise ships to be adequately cleaned. There is not even enough time to figure out from an epidemiology perspective where the virus came from.  All of the spraying and wiping and fogging are pointless if the water or food are contaminated with the virus. But the cruise lines pressure the crew to madly try and super-clean the ship when it returns at the end of the cruise. 

Secondly, if the cruise line knows that there is a viral outbreak, it should be required to tell the passengers before they embark on the ship. Passengers should not be forced to sail on sick ships.

I for one would hate to take my family into a cabin where just a few hours earlier a sick family was power-puking millions of microbes of noro pathogens everywhere.

Update: Statement by Princess Cruises. Princess provided a statement which reads in its entirety as follows:

"Sun Princess experienced an outbreak of AGE on the prior voyage, however the cause (now known to be Norovirus) was not confirmed until the next voyage began.

During both voyages, the ship increased sanitation procedures, announcements were made by the captain, and letters were distributed to all passengers advising of the situation onboard. We also received verification from New South Wales Health that they were happy with the ship's actions and response." 
 

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

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Lemeki Lenoa

Death & Lawlessness? or the Best Vacation Possible? Australian Newspaper Explores Conflicting Views of Cruising

Cruise Line StoriesA newspaper in Australia presents two sides of the cruise industry today. 

The main article is entitled: Death, Assaults, lawlessness ... the Dark Side of the Cruise Industry. It's a must read article for everyone interested in the historical view of the problems which continue to plague the cruise industry: missing passengers, excessive alcohol, drugs and sexual assault of minors.

At the other end of the spectrum is the cruise friendly piece: 11 Reasons Why a Cruise is a Safe Holiday. If you love cruising and think its the best thing since sliced bread, this article is for you. 

Have a thought? Please join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Ominous End of 2013 & Beginning of 2014 for Cruise Industry

I returned from a New Year's party last night feeling euphoric to be with my family at the start of 2014. Before heading to sleep, I turned on my laptop and clicked on Google news, only to read the dreadful account of a cruise passenger disappearing from the Independence of the Seas.  

This is the third case of a passengers going overboard from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in just 11 days. First, an overboard passenger from the Rhapsody of the Seas in Australia, then an overboard from the Adventure of the Seas heading to San Juan, and now a disappearance from the Independence of the Seas sailing to the Caymans.

Royal Caribbean says the latest disappearance, like the first, is a mystery. Why the mystery? Because Cruise Line Omenthe cruise line did not bother to install a man overboard system on its cruise ships. Royal Caribbean's CCTV cameras (which are not monitored by the cruise line anyway) did not record what happened either, at least that is what the cruise line is saying. 

So we begin 2014 like we have begun decades of other New Years, with cruise ship passengers disappearing without a trace on the high seas. The families of the missing are left with trying to figure out why their spouse or children went overboard. All the cruise ships have extensive surveillance systems in their casinos because the cruise lines value their casino chips and don't want their money to disappear. You can't say that about their guests.

In 2010, President Obama signed the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act (CVSSA) into law. It required, among other things, that cruise ships be equipped with automatic man overboard systems to capture images of overboard persons and/or send an automatic alarm signal to the bridge. This system has been extensively discussed and debated before our U.S. Congress and was enacted into law to become effective on January 1, 2012. 

The purpose of the legislation was to require the cruise lines to implement systems to automatically detect when a person goes overboard so that immediate search and rescue efforts could save lives, regardless of whether the person going overboard was the result of an accident, negligence, intoxication, foul-play or a suicide.

But Royal Caribbean has refused to implement any type of system. There are all types of apologists for the cruise lines out there, like the cruise industry's trade organization the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).  "The technology doesn't exist" (a lie) is one excuse. "We are working on it" is another excuse, from the cruise industry's gigantic book of endless excuses.

But at least one cruise line, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), has installed such systems successfully.

2014 could have started with a happy story of a successful rescue of the passenger from the Independence of the Seas due to Royal Caribbean's installation of an automatic man overboard system. But instead we start the year where we began it. It's business-a- usual with the cruise lines just shrugging off the latest death as a mystery. 18 people have gone overboard last year.  The number will only increase and the mysteries will continue as the cruise industry continues to violate the CVSSA. 

There are other ominous developments indicating that the disastrous effects of last year will continue into 2014. 

Two days ago we mentioned an explosion which seriously injured 3 crew members on the MSC Orchestra. We also reported on a passengers alleging that another MSC cruise ship was throwing bags of garbage off the ship at night into the waters near a marine sanctuary off the coast of Brazil. He video-taped the dumping. For an industry which promotes itself as stewards of the environment and the safest form of transportation, these events showed that things are not as the cruise lines want you to believe. The stories should have been extensively reported and discussed within the cruise and maritime communities.

But in truth, the community of cruise fans, travel agents, cruise-friendly bloggers and the cruise industry public relations departments don't want these type of negative stories revealed to the public. It's bad for business. None of what I consider to be the top cruise bloggers would publish these stories. 

The end of this year also saw evidence that Carnival knew that it had major problems with the engine systems on the Triumph and other ships, but it sailed nonetheless at great risk to its customers. Many cruise bloggers and travel writers instinctively rallied behind the cruise industry although the evidence of Carnival's guilt was overwhelming.

I wish that I felt optimistic about what lies ahead for the cruising public this year. But the cruise lines are showing signs that they have not learned a whole lot from the sad events of 2013. The recent stories are omens of more bad things ahead for the cruise lines.     

   

Definition of "ominous:" Suggesting that something bad is going to happen in the future; being or exhibiting an omen; foreboding or foreshadowing evil. 

Have the cruise lines learned anything from 2013? Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Armed Robbery of Jewelry Store in Cayman Islands While 5 Cruise Ships Visit

Cayman 27 reports that three armed men robbed a jewelry store in downtown George Town, Cayman Islands this morning. It was initially reported that shots were fired during the robbery although no one was injured. The local newspaper now indicates that the local police deny that shots were fired. 

The armed robbery occurred while five cruise ships, with over 14,000 passengers, were in port. 

The Cayman 27's report indicates that the jewelry heist occurred at Diamonds International, which Diamonds International Cayman Islandsis located across the street from the cruise terminal.

The island's police commissioner reportedly drove his vehicle into the robbers’ getaway car.

Taxi and tour operators were involved in chasing and apprehending the robbers. A tour operator broke his arm during the chase.

The robbery occurred when cruise passengers were in port. The Cayman 27 article has photographs of the robbers, crashed cars and one of the guns involved in the robbery. It also has a photo of tourists with cameras around their necks at the scene.  

Crime in the Caribbean islands is an issue which we discuss regularly on this blog. Crime in ports of call in the Caribbean is increasing, especially in the Bahamas, Honduras and St.Thomas, although the Cayman Islands is generally not considered to be dangerous.

The U.S. Department of State states that: "the crime threat in Cayman Islands is generally considered low, although travelers should always take normal precautions when in unfamiliar surroundings. Petty theft, pick-pocketing and purse snatchings occur. A few cases involving sexual assault have been reported to the Embassy."

We have written about crime against cruise passengers in the Cayman Islands before, including the rape of a teenager from a Carnival cruise ship.

Cruise lines promote the ports of call as tropical paradises. Many passengers are lured into the world of cruise fantasies and lower their guard.

 

Photo Credit: TripAdvisor

Passenger Missing From Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas Sailing to Cayman Islands

According to news sources, a passenger is reportedly missing from the Independence of the Seas cruise ship which sailed to the Cayman Islands today. 

The missing passenger is a 65-year-old man from Canada who was reported missing by his wife, before the Royal Caribbean ship arrived at the Grand Cayman's port.

His name and hometown were not disclosed.

Independence of the SeasA search of the cruise ship and a review of closed-circuit camera footage provided no information. 

A Royal Caribbean spokesperson says that the missing man was last seen entering his room just before midnight.

You can watch a video from the Cayman's television station here.

Royal Caribbean's inability to explain what happened to its cruise guest reveals, again, that the cruise line is in violation of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act.

This law requires cruise lines to install state of the art automatic man overboard technology to detect persons going over the rails into the sea. Technology exists to detect when passengers or crew members go overboard and will record their images and send a signal to the bridge notifying the officers of the emergency in order to begin emergency rescue procedures.

Read our article: Cruise Industry Ignores Law Requiring Man-Overboard System.

Unfortunately Royal Caribbean has not implemented this system.

Two days ago, another Canadian went overboard from the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas as the cruise ship was sailing to San Juan.

Ten days ago, a passenger disappeared from the Rhapsody of the Seas in Australian waters. 

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

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Aztec06

Most Popular Article from Cruise Law News in 2013 - "What Cruise Lines Don't Want You to Know"

With 2013 ending, I've gone back over the 400 articles I have written this year to determine which one was the most popular.

The winner, by a landslide, was What Cruise Lines Don't Want You to Know.

I wrote this article in February, ten days after the Carnival Triumph became forever known as the Carnival "Poop Cruise."

A senior editor at CNN called my office and asked me to write an opinion piece for CNN. I had never written an "opinion piece" for a newspaper or major network before. I asked her exactly what she CNN Cruise Firewanted. "Easy," she said, "CNN wants your opinion about the cruise industry. Please send me your draft by noon."  

Yikes!  It was already 10:00 AM. So I closed my office door and thought for a few moments.

My thoughts came quickly: "the engines of the increasingly larger cruise ships are poorly maintained. The ships are haphazardly inspected and largely unregulated. The cruise lines pay their employees a pittance and push them as hard as they push their over-worked ships. Flag states like the Bahamas will look the other way when things go wrong. Triumph disasters will continue," I thought. So I started typing as quickly as I could. 

That afternoon, CNN posted my thoughts in an article entitled  "What Cruise Lines Don't Want You to Know." The title was CNN's idea. But It is a variation of my blog's motto: "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."  

The article quickly went viral with over 13,000 Facebook likes and 2,000 comments. The cruise industry complained bitterly to CNN and demanded an opportunity to write an article in response. A CLIA hack wrote an article entitled "A Cruise is a Safe and Healthy VacationIt was a laugher. Only 27 people left comments, mostly mocking the cruise industry's out-of-touch message.  

As we all know now, the next 10 months brought a steady stream of ship fires, disabled cruise ships, over-worked and under-paid crew members, and flag states like the Bahamas assisting the cruise lines rather than the victim when crew members sexually abuse children.

The cruise industry's promises of a "safe, secure and healthy" cruise were belied by a disastrous safety record for 2013. CLIA's assertion that fires and disabled ships are "rare" were contradicted by the empirical evidence that they are quite common.

Read about the top 10 most outrageous cruise ship stories for 2013 here.

There's a reason why the cruise lines have drafted one-sided, onerous cruise tickets to exonerate themselves in the most egregious circumstances of medical malpractice by cruise ship doctors, engine failures, fires, missed ports and repeated gastrointestinal viruses.   

What should the cruising public expect realistically in 2014?

Will cruising become reasonably safe? Or will there be continued ship fires, disabled ships, and a disaster requiring a mass evacuation into the water?

I have my own thoughts about these issues. But most hard core cruise fans, travel agents, and cruise bloggers (I'll-write-a-nice-article-in-exchange-for-a-free-cruise) aren't interested in reading another "what cruise lines don't want you to know" article from me again. They are probably busy writing another "a cruise is a safe and healthy vacation" article for 2014.

 

Have a thought?  Please leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Video: MSC Cruise Ship Dumps Garbage Bags Off Coast of Brazil

A reader of Cruise Law News has informed us that a television station in Brazil just released a story about a MSC cruise ship dumping garbage bags into the sea off of the coast of Brazil. The story is based on a cruise passenger's account.You can see what appears to be blag bags being throw out of the ship from what a lower deck. The ship had sailed from Italy and the dumping seems to have occurred after the ship made its transatlantic voyage and before it arrived in Brazil.

The vídeo is in Portuguese. 

Here's the information on the YouTube site:

"O navio saiu de Gênova, na Itália. De acordo com passageiro que fez o flagrante, funcionários do navio começaram a jogar os sacos de lixo no mar quando entrou na costa brasileira. A reportagem foi exibida no SBT Brasil."

The translation: "The ship left Genoa, Italy. According to passengers, employees of the ship began to throw the trash bags in the sea when it joined the Brazilian coast. The report aired on SBT Brazil."

A news article from Brazil states that the disposal was close to the natural sanctuary of Fernando de Noronha, off the coast of Pernambuco. Here's the translation:

"A passenger on the MSC cruise, which left Genoa, Italy, captured on video the moment official liner trash bags dumped at sea. According to international standards, the waste of these vessels should be treated and separated before being dispensed. 

According to the passenger, businessman Sergio de Oliveira, the staff of the ship began to throw the trash bags in the sea when the ship entered the Brazilian coast. The man also claims that one of the sites chosen for the drop was close to the natural sanctuary of Fernando de Noronha, off the coast of Pernambuco. The businessman lodged the complaint to the prosecutor in Apucarana."

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

 

Man Overboard from the Adventure of the Seas

Adventure of the SeasEarly this morning we received an email from a cruise passenger aboard the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas alerting us that a man had gone overboard last night. We received this message:

"Man overboard Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas. Close enough to San Juan to be getting AT&T service right now. At about 8:45 - 9:00 PM, the Captain came over loudspeaker and announced that a man had "jumped" overboard. They also said they believed he was in his mid 20s. About 30 - 45 minutes later they announced the arrival of a Coast Guard helicopter. I can verify. When the announcement was made I went on deck and witnessed the ship turning around. They launched life preservers with lights attached as well as two rescue boats. There were spotlights at first and brighter ones joined later. There was talk spreading throughout the shop that people had witnessed the pulling the spotlights out of the theater or ice rink.

I wrote that at about 11 last night. We are now heading to port. Captain told us there would be a 4 hour delay and that he extended condolences to the family. No more information at this time."

There have been at least 219 persons overboard since 2000, according to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein.

Nine days ago, we reported on another passengers who disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas.

If you are on the cruise or have any information or photographs you wish to share, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Update Sunday afternoon: The AP quotes a Royal Caribbean spokesperson saying that the captain of the Adventure of the Seas stopped the ship, turned around and alerted authorities after a passenger reported seeing the person going overboard late Saturday.The cruise spokesperson said footage of the incident was also captured by the ship's cameras.  You can read updated comments here.

According to the Coast Guard said that the missing man is Canadian Tien Phuoc Nguyen, age 26, and was sailing with his family.

There is an article in a Puerto Rican newspaper suggesting that the man may have been involved in an argument with his family & under influence of alcohol, and that ship security tried to intervene prior to him going overboard.

The U.K.'s Daily Mail also covered the story.  

 

Photo Credit: Top CC-BY-SA-3.0 / Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia

Norovirus on the Oasis of the Seas?

We have been notified by several cruise passengers aboard the Oasis of the Seas that they became sick with gastrointestinal symptoms including severe nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.  

The cruise line has not disclosed how many passengers or crew experienced symptoms like this yet, and there is no indication whether the illnesses are in fact due to norovirus or some other virus.

Royal Caribbean sent passengers embarking today on the Oasis the following information:

"Hello, this is Royal Caribbean International. We would like to provide you with some important information regarding your Saturday, December 28, sailing onboard Oasis of the Seas out of Port Everglades, Florida. During the ship's last sailing, a number of guests experienced a gastrointestinal illness. We will conduct enhanced sanitizing onboard the ship and within the terminal to help prevent any illness from affecting your cruise. Therefore, your check-in and boarding will be delayed. Because space and seating in the terminal is limited, we ask that you not arrive to the port before 1:30 PM. Check in will take place between 1:30 PM and 4:00 PM. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation and we look forward to welcoming you onboard."

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

 

Photo credit: Wikipedia / Baldwin040

Top 10 Most Popular Cruise Blogs & Websites for 2013

Two years ago, I published my personal choice of what I considered to be the top cruise blogs. It was mostly a subjective choice.

This year, I started assembling the top blogs again. But I decided to rank the "top" blogs with some type of objective criteria. I chose to use the Alexa ranking system which ranks blogs and websites primarily based on popularity. No matter how attractive the website may appear or how interesting or nice the publisher may be, are people really clicking on the blog, reading a number of pages and staying on the site for a while?

Alexa assigns a numerical ranking to websites.  The most popular sites have the lowest numbers. Cruise ShipGoogle is ranked number 1, Facebook is number 2 and so forth. If you are a blogger or own a cruise website and you are ranked under 250,000, you are doing a heck of a good job. There are literally tens of millions of blogs and websites out there.

If you are interested in seeing your site's ranking, go to the Alexa website and click on the "Toolbar" link at the top to download.    

In making my top 10 list, I focused on blogs which write primarily about cruising. I excluded cruise blogs which use a sub-domain of a website such as a large newspaper. This eliminated CruiseLog, because it is published under the USA Today domain, and eliminated Captain GreyBeard because his blog is published under the domain of the newspaper giant Mirror in the U.K. 

My top blog list doesn't include the websites of the cruise lines themselves. Cruise articles which are published under general travel sites or maritime publications such as the popular Fodors, Travel Pulse, Maritime Executive or gCaptain were excluded, although I would include them all if I were listing top travel and maritime web pages.      

So with that is mind, here are the top 10 most popular cruise blogs, in reverse order. I've included the Alexa ranking as of the time of this publication.

Maritime Matters10. Maritime Matters: (510,733) If I had to pick one cruise blog to read, it would be Martin Cox's Maritime Matters. It covers the range of cruising from the christening of the ship to major casualties. It contains a historical perspective of the cruise industry. It has fantastic photographs of ships old and new, interesting stories, and fantastic articles from Peter Knego. I reviewed it before. I said that it has "the perfect balance of current cruise news coupled with fascinating historical chronicles of the cruise industry."  The best websites are not always the most popular, so I'm glad that this class act made the top 10.   

RCL Blog9. RCL Blog: (398,359) The Royal Caribbean Blog describes itself as "an unofficial fan blog written for other fans of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line."  It's a fan site so it is never critical of this cruise line which I criticize often. But it is full of articles and photographs which cruise fans will love. It covers the "deliver the wow" cruise line like a hawk. It is accepted by Google News as an official news site so you will find articles by this site about Royal Caribbean easily on Cruise Addictsinternet searches.  

8. Cruise Addicts: (308,946) I don't know a lot about the people who operate this popular site, but it has the number 8 ranking for cruise website and blogs. Its a smaller version of Cruise Critic and Cruise Mates and has the potential to become much more popular if it starts writing its own stories and begins to better utilize cruise ship photographs. I voted Cruise Addicts number 9 for my favorite cruise websites 2 years ago.   

Cruise Fever7. Cruise Fever: (295,827) Two and one-half years old, Cruise Fever provides cruise news, tips, photos, web cams, and reviews to help makes cruisers make the most of their cruise vacation. Of course it also advertises cruise deals. It is active on Twitter and has a popular Facebook page. Its popularity has risen steadily over the last couple of years.Cruise Industry News

6. Cruise Industry News: (213,488)  This is a popular website with a ton of stories about the cruise industry. Never gossipy or controversial, its strictly the facts.  Its motto is "number 1 in industry reporting." It has more of a focus on shipbuilding, business stories, industry news and less about the lighter side of cruising. It has added photos of ships and ports of call. It publishes a slick magazine called Cruise Industry News with a European feel to it. It has the worse Twitter logo possible.

CLIA5. CLIA's "Cruising. It's All about You:" (208,733) This is the official site of the Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA") and contains the blog of CLIA's CEO Chrsitine Duffy. I have called it the cruise lines' "Pravda" after the official newspaper of communist Russia. It's articles are carefully written by the cruise industry's public relations people to present a positive and completely unrealistic image of the cruise industry. Its filled with half-truths and propaganda that even Stalin would be proud of.    

Cruise Currents4. Cruise Currents: (157,757) This is the latest blog from cruise fan and cruise website prodigy Mike Faust. Two years ago when he was 15, I selected  his cruise website as one of the top cruise sites and told everyone to watch out for this fellow. Still in high school, Mike changed the name of his blog from "Mikey's Cruise Blog" to the very slick sounding and appearing "Cruise Currents." He is not even old enough to cruise by himself but he has taken the cruise community over by storm. Next year, he will CruiseMates pass Cruise Mates and me as the most popular cruise site behind Cruise Critic.   

3. Cruise Mates: (118,481) A very popular and long term cruise travel guide, community and message board somewhat like Cruise Critic but on a smaller scale. CruiseMates contains tons of information and has knowledgeable and pleasant bloggers.  Paul Motter is the face of the community.  

Cruise Law News2. Cruise Law News: (79,104) I know, its tacky to include yourself in a top 10 list. But I have an excuse. I'm a lawyer and we're suppose to have out-of-control egos aren't we? I remember when I started this blog in September 2009. I was excited to have less than 5,000 people a month read my articles. This year over 1,000,000 different people have already read well over 3,500,000 pages of our blog. Our motto is "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know." You either love us or hate us.     

1. Cruise Critic: (9,052) As I said 2 years ago, this cruise community is a real juggernaut. It has by far the most members and the most hard core cruise fans. A great place to read the messages on the Cruise Critic boards from passengers still on the cruise ship and first learn of what will eventually be covered by the major newspapers. On the down-side, it seems like the least diversified place on the planet. Its message boards often into flame wars, and a dissenting opinion is often ridiculed. The usual comment from a Cruise Critic fan left on my blog is something like "cruise ship ambulance chaser!" or "feed the lawyers to the sharks!" I love the attention (for the record sharks don't eat us out of professional courtesy). Behind Google and Facebook, Cruise Critic directs the most people to my blog on a daily basis.

Okay, that's the top 10 numerical list.  Have I left out a higher ranked cruise blog or site?  If so, please let me know.  

Season's Greetings!

 

Logo credits: The logos above are the Twitter avatars owned by the respective entities named above. 

Top 10 Most Outrageous Cruise Ship Stories of 2013 & the "Worst Cruise Line in the World" Award

Carnival Poop CruiseIt's been a long year for the cruise lines. Cruise ship fires, engine failures and other mishaps have dominated the travel news in 2013. We have written several hundreds of articles this year under our motto: "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."  

2013 has been the year of the disabled cruise ship. First, we suffered through the 24-hour-a-day CNN coverage of the infamous Carnival Triumph poop cruise. Next came the Carnival Dream, which experienced propulsion problems followed by the Carnival Legend which also experienced propulsion issues attributable to poor maintenance. Then the Carnival Elation and the Carnival-owned P&O Ventura joined the growing list of disabled/impaired cruise ships. It was only mid-March. Carnival's reputation was circling the drain!

The rest of the year saw more of the same. Problems with the Regent Seven Seas Voyager (propulsion), Carnival-owned Crown Princess (sewage), Carnival Ecstasy (propulsion), Royal Grandeur of the SeasCaribbean's Grandeur of the Seas (fire), NCL's Breakaway (loose nuts & broken welds), Royal Caribbean-owned Pullmantur's Zenith (fire causing loss of power), Bimini SuperFast (propulsion), Celebrity Millennium (propulsion), Carnival-owned Sun Princess (propulsion), Carnival-owned Royal Princess (propulsion), Carnival-owned Noordam (fire), Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas (propulsion), Carnival-owned Dawn Princess (fire), MSC Magnifica (allision), Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas (hull repair), Saga Ruby (generator break down), and Celebrity's Constellation (propulsion). 

Wow what a list, but none of the disabled ships made the top 10 list. Luckily, no one was killed or seriously injured in these mishaps.    

So what's the criteria for inclusion on the top 10 list of outrageous cruise stories you may ask? If it makes you spit on the ground, shake your head and stomp your feet in disgust, the story has a chance to make the list. I start with the least outrageous (still pretty outrageous), at number 10, and end with Rebecca Coriam - Disneythe most outrageous at number 1. 

Number 10: Disney and the Bahamas continue to refuse to cooperate with the Coriam family regarding the disappearance of their daughter Rebecca. 

In January, I wrote about a nasty tendency of the cruise industry: Stonewalling at Sea - Cruise Lines Continue to Cover Up Disappearances on the High Seas. This involved crew member Rebecca Coriam who disappeared from the Disney Wonder. Disney continues to refuse to provide meaningful information to the Coriam family about what happened to Rebecca, who was age 24 when she vanished. Although Disney's legal and security departments conducted investigations, Disney deflects questions about the mystery off to the flag state of the Bahamas. The Bahamas sent one police officer from Nassau (Officer Rolle, more about him below) to Los Angeles to conduct what everyone now agrees was a Coriam Family - DisneyMicky Mouse "investigation." The Bahamas refuses to provide information to the grieving Coriam family (photo right). Why? To avoid embarrassing Disney it seems. Watch the video

The alleged cover-up by Disney and the Bahamas is, in my view, a chilling insight into the sinister nature of the cruise industry. Disney promises a fun filled family vacation, until a crime occurs or a person goes overboard. Then the floating Magic Kingdom becomes your worst nightmare in my opinion. Undaunted, the Coriam family created an international maritime victim's website to assist other families.  

Number 9: 55 Celebrity cruise passengers robbed at gunpoint in St. Lucia.

Yes, crime and armed robbery during cruise excursions happen, although the cruise lines and travel agents hate to talk about it. Robbery at gun point of cruise passengers of their Rolexes, iPhones, cameras and cash in the Caribbean and Mexico is increasing. The cruise lines and local tourism bureaus deny it, but they're usually lying. The most dangerous port of call?  Nassau, without a doubt. St. Lucia RobberyWe've written about murder, robbery, purse snatching, and rape of tourists, in addition to the usual drug solicitations. Read a compilation of crimes against tourists here. Read this local Bahamian man's view of crime in the islands, published just today. The local police in Nassau can't even keep the teenage girls sailing from Miami safe while walking back to the ships from Senor Frogs. And this place is in charge of flag state investigations into missing persons and ship fires regarding cruise ships flying the flag of the Bahamas?      

Number 8: Royal Caribbean cuts pay, increases work, takes crew tips, and axes 100 (mostly women) employee from its corporate headquarters. 

This was a year where cruise executives' greed reached a zenith. And Royal Caribbean led the way.  It took away cash tips direct-to-the-crew, ripped off a percentage of the tips, decreased pay of officers, staff YouTube Banned Video - Royal Caribbean  & crew, increased work, and fired over a 100 (mostly women) jobs from its corporate headquarters. When a popular YouTube video "Screw the Crew" revealed the tip-snatching scam, the cruise line banned the video. No one can abuse its crew better than Royal Caribbean, except maybe Carnival (discussed below).    

Number 7: Cruise Industry ignores man overboard safety law.

In 2010, President Obama signed the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act into law. It became effective in 2012. Cruise lines are Man Overboard - Cruise Shiprequired to install state of the art technology to respond immediately to persons going overboard. The technology exists. But except for one or perhaps two cruise lines, the cruise industry refuses to comply with the law. Passengers and crew, who could be quickly rescued, die because of the cruise industry's lawlessness. The non-compliance by the non-tax paying foreign flagged cruise industry also causes the U.S. Coast Guard to spend millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars in unnecessarily-wide search and rescues which are rarely successful. Making matters worse is the cruise industry's substantial under-reporting of persons overboard. With a few million dollars spent lobbying Congress and federal agencies like the Coast Guard and the FBI, the cruise industry can do, or not do, pretty much anything it wants.   

Number 6: Breaking news - Celebrity crew member sentenced to 8 years in prison for child pornography. 

Two days ago, a Celebrity crew member was sentenced to 8 years in jail for child porn. Here's the full Celebrity Cruise Ship Crew Member - Child Pornstory. I'm tired of these perverts. In April a 15 year old boy was sexually assaulted on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas. In May, a Royal Caribbean passenger was sentenced to jail for transporting thousands of child pornography photos and videos on the Monarch of the Seas from Port Canaveral. No it's not rare. In the same month, a woman on her 17th cruise encountered a man stalking her and masterbating. She says Royal Caribbean could of cared less. Earlier this year, I wrote about Sexual Perverts & Pedophiles on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships. Some say that sexual crimes and weirdos are everywhere and such incidents are not limited to cruise ships. They're right. Don't believe the cruise lines for a second when they say their ships are super safe. Lesson to be learned: Watch your kids. 

Number 5: Cruise industry teams up with retired Coast Guard officials and uses official Coast Guard logo to sell cruises. 

What do you do when you are a Rear-Admiral and ready to retire? Go into business with the cruise industry as a consultant. Write editorials praising the cruise lines. Leave glowing comments whenever Coast Guard Consultants for Cruise IndustryCLIA CEO Christine Duffy writes an article praising the cruise lines. When cruise ships begin to ignite to the right and left of you, tell the public that cruising is the safest and most regulated form of transportation. Be sure to say that you and your family love to cruise all of the time.  Use photos of yourself still wearing your uniform and medals. Use the official logo of your former federal agency you no longer work for. No one will know the difference. But whatever you do, don't admit that you work for CLIA. Don't explain that the Splendor and the Triumph cruise ships both caught on fire the day or two after the so-called "rigorous" Coast Guard inspections.  

Don't worry that the Coast Guard will protest your unauthorized use of federal uniforms and official logos. That's because everyone at the Coast Guard will eventually end up working for the cruise lines too.   

Number 4: Carnival fleeces its crew members and insulates itself from liability.

Carnival's outrageous conduct this year has not been limited to the Triumph poop cruise. It terminated Micky Arison - Carnivalits crew members' retirement program leaving many of its crew, particularly its loyal Filipinos, feeling betrayed. Its brands dipped into the crew's tips. The crew can't protest, because they will be fired and black-balled.  Carnival has spent millions lobbying Congress for favorable legislation which insulates itself from legal and financial liability when crew members (as well as passengers) are seriously injured or killed on its cruise ships. Carnival's brands, like Princess, also over-work their crew and subject them to grueling hours. Carnival pays no U.S. taxes.

Meanwhile Carnival Chairman Micky Arison is the richest person in Florida worth over $5,000,000,000. 

Number 3: Royal Caribbean ship doctor evades jurisdiction after allegedly maiming an ill passenger. 

A ship doctor employed on Oasis of the Seas allegedly commits gross malpractice on an ill passenger leading to sepsis, Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Doctormultiple organ failure and cerebral hemorrhage. Think that the cruise line will be responsible for the doctors who are officers on the ship, wear cruise line uniforms and work in the cruise ship infirmaries? Think again. The cruise line and the doctor reportedly tell the patient that its impossible to arrange for a medevac helicopter from the Coast Guard. They neglect the poor woman and cruise on to Mexico. This case makes me sick.

Number 2: Silver Shadow fails sanitation inspection after caught hiding trolleys of meat, fish, ham, and cheese in crew quarters.  

We always knew that cruise lines played hide-the-ball games with the USPH inspectors, but haughty Silversea Cruises was particularly good at it. Crew members complained to us about the hide-the-food-from-the-inspectors games so we wrote to Silversea for an explanation. It ignored Silversea Cruises USPH Violationus. So we wrote about it. Silversea ignored us again. So we wrote about it again and posted photographs. Then we pitched the story to CNN which broadcast the disgusting story to a national audience in a well produced video.

For a high-brow cruise line to be both reckless and arrogant is a bad combination.

Number 1: Disney sails a crime scene and sexual predator out of a U.S. port to Nassau and flys the pervert employee home to India.

A 33 year old waiter from India brazenly follows an 11 year old girl out of the dining room and into an elevator where he kisses the child and gropes her breast. The little girl tells her grandmother who immediately reports the crime to ship security. But Disney doesn't promptly report it to the local port police in Port Canaveral, or the Brevard County police or sheriff's office, or the FBI.  Disney instead sails the ship, and the assailant and the crime scene, out of U.S. waters to Nassau, Bahamas. Even though the Bahamas is the flag state for the Disney Dream and is required to investigate crimes on Bahamian-flagged ships, Disney Cruise Line - Pervert Crew Memberthe Bahamas declines to make an arrest or prosecute. Law enforcement and prosecutors back in Florida are outraged. Disney says it did nothing wrong. You can read articles, see photos and watch video about the incident here, here, here, here, and here

Who was the police officer in Nassau who let the criminal go free? No one other than Officer Rolle. Remember him? He was responsible for botching the investigation into the disappearance of Disney crew member Rebecca Coriam who we mentioned in outrageous moment number 10 (above). What a fellow. He hides his report from the grieving family about a Disney employee lost at sea and lets the Disney child pervert go free. Yes, its a small and nasty little cruise world, isn't it?

Worst Cruise Line in the Word:

If your child vanishes on the high seas or is assaulted during a cruise, the cruise lines may be your worst enemy. They may help the assailant escape justice. They certainly don't think that they have any Disney Cruise Line - Worst Cruise Line in the Worldobligation to release any information to you. Disney hides behind the foreign-flag scheme of the indifferent and incompetent Bahamas. Disney, it seems to me, is complicit in the conspiracy to deceive the public. It's a dishonest, secretive, and rotten system.

Who gets the trophy for the "Worst Cruise Line in the World" for 2013? Disney and its magical cruise ships. Carnival may have dominated the popular cruise news with its endless poop cruise, but no one comes close to the outrageous conduct demonstrated by Disney this year. 

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

 

Photo credits: Grandeur of the Seas - abcactionnews.com; Coriam family - Daiy Mail; cruise passengers robbed in St. Lucia - DBS TV St. Lucia via the Times; Carnival Chairman Micky Arison - Forbes; man overboard - CruelKev2's blog; retired Coast Guard official - Travel Weekly and Darley Consulting; Royal Caribbean ship doctor - LinkedIn; Disney - WKMG Local 6 Orlando.

Poop Cruise Reveals Shortcomings of Port and Flag State Inspections

Cruise fan sites rushed to Carnival's defense following the CNN special on the Triumph fire.

CNN cited maintenance records and advisory notices showing one of the generators on the cruise ship was poorly maintained and lacked the recommended spray guards to prevent ruptured fuel lines from igniting. The documents revealed a ship not in compliance with the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) recommendations from the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

But cruise fan sites, primarily Cruise Critic and the increasingly popular Cruise Currents (formerly Mikey's Blog), cited documents which Carnival leaked to the press suggesting that the cruise line was in compliance with SOLAS. 

Carnival Splendor Fire You can see documents provided to cruise-friendly Cruise Currents here.

Cruise Critic quoted Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen saying that the U.S. Coast Guard inspected the Carnival Triumph days before the February 7th sailing and allegedly found it to be in compliance with all SOLAS requirements.

"The ship would not be allowed to sail if it were not in compliance with SOLAS requirements," Gulliksen said.

But this is where Carnival's argument falls apart.

The Coast Guard also inspected the Carnival Splendor a few days before it caught fire in November 2010. Remember a U.S. aircraft carrier had to sail to the scene and drop food from helicopters to the stranded passengers? The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard spent millions attending to the sticken ship before it was towed back to the U.S.  

Does the fact that the Coast Guard inspected the Splendor and permitted it to sail mean that the cruise ship was seaworthy and in compliance with SOLAS? Hardly. The Coast Guard investigated the Splendor and prepared a scathing report of its many SOLAS violations and deficiencies.

One of the Carnival ship's large diesel engines sustained a catastrophic failure with the rods and pistons cracking and exploding out of the engine which permitted lube oil and fuel oil to ignite. The post-fire investigation conducted by the Coast Guard revealed that the pistons sustained long term metal fatigue which was not checked due to an absence of appropriate maintenance and record keeping by Carnival. Other parts of the engine showed severe, advanced corrosion reflective of an absence of regular inspection and maintenance. 

Although the Coast Guard was critical of Carnival's neglect in inspecting and maintaining the engine which failed, it should be pointed out that the Coast Guard conducted an annual Control Verification Exam on November 7, 2010 and passed the vessel. What an embarrassment for the Coast Guard to have inspected the cruise ship right before the fire and permitted it to sail with passengers.

The root of the problems with the Splendor and the Triumph is that the inspections conducted by the flag and port states of these poorly maintained ships were inadequate.

The port state (where the ship is registered, like Panama or the Bahamas) is indifferent and incompetent. The reason why foreign corporations like Carnival flag their ships like the Triumph in places like the Bahamas is that it knows that the Bahamas will leave it alone. The business model of the Carnival's of the world is to avoid all U.S.taxes, wage and labor laws, and health and safety laws. A poop cruise is the result.

Yes, the U.S. Coast Guard conducts inspections sometimes when the cruise ships are in U.S. ports, but these "port state" inspections are hardly vigorous. The Coast Guard is facing a budgetary crisis and is grossly under-funded. They need a small army to perform a thorough inspection during the short time a single cruise ship is in a U.S. port. There are sometimes nearly a dozen ships in port over a weekend. The ships are huge of course. Coast Guard inspections are skimpy and are at the opposite end of the spectrum compared to the rigorous Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspections.   

The cruise industry is extremely wealthy, but the cruise lines don't pay U.S. income taxes. There is simply not enough money in the U.S. budget to hire a sufficient number of Coast Guard inspectors to check on the every-increasingly large fleet of cruise ships.

As matters now stand, the U.S. spends many millions for Coast Guard and Navy services when the foreign-flagged cruise ships break down due to a lack of maintenance.

 

Photo Credit: cntraveler.com

Man Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas

We have been notified from readers of Cruise Law News that a passenger has gone overboard from the Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas.

The cruise ship was reportedly 550 kilometres east of Brisbane on a trip from Sydney to the South Pacific.

The P&O's Pacific Pearl cruise ship was involved in the recovery of the body.

We have reported often that cruise ships do not have automatic man-overboard alarms to detect passengers and crew who go overboard.

If this case, according to the local press, the man was seen falling into the sea around 2:00 AM, but he was not rescued. The cruise line claims that crew members "immediately threw life rings and marker smoke into the water, turned the ship around and launched rescue boats," but this has not been verified by a passenger on board.  

We have not yet received details from any passengers regarding exactly what happened or how the cruise ship responded.

His body was located approximately 7 and one-half hours later, at 9:30 AM. 

If you have information, photographs or video regarding this incident, please contact us.

Photos Credit: Wikipedia / Lisa LushRhapsody of the Seas 

 

Carnival Fights Losing PR Battle After Incriminating Poop Cruise Documents Surface

The coverage of the fire-stricken Triumph was brutal earlier this year. CNN aired the disgusting story of the powerless poop cruise ship adrift in the Gulf of Mexico literally 24 hours a day. Never before in the history of the televised world have the words "feces" and "urine" been broadcast so many times in such a short time period.

Carnival tried to make things right.  It reimbursed everyone completely, paid for all transportation expenses, and gave everyone a free cruise. Carnival President Cahill apologized to everyone he could find. He looked as distraught as a cruise executive could be.    

I quickly went on record saying that we would not represent anyone for the debacle because claims for Carnival Triumph Poop Cruiseinconvenience and annoyance without a physical injury are excluded by the terms of the passenger ticket and are not compensable. 

Carnival made some major changes to try and avoid this from happening again. It tried to cast its beleaguered brand in a more positive light.  

It invested some $300 million in the much needed deferred maintenance of its neglected ship.  Carnival and its brands brought in some new marketing companies and embarked on new advertising campaigns. It took the seemingly indifferent (and Miami Heat obsessed) CEO Micky Arison out of public scrutiny by hiring a new CEO. Carnival brands Princess and Holland America also reshuffled their decks to bring in new leadership.     

But then the CNN special aired Monday night. The images of the damning inspection reports and maintenance deficiencies juxtaposed with the feces and urine bio-hazard bags were devastating. Then the AP article, which further revealed the outrageous decision to risk human life by selling tickets on this fire-trap-of-a-ship, dropped on the cruise line liked an atomic bomb.

These explosive articles and videos were followed by a series of shock waves from the likes of TIME magazine, the Miami Herald, and hundreds of AP associated newspapers across the country.

Carnival tried to fight back. But it could find only a couple of cruise line fan publications, like their friends at Cruise Critic, to present a contrary view in fluff articles. But this only made matters worse. Cruise Critic quoted a PR crisis manager saying: "Exceeding the manufacturer's suggested time between overhaul does not implicate safety concerns with the engines." (Every lawyer who sues Carnival saved that quote for future use.)

Today a cruise travel agency publication quoted Carnival saying that the allegations in the CNN and AP stories were "frivolous." But no one was listening. The damage had already been done. The CNN images told the story. Carnival's excuses seemed flimsy and contrived. The cruise line sounded bitter, desperate and ultimately unbelievable.   

Where did all of the goodwill generated by the $300 million improvements, the new advertising and the new leadership go?

Behind the scenes, Carnival decided not to try and settle the many hundreds of lawsuits and claims filed (notwithstanding my opinion) by the aggrieved passengers who were not satisfied by reimbursements and free cruises. They are pissed off, and rightfully so, because they believe that Carnival played Russian roulette with their lives, as the CNN special seems to reveal.

Why is Carnival in this spot? It decided not to pay a penny to their guests in compensation and instructed their defense firms to vigorously defend the claims. Millions to the wealthy defense lawyers but not a penny more to the cruise guests.

So the lawyers for the passengers press forward. In the process, the documents revealing the truth are handed off by the lawyers for the passengers to the producers at CNN and the AP reporters.

More damaging documents will follow. These documents will show a pattern of neglect of the cruise ship and pressure to keep the cruise operating 24 hour hours a day, risking passenger and crew member lives.

Whatever eventually happens with the lawsuits seems irrelevant to me. The "Poop Cruise" PR debacle continues. And notwithstanding free cruises, new marketing, and fresh faces in management, Carnival's reputation remains in the pooper. 

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

Carnival Triumph Cruise ShipReeling from a CNN special report indicating that it delayed maintaining the diesel engines and fuel lines in the Triumph and other cruise ships, Carnival was hit last night with an article published by the Associated Press stating that the cruise line knew that the Triumph was a fire trap but it took chances with its passengers' lives.

In the article titled Suit: Fire Risk Known Before Carnival Ship Sailed, the AP cited deposition testimony from the Triumph's captain admitting that Carnival had known about the fuel leak problem since March of 2012, a year before the fire. The captain stated that spray guards, a makeshift measure to deal with leaky fuel lines, were partially installed on the cruise ship but not on the engine which caught fire.

The CNN program and the AP article paint a grim image of a ship with a neglected engine room, in violation of the International Maritime Organization's Safety of Life at Sea recommendations, which was ready to ignite with 4,000 souls aboard.

According to the AP, Houston lawyer Frank Spagnoletti characterized Carnival as reckless: "It was unbelievable to me that you would take 4,000 people and put them in a situation of basically Russian roulette. Basically every time that vessel went out they never knew whether they were going to have a fire or not."

Responding to these allegations yesterday, Carnival played dumb and denied everything. The AP quoted Carnival saying: "The leak in the flexible fuel hose was a completely unexpected accident that took place. What ignited the fuel is unknown." Carnival called the spray guards a "best practice."

Carnival may be trying to distance itself from the negative press surrounding the Triumph debacle (and the Concordia disaster before that), but denials and flimsy excuses like these demonstrate that the cruise line's reputation seems as poorly maintained as its cruise ships.

 

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

Phto Credit: Telegraph.co.uk

Celebrity Constellation Suffers Engine Problems in Key West

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrity Constellation Cruise Ship

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Megadri

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

Triumph Cruise Ship FireAnderson Cooper aired a short special last night on his program AC360.

Over and over again, Carnival engineers indicated on their Triumph inspection reports and maintenance records that one of the ship's diesel generators was way past due for maintenance. The cruise ship was out of compliance with the IMO's Safety of Life at Sea requirements.

Carnival irresponsibly delayed and deferred maintenance and overhaul of the diesel engine. 

The program indicates that the Triumph had a dangerous propensity for a fire problem but Carnival neglected the engines and then set sail anyway. CNN said that the fire was a disaster waiting to happen and the cruise line risked the passengers' lives and well being.   

The problem could be traced back for over a year to a "dangerous pattern" of fuel line leaks on other ships, including the Carnival owned Costa Allegra which previously erupted in fire.

This fire, which disabled the Allegra, fore-shadowed the Triumph fire. There were reportedly nine instances of fuel leaks from flexible fuel hoses throughout Carnival's fleet. The cruise line was recommending the installation of spray shields on some but not all of its ships to protect the flanges Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship Fireand hoses from leaking fuel on hot spots which would ignite.

The hose which was not shielded on the Triumph sprayed fuel which ignited the fire. This was foreseeable and preventable. 

The documents were produced by Carnival in a lawsuit filed by a lawyer in Houston.

Carnival is defending the lawsuit by saying that no one was physically injured. Plus it claims that the cruise line offers no promise of a safe trip and passengers have no right to sue for unsafe or unsanitary conditions during the cruise.

Carnival also says that it is spending 300 million dollars to make improvements and prevent fires.

The images are from the CNN special. You can see additional photographs on our Facebook page

Watch the video below. 

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

Carnival Fascination Cruise Ship MedevacThe last two days have been busy for the U.S. Coast Guard medevacing ill passengers from cruise ships.

The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an 87-year-old woman from the Norwegian Breakaway cruise ship off the coast of Ocracoke, North Carolina yesterday. 

The NCL cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard yesterday shortly before noon regarding an elderly passenger who required unspecified medical assistance.

A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter flew to the cruise ship from Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

The cruise ship was approximately 38 miles off the coast. the helicopter crew hoisted the woman aboard the helicopter and flew her to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, North Carolina. 

  

The second medevac involved the Coast Guard hoisting a woman from the Carnival Fascination cruise ship. The Coast Guard in Miami said that the Carnival cruise ship contacted it after a woman was showing signs of cardiac arrest on Sunday night.

The ship was approximately 38 miles offshore from St. Lucie County. 

The Coast Guard helicopter flew the woman to Broward General Hospital where she was reportedly in stable condition.  

 

 

 

Season's Greetings?

We have a tradition of decorating our Christmas tree a week before Christmas.

We had a nice night tonight. Johnny Mathis singing his favorite songs of the season. Rum and egg-nog. We listened to the music as we decorated the Christmas tree.

My mother-in-law gave me a little Carnival cruise ship decoration for the tree. I assigned an elf to sit on it.

I'm afraid it will catch my tree on fire . . .

Cruise Christmas

 

"Old Bag of Bolts" Ruby Saga Breaks Down in Canary Islands

Last week, I received a tip about the Saga Ruby cruise ship (ex - Vistafjord), which is on her last cruise for Saga to the Caribbean from Southampton, that the ship is stranded in Canary Islands due to generator problems.

I had mentioned that the old cruise ship is already apparently sold to Chinese investors and is under International Shipping Partner management. 

The following day, Cruise Critic carried the story which contained what I thought was some rather interesting information. 

Cruise Critic confirmed that there as a "faulty generator" affecting the ship's air conditioning system.

Rather than try and sail over to the Caribbean, Saga announced that the cruise ship will sail in the Mediterranean, where it can operate without air conditioning. 

Cruise Critic quoted a Saga spokesperson, "It was discovered that one of the six generators could not operate properly without a part that needed to be manufactured." Because the air conditioning needs to run at full capacity in the Caribbean, "The Captain decided that for passenger comfort, it would be better to change the itinerary."

That's interesting, a busted generator and they are not even going to spend the money to fix it. 

Of the 557 passengers onboard, around 30 returned to the U.K. and will receive a full refund. Those remaining onboard will receive a 40-percent refund.

As we previously reported, the cruise, which departed from Southampton on December 7th, is the ship's last sailing. 

Saga promised a wonderful time for the passengers who remained.

One knowledgeable maritime expert commented on the situation on my Facebook page: "Good God . . . is this thing still running??? I piloted her 20 years ago and thought she was an old bag of bolts back then. Truly revealing how some owners will literally milk the death out of a ship until she earns her last penny!"  

Saga Ruby

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Holger.Ellgaard

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Carnival Victory

Carnival Victory Cruise Ship ABC News reports that a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter (MH-60) and aircraft (C-130) were dispatched from Clearwater Florida in response to an emergency request from the Carnival's Victory cruise ship this morning.

The cruise ship was reportedly near Cuba at the time of the call.

Cruise passenger Herman Lebron, age 88, was suffering from internal injuries and needed evacuation. 

Mr. Lebron was flown to Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West, Florida.

His current medical condition is unknown.

You can see the video of the medevac below, courtesy of  defense video and imagery distribution system.

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

Photo Credit: Carnival Victory - Wikipedia / Tomás Fano

Celebrity Cruises Kicks Elderly Couple Off Millennium Cruise Ship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 9 2013 Update:  Watch the video below: 

 

 

Photo Credit: Millinnium cruise ship - Wikipedia / Captain Tucker

Rhapsody of the Seas Delayed in South Pacific

A reader of this blog from Australia has informed us that Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas cruise ship is delayed at port in the South Pacific due to unspecified problems with the ship.

AIS tracking systems shows the cruise ship in the port of Port Vila, Efate in the Vanautu islands.

We do not see any news of the situation on line.

There is no indication of the reason for the delayed departure. 

If you are on the cruise ship and have any information to share, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Rhapsody of the Seas - Vanuatu Islands

 

Stupid Cruise Idea of the Year: Raise the Bradenton - St. Petersburg Skyway Bridge to Accommodate Gigantic Cruise Ships for Tampa

Sunshine Skyway BridgeI could not believe my eyes when I read the headline in the Bradenton Herald this morning: "Raising Sunshine Skyway Bridge Could Accommodate Jumbo Cruise Ships."

Is this some type of April Fools joke?

Apparently not. The newspaper reports that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is studying whether to raise the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in order to accommodate the newer cruise ships which can't fit under the bridge.

The FDOT is spending over $150,000 of taxpayer money to determine whether it is feasible to raise the bridge. The FDOT is also studying whether new cruise ship terminals should be constructed west of the bridge, either in St. Petersbug or Bradenton. 

A FDOT spokesperson told the Bradenton Herald: "Given the economic impact from the cruise business on the region, the FDOT wants to look into possibilities for mitigating possible future negative impacts on the loss of this cruise business in the region, including whether constructing a new terminal outside of the Skyway Bridge, or perhaps even raising the bridge, should be considered."

Of course, the FDOT also has an obligation to Florida taxpayers not to waste their money in considering silly, hair-brain ideas like this.

The Skyway bridge was re-designed after a cargo carrier slammed into it in 1980, toppling a span and killing 35 motorists. It was raised when it was re-built and can still accommodate most cruise ships today. It's a beautiful design, beautifully landscaped, and in outstanding condition.     

Raising the bridge again would probably take a couple of years. It would result in stopping all traffic on the bridge or detouring all traffic to one span.  This would be a major hassle for commuters crossing from Bradenton to St. Petesburg or from St. Pete to Bradenton.  Why should the residents of South Pinellas or North Manatee County be inconvenienced to accommodate a cruise terminal in Hillsborough county?

Plus, the project would likely cost over $500,000,000 and as much as $1,000,000,000 (billion). Spending that much money in hope of attracting more passengers from a gigantic ship is a foolhardy adventure especially considering that cities like Mobile, Houston and Norfolk spent tens of millions building new cruise terminals for the cruise lines which left them high and dry.        

The newspaper says that bridges "have been raised to accommodate ships in the past, but it is a costly and time-consuming process." The newspaper cites the Bayonne Bridge in New York which has been in the slow process of being raised for the past several years at a cost of over $740,000,000. 

You can see the Skyway bridge in photos I took last year.  

I say leave it the hell alone.  

 

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

Photo Credit: Jim Walker  /  Original story credit: Sara Kennedy, Bradenton Herald reporter, follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge 

Shell Game: No Justice for Cruise Passenger Who Suffered Sepsis, Multiple Organ Failure & Cerebral Hemorrhage Due to Alleged Misdiagnosis by Royal Caribbean Ship Doctor

The Florida Third District Court of Appeal published a ruling today which is, in a word, shameful.

The case involved allegations by a passenger who sailed on a cruise that she suffered sepsis, multiple organ failure, and a cerebral hemorrhage due to medical malpractice and misrepresentations by a doctor on a Royal Caribbean ship.

According to the allegations in the lawsuit filed in Miami, Ms. Gutierrez and her husband sailed on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas cruise ship in May 2010 from Port Everglades, Florida for a week long cruise through the Western Caribbean. Ms. Gutierrez experienced intense abdominal pain as the Royal Caribbean - Oasis of the Seas - Ship Doctor Chris Taylorcruise ship approached Labadee, Haiti. She was taken by wheelchair to the ship's medical facility. The ship doctor, Dr. Chris Taylor, diagnosed and treated her for gastritis. However, Ms. Gutierrez was actually suffering from a far more serious abdominal infection.

The lawsuit papers further alleged that Dr. Taylor and the cruise line told Ms. Gutierrez and her husband that they could not be evacuated from the vessel and taken to an on-shore hospital. In truth, emergency evacuation services could have been arranged. Ms. Gutierrez sought emergency medical assistance at the ship’s next port in Mexico where she underwent abdominal surgery. Ultimately, she suffered abdominal sepsis, multiple organ failure, and a cerebral hemorrhage.

Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean have insulated themselves from lawsuits when ship doctors maim cruise passengers by characterizing the doctors as "independent contractors" for whom they are not liable.

Most cruise passengers don't understand that the doctors wearing officer stripes and cruise line uniforms and hats who treat them in the ship infirmary are somehow not ship doctors for legal purposes. Passengers usually don't read the fine print buries in the cruise ticket and are tricked into thinking that big, beautiful cruise ships like the Oasis costing over a billion dollars must hire highly trained, educated and experienced ship employees in the infirmaries and the cruise lines must be responsible for the doctors when they make errors. We have written about this issue many times before. Read: If the Ship Doctor Kills You, Too Bad

So as matters now stand, when passengers are injured or killed due to malpractice of the doctors in the cruise ship infirmary, they can't sue the cruise line in most cases. They are left to try and seek the recovery of medical bills and other compensation from the doctors who are usually not U.S. citizens.  

In Ms. Gutierrez's case, Dr. Taylor was born in the U.K. but for the last nine years he worked on cruise ships sailing from Florida. When Dr. Taylor was sued, the cruise lines hired its usual defense lawyers to defend him. They moved to avoid the lawsuit arguing that Ms. Gutierrez could not establish that Dr. Taylor was subject to personal jurisdiction here. However, Ms. Gutierrez's lawyers did a thorough job establishing a strong connection between Dr. Taylor and the state of Florida:

  • Dr. Taylor entered into employment agreements in Florida with Florida-based cruise lines (Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines) over the course of nine years;
  • Dr. Taylor's employment agreements specified Florida as the required jurisdiction to resolve any disputes with the cruise lines; 
  • Dr. Taylor attended annual medical conferences in Florida;
  • Dr. Taylor received advanced cardiac life support certification in Florida;
  • Dr. Taylor vacationed from time to time in Florida;
  • Dr. Taylor made presentations at medical conferences in Florida;
  • Dr. Taylor maintained two bank accounts in Florida;
  • Dr. Taylor worked aboard cruise ships that embarked/disembarked at a Florida port one day a week;
  • Dr. Taylor was on duty and treated passengers and crew members while the cruise ships were in Florida waters and returning to Miami, docked in Miami, and leaving Miami, weekly, over a course of nine years; and
  • For all intents and purposes, Dr. Taylor worked and resided exclusively on a cruise ship.      

Based on these undisputed facts, the trial court ruled that the ship doctor was clearly subject to jurisdiction in Florida and could be sued in the courts in Florida.  The judge ruled that Dr. Taylor not only Oasis of the Seasintentionally played a “shell game" to thwart jurisdiction in Florida, but he engaged in a "nefarious scheme" to avoid being sued in any court. 

On appeal, in a 2-1 decision the Third District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court holding that the factors discussed above were insufficient to establish jurisdiction over Dr. Taylor.  In my view, the appellate court nitpicked the lower court's findings and ignored the continuous and substantial relationship between the ship doctor and the state of Florida.    

You can read the order here.

The result of this decision is cruise passengers' rights are further limited. This is exactly how the cruise industry wants it.

Ms. Gurierrez, a mother of young children, is left with permanent brain injury, huge medical bills and no compensation. 

Royal Caribbean may boast that its 1.2 billion dollar mega-ship Oasis of the Seas is the largest and most technologically advanced cruise ship in the world. But as far as the treatment of gravely ill guests is concerned, the cruise line is sailing in Medieval times.     

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

 

Coincidence or a sign of mischief to come? The Wall Street Journal published an article in March 2010 about the Oasis of the Seas which mentioned Dr. Taylor talking about rarely medevacing passengers back to the U.S. This was two months before Ms. Gutierrez sailed on the Oasis:

The ship has three doctors on board. It also has its own intensive care unit and can keep one person at a time on life support. Every few weeks a passenger has a heart attack so thrombolytic drugs are kept on-hand, says Chris Taylor, the ship's senior doctor.

If there's a serious illness, the ship's doctors and captain can decide to divert to a port early, but rarely is anyone airlifted back to the U.S., says Dr. Taylor, who has been a doctor on cruise ships for seven years. "Many people have the belief that the U.S. coast guard is always going to come to the rescue if there is any emergency at sea. The actual truth of the matter is that most of the time the ship is well out of range of the coast guard," he says.
  

Photo credit: Dr. Chris Taylor - LinkedIn;  Oasis of the Seas - Wikipedia / Baldwin 040. 

Yah Mon! Cruise Law Goes to Jamaica

Tomorrow the lawyers here at our firm are traveling again to Jamaica.

We'll be visiting our clients to see how they are doing. I will be meeting friends in Falmouth and will see if there has been any signs of the revitalization of the town after the new Royal Caribbean port destroyed ancient coral reefs and native mangroves to make way for the Oasis and Allure of the Seas

We will also make ourselves available to meet with any crew members who need to learn about the Injured Crew Members - Jamaica - Lawyers legal rights of cruise ship employees who become ill or injured on cruise ships. 

I will be arriving at Montego Bay tomorrow morning and I will be available to meet with crew members or their family for two days (Monday and Tuesday). I'll  be hosting a free conference at the "Jamaica No Problem Room" in the beautiful Hibiscus Lodge in Ocho Rio. The address is 83 Main Street in Ocho Rios. Please come with your questions or concerns. No fee or obligation of course.

My co-counsel Jonathan Aronson will be will me.

The photo above was from a prior visit to the famous "No Problem Room." 

If Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Celebrity, Disney or some other cruise line has treated you poorly after you were injured on the ship, or if you have medical problems like hypertension, diabetes, cancer or other illnesses which require treatment, please don't hesitate to contact me. 

And if you can't come to the clinic, no problem.  Please email me at jim@cruiselaw.com and I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have and can call you to discuss your concerns if you wish. 

Ocean Countess Cruise Ship On Fire

A Greece newspaper reports that the Ocean Countess cruise ship is on fire.

My favorite website, Maritime Matters, reports this evening:

"Majestic International’s MV OCEAN COUNTESS, completed in 1976 as CUNARD COUNTESS, is currently ablaze at Chalkis, where she has been laid up since her most recent charter to U.K.-based Cruise and Maritime Voyages. The ship was scheduled to return to cruise service in 2014 but this now looks unlikely as aerial video footage shows her superstructure fully engulfed in flames."

Do you have any information, photos, or video of the fire?

Please contact us or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Ocean Countless Fire

Photo Credit: Wikipediaca / Kalle Id

Watch the video below: 

Lawsuit Allegations: Carnival Security Guard Roughs Up 14 Year Old

Carnival Cruise Lawsuit A local news station WSVN - 7 reports on a lawsuit filed by a South Florida family after their son was allegedly beaten up by a security guard on board an unidentified Carnival cruise ship.

The lawsuit contends that a 14 year-old boy snuck into a nightclub on the cruise ship with his friends. When spotted by security, the boy ran out of the club and into a stairwell where he claims that the security guard roughed him up. He says the guard "grabs me by the shirt, slams me like really heard against the wall." 

The family's lawyer, Spencer Aronfeld, sued Carnival because the family wants the security guard fired and to prevent another family from going through a similar experience.  Aronfeld is seeking damages for what he claims are serious neurological and psychological damages suffered by the boy. 

Expect a vigorous defense by Carnival.

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

 

Photo Credit: 7 - News / WSVN

 

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

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

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

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

But just last week the Motley Fool published a chart (right) showing that Carnival's earning growth has lagged substantially behind competitors Royal Caribbean and NCL ever since the Concordia disaster. Its article was entitled "Not All Is Smooth Sailing for These Cruise Lines."

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

Will Donald be successful in turning things around at Carnival? He certainly is trying hard.  Under his management, Carnival invested heavily in new safety systems, terminated retirement benefits of the crew, created new marketing strategies, and reshuffled the management of Carnival and its Princess and HAL brands.

But the single most important factor, which none of the financial guru's are mentioning, is avoiding another Costa Concordia or Carnival Triumph disaster.  With the largest cruise ship fleet in the world, Carnival statistically has the greatest likelihood of something going wrong on the high seas.  There's not much the new CEO can do about that. Except say a little prayer every night before he goes to sleep, for his 100 + cruise ships.  

 

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

 

Transatlantic Cruise Turns Deadly for 87 Year Old Brazilian Passenger

Newspapers in Brazil are reporting on the recent death of a cruise passenger on a MSC cruise ship.

MSC PreziosaMercedes Lessi Raia, age 87, was cruising on the MSC Preziosa cruise ship when she sustained a fall on a set of stairs.  The ship was sailing around Europe on Tuesday, November 19, 2013. The accident is described as occurring when she was headed to the restaurant where dinner would be served. As the elevators were full, she decided to go down the stairs where she tripped, fell and struck her head. She sustained a hematoma and began to vomit. 12 hours later she died, on November 20th.

According to newspaper articles, Ms. Raia accomplished a lifelong dream of cruising through Europe with her two daughters. At the time of the accident, the cruise ship was returning to Brazil from Spain. She lived in Londrina in the state of Paraná, Brazil and spent her time divided between the city and the São Paulo coast.

Her son told reporters that this mother was a "very cheerful person, with an impressive vitality, did not look her age and still dreamed of the sea cruise to Europe."  She always said she wanted to live to be 100 years old.

Mercedes Lessi RaiaHer son commented on the accident and lamented the ship did not have medical facilities for appropriate and urgent care. Her family was critical of the cruise ship's response, stating that the ship did not attempt to arrange for an emergency medevac operation. 

MSC responded to the tragedy by claiming that the fall was caused by a pre-existing illness.

We have seen cruise lines defend themselves in situations like this when they claim that a fall and resulting death were the result of the passenger's health and not a problem with the cruise ship or inadequate shipboard medical facilities. Even if true, such disclosures by a cruise line violate a passenger's confidential medical rights.

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

 

Photo Credit: www.jb.com.br

Cruise Lines Continue to Ignore Cruise Safety Law's Requirement to Install Automatic Man-Overboard Systems

Grand Princess Cruise ShipIn the last week, there have been several articles about the cruise industry's refusal to comply with the requirements of the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act to install automatic man-overboard systems.

The spirit and intent of Congress in enacting the legislation, as expressed in several hearings in Washington D.C. which I attended over the years, was to require all cruise ships to implement system to alert the bridge when a passenger went overboard so that prompt rescue efforts could be undertaken.  

Unfortunately, the vast majority of cruise lines have not invested in the available systems.

A week ago the Miami Herald first published an article entitled "Overboard Cases on Cruise Lines Often Under-Reported to Public."   

The Huffington Post followed up with an article after a woman went overboard from a Princess Cruises ship, the Grand Princess, which apparently does not have an automatic man overboard system. The security personnel on the cruise ship were required to look through images on the cruise ship's CCTV system to look for the incident in order to confirm that the passenger went over the rail. 

Yesterday, a local South Florida NBC television station, WPTV, published an article entitled "Cruise Lines Are Slow to Implement a Man Overboard Detection System for Passengers."  It also aired the video segment below.

Our firm was mentioned in all of the articles.

Today Time magazine published an article "Cruise Industry’s Mysterious ‘Man Overboard’ Problem."

The cruise lines' refusal to comply with the law results in the U.S. Coast Guard having to deploy aircraft, helicopters and cutters over a wide search grid with the expensive and often million-dollar searches being paid for by U.S. taxpayers rather than the foreign-flagged cruise ships which pay no U.S. taxes in the first place. 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has documented over 200 person going overboard from cruise ships since 2000.  There is no question that the technology exists to automatically and instantly detect persons going overboard. 

Supporters of the cruise industry say that the percentage of overboard passengers is small compared to the total number of people going overboard.  That may be true. But the cruise industry's non-compliance with the cruise safety law ensures that the prospects of saving those overboard passengers are slim and their deaths are likely.

Watch the video below and let us know how you think how the cruise lines can be forced to comply with the law. Join the discussion on our Facebook page.  

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Ivan T.)

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

Kevin ChenaisThe international media is abuzz over the plight of a young man suffering from obesity who has been refused transportation by planes, trains and even a cruise ship in his efforts to return from the United States to his home country of France. His family claims that he was discriminated against because of his weight (500 lbs) and deemed "too fat to travel."

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

He was in the U.S. undergoing medical treatment, and ran into a wall of resistance when he tried to return home. 

British Airways first considered him too heavy to fly. Then Carnival Corporation, the owner of the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship, refused to transport him across the Atlantic. 

Virgin Atlantic stepped up to the plate and flew the young man to the United Kingdom. But the Eurostar under-sea train service refused to transport him to France, according to press reports

The train company said that Mr. Chenais posed a safety risk "to himself, our crew and all of the other passengers on board."

With the involvement of French consular staff, Mr. Chenais was transported by ambulance to Dover where he caught a ferry with the P&O Ferries company. A ferry representative said: "It's difficult to imagine the frustration that this gentleman has gone through. But for us, it's very straightforward as we are set up to carry people who have medical needs."

According to Mr. Chenais, Carnival, which rejected his request for a cabin on the trans-Atlantic voyage from the U.S., "declined to comment."

Should cruise lines, air carriers and trains be required to accommodate obese passengers under these circumstances?  

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

 

Photo Credit: Associated Press

MSC Magnifica Runs Aground in Pireaus

MSC Magnifica PiraeusA number of news sources in Greece are reporting that a MSC cruise ship ran aground (note correction below) today at the southeast Greek port of Piraeus. Greek port authorities released the information. 

There were no injuries or major damage arising from the accident with the Panama-flagged ship Magnifica, the port authorities said. Bad weather conditions were apparently a factor in the incident. 

One news account says that maritime experts are currently investigating the accident, while most of Greece continued to be swept by storms today. 

The cruise ship's bridge cam at this time (image below) shows the cruise ship docked in Piraeus with calm conditions. In addition to the Magnifica, other cruise ships at the port of Pireaus today include the Rotterdam, Ruby Princess and the Constellation.

The Magnifica was reportedly carrying 2,469 passengers and 976 crew members.

If you have any information about the grounding, please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

November 20 2013 Update: A number of readers informed me that the cruise ship allided with the left breakwater at the port of Piraeus and sustained slight damage to the portside hull above the waterline. This Greek newspaper article confirms an allision and not a grounding.  (Definition of "allision:" when a vessel strikes a fixed object; versus a "collision" when two vessel strike each other.)

You can see another photo of damage to the breakwater/pier here.

Very clear views of the damage to the breakwater and damage to the cruise ship can be seen here.

See video of the damage here.

See our additional photos of the damage to the interior of the cruise ship are here.

Photo credit top: http://www.tanea.gr/

MSC Magnifica Cruise Ship Web Cam

The "Wild West:" California Congressional Leaders Introduce New Cruise Consumer Legislation

Cruise Vessel Consumer Confidence ActA congressman and congresswoman in California have introduced proposed legislation which will provide rights to cruise passengers.

Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove CA) has introduced a bill designed to protect cruise consumers following repeated poor treatment of passengers on cruises this year. Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Sacremento) co-sponsored the bill.

The proposed new law is called the "Cruise Vessel Consumer Confidence Act." If enacted, it will grant authority to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to investigate unfair and deceptive practices by the cruise lines. The FMC can impose a maximum civil penalty of $25,000 per violation. 

The bill also requires the cruise lines to disclose complaints of crimes, incidents of overboard passengers, and gastro-intestinal illness outbreaks prior to the cruise.  

Congressman Garamendi issued a press release stating: “Reviewing the many horror stories from cruise ships in recent years, it is clear that proper oversight of the industry and consumer protections for passengers are desperately lacking. At times, it is the Wild West on the high seas . . . Consumer protection requires tough and fair regulations that hold industries accountable and responsible.”

You can read about the proposed new cruise law here.

Miami Herald Looks at Cruise Ship Overboards

Today the Miami Herald published an article entitled "Overboard Cases on Cruise Lines Often Under-Reported to Public."

What jumps out from the article is that the cruise industry, as a whole, fundamentally still lacks transparency regarding the issue of cruise ship passengers and crew members going overboard on the high seas.

Miami Herald reporter Hannah B. Sampson was seemingly unable to obtain a straight answer from the cruise lines or the cruise trade organization regarding exactly which cruise ships have implemented automatic man overboard systems with an alarm to the bridge which comply with the 2010 Cruise Cruise Safety and Security ActVessel Safety & Security Act (CVSSA), and which cruise ships have no systems or "passive" system which don't notify the bridge and are in violation of the law. The closest the reporter could come to this basic issue is obtaining a quote from a company which installs both systems stating that “a significant number” of cruise ship just use passive technology.

The bottom line inquiry is whether the cruise industry is in compliance with the CVSSA. My assessment is that the industry is largely not in compliance at all.

A Carnival spokesperson told the Miami Herald that the industry needs to be transparent and showcase the steps it takes to provide the public with the "safest and highest quality vacation experience available." But Carnival won't state what basic steps it has taken to comply with the CVSSA, 

Does a single one of the 100 plus cruise ships owned by Carnival Corporation and sailing under the flags of Costa, Cunard, Holland America Line, P&O or Princess have an alarm system which provides real time data to the bridge such that emergency rescue measures can be immediately undertaken? I have seen no evidence of that. Cruise lines like Princess are still reviewing CCTV images to try to figure out what happened. Meanwhile, the ship continues to sail on and the prospect of a successful rescue diminishes.

The proof of compliance or not, of course, is simple enough. Has a single cruise passenger or crew member been successfully rescued after an automatic system has detected a person going overboard?  I have seen no evidence of that either.

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, who was quoted in the Miami Herald article, has documented 57 overboards from 2011 to the present since the 2010 safety law was enacted. Not one automatic overboard system has been documented to be in use and resulted in a saved life.

Take, for example, the latest passenger going overboard from a cruise ship a few days ago. A woman in her thirties went overboard the Grand Princess north of Hawaii. There were no announcements that a CVSSA-compliance automatic system detected and immediately signaled the woman going overboard. Instead, the cruise line announced that they were able to verify another passenger's account only after reviewing images discovered during an after-the-fact review of closed circuit television (CCTV) images.

The public relations team at Princess Cruises were quick to announce that the woman "intentionally" went overboard. The media was equally quick in extrapolating that comment to mean that the woman intended to end her life via suicide. Cruise fan sites like Cruise Critic were quick to bash the woman as selfish and responsible for ruining everyone else's cruise. Lost in the blame-the-passenger PR efforts were any discussions whether Princess was in violation of the CVSSA and whether the woman could have been rescued if the cruise line had been in compliance with the cruise safety law.

It is irrelevant under the CVSSA whether the person going overboard jumped to end their life, or jumped as a plea for help, or jumped in a state of confusion while intoxicated (we received at least one comment, to our article. that the woman may have been drinking heavily), or fell, or was pushed. This is a point I mentioned recently in an article in the Huffington Post.

Three years after the CVVSA the cruise lines find themselves substantially in violation of the cruise safety law. They are still playing the game of blaming "suicidal" passengers rather than admitting that they have not invested into the new overboard technologies to try and save everyone who goes overboard for any reason.  Unfortunately, there will be no widespread compliance with the CVSSA until substantial penalties are levied against non-compliant cruise lines.

Late discovery of a missing crew member or passenger results in massive search and rescue efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard costing literally a million dollars. Cruise ships not in compliance with the CVSSA should be required to reimburse the U.S. taxpayers who are paying for the unsuccessful rescue attempts. The costs associated with one search and rescue effort would pay for an automatic system.

Yesterday a reader of Cruise Law News made these comments about the Princess passenger going overboard:

Obviously the penalties for not complying with the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act are not sufficient. If the captain of the ship and the directors of the cruise line faced manslaughter charges every time someone disappeared from a non-compliant ship, the compliance rate would rapidly approach 100%

The cruise line should also be liable for search costs, and should be required to have a suitable rescue boat/vehicle ready to go at all times. Considering the size of some of these ships, they should probably be required to have several rescue boats ready, guaranteeing a mandatory maximum response time to the overboard person.

Particularly where jurisdictional issues could prevent prosecutions, non-compliant vessels could be prohibited from operating in US waters, or the waters of any other country with similar legislation, and the promotion and sale of cruises on these vessels could also be prohibited within these countries. Whilst there would be loopholes, such as internet sales, the financial impact on these vessels should be enough to ensure rapid compliance.

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Norwegian Breakaway

The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an 81 year old man from a Norwegian Cruise Line ship off the coast off Cape Hatteras early this morning. 

The Norwegian Breakaway contacted the Coast Guard around 4 a.m. this morning to report that a passenger was suffering a heart-attack.

A Coast Guard helicopter crew responded to the ship, 55 miles southwest of Cape Hatteras, and flew the passenger to Sentara Norfolk General hospital.  

 

And The Cruise Industry Wonders Why It Has An Image Problem: NCL Screws Another Customer in Distress

David Lazarus of the LA Times writes about how Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) refused to either refund or credit the cruise fare to 66 year old David Warlick and his wife after she was diagnosed with bladder cancer and underwent emergency surgery.

In his article "Cruise Line Unmoved By Customer's Cancer Emergency," Lazarus points out that although cruise corporations are considered to be a person under the U.S. Constitution, "when called upon to demonstrate a little human decency, they almost unfailingly respond with profound corporate indifference."

NCL defended itself by saying that it has a strict cancellation policy. Moreover, NCL pointed out the Norwegian Cruise Line - Kevin Sheehancouple should have purchased insurance. But NCL had no legal obligation to screw its cancer stricken guest. From a moral perspective, it could and should have done the right thing and let the couple reschedule their cruise until a later date.

This is not the first time NCL has acted like a bad corporate citizen.

NCL refused to refund the cruise fare of a passenger whose brother died and the funeral was on the same day as the cruise. The guest notified NCL, asking for a credit on a future cruise. NCL said no. He asked for their cruise to be donated to charity (Make-A-Wish) so a child with cancer could enjoy a once in a lifetime cruise. NCL said no. Then NCL re-sold the cabin to another couple.

NCL got a double profit due to the death of a guest. Ugh.

NCL also demonstrated a lack of humanity when a grandmother, whose home was destroyed last year after being submerged by Superstorm Sandy, tried to reschedule a $4,000 cruise aboard the Norwegian Jewel for her family and grand kids. She appealed to NCL for help.

She even wrote the CEO Kevin Sheehan (above right) asking to refund the cruise or reschedule it, but the cruise line and its CEO wouldn't make an exception. NCL said absolutely no refund or rescheduling, even though the grandmother works driving special needs kids to school. This trip was going to be her first vacation ever, in 70 years.

But NCL refused to help the family and took their money. A news station says that when it approached NCL about the terrible situation, the cruise line erected a "stone wall of silence."

 

Photo Credit: prhub.com

Allure of the Seas Finally Scheduled for Dry Dock

Allure of the SeasRoyal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, will enter dry dock in the Bahamas in February 2014 to undergo repairs to its propulsion system.

The decision was finally announced after the cruise line had been under criticism for not disclosing the Allure was unable to cruise any faster than around 17 knots rather than its top of over 22 knots. 

Several newspapers are saying that the cruise ship had a problem with one of its three propulsion "pods." The ship has been arriving late and leaving early from its ports of call and cancelling some excursions.

The Allure will undergo repairs during the week of Feb. 24, 2014. The cruise scheduled for that week will be cancelled and the cruise fare refunded. 

 

Rock Star's Cruise Phobias: Ships Upside Down, Bathrooms Not Working

Match Box 20 Sail the Sea CruiseI'm a fan of Matchbox 20's lead singer Rob Thomas. You know his hits: 3:00 AM, Someday, & Smooth with Carlos Santana. Watch She's Gone with Daryl Hall, pretty amazing, best played loud.

So it was weird to watch an interview of Thomas talking about the upcoming Sail the Sea tour aboard a Carnival cruise ship to Nassau during the first part of December.

Its seems that Thomas may have watched too many hours of CNN's endless "poop cruise" coverage or he suffers from PTSD after watching the Poseidon Adventure.  Here's what he says to Fuse during an interview promoting his upcoming cruise concert:

"I was pretty scared of luxury liners on vacation. As soon as it left port, I would start having a panic attack."

He adds with a smile on his face:

"You start seeing [news] about ships turning upside down, the bathroom's not working. We're just trying to figure out an escape clause. If something happens, I'm not going to be rude, but screw everyone else on that boat. I'm getting a helicopter, getting out of there and we're going to move on with our lives . . . 

 

Video and story credit: Fuse

U.S. Woman Disappears From Grand Princess Cruise Ship

Multiple news sources are reporting that a woman is missing from the Grand Princess cruise ship.

The U.S. cruise passenger was last seen around noon. News accounts state that the crew of the Princess Cruises ship reported her missing to the U.S. Coast Guard around 1:00 PM.

The Coast Guard deployed a Hercules aircraft to search for the woman about 750 miles northeast of Hilo, Hawaii.

The Associated Press reports that Princess Cruises spokeswoman Julie Benson says that the Grand Princess Overboard Passengerpassenger intentionally went overboard.

The Coast Guard states that the woman is 30, while Princess Cruises says she is 54.

In 2010, Congress passed the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act which requires cruise ships to implement automatic man overboard systems to capture images of persons going overboard or to send notification to the bridge that someone has gone overboard.

The purpose of the law is to require cruise lines to institute immediate rescue action whether the passenger went overboard accidentally, intentionally or through foul play. Unfortunately virtually no cruise lines have implemented such technology even though automatic alert systems are available. 

The failire of cruise lines like Princess to comply with the cruise safety law results in passengers and crew members disappearing without a trace and reduces the chances of successfully searching for the person overboard. The absence of alert systems also results in the U.S. Coast Guard being called late to conduct search of large areas which is very expensive and is ultimately paid for by U.S. taxpayers. 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has documented over 200 passengers and crew members have gone overboard since 2000.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Ivan T.)

Did the Fire Suppression System on the Dawn Princess Fail?

Dawn PrincessThere has been remarkably little media coverage of the fire on the Dawn Princess cruise ship last weekend.

We were the first to report on the fire which broke out sometime after 8:00 PM Friday night as the Dawn Princess sailed  between Wellington and Napier in New Zealand.

Princess Cruises was tight lipped about what happened, stating only that a fire occurred in an electrical substation on deck six of the ship.

Other than Travel Agent Central, no newspapers or news stations in the U.S. have reported on the fire, even though U.S. citizens were aboard and the Carnival owned Princess Cruises is based in California.

An Australian newspaper, the Herald Sun, published a short article. The Herald Sun reported that crew members stated that the fire suppression system, which should have suppressed the fire, failed. That appears to explain why over 30 minutes after the fire was first reported (when the passengers were initially ordered to their cabins) the captain ordered them to their muster stations where they remained for over an hour.

A fire on the high seas is serious business.  A fire and a failed suppression system on the high seas is potentially deadly.

But there appears to be little appreciation of this danger expressed on the few social media sites discussing the incident. Regular cruisers on cruise fan sites like Cruise Critic appear more interested in praising the crew for battling the fire than having a meaningful discussion about why the fire broke out and why the fire suppression reportedly failed (assuming the Herald Sun account is correct).

Don't get me wrong. The crew members who battled the fire and risked their  lives deserve the credit. But if you really care about the crew's safety and well-being, you would demand an explanation why the automatic fire suppression system reportedly failed necessitating the heroic action by the crew.  

The cruise industry has been under scrutiny following numerous fires during the last couple of years. CNN ran a story earlier this year entitled "Spate of Fires Poses Problems for Cruise Industry." You can watch the video below.

What is troubling from my perspective is not only are there fires, but the automatic suppression systems which are suppose to put the fire out are failing. For example, the Carnival Splendor and the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas fires both involved failed suppression systems.

Regarding the high profile Splendor fire, CNN reported that "the U.S. Coast Guard said the ship's CO2 firefighting system had failed to operate correctly due to leaks, poor maintenance and component failures."

What's the explanation for the reported failure of the suppression system on the Dawn?  It is over 16 years old. Do other Princess Cruises ships have the same problem? Princess will never say, and it does not appear that the public is clamoring to find out.

For the time being, it looks like we will all remain in the dark. Perhaps when the Dawn returns to Sydney on November 15th some of the passengers and crew will have more to say.

Princess escaped scrutiny on this latest incident so far because the fire occurred on a Friday night on the other side of the world at the beginning of a three day Veteran's Day weekend when many in the U.S. newspaper and television businesses were on vacation.  It also appears that the public may well be tired of non-stop cruise-ship-bad-news.  

Luckily there were no injuries due to this latest fire. The only casualty appears to be the public's demand for an explanation regarding what went wrong on the Dawn last weekend.

  

Dry Dock Cure for Allure of the Seas?

Tom Stieghorst of Travel Weekly reports that Royal Caribbean may send the Allure of the Seas, which has been plagued by problems with its propulsion system, to an early drydock in order to fix the problem.

The article says the scheduled drydock is not until in 2015, but the cruise line may take the giant ship out of service earlier.

Travel Weekly quotes cruise chairman Richard Rain as the source of the information. 

Allure of the SeasRoyal Caribbean has been criticized for not being transparent in telling the public of the problem before cruising. Passengers aboard the Allure began noticing that the cruise ship was shortening its stay in Nassau and then arriving late in St. Thomas. Some excursions have been cancelled.

USA TODAY also weighs in on the issue with its article "World's Largest Cruise Ship May Need Repairs." The newspaper explains that the Allure is just the latest in a series of ships that have experienced problems with pod propulsion systems. Three months ago, sister cruise line Celebrity Cruises' Millennium suffered a pod problem resulting in the cancellation of several cruises. 

We have been contacted by cruisers who are booked on the Allure over the next several months, wondering whether the propulsion problems will be fixed by the time of their cruise.  

This news will create only more speculation and worry, as it now seems probable that the Allure will be taken out of service for a week or two sometime in the next few months. Exactly when is anyone's guess.   

 

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia (Daniel Christensen)

Passenger Account: Fire Aboard the Dawn Princess

This weekend, Cruise Law News received information that on the night of November 8th, the Dawn Princess cruise ship experienced a fire which occurred in an electrical sub-station on deck 6. Passengers were called to their muster stations while fire fighting teams extinguished the fire. There were no passenger or crew injuries.

Today we asked for more information from the public on our Facebook page. We received the information below, which comes from a cruise passenger currently on the Dawn.  

If you have additional information or photographs regarding the incident, please let us hear from you.

"Anytime dining as we were late leaving Wellington . . . We had dinner then headed for coffee when the Captain came on. There had been an emergency announcement earlier but we Dawn Princessthought it was medical, not so. The captain explained there was smoke deck 6 starboard, forward and would we all return to our cabins. WOW. we watched as the stores closed and the crew ran. Then the captain came on again to tell us there was a fire in an electrical locker on deck 6 forward and the fire party was dealing with it. We are still in our cabin as requested. We have opened the door to look up and down the hall. All the crew are in lifejackets standing in the hall. Some passengers have doors open and talking to the crew. It started about 8:30 it is now about 9:00

Well another update time is 9:30 and we are in our muster station after the captain told us to grab our life jackets, warm clothes and head to muster. We have our jackets, passports, money and medication. The muster must have over 500 people, some forgot life jackets, some did not get scanned so they are calling names of people who are not accounted for.

It certainly has been exciting. Nothing we have ever gone thru before. We are SO impressed with the emergency procedures. No anxiety at all.

10:10pm and we are released. A very interesting experience. The bars are jam packed, fuller than we have ever seen them. We are at the coffee bar now, starting where we left off with coffee and a Rusty nail. As of 10:40 they have released cabins on Emerald deck, deck 6, meaning the occupants can now return to them. Two cabins numbers are being called on Emerald and we think they might have some smoke damaged."

November 10 2013 Update: We asked Princess Cruises for a statement. Princess responded as follows: "Several days ago a fire occurred in an electrical locker on Dawn Princess. It was extinguished and there were no passenger or crew injuries." The cruise line declined to explain why the fire broke out or why it took an hour and one-half to extinguish it.  

November 12 2013 Update: The Herald Sun newspaper in Australia reports that crew members aboard the Dawn say that the fire suppression system was not working.

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Bahnfrend)

Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas: "Full Speed Ahead?"

A reader of Cruise Law News sent us a humorous tweet from Royal Caribbean. The problem is that the cruise line didn't intend it to be funny.

Royal Caribbean tweeted a photograph of the Allure of the Seas (below left) with the caption "Full speed ahead."

Of course everyone following cruise news knows that the Allure of the Seas is experiencing a problem with its propulsion system which we have written about a couple of times. Read here and here.

Allure of the Seas Propulsion ProblemsThere is currently a debate in the cruise community between those die-hard cruise supporters who think the propulsion problems are a lot to do about nothing and those cruisers who are annoyed that their expensive cruise vacations involve leaving some cruise ports early and arriving late at others and missing some excursions in the process.  

I won't jump into that argument except to say that the cruise line is not helping its reputation by keeping its usually loyal-to-Royal customers in the dark.

I'm not the first to comment on the "full speed ahead" caption showing the Allure tearing up the waves.

Others on Twitter have had their fun.

@MartinosCafe tweeted: "@Royal Caribbean Is that your way of telling us the ship is fixed?"

And @linerlovers tweeted: "I wish they WERE at full speed!"

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

New Cruise Terminals & Piers: A Risky Business?

A local news station in Houston is reporting that for the first time, a cruise ship has sailed from its home port at the Bayport Cruise Terminal in Houston. Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess set sail earlier this week for a four day cruise to Progresso, Mexico.

The remarkable part of the story is that the cruise terminal was built long ago and has sat largely unused. The cruise terminal was completed in 2009 at a cost of $108 million with bond money that the local taxpayers have been paying for the past 4 to 5 years. 

Empty and abandoned cruise terminals are a risk that struggling U.S. cities and powerless Carnival Cruise Line - 800 Pound Gorilla Caribbean islands run while dealing with the rich and powerful cruise lines.

A Houston port official excitedly talked about all of the employment benefits which finally are coming from the cruise terminal:

"You have the line handlers, you have our wonderful longshoreman association that's providing the handling of the baggage, stevedores that are handling our parking, so there are just a variety of jobs and economic impact that's created from this cruise operation." 

But such success is usually a long time coming and is often fleeting.

Just ask Mobile Alabama.

The city built an expensive cruise terminal as part of its "partnership" with Carnival Cruise Line.  When the cruise line pulled its cruise ship from the Alabama port, the city was left with a debt of $35,000,000.

Carnival thought that it could make more money by re-positioning its cruise ship in either New Orleans or Tampa, and left Mobile high and dry.  Ironically, the only cruise ship to return to Mobile in the last couple of years was the Carnival Triumph which had to be towed to port following the infamous "poop cruise' earlier this year.     

Carnival never enters into a contract with a port promising to commit ships to the port for a finite number of years. So cities like Mobile build their new terminals on a wish and a prayer.

One-sided deals in favor of the cruise lines are the business norm. Carnival is the proverbial 800 pound gorilla. Port cities can either sign the bad deal or the cruise line goes elsewhere. And Carnival can break the deal whenever it wants and for any reason, good or bad.

Just ask Norfolk, Virginia. Carnival abandoned it last month leaving the city with a $30,000,000 debt for a new cruise terminal that the local taxpayers are stuck with paying. Carnival cited the additional operating costs associated with new environmental emission regulations which prohibit the use of cheap, toxic bunker fuel which can still be burned on cruises out of Miami.

The here-today, gone-tomorrow exploitation of cities like Houston, Mobile and Norfolk is particularly bad in the Caribbean ports. Take, for example, Antigua.  Carnival dropped Antigua like a hot potato. Carnival broke up with its Caribbean "business partner" with a "Dear John" letter sent via e-mail. The sudden and unexpected pull-out costs the Caribbean island $40,000,000 annually.

Consider what's happening in Tortola too. Carnival cruise ships announced that it is pulling the Sunshine, Freedom, Liberty, Glory and the Valor from the island. Carnival may return if and when Tortola invests into improving its cruise facilities. 

The latest news from the Caribbean is that the Cayman Islands is trying to figure out how to pay $200,000,000 for two new cruise ship piers so that Carnival and Royal Caribbean passengers don't have to tender in from the cruise ships to the island. The Cayman Islands has a GNP of less than one billion dollars a year; however, Royal Caribbean alone will collect closer to 7 billions dollars a year. Carnival will collect far more than that.

The Caymans can't possibly pay for the news cruise piers by itself. But if it decides to "partner" with these giant, rich cruise lines, it may find itself paying for much of the cruise project and ongoing operating expenses with no legally enforceable assurances from the cruise lines.   

It's risky business for poor cities and tourist-dependent Caribbean islands with no sustainable businesses to trust the cruise lines.  Cruise lines like Carnival are cutthroats. They hold all of the cards and will up and leave in a split second if they can make a better deal elsewhere. 

Comment from a Reader: Allure of the Seas Propulsion Problem - What is Royal Caribbean Hiding?

Every so often we will publish a comment from a reader of Cruise Law News about an issue we are discussing on this blog.  This morning we received the comment below from a reader about the propulsion problem on the Allure of the Seas.

Quite often, the problems with the cruise industry's poor image is not so much that things go wrong on the high seas, but that the cruise lines are not transparent when go amiss. When a major newspaper like USA TODAY or a major online cruise site like Cruise Critic breaks a story about a problem, it creates a perception that the cruise lines are being sneaky and are more interested in covering up a Allure of the Seasproblem than fixing it.

Our reader's comments are below:

"What really bothers me about this is that Royal Caribbean is keeping silent on th