MSC Cruises Reportedly Rehires Cabin Attendant Who Molested 10 Year Old Boy

MSC OrchestraThe German newspaper, Bild, recently published a blockbuster article tilted Child Molester on Dream Boat which reports that MSC Cruises rehired a crew member who had been accused of sexually molesting a ten year old child. MSC is accused of flying the crew member back to India rather than turning him over to law enforcement.

The newspaper states that the sexual molestation occurred in 2015 on the MSC Orchestra. The 45 year old cabin attendant is alleged to have sexually abused a 10 year old boy traveling with his German parents on the MSC cruise ship during a Baltic cruise. The minor's parents were reportedly at a performance in the ship's theater when the Indian crew member entered the cabin "supposedly to change towels." 

Another German newspaper, the Berliner Kurier, reported that the steward tried to entertain the boy by folding towel animals before pulling the child's pants down. The cabin attendant told the child not to tell his parents anything. However, after his parents return to the stateroom the boy told them what happen and they immediately reported the assault to the ship’s captain.

But after the cruise ended in Tallinn, the cabin attendant was not arrested but instead, on the same day, was flown at MSC's expense back to India.

The newspapers state that, a few months later, MSC rehired the steward, but he was subsequently arrested on a European criminal warrant in May 2017 when the MSC cruise ship called on Dubrovnik, Croatia.

The judge sentenced the MSC crew member to 22 months imprison, and added that “I find it strange that the cruise company rehires someone who is accused of sexual abuse to MSC Cruises Sexual Crimea child . . . " 

The popular Crew Center website asked these basic questions:

  • Why did the captain not hand over the crew member immediately to the police authorities in Estonia, instead of sending him to India?
  • Does the company check the records before rehiring a crew member?

Berliner Kurier reported that its editorial staff asked MSC to explain why the captain did not hand over the crew member immediately to the Estonian police instead of flying its employee out of the jurisdiction. MSC refused to comment.  

We have also asked for a statement from MSC which has not responded to date. 

This case follows a pattern which we have discussed many times, where parents leave their children in what they believe is the security of their cabin to attend a dinner or show, and a cabin attendant enters the cabin during their absence. Sexual assaults by cabin attendants in staterooms are the most frequent type of shipboard sexual crimes on cruises, in our opinion. And it's not uncommon for cruise lines to immediately fly their employees accused of such crimes back to their home country like this, as this infamous case clearly reveals.     

The crew member reportedly worked for MSC as a cabin attendant for 13 years. The question arises how many other times this pedophile abused children in this manner. 

This summer, NBC News aired a special program regarding Hidden Dangers for Children on Cruise Ships. Earlier this month, we reported on the arrest of a U.S. passenger, age 30, who is accused of raping a 15 year old boy on a NCL cruise ship.  

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

Photo credit:Top - MSC Orchestra in Tallinn - Bin im Garten, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia; bottom - Bild.

Lawsuit: MSC Crew Member Sexually Assaults 12 Year Old Child

MSC DivinaA lawsuit filed suit last week against MSC Cruises (USA) Inc., and MSC Crociere SA, alleges that a MSC crew member, identified as Rudy Samuel Santos Hernandez, sexually assaulted and battered a 12-year-old child on the MSC cruise ship.

According to the Florida Record, which reports on filing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the lawsuit against MSC and its crew member alleges:

"that on Feb. 14, 2016, [plaintiff] and his 12-year-old granddaughter were aboard MSC Cruises for a seven-night Caribbean cruise. Defendant Hernandez allegedly took advantage of the situation as he observed the minor enter the empty cabin, which she shared with her grandfather, legal guardian and plaintiff."

According to the lawsuit, the crew member used his service key to "enter the room where he sexually assaulted and physically battered the minor." The incident is alleged to have occurred aboard the MSC Divina.

The family is represented by Jason Margulies and Carol Finklehoffe here in Miami.

Sexual crimes against children on cruises are hardly rare. I have written about it here many times. 

Over six years ago, I wrote:

"The number one crime we see on cruise ships is when the parents stay out late at the disco or casino, and they leave their 12 year old son or 14 year old daughter alone in the cabin. Many kids get tired after a fun day at the pool or after an excursion ashore, and they don't want to go to the second seating at dinner. There are far too many cases where the cabin attendants will use their key card to access the cabin when the parents are away."

We have recommended that the cruise lines deactivate the key cards of crew members after hours so they can't use them to get into the passenger cabins, using female cabin attendants rather than 25 year old males, or assigning supervisors to monitor the passenger cabins. Most cruise lines have ignored these recommendations.

Cruise lines like MSC Cruises typically do not perform independent background checks on their housekeeping and wait staff before they are hired. Read: Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships

Photo credit: By Mllturro - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Excursion Bus with Passengers from MSC Orchestra Crashes in Dominica

Excursion Bus in DominicaA newspaper in Dominica reports that an excursion bus taking passengers from a MSC cruise ship to a tourist attraction crashed today in Dominica.

An infant reportedly died in the accident, according to the online newspaper in Dominica. 

The bus was heading on an excursion to Trafalgar Falls.

The newspaper says that five people have been taken to the Princess Margaret Hospital. MSC Cruises indicates in a statement (below) that seven passenger were injured.

The MSC cruise ship is the Orchestra. The cruise line says that the passenger had "independently booked through a third party."

There have been a number of deadly bus excursion accidents involving cruise passengers.

Most recently an excursion bus was struck by a truck as the Royal Caribbean excursion was returning to the Freedom of the Seas in Falmouth, Jamaica, resulting in one death and multiple serious injuries.

Prior to that accident, two passengers from the Celebrity Summit were killed in Tortola, British West Indies when the excursion bus apparently lost control near "Round Hill" on the Cane Garden Bay Hill.
The cruise line earlier tweeted that "16 of 20 passengers reported injured, 2 critically."

In 2010, an excursion bus carrying Princess cruise passengers crashed in Tortola, killing one young man.

Cruise passengers from the Celebrity Summit cruise ship were seriously injured in an excursion vehicle mishap in the Caribbean islands. In 2009, a dozen passengers from the Summit were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica. We represented passengers against the cruise line and the excursion company in that accident. You can read information about the Dominica excursion accident in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."

There were two cruise excursion bus crashes in 2012 in Caribbean islands, both involving Royal Caribbean passengers.

Photo Credit: dominicanewsonline

MSC statement:

"It is with deep sadness that MSC Cruises confirms that a tragic accident involving seven of its guests happened earlier today at approximately 11 AM, local time, in Trafalgar on the Caribbean island of Dominica.

The seven guests involved in the accident were five Italian and two Brazilian nationals. They were on their way to a on shore visit which they had independently booked through a third party.

Immediately after the accident, the guests were transported to the nearby Queen Margaret Hospital in Trafalgar and a support team from the ship has since arrived to the hospital to assist them in every way they can.

Simultaneously, MSC Cruises’ crisis team was activated and has already contacted all the families and relatives of the guests involved in the accident.

The guests were all aboard MSC Orchestra which was calling at Roseau, Dominica, for the day.

Since then, we are glad to report that two Italian and two Brazilian nationals are safely either already back on board or on their way. Regarding the young boy and his family, his parents are out of harm’s way but still at the hospital. I am unfortunately not at liberty to disclose the condition of the young boy, since the relevant authorities have yet to make a formal assessment. Having said this, I have also been reading that he has passed and we are led to believe that this is sadly the case."

Brazil Fines MSC Cruises R$2,505,000 for Dumping Bags of Garbage

The Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente E Dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) (IBAMA) levied a fine of R$ 2.505 million against MSC Cruises.

Based on today's exchange rate, the fine is approximately $635,545 in U.S. dollars.

IBAMA said that MSC Cruises released garbage into the sea during a cruise between Madeira Island and MSC Garbage Dumpingthe Port of Recife.

The complaint of the environmental crime was made by one of the ship's passengers who was on board the MSC ship during a cruise between November 26 to December 10, 2013.

I previously wrote about the crime in an article dated December 2013 titled Video: MSC Cruise Ship Dumps Garbage Bags Off Coast of Brazil.

I later posted an article and showed videos of the illegal dumping from the Magnifica sent to me by a crew member on the MSC cruise ship.

It appears that the fine was issued in 2014 after IBAMA viewed video and photographs and listened to testimony, but the fine was not immediately disclosed to the public.

You can see photographs of the dumping here

MSC later touted itself an a steward of the seas.

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

  

  

 

British Police Arrest MSC Cruises Crew Member for Child Porn

According to the  Yorkshire Evening Post, West Yorkshire Police officers arrested a crew member on a Southampton-based cruise ship for possession of a vast amount of child pornography.

The newspaper article identifies the crew member as Howard Ellis, age 60. He reportedly worked as a musician on a cruise ship. The police arrested him when his ship came returned to the port at Southampton. 

The police seized "three lap top computers, four hard drives and a mobile phone" which reportedly contained 625 images and movies of children, some as young as seven years old, being Howard Ellissexually abused.

The article does not identify the name of the cruise line, however Mr. Ellis' website states that he has worked as a musician for MSC Cruises for the last two years. 

What's particularly disturbing is that this is not Mr. Ellis' first conviction for child pornography. The newspaper article indicates that he has two previous convictions for downloading abusive images of children in January and March 2010 and was sentenced to 18 months in jail. 

His resume indicates that he has worked as an entertainer in the cruise industry for the better part of two decades. He worked for Carnival from 1994 to 2004; Royal Caribbean from 2005 to 2006; P&O Cruises from 2006 to 2009; and DFDS Seaways (a ferry line) from 2009 to 2010.

Although Mr. Ellis was the "subject of a community order and a sexual offences prevention order," after his 2010 convictions, MSC Cruises hired him after he served his jail sentence.  It's a pity that MSC doesn't have adequate vetting procedures to screen a pervert like this from its cruise ships.

You can read about the problem of child porn on cruise ships below:

Perverts, Child Predators and Cruise Ships

Celebrity Cruises Crew Member Arrested on Child Porn Charges

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

Photo Credit: Musicians Page

Crime, Crew Member Treatment & Environmental Practices - Not "Wow" Gadgets - Will Shape the Millennials' View of Cruising in the Future

This week I have read a couple of articles about the Cruise Lines International Association's (CLIA) "Cruise 3 Sixty" conference in Fort Lauderdale. I read an article in the Sun Sentinel (Cruise Execs Talk About Industry's Future) and an article in Travel Weekly (CEOs Say Cruise Lines Must Wow Travelers).

CLIA's Christine Duffy moderated the conference attended by the travel agent loyals. She discussed the future of cruising with the executives of the major cruise lines like Richard Fain (Royal Caribbean), Arnold Donald (Carnival), Kevin Sheehan (NCL) and Pierfrancesco Vaga (MSC Cruises).

"The Millennials"

To attract more first-time cruisers, CLIA is targeting the "Millennials" (consumers born between 1980 & Millennials2000).  

The Sun Sentinel quotes Ms. Duffy saying: "This demographic group offers a window into the next generation of travelers and provides opportunity for serious growth. They have a strong desire to travel and to share experiences."

In simple terms Ms. Duffy is talking about the next generation of young people from age 14 to 34 (like my children and nieces) who CLIA is targeting as the next wave of 25 to 55 year-old cruisers. 

Who are these "Millennials?" What will they be interested in for their vacations?

Selling cruises to the the "Millennials" will not be an easy task. 

First, they are poorer than prior generations. They have more debt and student loans. And it won't be difficult to sell them cruises just because they will have lower incomes and less wealth. It's because there will be a disconnect between what the Millennials are interested in and what the cruise lines are offering, and because the Millennials will have a greater social consciousness than the current cruisers.  

Wow Gadgets Won't Wow the Millennials

The articles report that the cruise industry is trying to attract more first time cruisers by offering the public "more innovative ships with 'wow' features."

A recent publication correctly called the Millennials "digital wizards." Like my kids, they have grown up with high tech gaming toys seemingly before they could walk or talk. I don't see the Millennials being impressed by the "gee-whizz" and so-called "wow" gadgets being touted by Royal Caribbean (virtual balconies & the "North Star" device) or Princess (the "SeaWalk"). The Millennials are smart and their taste for technology is sophisticated. My kids have been mastering Apple products for 15 years. They Royal Caribbean Bumper Carsare not easily impressed with what I or the 60 and 70 year old cruise executives think are "cool." 

Some of the new attractions touted by the cruise lines are hardly wow gadgets in the first place. The bumper cars projected to appear on Royal Caribbean's next ship are a silly, old-school idea.  The Travel Weekly article even talks about "bowling alleys and self-leveling pool tables" and quotes Royal Caribbean's Chairman Richard Fain saying: "All of that conveys what cruising has to offer. It says something about what the industry stands for.”  Circa 1950 bumper cars, bowling alleys, pool tables for the Millennials? You have to be kidding me.   

The Millennials are less privileged, more diverse, and more liberal than today's cruisers. 4 out of 10 will not be white. They will be more sensitive to the plight of workers in the international community being over-worked and underpaid. They will be more attuned to environmental issues. They will have a greater understanding of the fragility of the air and water ecosystems that the cruise lines routinely abuse.

Human Rights, Not Bumper Cars

In the last three months, one cruise line in particular, MSC Cruises, has repeatedly made the news in the worst sort of way. Just this year, passengers and crew members have accused it of dumping garbage bags at seas in marine sanctuaries. The police and labor authorities raided one of MSC's ship to investigate allegations of the cruise line abusing crew members. MSC has drawn the ire of environmentalists by sailing through the San Marco basin and damaging the port in Venice.  

The traditional newspapers, like the Sun Sentinel and the Miami Herald, and travel publications like Celebrity Crew MemberTravel Weekly, have given little attention to these type of horror stories.

The image of the cruise industry will be shaped by issues like crime on cruise ships (a Disney crew member allegedly molested a 13 year old girl yesterday), crime in ports of call (a NCL crew member was shot and killed this week in Roatan), treatment of crew members from around the world (Carnival & Royal Caribbean seem to be competing to see who can best screw the crew members), and the cruise industry's pollution of the air and sea (have you seen the videos of MSC dumping trash?)

These are important issues that the Millennials will focus on. In the next 10 to 20 years, we will see the continued rise of social media and the presence of more contemporary publications focusing on issues of relevance to the Millennials.

Old school newspapers, which often blindly cater to the cruise industry, will continue to decline in readership and relevance.  

The bumper-car-and-pool-table and gadget-promoting cruise lines will lose the Millennials as customers unless they understand what the future really holds and begin to address issues of crime, crew member rights and environmental problems.  

Swiss Newspaper Covers the MSC Garbage Dumping Story

Today, a newspaper in Switzerland joined in the coverage of the story regarding the alleged dumping of garbage bags from the MSC Cruises Magnifica cruise ship.

Le Matin, the largest French-speaking newspaper in Switzerland, published the headline:

Des ordures jetées à la mer! — Vidéo à l’appui, un avocat affirme que la compagnie italo-suisse MSC Croisières jette des poubelles dans l’océan.   

MSC Cruises Garbage DumpingYou can read the article here.

Here are some of the comments to the article:

And one company in my black boycott list . . 

Hello in the late 80's I worked as a Chef on the Apollo Cruise Company based in Miami several times late at night I saw my eyes pour entire containers full Gulf of Mexico and offshore Brazil .. unfortunately .. I'm not surprised that 35 years later this terrible way "to do" is still in force .. Greenpeace .. Help!

Having traveled with MSC, and having followed the recommendations for "environmental protection" (reuse towels, etc..), When I see these images it disgusts me!

You can read the comments here.

So far, the story has received substantial international news coverage: New Times (U.S.A.), Cruise Hive (U.S.A.), Huffington Post (U.S.A.), Daily Mail (U.K.), AOL Travel  (U.K.), Cruising the Molly Way (U.K.), e Global Travel Media (Australia & New Zealand) and Le Matin (Switzerland).

The travel industry publication (Travel Weekly, Travel Pulse), and the cruise bloggers (Cruise Critic, Cruise Currents, Cruise Fever, Cruise Mates, Cruise Addicts, Captain Greybeard) have all stuck their heads in the sand. None of these types want to rock the boat and become blacklisted from the cruise lines' parties and free cruises. 

The cruise industry just finished their self-laudatory Cruise Shipping Miami trade show.  The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) and the CLIA CEO, Ms. Duffy, have not said a peep about the environmental abuse. The "One Industry, One Voice" cruise industry and its loyal-to-a-fault travel agent base are going to stay quiet and let this stinky story fade away.  

Photo Credit: Daily Mail

 

MSC Cruises Garbage Dumping Story Goes Viral

Two weeks ago we posted videos and photos of garbage and debris and crew members aboard MSC cruise ships apparently throwing the refuse into the ocean.  We first asked MSC Cruises for an explanation but were ignored. You can see the videos here and here and the photos here.

This weekend the story went viral.

First the Huffington Post posted an article Cruise Ship Workers Appear To Throw Bags Of Garbage Right Into The Ocean (VIDEO).

Then the U.K.'s Daily Mail posted an article Caught on Camera: The Moment Cruise Ship Crew Member Hurled Garbage Bags Straight into the Ocean Off Brazilian Coast in Violation of International MSC Cruises Cruise bags of GarbageLaw.  The Daily Mail has the largest number of internet readers of a newspaper in the world.

Today AOL Travel also covered the story Cruise Ship Worker Filmed 'Throwing Rubbish Bags Into Ocean' (Video).

The articles are being widely shared on Facebook and re-tweeted on Twitter.

MSC has continued to ignore us for the past two weeks, but tells the Huffington Post that the videos show nothing more than a single dumping video taken by a passenger last December. MSC says there is only one alleged incident.

I say rubbish to that. Former crew members we have spoken with tell us of systematic illegal dumping of prohibited items in prohibited area on numerous occasions. You can read our thoughts here.

As the dumping videos go viral, all of the usually talkative cruise and travel agents, writers, and bloggers promoting the cruise industry remain silent. 

Huffington Post Covers MSC Cruises Garbage Dumping Story

Today the Huffington Post covered the story we posted 10 days ago about MSC Cruises crew members throwing black bags overboard from the MSC Magnifica cruise ship into the water. 

MSC says there is nothing new shown in the photos and three videos we posted because they are just a different angle of an incident reported by a passenger last December.

I say hogwash to that.  The video taken by the passenger seems to show garbage bags thrown from the port side of the cruise ship; whereas, the videos taken by the crew member shows the garbage MSC Cruises Magnifica Cruise Ship Dumpingbags thrown from the stern.

Also, if you look at all three articles we posted, you will note that the piles of debris which the former crew members say were pitched overboard involved at least two different incidents from different MSC cruise ships at different times into different waters. 

The large pile of broken down pallets from the MSC Magnifica were reported thrown into Brazilian waters in November / December 2013. The pile of pallets from the MSC Poesia were reportedly thrown into the waters between Florida and Mexico in January 2013.  The crew members we spoke to said that this type of debris was systematically dumped overboard at least once a week while the ships were underway at night.

The former crew members also told us that the dumping of garbage bags were far from a single event from one single cruise ship. They have sent us many photographs of this practice, including incidents where bales of cardboard, plastic and debris wrapped in clear plastics were stacked from floor to ceiling and and then thrown into the sea (see photo above right).

It is not surprising to us that MSC Cruises has never responded to our requests for information. The cruise line refuses to inform us of the identity of the Brazilian authorities who are investigating these incidents. MSC may be trying to  keep the former crew members, who know that the practice is more widespread than MSC will admit, from talking to the authorities.

MSC Magnifica Stuck in Port of Santos, Brazil With Fouled Propeller

A newspaper in Brazil reports that the MSC Magnifica, scheduled to depart from the Port of Santios, Brazil this evening at 6:00 P.M., remains in port after a mooring line became caught in the cruise ship's propeller.

A Tribuna states that that "one of the mooring lines to the pier got stuck in one of the propellers of the vessel."  

Santos is in the state of São Paulo, Brazil.

The Brazilian newspaper explains that precisely at 6:00 P.M., while the Magnifica was performed an undocking maneuver, a tether line (rope used to attach the ship to the pier) tangled in a propeller. MSC MagnificaThe operation was canceled and divers were deployed to try to solve the problem.

According to the newspaper, a spokesperson for the MSC said that the vessel encountered "technical-operational" problems. MSC further released a statement that  the delay in the departure of MSC Magnifica in the port of Santos "was due to a scheduled maintenance that took longer than expected."

The captain also informed the passengers, through the intercom speakers, that first departure, scheduled to take place at 6:00 P.M. on Sunday, was delayed by so-called "operational problems." The passengers were notified that the cruise ship would leave at 8:30 P.M., which it failed to do, and the departure time was further delayed until midnight.  

The cruise ship's webcams indicate that the ship remains in port at this time (1:00 A.M.).

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Bracodbk

Is Illegal Dumping of Garbage Widespread on MSC Cruise Ships?

MSC Poesia Cruise ShipThis week we published videos and photographs from a former MSC Cruises employee which show garbage being thrown by men wearing MSC blue jumpsuits out a large porthole on a mooring deck. The former crew member identified the cruise ship as the MSC Magnifica. 

You can see some of the videos here and here. You can see some of the photos here.

In response to these articles, we have been contacted by other former MSC employees who have sent us additional information and photos which they contend show garbage and other items being dumped from other MSC cruise ships.

One set of photos which struck me showed a pile of disassembled wooden pallets which had been stacked in the middle of the mooring area aboard a cruise ship. The former employee indicated that this occurred aboard the MSC Poesia. The photo is very similar to other photos we published of pieces of wooden pallets stacked in the mooring deck of the MSC Magnifica.

No garbage or debris should be stored or stacked in this area of the ship because it is a work place where the mooring lines are operated when the ships reach port.  

The former employee explained that the pieces of wood from pallets or crates would be stacked here after the pallets / crates would be broken down to be discarded. The top photo, he explained, was taken at 11:00 PM and shows the pieces of wood ready to be discarded.  He further explained that at night, the crew members would open the grates and thrown the wood through the large portholes into the water. The bottom photo, he says, shows the same area at 7:00 AM the next morning with the wood removed before the ship reached port.

The question arises how often does this type of alleged dumping take place? Are we to believe that the environmental and safety officers and staff captain did not know that wood was being stacked like this in the mooring area in the evening and would disappear by the next morning? Mooring decks are usually secured with access permitted only for deck, engine or security personnel.

Stacking wood like this is also a fire hazard.

If you were a crew member aboard a MSC cruise ship and know of the method how the cruise line discards garbage and refuse, please contact me at jim@cruiselaw.com 

Stay tuned for other similar articles.  

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

MSC Poesia Garbage Dumping

MSC Poesia Garbage Dumping

MSC Cruises' Garbage Dumping Scandal: Will Travel Agents, Travel Writers & Cruise Bloggers Look the Other Way?

Yesterday we wrote about MSC Cruises allegedly dumping garbage bags and other items into the ocean at night from the Magnifica cruise ship while it was sailing in Brazilian waters.

It's been 24 hours since we posted the article together with video and photographs provided to us by a former cruise line employee. Our article has gone viral, having been read several hundred thousands of times with over 7,000 Facebook "likes."

You can see the videos here and the photos here.  

We have received lots of comments by members of the public expressing their disappointment and outrage that this cruise line was allegedly engaged in this type of alleged conduct. But what's the reaction from the MSC Cruises Magnifica Cruise Pollution Garbage Dumpingcruise industry and the maritime authorities? The cruise lines want us to believe that authorities "rigorously" enforces "strict" environmental regulations? What's the reaction from travel agents and travel writers about this breaking news story?   Let's take a look:

The International Maritime Organization (IMO): The IMO is the international maritime authority which promulgated the pollution regulations (MARPOL) which the cruise lines are suppose to comply with. Cruise ships can't dump unprocessed food or other items within three miles of the closest shore. They are suppose to separate, process, grind, crush and/or incinerate the ship's refuse, paper items and/or garbage and then discharge the garbage at sea at various distances from shore or store the pulverized / incinerated materials for pick up at port after the cruise is over. Plastic is prohibited from being discharged.

But what happens when a cruise line ignores MARPOL? Nothing. The IMO is a United Nations entity. It's a "feel good" organization. It can't enforce its own rules and it can't punish cruise lines when they violate the rules.

Cruise Line International Association (CLIA): CLIA is the cruise industry trade association which promotes the image and the interests of the cruise lines. CLIA says that if a cruise line member violates safety or environmental regulations, it will take steps against the member including kicking the cruise line out of the organization. But that will never happen.  CLIA has never criticized, admonished or taken disciplinary action against a cruise line. It's sole function is to protect the cruise industry from public scrutiny or criticism. 

CLIA has not issued a public statement about the MSC dumping scandal. Don't expect one either. There would have to be a Congressional investigation taking place before CLIA would even acknowledge the issue and it would then spin the story with corporate gobbledygook. Today CLIA's CEO and former travel-agent Christine Duffy issued a PR statement on CLIA's behalf applauding the cruise industry's alleged efforts to create a "pristine environment." Ms. Duffy said: "We will continue to forge new paths toward a greener, more sustainable planet . . ." and "will make cruising more environmentally conscious than ever before."   

Travel Agents, Writers, and Cruise Bloggers:  So far not a single travel publication has touched the story. There are thousands of tweets and Facebook posts from the usual cruise bloggers (Cruise Hive, Cruise Currents, Cruise Fever, Cruise Critic) and travel writers (Travel Weekly, Travel Pulse) about the best deals on cruises. Many hundreds of travel agents are hawking cruises on Twitter. But no one is mentioning garbage bags in the sea dumped at night.

That's bad for the travel agents' business. And whether the cruise lines are polluting or not, travel agents are selling cruises on the MSC Magnifica right now. 99% of the travel writers and cruise bloggers just want the pollution story to go away. They don't want to embarrass their friends in the cruise industry. They're afraid that the cruise lines won't give them complimentary or heavily discounted cruises if they mention the story.

That's what MSC Cruises and CLIA are counting on. The cruise industry won't change a bit as long as the 16,000 CLIA travel agents and travel writers remain silent as the oceans are polluted with cruise garbage.     

 

Guardian of the Seas? Is MSC Cruises Polluting Brazilian Waters Again?

MSC Cruises Cruise Dumping - Garbage BagsTwo months ago, we posted a video from a Brazilian newspaper showing MSC Cruises crew members apparently throwing black garbage bags into the water (video at bottom).

The video, taken by a passenger aboard an unidentified MSC ship (later identified as the Magnifica), created a hue and cry among environmentalists and citizens of Brazil. Rightfully so. Dumping of plastics and unprocessed garbage is illegal according to the international MARPOL recommendations. This dumping allegedly took place in Brazilian waters near a marine sanctuary.

After the passenger video surfaced, MSC, seemingly unrepentant, released a PR statement calling its cruise ships "Guardians of the Seas." It said that it would investigate the alleged dumping and touted its environmental policies.

After we covered the story, a number of people within the industry contacted us. They suggested that dumping of garbage bags from cruise ships like this took place more often than the cruise lines would like the public to know.

Yesterday, we received photographs and videos from a concerned "Good Samaritan." The images appear to show MSC crew members throwing garbage bags out to sea. Unlike the video taken by the passenger from an upper deck of the ship, these videos were taken by a former crew member inside of the ship showing what he described as illegal garbage dumping. We have posted two of the videos below.

The videos shown are short "snippets," of only 10 seconds or so, of workers wearing blue MSC overalls carrying bags to the windowless portholes on a mooring deck and then heaving the bags out to sea.

MSC Cruises Cruise Dumping - Garbage Bags The video and photographs were taken by a former crew member who wishes to remain anonymous.

The former employee claims that MSC discarded garbage bags often filled with plastics, oily discharge and other materials which the cruise lines are prohibited from dumping. The former employee took photos of a lower mooring deck showing a pile of garbage bags which he said were later thrown into the sea, including a stack of wooden pallets which had been broken down to fit through the portholes and then pitched out to sea.  

The former employee told us that the dumping occurred from the MSC Magnifica within Brazilian waters.

Click on our Facebook page to see some of the photos of the dumping at sea.

The press in Brazil has focused on the cruise industry after bathers at a public beach called Praia da Tartaruga (Turtle Beach) near Búzios City in Brazil suffered irritated eyes, difficulty breathing, and gastrointestinal problems. The officials believe that cruise ships discharged noxious waste into the water. These images will add to the debate whether cruise lines are polluting the waters of Brazil.

This morning, we reached out to MSC Cruises's Fort Lauderdale office for an explanation regarding what is shown in the latest videos and photographs.  We have not received a response.    

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

Have a video or evidence of illegal cruise line conduct?  Contact us. We will bring the story to the public. 

 

MSC Cruises Cruise Garbage Bag Dumping

 

Brazilian Cruise Pollution Debate Continues: Sewage or Silt?

A week ago we discussed a controversy which erupted in Brazil when around 60 bathers on Turtle Beach in the beautiful resort town of Buzios became ill. Government officials suspected that a cruise ship discharged noxious liquids and waste into the waters. 

A newspaper in Brazil, Globo, covered the story and posted aerial photographs of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship with discolored water around it.  It looked to me that the muddy-looking water was probably sand and silt which had been churned up by the vessel's engines. We posted the photos on line. The issue nonetheless remained what made the bathers at the beach so sick?

Brazil took samples of the contaminated water at the beach, as well as samples from several cruise ships in the area. The test results were inconclusive. The cruise association in Brazil denies that any of the cruise ships discharged anything and maintains that all ships comply with international maritime standards addressing the discharge of waste water.

The controversy reported in the press has led to at least one cruise passenger coming forward to claim that other cruise ships may be fouling the waters in Brazil.

Globo reports that cruise passenger Jesus Alcinir, age 50, from Panama, was sailing on the MSC Orchestra with his family last November to Buzios. He observed what he believed was a nasty looking and terribly smelling liquid that seemed to leave the ship. He took a photograph which you can see below.

He told Globo: "I was watching the sea. That transparent color, that blue sea with green, when out of nowhere this spot that seemed to come out of our ship emerged. The smell was very strong at the time and I was upset to hear that it could be some fluid that would be polluting the environment."

A crew member said that because the ship just stopped and lowered an anchor, silt would have been disrupted and muddied the water.

Passenger Alcinar was unconvinced, particularly because of the strong smell. 

I suppose that the smell could have been from the muck and perhaps decomposing organic material like seaweed. I would also think that if the cruise ship was going to illegally open its bilges, it would do so at night while the ship was underway. 

No samples were taken of the water. 

Being accused of discharging waste in Brazilian waters in the last thing that MSC needs. Last December we posted a video of MSC crew members seemingly throwing garbage bags in the water near a marine sanctuary in Brazil. 

Sewage or silt? Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

MSC Orchestra Cruise Ship

Photo Credit: Jesus Alcinir via Globo

Baseball Great Jim Fregosi Suffers Stroke on MSC Divina

Jim Fregosi MSC CruisesNumerous sources are reporting that former baseball All-Star shortstop and manager Jim Fregosi suffered a stroke during a Major League Baseball alumni cruise and was taken to a hospital in the Cayman Islands.

MLB.com reports that Mr. Fregosi, age 71, suffered the stroke while the cruise ship was sailing in the Caribbean.

MSC Cruises advertises that as part of its "Baseball Greats Cruises," Mr. Fregosi was scheduled to cruise from Miami on Saturday, February 8, 2014 aboard the MSC Divina cruise ship. The cruise was scheduled for 7 days. The itinerary included stops at Falmouth Jamaica, Georgetown Cayman Islands, Cozumel Mexico and Great Stirrup Cay.

MSC sent Mr. Fregosi ashore to the Cayman Islands. His family then arranged for him to be flown here to Miami where he is receiving medical treatment.

MSC Cruises Divina Jim FregosiMSC Cruises describes Mr. Fregosi as follows: "The American League's All-Star shorstop 6 times who could hit, run, field and throw. He was a player for 17 years and was a Major League manager for 4 teams over 15 years and led the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series in 1993."

Baseball cruises are a popular theme and have sometimes met with misfortune for the celebrity athletes. A year ago, baseball legend and Hall of Famer Earl Weaver died while sailing aboard the Celebrity Silhouette after sustaining a heart attack.

 

Photo Credit: MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises - Guardians of the Seas?

A trade organization publication, Cruise Industry News, recently released a promotional, public relations piece about MSC Cruises.

The cruise line assisted in releasing a baby seal, named Selso, back into his natural environment. The 2 year old seal had been stranded on a beach and had undergone rehabilitation at uShaka Sea World,

MSC congratulated itself in this statement:

"We at MSC consider ourselves Guardians of the Seas and treat the oceans of the world with the Garbage Bag Cruise Ship MSC Cruisesutmost respect, believing that by acting green and protecting the biodiversity, we can all help keep the waters blue. Oceans and life in the oceans are inextricably connected with humans and Selso’s heart-warming story is just a proof of that."

The problem with this over-the-top, self-laudatory statement is that it contrasts sharply with the last story which we wrote about MSC. The cruise line was caught dumping plastic garbage bags into the waters of Brazil near a marine sanctuary. You can see the video of the dumping here.

This is a story which Cruise Industry News did not cover.

The discharge of plastics and other non biodegradable materials causes great harm to the marine environment.  It causes injury, suffering and death to marine life, including seals.

MSC Cruises the Guardians of the Seas? 

This award shouldn't be based on a highly publicized public relations stunt but on what the MSC cruise ships are doing routinely at sea, under the cover of at night, far away from the public's eyes.

 

Question of the Day: Are cruise lines still routinely dumping garbage bags at sea?  This was common in the 1980's and even 1990's, but not so much today it seems.  Are some cruise lines still throwing garbage bags into the ocean at night?  Leave a comment below or send us an email: jim@cruiselaw.com.

Or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

MSC Cruises Complains After Caught Dumping Garbage Bags in Brazilian Waters

MSC MagnificaToday I received a link to an article in Brazil regarding the allegations of a cruise passenger sailing on a MSC cruise ship (The MSC Magnifica) that the crew members were dumping garbage bags into Brazilian waters.

A local blogger in Brazil posted the embarrassing news and MSC, in turn, complained to its public relations firm. You can see the email (in Portugese) from MSC below ("Indeed, we have problems . . .")

It is interesting to read the comments to the article complaining about the cruise ship dumping. The Brazilians complained of being treating like its waters are a dumping zone for the cruise world's garbage. 

We posted the story about the MSC dumping before on our blog, Facebook and Twitter. The story has received some publicity in the U.S. but not as much as the story deserves, considering the stark discrepancy between MSC's image of being environmentally sensitive and the apparent reality that it may dump bags of garbage at sea in the darkness of night. 

The incident demonstrates that much cruise line talk about protecting the environment is just for PR purposes. The reality on cruise ships is much different. 

The blog article has a video of the dumping which you can see at the bottom: 

MSC Cruises Dumping Garbage

 

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

 

27 Year Old MSC Crew Member Dies Aboard Preziosa Cruise Ship

Maria La Camera - MSC CruisesNewspapers in Italy are reporting that a 27 year old crew member died on July 14th on the MSC Preziosa.

Maria La Camera. known as "Titti" to her friends, worked aboard the MSC cruise ship as a hostess. She was found dying in her cabin, according to the newspaper Napoli Today.

Her co-employees made ​​the discovery, after they went to her cabin when she did not show up for her shift. The cruise ship docked the following day at the port of Naples where local police inspected the cabin and will review video cameras to determine whether anyone entered the cabin. They will also be investigating whether she suffered from any personal problems, according to the newspapers.

The initial medical examination on board the ship suggested that the young woman may have died due to an aneurysm, which is unusual in a young woman. Her body will undergo an autopsy in Italy. Her family and friends described her as a healthy woman who did not use drugs, was of a cheerful disposition and was very good at her job.

 

Photo Credit: Crew Center

MSC Armonia Crewmember Dies, Passengers Hospitalized

MSC Armonia Cruise Ship - Dead Crewmember, Sick PassengersA reader of Cruise Law News in Brazil has informed us that a crewmember of the Armonia cruise ship, operated by MSC Cruises, died yesterday after being admitted to the hospital in serious condition.

A newspaper in Brazil (G1 in Sao Paulo) reports that a local woman, Fabiana Pasquarelli, age 30, was taken from the MSC cruise ship and was eventually admitted to the intensive care unit of Hospital Ana Costa.

The deceased crewmember worked as a waitress and was taken to the hospital on Wednesday with a fever and cough and was apparently diagnosed with pneumonia.  

There is also speculation that she may have died of swine flu.

Five other crewmembers are also sick and have been under observation in the hospital since Friday. 

The cruise line said that passengers are disembarking the cruise ship today and new passengers will board.

Fabiana Pasquarelli MSC Cruises ArmoniaIf you have information about this incident, please leave a message below.  

February 18, 2012 Update:  Passengers from the cruise ship have also been hospitalized in serious condition.

Another Brazilian newspaper, A Tribuna, has an account and reports that the diagnosis is unclear although it is the result of an infectious process.  

Ms. Pasquarelli died of an acute respiratory failure after being placed on a ventilator.  

February 19, 2012 Update:

A newspaper in Brazil states that seven people of the ten passengers and crew from the cruise ship were released from the hospital. Three remain hospitalized.  The hospital ran tests to determine the type of infection that caused the sickness.

Five crewmembers have contacted us, wishing to remain anonymous, complaining that Ms. Pasquarelli's medical treatment was delayed.  Read comments below.

February 21, 2012 Update:

A spokesperson for MSC left a comment below.

Also, a newspaper in Buenos Aires reports that heath authorities in Uruguay were on board the MSC cruise ship, which docked this morning at the main port in Montevideo after fears of a flu outbreak. The ship is expected to arrive to Buenos Aires tomorrow.  Osvaldo Fabacchi, the head of Port Administration in Montevideo, stated that “at present the cause of the crew member’s death has not been confirmed. The autopsy has yet to be carried out in order to determine and confirm the cause of death.”

Raped on a Cruise Ship Operated by an Italian Cruise Line and Flagged in Panama? Cruise Rape Victim Falls Through Jurisdictional Cracks . . .

A criminal trial against a South African man accused of raping a South African woman during a cruise ended when the trial court ruled that the alleged rape did not occur in the territorial waters of South Africa.

Sindhu Ramanandh Bhogal - Alleged Cruise Ship Rapenewspaper in South Africa published a disturbing story about the defense raised by the lawyers for a passenger who is accused of raping a woman after allegedly spiking her drink during a cruise aboard the MSC Sinfonia cruise ship.

The case involves South African national Anika Marks who sailed on the MSC Cruises ship in November 2009.  Ms. Marks was on what is described as a three-day business trip with work colleagues when another South African passenger, Sindhu Ramanandh Bhogal, allegedly drugged and raped her. 

The cruise ship regularly sails between Durban and Mozambique. On the cruise in question, Ms. Marks says that she had been dancing at a disco on the cruise ship when she went alone to an outside deck to smoke a cigarette. Bhogal was there and they spoke.  She left to go to the toilet, leaving her drink and cigarettes on the deck next to Bhogal.

After she returned, she smoked a cigarette Bhogal offered her and drank a drink he offered her.  Marks thereafter "lost control of her head and body" and then remembered walking down stairs with Bhogal behind.  The next thing she remembered was Bhogal on top of her, with her dress up and underwear off, and him raping her.

After two years of legal wrangling, defendant Bhogal's lawyers asserted a new defense - the South Anika Marks - South Africa - South Africa - Cruise Ship RapeAfrican state courts cannot try him for the cruise ship rape because the incident happened in   Mozambican waters.

Mr. Bhogal’s lawyer cited a provision in the South African Criminal Procedures Act that if the alleged crime occurs in international waters or another country's territorial waters, the South African state courts have no jurisdiction.

Because the MSC cruise ship is operated by an Italian cruise line and is flagged in Panama, technically only the country of Panama can prosecute crimes against a South African woman which occur outside of the territorial waters of South Africa.

I have never heard of Panama ever investigating or prosecuting crimes on Panamanian flagged cruise ships.  After all, cruise lines flag their ships in places like Panama to avoid oversight. That's where Carnival, for example, flags its vessels.  If you are a woman sexually assaulted on a Panamanian flagged cruise ship and your country does not permit criminal prosecutions of rapists in international waters, don't expect anyone from Panama to arrest the assailant.  You are in an international no-man's land. 

 

Photo credit:  INSLA

Did MSC Cruises Try To Cover Up Major Coast Guard Safety Violations On The Opera?

Last week I was away from my computer traveling in Jamaica to visit crewmembers while the story broke about the U.K.'s Maritime and Coastguard Agency detaining the MSC Cruises' Opera cruise ship for safety violations.   

The incident was the type of event which I would normally and quickly write about.  But by the time I returned to Miami the cruise ship had already been detained, released and back to sea.    

A story today in the USA Today entitled "UK Coast Guard: Issue with Detained MSC Cruises Ship was Major" renewed my interest in the story.  The article was written by Gene Sloan who hosts an  excellent and very popular cruise blog called "CruiseLog," which caters to the cruise community.   MSC Cruises Opera Cruise Ship - Detention - Major Safety ViolationsHe reported today on the fact that the detention of the MSC Opera was no small matter.  In fact, the UK's Maritime and Coastguard Agency informed USA Today that there were multiple issues that together "led to the conclusion of a major non-conformity."

In the UK, cruise ships may be detained under UK Merchant Shipping Act 1995 only when it “appears to a relevant inspector to be a dangerously unsafe ship."

USA Today reported that the MSC Opera arrived in Southampton "overladen" with concerns by safety inspectors about the cruise ship's stability and safety emergency preparedness which were in violation of the International Safety Maritime Code (an international standard for the safe management and operation of ships).

USA Today further reported that the Opera was detained after it arrived in Southampton on May 25th coming from a shipyard where it had undergone repairs after losing power in the Baltic Sea, which left it adrift for several days until it was towed back to port.  "Passengers described uncomfortable conditions during the incident that included blackouts, a lack of hot food and running water, and backed-up toilets."

What is remarkable about the USA Today article is that it reported that when news of the detention first broke last week, MSC Cruises falsely told news outlets (including USA Today) that it was just "a rumor."  Later in the day, after the ship had been cleared to sail, MSC "issued a short statement that appeared carefully crafted to leave the impression that there had been no issues with the vessel. The statement made no mention of the detention."

Of the over 500 blogs I have written about the cruise industry in the last year and a half, a major Richard Sasso - President MSc Cruises - Opera Cruise Ship - Cruise Line International Association  focus of my articles is not about the bad things that happen on cruise ships - but the extraordinary steps that the cruise industry takes to cover them up.

The fact that CruiseLog, a friend to the cruise industry by all accounts, would publish an article about this cruise ship's safety deficiencies as well as the cruise line's lack of candor is encouraging.  It reflects objectivity and a clear concern for the public's safety and welfare which are often lacking in most pro-cruise publications. 

It will only be when cruise fans and CLIA travel agents demand greater transparency and accountability from the cruise lines will there be improvements in the safe operation of cruise ships.    

It also cannot be overlooked that the CEO and president of MSC Cruises, Richard Sasso, has been the chairman of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Marketing Committee.  CLIA is the trade organization for the cruise industry which promotes the U.S. cruise lines and has the motto that it "promotes all measures that foster a safe and secure cruise environment."

Needless to say, it's disappointing that a cruise ship deemed by UK safety inspectors to be "dangerously unsafe," and whose leader is the head of marketing CLIA cruise ships, would exhibit such a lack of candor to international news outlets and to the American public. 

This type of conduct perpetuates the image of the cruise industry as slick and dishonest marketers.  
     

 

Additional info:  What is a Cruise Ship Detention? 

The MSC Opera is flagged in Panama which is suppose to make certain that the ships carrying its flag meet safety standards.  But like many "flag of convenience" countries, Panama does not have a reputation of vigorously overseeing the safe operation of cruise ships and other vessels flying the flag of Panama.   

Responsibility for overseeing the safety and security of cruise ships often falls, by default, to the "port states" where the cruise ship are based or countries where they call on port.  Caribbean countries are largely either incompetent or indifferent to safety issues or hesitant to incur the wrath of a major cruise line. 

But countries like the U.K. or the U.S., from time to time, will intervene.  Agencies in port states can intervene for safety or health reasons, like was threatened in this norovirus case aboard the Balmoral cruise ship once it reached the U.K. 

The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. public health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control ("CDC") can shut cruise ships down, like when the CDC issued a "no sail' order for the noro-virus plagued Celebrity Mercury cruise ship which infected passengers for four sailings until it was finally shut down for health reasons.

 

Photo credits: 

Top:  Solent Shipping News 

Bottom:  Travel Agent Central

Video: MSC Opera Cruise Ship Hits Dock in Buenos Aires

My Brazilian friend, Alexandre Gonçalves da Rocha, alerted me today to an accident which recently occurred at the port in Buenos Aires when the MSC Opera struck the dock. 

Alexandre is a Brazilian who works as a maritime pilot at the port of Itajai since 1998 (no, he was not piloting this cruise ship!).  He writes a great maritime blog called "Safe Seas."  His article about this incident is here.

Cruise Industry News obtained a statement from MSC Cruises which stated there was no threatening damage to the ship in what appeared to be a "minor mishap."  A passenger took a video of the damage and it does not look "minor" at all. 

Its humorous to see the crew members trying to wave the passengers away from taking photos or video.

Fortunately no one was injured when the cruise ship allided with the dock. 

 

 

Video credit:  wargalis youtube 

 

19 Year Old Passenger Dies After Going Overboard From The MSC Orchestra

A newspaper in Brazil is reporting that a young man, age 19, died after "falling" from the MSC Orchestra  cruise ship, anchored in Ilhabela, in the northern coast of São Paulo in the early morning hours today.  The Federal Police of San Sebastian is investigating the incident.

MSC Orchestra Overboard - Passenger Death in Brazil Although MSC Cruises released a statement that it will wait for an official report, the cruise line is already blaming the passenger. 

In a statement to the press, MSC Cruises said that it regretted the incident with the guest, but added that "Initial reports state that the victim acted recklessly, putting themselves in a situation of high risk and dangerousness."   There is a reference in the cruise line statement to the passenger being in a "banned" location on the cruise ship.

The fall apparently was from the 14th deck  of the ship. "He was rescued from the sea, but succumbed to his injuries and died, " the statement said.

The company said it took "all necessary action and is providing full support and solidarity to the family."

Where you on the cruise and have information to share?  Please leave a comment.

 

Photo credit:   Flickr phototouring

Engine Room Fire Aboard MSC Cruises' Musica Cruise Ship

MSC Musica Engine Room FireCruise expert Ross Klein's popular Cruise Junkie website is reporting, according to newspapers in Brazil, that a fire in the engine room of the  MSC Cruises' Musica knocked out air conditioning and the water supply of the cruise ship.

The cruise ship had boarded at Rio de Janeiro and was supposed to leave at 18:00 for an eight-day trip with stopovers in the ports of Recife, Maceió and Salvador.  With no air conditioning and no water supply, passengers were angered.  Nevertheless, shortly after 18:30 the sound system announced the departure of the ship.  Disgusted, a group of about 50 people took to the gangway of the ship, preventing it to be hoisted.  The trip was then canceled. 

The ship is due to re-enter service on Dec. 26 from Rio for its scheduled week-long cruise to Salvador, Buzios, Copacabana and Ilha Grande.

The Musica was in the news earlier this year when a crew member was found dead, apparently killed by her boyfriend.

 

Photo credit:  Cruise Critic