Drowning on the Anthem of the Seas?

Anthem of the SeasToday, I received emails from passengers, who disembarked from the Anthem of the Seas, that there had been a drowning on the Royal Caribbean ship yesterday.  One guest stated:

"We departed Anthem of the Seas this morning wondering whether there was a death in the main outdoor pool this week. While there were multiple medical emergencies onboard during this cruise, the pool incident was the most talked about amongst guests. This was the first week RCCL had lifeguards onboard. My husband was walking through the pool area when he heard clapping as if someone was doing a stunt in the pool. Then he said the medical response team was called and rushed to the scene and used a defibrillator. The main pool was closed for the rest of the day while security did their investigation. Some passengers said it was a drowning. We also noticed on the itinerary channel that the ships course changed to head directly to the coast as if it were meeting a helicopter. Perhaps that was for any earlier emergency." 

Another guest stated: "A lady drown this week aboard the Anthem."

An eight year old child drowned on the Anthem nine months ago.  That incident was one of four drownings or near-drownings involving children which occurred on Royal Caribbean ships (Liberty of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas and  Independence of the Seas) in the last two years. An adult woman also reportedly drowned on the Anthem last August.  

Ironically, Royal Caribbean just announced that it would begin to employ lifeguards on its ships. The Anthem of the Seas was one of the first ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet to be staffed with lifeguards this month.

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Update: I received the following message from a guest: "My family was on this same cruise on Anthem of the Seas this past week and can confirm that an older woman in her 60's or 70's did die in the outdoor pool on Friday. My wife and I were in the medical clinic with the nurse when her deceased body was wheeled in. During my follow-up appointment with the doctor on Saturday I asked the doctor about this woman and he confirmed to me that she died by drowning in the pool but it was not yet determined if there was an underlying medical cause, such as a heart attack, etc."

March 20, 2017 Update: This from another guest on the ship: "I was at the pool 2 feet away, from where she entered. I think she was much older than 70's maybe even 90. She got in to swim, she swam a slow crawl across the pool. She knew how to swim and went the diagonal length, the guard was watching her. When I looked back She was motionless in the water near where she got in. The guard and I saw at the same time. He prodded her with his life float, no response. Then again , no response. He went In and got her out fairly fast. I would have gone in after the first prod, but it was only a couple seconds. She knew how to swim, had to be underlying event."

 

Photo credit: GlynLowe.com, Hamburg, Germany - Anthem of the Seas - Cruise Ship in Hamburg, CC BY 2.0, commons / wikimedia.

Finally! Royal Caribbean Hires Lifeguards

Two months ago, I wrote that Royal Caribbean Cruises was advertising that it was going to hire lifeguards on its cruise ships. In our December 22, 2016 article titled Royal Caribbean Cruises to Hire Lifeguards, I noted that Royal Caribbean had reconsidered its policy of only posting “swim at your own risk” signs and providing life jackets for children.

Like other cruise lines (with the exception of Disney), Royal Caribbean did not previously employ lifeguards even though a number of children have drowned or nearly drowned in pools on its cruise ships. Children have been found motionless under the water in lifeguard-less pools on the Anthem of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas and the Independence of the Seas in just the last three years. The children were 4, 6, 8 and 8 years old.

Other cruise lines experienced similar tragedies in their swimming pools. In the last 2 to 3 years, a dozen passengers drowned or nearly drowned in cruise ship swimming pools without lifeguards. The cases primarily involved children. In addition to the Royal Caribbean cases, Royal Caribbean Pool Lifeguardother cruise lines experienced deaths or near-drownings on their ships: Princess (4, 3 adults and one 8 year-old child), NCL (3)(ages 4, 6 and 10), Carnival (1)(age 6), and Disney (1)(age 4)(before Disney hired lifeguards). The near-drownings involved situations where other passengers rescued the children. 

Last month, we learned that Royal Caribbean entered into an agreement with IAM Star Guard Elite. "IAM" is the acronym for Innovative Attraction Management, LLC. IAM agreed to provide lifeguards as well as management, consulting, and risk prevention services to the cruise line IAM also also provide litigation support as part of its swimming pool related risk management services. IAM also scheduled an aquatics conference aboard Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas at Atlantis, Paradise Island when the Royal Caribbean ship called on the port of Nassau at the end of last month. 

Yesterday, with much fanfare, Royal Caribbean announced that it will staff all of its ships with lifeguards. The lifeguards will be dressed in bright red and white uniforms, and stationed at every pool, including the Solarium, during opening hours.

The new water safety program will include new signage and will be rolled out across all Royal Caribbean cruise ships over the next four months, starting with Oasis of the Seas.

Parents, of course, will still be expected to supervise their children. I have long advocated assigning a lifeguard to every pool on a cruise ship. Lifeguards are needed because parents are not perfect, and there is a natural tendency for parents to let their guards down when they are on vacation. Kids deserve to have their parents and the cruise line working together to keep them safe.

The Express newspaper in London covered the story and posted the results of a poll which indicated that the majority of its readers favored Royal Caribbean's new policy. 70% of the readers who participated in the poll said "Yes, it's a great idea" to the question "Should all cruise lines introduce lifeguards on board their ships?," with 30% responding "I don't think it would make a difference."

But there has never been a public consensus regarding this issue. The majority of people responding to articles about children drowning in cruise ship swimming pools quickly attack the parents and even suggest that the parents should be arrested. Other readers selfishly voice petty concerns that the cruise line may begin to pass the costs of hiring lifeguards on to its customers and they do not want to pay higher cruise fares.

The hard-core cruise fan site Cruise Critic asked its readers "Do you think cruise ships should have lifeguards?" Only a little over 30% said "Yes, you can’t be too careful," with around 20% saying that lifeguards should be employed only "on ships aimed at families." 40% of the Cruise Critic readers said "No, it’s not their responsibility," which seems heartless considering how many children have died on cruise ships without lifeguards. 

Congratulations to Royal Caribbean for joining Disney as the only cruise lines with a demonstrated commitment to keeping children safe around pools at sea. Hopefully, other cruise lines like industry giant Carnival will quickly follow suit.

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Photo credit: Lifeguard uniforms - Royal Caribbean PR via Express newspaper.

Royal Caribbean Continues to Advertise for Lifeguards

Two weeks ago, we reported that Royal Caribbean was posting a job description for a lifeguard on an onboard crew TV channel on one of its cruise ship (Ovation of the Seas). 

We viewed this as good news after at least five passengers, mostly children, have drowned or nearly drowned in the numerous pools on the Royal Caribbean ships. Its refusal to previously acknowledge that its we-don't-use-lifeguards policy was literally killing children was particularly frustrating to see.  

It now seems clear that the cruise line appears committed to ending its ill conceived swim-at-your-own-risk policy. This weekend several people notified me that the cruise line is publicly advertising the lifeguard and lifeguard manager jobs on several sites on the internet, such as here and here

These job postings link to a program called Star Guard Elite, which touts a "complete Royal Caribbean Lifeguardaquatic risk prevention and lifeguard training system unmatched in the industry." Last month, the Star Guard Elite website offered the job of a cruise ship lifeguard manager with Royal Caribbean. Its Facebook advertisement says: "Have you ever wanted to live on a cruise ship and see the world? We are looking for the best and brightest Aquatics Managers to join our project with Royal Caribbean."

This program is a product of IAM Star Guard Elite. "IAM" is the acronym for Innovative Attraction Management, LLC. IAM offers aquatic services including the providing of lifeguards as well as management, consulting, and risk prevention services.  It consults with a wide variety of water parks in the U.S. IAM also provides litigation support as part of its risk management services.

Not coincidentally, at the end of this month, IAM is offering an aquatics conference aboard the Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas as well as at Atlantis, Paradise Island when the Royal Caribbean ship calls on the port of Nassau.

It seems that last year IAM StarGuard Elite joined the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association where it advertised CPR, AED, and water awareness services to cruise line excursion operators.

Although the cruise line has not publicly announced its association with IAM StarGuard Elite program, it seems that Royal Caribbean is finally headed in the right direction. So kudos to them.  It reinforces my opinion that today's gigantic cruise ships with multiple swimming pools, water sides and jacuzzis are much more like a water park (which require lifeguards pursuant to state law) than a hotel (which typically doesn't). Without lifeguards, future deaths of children on the increasingly huge Royal Caribbean ships with H2O parks, swimming pools and theme-park-like water attractions, seem certain. 

So Royal Caribbean will join Disney as the only cruise lines with a demonstrated commitment to keeping children safe around pools at sea. Hopefully, other cruise lines will quickly follow suit. 

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Photo credit: Boy drowns on Royal Caribbean - Jacab Priplett via Twitter via NY Daily News.

Royal Caribbean Cruises to Hire Lifeguards

Royal Caribbean is now advertising that it is hiring lifeguards on its cruise ships. The cruise line posted the availability of the lifeguard position as of December 21, 2016. 

The posting (below) indicates that the lifeguard "will need to perform rescue of Guests in danger of drowning and be vigilant to potential accidents. Will be trained to administer first aid, CPR, Oxygen & AED as required. This position will open, close, monitor and operate aquatic recreational spaces including but not limited to Swimming Pools, H2O Zones / Splashaway Bay and other designated water attractions . . . " 

This reflects a change of position with this cruise line which previously did not employ lifeguards on its cruise ships. 

Like other cruise lines, Royal Caribbean has seen several children drown or nearly drown on its cruise ships. An 8 year old child died in a June 30, 2016 incident aboard the Anthem of the Seas, after he was found unresponsive in a pool. 

The cruise line has now apparently reconsidered its policy of only posting “swim at your own risk” signs and providing life jackets for children.

Last December, another eight year old child drowned in an unattended swimming pool on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas. The child was pulled unconscious from one of the cruise ship's pools by a passenger.

In January last year, a 4 year old boy nearly drowning aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas on January 3, 2015. The Miami Herald published Near-Drowning on Royal Caribbean Cruise Raises Concerns About Lack of Lifeguards after that incident. In May 2014, a 6 year old boy nearly drown on the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas and left the child fighting for his life in a hospital.

Lifeguard are also needed for adults who have been known to drown or nearly drown while cruising with this cruise line and others.

Last year, in an article titled Cruise Ships Are Unregulated Trouble on the High Seas, the New York Times wrote that Congress exempted cruise ships from virtually all regulations. The Times characterized the last death of a child in a pool without a lifeguard as a problem with letting cruise lines regulate themselves.

Most cruise lines, with the exception of Disney Cruises, do not employ lifeguards on their ships. Many passengers believe that it is solely the obligation of parents to supervise their children. My thought is that children are best protected from drowning only through a combination of well trained lifeguards and attentive parents working together to keep kids on the ships safe.

December 24, 2016 Update:

Miami New Times Miami-Based Royal Caribbean to Add Lifeguards on Cruises.

TravelPulse Is Royal Caribbean International Adding Lifeguards to Its Ships?

Royal  Caribbean Lifeguards 

Two-Year Old Nearly Drowns on Carnival Splendor

Carivanl Splendor DrowningLocal news stations in Miami are reporting that a two year old child nearly drowned in a swimming pool on the Carnival Splendor this afternoon.  

NBC-6 says that the Miami Fire Rescue department responded to reports of a 2-year-old nearly drowning on a cruise ship, the Carnival Splendor, at the Port of Miami. The station reports that "the child was stabilized by paramedics and will be transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Pediatrics unit."

With this latest incident, fifteen (15) passengers drowned or nearly drowned on cruise ships without lifeguards, including twelve children, over the past three years. After every such tragedy, many cruise fans quickly cast all of the blame on the children's parents for not paying attention. But three adults drowned in cruise ship swimming pools without lifeguards in just the last two years.

Lifeguards, of course, are needed on cruise ships. Lifeguards do more than just keep kids safe in pools. A certified lifeguard, trained in life saving measures, can immediately provide immediate CPR on the scene.  

My view remains that children need a combination of trained and experienced cruise ship lifeguards and parents, closely supervising their children, to stay safe on today's gigantic water parks on the high seas.  

A child drowned on the Carnival Victory in October 2014. The Miami New Times wrote about the death of 6-year-old Qwentyn Hunter on the Carnival cruise ship with no lifeguards in Kids Drown in Cruise Ship Pools With No Lifeguards on Duty.

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Photo credit: NBC-6

Confusion Surrounds Medical Emergency in Swimming Pool on Anthem of the Seas

Anthem of the SeasLast Wednesday, I received a number of messages from cruise passengers about an incident on board Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas regarding what was described as a woman (passenger) who either suffered a heart attack or nearly drowned in one of the ship's swimming pools.

The cruise ship increased its speed to arrive back in port in New Jersey so that the passenger could receive shore-side medical treatment, although some people indicated that the woman died on the ship while it was returning to port.

This weekend, the Jersey Journal posted an article titled Cruise ship sped back to Bayonne after woman's medical emergency in pool: Royal Caribbean. The article quoted one of the ship's passengers who reportedly witnessed part of what happened when the Anthem was about halfway through its return voyage from Bermuda to Bayonne: 

"When we arrived in the area, she had just been pulled from the water and was unresponsive and had a pale/purple look." 

A press release issued by Royal Caribbean, however, downplayed the incident saying:

"On Tuesday, August 10, a 72-year old female from the U.S. onboard Anthem of the Seas was witnessed by guests having difficulty swimming in one of the ship’s pools. The guest was helped out of the pool, was initially treated by the ship’s medical team, but required additional medical attention. Therefore, the ship increased its speed for the earliest possible arrival into Cape Liberty, New Jersey for a medical evacuation. Royal Caribbean’s Care Team provided support to the guest’s family and our thoughts and prayers are with them."

The newspaper said that none of several area hospitals in Hudson County and Staten Island, or the U.S. Coast Guard for the New York/New Jersey area, or the Bayonne Police Department had "knowledge of any cases matching Royal Caribbean's description of the incident."

Did the woman pass away after being pulled from the water unresponsive (or "helped out of the pool" as the cruise line euphemistically puts it)? Why wasn't a medevac by helicopter requested? (We have reported on a prior medevac this June when a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flew 260 miles out to pick up ill passengers from a NCL cruise ship).

Royal Caribbean is no stranger to swimming pool medical emergencies. An eight year old boy died after being pulled from an unattended swimming pool on the Anthem of the Seas in June of this year. A four year old and a six year old nearly drowned in pools on the Oasis of the Seas and the Independence of the Seas respectively.

Before this latest incident, fourteen (14) passengers drowned or nearly drowned on cruise ships without lifeguards, including eleven children. After every such tragedy, many cruise fans quickly blame the children's parents for not paying attention.  But three adults drowned in cruise ship swimming pools without lifeguards in just the last two years. 

Lifeguards, of course, do more than just keep kids safe in pools.  A certified lifeguard, trained in life saving measures, can provide immediate CPR on the scene of a heart attack or other medical emergency.  

If a passenger suffers a near drowning or a heart attack, and a lifeguard is not on the scene to immediately provide CPR, it may be too late - for the medical team to run up from a lower deck on a huge ship, for ship personnel to decide whether to request a helicopter medevac, or for the ship to speed up to return to port. 

Photo Credit: By www.GlynLowe.com from Hamburg, Germany - Anthem of the Seas - Cruise Ship in Hamburg, CC BY 2.0.

Eight Year Old Nearly Drowns on Anthem of the Seas

Multiple news sources are reporting that Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas cruise ship turned around after leaving Bayonne, New Jersey because an 8-year-old child was found unresponsive at the bottom of one of the ship's swimming pools this evening.

ABC-Channel 7 News NY says that the "8-year-old is currently on life-support."

Children drowning or nearly drowning in cruise ship swimming pools unattended by life guards is not an uncommon topic. 

Anthem of the SeasLast December, an eight year old child drowned in an unattended swimming pool on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas. The child was pulled unconscious from one of the cruise ship's pools by a passenger. 

In January last year, a 4 year old boy nearly drowning aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas on January 3, 2015. The Miami Herald published Near-drowning on Royal Caribbean cruise raises concerns about lack of lifeguards after that incident.

In May 2014, a 6 year old boy nearly drown on the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas and left the child fighting for his life in a hospital.

Last year, in an article titled Cruise Ships Are Unregulated Trouble on the High Seas, the New York Times wrote that Congress has exempted these cruise ship behemoths from virtually all regulations. The Times characterized the last death of a child in a pool without a lifeguard as a problem with letting cruise lines regulate themselves.

All major cruise lines have lost children and passengers in swimming pools on their ships. Like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL and Princess Cruises continue to refuse to hire lifeguards.

To my knowledge, Disney is the only cruise line to employ life guards on its cruise ships. However it did so only after a 4 year old child nearly drown on the Fantasy and sustained a catastrophic brain injury requiring life-time medical care and resulting in a multi-million dollar settlement.

I have long advocated for having a lifeguard at every pool on a cruise ship. Lifeguards are needed because parents are not perfect, and there is a natural tendency for parents to let their guards down when they are on vacation. Kids deserve to have their parents and the cruise line working together to keep them safe. The cruise industry collects billions of dollars a year from passengers and pays virtually zero in U.S. taxes. It's shameful for every cruise line except Disney to refuse to hire lifeguards to keep kids safe and to be trained and certified in life saving measures and CPR.

Read Thoughts From A Concerned Cruiser about cruise ship swimming pool safety before Disney hired life guards.

The Miami Herald covered the issue and interviewed me, reporting that there have been a dozen passengers who have drowned or nearly drowned in cruise ship swimming pools without lifeguards in the last 2-3 years involving primarily children: Royal Caribbean (4)(ages 4, 6, 8 and 8), Princess (4, 3 adults and one 8 year-old child), NCL (3)(ages 4, 6 and 10), Carnival (1)(age 6), and Disney (1)(age 4)(before hiring lifeguards).

July 11 2016 Update: The boy, identified as Prince Adepoju of Maryland, died on July 2, 2016, according to multiple media reports.

 

Photo Credit:  By GlynLowe, Hamburg, Germany https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46635956; Video Credit CBS-2 NY. 

 

 

8 Year Old Child Drowns on Liberty of the Seas

Yesterday, a young child drowned on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas, according to the website of cruise expert Ross Klein. A letter (below right) handed out to passengers states that the child was pulled, apparently unconscious, from one of the cruise ship's pools by a passenger. A medical team administered CPR on the boy which was not successful.

This incident will again raise the issue of why virtually all cruise lines do not assign lifeguards to cruise ship swimming pools. The problem is widespread and well known in the cruise industry.  

As matters now stand, only Disney Cruises assigns lifeguards to cruise ship swimming pools. However it did so only after a 4 year old child nearly drown and sustained a catastrophic brain injury aboard Liberty of the Seas - Child Drownsthe Fantasy cruise ship requiring life-time medical care and resulting in a multi-million dollar settlement.

This year began with a 4 year old boy nearly drowning aboard the Oasis of the Seas on January 3, 2015. Royal Caribbean. The Miami Herald published Near-drowning on Royal Caribbean cruise raises concerns about lack of lifeguards after that incident. Royal Caribbean also experienced a near drowning of a child on the Independence of the Seas in May of last year that left a 6 year old boy fighting for his life in a hospital.

I have long advocated for having a lifeguard at every pool on a cruise ship. Lifeguards are needed because parents are not perfect, and there is a natural tendency for parents to let their guards down when they are on vacation. Kids deserve to have their parents and the cruise line working together to keep them safe. The cruise industry collects $45 billion dollars a year from passengers and pays virtually zero in U.S. taxes. It's shameful for every cruise line except Disney to refuse to hire lifeguards to keep kids safe.

In an article published earlier this year titled Cruise Ships Are Unregulated Trouble on the High Seas, the New York Times wrote that Congress has exempted these cruise ship behemoths from virtually all regulations. The Times characterized the last death of a child in a pool without a lifeguard as a problem with letting cruise lines regulate themselves.

All major cruise lines have lost children and passengers in swimming pools on their ships. Like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL and Princess Cruises continue to refuse to hire lifeguards.

Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean have legal responsibility to parents and children on its cruise ships. A "no lifeguard on duty" sign does not legally exonerate a cruise line, or a hotel, or an amusement park. It simply raises the issue whether the sign was legally conspicuous enough to provide an effective warning to the parents.

I understand the concept of personal and parental responsibility. But I also understand that justice demands corporate responsibility as well. It's easy to criticize a parent when a child is injured; we are all perfect parents when it's not our child, aren't we? But I find that those people who are quick to blame parents when kids are injured and who talk incessantly about "personal responsibility" are the first to defend corporate malfeasance and use the term "personal responsibility" as code words for condoning the complete absence of "corporate responsibility." 

"Pool Rovers" Not the Answer to Lack of Lifeguards on Sapphire Princess

Sapphire PrincessInstead of hiring trained lifeguards in response to the drownings on the Sapphire Princess, Princess has tasked bartenders, dishwashers, and other crew members to add an hour of work each day to being "pool monitors" or "pool rovers".

The U.K.'s Maritime Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) recently criticized Princess after a passenger drowned on the Sapphire Princess. The cruise line did not hire lifeguards around the pool, it failed to conduct a risk assessment and the ship employees had no training on CPR or pools safety. 

A second passenger, a child, also nearly drowned last month. The child sustained serious, permanent injuries in a pool on the same lifeguard-less cruise ship.   

Despite these two tragedies, Princess still refuses to hire trained and experienced lifeguards. Instead, supervisors in the hotel and food and beverage departments on the Sapphire Princess are instructing their employees, hired to work in the galley, bars or passenger cabins, that they must work an extra hour around the ship's swimming pools as "pool rovers."   

This is an unpaid position. It is not considered a part-time job. These crew members people have no training in CPR, they have no idea about lifesaving techniques and procedures, and they have no clue what to do in case of a real emergency. There has been no training for these positions. These are inexperienced and non-trained "rovers" playing by it by ear. 

Sapphire Princess is in service to the Chinese market now. That means that virtually 100% of passengers are from China and only Mandarin Chinese. Most crew members cannot speak Chinese. There is a significant language barrier on the cruise ship.  What will happen in case of a real drowning involving another Chinese passenger?

The "pool rovers" are just instructed to hold a radio and call the Bridge if they see someone drowning. 

This is hardly what the MAIB recommended when it released its recommendations following its investigation into the drowning on the Sapphire Princess. 

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Photo Credit: Spaceaero2 licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via creative commons / wikipedia.

Child Nearly Drowns on Sapphire Princess

A newspaper in Shanghai, the Shanghaist, reports that an eight-year-old girl is in critical condition after being found unconscious in the swimming pool of a Princess cruise ship last week.

The child and her mother, both from Shanghai, reportedly sailed on the Sapphire Princess, scheduled to call on ports in Japan and South Korea's Chejudo Island.

The newspaper reports that the mother had taken her daughter to play in the "kiddy pool" and was lounging nearby when she noticed the girl was missing. Other passengers found the child unconscious Sapphire Princess Cruise Shipin a deeper pool. Surveillance film revealed that the girl had been struggling for some seven to nine minutes before she was discovered.

The child was put on a ventilator. She was eventually transferred to a hospital ashore in Shanghai, 12 hours later. 

Princess had no life guards are on duty. Princess said that there were warning signs written in Chinese posted around the pool, stating that parents were responsible for supervising their children.

Warning signs are no substitute for attentive parents and alert lifeguards.

A 29 year-old woman was found dead in a pool on the same cruise ship a year ago. 

This latest incident will spark a debate whether there should be lifeguards on cruise ships.

All of the major cruise lines without lifeguards have seen children killed or seriously injured in the cruise ship swimming pools. You can read about the incidents:

A  ten year old girl on the Norwegian Gem in May 2015.

A four year old on the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas January 2015.

A six year old on Carnival Victory October 2014.

A six year old boy on Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas May 2014.

A four year old boy drowned and his six year old brother was medevaced after nearly drowning in a pool on the Norwegian Breakaway in February 2014.

A four year old on Disney Fantasy March 2013. The child on the Disney cruise ship was permanently and seriously injured. Disney paid a multi-million dollar settlement and began employing lifeguards on its ships. No other cruise lines have followed Disney's lead. 

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Photo Credit: "Sapphire Princess02" by Yankeesman312 licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

10 Year Old Girl Drowns on Norwegian Gem

A young passenger, reportedly a 10-year-old girl, drowned in a swimming pool aboard NCL's Norwegian Gem while the cruise ship was 75 miles east of Myrtle Beach yesterday afternoon. 

I first learned of the incident on Twitter from CNBC's @RyanRuggiero who tweeted "The Coast Guard is investigating a death that occurred aboard the Norwegian Gem off the coast of NC. The investigation is still ongoing." He mentioned that the death involved a child drowning on the Gem.

This incident will rekindle the debate whether cruise lines should employ lifeguard their ships.

Norwegian GemThere have been a number of drownings and near-drownings of minors on cruise ships in the last couple of years. 

This is not the first time a child has drowned on a NCL cruise ship.

Last year, two small children were pulled from a pool on NCL's Norwegian Breakaway as the cruise ship was sailing from New York to the Bahamas. Both children were unresponsive. The younger child (age 4) died on the cruise ship. The other child (age 6) was medevaced by the Coast Guard. Read our article: Drowning Tragedy Aboard the Norwegian Breakaway: Where Are the Lifeguards?

All of the major cruise lines without lifeguards have seen children killed or seriously injured in the cruise ship swimming pools. You can read about the incidents:

A four year old on the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas January 2015.  

A six year old on Carnival Victory October 2014

A six year old boy on Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas May 2014. 

A four year old on Disney Fantasy March 2013.

The child on the Disney cruise ship was permanently and seriously injured. Disney paid a multi-million dollar settlement and began employing lifeguards on its ships. No other cruise lines have followed Disney's lead.

Inclined to always blame the parents and give the cruise line a pass?  Think again. Read: Imperfect Parents & Corporate Irresponsibility: Why No Lifeguards on Disney Cruise Ships?

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Photo credit: Captain-Tucker via Wikipedia Creative Commons 3.0

Kids, Cruise Ship Swimming Pools & Safety: Where are the Lifeguards?

NBC's Today show aired a special program this morning titled Why do some cruise ships lack lifeguards to watch children?  

In my opinion, the answer is simple: cruise lines are cutting corners to increase profits. Plus, cruise lines face no legal consequence if the child dies. The cruise industry doesn't face financial accountability because a child's life has no financial worth under the Death on the High Seas Act.

Lots of cruise fans like to assign 100% fault on the parents. However, that won't prevent children from drowning in unattended cruise ship pools in the future. Cruise lines have a legal obligation to exercise reasonable care to keep kids safe. Not hiring a lifeguard is reckless.  A warning sign by itself won't work. Kids don't pay attention to signs. Some kids can't even read. Small children can't comprehend the risks involved, especially if they can't swim.  

The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) says that it attempts to manage pool safety for kids only by using signs. It's a flawed policy that will ensure that children drown while on cruise vacations.

       

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Passenger Drowns in Swimming Pool on Sapphire Princess

The Shanghai Daily reports that a passenger on a cruise from Shanghai was found dead in one of the cruise ship's pools.

The newspaper says that Princess Cruises confirmed the death of the 29-year-old woman onboard the Sapphire Princess cruise ship. 

"It is thought that she drowned," according to the newspaper.

The cruise reportedly left Shanghai for South Korea's Chejudo Island on Wednesday. The woman was found dead in the swimming pool on Thursday. The Princess cruise ship returned to Shanghai yesterday (Sunday).

There have been a rash of drownings, or near drownings, in the cruise industry the last two years. Most of the victims have been children. 

A 6 year old boy was pulled from a swimming pool on the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas in May this year. A 4 year old died and his 6 year old brother was injured after similar tragedies on NCL's Norwegian Breakaway, last February. A 6 year old child drowned on a Carnival cruise ship, the Victory, in October of last year. A 4 year child was seriously brain damaged after he nearly drowned on a Disney cruise ship, the Fantasy, in March of last year.

A 42 year old passenger drowned in a hot tub on the Carnival Dream last year. 

This death will reignite the debate whether cruise lines should employ lifeguards around the ship's swimming pools. Only Disney employs lifeguards on its ships, and did so only after the tragedy affecting the 4 year old boy who nearly drowned on the Fantasy

So far the facts are sketchy and there is no explanation how the drowning occurred.

We reached out to Princess and received the following statement:

"We are saddened to confirm that a female adult guest aboard Sapphire Princess has died from an apparent drowning in one of the ship's swimming pools. Our thoughts and prayers are with our guest's family and we are providing support and assistance to them during this difficult time. The incident is under investigation."

USA TODAY's "Best Cruise Ships For Infants & Toddlers" Misses the Boat

USA TODAY published an article today entitled "Baby on board: Best cruise ships for infants, toddlers." 

Like most USA TODAY articles, it was mostly a "puff piece," trying hard to praise all of the cruise lines while writing nothing provocative or controversial.

The article picked four Disney cruise ships, three Royal Caribbean ships, two Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ships and one ship from Cunard.

The factors for being the best were not identified. The article mentioned things like providing baby Cruise Ship Kids formula, diapers, organic baby food, cribs, high chairs, booster seats and strollers.

But are these really the issues that parents of minors should be worried about? 

The articles doesn't mention serious issues that parents should be concerned with - like minors drowning in swimming pools without lifeguards or little kids being molested by predator crew members or perverted passengers.

Swimming Pools Without Lifeguards:

Disney is the only cruise line that assigns lifeguards to all of its cruise ship pools. It took this step only after a six year child slipped under the water and is now severely brain injured.

NCL and Royal Caribbean haven't bothered to employ lifeguards to protect little kids in and around the cruise ship pools even though several minors have drowned or been seriously injured in pools without lifeguards.

The USA TODAY article picked the NCL Breakaway as one the best cruise ships for minors but two children were pulled from a swimming pool on this cruise ship by other passengers just last February. One child is dead.

The article also selected a Royal Caribbean ship too, but last month a child nearly drowned on the Independence of the Seas

If you are worried about the potential that your little kid could drown in the ship's pools, Disney is the only cruise line that I would recommend.

Sexual Perverts and Predators:

Minors including toddlers have been sexually abused on cruise ships. Take a minute and read:

Sexual Perverts & Pedophiles on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships

Royal Caribbean is hardly the only cruise line with this problem. You can search this site and read of minors being victimized on cruise ships operated by Disney, Celebrity, and the Carnival brands. Yes, even cruise ship baby-sitters have been accused of molesting minors.

The article mentions "play zones" or "kid zones" on cruise ships.  Before you leave your minor kid in one of these places, do your homework. Don't assume all of the employees have been carefully vetted. 

Child pornography is also a problem on cruise ships.  There are frequent arrests by custom officials of crew members whose iPhones and laptops are loaded with hundreds/thousands of photos and videos of child pornography. You can read our many articles about this problem here

Have a Healthy Skepticism of Paradise:

Don't trust best-cruise-ships-for-kids articles written by cruise fans and travel writers. They are often given free cruises and other perks. They will go out of their way to avoid embarrassing the cruise lines. They do the public, who doesn't know any better, a disservice. Read other sources of information. Check around. Educate yourself as a parent before you take your child unwittingly into danger. And once you're on the cruise ship, keep your eyes on your kids at all times. 

 

Photo Credit: Frommers

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. 

January 4 2015 Update: Another passenger performed emergency CPR on the child and saved him. Harpenden mum saves six-year-old from drowning on holiday cruise.

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Jolly Janner

No Lifeguards for Children on Cruise Ships? Maritime Law Encourages Cruise Lines to Act Irresponsibly

WKMG Local 6 (ClickOrlando) aired a special report last night on the issue of children drowning on cruise ships. In the last year, four children 6 years old or younger have drowned or nearly drowned in the pools of Carnival, Disney and Norwegian Cruise Line cruise ships. 

In all cases, the cruise lines did not employ lifeguards.   

The news station interviewed the parents of a 6 year old child, Qwentyn Hunter, who drowned during a Carnival Cruise Ship Drowning cruise aboard the Carnival Victory.  

I believe that it's clear negligence for a cruise line not to employ a lifeguard to supervise cruise ship swimming pools. Yes, it a matter of personal responsibility of the parents to supervise their children, but its also a matter or corporate responsibility of the cruise lines to staff their pools with trained lifeguards.  A sign saying things like "swim at your own risk" or "no lifeguard on duty" is not only meaningless to a child, but it's legally insufficient to exculpate a cruise line.  

The cruise lines are able to hide behind a maritime law also known as the "Death on the High Seas Act" which prohibits the recovery of emotional damages such as pain and suffering, grief, bereavement, and mental anguish. As matters now stand, the cruise line face virtually no financial consequence when children die in cruise ships pools with no lifeguards.

The news station interviewed me during the program. Here's what I said:

"'Children are not wage-earners and because of this archaic law pertaining to cruise ships there’s no financial incentive for cruise lines to do the right thing,' said Jim Walker whose law firm deals exclusively with legal issues on cruise ships.

Walker called it the cruise industry's dirty little secret.

'The cruise lines love that law that doesn’t permit any recovery so they’re completely isolated and when you isolate a large corporation from all legal and financial consequence basically what you’re saying to them is it’s OK if children die in your pool because it doesn’t really affect your bottom line. That’s a terrible situation. That needs to change,' said Walker.

. . . Walker contends there's another troubling issue. He says no cruise employees, other than medical personnel are trained in CPR.

'If you're going to assign someone to a pool deck to hand out the towels and take drink orders, you’ve got to train them on basic CPR because CPR can save a life,' said Walker who also says he believes the cruise line industry could pass the cost of employing lifeguards on to the passengers.

'If you charge each one a dime you’re going to have enough money for a lifeguard. How about a dime for each person? Isn’t a child worth a dime?' said Walker.

Walker believes it is going to take some type of legislation really to force the cruise lines to take added safety precautions."

We have discussed this issue in prior articles:

Imperfect Parents & Corporate Irresponsibility: Why No Lifeguards on Disney Cruise Ships? (Disney now has lifeguards on its cruise ships).

Dangerous Cruise Ship Swimming Pools: Thoughts from a Concerned Cruiser

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

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Photo Credit: Ariza Talent & Modeling Agency via CBS News

Cruise Ships Without Lifeguards: Shame On You!

NC: Cruise Shihp DrowningIn the last nine months, four children age 6 or younger have drowned or nearly drowned on cruise ships.

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

Cruise passenger Joe Boris, age 39, witnessed the NCL tragedies. He is motivated to convince the cruise industry to provide greater protection to children.

WTSB quotes Mr. Boris saying: "How can this happen? Why was there no lifeguard on board?" Boris said. "These cruise ships are money-making cash cows and to (make you) pay $11 for one drink. There's no reason why they can't supply a lifeguard at the pools."

"They boast on how this is a $900 million vessel holding almost 4,100 passengers, 1,600 crew members and they always say safety is of course their number one priority.  

"I honestly have to say to them, shame on you," Boris said. "Shame on you because there's no reason you cannot have or you shouldn't have a lifeguard present on board those ships."

There is absolutely no excuse for a cruise line, which pays absolutely no U.S. income taxes, not to invest in lifeguards. a dime from every passenger would more than pay for the lifeguards.  Here are some of our recent articles:

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

Imperfect Parents & Corporate Irresponsibility: Why No Lifeguards on Disney Cruise Ships?

 

WFSB 3 Connecticut

6 Year Old Drowns on Carnival Victory Cruise Ship

Carnival VictoryThe AP reports that a 6-year-old boy drowned in a pool on Carnival Victory cruise ship on Sunday. 

Carnival said that this was the first time a child drowned on one of its ships.  

But just last month a 41 year-old passenger drowned in one of the hot tubs on the Carnival Dream. 

We reported the last time a major cruise line experienced such an incident.  The Disney Fantasy has a small boy rendered brain damaged when he nearly drown.  You can read our articles:

Imperfect Parents & Corporate Irresponsibility: Why No Lifeguards on Disney Cruise Ships?

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

I was quoted by the AP about this latest fatality:

"There is a great deal of debate on whether cruise lines should have lifeguards, according to Jim Walker, a Miami maritime attorney . . . " 

"This involves the debate between personal responsibility and corporate responsibility," he wrote in an email to the Associated Press. "Yes, parents should have responsibility for watching their children but at the same time cruise corporations have a duty to watch over the parents and children and provide a reasonably safe place for them to have a family vacation."

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

Earlier this week I wrote an article about a 4 year old boy who almost drowned in a pool on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship.

I advocated having a lifeguard at every pool on a cruise ship, especially on Disney ships which cater to families with kids.  Lifeguards are needed because parents are not perfect, and there is a tendency for parents to let their guards down when they are on vacation.  And why shouldn't Disney do it?  Like Carnival, Disney pays no U.S. taxes on its enormous cruise revenues by registering its ship overseas. It has money to burn. 

Disney Cruise Ship PoolDisney also claims that it trains over 1,000 lifeguards each year for its resorts and cruise ships. 

Kids deserve to have their parents and the cruise line working together to keep them safe.

A few people agreed, but most were quick to blame if not condemn the parents of the child who was pulled from the pool. The comments on my Facebook page were harsh.

Today I received a nice email from a concerned cruiser. She makes some good points, which Disney should consider:

"Hi Jim,

My family and I disembarked from the Disney Fantasy in Cape Canaveral on Sat March 30. While we had a terrific time, I was saddened to hear that a 4 year old boy nearly drowned getting on that ship just hours later. That news has pretty much spoiled my good memories because I have trouble bearing to reminisce about my good time in the midst of another’s tragedy. My prayers are with the boy and his family.

While on our 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Fantasy (Mar 23 to 30), I noticed that the pool areas where extremely chaotic and in my opinion an accident just waiting to happen. The design of the “Donald Pool” where the boy nearly drowned is what I would consider unsafe. The pool is over 5 feet deep but has very small width and length. It cannot accommodate the number of kids on the ship safely without kids being jumped on and kicked in the head etc. Also, because of the very small length and width compared to depth, there is not enough room around the edges for parents to adequately supervise the children. When my kids were swimming I had a very difficult time finding any room around the pool to watch them. I tried to get into the pool with my children and the lack of room in the pool resulted in my being jumped on, kicked in the face, etc. Also, the perimeter of the pool has a shallow area that pushes parental seating (and therefore supervision) even further away and obstructs the view of the children in the deep water.

In addition, there is a gigantic screen TV showing Disney movies that easily diverts people’s attentions.

Crowded Disney Swimming PoolThere are a very limited number of deck chairs around the pools but these are inadequate to allow supervision of the children and often only serve to block the view of other adults relocated to being further back away from the pool due to its design. I was very uncomfortable that Disney had no lifeguards at the pool but they had more than one person coming around to the deck chairs asking if you would like an alcoholic drink.

Finally, Disney in most of its show’s encourages adults to relax and allow their kids to roam the ship unattended. In fact one of the comics that they have in their shows makes a joke about parents not letting kids out of their sight and says “it’s a ship, where can they go”!

The design of the pool, the atmosphere of the ship, the easy access to alcohol and the lack of lifeguards are simply drownings waiting to happen, no matter how vigilant the parents. Unless Disney makes some changes to their procedures, and assumes a better level of corporate responsibility, I unfortunately suspect we will see more drownings on the Disney Fantasy in the years to come.

With deep concern and prayers for all . . ." 

 

April 8, 2013 Update:  According to the Orlando Sentinel, the child is struggling with his recovery at the Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando.  

Photo Credit: USA TODAY