Crew Member Disappears From Independence of the Seas: Why No Mention in the Press or Social Media?

A crew member disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas earlier in the week.

We were first notified of the crew member's disappearance from another crew member who was concerned about the incident. Today we received confirmation that a crew member went overboard from a reliable separate and independent source. 

The missing crew member was reportedly a galley worker from India. The crew member went overboard early in the morning before the cruise ship called on its scheduled port in France. 

The ship is currently on a two week cruise, starting on August 9, 2014 from Southampton and sailing to Independence of the Seas Gibraltar, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, before returning to Southampton.

This is the third time in two months a person has gone overboard from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship without any mention of the incident in the press or on social media. 

A passenger went overboard from the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas on August 7, 2014. There were no rescue attempts by the ship. The cruise ship, like all other Royal Caribbean cruise ships, has no automatic man overboard system which could detect someone going overboard and immediately alert the bridge. The passenger was not noticed missing until a cabin attendant entered the cabin over 14 hours later. There was no mention of the incident in the press or on social media until we first mentioned the incident.

Another passenger jumped from the Splendour of the Seas on June 13, 2014. The cruise ship personnel rescued him because he was seen going overboard by other passengers and crew members. Again, there was no mention of the incident until we reported on it. The incident demonstrates that even when a person intentionally goes overboard (an act often considered to be suicidal), the cruise ship can safely rescue them if man overboard steps are immediately taken.

A passenger also recently went overboard (August 2, 2014) from the Caribbean Princess. Like the situation on the Splendor, the passenger intentionally jumped overboard but was quickly rescued because he was seen going into the water.  Again, there was no mention of the incident until cruise expert Ross Klein first mentioned it on his website

Of course, many people going overboard are not witnessed. That's why automatic man overboard systems are important. The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 requires the installation of man overboard technology. The history of the legislation indicates that it does not matter whether the person intentionally went overboard (suicidal or not), accidentally went overboard (due to alcohol, recklessness or otherwise), or was thrown overboard. Cruise ships must install the available technology.  

Why are these incidents not being mentioned in the press or discussed on social media? Some people believe that it's nobody's business. They say that if someone wants to jump overboard, they must be suicidal and there's nothing the cruise line could do or should do.  

Other people say that I'm just making these incidents up. If they can't find confirmation of the overboard on the internet after a Google search, they say I must be lying. This view permeates the group-think, cult-of-personality, lynch mob mentality on Cruise Critic message boards

In situations like the Grandeur, or more recently the Independence, the person is not discovered missing until hours and hours later, when the ship reaches port or a crew member doesn't report to work in the morning or a cabin attendant finally enters the cabin.  The ship is then over a hundred miles away. 

My thought is that it comes down to a lack of transparency. Cruise lines don't like news of their guests or employees disappearing at sea. Cruise lines sell images of magical vacations with happy, smiling customers and friendly crew members. They don't like stories of out-of-their-mind-drunk-on-cruise-booze passengers, or over-worked and despondent crew members or, God forbid, passengers or crew thrown overboard into the dark waters. They suppress the information. They don't like lawyers who point out that their entire fleet is in violation of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act.

 

Interested in this issue? Consider reading Is Royal Caribbean Working Its Crew Members to Death? 

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

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Aztec06

Near Death Experience Aboard the Independence of the Seas: When Will Royal Caribbean Hire Lifeguards?

Four days ago, we discussed the near drowning of a six year old boy whose heart had stopped when he was found on the bottom of a swimming pool on the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas.

People contacting us say the boy slipped and struck his head. Other children reportedly pulled the unconscious boy from the pool. Royal Caribbean was not supervising the Royal Caribbean pool. 

Royal Caribbean, like Carnival and NCL, has no lifeguards assigned to its pools. Only Disney takes the responsible step of employing lifeguards on cruise ships.

Independence of the Seas Pool - LifeguardI have written at length about these type of situations.

Saving children's lives requires the joint efforts of the parents and the cruise line. Parents must obviously supervise their children, and the cruise line must supervise their pools.  If the pools are intended for adults only, then there must be cruise employees at the pools enforcing that rule as well as any other rules such as "no children," "no running on the pool decks" or "no horseplay." 

Contrary to what many people believe, a "no lifeguard" or "swim at your own risk" sign, without more, is legally insufficient to exculpate the cruise ship from liability.

Disney used to rely on "no lifeguard" signs, but after the near drowning death last year of a child who was rendered severely brain damaged and needs expensive lifetime care, the Magical Cruise Line now employees lifeguards throughout its fleet. It took only one prior incident for Disney to throw away the "no lifeguard" signs and do the right thing by assigning ship employees to the pools.

Today we were notified that a similar incident occurred previously on the Independence of the Seas. A concerned parents told us: 

"The same happened to my daughter, six years ago, who was age six at the time, on the Independence of the Seas. We had gone with large group of family and friends and it was our first full day at sea. All the kids were so excited and it was our first cruise so we didn't really know the rules or anything about the ship. The kids were running around on the children's area where the water fountains were, this area was a water area for kids, however, in the same area was a pool, which was really deep water, we had no idea and this is where my daughter jumped in, after following her cousin, who was eight months older than her and could swim a little. The pool was six feet deep, we checked afterwards and this was the deepest pool on the ship, even deeper than the adults pool, why this was put next to the kids area, I have no idea. My daughter could not swim and panicked, she tried alerting her cousin who tried to help but as she was so small too, she nearly pulled her down.

It was only by chance that my sister was walking past to go back to her room that she spotted them and had to jump in fully clothed to save her. We were only yards away but as this pool was right in the middle of area we couldn't see them."

It's easy to blame parents whenever they let their guard down for a minute. But its entirely foreseeable and predictable that parents, especially parents on vacation, will make mistakes - perhaps only for a few precious seconds.

Ignoring a prior similar incident when a child nearly drowns is a dangerous proposition for a cruise line. A prior incident provides "notice" of the danger and requires the cruise line to take corrective measures to prevent similar injuries or fatalities from occurring.

Putting away legal issues of liability, the best way to protect kids is to have the parents supervise the kids and the cruise line supervise the pools. 

That's why a responsible cruise line (so far only Disney) employs lifeguard to supervise the pools. 

How many other incidents will it take before Royal Caribbean does the right thing and hires lifeguards?

Near Drowning Aboard Independence of the Seas: Six Year Old Boy Fighting for Life in French Hospital

BBC News reports that a six year old boy was pulled from a swimming pool on the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas yesterday. 

The AFP news agency says that the child's heart had stopped when he was found in the cruise ship pool.

BBC says that the cruise ship's doctor was able to re-start the boy's heart. The cruise line then requested that the boy be taken for emergency medical treatment ashore in northwest France by Independence of the Seas Swimming Poolhelicopter. 

A spokesman for a maritime agency in Brest, France said that the "child was found in a state of cardio-respiratory arrest at the bottom of the ship's pool."

This incident will be certain to trigger another debate whether cruise lines should staff their swimming pools with lifeguards. 

In the last year, four children six years of age or younger have drown or nearly drown on the major cruise lines, Disney, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines. None of these ships had lifeguards assigned to their pools at the time. 

A 4 year child remains brain damaged after he nearly drowned on a Disney cruise ship, the Fantasy, in March of last year.  A 6 year old child is dead after drowning on a Carnival cruise ship, the Victory, in October of last year. A 4 year old is dead and his 6 year old brother is injured after similar tragedies on NCL's Norwegian Breakaway, last February.

In our view, there is no excuse not to assign lifeguards to cruise ship pools. The costs is minimal and the need is substantial.  Yes, parents need to supervise their children but cruise lines need to exercise their corporate responsibility to supervise the pools, enforce pool rules, and be ready to perform CPR if necessary.

Here are two of our many articles on the issue:

Imperfect Parents & Corporate Irresponsibility: Why No Lifeguards?

Dangerous Disney Cruise Ship Swimming Pool: Thoughts from a Concerned Cruiser

Disney is now the only cruise line which employs lifeguards, after the near-fatality last year. 

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Jolly Janner

Independence of the Seas Mooring Mishap Kills Two in St. Kitts

This morning we were contacted by passengers aboard Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas indicating that two dockworkers were killed when the cruise ship was leaving the port.

The passengers described the incident as occurring when the two dockworkers were in a small vessel trying to remove the last mooring lines. The Independence of the Seas' wake allegedly swamped the vessel with its azipods and threw the two men into the water. The vessel then allegedly slammed into the Celebrity Silhouette and overturned.

The two men were described as wearing life-vests, although one vest apparently became loose when the man was tossed into the water.

The passengers who we communicated with were critical that the Independence "launched rescue but not fast enough. Celebrity took 30 min after we launched rescue to respond."  They described a "lack of quick response and feeling of helplessness."

The incident occurred yesterday around 5:00 PM.  The Independence was delayed approximately 3 Independence of the Seas St Kittshours.

The incident has already been posted on social media sites.

The Times Caribbean Blog posted this on Facebook (and the photo to the right):  

"Eyewitnesses suggest that the Cruise Liner may have pulled out before the men had enough time to clear the berthing area. As a result the sea currents created by the massive cruise liner may have caused the smaller berthing boat to capsize and the men were apparently sucked below water by the current and drowned."

The news account also indicated that "the small boat was capsized when our rear azipods pushed us away from the dock. The two men where thrown overboard and never resurfaced, only one had on a life vest, the other man's life vest came off when he was thrown into the water. The capsized boat was then pushed into the back of the Silhouette. All of this viewed from my aft balcony, kinda puts a damper on an otherwise wonderful cruise. Very sad for the families of these two men.'" 

CNN iReport posted information (based on the Times Caribbean account) and a local newspaper in St. Kitts, SKNVibes, published an article as well.

The St. Kitts & Nevis Observer identified the two men. 

April 5 2014 UpdateLinesman expresses safety concerns following colleague's death.

If anyone has additional information or photos or video of the incident, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Photo Credit: Times Caribbean

Passenger Missing From Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas Sailing to Cayman Islands

According to news sources, a passenger is reportedly missing from the Independence of the Seas cruise ship which sailed to the Cayman Islands today. 

The missing passenger is a 65-year-old man from Canada who was reported missing by his wife, before the Royal Caribbean ship arrived at the Grand Cayman's port.

His name and hometown were not disclosed.

Independence of the SeasA search of the cruise ship and a review of closed-circuit camera footage provided no information. 

A Royal Caribbean spokesperson says that the missing man was last seen entering his room just before midnight.

You can watch a video from the Cayman's television station here.

Royal Caribbean's inability to explain what happened to its cruise guest reveals, again, that the cruise line is in violation of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act.

This law requires cruise lines to install state of the art automatic man overboard technology to detect persons going over the rails into the sea. Technology exists to detect when passengers or crew members go overboard and will record their images and send a signal to the bridge notifying the officers of the emergency in order to begin emergency rescue procedures.

Read our article: Cruise Industry Ignores Law Requiring Man-Overboard System.

Unfortunately Royal Caribbean has not implemented this system.

Two days ago, another Canadian went overboard from the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas as the cruise ship was sailing to San Juan.

Ten days ago, a passenger disappeared from the Rhapsody of the Seas in Australian waters. 

If you have a comment, please join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Aztec06

Independence of the Seas - a Dirty Cruise Ship? Sick Passengers Sue Royal Caribbean for £500,000

The U.K.'s Daily Echo reports today that twenty-five ill cruise passengers (and their family members) who sailed aboard the Independence of the Seas filed a lawsuit against the Miami based cruise line, Royal Caribbean Cruises, claiming that the dirty ship conditions and unsanitary galley and food led them to become ill.

The newspaper states that in addition to the unsanitary shipboard conditions, the Royal Caribbean cruise ship had insufficient medical facilities and staff to deal with disease outbreaks during cruises.

The lawsuit is described in the newspaper article as including complaints of "flies in their bathrooms, a waiter blowing (his) nose on a napkin that was then placed on a table and an outbreak of illness Independence of the Seas - Norovirus so severe there were often ambulances waiting for passengers in the ports they visited."

There is no mention where the lawsuit was filed or the name of the passengers' lawyers, but it appears that the case was filed in England. The passengers are seeking £500,000 in compensation from the cruise line. The Independence of the Seas sailed from Southampton England.

The affected passengers sailed on five different cruises over the course of a seven month period from December 2010 through June 2011.  In the U.S. courts, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean have successfully enforced a one year limitations period.  There appears to be a longer limitations period in which to file suit in the U.K.

Royal Caribbean denied the allegations of under-cooked food and poor galley hygiene, stating that it delivered “extremely high” health standards for its guests. During the time period in question, "the ship, Independence of the Seas, sailed on 15 cruises, welcoming over 67,000 guests."

Although the cruise line is down-playing the allegations, the fact of the matter is that Royal Caribbean had a problem with norovirus on this cruise ship notwithstanding its attempts at "enhanced cleaning."  It should be pointed out that if the cruise line really carried some 67,000 passengers in this six month period, it collected well over £100,000,000 as well.    

The last norovirus outbreak we reported on which occurred on the Independence  of the Seas was in March 2012.

Independence of the Seas - Lawsuit - Unsanitary FoodThe cruise lines always blame the passengers for not washing their hands, but there is far more to the story than pointing the finger at the guests. 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 also 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." 

Consider a couple of our articles regarding this subject: 

Cruise Ship Norovirus - Clean the Damn Toilets!

Cruise Ship Bathrooms, Norovirus and Medical Care

It will be interesting how this case turns out! 

 

Photo credits:

Drawing - Maxim Magazine

Independence of the Seas - Echo Daily

Norovirus Hits Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas

Independence of the Seas - NorovirusA reader of Cruise Law News in the U.K. alerted me to an article in the Daily Echo that one of Royal Caribbean's cruise ships based in the U.K. has been hit with a break out of norovirus: 

"Thousands of holidaymakers due to set sail on board a Southampton-based cruise ship were hit by delays yesterday after norovirus hit 117 passengers and three crew on the liner’s previous cruise.

They were delayed boarding Royal Caribbean ship Independence of the Seas until 3pm so that her cabins and the cruise terminal could be sanitized.

She set sail just after her scheduled 7 PM departure."

Were you on this cruise?  How did the cruise line handle the outbreak?  

Please leave a comment below.

March 7, 2012 Update:

Professor Ross Klein's website has this quote from a passenger:

"We have just returned today 06.03.12 from an 11 day cruise on Independence of the Seas.  We were asked to check in late (15.30), by email.  We were left standing in corridors, the check in lounge and even outside for about three hours. They kept apologising for the delay over and over again.

While we were on the ship the staff were constantly sanatizing all handrails chairs and tables, the shops were sprayed every night.  Each time someone entered the toilet a voice would say"Stop don't forget to wash your hands."  When you sat down to dinner then someone would announce that we were on a high state of alert for Norovirus and to please wash your hands. We were handed wipes each time you entered a venue. We were not allowed to put condiments on our food the waiters etc had to do it for you. They even had to put the milk in you coffee and handed you sugar packets with tongs. We felt like lepers and it spoiled the whole holiday.

must say that the crew had to work extra hard but they always had a smile for us, but they must all be shattered."

 

Photo credit:  Daily Echo

Dramatic Rescue of Critically Ill, Wheelchair Bound Cruise Passenger from Independence of the Seas

BBC News is reporting today on the dramatic rescue of a critically ill passenger from Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas.

The U.K. Coast Guard was notified by the captain of the Independence of the Seas on Saturday night that a passenger was very ill and needed to be evacuated from the cruise ship.  A helicopter was dispatched from Portland, which is in southern England on the Dorset coast, 23 miles out to the cruise ship.  

Medevac - Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship - Medical EmergencyThe BBC reports that the helicopter was too heavy for the cruise ship's landing pad.  The vessel's crew had to lift the passenger, in her wheelchair, up and into the helicopter as it hovering above them. 

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokeswoman is quoted stating "in a supreme example of skill, the coastguard helicopter pilot touched the wheels of the aircraft on to the moving deck of the Independence of the Seas, keeping the rotors powered-up so that no weight was taken by the relatively fragile landing pad."

The helicopter then flew the ill woman and her husband to Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester.

The BBC did not comment on the nature of the cruise passenger's critical illness.

We have received comments from crew and passengers that the Independence of the Seas has been experiencing Norovirus outbreaks for much of this year, although it is unknown what ailed this particular passenger.

The Independence of the Seas was last in the news when an oil tanker exploded while the cruise ship was docked at the port in Gibraltar.   

 

Photo credit:  Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Fertig via Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System (image is of U.S. Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter responding to a medical emergency aboard the Explorer of the Seas 230 miles east of Cape Henry Virginia on March 11, 2011.) 

Eye Witness Accounts: Oil Tank Explosion Panics Cruise Passengers / Independence of the Seas Quickly Leaves Port

The Telegraph newspaper in the U.K. has an interesting story containing a passenger's account of events aboard the Independence of the Seas following the explosion at the port in Gibraltar.  Some of the accounts:

“People thought it was a bomb and started screaming. Parents jumped in the pool to grab their children, while others dashed to the kids’ club on deck 12 to see if their children were injured.”

"One crew member . . . heard screaming and saw black smoke; she thought one of the restaurants was on fire."

"At dinner that night, the explosion was on everyone’s lips. 'We thought it was a bomb,' one middle-aged passenger said. 'American ship in a British port – quite an easy target.'

All of the accounts we have read praised the captain and crew.  "Within minutes, the captain made an announcement, ordering everyone off the open decks and balconies, and sending a rapid response team up to deck 11 where the outdoor pools and bars were packed with young families making the most of the Gibraltar heat."

"Officers ran along the side of the dock to the stern of the ship, presumably to check for any damage . . .   Just four minutes later, we slipped our moorings and the ship sailed . . . Thanks to a quick-thinking captain, a major incident was averted." 

YouTube member "Kasbah89" posted a video of the fire.  It shows the Independence of the Seas quickly departing away from the burning oil tank and turning to head out of danger:

 

   

Were you on the cruise and have photos or video to share?  Please let us here from you.

Video credit:  kasbah89 / YouTube

Some amazing photographs can be viewed at David Parody's Flickr photostream here.

Explosion Rocks Port in Gibraltar - Independence of the Seas Avoids Damage

Independence of the Seas - Explosion - GilbraltarSeveral news sources are reporting that an oil tank exploded at the port in Gibraltar today.

Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas cruise ship was in port at the time of the explosion.  One newspaper reports that the cruise ship was due to sail at 4 p.m. but was "berthed nearby" when the oil tank exploded. 

The cruise ship then reportedly "quickly sailed away and anchored in the bay."

The Gilbraltar Chronicle reports that two people ashore were injured, one reportedly seriously due to burns. 

Twelve cruise passengers were injured.  The cruise line issued a statement indicating that the injuries are allegedly "minor."  Subsequent news sources are saying that eleven Britons and one Swiss passenger sustained injuries consisting of burns, abrasions and a dislocated finger.

Radio Gilbraltar ran a live feed of the fire as it continued to burn, with an additional oil tank involved.  Radio Gilbraltar reports that the Independence of the Seas felt the "full force" of the blast: 

There is an indication that the explosion may have been caused by a spark from welding.

If you have photos or video of this incident, please contact us and we will post them on our blog.

Independence of the Seas - Explosion - Gilbraltar

Photo credit:  

Top:  Gibraltar Chronicle

Bottom:  Panorama newspaper in Gibraltar (Douglas Cumming)

Wipeout! Liability of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line for FlowRider Accidents

In the last several months, many cruise passengers contacted our office who have been seriously injured on the FlowRiders on Royal Caribbean cruise ships. Some passenger are injured when they fall.  Others are injured after they fall and then the water current drives them over the ridge into the back wall breaking their ankles.  

FlowRider - Royal Caribbean - Accidents - Injuries - Cruise The injuries are extremely serious.  All passengers required surgery and were left with permanent injuries.

The complaints which we hear from the passengers are all the same -  the cruise line "instructors" seemed to be ill-trained or in a rush, and the instructions given to the guests were incomplete.  Without exception once the accident occurred, the crew members at the FlowRider did not know what to do.  The injured passengers often find themselves being put off in the next port on a Caribbean island with inadequate medical treatment.

Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line which has FlowRiders.  That's because the other cruise line do not want to subject their guests to such serious injuries and then face the legal liability of having one of these dangerous activities on their cruise ships.    

Royal Caribbean has FlowRiders on the Oasis of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, and Liberty of the Seas.  The cruise line describes the FlowRiders innocently enough on its website

"How It Works - The FlowRider sends a thin sheet of water up a sloped and (thankfully) cushioned platform to create a wavelike flow of water. So it's perfect for beginning, intermediate and advanced surfers . . . "

Royal Caribbean faces liability for: inadequate instructions to passengers; failure to maintain and operate the FlowRider consistent with manufacture instructions and industry standards; failure to FlowRider Wipeout - Royal Caribbean Flow Rider Injury accurately disclose and effectively warn passengers of prior accidents, injuries, and deaths aboard the FlowRider; and failing to respond appropriately to the accidents.

The cruise line forces the passengers to sign "Onboard Activities Waivers."  The cruise line tries to argue that these 'waivers" strip the passengers of their rights whenever they are injured while flowboarding, zip lining, rock climbing, or ice skating. 

We believe these waivers are invalid.  They violate U.S. Federal law which prohibits shipping companies and cruise lines avoiding or limiting liability for injuries and deaths on the high seas.

Royal Caribbean knows that hundreds of passengers a year will be injured on the FlowRiders on their cruise ships,  They have installed large flat-screen tvs in the adjacent "Wipeout Bar" for the other passengers to watch the fun.  But if you are seriously injured, check with a maritime lawyer before you take the cruise line's word that their so-called "waivers' are valid.   

 

Don't forget to watch the video below - of Royal Caribbean FlowRider wipeouts - sung to "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" by Drowning Pool:  

 

 

December 21, 2011 Update:  FlowRider Accidents: Royal Caribbean Liability Waivers Are Unenforceable!

 

Credits:

Photo 1           randmunn1 Fkickr 

Photo 2          carolsummer66 photobucket 

Video             YouTube lilmikee420