Are Royal Caribbean FlowRiders Defectively Designed?

FlowRider - Royal Caribbean  When Royal Caribbean decided to be the only cruise line in the world with FlowRiders installed on its cruise ships, the cruise line had to have the FlowRider designed to fit on a ship.

Unlike some surfing simulators on land with long wash-out zones (the space between the top of the ridge and the back wall) where the participant will lose speed and come safely to a rest, the FlowRiders on Royal Caribbean cruise ships have a wash-out zone of only around eleven feet. This creates a danger where the participant will crash into the back wall at high speed.

The problem is compounded by a lack of sufficient padding of the wall. 

For example, watch this link and see this passenger wipe out. Although he is not a skinny fellow, he still crashes into the back wall.  Watch the last few seconds and you can see his arms and legs fly into the air upon hitting the wall.

You can also get an idea of the force of the water by watching the video below.

Are these FlowRiders defectively designed?  Should there be longer wash-out zones and thicker padding on the end wall?

 

Toddler Falls From Balcony on Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas

A cruise leaving yesterday from Port Canaveral Florida quickly turned into a nightmare when a family's one-year-old child fell from a balcony to the balcony below.

According to WFTV, the incident occurred on the Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas which left yesterday afternoon from Port Canaveral around 4:30 PM. 

The news station states that a one-year-old child crawled through an 11th floor railing and fell to a balcony one floor below. Other news stations do not refer to a fall from a "balcony" but a fall from one deck to the deck below.

The cruise ship turned around and headed back to port. The child was airlifted to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, some say at 6:30 PM and others say at 7:30 PM.

There are many images of stateroom balconies of this cruise ship on line. Some of the images show vertical railings and well as a horizontal railing at the bottom of stateroom balconies. But my understanding is that deck 11 contains the pools and sports deck and does not contain staterooms. Anyone with information about the railings on deck 11 or how this could occur, please leave a comment below. 

Royal Caribbean issued a statement:

"On Friday, December 21, a 14 month old guest from India traveling on Monarch of the Seas was Monarch of the Seas Cruise Shipinjured in a fall. The guest was initially treated in our medical facility, but required additional and urgent medical attention that could only be provided in a hospital. Therefore, the ship turned around and returned to Port Canaveral, Florida, where we could debark the guest and their family so that the guest could receive urgent medical care.

Our Care Team is providing support and assistance to the guest’s family. Our thoughts are with their family, and we will continue to do our very best to assist them.

Monarch of the Seas is sailing a three-night itinerary that will call to CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas."

December 26, 2012 Update: a passengers on the cruise left a comment below, stating that the toddler fell from deck 12 down to deck 11 (the pool deck, photo above).

Carnival Sued For Design Defects Alleged in Costa Concordia Cruise Ship

Following the Costa Concordia tragedy, there was considerable debate about where the survivors would file suit and what legal claims against the cruise line would be raised.

As we approach 6 months after the disaster, there is even more confusion. Lawsuits have been filed all over the place.  

A group of New York lawyers filed suit in state court here in Miami. Many Miami lawyers referred cases to Italian lawyers to pursue in Genoa, Italy where Costa is headquartered. Other New York lawyers filed suit in New York.  Lawyers in Illinois filed suit in Chicago. One lawyer filed suit in Galveston and Costa Concordia Cruise Ship - Design Defect Lawsuiteven took the extraordinary step of seizing a Carnival cruise ship to try and get Carnival's attention. 

The latest highly publicized court filing, announced last week, involves a case filed against Carnival Corporation for the defective design of the Costa Concordia.   

Mississippi lawyer John Arthur Eaves filed the lawsuit in California and alleges that the Concordia was designed in a manner that causes the cruise ship to "roll and list" and caused problems safely evacuating the vessel.  He intends to names the designers and architects in the lawsuit.

Mr. Eaves scheduled a press conference in Italy (see video below) and said:  

"We believe that the actions of Carnival were so calculated, to place the profits of their fleet, the ability to sell more space on each boat was so calculated a decision that they intentionally ignored safety concerns and for that we have asked the court for punitive damages in the United States which is the ability of a U.S. court to take away the profits by which Carnival gain. We thought it is not right for Carnival to make huge profits by doing the wrong thing." 

Mr. Eaves was the lawyer who filed suit in Galveston and was criticized for seizing a Carnival cruise ship "as a shot across the bow" to get the cruise line's attention.  I met Mr. Eaves in Washington D.C. during the Congressional hearings into the Concordia disaster. He seems like a bright lawyer and a good fellow who has a passionate interest into cruise ship safety issues. 

His "design defect" filing in California is another creative lawsuit seeking to hold Carnival responsible for the Concordia disaster.  His latest lawsuit has also come under criticism by the cruise industry defenders, but I think it is right on target.

Someone needs to take a look at these taller and taller cruise ships and determine whether they are safely designed.  A couple of months ago I wrote an article Are Cruise Ships Dangerously Top Heavy?  I'm not a naval architect but the cruise ships today seem to have far too much air draft, like a 17 story condominium stuck on a barge.

Cruise ships like this depend on stabilizers. But stabilizers are of no help when the cruise ship loses power.  Ships like this seem likely to tip over.   

It's the last place I would want my family to be if there is a collision, or a fire, or the engines fail in rough water. 

 

 

Photograph: News Pictures / Rex Features

Are Cruise Ships Dangerously Top Heavy?

Ever since the Costa Concordia disaster, questions have been raised whether modern day cruise ships are being designed more dangerously by increasing their size to pile more and more passengers aboard.

There is no question that cruise ship are getting bigger and bigger.  You need look no further than Royal Caribbean's Genesis class (Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas) which each carry more than 8,000 passenger and crew members.

But it is not just that the cruise ships are getting "bigger" that may pose a danger.  Its that they are designed to be much, much taller, with the hotel structure some seventeen stories high.  The "floating Orchestra Cruise Shipcondos," as some call them, seem to be out-of-proportionally tall, perched precariously on a hull which seems incapable of safely supporting a structure towering hundreds of feet into the air. 

Yesterday, I posed the question on Twitter and facebook:  Are Cruise Ships Top Heavy?"  I received some interesting response, including this one:

Yes. Over 30 years ago the shipbuilders built a ship then put a hotel on the inside now they build a hotel/resort first and try and wrap a ship around it second.....these ships and I use this term very broadly should all be tied up at next available port and used as hotels only.

If this issue interests you, I suggest that you read an excellent article by blogger "Teddy Sheperd" entitled "Why Mega Cruise Ships Are Unsafe: Opinion."  

Mr. Sheperd explains that in the past, there was a reasonable and safe ratio between a vessel's draft (below the waterline) and air draft (above the waterline).  The cruise ships today have lost the reasonable proportions between what's below and above the waterline, making the vessels dependent on stabilizers not only to battle rough weather but to stay upright with only slight to moderate breezes. 

Take a read of Mr. Shepard's article and ask yourself whether you really want to take your family onto one of these floating sky-scrapper hotels when, God forbid, it loses power while encountering rough seas?

I do not pretend to be a naval architect.  I studied English and History at Duke.  It remains a mystery to me how jumbo jets can take off or huge ships can even float.  But you don't need to be an expert to have an opinion on this issue.  Mr. Sheperd reminds us of the old saying in boat building, "if it looks right, it is right."

Well, these cruise ships don't look right to me.  They look like condominiums ripped out of Collins Avenue on Miami Beach and placed on a barge.  They look eager to tip over.

 

Have an opinion whether cruise ships today are inherently unstable?  Please leave a comment below. 

 

Photo:  MSC's Orchestra cruise ship - draft of 7.88 metres (25.9 feet).