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.  

San Marco Basin in Venice Re-Opens to Mega Cruise Ships, MSC Preziosa Smashes Passenger Corridor at Port

MSC Preziosa VeniceThe Italian publication Medi Telegraph reports that the MSC cruise ship, Preziosa, collided with a large passenger walkway at the port of Venice.

The newspapers in Italy, such as La Nuova, refer to the pedestrian corridors at the maritime station as "fingers" which provide access to the upper decks of the cruise ship..

Despite the presence of two tugs and a pilot on board the ship, the Preziosa, smashed into and destroyed one of the fingers. No one at the pier or on the cruise ship were injured.

The collision, which damaged the starboard bow of the ship, occurred on the day of the reopening of the San Marco Basin to the mega-ships. The incident will add to the debate whether gigantic cruise ship should be permitted to sail in the basin so close to the beautiful buildings of the old city.

You can see photos of the ship and the pedestrian "fingers" in the La Nuevo newspaper.

Slave Ship? Brazilian Police Board MSC Magnifica after Crew Members Complain of Long Hours, Abuse, Intimidation & Sexual Harassment

The BBC reports that Brazilian police boarded a MSC cruise ship and rescued 11 crew members working in "slave-like conditions." 

Brazilian officials say that the 11 crew members were forced to work up to 16 hours a day on the MSC Magnifica. Some of the crew members were subjected to sexual harassment.

The Brazilian authorities have been investigating the labor abuses for the past month, following a tip-off MSC Magnifica - Slave Shipfrom MSC crew members. 

"The fact that they had signed a contract, even an international contract, does not mean that the basic human rights should not be respected," Labor Ministry director Alexandre Lyra said. 

A publication in Brazil contains additional details of the working conditions. The Blog Do Sakamoto talks of exhaustive work on the MSC cruise ship with stories of abuse, bullying and fraudulent time recording.

"We have no doubt that it is slave labor," said Alexandre Lyra, head of Brazil's Division of Surveillance for the Eradication of Slave Labor.

You can see two statements of the working conditions written by MSC crew members here.

Another newspaper in Brazil reported that crew members were subjected to racism and homophobic threats and taunts. 

MSC issued a statement denying everything.

In December and March, we posted videos and photos of MSC dumping garbage bags into the sea off the coast of Brazil from the MSC Magnifica.  If the recent allegations are true, it seems that MSC treats its employees worse than the sea it pollutes. 

 

Photo Credit: Reporter Brazil

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.

Worst Cruise Line Headline of the Day: "Cruise Industry is Going Overboard to Make Sailing Safe for the Environment"

Today the travel section of the New York Daily News published an article entitled the Cruise Industry is Going Overboard to Make Sailing Safe for the Environment.

In light of the many recent overboard passenger cases, the title is inappropriate. After all, there have been four passengers who have gone overboard in less than three weeks. Passengers have gone 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. Just this morning, I posted an article about a passenger going overboard from Holland America Line's Veendam

So I clicked on the link, which goes to a puff piece by a writer for the Daily News claiming that:  

Garbage Bags Cruise Ship DumpingThe "major lines have reportedly reduced waste, garbage and other forms of pollution by nearly 50% in the past decade through a conscientious, industry-wide effort to go green."

"Conscientious, industry-wide effort to go green?"  Egads!

The last news about the cruise industry, involving environmental issues, involves a MSC cruise ship which is alleged to have recently dumped bags of garbage overboard into Brazilian waters after making a Transatlantic crossing.    

It's cruise passengers, not the cruise lines, who are going overboard. And it's the cruise industry which is treating the oceans like a garbage dump. 

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.

 

Explosion Aboard MSC Orchestra: 3 Crew Members Injured

A Facebook page focusing on the rights of Brazilians working on cruise ships reports today of a serious accident aboard a MSC cruise ship resulting in serious injuries to three crew members.

The page is entitled Direito Do Trabalhador Brasileiro Em Navios Cruzeiros (Law Of Brazilian Workers On Cruise Ships).

It states that an accident occurred on the MSC Orchestra involving three crew members who were working without proper equipment. The cruise line is alleged to have provided the correct equipment. They were cleaning a tank when gas escaped and an explosion occurred.

One crew member was hospitalized and the two other men remain in serious condition in the cruise ship's infirmary. 

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

MSC Orchestra

Photo Credit: Direito Do Trabalhador Brasileiro Em Navios Cruzeiros

Video: MSC Cruise Ship Dumps Garbage Bags Off Coast of Brazil

A reader of Cruise Law News has informed us that a television station in Brazil just released a story about a MSC cruise ship dumping garbage bags into the sea off of the coast of Brazil. The story is based on a cruise passenger's account.You can see what appears to be blag bags being throw out of the ship from what a lower deck. The ship had sailed from Italy and the dumping seems to have occurred after the ship made its transatlantic voyage and before it arrived in Brazil.

The vídeo is in Portuguese. 

Here's the information on the YouTube site:

"O navio saiu de Gênova, na Itália. De acordo com passageiro que fez o flagrante, funcionários do navio começaram a jogar os sacos de lixo no mar quando entrou na costa brasileira. A reportagem foi exibida no SBT Brasil."

The translation: "The ship left Genoa, Italy. According to passengers, employees of the ship began to throw the trash bags in the sea when it joined the Brazilian coast. The report aired on SBT Brazil."

A news article from Brazil states that the disposal was close to the natural sanctuary of Fernando de Noronha, off the coast of Pernambuco. Here's the translation:

"A passenger on the MSC cruise, which left Genoa, Italy, captured on video the moment official liner trash bags dumped at sea. According to international standards, the waste of these vessels should be treated and separated before being dispensed. 

According to the passenger, businessman Sergio de Oliveira, the staff of the ship began to throw the trash bags in the sea when the ship entered the Brazilian coast. The man also claims that one of the sites chosen for the drop was close to the natural sanctuary of Fernando de Noronha, off the coast of Pernambuco. The businessman lodged the complaint to the prosecutor in Apucarana."

If you have information to share about this incident, please leave a comment or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Transatlantic Coke Bust: Spanish Prosecutors Seek 7 Year Prison Sentences For Two MSC Magnifica Crew Members

In a story we reported earlier this year, two Filipino crew members were busted smuggling cocaine aboard the MSC Magnifica in April.

The MSC cruise ship arrived at the port  of La Coruña on April 11th and the two crew members were arrested after they were caught with 10 kilos of cocaine taped to their bodies.

Today I received a newspaper clipping from a reader of Cruise Law News Next, bring me up to date regarding the case. The two men will be tried in the Provincial Court next week as "perpetrators MSC Cruise Ship Drug Bustof a crime against public health." The prosecutors will be asking the Court for 7 year jail sentences for the two men. You can see the on line article here too.

It was initially reported that the MSC crew members had smuggled 15 kilos.

Drug smuggling on cruise ships occurs more than the cruise lines want you to know, including MSC. 

Last month, a judge in Italy sentenced three 3 people who were involved in smuggling cocaine on an Italian flagged cruise ship to ten year individual sentences and a fine each of 60,000 Euros for importing ten kilos of cocaine from South America on the cruise ship Armonia operated by MSC.

In March, two Argentinian cruise passengers on an unidentified MSC cruise ship from Brazil which arrived in Lisbon, Portugal from Brazil were arrested for possession / smuggling of seven kilograms of cocaine wrapped in packages that the men were carrying in two backpacks. 

MSC passengers were convicted of attempting to bring 35 kilos of cocaine from the MSC Orchestra when it arrived in Dover from Brazil.

The MSC Poesia was the scene here in South Florida of a drug bust when U.S. federal and local agents with K-9 dogs raided the cruise ship looking to arrest passengers who were attending a musical Jam Cruise. The raid resulted in the arrest of passengers and the seizure of pot, mushrooms, hash oil, LSD, Ecstasy, and prescription drugs as well as unspecified drug paraphernalia. No high times on the high seas for these cruisers.

Transatlantic Cruise Turns Deadly for 87 Year Old Brazilian Passenger

Newspapers in Brazil are reporting on the recent death of a cruise passenger on a MSC cruise ship.

MSC PreziosaMercedes Lessi Raia, age 87, was cruising on the MSC Preziosa cruise ship when she sustained a fall on a set of stairs.  The ship was sailing around Europe on Tuesday, November 19, 2013. The accident is described as occurring when she was headed to the restaurant where dinner would be served. As the elevators were full, she decided to go down the stairs where she tripped, fell and struck her head. She sustained a hematoma and began to vomit. 12 hours later she died, on November 20th.

According to newspaper articles, Ms. Raia accomplished a lifelong dream of cruising through Europe with her two daughters. At the time of the accident, the cruise ship was returning to Brazil from Spain. She lived in Londrina in the state of Paraná, Brazil and spent her time divided between the city and the São Paulo coast.

Her son told reporters that this mother was a "very cheerful person, with an impressive vitality, did not look her age and still dreamed of the sea cruise to Europe."  She always said she wanted to live to be 100 years old.

Mercedes Lessi RaiaHer son commented on the accident and lamented the ship did not have medical facilities for appropriate and urgent care. Her family was critical of the cruise ship's response, stating that the ship did not attempt to arrange for an emergency medevac operation. 

MSC responded to the tragedy by claiming that the fall was caused by a pre-existing illness.

We have seen cruise lines defend themselves in situations like this when they claim that a fall and resulting death were the result of the passenger's health and not a problem with the cruise ship or inadequate shipboard medical facilities. Even if true, such disclosures by a cruise line violate a passenger's confidential medical rights.

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

 

Photo Credit: www.jb.com.br

MSC Magnifica Runs Aground in Pireaus

MSC Magnifica PiraeusA number of news sources in Greece are reporting that a MSC cruise ship ran aground (note correction below) today at the southeast Greek port of Piraeus. Greek port authorities released the information. 

There were no injuries or major damage arising from the accident with the Panama-flagged ship Magnifica, the port authorities said. Bad weather conditions were apparently a factor in the incident. 

One news account says that maritime experts are currently investigating the accident, while most of Greece continued to be swept by storms today. 

The cruise ship's bridge cam at this time (image below) shows the cruise ship docked in Piraeus with calm conditions. In addition to the Magnifica, other cruise ships at the port of Pireaus today include the Rotterdam, Ruby Princess and the Constellation.

The Magnifica was reportedly carrying 2,469 passengers and 976 crew members.

If you have any information about the grounding, please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

November 20 2013 Update: A number of readers informed me that the cruise ship allided with the left breakwater at the port of Piraeus and sustained slight damage to the portside hull above the waterline. This Greek newspaper article confirms an allision and not a grounding.  (Definition of "allision:" when a vessel strikes a fixed object; versus a "collision" when two vessel strike each other.)

You can see another photo of damage to the breakwater/pier here.

Very clear views of the damage to the breakwater and damage to the cruise ship can be seen here.

See video of the damage here.

See our additional photos of the damage to the interior of the cruise ship are here.

Photo credit top: http://www.tanea.gr/

MSC Magnifica Cruise Ship Web Cam

Coke on the High Seas: Prison Sentences for Smuggling Cocaine on MSC Armonia

Cruise Center reports news from Italy that a judge in Italy sentenced three 3 people who were involved in smuggling cocaine on an Italian flagged cruise ship to ten year individual sentences and a fine each of 60,000 Euros for importing ten kilos of cocaine from South America on the cruise ship Armonia operated by MSC.

The Judge sentenced Bosnians Mihalovič Zoran Jaksic, Mladen Miljanic, and Braim Sirani. The judges accepted the requests made by the public prosecutor Angela Masiello, who fought for the highest sentence.

MSC ArmoniaImplicated in the cruise ship smuggling operation were four other people, including a MSC crew member.

The cruise ship departed from Punta dell'Este in Uruguay and arrived at the port of Venice. 

After arriving in Venice, the 28-year old crew member Dejan Ivanovic (who was also convicted), was directed to deliver the cocaine in a Hotel in Venice. The crew member implicated the cruise ship's cook, who landed in Buenos Aires due to illness, to take the drugs to Venice in exchange for 10,000 Euros.

We have reported on drug busts on MSC cruise ships before:

Cocaine Drug Bust on MSC Magnifica Cruise Ship

Drug Bust Nabs Two MSC Cruise Passengers

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Ivan T.)

Crew Member from India Disappears from MSC Opera

This evening a number of news organizations are reporting that a crew member went overboard from the MSC Opera cruise ship. 

BBC News reports that the crew member went overboard when the cruise ship was south of the Isle of Wright.  

The News identified the crew member as a 33 year-old Indian national named Fernandes Elroy.

The cruise ship was sailing into Southampton early this morning.

MSC Opera Cruise ShipMSC Cruises said staff were alerted at 5:30 AM on today that Mr. Elroy was missing.  The company claims that CCTV, which was checked at 6:30 AM, allegedly showed Mr Elroy jumping overboard around 1:30 AM, according to the The Isle of Wright Radio

A Coast Guard helicopter and lifeboat carried out an unsuccessful search. 

We have reported before on disappearances from MSC cruise ships in the past which you can read about here and here and here.

There is usually very little, if any, investigation conducted by the cruise lines to try and find out why crew members disappear on the high seas. Few cruise lines have automatic man overboard detection systems, unfortunately.  There is a tendency by the cruise lines to quickly conclude that the person committed suicide. Even if the evidence supports a suicide explanation, there is no effort to determine whether the working conditions (long hours, long contract, low wages and work pressure and emotional abuse) were factors involved in literally pushing the crew member emotionally over-the-edge.

Professor Ross Klein reports that 206 people have gone overboard from cruise ship since 2000.

If you have information about this latest overboard, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Consider reading another article about working conditions and crew members going overboard: Is Royal Caribbean Working Its Crew Members to Death?

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / VollwertBIT 

Cocaine Drug Bust on MSC Magnifica Cruise Ship

Crew Center reports that the Spanish police arrested two crew members from the cruise ship MSC Magnífica, which docked recently in La Coruña, Spain on drug trafficking charges.

The crew members were caught with 15 kilos of cocaine on the cruise ship.

Drug Bust Nabs Two MSC Cruise Passengers

MSC Cruise Ship - CocaineThe Crew Center website reports that two cruise which arrived in Lisbon, Portugal from Brazil earlier this week were arrested for possession / smuggling of seven kilograms of cocaine.

Two two passengers were Argentinean and had boarded an unidentified MSC cruise ship in Santos, Brazil. They arrived in Lisbon after a transatlantic cruise on a cruise ship to Lisbon in possession of the drugs.

The arrests took place in the cruise terminal of Santa Apolonia, as the two men disembarked the cruise ship into the Portuguese capital.  The men were around 40 years old. The cocaine was reportedly contained in wrapped packages that the men were carrying in two backpacks. 

 

Photo Credit: Crew Center 

Safety at Sea? Dangerous Practices on MSC Cruise Ship

MSC Unsafe at Sea A reader of Cruise Law News sent me these photographs today showing crew members on an unidentified MSC cruise ship washing the tops of tenders.  

The two crew members to the left seem to be wearing life vests but its less than clear whether they are wearing harnesses and are tethered to the ship.

Upon closer inspection, the bottom photo shows an employee obviously wearing no life vest or harness.

A slip and fall from that height would be a good way to drown or suffer serious injury.

Crew members who contact us often talk about "ship life."

"Ship Life" seems to be the state of reality that actually exists on cruise ships.  It is different from what the company policies and procedures say and what the cruise line projects as the company's image.

Sometimes upon the rush to get the job done, there is pressure to cut corners and not use the proper safety equipment. The same pressure to proceed to get the work accomplished often exists even if the proper equipment is not available or the equipment is faulty or not adequately maintained.

We all remember the five deaths and three injuries in January when a Thomson Majesty lifeboat with 8 crew members dropped upside down into the water.   

What do you of the photo below?  Whose responsibility is it that work is not performed under these circumstances?

MSC Cruise Ship - Danger  

PS. I don't know who took these photos so please contact me if you want credit. Anyone know which ship this was and where it was docked? 

Leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Another Passenger Goes Overboard from a MSC Cruise Ship - This Time the MSC Fantasia

Cruise Law News received a message late Saturday night indicating that a passenger went overboard from the MSC Fantasia.  Here's the message:

MSC Fantasia is in first day of a Carnival cruise. It embarked 4000 drunk pax today in Santos, Brazil and around 7 PM, the time to leave the port, we had one passenger go from deck 11 straight into the sea. It's 11.30pm and we're still looking for the passenger. We have the Federal Police on board and divers and we don't know where is the passenger . . .  was to drunk so he couldn't save himself.  Then they lowered a lifeboat but by the time they manage to get close to him, Costa Favolosa was getting out from the port so two small waves and the passenger was nowhere to be found.  We're standing by now but the party at the pool is at the MAX.  Drinks, music and naked pax. This is Brazil!

A newspaper in Brazil is covering the story.

MSC Fantasia Cruise Ship

This is the second passenger overboard from a MSC cruise ship in two days. Yesterday we reported on a Portuguese passenger who went overboard from the Divina in the Mediterranean.  

In December 2012, we reported on a cruise passenger who fell from an upper deck of the MSC Fantasia and died.

As you can see from the Fantasia's web cam, there seems to be quite a partying crowd on the cruise ship.

MSC Fantasia WebcamPlease leave a comment if you have information about what happened.

February 10 2013 Update: The missing passenger was identified as Luciano De Lucca, age 30, from passenger cabin number 11063, located on the 11th deck.

Portugese Cruise Passenger From MSC Divina Found Dead

MSC Divina Cruise ShipA reader of Cruise Law news has alerted me to another person going overboard from a cruise ship.

A newspaper in Italy states that a Portuguese man, 46 years old, was found dead off of the coast of Corsica. He was sailing as a passenger on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean sea when he went overboard for reasons not disclosed.

The Expresso XL newspaper reports that "the victim has been formally identified as a Portuguese man of 46 years who had disappeared from the vessel MSC Divina . . . "

The passenger had been reported missing from the MSC cruise ship at 1:00 PM today. The weather was calm.

Helicopters and a jet searched for the unidentified man after he was reported missing.  An investigation is being conducted into the case by shoreside maritime officials in France.

The French maritime authorities released the following statement (translated):

"This Saturday, February 9 shortly before noon, the body of a lifeless man spotted ten miles southwest of Bonifacio by a customs plane. He had taken part in the device search to try to find a passenger MSC Divina missing since 1am in the area.

Hoisted by the helicopter PUMA Solenzara, the victim has been formally identified as a Portuguese man of 46 years who had disappeared from the ship.

An investigation will be launched to determine the exact circumstances of his death."

Anyone with information please leave a comment below. 

 

Photo credit MSC Divina - Wikimedia Commons / Mllturro

Passenger Falls to His Death on MSC Fantasia Cruise Ship

Theobald Perelo - Passenger - MSC Fantasia Cruise Ship DeathA number of sources are reporting on the death of a Brazilian man who fell from an upper balcony on the MSC Fantasia cruise ship today.

Some are saying that he fell from the eight or ninth deck to the fifth deck, apparently from an interior balcony.

The cruise ship was sailing between Santos and Rio de Janeiro, carrying 3780 passengers on a three-night cruise. The passenger is identified as Theobald Perelo. One newspaper in Brazil, A Tribuna, referred to him as the owner of one of the largest wholesale distributors in the region and a figure well known and respected in Ilheus, Bahia.

Another source said that the businessman was awarded a cruise and was traveling in the company of his son in law and some employees of the company (Distributor Perelo). The wife remained in Ilheus during the cruise.

There is a great deal of speculation about what happened, with reference to a possible heart attack which seems strange. How do you have a heart attack and then fall over a railing?  

Anyone with information please leave a comment below.

December 7 2012: we received this information from someone on the cruise ship:  

The guy fell from the balcony of his cabin from the ninth deck to the seventh deck onto to his head . . . he was 52 and had possible heart attack when he fell because he went straight down like a stone. He had no signs of alcohol in the blood. The ship was cruising from Santos to Ilhabela and was about 1:00 am when it happened. The police came today on board but they just took the body and left in less than an hour. The passenger was shearing the cabin with his son in law who was not present at that time. The Brazilians on board are saying that the police is corrupt big time and the captain got rid of them very fast.

 

Photo Credit:  Blog do Gusmao

Meningitis Kills MSC Orchestra Crew Member, Cruise Ship Cook Remains on Life Support

On October 8, 2012, we reported on four crew members aboard the MSC Orchestra who were sickened with meningitis

According to AFP in Rome, today one of the crew members, Ermandiasa Gede, age 32 from Indonesian, died of the infection nine days after being hospitalized.

Two of the other crew members, a 26-year-old Brazilian crew member and a 32-year-old Filipino, reportedly recovered. However, the fourth sick crew member, a 47-year-old Italian cook, remains on life support.

 

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil: Cruise Industry & Cruise Fans Quiet After Four Crew Members Develop Menigitis During Cruise

Early this Monday morning I reported on an outbreak of meningitis aboard the MSC Orchestra cruise ship.  Four MSC crew members were hospitalized yesterday in Livorno, Italy once the cruise ship reached this Italian port. Newspapers in Italy, France, Germany and Spain mentioned the disease outbreak.

But no one in the U.S. mentioned the story.

Meningitis is a serious and often deadly disease.  Meningitis developing on a cruise ship filled with several thousand passengers and crew members is a big event, particularly considering that one or more of the crew members worked in the ship's galley and could infect the unsuspecting passengers though saliva from their mouths and/or throats, or coughing and spewing infected mucous on food or into beverages. 

I tweeted my article this morning "Crew Members Aboard MSC Orchestra Stricken With Meningitis."  The cruise community on Twitter operating under the #cruise hash tag is relatively small, with cruise agents, and cruise lines and the cruise trade groups all incessantly and incestuously re-twitting everyone else's tweets about the joys of cruising.  But aside from one travel agent who re-tweeted my article about the MSC meningitis cases this morning, none of the major bloggers or cruise publications tweeted or blogged a word about the disease.

See No Evil - Cruise MediaThe big boys in the world of cruising, like USA TODAY's CruiseLog and the Expedia-owned Cruise Critic, didn't mention a thing. Nor did the Miami Herald or the many travel agent publications or any of the regular cruise and travel bloggers. Instead, we had USA TODAY CruiseLog's last blog about "Princess' Next Ship to Have a Water and Light Show" and CruiseCritic writing about "Work Starts on Biggest P&O Cruise Ship."

Finally late tonight we have CNN reporting the story, commenting that more than 2,800 doses of antibiotics (Ciprofloxacin and Rifampicin) were issued for passengers. CNN repeated the Italian Health Ministry's comments that "the strand was found in the crew that worked in the kitchen and that, therefore, they should not have had continuous and close contact with passengers."  CNN also brought forth the ominous information from the Ministry in Italy that passengers who have disembarked in the past week from the prior cruise should take similar antibiotics.   

This morning I mentioned that the press in Italy reported that some 400 children were aboard the Orchestra and were told to take the antibiotics out of concern of possible exposure to the diseased crew members.  Certainly this is not the type of a cruise story involving at least one or more infected galley workers that only a little blog like mine and a few random twitters should cover and the major U.S. media should ignore until CNN reports on it 12 hours later.

Are the travel publications and major cruise bloggers afraid to offend their friends in the cruise industry?  Are they just trained monkeys who see, hear and speak no evil?    

Crew Members Aboard MSC Orchestra Stricken With Meningitis

A newspaper in Italy is reporting that four crew members of the cruise ship MSC Orchestra have contracted bacterial meningitis. Two of the four crew members are considered to be in serious condition. They were all hospitalized once the cruise ship reached port yesterday.

According to this newspaper, one crew member is a 32 year old Indonesian who is currently in septic shock in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Livorno, Italy. He apparently worked in the engine room. A second crew member is a 47 year old Italian who works in the cruise ship's galley, who also is in the intensive care unit. Two other crew members include a Brazilian and a Filipino, whose conditions are Orchestra Cruise Shipdescribed as less serious. They are hospitalized in the hospital's infectious disease department. 

Other newspapers state that the serious cases involve an Indonesian, age 32, and a Filipino, age 30, both of whom worked in the engine room. 

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.  Bacterial meningitis is very serious and can be fatal.  It is not common on cruise ships, although it has occurred on other cruise ships as this case illustrates.

All of the crew members were given prophylactic antibiotics, which were also offered to the passengers. The 2,800 dosages were described as an "unprecedented quantity over a period of time so limited."  The medicine consisted of an antibiotic tablet of 500 milligrams for adults and syrup for about 400 children who were on board. An epidemiological survey was also conducted among the crew members who in recent days have been most in contact with the hospitalized crew.

The Orchestra is continuing its cruise as planned and has meanwhile docked in France's Villafranche, with next stops including Valencia, Ibiza, Tunis, Catania and Naples.

 

Photo credit:  Wikipedia (Ömür Tanyel)

Monster Cruise Ships Menace Venice

The UK's Mail Online newspaper has some interesting photographs today regarding the ongoing protests by environmental groups in Italy who are trying to protect the beautiful city of Venice from the effects of water pollution, air emissions and erosion of historical building by traffic from huge cruise ships.

Earlier this week we addressed this issue in our article Italian Environmentalists Urge Sofia Loren to Stop "Monster of the Sea" from Attacking Venice.  

Over the past 25 years, the number of cruise passengers cruising into Venice increased from 280,000 to 1,800,000 last year.

Over 650 gigantic cruise ships sail into Venice every year now.  Unlike the quaint gondolas historically associated with the city, cruise ships today are 1,000 feet long, weigh 140,000 tons and have drafts well over 25 feet. They pose a substantial risk to this fragile Italian city which is struggling against mass tourism and the deterioration of the city's underwater foundations. 

Here is my view of the problem last year: Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth

Take a look at the spectacle below.  Do you trust the titans of the cruise industry with the survival of historical sites like this?  Do you trust the Micky Arisons of the world to be the curators of Venice?  

Cruise Ships - Venice - MSC Divina

Cruise Ships - Venice - MSC Divina

Photo credit: Getty Images via Mail Online 

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.”

Drunk Passenger Goes Overboard From MSC Poesia During Jam Cruise

A number of people have asked us what happened during the Jam Cruise two weeks ago where a passenger went overboard.  

Although we try to keep up with all of the incidents involving cruise ship overboards, somehow we missed this incident. 

Jam Cruise - Jam Cruise 10 We have been informed that an intoxicated passenger sailing aboard the MSC Poesia during the January 9 - 14, 2012 Jam Cruise climbed up to a restricted area on the ship’s pool deck and then jumped off.  He was rescued and airlifted from the next port to a hospital.  No other details have been released.

Other than this limited information, we don't have much else to share.

Jam Cruises always seem to involve some type of controversy.     

Last year, there was a highly publicized Drug Bust on MSC Poesia Cruise Ship during the Jam Cruise.   Federal and local agents with K-9 dogs raided the MSC Poesia looking to arrest passengers with drugs.  Officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S.Marshals Service, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Broward Sheriff's Office participated in the raid.  The raid targeted the cruise ship right at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale before it sailed with music fans on its Jam Fest cruise around the Caribbean. The raid resulted in the arrest of some passengers and the seizure of small quantities of pot, mushrooms, hash oil, LSD, Ecstasy, and prescription drugs as well as unspecified drug paraphernalia.

Right before this year's Jam Fest, the host cruise ship for the music fest, the Poesia ran aground in the Grand Bahamas Island and destroyed a reef.  This occurred during another music fest, the first annual three-night Holy Ship! music cruise.

Does anyone on the Jam Fest cruise have any information about the latest overboard from the Poesia or any other exciting times during a Jam Cruise??

MSC Poesia Destroys Reef in the Bahamas - Cruise Ship with 26' Draft Sailed Into 15' Waters

The MSC Poesia cruise ship ran aground into a reef in the Bahamas this weekend while sailing to  Port Lucaya near Freeport, Bahamas.

The 93,000-ton cruise ship needs twenty-five feet of draft but sailed into only fifteen (15) feet of water.  The video below show that the vessel ground into and destroyed a substantial length of the fragile reef.

Several tugs were called to prevent the cruise ship from further grinding into the reef as the wind tried to push the vessel into more shallow water. 

MSC was not able to get off the reef until high tide.  According to Cruise Radio where I first learned of the grounding, the incident did not stop the cruise ship from tendering cruise passengers to Port Lucaya.  Ed Owen who writes for the Examiner also was one of the first to report on this incident.

Were you on the Poesia when it ran aground?  Do you have photos, video or comments to share? 

 

 

Video credit:   YouTube (Fredgbscuba) 

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

Brazilian Police Conclude MSC Crewmember Strangled to Death

In January last year, we reported on the death of Camilla Peixoto Bandeira, age 28, aboard the MSC Musica cruise ship.  Her boyfriend, Bruno Souza Bicalho, allegedly found Ms. Bandeira deceased in their cabin, claiming that she committed suicide by hanging herself with a sheet from an overhead pipe.

Camila Peixoto Bandeira - MSC Cruises Today, a newspaper in Brazil reports that the police concluded that Ms. Bandeira was murdered by her boyfriend, with the cause of death being strangulation with the hands.  The conclusions were based on medical and forensic analysis and investigations conducted by the Brazilian police officers aboard the ship.

Camilla's cause has been championed by her brother, José Godolphim Bandeira Netto, who publishes a blog about the family's ordeal. 

This case is now heading toward a prosecution of Mr. Bicalho for the murder of Ms. Bandeira.

We applaud Jose and Ms. Bandeira's family for their efforts in finding justice for Camilla.

 

Photo credit:  atribuna.com.br

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

Passsenger Dies Following Fall From MSC Splendida

The Calgary Herald reoprorts thst a Spanish woman fell to her death Saturday off the gangway of a cruise ship moored in Genoa, Italy.

Maria Mercedes Bonastre, 62, of Barcelona was boarding the ship with her husband and friends when the top step of the plank gave way. 

The newspaper reports that the passenger was killed immediately when her head struck the dock and she fell into the sea. 

The incident occurred on the Splendida, operated by MSC Crociere.

Crew Member Found Dead on MSC Musica Cruise Ship - Murder or Suicide?

A crew member aboard the MSC cruise ship Musica was found dead in her cabin, according to numerous news sources today.

Camila Peixoto Bandeira, 28, was reportedly found in her cabin by another crew member, a Camila Peixoto Bandeira - MSC - Musica - Murder - Cruise Shipbartender, who also worked aboard MSC's Musica (photo left).  He is identified as either her husband or boyfriend.

One article in Portuguese entitled "Polícia Federal Investiga Morte de Tripulante em Navio" (Federal Police Investigates Death of Crew Member in Ship) reports that Ms. Bandeira's "husband" allegedly found his wife in their cabin, claiming that she may have committed suicide by hanging herself with a sheet from an overhead pipe. The story in the article is that he went to work in the morning around 7:00 a.m. and returned shortly before 10:00 a.m. to find Ms. Bandeira dead. 

However, the article also reports that the Master, staff captain, and ship doctor suggest that the case may have involved a murder by strangulation. 

Another article entitled "Bartender é Encontrada Morta em Navio" suggests that Ms. Bandeira's body was found by her boyfriend, identified as Polish crew member Souza Bicalho. This article also reports that he claims that she hung herself with a sheet, although the cruise ship officers apparently did not locate a sheet in the cabin.

The incident occurred on Sunday, January 10, 2010 while the cruise ship was in Port of Santos in Brazil. The newspapers also suggest that the couple allegedly had a history of quarrels.

The police in Brazil are investigating the incident.  They are waiting for toxicology tests and a medical examiner's report.   

 

Credits:        Lucas Latreche