Grand Princess Strikes Humpback Whale in Alaska

Multiple news sources are reporting that the Grand Princess operated by Princess Cruises struck a humpback whale two days ago. The dead whale was discovered lodged on the cruise ship's bulbous bow upon entering the port in Ketchikan, Alaska. 

Cruise ship-whale strikes are hardly uncommon. This latest incident is reportedly the second time in two years involving a whale strike caused by a cruise ship in Alaska; Holland America's Zaandam struck an endangered fin whale last year and carried the dead whale into port in Seward on its bulbous bow. 

The Princess Cruises PR spokesperson claims that the Princess cruise ship did not spot any whales near the ship as it sailed toward Ketchikan. Princess also floated out the possibility that the whale was "already deceased before becoming lodged on the bow" - the usual PR spin when a cruise ship strikes a whale. 

A necrosis will later address whether the whale was in fact alive or dead at the time that the cruise ship struck it.

A cruise passenger sent photographs of the incident, one of which is below.  

Grand Princess Whale StrikeSeveral years ago, environmental groups filed a petition with the federal government seeking to force cruise ships and other large vessels to slow down in order to reduce the chances of whale strikes. The petition was focused on the waters between San Francisco and Los Angeles, but it signaled the importance of environmental groups concerned with marine life who share the oceans with super tankers and today's increasingly larger cruise ships.

In one of the most graphic photographs of a cruise ship / whale strike, in 2009 the Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess arrived in port in Vancouver, unaware that the cruise ship impaled a fin whale on the ship's bow while in Alaskan waters. The whale was a female fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus). Princess claimed that the whale was already dead when the cruise ship hit her.

Of those whale-strikes which are reported, it is quite unusual for the dead whale to be noticed only when it is brought into a port on the bow of a large ship as indicated on this comprehensive report published by the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Marine Fisheries Service.

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

August 11, 2017 Update: Meanwhile, Ottawa to force ships to slow down to prevent whale deaths in Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Grand Princess Temporarily Loses Power

Grand Princess via Marine TrafficLast night, I mentioned on our Facebook page that a cruise passenger aboard the Grand Princess informed us that the Princess ship temporarily lost power. The passenger, who wishes to remain anonymous, stated:

"I am on the Grand Princess and we have a power issue and the Captain just made an announcement that they are working on it. We are not moving in the water. Yikes."

The Grand Princess was sailing off the Coast of California, heading to San Fransisco. The passenger went on to state that:

" . . . the power went out and the emergency lights went on. It was then that the ship stopped moving. They got the power back on and we began to continue but they were clearly having power problems all night. The power would flicker and change color like in a brown out. Then everything went back to normal by bed time. I think that we are arriving in SF on time . . " 

One person left a message on Facebook, stating:

"I was on this ship a month ago for 10 days (Mexican Riviera trip from SF). That was my first and LAST cruise. The ship is old and run down (Buckets collecting water in hallways, intermittent plumbing issues, etc.) so I'm not surprised this has happened . . . It's going into dry dock in December. If you ask me it should have been refurbished about 5 years ago . . ."

The Grand Princess is a relatively old ship, launched in 1998.

AIS tracking systems like Marine Traffic showed the cruise ship, which had been proceeding around 11-12 knots, losing power briefly last night. 

Power outages like this are not uncommon, even on newer ships. The last Princess Cruises ship to lose power involved the Caribbean Princess which drifted in the Irish Sea for several hours last August.

This particular ship, the Grand Princess, lost power in November of last year, after a fire in an engine room switchboard.

The ship was reportedly 20 miles off the coast of Hilo, Hawaii at the time of the incident, which forced the cruise ship to temporarily switch to emergency lighting and operate with limited air conditioning, according to USA TODAY

Between these two incidents, there have been around twenty significant power and propulsion failures involving all of the major brands as well as lesser known cruise lines in the last two years. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Holland America Line, Costa, Thomson, Viking, Paul Gauguin, Fathom, Oceanwide Expeditions and Phoenix Reisen have all suffered instances involving power and/or propulsion failures. 

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

October 30, 2016  Update: Princess Cruises released the following statements: "At 1800 local time on October 28, Grand Princess was en route to San Francisco when the ship experienced a temporary loss of propulsion. It was determined the loss of power was caused by a small water leak which entered the propulsion electrical transformers in the engine room. Repairs were made and operation of both propulsion motors was quickly established so that the ship could proceed to San Francisco as scheduled. Departure today from San Francisco for the next voyage should not be affected. Grand Princess was on day six of a seven-day voyage." 

Fire on Grand Princess Near Hilo

Grand PrincessA reader of our Facebook page has reported that a fire broke out in the engine room of the Grand Princess this morning as the Princess cruise ship approached Hilo, Hawaii. The reader cites the Cruise Critic Boards as the source of her information:

"BAD news first…...about 0530 the captain came on and advised the was a small fire on deck 4 near the engine room…we were losing propulsion and had limited lighting…well that certainly wakes you up!
20 minutes later he advised fire was out but we have limited propulsion and limping onwards to Hilo Hawaii, our first port since leaving SF…

GOOD news… we are about 6 miles fro Hilo…
there isn't enough power for brewing coffee and limited lighting in horizon court ….which was a zoo with limited lighting and people acting as if they were rushing to avoid a food shortage…some folks really amaze me…."

There has been a string of engine room fires this year. 

Fairplay recently published an article about the "continuing string of cruise ship engine room fires" in the article Cruise Engine Room Fire Risk Persists. The following cruise ships have faced fires over the course of the last year: NCL's Norwegian Pearl (November) in Caribbean; Royal Caribbean’s Splendour of the Seas (October) while sailing to Greece; Carnival Liberty (September) while at dock in St Thomas; Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seasbefore it arrived in Falmouth, Jamaica; P&O’s Oriana (April) after leaving Miami, Florida; Fred Olsen’s Boudicca (January) Casablanca, Morocco; Oceania Cruises’ Insignia St. Lucia (December).

Photo Credit: Grand Princess (ship, 1998) Ivan T. - Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

November 20 2015 Update: The Star Advertiser newspaper in Honolulu reports that the Grand Princess, cruising to Hawaii from San Francisco, experienced a fire in its engine room and lost power about 100 miles from Hilo this morning. The crew extinguished the fire just before 8 a.m. and restarted its engine, resuming its voyage.According to a passenger, “the ship has only one working engine and there are two small tug boats that might get the ship into port.”

November 23, 2015 Update from Princess Cruises @ 3:05 PM EST:  Princess released the foltowing statement this afternoon:

"At approximately 5:30 am local time, the propulsion circuit breaker in the aft switchboard aboard Grand Princess suffered a significant failure, resulting in smoke. The ship was 20 miles off the coast of Hilo, Hawaii. All guests and crew are accounted for and there were no injuries.

The incident did cause a power outage resulting in the use of emergency lighting and limited air conditioning for a short time. The ship is currently operating on three diesel generators and will arrive in Hilo later today.

We are currently investigating the cause of this incident and the impact it may have on the current voyage.

Grand Princess is carrying 2,592 guests and 1,095 crew. The ship is on the fifth day of a 15-day Hawaii cruise that departed San Francisco on November 25." 

November 30, 2015 Update from Princess Cruises @ 5:53 PM EST:

"At approximately 5:30 am local time, a propulsion circuit breaker in the aft electrical switchboard aboard Grand Princess suffered a significant failure, resulting in smoke and a small fire contained within the switchboard. The ship was 20 miles off the coast of Hilo, Hawaii.   All guests and crew are accounted for and there were no injuries.

The incident was isolated but did cause a power outage resulting in the temporary use of emergency lighting and limited air conditioning for a short time. Power has been restored and all hotel and guest services are in operation.

The call to Hilo has been cancelled in order to proceed to Honolulu where shoreside engineers have been deployed to meet the ship for an on-time arrival at 0700 am local time on December 1.

Once the technical officers and engineers complete their assessment of the situation it will be determined if there will be any further impact to the itinerary."

Coast Guard Medevacs Woman from Grand Princess

The United States Coast Guard medevaced a female passenger last night after she sustained a heart attack on the Grand Princess cruise ship. 

The woman was described as 57 years old. At the time of the medevac, the Princess Cruises' ship was approximately 80 miles southwest of Monterey, California. 

The Coast Guard flight surgeon recommended that the passenger be medically evacuated to a hospital for emergency care. A MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from San Francisco flew to the ship and hoisted the woman aboard and flew her to California. 

Story and video credit: Defense Imagery and Distribution Systems.

Engine Problem Forces Grand Princess to Return to Seattle

KIRO TV reports that the Grand Princess cruise ship experienced a problem with one of its engines and was required to return to port in Seattle for almost four hours.

The U.S. Coast Guard said that a port-side engine "died" on the cruise ship around 4:50 PM after the the ship left Seattle heading on an Alaskan cruise. 

KING 5 news station says that a tug had to assist the ship back to port.

Grand Princess

The cruise ship has two shafts and two fixed propellers.

Princess Cruises spokesperson Julie Benson said in a prepared statement:

“Grand Princess has returned to the Port of Seattle, in consultation with the U.S. Coast Guard, following an earlier issue with one of the ship's motors. At no time was guest safety impacted as the ship had propulsion and steering control. As a precaution the ship is returning to port for a safety check and we hope to depart again later this evening. We will keep passengers fully informed.”

The KIRO television station reports that Ms. Benson also said "several similar incidents" have happened with Grand Princess before.

A passenger, identified as David Meers, was critical of the cruise line's lack of communications. He reportedly said “thirty or forty minutes into the cruise, the ship listed to one side. Shortly after that, we turned around. We started asking the crew members what happened, and nobody seemed to know anything.” 

It was 40 minutes after turning around that the captain announced there was a propulsion alarm that required them to go back to Seattle. For the next 4 hours, the passenger said there was little communication at all, about any possible changes to their itinerary or whether customers would be compensated for the delay. He said “it certainly left a lot of confusion, among the folks that we were asking. And most of the passengers around us were also very confused.” 

To Princess' credit, the cruise line communicated with this passenger via Twitter saying: @DavidMeers Hi David, we apologize for the delayed start to your vacation (1/2) and later @DavidMeers Grand Princess is returning to port for an inspection due to a technical issue, and we hope to depart later this evening (2/2).

After the unspecified repairs, the cruise ship left Seattle around 10 PM. 

The passenger's last tweet?  @PrincessCruises Glad it wasn't more serious. All is well that ends well. Enjoyed the beautiful Seattle skyline again.

The mechanical problem seems to have been fixed with the ship sailing at 22 knots to Alaska.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Ivan T. 

Princess Cruises: Why No Automatic Man Overboard Systems on the Grand Princess?

Today's news that a search is underway to rescue a crew member who apparently jumped from the Grand Princess cruise ship early this morning illustrates a continuing problem with the cruise industry.

A Coast Guard spokesperson said that there was a 2 hour delay between the crew members going overboard and notification to the Coast Guard.    

The 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2010 required, effective January 1, 2012, that cruise cruise would install automatic man overboard systems.  The legislative intent of the cruise safety act was to make certain that cruise ships had systems in place to notify them immediately when Man Overboard Systemspassengers (or crew) went overboard so that the ship would initiate immediate search and rescue procedures. 

State-of-the-art systems currently exist. When a person goes overboard, the system will send a signal to the bridge, infrared images are recorded, and the cruise ship can mark the exact coordinates of the ship. 

It was extensively debated at several Congressional hearings that "old school" technology, of pouring through hours of surveillance videos after-the-fact, is inadequate to respond reasonably to emergencies when person go into the sea. 

Right now, the cruise message boards indicate that the Grand Princess, along with the nearby Star Princess, and an unidentified cargo ship, are searching the waters some 1,000 miles out at sea from Hawaii. A C-130 Hercules aircraft, courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard, is flying the great distance to assist in the search at considerable expense.

Unfortunately, this is not unlike searching for a needle in a haystack.  

The delay and substantial expense of a tardy search & rescue could be eliminated if cruise lines complied with the cruise safety law.  Rescue efforts could be initiated immediately if the existing technology were implemented. And the chances of a successful rescue could be substantially improved as well.

Another person disappeared from the same Princess cruise ship less than two months ago. A passenger went overboard from the Grand Princess on November 13, 2013.  

In both cases, the Princess ships apparently had no overboard systems. In both cases, Princess had to eventually review the surveillance video to find out what happened. In both cases Princess announced that the person committed suicide. Having old school video doesn't count. It does not matter either that the person went overboard because of a suicide, as opposed to an accidental fall or being thrown overboard. 

Cruise lines that have not invested in the new technology because of the costs of installing the new systems are causing massive costs to the Coast Guard that U.S. taxpayers pay. They are sloughing off their legal obligations and passing the costs to all of us. 

Non-compliant cruise lines like Princess should be responsible for all costs unnecessarily incurred by the Coast Guard in cases like this.  

You can see a video of the case by a San Francisco news station here.

 

Image Credit: gCaptain

5 Overboards in 18 Days: Crew Member Missing From Grand Princess Cruise Ship

A local CBS news station in San Francisco is reporting that a 34 year-old crew member is missing from the Grand Princess cruise ship approximately 1,000 miles northeast of Hawaii.

According to the internet news report, Princess Cruises says that the man reportedly jumped overboard last night or early this morning. 

The cruise ship, owned by Carnival Corporation and operated by Princess Cruises, left San Francisco last weekend on a 15-day round-trip cruise to Hilo.

The Coast Guard in Hawaii received a call from the cruise ship around 12:20 AM. The CBS station Grand Princess quoted a Coast Guard representative saying:

“The report indicated that crew member had been missing for approximately two hours and this occurred approximately 1,000 miles northeast of Oahu, Hawaii." 

A spokeswoman for Princess later told KCBS that surveillance footage shows the crew member intentionally jumping overboard.

The Coast Guard dispatched a C-130 aircraft to fly to the area. 

The Grand Princess, together with another Princess cruise ship, the Star Princess, is searching for the man. 

CBS says that the thousands of passengers on board were confined to their cabins for a head count.

This latest overboard means that five person have gone overboard since December 10, 2013. That's 5 people in 18 days.

Passengers went overboard from the Rhapsody of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Independence of the Seas, all operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises in just eleven days. Yesterday, we posted an article about a passenger going overboard from Holland America Line's Veendam.

The fact that there was a two hour delay between the crew member going overboard and notification to the Coast Guard suggests that this Princess cruise ship did not have an automatic man overboard system as required by the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act.

In November, a woman went overboard from the Princess Grand Princess. That cruise ship also apparently did not have a man overboard system.  Princess Cruises characterized that disappearance as a suicide too. 

 

Please leave a comment or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Ivan T.

U.S. Woman Disappears From Grand Princess Cruise Ship

Multiple news sources are reporting that a woman is missing from the Grand Princess cruise ship.

The U.S. cruise passenger was last seen around noon. News accounts state that the crew of the Princess Cruises ship reported her missing to the U.S. Coast Guard around 1:00 PM.

The Coast Guard deployed a Hercules aircraft to search for the woman about 750 miles northeast of Hilo, Hawaii.

The Associated Press reports that Princess Cruises spokeswoman Julie Benson says that the Grand Princess Overboard Passengerpassenger intentionally went overboard.

The Coast Guard states that the woman is 30, while Princess Cruises says she is 54.

In 2010, Congress passed the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act which requires cruise ships to implement automatic man overboard systems to capture images of persons going overboard or to send notification to the bridge that someone has gone overboard.

The purpose of the law is to require cruise lines to institute immediate rescue action whether the passenger went overboard accidentally, intentionally or through foul play. Unfortunately virtually no cruise lines have implemented such technology even though automatic alert systems are available. 

The failire of cruise lines like Princess to comply with the cruise safety law results in passengers and crew members disappearing without a trace and reduces the chances of successfully searching for the person overboard. The absence of alert systems also results in the U.S. Coast Guard being called late to conduct search of large areas which is very expensive and is ultimately paid for by U.S. taxpayers. 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has documented over 200 passengers and crew members have gone overboard since 2000.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Ivan T.)

Trial Scheduled for Princess Cruises Crew Members Accused of Raping Woman on Grand Princess

Princess Cruises Cruise Ship RapeThe Bermuda Sun newspaper reports that two crew members employed on a Bermuda flagged cruise ship are heading for criminal trial after being accused of raping a woman.

As is often the case in Bermuda, the Bermudian press did not mention the name of the cruise line or the name of the cruise ship.  There is no prohibition from doing so, but the newspapers there seem inclined not to want to cause any embarrassment to Bermuda's U.S. based cruise line customers which register their ships in that island to avoid U.S. taxes and wage and safety laws.

The case involves two Italian crew members, age 26 and 27, aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, operated by Princess Cruises of Santa Clarita California. 

The sexual assault at issue allegedly occurred on January 12, 2013.

Trial is scheduled for April 27, 2013.

Bermuda has a sorry record of prosecuting Princess crew members when they are accused of raping women on Princess cruise ships. No crew member has ever been convicted and imprisoned for sexually assaulting a woman aboard a Princess cruise ship although multiple sexual crimes have been alleged over the years.

Rape on the Love Boat? Two Crew Members Arrested for Sexually Assaulting Woman Aboard Grand Princess Cruise Ship

Newspapers in Bermuda are reporting that two Italian crew members age 26 and 27, aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, are charged with raping a female crew member.  Both of the men are believed to be officers.

The sexual assault at issue allegedly occurred on January 12, 2013, but there is no information where the cruise ship was located at the time of the alleged crime.

The remarkable thing about the story is that the crew members were actually arrested. Bermuda has been a complete joke about holding crew members legally accountable when they rape women on Grand Princess Cruise Ship Sexual AssaultPrincess cruise ships.  No crew member has ever been convicted and imprisoned for sexually assaulted a woman aboard a Princess cruise ship although multiple sexual crimes have been alleged over the years.

The charges are being heard in Bermuda because Princess Cruises registers its cruise ships there to avoid U.S. taxes and labor laws.

The two men were granted bail of only $5,000 each which is not much more than a passenger has to pay for possessing a few marijuana joints aboard a cruise ship in Bermuda

The last Princess rape case ended with the alleged rapist going free.

It is doubtful that the cruise-ship-beholden island of Bermuda will ever bring justice to a cruise ship rape victim.

Stay tuned.

Leave a comment below or discuss the incident on our Facebook page.

Three Princess Cruises Passengers Hospitalized in Bermuda

Grand Princess Cruise Ship - Princess CruisesThe Bermuda Sun reports this week that three cruise passengers were taken to the hospital in Bermuda after Princess Cruises' Grand Princess arrived in port.

A female passenger reportedly broke her ankle, a male passenger suffered a heart condition, and another male passenger lost consciousness in the cruise ship's swimming pool.  

This was the Grand Princess’s only trip to Bermuda this year. 

Bermuda has recently lost a number of cruise lines as customers this year.  Holland America just announced that the Veendam will no longer visit Bermuda after next year, after making 24 cruises from New York this year.  That announcement occurred shortly after Carnival announced that it was cutting cruises to Bermuda from 16 trips by four cruise ships this year, to just one in 2012.

The president of Bermuda's Chamber of Commerce characterized these developments as a “big blow to the island’s economy.” 

 

Photo credit:  Grand Princess cruise ship in Bermuda Flickr (tribewantedgilligan)

Drugs on the Love Boat - Princess Cruises Crewmember Busted with $700,000 of Cocaine

Grand Princess Cruise Ship - Cocaine Drug SmugglingThe Crown Court in Southampton, England imposed an eight year jail sentence against a Princess Cruises bar supervisor who attempted to smuggle 1.29 kilos of cocaine with a 100 per cent purity worth  £429,000, into the U.K. 

At the current U.K. - U.S exchange rate, this is about $700,000 worth of coke.

The Daily Echo newspaper in England reports that Princess Cruise crewmember Herman Spence, age 46, from Montego Bay, Jamaica, was detained by U.K. customs officers after he left the Grand Princess cruise ship when it docked in Southampton on July 16 of this year.

The U.K. customs people examined Mr. Spence's backpack and discovered a size 13 pair of sneakers which contained the cocaine. Two other packages of cocaine were discovered in the backpack. 

When his cabin was searched, customs officials found more than £16,000 in cash. 

Princess Cruises cruise ships are flagged in Bermuda, which routinely busts U.S. passengers for small amounts of pot, but has an indifferent attitude toward violent crimes on its Bermuda flagged cruise ships. 

The newspaper reports that Mr. Spence has been in the cruise industry for 15 years.

Is this his first attempt at drug smuggling?

 

Epilogue:  Cruise lines like Princess, despite their best marketing efforts to portray themselves providing safe and carefree "Love Boat" experiences, are often associated with drug smuggling.  For example, in 1998 the original "Love Boat," the Pacific Princess, was impounded by police in Piraeus, Greece after 25 kg of heroin was found on board, smuggled by two Filipino crew men.  According to police sources quoted in the BBC report at the time, there was evidence the cruise ship had become a major tool for drug smugglers in the Mediterranean.

 

Photo credit: Daily Echo  

Two Princess Cruise Ships Diverted to Bermuda to Disembark Sick Passengers

A magazine in Bermuda is reporting that two cruise ships recently diverted toward Bermuda to transfer ill passengers ashore for medical treatment.

On May 9th, the Princess Crown Princess diverted to Bermuda to disembark a 57 year old male passenger who was suffering from breathing difficulties. The magazine reports that the pilot cutter St. George met the cruise ship at the sea buoy and the sick passenger was transfered between the two vessels. 

Pilot Boat - Cruise ShipOpen water passenger transfers are potentially dangerous exercises.  You will recall that a rescue vessel recently dropped an elderly passenger into freezing water while trying to transfer her ashore.  A recent investigation found that the crew used unsafe procedures and did not even place a life vest on the sick passenger.

In this case, the Princess passenger was transferred safely to the pilot boat and then ashore where an awaiting ambulance transported him to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. 

The second diversion occured on May 7th when Princess' Grand Princess altered course toward Bermuda to disembark a 55 year old male passenger who needed urgent medical attention.  The passenger was also transfered ashore via the same pilot boat.

Both Princess cruise ships were sailing from Port Everglades, Florida to the Azores Islands.

 

Photo credit  kathhooson Flickr