A passenger aboard the Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas contacted me yesterday evening stating that:
"On the Anthem of the seas. The ship had to come back a night early . . . there are 4 critically ill passengers on board . . . Captain not saying anymore then 4 critically ill and pleaded we understand because if this was our family we would want the same." The captain specifically stated that the passengers were in "critical" medical condition.
The passenger subsequently stated that two and possibly three of the passengers had died. There was no information whether the passengers had been injured or were sick.
@PTZtv indicated that the cruise ship returned to the harbor in New York early last night for "medical emergencies."
This afternoon an online webcam and marine tracking websites showed the Regal Princess cruise ship entering the Port of Miami for what people on social media were describing as unspecified medical emergencies involving two passengers. Local TV stations covered the story with helicopters. I covered the incident on my Facebook page involving the gay "30th Anniversary Caribbean Cruise."
This is the first time that the Regal Princess, which calls on Fort Lauderdale, has come to Miami.
There is a great deal of chatter on Facebook and Twitter that the medical emergencies involved drug overdoses. The South Florida Gay News says that "speculation swirls around drug activity." It quotes a passenger saying that “It’s an all gay cruise and they’re all drunk. There’s three thousand gay men on this boat. You know what that means. There’s a lot of high risk activity associated with that.”
Perhaps an over-generalization. But there's reason why the image may be appropriate.
Does the organizer (RSVP Vacations) discuss the use of drugs and the foreseeable risk of a drug overdose with the cruise line to make certain that there are properly trained medical personnel to respond to emergencies?
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 thata 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.
The 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.
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:
Photo Credit: Wikipedia - top; Marine Traffic - bottom
The 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.
When the executives at Royal Caribbean trotted out the Oasis of the Seas several years ago, they took special efforts to tout that the evacuation and life saving systems on this huge ship were the best in the world. After all, this was the largest, most technologically advanced, and most expensive cruise ship in the world.
Royal Caribbean produced carefully crafted videos showing that its "revolutionary" huge state-of-the-art 370 person capacity life boats would safely rescue the passengers if anything wrong happened on the high seas requiring an evacuation.
You can see the video below with William Wright, who captained the Oasis from Europe to Fort Lauderdale, promoting the life boats as marvels of the sea. The video says that the new life boats have double redundancy: double engines, double propellers, and double rudders, in addition to well-lighted and spacious boats, which according to Royal Caribbean would ensure that the 16 crew members assigned to each life boat could comfortably ferry the 354 passengers to safety.
You could almost hear the thoughts of the cruise executives: we have to assure our customers that this money-making-beast-of-a-ship can safely evacuate 8,500 passengers and crew who are jam-packed together in this highly compressed space. As a result, the public was presented with the nonsensical "holistic" message from CEO Goldstein and the slick video production starring captain Wright (since unceremoniously fired from the company) stating that the passengers are even safer in the life boats!
Many maritime experts believe that the size of the new huge cruise ships make it harder to evacuate quickly and safely. Cruise lines are required to evacuate all passengers and crew in just 30 minutes, which seems like a tall order considering that there could be as many as 8,500 passengers and crew aboard these ships. But CEO Richard Fain promoted his giant ships by claiming that evacuation is in fact faster on larger ships because "they have more entrances and exits." He went as far as to claim that passengers are actually safer in gigantic cruise ships.
But what Royal Caribbean was not telling the public was that the life boats were severely limited in number and were only for the passengers. Crew members have to jump down a 60' chute into a flimsy life raft - not a life boat.
Take a look at the bottom video which shows a Royal Caribbean crew member who gets stuck in the chute and then flies out and lands violently on his back. We've also written about an incident where 20 crew members were injured in a drill using a similar chute and raft system.
Recently, the issue arose whether there are an adequate number of lifeboats on the Allure and the Oasis, afterthe Allure left one of its lifeboats behind in Nassau because of a problem with a cable.
There are only 18 lifeboats to begin with on these ships. Each life boat has a capacity of 370 people, cpnsisting of 354 passengers and 16 crew members who are responsible for overseeing the passengers and maneuvering the life boat. With only 17 life boats, there is room for only 6,018 passengers; whereas, the Allure has a capacity of 6,296.
The passengers who are not permitted into a life boat will be forced to use something Royal Caribbean and its executives never touted as either revolutionary or "holistic" - the dangerous chute and raft system used by crew members.
When we broke this story, there was a blow back by the cruise line and many crew members. Royal Caribbean claimed that "we had enough safety crafts for everyone onboard the ship . . . Our ships carry extra lifesaving vessels at all times." Unfortunately, the cruise line use of the words life "crafts" and "vessels" did not distinguish whether it has enough newly designed life "boats" for the passengers versus the dangerous old-school life "rafts" used by the crew.
"Stop nitpicking and creating a controversy!" seemed to be the sentiment by the cruise line and most crew members. These supporters of Royal Caribbean pointed out that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requires the ship to have 25% extra life craft capacity for the maximum capacity of the passengers and crew and there's no evidence that the Allure was in violation of that when it sailed.
My response is that the IMO requirements are a minimum. More importantly, what about the executives' promises of the revolutionary and holistic approach to saving human souls? Are grandmothers and children and mothers with babies going to have to jump into the chutes into a lifeboat from deck four, commando style?
It seems so, and the cruise executives know it. Take a look at the evacuation procedure diagrams on the Oasis. The schematics of the chute system depict passengers with children and mothers clinging onto their infants descending the chutes. These images are directly from Royal Caribbean's cruise ships.
The last comment posted to my article said:
"Stop nitpicking, whether it's a craft, raft, or boat as long as there is something in case of an emergency i don't think most people would care. These rafts are the same one the US Navy uses, if it's safe for our troops it's safe for me."
When people leave comments on my blog like this, they automatically leave their internet provider (IP) address. The IP address of this person indicated that the person sent the message from Royal Caribbean in Miami. Whether this macho man was a frustrated low level employee or someone in the operations or safety departments, I'll never know. But someone over at the cruise line thinks that it's okay (and a darn patriotic thing to do!) for passengers to jump down a 60 foot chute acting like Rambo.
I doubt that 75 year old grandmothers or little grand kids realize that they are signing up for this tour of duty when they embark on a luxury cruise of the Caribbean aboard the Allure or the Oasis.
Perhaps the cruise line is right that it is in technical compliance with the minimal IMO requirements. But the cruise line should be transparent with its guests. It should tell its passengers that instead of a "holistic" rescue in "revolutionary" life boats, they should be prepared to act like a Navy Seal jumping into a raft in a combat zone.
This evening Cruise Critic reported that Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas altered her itinerary yesterday because three passengers were evacuated from the cruise ship for medical reasons.
The popular online community said that a helicopter airlifted one person from Coco Cay. Later, the cruise ship was diverted to Nassau, Bahamas to send two other people to the hospital. A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean reportedly said that the three incidents were not related.
There was no indication regarding the nature of illnesses and/or injuries or whether the medical emergencies involved passengers or crew members.
The Freedom of the Seas stopped at San Juan today rather than sail to St. Thomas.
There is no indication whether passengers will be offered any type of compensation for the missed port.
This weekend, the New York Times published an article about the "supersize craze" - the increasingly large cruise ships being built by the major cruise lines which are "worrying safety experts, lawmakers and regulators."
The article quotes my hero- Jim Hall, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTBS): “Cruise ships operate in a void from the standpoint of oversight and enforcement. The industry has been very fortunate until now."
The article discusses the capsizing of the Costa Concordia and the fires aboard the Carnival Triumph & Splendor and the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas, and concludes that larger cruise ships pose larger problems when things go wrong.
The article also quotes Rear Admiral Joseph Servidio, who testified at a Senate hearing in July which I attended. He said that the recent cruise ship fires “highlight serious questions about the design, maintenance and operation of fire safety equipment on board these vessels, as well as their companies’ safety management cultures.”
The New York Times addressed the potential problems of evacuating Royal Caribbean two mega-ships, the Allure and the Oasis. There are not enough life boats for the crew. The 2,300 crew members on each of these cruise ships will have to jump down 60 foot evacuation chutes into life rafts.
Captain William H. Doherty, a former captain at Norwegian Cruise Lines, explained the problem in simple terms to the New York Times: “The simple problem is they are building them too big and putting too many people aboard.”
Our Federal Government may be in the middle of a shutdown, but the Coast Guard aircraft and helicopters are still flying to help cruise ship passengers in distress on the high seas.
The latest story comes from a newspaper in Hawaii, the Maui News, which reports that a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 Hercules airplane flew over a 1.000 miles to "drop six units of blood, a pack of platelets, and two transfusion kits via parachute to medical personnel aboard the Oosterdam."
The heroics were in response to requests for assistance by Holland America Line (HAL) which was dealing with an ailing elderly passenger who was suffering from internal bleeding. The situation was critical because the cruise ship was far out at sea, heading to Lahaina, Maui.
You can see the blood drop in the video below.
Photo/ Video Credit: Petty Officer 3rd Class Melissa McKenzie, courtesy US Coast Guard, via Maui News.
This weekend, KHOU news station reports from Galveston, Texas that the Carnival Triumph returned to port Saturday afternoon "after a passenger had a medical emergency."
KHOE didn't explain the medical emergency but reported that the U.S. Coast Guard said the medical emergency was not life-threatening, "so they did not fly out to the cruise ship." The cruise ship then told the Coast Guard that it would be "just easier for the ship to return to port and drop the passenger off."
That's the end of the reported story.
If that's not sufficiently uninformative, here's another one from Canada's Herald News: the police are investigating a "sudden death" aboard Holland America Line's Eurodam after a woman was found dead.
The police in Canada said that the death of the 59-year-old passenger “is not considered suspicious at this time.”
The newspaper also reports that medical examiner’s officer was called to the scene and "no further information is available."
Are you satisfied with this type of "news?"
Do you believe that the details of stories like this are any of your business?
Do you think that the cruise lines and official authorities will tell you all you are entitled to know?
Local news stations in San Francisco are reporting that the U.S. Coast rescued a cruise passengers man suffering from acute kidney failure aboard a Princess cruise ship 40 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge yesterday morning.
A 79-year-old Canadian man was demonstrating symptoms of kidney failure while aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship which was sailing to Los Angeles.
The Coast Guard helicopter lowered a crew member was lowered onto the ship and then hoisted the sick passenger and the cruise ship’s nurse up to the helicopter.
The passenger flown to Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto and was in stable condition Friday afternoon.
The BBC reports that a Royal Air Force helicopter winched a woman off a cruise ship in the English Channel "after becoming ill with a potentially 'life-threatening' condition."
The passenger is a 85 year old woman who was sailing on board the Balmoral cruise ship. The ship had departed Southampton and was heading to Norway.
BBC states that the medical evacuation by the helicopter took place under difficult circumstances as the helicopter from Suffolk had to flew to the ship, which was in heavy fog, 40 miles out at sea. The weather conditions caused the rescue efforts to become "extremely challenging."
Visibility was only 165 feet and the cruise ship was describes as "completely enclosed in fog." An airman stated "we had to use radar to locate the vessel because we could barely see."
The 85-year-old woman was transferred to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.
The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the Disney Fantasy cruise ship returned to Port Canaveral yesterday night shortly after sailing from the Florida port after 2 passengers experienced medical emergencies.
The medical emergencies involved a 6 year old child with diabetes and a 77 year old man with a heart condition.
The Disney cruise ship initially sailed from Port Canaveral around 5 PM but returned at around 8:30 PM to disembark the two passengers for emergency medical treatment at a local hospital.
Readers will recall that the Disney Fantasy was the location of a near-drowning last week when a 4 year old child slipped below the water in the Donald Pool which is not staffed with a lifeguard. The incident sparked a debate about parental responsibility and whether the pool was safely designed and adequately staffed. You can read about that incident here.
A retired U.S. Coast Guard official called me last week about issues of cruise ship safety. We had an interesting hour and one-half discussion about whether modern cruise ships are designed to safely evacuate passengers and crew members in times of emergencies like fires or sinkings.
Our conversation began with Royal Caribbean's biggest cruise ships in the world, the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean touts these news ships as technological marvels of the world. But the evacuation procedures are strictly old-school.
Some aspects of the emergency abandon ship systems are flat-out dangerous.
The cruise line's press releases mentions that the cruise ship has 18 lifeboats each with a 370 passenger capacity. It says that "lifeboats on Oasis of the Seas have been entirely redesigned and approved as part of a holistic evacuation concept."
But the truth of the matter is that Royal Caribbean had a major problem when it designed the largest cruise ships on the planet. There is a regulation stating that the maximum number of people permitted aboard a lifeboat is 150. There is no way that the cruise line could build a ship with over 55 lifeboats carrying 150 people each. So in order to cram enough people into lifeboats, the cruise line obtained a waiver to increase the maximum lifeboat capacity up to 370 people.
Royal Caribbean not only has the largest cruise ships in the world, but it has the largest lifeboats in the world.
But does it have enough?
18 lifeboats with a capacity of 370 equals only 6,660 people. Oasis has a total maximum population of around 8,500 when you count its capacity of around 6,300 passengers and 2,200 crew members. That means that there are around 1,850 people without the lifeboats which Royal Caribbean raves about.
Royal Caribbean's press statement makes no mention of it, but those who are not assigned or cannot fit into the limited number of lifeboats must use "emergency evacuation chutes." The term used on the Royal Caribbean ships is "Viking Dual Evacuation Chute." What is this you may ask? You won't find Royal Caribbean talking much about the chute system.
If you look at photographs of the Oasis (or the Allure), along the side of the ship at deck 4 you will see three large lifeboats in-a-line leading from the stern. Then you will see a row of canisters (others may call then cylinders), looking like old depth charges, positioned one on top of the other on deck 4.
When these canisters are opened (see video bottom), a life-raft inflates in the water below. (We are talking about life-rafts - not lifeboats). These life-rafts are connected to a series of chutes running up to deck 4. The passengers and/or crew evacuate the cruise ships by jumping into the entrance to this emergency evacuation apparatus on deck 4. They then rapidly slide / fall down a steep, vertical drop into the inflated life-raft below.
These type of devices are dangerous. There have been a significant number of people killed or seriously injured while trying to evacuate 4 or 5 stories down steep chutes like this.
In November, I wrote an article about 20 crew members seriously injured in a drill using this type of system who suffered broken bones, sprained ankles, and friction burns during the steep descent. Further injuries were avoided only when other crew members refused to jump. A union representative characterized the evacuation system as "unsuitable and dangerous."
PBS aired a documentary on behalf of "Inside Nova" which looked at the Oasis of the Seas' evacuation procedures. PBS videotaped the operation of the chutes. In the video below you can see crew members tugging on the chute when suddenly a crew member comes flying out - landing violently on his buttocks. After catching his breath, he exclaims "I got stuck!"
Now the first reaction to the video may be that it seems funny. But if you think about it for a second, it is actually terrifying. The placard on the cruise ship shows families with little kids and infants who are lining up to jump. The drawing on the ship actually show a mother clinging to her infant sailing down the chute a few feet above another passenger while a large man is jumping into the chute above her. I cannot imagine a more dangerous scenario.
Can you imagine what would happen if a 235 lb man lands on a 130 lb woman holding on to her 25 lb infant at the bottom of the chute? Serious injury would occur. Serious head injuries are likely if multiple people and children are in the chute at the same time. Far fetched? Hardly. This scenario is actually depicted in the instructional drawings on the Oasis itself.
Royal Caribbean may say that only crew members are suppose to use this system. That's mentioned on the PBS video where you can see photographs of the chute system. That does not say much for the cruise line's consideration of the safety of its own crew.
But why do the drawings of the chute system depict passengers with children and mothers clinging onto their infants descending the chutes? These images are directly from Royal Caribbean's cruise ships. And if in fact only crew members are assigned to the chutes, why should they be subject to such dangers on a cruise ship which its owners tout as the safest ship in the world?
The other issue to consider, of course, is what happens if the Oasis suffers a Costa Concordia type of accident where the cruise ship lifts heavily to one side? As we know from the Concordia, the lifeboats could not be deployed once the ship listed to 22 degrees. Half of the Concordia lifeboats, on the port side of the vessel, were useless once the ship listed to the starboard side. If anything like this happens on the Oasis, there will be a riot where passengers and crew fight to get into the remaining lifeboats and the rest will be left to take their chances jumping down the chutes hoping to land in a raft many stories below.
Then there are the wind and sea conditions. All of the drills for the Oasis or Allure take place on sunny days in the calm waters of the Caribbean. Take a look here for an example. Around and around the lifeboats drive in the protected waters of a beautiful lagoon in the Caribbean. What fun.
But what happens when these ships are re-positioned to Europe, Indonesia or Australia where there are high seas and unpredictable weather? After all, Royal Caribbean is ordering more Oasis class monster ships right now. Trying to evacuate thousands of people down chutes into life-rafts in high waves and winds could be a disaster. There is also the risk of the tether ropes breaking, the chutes twisting, or the life-rafts ripping away from the chutes.
I for one would hate to think of anyone's spouse, or kids, or parents, whether they are crew or passengers, having to jump into an evacuation chute and fall 50 feet into a raft in rough seas.
A chute and a raft are hardly a "holistic" approach to survival. It's a disappointing and antiquated way of trying to save lives on the supposedly most sophisticated cruise ship in the world.
Don't forget to watch the video of the chute system below:
This morning, the Free Lance newspaper in Fredericksburg, Virginia published a cruise story with a happy ending. Entitled "Friends’ Actions Aboard Ship Save Woman’s Life," the article is about cruise passenger Patty Bliss who joined 25 other women from the Sheriff’s Office and government offices in Stafford County for a weekend getaway two weeks ago on Carnival Glory’s “cruise to nowhere.”
Shortly after boarding the cruise ship, the women were enjoying food and drinks on deck. Suddenly, Ms. Bliss slumped over in her chair.
The women observed Ms. Bliss not breathing. She had no pulse. Her skin turned grayish–purple. She had suffered sudden cardiac arrest, causing her heart to stop pumping blood throughout her body. “I thought she was gone,” said one pf the women, Sgt. Nancy Morin, who was also traveling with two daughters. Morin's oldest daughter was certain that Ms. Bliss was dead. She began crying.
But Sgt. Morin and Detective Christine Hammond sprang into action. They initiated cardiopulmonary resuscitation with Morin compressing her heart and Hammond blowing into Bliss’ mouth. The newspaper writes:
Bliss’ heart didn’t start beating on its own. Other women in the group asked crew members for an automated external defibrillator, a device that sends an electric shock to people suffering from cardiac arrest . . . .
. . . crew members weren’t responding, but instead “ran around in circles trying to figure out what to do.”
One of the women in the group then clapped her hands in the face of one crew members and told him to get the device “and get it now!”
By this point, Morin and Hammond reportedly had given CPR to Ms. Bliss for 15 to 20 minutes.
According to the newspaper, when the defibrillator arrived, a crew member shocked Bliss once, but the device indicated another shock was needed. When the crew member hesitated, one of the women pushed the button to shock Bliss again and again.
Finally an ambulance took Ms. Bliss off of the cruise ship to a hospital where the doctors implanted a defibrillator in her chest.
Ms. Bliss may have missed the "cruise to nowhere," but she was fortunate to fall ill in port around a group of women trained on how to save her life.
The Travel section of the Washington Post has an article today about what happens if you are unfortunate enough to have a heart attack while sailing on a cruise in the Caribbean. Things often get worse when the cruise ship wants to limit its liability and dumps you off in a Caribbean port.
No offense to the wonderful people in the Caribbean, but its not the place to be while trying to manage a heart attack.
I'm quoted in the article. I'm sure the cruise line PR people and tourism officials in the islands may have a heart attack reading my quotes.
If so, here's the same advice I give to a sick cruise passenger. Call the first available medical jet and get your sick heart to see a board certified cardiologist in Miami. And I hope that you purchased lots of insurance before going on the cruise.
A newspaper in Savannah reports that yesterday the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a 63 year old woman from a cruise ship sailing in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 60 miles east of Savannah to a local hospital in Savannah.
Coast Guard Sector Charleston received notification at about around 10:08 p.m. Saturday night from crew members aboard the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship via VHF-FM marine radio channel 16. The cruise ship reported that that the woman had fallen down some stairs, suffered a laceration on her head, and was in need of medical attention that could not be provided on the ship.
The newspaper states that at approximately 11:14 p.m., the Coast Guard launched an MH-65 Dolphin air rescue crew which arrived on at the cruise ship around 11:40 p.m. The helicopter hoisted the injured woman and a cruise ship nurse from the deck of the cruise ship and transported them to the hospital.
The newspaper does not mention where the cruise passenger was from.
There have been a number of Coast Guard medevacs from the Carnival Fantasy recently. On April 24, 2012, the Coast Guard medevaced a 56 year old man from the Fantasy when it was 60 miles southeast of Jacksonville, Florida. A week later, the Coast Guard rescued a 57 year old man from the same ship while it was sailing 160 miles southwest of Marco Island.
The Coast Guard reports that it medically evacuated a 56 year passenger from the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship sixty miles southeast of Jacksonville on Today.
Crew members on board the cruise ship notified the Coast Guard just after 8 AM that a male passenger was experiencing respiratory failure and needed medical attention.
Coast Guard Air Station Savannah launched an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter rescue crew to the scene.
The helicopter arrived at the location of the Fantasy around 10 AM. The crew lifted the passenger from the deck, along with his wife and a cruise ship nurse, and transport them to a hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. The passenger is reportedly in stable condition.
A family in Kentucky is going to enjoy a family vacation after Carnival reconsidered its cancellation penalty following a vicious attack on young Troy Walter. The teenage was coming to the defense of his friend who was attacked by a knife yielding man now in jail on attempted murder charges.
The family was scheduled to take a Caribbean cruise vacation but Troy was stabbed in the head and neck two weeks earlier. Troy's mother called Carnival and informed customer service representatives of the attack which resulted in her son's hospitalization for two months. She says that the Carnival customer representative promised her over the telephone that her family would receive a cruise credit of $2,000 so that they could take a cruise later.
But when she later contacted Carnival to re-book the cruise, Carnival informed her that it had no record that anyone at Carnival promised a future cruise credit. This was significant because the family had not purchased insurance and would forfeit the entire cruise fare. Carnival would not reconsider its cancellation penalty which Carnival explained was a "standard industry practice."
The Walter family contacted a local television station and spoke to the "troubleshooter" department who contacted Carnival and, eventually obtained a cruise credit good for the next year.
The local newspaper ran the story (see video below) which sparked a debate about whether the family should have been penalized for not buying insurance. We recommend to everyone to always buy insurance because you never know what will happen right before or during a cruise.
Cruise lines have received a lot of bad press recently. Read this article about another cruise line, NCL, which would not alter its cancellation after one of its customer's brother died right before the cruise. The customer had to attend his brother's funeral and asked NCL to refund the cruise fare or provide a credit. NCL refused. The customer asked NCL at least to let the aggrieved passenger donate his cruise vacation to a sick child as part of the Make-A-Wish charity. NCL would not budge. Then came the sick part. NCL sold the cabin to another customer.
At this moment the U.S. Coast Guard is in the process of medevacing three elderly passengers from a cruise ship 100 miles east of from Hilo, Hawaii.
The Republic reports that an 86 year old man appears to having a heart attack, an 82 year old man has symptoms of internal bleeding, and a 76 year old woman is suffering from abdominal pains.
The helicopter deployed two helicopters and a plane to the Holland America Line cruise ship, the Oosterdam. The cruise ship is headed for San Diego. The Coast Guard intends to take the ill passengers to Hilo Medical Center.
A cruise ship in the middle of the ocean is not where you want to be if you are gravely ill.
The newspaper reports that a Coast Guard flight surgeon made the decision to medically evacuate the elderly passengers after hearing about their conditions from the ship's medical staff.
We have covered lots of cruise ship medevac stories, but none involving three separate passengers in need of emergency medical evacuation.
If you are on the cruise ship and have information or photographs or video of the medevac, please leave us a comment below.
Video Credit: U.S. Coast Guard / Department of Homeland Security
A local news station in Tampa, WTSP 20 News, has a story about an elderly couple's cruise horror story.
Betty and Ronald Coleman from Port Ritchie Florida were sailing on a Panama Canal cruise aboard the Norwegian Pearl when Mr. Coleman contracted what is described as norovirus. NCL put the Colemans ashore in Cartegena Columbia without contacting the couple's son Mark, even though they listed him as the emergency contact on paperwork the cruise line required them to fill out.
Ms. Coleman, who was obviously overwhelmed by trying to take care of her sick husband, complains: "My son is on the paper you sign, for next of kin to be called in case of an emergency. I would have thought they would have notified him if they are leaving me in a foreign country."
The couple's son first learned of his parent's plight after receiving a frantic call from his mother. She did not know where she was. NCL subsequently told him that that she was still on the cruise ship. Finally, Mark had to contact the State Department to find his parents.
NCL claims that it provided the couple with an opportunity to call home, but the Colemans allegedly "chose not to." How and why this allegedly occurred is not explained. But a cruise line should never disembark an elderly couple like this in a foreign country without first making sure that it contacted the emergency contact. It's far fetched to believe that the couple instructed NCL not to call the emergency contact. It's inexcusable for NCL not to have done so. Ms. Coleman seemed stressed out and Mr. Coleman, described in the video as " . . . so sick that he could not sit up to even sign a paper," was obviously so ill NCL didn't want him on its cruise ship.
NCL issued a completely unrepentant press release. NCL side stepped the norovirus issue, denied responsibility for not telling the family of the emergency, and claimed that the Colemans were, in fact, "appreciative" of the cruise line agent's assistance ashore in Columbia.
The guest relations team on a cruise ship should always contact the emergency contact number whenever it forces a family off of a cruise ship in a medical emergency.
Blaming the sick elderly guest in a case like this reflects poorly on the cruise lines' manners.
The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a press release indicating that a MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter from Air Station Sitka safely medevaced a woman from the cruise ship Celebrity Millennium during an Alaskan cruise. The Coast Guard helicopter transported the passenger to Hoonah where she was then flown by aircraft to Juneau.
The passenger, a 59 nine year old woman, reportedly was suffering from symptoms of a stroke.
Medical evacuations by helicopter are routine during emergencies like this while cruise ships are in relatively close proximity to U.S. and Canadian ports of call.
A magazine in Bermuda is reporting that two cruise ships recently diverted toward Bermuda to transfer ill passengers ashore for medical treatment.
On May 9th, the Princess Crown Princess diverted to Bermuda to disembark a 57 year old male passenger who was suffering from breathing difficulties. The magazine reports that the pilot cutter St. George met the cruise ship at the sea buoy and the sick passenger was transfered between the two vessels.
Open water passenger transfers are potentially dangerous exercises. You will recall that a rescue vessel recently dropped an elderly passenger into freezing water while trying to transfer her ashore. A recent investigation found that the crew used unsafe procedures and did not even place a life vest on the sick passenger.
In this case, the Princess passenger was transferred safely to the pilot boat and then ashore where an awaiting ambulance transported him to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
The second diversion occured on May 7th when Princess' Grand Princess altered course toward Bermudato disembark a 55 year old male passenger who needed urgent medical attention. The passenger was also transfered ashore via the same pilot boat.
Both Princess cruise ships were sailing from Port Everglades, Florida to the Azores Islands.
Today, Royal Caribbean's newest mega-ship, the Allure of the Seas, sails from Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale on its first charter with 5,400 gay and lesbian passengers. The cruise is sponsored by Atlantis Events which is billing the event as the "world's largest gay cruise."
The Allure will port in Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten during the one week cruise. This is the 20th anniversary for the Atlantis travel company which specializes in all-gay vacations.
The Atlantis cruises have not been without controversy. One year ago, a 37 year old passenger aboard Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas died during an Atlantis sponsored cruise.
In October 2009, we reported on the death of another passenger aboard a Royal Caribbean - Atlantis cruise. Spencer Yu, an attorney for Warner Brothers and a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation ("GLAAD"), died on the Mariner of the Seas. There is speculation that Mr. Yu, also a young man of only 46 years, may have died of a drug overdose during the cruise. After this ill fated cruise, passengers contacted our office complaining about the inexperience and confusion of the Royal Caribbean medical staff in responding to Mr. Yu's medical emergency.
Commenters on the gay community blogs Queerty and JoeMyGod bickered about the use of drugs during Atlantis sponsored events.
Cruise ships are not the place to have a medical emergency, whether you are gay, lesbian, transgendered, or straight. Cruise ships are often characterized by the questionable experience and training of the shipboard doctors and staff and the limited nature of the cruise ship's medical facilities.
Is the Allure of the Seas, the largest and most technologically advanced cruise ship in the world, equipped to handle medical emergencies which occur during Atlantis parties? Does Atlantis discuss the use of drugs and the foreseeable risk of a drug overdose with the cruise line to make certain that there are properly trained medical personnel to respond to emergencies?
The U.S. Coast Guard evacuated a 46 year old passenger from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico following a fall on Saturday.
Passenger Andrew Spicer was aboard Holland America Line's Ryndam cruise ship when he was reportedly injured. The cruise was roughly 120 miles southwest of St. Petersburg when the Coast Guard helicopter arrived around 8:00 p.m. Mr. Spicer was taken to Tampa General hospital.
On Friday, a Coast Guard rescue helicopter crew medevaced a 16 month old girl and her mother off the Norwegian Gem cruise ship approximately 245 miles south of Cape Lookout, North Carolina. The infant was suffering from upper respiratory tract infection and respiratory distress.
Our U.S. Coast Guard serves an important function of transporting sick and injured passengers to emergency medical facilities ashore. Earlier in the week we discussed the medical and legal implications of cruise medevacs in U.S. Coast Guard Rescues Sick Teenager from NCL's Jewel.
Where you on any of these cruises? Do you have photos or video to share? Please leave a comment . . .
KBTX in Texas reports that as Carnival's Ecstasy cruise ship was returning to port in Galveston, the cruise ship listed heavily in order to avoid hitting a buoy which had come loose in the Gulf of Mexico.
Carnival claims that the buoy was mostly submerged and not detected by radar.
According to a passenger, "the ship was shuddering . . . that's when all the dishes were coming out. It was a mess, it looked like a food fight and that's when everybody jumped up screaming and running trying to get outside . . . we thought we were going over. We really thought the whole ship was going to be tipped over."
The listing was severe enough to cause water to pour out of the pool. Carnival reported some injuries due to the incident. The cruise line issued a statement stating:
Carnival sincerely apologizes for the distress and discomfort this occurrence has caused our guests. The safety, comfort and care of our guests and crew is our top priority."
The Ecstasy is expected to return to Galveston today.
According to USA TODAY's Cruise Log, Carnival indicated that approximately 60 passengers were treated at the ship infirmary for injuries.
Maritime & admiralty lawyer & attorney James M. Walker of Walker & O'Neill Law Firm, offering services related to injuries, sexual assaults, fires, negligence, rapes & disappearances on cruise ships, pirate & terrorist attacks, missing passengers, shore excursions, wrongful death and the Jones Act, serving cruise passengers, crew members, cabin attendants, utility workers, waiters, bar tenders, ship doctors and cleaners on cruise ships worldwide.
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