Passenger Overboard From Carnival Elation

News4Jax reports that a passenger went overboard yesterday morning from the Carnival Elation approximately 15 miles southwest of Abaco, Bahamas.

The Carnival Elation sailed from Jacksonville on Monday with its first port of call in Nassau, Bahamas.

The Coast Guard is searching for the 24-year old man whose identity has not been revealed.

The news account states that at around 8:30 A.M. yesterday, the passenger's wife told the ship that her husband was missing and had apparently disappeared at an undisclosed time.  She reportedly says that her husband was last seen about 2:30 a.m. She reported him missing after the ship docked in Nassau. Carnival later Man Overboard Systemdetermined that its closed-circuit television (CCTV) system revealed that the man was recorded going overboard from the 11th deck. 

This sounds like the usual scenario when a cruise ship is not equipped with an automatic man overboard system which would immediately alert the bridge when someone goes over a railing on the ship. Without such equipment, and without an eye witness account of someone going overboard, the ship is left to tediously look over hours of CCTV images to try and spot the passenger and see what happened. 

The cruise industry has resisted installing the technology. There are many companies which have excellent heat and/or motion detection alarms with radar tracking systems on the market. Here is an example (photo left). Here is another.

According to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, this is the 286th person to go overboard from a cruise ship since 2000. 

Update: The Coast Guard was not notified until about 11 a.m. by the Carnival officers on the ship, or approximately two and one-half hours after the cruise ship docked in Nassau. The CCTV images which Carnival reviewed showed the passenger going overboard at approximately 2:45 a.m., according to new accounts.

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Recent Divina Overboard Reveals Flaws in MSC Safety & Security

A passenger who disappeared from the MSC Divina yesterday marks the first person to disappear from a cruise ship in 2017.

As usual, there are no facts released by the cruise line which indicates exactly when, or why, or where, or how the person went overboard.

Based on information released by MSC, the U.S. Coast Guard stated that the passenger was "last seen by his wife at approximately 3 a.m. going out to the couple's room balcony to take some fresh air." The Coast Guard says that the "circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the passenger remain unknown."  Accordingly, we have only the cruise line's version of when the wife allegedly last MSC Divinasaw her husband, but there is no indication when the passenger actually went overboard, or when the ship first learned that the passenger went overboard, or whether the ship promptly deployed a rescue craft or other watercraft to conduct a timely search and rescue, or when the ship notified the U.S. Coast Guard to begin search and rescue efforts.  

Yesterday I wrote that it sounds like MSC was not initially aware that the passenger went overboard, which is the typical situation. The vessel's online automatic information system did not reveal that the vessel slowed down, stopped or turned around to initiate a search for the missing man. MSC told the Coast Guard that, at some undisclosed time, it searched the ship and made call-outs through the public announcement system without success. This sounds like many other cruise lines which are told long after the fact that a person's loved one or friend cannot be found on the ship. This leads to ship personnel conducting a search or making announcements or reviewing closed-circuit television images to see if it they can figure out what happened to the passenger - an unduly time consuming process considering that the passenger may be struggling in the water as the cruise ship sails away.

Six years ago, President Obama signed the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act ("CVSSA") which requires cruise line calling on U.S. ports to implement automatic man overboard systems. Before the  CVSSA was passed into law, there was considerable testimony before Congress regarding Man Overboard Systemwhy people go overboard - suicides, accidents, excessive serving and consumption of alcohol, and foul play were all discussed. But whatever the reason for the person going overboard, our Congress determined that cruise lines needed to implement state-of-the-art systems to signal when passengers or crew members went over the rails and into the water.

Since the CVSSA went into effect, cruise lines have resisted implementing the technology. There are many companies which have good systems on the market.  Here is an example (photo left). Here is another. The best systems immediately alert the bridge when someone goes overboard and can track the person in the water via radar and thermal imaging so that the person can be located even when someone falls into the water at night. Many systems record the person going overboard so that there is no possibility of a false alarm.  

Man overboard systems also have an important feature of detecting when someone comes over the rails onto the ship. This is an obvious and vital security precaution in this age of terrorism. If someone can go overboard without the cruise line knowing it, then it is just as likely that someone can come onto the ship without detection. 

After my article yesterday, a PR representative from MSC sent me a barrage of emails demanding that I write that the "USCG was alerted by MSC Cruises as soon as the ship became aware of the potentially missing passenger; the ship, as per procedure, started search operations immediately as soon as she became aware of the potentially missing passenger; and the USCG launched its SAR shortly thereafter."  But the PR person refused to state basic facts such as when the passenger went overboard, or when MSC realized it, or whether it delayed notifying the Coast Guard until after it first searched the ship, or whether it conducted any type of timely search itself.  

Disturbing factual questions remain - did MSC even turn the ship around to search for the overboard passenger? Did it just conduct a search on the ship after-the-fact and finally alert the Coast Guard only when its onboard efforts were futile? Does MSC even have any type of man overboard systems in place?  MSC refuses to say.  

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's research indicates that an average of over 20 people go overboard each year on cruise ships. Over 140 people have gone over the rails from cruise ships since 2010. When will cruise lines like MSC focus on implementing state-of-the-art technology rather than on PR efforts to create the illusion that passengers are safe at sea?

January 4, 2017 Update: The Coast Guard suspended its search last night at 9:55 p.m. The Coast Guard is quoted as saying that it "searched for more than 35 hours." If this information is accurate, this means that the Coast Guard initiated its search and rescue around 11:55 a.m. (i.e., 35 hours before 10:55 p.m. the next day), or a bit earlier, on the day the passenger went overboard.  This further means that notice to the Coast Guard was delayed at least 5 hours after the missing man's wife woke up several hours after last seeing him (around 3:00 a.m.) and realized he was missing from their cabin. The cruise line says that it searched the ship and made announcements for the man, apparently before notifying the Coast Guard.

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Photo credit: MSC Divina - Karl Borg - Albireo2006 - flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, commons / wikimedia; man overboard video - PureTech Systems.

Another Man Overboard Marks Three Year Anniversary of Disappearance of Richard Fearnside

A reader of Cruise Law News brought to my attention that a crew member disappeared at sea from a ferry operated by Irish Ferries from Rosslare, Ireland to Pembroke, Wales yesterday. A number of newspapers have reported that a a large air and sea search was just suspended after the crew member apparently went overboard into the St. Georges channel from a ferry during the cruise of less than five hours.

The crew member has not been identified but was said to be a member of the catering staff aboard overboard crew member disappearancethe ferry.

The Western Telegraph newspaper quoted the ferry company as telling the BBC "We just don't know where he is. Technically speaking it is possible that he walked off in Pembroke . . ."

This rather clueless statement reveals a problem with many ferries throughout Great Britain (Britain, Scotland, Wales and Ireland) and Europe. They have not bothered to invest in closed circuit television on their ships despite a series of overboards over the years

I have been critical of the U.S.-based cruise industry due to the failure to install automatic man overboard systems which can immediately send a signal to the bridge of the cruise ship whenever someone goes over the railing and also can track the overboard passenger or crew member in the water via thermal imaging and radar which increases the possibility of recovering the overboard person. But many U.K. and European cruise and ferry companies have not only refused to install this state-of-the-art technology, they have refused to even install old-school CCTV systems on their ships.  

A spokesperson for the Irish Ferries company, which recently won the Best Ferry Company award by a travel media public relations firm in Ireland, defended the company saying that "this is the first time in my memory for a crewman to go missing."

It seems that the ferry PR person has a poor memory. The disappearance of people from ferries, as well as from cruise ships, is well documented and includes crew members as well as passengers.

Last week (May 21st) marked the three year anniversary of the disappearance of 30 year-old Richard Fearnside from P&O Ferries' Pride of Kent ferry as it was sailing from Calais back to Dover. His girlfriend said that he was going to the top deck to smoke a cigarette. Richard never returned. 

P&O Ferries could offer no explanation to Richard's parents, Bob and Marianne, regarding what happened to their son.  Although P&O Ferries has experienced safety problems before in the past, the ferry company had not bothered to install a single CCTV camera on the decks of its fleet of P&O ships for safety and security purposes.

P&O chose instead to install surveillance cameras only in its duty free shops on the ferries. Jewelry and alcohol, it appears, are more precious to some ferry companies than its customers.

overboard passengerRichard's mother, Marianne, wrote a letter to P&O Ferries CEO, Helen Deeble, about her son's disappearance and sought information. P&O sent a boorish response, not from Ms. Deeble, but from a public relations representative at the ferry company. The PR company man told her that installing safety cameras was a silly, impractical idea.

In 2013, I sent an open letter to Ms. Deeble about the absence of CCTV cameras on P&O ferries. There are huge cruise ships in the U.S. that have literally over 1,000 CCTV cameras installed on board. Ms. Deeble chose to ignore my letter just like she initially ignored Marianne's letter. Marianne started a petition to require P&O Ferries to install CCTV cameras on its passenger decks. The petition resonated with the public. To date, over 99,456 people have signed the petition while making insightful comments explaining why safety cameras are required. You can see the petition here.

The overboard crew member yesterday shows that little has changed with ferries in the U.K.  "We don't know where he is" is reflective of negligence, if not wanton indifference, particularly coming from a ferry called the "best ferry company."

Please take a moment, sign the petition and voice your concerns.

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Photo credit:Bottom photo credit: Canterbury Times 

Overboard From Navigator of the Seas

Navigator of the SeasI have received inquiries on Facebook for information regarding a person overboard from the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas who apparantly disappeared into the water late last night.

Passengers on the ship are stating that there was an "Oscar, Oscar, Oscar" (man overboard) announcement around 11:00 P.M. The cruise ship began a search. Lighted life preservers were thrown overboard. The Coast Guard was notified and a helicopter arrived on the scene after an hour and a half. Passengers commented that it was very dark and difficult circumstances to try and rescue anyone. 

The cruise ship has returned to port in Port Everglades without rescuing the overboard person or locating his or her body. It is currently unknown whether the person is a passenger or crew member.

Cruise lines may be unable to prevent overboards but there is technology available to automatically detect and quickly respond to these type of emergencies. Take a look at one such system which is readily available on the market. Unfortunately, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean seem to have invested only in virtual balconies, fast internet, the FlowRider and other bells and whistles designed to WOW the customers.

Photo Credit: Ahecht CC BY-SA 4.0, creatiive commons / wikimedia

March 6, 2016 Update: Royal Caribbean released the followings statement:

"On Friday, March 4, 2016, at approximately 10:55 p.m., a guest onboard Navigator of the Seas reported that they had witnessed another guest going overboard from their stateroom balcony. A review of the ship’s closed-circuit camera footage observed a 46-year-old male guest from the U.S. going overboard from deck 10. The location of the ship at the time the guest went overboard was marked on the ship’s Global Positioning System (GPS), and the ship, along with the Coast Guard, conducted a search for the missing guest. Early Saturday morning, the ship was advised by the Coast Guard that they would be assuming control of the search and the ship resumed its journey to Port Everglades, Florida. Royal Caribbean’s Care Team is providing support to the guest’s family and our thoughts and prayers are with them. Navigator of the Seas sailed a six-night itinerary that departed Port Everglades, on February 28, made a port calls to Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Labadee, Haiti." 

Recent Overboard Reveals Irresponsibility of Cruise Industry & Coast Guard

George Smith Cruise 48 HOURSThis weekend I watched the 48 HOURS' episode of the disappearance of Royal Caribbean cruise passenger George Smith from the Brilliance of the Seas in July 2005. 

There were no alarms that sounded when Mr. Smith was thrown over his balcony railing ten years ago. No signals were sent to the bridge alerting the navigational officers that a person had gone over the rails. Of course, Mr. Smith didn't fall into the water but landed onto an overhang over the lifeboats where he lay, bleeding, for some time. The cruise ship had a second opportunity to rescue him before he fell over the side and into the water. But there was absolutely nothing resembling an automatic man overboard system on the cruise ship in place.

The cruise ship plowed forward in the dark waters ignorant that a guest had disappeared in its wake. 

I reflected on the last ten years and asked myself whether cruise ships are any safer today. The answer seems to be no for many passengers and crew members.

This weekend a 27 year old Brazilian crew member, working on the Norwegian Sun as an entertainer, went overboard in the early morning hours in Alaska.  I was one of the first to write about it, after several crew members contacted me after hearing nothing about the troubling incident on the NCL cruise ship.

The Associated Press soon published a story. It included details which explained the time-line of events which, in my opinion, just added more disturbing facts to an already disturbing story. 

The crew member reportedly jumped, says NCL, at 4:16 A.M., however NCL didn't notify the Alaskan State Troopers of the overboard until after 5:00 P.M. - a delay of around thirteen (13) hours.  NCL explained that its ship security was notified around 2:00 P.M. of the missing crew member with the implication being that it didn't know what happened any earlier and that it had to literally rewind the surveillance film and see if any of the ship's cameras showed anyone going overboard. 

What kind of cruise ship can't figure out that a ship employee had gone overboard for 13 hours, an even longer delay than in George Smith disappearance case ten years earlier? 

The blame is on NCL, no doubt, for such an embarrassing display of incompetence. The victim's group, International Cruise Victims, which formed in January 2006 following the George Smith debacle, helped introduce legislation which led to the requirement of automatic man overboard system as part of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) of 2010. NCL obviously didn't have a functioning system on the Sun this weekend. 

But this is not just another story about the cruise industry ignoring the law. The U.S. Coast Guard is also at fault. The AP story said that the Coast Guard had abandoned the search within just five hours.

By the time that the AP had published its first first story on Friday evening, the Coast Guard search had already been over for 24 hours as 10 P.M. on Thursday. A five hour search?  The Coast Guard stopped searching before the public even knew that the crew member had gone overboard.

My law partner reminds me that the crew member was not going to survive 13 hours in the cold waters of Alaska, even in the summer months. But this is why cruise ships need a man overboard system in the first place. 

The Coast Guard has been working hand-in-hand with the cruise lines during the rules making procedures to water-down the automatic man overboard requirements that President Obama had signed into law in 2010. The Coast Guard and the cruise industry are bedfellows. They enjoy a cozy relationship where the senior Coast Guard officials view the cruise lines as a nice place to work for the big bucks after they retire from service. It's no coincidence that the new CEO of the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) is a former Coast Guard Rear Admiral.

The Coast Guard has discounted the IVC's comments and lets the cruise lines, like NCL, handle the man overboard issue as they see fit. So if the Sun didn't have the alarms, signals, radar and thermal detection technology needed to detect a man overboard at night, it's no big deal according to the Coast Guard.

Do U.S. citizens care if "foreign" crew members disappear at sea? One person leaving a comment to an article speculated that the Brazilian probably jumped in order to swim to shore in order to enter Norwegian Sunthe U.S., saying he's just "another illegal alien."

NCL issued its usual hollow press statement after the incident, saying that “our thoughts and prayers go out to the individual’s family during this difficult time.”

Surviving family members of both passengers and crew members don't want after-the-fact platitudes in a corporate press statement. They want the cruise lines to install state-of-the-art overboard systems and the Coast Guard to require them on all cruise ships.  

Photo Credit: CBS' 48 HOURS (top); Richard Martin via Flickr / Wikepedia Creative Commons 2.0 (bottom)

Celebrity Constellation Passenger Missing - Where's the Man Overboard System?

Constellation Cruise ShipKey West newspaper The Citizen reports that a passenger from a cruise ship sailing to Key West yesterday has disappeared from the ship.  

The newspaper writes that "the Coast Guard is continuing to search for a man who fell off a Celebrity cruise ship bound for Key West. The 66-year-old man was last spotted by a video camera aboard the Celebrity cruise ship Constellation at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday, 23 miles south of Summerland Key in the Atlantic Ocean, according to Coast Guard Lt. Peter Bermont."

The newspaper quotes the Coast Guard lieutenant stating that "we don't know the circumstance of how the man fell overboard. He was not on the vessel once it moored in Key West."

Coast Guard aircraft and vessels reportedly searched yesterday and today without success.  

This case is the latest situation where a cruise ship fails to have a automatic man overboard system (MOB) to detect persons going overboard and signal the bridge. Such systems are required by the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act.  There are many systems (motion detection, thermal imagery, etc.) which are reliable and currently available to the cruise industry. 

Earlier this month, a 22 year-old passenger disappeared from the Oasis of the Seas without Royal Caribbean knowing. To add to the cruise line's embarrassment, a passing Disney ship rescued the Royal Caribbean passenger, some five hours later.  

How long will the cruise lines refuse to invest in the MOB technology?  There's no other way for an officer on watch to spot an overboard passenger or crew member going into the water at night.

There have been others lost at sea under similar circumstances on the Constellation:

Crew Member Overboard From Celebrity Cruises' Constellation Cruise Ship.

Crew Member Goes Overboard from Celebrity Constellation Cruise Ship.

February 3 2015 Update: The Citizen newspapers says that the passenger was from Canada and fell from deck 11. There was apparently no signs of foul play.

February 4 2015 Update: News papers are identifying the missing passenger as "Carol Tremblay." Mr. Tremblay was identified in the KeyInfoNet which also quoted a Coast Guard saying  "this is a foreign-flagged ship with a foreign citizen aboard, so it's not really in the Coast Guard's purview to do much more at this point." Newspapers in Canada say that Mr. Tremblay had recently retired a trailer in Florida to enjoy his retirement.  

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Constellation Cruise Ship Bridge

Photo Credit:

Top: "Constellation" by Megadri licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom: "IMG CONSTBRG 4604" by Nad7080 licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

What's Worse? Royal Caribbean's Safety or Public Relations Department?

The bizarre story of the overboard Royal Caribbean passenger being rescued by the Disney Magic near Cozumel is still trending. 

Everyone who's cruised or is thinking of cruising has by now read at least one story about the 22 year-old passenger who fell off of the Oasis of the Seas and then was magically rescued by a Disney ship almost 5 hours later. 

The story was first published by a newspaper in Mexico and then translated and published here on Cruise Law News on January 9th. Dozens of publications and news networks have since covered the Royal Caribbean Man Overboardstory. 

Today the Wall Street Journal's Risk & Compliance Report published an article entitled Crisis of the Week: Royal Caribbean Goes Overboard by Ben DiPierto.

As DiPietro points out, it's bad enough that the cruise line lost another person overboard without even knowing it (a result I say of not investing in automatic man overboard technology required by the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act) but the Royal Caribbean passenger was rescued by competing cruise line Disney (which has installed the latest in MOB technology). We have reported on dozens of passengers and crew members who have disappeared on Royal Caribbean ships before, including the Oasis of the Seas, but Royal Caribbean seems more interested in filling its new so-called "smart" ships with gadgets to "wow" the passengers (like the simulated balconies, bumper cars, FlowRiders, rock walls and the North Star capsule) rather than investing in lifesaving personnel and technology.  

The man-overboard story represents the continuation of recent bad news for Royal Caribbean. The cruise line is still reeling from the recent horror story of a near drowning of a 4 year-old child in a life-guard-less pool on Oasis of the Seas on January 3rd. Disney not only has MOB lifesaving technology, but it is one of the few cruise lines with fully staffed lifeguards. Given it's refusal to staff its ships with lifeguards or implement MOB technology, Royal Caribbean is definitely 2 big steps behind Disney in safety. 

Plus, Royal Caribbean just weathered a highly publicized  sexual assault of a woman in her cabin by a mini-bar attendant with unsupervised access to a master key on the Quantum of the Seas on December 29th.  Women being assaulted by cabin attendants entering cabins via master keys has been a problem on Royal Caribbean ship for decades. 

Royal Caribbean appears clueless in handling the MOB public relations fall-out. The crisis management experts cited in DiPietro's article criticize the cruise line for lacking empathy and transparency in its response to this story which has rocketed across Facebook, Twitter, cable new and television. One expert in the Wall Street Journal article says “the company is lacking serious crisis management communications."

There is no doubt about that. But if the cruise line would install MOB devices, hire lifeguards and restrict cabin key-cards, Royal Caribbean wouldn't need to hire new PR people. 

 

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Photo Credit: DailyMail 

False Man Overboard Alarm on the Royal Princess

A passenger commented on Cruise Critic this morning that the Master of the Royal Princess cruise ship announced that a person had been reported overboard and the ship was going to take a head count of the passengers and crew.  

The cruise ship performed a partial Williamson maneuver (as shown on AIS systems) and also deployed a rescue boat.

The passenger commented later that all that was found was a fishing marker. "Nobody missing from our crew and pax, so we've been given the all clear!" 

Royal PrincessThe ship was heading to New York.

It always good news when a man overboard turns out to be false.

But false positives are one of the reasons that the cruise industry claims that automatic man overboard systems (required long ago by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act) haven't been installed. The cruise lines claim (falsely I believe) that the man overboard systems are not reliable and can be triggered by birds or debris. The cruise industry says that it doesn't install man overboard systems because it would be too expensive to turn the ship around and deploy rescue craft if the automatic system malfunctioned. 

In my opinion lives are being lost because of the cruise lines refuse to comply with the law. It's excuse that responding to false man overboard alarms is too high is bogus. The cruise industry is already responding to false reports.  

This is the second man overboard report in less than two weeks.  We most recently reported on a false report on the Pacific Pearl on September 14th.  

There will be some false reports with both the automatic systems and with no automatic systems. There is no justification to ever say that it's just too expensive to invest money into saving lives. The cruise industry collects $40,000,000,000 a year and pays no taxes. Its CEO's make tens of millions of dollars. Its greed is endless.  

Automatic systems, even if not 100% perfect, are a far cry better than no automatic system on a cruise ship when a passenger or crew member goes overboard and disappears into the dark waters as the cruise ship continues to sail on.    

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Aztec06

Person Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas?

Cruise Law News has been told that a person allegedly went overboard from the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas as the cruise ship was returning from Bermuda to Baltimore earlier this week. 

The incident reportedly occurred around 3:00 AM late Wednesday night / early Thursday morning, August 7th.

According to a person on the cruise ship who wishes to remain anonymous, a state room attendant found a note when he entered the cabin on Thursday. The ship was searched, the CCTV Grandeur of the Seas cameras reviewed, and the overboard was eventually discovered.

The passenger was reportedly a U.S. citizen, 70 years old and traveling alone. The missing person alert was raised 12 hours or so after the overboard (from the CCTV review).

The cruise ship continued on to Baltimore. It didn't go back. There appears to be no search.

If this information is accurate, it appears that the incident may have involved a suicide. However, it also illustrates that the cruise line has still not installed automatic man overboard systems as required by the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010. The cruise safety law requires such technology regardless of whether the passenger or crew member intentionally jumped, accidentally went overboard, or was thrown into the ocean. 

There are lots of questions which remain unanswered. Did the captain of the cruise ship make any announcements?  Why didn't the ship turn around much earlier and conduct a search? Did the cruise ship notify the U.S. Coast Guard?

We have written about people going overboard from the Grandeur before.  

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein have documented 235 people (in addition to this one) going overboard from cruise ships since 2000. 

Are there passenger or crew members who have additional information to share?

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

August 10 2014 Update: This is the second overboard passenger from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in the last two months who was not reported in the press or discussed in social media. Three weeks ago, we reported on a passenger who went overboard from the Splendor of the Seas. Fortunately the cruise line personnel quickly rescued him. You can read about that incident here

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Citking

Royal Caribbean's Misplaced Priorities: Fast Internet, Virtual Balconies But No Automatic Man-Overboard Systems

Today I read an article by a popular cruise blogger that Royal Caribbean was on track to deliver a fast land-based internet experience to its guests.

The article went on to say that "cruise lines are working overtime, trying to enable passenger use of their electronic devices at sea just as they might at home."

I suppose this is of some interest to the cruising public, knowing that they can surf the internet on the high seas just as fast as they can at home.

Virtual Balcony Another article which caught my eye was in Wired magazine entitled "Cruise Ship’s 80-Inch ‘Virtual Balconies’ Livestream the High Seas." 

The article explains that on Royal Caribbean' Navigator of the Seas, the cruise line has installed, in 81 interior staterooms, floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall screens which display a live feed of the bow and stern video cameras. Those passengers "stuck" in interior, view-less cabins will be able to enjoy clear, beautiful images of the Caribbean waters.

The article explains that the high-tech video gear is marine compliant and can handle all of the sun, heat, salt, and water "that comes with being at sea." Further, "fiber-optic cable carries the video to a server, then to a set-top box that decodes and processes the video before it’s displayed on the screen." 

Consultants from MIT and Harvard were involved in the project in order to bring the best technology to the cruise ship. 

All of this technology is coming from the cruise line which prides itself in "Delivering the Wow!" to its guests. When it comes to designing cruise ships which incorporate the newest entertainment gadgets for its passengers to enjoy, Royal Caribbean is the best. This is the cruise line which will introduce the Quantum of the Seas later this year, filled with all types of technological marvels like simulated sky-diving and a gee-whiz" Jetson-family-like futuristic mechanical arm that magically transports passengers high above the ocean in a glass capsule called the "North Star."

But one thing which the Quantum of the Seas will be lacking is an automatic man-overboard (MOB) system which will signal the bridge when a passenger or crew member goes over the rails and into the sea. Such devices were required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act. But Royal Caribbean, like most cruise lines, has not bothered to install such systems onto its fleet of cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean has experienced the most passengers and crew going overboard in the last two months. In all cases there is no mention of the required MOB systems. In some cases its does not even appear that the ships were even equipped with a sufficient number of surveillance systems to determine how and why the guest or employee disappeared from the ship.

The cruise industry claims that technology doesn't exist to detect when people go overboard. Cruise lines also claim that salt deposits from the sea spray can obscure the view of the MOB cameras.

North StarWhen it comes to why it has not complied with the life-saving safety law, Royal Caribbean has a boat load of excuses. It is still using old school, outdated technology. It can't even figure out how to keep an exterior camera clean.

But when it comes to the technology for its gadgets like cameras for its live-streaming, virtual balconies, it involved experts from MIT and Harvard to design the best cameras for the marine environment.    

The difference is that Royal Caribbean can generate significant profits by selling higher speed internet and charging more for an interior cabin if it has a virtual balcony. Royal Caribbean will charge a premium fare for the Quantum of the Seas with its "North Star" ride in the sky.  

But a CVSSA-compliant MOB system creates more costs and no profits. You will hear nothing about Royal Caribbean involving experts from MIT and Harvard to create "gee-whiz" safety devices. Yes, crew members and passengers will continue to disappear at sea but, in the cruise line's view, they are both easily replaceable.

 

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean / Royal Caribbean via Wired

Disappearance of Richard Fearnside, Missing P&O Ferries Passenger, Featured on U.K. Television

Richard Fearnside Missing at SeaITV television broadcast this video to a nationwide audience in the U.K. yesterday about the plight of the Fearnside family who lost their son, Richard (photo left), at sea from a ferry, the Pride of Kent.

The ferry is operated by P&O Ferries. The ferry line does not have any automatic man overboard systems or even surveillance cameras on its ferries.

In the U.S., virtually all cruise lines have many hundreds of surveillance cameras throughout their cruise ships. Some U.S. based cruise lines (but not many) also have automatic man overboard systems which send an alarm to the bridge when passengers or crew members go overboard.

I sent an open letter to P&O Ferries CEO, Helen Deeble (photo below right), which she ignored. 

It is amazing to me that P&O does not have such basic safety systems in place.

Helen Deeble P&O responded to the ITV program by saying that it is not required by law to install even a single camera on its ships. P&O has chosen to install cameras only in its duty free. Jewelry and alcohol  appear to be more precious to P&O than its customers.

Watch the video about the Fearnside - P&O Ferries dispute here.

Richard's mother, Marianne, started a petition to require P&O to install CCTV cameras on its ferries. Over 91,000 people have signed it so far. The petition is addressed to Ms.Deeble.

Click on the petition here and please sign it. You will have an opportunity to the reasons why cameras should be installed on the P&O ships.

ABC 20/20 Program "Controversy Around Man Overboard Systems"

Last night, ABC 20/20 aired a program about the controversy surrounding the cruise industry's refusal to install automatic man overboard systems.

There is no question that the systems exist and can be installed. However, the cruise industry refuses to do so. (Disney says that its cruise ships have the technology). But it's clear that Carnival and its brands (HAL, Princess for example) don't. 

The cruise industry has endless excuses why it has still not complied with the law enacted 4 years ago. It says that a bird or debris in the air can set the alarms off. The lawyer for the cruise lines in the 20/20 program says that the cruise lines have not "perfected" an automatic system yet. But there is no requirement for a "perfect" system. As matters exist now, the cruise lines have no system at all, in violation of the law.

The cruise lines' approach is to attack the victims. The cruise defense lawyer attacks the dead and injured saying: “I call it 'sail and sue.' We deal with it all the time.”  You can read my response here

I will admit that many people I have spoken to don't seem to care much about the fact that Carnival has no automatic system in place. Most blame the passenger for being intoxicated and are quick to insult her. That's what Carnival and the other non-compliant cruise lines are counting on.

It's a rather amazing phenomenon to see a non-tax paying foreign corporation which collects over $15 billion a year, from tax-paying U.S. citizens, and makes hundreds of millions of dollars pushing alcohol sales, blatantly ignore the law requiring overboard systems, and then shift 100% of the blame on to the passenger who got drunk on the Carnival booze. 

 


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ABC 20/20 Tonight: "Woman's Terrifying Fall From Cruise Ship Caught on Tape"

Cruise Ship CameraTonight ABC's 20/20 will take a look at the case of a cruise passenger who fell from her balcony, struck a lifeboat below her, and then plunged into the water.

Although her fall was captured on the cruise ship's surveillance cameras, the ship sailed on. That's because Carnival did not have an automatic man overboard system in place to notify the bridge that a person went overboard.

The camera which recorded the passenger going overboard was not monitored by a cruise ship employee, nor was it tied to an alarm system of any type. 

It took an hour and one-half for the cruise line to figure out what happened and turn around and rescue the young woman.  The fact that she was still alive is a miracle.

I do not represent this woman although I was interviewed during the program, which you can see a portion of from this morning's Good Morning America program. 

Some people may say that it was the woman's fault for drinking too much and she's to blame for falling overboard. A jury can apportion fault to both the passenger and the cruise line. Cruise lines in our jurisdiction have legal liability when they over-serve alcohol to passengers. Selling booze is a major money maker for cruise lines. Cruise lines don't make money selling cruise tickets. The big money comes from "onboard purchases," like excursions, gift shop purchases, casino gambling and, number one profit center, pushing alcohol sales.

But the story is not just about who's to blame for the alcohol and the fall overboard.

Jim Walker Cruise Ship Man OverboardIn 2010, Congress passed a law requiring that cruise lines install man overboard technology. The cruise lines have come up with a boat load of excuses why they have not complied with the law, like the technology doesn't exist, or it's inaccurate and unreliable, or its just too expensive.

But there is no question the technology exists. My belief is that the cruise lines simply don't want to spend the money.

The systems are required irrespective of why a person goes overboard.  If they are drunk, or acting irresponsibly, or they fall by accident, or they want to commit suicide, or they are thrown overboard, it doesn't matter. The cruise lines must have the systems in place.

The vast majority of cruise ships don't.  

They would rather keep the money and accuse the passengers of being drunk on the alcohol the cruise ship sold.

Delays in promptly reporting overboard passengers to the U.S. Coast Guard causes the rescue to encompass massive areas of the ocean. This costs the Coast Guard a lot of money, sometimes $1,000,000 in unnecessary costs for helicopters, aircraft and cutters. Who pays for that? Not the cruise lines. They don't even pay any U.S. taxes. U.S. taxpayers do!

The 20/20 program airs tonight at 10:00 PM EST.

Have a thought?  Leave a comment below, or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

"Sail & Sue" - Cruise Lines' Response to Dead Overboard Passengers and Crew is Cruel

There have been 5 persons overboard in the past 3 weeks. 

There will be many more this year.

None of the cruise lines involved in the overboard cases -  Royal Caribbean, Holland America Line & Princess - have installed automatic man overboard systems.

So a passenger disappears at sea. "A mystery," the cruise line says. "Not our problem." A crew member jumps overboard. "Suicide by sea," says the cruise line. "Not out fault." And the beat goes on. 

Cruise Ship Overboard Passengers The cruise lines don't seem too concerned about people disappearing on the high seas. 

Congress passed a law a couple of years ago, requiring automatic man overboard systems. It doesn't matter whether the person jumped, or slipped, or was drunk, or was engaged in horse-play, or was thrown overboard. The cruise lines have not complied with the cruise safety law. 

California lawyer Larry Kaye, the go-to lawyer for the cruise lines' trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), tells ABC News “These detection systems are not perfected yet."  (Mr. Kaye previously appeared on the cruise lines' behalf before Congress to argue that cruise lines should not be forced to turn over crime data to the American public).

Of course, the cruise safety law does not require a "perfect" man overboard system, only one that "reasonably" complies with the law.

The non-tax paying cruise industry's excuses are endless. "There is no technology available, or the systems are not reliable, or the systems are too expensive," the cruise lines say. The cruise lines' excuses are as seemingly endless as the billions of tax-free money collected each year by the cruise lines from tax paying Americas who take their families on cruises offered by these unlawful cruise lines.

ABC News will be airing a special tomorrow night on passengers going overboard. You will learn that the cruise industry has not installed the man overboard system. When a person falls into the sea, if they are not immediately spotted, the cruise ships sail on. The cruise lines have a million reasons why they have not complied with the law. 

Cruise lawyer Kaye has an answer for what the cruise lines view as a problem of people disappearing on cruise vacations.

“I call it 'sail and sue.' We deal with it all the time,” Kaye tells ABC News. “I think cruise ships are probably the safest vacation option available to most people."

That's what Kaye is paid to say.

For the families of passengers who have gone overboard under mysterious circumstances, or a crew member who decides to end his  life going over the rail, the "sail and sue" accusation is the final indignity. None of the last 5 cruise overboard victims have filed a lawsuit nor will they. 

I suppose that's impossible, isn't it? They are dead after all.

Cruise industry lawyer Kaye's vulgar comments are highly offensive to families grieving the loss of their loved ones.

Kaye's comments perfectly reflect the cruise industry's attitude to passengers and crew lost at sea. 

 

Photo Credit: ABC News

Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report Reveals Cruise Industry Failed to Implement Key Provisions of Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act (CVSSA) of 2010

Adventure of the SeasThe Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report regarding whether the cruise industry has implemented the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) of 2010. 

I have pointed out that the last several man overboard cases indicate that the cruise industry refuses to install the necessary man overboard technology. It's disgraceful that this is the situation in 2014.  

The GAO report indicates the cruise lines have still failed to implement four key provisions of the CVSSA:

  • (1) man overboard technology, which detects and alerts the crew to a person falling overboard;
  • (2) video recording requirements, which are to assist in documenting crimes on the vessel and in providing evidence for the prosecution of such crimes;
  • (3) acoustical hailing and warning devices, which provide communication capability around a vessel operating in high-risk waters; and
  • (4) certification of training providers that teach the CVSSA training course on crime prevention, detection, evidence preservation, and reporting.

The GAO report states that five companies have indicated that they have effective man overboard technology in order for the cruise lines to comply with the CVSSA. 

However, the cruise lines and its trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), claim that the man overboard technology does not exist. CLIA further informed the GAO that that man overboard technology is not reliable because of the movement of the ship, weather, sun glare, and "lens encrustation caused by saltwater." 

These seems like flimsy excuses to me.  We reported before on systems that exist and are readily Man Overboardavailable. Read here and here. If salt water on the lens of a camera is really a problem, then have a crew member wipe it off! 

The GAO met with five cruise lines about the non-compliance issue. Four of the five cruise lines claim that they are testing different technologies on their ships. One of the lines, which the GAO report did not identify, is not even bothering to conduct any testing. 

Some of the cruise lines complained about false readings. One unidentified cruise line representative complained that a false positive "could result in increased operational costs such as conducting unnecessary searches or disrupting an itinerary."

This cruise line argued that if the "technology failed to detect a passenger who had gone overboard, and as a result the vessel failed to conduct a search for that person, this type of error could expose the cruise line to costly litigation."

The cruise lines all complained about having to "invest significant amounts of money in man overboard technology." 

In my assessment, it seems like the cruise lines are more interested in avoiding costs rather than saving lives. 

The cruise industry's excuses are simply amazing. As matters now stand, there are no man overboard readings at all. Both passengers and crew members continue to go overboard undetected in most cases. This causes long delays before the Coast Guard is notified and vastly increases the area the Coast Guard helicopters and airplanes have to search. Some delayed searches cost the Coast Guard a million dollars.  Who pays for these costs? U.S. taxpayers, not the foreign flagged cruise lines which do not even pay any federal income taxes anyway.   

One other interesting issue which the GAO report revealed is that the cruise lines expressed frustration with the delay of the Coast Guard in making recommendations about suitable overboard systems and not communicating with the cruise lines. 

However, the cruise lines are not required to wait for the Coast Guard to design the systems for them. Our federal government may be skilled in quickly medevacing ill passengers on the high seas, but it is dreadfully slow in passing maritime laws that affect the cruise lines and enforcing them. The cruise industry has been in violation of the law for years. Blaming the Coast Guard is not an excuse.  

My recommendation for compelling the cruise lines to install the required systems is to make it in their best economic interests to do so.

All cruise lines not compliant with the CVSSA should to be 100% responsible for all Coast Guard costs when the cruise lines waste hours before notifying them of a person who has gone overboard. Installing a system which saves human lives is far more important than a $35 billion non-tax-paying foreign industry avoiding costs associated with a false positive once in a while. It's also far cheaper to U.S. taxpayers than having, as matter now stand, no system at all. 

 

Art Credit: CruelKev2's blog

Photo: ABC News

Cruise Critic's Man Overboard Article Misses the Boat

Yesterday the on-line cruise community Cruise Critic published an article "Man Overboards: Questions and Answers."

We previously criticized Cruise Critic after it deleted comments from its message boards about the passenger who recently went overboard from the HAL Veendam. We have also been critical of the cruise lines for not investing in installing the man overboard systems

The man overboard systems came to the public's attention because a non-profit victim's group, the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization, lobbied Congress to require the installation of these systems. The cruise industry vigorously fought against the requirement. Cruise lines argued that the systems were not needed.

The ICV attended a series of hearings before the Senate and the House Cruise Criticfrom 2005 through 2009 culminating in the passage of the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act (CVSSA) of 2010. This law required all cruise ships, effective January 2012, to install detection systems which immediately notify the bridge when a person goes overboard. 

Regarding its article yesterday, Cruise Critic did not interview anyone at the ICV, or independent expert engineers, or the companies which have developed man overboard systems. or Coast Guard officials, or any critics of the cruise industry.

Instead, Cruise Critic interviewed only one cruise line, Carnival, and the cruise industry's trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA).  Cruise Critic did not even mention the CVSSA in the article.

The bottom line is that the cruise industry is in violation of the CVSSA. It has broken the law, and continues to break the law every time a cruise ship - without a man overboard system - sails. Cruise Critic interviewed only the law-breaking cruise industry. Unfortunately, this is the style of the Expedia-owned, cruise friendly cruise site.

In Cruise Critic's article, the cruise industry claims that man overboard systems are not reliable and that the cruise lines are working hard to develop a system. Hogwash. The technology is available, reliable and ready to be installed. The cruise industry is just dragging its feet  

Carnival says that it has been trying to development a system since 2006. That seems like nonsense too.  In 2006, Carnival and CLIA were doing everything possible to convince Congress that the systems were not necessary. They were busy then spending millions lobbying Congress to kill the man overboard legislation, not to develop a man overboard system.   

Cruise Critic also gives an explanation why its doesn't "cover" all cases of overboard passengers. I could care less whether it does or not.  But we were not talking about articles, but comments left by cruisers. I was critical of Cruise Critic's decision to censor its message boards and to delete the innocuous comments of its members who decided to mention the overboard case which the cruise line wanted to keep secret.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Image Credit: gCaptain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Ivan T.

Ominous End of 2013 & Beginning of 2014 for Cruise Industry

I returned from a New Year's party last night feeling euphoric to be with my family at the start of 2014. Before heading to sleep, I turned on my laptop and clicked on Google news, only to read the dreadful account of a cruise passenger disappearing from the Independence of the Seas.  

This is the third case of a passengers going overboard from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in just 11 days. First, an overboard passenger from the Rhapsody of the Seas in Australia, then an overboard from the Adventure of the Seas heading to San Juan, and now a disappearance from the Independence of the Seas sailing to the Caymans.

Royal Caribbean says the latest disappearance, like the first, is a mystery. Why the mystery? Because Cruise Line Omenthe cruise line did not bother to install a man overboard system on its cruise ships. Royal Caribbean's CCTV cameras (which are not monitored by the cruise line anyway) did not record what happened either, at least that is what the cruise line is saying. 

So we begin 2014 like we have begun decades of other New Years, with cruise ship passengers disappearing without a trace on the high seas. The families of the missing are left with trying to figure out why their spouse or children went overboard. All the cruise ships have extensive surveillance systems in their casinos because the cruise lines value their casino chips and don't want their money to disappear. You can't say that about their guests.

In 2010, President Obama signed the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act (CVSSA) into law. It required, among other things, that cruise ships be equipped with automatic man overboard systems to capture images of overboard persons and/or send an automatic alarm signal to the bridge. This system has been extensively discussed and debated before our U.S. Congress and was enacted into law to become effective on January 1, 2012. 

The purpose of the legislation was to require the cruise lines to implement systems to automatically detect when a person goes overboard so that immediate search and rescue efforts could save lives, regardless of whether the person going overboard was the result of an accident, negligence, intoxication, foul-play or a suicide.

But Royal Caribbean has refused to implement any type of system. There are all types of apologists for the cruise lines out there, like the cruise industry's trade organization the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).  "The technology doesn't exist" (a lie) is one excuse. "We are working on it" is another excuse, from the cruise industry's gigantic book of endless excuses.

But at least one cruise line, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), has installed such systems successfully.

2014 could have started with a happy story of a successful rescue of the passenger from the Independence of the Seas due to Royal Caribbean's installation of an automatic man overboard system. But instead we start the year where we began it. It's business-a- usual with the cruise lines just shrugging off the latest death as a mystery. 18 people have gone overboard last year.  The number will only increase and the mysteries will continue as the cruise industry continues to violate the CVSSA. 

There are other ominous developments indicating that the disastrous effects of last year will continue into 2014. 

Two days ago we mentioned an explosion which seriously injured 3 crew members on the MSC Orchestra. We also reported on a passengers alleging that another MSC cruise ship was throwing bags of garbage off the ship at night into the waters near a marine sanctuary off the coast of Brazil. He video-taped the dumping. For an industry which promotes itself as stewards of the environment and the safest form of transportation, these events showed that things are not as the cruise lines want you to believe. The stories should have been extensively reported and discussed within the cruise and maritime communities.

But in truth, the community of cruise fans, travel agents, cruise-friendly bloggers and the cruise industry public relations departments don't want these type of negative stories revealed to the public. It's bad for business. None of what I consider to be the top cruise bloggers would publish these stories. 

The end of this year also saw evidence that Carnival knew that it had major problems with the engine systems on the Triumph and other ships, but it sailed nonetheless at great risk to its customers. Many cruise bloggers and travel writers instinctively rallied behind the cruise industry although the evidence of Carnival's guilt was overwhelming.

I wish that I felt optimistic about what lies ahead for the cruising public this year. But the cruise lines are showing signs that they have not learned a whole lot from the sad events of 2013. The recent stories are omens of more bad things ahead for the cruise lines.     

   

Definition of "ominous:" Suggesting that something bad is going to happen in the future; being or exhibiting an omen; foreboding or foreshadowing evil. 

Have the cruise lines learned anything from 2013? Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Man Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas

We have been notified from readers of Cruise Law News that a passenger has gone overboard from the Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas.

The cruise ship was reportedly 550 kilometres east of Brisbane on a trip from Sydney to the South Pacific.

The P&O's Pacific Pearl cruise ship was involved in the recovery of the body.

We have reported often that cruise ships do not have automatic man-overboard alarms to detect passengers and crew who go overboard.

If this case, according to the local press, the man was seen falling into the sea around 2:00 AM, but he was not rescued. The cruise line claims that crew members "immediately threw life rings and marker smoke into the water, turned the ship around and launched rescue boats," but this has not been verified by a passenger on board.  

We have not yet received details from any passengers regarding exactly what happened or how the cruise ship responded.

His body was located approximately 7 and one-half hours later, at 9:30 AM. 

If you have information, photographs or video regarding this incident, please contact us.

Photos Credit: Wikipedia / Lisa LushRhapsody of the Seas