Cruise Industry: A Menace to Wildlife?

Big Red - Harvest Caye - NCLThis weekend, a reader of this blog sent me an article from the San Pedro Sun regarding NCL's exploitation of rare macaws in its development in Belize at Harvest Caye.

Scarlet Macaws

NCL reportedly obtained numerous birds (toucans and other macaws) and animals and reptiles from the Belize government from the wild and/or rescue and rehabilitation centers for display in cages for the benefit of cruise visitors. 

The article addressed the plight of a scarlet macaw, which is one of the most poached birds in Belize, which was rescued by the Belize Bird Rescue (BBR), a non-profit organization in Belize. The male bird, which was named "Big Red," was rescued and underwent rehabilitation for wild release; however, several weeks ago the bird reportedly was given to Harvest Caye to entertain cruise tourists, much to the outrage of local Belizeans. Critics of NCL's boondoggle in Belize point out that NCL did not even mention a captive animal facility in the cruise line environmental impact assessment or obtain permission to possess rare birds in its environmental clearance process.  NCL apparently created its own so-called "conservation NGO" but it is not working with any of the existing NGO's in Belize.

The article about NCL's conduct, although outrageous, is just one of many examples of the abuse of birds and animals at cruise line private resorts and excursions throughout the world.

Swim-With-The-Dolphins

Dolphin rescue groups have repeatedly protested against ”swim-with-the-dolphins" excursions, like the notorious Blackbeard's Cay in the Bahamas, which have become a major feature of the cruise experience. Carnival and Royal Caribbean advertise them as “once in a lifetime experiences." The trade of dolphins in the Caribbean is big business. There are many dozens of swim-with-the-dolphins excursions sold by cruise lines in Mexico and throughout the Caribbean. The Dolphin Project writes about dolphins "confined in tiny, chlorinated tanks, where they are subject to relentless sun exposure (often resulting in sunburn), noise pollution, continuous human interaction and water toxins. Some live in polluted harbor waters, in hastily constructed holding pens, “conveniently” close to cruise ship ports for quick, tourist access." 

Cayman Island Turtle FarmCayman Islands Turtles

An animal protection group explains that in their natural ocean habitats, green sea turtles can dive to depths over 400 feet and can swim several thousands of miles a year. But held in captivity in what was originally called the Cayman Turtle Farm, subsequently re-branded as the friendlier-sounding Cayman Turtle Centre, the turtles are kept in small, crowded holding pens and are removed only for entertainment purposes to be mishandled by tourists and used for props in selfie-photos. You can also eat the turtles which are bred at the tourist facility. More than 200,000 people visit the tourist-turtle farm each year; approximately three quarters are cruise passengers.

Surrey Horses in Mexico, the Bahamas and the Caribbean

Horse tours are a popular tourist attraction for cruise visitors. Cruise lines sell dozens of excursions to tour the various port towns via horse drawn carriages. In many destinations, the horses are poorly fed Carriage Horses - Bahamasand abused. They suffer from heat exhaustion, dehydration, malnutrition, traffic fumes, noise pollution, stress, and injuries. The situation in Nassau is particularly bad; a malnourished horse dropped dead on Bay Street in downtown Nassau only to be tied by the legs and dragged down the street by a pickup truck. Exploiting horses is a dreadful way to spend a vacation cruise.

The cruise industry supports hundreds of local ports and has great influence over activities by the local communities. For example, if the cruise line would stop doing business with the tour operators who abuse horses and do business only with reputable bus and van operators, the abuse would stop virtually overnight.

Similarly, if the cruise industry would stop calling at port countries like the Faroe Islands which slaughter pilot whales, there would be considerable pressure to end the barbaric sport of killing sentient mammals, as we have urged for years.  

There are literally literally thousands of cruise excursions offered by each of the major cruise lines Faroe Islands Slaughter Whaleswhich take the majority of the revenue from the excursion. There's little consideration given by the cruise lines to anything except how much money the cruise lines can collect. I tend to view the problem as starting at the top, with the greedy cruise executives looking to collect every nickle and dime possible; but thoughtless cruise passengers are part of the problem too. One person commenting on NCL's exploitation of macaws in Belize posted this comment:

"Par for the course for people who encourage thousands of passengers to swim with captive dolphins, ride tortured elephants, camels and the like. However the passengers are equally to blame."     

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

Photo credits: 

Big Red - San Pedro Sun

Dolphin - Delfines En Libertad, Report on captive dolphins in Mexico.

Turtles -  World Animal Protection.

Horses - Stop Brutal Abuse and Suffering of Surrey Horses in the Bahamas.

Pilot Whales - Green Travel Life.

Excursion Bus Crash in Dominica Kills Cruise Passenger

Dominica Bus CrashA Dominican newspaper reports that an excursion bus carrying ten passengers from the P&O Azura was involved in a serious accident yesterday in the country of Dominica. One passenger died and nine others were injured.

The Azura previously sailed from Southampton about two weeks ago.

The newspaper reports that the bus was coming from Antrim, where the cruise passengers were enjoying the Emerald Pool tourist attraction, when the accident took place.

P&O Cruises released a statement:  “A bus operated by a shore excursion provider was involved in a collision in Dominica on Wednesday lunchtime. The bus was carrying 12 passengers, including 10 guests from Azura. The cause of the accident is not yet known.”

Excursion accidents like this are not uncommon. Earlier this year, an excursion bus taking passengers from a MSC cruise ship to a tourist attraction crashed in Dominica, killing an infant. 

Cruise passengers from the Celebrity Summit cruise ship were seriously injured in an excursion vehicle mishap in Dominica. In 2009, a dozen passengers from the Summit were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road. We represented passengers against the cruise line and the excursion company in that accident. You can read information about the Dominica excursion accident in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."

A passenger from the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas was killed in an excursion bus accident near Falmouth, Jamaica and numerous other passengers were injured in January of this year.  

There have been several other excursion bus accidents in the last several years involving cruise passengers.  

Many of these incidents involved substandard and poorly maintained vehicles, reckless driving and/or buses not equipped with seat belts.

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

Photo Credit: Dominica News Online

Cruise Passengers Injured in Jeep Safari Accident in Antigua

A newspaper in Antigua reports that a safari jeep excursion vehicle filled with cruise passengers flipped on its side in a road accident last week.

The newspaper reports that nine cruise passengers, consisting of six U.S. passengers and three German passengers, were riding in the back of the open air jeep. The injured were reportedly treated at the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre in Antigua. 

The newspaper says that the jeep was attempting to overtake a tractor when the driver of the safari jeep swerved to avoid oncoming traffic, causing it to flip on its side.

Antigua Safari Jeep AccidentThe passengers were reportedly from Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas

The safari jeep was reportedly operated by Tropical Adventures in Antigua.

It is currently unknown whether this was an independent excursion or whether it was sold and booked through the cruise line. 

There have been a number of excursion accidents involving passengers from Royal Caribbean and its sister company, Celebrity Cruises, over the last many years.  

Last January of this year, one passenger from the Independence of the Seas was killed and a half-dozen passengers were injured in a collision, between an excursion bus and a truck near Falmouth, Jamaica. We are representing the family of the deceased passenger and several injured passengers. 

Last December, two Celebrity passengers from the Summit were killed and 16 other passengers were injured on an excursion bus transporting cruise tourists to an excursion in Tortola, British West Indies.

In July 2012, Royal Caribbean cruise passengers from the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship were involved in a serious accident heading to an excursion in St. Martin.

In January 2012, a cruise sponsored open safari bus excursion from Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas cruise ship crashed in St. Thomas, resulting in injuries to cruise passengers.

In February 2009, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises' Summit cruise ship were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica. We represented passengers against the cruise line and the excursion company in that accident. Information on the Dominica excursion accident is contained in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."

Photo Credit: Antigua Observer 

Carnival Passenger Dies During SNUBA Excursion in St. Kitts

Carnival Excursion Death St. KkittsWe were informed yesterday that a Carnival cruise passenger from the Carnival Glory died in St. Kitts during a SNUBA excursion booked on the ship. 

A cruise passenger who witnessed the spectacle but wishes to stay anonymous states that it allegedly took an ambulance 20 minutes to arrive. The vehicle allegedly had no medical equipment or defibrillator. The passenger who contacted us says that there was "zero medical help" from the St. Kitts paramedics. "They just looked at the guy, said he's dead, and walked away."

Nurses and a firefighter vacationing on the Friar's Bay beach reportedly performed CPR on the passenger for 15 minutes without success.  

The passenger complained that there was allegedly no doctor available who could even pronounce the passenger dead so they could take his body away instead of being left in the sun for hours.  

Cruise lines need to require every tour operator to have defibrillators and proper first aid equipment with them, particularly in countries where they take their passengers that have ambulances without defibrillators or basic emergency equipment. 

Carnival declined to respond to our request for a comment. 

Tender Boat on Fred Olsen's Balmoral Malfunctions

Fred Olsen Balmoral Cruise Hive reports that a cruise ship tender boat on the Balmoral operated by Fred Olsen Lines malfunctioned a week ago, on Sunday, January 10, 2016, during a scheduled boat training drill.

At the time of the accident the cruise ship was docked in Funchal, Madeira.

The cruise line told Cruise Hive that “this incident occurred as a result of the ship’s winches lowering the tender boat at different speeds.”

Fred Olsen also said that the winches allegedly were independently surveyed in December 2015 for Flag compliance and no issues were found at the time.

Fred Olsen flags the 28 year old ship in Nassau Bahamas.

The mishap reportedly did not cause any personal injuries to the crew members.

Lifeboat or tender/rescue boat safety drills are highly dangerous. In August 2015, while an excursion boat from the Costa Mediterranea was being lowered, a cable broke.  In July 2016, during a drill involving a rescue boat on the NCL's Pride of America, two crew members were seriously injured when the boat fell from deck 6. In October 2014, a rescue boat on the Coral Princess was being raised on davits with two crew members aboard when a cable snapped and a crew member was killed.  In February 2013, 8 crew members were in a lifeboat during a drill on the Thomson Majesty cruise ship when the lifeboat plunged 60 feet into the water when it was being lifted in violation of a new CLIA safety protocol. The lifeboat landed upside down. 5 of the crew were killed. 3 were injured.

 

Royal Caribbean Bus Excursion Kills One Cruise Passenger From Independence of the Seas

The Jamaican Observer reports that cruise ship passengers were injured today "when the Toyota Coaster tour bus they were travelling in was involved in a four-vehicle collision on the Carey Park main road in Trelawny."

The Jamaican newspaper says that "one of the cruise ship passengers was rushed to the Falmouth Public General Hospital."

The newspaper article identified a "grey Toyota Corolla motor car, a white Freightliner truck and a Cruise Bus Excursion Accident yellow Toyota Hiace panel van were the other motor vehicles involved in the collision."

We have learned that the tour bus was on an excursion taking cruise passengers from the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas (in Falmouth) to Dunn's River. 

Royal Caribbean released a statement, indicating that one passenger was killed and three others were injured:

"Today 21 guest from Independence of the Seas participating in an excursion were involved in a traffic accident in Falmouth, Jamaica. We are saddened to report that a guest passed away. Three other guest were injured and are being treated at the local hospital. Crew members have gone to the hospital to assist. Join us in keeping them in our thoughts and prayers."

There have been a number of bus excursion accidents in Caribbean islands involving Royal Caribbean and its sister company Celebrity Cruises over the last 6 years.

Photo Credit: Jamaica Observer / Mark Cummings

 

 

Costa Excursion Boat Mishap

Italian newspaper L'Unione Sarda reports what it is calling an excursion boat from the Costa Mediterranea apparently broke a cable while it was being lowered in Montenegro. 

Photographs sent to me shows what appears to be a lifeboat dangling on the side of the Costa cruise ship.  

The news article says:

"There was a technical problem , , ,  the boat came off as it was being lowered into the sea to carry passengers to the fjord of Kotor, in Montenegro. There is a dock and it was necessary to use the boats. But no one was on board and no one was hurt, said Costa Crociere."

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

There have been other serious lifeboat accidents in the last several years. In October 2014, a "rescue boat" on the Coral Princess was being raised on davits with two crew members aboard when a cable snapped. One crew member was killed. In Ju;y 2015, two crew members were seriously injured when they were raising a rescue boat. It fell from deck 6 of the Pride of America to the water. In February 2013, 8 crew members were in a lifeboat during a drill on the Thomson Majesty cruise ship when the lifeboat plunged 60 feet into the water. The lifeboat landed upside down. 5 of the crew were killed. 3 were injured.

Photo Credit: Facebook (unknown photographer) 

Costa Mediterranea

Were You on one of the June 25th HAL Promech Flightseeing Excusions? Call the NTSB Now!

Promech Excurion Crash - HALCruise passengers from the Westerdam and the Noordam Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ships were on three Promech excursion flighseeing planes on the fateful day of June 25th when 8 HAL passengers died.

These passengers experienced substantially similar experiences regarding the weather conditions as the dead passengers.  They experienced the same or very similar flight conditions as the doomed excursion plane. They are familiar with the cruise line's cancellation policy. At least one couple tried to cancel the flight but were told by HAL that it would access a cancellation fee of around $450 per person. So they didn't cancel because of the extreme penalty. They flew on one of the Promech planes which took off before the plane which crashed. They can tell the investigators exactly what their flight was like.

All of the passengers completed post excursion questionnaires.  

All of these passengers should be questioned by the NTSB.  

HAL should turn over copies of all of the passenger questionnaires to the NTSB. 

Most of these passengers have never been contacted by the NTSB.

If you were a passenger who flew on a Promech flightseeing excursion on June 25th in Ketchikan, we recommend that you do the following five things:

  1. Call the NTSB to the attention of Clint Johnson, NTSB Alaska, office line 907-782-4842.
  2. Contact HAL and ask for a copy of the questionnaire you completed. Once you obtain it (if HAL cooperates), fax it to the NTSB.
  3. Maintain custody of any photos or video you took on the day in question, and send copies of the weather conditions, aircraft. etc. and any images taken from the excursion plane to the NTSB as well. 
  4. Keep all of the documentation regarding the excursion in question which you received from HAL or Promech.
  5. Encourage others on the excursion to do so too. 

Keep a copy of everything you receive and everything you write. 

It's very important. Thanks.

Photo Credit:  U.S. News

Canadian Couple Attacked Sailing to Roatan

A retired couple from Canada, together with a captain, sailing from mainland Honduras to Roatan were reportedly attacked by four men armed with guns and knives who boarded the boat, threatened them with death and stole their money.

The article in CBC News quotes the Canadian woman saying "they actually had me, pulling my hair and a knife on my throat, demanding more money from the captain."

The menacing men then disabled the boat and tore out the engine wiring, and left with gasoline and the Roatan Sailing Attackcouple's radio and drinking water, stranding them in the jungle.

This is not the first time that Canadians sailing in Honduran waters have been attacked. A Canadian woman and her father sailing from the Bay Islands were attacked in their sailboat in 2010. Armed men killed the woman's father (photo below) in front of her before she chased them off with a flare gun. 

The U.S. and Canadian expatriates in Roatan suppress news of these violent incidents out of fear that they will scare off tourists and retirees. Travel writers skip these type of stories and describe Roatan as a "paradise."  These kind of writers and tongue-tied Roatan residents are doing a disservice to people thinking of visiting or retiring in Roatan.  

The news article quotes the Canadian foreign affairs spokesman saying: "Canadians travelling to Honduras should be aware that serious crime — including armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, home invasion and sexual assault — is common, and armed attacks on marine vessels have been reported." 

A Canadian tourist was shot in the head and killed for his iPhone in October 2012. You can watch a video at this link of a travel agent saying that his advice to travelers thinking of going to Honduras: "Don't."

We were the first to report on a NCL crew member also shot in the head and killed for his iPhone one year ago. 

Canada has substantial warnings about crime in Honduras and has specific warnings about Roatan and the Bay Islands:

"Exercise a high degree of caution throughout Honduras, which has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Drug trafficking, transnational organized crime and the presence of street gangs pose significant security concerns and contribute to the high rate of crime. Apprehension and conviction rates of criminals remain low. A large percentage of the population is armed. Guns and weapons such as machetes and knives are frequently used in robberies. If you are threatened by robbers, do not resist; injuries and deaths have occurred when victims have resisted.

Serious crime—including armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, home invasion and sexual assault—is common, and armed attacks on marine vessels have been reported. Although most criminals do not target tourists, some have been victims of crime in major cities and in areas frequented by tourists, especially at night. Exercise increased vigilance in the departments along the Atlantic coast, along the border with Guatemala and in the eastern departments of Gracias a Dios, Olancho and Colón, and in rural areas north of Nacaome, Valle, and north of Choluteca, Choluteca. Exercise increased caution while in the cities of San Pedro Sula (including in vehicles leaving the airport), the Bay Islands (comprising Roatán, Útila and Guanaja), Trujillo and Tegucigalpa.

In Roatán, robbers have targeted homes and long-term leased residences. Since 2009, three Canadian citizens have been murdered in the Bay Islands. Travellers visiting the Bay Islands should exercise Canadian Killed in Honduras Watersparticular caution around uninhabited coastal areas and avoid walking on isolated beaches, especially at night. Foreigners have been assaulted on beaches in the Bay Islands and along the Atlantic Coast.

Travellers have been followed and assaulted. Use discretion when discussing your travel plans in public. Be cautious when dealing with strangers or recent acquaintances and be extremely careful when accepting rides or invitations. Remain aware of your surroundings at all times, especially after dark and when travelling alone.

Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.

In resort areas, stay on supervised beaches and do not walk in isolated or unpopulated areas. Hitchhiking is strongly discouraged everywhere in the country. Campers should always stay in well-lit campgrounds that have security patrols. Whenever possible, walk in a group, as there have been reports of attacks on tourists walking alone."

Does this sound like paradise to you?

 

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

Photo Credit: Loretta Reinholdt and Andy Wasinger via Calgary Herald; Ambergris Caye 

Is the Cruise Industry Taking Terrorism Seriously? 92% Say No

National Geographical's ombudsman Christopher Elliott just published the article which I wrote for Yahoo Travel tilted Is Cruising Safe? A Chilling Look at an Industry Under Siege.

Elliott's article is titled Terrorists Target Cruise Ships — Here’s What You Need to Know Now.

He asks this question at the end of the article:

Costa FascinosaIs the cruise industry taking terrorism seriously?

The reader then selects one of two possible answers:

No, it needs to do more  ___

Yes, it's doing enough to protect passengers  ___

So far, 92% of those responding answered No, with only 8%.saying Yes.

The poll confirms what I suspected about the cruise industry - that is is perceived by the public as pushing itineraries in the Middle East which are potentially dangerous with little concerned about the safety of the passengers. 

Costa and MSC Cruises did not issue a single warning to their passengers before unloading them in Tunis. Both cruise lines were pushing excursions in Tunisia. Neither cruise line arranged for security for the buses targeted by the terrorists.  The cruise excursion buses unloaded the passengers into a trap because of the negligence of the cruise lines. 

Will the cruise industry wake up and protect their guests?  It seems that the public thinks that the cruise lines can do a lot more. 

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

 

Photo Credit: Rene Grob via Wikimedia Creative Commons 3.0

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 Jamaica's Ganga Tour the Best Cruise Excursion?

There's an interesting article today by the Associated Press about the lesser publicized side of cruise ship excursions entitled Jamaica's "Ganja Tours Draw the Tourists" (with subtitle: "Cannabis connoisseurs can enjoy trips to hidden plantations and sample strains of the drug that inspired Bob Marley.")

Jamaican ganja like "purple kush" and "pineapple skunk" are some of the favorites of "pot tourists" who cruise into Falmouth and then head up to the mountains. 

The AP article says that many tours pass through Nine Mile, the mountain hometown of famous reggae star and pot lover Bob Marley, where Jamaican men can escort tourists to locations Falmouth Jamaica Ganja in the mountains where pot grows. 

The newspaper writes about a "couple of busloads of cruise-ship tourists arriving at Bob Marley's childhood home," where "more than a dozen lined up enthusiastically to buy bags of weed . . . through a hole in the wall of the museum compound."

You won't see any of the official cruise excursions labeled as ganja tours as such. But there is big money to be made by the cruise lines in driving passengers into the mountains where the potent sinsemilla is cultivated.

Royal Caribbean promotes an excursion from its new port development in Falmouth where passengers from the Oasis and the Allure can participate in the aptly entitled "Bob Marley Experience." (Are you experienced?)

According to the Royal Caribbean website, the excursion's "HIGHLIGHTS" (a Freudian slip or pandering to potheads?) include listening to reggae music on the bus ride from the port and back through the "narrow winding country roads to the mountain village of Nine Miles" to visit the birthplace and resting place of the late & great Bob Marley.  And of course there's time to trek into the pot fields.

Bob Marley Excursion - Crnival CruiseThe Royal Caribbean "Bob Marley Experience" is available starting at $99. The cruise line excludes minors, with the minimum age being 18 year-olds. This is no Dunn's River Falls excursion for kids, Dude.

Carnival offers an identical tour in their "Zion Bus" (for cruise passengers 18 and older) where you can "listen to Bob Marley’s hits as your dreadlocked driver takes you into the hills."

A Carnival passenger wrote in a review of the tour:

"Like the guide told us - You get high, high up to the mountains!"

A Jamaican jerk chicken lunch is offered too.  All the cruise lines need to add is a dozen brownies to make the experience complete.  

 

Photo: Top - Falmouth, Jamaica by Jim Walker; Bottom - Bob Marley Tour Bus - Carnival.

You can see some interesting photos and information about the Bob Marley experience here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: DBS TV St. Lucia via the Times
 

 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia /  Jonathan Schilling

Passenger From Carnival Elation Drowns in Cozumel

A newspaper in Jacksonville reports that a local resident sailing on a Carnival cruise died earlier this week during a stop in Cozumel Mexico.   Andrew Wooten, age 50, was reportedly swept away by an undercurrent and drowned. 

Mr. Wooten was the president of Safety Awareness Firearms Education, a firm that conducts training. He was providing continuing education courses on the cruise. 

According to the newspaper, Wooten apparently drowned during an  excursion after sailing to Mexico on the Carnival Elation cruise ship. 

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Passenger Dies on Snorkeling Excursion in Dominica

Vision of the Seas Several newspapers are reporting that a cruise ship passenger died during a snorkeling excursion while visiting the Caribbean island of Dominica.

The incident involves a cruise passenger from Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship. The local police say that  Jim Caves of Riverside, California, was aboard Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship, which docked today in Dominica. The news accounts suggest that Mr. Caves complained about feeling sick while snorkeling at a nearby beach with his wife and other family members. He was later pronounced dead.  There is not explanation offered regarding exactly what happened. 

It is currently unknown whether the excursion was booked independently or through the cruise line.

Snorkeling deaths in the Caribbean during cruises are not uncommon.  You can read about recent cases in our articles here and here.  

December 20. 2012 Update: Cruise Critic states that the passenger was on the "Champagne Snorkeling" ship-sponsored excursion, Cynthia Martinez, director of global corporate communications for Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, told Cruise Critic, "when he began to experience breathing difficulties while snorkeling. He was transported to a local area hospital where sadly he passed away."

Royal Caribbean Passenger Dies While Kayaking in Alaska

The Juneau Empire newspaper reports today that a cruise ship passenger from Texas died after after his kayak overturned in Mendenhall Lake in Juneau, Alaska on Sunday. 

A spokeswoman for the Tongass National Forest stated that the deceased cruise passengers was 62 year old Michael Ray Fullerton.  Mr. Fullerton was with other family members, from a cruise ship, who rented kayaks to tour a lake at the foot of Mendenhall Glacier.  

A public radio station in Alaska, KTOO News, indicated that the group was from Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas cruise ship. "They rented tandem kayaks and safety gear from Alaska Boat and Kayak in Auke Bay about 3 p.m., according to owner Sean Janes. He said the group was not on a Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas - Kayaking Death - Juneauguided trip. He said they were all given a safety briefing before they loaded their kayaks and gear in their car to drive to the lake."

The articles suggest that Mr. Fullerton allegedly became tired and the group tied their kayaks together. The kayaks overturned, although the articles are unclear how this happened. Other family members were treated for hypothermia at a hospital and released.

Last year we reported on a cruise passenger from the Disney Wonder who died while kayaking in Alaska. 

 

Photo: Royal Caribbean Cruises website

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

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

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

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

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

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

We wrote a number of articles about the crime:

More Cruise Tourists Robbed, This Time In St. Kitts

Celebrity Cruise Passenger Robbers Face Trial in St. Kitts

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

A newspaper in St. Kitts & Nevis, the Observer, reports that police are investigating a sexual assault involving a cruise ship passenger visiting the island last week. on Tuesday.

The newspaper states that the local  police confirmed that a report had been made by a female cruise passenger that she was sexually assaulted while aboard a catamaran tour. The woman was a passenger aboard Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas cruise ship, which had docked at Port Zante earlier that morning.  According to the Observer:

" . . . the alleged incident took place in the bathroom of the catamaran while it was docked in Nevis. Information received was that the female reported the incident when the vessel returned to St. Kitts at the end of the tour; the young woman was aboard the catamaran with a family member. Police Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas - St. Kitts confirmed that she was taken to JNF Hospital where she underwent several routine tests for sexual assault reports."

The following day, the police issued a public statement stating:

"The Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force take all claims of sexual assault very seriously. All claims of sexual assault are investigated and if substantiated, charges are filed against the suspects and arrests are made. So serious is the resolve of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force to combat offenses of sexual assault in the Federation, a Special Victims Unit (SVU) was created and staffed with investigators who were trained in both the United States and Canada. Based on the investigation conducted, and information presented by the reporter, there is no physical evidence to substantiate her allegation of a sexual assault. The investigation continues."

It appears unusual for a police department to quickly issue a public statement conveying information from a rape kit analysis in the middle of an alleged investigation.  It makes you wonder if the local police are acting as spokespeople for the tourism bureau.  Part of the problem with rapes during cruises is how quickly the cruise lines and local authorities deny they occur in the interest of protecting their reputations.

The newspaper does not identify the name of the excursion company, the name of the catamaran, or whether this was an excursion sponsored by Royal Caribbean.  The cruise line has a catamaran excursion which you can see here, although it is not clear whether the incident involved this excursion. 

The risk of sexual assault during cruises is real, both on the cruise ships, during water excursions, and ashore.  We have represented young women sexually assaulted during snorkeling and diving excursions as well as in ports of call.    

 

Coast Guard Continues to Investigate St. Thomas Parasailing Accident

The Virgin Islands Daily News reports today that the U.S. Coast Guard continues to investigate the  fatal parasailing accident in St. Thomas which killed a Celebrity Cruises passenger and seriously injured her daughter on November 15, 2011.

We discussed this incident in our article Celebrity Cruises Passenger Killed in Parasailng Accident in St. Thomas.

The incidents resulted in the death of Bernice Kraftcheck, age 60 who the newspaper identifies lived in Round Lake, Illinois.  Her daughter, Danielle Haese, age 34, is identified as living in  Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania.

The Virgin Islands Daily News states that it is "unclear what caused the tandem riders to fall from the parachute and harnessed rig."  In its first article about the mishap, the newspaper cited speculation that winds gusts may have played a part in the accident.

A Coast Guard representative mentions that ten Coast Guard members from St. Thomas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. are conducting a maritime casualty investigation. The investigation checked the operators from the excursion company,Caribbean Watersports and Tours, for drug and alcohol shortly after the accident. 

Coast Guard investigations like this may take many months to complete.

Celebrity Cruises Passenger Killed in Parasailng Accident in St. Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 17, 2011 Update:

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

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

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

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

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

December 3, 2011 Update:

Coast Guard Continues to Investigate St. Thomas Parasailing Accident

 

Photo credit:  Celebrity Cruises

Royal Caribbean Passenger Dies During Diving Excursion in Bermuda

The BDA Sun newspaper in Bermuda is reporting that a 52 year-old cruise passenger died during a diving excursion in Bermuda.

Donna Zapata cruised with her husband on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas to BermudaShe went on what is described as a "helmet diving" excursion with Hartley's Bell Diving.  The newspaper explains that this involves "shallow water where divers wear airtight helmets to view the underwater world." 

After a dive, Ms. Zapata complained of shortness of breath.  She reportedly was given oxygen aboard the excursion vessel and the excursion staff called shore-side for emergency medical personnel to be ready ashore.  But its reportedly took "about 20 minutes to get everyone back on board and get to shore." 

Ms. Zapata lost consciousness and passed away at the King Edward VII Hospital.

The Bermuda Police Service has the following account:

"Police have commenced an investigation into the death of an American woman who was visiting the island as a cruise ship passenger. It appears that around 12 noon on Tuesday, June 7th 52 year old Donna Zapata was in the Mangrove Bay area ‘helmet diving’ with family members when she got into difficulty. EMTs performed CPR as the victim was rushed to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital via ambulance; however they were unable to revive her. She was subsequently pronounced dead at 1pm on Tuesday by an on call physician at the hospital. An autopsy will be performed on the deceased during the course of this week."

Miami New Times: Couple Sues Carnival Cruise Lines After Teenage Daughter Killed in Virgin Islands Gang Shootout

The lawsuit we filed this week of behalf of our clients for the death of their daughter, Liz Marie Perez Chaparro, has been covered in the Miami New Times and USA Today this week.  The article, written by Tim Elfrink, for the Miami New Times is entitled "Couple Sues Carnival Cruise Lines After Teenage Daughter Killed in Virgin Islands Gang Shootout."

"Liz Marie Perez Chaparro was celebrating her quinceañera on a Carnival cruise with her parents last summer when an employee convinced the family to join an excursion in St. Thomas. What he didn't mention, Chaparro's family says, is that a heated gang war was raging in the area.

Liz Marie Perez Chaparro - Death - Carnival Cruise Chaparro died on a tour bus when a shootout exploded between the rival gangs at a funeral, peppering the young tourist with bullets. Her family filed suit against Carnival today, alleging they should have known the violence was likely.

Chaparro and her parents, Ceferino Perez and Aida Esther Chaparro, live in San Juan, Puerto Rico. They saved for ten months to pay for her quinceañera cruise last July, they told the Virgin Island Daily News.

On July 12, one of the first nights of the cruise, Perez was drinking on deck when a cruise employee sold him on a trip to Coki Beach, a popular sandy stretch in St. Thomas.

But Perez didn't know that the Virgin Islands at the time were riding an all-time high homicide streak, he says in his lawsuit. Already that calendar year, the islands -- with a population of 100,000 -- had seen 43 murders.

What's more, Perez says, the week before a gang member had been shot and killed at a mall near Coki Beach and his gang had planned a funeral at a cemetery near the beach on the day of the excursion.

"(Carnival) should have known there was a high risk of an attempted gang revenge killing at the funeral," Perez says in the suit.

Either way, soon after Perez and his family boarded the bus for Coki Beach it was trapped on a two-lane road blocked by the gang members.  When a shootout broke out, their bus was caught in the crossfire.

Fourteen-year-old Liz Marie Chaparro died on the scene.

A Carnival spokesperson didn't immediately return a phone call and an email about the lawsuit this morning; we'll update the post when we hear back."

 

A copy of the lawsuit is available on line here (via courthousenews.com). 

Cruise lines have a legal duty to warn their passengers of dangers in the ports of call.  For our article about this terrible crime, read: More Caribbean Crime - Carnival Passenger Killed In St. Thomas.

Cruise Passengers: Have You Been A Victim of Crime In St. Thomas?

Our firm is investigating the tragic death of a young girl who was shot and killed while ashore in St. Thomas during a cruise.  This child was one of hundred of thousands of passengers who sail into this beautiful island each year without realizing that St. Thomas has one of the highest homicide rates in the world.  It's murder rate this year at the time of the young girl's death was 42 in a population of only 100,000.

Unfortunately, most cruise lines did not warn their passengers of the substantial dangers which exist on this island upon disembarking from the cruise ship.   

Here is our blog on this terrible situation:

More Caribbean Crime - Carnival Passenger Killed In St. Thomas

Have you been on a cruise and been a victim of a crime ashore in St. Thomas?

Are you a tourist robbed or attacked while visiting St. Thomas?

Do you know someone who was the victim of a violent crime in St. Thomas?

Please contact me - 305 995-5300 or send me an email - jwalker@cruiselaw.com

We need your help . . .  thanks!  Jim Walker 

Crimes in the Caribbean Cruise Ports of Call

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

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

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

Guatemala - Norwegian Cruise Line Passenger Murdered in Guatemala  

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

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

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

 

Cruise lines have port agents in all of these destinations and are familiar with the crime which exists in these beautiful, tropical locations.  Do you think that cruise lines should warn passengers of the substantial dangers which exist in the ports they select to disembark their passengers?

More Caribbean Crime - Carnival Passenger Killed In St. Thomas

Lizmarie Perez ChaparroA 14 year Carnival cruise passenger was shot and killed today after arriving in St. Thomas aboard the Carnival Victory cruise ship.  Lizmarie Perez Chaparro was riding in a "safari bus" with her family when she was caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout.

According to the AP, the young girl and her family had sailed from San Juan on Sunday. Another cruise ship passenger sustained a minor injury during the shootout. Another person, not from the cruise ship, 18-year-old Shahid Joseph, was also shot and killed. Mr. Joseph was attending a funeral for another young man murdered last month. 

Governor de Jongh issued a statement indicating that the deaths were caused by gangs waging "street justice" to settle their differences.

The tourist bus was hit by gunfire on its way to Coki Point Beach. Although this is a destination advertised by the cruise lines for snorkeling and scuba, Carnival denies that this was a Carnival excursion.

Carnival Victory - St. Thomas - Murder - Lizmarie Perez Chapparro

St. Thomas has been a hot spot for crime, including violent crimes against tourists for many years. Cruise lines face liability for subjecting their guests to harm and not warning them of the risk of such violence. 

There is a local blog by the Big Kahuna discussing the tragedy and the problem with crime on the island. The blog mentions that the astronomical murder rate is 42 this year in a population of only 100,000.  One of the readers left this comment:  "This morning I sat on the balcony and watched the Carnival Victory sail into port this morning. Unknowingly,that ship was bringing a little innocent girl here to be murdered. That’s difficult to grasp, it’s haunting . . ."

Carnival PR person Jennifer De La Cruz said Carnival suspended all excursions to the beach. The Carnival PR people crafted a statement that the incident was "unfathomable" and the Captain of the cruise ship used the word "shocked."  These are code words for "not foreseeable," meaning the cruise line is denying that it is responsible for sailing its guests into a port with high crime and street violence.   

A wanted poster of the suspect is in the St. Thomas Source.  This newspaper also has an excellent article about crime in the Caribbean: "Drugs, Gangs and Guns Fueling Caribbean-Wide Crime Surge."

A letter to the passengers signed by Captain Salvatore Messina is below.

   

Lizmarie Perez Chapparro - Carnival Cruise - St. Thomas Passenger Death - Crime

 

June 13, 2010 Update:  The El Nuevo Dia newspaper in Puerto Rico is reporting that Ms. Chaparro's family was cruising to celebrate her upcoming quinceanera and her parents' wedding anniversary.  The cruise line PR people and the tourism officials are in overdrive, announcing that the murder is "isolated" and the islands remain a "safe destination for tourists."

June 15, 2010 Update: The popular USA TODAY Cruise Log has a blog: "Shooting death of cruiser in Virgin Islands comes as killings there soar." 

June 16, 2010 Update:  Virgin Islands Daily News has an article "Cruise lines warn passengers about Coki Point shooting," discussing how many cruise lines are warning p[assengers about crime in St. Thomas and suspending excursions to the Coki beach area.  Cruise Critic has an interesting article "Who's Responsible for Warning Cruise Travelers About Dangers in Port?"

June 18, 2010 Update:  "Heartache wrenches those who knew slain girl."

Were you on the cruise?  What are your thoughts about crime in St. Thomas and in other  Caribbean ports of call? Please leave a comment below . . .

We have written a number of articles about the high crime rate in the Caribbean ports of call in prior articles:   

Crime in Caribbean Ports of Call Against Cruise Passengers  

18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the Bahamas 

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

Norwegian Cruise Line Passenger Murdered in Guatemala

Travel Writers and the Ethics of Reporting Cruise News

 

Credit: 

Photo    Lizmarie Perez Chaparro     Javier Rivera / END via El Nuevo Dia

Photo Carnival Victory cruise ship         bajan.wordpress.com

Photo Carnival letter   alexbrown96's tweetphoto   via  St. Thomas Blog by the Big Kahuna

Carnival Cruise Excursion Drowning Death

The Baltimore Sun reports on the death of a 71 year old passenger from Reisterstown, Maryland , Carol Olson, during a snorkeling excursion in the Bahamas.  Ms. Olson was a passenger on Carnival's Pride cruise ship and booked the excursion from the cruise line. 

Other passengers described having problems with the current. The excursion was described as poorly managed with no one from the excursion boat in the water assisting the snorkelers. 

Carol Olson - Carnival CruiseThe Baltimore Sun has an informative article which summarizes the dangers of cruise excursion and the pitfalls which Americans face if they lose a loved one during a cruise or an excursion sold by the cruise line.  The article is entitled "Cruise Passengers Describe Fatal Snorkel Tour."

Carnival's PR spokesperson Jennifer de la Cruz refused to provide any information to the Baltimore Sun, but released a statement stating in part:

"This was an extremely unusual and tragic situation and we … have suspended the tour and will be taking a close look at the details surrounding what transpired."

The problem is that Carnival will never reveal the results of their investigation to the public or even Ms. Olson's family.  

The situation is governed by the Death On The High Seas Act, which we have discussed in prior articles.  Most passengers do not realize that the recoverable compensation for retired passengers involving maritime deaths outside U.S. waters is limited to funeral / burial expenses.  Carnival collects approximately 12 billion dollars a year in cruise and excursion sales and pays no Federal income tax.  But it is protected from responsibility because of DOHSA.  Without financial accountability, there is no incentive for companies like Carnival to invest into making certain that their passengers are reasonably safe during excursions like this.

    

 

 

Credits:

Photograph   WBAL TV Baltimore

Video      ABC2News.com

Princess Cruises Passenger Killed In ATV Accident In Aruba

The Diario newspaper in Aruba reports on a passenger from Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess cruise ship who died in an accident ashore in Aruba.

The unidentified passenger rented a four wheel ATV (all terrain vehicle) and collided with what the newspaper reports is a Dodge Ram pickup truck.  

ATV Accident - Aruba - Caribbean Princess Cruise ShipThe Cruise Critic website includes several comments by passengers on the cruise who saw the aftermath of the accident.

Many Cruise Critic readers commented on dangers ashore in port of call when passengers rent mopeds and ATV's and encounter different road conditions and traffic on the "other side of the road."  

The driver of the ATV was apparently not wearing a helmet.  The comments to the story seem to suggest that the ATV was rented privately, and not as part of an excursion sold by the cruise line.

Companies which rent ATV's and mopeds should require that all drivers wear helmets, and should not rent the vehicles unless the company provides a helmet to the driver.  It is unknown whether Aruba requires helmets to be warn in these situations.    

April 22, 2010 Update:

The cruise passengers involved in the accident are Frederich Norman, age 41, who was killed, and his wife Christine Norman, age 37, who was injured, according to the LondonFree Press in Canada. There is a suggestion that the pickup truck may have swerved into an oncoming lane, causing the collision with the Normans' ATV.  There is also mention of drugs being found in the truck.  These accounts appear to be based on the Diario newspaper in Aruba.

Princess Cruises PR - Julie Benson - Stringent Excursion Safety RulesThe London Free Press points to the incident as raising the issue of the questionable safety of many excursions cruise passengers may choose during their cruises. 

Princess Cruises PR person, Julie Benson (photograph right), is quoted as stating that the ATV rental was not one sanctioned by Princess Cruises. Ms. Benson claims that Princess Cruises requires a "stringent set of rules and safety measures" before recommending local companies to its cruise passengers.

In February a Princess Cruises passenger was killed and other passengers were injured when a cruise excursion bus with no seat belts, operated by a driver named "Crash Dummy" with a record which included criminal conduct and reckless driving, crashed while descending a steep hill in Tortola. 

It will be interesting to see exactly what Princess Cruises' "stringent" excursion safety rules look like.  

 

 

Credits:    

Photograph of ATV        Diario Online Newspaper

Photograph of Princess PR            Julie Benson Twitter 

 

"Crash Dummy" Released From Jail - Who Paid The Bail?

BVI Platinum News reports that Roland Allen, the driver of the cruise tour bus involved in the excursion accident in Tortola, was released from prison "after someone successfully posted bail for him."

Earlier last month, Mr. Allen - also known as "Crash Dummy" - was placed on $60,000 bail where he had to pay $25,000 in cash and sign a $35,000 surety.  His lawyer had informed the Court that Mr. Allen did not have the money to make bail.

The question arises who paid the bail?  Was the money gathered by friends or family members?  Or did  anyone acting on behalf of the excursion company or cruise line come up with the money behind the scenes?    

The newspaper reports that Mr. Allen will return to Court on April 21st for another hearing.  His trial on charges for reckless driving leading to the death of a Princess Cruises passenger and multiple injuries to other passengers will be scheduled later this year.

We have written many articles about this case

Do you have information regarding the source of the bail money?  Please contact us. 

Cruise Excursion Bus Driver Unable To Make Bail - Remains Jailed

Roland AllenBVI Platinum News reports that Roland Allen, the driver of the bus carrying Princess Cruises passengers on an excursion into Tortola, cannot make the $60.000 bail and will remain imprisoned.

The article shows a photograph of Mr. Allen, nicknamed "Crash Dummy," wearing a red sport shirt, waving with his mouth open. It is not the type of photo I would want if I were a criminal defense lawyer and my client stood accused of causing death by reckless driving.  He looks like a jokester.

The prosecutors are still preparing the case for trial. The article mentions that the prosecutors are  awaiting statements from U.S. witnesses. The Magistrate scheduled another hearing for April 21st.  

Mr. Allen's lawyer requested a modification of the bail.  The Magistrate said no.  So "Crash Dummy" remains in jail.

We have written many articles on this sad case,

 

Credits:

Photograph                    BVI Platinum News

Princess Cruises Excursion Accident - Sad Sight Remains In Tortola

A reader sent us a link to the photograph below which, if you have been following our blog for the past month, you should recognize is the site of the tragic cruise excursion bus accident in Tortola in February.  One young man died and several other passengers from a Princess Cruises cruise ship were injured as the bus sped down "Windy Hill" road and crashed into the side of the hill before flipping over in the road.

Tortola Cruise Excursion Bus Accident - Princess CruisesAlthough the accident occurred almost one month ago, rocks and debris remain on the road.  In a post entitled "Not My Job Mon," several readers of Travel Talk Online have commented on the embarrassment of the government of Tortola being unable to clean up the accident site over the past many weeks. 

One reader commented: "Maybe the "Crash Dummy" could clean it up in his orange jump suit!! That is crazy!!"

You will recall that "Crash Dummy" is the cruise excursion bus driver, Roland Allen, who is in jail awaiting trial for dangerous driving.  We have covered Mr. Allen's driving record and criminal record in previous blogs.  

It is unacceptable that a cruise line like Princess Cruises would use an old bus driven by a known reckless driver with a criminal record. 

Tortola's tourist board convened press conferences following the deadly bus crash and promised to look into this accident.  They vowed to improve the safety of the taxis and buses carrying cruise passengers and other tourists. 

Is this just happy talk to appease the cruise lines? 

Why hasn't the tourist board erected a memorial on the side of the road to remember the young man who died?   Why hasn't Tortola installed "caution" or "slow down" signs on the hill to remind other drivers to be careful?

Or at least pushed the rocks off the road to avoid other accidents?     

 

Credits:

Photograph     Travel Talk Online 

More Trouble for Princess Cruises Excursion Bus Driver

BVI Platinum News reports that cruise excursion bus driver Roland Allen is in trouble with the Tortola police again.

Roland Allen - Tortola - Cruise Excursion - Bus DriverMr. Allen - known in the community as "Crash Dummy" - was the driver of the green excursion bus which crashed on "Windy Hill Road" on February 24, 2010  while transporting cruise passengers from a Princess Cruises' cruise ship.  One cruise passenger died and multiple others were injured.

A few days before the bus accident, a theft occurred when someone broke into a home and stole various items including a laptop computer. Mr. Allen's girlfriend, one Emesha Henry, came into possession of the stolen laptop. The newspaper reports that  Ms. Henry resides from time to time at Mr. Allen's apartment.  It is less than clear from the article whether Mr. Allen or his girlfriend or someone else committed the burglary.

According to this news source, when police arrived on the scene of the excursion bus accident, the police asked Mr. Allen about his girlfriend.  Later, a police officer overheard Mr. Allen speaking on his cell phone.  As it turns out, Mr. Allen had called his girlfriend and told her to remove a stolen laptop computer from his apartment and hide the stolen item in a vehicle parked outside.

The police thereafter arrested Ms. Henry and charged her with handling stolen goods. A trial is scheduled for June 2, 2010. There is no indication in the news article that Mr. Allen was charged with any wrongdoing, although it would appear that he should be charged with aiding and abetting his girlfriend in the criminal offense if this story is accurate.  

Another article in the BVI News reports that the police suspect Mr. Allen to be involved in the burglary.  The article reports that the thief stole "gold plated earrings, gold rings, gold ankle chain, a lap top, a notebook computer, designer handbag and a silver ring . . ."

We have reported on Mr. Allen's troubles in prior articles:

How Did Princess Cruises Excursion Bus Driver "Crash Dummy" Earn His Nick Name? - Why Does He Have A Police Record? 

Did Princess Cruises Check the Driving Record of Excursion Bus Driver, Crash Dummy? 

Brake Malfunction? Defense Lawyers for Princess Cruises and Bus Driver Disagree on Cause of Tortola Excursion Accident 

Police Arrest Driver of Princess Cruises Excursion Bus In Tortola 

The readers to the BVI Platinum News article are having a field day with Mr. Allen's involvement in this alleged crime.  To say the least, it is repugnant that "Crash Dummy" was engaged in such conduct as a cruise passenger was dying following the crash.

"Cindy" writes: "If this is the case, how many more unsolved robberies or more serious crimes is this young man responsible for?"

"Got a side job?" writes: Seems like "crash" also goes by the name of "smash and grab."

"Good job" writes: "What a call to make after your driving just caused a man his life!!!"

In the comments to the BVI News article, Mr. Allen is referred to as "crash" and "smash and grab," and his girlfriend, Ms. Henry, as "crash chic."   

 

Credits:

Roland Allen  photograph    BVI Platinum News
 

Tortola Tourist Board - Let Cruise Excursion Bus Story "Die Naturally"

BVI News and BVI Platinum News continue their excellent coverage of the tragic and deadly crash of the  Princess Cruises' excursion bus in Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI) with an article entitled "It could Have Been Worse."

PR Nightmare

The BVI Tourist Board is trying to manage the public relations nightmare of the death and multiple injuries of U.S. cruise tourists on a bus with no seat belts being driven by a bus driver with an arrest history and prior conviction record for reckless driving nicknamed "Crash Dummy."

The Director of the BVI tourist Board, Ms. Hadassah Ward (photograph below, left), is struggling with crisis management efforts following this debacle.  Ms. Ward scheduled a press conference yesterday where she announced that "it could have been worse."

Tortola Excursion Bus Accident - Princess CruisesI'm not sure I understand exactly how it "could have been worse."

A young man died needlessly on a cruise excursion, purchased by his loving parents for his birthday, because of the obvious negligence of the excursion company and cruise line which saw fit to associate itself with a substandard tour company which hired a known reckless driver nicknamed "Crash Dummy" operating a bus not suited for mountainous terrain.

Ms. Ward should have said "this should have never happened."

Instead we see Ms. Ward and her "Tourist Board" worrying about the image of her island and fretting about the press and the blogs covering the tragic story.

Muzzle the Press?

Ms. Ward announced that "one of the Board’s role is to monitor the media  . . .  to ensure accurate information is being disseminated.  Ms. Ward  also said she would monitor the "posted pictures of the accident . . . because it will be there for the next 10 to 20 years . . . "

Mr Ward is quoted as saying: "everyone is reading the blogs and newspapers… so we don’t want the information to be misconstrued where people will be affected in terms of liability . . . we need to understand that the blogs are read internationally."

She also noted that "good attitude from the Tourist Board officials" quelled any videos and photographs from being circulated online by the 16 tourists who were involved in the accident.

Ms. Ward concluded her remarks by stating "I am a great believer in letting the story die naturally . . ." 

This is the essence of tourist boards and cruise line PR people - they just want the story to go away.

Cruise Excursion - Princess Cruises - TortolaWe reported in a prior blog that this is not the first cruise bus excursion to run off the road and injure cruise passengers in Tortola - "Brake Malfunction? Defense Lawyers for Princess Cruises and Bus Driver Disagree on Cause of Tortola Excursion Accident."  Nothing was done after that disaster. 

History is repeating itself.  

Let's Be Happy & Forget about It

So we have the Tortola Tourist Board trying to puzzle the press and control the images of the tragedy for PR purposes. 

And the island and cruise line people behind the scenes just want the story to die naturally . . . 

And then what? 

Another season of substandard buses, with no seat belts, with reckless drivers . . . and another round of unsuspecting cruise passengers taking their families on the next bus driven by a "Crash Dummy"   . . .  

Comments From Tortola:

Here are some of the comments to the BVI News story that the Tortola Tourist Board is concerned with:

An accident waiting to happen is no accident. Hiring a driver with driving infractions and one of which was reckless driving to operate your tour bus is irresponsible and negligent. The owner of the tour bus too, is guilty of negligence which contributed to this vehicular homicide. Just because these tourists were given a heap of hush money as incentives not to file a lawsuit (we hope) and to keep things quiet, doesn't mean that TB should be issuing insensitive words " It could have been worse" because frankly, it could not have been worse . .

Tortola - Cruise Bus - Crash Dummy - Princess CruisesCould have been worse?? Oh it's just one life....I mean come on. You're talking about insurance and all that...I mean if we have people operating and transporting persons and they have no license to drive or no insurance to operate heir vehicles then we have a very serious flaw in the system! Don't give me that could have been worse story. With as much violations this guy should he even be driving much less responsible for transporting this many people? These are peoples lives we're talking about! 

License or no license, hiring a driver with a record of driving infractions including reckless driving, whose nickname is Crash Dummy should be good reason to revoke his license to operate a tour bus. Lackadaisical, slackness, don't care with attitude are words to describe the way business is conducted in this place from top to bottom.

March 11, 2010 Update:

Two newspaper stories from Tortola today address the efforts of the Tourist Board to assist the parents of the deceased cruise passenger, Mr. Rumphrey.  The BVI News has an article "BVITB Reports on its Efforts to Assist Family of Tourist Killed in Road Accident."  The BVIU Beacon also reports on the Tourist Board's efforts to assist the affected passengers in an article "BVITB Aids Family of Man Killed in Wreck."  Ms. Ward is quoted saying: "Yes, bad things do happen in paradise, but when they do happen, you have a support group.”

 

Credits:

Photograph of Ms. Ward         BVI News

Photographs of bus                   BVI Platinum News    

 

Did Princess Cruises Check the Driving Record of Excursion Bus Driver, Crash Dummy?

A story in the BVI Platinum's newspaper indicates that the cruise excursion bus driver Roland Allen, nick-named "Crash Dummy," had been convicted of driving offenses - including reckless driving - before the ill-fated Princess Cruises excursion bus crash. 

We suspected this, as we raised this issue in a prior article "How Did Princess Cruises Excursion Bus Driver "Crash Dummy" Earn His Nick Name? - Why Does He Have A Police Record?"

Compelling Record of Bad Driving?

In an article " Allen's License Suspended, Independent Mechanic to Examine Bus," the newspaper reveals an exchange between the bus driver's lawyer and the criminal Magistrate presiding over the matter. The lawyer for Mr. Allen pleaded the Magistrate not to suspend Mr. Allen's license.  In response, the Magistrate:

 ". . . lamented that the court was given a conviction sheet of Allen and most of the offences are road traffic offences with one being reckless driving. 'The allegations are compelling' she stated."

The newspaper also reports on a curious plea by Mr. Allen's lawyer who "told the court that tour operator is his only means of income and suspending it will deprive Allen of his livelihood."  This Tropical Forest Hike & Beach - Princess Cruises - Cancelledargument ignored the fact that the cruise line had already suspended the tour in question, the "Tropical Forest Hike and Beach" excursion, as previously reported in USA Today.  The Princess Cruises' website states: Tropical Forest Hike & Beach***Cancelled***

The Magistrate ruled that given Mr. Allen's previous convictions, "it is not wise to allow him to return behind the wheels." 

Was It Wise to Permit "Crash Dummy" Behind the Wheel In The First Place?

Cruise lines have certain legal duties to their passengers.  The cruise line must conduct an investigation into the safety procedures of the tour company and audit the tour's safety record.  This includes not only inspecting the excursion company's buses but inspecting the driving records of the tour company's drivers.  Cruise lines also have a duty to warn passengers of dangers which are known, or should be known, to the cruise line.

Princess Cruises advertises the excursion bus going to the "highest peak in the Virgin Islands."

Why did the cruise line permit a driver - known in the community of Tortola as "Crash Dummy" and reportedly convicted of reckless driving - take cruise passengers through this steep mountainous terrain?  Why didn't the cruise line warn its passengers of these dangers before charging them $59 a piece for the excursion?

 

Credits:

Tropical Forest Hike and Beach         Princess Cruises

How Did Princess Cruises Excursion Bus Driver "Crash Dummy" Earn His Nick Name? - Why Does He Have A Police Record?

In an article entitled "Taxi Driver Granted $60,000 Bail - License Suspended," BVI News in Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI) reports that the driver of the Princess Cruises excursion bus arrested for reckless driving and causing death by reckless driving has been offered bail in the amount $60,000.  The Magistrate set bail of $25,000 cash and a $35,000 surety.

BVI citizen Roland Allen was arrested following the crash of a bus carrying cruise passengers from a Princess Cruise ship on an excursion into Tortola. The accident occurred as the cruise excursion bus was descending a very steep road called "Windy Hill Road." 

Roland Allen - Crash Dummy - Tortola - Princess CruisesThe Magistrate suspended Mr. Allen's license, pending the outcome of his trial regarding the death of cruise passenger Aaron Rumphrey who died in the crash.  

The BVI News reports that Mr. Allen's next court appearance is March 25, 2010.

"Crash Dummy" Arrested For Theft?

BVI News previously reported that the excursion bus driver is known as "Crash Dummy," a nick-name Mr. Allen apparently obtained before the fatal cruise excursion bus accident.

An online "Police Blotter" indicates that "Roland Allen of Baughers Bay" was arrested for theft in July of last year.  There are no details online available to explain the nature of the alleged theft, or how the charges were resolved. 

The comments to the online reports refer to Mr. Allen as "Crash Dummy," suggesting that Mr. Allen's reputation as a "crash dummy" existed before the terrible cruise line excursion accident. 

How Did "Crash Dummy" Earn His Nick Name?

The question remains how and when Mr. Roland earned the unenviable label of being a "crash  dummy?"  Has the cruise excursion driver been involved in other accidents?

A clue may be found in the comments of a reader of the BVI News:

"When you hire a driver that you know (or should know) is a reckless driver, he has been involved with the law several times because of his driving habits and you know that around town his name is "Crash Dummy", and you have not informed unsuspecting customers by placing a sign on the bus "Ride at your own Risk, Dangerous Driver" then you are as guilty and responsible for the outcome and should be in Balsum and your company shut down immediately. You, the driver and the BVI Government share the responsibility for this travesty and the lawsuits will be piling up, no doubt."

Why Did Princess Cruises Permit Cruise Passengers To Be Driven By "Crash Dummy?"

It is an understatement to say that it is reckless for the cruise line to herd unsuspecting cruise tourists into a bus without seat belts to be driven over a steep hill by a driver called "Crash Dummy" with a police record and apparently a history of driving violations.

Mr. Allen's driving record and police history will become a focus of investigators.  We will be discussing this outrageous situation created by Princess Cruises in our next blogs.

A Hero or Villian? 

Another newspaper in BVI, the BVI Beacan, reports that the prosecutors in Tortola intend to prove that Mr. Roland was driving recklessly.  The newspaper quotes the prosecutor saying: 

“The vehicle started to accelerate and despite efforts, the driver was unable to bring the vehicle to a stop . . .  We are claiming that his driving was reckless because he was going at a speed at which he was unable to control the vehicle . . . a loud screeching was heard from the brakes . . .  [Mr. Allen] ought to have known” about any problems with the excursion bus.

However, Mr. Allen's defense lawyer argued to the Court that when his client "started down the hill, he put the bus into second gear but realised there were no brakes. He tried pumping the brakes but the vehicle sped down the hill, not because of Mr. Allen’s actions, but because it was heavy with the tourists’ weight."

“He had no alternative but to put the bus in those ruins. If he’d done anything else he would have gone off the hill. He should be commended.”

Brake Malfunction? Defense Lawyers for Princess Cruises and Bus Driver Disagree on Cause of Tortola Excursion Accident

In our first article regarding the excursion tour bus accident in Tortola, we explained that while Princess Cruises sent "customer care" representatives to the island to meet with the survivors of the crash - the cruise line also sent Miami defense trial lawyers to defend the cruise line's interests. 

The Cruise Line Gets Lawyered Up

The attorney heading up Princess Cruises' defense is Jeffrey Maltzman from the Maltzman Foreman law firm in Miami. Mr. Maltzman is an experienced and skilled trial lawyer who routinely defends cruise lines and excursion companies in high profile trials. 

Jeffrey Maltman - Cruise Line Defense LawyerMr. Maltzman is best known for his successful defense of Cunard Line and Fun Water Tours following the crash of an excursion truck in Tortola British Virgin Islands (BVI) in November 2005.  The case  is highlighted in an article appearing in the National Law Journal entitled "Defense Team Found the Needle in the Haystack." 

The article explains that 8 cruise passengers from Cunard's Queen Mary 2 visiting Tortola were injured when the brakes of the excursion truck failed, causing the vehicle to crash in the side of a mountain.  The issue of the brake failure and whether the excursion company and cruise line knew of the brake problem were the central focus of the trial.  As the article explains, millions of dollars in compensation were at issue.    

Although the article explains that "odds were overwhelmingly against" the cruise line at the beginning, Mr. Maltzman and his partner, Jeffrey Forman, successfully defended the case.  Mr. Foreman is quoted as saying "there's a saying that pigs get slaughtered . . . If you make them look like they're greedy . . .  that usually has an impact.  So we tried to paint them as greedy, exaggerating, malingering."  The tactic worked, as the jury decided against all of the cruise passengers and Mr. Maltzman won a defense jury verdict for the cruise line and excursion company.  

Princess Cruises Denies Brake Malfunction?

Mr. Maltzman has been on the Caribbean Princess cruise ship this week interviewing the passengers injured in the latest excursion crash in Tortola.  His firm has what is called an "Emergency Response Team" where defense lawyers are scrambled to respond to cruise disasters.

Some passengers suggest that a "customer care" representative from Princess and Carnival introduced Mr. Maltzman as an "independent investigator" (although Mr. Maltzman identified himself as a lawyer for the cruise line).    

Tortola Excursion Bus Accident - Princess Cruises - Brake Failure?Mr. Maltzman is reportedly telling some of the passengers that the tour bus' air brakes were checked out by investigators and no problems were discovered.  It is less than clear whether the investigators were retained by the police or the defense lawyers on behalf of the cruise line. 

The defense strategy is already taking shape - the cruise line will deny that the accident was due to brake failure or any defect in the excursion bus or, if there was a problem with the brakes, neither the driver nor the excursion company or cruise line knew about it beforehand.  Princess Cruises will argue that it should not be responsible because this was just an isolated incident due to the momentary carelessness of the bus driver. 

Or in other words, the bus driver may turn out to be the "fall guy."

The Bus Driver Gets Lawyered Up

BVI Platinum News, which is providing excellent coverage of this tragic accident, reports that the bus driver, Roland Allen, retained a defense lawyer, Stephan Daniels.  BVI News reports that Mr. Allen is also known as "Crash Dummy."   

Roland Allen - Bus Driver - Tortola Excursion Accident - Princess CruisesMr. Daniels appeared in Court yesterday in an effort to try and get his client out of jail, following his arrest two days ago.  In an article entitled "Mechanical Problems May Have Caused Tuesday's Accident,"  BVI News describes what the bus driver's lawyer argued to the Court:

"Daniels told the court that his client was not aware that there was a brake malfunction when he was going down the hill, however as he applied the brake, he realized that it had failed.

Further, Daniels told the court that once Allen realized what was occurring, he tried his best to avoid the accident by gearing down, while attempting to brace the vehicle to the side of the hill to slow down the bus.

Daniels explained that the vehicle collided with the foundation of a church ruin and toppled. The Lawyer said that if this was not done, the accident could have been worse.

He said that it was clearly a mechanical malfunction that resulted in the accident and his client was not reckless."

The Court nonetheless declined to release Mr. Allen, but will consider the matter further at a hearing on March 2nd.

The Cruise Continues

Although none of the passengers have even ended their ill fated cruise, the defense lawyers for the cruise line and bus driver are posturing to defend their clients.  Princess Cruises has an excellent lawyer in Mr. Maltzman who has won this type of case before.  The bus driver should hope that his defense lawyer is equally talented.

 

Credits:

Jeffrey Maltzman       Superlawyers

Excursion Bus           BVI Platinum News

Roland Allen             BVI Platinum News  

Princess Cruises Passenger is Remembered as an "Easy, Gracious Man"

13WHAM in Rochester, New York has a story on Aaron Rumphrey, who passed away during a shore excursion in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.  He had been cruising with his parents.  Written by Elizabeth Schubert, the article is entitled "Easy, Gracious Man."

Aaron RumphreyMr. Rumphrey attended classes at the Cobblestone Arts Center in Farmington, New York. His teachers and friends there remember him as "just a sweet young man." 

The director of the center is quoted as saying that Mr. Rumphrey "was very creative, loved stories, creating stories, had a great sense of humor. He would always make jokes with the other students."

The article also mentions that the center is planning a tribute for Mr. Rumphrey, and may create a scholarship or name a dance studio at the center after him.

 

 

 

Credits:

Article                              Elizabeth Schubert 

Photograph                   13WHAM Rochester, New York

Police Arrest Driver of Princess Cruises Excursion Bus In Tortola

The police in Tortola arrested the driver of the excursion bus used by Princess Cruises to transport cruise passengers from the Caribbean Princess cruise ship to the "Tropical Forest Hike and Beach" tour sold by the cruise line. 

BVI News Online reports that the police took Roland Allen, age 32, of Baughers Bay, Tortola BVI, into custody last night and charged with "causing death by dangerous driving."

Tortola BVI - Bus Excursion Accident - Princess CruisesWe reported on this tragedy yesterday in an article "Excursion Tour Bus Crash In Tortola Injures Princess Cruises' Passengers From Caribbean Princess."

The article mentions that the deceased passenger, previously identified as Aaron Humphrey, has bean identified as Aaron Rumphrey, from Honeoye, New York. 

Mr. Rumphrey and his parents had previously been hiking with 17 other passengers from Princess Cruises' cruise ship.  When the tour bus ran off the road, Mr. Rumphrey was ejected through the front windshield.  The tour bus did not have either seat belts or shoulder harnesses.

Cruise lines like Princess are legally obligated to investigate and audit excursion companies used  for the tours advertised and sold by the cruise lines so that the passengers are reasonably safe.  Using a bus with no seat belts or shoulder harnesses is unreasonably dangerous, particularly given the road conditions in Tortola.   

An article today on WHEC.com describes the young man as "kind and friendly."  Mr. Rumphrey had been a student at the Cobblestone Arts Center in New York in an arts program for students with developmental disabilities.  The article describes how he would make other students laugh and inspire them.  A supervisor at the program is quoted saying "he was a great guy.”

February 25, 2010 Update:

Princess Cruises Passenger is Remembered as an "Easy, Gracious Man"

 

Photo Credit:

Cruise excursion bus            BVI Platinum News

 

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

CruiseCritic reports that an excursion tour bus taking passengers from Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess cruise ship crashed in Tortola.

In an article entitled "Tragic Bus Accident on Cruise-Sponsored Shore Excursion,"  the CruiseCritic website reports that the cruise sponsored tour bus was headed to a "Tropical Forest Hike and Beach." 

Princess Cruises Excursion - Tortola - Tour Bus AccidentThe tour bus (photo left) "went off the road and flipped earlier today.  Of the 20 passengers onboard, one person was killed and two others were seriously injured."

According to CruiseCritic, the injured passengers were taken to a local hospital, while the other passengers were taken back to the cruise ship. The passenger who died was a 24-year-old man from Rochester, New York, on vacation with his parents, who were also on the tour.

BVI News Online reports that the deceased passenger is Aaron Humphry who died at at Peebles Hospital as a result of injuries sustained in the accident.

The BVI News reports that twenty cruise ship passengers from the Caribbean Princess were on a tour bus descending onto the Windy Hill Road on Tortola when the driver struck an embankment and the vehicle overturned.

Seven passengers were taken to the hospital while the other 13 passengers were assessed at the scene and taken back to the cruise ship. Five were treated and discharged while one passenger has been retained for a fractured shoulder bone. The unidentified driver was treated and released.

Princess Cruises issued a statement that it is "providing support to the family during this difficult time."  Behind the scenes, Princess Cruises is also sending a team of lawyers from Miami to Tortola to begin to defend the cruise line's interests.  The same Miami cruise line defense lawyers who traveled to the Star Princess when it caught fire near Jamaica in 2006 are flying to Tortola today.

The Princess Cruises web site describes the tour bus as an "open air safari bus."  (However, the bus in the BVI News photograph appears to be an enclosed bus).  Princess Cruises describes the excursion as follows:

"This excursion visits two of Tortola's most popular attractions--Sage Mountain National Park and one of its beautiful beaches . . . Board your open-air safari bus and drive along the island's scenic Ridge Road to Sage Mountain National Park  . . . 

Dominica truck excursion crash - Celebrity CruisesThis is the second serious excursion vehicular accident in the last year. 

Exactly one year ago today, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises'  Summit cruise ship were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica (photo left).  We are representing passengers against the cruise line and the excursion company in that accident.

Information on the Dominica excursion accident is contained in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."

"Open air safari" buses and other similar vehicles in the Caribbean are often designed without seat belts or shoulder harnesses, and the vehicles are also often substandard.  It remains to be seen what the local police's investigation reveals about this particular accident.

It is also likely that the defense lawyers for the cruise line have already hired their own experts to take a look at the vehicle with an eye toward defending the cruise line.  Most excursion companies associated with the cruise line are required to maintain liability insurance with U.S. Tortola excursion crash - Princess Cruisesinsurance underwriters.  These underwriters work with the cruise line to maintain a united defense against any passenger who is injured in excursion accidents like this.    

The BVI Platinum News has a slide show of detailed photographs of the damages excursion bus after the accident, which are available online.  

February 24, 2010 Update:

The deceased passenger has been correctly identified as Aaron Rumphrey.

The police arrested the driver of the excursion bus - Police Arrest Driver of Princess Cruises Excursion Bus In Tortola.

 

Credit:

CruiseJunkie.com

Photograph of Tortola bus excursion accident     BVI News Online

Photograph of Dominica excursion crash         thedominican.net 

Photographs (slide show) of Tortola excursion bus                 BVI Platinum News 
 

Carnival Passenger Dies During Paragliding Accident in Cozumel

A number of newspapers are reporting that a Carnival cruise passenger from Philadelphia died while paragliding during a stop in Cozumel.

Joseph Job (Sajan) - Carnival Cruise - Paragliding The South Asian Mail reports that Mr. Joseph Job (Sajan), age 40, was paragliding with friends in Mexico when his harness broke and he fell into the sea. 

Mr. Job was a native of Thrissur, Kerala and became a U.S. citizen.

The Web Malayalee newspaper indicates that Mr. Job is survived by his wife and daughters. 

Every year many cruise passengers are killed or seriously injured during excursions in ports of call.  We have seen many accidents involving parasailing, zip-lining, snorkeling, diving, and renting jet skis in Mexican and Caribbean ports of call.  Compounding the issue is the generally inferior medical and rescue services in these ports. 

It is unknown whether the paragliding excursion was advertised and sold by Carnival.  

Update: February 12, 2010:

Cruise Critic contains a comment by a reader that the passenger was from the Carnival Imagination cruise ship.  The reader was apparently the first one to notify the family and Carnival:  

"Incident happened at around 5:00 and Carnival reacted at 7:30 PM. We informed on the emergency number given on Carnival Capers. Carnival Imagination security team acknowledge that there local agent (emergency no. on Capers is of this agent) goofed up in Cozumel." 

 

Credit:

Photograph of Mr. Joseph Job (Sajan)               South Asian Mail

Nassau Welcomes Oasis of the Seas as Bahamas' Murder Count Reaches Record-Breaking Level

Nassau's venerable newspaper, the Nassau Guardian, published two interesting headlines in its weekend edition.

Nassau Guardian

The first headline was "Oasis Makes Grand Arrival."

The second? "Record-Breaking Murder Count."

The newspaper reports that the arrival of Royal Caribbean's new mega-ship Oasis of the Seas brought out the Government of the Bahamas in great display. 200 government officials were in attendance as the Oasis arrived in Nassau Harbour. 

Oasis of the Seas - Nassau - BahamsPrime Minister Hubert Ingraham presided over a "Plaques and Keys" ceremony welcoming the cruise ship to the country.  The Prime Minister boarded the ship along with hundreds of government officials to meet and greet Royal Caribbean International President Adam Goldstein and the Master of the vessel, William Wright.

The newspaper also reports that the Bahamas Defense Force Band played with great fanfare, as it welcomed the 4,000 Royal Caribbean passengers into the country.

Perhaps it was only fitting that the Bahamas had a military band in attendance given the recent high profile robberies of cruise passengers.  29 passengers were robbed at gunpoint in Nassau in the last two months, including Royal Caribbean passengers who paid for cruise sponsored Oasis of the Seas - Bahamas Defense Force Bandexcursions. 

We have reported on this before in Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues.  

The newspaper quotes the new Commissioner of Police, Ellison Greenslade, that crime in the Bahamas is at a significant and unacceptable level:

"This year our country has experienced one of the highest murder rates in its entire history. Individuals are now concerned because crime has crept into our number one industry [and] the lifeblood of our economy, tourism. The Royal Bahamas Police Force is mandated to act and act we must."

The Bahamas has invested heavily into its relationship with Royal Caribbean.  It just spent over $40 million dollars to dredge the port to accommodate the cruise line's new mega-ship. 

There are around 2 million cruise passengers a year who venture into Nassau, each spending at least $100 in addition to the head taxes. 

An article in the Bahamas Tribune entitled "Welcome Oasis" suggests that the number may be as high as 2.8 million cruise passengers who enter the Bahamas. Each cruise line collect tens of millions of dollars selling excursions into the Bahamas. 

Cruise tourism in Nassau is big business.  Hundreds of millions dollars exchange hands between the U.S. passengers, the Miami based cruise lines, the Bahamian government, and the local vendors in Nassau.

But If substantial monies are not wisely invested into additional and better trained police officers to protect the cruise tourists (not to mention the citizens of the Bahamas), the headlines of the Nassau Guardian may be:

"Crime Increases" and "Oasis Makes Grand Departure."   

Oasis of the Seas - Nassau Bahamas

 

 

Credits:

Nassau Guardian                              Nassau Guardian

Bahamas Government Officials      BIS photo/Derek Smith via The Bahamas Weekly 

Bahamas Defense Force Band      Robin Whachell via the Bahamas Weekly

Oasis of the Seas                               BIS photo/Derek Smith via The Bahamas Weekly

 

Crime in Caribbean Ports of Call Against Cruise Passengers

The Chicago Sun Times has an article today regarding the impact of crime against cruise passengers in the Bahamas.  The article is entitled "Sometimes, it's not better in the Bahamas - Armed robberies in Nassau have tourists, cruise lines on the defensive."

Better in the Bahamas?  Crime against Cruise Passengers The article is by a Disney cruise passenger, Carney Milne, who took the now infamous Segway tour into the 160 acre nature preserve called "Earth Village" last month.

Ms. Milne toured the preserve with eight other passengers from Disney's cruise ship, the Wonder.  Two hooded and armed gunmen forced her and the other passengers to the ground.  She vividly describes that she was "paralyzed by fear" as one gunman pumped his shotgun and later fired a warning shot as he robbed the passengers of their valuables.

The robbers then turned their guns on nine cruise ship passengers, from Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, after they arrived on the scene riding their Segways.

After the robbery, the Bahamian police repeatedly told her that “this never happens in the Bahamas. Never.”  But after returning to the U.S., she learned that’s not true. She reports that "an almost identical mass armed robbery took place a month earlier at Queen’s Staircase, another popular tourist destination. Eleven cruise passengers were held at gunpoint and robbed of their cash, jewelry and other belongings."

We discussed the "Queen's Staircase" armed robberies in October - Eleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau.  No one else in the U.S. covered this brazen armed robbery of cruise tourists in downtown Nassau on a beautiful Sunday morning. 

The New York Times recently ran an story called "When Crime Comes to Paradise."  Written by Caribbean crimes against cruise passengers in ports of callMichelle Higgins in the Times' "Practical Traveler" section, the article suggests that crime is rising in Belize, Dominican Republic, Trinidad & Tobago, and St. Lucia. 

Just yesterday we reported on 14 Cruise Passengers Robbed at Anse-La-Raye Waterfall in St. Lucia

Again, no newspaper in the U.S. covered this story of cruise passengers being robbed while on a cruise sponsored excursion.

I was quoted today in the Chicago Sun Times article saying: "This isn’t random — these cruise tours are being targeted . . . you’re not going to be targeted for armed robbery as a cruise tourist on a ship from Seattle to Alaska. It’s more of a reflection of what’s happening in the Caribbean and the poverty that exists outside of the city limits, and people who are desperate for money.”

Now, the tourism boards in St. Lucia and the Bahamas are not going to be happy with stories like these.  But the fact of the matter is that 43 cruise passengers have been robbed at gunpoint in the last two months.

The Bahamas still sell t-shirts claiming that its "Better in the Bahamas."  And the cruise lines keep these crimes secret as they make hundreds of millions of dollars selling excursions to unsuspecting guests who are offloaded into increasingly dangerous ports of call. 

 

Credits

"Caribbean Crime and Violence"    Douglas A. Lawson

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

The St. Lucia Star newspaper reports that on December 9, 2009, 14 "cruise ship visitors" and tour guides were robbed at gunpoint at a popular tourist attraction in St. Lucia. I learned of the incident Anse-La-Rayeon Professor Ross Klein's website "Cruise Junkie."

The incident occurred at the River Rock Waterfall in Anse-La-Raye.

The newspaper reports that 14 tourists had traveled in a tour to the waterfall.  They were in the process of boarding a "safari jeep," in preparation to return to the cruise ship. Four masked men armed with firearms and knives approached the cruise passengers and robbed them of their jewelry and cash.  One of the tour guides was physically injured. 

Anse-La-Raye is a beach village where fishing boats are pulled up on the beach by the main street next to rum shops and small restaurants.  The community is known for its outdoor "Friday fish fry" and Piton beer.  The Anse-La-Raye website describes the waterfall as the "perfect place to spend several hours in quiet reflection.  There is often a local musician strumming his guitar and singing soulful reggae numbers in a quiet salute to Bob Marley."

However, there are multiple accounts of violence in Anse-La-Raye as well as near the port.  A Anse-La-Raye fish frycouple of years ago, Canada's "Next Top Model" and her traveling companion were robbed in Castries, St. Lucia after walking a short distance from the cruise ship - "Model's Paradise Turns into Nightmare."  After reporting the robbery, the Canadian passenger complained that "both the local police and the cruise line offered little assistance or sympathy."

"I don't want this to happen to anyone else . . . I think the cruise ship should have warned us."

This sparked a heated discussion on the popular CruiseCritic site about crime in St. Lucia and whether the crimes were being covered up.

Earlier this year, four crew members from a private yacht Diamond Girl were robbed at gunpoint while hiking near Anse-La-Raye. 

In an article entitled "Caribbean Crime," Dockwatch (described as "the essential site for captains and crew") reports that crime on St. Lucia has sparked particular concern in the Caribbean. “The St Lucia government has ordered the police to take back the streets following the murder of six persons and an open threat from criminals to assassinate law enforcement officials,” said Edwin W. Carrington, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), in his opening remarks at the Conference on Youth, Crime and Violence in St. Kitts and Nevis last June.

Violence in Anse-La-Raye is also described in this YouTube video entitled "Talking crime in Anse-La-Raye:" 

 

 

We have discussed the legal liability of cruise lines when cruise passengers are robbed or murdered during excursions into ports of call in the Caribbean.  

Norwegian Cruise Line Passenger Murdered in Guatemala

Eleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau

18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the Bahamas

Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues

St. Lucia is one of the regular ports of call for Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise ships (shown below):

St. Lucia - Royal Caribbean cruise ship

 

Credits:

Anse-La-Raye & St. Lucia port (Castries) Julie Leigh of Oxfordshire LEA

Anse-La-Raye fish fry            canadianworldtraveller.com

YouTube video Anse-La-Raye crime    Salaison

 

Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues

The fall-out from last Saturday's robbery of 18 Royal Caribbean and Disney cruise passengers on the Segway Tour at "Earth Village" continues.  The Tribune, Bahama Journal, and Nassau Guardian newspapers have reported daily Bahamas Triibune Newspaper - Cruise Crime on the crime spree in the Bahamas and the inability of the government to do anything about it.

Fort Lauderdale's Sun Sentinel newspapers also recently reported on the cruise crime in an article entitled "Bahamas Security to be Beefed Up After U.S. Cruise Ship Passengers Robbed."

A Terrifying Near Death Experience

The cruise lines' PR departments initially released statements claiming that no one was injured.

Yet, recent interviews of cruise passengers reveal that some of the passengers were kicked, pushed, hit, and terrorized. 

A Royal Caribbean passenger reported being kicked by one of the robbers who discharged his shotgun as she laid on the ground.  The passenger was terrified that she would be murdered.  In an article in the Nassau Guardian entitled "Visitor from Ireland Tells of Ordeal with Gunman,"  she described one of the robbers instructing her: 

"Get your head down bitch' and he fired off a shot, which was just beside me. It hit the ground just beside me."

Another passenger from a cruise ship provides a graphic first hand account of the robbery in an article on AOL Travel entitled: " Danger In Paradise: I was Robbed at Gunpoint in the Bahamas."  She indicates that the Bahamian  police falsely told her after she was robbed that " this never happens here. Never."

Connection to Last Month's Crime?

The Bahama Journal's article "Tourist Robberies May Be Linked," suggests that there may be a connection between this crime and the robbery of 11 cruise passengers at the "Queen's Staircase" in downtown Nassau.  If you have not heard of this prior crime, its because no one in the U.S. reported on it and the cruise lines kept it a secret from their own guests.

We reported about this robbery last month and commented that most cruise lines are aware of crime problems in the ports which they choose to disembark their passengers, but they don't  warn passengers in order to maximize excursion sales.

Inside Job?

The Tribune indicates that a representative of Bahamas Association for Social Health (BASH), Mr. Bishop Hall - Bahamas - Crime and ChaosTerry Miller (below, left) , suggests that the latest robbery may have been an "inside job," although he declined to elaborate.  It is obviously suspicious that these two robbers would know exactly where and when to go in a 160 acre preserve to rob two groups of cruise passengers. 

"Chaotic Crime Nightmare" 

A popular Baptist preacher in the Bahamas, Bishop Simeon Hall (right), was interviewed about the crime problem and the recent attack on the cruise tourists. He is quoted in the Tribune newspaper as referring to  the "current crime nightmare" in the Bahamas as well as the "anarchy and chaos" of the Bahamian society. 

He criticizes the inability of the government to focus on issues of protecting the local citizens and tourists against crime.  Bishop Hall proposes a crime coalition to address the problem.

Serious Crime Up & The Police Release A Suspect

Today's Nassau Guardian reports that robberies in the Bahamas have increased 25% since last year. The Bahamian police are quoted as stating that there has been an increase in violent crimes like armed robbery and murder since July 1st of this year. Meanwhile, the newspaper indicates that the police released a suspect arrested in the "Segway" cruise excursion because of "insufficient evidence."   Police are not questioning any other suspects, the newspaper reports.

A 50% Cruise Discount & A Complimentary Excursion Tour?

The Tribune quotes Bahamas government official Mr. Miller as saying that "he would be willing to Terry Miller - Earth Village - Bahamas - Crimeoffer a complementary tour of the site to the victims."   And the popular cruise community Cruise Critic indicates that Royal Caribbean thinks its reasonable to "compensate" the victimized passengers with just a 50% off-your-next-cruise-with-us coupon.    

The trend of violent cruise crimes continue.  Yet,  the cruise lines remain clueless.

Who on earth would want to pay even 50% of the cruise fare to return to Nassau and visit the tour where you were robbed by shotgun? 

  

Credits:

Newspaper    The Tribune, Nassau

Bishop Hall photograph    New Covenant Baptist Church

Terry Miller photograph   The Tribune, Nassau

 

Lawyers USA Article Regarding Cruise Ship Litigation Features Firm, Clients & Friends

Lawyers USA (@LawyersUSA) just published an interesting article entitled  "Federal Cruise Ship Bill Pending in Congress but Plaintiff's Lawyers Say Measure doesn't Hold Water."  Written by Sylvia Hsieh, the article discusses what's new in the specialized field of cruise ship litigation. 

The article features our firm and our clients and friends.  

Cruise Crime

The article first mentions the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009 which will require peep holes on passenger doors, technology for overboard passengers, mandatory reporting of shipboard crimes, and training for crime scene preservation in light of the large number of shipboard rapes on cruise ships. 

Firm client Laurie Dishman, friend Ken Carver, and the International Cruise Victims ("ICV") organization are credited for spearheading the legislation.  Ms. Dishman and Mr. Carver were victimized by cruise line giant Royal Caribbean in separate cruise incidents. Ms. Dishman was a victim of sexual assault on Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship in 2006.  Mr. Carver's daughter Merrian disappeared in 2004 during a cruise aboard the Mercury, operated by Royal Caribbean's subsidiary Celebrity Cruises.

In both cases, the cruise line tried to cover the incidents up and treated Ms. Dishman and Mr. Carver dreadfully.  In response, Mr. Carver created the ICV which advocates safety for passengers on cruise ships.  Ms. Dishman is on the ICV's Board of Directors. 

The cruise safety bill should be voted on by the House of Representatives as early as next week. 

The article points out that the proposed legislation falls short in a number of areas.  The bill originally included an amendment to the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), which currently deprives damages to family members of passengers or crew members who die in international waters.  I have written about DOHSA in a previous blog entitled "The Death on the High Seas Act - Screwing American Passengers for 89 Years." 

The cruise industry's trade organization Cruise Line International Association (@CruiseFacts) killed the amendment after spending millions of its tax-free-money to lobby Congress. The article refers to CLIA lawyer Michael Crye, who admits the cruise industry opposes amending DOHSA "but he could not provide a reason for the opposition."

This is typical of CLIA's lack of candor.  The cruise industry opposes amending DOHSA because families will finally be fairly compensated when a loved one is killed on a cruise.  Cruise lines simply wish to avoid paying the compensation.

The article quotes Los Angeles attorney Michael Ehline, a good friend of the firm, that foreign flagged cruise ships consider themselves to be countries unto themselves.

"Arbitration" of Crew Member Cases

A hot topic in the world of cruise law is arbitration of claims involving injured crew members, who comprise over 98% of the cruise industry shipboard work force. All cruise lines are now forcing crew members to pursue their claims in arbitration, where the crew members lose the right to a jury trial. Some cruise lines are requiring the arbitration to take place in either the country of the flag of the cruise ship or the crew member's home country.   

This is pretty much a joke, and some cruise line defense lawyers agree privately.  This is why the article states that "attorneys for Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines did not return calls seeking comment for this article."  

The Court of Appeal for the 11th Circuit recently held that, in certain circumstances, cruise lines may compel the crew member to arbitration outside of the U.S.  However, they cannot take away all of the crew member's rights by trying to apply foreign law.

Injuries and Death of Cruise Passengers During Cruise Sponsored Excursions 

The article also addresses injuries to passengers during excursions.  The law requires cruise lines to exercise reasonable care in selecting shore excursions for its passengers.  Cruise lines are required to properly investigate whether the excursion companies have a good safety record and operate the excursions responsibly.

We have handed a wide variety of "excursion cases," including cases where passengers have been sexually assaulted ashore and even during snorkeling and diving excursions.

CLIA's lawyer Mr. Crye is quoted as gleefully saying that it is  a “difficult stretch to attempt to hold a cruise line liable for activity that occurs on an excursion operated by a different company in a foreign country.” However, cruise ships collect hundreds of millions of dollars promoting cruise excursions.  Cruise lines face accountability when dangerous excursions kill or seriously injure passengers.

The article also refers to cruise line lawyer Darren Friedman, a partner with Miami's Maltzman Foreman law firm, which represents numerous cruise lines. His firm defended Royal Caribbean in the high profile cases involving Ms. Dishman and Mr. Carver.

Whenever we see Mr. Friedman or his firm involved in a case, the cruise line is usually guilty as hell.