Andy Stuart - No Wonder He's Smiling

The Securities & Exchange Commission reports that Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Executive Vice President Andrew Stuart sold 67,701 shares of NCL stock in a transaction last week at an average price of $40.35, for a total value of $2,731,735.35.

You can read more information about the stock sale at Ticker Report.

Mr. Stuart reportedly now owns 180,099 shares of the cruise line stock, valued at approximately $7,266,995.

So, including just his NCL cruise stock and cash from his recent NCL stock sale, Mr. Stuart is worth at least NCL's Andrew Stuart$10,000,000.

Cruise executives make fantastic money. We all know that Carnival executive Micky Arison is worth somewhere between $5,000,000,000 and $6,000,000,000 (billion). Royal Caribbean executives Richard Fain and Adam Goldstein have raked in over $100,000,000 between them. And even a vice president, like Mr. Stuart, can make $10,000,000.          

At the same time, the tax-free cruise industry is incredibly cheap when it come to paying crew members a decent salary. Cleaners routinely work well over 300 hours a month for as little as $550. Crew members receive virtually no benefits.

Mr. Stuart's company, in particular, routinely refuses to permit cruise passengers who have just lost a family member, or children diagnosed with cancer, to reschedule their vacations.  

All those nickels & dimes NCL is saving off of its hard-working crew members and unfortunate customers are lining the pockets of the cruise executives. 

 

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

Photo Credit: Twitter

Ebola on the High Seas: Should Cruise Passengers Worry About Becoming Infected?

I have received a dozen inquiries in the last few days about the chances of contracting Ebola during a cruise. My thought is that the chance is slim that anyone is going to go on a cruise and return home infected with the virus.  But there are some issues that concern me.

For U.S. Travelers, Chances of Infection Are Slim at this Time

From what I have learned, it's very difficult to contract the the virus. A cruise passenger would first have to come into close personal contact with an infected person. The infection could come from contact with the infected victim's bodily fluids (blood, saliva, vomit, feces, urine, or semen) or through contaminated needles. This would first require travel to the affected countries in West Africa (Liberia, Cruise Ship EbolaSierra Leone, and Guinea) and then intimate contact with an Ebola victim.

So far, the only victim in the U.S. is Thomas Duncan who traveled to Dallas from Liberia and since died. There is a chance that the persons who he came into contact with could develop the disease, but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is carefully monitoring the health of all persons who possibly could have come into contact with Mr. Duncan.  

Cruise lines are prudently avoiding ports in West Africa. Holland America Line, Seabourn Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Fred Olsen are dropping West African ports in Ghana, Gambia and Senegal. Princess Cruises is considering rerouting its 30-day "West Africa Adventure," according to the L.A. Times. 

Royal Caribbean does not call on any ports in West Africa, although ironically Royal Caribbean is incorporated in Liberia to avoid taxes and regulations.

Bloomberg says that the Ebola scare has lowered cruise stocks. Carnival's stock price fell 5.5 percent, NCL was down 2.8 percent, and Royal Caribbean fell 5.9 percent even though it doesn't sail near the affected (infected) area.

To my knowledge, there are no cruise lines which routinely hire from Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea. In fact, I have never met or even heard of crew members from these countries. I anticipate that if there are any crew members from these countries, they will not be be re-hired when they return home on vacation. Miami-based cruise lines enacted such hiring freezes on crew members from affected areas during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in the past.

But I'm Uncertain About the Future

There are some factors, though, that make me nervous about the future.

  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that as many as 1,400.000 people could be infected with Ebola by January 2015.  
  • The virus will get worse in the West African countries.
  • Experts predict the virus to appear in Europe within the month.
  • There are reports that Ebola can survive on surfaces for anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on the type of surface, the temperature, and the amount of light. 
  • According to the CDC, the average time for symptoms of Ebola to appear is 8-10 days. 
  • Many travelers don't disclose illnesses either before or during their cruises because they don't want to be barred from the ship or confined to their cabin.   
  • Some employees don't report to the ship infirmary because they don't want to lose their tips.

My concern is that the outbreak will continue and expand. It has already reached Spain. Jacquie Kubin writes in her article Ebola: Lessons Learned from SARS, the Flu, and HIV / AIDS that there is a 75% probability that the virus will reach France by the end of October and a 50% chance that Ebola will migrate to the U.K.

If the virus reaches Europe so quickly, future cruise travelers and employees could become infected. If those infected are booked on cruises, it is foreseeable that an infected person will fail to disclose the early symptoms of Ebola (intentionally or simply because they doesn't know they have been infected) when they appear at the airport or terminal and then embark the aircraft or cruise ship.

We already know from noro virus cases, many cruise passengers are ill when they come to the cruise ship. Unfortunately, they sometimes lie to get on the ship, and they won't stay in their cabins even when they are infectious.

We also know from past experiences that some crew members report to work when they are ill, including food handlers. This is documented in the CDC literature.  

Cruise ships are not prepared to handle a situation with an infected Ebola victim aboard. Any crew Cruise Ship Ebolamembers called upon to clean up the vomit and diarrhea and other bodily fluids of a sick passenger would likely become infected. An infected chef or waiter shedding Ebola would be a disaster and could potentially infect hundreds of passengers.  

We have seen that cruise ships can easily be plagued by outbreaks of diseases which include not only gastrointestinal diseases, noro virus and e-coli, but measles & rubella, Legionnaires Disease, SARS and other infectious diseases.

Unlike noro virus which lasts a few days, Ebola is potentially deadly. The victim needs immediate and specialized treatment that a cruise ship can't provide. An Ebola outbreak on a cruise ship could result in deaths as well as a public relations disaster.

Stay Tuned and Hope for the Best

There currently is no vaccine for Ebola. Clinical trials are just starting.

For the next many months, cruise lines will consider West Africa to be a no-man's land. Until the disease is eradicated, the cruise lines must avoid the ports there. Cruise ships will continue sailing wide of West Africa until the coast is clear. Hopefully the virus will not spread to Europe and find its way onto cruise ships. 

October 17 2014 Update: Texas Hospital Worker Who Handled Ebola Samples is on the Carnival Magic

October 18 2014 Update: Cruise Industry is Completely Unprepared for Ebola Outbreak

 

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

Read circular letter (No. 3484) about Ebola published by the International Maritime Organization.

Photo Credits: Top - Daily Times; Botton - CDC via AP

Measles On Alaska-Bound Cruise Ship

According to Alaska Business Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Anchorage Quarantine Station notified the Alaska Section of Epidemiology on September 11, 2014 of a "suspected measles (rubeola) case associated with the cruise industry."

The press release stated that "an adult crew member had recent contact with a confirmed measles case abroad, and subsequently developed classic clinical symptoms of measles on September 9 while onboard a ship in Alaska waters."

The patient apparently flew on international and domestic flights as well as cruise travel while infectious. The release says that "all cruise passengers will be informed of possible exposure directly Cruise Ship Measleswhile on board the ship."

The release downplays the chances of the crew member infecting someone who might have disembarked in Alaska. But there remains the possibility that the infected crew member may have infected passengers or other crew members (to the extent that they were not vaccinated) who could get off the ship either in Vancouver or Seattle, assuming this was a cruise which originated in these cities.   

The governmental agencies did not mention the name of the cruise ship, but claims that all cruise passenger who possibly could have been infected "will be" notified.

The report raises troubling issues.

Why would the governmental agencies keep the name of the cruise ship secret, except to avoid embarrassment to the cruise line? 

Have the cruise passengers (and crew) in fact been informed? 

If not, when will the passengers (and crew) be notified?

I'm asking the readers of Cruise Law News the following questions:

Has anyone been notified of the risk of being infected during a cruise to Alaska?

Does anyone know what cruise ships were in Alaskan waters on September 9th?

Measles outbreaks on a cruise are very serious. We reported on such an outbreak earlier this year - Measles Outbreak On Costa Pacifica Cruise Ship.

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

September 16 2014 Update:  We received the following comments on our Facebook page:

"I just returned from a cruise to Alaska I was on the cruise ship the Pearl we were notified on Saturday that we may have been exposed to the measles.

"We were notified - the crew member was removed from the ship while we were at sea." 

NCL Cruise Measles

Graphic (top): www.gmanetwork.com

NCL to Buy Prestige Cruises

Oceania CruisesReuters reports that Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) is in "advanced talks" to purchase Prestige Cruises for approximately $3 billion.
 
The owner of Prestige Cruises, private equity firm Apollo Global Management, owns 20% of NCL. 
 
Prestige Cruises is based in Miami and operates the Oceania and Regent brands, which has eight luxury cruise ships. 

 

Norwegian Breakaway Passengers Busted in Bermuda for Drugs

Norwegian BreakawayThe Royal Gazette reports that Bermuda customs officials arrested two cruise passengers from the Norwegian Breakaway for possession of marijuana and drugs. 

A passenger from New York pleaded guilty to possessing ecstasy, cocaine and cannabis. 

According to the newspaper, cruise officials notified customs officers of a smell from the passenger's cabin. The customs officers entered and woke up a the passenger, who was sleeping. He allegedly admitted that he was in possession of the drugs. He opened the cabin safe which had "25 green pills, five yellow pills and a white powder," later determined to be ecstasy, a prescription drug and cocaine.

A local magistrate fined the passenger $3,950.

A second passenger from California also pleaded guilty to possessing pot. Cruise ship officials and customs officers searched her cabin when she was not there. They opened her cabin's safe where they found the pot. She explained she had been prescribed pot for medical reasons.

The magistrate fined her $1,000.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Dickelbers

 

NCL's No-Cruise-for-the-Cancer-Child Public Relations Disaster Continues: "Shocking What Norwegian Did"

NCL Norwegian Cruise Line Cancellation Policy The case of Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) callously refusing to permit the family of a five year old boy with a cancerous tumor, "the size of a soda can," to reschedule their cruise is back in the news today.

A Long Island, New York news station PIX11 aired an interview with the mom and her son discussing the sad case. NCL refused to cooperate in rescheduling the cruise when the family discovered that their son had cancer.

You can read about our prior article here.

Sitting on the interview couch with the mom and her son was a formidable ally for the cancer-stricken child - Pauline Frommer.

Ms. Frommer is the daughter of the legendary travel expert Arthur Frommer. Ms. Frommer, an accomplished and highly respected travel expert in her own right, explained that NCL has the "most draconian" attitude toward cancellations in the cruise industry.  

She added that "most of the other lines would have shown more compassion."

Ms. Frommer concluded "I think it's pretty shocking what Norwegian did." 

Interested in this topic? Read Rigid Policies Can Sink Cruise Lines' Image.

 

Norwegian Cruise Line Wins Worst Cruise Line in the World Award

Nicolas-1It's been a while since I awarded my "Worst Cruise Line in the World" award. Quite frankly, I became tired of giving it to Carnival and Royal Caribbean every month.  But a reader of Cruise Law News just sent me a story of little Nicolas Colucci, age 5, who underwent emergency surgery after doctors found a "a large cancerous tumor growing inside his liver." He is now undergoing chemotherapy. 

The Lil' Mama website explains that the Colucci family bought a family cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) that was scheduled for June 1, 2014. The family asked NCL to reschedule their cruise to another date. NCL refused.  NCL wouldn't bend their corporate policies regarding medical emergencies - not even for a child battling cancer. You can read about the dreadful story here.

This is not the first time that NCL has acted in such a heartless manner. 

A couple of years ago, I wrote about a man from Key Largo who purchased a NCL cruise on the Norwegian Sky leaving from Miami. But his brother died, and the funeral was in Georgia on the day the cruise ship sailed. So he notified NCL, asking for a credit on a future cruise. NCL said no. He asked for his cruise to be donated to charity (Make-A-Wish). NCL said no.

Now comes the sick part. NCL then re-sold the cabin to someone else. Yep. NCL got a double profit due to the death of a guest's brother. Really sick. 

NCL is active on Twitter @CruiseNorwegian, so I tweeted a reference to the article.

No response.

NCL's "Executive Vice President of Global Sales and Passenger Services," Andy Stuart, is also active on Twitter @nclandy. So I tweeted him "Double cruise profit for death? Say it aint so Andy!"

No response.

Nicolas-2NCL should have permitted a child with cancer and parents go on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise. Or make a small donation in memory of their customer's brother. But to double sell the cabin under these circumstances?  It's cruel, greedy and outrageous.

Last year, I wrote again about NCL. A grandmother who drives disabled kids to school booked a cruise aboard the Norwegian Jewel for her family and grandkids at the cost of over $4,000. Then Superstorm Sandy struck, submerging her home under four feet of water. The storm ravaged her home, leaving her with nothing. She asked NCL to reschedule or refund her cruise. NCL said no way.

She appealed to NCL CEO Kevin Sheehan but the cruise line and its CEO wouldn't make an exception. Absolutely no refund or rescheduling. Heartless.

Yesterday, I attended a hearing before Senator Jay Rockefeller entitled "Improving Consumer Protections for Cruise Passengers." Cruise passengers testified regarding all types of harsh conduct by cruise lines who hide behind the unreadable fine print in their one-sided, passenger tickets. At one point during the hearing, Senator Rockefeller exclaimed that he was "fed up" with the cruise lines and their "callousness."

NCL is all smiles when it sells a family a "cruise of a lifetime." But when death, disaster or a medical emergency strikes, it shows its true colors.

NCL may have a great marketing image, but it can be your worse enemy in a time of true need.

Have a thought? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on our Facebook page. And let NCL know what you think by contacting them below:

Kevin Sheehan NCLNCL Corporation Ltd.
7665 Corporate Center Drive
Miami, Florida 33126

Corporate: (305) 436-4000

Andrew Stuart
Executive Vice President of Global Sales and Passenger Services
astuart@ncl.com
(305) 436-4000 

Andrew Stuart's twitter account: @nclandy

Kevin Sheehan (photo right)
Chief Executive Officer
ksheehan@ncl.com
(305) 436-4000

NCL Twitter: @CruiseNorwegian

July 26 2014 Update: According to a FOX NEWS station today, a "CEO of a popular cruise line reached out to the Colucci family to offer them a free cruise. The CEO asked that his cruise line not be named because he said he was genuinely touched by their story and didn't want any publicity for his gesture."

So who was the CEO?  Which cruise line did the right thing?

Here's a clue:

Last year, NCL abandoned a grandmother (and her grandchildren) after she bought a NCL cruise when her home was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.  NCL CEO refused to reschedule his customer's cruise. But Royal Caribbean stepped up to the plate and gave the family a free cruise. Read the story: Norwegian Cruise Lines Abandons Sandy Victims, While Royal Caribbean Steps Up to the Plate!  

July 27 2014 Update: The story goes viral. First a  national Fox News station covers the story and then the U.K.'s Daily Mail (the largest online newspaper in the world) covers it. Bad Karma for NCL.

July 29 2014 Update:  The public relations fall-out continues.  Opposing Views ran a story. TravelPulse also covered the story.  Gawker wasn't too subtle with its headline Cruise Line Screws Over Family of 5-Year-Old With Cancer. PRNews wrote Norwegian Cruise Line Drowning in Bad PR. Huff Post Parents Parents Outraged Cruise Line Won't Reschedule Their Trip In Light Of Son's Cancer Diagnosis. Anti-Jared wrote a letter to the NCL CEO.  

All of this reminds me of one of my favorite sayings - "Karma is a bitch only when you are."

 l to the NCL CEO.

Harvest Caye: Are NCL and the Belize Department of Environment Con Artists and Lackeys?

Earlier this month, we talked about the efforts of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) to slow down or block the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) "mega cruise development" on Harvest Caye in Southern Belize. 

You can read our article here.

It seems that Belize's Department of Environment (DOE),under pressure from Miami-based NCL, rushed the massive and environmentally unsound project and avoided consulting with the public in Harvest Caye NCLBelize.

We have seen other cruise lines destroy ancient coral reef and mangroves during dredging and land-clearing projects to build one-sided projects designed to suck the money and resources out of Caribbean countries.  

Today I ran across a "letter to the editor" from the Chairman of the Placencia Chapter of the Belize Tourism Industry Association.

Characterizing the NCL executives who pitched the project as "con men" and those Belizeans who are hastily moving the project ahead without public participation in the environmental impact analysis as "lackeys," the tourism president asked some compelling questions about the Harvest Caye project.  

You can read the article here

NCL will carve up the mangroves and tear out the reefs to build their fantasy resort and wedge their massive ships in.  

Once projects like this are plotted and hatched here in Miami, the wishes of the local people are irrelevant. Its only a matter of time before the bulldozers rip out the mangroves and the indigenous flora and fauna are replaced by the fill of crushed reefs. 

 

Image credit:  ambergristoday.com

Belize Tourism Industry Association Sues NCL to Block Mega Cruise "Harvest Caye" Development in Belize

Belize 7 News reports in an article "BTIA Gets Their First Day In Court Against NCL" that the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) is trying to block the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) "mega cruise development" on Harvest Caye in Southern Belize.

BTIA argues that under pressure from Miami-based NCL, Belize's Department of Environment (DOE) rushed the massive and environmentally unsound project and avoided consulting with the public in Belize.

The news source quotes the lawyer for the BTIA saying that the DOE refused to provide the public with notice of the project and an opportunity to object to the Miami-motivated project:  " . . . they were Harvest Caye NCL Projectrushing the thing and doing it in breach of the law which is set up there to make sure that the public has full opportunity to participate."

In April, the San Pedro Sun reported that there was resistance to the project with local residents objecting to the flawed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the procedural impropriety of the DOE for failing to follow statutory procedures.

The newspaper indicated that NCL and local supporters of the project hosted a wine and filet mignon party on the Norwegian Jewel to convince the local media to support the Harvest Caye project.

Read NCL Wines & Dines the Media While Frosting the Harvest Caye Cake.

This area has beautiful, ancient coral reefs (see video) which will be destroyed by the dredging to accommodate NCL's large cruise ships.   

Consider what Royal Caribbean did to the coral reefs when it expanded the port in Falmouth, Jamaica

More Reefer Madness from Bermuda's Kangaroo Courts

Busting U.S. cruise passengers for small amounts of pot is big business for the customs officers in Bermuda. It's a topic we have written about often.

The cases all seem the same. When the cruise guests go ashore, the customs officers board the ship with their sniffer dogs and conduct warrant-less searches without probable cause. They even request the ship security personnel to open up the safes in the cabins.  A gram or two brings a $500 or so fine which the passengers pay with a credit card to avoid the threatened three month jail sentence. 

This week, a newspaper in Bermuda reports that a U.S. passenger, age 25, "Chelsea," arrived in NCL Norwegian BreakawayBermuda on NCL's Norwegian Breakaway. The customs officers found 2 grams of marijuana in her cabin's safe. A man who shared her cabin (apparently her boyfriend) said the pot was his, but that didn't stop the police from handcuffing Chelsea and hauling her off to jail.

Chelsea claims that she was suffering from pain due to the cuffs and asked for relief several times from one of the officers. The newspaper says that after the arresting officer "repeatedly ignored her cries of pain," intimating that the officer intentionally tried to hurt her by twisting the middle part of the handcuffs, Chelsea cursed the officer saying:.

“You f***ing stupid b***h. You’re hurting me, you b***h.” 

This outburst led to the prosecutors charging her with "violently resisting arrest."

The presiding judge, Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner, scoffed at the charges pointing out that the woman did not become violent and cursed only after she was ignored when she complained of pain.

The prosecutors introduced no evidence on the resisting arrest charge.

Magistrate Warner then fined Chelsea $500 for the pot. You can read about Magistrate Warner in these articles: 

Bermuda's Kangaroo Courts Back in Action

Business As Usual In Bermuda: Cruise Passenger Arrested & Fined For Small Amount of Pot

Reefer Madness Continues: Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Pot Head

People ask me, why do you care if cruise stoners get fined?

The problem is that Bermuda has a strange sense of priorities. It delights in small time pot busts of vacationers with a cigarette or two in the cabin safe to be smoked for recreational use on the high seas, an issue the cruise line security should deal with. But rapes or violent shipboard crimes? Bermuda is indifferent to prosecuting rapists and criminals on Bermuda flagged ships.

Compare Bermuda's madness with the customs policy in Canada toward cruise ships. For a period of a year or so, customs officers in Halifax, Canada arrested four crew members and cruise passengers with child pornography on their computers. All of them served jail time. A good use of Canadian customs and judicial resources.

But in Bermuda, you'll never see a cruise rapist, pedophile or child porn pervert arrested by police or customs officers or sentenced by Magistrate Warner. There's no money to be made in arresting real criminals.

Photo Credit: Bermuda Sun

 

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

 

Red Bugs in Bahamian Palms? Nassau Vendors in Uproar Over NCL Straw Market Ban

Red Palm Mite Straw MarketThe Tribune newspaper in Nassau reports on a controversy which developed when a Miami-based cruise line apparently banned its passengers from buying items at the local straw market due to fear that the straw may be infested with a pest called the "red palm mite."

The Tribune says that Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) has apparently prohibited straw crafts from being brought back on its cruise ships in Nassau for the past several weeks.

Tourism officials told the Tribune that the ban was connected to the infestation of the palm mite in the Caribbean. However, Bahamas allegedly has no incidents of palm mite infestation according to the tourism officials. They also say that the straw in the Bahamas is cured anyway.

Local vendors are complaining that NCL cruise passengers are saying that anything they buy in the straw market will be confiscated by cruise ships guards when they return to the ship.

According to the Tribune, the tourism officials have tried to resolved the issue with NCL and have alerted the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association about the problem. 

The issue shows how dependent the Bahamas is on cruise ship tourists.  

NCL sails nearly 15,000 passengers to Nassau on a regular basis on five cruise ships - the Breakaway, Gem, Pearl, Sky, and Getaway

 

Photo Credit: University of Florida

Broken Thruster or Strong Currents? Norwegian Breakaway Delayed Returning to Pier 88

A number of news sources are reporting that a NCL cruise ship, the Norwegian Breakaway, was delayed in the Hudson River after one of its thrusters malfunctioned this morning.

The Daily News reported that the Breakaway, while returning to New York after a week-long Caribbean cruise, lost its steering as it headed toward Pier 88 on the West Side when a thruster malfunctioned. 

NCL Norwegian Breakaway Cruise ShipCoast Guard officials said they were notified of the predicament around 7:45 AM, and a tug boat assisted the cruise ship to the pier around 10 AM.

NCL didn't mention any type of propulsion problem. A NCL spokeperson said “The ship was slightly delayed because of strong currents in the Hudson River.” 

A cruise passenger @NoelDallacco tweeted that the incident was not a big deal. She posted a photo of a tug pushing the NCL cruise ship to port. 

NCL cruise ships have experienced problems trying to make it into New York piers in the past. In 2012, the Norwegian Star cruise ship struck the pier next to an aircraft carrier at the Intrepid Museum in Manhattan. In 2008, the Norwegian Spirit smashed Pier 90 while trying to dock at Pier 88. 

Ten days ago, there was dramatic video posted on Facebook and Twitter when NCL's Norwegian Gem was attempting to return to port to attempt a medical disembark after a passenger was injured. The cruise ship began drifting sideways toward an anchored tanker and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. (The pilot aboard the NCL ship sounds like Woody Allen). The video is from NY Harbor Webcam: 

 

 

 

 

May 6 2014 Update: According to a NBC news station, "A dead 30-foot whale found on the Brooklyn side of New York Harbor Monday morning may have gotten tangled in the steering system of a cruise ship, disabling the boat for several hours, authorities said Tuesday.

The whale was found near Pier 4 on Monday, and towed to the New Jersey side of the harbor.

The NOAA Fisheries Service said it is believed to have been struck by the Norwegian Cruise Lines ship, which then stalled for several hours in the Hudson River as it was preparing to dock in Manhattan Sunday. 

Honduran Police Arrest Bay Islands Resident in Murder of NCL Crew Member

A number of news sources are reporting that the national police and special forces in Honduras arrested a suspect last night for the murder of the Norwegian Cruise Line crew member in Roatan.

The Honduran newspaper Tiempo reports that an arrest of Guzman Ramirez has been made in the murder of NCL assistant cook "Jacob."

The suspect was hidden in the home of relatives, located in Coxen Hole, just 400 meters from the murder scene.

Guzman Ramirez Roatan MurderWhile capturing the suspect, the police seized a .38 caliber revolver, allegedly involved in the murder. (The newspaper states that the crew member had two gunshot wounds, one in the left arm and another in the chest).

The newspaper states that the suspect was detained for drug possession in January but was quickly released by the police. 

The Honduran police originally arrested two other suspects but released them.

The newspaper also states that the suspect is originally from the Bay Islands and is not from the mainland of Honduras as many people thought. Many people in Roatan have informed us that the Bay Islands are peaceful and their crime problems mostly stem from the mainland.  

You can see other photographs of the suspect and the arrest here - CAPTURADO HOMICIDA DE FILIPINO.

We were the first in the U.S. to report on this terrible crime. You can read the initial accounts here.

NCL quickly announced that it is pulling its cruise ships from Coxen Hole for at least a week. 

Royal Caribbean is continuing to sail to Roatan although passengers from that cruise line have been robbed at gunpoint.  

Carnival is still sailing to its facility at Mahogany Bay in Roatan despite cruise passengers been robbed at gunpoint

Honduras is one of only two countries (the Bahamas is the other) subject to a critical crime warning from the U.S. state department.  You can read the warning here. Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world and has had such a record since 2010.

Will NCL's CEO Kevin Sheehan Pull the Norwegian Pearl, Dawn & Jewel Out of Roatan?

Last month Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) pulled its cruise ships out of Tunis after Tunisian officials at the port prohibited Israeli passengers from entering the country.  

It could have been confusion over visa and immigration issues, but NCL issued a stern public statement condemning what it perceived as discrimination against its Jewish clients. 

“We want to send a strong message to Tunisia and ports around the world that we will not tolerate such random acts of discrimination against our guests. We are outraged by this act . . . "

Yesterday we were the first to report that a Filipino crew member was shot and killed in Roatan. A bandito gunned the crew member down for his cell phone. The crew member bled to death on a main street near the port.

No, the crime was not unforeseeable. No, it was not rare. The U.S. State Department has issued a critical crime warning. Since 2010 Honduras has had the highest murder rate in the world. The New York Norwegian Pearl Cruise ShipTimes wrote about crime problems in Roatan in January. We published articles this year like this and this about the escalating armed violence in Roatan against U.S. citizens. Women and children have been terrorized by armed criminals in this deceivingly idyllic island. Now a crew employee is dead. 

How will NCL react?

Will NCL be outraged?  Will NCL tolerate such violence? Will NCL send a strong message to Roatan?

Is a Filipino crew member killed in Roatan worth the same as two dozen cruise guests discriminated against in Tunisia?

I certainly think so.  

Roatan has done little to address the armed robberies against cruise passengers and tourists this year. Its reward of a paltry $5,000 (U.S.) for the bad guy responsible for the death yesterday seems awfully meager. I suppose that an island where a criminal will kill for a $250 cell phone will be motivated by a $5,000 bounty for the killer. 

NCL's CEO must act decisively. Sheehan must pull his ships from Roatan. A message must be sent that this is unacceptable. 

Anything less will be an in insult to the NCL crew members and to the memory of Filipino crew member "Jacob."

April 8 2014 Update: NCL just posted this on its Facebook Page:

"Norwegian Cruise Line is shocked and saddened by the tragic death of a crew member from Norwegian Pearl in Roatan, Honduras on Sunday, April 6, 2014.

Police reports indicate the crew member was killed during an attempted robbery while in Roatan. Local officials are investigating and have the alleged suspect in custody.

In an abundance of caution for our guests and crew, we have cancelled calls to Roatan this week for Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Jewel.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the crew member."

April 10 2014 UpdateHonduran Police Arrest Bay Islands Resident in Murder of NCL Crew Member

 

Read our prior article: NCL Crew Member Shot & Killed in Roatan, Honduras 

NCL Crew Member Shot & Killed in Roatan, Honduras

This evening we received reliable information that a Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) crew member was shot and killed in Roatan, Honduras earlier today.

The crew member reportedly was from NCL's Norwegian Pearl cruise ship.

The only information we received is that a Pearl crew member named "Jacob" from the Philippines was killed by a gunshot today while the Norwegian Pearl was in Roatan today. The murder apparently occurred when the gunman was trying to rob the crew member of his cell phone a short distance form the cruise ship. 

NCL Norwegian Cruise Line Pearl This year we have posted two articles warning about the high crime rate in Roatan. We published the articles last month and in January:

Travel Crime Warning: Tourists Assaulted, Robbed & Terrorized in Roatan, Honduras

Crime in Roatan: Shots Fired, Armed Robbery of Carnival Cruise Passengers

The U.S. State Department issued a warning that the murder rate in Honduras is the highest in the world. 

Before I learned of the murder today, I received the following message on this blog: 

"Honduras is rated the number 1 murder country in Central America for a reason.  . . . People, just remember this, anyone who lives there or owns property there is going to paint you a rosy picture of this place because they can't leave or they have their money invested there. Avoid Roatan."

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

Update: The Teledifusora Insular Facebook page identifies the Filipino crew member as Jacob Bagan. It states that the police are searching for someone called "Barrabas" who shot the man and then left his bicycle at the scene. The new mayor of Roatan offers a reward of 100,000 Lempiras (a little over $5,000 U.S.) for the capture of the murderer. There are numerous photographs on the Facebook page, including one of the deceased man that is graphic. Other newspapers are covering the story, including this one, which contains very disturbing images (warning). 

Below is a video from Roatan of the Mayor being interviewed.

April 7 2014 UpdateWill NCL's CEO Kevin Sheehan Pull the Norwegian Pearl, Dawn & Jewel Out of Roatan?

April 10 2014 UpdateHonduran Police Arrest Bay Islands Resident in Murder of NCL Crew Member

 

Photo credit: Wikipedia / Visitor 7  

Norwegian Gem Medevac Involved Honeymoon Couple

Two days ago we mentioned that the Coast Guard medevaced a sick passenger from the Norwegian Gem cruise ship. Like most other Coast Guard medevacs, there was not much information available regarding the identity of the ill passenger. 

Today a news station in Salt Lake Utah aired a short segment explaining who the passenger was and what happened on the NCL cruise ship.

KSL Utah explains that the medevac involved a honeymooning couple who were enjoying their cruise until the husband, Brent Killian, became ill and he needed medical evacuation.  

The Gem was approximately 180 miles east of North Carolina, requiring a Coast Guard helicopter to take him ashore for emergency medical treatment.

The wife, Jo, was naturally anxious when her newly-wed husband was hoisted into the sky, but she took everything in stride. The news station reports that the couple has already booked another cruise.

We have reported on other helicopter rescues of ill passengers from the Norwegian Gem.  Watch a video of the July 14 2014 medevac from the Gem here

  

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Norwegian Gem

NCL Medevac Cruise Ship The Coast Guard issued a statement today that it rescued a man in medical distress from the Norwegian Gem cruise ship. 

The Coast Guard stated that the NCL cruise ship called for assistance when the ship was sailing around 80 miles off the coast of Nags Head, North Carolina. The Coast Guard received the distress signal at approximately 2:30 PM.  It sent a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and an HC-130 Hercules from Elizabeth City, North Carolina. 

As you can see in the video, it looks like the crew had a little difficulty getting the passenger into the helicopter.

The helicopter crew hoisted the man onto the helicopter round 5 PM and flew him back to land where he was transported by ambulance to Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City. 

Photo Credit: WCTI 12

March 28 2014 UpdateNorwegian Gem Medevac Involved Honeymoon Couple (VIDEO)

 

Tunisian Government to Israeli Passengers: You Are Not Welcome, Stay on the Ship!

A number of news sources are reporting that the Tunisian government prohibited Israeli passengers from disembarking from a cruise ship at a stop at the Port of Tunis.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), a U.S.-based cruise line, told the Israeli citizens that they were not welcome by the Tunisian government and had to stay aboard the cruise ship.

The ship involved is the Norwegian Jade.

B’nai Brith Canada released a statement yesterday stating that there were approximately 20 Israelis Norwegian Jade - Tunis Tunisiaon board the NCL ship. They did not know in advance that they could not leave the ship during the port of call.

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), “the cruise line had a responsibility to its passengers and (to) advise them of this discriminatory policy in advance,” B’nai Brith Canada CEO Frank Dimant said in a statement. “Better still the cruise line should avoid ports that have such policies.”

The cruise blog Cruise Hive publishes a statement by NCL about the incident:

"During Norwegian Jade’s port call in La Goulette, Tunisia on Sunday, March 9, 2014, a small number of guests holding Israeli passports were not allowed to go ashore because of a last minute decision made by the Tunisian Government. Port taxes for the call in Tunisia are being refunded to these guests.

We apologize for any inconvenience to our guests and appreciate their understanding. We are reviewing this decision with the appropriate officials." 

NCL's statement is pathetic. NCL should not be down-playing the incident like this. The Tunisian government's action should be immediately and unequivocally denounced in the strongest language possible.  

This is not about returning nominal port taxes to inconvenienced guests. It is about much deeper and important issues. No citizens of any nation should be subjected to such discrimination.  The fact that an Arab nation would exhibit such contempt and hostility against Israel is particularly despicable.

What lessons were learned from the hijacking of the Achilles Lauro cruise ship and the murder of passenger Leon Klinghoffer? Have we forgotten his death and the terror inflicted by an Arab terrorist group against cruise ship passengers in the Mediterranean and ending in the murder of a Jewish passenger?  

Tunisia's actions sent a clear message to Israeli citizens.  NCL's response should be equally clear. The only reasonable action is for NCL and the cruise industry to boycott Tunis as a port.

Tunisia Cruise Shipping Miami 2014March 11, 2014 Update:  NCL is boycotting Tunisia.  Here's the NCL statement by CEO Sheehan:

“We want to send a strong message to Tunisia and ports around the world that we will not tolerate such random acts of discrimination against our guests. We are outraged by this act and the fact that we were not notified in advance of this practice. We apologize sincerely to our guests who were affected and want them to know that we have taken the appropriate action in response.”  

NCL announced the boycott during the Cruise Shipping Miami (CSM2014) today.  I walked by the Tunisia delegation (photo left). They must be feeling rather foolish.  

 

Photo Credit: Top - Wikipedia / Ivan T.; bottom - Jim Walker

Cruise Ships Without Lifeguards: Shame On You!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WFSB 3 Connecticut

Drowning Tragedy Aboard the Norwegian Breakaway: Where Are the Lifeguards?

NCL Norwegian BreakawayNews broke tonight that two small children were pulled from a pool from NCL's Norwegian Breakaway as the cruise ship was sailing from New York to the Bahamas this morning. 

Both children were unresponsive. The younger child (age 4) died on the cruise ship. The other child (age 6) reportedly was medevaced by the U.S. Coast Guard accompanied by his grandmother a nurse from the ship.   

WBTW aired a video (below) of the sad events.

This is the third event in the last nine months involving children who have drowned or were permanently injured in cruise ship swimming pools.

The first tragedy involved a young child (also 4 yeas old) who slipped under the water on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship and sustained brain damage. You can read our articles below:

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

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

Swimming Pool Mishap on Disney Fantasy Sends 4 Year Old to Hospital

To Disney's credit, it subsequently began to assign lifeguards to the swimming pools on its cruise ships.

The second recent event involved the death of a young child who drowned on the Carnival Victory.  Our article is below:

6 Year Old Drowns on Carnival Victory Cruise Ship

There is never an excuse when a child drowns in a swimming pool operated by an amusement park or cruise ship. Protecting children is the joint obligation of the parents and cruise line. There needs to be a combination of both personal responsibility and corporate responsibility to take care of kids around a pool.  

The Breakaway is suppose to be one of the newer and bigger cruise ships NCL offers to the public.  It is a shame that NCL decided not to assign lifeguards to the pool from where the children were eventually pulled unconscious.  What lesson did NCL learn from the Disney and Carnival tragedies?

The cruise industry will collect between $35 and $40 billion a year, tax free, but NCL won't assign lifeguards to the public pools?      

NCL apologized. However, cruising families with children deserve reasonable care exhibited by the cruise lines and lifeguards to watch over the public pools, not after-the-fact apologies.   

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Dickelbers

Puke Fest Aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that there is an outbreak of gastrointestinal sickness of a large percentage of cruise passengers aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas cruise ship.

The CDC indicates that 281 passengers (9.21% of total passengers) are suffering from norovirus type of symptoms. The symptoms include vomiting, nausea, headaches and diarehhea. You can read the report here

The pro-cruise site Cruise Critic calls the problem a "small outbreak" but the truth is that 9% is a high percentage.  It is not unusual for passengers not to report the illness in order to avoid being Explorer of the Seasquarantined in the cabin or for crew members who rely on tips to keep working after they are ill. The total numbers are often under-reported.

In addition to sick passengers, 22 crew members are reportedly ill according to the CDC. 

The CDC website states that an environmental health officer and an epidemiologist will board the ship in St. Thomas, USVI on January 26, 2014 to conduct an epidemiologic investigation. 

It may be possible to determine whether the outbreak is in fact related to norovirus. But the CDC will not have any success is determining why and how the virus came aboard. There is not enough time for the CDC to conduct an exhaustive scientific analysis and, as usual, the ship will not sit idle waiting for the test results. The cruise ship will continue to sail whether the CDC determines if it is norovirus or exactly why it is on the ship. 

Earlier this week, cruise expert Professor Ross Klein indicated that the CDC reported 130 passengers and 12 crew members became ill with gastrointestinal illness while cruising aboard the NCL Norwegian Star

The Majesty of the Seas returned to Miami a week ago with 70 people reported ill with gastrointestinal illnesses.

Were the outbreaks on the Royal Caribbean and NCL ships caused by the passengers not washing their hands? That's always what the cruise lines say.

Or was it due to crew members who kept working after they became sick and causing the outbreak? Or was it contaminated food or water, which is a common cause?

We will never know. The cause of gastrointestinal outbreaks is usually a mystery on cruise ships.

 

Have a comment? Please leave a message below or join the discussion on our Facebook page - what's the most common cause of norovirus on cruise ships?  

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Emma Jones

Country Cruising Fiasco: Star Trace Adkins Allegedly Falls Off Wagon, Fights Himself and Leaves Cruise

A cruise ship is a terrible place to go if you have a drinking problem.

The gossipy TMZ and the New York Daily News say that country music star Trace Adkins allegedly got drunk on a country music cruise, fought with an impersonator singing karaoke, and then left the ship in mid cruise when the ship arrived in Jamaica. He subsequently checked into a rehabilitation center.

The tabloid media says that Mr. Atkins struggles with alcoholism but has been sober for 12 years, until the cruise this week. The AP has confirmed that he has entered a rehab program. The newspapers indicate that he has discussed the issue of alcoholism publicly.

Country Cruise NCL Pearl Trace AdkinsMr. Adkins was the top bill on a "Country Cruising" week-long cruise on a Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ship (the Pearl) which left  Miami on Sunday, January 12th with stops in Ocho Rios (yesterday), Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. The ship will return on Sunday.

You can click on the cruise website and listen to him invite you personally "to the best country cruise ever . . . I sailed on this cruise last year and I can tell you it was a hoot . . .  it was a blowout!"

So right now a boatload of country music fans are sailing without the headlining act. Let's wish Mr. Adkins well and hope the fiasco doesn't end up in litigation.  

I suspect that his fans will take the incident in stride.

Mr. Adkins is active on Twitter. On the first day of the cruise, he left his tweet: "Up here in my suite, overlooking the pools. Behave yourselves."   

We have heard of other stars falling victim to the tendency to over-drink on cruises.

A couple of years ago one of the Backstreet Boys got so hammered during a fan cruise that some fans asked Carnival for a refund. 

ABC has a video of the story which you can see here.

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Norwegian Breakaway

The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an 81 year old man from a Norwegian Cruise Line ship off the coast off Cape Hatteras early this morning. 

The Norwegian Breakaway contacted the Coast Guard around 4 a.m. this morning to report that a passenger was suffering a heart-attack.

A Coast Guard helicopter crew responded to the ship, 55 miles southwest of Cape Hatteras, and flew the passenger to Sentara Norfolk General hospital.  

 

And The Cruise Industry Wonders Why It Has An Image Problem: NCL Screws Another Customer in Distress

David Lazarus of the LA Times writes about how Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) refused to either refund or credit the cruise fare to 66 year old David Warlick and his wife after she was diagnosed with bladder cancer and underwent emergency surgery.

In his article "Cruise Line Unmoved By Customer's Cancer Emergency," Lazarus points out that although cruise corporations are considered to be a person under the U.S. Constitution, "when called upon to demonstrate a little human decency, they almost unfailingly respond with profound corporate indifference."

NCL defended itself by saying that it has a strict cancellation policy. Moreover, NCL pointed out the Norwegian Cruise Line - Kevin Sheehancouple should have purchased insurance. But NCL had no legal obligation to screw its cancer stricken guest. From a moral perspective, it could and should have done the right thing and let the couple reschedule their cruise until a later date.

This is not the first time NCL has acted like a bad corporate citizen.

NCL refused to refund the cruise fare of a passenger whose brother died and the funeral was on the same day as the cruise. The guest notified NCL, asking for a credit on a future cruise. NCL said no. He asked for their cruise to be donated to charity (Make-A-Wish) so a child with cancer could enjoy a once in a lifetime cruise. NCL said no. Then NCL re-sold the cabin to another couple.

NCL got a double profit due to the death of a guest. Ugh.

NCL also demonstrated a lack of humanity when a grandmother, whose home was destroyed last year after being submerged by Superstorm Sandy, tried to reschedule a $4,000 cruise aboard the Norwegian Jewel for her family and grand kids. She appealed to NCL for help.

She even wrote the CEO Kevin Sheehan (above right) asking to refund the cruise or reschedule it, but the cruise line and its CEO wouldn't make an exception. NCL said absolutely no refund or rescheduling, even though the grandmother works driving special needs kids to school. This trip was going to be her first vacation ever, in 70 years.

But NCL refused to help the family and took their money. A news station says that when it approached NCL about the terrible situation, the cruise line erected a "stone wall of silence."

 

Photo Credit: prhub.com

Two Cruise Passengers Seriously Injured on the Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Breakaway Cruise ShipA local CBS news station is reporting that two cruise passengers were seriously injured on a cruise ship that has docked at Port Canaveral, Florida.

The news station says that a man suffered a neck injury and a woman in her 70s suffered some type of fracture while aboard the Norwegian Breakaway.

The Orlando Sentinel also reports that the Brevard County Fire Rescue is involved responding to the injuries.  Crews responded to terminal six at Port Canaveral for a man with a neck injury around noon, according to the Fire Rescue's Twitter page. Twenty minutes later, officials issued a trauma alert for another patient – a woman in her 70's with a fracture. 

It is believed that both men are passengers.

The Breakaway is home ported in Manhattan and makes includes Port Canaveral as a port. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Dickelbers)

NCL Stewards Required to Make 70 Beds & Clean 35 Cabins in 4 Hours, But Appellate Court Rejects Penalty Wage Claims

"Freestyle cruising." Carefree and fun? Maybe for the NCL cruise passengers. But hardly for the crew.

After reading this decision, I'll never think of "Freestyle cruising" as anything less than an abusive work system for the stewards on NCL cruise ships.  

The case I am referring to is the opinion released yesterday by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal: Wallace et al. v. NCL (Bahamas) Ltd., Docket No. 1:09-CV-21814-FAM.

The case involves senior cabin stewards who worked aboard NCL cruise ships. They filed suit under the Seaman's Wage Act, 46 U.S.C. 10313, alleging that NCL did not pay them their full wages because their compensation did not take into account the money they were required to pay their helpers to NCL Freestyle Cruisingcomplete their work on embarkation days.

The federal district court found that additional wages were owed, but refused to award "penalty wages" under the Act. "Penalty wages" are owed in the amount of 2 days’ wages for each day payment is delayed. Once the delay or non-payment is proved by the seafarer, then the burden shifts to the cruise line to prove that the delay or non-payment was justified. On appeal, the federal appellate court affirmed the decision and concluded that there was no evidence of willful or arbitrary misconduct by NCL.

The appellate court's opinion, which is here, is worth reading.

In a nutshell, the appellate court affirmed the district court's conclusion that NCL didn't realize that a single senior cabin steward would be unable to clean 30 to 35 cabin and change and make 70 to 75 cabins in a few hours. It's hard to understand how a court could be so naive. Of course, cabin attendants need assistance in doing all of this work in just around 4 hours.  Although the courts rejected the penalty wage claims, it's still interesting to read the opinion to consider the difficulty and pressure of the work by stewards on NCL ships:     

"A passenger’s time spent on a cruise ship is typically very relaxing, at least until it is time to disembark. In this case, the defendant-appellee NCL (Bahamas) Ltd., (“NCL”) decided to make that last day of the voyage less stressful for its customers. To accomplish this goal, NCL implemented a new policy, called “Freestyle” cruising, which permits passengers to stay aboard for a longer time after the ship has docked on the last day of their voyage. Passengers, who would normally disembark very early, are allowed to stay on board until as late as 10:30 a.m. That is the good news.

The bad news, at least for the NCL employees who worked as senior stateroom stewards aboard the cruise ships, is that on that same day, while one group of passengers is leisurely disembarking, another group of passengers is eager to board and begin their cruise ship experience. Due to the arrival of these new passengers, NCL required the senior stateroom stewards to have all of the cabins cleaned by 2:00 p.m. This made it much more difficult for the senior stewards to timely complete their work. That is, although they began their work shifts at 7:00 a.m., for the most part, they were unable to begin cleaning the cabins until as late as 10:30 a.m. because the departing group of passengers was still enjoying their Freestyle cruise. This in turn allowed scant time to complete the assigned cleaning work by 2:00 p.m. In light of the substantial workload and the shortened time frame within which to complete it, most of the senior stewards adopted the practice of hiring helpers (out of their own pocket) to assist them in completing their work on embarkation day.

                                                       *                       *                     *

On embarkation day (the day a cruise ends, passengers disembark, and new passengers board), senior stewards had to clean between 30 and 35 cabins (although there was some dispute over how many beds 30 to 35 cabins contained, senior stewards had to strip and make at least 70 beds) before new passengers arrived. On these days, their responsibilities included: (1) stripping the beds of linens and sheets; (2) separating the linens and sheets; (3) making the beds; (4) dusting the cabins; (5) sanitizing the cabin’s handrails, door handles, closet doors, frequently touched areas, and telephones; (6) cleaning any used coffee pots and ice buckets; (7) separating the garbage into bottles, cans, paper, and plastic; (8) taking garbage to the incinerator; and (9) vacuuming the cabin and hallways. NCL had rigorous standards that required “immaculate” cabins and a quality control system to randomly check for cleanliness.

In 2000, NCL implemented its Freestyle cruising policy, which permitted passengers to stay on board later on embarkation day. This policy was designed to maximize relaxation for passengers. Prior to this time, NCL required passengers to disembark by 8:00 or 8:30 a.m. With Freestyle cruising, passengers could stay as long (or almost as long) as they wished. The senior stewards technically started their work at 7:00 a.m. on embarkation day, but under the Freestyle cruise system, passengers would leave their cabins much later. Indeed, few passengers would leave before 8:30 a.m., and most passengers did not disembark until 9:30 or 10:30 a.m. Because new passengers would venture to their rooms soon after boarding, NCL required that all cabins be cleaned by 2:00 p.m. This caused problems for NCL senior stewards on embarkation day. One NCL supervisor noted that with the Freestyle “concept we also advertise relax[ing] debark[ation] which puts another stress” on embarkation day.

Although junior stewards worked alongside the senior stewards, they offered little or no help, and in fact had their own separate work responsibilities. The senior stewards therefore had to complete a substantial workload in a shortened timeframe. And, if they failed to finish their assignments or rushed their work, they faced a quality control process that could lead to verbal and written reprimands. Thus, the senior stewards had to hire helpers to complete their duties on embarkation day."

NCL Passenger Falls Two Decks on Norwegian Breakaway, Receives Medical Treatment in Bermuda

NCL Norwegian BreakawayThe Bermuda Sun reports that on September 17th a NCL cruise passenger was taken to a hospital in Bermuda after she fell two decks and was seriously injured. The woman was aboard the Norwegian Breakaway.

The newspaper states that "it is unclear where exactly on the mega-ship that the accident took place or how it happened."

As a result, the NCL cruise ship made an early emergency stop so that the injured passenger could be taken to hospital for treatment. The Norwegian Breakaway was met with a pilot boat and the passenger was stretchered off the ship and eventually to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital by ambulance.

Cruise Critic reports that NCL stated that "the guest accidentally fell from her balcony on Deck 10 to Deck 8 and was disembarked in Bermuda for medical treatment . . ." 

Following this incident, a second passenger, a 72 year old man, was taken from the cruise ship at port to the same hospital in Bermuda for a heart condition.

 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Dickelbers

NCL Breakaway Breaks Apart During Rough Weather

NCL Breakaway Cruise ShipMultiple news sources are reporting that just weeks after its debut, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) newest ship, Breakaway, sustained damage from rough weather conditions.

The Cruise Critic website reports that the NCL Breakaway was returning to New York from Bermuda when it encountered winds exceeding 50 knots. Balcony dividers became dislodged. 

A Cruise Critic member, joeski27, complained that the balcony came apart with loose bolts and broken welds. "There were panels, metal segments, bolts and debris everywhere, and I can only imagine the similar damage elsewhere on the decks." 

Comments to the Cruise Critic site complained of poor design of the exterior of the ship.

If you have comments or photos of the cruise ship damage, please leave a comment below.

Photo Image: Wikimedia / Dickelbers

Senator Rockefeller Places Royal Caribbean & Norwegian Cruise Line Under the Microscope: Will Cruise CEO's Fain and Sheehan Be Honest?

Cruise lines hate U.S. governmental scrutiny of their business operations.  

The whole purpose of incorporating their businesses and flagging their cruise ships in foreign countries is to avoid U.S. taxes and the scrutiny of federal regulators. This business model permits the cruise lines to pay virtually no U.S. taxes and to avoid U.S. wage, labor and safety laws. Cruise lines often conceal shipboard crimes and the industry's abuse of crew members.

But one U.S. Senator, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, is taking the cruise lines' lack of transparency head on. Following Carnival's string of disabled cruise ships and nonchalant attitude towards its quests, Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Carnival billionaire cruise CEO Micky Arison in March, inquiring into issues pertaining to the cruise line's avoidance of taxes as well as issues regarding the safety of cruise passengers. You can read the letter here

Carnival's letter back to Rockefeller dodged and weaved and argued and mostly avoided responding to Senator Rockefeller's concerns. Carnival refused to disclose, for example, the number of victims of sexual assault - a topic that the cruise lines strenuously try to avoid talking about.  We summarized Arison's defiant attitude in our article: Carnival CEO Arison's Letter to Senator Rockefeller: Screw You!

Undaunted, Senator Rockefeller has sent another letter to Arison and has also sent letters to the CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises (Richard Fain) and Norwegian Cruise Lines (Kevin Sheehan).

NCL Cruise CEO Kevin SheehanIn his letters yesterday, the Senator is inquiring into the internal safety audits which the cruise lines and the cruise association are allegedly conducting. At the recent cruise trade show on Miami Beach, the Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL cruise executives talked at length about their ability to learn from their own internal investigations but never stated that they would release the reports from the investigations.

This is the usual cruise line ploy: assuring the public that they are busy at work investigating themselves after cruise ships sink or catch on fire; however, they never ever disclose the results of their alleged investigations. Carnival said that it was conducting an internal audit of its operations after the Carnival Splendor was disabled after an engine room fire in 2010.  But Carnival has never released the results of its investigation. The public remains in the dark.

Senator Rockefeller is also again demanding that the cruise lines disclose the number of crimes, particularly sexual assault, on cruise ships. The cruise industry has been notoriously dishonest in revealing accurate crimes statistics. It usually defaults to conclusory, self-serving opinions that crime is "rare" while simultaneously concealing the true crime statistics.

At a prior Congressional hearing, Royal Caribbean responded to a Congressional inquiry by stating Royal Caribbean Cruise CEO Richard Fainthat 66 women were raped during a three year period.  But in a court case we handled, the cruise line was ordered to reveal that the actual number of such crimes was much higher.

The LA Times reported on the cover-up in an article: Cruise Industry's Dark Waters.   

Royal Caribbean faced no consequence for misleading Congress back in 2006.  

The cruise lines' response to Senator Rockefeller in due on May 24th.  

Will RCCL CEO Fain and NCL CEO Sheehan be transparent? Or will they join Arison in a game of hide and seek?

Norwegian Cruise Lines Abandons Sandy Victims, While Royal Caribbean Steps Up to the Plate!

WABC New York TV reports on a story tonight which may explain why many cruise lines have a major problem with their reputation. 

The story involves a grandmother, whose home was destroyed last year after being submerged under four feet of the surging Superstorm Sandy, who had booked a cruise aboard the Norwegian Jewel for her family and grand kids at the cost of over $4,000.

Joanne Keating was set to sail on November 4th, just days after the storm. She was left with nothing NCL - Norwegian Cruise Line after the storm ravaged her home. Her home and life savings were all gone.  

Ms. Keating appealed to Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) for help. She even wrote the CEO Kevin Sheehan (right) asking to refund the cruise or reschedule it, but the cruise line and its CEO wouldn't make an exception. Absolutely no refund or rescheduling. 

The pitiful thing is that Ms. Keating and her daughter make a living driving special needs kids to school. This trip was going to be her first vacation ever, in 70 years! But NCL could care less. It refused to help the family and took their money.

The news station says that NCL acted cruelly and when approached about the terrible situation, erected a "stone wall of silence." 

Its not the first time that NCL has acted so selfishly.

Read And The Cruise Industry Wonders Why It Has An Image Problem if you want to know about some really bad customer abuse by the people at NCL.

The local news station in New York was resourceful and asked another cruise line to help the stricken family out.  Royal Caribbean, of all cruise lines, offered the family a free cruise. Watch the video below.     

 

Photo Credit:  prhub.com

Death on NCL's Norwegian Jade

Norwegian Jade Cruise Ship Katakolon GreeceAccording to a news account in Greece, a 25 year old Filipino crew member aboard the Norwegian Jade died when the cruise ship was in Katakolo, Greece.

In addition to the skimpy information contained in the newspaper, we learned that the incident occurred early this morning when cruise passengers were preparing to disembark for sightseeing ashore (including visiting the ruins of Olympia).

A mooring line snapped while the crew member was standing on a mooring deck platform (at the level of deck 7). The crew member was violently struck by the recoiling rope. He was knocked overboard and into the water at the port.  According to the news account, divers took several hours to retrieve the dead man's body in the murky water. 

The crew member was not fitted with either a harness or a life vest and he was not wearing a hard hat. (Some people say that his hard hat was subsequently found floating in the water).

This afternoon, the Norwegian Jade (previously named the Pride of Hawaii) continued on to its next port of call in Piraeus.  The Jade is flagged in the Bahamas.  It appears that the ship sailed without a representative of the Bahamas Maritime Authority conducting an inspection of the rope or analyzing the NCL Norwegian Jadeaccident and taking statements from the crew and witnesses.  The ship is now continuing to sail to Pireus this evening.   

Cruise lines like NCL have worked hard to strip crew members of their rights.  Crew members from the Philippines, in particular, are limited under the Philippines Overseas Employment Agreement (POEA) to very small death benefits even in cases like this where the cruise line failed to enforce basic safety procedures.  

You can read our article about the POEA here. NCL took the lead in enforcing unfair arbitration clauses which deprive seafarers of their rights under maritime law.

Without significant financial consequence to the cruise line in cases like this, there is no incentive to improve safety of the ship's hard working crew. 

If you have information about this fatality, please leave a comment below.     

Photo credits: Norwegian Jade - janiahola.fi; web cam - NCL; scene of accident - ekathimerini.com

NCL Norwegian Jade Death Greece

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Royal Caribbean & NCL Base Cruise Ships in New Orleans

Cruise Ships - New OrleansLast month, two cruise ships from Miami-based cruise lines arrived in New Orleans. NCL's Norwegian Star, with capacity for around 2,300 passengers, transitioned to the "Big Easy" and relieved the Norwegian Spirit which had been home-ported there.  

Royal Caribbean moved the Navigator of the Seas, a larger ship with a capacity of around 3,100 passengers, into the port of New Orleans where its Voyager of the Seas had been based.  

The cruise ships are based at the renovated Julia Street Terminal.  Both ships will be positioned in New Orleans for six months. 

The Port of New Orleans set a port record for cruise ship passengers for a two day period on November 17th to 18th when a total of almost 25,000 passengers arrived or departed on cruise ships. According to the Port of New Orleans, in 2011 736,908 passengers passed through the port. New Orleans is considered to be a "top 10" U.S. cruise port with 1,000,000 passengers expected by the end of this year. 

I lived in New Orleans from 1980 to 1987 before coming to Miami. I have warm memories of my time there at law school at Tulane and as a young lawyer.  During those years, the cruise industry was much smaller and there were no cruise ships based in New Orleans.  Now there are ships operated by NCL, Royal Caribbean and Carnival.  

One of the benefits of cruising out of New Orleans is the pre-cruise and post-cruise overnight stays in downtown New Orleans and the French Quarter. You can't beat the great food, the bars and late night cafe' au lait and beignets at Cafe du Monde.

I think it's time for Cruise Law to open up a maritime law office back in New Orleans!    

 

Photo Credit; AP / Andy Newman

23 Reports of Sexual Assault on NCL Cruise Ships in 15 Months

A court case pending in Miami contains an insight into the number of sexual assaults which occur during cruises.

The case is Jane Doe v. NCL and involves an incident where a cruise passenger alleges that she was raped in the toilet stall of a public bathroom while participating in a "Pub Crawl" on the Norwegian Sun.  A "Pub Crawl" is what I would describe as a drinking game where NCL employees take passengers to bars throughout the cruise ship where they are served booze. I mentioned the case last year.  

The federal district court judge just entered a number of orders in the case which are of interest.

Norwegian Sun Cruise Ship - Sexual AssaultNCL filed a motion arguing that it owed no obligation to warn its guests of the risk of being raped on the high seas. The court rejected the cruise line's argument.

The court pointed to the fact that there were 23 allegations of sexual assault on NCL cruise ships for the 15 month period before the incident (January 2010 to April 2011). The history of prior sexual crimes on NCL's fleet of cruise ships raised the issue whether the rape on the Norwegian Sun was foreseeable which, the court held, is an issue for the jury at trial.

NCL also argued that it had no duty not to over-serve passengers alcohol during cruises.  The federal court also rejected this argument. The court adopted the holding of a state court case, Hall v. Royal Caribbean, where a state appellate court ruled that cruise lines face liability when they serve passengers alcohol beyond the point of intoxication.

The security report on this case concluded that the passenger was "extremely intoxicated." 

Last week, I mentioned that NCL just adopted a "all you can drink" alcohol policy for $49 a day.  In our experiences there is a direct correlation between too much cruise booze and sexual assaults. 

The passenger in the NCL case is being represented by Miami maritime lawyer Keith Brais who posted copies of the court orders on line here and here.

NCL is being defended by Miami lawyer Curtis Mase.  Mr. Mase was involved in a highly publicized case in 1999 where a trial court ordered Carnival to reveal the number of sexual assaults against cruise ship passengers. This was the first time a cruise line had to reveal the extent of shipboard crimes.

Carnival disclosed that there were 62 incidents on its cruise ships for a five year period.  Two weeks later, the New York Times reported that Carnival located another 46 incidents and raised the tally to 108 incidents of sexual misconduct over the preceding 5 years. 

NCL Adopts "All You Can Drink" Policy

ABC News reports that Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has adopted an all-inclusive drink package on three of its cruise ships (Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Gem & Norwegian Jade) at $49 per person per day plus tips.

NCL is following Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean which all offer all-you-can-drink plans on their cruise ships. 

ABC states that the cruise lines "stand to make big bucks from the drink packages."  ABC explains that Drunk Cruise Passengermany cruise passengers tend to drink more during the first few days of the cruise than they do later during the cruise. But the drink packages often have to be purchased for the entire voyage, which motivates the passengers to drink more so not to lose the value of all-you-can-drink deal. 

As we have argued in prior articles, we have found that there is a direct correlation between excess booze and passengers going overboardsexual assault, and brawls between passengers, plus drunken passengers doing insanely dangerous and stupid stunts.  

Watch what happens on a Royal Caribbean cruise when passengers drink too much.

We are going to have to hire more lawyers if all of the cruise lines adopt such an irresponsible drinking policy. 

 

Photo credit: NIN Forum

NCL Assistant Cruise Director Sentenced to Nine Years for Child Pornography

Today, a Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) former assistant cruise director was sentenced to nine years in jail for possessing child pornography.

Senad Djedovic, from Bosnia and Herzegovina, was arrested earlier this year after he boasted about engaging in sexual relations with a 16 year old girl who sailed on the NCL Star cruise ship with her parents. 

After the cruise ended, Djedovic exchanged emails with the underage girl and received a number of sexually explicit photographs.

Other crew members on the NCL cruise ship observed the photos and learned the girl's age and reported Djedovic to NCL which contacted the FBI. A search of Djedovic's computers revealed child Senad Djedovic - NCL - Child Pornpornography. 

NCL employed Djedovic from 2005 to March 2012 aboard a number of different cruise ships. 

We wrote a series of articles this year about this case which you can review here, including videos of him singing on YouTube. 

After Djedovic was arrested, a number of crew members and friends came to his defense arguing that he should be acquitted because sex with a 16 year old is not a big deal and this kind of conduct is not illegal in most countries. We received bizarre comments to this blog to this effect.

Parents who consider cruising with their teenage daughters should take into consideration that this is the mentality of some crew members toward your underage children.

NCL Conducts Undercover Investigation on Itself - Will Royal Caribbean Do the Same?

Kevin Sheehan - NCL - Undercover BossRoyal Caribbean and its subsidiary, Celebrity Cruise, have been in a state of panic lately frantically trying to fend off bad publicity surrounding an expose' on crew member hours, wages and working conditions on the Eclipse which aired in the U.K.

The British television station sent two "undercover" reporters on to the cruise ship, one as a passenger and the other as an assistant waiter. They painted a grim image of work on the Celebrity cruise ship: long hours, grueling conditions and low pay.  

Royal Caribbean and Celebrity rallied their friends in the travel community to try and refute the harsh image of "ship life" which crew members face as portrayed by Channel 4 Dispatches program "Undercover Cruises - the Truth Below the Deck." At the end of the day, all the cruise lines accomplished was to bring more attention to the exploitation of crew members and to create the image that they had something to hide. 

But not all cruise lines have this type of knee-jerk reaction to undercover reporters.

An article today in Travel Weekly reveals that at least one cruise CEO would rather see first-hand what the crew members really face, rather than claim that there is a conspiracy every time a reporter goes undercover with a video camera.

Travel Weekly's article "Big Interview: Cruise Boss Kevin Sheehan Learns From Fife on Deck," states that Norwegian Cruise Lines' President Kevin Sheehan went undercover himself to experience first hand the working conditions which his ship employees face. He was filmed as part of the TV program "Undercover Boss." The article explains that the NCL cruise CEO spent one day as a deckhand, another Kevin Sheehan - NCL - Undercover Bossday cleaning cabins and toilets, and a day working in the galley.

I was impressed with this comment he made to Travel Weekly: 

“We made a lot of changes. For example, there was an ice skating rink at the top of Norwegian Epic that had to be set up every evening. There were hundreds of pieces, each weighing 70 lbs, and women crew members doing it. It was back-breaking work and a disaster in my view. We discontinued it.”

Not many cruise line presidents have the transparency to admit something like this.  

Much of the work on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise ships is truly "back-breaking." But you will never see the CEO's from these cruise line admit it or do anything about it. They are too busy sitting in their executive offices protesting that undercover reporters are biased.   

NCL Passenger Arrested for Stealing Painting the "Size of a Door" From Cruise Ship

The Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda reports today that a passenger from the NCL Norwegian Star was arrested as he tried to disembark the cruise ship with a painting described as the "size of a door." 

The 43 year old passenger from Kentucky admitted that he stole the painting from the NCL cruise ship once it docked in Bermuda.  The newspaper states that the painting was "an official copy of a Rembrandt painting valued at $13,114.06."  

When the NCL cruise ship staff confronted him, the brazen thief claimed “I’m going to mail it home.”

Stolen Painting - Cruise ShipHe then gave various excuses regarding how he obtained the painting, claiming that he "bought it at auction, painted it himself and won it in a raffle."

One thing that the passenger didn't realize is that NCL cruise ships have the most CCTV surveillance cameras in the cruise industry. The newspaper states that the ship’s video footage showed him removing the painting from the wall and carrying it towards his cabin. 

His public defender told the Magistrate that he was a "recovering drug addict" and the medication he was on to treat opiate withdrawal caused him to act "oddly."  

The Judge went light on the recovering-drug-addict-turned-cruise-art-connoisseur and fined him $500.

Norwegian Star - Explorer of the Seas Collision Caught on Video!

A passenger aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas video-taped the collision with the NCL Norwegian Star last week (September 14, 2012) in port in Bermuda.  The NCL ship was hit by high winds (75 MPH) which caused the Star to break away from its mooring lines and strike the stern of the Royal Caribbean ship.

The video was shot from the Windjammer cafe and you can hear the passengers excitedly chattering and sometimes laughing throughout the incident. A Royal Caribbean officer appears in the video and says "you hit my ship!"

The video is by Floobboober (YouTube):

 

Former NCL Assistant Cruise Director Pleads Guilty to Child Porn

The Tampa Bay Times reports that yesterday a former Norwegian Cruise Lines crew member formally pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography.  Earlier this month, the crew member agreed to make this plea. 

The case involves former NCL Assistant Cruise Director Senad Djedovic, age 29, from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Djedovic engaged in sexual relations with a 16 year old girl during a cruise last January. Later, Djedovic solicited naked images from the minor and reportedly received more than 20 pornographic images. 

Senad Djedovic - NCL Pervert - Child PornThe article points out that Djedovic used a NCL company computer to correspond with the teen and receive the images. 

Cruise Law News reported on the case back in February in our article "FBI Arrests NCL Assistant Cruise Director for Engaging in Sex With 16 Year Old Passenger & Child Pornography."

We mentioned that under a sub-folder entitled "scandals" there were several videos depicting sexual acts with 12 to 15 year old girls, which were downloaded from the internet. The Department of Justice charged Djedovic with sexual abuse of a minor and possessing materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors.

Djedovic worked for Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) for six years for a number of different NCL cruise ships.

NCL Assistant Cruise Director Admits to Child Pornography

NCL Senad Djedovic - Child PornographyThe Tampa Bay Times reports that a former assistant NCL Cruise Director, last employed aboard the Norwegian Star cruise ship, who had sex in a stairwell with a 16 year old passenger, agreed to plead guilty today to possessing child pornography.

NCL employee Senad Djedovic, met the minor girl from Minnesota on a cruise which departed Tampa on January 29th and returned on February 5th. 

"I wish you said yes way earlier than the last day because we would have way more fun," NCL's Djedovic wrote to her in an email, according to the plea agreement. "I miss you big time … you little young girl."

Djedovic stored about 20 photos of the victim who sent emails from Minnesota after the cruise. She was naked in most. After Djedovic was arrested, the FBI found additional videos and photos of minors engaging in sexual activities.

Cruise Law News reported on the case back in February in our article "FBI Arrests NCL Assistant Cruise Director for Engaging in Sex With 16 Year Old Passenger & Child Pornography." 

We mentioned that under a sub-folder entitled "scandals" there were several videos depicting sexual acts with 12 to 15 year old girls, which were downloaded from the internet. The Department of Justice charged Djedovic with sexual abuse of a minor and possessing materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors.

29 year old Senad Djedovic, from Bosnia and Herzegovina, worked for Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) for six years for a number of different NCL cruise ships.

There are a lot of weird YouTube videos of him as a NCL assistant CD singing on the NCL cruise ships.  Think that there are no sexual perverts hired by the cruise lines who are preying on your kids? Think again.

 

Norwegian Star Cruise Ship Strikes Pier Next to Aircraft Carrier

A New York online newspaper in Manhattan, DNAinfo.com, reports that the Norwegian Star cruise ship collided with the U.S.S. Intrepid aircraft carrier this morning while the cruise ship was trying to dock at the harbor in Manhattan.

The aircraft carrier is part of the Intrepid Museum and is moored at the harbor.  

Passengers on the NCL cruise ship dispute that the ship struck the carrier.  Passengers leaving comments indicate that the Norwegian Star struck the pier next to the carrier.  

The 965-foot-long cruise ship - which was on its first trip to New York this season - was struggling to dock Friday morning because of "heavy winds and choppy waters," Norwegian Cruise Line officials said in an email.

Norwegian Star Cruise Ship Collides USS IntrepidAccording to the Manhattan newspaper, witnesses said the cruise ship tried to reverse course in order to dock, but was unsuccessful.

"He tried four times, up and back, up and back, four times," said Drago Ivanko, an elevator porter on Pier 88, referring to the ship operator. "It was windy, low tide. When there's low tide, the river started going a little faster."

John Chiaradio, 49, who was on the cruise with his wife, Sheli, said he could feel the impact.

"He hit about mid-ship on the starboard side," said Chiaradio, of Bristol, Conn.

"It was loud. It sounded like sticks breaking. Big sticks."

This is the last thing the cruise industry needs for the public to imagine, cruise ships unable to handle low tide and moderate winds, crashing into a pier next to a retired aircraft carrier from our Navy's fleet. 

This is not the first time that a NCL cruise ship struck a pier in Manhattan.  In May 2008, the Norwegian Spirit struck a pier in the Manhattan Cruise Terminal.  Professional Mariner reported:

"The 1,074-foot cruise ship was headed upriver with the intention of docking at Pier 88, just south of Pier 90, the Coast Guard said. The vessel was returning from an eight-day voyage to the Caribbean, with about 2,000 passengers and 1,100 crew.

As is routine, Norwegian Spirit made a single, uninterrupted sweeping turn to starboard in an attempt to slip into Pier 88. Unfortunately, the turn was too wide and the crew failed to back down in time, said Lt. Thomas Casey, a Coast Guard investigator.

'The starboard side of the vessel moors to the north side of Pier 88,” Casey said. “She is a large vessel, and it’s a pretty tight area. She wound up striking the side of Pier 90.'"

 

 

 

Video credit:  jmchiaradio (youtube)

"Love for Sail" - NCL's Marketing Coup

Love for Sail - NCL Norwegian Cruise Lines has pulled off a major marketing coup with several of its cruise ships being featured in a new reality show called "Love for Sail."  

Think of the new show being a mix of "The Bachelor / Bachelorette" meets "The Love Boat."  Men and women will set sail on a NCL ship looking for love.  TV Cruise Director Julie McCoy from the Love Boat has been replaced by two cruise directors "Bocko" and Carmen who will act as matchmakers for the beautiful people during the cruises.

Fox News describes the activities as including activities on and off of the cruise ships:  

"The passengers go on dates, parties and shore excursions, stopping in ports of call that include Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Nassau, Bahamas.  The series will be shot on the Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Star with scenes filmed in the Mandara Spa, the Bliss Ultra Lounge and La Cucina Italian restaurant . . . "

The show premieres on the Lifetime channel and will debut tomorrow night (April 10th) at 10:00 PM EST. 

With as much bad news coming out of the cruise industry this year, "Love for Sail" has the potential to bring a sense of romance and escapism back to the cruise industry - unless one of the NCL cruise ships catches on fire, collides or sinks during one of the shows .  .  .    

 

Photo credit: Lifetime / NCL

Coast Guard Medevacs 47 Year Old Passenger From NCL Jewel

Yesterday a U.S. Coast Guard rescue helicopter medevaced a 47 year old woman female off a cruise ship.  The cruise ship was approximately 115 miles northeast of Cape Henry.  

The captain of the cruise ship Norwegian Jewel cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard at around 5 PM, reporting they had a passenger with severe abdominal pains who needed medical attention ashore.
 
An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C. were dispatched to the scene.  The helicopter crew hoisted the woman and her husband off the cruise ship at approximately 7 PM.
 
The couple were taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.
 
 
 

 

Credit:  U.S. Coast Guard

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick NCL Cruise Passenger

A number of news sources are reporting that yesterday the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an ill cruise passengerman from a cruise ship to a North Carolina hospital for treatment.

The ship doctor on the Norwegian Cruise ine's Gem cruise ship notified the Coast Guard that  a 38-year-old man was going into shock. The cruise ship was reportedly about 75 miles east of Wilmington at the time.

A helicopter from the Coast Guard Air Station in Elizabeth City North Carolina then flew the man from the cruise ship to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington.

The Coast Guard says the man was in stable condition. His name was not released.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 4, 2011 Update:Norwegian Sun Passenger Overboard

Tonight NCL issued the following statement:

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

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

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

November 7, 2011 Update:

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

Two Passenger Deaths on NCL Cruise Ship

Multiple news sources are reporting that two passengers died aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship which returned to port in Boston this morning.  The passengers died separately on the ship on Thursday.

One of the passengers, a 67-year-old woman, has been removed from the vessel.  State Police said that her death was not suspicious.

The second death, involving a 23-year-old man, is being investigated.  His cabin is being scrutinized by crime scene investigators because of his young age and the unknown cause of his death.

Massachusetts State Police and Suffolk County detectives are investigating the deaths.  

NCL has yet to commented on either death. 

The last time a young passenger died on a NCL was August of last year.  A 21 year old passenger died aboard the Epic after a severe allergic reaction to peanuts.   

Were you on the cruise or have information about these deaths?  Please leave a comment below.

October 28, 2011 Update:  The NCL cruise ship is the Norwegian Dawn.  The local District Attorney states that neither incident involved foul play.  

NCL Abandons Elderly Woman with Sick Husband in Columbia, Proclaims Its Their Fault

NCL Cruise Horror StoryA local news station in Tampa, WTSP 20 News, has a story about an elderly couple's cruise horror story. 

Betty and Ronald Coleman from Port Ritchie Florida were sailing on a Panama Canal cruise aboard the Norwegian Pearl when Mr. Coleman contracted what is described as norovirus.  NCL put the Colemans ashore in Cartegena Columbia without contacting the couple's son Mark, even though they listed him as the emergency contact on paperwork the cruise line required them to fill out. 

Ms. Coleman, who was obviously overwhelmed by trying to take care of her sick husband, complains: "My son is on the paper you sign, for next of kin to be called in case of an emergency. I would have thought they would have notified him if they are leaving me in a foreign country."  

The couple's son first learned of his parent's plight after receiving a frantic call from his mother.  She did not know where she was.  NCL subsequently told him that that she was still on the cruise ship.  Finally, Mark had to contact the State Department to find his parents.

NCL claims that it provided the couple with an opportunity to call home, but the Colemans allegedly "chose not to."   How and why this allegedly occurred is not explained.  But a cruise line should never disembark an elderly couple like this in a foreign country without first making sure that it contacted the emergency contact.  It's far fetched to believe that the couple instructed NCL not to call the emergency contact.  It's inexcusable for NCL not to have done so.  Ms. Coleman seemed stressed out and Mr. Coleman, described in the video as " . . . so sick that he could not sit up to even sign a paper," was obviously so ill NCL didn't want him on its cruise ship.  

NCL issued a completely unrepentant press release.  NCL side stepped the norovirus issue, denied responsibility for not telling the family of the emergency, and claimed that the Colemans were, in fact, "appreciative" of the cruise line agent's assistance ashore in Columbia.

  

 

The guest relations team on a cruise ship should always contact the emergency contact number whenever it forces a family off of a cruise ship in a medical emergency.

Blaming the sick elderly guest in a case like this reflects poorly on the cruise lines' manners.

For other similar stories, read:

And The Cruise Industry Wonders Why It Has An Image Problem . . . (continued)

Henriquez v. NCL: Eleventh Circuit Slams Another Door in the Face of an Injured Crewmember

Last week we reported on the case of Lindo v. NCL (Bahamas) Ltd. where the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the dismissal of a case filed on behalf of a seriously injured NCL crewmember from a U.S. court, leaving him to seek compensation in Nicaragua.    

Today the same court entered a similar order in the case of Henriquez v. NCL.  Mr. Henriquez was injured when another  crew member smashed a glass bottle on his head and stabbed him while they were aboard the NCL cruise ship.

Jones ActWhen he filed suit for compensation under the Jones Act and the maintenance and cure doctrine, NCL responded with a motion to send his case to arbitration in Nicaragua where the arbitrator would apply Bahamian law. 

The appellate court refused to entertain the crewmember's argument that arbitration is against public policy because an arbitrator in Nicaragua applying Bahamian law might not recognize his claim under the Jones Act.  The court held that Mr. Henriquez "cannot avail himself of the public policy defense at this stage . . . only after arbitration may a court 'refuse to enforce an arbitral award if the award is contrary to the public policy of the country.'"

The court also rejected the argument that arbitration should not proceed because he signed his employment agreement under duress. 

Finally, the Eleventh Circuit dismissed the crewmember's maintenance and cure award and held that it was subject to arbitration.

This xenophobic decision is unconscionable.  The Bahamas has not adopted U.S. statutory law or maintenance and cure.  This type of ruling ensures that cruise lines face limit virtually no accountability when they injure a crewmember on their cruise ships and then refuse to provide prompt and adequate medical care.  In the process, the Eleventh Circuit has departed from 90 years of Jones Act history and close to 200 years of maintenance and cure decisions.    

Lindo v. NCL: Crewmembers Lose Rights As Harsh Cruise Arbitration Decisions Continue

Yesterday, in the case of Lindo v. NCL, a federal appellate court entered a decision which further stripped the legal rights away from seriously injured cruise employees.   

The Lindo case is the latest decision which reflects that our judiciary has little concern for the rights of cruise employees outside of the U.S. 

Eight years ago the Norwegian cruise ship Norway blew up at the port of Miami.  Originally bearing NCL Norway Boiler Explosion the name SS France, the Norway was an old decrepit cruise ship built in 1960.  It was poorly maintained.  Over the course of 40 years, the ship's old boilers had been neglected to the  point of criminal wrongdoing   The cruise ship suffered from a long history of safety problems.  The NCL executives refused to invest the money necessary to replace the dangerous boilers which were cracking and ready to burst. 

The cruise ship was a time bomb waiting to explode.  

On May 25, 2003, the faulty boilers blew up while the Norway was docked at the port of Miami.  Vapors, smoke and human flesh billowed hundreds of feet into the air.  The explosion scalded eight Filipinos and one Jamaican crewmember to excruciatingly painful deaths, leaving dozen of family members grieving the loss of their husbands, fathers and brothers.  

The families filed lawsuits against NCL and its parent company, Star Cruises, for negligence under the Jones Act, unseaworthiness, failure to pay maintenance and cure under the general maritime law of the United States, and punitive damages

NCL paid what is described as a confidential settlement, rumored to be over $7,000,000, to the family of the dead Jamaican crewmember.

But NCL responded to the lawsuits filed by the families of the eight dead Filipino men by moving to enforce language in the crewmembers' employments agreements which purported to prohibit the filing of lawsuits in the U.S.  NCL argued that the dead men's lives were to be valued by a compensation scheme set up in the Philippines which set the value of a dead seafarer at around $60,000.  

Even though the cruise line is headquartered here in Miami and the accident occurred here, NCL instructed its Miami defense lawyers to argue that the families had to pursue arbitration in Manila where a dead Filipino was considered less valuable than the luxury cars driven by NCL's executives.

Why the discrepancy between the compensation owed to the wife and children of a Jamaican crewmember versus the family of a Filipino? 

The answer lies in the word "arbitration."  Unlike the Filipinos, Jamaican crewmembers were not subject to arbitration agreements, which are designed by large corporations to take away a Norway Cruise Shipcrewmember's right to a jury trial in the U.S.   The Jones Act has provided crewmembers - both U.S. and "foreign" seafarers - the right to seek compensation from juries in the U.S. for dangerous work conditions aboard ships for the past 90 years.

Recognizing that a U.S. jury would fairly consider compensation for the Jamaican seafarer, NCL paid a fair amount of compensation to the surviving family members in Jamaica. 

But for a Filipino who might have to arbitrate the case?  NCL gambled that it could convince a U.S. federal court to kick the Filipino families' cases out of the U.S. because of an "arbitration" clause in the Filipino crewmembers' employment agreements.  Without a jury trial under the Jones Act in the U.S., the Filipinos' cases would be worth peanuts.

NCL's strategy worked.

On October 14, 2003, in the case of Bautista v. Star Cruises, 286 F. Supp. 2d 1352 (S.D. Fla. 2003), a federal district court in Miami granted NCL’s motion to compel arbitration and closed the cases.  On January 18, 2005, in Bautista v. Star Cruises, 396 F.3d 1289 (11th Cir. 2005), the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the order compelling arbitration.

The Bautista case stripped the NCL crewmembers of their right to try their cases in state court before a jury in the U.S.  The opinion was a result-oriented decision for big business and against the "little man."  NCL thereafter settled the death cases for a small fraction of what anyone in a civilized country would consider fair and just    

After NCL's stunning success in Bautista, other cruise lines based in Miami began inserting language in their crewmember contracts of employment taking away the right to a jury trial under the Jones Act.   Carnival and Royal Caribbean began requiring the cruise employees to arbitrate their cases outside of the U.S. without a jury.  The cruise lines unilaterally deprived their ship employees of U.S. remedies and inserted language requiring the application of foreign law. 

Crewmembers have historically been entitled to special protection under U.S. law.  Under the Jones Act, cruise employees are entitled to seek compensation for unsafe work conditions and must prove only that their injuries were caused by their employer's slightest degree of negligence.  Under the "unseaworthiness" doctrine, cruise lines are liable to their employees for dangerous shipboard conditions without a showing of negligence.  Crewmembers are also entitled to the payment of their living expenses and medical care under the "maintenance and cure" doctrine which has existed in the U.S. since around 1820.  Another important right afforded to seamen is a Federal statute which provides penalties against maritime employers for not timely paying wages to the crewmembers.

Cruise lines instead chose to insert the law of countries like Panama or the Bahamas.  These countries do not recognize the unseaworthiness or maintenance and cure doctrines.  Although the concept of negligence exists, these countries apply a much higher threshold necessary to establish liability and do not provide nearly the same elements of compensation.    

For the past six years, the cruise lines have sought to enforce arbitration clauses which send their employees outside of the U.S. to foreign countries which have few laws protecting the crewmembers.

Carnival LibertyIn 2009, the crewmembers finally received a break when the Eleventh Circuit held an arbitration clause attempting to apply Panamanian law was null and void when it deprived the seaman of his U.S. statutory right to recover penalties wages when the cruise line refuses to timely pay wages. 

In Thomas v. Carnival Corp., 573 F.3d 1113 (11th Cir. 2009), the court held that public policy prohibited a cruise line from enforcing arbitration where the result was that a crewmember was stripped of his rights under U.S. law.  

Unlike the tortured and result-oriented reasoning in Bautista, the Thomas decision was regarded as a fair and logical decision by the Eleventh Circuit.  Finally, the Eleventh Circuit pushed back against the cruise industry's wholesale assault against the rights of crewmembers.     

Many maritime lawyers thought that the Eleventh Circuit would apply the logic of the Thomas decision to reject arbitration clauses which stripped crewmembers of their statutory rights under the Jones Act.    

But yesterday, crewmembers received a cruel blow when the Eleventh Circuit upheld a decision enforcing a NCL arbitration agreement which required the application of the law of the Bahamas and prohibited a seaman  from pursuing litigation in the U.S. applying the Jones Act.  In Lindo v. NCL, a crewmember from Nicaragua employed on the Norwegian Dawn was seriously injured during his work.  The NCL employment agreement contained language that crewmember claims  would be arbitrated in Nicaragua (Lindo’s country of citizenship) under Bahamian law (the law of the flag state of cruise ship).

In a split decision, the Eleventh Circuit upheld the arbitration agreement even though the crewmember lost his right to a jury trial under the Jones Act.  In a plodding and painfully reasoned 66 page opinion, the majority essentially upheld Bautista and effectively overruled the Thomas decision.   The court prohibited the seaman from making a public policy argument that the effect of a forum clause sending his case to Nicaragua and a choice of law clause applying Bahamian law waived his rights.   The court held that at the conclusion of the case, he might be able to raise this argument, although this appears to be at best an inefficient result and more probably an illusory remedy. 

In a well written and compelling dissent, Judge Barkett cited the tradition of recognizing the “great public policy of preserving [seamen as an] important class of citizens for the commercial service and maritime defence of the nation.”  Judge Barkett cited one of my favorite maritime cases, the case of Harden v. Gordon, 11 F. Cas. 480, 483 (No. 6,047) (C.C.D. Me. 1823) where U.S. Supreme Court Justice Story adopted "maintenance and cure" as part of American jurisprudence.  

Seamen have historically been regarded as "wards of the admiralty," and their rights have been a special subject of U.S. maritime jurisdiction.  The majority opinion in Lindo completely ignores this well established tradition and line of cases.  The Lindo decision has no mention of equitable principles, public policy, or basic human rights.

The notion that a crewmember stripped of his Jones Act, unseaworthy and maintenance and cure remedies under U.S. law will find justice under the laws of the Bahamas in an arbitration proceeding in Nicaragua is preposterous.

Unless there is a reconsideration by the Eleventh Circuit en banc, the cruise industry will view the Lindo case as a green light to screw ship employees at every turn. 

"Pub Crawl" on the Norwegian Sun Ends with Rape Allegation against NCL

A fellow Miami lawyer filed a lawsuit against Norwegian Cruise Lines ("NCL") on behalf of a passenger who alleges that she was raped while aboard the Norwegian Sun cruise ship.

Cruise Pub Crawl - Norwegian SunThe alleged incident occurred in April when the passenger was participating in an NCL organized "pub crawl."   

NCL employees took her and other guests around the ship stopping briefly to drink at various bars where the bartenders encouraged the passengers to drink above safe limits.  After the drinking game, the passenger alleges that she was raped in a public bathroom.

The lawsuit alleges that NCL created a dangerous situation by over-serving the guest alcohol to the point that she could not protect herself and not escorting her safely back to her cabin.

Several years ago, an appellate court here in Miami held that cruise lines face liability when they serve passengers alcohol to and then past the level of intoxication.  The fact that the passenger voluntarily drank the alcohol does not act as a bar to the legal claim.

Environmental Group Discovers Illegal Cruise Dump Site

NCL Cruise Trash - DumpHawaii News Now is reporting today that an environmental group in Hawaii has located an illegal dumping site.

Much of the garbage and large plastic bags reportedly came from the Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America cruise ship, including "paperwork, documents, and dozens of cabin cards with the names of passengers and the dates they sailed."

The Hawaii News Now website reports that Carroll Cox, president of EnviroWatch, was tipped off to the dump site.

In addition to the cruise ship trash, the site contained old tires and oil bins.

The website reported that a company called Honship Maritime Service collects NCL's garbage from its cruise ship.   Honship Maritime Services apparently has a contract with a company called "The Trash Man" to haul the trash away.

Looks like someone took a shortcut and dumped about a quarter acre of garbage across the site. 

The state inspectors are in the process of investigating the dump site and will determine who is responsible for not properly disposing the garbage.

The article contains a number of photographs of the garbage including a photo of discarded NCL cocktail glasses.

NCL Cruise Trash Dump

Photo credit: Hawaii News Now  

Cruise Passenger and Crew Members Assaulted in Bermuda

A post by a cruiser on a CruiseCritic forum yesterday indicates that a cruise passenger visiting Bermuda was assaulted and battered in an attempted robbery last week.

One June 14th, a passenger from the NCL Dawn cruise ship was walking back to the ship around 4:00 p.m. from Snorkel Beach on what is described as a "relatively well traveled walkway in front of the main entrance to the Maritime Museum." 

Bermuda Cruise CrimeA Bermudian man punched the passenger in the face, knocking him to the ground and then began to search through the passenger's pockets.  The passenger fought back and then fled back to the cruise ship where he reported the incident to security personnel and customs agents. Bermudian police reportedly stated that such attacks have become more frequent  in recent years.

On June 8th, the BDA Sun reported that two NCL crewmembers from the Dawn were assaulted early in the morning in Snorkel Park and one of the crewmembers required medical treatment in a hospital.

The newspaper then published an article about the fracas entitled Warning of Tourism Fallout after Fight.   Snorkel Park chief Tom Steinhoff is quoted as saying: "Behaviour like this threatens further investment in Bermuda and threatens Bermuda tourism – we are going to do everything we can to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again."

On May 31, 2011, the Royal Gazette newspaper reported on the attacks of two cruise tourists in an article entitled "Man Admits Attack on Cruise Ship Visitors."  A Bermudan man admitted attacking two cruise tourists with a piece of metal pipe in a public bathroom in Par-la-Ville Park.  As usual, the newspaper did not mention the name of the cruise line or cruise ship.

Last week's violent assault and battery of a cruise passenger is not going to help the island's reputation.

The Bermuda Police have an online website which contains "daily reports" of crime.  Although there is an online account of the earlier incident involving the crewmembers, there is no mention of the assault of the cruise passenger last week.

Unlike many of the Caribbean islands, Bermuda has long enjoyed a reputation for being a generally safe destination (the exception being the brutal rape and death of a young Canadian tourist Rebecca Middleton and the incompetence of the Bermudian authorities which followed). 

Are crimes against cruise passengers and crew a problem in Bermuda?    

 

June 22, 2011 Update:

Cruise Critic has an interesting article about this incident.  The police in Bermuda are claiming that this was no random act of violence but rather a "drug deal gone wrong."  The police do not deny that the passenger was injured.  Rather they are saying that the alleged drug transaction led to the violence. 

I'm not sure that makes me feel any better.  It seems to raise the issue whether Bermuda may have a problem with drugs as well as violent crime. 

The article is entitled "Bermuda Police Debunk Alleged Attack on Cruise Ship Passenger." 

June 23, 2011 Update:

The Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda is finally covering the story - "Alleged Robbery was Drug Deal Gone Bad Govt."
 

Passenger from the NCL Spirit Rescued from the Mississippi River

Multiple news sources are reporting that a passenger from a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise ship went overboard in the Mississippi River last night. 

The Norwegian Spirit had sailed for approximately three hours from New Orleans when the passenger went into the river around 8:00 p.m.

NCL Spirit Overboard - Norwegian Cruise LinesA rescue boat was deployed from the NCL cruise ship.  The passenger was rescued and returned  back to the cruise ship.

The passenger was injured and received medical treatment aboard the cruise ship which made arrangements to disembark the passenger ashore further treatment.

There are no reports explaining how and why the passenger went overboard.  The good news is that the passenger was rescued safely, which is not the usual outcome of cases like this.

A photograph was taken of the rescue by a passenger aboard the cruise ship and posted via Twitter, @sheets.

Does anyone have information about this latest overboard?  Please leave a comment below.

 

Photo credit:   @sheets

NCL Crew Member Medevaced to Bermuda

Norwegian Sun Cruise ShipThe Royal Gazette newspaper reports that a crew member from the the Norwegian Sun cruise ship was transported to Bermuda because of a medical emergency.

The Norwegian Cruise Line ship was near Bermuda after sailing from Port Canaveral, Florida en route to the Azores when the 23 year old Peruvian crew member became ill.

The cruise ship took the crew member off the ship by stretcher to a pilot vessel which transported her to the island of Bermuda where she was taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.

Cruise Lines like NCL have a non-delegable duty to provide prompt, adequate and complete medical care to their ill and injured crew members. 

Medevacs involving crewmembers are relatively rare, especially compared to medical evacuations of passengers.

Passenger Death On Norwegian Cruises Lines' Epic Forces Cruise Ship's Return To Miami

The Miami Herald and CBS-4 are reporting that the NCL Epic cruise ship returned to port in Miami late last night shortly after leaving on a Caribbean cruise due to a medical emergency involving a passenger. 

The Miami Herald's article "Emergency Forces Cruise Ship's Return to Miami - Passenger May Have Died" stops short of stating that the passenger died.  But numerous on line sources are indicating that the emergency involved a passenger death. 

NCL Epic - Norwegian Cruise Line Epic - Cruise DeathThe newspaper's story is based on comments posted on what is described as a "popular cruising website" (probably  CruiseCritic.com).  The comments apparently suggest that a 21 year old passenger may have died due to an allergic reaction to something he ate.  A number of police officers boarded the cruise ship when it returned to port in Miami, and there is alot of speculation about what happened.   

There has been no information released by NCL, which adds to the speculation.  This cruise line public relations contacts are Susan Robison, vice president, corporate communications & media promotions (305) 436-4762 srobison@ncl.com, and AnneMarie Mathews, director, public relations (305) 436-4799 amathews@ncl.com.  

And its vice president of sales and passenger services, Andy Stuart, is a regular on Twitter @nclandy and tweeted non stop when the Epic made its inaugural voyage a few months ago. 

Cruise lines like NCL lose alot of credibility when the only time you hear from them is when they are selling cruises and they disappear when trouble strikes.  

Update:

A travel agent and blogger's website Chris Cruises has the following statement from NCL:

“After setting sail on a seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruise yesterday at approximately 4 pm, Norwegian Epic returned to the Port of Miami at approximately 12:45 am for a medical disembarkation. While the ship was approximately 40 nautical miles from Miami, a guest on board suffered a heart attack and passed away. All local authorities were notified and some met the ship upon arrival. The ship departed at approximately 2:45 am. Norwegian Cruise Line extends its sincerest thoughts and prayers to the guest’s family during this difficult time.”

Although the official NCL statement references a "heart attack," the FBI stated that the passenger had an allergic reaction to food.

A passenger on the cruise left a comment below that the passengers ate peanuts in a cookie.

The comments regarding the incident at Cruise Critic are here.   

The passenger has been identified as Kevin Edouard of Spring Valley, New York.

August 20 2010 Update:

A news station in Tampa reports that NCL confirmed that Mr. Edouard suffered a severe allergic reaction to peanuts: "Epic Passenger's Allergy Believed to be Peanut." 

August 23, 2010 update:

Passengers on the cruise are commenting that another passenger died and a brawl broke out during the cruise.    

Please leave a comment below if you are on the cruise or have information about what happened.

 

Cruise Line Shills, Norovirus, and Murder on the NCL Jade?

This has been another exciting week in the strange world of the cruise industry.  I thought that I would spend this Friday recapping some of the interesting cruise stories this week.   

Cruise Shills?

CLIA - Cruise Line International Association - Cruise Shill The week started with the travel site Tnooz picking up our article Cruise Crime and the Indifference of Travel Writers and asking Are Travel Writers Shills For The Cruise Lines? 

A number of prominent travel writers, including Pauline Frommer of the Frommer Travel fame, left comments.  Ms. Frommer was right on point in discussing the provisions of the new cruise safety law, which will be signed by President Obama next week.  And she was gracious in thanking the International Cruise Victims for pushing the new cruise law forward over intense opposition by the cruise industry and its shill organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA).  Other travel writers joined the debate, including a few cruise travel writers who could not help taking a cheap shot against our blog.

Royal Caribbean Norovirus

Readers of Cruise Law News continue to comment that Royal Caribbean is struggling with norovirus aboard its cruise ships.  There are 50 comments to our article Norovirus On Royal Caribbean's Jewel Of The Seas?  The last comment today reports that the Celebrity Constellation continues to have Cruise Ship Norovirus - Passenger Sicknessnorovirus on board, following the usual ill-fated last minute "additional sanitizing."

Stay tuned.  You will continue to hear stories of sick passengers - followed by "enhanced cleaning" - and then more sick passengers.  When will this cruise line release the test results of the potable water on its ships?  Tired of this cruise line always blaming passengers for not washing their hands?  Consider reading Cruise Ship Norovirus - Something in the Water?   

Murder on NCL's Jade? 

Several sources are reporting that a passenger was murdered aboard Norwegian Cruise Line's Jade cruise ship earlier this week.

Canadian sociologist and cruise crime expert Dr. Ross Klein and the ever gossipy Cruise Critic community published passenger accounts that a passenger murdered his wife on the Jade.   

Did it happen?  I don't know.  I hope not.  But NCL will never say.

NCL Jade - Norwegian Cruise Ship JadeThis is one of the classic problems with the cruise lines.  They are terrified of bad press so they sweep the bad news under the rug.  But when the truth comes out, they look like they are hiding the ball.  The new cruise law will address this issue.  Cruise lines will be required to report crimes at sea and also provide a link on their web sites to the crime data. 

When the new cruise law takes effect, the public can cut through the gossip and finally take an an accurate account of cruise ship crime.   

 

Were you aboard the NCL Jade?  Do you have information to share about the alleged murder? 

Were you aboard the Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas or the Celebrity Constellation?  How is the cruise line handling the latest bouts of norovirus? 

If you have some information to wish to share, please leave a comment below.

And The Cruise Industry Wonders Why It Has An Image Problem . . . (continued)

My article on Wednesday "And The Cruise Industry Wonders Why It Has An Image Problem . . ." contained the "usual suspects" - Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Carnival subsidiary Princess Cruises - whose shenanigans have been featured in Cruise Law News over the past year.

But right after publishing the article, I read a story in the Miami Herald's "Action Line" - "Funeral Disrupts Cruise Plans" - which involved another Miami cruise line, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL).

The story is straight forward.  A couple from Key Largo, Ms. Boland and Mr. Samuel, purchased a NCL - Norwegian Cruise LineNCL cruise on the Sky leaving from Miami with three other couples.  But Mr. Samuel's brother died, and his funeral was in Georgia on the day the ship sailed.  So the couple notified NCL, asking for a credit on a future cruise.  NCL said no. They then asked for their cruise to be donated to charity (Make-A-Wish).  NCL said no.

Then comes the sick part.  NCL then re-sold the cabin to another couple.  Yep.  NCL got a double profit due to the death of Mr. Samuel's brother.  Really sick.

NCL is active on Twitter @NCLFreestyle, so I tweeted a reference to the Miami Herald article. 

NCL - Andy Stuart - Norwegian Cruise Line No response. 

NCL's "Executive Vice President of Global Sales and Passenger Services," Andy Stuart, is also active on Twitter @nclandy .  So I tweeted him "Double cruise profit for death? Say it aint so Andy!" 

No response. 

NCL should have permitted a child with cancer and his or her parent go on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise.  Or make a small donation in memory of Mr. Samuel's brother.  But to double sell the cabin under these circumstances?

And cruise lines wonder why they have an image problem .  .  . 

 

Credits:

Photographs     Twitter

Cruise Line Fat Cat Billionaires

Royal Caribbean - Crew Member - $545 a Month A fascinating article appeared in USA Today's Cruise Blog by Gene Sloan - "Titans of the Cruise Industry See Their Net Worth Soar."

This is an amazing article reporting on the Forbes 400 richest people in the U.S., which includes Carnival fat cat billionaires Mickey Arison, Royal Caribbean's Pritzker family, and entrepreneur Leon Black whose private equity firm controls Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. 

The article which is re-printed in its entirety below is an insight into how to create a fortune by convincing tax paying Americans to turn over their hard earned money to foreign incorporated, non-tax paying companies operating foreign flagged cruise ships. 

The phenomenon is of particular interest to me because I represent the backbone of the cruise industry - crewmembers like Ismael Richards (photograph above) who worked for 14 years - over 350 hours a month never making more than $545 a month until his back failed and he was abandoned by the cruise line.

Mr. Richards found himself with an one-way ticket back to St. Vincent, disabled, with no 401(k) plan, no pension, no job prospects, no social security and no social safety network.

So here is the article about cruise line billionaires, for your prurient interests:  

"The past year has been a good one to be a titan of the cruise industry. Just ask Micky Arison Mickey Arison - Carnival Cruise Line - Billionaire (photograph right).

A year ago, as cruise stocks were plunging along with the economy, wealth watcher Forbes was pegging the Carnival mogul's net worth at just $2.9 billion -- a multi-year low. But with the industry on the rebound, Arison's fortunes once again are on the rise.

Forbes' annual ranking of the world's billionaires for 2010, out late Wednesday, puts Arison's net worth at $4.4 billion, placing him at No. 189 on the magazine's closely-watched list. A year ago he ranked at No. 221.

Arison still has a long way to go to reach his former glory. As recently as four years ago, when the cruise business was riding high, Arison's hefty stake in Carnival had landed him among the 100 richest people in the world. In 2006, Forbes estimated Arison's net worth at more than $6 billion, putting him at No. 94 on the list. He ranked at No. 129 in 2007 and No. 189 in 2008.

Micky Arison isn't the only Arison whose fortunes are rebounding. Another Carnival heir, Shari Arison, is now worth $3.4 billion, up from $2.7 billion a year ago, according to Forbes. Alas, Shari Arison's rising wealth isn't enough to keep her in place in the rankings, where she has dropped to No. 277 from No. 234 in 2009. Four years ago she was within striking distance of the Top 100 at 109.

Another would-be cruise mogul, Leon Black (photograph below, left), also is doing better. The self-made financier who controls Apollo Management -- the private equity firm that in turn controls Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven seas Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line  -- almost didn't make Leon Black - Norwegian Cruise Line - billionairethe Forbes list last year as his net worth plunged to just $1.1 billion. But this year he's on the rebound with a net worth that Forbes pegs at $2.5 billion. He now ranks No. 277 on the list, up from No. 647 a year ago.

Also faring better are the many members of the Pritzker family of Chicago who collectively own a sizable chunk of Royal Caribbean.  Forbes says Thomas Pritzker is now worth $1.6 billion, up from $1.3 billion a year ago (though his ranking on the list has fallen to No. 616 from No. 559 in 2009). Jay Robert Pritzker, Anthony Pritzker and Penny Pritzker, with $1.4 billion a piece, are next at No. 721, followed by a half dozen more Pritzkers who tie at No. 773."

 

 

Credits:

Ishmael Richards                 Jim Walker's Flickr photostream

Mickey Arison                         Business Week

Leon Black                             Adam Berry / Bloomberg / Lardov

Miami Jury Awards Crew Member Injured on NCL's Norwegian Crown $9,500,000

A jury here in Miami awarded a crew member injured on a cruise ship approximately $9,500,000 as compensation for serious injuries sustained on a NCL cruise ship.

NCL - Norwegian CrownDanny Simpson, a citizen of the U.K., was employed by spa concessionaire, Steiner Transocean, as a fitness instructor aboard the Norwegian Crown. In 2006, he slipped on the spa floor and injured his back.

Mr. Simpson sustained nerve injury to his spine which caused urological damage. He now suffers from impotence and underwent penile implant procedures.  Mr. Simpson also experiences bowel and urinary problems and has to use a catheter.  His family has to wash out her bowels several times a week. 

Mr. Simpson, age 42, is married and has six children.

NCL Cruise Line - Steiner Spa - Jones Act Case - $9,500,500 VerdictThe verdict was obtained by my friend, David Brill, and his law partner Julio Ayala.

David Horr and Eduardo Hernandez (photo, right) of the law firm of Horr Novak & Skipp defended Steiner Transocean at trial. 

Previously, NCL reached a settlement with Mr. Simpson before trial.

Following the filing of post trial motions by Steiner's lawyers, this case will go on appeal for another year.  

For other breaking cruise law news, don't forget to read:  Top Cruise Story of 2009 - Sister of Missing Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva Speaks Out: "Vogliamo la Verità!" - "We Want the Truth!"

 

Credit:

Norwegian Crown  Tim Martin (via worldshipny.com)

 

Norwegian Cruise Line Passenger Murdered in Guatemala

A 73-year-old cruise line tourist died after being shot by robbers in Santo Thomas de Castilla.  The Latin American Herald Tribune identified the victim as Paul Wolfgang Ritter.  There has been some confusion regarding his nationality, as different newspapers identified him as either a Dutch or German tourist.

Mr. Ritter was a passenger aboard a NCL cruise ship.  Although the name of the ship was not mentioned, NCL has two cruise ships the Norwegian Spirit and the Norwegian Sun which call on Guatemala.

Mr. Ritter was on a paid tour of Santo Thomas de Castilla and was visiting its histoNCL Cruise passenger shot in Santo Thomas de Castillo cemetaryric cemetary when two men tired to rob him of his camera and then shot him.  The newspaper reported the capture of "two youth gang members" suspected in the murder. The banditos were identifed as gang members because of the tatoos on their faces.

Several newspapers, including CBS News, covering the story also commented on Guatemala's crime wave that has driven the murder rate up to around 17 a day - a statistic not known by most cruise passengers.

The Latin American Herald Tribune reports that "the more than 5,400 homicides reported last year in Guatemala – a nation of approximately 13 million – was nearly equal to the number of murders in neighboring Mexico, which has more than 100 million inhabitants and is the scene of open warfare among rival drug cartels."

A number of cruise lines other than NCL call on Santo Thomas de Castilla as a regular port, including Holland America Line and P & O Cruises.  P & O 's website has a section called "About Santo Thomas de Castilla" which promotes a visit to the cemetary as part of its "featured shore excurions:"

Santo Thomas de Castilla lies on Amatique Bay, off the Gulf of Honduras in northeast Guatemala. Belgians settled here in the 19th century and today you can see the cemetery where the pioneers are buried.

Cruise Port - Santo Thomas de CastillaCrimes committed against cruise passengers while ashore in ports of call are a concern throughout the Caribbean and Central America.  Three weeks ago, Cruise Law News was the first in the U.S. to report that eleven cruise passengers were robbed at gunpoint at a major tourist attraction in downtown Nassau on a Sunday morning - "Eleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau."  

These types of stories do not find themselves being reported in U.S. newspapers.  The cruise community ignores them.   

Cruise lines are legally obligated to warn passengers of crime dangers in the ports of call they select and advertise for passengers. But don't expect the cruise line to provide a warning to your family, although some travel agents tell their clients to be careful.   

 

Photo credits

Santo Thomas de Castilla cemetary    Marycatherine Flickr Photodtream

Santo Thomas de Castilla shore excursion       P & O Cruises

 

Cruise Ships & Drug Smuggling

Cruise ships are routinely used by both passengers and crew members to smuggle drugs.  Two recent newspaper articles from the Royal Gazette in Bermuda point this out.

Today, the newspaper reports that a passenger aboard Norwegian Cruise Line's (NCL) Norwegian Dawn was sentenced to seven years in prison in Bermuda for smuggling 5,048 grams of marijuana, with a street value of $252,000. 

Drug smuggling - cruise shipsU.S. passenger Anthony Issac brought the drugs to the Island in a suitcase aboard the NCL cruise ship.  A  "friend" of his paid him $10,000 to go on vacation and to drop the suitcase off in Bermuda.  The NCL passenger, a 34 year-old truck driver from the Bronx, apologized to the court in Bermuda.  He explained that he smuggled the reefer because he was "experiencing financial problems and  thought the money would help."

A couple of months ago, the Royal Gazette reported that a NCL cruise ship employee was jailed  for attempting to import more than $12,000 worth of cannabis into Bermuda. Crew member, Elroy Bent Brackman from Columbia, was offered $500 to import the drug while working aboard NCL cruise ship Norwegian Dawn. He had been caught smoking weed in his cabin, which led to a search.  

Like the NCL passenger, the crew member claims that he given $500 in New York if he would bring smuggle the marijuana on the cruise ship.  The court in Bermuda sentenced him to two-and-a-half years' in jail.

Drugs on cruise ships In November 2006, another NCL crew member Teeteta Lereria was sentenced to five years after trying to smuggle cannabis and heroin valued at more than $311,000 into Bermuda. She was employed as a cleaner aboard NCL's Norwegian Spirit.

Many of the crew members, particularly "cleaners" who do not earn tips, earn as little as $535 a month.  Working as much as 85 hours a week, their wages turn out to be less than $1.60 an hour.  Whereas this does not  justify criminal conduct, low wage employees are susceptible to being used as drug mules.  

The presence of drugs on cruise ships, particularly smuggled by the crew, raises a concern of violence between crew members.  This problem may also be behind the "disappearance" of crew members over the years - stories which have largely been ignored by the U.s. media. 

A search of the Royal Gazette's archives reveals that many passengers have also been arrested or fined for bringing marijuana into Bermuda. 

October 26, 2009 Update:

The Bermuda Royal Gazette reports today that another NCL passenger was busted for pot.  This time it was aboard NCL's cruise ship, Norwegian Majesty.  A Bermuda Customs sniffer dog found 12 joints of marijuana during a search of the cruise ship, while the ship was in port in St. George's.

The cruise passenger is an American, Frank Brazinski from Pennsylvania.  The joints were discovered in the passenger's luggage inside his cabin.  Not sure I understand how this resulted in a charge of importing drugs into Bermuda. The passenger pled guilty.