Propeller Woes Continue: HAL Cancels Third Consecutive Veendam Cruise

HAL Vendaam Holland America Line announced that it is cancelling the 7 night October 11th cruise of the Veendam from Quebec, Canada to Boston because of problems with one of the cruise ship's propellers. 

HAL has already cancelled the sailings on the Veendam for the September 28th and October 4th cruises to try and fix the propeller. 

The Veendam is going into dry-dock to complete the more extensive work necessary to effect the repairs. The company is not disclosing what exactly is wrong with the propeller except to refer to unspecified "technical problems."

USA TODAY published this statement from HAL:

"Repair work has been in progress to address a technical problem with one of the propellers on ms Veendam. As work has progressed alongside in Quebec, it has been determined that a complete repair can only be made in a dry-dock."

Passengers will receive a full refund and a cruise credit worth equal to the costs of the cruise. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Bahnfrend Creative Commons 3.0

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From HAL Oosterdam

OosterdamThe Coast Guard News reports that a Coast Guard MH-60 helicopter medevaced a 84 year old passenger from the Holland America Line cruise ship Oosterdam near Glacier Bay last week. 

The helicopter flew from Sitka and hoisted the elderly passenger from the cruise ship and transferred her to Juneau.

The Oosterdam reported that the woman was possibly suffering from a stroke. The Coast Guard flight surgeon recommended that the woman be medevaced from he cruise ship. 

We first heard of the incident from another passenger who emailed us today, saying:

"While sailing on the Oosterdam on 9/5/14 in Glacial Bay Alaska, we had a helicopter medical evacuation. The conditions were very poor, heavy fog. The Coast Guard out of Sitka, Alaska did a great job. The Coast Guard in Alaska, work in hazardous conditions, and deserve many thanks."

If you have a thought about this case, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Sergey Yarmolyuk Creative Commons

Fire on the HAL Noordam

There is an interesting post on the message board at Cruise Critic, indicating that a fire broke out in the incinerator room of the HAL Noordam around 3 A.M. on August 25th.

The fire reportedly was extinguished it seems after a hour, more or less.

The cruise passenger indicated that the captain of the ship made several announcements and tried to keep everyone calm.

NoordamThe passenger also said that he saw others walking/running wearing life jackets. Some people stayed in their cabin and other passengers went to the life boats. He and his family seemed scared and upset.

What struck me about the responses to his post is that a fair amount of people mocked him, accusing him of complaining about such a "minor" event, "just because you lost some sleep?"

What also struck me was that so many other passengers told stories that they too had experienced small fires or incinerator fires or electrical fires on other cruises.

The posters mentioned fires aboard the Carnival-owned Rotterdam, Westerdam, Volendam, and Zuiderdam.  I wasn't aware of some of these fires.

One cruiser commented:

"We have been on three cruises in the past four years where there was a fire alarm. Twice it was in the incinerator room and the other time, an electrical short in the Lido. The last alert was I believe in May on the Zuiderdam, as we were woken up about 4 AM.

It has become a common occurrence for us on our Alaska sailings."

The majority of those commenting seemed rather blase' about the danger of fire at sea. They fluffed off the incident as another example of "ship happens."

I think that all passengers deserve a detailed explanation regarding the cause of the fire. The passengers are entitled to an explanation regarding the efforts taken to extinguish the fire together with a time table regarding the responsive steps and the announcements to the passengers and crew.

There is a tendency of the cruise industry not to disclose incidents like this. The cruise lines always claim that fires are "rare" but they never release evidence of incidents like this.  

There should be a database available to the public detailing these type of incidents. No one should ever be made fun of for talking about such a potentially dangerous and deadly incident. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / MilkoholicBear

Bait & Switch: CEO Stein Kruse's Promises are not Binding on HAL?

Stein Kruse HALToday I ran across an interesting video prepared by a Holland American Line passenger following the boiler fire on the M/S Westerdam.

You may recall that the Westerdam caught fire on June 28, 2014 as it was sailing to Alaska. The automatic fire suppression did not extinguish the fire and the crew had to use hoses to extinguish the fire. The fire flared up again and the crew has to extinguish it a second time. The Coast Guard forced the cruise ship to turn around and return to Seattle. You can read about the incident here.

HAL CEO Stein Kruse came aboard the ship later that night and spoke to the passengers. He said that one reason he came aboard was "to get this completely straight." 

He was very apologetic. He said that one port of the seven day "full Alaskan experience" would be lost. He promised that to make up for the fire and lost port, the passengers would receive a $250 credit to use on the ship. Plus, Kruse said that in order to make amends:

" . . .  we will send you a note to give a 25% discount off a future Holland American Line cruise." 

However, when a passenger later tried to a buy a cruise with the promised 25% discount, a HAL customer representative told the passenger that CEO Kruse had misspoke. The representative said that the 25% discount was good only for a cruise of a comparable price as the cruise in question on the Westerdam.

Of course, this is not what the cruise CEO said. Kruse was very deliberate, careful and precise with his words. "25% discount off a future Holland America Line cruise." There were no limitations, exclusions or caveats mentioned at all.

The customer representative wouldn't budge. She said that "our policy is that we don't protect verbal misquotes . . .  that goes from all the way from our reservations department up to our CEO."

The guest representative also referred to a "speech," which Kruse allegedly read from, which according to the cruise representative "specifically states that the credit would be from the sailing of the Westerdam." But this is not what Kruse said. 

In most circumstances, cruise passengers are at the mercy of the fine print and the legal mumbo-jumbo buried in the passenger ticket. But here a cruise CEO came aboard to "make amends" and to be "completely straight" with the passengers following a fire. The CEO made a promise, not a "verbal misquote."  

There is a legal issue whether what CEO Kruse said is legally binding on this cruise line. I think it is. But some other lawyer can sue HAL and argue about that.  But it's a real shame, from a public relations perspective, when the clear promises of a cruise executive are meaningless and can be easily disavowed by a low level reservations clerk.    

 

Why Did the Westerdam Catch on Fire? Does Anyone Care?

Shortly after the Holland America Line (HAL)'s Westerdam caught on fire this weekend, HAL issued a press release characterizing the fire as "small" and "quickly" extinguished. It also said that it returned to port in Seattle "out of an abundance of caution."

Cruise line press statements like this rarely tell the whole story. We know that this fire was not immediately extinguished by the automatic suppression system on the ship and had to be fought by crew members with fire hoses, but the fire still re-ignited. The cruise line did not bother to explain why the fire ignited in the first place.  Was it a ruptured fuel or oil line? If so, did the cruise ship have splash guards? Was it a HAL Westerdammechanical failure of some type?  Why wasn't the fire suppressed by the automatic systems? Why did it re-ignite? 

Carnival Corporation, HAL's parent company and the owner of the cruise ship, stated last year that it invested hundreds of millions of dollars in safety improvements throughout its fleet of ship, primarily in the engine rooms. The announcement was a major public relations strategy after the bad press following the fires aboard the Triumph and other Carnival cruise ships. Did the Westerdam receive any of the much touted safety improvements?

There are many hundreds of newspaper articles mentioning the fire.  But no one is asking these basic questions. Returning to port after a fire "out of an abundance of caution," seems like a gross understatement to me. Can you imagine a major airline battling a fire and then saying that it returned to the airport voluntarily, just to be on the safe side?  

A fire at sea is one of the most dangerous experiences imaginable. But most cruise fans don't seem to be particularly bothered by these issues.  HAL quickly announced a $250 per cabin credit to be used during the remainder of the cruise which is now continuing. The incident will soon find itself out of the news and forgotten.  

 

Photo Credit: Becky Bohrer / AP 

Holland America Line's Westerdam Catches on Fire

King 5 News in Seattle reports that the Holland America Line (HAL) Westerdam caught fire this evening as it was sailing to Alaska and was forced to turn around and return to Seattle.  The news station is saying that the fire broke out in the engine room.

HAL released the following statement:

"There has been a small fire in one of the boiler rooms onboard  MS Westerdam as she sailed from Seattle earlier this evening which was quickly extinguished. All guests and crew are safe. Out of an abundance of caution and in coordination with the United States Coast Guard the ship has returned to Seattle. The ship is fully operational and there has been no impact on guest services. It is HAL Westerdamanticipated that the ship will depart again once the assessments are completed and continue her voyage to Alaska." 

HAL's statement does not explain exactly what caused the fire and omits the fact that after the fire was put out, it flared up again. Descriptive phrases like a "small" fire which was "quickly" extinguished can be misleading many times. 

The Westerdam is a 10 year old cruise ship and is owned by Carnival Corporation.

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

June 29th Update:  The Seattle Times reports that the cruise ship has left Seattle to continue its cruise. It also provided a little bit more detail regarding the fire. Interesting, the automatic fire suppression did not extinguish the fire and the crew had to use hoses:

"The Westerdam left Seattle again around 10:15 a.m. Sunday, said Public Relations Vice President Sally Andrews.

Because of the delay, Holland America has revised the 7-day sailing schedule. Passengers will miss their visit to Sitka, but will be given a credit of $250 per room to use during the cruise.

Coast Guard petty officer George Degener told The Seattle Times the ship's crew knocked the fire down, but a while later it restarted.

A combination of high-pressure mist and crew members with hoses extinguished the fire, Kyle Moore, spokesman for the Seattle Fire Department, told the paper. The city dispatched a fireboat, and a few units to the Pier 91 cruise terminal, as a precaution."

Neither the cruise line nor the Coast Guard have explained why the fire broke out.

June 30th Update: Why Did the Westerdam Catch on Fire? Does Anyone Care?

 

Photo Credit: Flickr - Don Shaw

More Trouble for Cruise Tourism in Roatan

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

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

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

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

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

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

We reported on prior armed robberies in January and March

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

 

Photo Credit:  Jim Walker

Centers for Disease Control Confirms Gastrointestinal Outbreak Aboard HAL's Massdam

HAL MaasdamTen days ago we wrote about a gastrointestinal outbreak on the Holland America Line (HAL) Maasdam which was sailing routes in South America. 

Passengers were stating that numerous people are sick with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other noro virus like symptoms. 

Some passengers complained that they became tired of the HAL captain blaming them for the outbreak.

The public relations people at HAL and parent company Carnival Corporation ignored our requests for information.

The Maasdam finally returned to Fort Lauderdale and the CDC boarded. The CDC is now reporting that 65 of 1096 passengers (5.93%) and 8 of 569 crew (1.41%) were ill with an unspecified gastrointestinal illness.

You can read the CDC report here.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Andrew J Bryson

Passengers Report Gastrointestinal Outbreak Aboard the HAL Maasdam

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

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

Today one passenger reported: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Andrew J Bryson

Disease Outbreak on HAL Veendam

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

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

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

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

The story was first mentioned by the Cruise Fever blog.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Djheini

CNN Video: Crew Member Accused of Attacking Cruise Passenger, Tying to Push Her Overboard

Today CNN covered the story of the violent sexual attack by Holland America Line crew member Ketut Pujayasa on a 31 year old passenger aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam

The 28 year old Indonesian crew member worked as a cabin attendant and used the master key card to gain access to the woman's cabin. He reportedly sexually assaulted, beat and choked the woman, and then tried to throw her overboard. Attacks against women in their cruise cabins have happened before.

Read our article we posted this morning: Who's the Most Likely Sexual Predator on a Cruise Ship? A Male Cabin Attendant with a Master Key Card.

CNN interviewed me in the video:

 

Who's the Most Likely Sexual Predator on a Cruise Ship? A Male Cabin Attendant with a Master Key Card

Are sexual crimes committed by cabin attendants against women in their cruise ship cabins "shocking?"

If you define "shocking" as "disturbing" or "upsetting," of course.  

But if you define "shocking" as "unforeseeable" or "unpredictable," not at all. Who's the most likely sexual predator on a cruise ship?  A male cabin attendant. What's the most likely location of a sexual assault? A passenger's cabin. What's the most likely way that a cabin attendant gets into the passenger cabin?  By using the master key card. 

99% of cabin attendants are honest, law-abiding and hard-working men and women from around the world who are trying to support their families back home. But in our experience, the majority of sexual assaults on ships have been committed by male attendants who enter the passenger cabins and attack women and children.

Over four years ago, I wrote that "in our experience, the crew member most likely to harass or assault a passenger is a male cabin attendant in his late 20's or early 30's." I warned women to be on the Nieuw Amsterdam Cruise Ship outlook of a male cabin attendant who is "most likely to use his pass key and enter a woman's cabin at night."

After the vicious attack by HAL cabin attendant Ketut Pujayasa, age 28, against the passenger on the Nieuw Amsterdam, Holland America Line issued a PR statement stating that that it was shocked" by the crime.  But the choice of the word "shock" is intended by the HAL lawyers and risk management department to suggest that the crime was unforeseeable and, as such, it can't be liable for the rape.

The word is also intended to convey to the public that things like this just don't happen on HAL cruises. Saying the crime is "rare" is the favorite cruise line defense. Better yet, the cruise lines say that sexual assault is so rare and unpredictable that it's just "shocking."  

A couple of years ago, a young college student we represented was raped by a cabin attendant after the cruise ship sailed to Nassau. The cabin attendant who attacked her was in his late 20's. He entered the young girl's cabin when she was asleep by using his key card after hours.

The young woman's case was presented to our U.S. Congress. The Congressmen and Congresswomen were asked the rhetorical question why would a cruise line staff a woman's cabin with a male cabin attendant in his 20's? Why would a cruise line permit such a cabin attendant have a master key card that would permit him to enter a woman's cabin 24 hours a day?  Why didn't the cruise Key Card Cruise Ship Cabin Doorassign women cabin attendants to clean women's cabins? Why didn't the cruise line deactivate the cabin attendant's key card after hours?

Simple steps like these were suggested long ago as a way for the cruise lines to avoid an entirely predictable crime like this. But instead of learning a lesson, the cruise lines engaged in its usual PR statements: "crime is rare" or "our employees are carefully vetted" or "the safety of our passengers is our highest priority" or other PR poppycock.

So what did the woman staying in her cabin on Nieuw Amsterdam have to contend with on Valentine's Day? A male cabin attendant in his late 20's, responsible for a woman's cabin, who had access to a master key card.

It was a disaster waiting to happen.

Little did the victim know.

When will the cruise lines take the key cards away from the male cabin attendants?  When will the cruise lines warn their female guests that crimes like this have occurred over and over?

Do we really have to listen to cruise companies like HAL pretend that they are "shocked?" 

 

Photo Credit:  

Top: AP Photo/Marianne Armshaw via CTV

Bottom: CNN New Day

Holland America Line Crew Member Raped Passenger & Tried to Throw Her Overboard

HAL Sexual AssaultThe Sun Sentinel reports today that a Holland America Line (HAL) crew member sexually assaulted and then tried to throw a woman from her balcony.

Reporter Paula McMahon writes that the crime occurred aboard the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam. 

The crew member is identified as Ketut Pujayasa, age 28. from Indonesia. He worked a stateroom attendant. He used a master key card to gain illegal entry into the victim's cabin.

The article describes that the crew member "appeared with no warning inside the passenger's darkened stateroom in the middle of the night, raped, beat, punched and strangled her and then tried to throw her from the balcony into the ocean in international waters somewhere off the coast of Roatan, Honduras."

The attack was horrific. The newspaper states that the crew member struck the woman several times including using a laptop computer and a curling iron, and that he "used a phone cord and curling iron cord to try to silence her screams and yells for help."

The attack "went back and forth from her bed to the stateroom balcony and back into the room."

The criminal charges against the HAL crew included an account of another passenger who saw the victim when she ran out of her cabin, dressed only in a tank top that was covered in blood:

"The passenger also noted that [the victim] had a curling iron wrapped and tangled around her neck and/or hair. He also described [her] as having black eyes and visible bruising around her neck and shoulders. [The woman], fearing death was imminent, asked the passenger to relay to her family how much she loved them."

The 31 year-old woman was flown by air ambulance to a hospital in South Florida because of her severe injuries.

The crew member was booked into the Broward County jail. He claims that the rape and assault were revenge because he felt slighted.

We previously mentioned the incident in an article on February 15th: Crew Member Assaults Passenger Aboard HAL's Nieuw Amsterdam During "Bare Necessities" Cruise

Our View: We have attended six Congressional hearings before the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate about crimes against passengers, There have been several hearings where other women have described the danger of permitting male cabin attendants to have access to master key cards for the passengers' cabins. There is no good reason to permit male cabin attendants to be responsible for cabins where there are single women or children. Their key cards must be deactivated after working hours.

Photo: Ketut Pujayasa - Sun Sentinel / Broward County Sheriff's Office 

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

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

According to Cruise Critic, HAL released the following statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Images Credit: Bare Necessities

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

Coast Guard Medevacs Injured Passenger From HAL Veendam

Veendam Cruise ShipThe U.S. Coast Guard Sector in San Diego sent a helicopter to a cruise ship approximately 150 miles west of San Diego yesterday (January 23rd).

The Defense Video and Imaging Distribution Services reports that a 69-year-old woman fell down a stairwell and suffered head injuries and internal bleeding.

The video was taken by U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Henry G. Dunphy.

The name of the cruise ship was not released. However, an AIS tracking site indicates that the Holland America Line Veendam turned around and began heading back toward San Diego.

You can watch the helicopter land after transporting the injured woman from the HAL ship.

The Veendam was last in the news when an elderly woman went overboard earlier this month. 

Photo Credit: Holland America Line via L.A. Times 

 

Person Overboard From Holland America Line's Veendam?

HAL VeendamThis weekend we received inquiries from passengers who had been on the Holland America Line Veendam cruise ship about a passenger who apparently went overboard. Passengers indicated that the incident apparently occurred off the coast of Mexico on January 3, 2014 as the ship sailed back to San Diego. 

Here are two of the comments:

"Was on the MS Veendam (Holland America) 7-day Mexican Riviera cruise and a woman mysteriously fell or jumped off the top deck the early afternoon of day 6 (last Friday, Jan 3) off coast of Mexico (coming back to San Diego). She had to be dead (body floating face down in water), as we were sent to cabin for an hour. But no news was shared or online. Crew was working on top rail, which someone (the crew?) had disassembled even before the FBI showed up Sat morning to inspect before disembarkation. Do you have any info on this?  Strange that there hasn't been any news. Rumors were suicide, but I'm really wondering."

"On MS Veendam (HAL) (Jan. 3, 2014) when we had a man overboard called. We were ordered to our cabins but never offered an expiation as what happened. Only rumors that it was murder, suicide or accident . . . How can we find out the truth?"

Anyone with information please leave a comment below, or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Update: Why is there no information about this overboard on the internet

Photo Credit: Holland America Line via L.A. Times

Fire on HAL's Noordam

A member of Cruise Critic reports that a "small fire" broke out on Holland America Lines' Noordam cruise ship on Friday, October 26th.

JavaJunkie comments on the Cruise Critic member forum that while sailing on the Noordam, passengers had a bit of excitement two mornings ago:

"Shortly after 10:30am, one of the ship's alarms sounded, and I started to comment that they had forgotten to announce it was a drill. Just then the captain came on to tell us that we had just heard the fire alarm and it was NOT a drill. The fire team should report to the aft coffee machine, and all crew Noordam Cruise Ship Fireshould stand by."

The cruise critic member writes that "there was a very heavy smell of electrical smoke" and the entrance to the Lido was blocked, requiring passengers to eat around the pool.

The incident occurred while the cruise ship was in port.  

What was interesting was the casual story-telling style of the passenger's account which contained was no real explanation regarding the cause of the fire. There was more detail regarding the types of desserts served.

Of additional interest was that two other passengers reported incidents during other HAL cruises.

One passenger stated: "We had a fire on the Noordam also; on the way to Florence. 4 a.m. I smelled smoke and saw it from a vent. We called to report, grabbed our life jacket, put on some clothes and shoes and went up to our lifeboat. We were the only ones up there!! the fire (smoke) was in an a/c motor further down our hall. Our neighbors were slower to get out of their rooms and emergency crew sent them to a dining room. It was very weird being alone up there. Luckily we had a veranda door to help the smoke leave." 

Another passenger recounted an incident on the Voleedam, at 1:10 AM on October 13th, when there was an announcement about "a possible fire in the engine room" with instructions for the fire crews to turn out, and passengers to stand by. Eventually the captain announced that "smoke from the incinerator leaked out, setting off the engine room alarms."

Any other passengers have information about these incidents?  Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (MilkoholicBear)

What Governmental Shut Down? Coast Guard Drops Blood for Sick Passenger Aboard the Oosterdam Heading to Hawaii

Coast Guard - Oosterdam  The U.S. Coast Guard comes to the rescue again.

Our Federal Government may be in the middle of a shutdown, but the Coast Guard aircraft and helicopters are still flying to help cruise ship passengers in distress on the high seas.

The latest story comes from a newspaper in Hawaii, the Maui News, which reports that a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 Hercules airplane flew over a 1.000 miles to "drop six units of blood, a pack of platelets, and two transfusion kits via parachute to medical personnel aboard the Oosterdam."

The heroics were in response to requests for assistance by Holland America Line (HAL) which was dealing with an ailing elderly passenger who was suffering from internal bleeding.  The situation was critical because the cruise ship was far out at sea, heading to Lahaina, Maui. 

You can see the blood drop in the video below.

Photo/ Video Credit: Petty Officer 3rd Class Melissa McKenzie, courtesy US Coast Guard, via Maui News. 

 

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger from HAL's Westerdam

A CBS station in San Diego is reporting that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a 75-year-old man who suffered a heart attack while aboard a Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship. 

The Coast Guard received notification late last night that that a HAL passenger was experiencing a medical emergency aboard the Westerdam cruise ship. at the time, the cruise ship was 15 miles off of Mission Bay, California. 

The Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter from San Diego and the patient and the ship's nurse were hoisted and taken to the hospital.

You can see the medevac operation in the video below courtesy of Coast Guard News.

 

HAL Cruise Ship Musician Jailed for Child Pornography

A Canadian newspaper reports that a crew member aboard the Holland America Line Veendam cruise ship was jailed for possession of child pornography. 

Sean Richard Bell, age 37, was arrested almost three months ago for possessing images and video of what are described as underage naked boys. He pleaded guilty today in a Halifax courtroom to the criminal charges,

Given time served, Bell will be imprisoned for an additional 69 days of his sentence. He was also given a one year probation order which requires him to take sex offender treatment. He has also been placed on Sean Richard Bell - HAL Cruise Shipthe national sex offender registry for ten years and must provide a DNA sample to the Canadian data base. 

HAL formerly employed Bell as a performer in Neptunes Trio on board the cruise ship. 

We previously reported on this case when Bell was arrested on June 3 2013: Another Cruise Ship Employee Busted with Child Porn - This Time HAL Veendam.  

This is a topic cruise lines would prefer to avoid discussing:

Is Child Pornography Widespread on Cruise Ships?

 

Photo Credit: Global News

Did the Holland America Line New Amsterdam Nearly Run Aground in Split Croatia?

New Amsterdam Cruise Ship - Split CroatiaYesterday several readers of our Facebook Page sent an article from a Croatian website regarding an incident involving the New Amsterdam cruise ship operated by Holland America Line (HAL).

The article describes a scene where the HAL cruise ship allegedly came perilously close to a beach at Split, Croatia. By some accounts, the anchor may have become loose due to high winds. Others suggest that the cruise ship may have intentionally close to the public beach area.

The article has a short video clip as well as a few photos.

Does anyone have additional information about this story?

Please leave a comment below.

 

Another Cruise Ship Employee Busted with Child Porn - This Time HAL Veendam

Child Porn HAL Veendam Sean BellA newspaper in Canada reports today that a 36-year-old cruise ship employee faces child pornography charges after police and Canadian border officials in Halifax found explicit files aboard the cruise ship where he works. Metro News Canada identified the crew member as Sean Richard Bell.

Halifax Regional Police state that Canada immigration authorities arrested the crew member following a routine search aboard the MS Veendam, a Holland America America (HAL) cruise ship, while it was docked in the Nova Scotia capital on Monday.

Officers from the Canada Border Service Agency discovered "explicit electronic files depicting child pornography" on various electronic equipment belonging to a crew member in his cabin.  

The crew member is reported to be a musician / performer who was employed by HAL. The crew member faces charges of possessing, smuggling and importing child pornography.

This is hardly the first time a crew member has been arrested on child porn charges.  The authorities in Halifax, Canada do an outstanding job of arresting crew members with child pornography, including the following cases. These cases involve just crew members arrested in Halifax:

Edward Brillantes Mangubat, age 40, worked for Cunard. He was arrested in Halifax when Canadian Border officer searched his laptop computer and found sexually explicit video featuring children. Mangubat worked as a stagehand on Cunard's cruise ship Queen Mary 2. He worked on cruise ships for seven years.

Nyoman Putra, age 26, is an Indonesian working as an assistant room steward on the Carnival Glory, allegedly had child pornography on a laptop computer. Canada Border Services Agency officers were inspecting crew members getting off the cruise ship when they nabbed the Carnival crew member at Pier 22 in Halifax.

Jay-Ar Ramos Trilles, age 23, of the Philippines pleaded guilty in Halifax provincial court to charges of possessing and importing child pornography. Canada Border Services Agency officer arrested an assistant waiter on the Costa Atlantica on Tuesday as he was getting off the cruise ship at Pier 22 in Halifax. Two sexually explicit videos of children were found on both a USB flash drive and a laptop computer. One of the videos depicted a boy and a girl between the ages of 10 and 12, while the other showed a six-year-old girl being sexually abused by a man. The prosecutor in Canada stated that the border agency is determined to keep such "abhorrent" material from being brought into the country. Trilles worked with Costa Cruises for three years.

Menandro Lim Lanzar, age 31, from the Philippines was arraigned in Halifax on a charge of importing child pornography. Mr. Lanzar was employed as a quarter master on the NCL cruise ship Norwegian Jewel.

Hendri Dharmawan, age 29, was working as a pastry chef on the Carnival Triumph when he was arrested in Halifax. The crew member was caught with pornography on his iPhone as he returned to the Carnival cruise ship. The border police then accompanied him back to his cabin where they discovered over two hours of child pornography on Dharmawan's laptop and external hard drive. The footage depicted girls as young as eight and boys as young as 10 being abused.

 

Photo Credit: Winnipeg Free Press / Facebook

Volendam Norovirus Outbreak Sickens HAL Cruise Passengers

A Canadian news source, CBC News, reports that cruise passengers on a 31-day Holland America Line (HAL) cruise returning to Vancouver suffered from the ill effects of a norovirus outbreak. 

The outbreak involved HAL's Volendam.  The cruise line, which has experienced more gastrointestinal outbreaks than any other cruise line in the last decade, drained its pools and hot tubs and emptied its libraries to try and contain the spread of the norovirus outbreak.

HAL reported 28 guests and one crew member (2.37 % of the total 1,222 people on board) were sick over Volendam Cruise Ship Norovirus Outbreakthe course of the cruise. At three percent, Health Canada could launch a full investigation but will not because the reported cases did not reach this percentage.

One passenger told CBC that the problem appeared worse to those onboard than just the reported cases: "It had to be quite high, because it seemed like you would never sit at a table at dinner without someone having had it." 

After a few hours of cleaning, the cruise ship sailed on a week-long cruise to Alaska at 5 p.m. on the same day it returned to Vancouver

Yesterday we reported on another HAL disease outbreak on the Veendam

The last time we reported on the Volendam, the article involved a crew member fatality when a cable to a lifeboat snapped.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Barek

Gastrointestinal Virus Plagues Passengers Aboard HAL's Veendam Cruise Ship

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that sixty (60) of the 1237 passengers (4.85%) aboard the HAL Veendam cruise ship exhibited symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting during the last cruise.

Ten (10) of the 574 crew members (1.74%) also reported ill with gastrointestinal illness.

You can read the report here

Holland america Line Veendam Cruise ShipThe ship sailed from April 13 to May 4, 2013.

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

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

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

Over the last decade HAL's cruise ships have experienced the most gastrointestinal illnesses and the Veendam has the third most outbreaks of the hundreds of cruise ships operating out of the U.S.  The only other cruise ships with a worse records are the Ryndam and the Amsterdam, both HAL ships. Read about the problem here.    

 

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia / Djheini

"Missing at Sea" - NBC Investigates Another Passenger Disappearance from a Holland America Line Cruise Ship

Tonight local ABC Channel 6 news station aired a special program Missing at Sea regarding the disappearance of cruise passenger Jason Rappe' from the Eurodam cruise ship operated by Holland America Line (HAL).

Mr. Rappe' went overboard last November after participating in a "Pub Crawl" on the HAL cruise ship where the cruise line plied the passengers with alcohol at various locations.

You can see some video of Jason on the deck after the cruise sponsored drinking event.  Curiously, Cruise Law Miami Jim Walkerthere has been no clear video released of Jason going overboard. 

Although the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act requires cruise lines like HAL to install systems to signal when cruise passengers and crew members who go overboard so that the cruise ship can promptly respond, HAL had no such systems in violation of the new cruise safety law.

Cruise lines are also responsible when they over-serve passengers alcohol.

The FBI and Coast Guard are suppose to disclose to the public on an online database when crimes occur or when passengers go overboard but the database does not even mention Mr. Rappe.' 

You can read an article about the program here by Jason's brother Eric who was featured in the program. 

See photos about the case here.

You can read our prior articles about this case:

Passenger Missing From HAL's Eurodam Cruise Ship - Why Do All HAL Overboard Cases Remain Mysteries?

Family Searching for Answers After Disappearance Aboard Holland America Line Cruise Ship

Best of Cruise Line Hate Mail: Holland America Line Wins the Award

If you have information about this case, we would like to hear from you.  Please leave a comment below or contact me confidentially at jim@cruiselaw.com 

 

 

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick Passenger from HAL's Zaandam Cruise Ship

HAL Cruise Ship MedevacTwo U.S. Coast Guard air crews from San Diego and Sacramento worked together to medevac a sick cruise ship passenger who was in need of emergency medical attention. 

According to NBC-7 San Diego, the Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship, Zaandam, was sailing approximately 200 miles southwest of San Diego when a 71-year-old passenger began experiencing what is described as a serious internal medical condition. 

The HAL cruise ship was en route from Hawaii to Ensenada, Mexico. When the passenger became ill, the ship changed course to sail nearer to San Diego. 

A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew took off from San Diego to meet the ship. A C-130 Hercules airplane crew from Sacramento provided support during the rescue.

The top video shows the helicopter crew hoisting the ailing passenger from the cruise ship.

The bottom video is taken from the C-130 aircraft. 

Family Searching for Answers After Disappearance Aboard Holland America Line Cruise Ship

A news station in Oregon aired a story about a missing 42 year old cruise passenger last night.

The story is about Jason Rappe' who was last seen on a Holland America cruise with his wife last November. He disappeared from the HAL Eurodam. Jason's family retained our firm to help them find answers to the circumstances surrounding his disappearance. You can read our prior article: Passenger Missing From HAL's Eurodam Cruise Ship - Why Do All HAL Overboard Cases Remain Mysteries?

You can watch the video below.

The article explains that Jason's brother. Eric, says that the family "still don’t know what happened to Jason, and the company refuses to give them any information . . . “They don’t care. They just don’t care. All they want is for it to go away.”

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office in Florida still lists Jason as a missing person. 

HAL has refused to cooperate with our requests for information.  

Read: "Suicide" - One of the Cruise Lines' Favorite Excuses When a Passenger Disappears at Sea (involving another HAL disappearance).

 

Best of Cruise Line Hate Mail: Holland America Line Wins the Award

My blog Cruise Law News (CLN) is one of the few places where you can read about all of the problems the cruise lines don't want you to know about.  Like sexual assault of women, molestation of children, pollution of the water and air, and cruise line cover-ups of disappearances on the high seas.

CLN has a wide, loyal and growing readership. It's the ninth most popular law blog in the U.S. This month alone, my articles have been quoted on CNN and Fox News and cited in articles or documentaries by ABC's 20/20, the American Bar Association Journal, Associated Press, CNBC, Daily Mail, Miami Herald, Newsday, Reuters, Seattle Times, Sun Sentinel, Canadian television stations and the largest radio networks in Montreal, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Vancouver and Miami.  

HAL - Holland America Line Hate MailAfter my opinion piece for CNN What Cruise Lines Don't Want You to Know, I received a number of emails and telephone calls congratulating me and thanking me for being a safety advocate and watchdog of the cruise lines.

But I also received the usual hate mail from people who like the cruise industry status quo exactly the way it is. Over the three and one-half years CLN has been on line, I have received more than my fair share of hateful emails and insulting comments left on my voice mail at work.

Winston Churchill said this: "You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

The most abusive comments usually come from people who work for the cruise lines. I'm not talking about crew members, but corporate types ashore in the cruise line corporate headquarters. These people try and stay anonymous. I call them cruise cowards. I keep a folder with the most hateful comments to read one day when I retire.  Some of the hate mail consists of boring one or two line rants. Minor trash talking, very disappointing. I could do much better.

But some are works of art.  

Last week, I received the email below. Quite well written, except for one typo, with lots of juicy adjectives. It was written as a comment to my article Carnival Triumph Passengers Happy to Be Home

"And you are surely the happiest of all, uncle Jim. Like a maggot on road kill. You've got this gravy train leaching blood out of successful and responsible businesses under a phony bullshit cover. Behind that smiling cardboard cutout is a weasel scanning for the next meal. You are a helluva good example for kids thinking about a law career, buddy. You'd be a good prototype for a cartoon character that distills into one face the essence of what people hate about people in your profession. Take the low road to sucess (sic), find an easy prey, start sucking and don't let go. That's the Jim Walker way."

The comment was ironic because I already stated that we would not be filing any lawsuits arising out of the Triumph engine room fire, just like we stated that no one should file suit following the Carnival Splendor cruise ship fire in 2010 either.

But the author of this comment obviously has some deep personal animosity that existed long before the latest Carnival cruise ship caught fire. I wondered who and where the person was. So I took a look.

HAL Holland America Line Hate MailWhen someone leaves a comment on this blog, I have software that permits me to track the internet provider (IP) address. I can't see who reads the blog, but I can find out information if someone leaves a comment because the comment section tracks the IP addresses of those people who leave comments.

So I tracked the IP address.  It tracked directly to Holland America Line (HAL) in Seattle Washington. I emailed the person back and said thanks. I would post an article that the hate mail was the best I had seen.  The next email I sent resulted in a response coming back that there was no such email. Looks like the HAL cruise coward de-activated the email address and is probably hiding under a desk at HAL's headquarters in Seattle.        

This is how the cruise lines work.  HAL is not the only cruise line to send anonymous hate mail, unknowingly leave a IP address in the process, and then scamper down a hole when confronted. I have caught Carnival and Royal Caribbean doing it as well.

So why the hard feelings from the Carnival-owned-HAL?  

I have only one matter right now with HAL.  I represent the family of a man who disappeared from the Eurodam.  I wrote HAL a standard letter and asked for a copy of the video camera images, a copy of the reports to the FBI, Sheriff's office and flag state, and a list of witnesses with information. This is the very basic information we request in all passenger overboard cases to help families try and find out what happened to their loved ones who disappear at sea. 

But HAL decided to stonewall our request. It provided us with nothing but threats and insults. HAL stated that it would not even consider cooperating unless the widow first agreed to state whether her missing husband had life insurance. HAL demanded that the widow agreed to provide HAL's lawyers with her husband's employment information, all confidential medical records, and any psychological records.  

Cruise lines like HAL are all smiley faces when they sell you a cruise. But if your loved one disappears on the high seas, the cruise lines will stab you in the back to conceal the truth.  And if you hire a lawyer, they may send anonymous hate mail from their corporate headquarters.  

 

Credits:

Hate Mail Art: protectportelos.org

No Jury Trial For Seriously Injured Dancer Aboard HAL's Oosterdam

Courthouse News Service reports on a case involving a crew member from Canada who was employed aboard a Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship.

The Canadian crew member, employed on the Oosterdam cruise ship as a dancer, suffered a serious career-ending injury, but is being denied the right to take his case before a jury.

Courthouse News states that the case involves Anthony Yuzwa who was a talented dancer. He graduated from the Canadian College of Performing Arts, worked for the Burlington School of Dance, Oosterdam Cruise Ship - Holland america Lineand appeared on Canadian television. While performing on the Oosterdam earlier this year, a stage lift collapsed and crushed Yuzwa's right foot, resulting in the amputation of two of his toes and parts of others.

He filed suit against HAL as well as a company which hired him to work aboard the cruise ship. Under the General Maritime Law of the U.S. and the Jones Act which was enacted in 1920, injured crew members - even if they are not U.S. citizens - are permitted to bring their legal disputes before U.S. juries and seek a wide range of remedies against their maritime employers and the owner and operator of the vessel. The cruise lines, however, have increasingly been inserting terms in the employment contracts requiring crew members to submit their claims to "arbitration."

Arbitration is a procedure which strips crew members of their right to trial by jury.  Cruise lines prefer arbitration because they believe that compensation awarded to injured crew members will be substantially less and the chances of defeating the crew member will be substantially greater. Arbitration also limits the ability of crew members to engage in discovery of the cruise line's wrongdoing.

The defendants in Yuzwa"s lawsuit responded by moving to dismiss his law suit, which you can read here, and compel him to arbitrate his case in Canada without a jury.  HAL subsequently stipulated that the arbitration could take place in Los Angeles with U.S. law applying but without a jury.

The U.S. federal judge agreed with HAL's argument and compelled Yuzwa to attend arbitration rather than a jury trial. You can read the judge's decision here.

Injured crew members should anticipate that most cruise lines will respond to lawsuits by arguing that the cases should be decided through arbitration.

Although the arbitration awards may generally be considered to be lower than what could be obtained during jury trials, it may be possible to obtain significant compensation for significant injuries. Our firm obtained the highest award in an arbitration case on behalf of an injured crew member.  Read: Walker & O'Neill Featured in Top Verdicts and Settlements" for $1,250,000 Verdict for Injured Crewmember Against Royal Caribbean

You can read about the issue of arbitration of crew member cases in these articles:

Arbitration of Cruise Line Crewmember Cases

Lindo v. NCL: Crewmembers Lose Rights As Harsh Cruise Arbitration Decisions Continue

 

Photo credit: Sebastian Wessels / Wikipedia

Disease on HAL's Amsterdam Sickens 10% of Passengers

Cruise Ship Illness The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 10% of the passengers aboard Holland America Line's Amsterdam cruise ship were sickened by a disease on the ship. It is not yet known whether the disease was norovirus or due to some other causative agent. 

The Amsterdam was in port in San Diego yesterday after a long cruise starting in Sydney Australia on November 11 and arriving in San Diego on December 5, 2012. 81 of 791 passengers became ill. This turns out to be 10.24% of all passengers (assuming all passengers reported their illness and the cruise line accurately reported the outbreak to the CDC). This is an extremely high percentage of affected passengers.

The cruise line's PR department down-played the outbreak saying "a number of guests reported to the infirmary with a common type of gastrointestinal illness."  The popular cruise site Cruise Critic (owned by Expedia travel company) shrugged the illness off as due to a "stomach bug" and repeated HAL's advice to passengers for "extra hand washing."

As usual, there is no discussion regarding the most likely cause of the outbreak. Cruise lines like HAL like to blame the passengers and suggest that they brought the virus aboard and it was then spread because other passengers didn't wash their hands. If this is viral based, due to norovirus, or due to e-coli infection, the real culprit is probably contaminated food or water.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), whereas "person to person" transmission of norovirus has been documented, "norwalk gastroenteritis is transmitted by the fecal-oral route via contaminated water and foods." The FDA indicates that contaminated water is one of the most likely causes of norovirus. The FDA reports that "water is the most common source of outbreaks and may include water from municipal supplies, well, recreational lakes, swimming pools, and water stored aboard cruise ships."

Most of the affected passengers reportedly became symptomatic after the cruise ship left its last port of call (Hilo, Hawaii) on November 29th. Are we to believe that suddenly 10% of the passengers suddenly stopped washing their hands? Or is it more likely that contaminated food or water introduced at the last port of call were the culprit?

The Friends of the Environment (FOE) has an interesting article that the problem is not sick passengers affecting the cruise ship, but sick ships affecting the passengers. FOE tracked the top 12 cruise ships with the most gastrointestinal outbreaks from 2000 to the present, based on the CDC data.

Out of the top 12 sickest ships, HAL operates 5 of them and has the top three sickest ships. HAL's Amsterdam is number 2. The Ryndam is number 1. The Veendam, which recently flunked a CDC health inspection (you can read about the filthy ship here and here), is number 3. The other HAL cruise ships which made the top 12 sickest list are the Volendam (no. 9) and the Zaandam (No. 11).  

Holland america Line Cruise Ships - Norovirus

Art credit: Chan Lowe / Sun Sentinel

Chart Credit: Friends of the Earth

Walker & O'Neill Retained to Investigate Disappearance of Cruise Passenger Jason Rappe' From HAL's Eurodam

Today, our firm was retained to help the family of missing HAL cruise passenger Jason Rappe' find answers to what happened during the evening of November 28th and the early morning hours of November 29th aboard the Holland America Line Eurodam cruise ship.

On November 24th, 41 year old Jason Rappe' and his wife, Tine, left Fort Lauderdale on a 7 day Caribbean cruise aboard the Eurodam.

Jason is believed to have gone overboard on November 29th as the cruise ship was sailing from St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) to the Bahamas, somewhere north-west of Puerto Rico. The U.S. Coast Guard eventually was notified but the search was called off after approximately 36 hours. You can read our article here which we published on the day of Jason's disappearance. 

Jason and his wife were married 17 years ago and live in Olympia Washington. Jason works as a carpenter and is a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.

Jason served in the U.S. Army and is a veteran, and was honorably discharged as a sergeant.

Jason's wife, brothers and father released a statement which is repeated below. The family is seeking any information which may explain how and when Jason apparently went overboard. Please help. If you were on the cruise, please contact us.  

Contact:  Jim Walker: telephone - 305 995 5300 or 1 800 526 1518.

Please note that the comment section below is closed, and no further comments will be published. If you were on the cruise and have information, please contact us directly.   

Jason Rappe - Holland America Line - Eurodam Cruise Ship

 

Statement by the Rappe’ Family Regarding Missing HAL Cruise Passenger Jason Rappe’

On behalf of the Rappe’ family, we would like to extend our gratitude to all of you who have shown so much love and support for us during this time of crisis. We are all still trying to come to grips with this awful event of losing Jason at sea.

For those of you who are not familiar with what happened, Jason and his wife, Tine, from Olympia Washington, went on a 7 day cruise aboard the Holland America Line Eurodam out of Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean. On November 29, 2012, Jason apparently went overboard and has not been located.

We pray that somehow Jason is out there, and that he is ok. There are not many people on this planet with the grit and toughness that Jason has demonstrated in his life. Between Jason’s training in the U.S. Army and his stubborn, never-fail attitude, we know that if anyone can survive this it is him.

Jason is the type of person who could easily be imagined making a rope from his goatee, and lassoing a pair of sea turtles on which he would triumphantly stand as they lead him back to safety.

Our family is seeking information regarding what happened during the cruise. If you were on the cruise ship, we would to like obtain any information that you may have regarding Jason and the circumstances surrounding him going overboard. A maritime attorney is helping us investigate what happened, and we ask that you contact him with your information. His name is Jim Walker and his contact information is below.

Jason’s wife and father will not be conducting any interviews at this time, and we ask that you respect their privacy.

Thank you again for your support and prayers as we deal with this horrible family event.

Wife: Marie Christine (“Tine”) Rappe'
Father: Dana Rappe’
Brother: Ross Rappe’
Brother: Eric Rappe’


Please contact:

James (“Jim”) M. Walker 
Walker & O’Neill P.A. 

Telephone:  305 995 5300 or 800 256 1518

Email:  jim@cruiselaw.com

Passenger Missing From HAL's Eurodam Cruise Ship - Why Do All HAL Overboard Cases Remain Mysteries?

Multiple news sources are reporting that a passenger has gone overboard in the Caribbean earlier this morning. The passenger, age 41, is from Washington and was traveling with his wife.

The passenger's wife reportedly discovered her husband missing from the Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship Eurodam.  The U.S. Coast Guard said that, according to HAL, a baseball cap was located on one of the decks that was allegedly confirmed by the wife of the missing passenger as belonging to him. The ship was sailing from St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) to the Bahamas when the man disappeared early today. 

The Coast Guard issued a statement that it was conducting a search after being notified of the incident at 5:00 AM. Two Coast Guard ships and a helicopter have been dispatched to search for the passenger, whose name has not been released.

Eurodam Cruise Ship - HAL - Passenger OverboardHAL issued a statement that the cruise ship turned around at some point and has joined the search for the missing passenger. The ship left Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Saturday for a seven-day cruise.

You can read about prior recent disappearances from HAL cruise ships:

The Veendam just last month.

The Oosterdam involving a young man.

The Maasdam involving an elderly man. 

The Zaandam involving a young woman.

The overboard from the Zaandam revealed a lack of credibility by HAL's PR department.

Cruise line expert Professor Ross Klein has documented 197 over-boards from cruise ships since the year 2000. 

HAL has had 5 passengers overboard from its cruise ships in just the last couple of years. All remain mysteries.

As best as I can tell, there has never been a determination regarding the cause of any of the HAL over-boards and there has never been a case where HAL admitted that it had closed circuit television (CCTV) images of what happened.

It's disturbing that people can somehow just disappear on the high seas with no explanation and no video of what happened.  You'd think that the cruise line would revamp its security systems when not one single overboard has been solved in the last three years. It also raises the issue whether HAL is being transparent with the public. 

November 30, 2012 Update: The missing passenger has been identified in the press as Jason Gregory Rappe. HAL issued a statement to the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel newspaper, which you can read here.The statement is silent regarding when the wife reported her husband missing to the cruise line and when the cruise line notified the Coast Guard.  In recent overboard cases, the cruise lines have delayed as long as several hours before notifying the Coast Guard.

December 1, 2012 Update: The Eurodam returns to Fort Lauderdale this morning and the FBI should Jason Rappe - HAL Eurodam - Missingbe boarding the cruise ship. At the same time, over two thousand passengers will disembark and begin to head home.  

December 3, 2012 UpdateWalker & O'Neill Retained to Investigate Disappearance of Cruise Passenger Jason Rappe' From HAL's Eurodam  Our firm was retained today to represent the Rappe' family find answers to what happened on the cruise ship.

Please help!

If you were on the cruise and have information about Mr. Rappe's disappearance (photo right), please contact me directly - jim@cruiselaw.com     

Please note that the comment section below is closed, and no further comments will be published. If you were on the cruise and have information, please contact us directly.

 

Photo credit:

Top: Welkinridge / Wikipedia

Bottom: Rappe' family

Holland America Line Cruise Passenger "Disappears" - How Is That Possible?

American passenger Sarah Tessier Powell set sail on the Holland America Line Veendam cruise ship the last week of September.

Two weeks later, no one has any idea where she is.

CBC News in Nova Scotia Canada reports that Ms. Powell, age 70, from Louisiana, was last seen September 30th on the Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship Veendam, as it sailed from Quebec City to Charlottetown.

The HAL cruise ship's next stops were scheduled in Charlottetown, Sydney, and Halifax on October 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respectively

Halifax police speculate that Ms. Powell "may have walked off the ship without being checked by the Sarah Tessier Powell - HAL Cruise Passengercruise ship security," as CBC reports.  Let's hope that's the case. Assuming that's true, the Canadian police admit that it's not clear where Ms. Powell may have disembarked.  

How on earth is that possible?  Passenger gangways are supposed to be heavily monitored by security with each passenger's sea pass card scanned and the gangways always covered by closed circuit television cameras.

Cruise ships can easily trace the passenger's onboard purchases and use of their cabins by "lock-link" reports which document the opening of cabin doors. When did the passenger last use her card to either charge a purchase or open her cabin door?  The shipboard security should easily be able to know when there was any documented activity by Ms. Powell on the ship.

And why do the police think she left the ship?  If she did, then there should be CCTV film documenting her exit even if the gangway security guards were asleep at the wheel.    

There are a number of news outlets covering the story. That's good news. Passengers should not disappear during cruises, with loved ones wondering whether the passenger went overboard or is wandering around somewhere ashore.

It's been ten days since anyone say this cruise line guest.  Where is she?

This reflects poorly on HAL and the security systems on HAL's Vandeem.  Wasn't the Vandeem the same HAL ship which just  flunked the Centers for Disease Control inspection of the ship's cleanliness

It looks like the HAL Vandeem's security procedures are no better than its failed sanitation system.  

HAL's Veendam Flunks Health Inspection

Below is a CNN video regarding the 16 year old Holland America Line's Veendam cruise ship which failed an inspection conducted by the Centers for Disease Control.

We blogged about this incident last week in our article:

"Gross! Holland America Line's Veendam Flunks Health Inspection."

CNN described the ship conditions as "really gross:"

 

 

Gross! Holland America Line's Veendam Flunks Health Inspection

Dirty Cruise Ship - CDC - Failed InspectionFlies. Dirty and malfunctioning ice machines, refrigerators & dishwashers. More flies. Dust, dirt, food residue, and debris. Flies and more flies. Flies where food is prepared. Flies where food is stored. Ugh. These unsanitary problems are part of a ridiculously long list that the U.S. Centers for Disease documented during a surprise inspection last month aboard the Holland America Line's Veendam cruise ship.

You can read the gross report here.

The inside word is that most "surprise" inspections are not surprises at all.  Most of the time the cruise lines are tipped off and immense pressure is suddenly applied on the crew to bring the ship up to standards. But here, at least, there was no advance warning. And this is what you get.  

The last cruise ship to fail such an inspection was the Monarch of the Seas last December - Dirty Dishes & Fruit Flies Flourish on Royal Caribbean's Oldest Cruise Ship. That was pretty gross too. 

 

Fuel Pump Explosion & Power Outage on HAL's Statendam

Cruise List broke a story today about a power outage which occurred on Holland America Line's  Statendam cruise ship last Thursday. 

The Cruise List blog explains that last Thursday evening his proprietary application which searches for cruise information on Twitter picked up a tweet about a “fuel pump explosion” that caused a “two hour Power Outage on the Statendam.”  He re-tweeted it but later deleted it when he received a direct message from the person originally tweeting the information, begging him to delete it for Cruise Ship Power Outagereasons not explained (he sounds a lot nicer than me).

Cruise List then left a post on Cruise Critic asking if anyone knew about an incident on the Statendam. Yes, several passengers responded - the cruise ship indeed "lost all power and were serving cheese sandwiches in the main dining room."

This incident seems to have passed without much consequence other than the inconvenience of cheese sandwiches. But the Statendam is almost two decades old - it is one of the older ships in the modern cruise line industry.

As the last couple of years have demonstrated, power failures on cruise ship are a very serious matter. Engine room fires and explosions which disable cruise ships, for a few hours or to the point that the ship is disabled at sea, are hardly rare. Consider these incidents in the last three years:

  • The Sun Princess lost power earlier this month;
  • The Costa Allegra lost all power off the coast of southern Africa earlier this year and had to be towed back to a port;
  • The M/V Plancius adventure cruise ship lost power and was stranded in the South Atlantic;
  • The Azamara Quest lost most of its power this year following an engine room fire near Bornea;
  • The Cunard QM2 suffered what is described as a catastrophic explosion and lost power on the high seas;
  • The MSC Opera lost power in the Baltic Sea, with passengers describing the ordeal as "shocking, scary, with dark hallways and backed up toilets," according to the BBC.
  • The Norwegian Dawn lost power in the Caribbean; and
  • The most famous recent power failure occurred aboard the Carnival Splendor. The U.S.S. Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier had to send helicopters to drop relief food to the cruise ship and a fleet of tug boats had to push and pull the Splendor to San Diego for extensive repairs.  

Carnival Splendor Cruise Ship Stranded - Power OutageThe cruise industry tries to keep explosions and power outages quiet, to avoid images like the Carnival Splendor cruise ship (right) stranded at sea or videos like this.  

The Statendam captain's blog mentions nothing about the power outage. I'm sure that that's not a reflection of him as much as a corporate policy prohibiting any mention of something like this.

It's important for the cruise community to keep an eye out for potential safety issues that the cruise lines would prefer you not know.

Hats off to Cruise List, which states that it "was created as a place where you could go to see what was going on aboard ships without a sales pitch." 

Medical Malpractice on the High Seas: Do Cruise Passengers Have Any Rights?

CBC News in Canada published a story this week about cruise passenger Bernie Hamilton, age 66, who died following a Holland America Line ("HAL") cruise due to what sounds like a series of errors by the ship's medical personnel.  The article is entitled "Cruise Death Prompts Warning on Ships' Medical Care."  

I have heard these stories time after time over the years.   A couple excited about a dream vacation.  The husband experiences medical issues during the cruise which a competent doctor ashore would easily handle.  But due to blunders by the cruise ship medical team, the wife returns home alone to face the cruise line's denials of responsibility for the suffering and death.

In Bernie Hamilton's case, you can read about the ship doctor's misdiagnosis by concluding that Mr. Hamilton had just a common cold or perhaps asthma which led to a prescription of Ventolin which accelerates a patient's heart rate.  You can read that after Mr. Hamilton collapsed on Holland America Line - Cruise Ship Medical Carethe floor of the cabin, his wife Heather had to witness the spectacle of the medical personnel trying to decipher the instructions for the automatic defibrillator as precious minutes ticked away on her husband's life.  

After the ship medical team struggled to insert an intravenous line and intubation tube and finally "stabilized" Mr. Hamilton, the ship put Mr. Hamilton ashore in Spain where the shore-side doctors declared him brain dead.

Ms. Hamilton received no apologies from HAL.  The cruise line is quoted in the article saying that they "believe the care provided to Mr. Hamilton was appropriate."  All that Ms. Hamilton received from HAL was a bill for $2,000.

Last year, I wrote an article "If the Ship Doctor Kills You, Too Bad" which explains the dangers provided by the limited nature of cruise ship medical care and the difficulty seeking compensation when malpractice of the ship doctor or nurses harms your family. 

Yes, doctors and nurses make mistakes, but a cruise ship is about the only place where a doctor can negligently kill your loved one and there is no accountability. 

As I mentioned last year, as long as cruise lines are not liable for bad medical care, there is no financial incentive for the ships to invest in training and hiring more qualified and experienced doctors and nurses.

There is no economic or moral justification for such an inequitable situation. The cruise industry collects over $35 billion dollars a year and pays no Federal income taxes by registering their cruise ships in foreign countries.  As long as travel agents, cruise fans and the public are indifferent to these type of stories, in the future other families will experience the horror of dream vacations going terribly wrong.

November 11, 2014 Update: Breaking News! Cruise passengers are now permitted to sue the cruise lines for medical negligence. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that cruise lines are no longer permitted to assert an "immunity defense" when their ship doctors and nurses commit medical malpractice. Read: 11th Circuit Rejects Cruise Lines' Immunity Defense to Medical Malpractice Claims. Contact us for further information.

 

Photo credit:   CBC News / Heather Hamilton

Tragedy on HAL's Half Moon Cay: A Mother's Perspective

One of the purposes of this blog is to educate the public of dangers of cruising and the legal hurdles passengers face when things go wrong during a cruise.  

One of the first issues I felt compelled to write about when I started this blog over two years ago was the Death On The High Seas Act ("DOHSA").  DOSHA does not permit cruise passengers to recover pain, suffering, grief, or bereavement if a loved one dies outside of the territorial waters of the U.S.  DOSHA provides only limited financial damages, such as lost wages. 

If a child is killed during a cruise or shore excursion due to the cruise line's negligence, there is no recovery at all because the child is not a wage earner.  I wrote about this in my series of the "ten reasons not to cruise" -  Reason No. 5:  If You Are Retired Or A Child, The Cruise Line Considers Your Life Worthless.

Cruise lines love DOSHA.  It eliminates all consequences of their negligence and provides no incentive to act responsibly.  The cruise industry spends millions of dollars lobbying Congress to make certain that DOSHA is not amended to provide reasonable compensation to grieving families.

This weekend, I received the following comments from a Mom who lost her daughter during a  Holland American Line cruise, while on HAL's "private island" Half Moon Cay.          

Holland America Line's "Family Cruise" - Half Moon Cay

"My 3 year-old daughter was killed on Christmas Eve of last year while on a Holland America cruise with her biological father. She drowned in the designated children's swim area of a private island Death On The High Seas Act - Holland America Line -  Cruisein the Bahamas owned by HAL.  This tragedy occurred in plain view of hundreds of people present and right near where a lifeguard SHOULD have been actively on duty.

I would never have considered allowing her on the cruise if I believed for a moment that I was putting her in harm's way.

Imagine what it feels like to receive a phone call on Christmas Day and fully expecting to hear a relative calling with a Christmas greeting.  Instead, you are informed, with no preamble or warning, that your darling daughter is dead.

Holland America has made it perfectly clear to us that they feel they have no responsibility in the matter, and even if they did have any liability, that their interests are fully protected by the Death on the High Seas Act.  Never mind the fact that the children's swim area contained many bright toys to lure children into the water, and deliberately lulls the guests into a false sense of security with signs nearby that say "Paradise -- you'll want to stay forever" (or similar.)  Because the DOHSA does not cover pain and suffering (only loss of a paycheck, and let's face it, my daughter didn't have a steady job), they have informed me that I am entitled to absolutely nothing.

Thanks, Holland America. And a Merry Christmas to you as well.

Be aware of this stance before you go on one of Holland America's "Family Cruises" (one of their employees told me their target market is families for their Christmas Cruises).  Holland America is only too happy to take full advantage of their supposed protection under a law that they themselves have so much as admitted as being archaic.  For some terribly naive reason, I actually had hoped that instead of hiding behind the cover of an inappropriate law to protect themselves from their failures to provide a safe environment for my child, that they would actually be moved to simply do the right thing.  Silly me.

The DOHSA Act was originally passed in 1920 to cover scenarios of a fisherman (read: breadwinner) lost at sea.  The intent of the law was certainly never to cover the loss of a child on a cruise, but the cruise industry is taking full advantage of its existence and has opposed efforts to change this law.

The lesson that Holland America has taught me with their brush-off treatment of my complaint is loud and clear: pain and suffering are worthless.  I can't even bring myself to contemplate what their message communicates with regards to their perceived value of the life of my daughter."


 

Were you on the cruise or at Half Moon Cay at the time of this incident? 

Should DOHSA be amended to provide the same remedies as land based law?

Please leave a comment below . . .

 

For other articles on DOHSA, consider reading:

What Does BP, Al Qaeda and a Cruise Line Have In Common? 

Death On The High Seas Act Protects BP and Cruise Lines at the Grieving Family's Expense

Coast Guard to Rescue Three Passengers from HAL Cruise Ship Oosterdam

At this moment the U.S. Coast Guard is in the process of medevacing three elderly passengers from a cruise ship 100 miles east of from Hilo, Hawaii. 

The Republic reports that an 86 year old man appears to having a heart attack, an 82 year old man has symptoms of internal bleeding, and a 76 year old woman is suffering from abdominal pains.

The helicopter deployed two helicopters and a plane to the Holland America Line cruise ship, the Oosterdam.  The cruise ship is headed for San Diego.  The Coast Guard intends to take the ill passengers to Hilo Medical Center.

A cruise ship in the middle of the ocean is not where you want to be if you are gravely ill. 

The newspaper reports that a Coast Guard flight surgeon made the decision to medically evacuate the elderly passengers after hearing about their conditions from the ship's medical staff.

We have covered lots of cruise ship medevac stories, but none involving three separate passengers in need of emergency medical evacuation.

If you are on the cruise ship and have information or photographs or video of the medevac, please leave us a comment below. 

 

 

Video Credit:  U.S. Coast Guard / Department of Homeland Security

Holland America Line Sued Following Death of Passenger During Excursion in Belize

The Seattle Times reports that the husband of a cruise passenger filed a wrongful death suit Holland America Line in Seattle after his wife was killed during a cruise sponsored snorkeling excursion.

The incident occurred when passenger Diana Mechling had just entered the water from the excursion boat off the coast of Belize to start snorkeling.  The operator put the vessel in reverse, and the propeller struck Ms. Mechling.  According to the newspaper, her husband, Michael Mechling, was present on the snorkeling vessel during the incident.  Ms. Mechling died in a local hospital.

The Belize-based operator of the snorkeling excursion, Cruise Solutions Belize Ltd., was also named in the lawsuit.

We reported on this tragedy last February shortly after the incident occurred.  You can read the account here

A local newspaper in Belize, 7 News Belize, reported in February that Port Authority Belize concluded its investigation into matter and found that the Captain of the boat Reef Rocket, Martine Manuel Pariente was negligent.  The Port Authority has decided to charge the cruise operator with negligently causing loss of life, and has suspended his captain's license.

The passenger's family can now expect the Belize excursion company to deny that it is subject to jurisdiction in the United States, as it has done in other cases where cruise passengers are injured during cruise excursions.

Body of Missing Holland America Line Passenger Found Near Prince Edward Island

HAL Maasdam Cruise Ship Missing Passenger CBC News Canada is reporting that a 75 year-old passenger from the Holland America Line MS Maasdam was reported missing by his wife shortly after 8 AM. yesterday after the HAL cruise ship docked in Charlottetown, Canada.

The Maasdam left from Montreal on Saturday on a seven-day cruise,

The newspaper states that the vessel's crew conducted a shipwide search but could not locate the passenger on the cruise ship. The Canadian Coast Guard searched the cruise ship's route but could not locate the man.

According to the newspaper, a lobster fisherman found a body around 8:30 AM. in the Northumberland Strait near western Prince Edward Island. 

The cruise line confirmed that the body was that of a passenger from the cruise ship, although the Canadian police have not yet confirmed that the body was the missing passenger.   An autopsy has been requested.

If you have information about this latest cruise overboard, please leave a message below.

October 5, 2011 Update:

The CBC News identifies the deceased passenger as William Cureton, age 75, of Port Dover, Ontario.    

Photo credit:  Robert F. Bukaty / AP  (via MSNBC)

HAL's Westerdam Cruise Ship Strikes Ice Cruising Through Yakutat Bay Near Hubbard Glacier

The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a press release indicating that it is investigating an allision between Holland America Lines' cruise ship Westerdam and ice in the vicinity of Yakutat Bay today.

The Westerdam was reportedly maneuvering through ice near Hubbard Glacier Tuesday evening when it sustained damage approximately 15 feet below the cruise ship's waterline. The Coast Guard press release reports that the vessel's hull was not breached.  Fortunately, there is no report of pollution and the passengers and crew are okay. 

The Westerdam continued on with its cruise to Sitka, where the cruise ship was met by Coast Guard representatives. 

This morning, HAL issued a statement claiming that the "winds were high at the time," and stressing that "the hull was not breached, and the ship continued on its published itinerary as planned."

HAL also says that the Westerdam will sail on its next cruise as scheduled.

Yakutat Bay - HAL - Holland America Line
 

Holland America Lines Passenger Killed while Snorkeling in Belize

7 New Belize reports that a cruise passenger died yesterday while snorkeling in Belize's waters.  American tourist, Diana Mechling, age 59, was reportedly snorkeling at Goff's Caye in Belize when she was struck by the propeller of a catamaran.

The newspaper in Belize indicates that Ms. Mechling was treated at Belize Medical Associates where she died.  According to a representative of Holland America's agent in Belize, Cruise Solutions, the passenger was on a snorkel excursion tour when she was injured. 

Belize - Cruise Ship Paradise?Ms. Mechling was in Belize on Holland America Line's Ryndam cruise ship.  Cruise lines like HAL are legally responsible for investigating the excursion companies with which they do business and making certain that the tour companies have adequate safety rules and regulations for the protection of the cruise passengers.  

The newspaper states: "apart from being a terrible personal tragedy for Mrs. Mechling's family, It is a huge black eye for an already suffering cruise industry - and major fallout is expected."

There have been numerous unsettling stories about the cruise industry coming out of Belize recently.  7 News Belize reported  on a  21 year old cruise passenger who went overboard from Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas cruise ship in Belize waters last month.  The story has received no coverage in the U.S., even though the cruise line is based here in Miami and the deceased passenger's family retained counsel in Miami. 

7 News Belize also published an incredible article providing insight into the dispute between cruise giant Carnival and the local tender boat operators in Belize.   

The country of Belize is also the location of a struggle between another cruise giant Royal Diana MechlingCaribbean, which is looking to expand its operations, and the small village of Placencia which is fighting to keep the cruise line out.   

February 4, 2011 Update:

The local news stations in Belize, 7 News Belize and Channel Five Belize, are continuing to report on the investigation into this incident. 

February 8, 2011 Update:

Ms. Mechling's funeral in Westerville Ohio is on Friday, February 11, 2011. 

Her orbituary can be viewed here.

February 9, 2011 Update:

7 News Belize reports that the Port Authority Belize "has concluded its investigation into matter and found that the Captain of the boat Reef Rocket, Martine Manuel Pariente was negligent.

According to a release from the authority, around 1:30 pm last Wednesday, Mechling was in a group of tourists that was getting off the Reef Rocket when she got entangled in one of the boat's propellers and received a large cut wound to the lower pelvic and thigh area.

We note that this differs from the police account which last week said that she somehow ended up snorkeling under the vessel.

But based on its finding The Port Authority has decided to charge 55 year old Pariente with negligently causing loss of life, and has suspended his captain's license. The Reef Rocket has been prohibited from sailing pending further inquiries."

October 21, 2011 Update:  Mr. Mechling filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Holland America and Cruise Solutions Belize in Seattle, Washington.

Holland America Crew Member Killed In Life Boat Mishap

A 29 year old crew member died during a botched life boat training exercise in New Zealand today. 

According to newspapers in New Zealand, the accident occurred when crew members from Holland America Line's Volendam cruise ship were practicing life boats drills.  One of the wires attaching the lifeboat to the cruise ship snapped, throwing the two HAL crew members into the water in Lyttelton Harbor.  One of the crew members was rescued, but the other man who was wearing heavy clothing and boots went under water and did not reappear.  The crew members were reportedly not wearing a life jacket.

HAL has not released the name of the deceased crew member. 

January 9, 2011 Update:

We received a comment (below) from the Medical Officer on the HAL cruise ship, expressing his/her condolences.  We appreciate hearing from cruise line like this.  It shows compassion.  This is the first time in 500 blog articles that a cruise line has posted a comment on our blog following a crew member death or injury. 

A newspaper in New Zealand has a follow up article on the crew member death - "Liner Crew Traumatized by Shipmate's Drowning" - indicating that the cruise ship's 600 crew members were "obviously traumatised by the whole thing . . .  they all know each other pretty well, so they are quite upset."