Yah Mon! Cruise Law Goes to Jamaica

Tomorrow the lawyers here at our firm are traveling again to Jamaica.

We'll be visiting our clients to see how they are doing. I will be meeting friends in Falmouth and will see if there has been any signs of the revitalization of the town after the new Royal Caribbean port destroyed ancient coral reefs and native mangroves to make way for the Oasis and Allure of the Seas

We will also make ourselves available to meet with any crew members who need to learn about the Injured Crew Members - Jamaica - Lawyers legal rights of cruise ship employees who become ill or injured on cruise ships. 

I will be arriving at Montego Bay tomorrow morning and I will be available to meet with crew members or their family for two days (Monday and Tuesday). I'll  be hosting a free conference at the "Jamaica No Problem Room" in the beautiful Hibiscus Lodge in Ocho Rio. The address is 83 Main Street in Ocho Rios. Please come with your questions or concerns. No fee or obligation of course.

My co-counsel Jonathan Aronson will be will me.

The photo above was from a prior visit to the famous "No Problem Room." 

If Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Celebrity, Disney or some other cruise line has treated you poorly after you were injured on the ship, or if you have medical problems like hypertension, diabetes, cancer or other illnesses which require treatment, please don't hesitate to contact me. 

And if you can't come to the clinic, no problem.  Please email me at jim@cruiselaw.com and I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have and can call you to discuss your concerns if you wish. 

Is Jamaica's Ganga Tour the Best Cruise Excursion?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Carnival passenger wrote in a review of the tour:

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

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

 

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

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

Cruise Ship Cocaine Smuggler Lucky to be Alive

Cruise ship Cocaine SmugglingDuring a six day cruise out of Miami, Norman Mosch swallowed 87 pellets of cocaine during a stopover in Jamaica back in December of 2012.

The Sun Sentinel writes that cruise passenger Mosch swallowed 2 pounds and 2 ounces of cocaine-filled pellets after he had been recruited to smuggle the drugs back to Miami. Not surprisingly, he felt ill and spent the remainder of the cruise in his cabin.

When Mosch returned to South Florida at the end of the cruise, he spent the next several days in agony on the floor in a garage at the house of his "friend" who had involved him in the cruise drug deal.

Mosch couldn't pass the pellets although he took lots of laxatives. One of the pellets exploded and Mosch ended up in an emergency room where he underwent surgery to remove over 80 remaining pellets. He unconscious for over a month. When he came out of the coma he was charged with criminal conspiracy to import the cocaine 

The article explains that Mosch is a Vietnam Vet who has gone through some hard times. He's heading for a jail term but he's lucky to be alive.

High School Students in Jamaica: New Cruise Port in Falmouth Not Benefiting the "Small Man"

I have been interested in the port town of Falmouth in Jamaica for the past many years after cruise giant Royal Caribbean convinced Jamaica to invest well over $200,000,000 (U.S.) to accommodate its Oasis class cruise ships,  The project involved the dredging of the port's waters, the destruction of mangroves, the dislocation of its fishing village, and the changing of traffic routes which I have written in prior blog articles here, here, here and here.

My view is that the port primarily benefits the cruise line. There is virtually no investment in the town of Falmouth Jamaica Cruise Ship PortFalmouth itself. The cruise passengers are bused out of town to shop in Ocho Rios or visit places like Dunns River Falls.    

Two days ago, the Jamaica Gleaner published an article stating that high school students in Trelawny have concluded that Royal Caribbean's new port facility in Falmouth is not benefiting the "small man."

Students at the William Knibb Memorial High School in Martha Brae, a few south of Falmouth, have studied the new port and, according to the Gleaner, have given the port a "failing grade" in terms of helping the "common man" in Trelawny.

The article below was written by Gleaner writer Barrington Flemming.

I took the photos yesterday when I was in Falmouth visiting clients.    

"The Falmouth Pier in Trelawny, which has been dubbed the new hub of cruise shipping in Jamaica, has been given a failing grade by sixth form students of William Knibb Memorial High School, who are of the view that it is not measuring up to their expectations in terms of benefits to the town.

Tasanica Ellis, one of eight panellists, who discussed the topic Falmouth: Jamaica's new economic frontier, fact or fiction? during a Gleaner-Island Grill Youth Editors' Forum at her school, described the US$220-million cruise-shipping pier as a US$220-million "monstrosity" which has failed to bring any real benefit to the small man in the historic Georgian town.

"There is no benefit for the small man," said Ellis. "Everything is either boxed into the pier or is spread elsewhere outside of Falmouth. Only the investors in the pier reap any economic benefits."

Added Ellis: "We do not see any partnerships between the investors in the pier that will include the small man and allow for him to get any benefit."

Ellis went on to argue that more could be done to help retain the visitors in the town by developing new attractions and employing more people directly.

"They could develop the Burwood Beach and make it into a proper attraction that could see people gaining employment," said Ellis. "They could open a restaurant offering authentic Jamaican food and drink so the people would be inclined to stay here. Most of the cruise-ship visitors, who come to Falmouth, leave to Montego Bay (St James) or Ocho Rios (St Ann) to enjoy the attractions in those towns."

Lack of Development

Nastascia Gossel, another of the panelists, decried the lack of development in the town while arguing that no provisions have been made to cause any benefit to trickle down to the general populace.

"When we look at Falmouth, it is a total disaster; the small businesses are not seeing any of the benefits that were promised from the development of the cruise-ship pier," argued Gossel. "The drainage system is seriously lacking; to be quite frank, Falmouth has hardly been developed over the past two years."

For Orlando Dowlatt, while the national coffers have benefited from foreign-exchange earnings, the "common man" in Trelawny has been left out of the equation.

"We are seeing that the pier has spurred some economic growth as the country on a whole has been benefiting from the foreign-exchange but for the common man, there is absolutely nothing," Dowlett contended.

The general consensus from the youth was that the pier, while offering economic benefits for the country as a whole, the "trickle down" effect was lacking as the town of Falmouth itself was not feeling the impact of the pier as was promulgated by the Government."

barrington.flemming@gleanerjm.com  

Falmouth Jamaica Royal Caribbean Cruise Port

Princess Cruise Ship Rescues Jamaicans at Sea - Yeah Mon!

Ocho Rios Jamaica Cruise ShipThe Miami Herald tells us this evening that a Princess cruise ship heading to Ocho Rios rescued five Jamaican nationals who reportedly have been drifting on a small boat in the Caribbean for three weeks. 

The Island Princess cruise ship brought the five Jamaicans onto the ship and is now sailing to Jamaica with them.  The Princess cruise ship will be calling on Ocho Rios tomorrow.

The Herald says that Jamaicans "were on their way to a barbeque and ran out of gas."  A cruise passenger reportedly said that "We noticed the boat slowing down . . . we pulled up and the occupants were screaming: 'No food, no water.'" 

A happy ending on the high seas it seems.

Anyone on the ship willing to share photographs or video of the rescue?

December 21, 2012 Update:  Today we were provided with photographs of the rescued Jamaicans by cruise passenger Deanna Couch.  Thanks Deanna!

Princess Cruise Rescue Jamaicans Ocho Rios

 

Jamaican Crew Members: Know Your Rights!

Today the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper published an article about our trip this week to Jamaica entitled "Know Your Rights!" The article is below:

"CRUISE-SHIP workers are being urged to empower themselves by obtaining knowledge about their rights to benefits from their employers.

Several cruise-ship workers turned up on Wednesday at the Hibiscus Lodge in Ocho Rios to speak to lawyers from Walker & O'Neill Maritime Lawyers based in Miami, Florida. The lawyers - James Walker, Lisa O'Neill and Jonathan Aronson - were in the island to meet persons who might have been injured or fallen ill while at work on a cruise ship and who need guidance or representation.

Jamaica Crew Member - Cruise LawyerWhile several persons were happy to have met the team of lawyers, there were those who left disappointed as the three-year period allowed for compensation had elapsed.

"Most of the crew members who work for the Miami-based cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and others, to be honest with you, they don't know their legal rights because the cruise lines do not inform them of their legal rights," asserted lawyer James M. Walker.

"They don't understand, for example, that they have only three years to contact a lawyer to assert a claim to seek medical treatment, or benefits or compensation for their injuries."

One woman who worked on a cruise ship and got injured seven years ago was told of the three-year limit. She left disappointed. So too did two men who last worked for a cruise line six years ago.

Walker said these persons should have been informed of their rights.

"They should know that when they leave the company. When they leave the company on sick leave, they should be told you have only three years and if you don't assert your rights within that period of time you lose them forever. So we're here for educational purposes," Walker said.

Seeking Redress

Over a dozen persons were steered in the direction that they need to go to seek redress after being injured. While they shied away from speaking with The Gleaner for the most part, one man who turned up walking with the aid of a crutch, while refusing to give his name, told the newspaper: "I'm pleased with the service so far."

He left with instructions to return with additional documents he had left at home.

But the critical issue, Walker said, was for workers to know their rights. For example, Jamaican crew members on cruise ships are entitled to get medical treatment in the United States.

Cruise workers who need information may visit www.cruiselawnews.com, a site that offers news on rights of crew members. Walker is urging persons to visit the site and educate themselves."

Lessons Learned From Jamaica

Falmouth Jamaica   We returned to Miami from Jamaica last night after a three day trip where we visited crew member clients in Montego Bay, Falmouth and Ocho Rios. The weather was fantastic and the Jamaican people were warm and friendly, as usual. It is always delightful to travel to Montego Bay, which is an easy one and one-half hour flight from Miami.

Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas was in port when we visited Falmouth on Tuesday. The Freedom of the Seas and the Navigator of the Seas arrived on Wednesday morning. On these two days, over 10,000 people arrived on cruise ships from South Florida but you would never know it walking around the town.   

One of the problems we have witnessed with the "revitalization" of Falmouth is that the cruise line loads up its cruise passengers onto pre-booked and pre-paid excursion buses within the gates of the port and then sends them out of town to Ocho Rios or Dunn's River Falls.  We witnessed few passengers actually walking in to the town and buying souvenirs or eating in the local restaurants.

It would be quite easy to have the passengers board the buses at a central location in the town, say at the roundabout and then head off on their excursions. This way, they would be encouraged to shop in Falmouth, both before and after the bus excursions, as they walk to and from the cruise ships. But as matters now stand, the passengers are isolated from the local vendors in Falmouth. The cruise line Falmouth Jamaica  wants to capture as much of the passengers money as possible and seems to prefer that the passengers buy the goods and services offered by the cruise line sponsored vendors behind the fence erected between the ship and the local vendors.

Falmouth will never be truly revitalized until the cruise passengers turn into tourists who actually walk into and support the people of Falmouth.

In Ocho Rios, we met with approximately 50 crew members and former crew members working for Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Disney cruise lines. It was a record attendance for us. We met people who traveled from Negril, Port Antonio, Mandeville, and Kingston.   

We met in the famous "No Problem Room" at the Hibiscus Lodge.  I took a photo of my partners Lisa and Jonathan meeting with a client whose cruise ship related problems we helped solve.  

One of the most painful things we observed, and experienced, was when a crew member with a serious injury or medical ailment appeared at our meeting but had not contacted an attorney for four or five years. None of the crew members we met understood that there is a three year limitations for bringing claims against the cruise lines. Some of the men and women we met had worked for over two decades in the cruise industry and were left with serious injuries to their backs. Yet after returning home they did not understand that they had only three years to make a claim.

Most of the injured crew members we met have had no medical treatment arranged whatsoever by the cruise lines. Many were forced to pay for their own medical visits in the hope that the cruise line No Problem Room - Ocho Rio Jamaicawould reimburse them. All of this violates maritime law. Unlike U.S. passengers who if injured during a cruise receive great medical care back in their home states, the Jamaican crew members we meet invariably are still suffering with no medical care months and months after their shipboard accidents and injuries.

Jamaica remains a country where many cruise lines believe that they can send their injured crew members and then look the other way even after the employees served faithfully on cruise ships for over 20 years.  

 

Photo Credit: Jim Walker

Cruise Law to Visit Jamaica in December

Jamaica No Problem RoomThe lawyers here at Cruise Law are traveling again to Jamaica. We will be visiting our clients to see how they are doing. We will also make ourselves available to meet with any crew members (or their family members) who need to learn about the legal rights of cruise ship employees if they become ill or injured on cruise ships. 

Our team will be traveling to Montego Bay on Tuesday December 11, 2012 and will be available from December 11th through December 13th for consultation.  

On Wednesday December 12th from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, we will be hosting a conference at the "Jamaica No Problem Room" in the beautiful Hibiscus Lodge in Ocho Rio. If you live in Ocho Rios or the Montego Bay area you of course know where that is. But if you don't, the address is 83 Main Street in Ocho Rios.

My partner Lisa O'Neill and co-counsel Jonathan Aronson will be will me.

The photo above was from our last visit to the famous "No Problem Room." We met a number of cruise ship employees from Jamaica whose problems we helped solve this year.

In the last two years, we have obtained over $3,000,000 (US $) in compensation and medical benefits for injured and ill Jamaican crew members. 

If the company has been unfair to you after you were injured on the cruise ship, or if you have medical problems like hypertension, diabetes. cancer or other illnesses which require treatment, please don't hesitate to contact us.

The flyer below has been posted on our facebook page.  We hope to see you in the "No Problem Room" in two weeks.   

Jamaican Crew Members - Miami Lawyers

Falmouth Jamaica: Victim of the Royal Caribbean System

The AP published an article today regarding the plight of Falmouth. The world's biggest cruise ships are sucking most of the money out of the Jamaican port and leaving little behind except crushed expectations of the local community.

"World's Biggest Cruise Ships Drop Anchor in Caribbean, But Ship-to-Shore Feud Brews Over Cash" takes a look at Royal Caribbean's "development" of this historic port where it promised that if Jamaica spent a couple hundred million dollars building a deep water port for its monstrous ships the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas, the mostly U.S. passengers would each spend would over $100 ashore and infuse the local Jamaican economy.

Jamaica lived up to its end of the bargain, at consideration damage to the mangroves and coral reefsAllure of the Seas - Royal Caribbean - Falmouth Jamaica  around Falmouth. But the residents of Falmouth are seeing little money in return.  The AP article quotes a local businessman saying: "We were promised that we'd be able to show people our Jamaican heritage, sell our crafts. But most of the tourists stay far away from the local people . . . we're on the losing end."

I have been to Falmouth and feared that it would be another Royal Caribbean project that benefited the cruise line and exploited the local community.  Three years ago I wrote an article critical of what I believed would be another Royal Caribbean scheme (like Labadee Haiti) to suck money from another Caribbean island and sail the loot back to the cruise line's coffers in Miami - "Historic Port of Falmouth - Jamaica's "Crapital" for the Oasis of the Seas."   

I followed this article up with "Will Royal Caribbean Ever Live Up to Its Promises to Falmouth Jamaica?" Unfortunately, the people of Jamaica have a history of being exploited by foreign plantation owners, sugar barons, slave owners, and bauxite-mining companies.  Royal Caribbean is the latest robber baron to appear as the country's professed savior. But like other false prophets, it will do no better for Falmouth than those in the past who have taken greatly and given little in return to this beautiful island.

The AP article says that the people in Falmouth are "growing angry" and predicts that things will only get worse, quoting a local vendor: 

"The pot is starting to boil and, trust me, it will boil over if things don't change around here . . . why can't we, the people who actually live here, make a living off the cruise ships, too?"

The answer lies in history of the non-sustainable cruise industry.  Poor Caribbean countries like Jamaica are beholden to selfish billion dollar U.S. based cruise corporations.  In the end game, the local Jamaicans are victims of the exploitative cruise line system.    

 

 

Video credit: "Victims of The System" - Rootz Underground

Read our other articles about Falmouth:

Historic Port of Falmouth - Jamaica's "Crapital" for the Oasis of the Seas

Will Royal Caribbean Ever Live Up to Its Promises to Falmouth Jamaica?

Royal Caribbean's New Port in Falmouth, Jamaica - At What Cost to the Environment?

Will Jamaica's Cruise Ship Woes Be Solved By A Margaritaville?

Cruise Law Visits Montego Bay Jamaica

Will Jamaica's Cruise Ship Woes Be Solved By A Margaritaville?

Jamaica's Gleaner newspaper reports that the average amount of money spent by a cruise ship passenger in Jamaica has dropped to just $71.  

The hardest hit Jamaican port has been Falmouth where Royal Caribbean convinced the county of Jamaica to spend over $160,000,000 so far to develop the port (at great destruction to the reefs and environment of Jamaica) on the promise that the U.S. passengers would spend hundreds of dollars each upon entering Jamaica.

Now that Jamaica took Royal Caribbean's bait, dug up its fragile coral reefs and bulldozed its mangroves, the island has learned that the mostly American passengers are spending no where near the promised several hundred of dollars while ashore.

Falmouth Jamaica - Royal Caribbean PortI won't say that I told you so, although I will mention that this is exactly what I predicted in my prior articles:

Historic Port of Falmouth - Jamaica's "Crapital" for the Oasis of the Seas

Will Royal Caribbean Ever Live Up to Its Promises to Falmouth Jamaica

One of the problems I observed when I visited Falmouth last year is that the new port contains essentially two worlds - the new port behind the fence which the cruise line erected where the touristy shops are sponsored by Royal Caribbean which sucks in most of the money, and the original stores outside the fence where few passengers venture.  

Compounding the problem is the fact that most of the excursions sold by the cruise line immediately leave the port and take the passengers outside of Falmouth.

But not is all lost, according to the Gleaner.  A Margaritaville is going to open on the Royal Caribbean dock in Falmouth, inside the cruise line fence.  Per capital spending is suppose to increase from $71 to $120 a passenger.

A Margaritaville bar in the historic port of Falmouth?  Ugh.  

Will the promised money roll in?  Probably not.  

But whatever bounty the cruise line passengers bring to the Jimmy Buffet bar in Jamaica will undoubtedly be scooped up by Royal Caribbean and sailed back to Miami.      

 

Photo credit:  Jim Walker

Another U.S. Cruise Passenger "Missing" in Jamaica

Carnival Cruise Passenger Fredrick Lauritzen - Missing - JamaicaThe Jamaica Gleaner reports today that an American cruise ship passenger is missing in Jamaica after disembarking from an unidentified cruise ship that apparently called on Ocho Rios.

The Gleaner states that the police are seeking the assistance of the public in locating an American who has been missing since Thursday.

The Ocho Rios police say 50 year old cruise passenger Fredrick Lauritzen disembarked a cruise ship and has not been seen or heard from since.

Anyone knowing the whereabouts of Fredrick Lauritzen is being asked to contact the Ocho Rios police at 974-2469, Police 119 emergency number or the nearest police station.

This is the second time in the last two weeks that U.S. cruise passengers have not returned to a cruise ship which calls on Jamaica. The last incident involved passengers who failed to return to a Carnival cruise ship. There was a great deal of speculation what happened to the American family of three who were reported missing from a Carnival cruise ship, the Freedom, which docked in Ocho Rios.

Jamaica - Carnival Cruise Passenger Fredrick Lauritzen - Missing The three were 45-year-old Donald Henderson, 43-year-old Maria Henderson and 21-year-old Aja Henderson. Jamaican police found the passengers vacationing in a villa in Discovery Bay, St Ann, and were deported back to the U.S.   

It is against both Jamaican and U.S. law to fail to return to a cruise ship in the middle of a cruise.

We hope that this latest passenger turns up relaxing somewhere in a hotel drinking Red Stripes.

August 11, 2012 Update:  Blogger Mickey Faust tells me that the only cruise ship in port in Ocho Rios last Thursday was Carnival's Freedom.

Photo Credit: Jamaica Observer

Three Carnival Cruise Passengers Disappear in Jamaica

Multiple news sources are reporting that three U.S. cruise passengers from the Carnival Freedom cruise ship are missing since yesterday after disembarking the cruise ship in Ocho Rios.

USA TODAY states that the three passengers, all from the same family, failed to return to the cruise ship on Thursday following a day-long call in the Jamaican port of Ocho Rios.

The Associated Press reports that missing Americans are Donald Freedom Cruise Ship - Ocho Rios - Missing PassengersHenderson, age 45; Maria Henderson, age 43; and Aja Henderson, age 21.

The Freedom is on a six-day cruise that departed Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, and returns to South Florida tomorrow (Saturday).

There are comments to some of the on line articles speculating about what might have happened, including the passengers being victims of crime.  We have written many articles about Jamaica, a beautiful country with wonderful people, but it's a destination which suffers from violence and drug trafficking.  At this point there is simply no information on way or the other.

Newspapers in Jamaica are asking that anyone knowing the whereabouts of the Henderson family contact the Ocho Rios Police at 974-2533, Police 119 emergency number.

If you were on the cruise and have information which may lead to the location of this family, please leave a comment below.

July 27, 2012 Update: ABC Radio reports that the cruise passengers apparently left the ship with their belongings and the Jamaican police found them safe and sound in a villa on the northern coast of Jamaica. Here is the ABC account:

Three Americans who failed to return to their Carnival Cruise ship after a stopover in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Thursday, were found safe and unharmed this afternoon at a villa in Discovery Bay -- approximately 40 minutes west, on Jamaica's northern coast.

The three passengers, whom the cruise line earlier identified as members of the same family, went missing after disembarking the Carnival Freedom for a day-long port call in Ocho Rios, the cruise line said in a statement obtained by ABC News.

Jamaican authorities had classified the disappearance as a missing persons case, saying it was odd that the family took all of their belongings off of the ship before vanishing. The family has no known ties to anyone in Jamaica.

It was not immediately clear why the family left the ship and never returned. They are in the custody of Jamaican police and will be questioned about their mysterious departure. Police have not yet said whether charges will be brought against the three passengers.

 

Photo credit: Cruise Critic

Royal Caribbean's New Port in Falmouth, Jamaica - At What Cost to the Environment?

I have written about Royal Caribbean's new port development in the town of Falmouth Jamaica before. It seems to me that the new development for the cruise line perpetuates the historical master (cruise line) - servant (Jamaica) relationship which continues to exploit the Jamaican people.

My tour of Falmouth reinforced those beliefs.  Most of the profits from goods sold behind the walled gates to the port leave with the cruise ship and return to the cruise line's coffers in Miami.  And most of the cruise passengers who left the Allure of the Seas when it was in port quickly headed out of Falmouth on cruise line excursions to Ocho Rio and Montego Bay.

But this article is not about the economic exploitation of Falmouth. It addresses the environmental consequences to the island caused by trying to accommodate Royal Caribbean's two monster Falmouth Jamaica - Royal Caribbean Port - Reef and Mangrove Destruction (Genesis) class cruise ships, the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas - the two biggest cruise ships in the world.

The motivation for this article came from reading an article Can the Cruise Industry Clean Up Its Act? in OnEarth magazine ("A Survival Guide for the Planet.")    

I learned a couple of things from this article.  First, the Oasis and the Allure, even though Royal Caribbean touts them as environmentally friendly ships, are burning the dirtiest and most dangerous fuel in the world - bunker fuel - which is essentially a tar-like refinery by-product.  The non-combustible particles blacken the sky and pose a major health hazard to the health of people in a hundred mile radius.

Secondly, the presence of Royal Caribbean's new mega-ships in the little port required the destruction of some 35,000,000 cubic feet of coral reef and the destruction of two square miles of mangroves which are now buried under the now pulverized reef material.   Quite frankly when I visited Falmouth last year, I was taken back by the destruction I could see. But now I appreciate just how widespread and complete Royal Caribbean's plans were to destroy the reef and mangroves.   OnEarth magazine explains:

"In Falmouth, to accommodate Allure and Oasis, wrecking crews had to smash a quarter-mile-wide opening in an offshore barrier reef. They dredged coral, both living and dead, as well as the rock substrate, and trucked it inland to a two-square-mile dump site -- a clear-cut area on the outskirts of town that was once a thriving red mangrove swamp. Now all that’s left is 35 million cubic feet of pulverized coral and rubble. When I visit the site with Roland Haye, a Jamaican environmental activist, he tells me, "As a boy, I used to play Tarzan here and see crocodile. It was a winter home for great heron and swan." He points out broken conch shells, dismembered starfish, bits of sea sponge, and severed lobes of brain coral."

Port of Falmouth - Reef and Mangrove Damage - Royal CaribbeanAnother problem is that the removal of the natural reef exposes the shore to pounding of the waves. When I visited, I observed that the road from Ocho Rios to Falmouth, previously protected by the reef, was literally covered with water from the encroaching waves. The road was already eroding.  

While reading the OnEarth magazine article, I learned about Esther Figueroa, a Jamaican filmmaker who documented the destruction of the reef and mangroves in order to dig a giant water hole for Royal Caribbean to park its monstrosities of the seas. (Why does Joni Mitchell's song Big Yellow Taxi - "they paved paradise" - come to mind?).

Ms. Figuero's short video is below, at the bottom.

But first take a look at the top video. While looking on YouTube for Ms. Figueroa's video, I also ran across a short promotional video for the Royal Caribbean port by "CruiseGuy," a cruise enthusiast and local cruise celebrity, who was interviewed on a local South Florida TV station. He raves about how wonderful Royal Caribbean's new facility in Falmouth will be. The video shows a beautiful color drawing of a tree filled port nestled between the Oasis and the Allure.    

Compare this cruise dream with the reality revealed by Ms. Figueroa's video on the bottom.  

"Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got til it's gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot"
 

  

 

 

Robbing Cruise Passengers in Bulk - Yes, It Happens!

Yesterday I talked about the recent armed robbery of 22 Carnival cruise passengers who were traveling in a bus back to the port in Puerto Vallarta during a Carnival sponsored excursion.

I mentioned that the cruise lines and tourism officials would quickly start a PR campaign to convince the public that robberies of large groups of passengers is rare.  But it's not.

There have been at least 100 passengers robbed at gunpoint (or machete) during excursions over the last 3 - 5 years; the majority of them were traveling in large cruise excursion groups. 

In 2007, 17 passengers from the Carnival Conquest cruise ship passengers were robbed at gunpoint during a cruise line sponsored excursion after sailing to Montego Bay, Jamaica. The excursion was to Cruise Excursion Bus - Cruise Ship Crimethe Lethe Estate, an old banana plantation.  The Carnival passengers were riding in a trolley when several bandits jumped out of the bush and robbed the 17 cruise tourists. cam. The passengers were terrorized as the gunmen pointed guns at the children on the trolley and took off with the passenger's jewelry, wallets, purses, cameras and money.  You can read the account in the USA cruise blog here.

Since I started Cruise Law News two and one-half years ago, I have reported on 4 armed robberies of cruise tourists in groups between 11 and 18 people. 

In November 2010, 17 Celebrity cruise passengers were robbed at gunpoint in a tour bus.  While the buds was heading toward a historic site, rocks and branches were strewn across the bus' path.  When the bus stopped, armed robbers threw a large rock into the front window and rushed into the bus and robbed the excursion group. 

In December 2009, 14 NCL passengers were robbed during a "safari" excursion in Anese-La-Reye by 4 masked men armed with guns and knives. The robbery occurred at beautiful waterfall advertised as a "perfect place to spend several hours in quiet reflection." 

In October 2009, a Bahamian newspaper reported that two "vicious robbers" held a group of 11 terrified cruise passengers from a Royal Caribbean ship by gunpoint in Nassau.

In November 2099, 18 cruise passengers were robbed during an excursion in the Bahamas during an excursion into a remote natural preserve.  The passengers were part of a large Segway excursion which contained passengers from Royal Caribbean and Disney cruise ships.  

In addition to these incidents, there are dozens of other robberies of smaller groups, involving couples and families, which occur while the passengers are ashore.

When cruise experts and the tourism bureaus in Mexico and the Caribbean islands tell you that such crimes are "rare," take the time to educate yourself.  Don't trust your family's safety on representations from those who are trying to sell a product.  As the saying goes, those who don't learn history are doomed to repeat it. 

Passenger Goes Overboard From NCL's Norwegian Sun in Falmouth Jamaica

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein reports that a NCL passenger went overboard from Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Sun shortly after the cruise ship pulled out of the Falmouth shipping pier in Jamaica late Wednesday. 

Professor Klein has the most complete list of passenger overboards over the course of the last ten years.

Professor Klein's website refers to an article in the Jamaica Observer which reports that the Trelawny police responded to an incident late on Wednesday involving a passenger who died after going overboard from the top deck of the cruise ship Norwegian Sun.

The newspaper quotes the head of the Falmouth Police Division, Superintendent Andrew Lewis, stating that he was informed that the cruise passenger was taken from the water by crew members of the vessel, which had turned around after an alarm was raised that the passenger had jumped.

Famouth Jamaica Passenger OverboardThe police reported that the incident occurred 25 minutes after the vessel left the Falmouth cruise shipping pier about 6:00 pm.

The article is confusing, claiming that the passenger allegedly "jumped" while  Superintendent Lewis referred to "the man falling in the water."

Yesterday, the Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett issued a bizarre statement, expressing regret over the incident but said he stating that "the circumstances has nothing to do the destination."

NCL, which is based here in Miami, has not issued a statement about the incident.  The only reports I have seen about the passenger overboard are from Professor Klein who is in Canada, and the newspaper in Jamaica.  

The Miami-based cruise lines do a remarkable job keeping these type of incidents under the radar.

Like many overboards, it is less than clear whether the passenger jumped or fell, and if so whether alcohol was involved.

If you were on the cruise or have information, photographs or video regarding the incident, please leave a comment below. 

November 4, 2011 Update:Norwegian Sun Passenger Overboard

Tonight NCL issued the following statement:

"At approximately 7 pm ET on Wednesday, November 2, 2011, a guest traveling on Norwegian Sun was observed jumping overboard from a public area on Deck 12.  The ship immediately turned around, launched rescue boats and conducted a search.  At approximately 8 pm ET, the guest was located in the water, returned to the vessel and pronounced deceased by the ship’s doctor.

All appropriate authorities have been notified.  Out of respect for the family, the company will not be releasing any further details.  Norwegian Cruise Line extends its deepest sympathies to the guest’s family and friends during this difficult time.

Norwegian Sun departed Port Canaveral, Florida on October 29, 2011.  The ship is sailing a Western Caribbean itinerary and had visited Falmouth, Jamaica on Wednesday."

November 7, 2011 Update:

Several passengers have left comments below.  One passenger, Kate, sent us a photograph of one the rescue boats.  (The exposure of the photo was adjusted substantially because it was very dark).

Cruise Law Visits Ocho Rios Jamaica

Jamaica - Cruise Ship - Crewmember Our firm and our co-counsel Jonathan Aronson spent a few days this week in Jamaica. 

On Tuesday, we toured the port of Freeport - Montego Bay where we will begin advertising our services helping Jamaican crewmembers injured on cruise ships.  We met with the head of the terminal and enjoyed a VIP tour of the facility where we will be advertising. 

We walked the terminal grounds and viewed the Carnival Elation (photo left). 

The highlight of the trip was the seaman seminar we offered on Wednesday in Ocho Rios.     

We met with crewmembers almost all day on Wednesday.  Most of the crewmembers were employees from Royal Caribbean, Celebrity , and Carnival.  The injured crewmembers were stateroom attendants, pantry employees, cooks and utility cleaners.  They presented with a variety of orthopedic and neurological problems, repetitive injuries, and failure to provide appropriate medical treatment claims.

We met in the Jamaica No Problem Room (photo below). 

Jamaica is a beautiful country.  Lush landscapes filled with heliconia, giant banana plants, bamboo and coconuts from the coastal mountains to the ocean.  The Jamaican people are gracious, warm and hospitable.    

I have written a couple of blogs about crewmembers Jamaica, one of my favorite countries: 

Long Hours, Repetitive Injuries & Bad Medical Care Plague Royal Caribbean Crewmembers

"Injured on a Cruise Ship?" - Lawyer Advertising in Jamaica

Cruise Law Visits Montego Bay Jamaica   

Will Royal Caribbean Ever Live Up to Its Promises to Falmouth Jamaica?

If you are from Jamaica and missed us during our last trip to Jamaica, we will be back in January 2012.   Please feel to contact us in the interim here at Cruise Law . . .   

Ocho Rios Jamaica - Cruise Ship Lawyer

Photo credits:  Jim Walker

Long Hours, Repetitive Injuries & Bad Medical Care Plague Royal Caribbean Crewmembers

Royal Caribbean Crewmembers - Miami Florida Cruise LawyerWe just settled a case we filed on behalf of a Jamaican crewmember who sustained a wrist injury while working as a cleaner aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  She is now able to support her two boys back in Ocho Rios (photo left). 

Her job responsibilities involved cleaning every single public lady bathroom on the cruise ship (around 30).  Mopping the floors, scrubbing the toilets, wiping the stalls and mirrors, every day of the week - Saturdays and Sundays included of course.  In addition, every embarkation day she was required to deliver hundreds of bags luggage from the elevators to the passengers' cabins.

She developed a painful and debilitating wrist injury.  She went to the ship doctor who gave her Ibuprofen and a sling to wear.  She then returned to full time duty wearing a sling.  I don't know how a one armed cleaner can possibly clean 30 bathrooms every day of the week and then carry hundreds of pieces of luggage on top of that.  Her salary was around $550 a month.

Royal Caribbean eventually sent her back to Jamaica.  Two general surgeons ended up operating on her wrist.  What they did exactly no one knows because neither one of these doctors prepared an operative report.  There are no hand specialists anywhere in Jamaica.  The crewmember's pain, numbness, swelling and limited motion did not improve.  Shortly after the second surgery and without ever providing physical therapy, the cruise line terminated her medical treatment and stopped paying the $12 a day daily stipend.  

After she called and explained her predicament, we filed suit, arranged for her to obtain a tourist visa, and then flew her to Miami for treatment with a U.S. board certified hand specialist.  After around $60,000 of medical care we forced the cruise line to pay, her symptoms finally resolved. We can't mention the amount of her settlement because the cruise line requires a confidentiality agreement regarding the settlement figure, but we can state that she was happy and, most importantly, pain free when she went home.

Cleaners, waiters, and cabin attendants work insane hours on Royal Caribbean ships.  Working 12 hours a Royal Caribbean Crew - Injuries - Accidents day minimum and up to 16 hours on embarkation day, they are instructed not to report more than 10 to 11 hours of work on their times sheets.

The human body is not designed to perform hard manual labor over 330 hours a month. 

Repetitive injuries to waiters who carry trays weighing 50 pounds or more are common.  Neck injuries, disc herniations in the low back, and rotator cuff injuries in the shoulder are common.  Then the cruise line sends these hard working employees to the four corners of the earth to receive bad medical care.         

The photo to the right is of another Jamaican client who sustained a severe wrist injury working as a cleaner on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  My partner, Lisa O'Neill, is shown discussing her injury in a hotel here in Miami.  My partner does not like to be mentioned on this blog, but she is the backbone of the team which we have who cares for injured crewmembers.   A substantial part of our law practice is flying injured Royal Caribbean crewmembers back to Miami for medical treatment which the cruise line refuses to provide.      

 

Photo credits:  Jim Walker

"Injured on a Cruise Ship?" - Lawyer Advertising in Jamaica

Today we began advertising in Jamaica, as I mentioned in an earlier blog.  The ad below will begin appearing in some of the newspapers in Jamaica, and a variation will appear on some of the billboards in Jamaica.

I have been a lawyer for 28 years.  I have never advertised on television, radio, newspapers or billboards.  We have relied on our reputation developed over the years and recommendations from one client we have helped to the next potential client who finds himself in a similar situation.

I have always viewed "billboard lawyers" with disdain.  Florida is littered with huge billboards looming over the highways advertising lawyers with 1-800 I N J U R Y telephone numbers.   

I do not think I have ever seen any of these "billboard lawyers" actually in the courthouse.  Probably because they don't really go to court or actually handle cases.  Many of these lawyers take the calls from their 1-800 numbers and then refer the cases to other lawyers to handle.  Lots of Americans point to the lawyer billboards as endemic of the so-called "litigation explosion" which many people think plagues the U.S. 

Unlike the U.S., Jamaica has a culture where litigation is not encouraged.  Plus there are virtually no Jamaican lawyers who advertise.  Injured crewmembers are often from countries like Jamaica where few people file lawsuits, there is no legal advertising, and it is difficult to obtain basic information about your legal rights. Cruise lines often take advantage of this type of situation.

Over the next few months, Jamaicans will see our firm's name and photos on billboards, in newspapers, and on the radio throughout the country.  We know first hand that there are many Jamaican men and women who dedicated their careers to cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, only to be sent a one way ticket home and forgotten when they are seriously injured and can no longer work at sea.  Advertising in Jamaica will help level the playing field against the cruise lines.  We are educating these crewmembers regarding their right to obtain compensation here in Miami when they are disabled from cruise ship employment.

So, it is with mixed feelings that I am about to become a "billboard lawyer."   But not just any "billboard lawyer."  A Jamaican billboard lawyer.  

But unlike U.S. billboard lawyers, you will see the lawyers in our firm in the courthouse here in Miami fighting for the rights of our clients who the cruise lines have abandoned in Jamaica.      

June 28, 2011 Update:  We modified our ad, with a non descript cruise ship and a different background.

 

Will Royal Caribbean Ever Live Up to Its Promises to Falmouth Jamaica?

Last week I traveled to Jamaica to visit clients in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.  During our trip, we also attended to some matters in the port town of Falmouth where Royal Caribbean parks its new mega-ships, the Genesis class Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas. 

Falmouth is the capital of Trelawny parish, Jamaica, located on Jamaica's north coast near Montego Bay.  

Falmouth Jamaica - Cruise PortFalmouth was named after the birthplace of Sir William Trelawny in Falmouth, Cornwall, Britain. In the late 1700's, Jamaica was the world’s leading sugar producer.  At the turn of the 1800's, one hundred sugar plantations in Trelawny parish provided sugar and rum for export to Britain. Falmouth has a notorious past because it was a center for the slave trade from Africa.  Based on its rum, sugar and slave business, it became one the wealthiest ports in the "New World." 

Falmouth has since fallen on hard times; its quaint Colonial architecture appears now largely in a state of ruin. 

Several years ago, Royal Caribbean had a problem.  It designed its new "Genesis" class cruise ships (Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas) but few ports could accommodate them. These mega ships were far too big to dock at the Freeport / Montego Bay facility. 

The cruise line approached Jamaica and proposed a deal where Royal Caribbean would agree to use Falmouth as a port for its new cruise ships - provided that Jamaica would spend around $120 million deepening its port and creating a new facility to handle the new ships.  The trade-off to Jamaica for this investment would supposedly be the infusion of money into Falmouth and the surrounding parish when the Oasis and the Allure, each with over 6,000 passengers, arrived in town. 

Falmouth has a population of around 7,500.  In theory, the population of the town would essentially double any time one of the Genesis class ships arrived at port, with lots of Americans with cash in their pockets.  

Jamaica jumped at the deal. No environmental impact statement or detailed economic analysis was prepared.  The Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) prepared promotional materials suggesting that "the destination will deeply reference the town's history, offering visitors a unique sensory experience of the Colonial era."  Royal Caribbean's President Adam Goldstein signed the deal with Jamaica's Prime Minister Bruce Golding and promised to deliver 400,000 passengers a year to Falmouth over the next 20 years, with an expectation that each passenger would spend over $100 in the port. 

So is Royal Caribbean living up to its promises to Falmouth?

The Allure of the Seas was in Falmouth when we arrived.  To my surprise, there were relatively few cruise passengers sightseeing, eating in restaurants, or buying souvenirs in town.  It was hard to determine whether the passengers were remaining on the gigantic Allure city-to-itself cruise ship, or they had left in tour buses.  

There are few signs that Royal Caribbean has invested anything in Falmouth.  There is a new plaza in the middle of the town which replaced a traffic roundabout.  There are a few newly planted Falmouth Jamaica - Royal Caribbean Cruise palm trees desperately in need of irrigation.  

We asked a number of store owners and local Jamaicans what they thought about the new port.  A few restaurant owners were appreciative of the cruise ships which brought crew members looking for a place to eat and relax.  But no cruise passengers were inside.  Most Jamaicans expressed mixed feelings, complaining that the passengers are loaded up in cruise-line-arranged tour buses inside of  the port, where excursions sold are largely for the benefit of the cruise line and then the passengers are quickly bused out of Falmouth towards Ocho Rios and Dunn's River Falls.   

Were Royal Caribbean promises to Falmouth just sweet talk and part of the seduction of Jamaica to belly up over $100 million to dredge a deeper port for the Oasis and Allure mega ships which could not port in Freeport?  Will even a dime of the hundreds of millions of dollars in cruise line profits ever find their way into schools for the kids of Falmouth or the sick and infirm in the modest medical center at the outskirts of this historic old town?    

When we left Falmouth to drive over to Ocho Rios, we parked and looked back at the new port.   I took a photo of the Allure of the Seas looming over the few two story buildings at the port which were not knocked down during the "revitalization" of Falmouth.  I could not help but think what an appropriate image of the relationship between this huge cruise company and the little town of Falmouth.

Counting all passengers and crew, the Allure contains more people than all of Falmouth.  When the cruise ship left to sail back to Miami, it was leaving with literally tens of millions of dollars destined for the cruise line's coffers.  Aside from the money spent on Bob Marley t-shirts and wood carvings, few U.S. dollars remained in Falmouth.           

As a history major, I believe that the answers to questions about the future remain firmly planted in the past.

Jamaica has a history of being exploited by foreign plantation owners, sugar barons, slave owners, and bauxite-mining companies. 

In the end, Royal Caribbean will do no better for Falmouth than those in the past who have taken greatly and given little in return to this beautiful island.  

Falmouth Jamaica - Allure of the Seas - Royal Caribbean Cruise

Cruise Law Visits Montego Bay Jamaica

Falmouth Jamaica - Royal CaribbeanI just returned from a three day trip to Montego Bay. 

My co-counsel, Jonathan Aronson, and I met with several of our clients who were seriously injured while working for Miami based cruise lines and have been languishing in Jamaica after being dumped back at home.  Seeing our clients, in their local communities, with their kids, brings a sense of reality and urgency to our relationship with them.   

We visited the port in Freeport / Montego Bay, the new Royal Caribbean development in Falmouth (more about that to come later), and headed over to Ocho Rios to meet the family of one of our clients who needs surgery after a cruise line accident.

A good trip.  

The country of Jamaica is beautiful.  Its people are filled with courtesy and generosity. 

Over the course of the next week, we will talk about some of our experiences in Jamaica, and the relationship of this proud Caribbean country with the Miami-based cruise industry.

Photo: 

Above - Jim Walker - Falmouth with Pullmantur Horizon cruise ship in background.

Below - Jim Walker - Kevin, with wife, son and Jonathan Aronson

Jamaica - Montego Bay - Cruise - Crewmember

 

Cruise Lines Owe Jamaica More Than $12,000,000 In Unpaid Taxes?

An interesting editorial appears today in the Jamaica Gleaner about a proposal to increase the head tax on visitors who arrive via air to Jamaica from $10 to $20. The writer characterizes this proposed increase as unfair considering the head tax on cruise passengers is only $2 per person.  These taxes help pay the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) which funds projects that enhance Jamaica's tourism industry. 

Jamaica - Cruise Passenger - Head TaxBut the problem, according to the editorial, is that the cruise lines are refusing to pay Jamaica the head taxes collected by the cruise lines from the passengers:   

". . . the tax on cruise-ship passengers is US$2 per passenger, but the cruise lines mostly honour this obligation in the breach. They owe Jamaica more than US$12 million.

And unlike hotels, cruise lines pay little or no taxes in Jamaica and purchase little in the country."

Cruise lines already don't pay U.S. taxes themselves by incorporating their businesses and registering their cruise ships in foreign countries. 

Are the cruise lines charging head taxes on passengers who sail into Jamaica and keeping the money?  I'll ask the cruise industry's trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association ("CLIA"), for an explanation. 

Don't hold your breath waiting for its answer. 

 

Photo credit:  AOL Travel

Passenger Jumps From Cruise Ship To Avoid Arrest For Sexual Assault

Harold Crooks - Carnival Liberty Cruise ShipIt does not get any stranger than this.

The Jamaica Observer reports this morning that police in Jamaica arrested a Carnival cruise passenger who jumped from Carnival's Liberty while the cruise ship was in port in Ocho Rios. 

It turns out that this was no ordinary passenger.  The police arrested Harold Crooks who was the former commandant in the Island Special Constabulary Force in Jamaica. He was a crime and security expert who had made recommendations to combat crime in Jamaica and other Caribbean islands.  Crooks was under investigation for sexually assaulted a minor.  Earlier this year, he had fled Jamaica to Canada.  His Jamaican lawyer stated that  Crooks would not return to Jamaica because he had no faith in the justice system there. 

The Jamaica Observer reports that Crooks dared local cops to come get him in Canada if they "could stand the cold."  Well, it turns out that it was Crooks who couldn't stand the cold in Canada by booking a cruise from the U.S. back to Jamaica!  When he found out that the police were coming to get him, he put on a life preserver and jumped overboard. 

Now he will get the face the heat. 

 

Credits:

Harold Crooks photograph  Rudolph Brown / Jamaica Gleaner

 

Fighting Rages In Jamaica, But Business As Usual For Cruise Lines

News sources around the world are reporting on intense fighting between the police and supporters of a criminal drug leader in Kingstown, Jamaica.

The United States is trying to extradite Christopher Lloyd Coke, also known as "Dudas."  He runs a drug operation where cocaine which is is grown by the drug cartels of Colombia is then shipped to Jamaica for distribution to the U.S. and U.K.   Dudas has support of the impoverished residents of ghettos in Kingstown who have barricaded sections of the city to keep the law authorities away.  The video below paints a grim image of this idyllic cruise destination.

 

 

We have written about the issue of crime in the Caribbean ports which has its roots in impoverished communities in the Caribbean which have drug trades.  Dubbed the "Murder Capital of the World," Jamaica has the highest murder rate in the world.  Just last week there were multiple murders in Falmouth where Royal Caribbean is developing a major port for its new mega-ships the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas.   

Unlike cruise itineraries in Alaska which are perfectly safe, the Caribbean is a dangerous place to disembark cruise passengers. Yet, the cruise line continue to market violent destinations like Jamaica - Murder Capital of the World Jamaica and the Bahamas as if they were sailing to a tranquil beach resort. 

Yesterday, the online cruise community Cruise Critic ran a short article "Jamaica Unrest -- Impact on Cruise Travel?" which mentioned that Jamaican authorities had declared a state of emergency in Kingston after attacks on police stations by gang members.  But by the afternoon, the cruise lines' PR people had already kicked into high gear.  Cruise Critic "updated" its story: Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean report back that it's business as usual for the lines in Jamaica. 

The cruise site even included a photograph of a beautiful tropical beach in Jamaica, surrounded by banners advertising cruises to the Caribbean for as low as $164 per person. 

May 25 6:00 P.M. Update:

Dozens killed as Jamaican police hunt alleged drug lord

May 27 Update:

Cruise sector stays afloat

At least 73 dead in Jamaican capital shoot-outs

 

Credits:

Video                      Al Jazeera    

Photograph           Cruise Critic

Royal Caribbean Cruises - An Epidemic of Sick, Injured & Neglected Crew Members

Today I received a telephone call and two emails from crew members from Trinidad, India and Nicaragua. 

Their stories all sounded the same. 

They worked on cruise ships as a waiter or assistant waiter until they suffered back, shoulder or Royal Caribbean Crew Member = Trinidadwrist injuries.  After being sent home, they had to call and email the cruise line repeatedly before a medical appointment was finally scheduled.  They received only $12 a day for living expenses.  And their "case managers" - the employees at the cruise line responsible for arranging their medical treatment - would never return their e-mails.

Halfway through their stories, I would interrupt them with the question: "So you worked for Royal Caribbean?"

Right now this particular cruise line has embarked on a purge of removing ill crew members from its "sick lists" and slashing the medical treatment and daily stipend provided to the ship employees. 

We have addressed this problem in prior blog articles -  Cruise Ship Medical Care - Royal Caribbean Gives Their Crew Members the Royal Shaft and "Titanic Dreams" - Royal Caribbean Wins "Worst Cruise Line in the World" Award.

Royal Caribbean requires its waiters and assistant waiters to carry trays weighing up to 50 lbs.  The Royal Caribbean Crew Member - Trinidad waiters work over 12 hours a days, 7 days a weeks, carrying the trays over their shoulders.  The result is a rash of neck, shoulder, wrist and back injuries due to the repetitive heavy load and strain.

Once their bodies are broken, the crew members are of little use to the cruise line.  Royal Caribbean sends them back to their home countries, where they are neglected and then abandoned. 

The extreme cost cutting measures are the result of this particular cruise line being caught between the dream of having the most ostentatious cruise ships in the world (the Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas), and the reality of being unable to even sell out the Oasis of the Seas for its inaugural cruise. 

For every ten inquiries we receive from injured crew members - like Trinidadian crew members Mr. Ambris (above) and Ms. Villafana (to the right) - nine are former Royal Caribbean crew members.  

Once all of the hoopla over the arrival of the Oasis of the Seas dies down, will Royal Caribbean shift its focus back to the welfare of its hard-working crew members?  Or will receiving emails and calls from Royal Caribbean crew members continue to be a daily occurrence?     

Historic Port of Falmouth - Jamaica's "Crapital" for the Oasis of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Cruises plans on using Falmouth, in Jamaica, as a port for its new monster of a cruise ship Oasis of the Seas.  There is a concern in Jamaica that Royal Caribbean is exploiting it's historic town in the process.

A Historic and Quaint "Colonial" Town - Sugar, Rum & Slaves  

Port of Falmouth Jamiaca Falmouth is the chief town and capital of Trelawny parish, Jamaica, and is located on Jamaica's north coast near Montego Bay.

In the late 1700's, Jamaica was the world’s leading sugar producer. There were hundreds of sugar estates and enormous wealth created by slaves for the rich estate owners. Falmouth was named after the birthplace of Sir William Trelawny in Falmouth, Cornwall, Britain. At the turn of the 1800's, one hundred sugar plantations in Trelawny parish provided sugar and rum for export to Britain. Falmouth also has a notorious past because it was a center for the slave trade from Africa.  Based on its rum, sugar and slave business, it became one the wealthiest ports in the "New World." 

Falmouth is also considered to be one of the Caribbean’s best-preserved historic towns. Historic FalmouthMeticulously planned in the Colonial style, it is often compared to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, here in the United States. 

Royal Caribbean Makes a Sweet Deal

Several years ago, Royal Caribbean Cruises needed a port to accommodate its new "Genesis" class cruise ships (the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas).  These ships were far too big to use a regular port. 

The cruise line approached Jamaica and proposed a deal where Royal Caribbean would agree to use Falmouth as a port for its new mega ships - provided that Jamaica spend around $120 million deepening its port and creating a huge facililty to accommodate the two new mega-ships carrying over 6,000 passengers each.  The trade-off to Jamaica for this investment would be the infusion of money into Falmouth and the surrounding parish with the arrival of the new mega ships.     

Jamaica quickly jumped at the deal. No environmental impact statement or detailed economic analysis was prepared. The Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) prepared promotional materials suggesting that "the destination will deeply reference the town's history, offering visitors a unigue sensory experience of the Colonial era."  William Tatham, Vice President of Cruise and Marina Operations at the Port Authority of Jamaica, proclaimed: “cruise visitors are looking for more memorable experiences, and this is certainly what Falmouth will be able to deliver.”

Royal Caribbean Cruise President Adam Goldstein  Royal Caribbean's President Adam Goldstein signed the deal with Jamaica's Prime Minister Bruce Golding  and promised to deliver 400,000 passengers a year to Falmouth over the next 20 years, with an expectation that each passenger would spend over $100 in the port. 

Jamaicans were promised a revitalized local economy with thousands of U.S. passengers spending hundreds of thousands of dollars every time the Genesis class cruise ships arrived in port.

Oasis of the Seas - a Self-Contained "Vegas with an Anchor"   

Fast forward to November 2009.  There is now little talk about passengers actually getting off the Oasis of the Seas and going into Falmouth.  Yesterday, the Charlotte Observer ran a story called  "Vegas with an Anchor," which quoted one the cruise ship's captains stating that “our hope, of course, is that people Oasis of the Seasdon't get off, because this ship itself is the destination. This is better than a lot of the islands.”

Paul Motter, the editor of the cruise community CruiseMates, echoed this sentiment: "I think it's going to be the first ship where people truly book just for the ship and hardly care where it goes."

Gadling, the online travel site, criticized the "nearly entirely inward-looking" experience of the Oasis of the Seas.  "With the aptly named Oasis, you don't need to leave the ship at all . . . As the Oasis passes by port after port, please pardon the passengers if they're not gathered at the rail watching the world pass by."

The thought of a megaship so big and self-contained that its passengers don't bother to disembark while in Falmouth is not lost on the people of Jamaica.  After spending and borrowing $120 million, they now realize that Royal Caribbean may have just taken them for a ride.

Oasis of the Seas - Looking for a Place to Offload It's Pee and Poo

In articles entitled "Why We Fail" and "Fantasies, Follies, and Frauds," John Maxwell of the Jamaica Observer warns of the  "transformation of our beautiful heirloom Falmouth . . .  to please the billionaire owners of Royal Caribbean Lines.  He writes:

John Maxwell - Jamiaca Observer"In beautiful and historic Falmouth, we are busy making a billion-dollar cosy corner for the Royal Caribbean Line on the alleged promise that they will be bringing 6,000 visitors a week to Falmouth. What we don't know is that we have probably been conned.

The Oasis of the Seas will make land-based hotels irrelevant. Instead of bringing visitors to Jamaica the new ships will bring an ersatz Jamaica to the visitors. Each of these ships will be human zoos specially designed to bemuse their clientele."

"Crapital" (sic) of the World?

Mr. Maxwell continues with his concern that Jamaica's town of Falmouth may become just a lovely place to unload the crap from the Oasis of the Seas' 6,000 passengers and 1,500 crew members:

"Given all this, the rationale for the Falmouth cruise shipping centre is simple: There's got to be somewhere to dump the huge amounts of waste generated by such a monumentally environmentally unfriendly project. Falmouth's destiny is to act as a relief point for the ship to be sanitized, resupplied with cheap Jamaican water and for the ship, its passengers and crew to offload their excrement in what will become the cruise crapital (sic) of the world"

Oasis of the Seas Allure of the SeasJamaica has a history of being exploited by foreign plantation owners, sugar barons, slave owners, bauxite-mining companies and now the mega ships of the $15 billion Royal Caribbean cruise line. 

Next year, the Oasis of the Seas will invade the historic port of Falmouth.  Later in 2010, the Allure of the Seas will follow.  When these floating-high-rise-shopping-centers cast a shadow over all of old town Falmouth, will Jamaica realize that it's once quaint port is being used for little more than a big latrine?     

 

Credits:

Historic prints of Falmouth   Falmouth Heritage Renewal

Adam Goldstein and Bruce Golding   Jamaica Ministry of Transport & Works

Oasis of the Seas   Kenneth Karsten via shipspotting.com

John Maxwell    Jamaica Gleaner