Disappearance From the M/S Serenissima: Update on the Case of Denisa Markoska

News reports are saying that a body washed ashore from the the Aegean Sea with characteristics of missing crew member Denisa Markoska who disappeared from the M/S Serenissima under suspicious circumstances 24 days ago. 

You can read articles from Macedonia here and here.

There is reportedly a similarity in the clothes with those worn by Ms. Markoska and Denisa Markoskathose on the body of the deceased person who washed ashore island of Karpathos.

There will be an autopsy and DNA analysis which should confirm the identity of the body. Such analysis may shed light on the cause of death and whether she drowned or died on the ship. 

The articles discuss that suspicions surround what occurred to the young woman on the cruise ship. Her mobile phone was found with the SIM card removed. The captain continued to sail for many hours knowing that Ms. Markoska had gone overboard, and he let the passengers all disembark before police began investigating the woman's disappearance. There is widespread speculation in the Macedonian press that some women on the ship engaged in prostitution, although I have seen no direct evidence of that.    

We previously reported on the case in our article Mystery Shrouds Disappearance of 23 Year-Old Macedonian Crew Member from M/S Serenissima

Should you have any thoughts or have any information, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

False Man Overboard Alarm on the Royal Princess

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

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

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

Royal PrincessThe ship was heading to New York.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

23 Year Old Crew Member Overboard From M/S Serenissima

Serenissima Cruises A reader of Cruise Law News has informed us that a 23 year old female crew member disappeared from the M/S Serenissima cruise ship.

A Greek newspaper has a short article about the disappearance.

The crew member is reported missing north of the island of Crete, Greece.

The cruise ship is a small vessel carrying only 110 passengers with 48 crew members.  You can read about Serenissima Cruises here.

Before this incident, cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has recorded 238 people going overboard from cruise ships since 2000.

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

Photo Credit: Serenissima Cruises.

Caribbean Princess Passenger Overboard, Rescued

Cruise expert professor Ross Klein reports, based on passenger accounts, that a passenger went overboard from the Caribbean Princess and was rescued on August 2, 2014.

Here are the two separate accounts told to Professor Klein:

"I was on a cruise on August 2, 2014 on the Caribbean Princess out of Fort Lauderdale. A 24 year old male passenger went overboard around 10 pm. We were stopped for about an hour. They did find him alive in the water. I think he jumped from the 8th deck. They took him to medical after rescue. Some passengers said he was a "special person" but I don't know if that is true. There was a group from a Caribbean Princess group home on board. That's really all I know."

"The man overboard happened around 7:50 PM - the "Man Overboard - Crew to your muster stations" announcement was made with just a little sunlight left, but by the time we stopped and turned around, and the rescue boat took off it was dark. The man was rescued relatively quickly (10-15 minutes). Either people threw him life jackets or he jumped with one. We also heard rumors of mental health, and we can confirm there was a group on board but we don't know if he was part of that group. We also heard he was put off at the next port (St Thomas) but cannot confirm. There appeared to be another rescue boat that helped with the search, possibly from another ship?"

This is the third passenger overboard in two months that was not mentioned in the press or discussed on social media. 

A 70 year old passenger went overboard from the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas on August 7, 2014. There were no rescue attempts by the ship and no announcements by the crew.

A passenger in his 20's jumped from the Splendor of the Seas on June 13, 2014. Fortunately, the cruise ship personnel rescued him.

Regarding this most recent overboard, we have reached out to Princess for a comment.  We will publish whatever Princess has to say if it responds.  

 

Have a thought about this or any of the recent cruise overboards?  Leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page

Photo Credit: loimere / Flickr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Citking

Passenger Disappears from the Costa Victoria

Costa VictoriaThe China Post reports that a female passenger disappeared from a cruise ship, during a cruise to Japan, which returned to Taiwan yesterday. 

The woman, whose last name is Hsieh, age 53, was aboard the Costa Victoria. She was supposed to leave the ship in Keelung Harbor, but did not. The Coast Guard said that her belongings were left in her cabin.

The Coast Guard said "it could be a case of suicide or an accident, but they are not ruling out any possibilities for her disappearance."

The newspaper says that Ms. Hsieh was part of a tour group that left Keelung for Japan on July 12th. The ship returned on July 17th without the passenger. 

According to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, this is the 235th person to have gone overboard from a cruise ship since 2000.  

July 19 2014 Update:  Why didn't the cabin attendant observe that the passenger was missing from the cabin?  Many crew members have commented on our Facebook page that it's not the cabin attendant's job to "babysit" the passengers.  But without an automatic man overboard system (none of the Carnival brands have implemented such technology), and if it isn't the cabin attendant's job to at least  make his or her observations known that a passenger is missing to their supervisor, whose responsibility at the cruise line is it?

Please leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook. 

Overboard Passenger Rescued from the Splendour of the Seas?

I have received inquiries from passengers about a man overboard from Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas last month. The incident seems to involve a passenger who jumped into the water early one morning. He was promptly rescued.  Most people are asking why hasn't there been any news account of the incident? 

One passenger provided the following account, and asked "is RCCL keeping this under wraps? The Captain and crew should be congratulated."

Splendour of the Seas"He was a 20ish American male passenger on ship with his parents and a brother. He apparently tried to start a fire in the early morning and security was called. He was extremely inebriated. When security arrived he ran and jumped overboard. This happened around 4:30 a.m. on the 13th of June. Around 4:45 or so Oscar, Oscar, Oscar was called out by security who saw him jump, and the Captain turned the ship immediately.

I was awoken at 5:00 a.m. from the loud sound of the stateroom as the ship was sharply turning. The walls of our room "groaned" loudly. As I got up and walked to my veranda, I realized we were listing badly toward the sea. As I got outside, I smelled smoke. Then we spotted someone (we were on the 8th deck) below us throwing out a flare. There were 3 flares in the water by now - thus the smell of smoke. We then heard "help" hollered out 6 times just off our side of the ship.

Then a life boat came about around the front and went directly to him. We were very close to this but could not actually see them lift him out. It was black out. However, they announced "we have him, he's alive, will be going to Medical." We heard a very few folks clapping from above us.

We heard he went to Medical and stayed there until we disembarked on Saturday the 14th in Venice. As we came into port, the pier was on our side of the ship. We saw Policia drive up and 3 uniform men got out and boarded our ship.

This was RCCL Splendour of the Seas "7-Night Greek Isles & Turkey" cruise from June 7-14, 2014."

Were you a passenger or crew member aboard the cruise ship when this incident occurred?  Do you have any information, photograph or video to share? Please leave a comment below and let us hear from you,

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Exequiel Pérez Millán

Carnival Spirit: How Not To Respond To A Man Overboard

Carnival's handling of the most recent disappearance of a person overboard, a chef from India, has been a mess.

The Carnival Spirit is in violation of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act. Like all other Carnival cruise ships, the Carnival Spirit has no automatic CCTV man overboard system onboard. The technology exists for overboard passengers and crew members to be immediately detected so that search and rescue efforts can be promptly initiated. There's no excuse at this late date for lack of such standard equipment. 

Even when the ship personnel finally realized that the crew member had gone overboard, the master of the ship Carnival Spiritwaited an unreasonably long period of time to search for the overboard crew member.

In the Sydney Morning Herald article entitled Australian Cruise Passengers 'Frightened, Concerned' on Cruise Ship, a passenger on the ship said that an announcement was made at about 9.30 AM on Tuesday that a crew member had gone missing but the cruise ship did not turn around until about 2 PM.

The Australian newspaper reports that a passenger sent a "desperate email" to the government asking for help, saying that "everyone I have spoken to is frightened, concerned, anxious about where we're going and very confused."

The passenger complained "there are no planes, no helicopters, no nothing – just our cruise boat going at five kilometres an hour." 

Not surprisingly the New Caledonia Search and Rescue Authority declared the chances of finding the missing crew member were ''literally nil.''

It's not the first time people have gone overboard from the Carnival Spirit. Paul Rossington and his girlfriend Kristen Schroder fell off the ship last year.

Carnival Australia's CEO Ann Sherry was rather cavalier about that incident. She said, without qualification, “you can’t fall off the ship.” 

Even if that's true, that's little consolation for the crew member's family. That leaves two alternatives - being a victim of a crime (it wouldn't be the first time that someone was pitched overboard), or committing suicide (which is the cruise line's favorite excuse). But because the ship does't even have CCTV of the incident (much less man overboard technology), the case is doomed to be another mystery. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Jean-Philippe Boulet

Crew Member Overboard From Carnival Spirit Near Vanatu

Tonight we received information from a former crew member that a search and rescue operation is underway near Vanuatu after a Carnival employee has gone overboard from the Carnival Spirit cruise ship. 

There is an article from Australia stating that there is a man overboard lost from a Carnival cruise ship who is "believed to be a member of the kitchen crew" aboard the Carnival Spirit on a voyage out of Vanuatu.

The newspaper states that a passenger on the cruise ship, who did not wish to be identified, stated Carnival Spiritthat an announcement was made more than 10 hours ago that a crew member had gone missing "for up to 20 hours by that point." 

The Carnival cruise ship turned back towards Vanuatu, which is about 20 hours away from its current position. 

Under the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2010, cruise lines are suppose to have implemented automatic man-overboard CCTV systems to detect man-overboards as soon as they happen. Under applicable U.S. maritime law, there should never be this type of mystery when a crew member (or passengers) disappears on the high seas.

Does anyone have information regarding this incident to share?

Cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein reports that 233 people have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Hpeterswald

Murder at Sea? CBS' 48 Hours Updates DIsappearance of George Smith From Brilliance of the Seas Nine Years Ago

Its been nine years since George Smith disappeared during his honeymoon cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas.

CBS focuses on new developments in the cruise ship mystery, in a 48 Hours story entitled "Murder at Sea?"

Its introduction says: a newlywed vanishes off the cruise ship where he was honeymooning - 9 years later, "48 Hours" reports on the renewed push to find out what happened to George Smith. 

You can watch the program below: 

Passenger Overboard From MSC Divina

Univision reports that a passenger has gone overboard from the MSC Divina cruise ship.

In an article entitled "cae al mar un mexicano que viajaba en crucero mundialista," the network says that a passenger fell 50 meters from deck 15 into the water.  

The MSC cruise ship was sailing with around 3,500 Mexican citizens to various locations in Brazil for the World Cup. A Mexican newspaper, Tribun Digital de Quintano Roo, says that the cruise ship was transporting Mexican passengers between the three cities where Mexico plays in the first phase of the World (Natal, Fortaleza and Recife). 

MSC Divina The cruise ship stopped to search for the overboard passenger without success.  

The Consulate of Mexico in Rio de Janeiro confirmed that "a Mexican citizen who was aboard MSC Divina cruise ship fell into the sea after the ship sailed from the city of Fortaleza in northern Brazil, heading to port of Recife."

The report further states that it is unknown if the Mexican citizen was traveling alone, with family or with friends. 

The report says that the passenger was intoxicated. 

According to cruise ship expert Dr. Ross Klein, 232 people have gone overboard since 2000.

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

June 19 2014 Update: The missing passenger has been identifies as Jorge Alberto Lopez Amores

 

Photo Image: Tribun Digital de Quintano Roo 

No Answers, No CCTV & No Justice: P&O Ferries Leaves Fearnside Family in the Dark

It was a dark night when 30 year-old Richard Fearnside disappeared from P&O Ferries' Pride of Kent ferry as it was sailing from Calais back to Dover. His girlfriend said that he was going to the top deck to smoke a cigarette. Richard never returned. P&O didn't sound an alarm until the ferry returned to port.

P&O Ferries could offer no explanation to Richard's parents, Bob and Marianne, regarding what happened to their son while the P&O ferry was cruising in the middle of the English Channel. Although other passengers and crew had disappeared from P&O ferries under mysterious circumstances in the past, the ferry company had not bothered to install a single CCTV camera on the decks of its fleet of Richard Fearnside P&O FerriesP&O ships for safety and security purposes.  

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

Richard vanished a year ago today.

It's an anniversary date no parent wants.

For a year, Richard's parents have faced what they believe to be P&O's cover-up of his disappearance. 

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

Last December, I sent an open letter to Ms. Deeble about the absence of CCTV cameras on the P&O ferries. There are huge cruise ships in the U.S. that have literally over 1,000 CCTV cameras installed on board. Ms. Deeble chose to ignore my letter just like she initially ignored Marianne's letter. 

Ignored by P&O, Marianne started a petition to require P&O Ferries to install CCTV cameras on its passenger decks. The petition resonated with the public. To date, over 95,000 people have signed the petition while making insightful and poignant comments explaining why safety camera are required. You can see the petition here

Bob and Marianne FearnsideThe Fearnsides remain in the dark about what happened to Richard. P&O's attitude toward them, and its irresponsible refusal to install cameras on its ships, ensure that other passengers will disappear without explanation.  

Please take a moment to click on the petition. Please sign it. Please tell P&O why it should finally install cameras. 

 

Please read a few of our other articles:

P&O Ferries Refuses to Install CCTV or Man Overboard Systems after Passenger Disappears

P&O Ferries Plagued By Overboard Passengers & No Safety Systems

P&O Ferries Crisis Manager Is No Stranger to Ferry Disasters

P&O Ferries No-CCTV Camera Controversy: Expect a Long Fight

 

Bottom photo credit: Canterbury Times

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

Man Disappears From Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship

Bahamas Celebration Cruise ShipA local newspaper in South Florida is reporting that a man disappeared from the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship operated by Celebration Cruise Line.

CBS Miami states that sometime shortly after 2:00 AM last night, the cruise ship notified the U.S. Coast Guard received that a man from South Carolina was missing from the ship. The article indicates that the cruise line did not know how the man went overboard. 

The ship had departed Freeport, Bahamas on Saturday around 6 PM and was heading to its home port in West Palm Beach when the man went overboard.

The cruise line says that it searched for the man but was unable to locate him. 

The Celebration Cruise Line is one of many cruise lines which has not bothered to install an automatic man overboard system, in violation of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act.

A Canadian passenger, Fariba Amani, disappeared from the Bahamas Celebration 2 years ago. Her disappearance remains a mystery.

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has documented 231 cases of overboard passengers and crew members since 2000.

This particular cruise ship has been the subject of cocaine smuggling arrests, sexual assault and fire in the last couple of years.

April 29 2014 Update:

FOX 4: "Couple Appalled By Cruise Line's Rescue Effort to Find Missing Man."

Palm Beach Post: "Uncle says man who jumped off cruise ship not suicidal."

 

Photo Credit: thebahamasweekly.com

Costa Cruise Passenger Disappears, Found Dead

Costa Fascinosa Cruise ShipThe Pefil newspaper reports that a Brazilian businessman traveling on a Costa cruise ship was reported missing by his wife. He was later found dead on the shores of Rio de la Plata.

The newspaper's headline is "Misteriosa muerte del pasajero de un crucero - Un empresario brasileño fue encontrado a 50 metros de la costa del Río de la Plata".

Tranlsated, that means: "Mysterious death of cruise passenger - A Brazilian businessman was found 50meters from the shore of the Río de la Plata."

The newspaper identifies the passenger as Odair Marcos Faria, who was traveling with his wife, Maria Cristina Florio Bonafin. They were sailing on the Costa Fascinosa.  His wife had reported her husband's disappearance to the ship's crew.

The body was found 50 meters from the shore of the Río de la Plata. There is an investigation underway to establish whether the overboard case was a suicide, accident or homicide.

The "Rio de la Plata" (River of Silver) is the estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay River and Costa Cruise Ship Passengerthe Paraná River on the border between Argentina and Uruguay.

Cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein has documented 229 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000. 9 people have gone overboard so far this year.

Update: The Clarin newspaper also reports on the case, stating that the cruise was a gift from the man's children. The newspaper suggests that shortly before the cruise, either the passenger or his wife apparently learned that one had a terminal illness (the translation is unclear).

 

Photo Credit: Top - Wikipedia / Abxbay; bottom - Clarin / Facebook

Passenger Reported Overboard From Costa Classica

Costa Classica Cruise Ship Man OverboardWe were notified a few minutes ago that a passenger has gone overboard from the Costa Classica cruise ship after the ship sailed from Casablanca, Morocco.  

The AIS tracking shows the cruise ship searching for the passenger.

A person from the ship contacted us about the man overboard and indicated that it was a male passenger.

It appears that the ship performed a Willamson turn to try and locate the person and then has been sailing in circles.

The cruise ship was sailing to Funchal, Madeira (autonomous Portugese island).

We will update this site as more information become available.

If anyone has update information, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Costa Classica Man OverboardFacebook page.

Update: The AIS tracking showed the cruise ship end its search after a couple of hours and sail on to Funchal.

It was disappointing to see a number of vessels in the area (within 50 kilometers) not join in to look for the passenger over the course of the search by the Classica.

A newspaper in Portugal identifies the passengers as a 70 year old man from Germany

 

Passenger Reportedly Falls From Deck 6, Strikes Lifeboat on Deck 4, on Carnival Miracle

Carnival Miracle Cruise ShipThe Cruise Critic message board states that a passenger apparently went over her balcony railing on the Carnival Miracle during the most recent (February 15 - 22) cruise. 

A poster left a message that the cruise ship turned around to begin a search for the passenger. However, it was announced that the passenger was recovered on board. She was taken to the infirmary.

One passengers suggested that "the person was pushed off the balcony and the people responsible were turned over to the authorities in Cabo."

Other people posting on the message board indicate that the passenger may have fallen from deck 6 to deck 4 and struck a lifeboat.

This morning we requested Carnival to provide information regarding this alleged incident. We will post Carnival's response if and when it responds. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / HurricaneX31

Passenger Goes Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Splendor of the Seas

A newspaper in Brazil reports that a passenger went overboard on Friday February 7, 2014 from the Splendor of the Seas cruise ship while it was sailing in the waters of Uruguay.

The vessel reportedly docked later at the Port of Santos, São Paulo, on Sunday, February 9, 2014. The local police investigated the incident and believe that it was a case of suicide.

Witnesses indicate that the passenger, a 47 year old Brazilian man, was wearing a life vest when he jumped into the water from the 7th floor of the cruise ship. Ship passengers who disembarked at the Port of Santos on Sunday state that the cruise ship searched for the man and managed to locate his body.  

Royal Caribbean said that the guest threw himself overboard. The ship stopped and conducted a search, and alerted  Uruguayan Coast Guard.

According to the newspaper, the cruise line says the Splendor of the Seas left Santos on February 2, with stops in Punta del Este and Montevideo, Uruguay and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Splendor of the Seas DeathRoyal Caribbean also says it is focused on providing support to the man's family. 

This is the fifth person overboard from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in less than 2 months.

In addition to this latest case, crew and passengers have gone overboard from the Celebrity Constellation, Rhapsody of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Independence of the Seas.

 

Photo Credit:

Top: Wikipedia / Exequiel Pérez Millán / GNU Free Documentation License,

Bottom: Globo newspaper / Santa Casa de Santos / G1 Santos)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean / Royal Caribbean via Wired

Passenger Missing From Fred Olsen's Black Watch

There has been some speculation over the last two weeks that a passenger went overboard from a Fred Olsen cruise ship sailing to South America.

Several newspapers have now reported that a passenger died "after falling overboard from the Fred Olsen Black Watch 70-miles off the coast of Brazil" on January 30th, after the cruise ship made its Transatlantic crossing. 

One newspaper quotes a spokeswoman for Fred Olsen saying that the passenger died "after falling overboard in rough seas" after the ship left Rio de Janeiro. The cruise line spokesperson also said that "a body was sighted floating in the water, but due to the bad sea conditions, with waves of up to three Fred Olsen Black Watchmetres and 30-knot winds, it was not possible for the ship to recover the body."

This incident sounds like a prior incident where a cruise passenger from the U.K. went overboard. The cruise ship was not identified in that prior story. 

Many readers commented that they find it difficult to believe that a passenger could "fall" off of a cruise ship, without being pushed, clowning around, or intentionally jumping. I don't necessarily disagree, except to say that it sounds like there were no surveillance cameras which recorded the event and certainly no automatic man overboard system installed.

The Black Watch is a old ship which started sailing in the early 1970's. 

The newspaper also reported that the cruise ship stopped near Isla Picton close to the Argentine border around 50 miles north of Cape Horn and was delayed because of a "technical issue with the ship's steering gear."

The ship is on a world tour and will continue its 114-night "South American and World Voyage" cruise when repairs are completed.

 

Photo Credit: RaBoe/Wikipedia Creative Commons License

Crew Member Overboard From Celebrity Cruises' Constellation Cruise Ship

Numerous news sources are reporting that a Celebrity Cruises' crew member went overboard from a cruise ship sailing off of the coast of Mexico.

Crew member Inyoman Bagiada, age 45, reportedly disappeared from the Celebrity Constellation at around 2:30 AM today, according to a press release by the U.S. Coast Guard. He was employed on the cruise ship as a cook.

The Constellation was returning from Cozumel, Mexico, to Port Everglades, Florida, after a five-day cruise. The incident reportedly occurred between Mexico and Cuba.

Celebrity Constellation Man OverboardThis is the sixth cruise ship disappearance in the last 5 weeks.

Royal Caribbean and sister company Celebrity have recently lost 4 people overboard. In addition to this latest overboard, people went overboard from the Rhapsody of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Independence of the Seas

Royal Caribbean is one of the cruise lines which is in violation of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) which requires the installation of automatic man overboard systems. Four years ago Congress passed the CVSSA nto law, over the cruise industry's objections, most cruise lines have not installed the required systems.

What typically occurs is that a person goes overboard without anyone seeing the passenger or crew member.  The cruise ship then sails on, often for many hours. Eventually the person's absence is noticed, but the ship is many miles away. At that point the cruise ship will notify the Coast Guard, which must then search vast areas of the ocean at the cost to U.S taxpayers of $1,000,000.

The Coast Guard sent a HC-130 Hercules aircraft Clearwater, Florida and the Charles David Jr., a 154-foot cutter from Key West. 

A man overboard system would result in an immediate notification of the person going overboard and a rapid search and rescue. Sending Coast Guard airplanes and vessels from long distances away could be avoided with the man overboard systems. Lives could be saved which are now being lost.

Royal Caribbean experienced 8 crew members going overboard from its fleet of ships in less than 2 years between January 2011 and October 2012. You can read about those cases here.

It's my belief that unless the cruise lines face steep fines, or are responsible for paying for the Coast Guard's search, they will continue to flaunt the law.  

January 30 2014 Update: The Daily Mail reports that "according to the Coast Guard, the cruise did not report Bagiada missing until eight hours after he fell overboard." 

 

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

Photo Credit of Celebrity Constellation - Wikipedia / Megadri   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There will be many more this year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's what Kaye is paid to say.

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit: ABC News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Image Credit: gCaptain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Ivan T.

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

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

In light of the many recent overboard passenger cases, the title is inappropriate. After all, there have been four passengers who have gone overboard in less than three weeks. Passengers have gone overboard from the Rhapsody of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Independence of the Seas, all operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises in just eleven days. Just this morning, I posted an article about a passenger going overboard from Holland America Line's Veendam

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

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

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

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

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

Person Overboard From Holland America Line's Veendam?

HAL VeendamThis weekend we received inquiries from passengers who had been on the Holland America Line Veendam cruise ship about a passenger who apparently went overboard. Passengers indicated that the incident apparently occurred off the coast of Mexico on January 3, 2014 as the ship sailed back to San Diego. 

Here are two of the comments:

"Was on the MS Veendam (Holland America) 7-day Mexican Riviera cruise and a woman mysteriously fell or jumped off the top deck the early afternoon of day 6 (last Friday, Jan 3) off coast of Mexico (coming back to San Diego). She had to be dead (body floating face down in water), as we were sent to cabin for an hour. But no news was shared or online. Crew was working on top rail, which someone (the crew?) had disassembled even before the FBI showed up Sat morning to inspect before disembarkation. Do you have any info on this?  Strange that there hasn't been any news. Rumors were suicide, but I'm really wondering."

"On MS Veendam (HAL) (Jan. 3, 2014) when we had a man overboard called. We were ordered to our cabins but never offered an expiation as what happened. Only rumors that it was murder, suicide or accident . . . How can we find out the truth?"

Anyone with information please leave a comment below, or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Update: Why is there no information about this overboard on the internet

Photo Credit: Holland America Line via L.A. Times

Ominous End of 2013 & Beginning of 2014 for Cruise Industry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

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

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

Passenger Missing From Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas Sailing to Cayman Islands

According to news sources, a passenger is reportedly missing from the Independence of the Seas cruise ship which sailed to the Cayman Islands today. 

The missing passenger is a 65-year-old man from Canada who was reported missing by his wife, before the Royal Caribbean ship arrived at the Grand Cayman's port.

His name and hometown were not disclosed.

Independence of the SeasA search of the cruise ship and a review of closed-circuit camera footage provided no information. 

A Royal Caribbean spokesperson says that the missing man was last seen entering his room just before midnight.

You can watch a video from the Cayman's television station here.

Royal Caribbean's inability to explain what happened to its cruise guest reveals, again, that the cruise line is in violation of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act.

This law requires cruise lines to install state of the art automatic man overboard technology to detect persons going over the rails into the sea. Technology exists to detect when passengers or crew members go overboard and will record their images and send a signal to the bridge notifying the officers of the emergency in order to begin emergency rescue procedures.

Read our article: Cruise Industry Ignores Law Requiring Man-Overboard System.

Unfortunately Royal Caribbean has not implemented this system.

Two days ago, another Canadian went overboard from the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas as the cruise ship was sailing to San Juan.

Ten days ago, a passenger disappeared from the Rhapsody of the Seas in Australian waters. 

If you have a comment, please join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Aztec06

P&O Ferries Ignores Widespread Requests to Install Safety Cameras on its Ferries

PO Ferries Pride of KentLast week I wrote an article entitled Top 10 Most Outrageous Cruise Ship Stories of 2013. There were a lot out outrageous moments in the maritime community last year. I had to work hard to whittle my initial list of outrageous cruise stories down to just ten.  

One outrageous story which I had to cut from the list at the last moment was the story of the disappearance of Richard Fearnside from the P&O Ferries Pride of Kent. Earlier this year, Richard was a passenger on the P&O ferry sailing with his girlfriend back to the U.K. from Calais when he went to the top deck to have a smoke. He disappeared.

P&O could offer no explanation regarding what happened to its fare-paying guest. Why? Because the P&O ferry did not have an automatic man overboard system to detect persons going overboard. Incredibly, it did not even have a single CCTV camera on the exterior, top passenger deck.

Mysteries like this are unacceptable in a caring and civilized world. But they are not rare.

Two days ago, a Canadian man disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas as the cruise ship sailed on a Caribbean cruise to the Cayman Islands. The cruise ship had no man overboard system and no CCTV cameras which captured what happened to the cruise line passenger.

Just eleven days earlier, an Australian man fell from from Royal Carribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas. Again the ship had no man overboard system and no surveillance camera recorded how or why the passenger went overboard.  

P&O has also experienced a rash of overboards where the ferry line could offer no explanation what happened. 

Richard Fearnside's mother, Marianne, wrote to the CEO of P&O, Helen Deeble, and inquired why there were no cameras on the ferry. Her letter was sloughed off to a PR man who rudely told her to take a hike. Marianne made the mistake of pointing out that P&O has CCTV cameras in its duty free shops to protect the booze on its ship, so why no CCTV on exterior passenger decks?

The same problem exists with larger cruise lines like Royal Caribbean which monitors CCTV cameras in its casino to protect its casino chips. Companies like P&O and Royal Caribbean don't want to see their booze or casino money disappear. But they don't feel the same way about their passengers.     

Richard Fearnside Marianne Fearnside Marianne Fearnsie recently started a petition to require P&O Ferries to install CCTV cameras on its passenger decks. To date, over 90,000 people have signed the petition while making insightful comments explaining why surveillance camera are required.

I sent an open letter to P&O CEO Ms. Deeble, inquiring why something as simple and inexpensive as CCTV cameras have not been installed, which you can read here.

Unfortunately, P&O ignored my little letter. But P&O cannot ignore Marianne Fearnside's growing petition.

Victim advocate organizations and the media have taken notice of the Fearnside family's plight. Unexplained disappearances in the cruise industry and on P&O ships will surely continue in 2014. And just as surely, every time someone goes overboard from a P&O ferry, the advocacy groups, the media and this blog will protest loudly why P&O has done nothing about this problem.      

 

Sign the petition here.

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

Man Overboard from the Adventure of the Seas

Adventure of the SeasEarly this morning we received an email from a cruise passenger aboard the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas alerting us that a man had gone overboard last night. We received this message:

"Man overboard Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas. Close enough to San Juan to be getting AT&T service right now. At about 8:45 - 9:00 PM, the Captain came over loudspeaker and announced that a man had "jumped" overboard. They also said they believed he was in his mid 20s. About 30 - 45 minutes later they announced the arrival of a Coast Guard helicopter. I can verify. When the announcement was made I went on deck and witnessed the ship turning around. They launched life preservers with lights attached as well as two rescue boats. There were spotlights at first and brighter ones joined later. There was talk spreading throughout the shop that people had witnessed the pulling the spotlights out of the theater or ice rink.

I wrote that at about 11 last night. We are now heading to port. Captain told us there would be a 4 hour delay and that he extended condolences to the family. No more information at this time."

There have been at least 219 persons overboard since 2000, according to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein.

Nine days ago, we reported on another passengers who disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas.

If you are on the cruise or have any information or photographs you wish to share, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Update Sunday afternoon: The AP quotes a Royal Caribbean spokesperson saying that the captain of the Adventure of the Seas stopped the ship, turned around and alerted authorities after a passenger reported seeing the person going overboard late Saturday.The cruise spokesperson said footage of the incident was also captured by the ship's cameras.  You can read updated comments here.

According to the Coast Guard said that the missing man is Canadian Tien Phuoc Nguyen, age 26, and was sailing with his family.

There is an article in a Puerto Rican newspaper suggesting that the man may have been involved in an argument with his family & under influence of alcohol, and that ship security tried to intervene prior to him going overboard.

The U.K.'s Daily Mail also covered the story.  

 

Photo Credit: Top CC-BY-SA-3.0 / Matt H. Wade at Wikipedia

Man Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos Credit: Wikipedia / Lisa LushRhapsody of the Seas 

 

P&O Ferries Crisis Manager Is No Stranger to Ferry Disasters

P&O Ferries spokesperson and crisis manager Chris Laming is at the epicenter of the public relations disaster following the disappearance of ferry passenger Richard Fearnside.       

After 31 year-old Richard went missing from the P&O Pride of Kent, his mother Marianne Fearnside wrote to P&O Ferries to ask what happened to her son and to complain that the ferry company did not have closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras on its ships.  The chief executive officer of the ferry company tasked Mr. Laming with writing a letter back to the grieving mother.  

In a time of crisis a cruise line's reputation, and its relationship with the families of killed or missing passengers, P&O Ferries Chris Lamingare often formed not by the circumstances which caused the crisis but by the company's attitude, appearance, and action afterwords. 

I call this the "three A's" of cruise line crisis management: attitude, appearance & action. When disaster strikes and passengers are killed or disappear during a vacation cruise, the public has a remarkable capacity to forgive the company involved - provided it takes a few basic steps not to make matters worse.  

In practical terms, people understand that accidents are inevitable. "Sh*t happens," the saying goes. An individual or company can be forgiven if they demonstrate a humble and respectful attitude; they appear on the scene and appear to take stock of the problems they caused; and they take prompt action to prevent others from suffering a similar fate. 

Sounds easy, doesn't it? But most cruise lines and ferry operators don't seem to have a clue what to do in a time of crisis. Many companies do the opposite of what they should do. They demonstrate an obnoxious attitude. They try and disappear from public scrutiny and disavow responsibility. They act defensively and take no steps to prevent the event from occurring again.

Bad or malicious PR can infuriate families of the victims and cause them to dedicate their lives to requiring cruise lines and ferry companies to act responsibly. 

I'm not sure what P&O crisis manager Chris Laming was thinking when he wrote back to Richard's mother. His letter consisted of just seven sentences. You'd think that a PR professional for ferry companies for 27 years could string together a few sincere sounding pleasantries to acknowledge the grief of a mother who lost her child, together with choice action phrases suggesting that the company would be conducting a full investigation with an eye toward learning lessons from the mishap and possibly implementing safety improvements to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.

Just two weeks ago, I complemented P&O Ferries who did the right thing when it transported a morbidly obese young man from Dover to Calais by ferry. Cunard and British Airways had refused him passage from the U.S. because of his weight (500 lbs). Virgin Airways flew him to the U.K. and then P&O helped him reach France where he lives. Mr. Laming had issued a very compassionate statement on P&O's behalf: "It's difficult to imagine the frustration that this gentleman has gone through. But for us, it's very straightforward as we are set up to carry people who have medical needs."  

P&O's letter to Mrs. Fearnside, however, contained no hint of compassion or sympathy and no illusion that the company would be taking the matter seriously with an eye toward remedial action. There was nothing sounding like "please-accept-our-sincerest-condolences-for-the-loss-of-your-son" type of thing. P&O's attitude (the first "A" in crisis management) was all wrong. The letter contained nothing polite, conciliatory or respectful. 

But the last couple of sentences were worse. Mr. Laming wrote:

"It would not be physically possible to cover all of the open deck spaces with CCTV, or monitor such cameras 24 hours a day, or make and retain recordings in perpetuity."

He concluded his letter stating ". . . we do not consider that anything more could have been done in the circumstances." 

Later, when local newspapers in the U.K. began to cover the story, Mr. Laming explained why P&O refused to consider installing CCTV cameras on open passenger decks to prevent and assist in responding to man overboard situations:

"It is so rare. It is just not practical to consider doing this."   

I have seen many PR managers at cruise lines make these type of statements to try and get out of a tight spot. "We have carried millions of passengers and nothing like this has ever happened before. We are the safest way to travel. Overboard passengers are ultra-rare. Our ships are safe. We are going to continue to sail without any changes." And so forth and so on.

Statements like this are usually false. (P&O has a history of unexplained man overboard cases). Plus these type of statements eventually make the cruise or ferry company look like they are hiding something. The "it's rare" defense just invites people, like me, to begin to investigate how many times similar incidents have in fact occurred. Invariably, the public learns that man overboards are hardly rare and occur with alarming frequency. The end result is that the ferry companies lose credibility and invite public scorn.          

Mr. Laming has defended ferry companies in the court of public opinion before. According to his resume poster on LinkedIn, a year after he became the public relation officer for Townsend Thoresen / P&O European Ferries in 1986, the ferry line experienced one of the worse public relation disasters imaginable.

In 1987, the Herald of Free Enterprise was sailing a route between Dover and Zeebrugge in Belgium. Herald of Free Enterprises DisasterThe ferry carried 459 passengers, 80 crew members, 81 cars, 3 buses and 47 trucks. Within minutes after leaving its berth in Zeebrugge's harbor, the ferry began taking on massive amounts of water. The ship began to list. It lost all power and electricity, leaving the passengers in darkness. The ferry then capsized. 193 people died due to drowning or hypothermia in the icy cold waters.

Mr. Laming responded to the disaster on the cruise line's behalf. He told newspaper reporters words to the effect that the ship was safe and this was just an isolated, freak accident. He was quoted in a London newspaper article entitled "Disaster Cause Unknown" saying that the ferry company's fleet of three ships of this class had carried "millions and millions of people without any mishap . . . Our ships will continue in service, and this, as far as we are concerned, was a tragic, one-oft incident."  

But the ferry line knew exactly what had happened and also knew that at least one similar incident had happened before. A subsequent public inquiry revealed that the ship's giant bow doors (which open to permit trucks and cars to drive on ramps into the ship) had been negligently left open when the ferry left the port in Belgium. Incredibly, an assistant boatswain responsible for closing the doors had fallen asleep in his cabin. A ship officer, who duty was to stay on deck to make sure that the bow doors were closed, left his post.  Another boatswain who was the last person on the car deck, testified that he did not close the doors because it was not his job. The captain did not verify that the doors were closed. There were no alarms in place to signal that the doors were open. The ferry line thought that it was frivolous to spend money on equipment to indicate if employees had failed to do their job correctly. 

The official investigation also revealed that the ferry line suffered from a "disease of sloppiness" and "negligence at every level of the corporation's hierarchy." The investigation showed a major problem with the ferry ship itself. The ship did not have any watertight compartments; any flooding would allow water to flow the length of the ship. This was revealed in a similar prior incident when in 1983, the ferry's sister ship Pride of Free Enterprise had sailed from Dover to Zeebrugge with the bow doors open. Its assistant boatswain also fell asleep in that incident as well.  You can read the official report of the disaster here

Survivors of the disaster are still grieving and traumatized today

The disaster lead to substantial changes in the rules and regulations pertaining to ferries of this type.

What Mr. Laming told reporters about the Herald of Free Enterprises two and one-half decades ago was the opposite of the truth. There were deadly design flaws in the ferry; there had been prior problems with a boatswain asleep on the job and sailing with open doors; and there had been at least one essentially identical problem with a sister ship sailing between Dover and Zeebrugge.

So here we are 26 years later. The ferry line's crisis manager is telling essentially the same PR story to the public. Don't worry. We're safe. There's nothing wrong with our ships. Passenger overboards are "so rare." Its "not practical" to invest in CCTV equipment for safety reasons, he says.

But PR statements like this won't work if the public has a healthy dose of skepticism and takes a hard look at a company's actual safety record. How many other passengers will be lost at sea because P&O thinks its frivolous to invest in CCTV cameras and automatic man overboard alarms?

 

Follow the story on Ms. Fearnside's Facebook page.  After receiving P&O's letter, she started a petition to require ferry operators like P&O Ferries to install CCTV cameras. Over 80,000 have signed the petition so far. Click here and sign the petition.   Also please leave a comment if you have a thought about this issue or join the discussion on our Facebbok page

Photo Credits:

Photo Top: P&O Ferries' Chris Laming - LinkedIn

Photo Bottom: Herald Of Free Enterprises - BBC 

P&O Ferries Refuses to Install CCTV or Man Overboard Systems after Passenger Disappears

The parents of a 30 year-old passenger who disappeared from a ferry sailing between Calais and Dover are petitioning for legislation requiring ships to install closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras.

Richard Fearnside, son of Marianne and Bob Fearnside, of Whitstable, Kent (U.K.), disappeared from the Pride of Kent ferry last May. He was last seen going to an exterior deck to smoke a cigarette. An alarm was not raised until the ship docked at Dover at the end of the cruise when his girlfriend could not locate him.

Richard Fearnside - Missing - Pride of KentThe delayed search and rescue efforts, conducted by ships and helicopters, were unsuccessful.

Richard's mother was quoted in a local newspaper stating "we don't know whether Richard slipped, fell, jumped or was pushed - we have no idea what happened to our son. He just vanished."

The ferry company, P&O Ferries, has been indifferent to the family's plight.

Mr. and Ms. Fearnside corresponded with P&O Ferries asking it to install cameras on passenger decks, but the ferry line rebuffed them. 

P&O Ferries crisis management spokesman Chris Laming wrote back to the Fearnsides claiming that it would be impossible for the ferry company to:

  • "Cover all of the open spaces with CCTV, 
  • Monitor such cameras 24 hours a day, or
  • Make and retain such recordings in perpetuity."

As anyone with a minimum understanding of the affordable technology readily available to the maritime community knows, these statements made on P&O Ferries behalf are patently false and misleading. It is easy to position CCTV cameras to cover all of the public areas, especially in small ferry boats like this. Reputable operators retain the electronic data for 30 days and automatic sensors do not require the cameras to be manned 24 hours. 

We have attended over a half-dozen U.S. Congressional hearings about cruise ship safety. There has been extensive debate about the need for CCTV cameras covering the public areas of cruise ships and automatic man-overboard systems to alert the bridge that a person has gone overboard from the ship. 

Automatic man-overboard systems exist and are easily installed. It is preposterous to suggest that it is not possible to cover all of the public spaces with CCTV cameras and man-overboard technology. Small ferries have limited open decks and no private balconies (see photo below). Watch this recent video which includes a former Coast Guard engineer who designed such systems.

Norwegian Cruise Line, for examples, has installed literally over a 1,000 cameras on its newest cruise ships. It can track every single inch of its cruise ships.

The only reason that a cruise line or ferry operator would refuse to install such systems is that they do not want to spend the money. They prefer profits over safety. Ironically, companies like P&O Ferries install cameras in their liquor and duty free shops to deter theft (cruise lines always install cameras in casinos to protect their money); however, they will take no steps to use cameras in other public spaces to deter sexual assaults and violence against passengers.

Protecting booze bottles and casino chips seems more important than protecting people on the high seas.

The result of such irresponsibility and greed is delayed rescue attempts of passengers and crew members who go overboard. Just like in Mr. Fearnside's case, the Coast Guard is typically called in late.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer's money is spent to search unnecessarily wide areas of the sea looking for the overboard person. It's like searching for a needle in the haystack.

Maritime operators like P&O Ferries would prefer taxpayers foot the bill rather than spending its own money on CCTV cameras and automatic overboard systems to protect its passengers and crew in the first place.

Cruise Expert Professor Ross Klein has documented 208 persons overboard from cruise ships and ferries since 2000.

The Fearnsides are doing something about this problem. They have started a campaign to require these irresponsible cruise and ferry operators to install CCTV cameras. BBC recently discussed the family's efforts to protect the public. Click on the link here and consider signing the petition.  

Also, please join our discussion on our Facebook page.  Please share the information with your friends and ask them to support the petition.

February 29 2013 Update: Think that cases of overboard passengers from ferries are rare? Hardly. read: P&O Ferries Plagued By Overboard Passengers & No Safety Systems

Photo credit (bottom): Wikipedia / Fabian318

Cruise Lines Continue to Ignore Cruise Safety Law's Requirement to Install Automatic Man-Overboard Systems

Grand Princess Cruise ShipIn the last week, there have been several articles about the cruise industry's refusal to comply with the requirements of the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act to install automatic man-overboard systems.

The spirit and intent of Congress in enacting the legislation, as expressed in several hearings in Washington D.C. which I attended over the years, was to require all cruise ships to implement system to alert the bridge when a passenger went overboard so that prompt rescue efforts could be undertaken.  

Unfortunately, the vast majority of cruise lines have not invested in the available systems.

A week ago the Miami Herald first published an article entitled "Overboard Cases on Cruise Lines Often Under-Reported to Public."   

The Huffington Post followed up with an article after a woman went overboard from a Princess Cruises ship, the Grand Princess, which apparently does not have an automatic man overboard system. The security personnel on the cruise ship were required to look through images on the cruise ship's CCTV system to look for the incident in order to confirm that the passenger went over the rail. 

Yesterday, a local South Florida NBC television station, WPTV, published an article entitled "Cruise Lines Are Slow to Implement a Man Overboard Detection System for Passengers."  It also aired the video segment below.

Our firm was mentioned in all of the articles.

Today Time magazine published an article "Cruise Industry’s Mysterious ‘Man Overboard’ Problem."

The cruise lines' refusal to comply with the law results in the U.S. Coast Guard having to deploy aircraft, helicopters and cutters over a wide search grid with the expensive and often million-dollar searches being paid for by U.S. taxpayers rather than the foreign-flagged cruise ships which pay no U.S. taxes in the first place. 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has documented over 200 person going overboard from cruise ships since 2000.  There is no question that the technology exists to automatically and instantly detect persons going overboard. 

Supporters of the cruise industry say that the percentage of overboard passengers is small compared to the total number of people going overboard.  That may be true. But the cruise industry's non-compliance with the cruise safety law ensures that the prospects of saving those overboard passengers are slim and their deaths are likely.

Watch the video below and let us know how you think how the cruise lines can be forced to comply with the law. Join the discussion on our Facebook page.  

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Ivan T.)

Miami Herald Looks at Cruise Ship Overboards

Today the Miami Herald published an article entitled "Overboard Cases on Cruise Lines Often Under-Reported to Public."

What jumps out from the article is that the cruise industry, as a whole, fundamentally still lacks transparency regarding the issue of cruise ship passengers and crew members going overboard on the high seas.

Miami Herald reporter Hannah B. Sampson was seemingly unable to obtain a straight answer from the cruise lines or the cruise trade organization regarding exactly which cruise ships have implemented automatic man overboard systems with an alarm to the bridge which comply with the 2010 Cruise Cruise Safety and Security ActVessel Safety & Security Act (CVSSA), and which cruise ships have no systems or "passive" system which don't notify the bridge and are in violation of the law. The closest the reporter could come to this basic issue is obtaining a quote from a company which installs both systems stating that “a significant number” of cruise ship just use passive technology.

The bottom line inquiry is whether the cruise industry is in compliance with the CVSSA. My assessment is that the industry is largely not in compliance at all.

A Carnival spokesperson told the Miami Herald that the industry needs to be transparent and showcase the steps it takes to provide the public with the "safest and highest quality vacation experience available." But Carnival won't state what basic steps it has taken to comply with the CVSSA, 

Does a single one of the 100 plus cruise ships owned by Carnival Corporation and sailing under the flags of Costa, Cunard, Holland America Line, P&O or Princess have an alarm system which provides real time data to the bridge such that emergency rescue measures can be immediately undertaken? I have seen no evidence of that. Cruise lines like Princess are still reviewing CCTV images to try to figure out what happened. Meanwhile, the ship continues to sail on and the prospect of a successful rescue diminishes.

The proof of compliance or not, of course, is simple enough. Has a single cruise passenger or crew member been successfully rescued after an automatic system has detected a person going overboard?  I have seen no evidence of that either.

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, who was quoted in the Miami Herald article, has documented 57 overboards from 2011 to the present since the 2010 safety law was enacted. Not one automatic overboard system has been documented to be in use and resulted in a saved life.

Take, for example, the latest passenger going overboard from a cruise ship a few days ago. A woman in her thirties went overboard the Grand Princess north of Hawaii. There were no announcements that a CVSSA-compliance automatic system detected and immediately signaled the woman going overboard. Instead, the cruise line announced that they were able to verify another passenger's account only after reviewing images discovered during an after-the-fact review of closed circuit television (CCTV) images.

The public relations team at Princess Cruises were quick to announce that the woman "intentionally" went overboard. The media was equally quick in extrapolating that comment to mean that the woman intended to end her life via suicide. Cruise fan sites like Cruise Critic were quick to bash the woman as selfish and responsible for ruining everyone else's cruise. Lost in the blame-the-passenger PR efforts were any discussions whether Princess was in violation of the CVSSA and whether the woman could have been rescued if the cruise line had been in compliance with the cruise safety law.

It is irrelevant under the CVSSA whether the person going overboard jumped to end their life, or jumped as a plea for help, or jumped in a state of confusion while intoxicated (we received at least one comment, to our article. that the woman may have been drinking heavily), or fell, or was pushed. This is a point I mentioned recently in an article in the Huffington Post.

Three years after the CVVSA the cruise lines find themselves substantially in violation of the cruise safety law. They are still playing the game of blaming "suicidal" passengers rather than admitting that they have not invested into the new overboard technologies to try and save everyone who goes overboard for any reason.  Unfortunately, there will be no widespread compliance with the CVSSA until substantial penalties are levied against non-compliant cruise lines.

Late discovery of a missing crew member or passenger results in massive search and rescue efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard costing literally a million dollars. Cruise ships not in compliance with the CVSSA should be required to reimburse the U.S. taxpayers who are paying for the unsuccessful rescue attempts. The costs associated with one search and rescue effort would pay for an automatic system.

Yesterday a reader of Cruise Law News made these comments about the Princess passenger going overboard:

Obviously the penalties for not complying with the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act are not sufficient. If the captain of the ship and the directors of the cruise line faced manslaughter charges every time someone disappeared from a non-compliant ship, the compliance rate would rapidly approach 100%

The cruise line should also be liable for search costs, and should be required to have a suitable rescue boat/vehicle ready to go at all times. Considering the size of some of these ships, they should probably be required to have several rescue boats ready, guaranteeing a mandatory maximum response time to the overboard person.

Particularly where jurisdictional issues could prevent prosecutions, non-compliant vessels could be prohibited from operating in US waters, or the waters of any other country with similar legislation, and the promotion and sale of cruises on these vessels could also be prohibited within these countries. Whilst there would be loopholes, such as internet sales, the financial impact on these vessels should be enough to ensure rapid compliance.

U.S. Woman Disappears From Grand Princess Cruise Ship

Multiple news sources are reporting that a woman is missing from the Grand Princess cruise ship.

The U.S. cruise passenger was last seen around noon. News accounts state that the crew of the Princess Cruises ship reported her missing to the U.S. Coast Guard around 1:00 PM.

The Coast Guard deployed a Hercules aircraft to search for the woman about 750 miles northeast of Hilo, Hawaii.

The Associated Press reports that Princess Cruises spokeswoman Julie Benson says that the Grand Princess Overboard Passengerpassenger intentionally went overboard.

The Coast Guard states that the woman is 30, while Princess Cruises says she is 54.

In 2010, Congress passed the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act which requires cruise ships to implement automatic man overboard systems to capture images of persons going overboard or to send notification to the bridge that someone has gone overboard.

The purpose of the law is to require cruise lines to institute immediate rescue action whether the passenger went overboard accidentally, intentionally or through foul play. Unfortunately virtually no cruise lines have implemented such technology even though automatic alert systems are available. 

The failire of cruise lines like Princess to comply with the cruise safety law results in passengers and crew members disappearing without a trace and reduces the chances of successfully searching for the person overboard. The absence of alert systems also results in the U.S. Coast Guard being called late to conduct search of large areas which is very expensive and is ultimately paid for by U.S. taxpayers. 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has documented over 200 passengers and crew members have gone overboard since 2000.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Ivan T.)

Princess Cruises: Why No CCTV or Man Overboard Systems on the Sun Princess?

Today, after a cruise passenger disappeared from the Princess cruise shipSun Princess, the cruise line admitted that "there is no CCTV footage of the man falling overboard" according to Cruise Critic.

How is this possible?

Sun PrincessOur U.S. Congress has already enacted legislation requiring that cruise ships implement state-of-the-art technologies to detect man-overboard situations. Perhaps the Sun Princess because it was operating in Australian waters didn't bother to comply with U.S. standards.

But what is the excuse for not having a single image of the passenger going overboard?  

Cruise ships like the Sun Princess are money makers, collecting many millions of dollars every single cruise.

So why no CCTV?  Why no automated man-overboard alarms? The technologies are old school at this point.      

Why should there ever be a controversy regarding how a passenger or a crew member goes overboard on the high seas? 

 

Photo Credit: The Australian 

Sun Princess Passenger Disappears

A passenger has gone overboard from the Sun Princess cruise ship.

News sources are reporting that a 73 year old man has disappeared from the Princess cruise ship which was sailing from Western Australia to Darwin.

The man was reported missing by his wife.

A search was conducted approximately 40 nautical miles north of Cape Londonderry.

NT News reports that the cruise ship was joined by patrol ship HMAS Maryborough, and three aircraft were involved in an aerial search. Although the weather was good, the missing passengers was not rescued or his body located.

The Sun Princess cruise ship was sailing on a 16-day cruise from Fremantle to Sydney.

Professor Ross Klein reports that 207 people have gone overboard since 2000. 

Image Credit: marinetraffic.com via NT News

Sun PrIncess Disappearance

Crew Member from India Disappears from MSC Opera

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

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

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

The cruise ship was sailing into Southampton early this morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / VollwertBIT 

22 Year-Old Passenger Disappears From Hjaltland Ferry

Hjaltland FerryBBC News reports that a 22-year-old ferry passenger disappeared while sailing from Lerwick to Aberdeen yesterday. The young man was aboard the MV Hjaltland and was last seem early in the morning around 4:00 A.M.

An air and sea search, after the passenger was not located on the ship, was initiated but was unsuccessful. 

BBC News states that Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Aberdeen lifeboats were called out, and were assisted by a Sea King helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth, and two commercial vessels

The Hjaltland  retraced its route back up the coast, but was not successful in locating the passenger.

Aberdeen Coastguard, which was coordinating the operation, said given the sailing time which elapsed between the last sighting of the passenger and the deploying of lifeboats, the search area was extensive and time-consuming. 

Unfortunately this is another case where the vessel failed to have a state-of-the-art man overboard detection system. 

 

Photo Credit: thesun.co.uk

Overboard Ferry Passenger Rescued in Puget Sound

A number of news sources are reporting that a woman who apparently jumped from a Seattle-based ferry yesterday into Puget Sound has been rescued by the Coast Guard. 

The M/V Wenatchee was reportedly crossing from Bainbridge Island to Seattle's Colman Dock when the women went overboard. A witness who observed the woman in the water alerted the vessel's crew and two rescue boats were dispatched.

The Coast Guard said that they were notified of the incident around 1:45 P.M. yesterday. 

Two other ferries, the Tacoma and the Kitsap, were summoned to assist in the search.

A Coast Guard vessel rescued the woman about 40 minutes after the Coast Guard was notified. The woman, who was in her 40's, was taken to Harborview Medical Center in stable condition.Wenatchee 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / S.S. Sol Duc

Korean Passenger Disappears From Cruise Ship

The Global Post reports that an elderly South Korean tourist fell off a cruise ship off South Korea's east coast today. 

The cruise passenger was identified as a 75-year-old male, with the family name of "Jeong." He reportedly fell overboard three kilometers northwest of Jumunjin, a port on the east coast, at around 2:50 p.m.

Coast Guard officials sent rescue vessels and a helicopter to the area to search for the missing man. The Korean Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the accident.

The cruise passenger fell from the Risabu Cruise, which was sailing to Gyeongpodae from Jumunjin.

Risabu Cruise declined to provide further details.

 

Cruise Industry Ignores Law Requiring Man-Overboard System

There have been 8 Congressional hearings in the House and the Senate since December 2005 regarding issues of cruise passenger safety. One of the most talked about problems has been the issue of passengers going over-board from cruise ships. 

Over the years, there has been a discussion about the problem and the necessity of requiring the cruise industry to install systems to detect when people go overboard from cruise ships.

The International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization has been responsible for bringing this issue to the public's attention. The CEO of the ICV, Ken Carver, lost his daughter, Merrian Carver, disappeared under suspicious circumstances from the Mercury cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises' subsidiary, Celebrity Cruises. Although the cabin steward knew that Ms. Carver was no longer in her Man Overboard System MOB - Cruise Shipcabin early on during the cruise, his supervisor instructed him to do nothing about it. The cruise line never reported the incident to the Alaska State Troopers, or the FBI, or the flag state. Celebrity then discarded the majority of Ms. Carver's clothes and personal effects. You can read about the disturbing story here

Mr. Carver attended the first Congressional hearing in 2005 which was convened following the disappearance of George Smith during a honeymoon cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas.  By all accounts, other passengers probably threw Mr. Smith over the railing of his cabin, but there have been no arrests over the last 8 years.

The cases of both Ms. Carver and Mr. Smith remain "mysteries."

Mr. Carver and the Smith family founded the ICV because their children disappeared at sea under suspicious circumstances with the cruise lines being uncooperative.  

Subsequent Congressional hearings has focused on the disappearance of other cruise passengers. Although the cruise industry claims that it does not track man over-board cases, cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein has a list of over 200 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000.  Of course, crew members in addition to passenger have disappeared from cruise ships. 

Royal Caribbean and its subsidiary Celebrity has experienced 11 people going overboard since October 2010

In 2010, after years of opposition by the cruise industry, Congress passed the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act to address the issue of properly detecting persons who go overboard.

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) requires that ‘‘the vessel shall integrate technology that can be used for capturing images of passengers or detecting passengers who have fallen overboard, to the extent that such technology is available.’’ 

Three years later, it appears that few cruise ships have been fitted with the required technology. (Editor;s note October 1, 2013: Since publishing this article, we have been informed that some Disney cruise ship have infra-red man overboard systems which are in compliance with the CVVSA, and these systems have been in place over a year). Cruise passengers and even a larger number of crew members have continued to disappear from cruise ships without explanation. 

There is no question that the technology exists to detect when a person goes overboard which will immediately signal to the bridge, capture an image of the person going overboard, and record the exact location.  See the video in this article I wrote about man overboard systems here

But instead of installing these systems, most cruise line are still having to review hours and hours of CCTV images after a report of a man overboard is made to try and figure out when and why a person went overboard. In the case of cruise passenger Jason Rappe who went overboard from Holland America Line (HAL) Eurodam cruise ship last year, HAL did not install the required man overboard system even though several cruise passengers recently disappeared on HAL ships.  

The delay in determining when a person goes overboard increases the area which the Coast Guard is required to search by air and sea, and reduces the chances of locating and rescuing the person overboard.  It also substantially increases the expenses borne by U.S. taxpayers.  The Coast Guard expenses in the Jason Rappe search efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard were almost $1,000,000.  

Another problem also exists. If a person can go overboard undetected, then people can just as easily come onto a cruise ship undetected - like terrorists, pirates or criminals.     

Last year, Congress commented on the cruise industry's lack of progress in implementing the requires man overboard systems. Congress commented: "the degree to which the cruise industry has complied with this requirement is entirely unclear. There may be additional camera surveillance (but no indication that this is the case), however there has not been adoption of any of the active measures recommended by the International Cruise Victims Association in discussions with the industry prior to the legislation being passed. There are many systems available, many manufactured and marketed in the U.S., but none of these appear to be under consideration for adoption, no doubt because of the cost involved."

In addition, the the U.S. Coast Guard posted a Federal Register Request for Input from the maritime security Industry, and received a number of proposals, but there is no indication that these have been acted upon. Proposals were received from Seafaring Security Systems and Radio Zealand DMP Americas, along with supporting documentation which was posted on the U.S. Coast Guard website.

I have found only one cruise line which has agreed to install a state of the art man overboard on some of its ships.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) recently agreed to install a system by Seafaring Security Systems on two of its newest ships which are being built.  The Seafaring company describes the "Varuna Man Overboard System," or V-MOB, as a "revolutionary system designed to enhance safety, security and situational awareness aboard ships." Here's the company's description of the product.  

"The V-MOB is a unique integration of advanced cameras, sensors and a customized graphic interface that automates surveillance and detection around the ship’s perimeter, alerting the crew to anomalies such as man-overboard, fires, and unauthorized boarding.

When an overboard incident occurs, the V-MOB sensors detect it, GPS coordinates to the overboard site are recorded, and designated personnel are alerted via specific alarms. The V-MOB significantly enhances the opportunity for rapid rescue of overboard personnel.

The V-MOB system detects the presence of fire sooner than contemporary fire detection systems (recent testing provided alarms two minutes before existing fire detection systems) commonly found on ships, thereby maximizing fire suppression and extinguishing efforts.

The V-MOB system also detects unauthorized attempts to board from deck railing, alerting security personnel onboard the ship to provide critical response time to meet and deal with the threat in a timely manner."

I first read about the Seafaring system in a July 24 2013 article in Maritime Executive entitled "Seafaring Security Systems Wins Surveillance Systems Bid on Norwegians New Ships."  (The article is no longer available on line.)

A system like this will reduce rescue time and expense, safe lives, and assist in apprehending criminals when foul play is involved. 

If the news is correct, then NCL should be applauded for being a leader in implementing the new man overboard technology.  It's a shame none of the other cruise lines appear to have have done so.

 

Photo Credit: Seafaring Security Systems 

Family of George Smith Supports New Cruise Safety Legislation

Over 8 years ago George Smith went overboard from the Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship in the Aegean Sea during his honeymoon cruise.

By all accounts, Royal Caribbean covered the true circumstances of the crime up. In the process, this less-than-honest cruise line sparked a national interest in what really happens on cruise ships which continues today.  

George Smith Royal Caribbean DisappearanceA Congressional hearing was convened in December 2005 which focused the public on cruise ship crimes, disappearances at sea and how cruise lines like Royal Caribbean handle public relation nightmares like this.  

Seven Congressional hearings later, the topic of cruise ship crimes, missing cruise passengers and crew members, and cruise cover-ups continues.

Senator Rockefeller has introduced new legislation designed to require greater transparency from the cruise industry. Sponsoring the bill is Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal who has stated that he is committed to requiring accountability aboard cruise ships.   

The Greenwich Times reports today that "Family of Man Lost at Sea Backs Cruise Ship Bill." The Smith family states in a letter: "We have encountered nothing but obstacles from both Royal Caribbean and those individuals last seen with George on the cruise ship."

The time for a law requiring cruise lines to be honest is long overdue.

 

Photo Credit: Greenwich Time

Cruise Line "Voluntary" Crime & Man-Overboard Disclosures: Royal Caribbean's Data Is Incomplete and Misleading

Senator RockefellerYesterday Royal Caribbean and a couple of other cruise lines "voluntarily" posted a limited amount of data on their websites regarding cruise crimes and disappearances of people from cruise ships.

Of course there was nothing remotely "voluntary" about the cruise lines' conduct.

Last week Senator Rockefeller convened a hearing where he introduced legislation intended to compel, under penalty of law, all of the CLIA cruise lines to divulge incidents of disappearances from cruise ships and theft, homicide and sexual assault on ships. On the day of the hearing, the president of Royal Caribbean, Adam Goldstein, announced that his cruise line, as well as Carnival and NCL, would agree to post crime data without the necessity of legislation.  Cruise executive Goldstein said that his cruise line would begin posting the crime and man overboard information on August 1st.

The cruise lines have been resisting and dodging disclosing truthful crime statistics over the course of the last 7 Congressional hearings I have attended. Cruise CEO Goldstein's new promises of transparency were made for PR purposes to try and stave off the tough legislation introduced by Senator Rockefeller. 

Senator Rockefeller is skeptical that the cruise industry can be trusted to self-report accurate crime statistics. The Associated Press quoted Senator Rockefeller stating: “If we’re really going to make a difference for consumers, I believe it’s going to take legislative action to make sure this industry is required to give customers the information they need and deserve when they’re making a decision about taking a cruise."

The CEO of the International Cruise Victims organization, Ken Carver, is also skeptical that the cruise industry can be trusted, The AP quoted Mr. Carver's belief that crimes reported by cruise lines are vastly lower than reality, because the initial investigations are handled by cruise line security personnel rather than law enforcement officials.

The skepticism by Senator Rockefeller and cruise victim advocate Carver is well founded. There is a well documented history of the cruise lines providing incomplete and misleading crime data to Congress and the American people. In some instances the information released by the major cruise lines is patently false.

In January 2007, the LA Times published an article looking into the problem of crime on cruise ships, entitled "Cruise Industry's Dark Waters." The article points out that Congressman Shays previously called for Congressional hearings where he requested crime statistics from the cruise industry. The cruise lines resisted the legislation arguing that it can be trusted to provide honest information. At several points in the hearings, when cruise line representatives extolled their safety statistics, Congressman Shays seemed skeptical. "I do not think we have all of the statistics," he told representatives of major cruise lines.

Royal Caribbean informed Congressman Shays that 66 sexual assaults occurred over a three year Adam Goldstein Senate Hearrng Cruise Ship Crimeperiod on its cruise ships. However, in a case we handled against Royal Caribbean involving 12-year-old twins who alleged that a crew member molested them, the cruise line was forced to hand over the internal records requested by our firm after a judge threatened to fine it $1,000 a day if it failed to comply. 

The Royal Caribbean data revealed not just 66 incidents, but 273 reports from passengers who said they were victims of sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual harassment and inappropriate touching during a shorter time period. The LA Times quoted me saying that Royal Caribbean "redefined things and in the process, magically, poof, what used to be a crime no longer existed. Then they served up these numbers and thought they could get away with it."

So with this history in mind, let's take a look at what Royal Caribbean just posted yesterday as part of its "voluntary" disclosure on its website.

It disclosed just three persons overboard for the time period beginning October 2010 through the end of June 2013. There is no information regarding these incidents on the cruise line's skimpy website chart. There is no way a consumer can understand what happened. One of the three incidents involved a young woman who went overboard in September 2012. You can read about in detail on our website here, here and here

What's even more troubling is that Royal Caribbean did not reveal that 8 other people went overboard from Royal Caribbean cruise ships and the ships operated by its subsidiary Celebrity Cruises for the time period in question. Consider  the following man overboard incidents which occurred in the Royal Caribbean / Celebrity fleet:

January 2011 - Passenger disappeared from the Liberty of the Seas

March 2011 - Crew member disappeared from the Grandeur of the Seas. 

March 2011 - Crew member disappeared from the Constellation.

May 2011 - Crew member disappeared from the Eclipse

May 2011 - Crew member disappeared from the Millennium (see cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's database)

December 2011 - Crew member disappeared from the Summit

January 2012 - Crew member disappeared from the Monarch of the Seas. 

February 2012 - Passenger disappeared from the Allure of the Seas. 

September 2012 - Crew member disappeared from the Serenade of the Seas.

October 2012 - Another crew member disappeared from the Serenade of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean's website indicates that the cruise line intends to reveal only those overboard situations involving U.S. citizens. But there is no reason to hide man overboard incidents involving passengers of other nationalities and crew members. Disney Cruise Line, for example, discloses overboard cases involving non-U.S. citizens.

The truth is that at least 11 people went overboard for the time period in question. But Royal Caribbean disclosed only 3 incidents. That's only around 27% of the true number.  If a cruise ship is a floating city, why exclude all of the crew members and non-U.S. citizens who are members of the city? Royal Caribbean includes crew members and non-U.S. passengers as part of its population in determining crime ratios, Allure of the Sea Crime Statisticsbut then excludes crew members and non U.S. citizens when they are victims. That manipulation of the data distorts the true crime ratios. 

The only explanation for doing this is that the cruise line wants to present an image that is markedly different from the truth. 

Royal Caribbean's "voluntary" disclosure reveals exactly why the cruise industry cannot be trusted. Senator Rockefeller, like Congressman Shays long ago, has every reason not to believe the cruise lines' "voluntary" statistics.

The American people and citizens of countries around the world deserve to know the truth about crime and overboard cruise passengers and crew members. Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean like to keep the public in the dark.

A well drafted law with stiff penalties is the only way to shed light on what really happens on cruise ships far out at sea. 

California Can Prosecute Lawyer Accused of Throwing Wife Overboard from Cruise Ship

Lonnie KocontesYesterday a judge held that a man accused of strangling and throwing his wife overboard from an Italian cruise ship should stand trial in California. The court rejected the argument of the cruise passenger's defense lawyers that the state prosecutors in Orange County lacked jurisdiction to prosecute the crime which occurred in international waters off the coast of Italy. 

The case involves a cruise ship crime alleged to involve Lonnie Loren Kocontes, a 55-year-old former Orange County attorney who s accused of killing his ex-wife, Micki Kanesaki, while they were on a cruise in May of 2006.

A local CBS affiliate in Los Angeles explains that during questioning in 2006, Kocontes told police that his wife was allegedly depressed and she likely jumped overboard. However, her body was found and an autopsy revealed that she had been strangled.

A case against Kocontes has previously been dismissed on jurisdictional grounds. However, the prosecutors immediately filed a new case, alleging murder with special circumstances of killing his wife for financial gain by transferring more than $1,000,000 from his ex-wife’s bank accounts and property to himself. 

Island Escape Cruise ShipThis is a case we have reported on before: Charges Dismissed Against Cruise Passenger Accused of Strangling and Dumping Ex-Wife Overboard.

You can read our first article about the case here.

The incident occurred aboard the Island Escape cruise ship.

The case is far from over. Expect an appeal to be resolved next year.

 

Photo credit: Top - CBS; Bottom - VIP.it

Crew Member Missing Overboard From "The World" Cruise Ship

The World Cruise ShipA newspaper in Spain is reporting that a crew member from The World cruise ship has gone into the Atlantic Ocean. AIS tracking systems currently show the cruise ship sailing in a search pattern off the west coast of Spain, northwest of Portugal. 

The newspaper states that the missing man is a Filipino crew member. His name and job position have not been identified, nor is there any explanation regarding what happened. The article states merely that the crew member fell into the water. 

The cruise ship alerted search and rescue bases in in Cee and A. Coruña, Spain, which deployed aircraft and helicopters.

The vessel left the port of Coruña at midnight yesterday.

The World is billed as the most luxurious floating residence in the world. There are 165 private residences on the cruise ship occupied probably by multi-millionaires, including U.S. citizens and citizens of some 40 countries. The residences consist of studios to three bedrooms and cost many millions of dollars. 

The ship is operated by ResidenSea, headquartered in Miramar, Florida. The World flies the flag of convenience of the Bahamas.  

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has documented over 200 cruise overboard cases on his website since 2000. 

If anyone has information about this latest cruise ship disappearance, please leave a comment below.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / VirtualSteve

Cruise Safety Advocate Paul O'Brien Dies

Paul O'Brien Death - Father of Lynsey O'BrienA newspaper in Ireland, the Irish Independent, reports today on the death of Paul O'Brien, age 49, in an article "Dad of Tragic Cruise Teen is Found Dead."

Mr. O'Brien was the father of Lynsey O'Brien, who died at age 15 during a cruise aboard the Costa Magica in 2006. Costa bartenders served the child 10 drinks in a short period of time. According to a newspaper in Ireland, "in a period of 45 minutes his 15-year-old daughter was served 10 drinks in a bar on the cruise ship, two Sex on the Beach, four Woo Woos, two vodka and mixers, a shot of vodka and liqueurs."

The child fell off of her cabin's balcony after trying to vomit overboard. Her body has never been found. 

Lynsey's case was the focus of a Congressional hearing in Washington D.C. in 2006 about cruise ship dangers. The hearing highlighted the out-of-control nature of drinking on cruise ships and the failure of the cruise line to have man overboard procedures.

The newspaper states that the cause of Mr. O'Brien's death will be confirmed by an autopsy. The newspaper states that Mr. O'Brien "fought tirelessly for better safety on cruise ships."  He released a book about his daughter's death called Lynsey's Law - Costa Coffin Cruise Ships.

You can watch a ABC News video about the incident below:

 

When Will There Be Justice for George?

George Smith Cruise Ship DisappearanceIt has been eight years since George Smith disappeared from the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas in the early morning hours of July 4, 2005.

The cruise line initially stated that it had no idea what happened. But in 2012 it was revealed that Royal Caribbean took possession of a video shortly after the incident which implicated several men who were last seen with Mr. Smith. The video shows one of the men saying "we gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute."

The FBI took possession of the video back in 2005 and did not reveal the contents to any of the families.

Seeking justice on the high seas when crimes occur is often a difficult task. The FBI has a poor record prosecuting crimes on cruise ships. It often seems that the FBI is more concerned with not embarrassing the cruise lines than obtaining justice for victims of crimes and their families.

The George Smith case is a good example of justice denied. But the case is still "open" and has been transferred from the FBI's office in Connecticut to the FBI office in New York. Say your prayers that there's an arrest and prosecution.

You can read a series of articles about Mr. Smith's disappearance here.

 

Photo Credit: CBS

Happy Ending to Man Overboard: Passenger Rescued After Seven Hours in Baltic Sea

Finally, a man overboard situation with a happy ending. 

A newspaper in Sweden, the Local, reports the good news that a 36-year-old passenger survived seven hours in the Baltic Sea on Friday night after falling from a ferry bound to Stockholm. The newspaper's account was based on a report in a Swedish daily newspaper, the Ålandstidning Daily.

The passenger fell from the Baltic Queen ferry near the Finnish island of Åland, but the ferry did not notice that he was missing until the vessel docked in Stockholm on Saturday morning. There was Baltic Queen Passenger Overboardno explanation or speculation how the man went into the water.

The newspaper reports that the water temperature in the Baltic Sea was 60 - 64 F and there was initially little hope that the man had survived. However, Finnish sea rescue located the man two hours later, four kilometers from the closest island.

The passenger was found suffering from hypothermia with a body temperature of only 79 F. According to medical expertise he should have been unconscious by then and would have been in cardiac arrest had his body temperature dropped a further degree.

The man had no life jacket and had few clothes as he had shed them in a bid to remain afloat in the bracing waters.

The man is reported to be 36-years-old and originates from Estonia.

I'm sure he's saying his prayers tonight.

 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Pjotr Mahhonin

The George Smith Cruise Ship Disappearance Case: Will the FBI Finally Make An Arrest?

News sources are reporting that the FBI office in New York will be reviewing file materials maintained by the FBI's office in Connecticut to determine whether arrests should be made regarding the disappearance and presumed death of cruise passenger George Smith.

George Smith vanished from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship in the early morning hours of July 5, 2005, leaving behind a pool of blood on a lifeboat awning below his cabin.

In the video below, you can finally see expressions of optimism from the Smith family that there may finally be an arrest in George's case. The Smith family is represented by attorney Mike Jones from Greenwich Connecticut.    

Disappearances at Sea: Cruise Industry Refuses to Comply with Cruise Safety Law

Another cruise ship overboard has dominated the cruise news lately. A couple went overboard from the Carnival Spirit cruise ship. The cruise ship did not notice that the passengers had fallen from the ship until after the cruise ship returned to port in Australia  Later, their images were found on the cruise ship's closed circuit television (CCTV) system but the ship had already sailed to the next port at this point.

In this day and age, no one should go overboard from a cruise ship without being immediately detected. The technology exists. See the video below. There are systems in place which can detect overboard passengers and crew members, then signal the bridge, capture the images of the overboard person, and drop a buoy into the water.  The sooner the cruise ship reacts to a man overboard, the Cruise ship Overboard Detection Systemquicker emergency procedures can be followed and the greater the chances of the person being rescued.  

According to the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act which went into effect last year, cruise ships are required to "integrate technology that can be used for capturing images of passengers or detecting passengers who have fallen overboard . . . "

Congress passed this new cruise safety act into law after listening to the testimony of families who traveedl to Washington D.C.to testify about the horror of their loved ones disappearing from cruises, like Merrian Carver and Daniel DiPiero  

But the cruise industry is ignoring the law.

The Safety at Sea magazine reported long ago that the cruise industry is unwilling to pay for dedicated man overboard (MOB) systems that detect an individual falling overboard. Equipment sellers have been rebuffed by the cruise industry, which seems more interested in investing its money into all types of new water-slides, rock climbing walls and other amusements. The cruise lines remain unwillingness to invest in life-saving overboard detection systems.

Cruise expert Ross Klein was quoted in Safety at Sea as saying that the cruise industry is “looking for loopholes” to avoid the new safety law.“

In the latest overboard case, Carnival was quick to point out that the height of its balcony railings comply with the existing safety law (42 inches) but it did not mention that the law requires a system to detect overboard persons which the Spirit obviously lacks. 

There are lots of reasons why passengers go overboard: being over-served alcohol, foolish or reckless behavior, accidents, and murder, as well as reasons not known. But most cases remain mysteries. The cruise lines don't monitor their CCTV cameras (except in their casinos because they don't want their money to disappear). And they have not even implemented the most rudimentary overboard detection systems.

The result is no rescue or delayed rescue attempts which are unsuccessful.  Even when there are witnesses to a person going overboard, often the captain of the cruise ship will ignore the witness accounts and continue sailing until the entire ship has been searched, leading to unnecessary delay in tragic cases like this and this. The result is also increased governmental expenses incurred due to the necessity of searching a much larger grid (many hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent in deploying Coast Guard cutters and aircraft), unnecessary deaths, and unnecessary heartbreak of the surviving family members.   

Image Credits: gCaptain

48 Hours Update: "New" Evidence in Disappearance of Cruise Passenger George Smith

Cruise Passenger George SmithSaturday night, CBS's "'48 Hours" will air what is being described as "important new evidence" in the mysterious disappearance of George Smith during his honeymoon cruise. The episode is called "48 Hours: Murder at Sea?"

You may recall that George Smith from the Greenwich Connecticut area was enjoying his honeymoon with his newly-wed bride Jennifer Hagel when he disappeared from the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas in the early morning hours of July 5, 2005, leaving a blood-stained awning behind him. 

The cruise line quickly concluded that Mr. Smith was intoxicated and must have been sitting on a balcony railing and fell overboard, and it reported this self-serving opinion as its official report to the flag state. Royal Caribbean ignored the fact that four young men were last seen in the Smith's cabin and that there were sounds of an argument and loud noises consistent with a struggle, followed by a resounding "thud" on the awning below.  

Gregory Rozenbeg - Cruise Disappearance of George SmithWe represented George's wife, Jennifer, who instructed us to retain noted forensic scientist Henry Lee in the face of the cruise line's lack of cooperation.

Last year, CBS reported that the FBI had possession of a videotape taken by the four men where they talk callously of George's death. The video captures one of the men saying "we gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute." Cruise passenger Greg Rosenberg reportedly flashes gang signs and says "Told ya I was gangsta." 

We have written prior articles about Gregory Rozenberg such as "Disappearance of George Smith Update: Do You Have Information About Gregory Rozenberg?"   Rozenberg's mugshots are readily available online, including the one to the right taken last fall.

Royal Caribbean concealed this tape from us throughout our representation of Jennifer Hagel. The tape's existence was revealed by the FBI last year to the lawyer for the Smith family. 

Its disgraceful that the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice have not proceeded with a criminal case. Its been going on eight years since George's disappearance. A prosecution is long overdue.

Read our other articles about the case:

Disappearance of George Smith - Trouble as the Cruise Ship Sails to Kusadasi

A Frantic Call Back to Connecticut

Media Frenzy Follows Case of "Missing Honeymooner"

Dr. Henry Lee Boards the Brilliance of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Blocks Dr. Henry Lee's Dummy Experiment

The International Cruise Victims Organization Is Born!

Royal Caribbean Captain Says Its Just an Accident Involving a Bloody Nose

Larry King Live & the "Missing Groom Mystery" 

 

Two Passengers Overboard From Carnival Spirit Cruise Ship

Carnival Spirit Cruise ShipNewspapers in Australia are reporting that two passengers disappeared from a Carnival cruise ship. A 26-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man were unaccounted for when the cruise ship docked in Sydney Harbor today. 

The couple were last seen on deck last night, but failed to disembark when the Carnival Spirit cruise ship docked in Australia.

A Carnival spokesman said that crew members had become concerned only at 9:15 AM after it was discovered during disembarkation process that the passengers were missing.

Cruise ships are required by law to have technologies in place to detect when passengers go overboard. CCTV and motion detection technologies exist today but the majority of cruise lines refuse to implement the systems.

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has listed almost 200 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000.

Do you have information about what happened?  Please leave a message below.  

May 9 2013 Update:  New sources in Australia report that Kristen Schroder, 27, and Paul Rossington, 30, were last seen on the Carnival Spirit on Wednesday as it was sailing off the coast of Australia. CCTV appears to show them going overboard around 8:50 pm, according to a statement from the local New South Wales Police Force.

Read article from Australia: Cruise Industry Urged to Report Missing People Earlier

Here's the PR statement which Carnival issued today:

"We have naturally been concerned since we became aware that two passengers were missing from Carnival Spirit and our thoughts are clearly with their families at this difficult time. We are working closely with New South Wales Police and assisting them in their inquiries.

At approximately 9:15am today Australia time during the debarkation process for Carnival Spirit at the conclusion of a 10-night cruise in Sydney, it became apparent that two guests, a 26-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man, were unaccounted for. The guests in question were travelling with family and friends and initial reports indicate that the couple was last seen onboard the vessel last night. As part of our standard protocol, a full ship search was conducted as well as examination of closed circuit video. There is indication from the shipboard video of what transpired. There is no evidence of foul play. However, out of respect for the families, we are not going to publicly disclose the details of what occurred at this time."

May 10 2013 Update: How Love Turned Tragic on the High Seas

May 11, 2013 Update: "The footage shows Ms Schroder climbing over the railing and standing on the other side of it as she faced towards the sea. Police did not reveal how long she was standing there and were unable to determine if she intended to jump or simply fell." Read article here.

 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Jean-Philippe Boulet

"Missing at Sea" - NBC Investigates Another Passenger Disappearance from a Holland America Line Cruise Ship

Tonight local ABC Channel 6 news station aired a special program Missing at Sea regarding the disappearance of cruise passenger Jason Rappe' from the Eurodam cruise ship operated by Holland America Line (HAL).

Mr. Rappe' went overboard last November after participating in a "Pub Crawl" on the HAL cruise ship where the cruise line plied the passengers with alcohol at various locations.

You can see some video of Jason on the deck after the cruise sponsored drinking event.  Curiously, Cruise Law Miami Jim Walkerthere has been no clear video released of Jason going overboard. 

Although the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act requires cruise lines like HAL to install systems to signal when cruise passengers and crew members who go overboard so that the cruise ship can promptly respond, HAL had no such systems in violation of the new cruise safety law.

Cruise lines are also responsible when they over-serve passengers alcohol.

The FBI and Coast Guard are suppose to disclose to the public on an online database when crimes occur or when passengers go overboard but the database does not even mention Mr. Rappe.' 

You can read an article about the program here by Jason's brother Eric who was featured in the program. 

See photos about the case here.

You can read our prior articles about this case:

Passenger Missing From HAL's Eurodam Cruise Ship - Why Do All HAL Overboard Cases Remain Mysteries?

Family Searching for Answers After Disappearance Aboard Holland America Line Cruise Ship

Best of Cruise Line Hate Mail: Holland America Line Wins the Award

If you have information about this case, we would like to hear from you.  Please leave a comment below or contact me confidentially at jim@cruiselaw.com 

 

 

Passenger Overboard From Coral Princess Cruise Ship - Does Anyone Care What Happened?

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein and the Cruise Critic message boards are reporting that on Sunday, March 24th a passenger was reported overboard from the Coral Princess cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises.

There is a vague reference to a passenger-possibly-going-over-the-rails on the Cruise Critic site, but as is the case with most overboard cruise ship cases there are no clear facts and lots of speculation.

There should never be a debate about what happens when a passenger or crew member goes overboard.  All cruise ships should have state-of-the-art surveillance cameras to document what Coral Princess Cruise Shiphappens when a person goes overboard. The ships should also have motion detection systems which signal the bridge immediately when someone leaves the cruise ship on the high seas - whether it be intentionally or accidentally or criminally.

All of the Cruise Critic members jumped immediately to the conclusion that the case involves a suicide. They just as quickly offered their on-line-prayers and condolences.  

But there is no statement by Princess Cruises about what happened, assuming you were naive enough to believe the cruise line PR. There's no report of the results of an official investigation, but that's not unusual because Princess Cruises is incorporated in and registers it cruise ships in Bermuda, to avoid U.S. taxes and safety regulations, which is indifferent to what happens on Bermuda flagged cruise ships. And there is no report of an investigation by law enforcement officers in the next port of call.

Was this an accident, a suicide, or a crime?  I don't know.

It's a real shame that there are no news accounts, no official investigation and only lots of speculation by cruise fans who blame the dead passenger, say a hollow prayer and then forget about it.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia 

Carnival Booze Cruise Disaster Ends Up In Court

Courthouse News Service reports on a disturbing story of Carnival allegedly over-serving alcohol to a passenger who fell off the cruise ship and then not taking reasonable steps to rescue the overboard woman.

The case involves cruise passenger "Sarah."  As Courthouse News explains: 

"After Carnival cruises got her so drunk she fell overboard, and eyewitnesses reported it, the captain refused to turn around the ship for 90 minutes, then refused to airlift her to hospital to treat her fractured bones." 

The incident occurred aboard the Carnival Destiny in October of last year. Sarah was cruising to Jamaica with her fiancé and her friend Rebecca. We wrote about the incident when it happened: Why Carnival Destiny Passenger RescueDid Carnival Delay Rescuing An Overboard Passenger From The Destiny?

The lawsuit alleges that a bartender kept pushing drinks on her. To encourage more alcohol sales, the Carnival bartender offered them free $5 coupons for the ship's casino. As a result, Sarah became "extremely intoxicated" and fell into the ocean but not before first striking a life boat during her 100 foot fall.

Her injuries included what is describes as "fractured orbital bones, lung contusions, hypothermia, fractured ribs, dissection of the carotid artery, heart arrhythmia, broken optical shelves, blood clots in her eyes, arms, and legs, as well as extreme hematomas all over her body."

Sarah's friend, fiance and others on the ship saw and/or heard her fall into the ocean and immediately notified several Carnival staff members.  Carnival refused and delayed before they turned the ship to cruise ship around and eventually found her nearly two hours in the ocean, severely injured and without a life vest. 

But the woman's ordeal was not over. Carnival refused to airlift her to a hospital, but diverted the cruise to Key West, where "doctors explained that they did not have the equipment to handle the severe trauma that plaintiff had suffered. They also stated that the plaintiff should have been air evacuated from the cruise ship directly to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami."

The story was also covered by Cruise Critic, and the members of that on-line cruise site are blaming Sarah for not exercising "personal responsibility."

Bur cruise lines are considered to be persons under the law. Cruise lines have responsibility to their guests. There is case law in Florida that cruise lines face liability when they over-serve passengers past the point of intoxication which appears to be the case if the allegations are true.  Plus it's inexcusable to delay a couple of hours before trying to rescue an overboard passenger, whether they are drunk or not.

People may scoff at the case but Carnival earns hundreds of millions of dollars pushing alcohol on its huge fleet of cruise ships. It faces a multi-million dollar exposure in a case with such egregious allegations.   

New Zealand Passenger Missing From Celebrity Solstice

A newspaper in New Zealand reports that a passenger, identified only as a man from Dunedin, New Zealand, is missing from the Celebrity Cruises' Solstice cruise ship which left Port Chalmers, New Zealand today. 

It is less than clear whether the man disembarked from the cruise ship, leaving items, including his passport, on board, and didn't return. Or whether he disappeared at some earlier time while the cruise ship was sailing. 

The article does not state when the man was last seen. It should be easy to determine whether the Celebrity Solstice Cruise Ship passenger used his sea pass card which should have been scanned when he boarded or disembarked the cruise ship.  Unfortunately, this does not always occur.

In another case, American passenger Sarah Tessier Powell set sail on the Holland America Line Veendam cruise ship last year. She disappeared.  Police in Canada speculate that Ms. Powell may have walked off of the HAL ship and didn't return.  

But how is that possible?

Passenger gangways are supposed to be heavily monitored by security with each passenger's sea pass card scanned and the gangways always covered by closed circuit television cameras.

Is this another one of those cases?  Or is this a passenger overboard case which the cruise line didn't realize until the ship arrived in port?

Anyone with information please contact us.

 

Photo Credit: Constantine Kulikovsky via Wikimedia

6 Problems the Cruise Industry Needs to Fix - No. 5: Disappearances of Passenger & Crew Members on the High Seas

As part of Cruise Shipping Miami (CSM 2013), I have raised 6 problems which I believe the cruise lines need to address.

Problem No. 5: Disappearance of Passengers and Crew Members from Cruise Ships:.

The problem is not just that approximately 200 people have vanished from cruise ships since year 2000, but the attitude of the cruise lines when families try and find out what happened to their loved ones is just plain nasty.

When Seattle businessman Son Michael Pham's parents disappeared during a Carnival cruise, he voiced his frustration that he received greater responsiveness upon losing a piece of luggage.

Insurance company president Ken Carver's daughter disappeared from a Celebrity Cruises ship and the cruise line responded by discarding her personal items without so much as a call to the FBI. Rebecca Coriam - Disney Wonder Cruise Ship 

Today, a reader of this blog sent me a link to an article which discussed how Disney youth counselors on the Disney Wonder lost track of a three year old child whose parents dropped the little boy off in the cruise ship's Oceaneer Club (for children aged 3 to 12).  The cruise line's response was not only incompetent but heartless.  

The youth counselors had no clue where the little boy entrusted to their care was on the ship. They appeared indifferent to the parent's understandable fears. No announcements were made over the course of 45 minutes while the ship sailed along as the parents searched frantically for their child.

This cavalier attitude is business as usual for the floating Magical Kingdom ships. Almost two years ago exactly, a 24 year old youth counselor from the U.K., Rebecca Coriam, disappeared from the Disney Wonder. The ship continued on sailing. The cruise line's attitude and response, in my opinion, seemed motivated to protect its own marketing image and cover-the-truth-up, rather than to find out exactly what happened to young Rebecca.

Today is Rebecca's 26th birthday which her parents and sister are celebrating in sorrow.  Neither Disney nor the country of the Bahamas, where Disney incorporates its cruise ships to avoid U.S. George Smith Royal Caribbean Cruise Shiptaxes, will cooperate with the Coriam family.  No one will provide the Coriams with a copy of the Bahamas report on the disappearance of their daughter. The callousness demonstrated by Disney and the Bahamas is the product of a foreign flagged scheme which is designed to keep cruise lines like Disney away from real oversight except by Caribbean islands whose loyalties lie exclusively to the cruise industry.  

I touched upon this problem briefly in an opinion piece for CNN entitled "What Cruise Lines Don't Want You to Know."

There are many other examples of a cruise industry which would rather spend it efforts trying to create an image to vacationers that cruising is safe rather taking reasonable steps to make certain cruising is actually safe.

George Smith disappeared in July 2005 during his honeymoon. Going on eight years later, there remain no answers and no arrests, It was only last year that the public learned that Royal Caribbean had possession of a video of a certain passenger on the cruise ship who was taped telling his friends "we gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute."  We represented Mr. Smith's wife and were never told that the video existed; instead, we watched as the cruise line stonewalled our investigation and tried to convince the public that Mr. Smith just got drunk and fell overboard.

HAL Disappearance Jason Rappe EurodamLast November, HAL passenger Jason Rappe' disappeared from the Eurodam while cruising with his wife.  We asked the cruise line for information like videotapes, passenger addresses, statements and other basic information.

HAL refused to provide anything to us.

Instead HAL insisted that it was Mr. Rappe's wife who first had to agree to provide all of her missing husband's medical records, life insurance policies, work information and any psychiatric records before they would even think about cooperating.        

No airline would act like this if a passenger or crew member disappeared in flight. But then again the aviation industry is overseen by the strict and serious Federal Aviation Agency (FAA). There is no equivalent to the FAA on the high seas - only ships flying flags of convenience in countries like the Bahamas which care only their relationships with the cruise industry.   

Its too easy to commit a crime on a cruise line and get away with it. Even in cases where there is no foul play, the cruise industry's knee-jerk reaction is to deny and delay and obfuscate rather than treat families respectfully and transparently. Until this attitude changes, cruise lines will always appear that they have something to hide.   

  

You can read our prior articles about 6 problems the cruise industry needs to fix below:

Problem No. 6: Cruise Pollution of Air & Water

Check in this week as we explore problem number 1 - 4 during CSM.

False "Man Overboard" Alarm on P&O's Pride of York

Pride of YorkShipworld.org reports that there was a false alarm earlier this week regarding an overboard passenger from P&O's Pride of York.

The Shipworld website mentions that at 10:45 PM on Monday February 25, 2013, the Pride of York notified the Dutch Coastguard Center that a male passenger may have gone overboard 90 kilometers west of Hoek van Holland. The ship was sailing from Zeebrugge to Hull when the incident was reported.

The Dutch Coastguard sent two helicopters along and two rescue vessels, the Koopmansdank from Neeltje Jans and Jeanine Parqui from the Hoek van Holland station. The Dutch naval vessel Schiedam and the Rijkswaterstaat vessel Arca also joined the search.

However, after a headcount established that everyone was accounted for, the search and rescue operation was called off around 11:50 PM.

There was also a false alarm of a person overboard from the Sapphire Princess cruise ship on Monday. A head count revealed that all passengers and crew were on the cruise ship, which was sailing from Los Angeles to Hawaii. 

 

Photo credit: theferry.wikia.com

Family Searching for Answers After Disappearance Aboard Holland America Line Cruise Ship

A news station in Oregon aired a story about a missing 42 year old cruise passenger last night.

The story is about Jason Rappe' who was last seen on a Holland America cruise with his wife last November. He disappeared from the HAL Eurodam. Jason's family retained our firm to help them find answers to the circumstances surrounding his disappearance. You can read our prior article: Passenger Missing From HAL's Eurodam Cruise Ship - Why Do All HAL Overboard Cases Remain Mysteries?

You can watch the video below.

The article explains that Jason's brother. Eric, says that the family "still don’t know what happened to Jason, and the company refuses to give them any information . . . “They don’t care. They just don’t care. All they want is for it to go away.”

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office in Florida still lists Jason as a missing person. 

HAL has refused to cooperate with our requests for information.  

Read: "Suicide" - One of the Cruise Lines' Favorite Excuses When a Passenger Disappears at Sea (involving another HAL disappearance).

 

Passenger Overboard From the Sapphire Princess?

A reader of this blog emailed me for information after reading comments on the Cruise Critic message board that the captain of the Sapphire Princess announced that a person was sighted overboard from the cruise ship. 

The passenger commented that the ship was currently stopped as of around 11:00 PM last night. The crew was reportedly taking a head count of everyone on the ship.  

The cruise ship is sailing from Los Angeles to Hawaii. There have been no updates on the message board since late last night.

I requested information from Princess but have not heard anything yet.

February 26 2013 Update:  False alarm:

Princess says that there was "no person overboard. A passenger they thought they saw someone in the water. As we take reports such as this seriously we mustered all passengers and crw and all were accounted for. There were also no reports from any ships in the area about a missing person."

Lawyer Arrested for Allegedly Strangling & Throwing Wife Off Cruise Ship

Lonnie KocontesLonnie Kocontes, age 55, was arrested last week on a murder warrant in the death of his ex-wife, Micki Kanesaki, who went overboard from an Italian cruise ship seven years ago.

Kocontes, a lawyer licensed in California, was arrested in Florida where he was living. He was booked into into the Pasco County Jail where he is being held without bail. 

He is charged with one count of "special circumstances murder for financial gain." 

Kocontes met Kanesaki in the early 1990s at a Los Angeles law firm where he worked as an attorney and she worked as an administrative assistant. They later married in 1995.

Kocontes was reportedly fired from his job after he was arrested in 2000 for charges of sexual contact with a minor that were later dismissed. In 2001, they divorced to protect their assets from civil litigation. They continued to live together, but their relationship deteriorated. 

In May 2006, the couple vacationed in Italy and sailed aboard the Island Escape cruise ship. On May 26, 2006, the cruise ship was sailing between Sicily and Naples, when Kanesaki went overboard. Her body washed ashore the next day in Calabria in southwest Italy. An autopsy was performed. An Italian medical doctor concluded that she had been strangled before she went overboard.

Kocontes claims that Kanesaki left the cabin around 1 a.m. to get a cup of tea. Kocontes reported her missing after he woke up and couldn’t find her. Italian police boarded the ship, seized records and videotapes and took statements from the crew.

Island Escape Cruise ShipProsecutors say that Kocontes strangled Kaneski to death on board the ship and then threw her overboard.

Kocontes later began transferring more than $1 million from Kaneski’s bank accounts into joint accounts he held with his new wife. That prompted the FBI to begin seizure efforts which were dismissed by a federal judge in California. 

The Orange County Register covered the story back in 2006, and quoted Kanesaki’s mother saying that her daughter was in good spirits before the cruise. ‘‘I can’t imagine what happened to her. There’s no reason to believe it was a suicide.’’ 

A newspaper in Italy published an article "The Perfect Murder." 

The case reminds me of the murder of Karen Roston by her husband Mark Roston aboard Admiral Cruises' Sundancer some 20 years ago.

 

Photo Credit: VIP.it

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

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

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

A newspaper in Brazil is covering the story.

MSC Fantasia Cruise Ship

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

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

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

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

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

Portugese Cruise Passenger From MSC Divina Found Dead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone with information please leave a comment below. 

 

Photo credit MSC Divina - Wikimedia Commons / Mllturro

Stonewalling at Sea - Cruise Lines Continue to Cover Up Disappearances on the High Seas

The disappearance of passengers and crew members at sea is one of the cruise industry's real problems.  The problem is compounded by the tendency of the cruise lines to place their reputation as a priority rather than providing information to the grieving families.  If the evidence tends to suggest that a crime occurred, or the circumstances involve facts that may place the cruise lines in an embarrassing light, the cruise lines suppress the information.

Most investigations fall to the country where the cruise ship is registered, such as countries like the Bahamas or Bermuda. These countries depend on the revenue generated from the cruise lines and assist the cruise lines in covering the true facts up.

The video below provides a look into cover-ups alleged against Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line (the Magical Company) and Holland America Line.   

January 7, 2012 Update: Follow the discussion on Facebook: What's more important to the cruise lines when someone disappears on the high seas?

A. The truth, or
B. The cruise line's reputation?

 

Seven & One-Half Years After Disappearance, George Smith's Family Still Seeking Answers From Royal Caribbean

The Greenwich Time newspaper reports that the family of cruise passenger George Smith, who vanished from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas, wrote a letter to the cruise line's CEO, Richard D. Fain, on Christmas Eve seeking information about what happened aboard the cruise ship which lead to their son going overboard. 

In July of 2005, Mr. Smith was on his honeymoon with his newlywed bride, Jennifer Hagel, when he disappeared from the cruise ship.  Although the cruise line quickly labeled the incident an accident, there was blood found in his cabin as well as on an awning below his cabin. Four men who were last seen with George Smith Disappearance - Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the SeasMr. Smith were suspected of either being involved in or knowledgeable of the circumstances surrounding his death. 

Last year, there was a bombshell revelation that shortly after the incident, Royal Caribbean had possession of a video taken by one of the four men which revealed one of the other men saying "we gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute." Our firm represented Mr. Smith's wife, and the cruise line kept this videotape secret from us. The question arises what other information the cruise line has not revealed to Mr. Smith's grieving family.

The Smith family noted that it has been 2,729 days since their son and brother went overboard in the Aegean Sea as the cruise ship headed to Turkey. The newspaper quotes from the Smith family's letter to CEO Fain:

"After seven and one half years, we still do not know who murdered George on your cruise liner. His murderer(s) remain at large. Your cruise ship, the floating crime scene, continues to hop from port to port carrying happy-go-lucky passengers seemingly unaware of the atrocities that were inflicted upon our son and brother on that very boat."

"Does Royal Caribbean have information which it did not provide under the terms of its settlement with our family that would finally get justice for George and allow George's soul to rest in peace?"

The George Smith case captivated the nation's attention in 2005 when it became obvious that there was a lot more to the story than what Royal Caribbean wanted the public to believe that this was a passenger simply falling overboard. A number of Congressional hearings were scheduled which brought focus on the problem of crimes and unsolved disappearances on the high seas.

If you want to learn more about this case, consider reading our series of articles about Mr. Smith's disappearance.  

Walker & O'Neill Retained to Investigate Disappearance of Cruise Passenger Jason Rappe' From HAL's Eurodam

Today, our firm was retained to help the family of missing HAL cruise passenger Jason Rappe' find answers to what happened during the evening of November 28th and the early morning hours of November 29th aboard the Holland America Line Eurodam cruise ship.

On November 24th, 41 year old Jason Rappe' and his wife, Tine, left Fort Lauderdale on a 7 day Caribbean cruise aboard the Eurodam.

Jason is believed to have gone overboard on November 29th as the cruise ship was sailing from St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) to the Bahamas, somewhere north-west of Puerto Rico. The U.S. Coast Guard eventually was notified but the search was called off after approximately 36 hours. You can read our article here which we published on the day of Jason's disappearance. 

Jason and his wife were married 17 years ago and live in Olympia Washington. Jason works as a carpenter and is a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.

Jason served in the U.S. Army and is a veteran, and was honorably discharged as a sergeant.

Jason's wife, brothers and father released a statement which is repeated below. The family is seeking any information which may explain how and when Jason apparently went overboard. Please help. If you were on the cruise, please contact us.  

Contact:  Jim Walker: telephone - 305 995 5300 or 1 800 526 1518.

Please note that the comment section below is closed, and no further comments will be published. If you were on the cruise and have information, please contact us directly.   

Jason Rappe - Holland America Line - Eurodam Cruise Ship

 

Statement by the Rappe’ Family Regarding Missing HAL Cruise Passenger Jason Rappe’

On behalf of the Rappe’ family, we would like to extend our gratitude to all of you who have shown so much love and support for us during this time of crisis. We are all still trying to come to grips with this awful event of losing Jason at sea.

For those of you who are not familiar with what happened, Jason and his wife, Tine, from Olympia Washington, went on a 7 day cruise aboard the Holland America Line Eurodam out of Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean. On November 29, 2012, Jason apparently went overboard and has not been located.

We pray that somehow Jason is out there, and that he is ok. There are not many people on this planet with the grit and toughness that Jason has demonstrated in his life. Between Jason’s training in the U.S. Army and his stubborn, never-fail attitude, we know that if anyone can survive this it is him.

Jason is the type of person who could easily be imagined making a rope from his goatee, and lassoing a pair of sea turtles on which he would triumphantly stand as they lead him back to safety.

Our family is seeking information regarding what happened during the cruise. If you were on the cruise ship, we would to like obtain any information that you may have regarding Jason and the circumstances surrounding him going overboard. A maritime attorney is helping us investigate what happened, and we ask that you contact him with your information. His name is Jim Walker and his contact information is below.

Jason’s wife and father will not be conducting any interviews at this time, and we ask that you respect their privacy.

Thank you again for your support and prayers as we deal with this horrible family event.

Wife: Marie Christine (“Tine”) Rappe'
Father: Dana Rappe’
Brother: Ross Rappe’
Brother: Eric Rappe’


Please contact:

James (“Jim”) M. Walker 
Walker & O’Neill P.A. 

Telephone:  305 995 5300 or 800 256 1518

Email:  jim@cruiselaw.com

Passenger Missing From HAL's Eurodam Cruise Ship - Why Do All HAL Overboard Cases Remain Mysteries?

Multiple news sources are reporting that a passenger has gone overboard in the Caribbean earlier this morning. The passenger, age 41, is from Washington and was traveling with his wife.

The passenger's wife reportedly discovered her husband missing from the Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship Eurodam.  The U.S. Coast Guard said that, according to HAL, a baseball cap was located on one of the decks that was allegedly confirmed by the wife of the missing passenger as belonging to him. The ship was sailing from St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) to the Bahamas when the man disappeared early today. 

The Coast Guard issued a statement that it was conducting a search after being notified of the incident at 5:00 AM. Two Coast Guard ships and a helicopter have been dispatched to search for the passenger, whose name has not been released.

Eurodam Cruise Ship - HAL - Passenger OverboardHAL issued a statement that the cruise ship turned around at some point and has joined the search for the missing passenger. The ship left Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Saturday for a seven-day cruise.

You can read about prior recent disappearances from HAL cruise ships:

The Veendam just last month.

The Oosterdam involving a young man.

The Maasdam involving an elderly man. 

The Zaandam involving a young woman.

The overboard from the Zaandam revealed a lack of credibility by HAL's PR department.

Cruise line expert Professor Ross Klein has documented 197 over-boards from cruise ships since the year 2000. 

HAL has had 5 passengers overboard from its cruise ships in just the last couple of years. All remain mysteries.

As best as I can tell, there has never been a determination regarding the cause of any of the HAL over-boards and there has never been a case where HAL admitted that it had closed circuit television (CCTV) images of what happened.

It's disturbing that people can somehow just disappear on the high seas with no explanation and no video of what happened.  You'd think that the cruise line would revamp its security systems when not one single overboard has been solved in the last three years. It also raises the issue whether HAL is being transparent with the public. 

November 30, 2012 Update: The missing passenger has been identified in the press as Jason Gregory Rappe. HAL issued a statement to the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel newspaper, which you can read here.The statement is silent regarding when the wife reported her husband missing to the cruise line and when the cruise line notified the Coast Guard.  In recent overboard cases, the cruise lines have delayed as long as several hours before notifying the Coast Guard.

December 1, 2012 Update: The Eurodam returns to Fort Lauderdale this morning and the FBI should Jason Rappe - HAL Eurodam - Missingbe boarding the cruise ship. At the same time, over two thousand passengers will disembark and begin to head home.  

December 3, 2012 UpdateWalker & O'Neill Retained to Investigate Disappearance of Cruise Passenger Jason Rappe' From HAL's Eurodam  Our firm was retained today to represent the Rappe' family find answers to what happened on the cruise ship.

Please help!

If you were on the cruise and have information about Mr. Rappe's disappearance (photo right), please contact me directly - jim@cruiselaw.com     

Please note that the comment section below is closed, and no further comments will be published. If you were on the cruise and have information, please contact us directly.

 

Photo credit:

Top: Welkinridge / Wikipedia

Bottom: Rappe' family

Crew Member Fakes Disappearance From Container Ship - Faces Fine of $1,062,423

A Filipino crew member working aboard a large container ship was arrested after allegedly staging his own disappearance as part of a plot to sneak into the U.S.  

Dexter Desquitado, age 38, worked as a crew member aboard the Singapore-flagged MSC Tokyo. On October 25, 2012, a federal grand jury indicted him on charges that while the container ship was in the Gulf of Mexico heading for Alabama, he staged a scene aboard the ship to create the impression that he had gone overboard. Meanwhile, he hid in another part of the ship, with the intention of sneaking into the United States.  When the MSC ship reached the Port of Mobile, he apparently Fake Disappearance - MSC Tokyo Container Shipentered the U.S. during the vessel's cargo operations. 

In legal papers filed by the prosecuting attorneys, the U.S. Government said "The very offense involved staging his disappearance at sea, hiding in a secluded area of the ship, and then surreptitiously escaping into the United States under the cover of night."

An earlier account of the incident indicated that at approximately 2:30 a.m. on October 15th, the missing crewmember was responsible for recovering the Jacob’s ladder after the pilot arrived. The ladder was later observed down with a shoe on deck indicating the possibility of the crewmember falling overboard.

The U.S. Coast responded by launching a large (and expensive) search and rescue effort. The vessels and aircraft involved in the unnecessary search included:

  • Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew;
  • Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane crew;
  • Coast Guard Station Dauphin Island 45-foot Response Boat—Medium crew;
  • The 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Seahawk crew;
  • A 40-foot Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla boat crew;
  • A 32-foot Mobile Police Department contender crew;
  • A 32-foot Alabama Marine Resources jet boat crew;
  • A 23-foot Daphne Search and Rescue boat crew; and
  • A 27-foot Bon Secour Fire Department boat crew.

If convicted, Desquitado faces a $5,000 civil penalty and $1,062,423 for the cost of the search conducted by the Coast Guard as well as Alabama and local authorities.

Our blog has covered all types of crew member disappearances, including foul play, suicides and mysteries.  This is the first time that we have learned of a crew member faking a disappearance.  

Can anyone cite to a case involving a fake disappearance of a crew member from a large commercial vessel or a cruise ship?  Please leave a comment below or comment on our facebook page.   

 

Story and video credit: Mobile News 15

Unsolved Cruise Disappearance: What Happened to George Smith?

George Smith - Cruise Ship - Missing HoneymoonerOver seven years ago, newlywed cruise passenger George Smith disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas into the Aegean Sea. The cruise line quickly concluded that Mr. Smith probably sat on the railing of his balcony and fell overboard, but there is absolutely no proof of that.

What Royal Caribbean knew but did not reveal to the families of George Smith and his bride, Jennifer Hagel, was that it had seized a video camera from other men last seen with Mr. Smith. The day after Mr. Smith's disappearance, these passengers were eating breakfast in the cruise ship's dining room when they began filming each other. According to a CBS program this year, the men were recorded laughing about the situation and mocking Mr. Smith.

The camera then stops on one of the three men who said: "We gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute."

Our firm represented Mr. Smith's widow and we hired forensic expert Dr. Henry Lee back in 2005 to investigate the case. The cruise line never revealed this video to us, or to Dr. Lee, or to the public. Instead, it launched a scandalous media campaign to portray Mr. Smith as a drunk and his bride as unfaithful. 

This Friday, the Nancy Grace program is airing a special look back at this case entitled "What Nancy Grace Mystery - Disappearance of George Smith Happened to George Smith?" The program will take a look back on some of the developments in the case. This "mystery" is no mystery at all. Those involved should be prosecuted. 

We have written a series of articles about Mr. Smith's case, including Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later. We discussed what happened on the cruise and how the cruise line and the media responded to Mr. Smith's disappearance.  

I am not a fan of Nancy Grace. Her program lost focus on the cruise line's cover-up and the incompetency of the FBI in investigating the crime, while unnecessarily pitting the Smith family against their daughter-in-law. But her program is one of the few that continues to cover Mr. Smith's disappearance. I'll be watching this Friday.

Was Cruise Passenger Murdered in the Mediterranean?

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website refers to a case of an Israeli passenger who went overboard in the Mediterranean Sea during a vacation cruise earlier this month.

According to the Y News Net newspaper in Israel, the passenger was identified as a 43 year old Israeli taxi driver from Hadera who did not return from a leisure cruise to Cyprus he went on three weeks ago.

Police officials said there was a chance that the man had fallen off the ship and drowned.

However, an Egyptian newspaper, al-Masry al-Youm, reported that the man had been shot dead. 

The police launched an investigation into the incident after learning of the man's disappearance, taking collecting statements from the ship's crew and passengers and checking security cameras.

The man was reportedly seen in the ship's bar and pool area a day before the ship docked at Haifa Port.

The body was discovered by Egyptian authorities and was transferred to Israel on Friday. It was taken to a forensic institute, where the circumstances of death are being examined.

Why Did Carnival Delay Rescuing An Overboard Passenger From The Destiny?

One of the first comments from the Carnival Destiny cruise ship about a passenger going overboard earlier this week was by another passenger who remarked on Twitter that it took well over a hour to complete the rescue. The tweet stated that the overboard passenger had to tread the water for one and one-half hours.

Another person left a comment to my article about the incident, stating:

"The woman's friends who knew she had fallen had a difficult time convincing the crew to stop the ship. They chose to search the ship first. Fortunately a passenger in an above deck had reported hearing a splash and that info convinced them to stop the ship and look in the water. She was not rescued for over an hour. She tried to swim after the ship until it disappeared and she was left in total blackness. . . ."

Coast Guard regulations and the requirements of most cruise ship safety management systems (SMS) Carnival Destiny Cruise Ship Rescue required by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) state that the vessel must immediately take steps to rescue a person who goes overboard.

Vessel operators must also notify the Coast Guard and other vessels in the vicinity if the overboard person is not "immediately" located in the water. Once a man overboard is reported, most SMS cruise line policies require a prompt reduction of speed of the ship, a "Williamson Turn" to head the ship back to the location of the overboard person, the deployment of extra look-outs, the use of spotlights, and preparation to deploy life craft. While this is happening the captain can order a muster and head count if there is any doubt about whether a passenger went overboard. 

Why didn't this occur in this case?  If the comments by other passengers are true that the cruise ship did not promptly turn around and the overboard passenger was forced to tread water for over an hour, this is in violation of Coast Guard regulations and basic maritime rescue procedures.

Last month, a similar incident occurred on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Allure of the Seas. A young woman went overboard and reportedly struck the arm of a passenger standing on a lower balcony. The passenger reported the incident immediately but the cruise ship sailed on and did not report it for over two hours.  The cruise line initially falsely stated that it immediately initiated a search and notified the U.S. Coast Guard. When confronted with the fact that it actually delayed for over two hours, Royal Caribbean said that it decided to search the ship first so as to avoid unnecessarily causing the Coast Guard to deploy search aircraft and rescue vessels.  

Unlike the Carnival case where the passenger was eventually rescued and taken to a hospital ashore (photo above), in the Royal Caribbean case the passenger was never found and her body was never recovered.

There were many comments after the fiasco aboard the Allure of the Seas that no one can survive a fall of 100 feet from a cruise ship, but the Carnival Destiny incident shows otherwise. In both cases, there were criticisms by other passengers that they were inconvenienced by the delay and/or they missed the next port because of the overboard. Cruise lines have to then deal with whining customers and unhappy people demanding credits and discounts.  

Are cruise ships under so much pressure to keep their itineraries that they are ignoring basic search and rescue protocols? 

Yes, everyone should be happy that the Destiny passenger survived. But the issue needs to be explored to understand why the ship delayed in searching in the water rather than wasting time looking around the ship.The next overboard will not be so lucky. 

The notion advanced by Royal Caribbean's PR people that cruise lines can delay a rescue for a couple of hours is preposterous. It's exactly the opposite of what the applicable maritime rules and regulations require.  After all, the Allure of the Seas is touted as the largest cruise ship in the world. In an emergency, no one has the luxury of searching an entire floating city before initiating a search and calling the Coast Guard for help.

A person struggling in the water at night does not have time to wait a hour or two for help.    

 

Photo credit: Jetaria Taylor

What Happened to Royal Caribbean Crew Member Rossario Rodrigues From the Serenade of the Seas?

Rossario Shaggy Rodrigues - Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Serenade of the SeasEarlier this month we wrote about a Royal Caribbean crew member disappearing from the Serenade of the Seas.  Our article - Another Crew Member Goes Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas - was widely read.  We also posted the article on facebook and received many, many comments.

We also posted additional information on facebook asking whether Royal Caribbean is pushing its crew members to the brink?  

Several hundred thousands of people read these posts.

In response, we received information that the missing Royal Caribbean crew member is a young man from Goa, India named Rossario Rodrigues. He is single with a brother working on a different cruise line. His mother provided a photograph of her son (above left).

What happened to Mr. Rodrigues?

Why did he go overboard?

Why was he the second crew members to "disappear" from the Serenade of the Seas in three weeks?

A photograph from his facebook page shows him full of life sitting on a motorcycle, undoubtedly not his own but in his dreams no doubt.  Why would a young man with his whole life ahead of him somehow "disappear" with no explanation and no trace?

The cruise line is not saying.  His mother knows nothing other than her son is not returning to Goa. 

Rossario Shaggy Rodrigues - Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas Cruise ShipWe have been informed that Mr. Rodrigues had a dispute with his supervisor, which we cannot confirm.  But who can confirm anything when someone goes overboard in the middle of the night from a cruise ship?

This is the way that cruises lines want it. 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein reports that over 190 people have gone overboard from cruise ships in the last decade or so. Most are never found, and no real explanation is offered. Troubling statistics. Troubling attitude by the cruise lines.

Certainly someone knows something. If you do, please contact us. Leave a comment below, or comment on our facebook page, or contact me privately at my email address jim@cruiselaw.com. 

Don't let Mr. Rodriques be just another statistic.

Another Crew Member Goes Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas

A newspaper in Italy is reporting that a Royal Caribbean crew member disappeared from the Serenade of the Seas earlier this morning.

The Adnkronos newspaper in Rome reports that the Serenade of the Seas was sailing from Mykonos. Upon arrival at the next port around 7:00 AM this morning, it was discovered that a cabin steward was missing. (Another news account says he was a cleaner).  The newspaper mentions that the last CCTV image of the crew member on the cruise ship was around 1:00 AM and shows the employee walking through a door.  There apparently are no images of the crew member going overboard.  The crew member is reportedly from the Philippines. 

The newspaper states that a search was conducted by five Coast Guard patrol boats and two aircraft.

Royal Caribbean Serenade of the SeasThis is the third person to go overboard from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in the last three weeks.

On September 20th we reported on another crew member who went overboard from this same cruise ship, the Serenade of the Seas, as it was sailing to Italy. You can read our article here

On September 17th a passenger disappeared from the Allure of the Seas shortly after it sailed from South Florida.

In addition to these three Royal Caribbean overboard cases, on September 29th a passenger went overboard from the P & O Aurora cruise ship.

On October 9th we reported on a Holland America Line passenger who disappeared during a cruise on board the HAL Veendam. 

Five passengers missing from cruise ships in the last month. Unfortunately there is no news coverage of cruise ship overboard cases unless the person is a U.S. passenger.  The U.S. press has virtually no interest if a "foreign" crew member goes overboard. Royal Caribbean will not make a statement unless a major media outlet makes an inquiry.  

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

Video: Royal Caribbean Delayed Reporting Overboard Passenger

A'riel Marion - Overboard Cruise Passenger - Allure of the SeasLocal NBC 6 reports that Royal Caribbean delayed reporting the disappearance of Allure of the Seas cruise passenger, A'riel Marion, for two hours, even though another passenger on a lower balcony was literally hit on the arm as Ms. Marion fell to the water.

Based on the official report from the United States Coast Guard, the cruise line did not report the incident to the Coast Guard until 11:30 PM even though a passenger immediately reported the overboard to the ship around 9:27 PM.

Royal Caribbean's initial press release falsely claimed that the cruise line "immediately" reported the overboard. 

Our articles about this case are here:

Passenger Missing From The Allure of the Seas Cruise Ship

Why Didn't Royal Caribbean Immediately Notify the Coast Guard that a Passenger Went Overboard from Allure of the Seas? 

Delay, Deny, Deceive & Defend: Royal Caribbean Shows How Not to Respond to an Overboard Passenger  

 

View more videos at: http://nbcmiami.com.

Cruise Passenger Charged with Attempted Murder in Man Overboard Case

Viking Cinderella Cruise ShipA Swedish newspaper reports that a 28 year old man who forced a younger man to jump off the deck of a cruise ship is under arrest in Stockholm on suspicion of attempted murder.

The incident occurred aboard the Viking Cinderella cruise ship, operated by the Viking Line, last Sunday as the ship was moored at the Stadsgårds terminal in Stockholm.

The man who went overboard was threatened and jumped 88 feet into the water. The newspaper indicates that he managed to survive the fall and swam back to the pier and then got back onboard the ship. He was subsequently taken to the hospital.

Both men were passengers.

A Swedish police officer said:

"He was really lucky to survive. If he'd twisted in the slightest, we would have been killed by the impact with the hard water."

The 28 year old man was apprehended by the ship's security and then arrested by the police. 

 

Photo credit:  The Local newspaper

Delay, Deny, Deceive & Defend: Royal Caribbean Shows How Not to Respond to an Overboard Passenger

Overboard passengers are hardly unexpected.  

All cruise lines have man overboard (MOB) procedures required by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).  The procedures are fundamentally no different that what is taught to the public in United States Coast Guard (USCG) powerboat courses.  

My family took such a USCG course many years ago.

One of the operational courses involves simulating a man overboard by throwing a life-vest overboard. We all practiced performing a "Williamson Turn" where the person operating the powerboat turned the wheel to the side of the overboard and then, at around 60 degrees, turned the wheel back to the opposite side to come around and position the boat to speed back to the location of the man overboard. As one person handled the helm, others stayed focused on the overboard or obtained the equipment necessary to bring the overboard back on the boat as soon as possible.

By the end of the course, even my youngest, 5th grade son understood the importance of promptly powering the boat back to initiate the rescue.  We learned that every second was important.

Cruise ships are obviously not as maneuverable as a small powerboat. But the rescue protocols are fundamentally the same and equally important to passengers whether they went overboard from a small pleasure craft or a giant cruise ship.. 

A'riel Marion - Overboard Allure of the Seas Cruise ShipWe also learned that if the person overboard cannot be "immediately" located, we were required to notify the Coast Guard right away. All of the cruise lines are required to do so as well. 

So when I learned that Royal Caribbean waited over two hours after a passenger observed another passenger go overboard from the Allure of the Seas to contact the USCG, I was absolutely shocked.

Not only did Royal Caribbean delay, it delayed outrageously so.

But it gets worst.

It not only delayed but it denied it delayed. It deceived the public by claiming that the captain of the Allure of the Seas "immediately" turned the ship around and notified the Coast Guard. Its corporate communication department set out to deceive the public by releasing a false and misleading PR statement claiming "immediate" action when, in truth, it delayed for hours.

Delay, deny, and deceive.  We now have a dead passenger.

The young woman who went overboard has now been identified as A'riel Marion, a pretty young model with the rest of her life ahead of her.  Her mother, Vera Marion, has hired a maritime lawyer in Miami, Brett Rivkind, to try and find out what happened and why Royal Caribbean didn't do at least what my young son would have done - turn the damn ship around and, if the young woman was not "immediately" located, notify the Coast Guard?

WMC-TV, a television station in the small Tennessee town of Bartlett where A'riel is from, interviewed A'riel's mother. Another passenger reportedly notified the cruise ship that she observed a passenger go overboard around 9:25 PM.  Ms. Marion is quoted saying:          

"They knew she had gone overboard. The woman called and said something from the deck fell and hit her arm. They immediately cleared off that side of the ship, but they never started the search." 

Her attorney Rivkind added: "This is a very specific 911 call that a passenger from the cabin below was actually struck on the arm by the person who fell from the cabin above." 

At 9:30 PM, the ship's staff brought Ms. Marion to private room. 

Ms. Marion states: "They started asking me, could she swim?  And that's when I panicked and knew that they knew that she had gone overboard."

Two hours later, at 11:30 PM the U.S. Coast Guard was called. 

At 1:30 AM, the search for A'riel began.

"I believe they could save my daughter if they had began the search immediately," Ms. Marion told the news station.

Royal Caribbean has a lot of explaining to so.

But if history is any lesson, this cruise line will engage in more delay, denial and deception as it defends the lawsuit Ms. Marion will be forced to file to try and find out what happened to her daughter.

 

Read our other articles about this case:

Passenger Missing From The Allure of the Seas Cruise Ship

Why Didn't Royal Caribbean Immediately Notify the Coast Guard that a Passenger Went Overboard from Allure of the Seas?

 

Photo credit:  WMC-TV 

Another Cruise Passenger Overboard - This Time From P & O Aurora

P & O Cruises Aurora Web CamMultiple news sources are reporting that a passenger went overboard from a cruise ship in the Mediterranean Sea yesterday.  Little information is being released except that the passenger is described as a "British woman" and is apparently in her seventies. 

The incident occurred on the Aurora cruise ship as it sailed from the Oporto, Portugal to to Barcelona, Spain.  The news accounts state that the woman "fell" although there is no real description whether she jumped, or was thrown overboard, or she somehow fell into the water.

Cruise ship overboard cases are rarely solved. In this case, there is no real information being released to explain what happened.  

The Telegraph newspaper in the U.K. quotes a passenger saying that "we heard that the woman is 72 and was on holiday with her daughter but we don't know how she fell in. The passengers are all very sad and subdued as the outlook doesn't look good. The sea is very choppy. We are just so concerned for this woman and her family. It is awful."

P & O states that "the ship's crew were alerted and ordered an immediate search of the area," although cruise lines often say this when it's not true. There is no information when the woman was reported Aurora Cruise Ship - P & O Cruisesmissing and when the search was initiated.

Investigations fall to the flag state which for P & O cruise ships is Bermuda.  That country has a dreadful record conducting investigation involving overboard passengers and crew members or crimes on cruise ships at sea.

According to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, this is the 188th person overboard from a cruise ship in the last decade or so.

The last cruise ship passenger overboard from a cruise ship was 2 weeks ago when a 21 year old passenger disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas.  

The cruise ship had left Southampton on Wednesday September 26th and was sailing on a 14 day cruise.

Anyone with information about this latest overboard, please leave a comment below.

 

September 29 2012 Update:  A comment to this article below states that the passenger committed suicide, although this cannot be confirmed. 

Credits:

Aurora Web Cam: P & O Cruises 

Aurora cruise ship photo: SOLVENT via Telegraph 

Hat tip Goatys' News

"Lord Keep Us Safe On This Gigantic Cruise Ship"

Allure of the SeasA news station in Memphis has identified the 21 year old woman who went overboard from Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas cruise ship on September 16, 2012.

There has been speculation about what happened. This was the overboard where the cruise ship delayed reporting the incident to the Coast Guard for two hours. Some people have speculated that the young lady may have committed suicide, although there is no evidence of that.

That scenario seems highly unlikely given the comments that she was posting on Twitter leading up to the cruise, including many tweets expressing her excitement about the trip.  Consider one of her last tweets upon boarding the cruise ship:   

"Lord keep up safe on this gigantic cruise ship! Let the festivities begin!! See you suckers in a week . . ."

After the delayed Coast Guard search ended, the matter was turned over to the FBI for investigation.

Here's our initial article about this case: Passenger Missing From The Allure of the Seas Cruise Ship.

 

Crew Member Goes Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas

Serenade of the Seas Overboard CrewAlready reeling from the publicity of its delayed reporting of a 21 year old passenger who went overboard from the Allure of the Seas, Royal Caribbean is now facing the scrutiny of the international press regarding the disappearance of a crew member from the Serenade of the Seas yesterday.

Several newspapers in Italy and Croatia are reporting that a Royal Caribbean went overboard from the Serenade yesterday morning while the cruise ship was sailing in the Adriatic sea.

The Bahamian flagged Serenade of the Seas was crossing the Adriatic for Venice.

There are conflicting reports of the time of the overboard as occurring between 4:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. when the ship's passengers reported that a person had fallen into the sea.

An Italian newspaper reports that the unidentified crew member went overboard in off the Italian coastal city of Ancona. The waters are described either as international waters or waters under the jurisdiction of Croatia. The sea was reportedly rough with winds gusting close to 100 kilometers per hour. 

Coast Guard vessels from Croatia and Italy have searched for the crew member without success.

Cruise lines don't voluntarily disclose information about overboard passengers and crew members. Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has tracked 187 people going overboard from cruise ships in the last ten years or so.

Anyone with information about this latest case, please leave a comment below.

September 21, 2012:  So far, not a single U.S. newspaper or media outlet has covered the story.  No press statement by Royal Caribbean.  Disturbing that no one cares about cruise overboards unless they involve a passenger from the U.S. 

September 22, 2012: Several people informed us that the overboard Royal Caribbean crew member is from Panama and one reader said that he was employed in the facilities department on the ship.

October 13, 2012: Another crew member goes overboard from the Serenade of the Seas. 2 crew members from the same cruise ship in 3 weeks. What's going on with this ship? 

Photo credit: Il Messaggero.it

Allure of the Seas Overboard: Royal Caribbean Struggling to Justify Late Notification to Coast Guard

With the Coast Guard ending its delayed search and the 21 year old woman still missing at sea, Royal Caribbean is struggling to justify the two hour delay it caused in reporting the latest person overboard from the Allure of the Seas.  Its excuse is a whopper - it claims that it first had to first search the ship to make certain that the passenger was still not onboard. 

This statement is coming from a cruise line PR executive Cynthia Martinez, who is obviously unfamiliar with well established maritime rules and even her company's own man overboard protocols.  According to International Maritime Organization (IMO) recommendations and Coast Guard regulations, cruise ships are required to notify the Coast Guard if the person overboard is not "immediately" observed in the water.  

Royal Caribbean knows better than to act like this. It has some highly experienced mariners and former Coast Guard commanders working for it, like former Coast Guard Commander Captain Howard Newhoff Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seaswho was awarded a medal of commendation by President Reagan in the 1980's and whose skills and service to this country are beyond reproach. He must be shaking his head in disgust after reading the PR statements dreamed up by the cruise line's PR team members who don't know the difference between port and starboard. 

Royal Caribbean said that the Coast Guard was notified when the cruise ship found “the incident on the recording . . . from the video, we could pinpoint the exact time and location using Global Positioning System and provided that information to the Coast Guard.”

Nonsense. The Coast regulations require immediate notification. The GPS coordinates should have been sent to the Coast Guard immediately. Searching the largest cruise ship in the world and pouring over CCTV images from hundreds of cameras first?  A person can float for tens of miles over the course of the unnecessary two hour delay.

Maritime experts on Ring of Fire Radio voiced their displeasure about the delay from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m., over 2 hours after the passenger fell overboard. Gerald McGill, a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and a former Commanding Officer of two Coast Guard cutters, states:

"The most troubling aspect of this tragedy is why the ship waited two hours before notifying the Coast Guard. Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said the process of making sure a passenger is not onboard takes some time. She said such verification is necessary before the Coast Guard is notified 'and they commit to sending assets to help search.'

However, in this case a witness reported seeing another passenger go overboard and video footage verified this. The important fact was that “someone” had fallen overboard. Determining who had fallen overboard should not have delayed notifying the Coast Guard. Hopefully the FBI investigation will address this issue."

Delayed notification causes the Coast Guard to expend additional resources and expands the search grid of the Coast Guard cutters, helicopters and aircraft. The expenses increase substantially. And most importantly the chances of the person being rescued - which is why immediate notification to the Coast Guard is required in the first place - decrease dramatically.

 

Check out our facebook page to see what people are saying about how Royal Caribbean handled the situation. 

Passenger Missing From The Allure of the Seas Cruise Ship

Last night a young woman from Bartlett, Tennessee disappeared from the world's largest cruise ship, the Allure of the Seas.

According to experts who track cruise ship disappearances, she was the 186th person to go overboard from a cruise ship in the last ten years.

At the time of the overboard last night, the Allure was sailing to Nassau after leaving Ft. Lauderdale (Port Everglades).

Royal Caribbean Cruises issued a press release that the 21 year old U.S. passenger went overboard Allure of the Seas OverBoard Passengerat 9:25 PM Eastern Standard Time last night.  The incident was apparently captured on the cruise ship's CCTV cameras. 

Royal Caribbean Delays Notifying the Coast Guard

The Sun Sentinel reports that the incident was reported to the cruise line around 9:30 PM, but the cruise line delayed reporting the incident to the Coast Guard for 2 hours until 11:30 PM. According to the Sun Sentinel. the cruise line apparently searched the ship for two hours to look for the young woman.

Only after the shipboard search was unsuccessful did the ship contact the Coast Guard.

Royal Caribbean Denies Delay

According to Cruise Critic, Royal Caribbean says that there was no delay.  It released a statement claiming that after another passenger observed the overboard and reported it, "the ship's Captain immediately stopped the ship, turned around, and alerted the U.S. and Bahamian Coast Guard."  This is inconsistent with the Coast Guard statement that Royal Caribbean waited until 11:30 PM to notify it and then search in the water for the passenger.

The Allure is a huge ship with some 8,000 passengers and crew members. As the cruise line likes to advertise, the massive ship comprises some seven neighborhoods.  Why would the cruise line waste valuable time searching such a big ship while sailing for two hours away from where the overboard was observed? 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein reports that 186 people (passengers and crew members) have gone overboard in the last decade or so.

The last overboard from the Allure of the Seas was in early February of this year when an Irish passenger in his 20's went overboard.  

In instances where suicide is suspected, the cruise lines usually allude to that in their initial public statement. There is no mention of that so far.

Alcohol is often involved in cruise ship overboards, but there is no mention of that factor one way or the other.

Please leave a comment below if you have information about what happened, or click on our facebook page to see what other people are saying about this case.

 

September 18, 2012 Update: Cruise line's 2 hour delay in inconsistent with Coast Guard regulations, International Maritime Organization (IMO) recommendations and cruise line safety management system (SMS) procedures - read here..

September 19, 2012 Update:  Royal Caribbean tries to justify why it delayed stopping the ship and notifying the Coast Guard.  Coast Guard ends its delayed search.  FBI now involved. 

September 20, 2012 Update: Royal Caribbean Struggles to Justify Delayed Notification to Coast Guard.

September 22, 2012 Update:  Allure of the Seas: "Profits Over Passenger Safety?

September 27, 2012 Update: Passenger identified.  One of her last comments on Twitter: 'Lord Keep Us Safe On This Gigantic Cruise Ship." 

October 3, 2012 Updates: Delay, Deny, Deceive & Defend: Royal Caribbean Shows How Not to Respond to an Overboard Passenger 

Video: Royal Caribbean Delayed Reporting Overboard Passenger

Should Carnival Be Liable When Drunken Passengers Go Overboard From The Fun Ships?

Cruise Booze - All You Can DrinkToday I was struck by the juxtaposition of two headlines - "Carnival Cruise's All You Can Drink Alcohol Package Expands" and Passenger "Claims Carnival Cruise Lines Left Her Drunk Husband to Die After He Fell Overboard."

I have been critical of Carnival's new all-you-can-drink cruise booze package which is similar to the booze policy that Royal Caribbean has been selling to its passengers.  I have been quoted before saying that there is a direct correlation between too much cruise booze and sexual assaults and overboard passengers - Boozy Cruises a Recipe for Disaster.

But truth be told the "new" alcohol policy is just an official designation of the all-you-can-drink atmosphere which has existed on Carnival's Fun Ships dating back over the decades. The drunken anything-goes party attitude results in violence and people going overboard - literally.   

According to the lawsuit papers filed against Carnival, the "drunk husband" was passenger Clint Markham, who drank heavily while ashore in Cozumel.  When he returned to the Carnival Conquest cruise ship, he was "inebriated to the point of being unable to care for his own safety or to think clearly and rationally. He wanted to continue drinking and partying . . .

What followed was a spat between Mr. Markham (photo right) and his wife who tried to calm her husband down and keep him in his cabin where he could take a shower and sober up. But Mr. Markham proceeded to an upper deck of the ship, where he engaged in animated conversation with friends and strangers. He then climbed up on the railing where he sat for a few moments and then fell face forward into the sea.  His body was never found. 

The lawsuit seeks to hold Carnival liable for creating an out-of-control environment where the cruise line encouraged its guests to drink to excess such that "even though he had consumed excessive amounts of alcohol, Clint Markham had been conditioned by defendant to want to keep partying, and to take it to Client Markham - Cruise Boozethe limit and beyond." The complaint (filed by another maritime lawyer in Miami) alleges:

"Defendant Carnival Corporation goes to great lengths to inebriate its passengers and, in so doing, to break down their inhibitions, and create an 'anything goes' atmosphere. Synonyms for the name of the defendant's corporation, Carnival, include 'bacchanal,' 'orgy,' 'debauch' and 'merrymaking.' The word 'carnival' has come to mean in the general lexicon a 'self-indulgent festival.' Defendant's business plan to cultivate this atmosphere among its passengers is no coincidence."    

I'm sure that many reading about Mr. Markham's situation (which I blogged about last year, here) will say that its a matter of "personal responsibility" and place all of the blame on him for what happened.

I am also a firm believer in personal responsibility.  But I must quickly point out that corporations are considered to be persons too.  Cruise lines like Carnival make hundreds of millions of dollars a year pushing the sale of alcohol. Carnival knows that lots of bad bad things happen when their guests drink too much.

Just last month a soldier who was about to be deployed to Afghanistan drank himself into a stupor while aboard the Carnival Fascination. He ended up allegedly running around the ship assaulting people and then apparently jumped from one deck down to another before he ended up jumping off the ship with a life ring when the cruise ship security personnel chased him.  

Robert McGill - Cruise BoozeAnd remember the case of cruise passenger, Robert McGill, (photo left) who drank himself silly with Mezcal and 7 or 8 beers while ashore in Cabo and then returned to the Carnival Elation where he staggered up the gangway, ordered more booze from Carnival, got into an argument and beat and strangled his wife?  Afterwards he ordered a bucket of beer to drink as the ship returned to port.

Yes, all of these individuals share responsibility for drinking too much. Its easy to blame them. But Carnival, which profits greatly from its all-you-can-drink atmosphere, also has personal responsibility for these deaths. 

 

Photo credit:

Client Markham KETK / KHOU / Houston Chronicle

Robert John McGill with FBI L.A. Times

Carnival's motto? Load em' off, load em' in. Let the drinking begin . . .

American Crew Member Goes Overboard From Costa Cruise Ship

An Italian newspaper, Articolo Tre, and the Crew Center website, are reporting that a U.S. female crew member disappeared from the Costa Favolosa in the sea near Istanbul.

The victim reportedly is an American crew member employed by Costa as a dancer. There are no details in the news article.  The Italian newspaper article states that "according to the preliminary findings, the woman committed suicide by jumping from the ship off the coast of Istanbul."

Costa FavolosaThere is no confirmation by Costa. Crew members who work on the cruise ship are silent, especially if they are asked by passengers about the incident.

The ship will not stop tomorrow in Dubrovnik, as planed and but instead will go directly from Istanbul to Venice.

A few months ago a young woman went overboard from another Costa cruise ship, the Costa Magica. A 21 year old Brazilian waitress disappeared from the Magica near the coast of Sicily. The company quickly labeled the incident a suicide too. 

Unfortunately suicide seems to be the cruise industry's explanation for most over-boards.  This is because the cruise lines like to blame the victim rather than admit that there are safety and crime issues on cruise ships. 

Anyone will information, please leave a comment below.

Update August 31, 2012:  Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein received information that the overboard crew member is from South Africa - not the U.S.  We also received a comment to this article stating that the woman is from South Africa.  

There have been 185 people overboard from cruise ships in the last decade or so. 

Update September 2, 2012: The Italian newspaper, Articolo Tre, has another short article.  The title of the article states that Costa "confirms suicide" and yet the text of the article (if I am translating this correctly) states that the crew member "fell" into the water.  Unfortunately there is really no information contained in this article either, other than the Captain explaining why the cruise ship was skipping Dubrovnik, reassuring the passengers that they would receive a credit and wishing them a "happy" rest of the cruise.   

 

Photo credit: Wikimedia / Andrsvoss

Man Overboard: What Really Happened Aboard the Carnival Fascination?

After a 31 year old passenger went overboard from the Carnival Fascination cruise ship into the dark waters off of the Florida coast last night around 2:00 AM, all of the major news sources and cruise friendly bloggers all lined up to dutifully repeat verbatim what the Carnival PR people fed to the public:

  • A passenger jumped overboard; and
  • A security guard witnessed the jump and immediately threw life rings overboard. 

End of story.

Sounds like a suicide to me, everyone thought. How sad, a man overcome with the weigh of the world's Cruise Ship Overboard - Suicide?  pressures. What a pity. Pray for his family.

But was this a suicide as the cruise line wants you to believe?

The first thing that struck me strange about the story is that a security guard just happened to be at the precise spot where a passenger chose to jump overboard from the top deck of the Carnival cruise ship.

One thing i have learned over the past 29 years as a maritime lawyer is that there are virtually no security on duty and patrolling at two in the morning on a cruise ships. Perhaps a guard or two around the bars and discos where drunken fights break out, but a guard patrolling randomly on a top deck who just happened upon a passenger choosing to end his life?  No way.

The International Maritime Organization ('IMO") regulations suggest that cruise lines have just two security personnel on duty on the entire ship at night.  This is a ridiculously insufficient number of security guard to maintain order and safety on a cruise ship, particularly aboard the drunk fest atmosphere associated with the anything goes attitude on Carnival's "fun ships."  

There must be more to the story, I thought. What really happened to the Carnival guest who fell 90 feet into the deep waters 25 miles off of the coast of Florida?

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has studied cruise overboard cases over the past decade. He has documented some 185 passengers and crew who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000. Most are never found. Most cases remain "mysteries."   

That's the way cruise lines want it.  The cruise line PR people trot out the it-must-be-a-suicide-so-let's-blame-the-passenger game.  90% of the public accepts the first thing they hear or read and lack the healthy cynicism to look behind the curtain.

When the cruise ship returns from the cruise at the end of the week we will see passengers returning to their computers and commenting about what they heard or saw on the cruise ship.  A different story will emerge. Already there are comments on Cruise Critic's boards that this was no suicide but what is being called a strange situation where a Carnival security guard was chasing the passenger who grabbed a life ring and then jumped overboard.

Was excessive alcohol involved?  It would be surprising if not given the late hour and Carnival's booze cruise reputation.  

But in a week from now, will anyone be concerned with what really happened?

Overboard number 185.  Carnival's PR people have done their work.  Another mystery it seems.

Does anyone really care?      

August 30, 2012 Update:  Looks like the initial information released by Carnival is misleading.  Cruise Critic has this information today:

The case involves an "U.S. Army sergeant who was taking a vacation before shipping out to duty in Afghanistan. Sergeant Ronald Kemp, our source tells us, was intoxicated and had entered a crew-only area of the ship. There he was confronted by a female crewmember, who told him to leave. A physical confrontation ensued, during which time a security officer pepper sprayed Kemp, who then fled. Security gave chase, and Kemp ran up to the Verandah deck, one deck above the Lido deck. In order to evade security, he jumped over the railing, falling one level and landing on the Lido, and then continued to flee before grabbing a life ring and leaping overboard."

Cruise lines face liability when they serve passengers alcohol to the point of intoxication.

In the case of Hall v. Royal Caribbean, an appellate court here in Miami held that the cruise line can be sued in the following circumstances:

"  . . . a paying passenger on the defendant's cruise ship, was injured on the high seas when, after having been served alcohol by the vessel's employees to and obviously past the point of intoxication, he staggered from a lounge, and while unable to look after himself fell down two flights of open stairways." 

 

Art Credit:   CruelKev2's blog

Passenger Missing From Carnival Fascination Cruise Ship

Several news stations are reporting that a 31 year old man went overboard last night from the Carnival Fascination cruise ship. 

Newspapers are reporting that a Carnival crew member observed the passenger jumping off the top deck of the ship into the water.  The ship had left Jacksonville around 5:00 P.M and was heading to Key West. The ship was 25 miles off the Coast of Florida near Volusia County.

The incident reportedly occurred around 2 a.m. 

A Carnival spokesperson said that the crew threw life rings into the water and the ship then turned back Carnival Fascination Cruise Ship Overboard Passenger - Jump?to the location where the man went overboard.

Bay News 9 reports that the Coast Guard deployed considerable resources in searching for the man, including the 210-foot Coast Guard Cutter Resolute, the 154-foot Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber, a Sentinel Class Fast Response Cutter, the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Shrike, a 47-foot Motor Life Boat and a HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter.

No information has been released regarding why the man jumped, if that is really what happened.

Given the late hour, one of the things that I would inquire about is whether the passenger was drinking alcohol.  I would request the ship's records regarding the passenger's on board purchases to see how many drinks he purchased. There is a 100% certainty that Carnival's lawyers in Miami have already looked at this information, as well as any CCTV images of the passenger on the ship.

As usual, there is a spirited debate about the story at the CruiseCritic boards, with one member suggesting that the case was not a suicide but involved the passenger allegedly running away from a security guard and jumping overboard with a life ring.  Can't verify this of course.

Anyone on the cruise ship have accurate information?

Passenger Falls Overboard From Silja Symphony Cruise Ship

A newspaper in Sweden reports that a man, described to be in his thirties, fell off of a cruise ship in the early morning hours yesterday.  The unidentified Swedish passenger fell into the water at around 4.30 am on Tuesday from the Silja Symphony cruise ship.  The vessel was sailing around 30 kilometres south of Örö in the Finnish archipelago.

A Finnish sea rescue crew was dispatched to search for the man along with several other cruise ships.

After a 90 minute search, a helicopter spotted the overboard passenger and lifted him to safety.

The man was taken to hospital in Turku and is reported to have suffered no serious injury.

"He had a slight injury in his leg and was cold, but he was in pretty good shape," said Samu Hiljanen of the Finnish Lifeboat Society.

According to Hiljanen the water temperature at the location of the accident was around 15-20 degrees Celsius.

The newspaper does not explain or speculate why the passenger fell overboard.

Over 180 people have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000, according to Canadian Professor Ross Klein.

 

Silja Symphony Cruise Ship

 

Photo credit:  Wikimedia via The Local

Seven Year Anniversary of Disappearance of Cruise Passenger George Smith: When Will the FBI Make an Arrest?

Yesterday was the seven year anniversary of the disappearance of George Smith from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship.

You will recall that Mr. Smith was on his honeymoon cruise with his newlywed bride, Jennifer Hagel, when he went over the railing of his balcony early on the morning of July 5, 2005.  Although the cruise line quickly concluded that this was just an "accident," passengers took photographs of a blood-stained awning and heard sounds consistent with violence in Mr. Smith's cabin.

George Smith - Disappearance - Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Murder?I have always believed that Mr. Smith was a victim of foul play.  Mr. Smith's wife retained our firm to represent her and the interests of Mr. Smith's estate.  The deeper we looked into the case, the more certain we were that this was no accident. 

Last year we wrote a series of articles Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.  We discussed what happened on the cruise and how the cruise line and the media responded to Mr. Smith's disappearance.

Two months ago, CBS interviewed a former Assistant FBI Director who discussed a video tape recorded by three passengers last seen with Mr. Smith. The day after Mr. Smith's disappearance, these passengers (known as the "Russian men" - the two Rozenbergs and "Rusty" Kofman) were eating breakfast in the cruise ship's dining room when they began filming each other.  According to the CBS program, the men were recorded laughing about the situation and mocking Mr. Smith.

The camera then stops on one of the three men (who was not identified) who said: "We gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute."

Obviously this statement is incriminating, considering Mr. Smith went over the railing of his balcony and the Royal Caribbean security report on the morning of the disappearance states that young men were seen leaving the area near the Smith's cabin at around 4:30 AM.

With this statement as well as other evidence we are familiar with in the case, it is disturbing that the FBI has not made an arrest.

It's long overdue. 

  

 

Cruise Ship Disappearances Continue, Families Stay Vigilant

Fariba Amani - Missing - Cruise Ship DisappearanceA newspaper in Canada published a couple of interesting articles this weekend about a story that won't go away - the disappearance of passengers and crewmembers from cruise ships.

The Star newspaper published Families Search for Cruise Ship Passengers Lost at Sea which discusses the circumstances surrounding the disappearances of Canadian citizen Fariba Amani who vanished from the Celebration cruise ship as it was returning to Florida from the Bahamas.  Ms. Amani was cruising with her boyfriend, in what is described as a difficult relationship, who could offer no explanation for his girlfriend's disappearance at sea in the middle of the night.

The article also mentions the plight of Son Michael Pham, from Seattle, whose parents disappeared from a Carnival cruise ship in the Caribbean. Hue Pham, 71, and his wife, Hue Tran, 67, had been married 49 years and were with their daughter and granddaughter when they disappeared from the Carnival Cruise Line ship Destiny in 2005.

The article also touches upon the story of a woman, Arlene Pretty, who was drugged during a cruise aboard a Celebrity Cruises ship.  By the time she returned to her cabin, she was staggering. Within minutes her legs went numb and she couldn’t breathe. She was rushed to sick bay, where she was stabilized and where blood and urine samples were taken from her.

“The FBI refused on two requests to take the blood and urine samples and have them tested,” she says. “My samples are still on the ship, going to the Caribbean every 14 days, or they probably just got rid of them . . .   What happened to me was absolute hell,” says Pretty, who has been on 19 cruises. “I thought I was going to die."

Merrian Carver - Missing - Cruise Ship DisappearanceThe Star newspaper also published another article The Mystery Surrounding Two Cruise Ship Deaths

Merrian Carver disappeared while cruising on the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship. "Security on board these vessels is severely lacking," Kendall Carver, president of International Cruise Victims, is quoted as saying. His daughter, Merrian, went missing on a cruise ship sailing from Vancouver to Alaska in 2004, when she was 40.  Celebrity thereafter engaged in a cover up of the disappearance.

The other disappearance mentioned in the article involved George Smith, who vanished from Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Sea cruise ship in the Mediterranean in July 2005.  The Smith family and their counsel in Connecticut are continuing to search for answers.

All of the stories contain common themes -  indifference of the FBI, lack of cooperation by the cruise lines and families who continue to search for answers against all odds. 

Young Brazilian Woman Missing From Costa Magica Cruise Ship

Cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein reports on his website that a young Brazilian woman working as an assistant waiter on the Costa Magica has disappeared from the cruise ship in the Mediterranean. She was last seen on Friday, June 1 but authorities were not notified of her disappearance until yesterday, Saturday. The Magica had sailed from Malta towards Catania, Sicily and was about 20 miles from the Sicilian coast when the young woman disappeared.

According to a Brazilian newspaper Globo, the crewmember is Lais Santiago, age 21.  She is from Lais Santiago - Costa Magica Cruise Ship - Missing Cremember - BrazilSantos, on the coast of Sao Paulo, Brazil.  

Her brother, Lucas Santiago, confirmed his sister's disappearance.  There are conflicting accounts about her boyfriend who is described as being either from Brazil or India, with most accounts suggesting that he is also a Brazilian. The crewmember's family stated that they have had no contact with him, but he was questioned by police.  Some internet accounts suggest that she may have made a call late at night with the next account indicating that her boyfriend reported her missing the following morning after she allegedly did not return to the cabin.

The family also spoke with her co-employees, one of whom stated that Lais was friendly and had no enemy on board. She didn't drink, smoke or do drugs, "which is very common on ships." 

According to Dr. Klein's database of passengers and crewmembers missing from cruise ships, this is the 182nd person to go overboard from a cruise ship since 2000. 

In this day and age, and with all of the incredible technology available, how can anyone "disappear" from a cruise ship without the closed circuit television video cameras not capturing the event?  

Do you have information about this case?  Please leave a comment below.

June 4, 2012 Update: There are a couple of comments, one from Brazil and one from Portugal, suggesting that the vessel's video camera captured images of Ms. Santiago going to the rail, hesitating, and then going overboard around 2:00 AM.

The Brazilian newspaper Globo published a report  today confirming that Ms.Santiago apparently jumped as indicated above.

Ms. Santiago's brother is quoted saying that his sister loved working on the ship, but had been complaining a lot lately. "Lais would resign and return to Brazil in the next 28 days. She loved working in the ship, but was tired."

 

Photo credit:  Facebook

"New" Evidence in George Smith Case: "We Gave That Guy A Paragliding Lesson Without A Parachute"

CBS News aired an interesting program today where additional details of the incriminating statements by the "three Russians" about "missing honeymooner" George Smith were revealed.

CBS interviewed former Assistant FBI Director John Miller who explained that the day after Mr. Smith's disappearance, the two Rozenberg men and "Rusty" Kofman were eating breakfast in the cruise ship's George Smith Missing - Cruise Ship Murderdining room when they began filming each other. Miller explains that the men were recorded laughing about the situation and mocking Mr. Smith. 

The camera then stops on one of the three men (who was not identified) who said: "We gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute."

To my knowledge, these precise words have never been revealed to the public before.  Although the release of the actual statement is new, the existence of the tape is not.  The FBI has been in possession of the tape since 2005.

Obviously this statement is incriminating, considering Mr. Smith went over the railing of his balcony and the Royal Caribbean security report on the morning of the disappearance states that young men were seen leaving the area near the Smith's cabin at around 4:30 AM.

With this statement as well as other evidence we are familiar with in the case (we represented Jennifer Hagel and hired forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee to investigate whether George was thrown overboard), it is disturbing that the FBI has not made an arrest.  

It's long overdue.

 

 

Video credit:  CBS News

Last summer we wrote a series of articles about Mr. Smith's disappearance: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

New Clues Emerge in Case of "Missing Honeymooner" George Smith?

In the video below, MSNBC interviews the editor of the Greenwich Magazine which published an article this weekend about the death of George Smith.  We mentioned the new article, written by Timothy Dumas, last week in our blog: "New Information in the Unsolved Murder of Cruise Honeymooner George Smith."

You will recall that Mr. Smith disappeared off of the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas in July 2005. Although the cruise line tried to shrug the event off as a drunken accident, suspicions pointed to four men last seen in the early morning hours of July 5, 2005.

The "new" clues include a video of the men on the cruise ship.  The men recorded themselves at some point on the cruise ship after George Smith's disappearance and may have said something incriminating.

There is also mention that the criminal investigation may be transferred from the Connecticut FBI to the New York FBI where some of the men live.

The video below shows  a number of old photographs associated with the case including a press conference I held in Miami in January 2006 (second photo, below right).   Last summer I published a series of articles about the case: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later

Update George Smith Cruise Ship Disappearance Here is the transcript of the interview:

New details have surfaced in the disappearance of George Smith who vanished from his honeymoon cruise in 2005. Greenwich magazine's Cristin Marandino discusses the case with MSNBC's Thomas Roberts.

"There is some new information about to talk about in the case of a Connecticut man lost at sea on his honeymoon. it happened seven years ago. you'll probably remember that George Smith went overboard while on his honeymoon in 2005. The FBI investigation into his death is still open.

Greenwich Magazine has exclusive details about new evidence that may lead to an arrest.  Explain to all of us -- you said yourself this is a story with a lot of twists and turns.  What's the new evidence that may lead to an arrest?

Well, good morning.  There is a bunch of new evidence going on here.  One of the probably biggest and most exciting pieces that really is going to hopefully help push this case forward is the existence of a videotape that is in the possession of the FBI. On that videotape there are certain individuals that make very self incriminating statements following the death of George Smith.

Cristin, when you talk about videotape, this is not surveillance video from the actual ship. This is something shot after the event itself?

No, that is correct.  This is a videotape that the gentlemen made of themselves. And in their room, sort of passing around a flip phone.

So lots of people remember this. This was a beautiful young couple on their honeymoon. This was such a horrific incident. there was, you know, correlations, though, or kind of scandalous questions brought up about what this couple was doing that night, how much both parties had been drinking, and things trying to make them look somehow as if he deserved this in some way, shape, or form.  The family has disputed that.  The wife has moved on. even gotten a settlement.  How is the family responding to this new information that you're working on?

The family is obviously thrilled about this new information, and they have been working very carefully with a Greenwich based attorney, Mike Jones, who in large part has been responsible for helping to push this forward and making sure that this evidence does get into the right hands, which now it has. and, yeah, there's been a lot of misconceptions, a lot of in inconsistency with this case.  And i think Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker - Cruise Ship Crimethat's what we tried to do and why we tried to get in the game at this point, put all of that stuff to rest, and really start talking about what did happen and helping to put the pieces of the puzzle together. And, you know, exonerate the people that should be exonerated and put a little bit of a light on people who maybe should be looked at more closely.

When you talk about the family, explain the relationship between George Smith 's parents and his wife.

At this point, I think everybody's sort of moved on. I think it's, you know, as you said, Jennifer has moved on.  She is also living in Connecticut. I don't -- you know, i think they are just living their own lives.

if you were to guess, hazard a guess as to when we may hear of an arrest or arrests are made, what timetable would you suggest?

I really at this point don't know.  And the people that i have spoken with, the hope is that because of this tape, and because of the fact that they are trying to get the case transferred from the Connecticut FBI to the New York FBI, which is a good sign on a lot of levels.  One, it shows that two of the targets that they are looking at do indeed live in New York. So it shows they are trying to push it forward in that way.  And that this tape is out there, and the information is out there that this tape exists. so hopefully, you know, i would say hopefully soon.

It's certainly a case that gripped the attention of the American people. And i can imagine for the Smith family, it will be nice if they can find some forward motion and see justice in all of this. But we'll continue to watch. Cristin, thank you for your coverage this morning." 

Watch the video below. If you don't subscribe to Greenwich Magazine, read the first part of the article "Mystery at Sea" here.

  

 

Overboard Carnival Spirit Cruise Passenger Rescued

Last evening, a member of Cruise Critic commented that his father was sailing on the Carnival Spirit to Hawaii and texted him that a passenger went overboard in the Pacific.

Another passenger on board the cruise ship posted this comment:

They announced a Bravo Bravo about 45 mins ago. They then came on and announced it was a passenger that went over and we were circling around to look for them. Another announcement came that we were heading straight for them and were about two miles out. They asked everyone to look out for the passenger. Finally, a life boat went out and they announced the passenger was alright and in "Good Condition."

Some cruisers on the message board suggest that the passenger jumped from the Serenity deck, as ironic as that may be.

Great news the passenger was quickly rescued.

Rescue of overboard passengers and crew is relatively uncommon.  Last year in June, a passenger from the Norwegian Spirit cruise ship was rescued near New Orleans after going overboard into the Mississippi River en route to a seven day Western Caribbean cruise.  One of the most dramatic rescues occurred last October when a passenger went overboard from the P & O Ventura, in the dark, in the middle of the Atlantic, and yet was rescued.  Read: A Miracle In Dark Waters

If anyone has photos or video of this latest rescue, please leave a comment below. 

Carnival's statement is below:

STATEMENT REGARDING CARNIVAL SPIRIT
April 17, 2012 – 10:35 a.m. EDT

Yesterday, while the Carnival Spirit was en route to Hawaii, a 28-year-old man was witnessed jumping overboard. Search and rescue operations were initiated and the guest was located and brought back on board where he was treated at the ship’s medical center.

Carnival’s CareTeam is providing its support to the guest and his family.

Carnival Spirit is currently sailing on a 15-day Hawaii cruise that departed San Diego on April 13 and will return to San Diego on April 28.

###

Passenger Missing From Condor Rapide Fast Ferry

Numerous news sources in the UK are reporting that a passenger is missing overboard from a high speed ferry this afternoon in England. 

The passenger was aboard the Condor Rapide Fast Ferry, which was en route from Guernsey to Poole in Dorset. The ferry's crew raised the alarm at 5.35 PM, British time.

The Guardian newspaper reports that British and French coastguard, as well as lifeboats from Weymouth and Alderney and a search plane from the Channel Islands, are searching the route of the Condor Rapide Fast Ferry - Passenger Overboardferry to find the missing passenger, according to the HM Coastguard.

A spokesman for Condor Ferries said: "At 5.35pm today crew were made aware of a possible missing person situation onboard Condor Rapide.

"The captain raised a Pan Pan with the coastguard and a full search was conducted of the vessel.

"The passenger was unable to be found and the Pan Pan was upgraded to a Mayday."

Other newspaper are reporting that several helicopters are also involved in the search.

The passenger is a woman.  Her name has not been released.

 

Photo credit:  Condor Rapide Fast Ferry via Guardian

What Happened to Fariba Amani Aboard the Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship?

The family of a Canadian passenger who vanished during a cruise between the Bahamas and Florida last week continue to seek information about the disappearance.

Fariba Amani, age 47, from Vancouver, was cruising aboard the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship operated by the Celebration Cruise Lines.  In a prior article, we explained that Ms. Amani was cruising with her boyfriend, now identified as Ramiz Golshani, also from Vancouver, when she disappeared.

The story mentioned in the press is that Mr. Golshani allegedly last saw Ms. Amani around 1:00 AM on February 29th in the cruise ship's gift show and then re retired to the couple's cabin to go to sleep.  He awoke the following morning and she was not in the cabin.  

After looking for her on the ship as it approached port in Palm Beach, Mr. Golshani notified the cruise ship personnel.  At this time, the cruise ship was docking and the passengers disembarked without being interviewed by either the local police or the FBI.   

Fariba Amani - Bahamas Celebration Disappearance

Canadian television has a video interview of Ms. Amani's sister who describes Ms. Amani's relationship with her boyfriend as rocky.     

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein tracks people missing from cruise ships on his website.  179 people have gone overboard since 2000.

If you have information about this latest cruise disappearance, please leave a message below.  

 

Photo credit: iranto.ca

Congress Studies Cruise Ship Safety While Passenger Disappears From Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship

While the U.S. Congress addressed the safety of the foreign flagged cruise industry today in Washington D.C., a passenger disappeared from a cruise ship sailing between the Bahamas and Florida.

ABC News reports this evening that a Canadian woman in her 40's disappeared during a Celebration line cruise aboard the Bahamas Celebration between the Grand Bahama island and Florida.  The woman was reported missing by her boyfriend at 8 AM this morning.  He told the police and FBI that he last saw his girlfriend at the cruise ship's gift shop before heading to the casino at around 1 AM and then retiring to their cabin to sleep

Missing Passenger Bahamas Celebration After the cruise ship docked at the Port of Palm Beach at 7 AM, he awoke and and searched the ship but could not find her.  At around 8 AM, the ship's crew and Coast Guard searched the cruise without success. 

According to ABC, the Coast Guard believes the woman was on the ship when it left Freeport at around 8 PM Tuesday night, because every passenger must swipe a card to get on the cruise ship.

The issue of cruise passengers and crew who "disappear" during cruises is a problem which the cruise industry has failed to adequately address. 

Australia's popular television program Dateline aired a cruise special today about missing passengers & crewmembers and crime at sea.

Well over 150 passengers and crew have disappeared from cruise ships over the last decade.

The cruise industry claims that it has an "incredibly safe" record.  

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

Update: The passenger has been identified as Fariba Amani from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Carnival Cruise Crewmember Goes Overboard - Did He Slip or Jump?

There are conflicting reports regarding why a Carnival cruise employee ended up overboard yesterday about a 100 miles south of Galveston. The crewmember was employed on the Carnival Magic cruise ship and went overboard while the cruise ship was underway around 10:30 PM Saturday night. The ship called the U.S. Coast Guard, but the ship's crew rescued the crewman before the Coast Guard could arrive. 

A news station in Galveston was on of the first to report on the overboard situation. The station indicates that the cruise line indicated that the employee was working on the deck when he slipped over the railing. Other news sources indicate that he was wearing a life vest when he fell.  If these accounts are correct, my speculation is that perhaps the crewmember was working for some reason Carnival Magic Cruise Ship - Man Overboard - Crewmemberon or near the railing and had not properly attached his safety harness.      

Subsequent accounts, however, suggest that the crewmember "jumped."  A second news source in Galveston quotes the cruise line saying that at about 10:53 p.m. on Saturday, the crewmember “was witnessed jumping overboard.” 

In over 25 years of practicing maritime law, I have never heard a cruise line admit that a crewmember or passenger went overboard due to an accident or foul play.  If a cruise line is going to say anything, it will always be that the person intentionally jumped overboard.  In other words, its their fault.

Perhaps the crewmember did jump.  I don't know.  But if he was working and wearing a life vest, why would he decide to jump?

The good news is that he was rescued and is alive.  But it's disturbing to have such varying accounts of the incident.

The Magic returns to Galveston today.  Does anyone who sailed on the Carnival ship know what really happened?  Please leave a comment below.

Family of Overboard Passenger From Allure of the Seas Asks Public For Information

A blogger of international news at the Examiner, Edward Owens, published an interesting article today regarding the disappearance of a passenger from Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas cruise ship.  

You will recall that last week, Irish cruise passenger Kenneth John Gemmell went overboard from the balcony of his cabin on the eleventh deck of the Allure cruise ship.  The initial reports stated that he "fell," although the cruise line was quick to issue a statement that a review of the ship's closed circuit television cameras eventually indicated that the passenger "intentionally" went over the railing.

We reported on the incident on February 3rd and have been updating the story since then.

Did Royal Caribbean Send A Crewmember Home After The Incident?

Kenneth John Gemmell - Allure of the Seas - MissingMr. Owen's article contains a new twist, perhaps, to the incident.   Mr. Gemmell may have argued with a Royal Caribbean crewmember at some point before he went overboard.  The crewmember then allegedly left the vessel in Cozumel.  Mr. Owens writes:    

The family says that some information has already come their way. One party told them that Kenneth may have been arguing with a ship's crew member (perhaps a bartender) in one of the bars late Thursday night or early Friday morning. They were also told that the crew member, a man they understood was sharing a room with a Canadian citizen, left the ship in Cozumel. 

Is this gossip or accurate information?  If this is true, then the crewmember would have been removed from the cruise ship before the law enforcement authorities or representative of the flag state (Bahamas) boarded the cruise ship when it returned to port in Fort Lauderdale two days later.   If you know anything about this, please leave a comment below and contact the family.

Family Seeks Information

Mr. Gemmell's family is seeking answers to the circumstances surrounding their son's death.  The article states that they are issuing an appeal to anyone on board the ship who might have met their son during the cruise.  They especially wish to hear from the passenger who witnessed him going overboard. 

Anyone who has information about this tragedy is asked to email the family spokesperson at the following email address: michael@mhynes.com 

 

Story credit:  Examiner

Photo credit:  Kenneth John Gemmell - Anglo Celt newspaper

Passenger Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas

Allure of the Seas OverboardThe AP is reporting that a Irish cruise ship passenger went overboard from the Allure of the Seas, which is the world's largest cruise ship cruise ship.

(Update: If you are searching for the overboard involving a twenty-one (21) year old woman from Bartlett Tennessee who disappeared on September 16, 2012 from the Allure, click here.)

Royal Caribbean states that another passenger allegedly saw the British passenger, age 30, go over the railing from his stateroom on the Allure.  The cruise line then apparently verified the overboard by viewing images from closed circuit television.  

The incident occurred as the cruise ship was heading to Cozumel.  Announcements were made around 6:45 AM.  The cruise ship then stopped off the coast of Mexico near Cozumel. and participated in a brief search.  The ship was to depart tonight at 8:00 PM tonight and was scheduled to be at sea tomorrow, with a return to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday.

There are rumors that the passenger may have left a suicide note and then stepped on a table and went overboard.

The last British citizen who disappeared in international waters near Mexico is Rebecca Coriam, a Disney cruise member employed as a youth counselor aboard the Disney Wonder.    

The last reported incident aboard the Allure of the Seas involved multiple rapes earlier last month

The cruise ship was under charter by Atlantis, which hosts parties for the gay and lesbian community.  The Allure had sailed from South Florida on January 29, 2012 to Labadee Haiti, Costa Maya Mexico, and then to Cozumel. 

In the past, the Atlantis - Royal Caribbean cruises have been marred by controversy, with drug overdoses, suicide, and a travel agent busted for selling drugs (arrested with 142 ecstasy pills, 3 grams of methamphetamine, ketamine and about $51,000 in cash).  You can read about these incidents below.

One year ago:  Passenger Busted for Selling Drugs on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas

Two years ago:  Another Death on a Royal Caribbean - Atlantis Cruise

Three years ago: GLAAD Board Member Dies Aboard Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas

And don't forget to read:  Is Royal Caribbean Ready for Medical Emergencies During the World's Largest Gay Cruise?

Does anyone know what happened on this latest Atlantis cruise party?

 

Allure of the Seas Atlantis Cruise

 

Photo credit:  Atlantis Events

Drunk Passenger Goes Overboard From MSC Poesia During Jam Cruise

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

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

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

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

Jam Cruises always seem to involve some type of controversy.     

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

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

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

Crewmember Overboard From Royal Caribean's Monarch of the Seas Cruise Ship

We have been contacted by several different individuals today inquiring into the facts and circumstances surrounding a crewmember going overboard from the Monarch of the Seas cruise ship.

We are informed that the overboard involved a crewmember from India.  No other information is known at this time.  The cruise ship is in Nassau today and was in CoCo Cay yesterday.  There are no news outlets reporting on this incident so far.

Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas - OverboardRoyal Caribbean / Celebrity cruise ships have seen the most overboards over the course of the last 2 years.

On December 27, 2011 we reported on a Celebrity crewmember's disappearance - Celebrity Crewmember Missing From Summit Cruise Ship.  Here are other recent stories:

Another Celebrity Crewmember Goes Overboard

Crew Member Goes Overboard from Celebrity Constellation Cruise Ship

Crew Member Missing from the Grandeur of the Seas - Why Are So Many People Disappearing From Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships?

Another Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship? - Oasis of the Seas

Crew Member Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas

"Man Overboard" Reported on Radiance of the Seas

Asleep At the Wheel: What Does the Delayed Reporting of Neha Chhikara's Disappearance from the Monarch of the Seas Reveal About Royal Caribbean's Shipboard Security?

Wife of Royal Caribbean Crew Member on Monarch of the Seas Goes OverBoard

The last two articles involve a wife of an Indian crewmember going overboard from the Monarch of the Seas. 

The last time the Monarch of the Seas was in the news was when it failed a CDC inspection in November - Dirty Dishes & Fruit Flies Flourish on Royal Caribbean's Oldest Cruise Ship

Does anyone have information about this latest crew overboard?   If so, please leave a comment below.

January 12, 2012 Update:

DIS, the "Internet's largest unofficial on-line guide to Disney Cruises," contains the following information:

This report is coming live from the Disney Dream.  An unknown Carnival Cruise Line ship and Coast Guard helicopters are currently next to the Dream helping with a search for a man overboard from the Monarch of the Seas.  On schedule today for the Dream is a day at sea, but overnight, guests began noticing unusual movement from the ship.  Guests later learned that the ship had docked at Nassau overnight, but weren't sure why.  An officer from the Dream made an announcement overhead at 9:00 am alerting guests of the situation.  This is the first official notification passengers have received; if any news-worthy updates are given, this story will be updated.

Disappearance of George Smith Update: Do You Have Information About Gregory Rozenberg?

Gregory Rozenberg - George Smith - Cruise DisappearanceThis weekend saw a renewed interest of the public into the disappearance of cruise passenger George Smith with the airing of a "update" of the unsolved case by Dateline NBC called "Overboard."

The Dateline program focused on the four men last seen with Mr. Smith: Gregory Rozenberg, Zachary Rozenberg, Rostislav ("Rusty") Kofman, and Josh Askin.  These four cruise passengers were in Mr. Smith's cabin after 4:00 AM in the morning shortly before Mr. Smith went overboard. 

Although Dateline suggested there is a new focus by the FBI on these four passengers, the truth of the matter is that the FBI focused on these four shortly after Mr. Smith's death in July 2005 - over six and one-half years ago.

Many news sources, including the New York Post, are reporting that the "Russians" (the two Rozenberg brothers and Rostislav Kofman) all reside in New York and allegedly are now subject to the scrutiny of the FBI "mafia team" in New York.  Hogwash.  Greg Rozenberg lived in South Florida (Boca Raton) for years.  He has spent years in a prison in Florida.  He now lives in Dade City, Florida.

Greg Rozenberg has been arrested multiple times in Florida for various alleged offenses ranging from driving with a suspended license to possession of cannabis to trafficking oxycodone.  His mug shots are readily available on line, including the one below taken in 2009.  

The Dateline show showed snippets from the deposition of Mr. Rozenberg which was taken by one of the lawyers for the Smith family while Mr. Rozenberg was in jail in Florida.  My impression of the Gregory Rozenberg - George Smith - Cruise Disappearancecomplete deposition is that the Smith family's lawyer did his best to try and lead inmate Rozenberg to testify against Mr. Smith's wife, Jennifer Hagel.  To see a lawyer for the Smith family try and lead a felon into implicating a completely innocent widow is one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen. 

Jennifer Hagel passsed a FBI polygraph in 2005.  The FBI never considered her a suspect in her husband's death.   

You can watch parts of the video deposition of Greg Rosenberg shown on dateline here.

We will show other portions of the two hour Rozenberg deposition, and explain why that deposition was taken, in another article.

Do you have information about Greg Rozenberg, or fellow cruise passengers Zach Rosenberg, Rusty Kofman and Josh Askin, which may provide answers to solve the George Smith case?

 

Photo credits:

Top:  Greg Rozenberg's Facebook

Bottom:  Palm Beach Sheriff's Office 

Man Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas Cruise Ship?

This evening we received inquiries for information whether there was a "man overboard" from Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas cruise ship.  

The last time we received such direct inquiries was last Sunday when we received emails asking us whether a crew member went overboard from the Celebrity Summit cruise ship.  We did not have any information.  But two days later the U.S. Coast Guard issued a press release indicating that that a 30 year crewmember went overboard.  The Coast Guard's statement contained the cruise line's statement that the crewmember allegedly "jumped" but it is less than clear what happened.

Does anyone have information whether there was a passenger or crew member overboard from the Radiance?  We are informed that the cruise ship is sailing from Sydney at the moment. 

According to our records, the last overboard situation on the Radiance of the Seas occurred in March 2010.  it involved a crewmember and can be read here

If anyone sailing on the Radiance has information, please leave a comment below. 

We hope that this is a false alarm and 2012 finds all of the crew and passengers safe and sound.

January 2, 2012 Update:  See passenger comment below:

Mickey Mouse Games: Is Disney Cruise Line Engaged In A Cover-Up On The Disney Wonder?

When I think of Disney Cruise Lines these days, the popular saying "the cover up is always worse that the crime" comes to mind.

I'm sure that I am not the only one who thinks that.  Disney Cruise Lines's conduct over the last nine months after the unexplained disappearance of Disney youth counselor, Rebecca Coriam, has a number of people questioning Disney's moral compass.

Just the other week, the Liverpool Daily Post blasted the headline "Shipping Minister Mike Penning Attacks Disney Over Missing Cruise Ship Worker Rebecca Coriam."  The head of the U.K.'s Rebecca Coriam - Disappearance - Disney Wonder Cruise Shipshipping ministry remarked that Disney is "more interested in getting the ship back to sea than in investigating the case of the missing member of their crew."

Stephen Mosley, the MP of the city of Chester in England, where Rebecca is from, condemned the so-called investigation after young Rebecca's disappearance as "appalling."

Perhaps the most insightful, and damning, look at Disney Cruise Line's corporate culture is from an article by noted reporter Jon Ronson in the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper.   Mr. Ronson's investigative report, 'Lost at Sea," is a must read if you are interested in the culture of a feel good corporation like Disney which chooses obfuscation rather than transparency and cover-up over truth to protect its brand. 

Mr. Ronson, a journalist, documentary filmmaker, and the best selling author of "Them" and "The Men Who Stare at Goats," took a cruise last month aboard the Disney Wonder to take a hard look at the cruise line and cruise ship which are at the center of the mystery surrounding Ms. Coriam.

He quickly learned that the crewmembers on the cruise ship, although trained to maintain a happy I-don't-know-what-you-are-talking-about disposition, apparently all knew where Ms. Coriam went overboard - the front of deck 5, at the crew pool.

"Disney knows exactly what happened," one crew member told Mr. Ronson.  Referring to a telephone call Ms. Coriam had on the morning in question, the crewmember said: "It was taped.  Everything here is taped.  There's CCTV everywhere.  Disney have the tape."

Mr. Ronson also learned that Disney put flowers at the wall next to the crew pool, although it refused to answer any questions why - leading many crewmembers to become convinced that Disney knows what happened but is not telling anyone.

Disney Wonder Crew Pool There is also the issue of a pair of flip-flops, found on a deck on the morning at issue.  Instead of securing them as evidence and conducting forensic testing to determine whether there was any connection to Ms. Coriam, Disney instead placed them in her cabin when her parents got on board.    

But family members and friends rejected the connection between the sandals and Ms. Coriam, finding them too big and not her style.  Rebecca's cabin mate, her intimate friend and other crewmembers were never asked to identify the flip-flops.  Instead, it was as if Disney wanted Rebecca's family to conclude that she must have slipped the sandals off before she voluntarily went overboard - even if it meant spoliating the evidence by moving the sandals from the open deck into her cabin, after-the-fact. 

The article raises also the basic question of how someone can go overboard from the cruise ship without the CCTV cameras capturing the event.  If Rebecca really went overboard at deck 5 by the crew pool, a crewmember confided: "there's HR offices, the crew gym, the crew office that deals with passports, money, documentation.  And they're saying there's no CCTV cameras?"

If Rebecca really went overboard at this location, it means that it occurred right below the bridge. 

There is something not quite right on the Disney Wonder.  If Disney knows why Rebecca went overboard, her family deserves to know the truth.

The Coriam family does not deserve Mickey Mouse games. 

 

Photo credit: 

Top - Guardian newspaper

Bottom  - davidstauffer.com

Life In Jail For Cruise Passenger Who Threw Wife Overboard

Yesterday, a jury convicted a Chinese passenger of murder after finding that he threw his wife off a cruise ship.   

The Standard newspaper in Hong Kong reports that Wang Weile, age 49, shook his head in disbelief when the seven member jury returned its guilty verdict.  The judge then sentenced him to life imprisonment.

Charlie Chan's Murder CruiseAs we reported in our article about this bizarre crime earlier this week - Sea Burial or Cruise Murder? - the cruise passenger claimed that he accidentally injured his wife while trying to keep her from committing suicide.  When she lost consciousness, he thought that she was dead. 

Wang claims that he suddenly remembered that she wanted a burial at sea.  He then pitched her overboard to honor her wishes.

The couple have a nine year old child.  

However when he took the stand at trial, he retracted the "sea burial" story.  He admitted being partially responsible for his wife's injuries, explaining that he struggled with her after she asked him to leave her alone and find another woman.

He also alleged his wife wanted to borrow 400,000 yuan (around $63,00) for her niece's business.

The incident occurred on the Macau Success, a casino cruise ship, while it was in Hong Kong waters.

As bizarre as Wang's defense sounds, the guilty verdict was not unanimous. 

One juror voted to acquit Wang.

Sea Burial or Cruise Murder?

What do you do if you accidentally knock your wife unconscious when she tries to commit suicide on a cruise?  Do you throw her overboard after suddenly remembering that she wanted to be buried at sea?

Yes, pretty far fetched.  But that is exactly the defense offered in a criminal trial against a Chinese cruise passenger who is accused of murdering his wife and then pitching her overboard during a cruise aboard the Macau Success last year.  

The Standard newspaper in China explains that Wang Weilie, age 49, stands accused of murdering his wife Yang Wenjuan, age 43, during a cruise on September 24th last year.

Macau Success - Cruise Ship Murder - Passenger OverboardA cruise passenger witnessed the couple on a deck when Wang pushed Yang's head backwards towards the railing.  He rushed to notify the cruise staff but returned to find the couple gone but blood covering the deck.

Cruise security guards observed bloodstains on Wang's fingertips.  He said the injuries to his fist, chest and knee were caused during a struggle to prevent his wife from killing herself.  However, when she lost consciousness, he threw her overboard.

A post-mortem examination found bruises, abrasions and a broken arm.  A pathologist concluded Yang "died of drowning after sustaining significant but otherwise non-fatal injuries."

According to an article published last year, the couple have a nine year old son.

The bizarre story reminds me of the violent death of cruise passenger Karen Roston whose husband threw her overboard on the last night of her honeymoon cruise from the Sundancer cruise ship operated by Admiral Cruises of Miami.  Scott Roston concocted a story that high winds blew her overboard as she ran on the jogging track on an upper deck.  But evidence introduced at his criminal trial indicated that the winds were just 4 - 5 mph. 

FBI agents found Ms. Roston's hair embedded in the rubberized jogging track along with a broken earring matching one she was wearing in a photograph taken at a shipboard dinner.  Her husband was observed with scratches on his face after her disappearance.  A medical examiner concluded from an autopsy that Ms. Roston had been strangled and then thrown overboard . . .

 

Photo credit:    shipphotos.com.au

Disappearance of Disney Cruise Line Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam Reveals Indifference of Foreign Flag State

Today the case of missing Disney Cruise Line youth counselor Rebecca Coriam is again in the news as a MP from her hometown of Cheshire England spoke before the House of Commons.

You will recall that last March, Ms. Coriam "disappeared" from the Disney Wonder as the cruise ship was sailing a Los Angeles - Mexico cruise itinerary. 

How could a young woman, especially one who is charged with taking care of children, simply vanish during a cruise? 

Disney Cruise Lines - Rebecca Coriam - Disney WonderThe disturbing incident raises serious questions regarding not only the safety and security of the passengers and crew on foreign flagged ships but whether there are acceptable systems in place to conduct objective and aggressive investigations into such incidents.

Because the Wonder is flagged in the Bahamas, the Bahamas has the responsibility to investigate Ms. Coriam's disappearance.   This is so even though the cruise ship was based in Los Angeles, and her employer (Magical Cruise Company, Ltd.) is incorporated in the U.K.

In this case this means that a single policeman from Nassau flew to Los Angeles.  Only one policeman from the Bahamas was responsible for conducting a forensic investigation and interviewing the thousands of passengers and crew on the cruise ship once it returned to Los Angeles. 

The local FBI offices in Los Angeles have literally dozens of FBI agents and forensic experts and were readily available to meet the ship at the port.  But they were not invited to become involved, either by the Bahamas or at the urging of the Disney cruise line.

The BBC published an article today about the dilemma.  MP Stephen Mosley asked the House of Commons: "How could we have allowed this to happen to a British citizen?"

Mr Mosley warned people on cruises were not covered by British laws in cases of disappearance, theft or sexual assault at sea.  He said:

"We have the disappearance of a young English woman hired by an English corporation to sail on a cruise ship out of a US port and yet not a single British or American police or forensic team went on board the cruise ship in the days following her disappearance."

Rebecca's parents, Mike and Ann Coriam, are working to change in the law to allow British authorities to investigate cases when British nationals go missing on vessels registered in places like the Bahamas.

 

Do you know what happened to Rebecca?  Please contact her family:

Email:  help@rebecca-coriam.com
Coriam Family:  07747359968
Media Spokesman:  07932815970

You can read our articles about this case here.

A Miracle in Dark Waters - P & O Cruises Passenger Rescued from Middle of Atlantic Ocean

Passenger Overboard - P O Cruises Ventura Cruise ShipWhile the P & O Cruises Ventura cruise ship sailed from Southampton to the Caribbean, a passenger went overboard.

Falling into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean at night should be the beginning and the end of the story.  But this passenger overboard story is different from the many other cases we have discussed before.    

The Mail Online newspaper in the U.K. reports that passengers on the cruise ship "were woken by a huge lurch in darkness at 5:30 AM, while horns sounded . . . "  Life rings were thrown out and lifeboats were deployed.  The overboard passenger was pulled aboard a lifeboat and, once aboard the cruise ship, he was sent to the ship infirmary to recover.

There is no explanation regarding what happened.

The newspaper quotes another passenger, Julie Lourens, saying  ‘It has all been very dramatic. It was pitch black. This guy is so, so lucky."

 

Were you on this cruise?  Do you have information to share?  Please leave a comment below. 

Photo Credit:  Mail Online

Update on Disappearance of Princess Cruises Chef Angelo Faliva

The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera contains an interesting update today on the mysterious disappearance of a young Italian chef from a Princess Cruises cruise ship in November 2009.

The story involves Angelo Faliva, a chef from Cremona Italy who was employed by Princess Cruises aboard the Coral Princess.  Mr. Faliva was last seen working in the Sabatini's restaurant on November 25, 2009.  Although his work shift did not end until 10:00 PM, and he essentially disappeared around 8:15 PM, no one sounded an alarm until the following day.

Angelo Faliva - Princess Cruises - Coral Princess - MissingThe cruise ship was heading toward Cartagena, Columbia while some 2,000 passengers enjoyed their dinners and the entertainment during the evening of Mr. Faliva's disappearance.  What happened to this outgoing young man?

The Italian article, "The Mystery of the Chef who Disappeared on a Cruise," touches upon some of the theories which we have discussed in prior articles.  Did Mr. Faliva observe something he should not have, such as drug trafficking?  Certainly there is nothing about this handsome out-going man to suggest that suicide is a reasonable explanation.

The article contains some new information, such as someone logging on to Mr. Faliva's laptop after his disappearance and downloading files, printing documents and deleting e-mails.  There is also a reference to a hotel in Cartagena - Capilla del Mar - which was hand written inside of Mr. Faliva's chef hat.  This is the same hotel referenced in online research performed on Mr. Faliva's computer on the day he disappeared. 

It is now going on two years since Mr. Faliva was last seen on the Coral Princess.  There are hundreds of closed circuit television cameras on this cruise ship.  Indeed Princess is well known for its fleet-wide bridge cams and wedding cams where you can watch passengers get married on the cruise ships with remarkable clarity from the comfort of your home computer.  But when someone goes into the water?  Like other cruise lines, Princess seems to always have problems with its CCTV cameras when someone involuntarily goes over the rails. 

The article mentions that Mr. Faliva's younger sister, Chiara, is the only person genuinely motivated to search for answers.  The official "investigation" is the responsibility of Bermuda where Princess flags its cruise ships to avoid U.S. taxes and labor and safety laws.  As other families have learned dealing with foreign flagged cruise ships, the "investigation" by the flag state into shipboard crimes and disappearances is a low priority. The cruise line is indifferent.  

As the article explains, Mr. Faliva's story is " . . . segnata dall’incompetenza degli investigatori, l’insensibilità della compagnia di navigazione . . ."

 

Some crewmembers must have information about Mr. Faliva.  if you know something, please leave a tip at lawinfo@cruiselaw.com

You can read other articles about Mr. Faliva here

Body of Missing Holland America Line Passenger Found Near Prince Edward Island

HAL Maasdam Cruise Ship Missing Passenger CBC News Canada is reporting that a 75 year-old passenger from the Holland America Line MS Maasdam was reported missing by his wife shortly after 8 AM. yesterday after the HAL cruise ship docked in Charlottetown, Canada.

The Maasdam left from Montreal on Saturday on a seven-day cruise,

The newspaper states that the vessel's crew conducted a shipwide search but could not locate the passenger on the cruise ship. The Canadian Coast Guard searched the cruise ship's route but could not locate the man.

According to the newspaper, a lobster fisherman found a body around 8:30 AM. in the Northumberland Strait near western Prince Edward Island. 

The cruise line confirmed that the body was that of a passenger from the cruise ship, although the Canadian police have not yet confirmed that the body was the missing passenger.   An autopsy has been requested.

If you have information about this latest cruise overboard, please leave a message below.

October 5, 2011 Update:

The CBC News identifies the deceased passenger as William Cureton, age 75, of Port Dover, Ontario.    

Photo credit:  Robert F. Bukaty / AP  (via MSNBC)

Missing at Sea - Parents of Missing Disney Cruises Youth Counselor Discuss Disappearance of Daughter

Mike and Ann Coriam appeared on CNN International yesterday to discuss the "disappearance" of their daughter, Rebecca Coriam, from the Disney Wonder cruise ship.  Ms. Coriam worked as a youth counselor aboard the Wonder and went missing six months ago while the cruise ship was sailing a Los Angeles - Mexico itinerary. 

The Coriam family are campaigning for greater accountability of the foreign flag cruise industry.  Because Disney chose to flag its cruise ship in the Bahamas, only one police officer in Nassau is responsible for investigating Rebecca's disappearance. 

The Coriam family thanked Victim Support UK which has been providing assistance and emotional support for the family in this time of crisis.  They also thanked Ken Carver, President of the International Cruise Victims, who lost his daughter from the Celebrity Mercury cruise ship seven years ago, for his "lots of support and help."

Do you know what happened to Rebecca?  Please contact her family:

Email:  help@rebecca-coriam.com
Coriam Family:  07747359968
Media Spokesman:  07932815970

You can read our articles about this case here.

Passenger Missing From Carnival Conquest Cruise Ship

A local television station in Galveston, Texas is reporting that a 39 year old passenger is missing after going overboard from the Carnival Conquest after the cruise ship left Cozumel, Mexico. 

Carnival Conquest Cruise Ship - Overboard Passenger The incident occurred Friday evening.

ABC affiliate Channel 13 Eyewitness News' article states that  "according to a statement from Carnival Conquest, a 39-year-old male was seen jumping overboard around 6:30pm Friday while the ship was in the Gulf of Mexico, shortly after departing Cozumel."

This statement likely indicates that other passengers observed the passenger go overboard and/or ship personnel observed him jump overboard.

The article indicates that the cruise ship returned to the location where the passenger was seen going overboard in order to conduct search and rescue operations.  

Mexican vessels apparently were also in the search efforts.

The Carnival Conquest is returning to Galveston today.

This cruise ship has had passengers go overboard in the past.  In October 2006, a 48 year old woman apparently committed suicide by jumping from an upper deck.  You can read about that incident here.  Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website mentions another incident in November 2006 when a 42 year old passenger fell/jumped from his cabin and was not found. 

Professor Klein's website lists 167 incidents (not including this one) where passengers and crew have gone overboard from cruise ships in the last 10 years.  

Were you on the cruise?  Do you have information, or photos or video of the rescue attempts, to share?  Please leave a comment below.  

September 24, 2011 Update:

The passenger has been identified as Clint Wayne Markham of Forney, Texas.

The Carnival cruise ship captain, Antonio Sammartano, sent a letter to the passengers stating:

“We’re sorry to say that at this time, the missing guest has not been located. However, the Mexican navy remains on site and continues with the search.  We continue to provide support to his family and friends during this difficult time.  We ask that you please continue to join us in keeping them in your thoughts and prayers."

A Fox News station in Dallas has accounts from friends and family of Mr. Markham that he was a fine son, father and husband and that he would not have voluntarily gone overboard.  He apparently sailed on cruises every year to celebrate his birthday.  He would have been 40 years old today.   

 

Photo credit:

Wikipedia/Wikimedia Klobetime

Another Passenger Disappears from Fred Olsen "Balmoral" Cruise Ship

Mail Online in the U.K. is reporting on the disappearance of what is described as an "elderly" passenger who was traveling alone on the Balmoral cruise ship operated by Fred Olsen Lines.

The story made the news when the cruise ship returned to the port of Southampton after an eight day cruise in the Norwegian fjords.  Around 1,000 passengers were detained on the cruise ship while authorities showed photographs of the missing passenger and questioned them whether Balmoral Cruise Ship - Missing Passenger - Overboardthey had any knowledge about the passenger.

The detaining of passengers is somewhat unusual because most cruise lines and investigating agencies let the passengers disembark without ever questioning them.

The newspaper article indicated that the passenger was in his late 70's or early 80's and also referenced a "note which was discovered by a cabin stewardess."

The passenger was apparently last seen around 9:00 PM on Sunday night, and was discovered missing yesterday morning.

Does the presence of a "note" and the fact that the passenger was elderly suggest that he committed suicide?  I don't know.  What is the height of the rails?  Was he over-served alcohol?  Where are the CCTV images if the passenger went overboard, voluntarily or involuntarily?

We reported on the disappearance of an eighty year old passenger last year from the Balmoral, without explanation.  Did the cruise line improve its CCTV capacities following that incident?

This incident occurred as the parents of missing Disney Cruise youth counselor Rebecca Coriam appealed to the U.K. Shipping Minister to introduce tougher laws to protect British citizens from crimes at sea, as we mentioned in an article yesterday.

Last year, the Balmoral was dubbed the "Cursed Cruise Ship of the High Seas" following a series of norovirus bouts which sickened hundred of passengers and crew.  The Balmoral also narrowly averted disaster when it was attacked by pirates last year.   

Overboard Cruise Passenger Rescued

Princess Seaways RescueNews sources in the U.K. are reporting on the dramatic rescue of a 23 year old passenger who fell from what is being described as a cruise ferry which was heading from England to the Netherlands. 

The incident reportedly occurred, according to the Whitley Gazette, on Monday night around 9:00 PM when the young woman trying to light a cigarette near a railing.

The ship in question is the Princess Seaways which, according to the Journal Live in the U.K., was built in 1986  and is a "large cruise ferry," subsequently renovated in 2006, with the capacity for 580 cars and can more than 1,500 passengers."  

The passenger was in the water for thirty minutes.  The ship turned around and the crew rescued her and she was evaluated by the ship doctor.  

A RAF helicopter then transported the lucky passenger back to England where she was checked for hypothermia.  The video below shows the helicopter hoisting the young woman from the deck of the ferry.  

Don't you wish that all overboards turned out like this? 

September 8, 2011 Update:  Mail Online in the U.K. has identifed the young woman as Ms. Jeni Anderson from Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, who was celebrating her graduation from Northumbria University. The newspaper quotes her as being "very, very lucky."


 

 
 
Video credit:  RAF via YouTube SpecialAgent08
 
Photo credit: Mail Online

 

Cruisemates Misses the Boat Regarding Overboard Passengers

Yesterday, Paul Motter's popular online cruise community "Cruisemates" published an interesting article entitled "Mainstream Media Stupidity over Cruising."  The article is about the weird and sad story of an irate and perhaps drunk father throwing his 7 year old son overboard during a cruise around a harbor in Southern California on a sight-seeing boat.   

Cruisemates was upset that most of the stories carried headlines that the incident occurred aboard a "cruise ship" as opposed to a tour boat. 

I was initially sympathetic to Cruisemates' plight.  Most media reports characterized the tour boat as a "cruise ship" when in fact the overboard incident occurred on a little 100 passenger tub cruising around the harbor.    

I was one of the first to blog and tweet about the bizarre story about the dad who pitched his crying 7 year old son over the rails and into the water (the child was rescued and is physically okay).  I was careful not to label it as a "cruise ship" incident.  And I also offered my perspective that I have never heard of a child ever being thrown from a cruise ship, or any other type ship, for that matter.  

But Cruisemates then went overboard in its defense of the cruise industry.  Passenger safety is a touchy issues for Cruisemates.  When the cruise lines were under siege in a series of U.S. Congressional hearings over the past many years inquiring into the disappearance of passengers on cruise ships, Cruisemates was on the front line defending the cruise industry in the media.  Every single overboard incident, according to Cruisemates, was a suicide or due to drunken recklessness.

Cruisemates's unequivocal defense of the cruise industry has been unwavering, but has left it blind as a bat.  Cruisemates writes yesterday:

"There is absolutely NO documented crime where a person, dead or alive, was ever thrown off of a cruise ship, and I expect the news media to know and respect that fact."

The family of Karen W. Roston may tend to disagree with this statement. 

Ms. Roston was 26 years old when she went overboard on the last night of her honeymoon cruise Scott Roston - Karen Roston - Murder - Cruise Ship Overboardfrom the Sundancer cruise ship operated by Admiral Cruises of  Miami.  Her husband, Scott Roston (photo right), claimed that high winds blew her overboard as she ran on the jogging track on an upper deck.  But evidence introduced at his criminal trial indicated that the winds were just 4 - 5 mph.

An article in the LA Times explained that investigating FBI agents found Ms. Roston's hair embedded in the rubberized jogging track along with a broken earring matching one she was wearing in a photograph taken at a shipboard dinner.  Mr. Roston was observed with scratches on his face after her disappearance.  A medical examiner concluded from an autopsy that Ms. Roston had been strangled.  Mr. Roston was tried for murder.  The prosecutor stated "she was strangled and then thrown overboard . . . " 

A jury convicted Mr. Roston of murder.  An appellate court affirmed his conviction in the case of United States v. Roston, 986 F.2d 1287 (9th Cir. 1992).  In affirming the murder conviction, the court noted: 

Here, there was evidence of a substantial struggle.  Parts of the decedent's earrings and remnants of her hair were found on the deck 11 1/2 feet from the railing where she went overboard.  The injury to her forehead was consistent with the prosecution's theory that her head had been smashed against the deck of the ship.  The hemorrhaging and bone warping in her neck indicated she had been strangled.  The cumulative effect of this evidence suggests that the decedent's assailant, over the course of a fairly prolonged struggle, intended to kill her.  Moreover, the killing process continued beyond the struggle and strangling.  The decedent was not dead, but only unconscious when she was pushed or thrown into the ocean.    

Cruisemates' claim that there is no documented crime where a person was thrown off of a cruise ship is false.  Its claim is disrespectful to the families of loved ones like Ms. Roston, and others thrown overboard from cruise ships.  

 

Photo credit:  AmericanTribune.org

Passenger Throws 7 Year Old Son Overboard

Pavillion Queen - Sloane Briles - Overboard SonMultiple news sources are reporting that a passenger threw his 7 year old son overboard from the Pavillion Queen, which is being referred to as either a cruise ship or sight seeing boat.

The incident occurred yesterday afternoon, when Sloane Briles, age 35, was sailing on a sight seeing cruise in Newport  Harbor, California with his girlfriend and two sons, ages 7 and 6.

According to news sources, Briles began arguing with his girlfriend and struck his older boy and then threw him overboard.

NBC LA reports that the boy was pulled from the water and onto a nearby boat, according to  Orange County Sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office arrested Briles for child endangerment and resisting arrest.  He was released after posting bond. 

Briles' facebook page indicates that Briles was in the U.S. Marine Corps for 5 years from 1995 to 2000.

This is the first time I have ever heard of a child being thrown overboard.  This is why I have a section in this blog called "Weird Cruise News."

 

Photo credit:  LA Sheriff's Office via NBC LA 

"Man Overboard - Inside the Honeymoon Cruise Murder"

Man Overboard - George Smith - Cruise CrimeThis week I received a copy of a paperback book about the disappearance of George Smith IV during his honeymoon cruise on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas in July 2005.

The book is written by a reporter from the Greenwich Post, Joan Lownds, who covered the story from the beginning. 

The back cover of the book promises "the inside story of America's most notorious murder cases that shook the cruise industry to the core."   Although I have always opined that the case probably involved foul play, there is no explanation in the book regarding who, how or why someone allegedly murdered Mr. Smith.

"Man Overboard" contains a good history of the series of Congressional hearings from 2005 - 2010 into the issue of cruise ship crime.

The book also discusses many of the stories of members of the International Cruise Victims organization (ICV), as well as the cases of firm clients Laurie Dishman, Lynette Hudson and Janet Kelly.  

Disappearance from Celebrity Century Cruise Ship - Rest in Peace Jimmy Ewan

Cruise disappearance James EwansIn November 2006, a 73 year old Scottish passenger was reported missing from the Century cruise ship while the vessel traveling near Madeira in the Canary Islands.  The disappearance was discovered when a crew member reported that passenger James ("Jimmy") Ewan, of Fife, Scotland, had not used his cabin the previous night. 

Ship logs indicate that Mr. Ewan, who had been traveling alone, did not disembark in the previous port.   The cruise ship conducted a cursory search and then continued on its 14-night trans-Atlantic cruise from Barcelona, Spain, to Miami. 

Today a newspaper in Scotland is reporting that the mystery of Mr. Ewan's disappearance five years ago has been solved.  The newspaper reports that Mr. Ewan's "best pal and executor of his will," John Cooper, has been struggling with settling his estate for the past several years.  The U.K.'s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Portuguese Consulate apparently were of little help. 

Mr. Cooper complained that he could not obtain a certificate of death so that Mr. Ewan's business could be wound up and his will could be executed.

The newspaper reports that Mr. Ewan had lost his wife 20 years ago and had no children.

Cabin attendants found his personal belongings neatly laid out in his cabin, including the executor of his will's name and telephone phone number.  Mr. Ewan reportedly stated that " . . . he didn't want to be a burden to anyone as he got old . . . "  The newspaper reports that "he scrapped his car two days before leaving, which was odd because he couldn't do without it."

Mr. Cooper stated that "I'm the executor of his will and the fact my details were sitting on top of his wallet in his cabin rang alarm bells.  It's like he tied everything up and not left anything outstanding."

If I decided to end my life like this, I hope that someone would remember me - like Mr. Ewan - with a big smile on my face, waving goodbye.   

 

Photo credit: dailyrecord.co.uk

Coast Guard Calls Off Search for Missing Passenger, Blake Kepley

Blake Kepley, a Fallbrook High School graduate was last seen between 12 and 1 a.m. on Friday, July 22, 2011. His family reported the 20-year-old missing at about 2:30 p.m. that same day according to the Village News; however, Sign On San Diego reports that the family notified the cruise line as early as 7:00 a.m. Both reports maintain that Holland America waited until 4:00 p.m. before contacting the Coast Guard to report that Kepley possibly went overboard.

The Coast Guard immediately began the search; however, was unsuccessful in locating Kepley and the search was suspended nearly 24 hours later after covering more than 352 miles. Kepley went missing between Sikta and Ketchikan during his Alaskan cruise aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam.

For more information click on NBC’s San Diego News Report:

If you have any information or tips regarding the disappearance of Blake Kepley, e-mail us at jwalker@cruiselaw.com

Video credit: NBC San Diego

Rally for Rebecca Coriam

The Rebecca Coriam Search Foundation is holding a fundraiser and rally to help raise money to continue the search and investigation into the disappearance of Disney crew member, Rebecca Coriam.

The rally is being held on July 23, 2011, from 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. at the Chester Race Course Pavillion. For more information visit the event web page at: A Night for Rebecca Coriam.

Additional information can be found on Rebecca Coriam’s Twitter and Web Page.

Rebecca went missing on March 22, 2011 while working in the youth activity center aboard the M/S Disney Wonder. Cruise Law News (CLN) has previously reported on the disappearance and investigation of Ms. Coriam.

To read more about Rebecca Coriam’s disappearance click on the following:

What Happened to Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on Disney’s Wonder Cruise Ship?

Parents of Missing Disney Crew Member Return to England with Daughter’s Belongings, But No Answers

After Quick Investigation, Bahamian Police Proclaim "No Foul Play" in Disappearance of Disney Crew Member

Update on Missing Disney Crewmember Rebecca Coriam

Disappearance of George Smith - Larry King Live & the "Missing Groom Mystery"

Larry King Live - George Smith Disappearance - Cruise ShipThe media's interest into the "missing groom" story was unparalleled in the history of the cruise industry.  Royal Caribbean had been able to dodge bad press about the disappearance of passengers and women and children sexually assaulted on its fleet of cruise ships for decades.

But the case of George Smith was different.  Every network was covering the story, non-stop. 

I will never forget sitting behind my desk speaking on the telephone with Greta Van Sustern about the case when my secretary, Betsy, buzzed me saying: "Larry King is holding on line 2."  I suppose it was a tad obnoxious to respond to Betsy: "tell Larry that I will call him back in a couple of minutes." 

But that was the way it was with the most popular case involving a cruise ship mystery like this.  We were receiving letters, Fed Ex packages, flower arrangements, notes, and invitations to stay in hotels before and after high profile interviews on a weekly basis.  

We used the media to our advantage.  We were dealing with Royal Caribbean, an admitted corporate felon which was just coming off a five year period of probation for lying to the U.S. Coast Guard about wide spread illegal dumping of chemicals and blackwater into the aqua, warm waters of Biscayne Bay in Miami to the dark, cool waters of Alaska.  This was a corporation with a reputation for dishonesty. 

Larry King Live - George Smith Missing - Royal Caribbean Cruise ShipLarry King invited me on his show twice.  First in August 2005 before I was hired by Jennifer Hagel to talk about the issues in the case.  The second time was in January 2006, together with the Smith family and their counsel, after I was retained, to talk about the details of the case. 

Shows like Larry King Live, with literally millions of viewers, were instrumental in educating the public about the problems of crimes and disappearances on cruise ships which the cruise industry had kept hidden for years.  The publicity would continue as the U.S. Congress convened five hearings in the House of Representatives and Senate into the issue of crimes and disappearances of passengers on cruise ships. 

 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you.

Disappearance of George Smith - Royal Caribbean Captain Says Its Just an Accident Involving a Bloody Nose

Two days after George Smith went overboard from the Brilliance of the Seas, the cruise ship's captain prepared a casualty report concluding that Mr. Smith accidentally fell off of the railing.   The official report did not mention any of the suspicious noises in the Smith's cabin heard by other passengers or that other young men (later accused of raping a passenger during the cruise) had been observed leaving the cabin around 4:30 AM.  

George Smith Disappearance - Royal CaribbeanCaptain Michael Lachtaridis' conclusion fit the usual Royal Caribbean play book of "blame the passenger."   The cruise line would later dance around this quick self-serving official report to the maritime authorities by suggesting that this was just a "preliminary" conclusion or just the captain's "personal opinion."

MSNBC's Dan Abrams invited Captain Lachtaridis onto his cable news program and interviewed him over the course of two nights.  It was a rather amazing experience to watch the captain, who retired shortly after Mr. Smith's disappearance but was nonetheless still wearing his stripes on TV, stick with his theory that it was just an "accident."  

Quote: 

"He wanted to get some fresh air from the balcony.  He was sitting on the railing and he lost his balance."

Quote:

"Now if George - let‘s say he fell and then if you fell, you break your nose and start bleeding and then you take a towel and then you wipe it there and then you go outside to get some fresh air.  And then you are sitting on the railing and you fell over, so, that‘s the whole thing.  I mean blood on the towel or wherever you pass by to go outside to the balcony to get some fresh air and you fall over."  

George Smith Missing - Cruise Ship DisappearanceCaptain Lachtaridis was very theatrical in his demonstration of how a nose bleed could account for the large amount of blood which covered the awning below the Smith's cabin. 

He thought that it was fine that the cruise line power-blasted the blood off of the awning by early afternoon, after the Turkish police's lighting fast two hour investigation.

He saw nothing wrong with the four men last seen with George Smith, and who had been previously warned for rowdy behavior and using foul language, continuing on with the cruise.  Until, at least, a young passenger accused them of raping her two days after George Smith went overboard.  Only then did Captain Lachtaridis kick them off of the cruise ship in Italy.

George falling in the cabin?  A bloody nose?  Sitting on the rail to get fresh air?  Falling a second time, this time off of the railing? 

Captain Lachtaridis gave quite a performance for the TV audience.

  

Photo credits:  MSNBC Dan Abrams 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you.

Disappearance of George Smith - Six Years Later - A Frantic Call Back to Connecticut

Royal Caribbean did not permit Jennifer Hagel back into her cabin after blood was discovered on the awning below the cabin.  No one on the ship explained to Jennifer that she had been found unconscious on the floor near a stairwell early in the morning, or that her husband's blood was covering the awning. 

Eventually, the cruise line permitted Ms. Hagel to call her parents back in Connecticut to tell them that George was missing from the cruise ship.  It must have been a terrible ordeal for a father several thousands of miles away to listen to his daughter consumed with grief and confusion on the other end of a long distance telephone call. 

The hardest call to be made, however, was yet to be made.  Jennifer's father, John Hagel, was tasked with having to call the Smith family and tell them that their son had vanished from the Royal Caribbean ship.

George Smith - Missing - Royal Caribbean - Cruise Ship OverboardGeorge's mother, Maureen Smith, later told CBS News: "6:30 in the morning the phone rang, and I heard this crying on the phone and it was Jennifer's father . . . he was sobbing uncontrollably and he said, 'Something terrible has happened to George on the cruise ship. He's missing.'"

This news must have torn the Smith family's hearts into millions of frantic little pieces. 

Just ten days earlier George and Jennifer were happy newlyweds about to embark on a honeymoon cruise not to mention the rest of their lives.  George was poised to take over his father's wine and liquor store, and Jennifer who had obtained her Master's Degree in teaching was about to begin her career as an elementary school teacher in Westport.  And now the Smiths were were being told that George had somehow disappeared somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea.

Of course, neither John Hagel nor his daughter had any details of what happened, other than being told that George could not be found on the cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean would prove to be less than forthcoming regarding the happenings in and around George's cabin on the morning in question.

Royal Caribbean knew that George's blood covered the awning below his cabin.  The cruise line knew that passengers on both sides of his cabin had complained of noises in the cabin, an argument on the balcony, and things being thrown against the cabin walls.  It knew that its security logs recorded that when security personnel arrived at the Smith's cabin around 4:30 AM, the time that George probably went overboard, a guard observed "teens leaving the area." 

But the cruise line would tell the Smith and Hagel families nothing.    

George's sister Bree Smith told CBS News that she she repeatedly asked the cruise line whether they had searched the ship: "And they said, 'Yes we searched the boat.' I said, 'Well continue to search the boat, my brother has to be there.' They knew otherwise. Because they knew about the blood on the overhang. But they never told us about the blood on the overhang." 

George Smith - Jennifer Hagel - Royal Caribbean Cruise Disappearance

George Smith was not the first person to disappear from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  This cruise line had been faced with overboards under suspicious circumstances before.  Its game plan was to stay tight lipped.  Just nine months earlier, a crew member went overboard from the same cruise ship, the Brilliance of the Seas.  Although many crewmembers suspected a murder, the case never even made its way into a single newspaper.    

Royal Caribbean's response was to keep the dead crewmember's family in the dark and hope that they would forget about it.  This would be the cruise line's game plan for George Smith's disappearance too.

 

This article is part of a series of articles this week: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Do you have information which may solve this case?   Please let us hear from you. 

Photo credits:  MSNBC

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

Another Celebrity Crewmember Goes Overboard

Multiple new sources in the U.K. are reporting that a crewmember from the Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship went overboard last night and is presumed dead.

Sky News reports that, according to the cruise line, a Filipino crewmember was captured on closed circuit television (CCTV) climbing over a railing and jumping from the cruise ship.  The luxury cruise ship, operated by Celebrity Cruises here in Miami, was eight miles north of Cherbourg, France, heading to Southampton when the incident happened.  The cruise ship alerted the French Coast Guard Celebrity Eclipse Cruise Ship Overboard - Missing Crewmemberand turned the vessel around in an attempt to rescue the crewmember.

The French Coast Guard stated "We deployed our resources to find him but it was to no avail and we can now presume that he is dead . . . The water was very cold and there is no hope for him."

We last reported on a Celebrity crew overboard just two months ago - Crew Member Goes Overboard from Celebrity Constellation Cruise Ship.

Unfortunately, overboards from cruise ships in the Royal Caribbean / Celebrity Cruises fleet appear to be a regular occurrence.  In March, we wrote an article about another crew member disappearing - Crew Member Missing from the Grandeur of the Seas - Why Are So Many People Disappearing From Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships?

Of course, missing crew members are not limited to Royal Caribbean cruise ships - Carnival Cruise Employee Goes Overboard - Does the U.S. Media Care When Foreign Crew Members Disappear at Sea?

There is no official database of passengers and crew who go overboard from cruise ships. The cruise lines say that this is something that they just don't track.  Perhaps they should start studying the problem.  The best source for tracking cruise overboards is cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website which lists 160 overboards in the past ten years.

In this latest case, the news sources are indicating that the crew member was a Filipino, which probably means that he was a waiter.  The Filipinos on cruise ships work incredibly long hours and are away from their families for long periods of time.  At this point, it is unknown what led him to jump if this is what happened.

Does anyone have information about what happened?  Please leave a comment below.   

 

Photo credit:  Travel Weekly Blog  

If a U.S. Based Cruise Line Drops Your Grandmother in the Ocean, Don't Expect Any Compensation

The cruise community has been closely following the sad story of 73 year old grandmother, Janet Richardson, who was dropped into the frigid Artic Sea two weeks ago during a botched transfer between the Ocean Countess cruise ship and an awaiting rescue vessel. 

She died this past weekend.

We have posted stories on this sad incident and photographs of the debacle.

Janet Richardson - DOHSA - Death On High Seas ActYesterday Cruise Critic U.K. posted an artice on its blog asking the question "Would You Sue" if this happened to your wife or grandmother? 

The article was directly primarily to its U.K. readers and assumes that a bereaved husband who lost his wife under these circumstances would be legally entitled to significant compensation. 

But in the U.S., sadly this is not the case.

If a retired passenger like Ms. Richardson was on an U.S. based cruise line like Carnival or Royal Caribbean which negligently dropped her overboard to her death, the case would be governed by a U.S. law called the Death on the High Seas Act ("DOHSA").  DOHSA does not provide any basis for the recovery by the grieving family members for their grief and bereavement.  It also does not provide any compensation for the pre-death pain and suffering of the deceased passenger either.  This is because the only compensation permitted under DOHSA involves "pecuniary" damages (meaning financial losses). 

Pecuniary damages include primarily lost wages.  But in cases of retired passengers (or children for that matter) they are not working so there are no such damages.

The only "pecuniary" damages when a retired passenger is rescued and died would be medical expenses (assuming the passenger is rescued and makes it to the hospital).  If the hospital expenses are covered by insurance and/or by Medicare, there are liens which apply which will be asserted by the insurance companies and the federal government.  The only other potential damages are burial and funeral expenses.  However, if the retired passenger is not rescued or the body is not recovered, hence no obligation for funeral or burial expenses, there are no recoverable damages at all.

So before a passenger's surviving family decides to file a lawsuit, the question not only is there is a reasonable basis to win the lawsuit, but what are the damages if the lawsuit is successful?

In the U.S., the only damages may well be the cost of burying your loved one.  The expenses of hiring experts to prove liability for the passenger's accident and to prove that the death was caused by the fall and shock of exposure to freezing water (as opposed to a pre-existing medical condition) may exceed the funeral expenses the surviving family incurs. 

The cruise line defense lawyers understand this completely.  In a worst case scenario, if Carnival drops your grandmother into the water and kills her, the most the cruise line will pay your family is the cost of putting her in a casket and then burying her in the ground.

Most passengers don't understand this.   The cruise line won't explain this before you take your grandparents on a cruise.  Take a moment and consider:  If You Are Retired Or A Child, The Cruise Line Considers Your Life Worthless   

DOHSA is an archaic law which was enacted in 1920.  The cruise lines love it, but it is fundamentally unfair to the families of loved ones who die at sea.  It provides no financial incentive for the cruise lines to improve their procedures to make cruising reasonably safe for the travelling public. 

 

 

For additional information, please read our cases discussing DOHSA.

Photo credit: Patrick Hill via U.K.'s Mail Online

 

Passenger Disappears from Cruise Ship in Red Sea

A local newspaper in the U.K. is reporting that a 63 year old passenger is missing from a cruise ship in the Red Sea. 

The MK News in Milton Keyes is reporting this morning that John Halford, age 63, from Greenleys in Milton Keynes, left the airport in Luton on Thursday March 31st for a cruise aboard the Thomson Cruise Line.  The cruise finished in Sharm al-Shaykh in Egypt on Thursday April 7th, when he was found to not be on board. 

John Halford - Missing - Thompson Cruises - EgyptSharm al-Shaykh is a city situated on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, on the coastal strip along the Red Sea.

The newspaper reports that it is believed that Mr. Halford went missing sometime between 11.45 p.m. on Wednesday April 6th and 7.30 a.m. on Thursday April 7th.

People who were on the cruise, or know where he might be, are asked to contact Thames Valley Police via the 24-hour Police Enquiry Centre 0845 8 505 505. 

There have been over 150 passengers and crew members who have gone missing from cruise ships in the last decade. 

The cruise industry trade organization, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), states that it does not keep statistics of people missing from the 25 cruise lines which are members of CLIA.  The most definitive source of cruise disappearances is found in cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website.   

 

Photo credit:  MK News 

Cruise Passenger Dropped into Freezing Waters During Botched Rescue

A newspaper in the U.K. reports that a seriously ill British passenger was inadvertently dumped into freezing waters off of the coast of Norway during what is described as a "bungled cruise ship rescue."  

The Champion newspaper reports that a couple on the cruise ship, Colin and Sheila Prescott, watched in horror as Norwegian emergency crews were attempting to transfer the sick passenger Ocean Countess Rescue - Freezing Waterfrom the cruise ship to a rescue vessel.  The two vessels drifted apart several feet as the transfer was taking place, causing the rescue crew to drop the stretcher into the icy sea. 

Mr. Prescott snapped a photo of the incident.   

The water was reportedly "minus three degrees" (celsius - salt water begins to freeze at this temperature).  The passenger was in the water for about "eight minutes or so" before she was finally rescued and transported shore-side to the hospital.

The newspaper reports that the incident involved the "Ocean Princess," which seems to be an error.  It appears the cruise ship was actually the Ocean Countess operated by  Cruise and Maritime Voyages.

April 20, 2011 Update: A number of newspapers are now reporting on this story and contain some interesting photos - Cruise Passenger Dropped into Freezing Waters During Botched Rescue - Continued.

 

 

Photo credit:  Colin Prescott via Champion newspaper

Will Twitter Help Family of Missing Disney Crew Member Find Answers?

Today a newspaper in the U.K., the Chester Chronicle, contains an interesting article "Family Demand Answers as Investigation into Chester Disney Cruise Ship Worker Continues."   Although the article is a bit of a rehash of events since last week about the disappearance of youth counselor Rebecca Coriam from Disney Cruise Line's Wonder cruise ship, the newspaper reports that: 

" ... cousin Kerry Gaffney has been using the social networking website Twitter in a desperate bid for information on Rebecca’s whereabouts.  Her post read: 'My cousin, Rebecca Coriam, is missing and Disney is not as helpful as it makes out.  Please help put the pressure on them.'  Another post said the family are getting conflicting reports about what was seen and what went on."

Kerry Gaffney's witter name is @kerrymg and the tweet asked those on Twitter to "RT" (re-tweet) her message.

Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are useful tools to obtain information from the public about mysteries on the high seas.  Cruise lines maintain exclusive control of the scene of disappearances, and access to witnesses and evidence on cruise ships.  When the Disney Wonder returned to port in Los Angeles last Sunday, over 1,700 passengers scattered across the U.S., Canada and other countries without being interviewed by anyone.  This is fine with the cruise Disney Cruise Twitter - @DisneyCruiselines, who want this public spectacle to end sooner than later irrespective of whether the family finds answers to this latest mystery.

So how can you appeal to potential witnesses scattered around the country?  One way is Twitter.

Disney's Twitter page for its cruise line is @DisneyCruise.  It has 26,000 followers.  

Twitter, Facebook, websites and blogs can help level the playing field with cruise lines and their we-just-want-the-media-to-go-away attitude.   If you are reading this and have a Twitter page, send a message:

"What is @DisneyCruise doing to find information for the Coriam family about the #cruise disappearance of their daughter on the Wonder?" 

Ask your followers to re-tweet your question.

After Quick Investigation, Bahamian Police Proclaim "No Foul Play" in Disappearance of Disney Crew Member

Over the past years, we have been involved in a number of cases where cruise passengers and crew members have been victims of crimes on cruise ships heading to the Bahamas or ashore in downtown Nassau.  We have witnessed the local police bungle the cases miserably and quickly close their files. 

The Bahamian police cannot solve crimes against cruise passengers and employees which happen across the street from their police station.  So the notion of the Bahamian police solving the disappearance of a young woman from England lost in the Pacific ocean off of the coast of Mexico is a rather ludicrous proposition.

This afternoon, the Bahamian police announced in the case of missing Disney crew member Rebecca Coriam  ". . . there is no evidence to suggest foul play." 

A number of news sources, including the BBC, are quoting Superintendent Paul Rolle of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, saying today:  "With respect to the investigation into the disappearance of Miss Rebecca Coriam from the Disney Wonder cruise ship, the Royal Bahamas Police have concluded its investigation on board the vessel.  "At the present time there is no evidence to suggest foul play. The case remains open and under active investigation.''

What on earth does this mean?  No evidence of foul play?  Does this mean that there is evidence of something other than foul play?  Does it mean that the police think that Ms. Coriam inadvertently or intentionally went overboard?   Or does it mean simply that the police in the Bahamas don't  have any idea what happened and instead of admitting that, they are doing Disney a favor by trying to convince the public to keep sailing on cruise ships flagged in the Bahamas?  

Remember this is not an announcement from the Bahamian Maritime Authority (BMA) which is suppose to investigate casualties on cruise ships which are registered in the Bahamas to avoid taxes.  This is the Royal Bahamas Police who flew from the Bahamas to meet the ship on Sunday in Los Angeles, quickly conducted some type of "investigation" on the ship on Sunday (five days after the disappearance), let the ship return on its regularly scheduled  itinerary, and then quickly flew back to Nassau yesterday for a press statement today.  

There were over 1,700 passengers on the Disney Wonder and many hundreds of crew members.  The ship is over three football fields long and over a dozen decks high.  There are hours of CCTV Marching Military Band Greet Bahamian Flagged Cruise Shipfootage to sit and review, electronic telephone and link-lock data to analyze, polygraphs to administer, and detective work to perform.  It is not possible to interview witnesses and inspect the premises with a competent forensic team in such short order.

In our prior articles about this disappearance, we discussed the limitations of the "authorities" which are suppose to investigate cruise disappearances and the type of investigation that the family needs to conduct on its own initiative. 

The Bahamas, whether it be the BMA or the local police, is not interested in and otherwise incapable of conducting an aggressive, competent, fair and impartial investigation into the affairs of the cruise ships which pay to incorporate in that country.  The conflict of interest is glaring and repugnant.

Making a press statement of "no foul play" at this early date is like punting on first down in order to avoid embarrassing the other team. 

The Royal Bahamas Police's services are advertised on its website, including ". . .  temporary liquor licenses, firearm licensing, vendors permits, online character certificates, and barricade rental."   "Conducting international investigations" does not seem to be a service it provides.  

So what are the real skills of the Bahamas when it comes to the cruise industry?  Entertainment.  Beaches.  The straw market in Nassau.  And its wonderful military bands, which march along side the Miami-based but Bahamian-flagged cruise ships when they port in Nassau. 

In fact, the Bahamas sends 10 times more military musicians to greet its cruise ship friends at port than it sent police to investigate Ms. Coriam's disappearance.          

Parents of Missing Disney Crew Member Return to England with Daughter's Belongings, But No Answers

Michael and Ann Coriam returned to the U.K. with their younger daughter's belongings but no answers regarding the circumstances surrounding her disappearance.  Sky News released a video today of the Coriam family's interview with the media in Los Angeles before their return home. 

 

 

Credit:  Sky News via The Sun Newspaper  

Read our other stories about this case:

What Happened to Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on Disney's Wonder Cruise Ship? 

Who Investigates Disappearances on Cruise Ships? 

Parents of Missing Disney Cruise Line Youth Counselor Arrive in Los Angeles Seeking Answers 

Mystery Regarding Missing Crew Member Remains as Disney Wonder Cruise Ship Returns to Sea

Mystery Regarding Missing Crew Member Remains as Disney Wonder Cruise Ship Returns to Sea

A number of different news stations are reporting that the Coriam family remains without an explanation regarding the circumstances surrounding the apparent overboard disappearance of their daughter, Rebecca, from Disney's Wonder cruise ship last week.

The Wonder returned to port in California yesterday amidst reports that the Coriam family had flown to Los Angeles to meet the cruise ship.  Newspapers are reporting that the "Royal Bahamas Police Force" had also flown to the U.S. to meet the ship as well.  This is an unusual development because the Bahamian police are a separate entity from the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) which is charged with the investigation because Disney chose to flag its vessel in the Bahamas for tax purposes.  We have been involved in cases where the Bahamian police will be involved in a criminal investigation when the cruise ship sails into the port of Nassau after a crime occurs on the ship and Nassau is the next port.  We are not aware of police officers from the Bahamas traveling to an United States port to investigate in conjunction with investigators from the BMA.

The BMA and the cruise line are issuing the usual press statements.  The BMA states that "Disney is fully cooperating," and Disney states that "we've been in close contact with the Coriam family, and we're assisting them in any way we can."  At the same time, the Coriam family states that Disney is not providing an explanation regarding what happened to their daughter.

The Wonder left the port in L.A. in the the early evening yesterday and has returned to its routine cruise schedule.  FOX News published an article "Mystery Surrounds Disappearance of 24-Year-Old Disney Cruise Line Employee" which includes a video (below) of several passengers speculating about what happened.  

It must be maddening for the family to see people talking about such circumstances, without knowing their identity and an opportunity to question the passengers and crew members directly.  I have always thought that passengers should be given contact information for the family and/or an opportunity to meet with the family members at the port to discuss what they observed before they scatter across the U.S. after the cruise.  At a minimum, the family should be provided with a complete list of the passengers and contact information so that they have an opportunity to conduct their own investigation.  In many cases we have been involved in the witnesses with the most relevant information are not interviewed by either the cruise line or law enforcement following a disappearance or shipboard crime.  

 

 

Video credit:  FOX News

Read our other stories about this case:

What Happened to Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on Disney's Wonder Cruise Ship? 

Who Investigates Disappearances on Cruise Ships? 

Parents of Missing Disney Cruise Line Youth Counselor Arrive in Los Angeles Seeking Answers

What Happened to Youth Counselor Rebecca Coriam on Disney's Wonder Cruise Ship?

The press in the U.S. and in the U.K. are continuing to cover the story of the disappearance of a Disney Cruise Line youth counselor who apparently went overboard from the Wonder last Tuesday during a 7 day "Mexican Riviera" cruise.  BBC News reports that the parents of Rebecca Coriam flew from the U.K. to be present when the cruise ship returns to Los Angeles.    

We reported on the disappearance on Thursday and yesterday we published our perspective on who investigates disappearances from cruise ships

In our article yesterday, we were very critical of the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) for being either disinterested in passenger and crew member deaths or being beholden to the cruise line's interests.   In 2005, we were involved in one of the highest profile cruise ship disappearances when U.S. passenger George Smith disappeared during his honeymoon with his wife while aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas.  We represented Mr. Smith's wife. 

The BMA was suppose to be involved in the investigation because like the Wonder, the Brilliance is flagged in the Bahamas.  However, the BMA did nothing as far as we could tell.  It appeared to be satisfied with receiving the casualty report from the cruise line speculating that Mr. Smith was intoxicated and may have fallen over the railing, a quick and self-serving conclusion which became questionable once we began our investigation and retained the renowned forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee to assist us.  To our knowledge, the BMA did not even prepare a report. 

In this case, it is reported that the BMA sent investigators to Cabo San Lucas yesterday.  Tomorrow the cruise ship will return to Los Angeles where Ms. Coriam's parents will be waiting.

As we explained yesterday, trusting that the BMA will perform an energetic, fair and impartial investigation, or relying on the transparency and honesty of a foreign flagged cruise line, are naive and inherently risky propositions.  Any family seeking answers under these circumstances should consider retaining their own experienced investigators like Ken Carver, the President of the International Cruise Victims, did following the mysterious disappearance of his daughter during an Alaskan cruise.  

There are a number of issues which the cruise line has already focused on.  it is prudent that certain information be reviewed as soon as possible by someone other than the cruise line or the BMA.  

CCTV:  There should be closed circuit television images of the crew member indicating when she was last seen on the ship.  When a crew member goes overboard, there should be images of the crew member on a deck and walking around the ship.  There should be a review of the location of the CCTV cameras, an inspection of the CCTV / security office and equipment, a review of the diagrams for all CCTV cameras, and a walk-around of the cruise ship from the crew member's cabin, through all connecting hallways, stairs, and elevators, to the upper decks.   

Locklink reports / C-Pass cards / Telephone print-outs:  All crew members have their "C-Pass" cards swiped by the security guards when they board and exit the cruise ship.  This will establish when the crew member last embarked/disembarked.  Crew members use electronic cards to enter and exit their cabins.  There is a print out (often called lock-link reports) for each cabin, indicating when the doors are opened and who opened the door.  Cruise lines can also print out details of when the cabin telephones were used, and who the calls were made to and from on the ship.  A time line can be created in correlating the information available from the CCTV, C-Pass, lock-link and telephone print-outs.  

Computer / iPhone / Backberry / Android:  The crew members computer and hand-held devices contain information when they were last used and when emails, test messages, skype and social media were used.    

Cabin mate / co-employees / supervisors / employment records:  Cruise lines quickly take statements from the missing crew member's cabin mates, friends, co-workers, and supervisors for relevant information.  They review the missing employee's employment records and electronic data.  A security officer will take statements and prepare reports.

As we previously explained, although the cruise line's public relations department will state they are cooperating with all authorities, the truth of the matter is that they subsequently assert that the results of their own internal investigations are "legally privileged"  and are not to be shared with the missing crew member's family.  A request for access to the above described information and access to the ship for an inspection and to co-employees for independent questioning should be made promptly. 

If the cruise line resists these reasonable requests, the issue arises whether there is a conflict of interest between the missing crew member's employer and the surviving family members.

Who Investigates Disappearances on Cruise Ships?

The disappearance of a youth counselor from the Disney Wonder cruise ship this week raises the issue of who is responsible for conducting investigations when crew members disappear at sea.

Disney released the following statement to us yesterday:

"The Mexican Navy has been conducting searches since Tuesday, and we immediately contacted the FBI and the Bahamian Maritime Authority, which is leading the investigation on this matter.  We have also conducted a thorough and comprehensive inspection of the ship and spoken with the crew member’s colleagues to gather as much information as possible.”   Disney also told us that Mexican Navy - Cruise Overboards - Crew Passenger Disappearancesthe cruise line notified the U.S. Coast Guard. 

But what is the reality of who does what in cases like this?  What is the true involvement of the Mexican government, the U.S. Coast Guard, the FBI, the Bahamas Maritime Authority, and the cruise line in these type of circumstances? 

The Mexican Navy:  Because the incident appears to have occurred off of the coast of Mexico, the Mexican Navy is involved.  Now, some people will say that the "Mexican Navy" conjures up an image of "three men in a row boat."  Such criticism, although disrespectful, may accurately characterize the small scale of the Mexican maritime operations.  When you think of dramatic search and rescue operations, the "Mexican Navy" does not come to mind.  Rather, one would hope that the U.S. Coast Guard, with its quick deployment of cutters, jets and helicopters, is involved.  

Mexico is a country of limited resources.  Its is questionable what motivation Mexico has to expend money and resources searching for a citizen of another country who went overboard from a ship registered registered in the Bahamas.  Once its navy ends its search (which it has probably already done), the country of Mexico will have no further involvement.  

The U.S. Coast Guard:  CNN's article "Disney Cruise Employee Missing Off Mexico" indicates that while the Mexican navy is leading the search, it asked for the U.S. Coast Guard's help early in the effort.  The Coast Guard provided long-range search aircraft but was not now actively involved in the search as of yesterday.  The U.S. Coast Guard is an impressive and highly experienced group of men and women, but there is only so much it can do when cruise overboards occur around the FBI - Cruise Disappearances - Passenger Crew Overboardsworld.

The FBI:  CNN's article contains a revealing quote from a spokesperson from the FBI. "The FBI is not involved because it does not have jurisdiction, as the ship was off the coast of Mexico flying under a foreign flag," said spokeswoman Laura Eimiller of the agency's Los Angeles office. 

This is a typical comment from the Los Angeles office of the FBI which, unlike the U.S. Coast Guard, is filled with bureaucrats with little motivation to leave their desks and head over to the port when the cruise ship returns to L.A.  The fact of the matter is that the FBI has special maritime jurisdiction to investigate incidents which occur on U.S. based cruise ships around the world, especially when a U.S. citizen is involved, even though the ships fly flags of convenience.

The statement of the FBI spokesperson that the FBI has no jurisdiction because the ship was in Mexican waters is preposterous.  Last month, the FBI investigated the murder of a Polish crew member from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship calling on Cozumel which was allegedly committed by a Mexican citizen, even thought the victim was employed on a foreign flagged ship and the crime occurred ashore in Mexico.

The Bahamas Maritime Authority:  Under the Bahamas Merchant Shipping Act 1976, the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) is supposedly responsible for investigating incidents involving Bahamas-registered ships worldwide.  The BMA has been criticized for being being beholden to large shipping companies like Disney and Royal Caribbean which register their cruise ships there to escape U.S. safety rules and regulations and U.S. taxes.  

Bahamas Maritime Authority - Cruise DisappearancesThe BMA has a deplorable record responding to serious injuries, deaths or crimes involving passengers passengers and crew members on cruise ships flying the Bahamian flag.  Often no real investigation is performed.  Often the "investigation" will consist of a representative or two from the BMA appearing at the next port of call, sometimes working with the cruise line's defense lawyers or risk management team.  No BMA report concluding malfeasance of the cruise line in a passenger or crew death will ever see the light of day.

If foul play is involved, the BMA will do nothing.  As the BMA concedes on its website, "in fact, reports and documents may not be used as evidence in the event of any subsequent criminal proceedings. If a criminal investigation proves necessary, the entire incident should be investigated by a body independent of the original investigating authority."

So if foul play is involved (and there is no indication of that one way or the other), then who will be involved?  The FBI has already declined to get involved.  No police detectives from Nassau will fly to California to investigate.  No police or sheriff agencies in California (where the vessel is ported) will become involved.  No police agency from Florida (where the cruise line is located) or the United Kingdom (where the cruise line is incorporated) will investigate a disappearance at sea involving a cruise ship sailing between California and Mexico. 

The Cruise Line:  The Wonder cruise ship is operated by the Magical Cruise Company, Limited, d/b/a Disney Cruise Line, which is incorporated in the United Kingdom for tax purposes.  Although Disney is saying that it is speaking with its crew member’s colleagues "to gather as much information as possible," these statements and reports will never become public knowledge and will usually be kept away from the crew member's family.  Cruises line have exclusive control of the scene of the incident, witnesses, and evidence such as CCTV tapes.  Cruise lines consider their own Disney Cruise Wonder - Passenger Crew Disappearancesinvestigation to be privileged "work product," conducted for the purpose of defending them from potential law suits.  Disney usually hires some of the top maritime defense firms here in Miami to defend their legal interests. 

The Crew Member's Country: An issue remains of the nationality of the crew member.  Most youth counselors on cruise ships are American, Canadian, or English.  If you are from the U.S. and it was your child who went overboard, who would you want investigating the disappearance?  The FBI or the Bahamas Maritime Authority?   If a Canadian or English citizen is involved, no one from these countries will be actively involved with an investigation. 

The Bottom Line:  Disappearances at sea like this fall into "no man's land."   The FBI takes the "not my problem" approach.  The flag state's investigation will end up in a file cabinet in an old building in Nassau.  Disney's investigation files will never leave the cruise line's risk management and legal departments.  

According to cruise expert Ross Klein's website, 157 people have gone overboard from cruise ships in the last decade.   Many appear to be due to intoxication, negligence, suicide, and sometimes foul play, but many remain unsolved mysteries.  Often there is a delay in reporting the Rebecca Coriam - Disney Crew Member - Chester England disappearances to the authorities and the crew member's family.  Uncertainly, confusion and a lack of closure are the usual outcomes.   Certainly there must be a better way to investigate disappearances from cruise ships than this.  The families of loved ones lost at sea deserve better.    

 

March 25th Update:  BBC News identifies the crew member as Rebecca Coriam of Chester England.  The BBC article states that England's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has been "in touch with the relevant organisations and authorities" and identifies the Bahamas Maritime Authority and Interpol.  

Photo credit:     BBC News

Did a Crew Member Go Overboard from the Disney Wonder Cruise Ship?

In the past day our office has received numerous requests for information about a woman who apparently went overboard from the Disney Wonder cruise ship two days ago.

There are no reports of this alleged incident in the mainstream press.  This does not necessarily mean anything because the last three cruise line overboard were either not reported in the press at all or the stories were mentioned only in non-U.S. newspapers.

Disney Wonder Cruise Ship OverboardCruise expert Ross Klein's website contains a short reference to the incident, stating: "From a crew member (unconfirmed):  Two days ago one of the youth activities counselors apparently jumped over board.  It was at 3 am.  They are still searching the ship without any news about her."  

Professor Klein reports that there have been 157 cruise ship overboards in the last decade.

There have been five other cruise ship overboards this year, involving crew members from Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, Celebrity Cruise's Constellation, Carnival's Miracle, and Costa's Atlantica, as well as a passenger from Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas.

Neither the cruise industry nor the U.S. maintain a list of cruise overboards.  

Disney responded to our request for information indicating that the cruise line reported the incident to the Mexican Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard, the F.B.I., and the Bahamas Maritime Authority.   Disney sent us the folowing statement: 

“Given the circumstances we are very concerned about this situation and are doing everything possible to assist with the search effort and investigation. The Mexican Navy has been conducting searches since Tuesday, and we immediately contacted the FBI and the Bahamian Maritime Authority, which is leading the investigation on this matter. We have also conducted a thorough and comprehensive inspection of the ship and spoken with the crew member’s colleagues to gather as much information as possible.”   

Consider reading:  Who Investigates Disappearances on Cruise Ships?

Do you have information about this latest overboard?  Please leave a comment below. 

 

March 24th Update:  The crew member apparently disappeared off of the coast of Mexico.  The ship is sailing to Cabo San Lucas today.  Here is a video from ABC-7 News (Los Angeles):

  

 

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

Officials are searching for a female Disney Wonder cruise ship crew member who has been missing since Tuesday.

We have also conducted a thorough and comprehensive inspection of the ship and spoken with the crew member's colleagues to gather as much information as possible," a Disney Cruise Lines statement indicated.

The Disney Wonder, which sailed out from the Port of Los Angeles, has been on a seven-night cruise to the Mexican Riviera.

Disney Cruise Lines spokeswoman Rena Langley said the Mexican Navy is conducting the search. The U.S. Coast Guard and the FBI also is assisting. The Bahamian Maritime Authority is investigating the incident.

Langley said the crew member, who has been with the cruise line since 2010, never returned for her scheduled shift. She did not identify the missing woman. It's unclear if she fell overboard, but Langley said it's "certainly a possibility."

"Given the circumstances, we are very concerned about this situation and are doing everything possible to assist with the search effort and investigation," Disney officials said.

March 25 Update:  BBC News identified the crew member as Ms. Rebecca Coriam, age 24, from Chester, England.

Crew Member Goes Overboard from Celebrity Constellation Cruise Ship

Celebrity Cruises Cruise Ship - Crew Member Overboard A reader of Cruise Law News informs us that a crew member from a Celebrity Cruises ship disappeared at sea. 

Indian crew member Anthony Rodrigues went overboard on March 10, 2011 from the Celebrity Constellation.  Mr. Rodrigues was a 19 year employee of the cruise line.  His family members in Mumbai were not notified for two days and were not given an explanation for him going overboard.

Unfortunately, overboards from cruise ships in the Royal Caribbean / Celebrity Cruises fleet appear to be a regular occurrence.  Two weeks ago, we wrote an article about another crew member from India disappearing - Crew Member Missing from the Grandeur of the Seas - Why Are So Many People Disappearing From Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships?

Of course, missing crew members are not limited to Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  Yesterday, we commented on a Carnival crew member who went overboard - Carnival Cruise Employee Goes Overboard - Does the U.S. Media Care When Foreign Crew Members Disappear at Sea?

There is no official database of passengers and crew who go overboard from cruise ships. The cruise lines say that this is something that they just don't track.  Perhaps they should start studying the problem.  The best source for tracking cruise overboards is cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website which lists 155 overboards in the past ten years.  

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

 

Photo credit:    dsparku

Carnival Cruise Employee Goes Overboard - Does the U.S. Media Care When Foreign Crew Members Disappear at Sea?

Carnival Cruise Ship Miracle - Missing Crew MemberA reader of Cruise Law News alerted us that the Carnival Miracle lost a crew member overboard late in the night on March 14th or in the early hours of March 15th.  The cruise ship was sailing between Curacao and Aruba.

A newspaper in Curacao reports that the missing crew member was a 47 year old man from the Philippines.

The incident is listed on cruise expert Canadian Professor Ross Klein's website which lists 155 crew member and passenger overboards from cruise ships in the last year. 

There have been a large number of overboards recently, with some occurring in this area of the southern Caribbean.  Many suspect that they are related to the increasing drug smuggling on cruise ships. 

As with this case, the U.S. media rarely publishes stories about missing crew members - even though most cruise lines are based here in Miami.  One of the most disturbing overboard cases we have seen involved Princess crew member Angelo Faliva, who disappeared as the cruise ship sailed between Aruba and Cartagena, Colombia.  Mr. Faliva was from Italy and the case received lots of attention in Italy, but virtually no coverage in the U.S.     

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

Crew Member Missing from the Grandeur of the Seas - Why Are So Many People Disappearing From Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships?

Newspapers in India are reporting that a young man working as a crew member on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship disappeared at sea.

"Disappearances" at sea have been a regular occurrence on Royal Caribbean cruise ships over the past several years.   

The Times of India ("Did 'Missing' Ship Staffer End Life?") and the Hindustan Times ("Chef Commits Suicide in U.S., Mom Cries Foul") report that 27 year old Sandip Surwade went missing from Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas cruise ship on February 18th in waters near Aruba.

Sandip Surawade - Missing - Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the SeasThe Indian newspapers report that Mr. Surwade left India for work on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship in June of last year.  On February 20th of this year, a representative from the local hiring agency in India came to Mr. Surwade's home in Bara Bungalow, Thane (north of Mumbai) and told his family that he was "missing."  The hiring agency gave the family a telephone number and e-mail address of Dr. Fabio Acevedo, a supervisor in the medical crew department of the cruise line.

Later, the cruise line told the family that their son committed suicide by jumping off the cruise ship around 9:00 p.m. on February 18th.  The cruise line claims that Mr. Surwade left a letter which mentions the name of a female crew member with whom Mr. Surwade was allegedly involved, notwithstanding that he was reportedly engaged to be married in April. The letter purportedly states that his supervisors were troubling him and the woman due to their relationship. 

His family doubts the authenticity of the letter which, according to the newspaper articles, was written in chaste Hindi, a language with which he not particularly familiar. The family tells the newspapers that Royal Caribbean and the local agent for the cruise line has "stonewalled" them. 

The cruise line, however, states that there are closed circuit video tapes documenting the overboard and an eye witness who allegedly confirms that Mr. Surwade jumped from the ship.  

What is one to make of this mess?  The family suspects foul play.  If another crew member saw him jump, why did the cruise line first tell the family that their son was "missing" and then mention "suicide" later?  Why did it take the cruise line 2 days to tell the family?

Adding to the confusion is that the first public account of this incident is in a newspaper in Aruba, Cruise Ship Overboard - Missing Crew Memberindicating that it was a passenger who committed suicide.  Another newspaper in Aruba indicates that the cruise ship first reported the incident around 11:00 p.m. on February 18th which, if true, would be 2 hours after the overboard.  Helicopters and a coast guard cutter from Aruba searched for 4 hours before ending the search with intentions of searching again at day light.      

An online website, "Cruise Bruise," speculates wildly that Mr. Surwade's disappearance may have been a drug-related murder.  As we reported,  Royal Caribbean crew members were smuggling large quantities of cocaine from South America aboard this cruise ship and there was a drug bust on the Grandeur of the Seas ship a few days later when the ship reached Montego Bay.  However, there is no indication that Mr. Sandip was involved in drug smuggling or a victim of violence by drug smugglers, and at this point there is no connection between his disappearance and the drug bust as suggested by others.

Nonetheless, we are  suspicious of most anything this cruise line says.  It suffers from a lack of transparency and the most unexplained disappearances and deaths of any cruise line. 

Did this crew member really commit suicide, which is the cruise line's favorite excuse?  Consider how cruise lines use the "suicide defense" as a public relations tool -  "Suicide" - One of the Cruise Lines' Favorite Excuses When a Passenger Disappears at Sea.

Also consider in the last year:

January 6. 2011: Another Passenger Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

November 30, 2010: Death of a Young Jamaican Cook on the Mega Ship Oasis of the Seas 

May 24, 2010: Another Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship? - Oasis of the Seas

May 5, 2010: Crew Member Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas

March 22, 2010: "Man Overboard" Reported on Radiance of the Seas

January 4, 2010: Asleep At the Wheel: What Does the Delayed Reporting of Neha Chhikara's Disappearance from the Monarch of the Seas Reveal About Royal Caribbean's Shipboard Security?

Sandip Surawade - Overboard - Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the SeasJanuary 1, 2010:  Wife of Royal Caribbean Crew Member on Monarch of the Seas Goes OverBoard

Determining the cause of cruise ship overboards and mysterious deaths is the role of experts - the F.B.I., sometimes the U.S. Coast Guard, or other law enforcement authorities - not the cruise lines' PR departments.   

But this case raises a more profound question.  Who investigates the circumstances of a crew member from India who goes overboard into waters around Aruba from a cruise ship flagged in the Bahamas and operated by a cruise line incorporated in Liberia?

This is a no man's land, where there are no clear answers - only self-serving statements by a cruise line with a reputation of being less than honest. 

 

Photo credits: 

Photographs   24ORA.com

Overboard drawing     CruelKev2's blog regarding overboard cruise passengers 

Another Passenger Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship

A newspaper in Belize is reporting that a 21 year old cruise passenger went overboard from Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas cruise ship and disappeared today. 

7 News Belize reports that the passenger went overboard from the 12th deck of the cruise ship.  The passenger's family noticed that he was missing around 9:00 a.m. this morning.  When the young man could not be located on the ship, the crew reviewed video from the security cameras that showed him going overboard from the twelfth deck of the ship at 3:25 am.  The article indicates that is is unclear whether the passenger jumped or fell. 

Liberty of the Seas - Royal Caribbean - Cruise Overboard This is a story which has not been reported in the mainstream press, yet.  It is highly unlikely that the young man jumped as speculated by the media in Belize.  Was he over-served alcohol, which would reflect negligence by the cruise line?  Was there evidence of foul play, again not likely but to be considered.  

A pro-cruise website "Cruise News Daily" has a few sentences on the incident which seems to be based on the Belize newspaper.  But the website claims that "a review of the ship's security cameras found footage of the man climbing over the railing on Deck 12, and then letting go."  There is no reference to a source for this allegation.     

Does someone on the cruise have information regarding this sad story?    

January 7, 2011 Update:

A radio station in Belize has the following information regarding this incident:

"Search efforts for a missing cruise ship passenger were halted today as the Port Authority of Belize and National Coast Guard Service were given directives to discontinue their efforts. 53-year-old Puerto Rican Margarita Sandini Tello reported that her son 21-year-old Jose Miguel Pietri Tello was missing off the cruise ship, Liberty of the Seas. Surveillance cameras showed the young man jumping or falling off the twelfth deck of the ship shortly after three thirty on Wednesday morning. The family of the twenty one year old reported to cruise personnel that they noticed that he was missing around 9:00 on Wednesday morning and when he could not be located on the ship, the crew reviewed video from the security cameras. The Belize Port Authority along with the National Coast Guard were called in to search for the body as the incident occurred in Belize waters  . . . " 

A newspaper in Belize contains a quote from the local police that  “video footage was obtained where it was observed that Jose [Jose Miguel Pietri Tello, 21, of Puerto Rico] jumped off the Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship at 3:38 a.m.”    

January 9, 2011 Update:

Passengers from the cruise ships are indicating that the young man may have been over-served alcohol which resulted in him becoming disoriented and falling from the cruise ship. The Belize translation of events that this young man "jumped" seem bogus.   Is this an incident like young cruise passenger Daniel DiPiero who was over-served alcohol and disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas after being over-served alcohol? 

January 19, 2011 Update:

We received a number of comments (below) emailed from a "Joe" using a hotmail email account.  The comments are the usual its-a-matter-of-personal-responsibility rather than corporate responsibility type of thing.  Very disrespectful.  We have determined, 100%, that the comments came from a computer at Royal Caribbean.  Is it a PR person or someone in a position of management?  Or a misguided  employee?  We don't know, but we know the comments came from Royal Caribbean.  Pitiful than a cruise employee uses an alias and a bogus hotmail account.  Only at Royal Caribbean does this foolishness occur.  

Cruise Crime: Three Crew Drug Arrests and a Closed Passenger Overboard Investigation

Today, two stories broke about cruise ship crimes issues.

The first story involved three Royal Caribbean crew members arrested for trying to smuggle drugs into Baltimore from the Dominican Republic via Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship.   We have written a lot about passengers and crew members using cruise ships to smuggle drugs.  Earlier this year, passengers were busted for smuggling drugs on the Enchantment of the Seas.  Just last October, U.S. Customs officers seized cocaine and heroin aboard another Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Serenade of the Seas, when the ship was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the latest drug deal involved three Royal Caribbean crew members - 35-year-old Gavin Excell and 27-year-olds John Swart Garth and Kishurn Neptune - who picked up heroin and cocaine in the Dominican Republic during a stop of the Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas.  Law enforcement arrested them after they delivered the drugs to a Walmart after the cruise ship reached Baltimore. The crew members are identified as working in the galley of the cruise ship.

The second story involved the FBI announcing that they have closed the investigation into the Jennifer Ellis-Seitz - Overboard - Cruise Ship - FBIdisappearance of cruise passenger Jennifer Ellis-Seitz, age 36. Ms. Ellis-Seitz went overboard from Norwegian Cruise Line's Pearl on Christmas Day in 2008. 

Two years ago Ms. Ellis-Seitz had cruised on a seven-day trip aboard the NCL cruise ship to celebrate her first wedding anniversary with her husband, Raymond Seitz Jr.,  Her mother also cruised with them.  By the time her husband reported her missing, there was an 8 hour delay. The Sun Sentinel newspaper reports that NCL searched the cruise ship for three hours before calling the U.S. Coast Guard.  A subsequent review of the cruise ship's surveillance video revealed her going overboard from the balcony of the couple's cabin.

There were many accounts in the media of suspicious circumstances surrounding the disappearance, including the NBC Today show carrying a story "Missing Woman’s Husband Acted Odd, Passengers Say."  The FBI was photographed inspecting the balcony where Ms. Ellis-Seitz went overboard.

But like most suspicious disappearances, the FBI investigation went nowhere.

The newspaper indicates that the FBI concluded its investigation with "insufficient evidence to prove any crime was committed," according to FBI agent Michael Leverock.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo credit:   Flickr phototouring

Passenger Missing From Sea Princess Cruise Ship

This weekend we received an anonymous email that a passenger died while waiting for an airlift off of the Sea Princess.  Also a passenger had gone overboard from the Sea Princess and is still missing. The ship stopped, turned around, and was still looking for the passenger as of yesterday.

As usual, passengers aboard the Sea Princess were the first commenting on these developments via the Cruise Critic online cruise community.  Dan Askin, an associate editor at Cruise Critic, Sea Princess - Princess Cruises - Missing Passengerpublished a statement from Princess Cruises which said:

We regret to confirm that early this morning as Sea Princess was cruising in the Caribbean between Curacao and Grand Turk, a 50-year-old British female passenger went overboard. 

"The ship was alerted by her husband, who had discovered her missing from their cabin, and our missing persons routine was immediately begun to account for all passengers onboard. A review of CCTV footage confirms that the passenger went over the side of the ship from a balcony cabin.

The ship immediately turned around to search the location, while also alerting the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Curacao, who launched a search plane. The search is currently continuing.

We have contacted the US FBI and the Bermuda Police Service, and we will cooperate fully into any investigation. We have also activated our Care Team.

Sea Princess - Overboard PassengerSea Princess is currently on a two week cruise from Barbados. The ship was on the fifth day of the sailing, which is scheduled to conclude on December 27." 

Over the past year, Princess Cruises has experienced high profile disappearances of a crew member Angelo Faliva from the Coral Princess and a passenger Ms. Edelgard Carney from the Sapphire Princess.

December 24, 2010 Update:

The British press finally picked up the story with an article "British Tourist Missing From Cruise Ship." 

Photo credit: 

Flickriver (blmiers2 )

Princess Cruises web cam

The Right Way To Report A Sad Cruise Story

A Carnival crew member went overboard around 1:00 a.m. yesterday from the Carnival Splendor cruise ship.  According to crew members, the crew member jumped.  Unfortunately, despite a prompt search, the crew member was lost.

The incident was not reported by Carnival's corporate headquarters, nor was the incident reported by the press.  Instead the first person to report on it was a popular Cruise Director, John Heald, who was aboard the cruise ship at the time of the tragic incident.  Mr. Heald is employed as Senior Cruise Director - John Heald Carnival's Senior Cruise Director and writes a very popular blog named, naturally enough, John Healds Blog

The article Mr. Heald wrote - A Very Sad Day -  explains what happened in a clear and sensitive manner.  You will not find any hint in the blog of the stiff corporate mumbo-jumbo which we see from most cruise lines.  One of the problems cruise lines face is that they are afraid to reveal tragedies like this.  When they say nothing, or delay, or sugar coat ugly facts, they lose credibility at best or look like they are hiding things at worst.

But Mr. Heald's informative and respectful blog timely explained the circumstances which brought the cruise ship to a stop in the middle of the night.  It avoided speculation and conspiracy theories. It was the right thing to do.  Over a hundred readers commented, almost all 100% in support of the thoughts expressed in his article. 

Over 140 people have gone overboard in the last decade.  This is the first time I have seen such a prompt statement of a crew or passenger overboard by anyone associated with the cruise line which contained accurate and timely information and also conveyed the story in human terms. 

The industry's trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association, should invite all of the public relations and corporate communications experts from all of the other cruise lines to a cruise with Senior Cruise Director Heald so they can watch a real pro in action.       

 

Photo credit:   Carnival-News.com

Passenger Missing from Balmoral Cruise Ship

Fred Olsen - Balmoral Cruise Ship - Missing PassengerBBC News reports that a passenger is missing from the Fred Olsen 1,350 passenger cruise ship Balmoral, which is due to return to Dover tomorrow after a 21-day Adriatic cruise.

The cruise ship was in the English Channel when the unidentified passenger was noticed to be missing.  A Royal Navy frigate, the HMS Westminster, is taking part in the search for the passenger, along with a U.K. Coast Guard helicopter, a French Coast Guard aircraft and a French warship.

The Daily Mail in the U.K reports that a "man overboard" alert was issued after the 80-year-old's wife reported him missing to staff on the cruise ship in the early hours of October 11th. His wife is beleived to have woken in their cabin on the ship to find he was no longer in bed. 

Were you on the Balmoral and have information to share?  Please leave a comment below or post your information or photos at Cruise Law News' facebook page.

Cruise Crime: Husband Arrested After Throwing Wife Overboard

The police in Hong Kong arrested a 47 year old passenger after he reportedly pushed his 43 year old wife overboard from the MV Macau Success cruise ship yesterday.

The cruise ship made an emergency call to police at 7:40 a.m. reporting that a woman had been pushed into the sea at 7:20 a.m.   The police sent rescue vessels to the scene and pulled the unconscious passenger out of the water at about 8:10 a.m.  She as pronounced dead shortly afterward. 

Macau Success Cruise ShipThe police handcuffed her husband took him to the marine department's regional crime unit, in Sai Wan Ho. 

The South China Morning Post quotes a police officer stating: "Initial investigations indicate that the woman was pushed into the sea from the deck close to the front of the casino ship. Witnesses have been located. Officers also arrested her husband on board the vessel in connection with this murder case."

A week earlier a Chinese passenger jumped from a cruise ship after losing several hundred thousands of dollars gambling on the ship.

Epilogue:  Professor Ross Klein's Cruise Junkie tracks cruise ship overboards.  There have been over 130 in the last decade.  Most do not end up with either an explanation or an arrest Ike this case. 

 

Photograph Credit:        MV Macau Success - South China Morning Post

Passenger Jumps From Celebrity's Solstice Cruise Ship

Professor Ross Klein's Cruise Junkie web site contains an account of a passenger jumping overboard from Celebrity Solstice last Friday:

From a reader:  The story on the cruise that I was on goes like this:  On early Friday morning around 1:30 am a person fell overboard from the 5th floor.  It took them about an hour to locate and rescue the person who was alive (amazing).  He was fighting and very belligerent when he was rescued.  They put the person in handcuffs and he was taking off the ship in the next port of sail Celebrity Solstice Passenger OverBoard Rescuewhich was Roatan Honduras.  The gentleman of approximately 65 years of age had an argument with his wife at an 80's party being held in the Sky Lounge near the bow.  At about 1:30 am on deck 5 starboard he removed most of his clothing and dove off the deck.  Fast acting crew members threw a flashing buoy overboard immediately to mark his location and the man-overboard call was made. 

The Captain was summoned and many of us heard the code "Oscar, Oscar" Apparently 2-zodiacs were launched the second after some issues with the first .... of this I am not certain.  Upon reaching the very lucking gentleman he did not wish to be rescued and when pulled on board the zodiac became belligerent and hence was cuffed.  We were told he was removed from the ship in Roatan.  Yesterday in the afternoon, on our last day at sea, the Captain came on the loudspeaker and thanked his hard working crew for their efforts for the rescue. 

Last November, a passenger disappeared from this cruise ship.  You can read about the prior incident:  Passenger Reported Overboard from Celebrity's Solstice Cruise Ship

Gambling Cruise Passenger Loses $650,000, Jumps From 13th Deck

SuperStar Aquarius - Star Cruises - Man OverboardOnlinePoker.net reports that a 51 year old passenger aboard the SuperStar Aquarius lost HK$5 million ($650,000) playing baccarat.  He then leaped to his death from the top floor of the 13-deck cruise ship.

The article identifies the passenger as "Xu" and states that he gambled at the baccarat table until it closed at 8 a.m. on Sunday.  After losing this staggering amount, "Xu then wandered the deck for an hour before he was seen jumping to his death .  .  ." 

A police spokesman classified the incident as “man overboard,” with no suspicious circumstances.

The cruise ship is operated by Star Cruises.

Another Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship? - Oasis of the Seas

Has another person disappeared from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship?

A passenger on Royal Caribbean's mega ship Oasis of the Seas is commenting on Cruise Critic that the Captain announced earlier this afternoon that the cruise ship was turning around to search for a missing person.  

Passengers aboard the cruise ship (see the comments below) are telling us that a crew member went overboard.

Overboard - Missing - Royal Caribbean - Oasis of the Seas If this information is correct, then this is the fourth overboard from Royal Caribbean cruise ships this year.  On May 6th we reported on Royal Caribbean crew member Satianand (Satyanand) Buddaru who disappeared from the Explorer of the Seas -  Crew Member Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas

In March a crew member employed by Park West Gallery jumped overboard from the Radiance of the Seas.  Our stories about the incident are available here: "Man Overboard" Reported on Radiance of the Seas and here Master of Radiance of the Seas Praised for Rapid Response to Crew Overboard.

On New Year's Eve Royal Caribbean crew member Neha Chhikara jumped from the Monarch of the Seas.

These type of incidents raise questions whether this cruise line has adequate security systems in place to address the issue of passenger and crew member overboards.  Last year, the  popular web site Jaunted published an article "Enough With People Jumping Off Cruise Ships Already!" The article refers to ". . . an assistant purser on Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas (who) apparently hated his job so much that he couldn't wait until he was back on land to quit, hopping overboard as the ship steamed from Key West to Miami . . . "  Fortunately, he was rescued.

Royal Caribbean has had more than its share of unexplained "disappearances" of passengers and crew, including the very disturbing case of Mirrian Carver who vanished from the Mercury cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean's subsidiary Celebrity Cruises.  ABC's Primetime covered the story in an article "Cruise Cover-Up?  Cruise Line Doesn't Notify Anyone When Woman Disappears On Second Day Of Trip."  

Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean have a reputation of being very secretive when people go overboard.  Following the last crew overboard from the Explorer of the Seas, we received sixty-three (63) comments to our article.  Most of the comments were from passengers or crew members on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  Passengers are often the only source of accurate and timely information when things go wrong on the high seas.

Were you on the Oasis of the Seas during this latest disappearance?  If you have information to share, please leave a comment below.

May 25th 2:00 p.m. Update - Crew Member Identified:

The Coast Guard News identifies the crew member as 45 year old  Dillon Roache, of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  The Coast Guard states that Mr. Roache was "confirmed overboard" between Nassau and St. Thomas.  This means that the cruise ship's surveillance cameras captured images of the crew member going overboard.  As we have mentioned in prior articles, Royal Caribbean apparently does not monitor its exterior cameras or use technology to alert the bridge when the security cameras detect persons going overboard. 

Many male crew members from St. Vincent work as manual laborers (utility cleaners, night cleaners, etc.).  The work is hard and the pay is as low as $137 for 85 hour work week.  Read "Screwed If By Sea" for an idea of the working conditions on Royal Caribbean.  

May 26th Update - Crew Members Reported Mr. Roach Missing around  1:00 p.m. on Monday  

The Virgin Islands Daily News reports that according to a statement issued by Royal Caribbean, "about 1 p.m. on Monday, May 24th the Oasis of the Seas’ crew reported that one of their co-workers was missing. Security searched the ship and paged the missing crew member, then contacted the U.S. Coast Guard and the Bahamian Coast Guard."  According to the newspaper, "closed circuit camera footage revealed that the missing crew member fell from the ship, Royal Caribbean said."  But the cruise line did not disclose the circumstances to explain why the crew member went overboard.

May 27th Update - Questions Remain How Crew Member Went Overboard:

In prior incidents when crew members went overboard from Royal Caribbean cruise ships, the cruise line claimed the crew members jumped.  But in this situation, the cruise line has stayed Oasis of the Seas - Crew Overboard - Webcam - Surveillancemum.  The Norwegian shipping magazine Tradewinds just published an article about this latest disappearance from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  The article states that the crew member "fell' and referred to the incident as a "horrific accident."   Notably absent from this article, as well as the  statements from the Coast Guard or cruise line, is any indication that the crew member was suicidal and "jumped."     

The Oasis of the Seas has hundreds of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras.  It has several webcams where you can even watch what's happening on the cruise ship from your home computer, like the webcam of the pool and sports zone (above right).  Royal Caribbean knows what happened, but is not telling.

This is the type of case where the cruise lines could establish some degree of credibility and transparency with the American public.  Instead, this cruise line has defaulted to its usual character of secrecy.

Does anyone has information regarding how the incident occurred?  Please leave a comment below. 

May 29 Update - Passengers Return to Fort Lauderdale:

Some passengers returning home from the cruise today have emailed us.  A few have left comments, including one passenger, "Dave," who writes that the crew member jumped off of deck five at 3 a.m. in the morning and was "seen on the camera swimming in the ocean."   Can other passengers confirm this?   Leave us a comment below if you have information to share .  .  . 

May 30 Update - Interview with Wife:

The Caribbean Daily News interviewed the crew member's wife, Doris Roache, who indicated that her husband had worked for Royal Caribbean for five years, and was employed as an assistant waiter.  He left St. Vincent on Friday May 21st after spending two months vacation with her.  He flew to Miami and stayed in a hotel Friday night and joined the cruise ship on Saturday, May 22nd. The ship sailed at 5 p.m. Saturday evening.  Mrs. Roache received a call from her husband between 11:00 -12:00 p.m. Saturday night. He told her he was okay and that the ship was sailing towards the Bahamas.  She later received a call on Monday morning, May 24th, between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. from the "ship’s administration" saying that her husband was missing and that he was last seen aboard the ship at 11:00 p.m. Sunday, May 23rd. while the ship was sailing.  "They said that he did not come to work; he is an assistant waiter and he is never late so they sent somebody to look for him and he was nowhere to be found.” 

 

Credits:

Oasis of the Seas       Kenneth Karsten via shipspotting.com

Oasis of the Seas webcam       Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. 

Crew Member Overboard from Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas

A member of Cruise Critic sailing aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas cruise ship is commenting that a crew member apparently went overboard from the cruise ship last night.  There is a suggestion by those on the cruise ship that the crew member is a waiter and may have jumped. 

We reported earlier this year on two other crew members who jumped from Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  On December 31, 2009 we posted the article " Wife of Royal Caribbean Crew Member on Monarch of the Seas Goes OverBoard" involving an apparent suicide of Royal Caribbean crew member Neha Chhikara who jumped from the Monarch of the Seas.  Her case involved allegations that her husband, Ankit Delal, also working on the cruise ship, physically and emotionally abused her.

Explorer of the Seas - OverboardIn March, another crew member jumped from Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas.  You can read about that incident here:  "Man Overboard" Reported on Radiance of the Seas.   We reported that the Master of the  cruise ship responded quickly; however, the crew member (an employee of Park West Gallery) did not survive - "Master of Radiance of the Seas Praised for Rapid Response to Crew Overboard."

It is currently unknown whether the crew member was rescued.  139 people have gone overboard from cruise ships in the last ten years, according to Professor Ross Klein's Cruise Junkie web site.

We will update the article as more information becomes available.  Were you on the cruise or have information to share?  Please leave a comment below. 

May 6, 2010 Update:

FoxNews.com is reporting that the U.S. Coast Guard is conducting a search for the 26 year old crew member 138 miles north of the coastal town of Isabela, Puerto Rico.  

Royal Caribbean's PR spokesperson Cynthia Martinez is quoted as saying that an after-the-fact review of closed circuit television tapes (CCTV) reveals the crew member lowering himself over the side of the cruise ship around 8:15 p.m. last night.  However, a passenger commenting on the Cruise Critic web sites indicates that the ship did not turn to search for the crew members until around 10:20 p.m. - around two hours later.

These types of incidents reveal security deficiencies on cruise ships.  If a crew member can lower himself over the rail and into the water without being spotted by security or detected by cameras, a terrorist can just as easily come over the rail and onto the ship without being detected. 

Does anyone on the Royal Caribbean cruise ships monitor the exterior cameras? 

We have reported on this problem on other Royal Caribbean overboards - "Asleep At the Wheel: What Does the Delayed Reporting of Neha Chhikara's Disappearance from the Monarch of the Seas Reveal About Royal Caribbean's Shipboard Security? "

May 7, 2010 Update - Search begins:

The Coast Guard News reports that Coast Guard watchstanders in San Juan received a call at approximately 9:15 p.m. Wednesday from the cruise ship Explorer of the Seas reporting the incident.

Coast Guard rescue crews then began searching for the man overboard.  The Coast Guard deployed a HU-25 Falcon jet crew from Air Station Miami, a C-130 aircraft from Air Station Clearwater, and Coast Guard Cutters Matinicus and Chincoteague (110-foot patrol boats) homeported in San Juan.

May 7, 2010 Update - Comments by family:

The brother and sister of the crew member have left comments below, seeking information and an explanation regarding what happened.  We hope that the cruise line will provide the necessary information and assistance.  Condolences to the Buddaru Family. 

May 8, 2010 Update - Search ends:

According to the Daily Sun newspaper in Puerto Rico, the Coast Guard suspended its search for the crew member yesterday morning at "about 7 a.m.”  A Coast Guard spokesperson said "regrettably we did not find him alive."  

 May 8, 2010 - Crew member identified:

A newspaper Defi Media Group is reporting that the Royal Caribbean crew member is Satianand (Satyanand) Buddaru, age 26, whose family lives on the island of Mauritius.  The newspaper suggests that he worked as a bartender on the cruise ship, although most comments indicate that he was a waiter or assistant waiter.  His sister, Anuradha, stated that she spoke to him "on the telephone Wednesday Satianand Buddaru - Satyanand Buddarumorning.  It seemed normal.  He had no personal problem."

May 9 Update - Passengers applaud Master and crew: 

Passengers aboard the cruise ship are commenting that the cruise ship responded promptly and the crew handled themselves profesionally during this difficult experience. 

A newspaper in Mauritius LexPress.mu reports that Mr. Buddaru had worked for three years for Royal Caribbean.  

May 10, 2010 Update:

Defi Media in Mauritius has an article today on Mr. Buddaru's disappearance, and incudes a photograph (above right) of the young man.

May 11, 2010 Update:

A newspaper in the cruise ship's home port in New Jersey is reporting that the FBI is investigating the incident.  The article also mentions that crew members reported Mr. Buddaru missing around 8:40 p.m.  The Coast Guard issued a statement that they were notified around 9:15 p.m.  The CCTV images apparently show the crew member going overboard at 8:13 p.m.

 

Credits

Photo of Explorer of the Seas       Luke Redmond's Fickr photostream

Photograph of Ms. Buddaru  DefiMedia Mauritius

"Deadly Honeymoon" - Lifetime Movie Network - Cruise Disappearance

After endless promotional movie clips, Lifetime Movie Network (LMN) finally premiered "Deadly Honeymoon" tonight.  The movie is loosely based (very loosely based) on the tragic death of George Smith IV during his honeymoon cruise with our client, Jennifer Hagel, aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas cruise ship in July 2005. 

The movie follows two young newlyweds from Denver, Colorado as they embark on their honeymoon cruise from their "picture-perfect" wedding in Hawaii.  The actors in the TV movie are Chris Carmack as "Trevor Forrest" and Summer Glau who plays his newly wed wife, "Lindsey."

Chris Carmack - Trevor Forrest - George Smtih - Summer Glau - Lindsey - Jennifer Hagel - Deadly Honeymoon  LMN describes the dream vacation evolving into a night of "wild partying, infidelity and strange encounters with a group of passengers."

The next morning the passengers awake to find Trevor missing, presumed to have fallen overboard to his death.  But as the investigation proceeds, an FBI Investigator who just happens to be aboard the cruise ship questions whether Trevor’s death really was just an accident.

I had never heard of the Lifetime Movie Network before.  Now I know why. 

The movie is very dramatic.  But like most Hollywood productions it is ridiculous, having little to so with the actual facts of the case.  I can't imagine being a member of the Hagel or Smith families having to watch this nonsense.

In reality, was there "partying" during George Smith's cruise?  Yes, but what cruise ship doesn't have partying and drinking?  Was there "infidelity?"  No.  Were there "strange encounters" with other passengers?  Yes.  Passengers Josh Askin, Rusty Koffman and the two Rosenbergs who were last with George Smith on the night in question are motley characters, in my opinion.  Two nights after George Smith disappeared, they were accused of raping or watching the assault of a young woman on the cruise ship.  But Royal Caribbean had already sent their defense lawyers to the scene, and the charges were quickly dropped.  Greg Rosenberg, one of the men in George Smith's cabin before Mr. Smith went overboard, is reportedly serving time today on drug trafficking charges.  He is in prison at this moment. 

But does this movie, provide any insight into what happened on July 5, 2005 when the Brilliance of the Seas was sailing to Kusadasi, Turkey?  No.  

In real life, disappearances on cruise ships, whether due to crime or not, are rarely solved.  This is due to the failure of the cruise industry to protect U.S. passenger on foreign-flagged cruise ships like the Brilliance of the Seas. And the failure of the Federal Bureau of Investigations to prosecute crimes which occur on the high seas.

In the last 10 years, over 130 passengers have "disappeared."  Most cases remain mysteries. This is something that cruise lines don't want the U.S. public to know.

July 6, 2010 Update - Five Years Later:

The Death of George Allen Smith IV - Five Years Later

September 14, 2010 Update On George Smith Disappearance Case:

There is now a final settlement - Cruise Disappearance Case of George Smith IV - Civil Case Settled But Is Justice Done?

January 2012 Update: Update on Disappearance of George Smith From Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Ship

May 2012 Update: "New" Evidence in George Smith Case: "We Gave That Guy A Paragliding Lesson Without A Parachute"

 

Credit:            Lifetime Movie Network 

"Danger On The Love Boat: Cruise Ship Crimes, Disappearances & Cover Ups"

For the past three years, I have written several hundreds of pages of stories about the cruise ship cases we have handled.  The cruise lines' skill, in engaging in an endless number of stunts and cover ups before judges and juries, our U.S. Congress and the American people, never ceases to amaze me. 

I have written these stories with an eye toward incorporating these experiences into a book about cruise ship crime.  We have represented over 70 victims of sexual assault on cruise ships.  Some cruise lines are nasty and other lines are even nastier regarding how they treat the victims.  A central focus of my writing has been the extraordinary steps taken by the cruise lines to keep the public from knowing the truth about what happens on the high seas. 

"Danger On The Love Boat - Cruise Ship Crimes, Disappearances, Cover Ups"®I have released tidbits of these stories as blog articles here on Cruise Law News ("CLN") to see if there is an interest.

So far, I have received a lot of encouragement.  Most recently, I received a nice recommendation via a #FollowFriday recommendation on Twitter from a very talented paralegal, Kristina Duncan, whose Twitter page is @legalninjaKris.  A reader to her blog made the following comment:

Mr. Walker’s series is a compelling presentation of cruising’s nasty underbelly.  It should be read by everyone considering a cruise, so they will be aware of the risks before signing a contract.  It is shocking to see how much support in law cruise operators have in defense of the outrageous behavior Mr. Walker documents.  There is an obvious need for serious legislation to deal with these issues.  I hope Mr. Walker will see his series titles as chapters in a much-needed book exposing cruise operator conduct to the American public.  Thank you for publicizing this informative series.

So with thanks to Ms. Duncan, I'll admit that a cruise book has been in the works for a while.  I have a commitment from a good publishing house. There are many stories that are not well known, yet.  Like the outrageous circumstances surrounding the "disappearance" of Italian crew member Angelo Faliva (photo above), as well as other equally disturbing crimes not yet revealed to the public.  The task now is to figure out which stories are the most compelling and to turn the manuscript over to the publishing company.  

I will donate 100% of the "profits" (if any) to a non-profit organization involved in cruise safety issues.  If no one buys a copy, I'll buy a 1,000 myself and pass them out to my friends and family - and then send the other 993 copies to whoever wants one!  

I hear that most publishing companies like to make the decision to name the books they publish.  We'll see if that happens.  I am struggling with the title.  I am thinking of: "Danger On The Love Boat: Cruise Ship Crimes, Disappearances & Cover Ups."®

The lawyers and support staff at Cruise Law don't like the title.  What so you think?

Contact me on the "Ask Jim A Question" box to the left, or leave a comment below, or call me at (305) 995-5300 with your thoughts.  I'll send a couple of free copies to anyone who can think of a good name for the book.

Thanks!  

 

Credits:       vascellor.it 

Update On Death of Royal Caribbean Crew Member Neha Chhikara

Neha Chhikara - Ankit Dalal - Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship OverboardA newspaper in India is reporting that there are developments in the sad case of Neha Chhikara, who died after going overboard from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Monarch of the Seas on New Year's Eve.  Ms. Chhikara was sailing aboard the cruise ship with her husband, Ankit Dalal, who is described as working on the Monarch as a "manager" of some type.  She was about to start working as a guest relations manager.

Ms. Chhikara's family accuses Mr. Dalal and his family of abusing their daughter as part of a "dowry dispute."  She is alleged to have jumped overboard because she could not stand the physical and emotional abuse caused by her husband.  In return, the Dalal family accused their daughter-in-law of being emotionally imbalanced.  We have written many articles about the incident.

The Sify News is now reporting that a "vigilance department" in India, which is investigating the complaint of "harassment for dowry," has received a report from "U.S. officials" regarding the death.  It is less than clear who in the U.S. is investigating Ms. Chhikara's death; perhaps it is the FBI.  The newspaper mentions that the U.S. report allegedly "indicts" Mr. Dalal, at least according to the Chhikara family. 

It is also unclear why the U.S. is investigating an incident involving two Indian nationals on a foreign flagged cruise ship in international waters.  Uncertainty of who will take jurisdiction is one of the problems which families of crew members face when their loved ones disappear from cruise ships.  

Update:

The Indian Express reports that the report was a "joint report" by the the "U.S. authorities and the Bahamas government." 

The Monarch is registered in Nassau, Bahamas and the cruise ship was sailing from Nassau to CocoCay, Bahamas at the time of her disappearance overboard.  There is no information being reported now that was not contained in the initial reports of the incident.  See our report on January 1, 2010 - Wife of Royal Caribbean Crew Member on Monarch of the Seas Goes OverBoard.

 

Credits:

Photograph of Neha Chhikara and Ankit Dalal           FaceBook    

Your Dream Cruise - The Perfect Place For The Perfect Crime?

A blockbuster story has been published in Germany tracking crimes and the "disappearances" of passengers and crew members from cruise ships over the past decade.

Published in the popular German magazine "Wunderwelt Wisen," the article discusses the cases of passengers James Scavonne, Dianne Brimble, Merrian Carver, Christopher Caldwell, and George Smith IV, as well as the recent disappearance of Italian crew member Angelo Faliva.

Under the title "Dream Boats," the author, Philipp Saller, informs the reader that a tourist who chooses a cruise ship is choosing a holiday in a small town without a police station.  He concludes that "dream ships are perfect for the perfect crime." 

I first heard this analogy when I attended the December 2005 Congressional hearing regarding cruise crime issues, following the disappearance of George Smith IV.  His Congressman, Christopher Shays, raised the question at the hearing - "is going on a cruise the perfect way to commit the perfect crime?"

Cruise lines currently have no legal obligation to report crimes and disappearances which occur on the high seas to the FBI.  Not surprisingly, there have been very few FBI investigations over the course of the 40 year history of the cruise industry.  Prosecuting crimes on cruise ships is rare. 

A reprint of the article is below.  We are in the process of having the article translated and will update this article when we have the English translation.  

Cruise ship - The Perfect Place For The Perfect Crime

Cruise Ship - Perfect Place For The Perfect Crime?

Cruise Ship - Perfect Place For The Perfect Crime?

Cruise Ship - Perfect Place For The Perfect Crime?

 

Credits:

Wunderwelt Wissen (Philipp Saller) 

Master of Radiance of the Seas Praised for Rapid Response to Crew Overboard

In most cases involving overboard passengers and crew, the cruise line faces criticism that it failed to respond quickly to the emergency.  Cruise lines are often guilty of trying to bamboozle the passengers after-the-fact and act like nothing happened.

So with the recent tragedy of a crew member jumping overboard from Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas, we were expecting the usual criticisms from both passengers and crew that the situation was handled poorly.  But instead, we have received calls and emails that the cruise ship Master - Captain Eric Tengelsen - Royal Caribbean - Radiance of the Seasresponded rapidly to the crisis.  The officers on the bridge quickly slowed the cruise ship and turned the vessel to begin rescue efforts.  The crew member was back on the cruise ship within 18 - 20 minutes.  Unfortunately, the crew member died notwithstanding the rescue efforts.

The Master of the cruise ship - Eric Tengelsen - was also praised for being informative and sincere with the passengers about what was happening.

Here are some comments we received from passengers aboard the cruise ship:

From Catherine: "The ship's Captain was very honest and forthcoming coming with all the information."

From Esther:  "The Captain was very thoughtful and straightforward when he announced he was pleased that within 18-20 minutes they were able to rescue the man.  What a great response.  We were all relieved but the next day, heard the Captain announce that the man died after 1 1/2 hours of CPR.  We were so sad but glad that the Captain was honest with us. Our prayers go out to this man's family."

From Susan: "A heroic effort by the crew.  The event was handled respectfully by the Captain who was honest and forthcoming.  Very sad that he wasn't able to ask for help.  I was very impressed by the staff from day one to 10."         

The Cruise Critic website has similar comments praising Captain Tengelsen's handling of this very sad situation.

Condolences to the crew member's family and loved ones.   

 

Credits:

Master Tengelsen                      Mike and Carol's Vacation Vacation Reviews (thepreismans.com)

"Man Overboard" Reported on Radiance of the Seas

According to the cruise community site Cruise Line Fans, a "man overboard" was  reported at 8:00 p.m. last night from Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas cruise ship. Here is the account:

"At about 8pm last night the call was heard OSCAR! OSCAR! OSCAR! PORT SIDE!  The ship shook as it slowed done and turned around.  Flashing buoy rings could be seen in the distance.  The rescue boats was quickly launched.  Within 20 minutes CPR was being conducted on a Radiance of the Seas - Crew - Overboardman being brought back onboard."

If this account is accurate, the good news is that the overboard was reported right away and the cruise ship responded quickly.

No one else has published information about this latest cruise overboard.  The news was first released via the Twitter page of @CruiseLine Fans.

Do you have information regarding this latest overboard?  If so, please leave a comment below.

Update:

A reader commented below that a crew member jumped, apparently an employee of the art concessionaire. 

 

Creidts:

Radiance of the Seas      Wikipedia

What Happened to Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva? The Faliva Family Seeks Answers

The popular Italian TV Show "Chi l'ha Visto?" featured the story of Angelo Faliva last night.

Mr. Faliva was a healthy, happy and well-liked chef aboard the Coral Princess cruise ship when he "disappeared" on the high seas near Columbia last November.  The cruise line is content with throwing its hand up and claiming "we don't know what happened" - a less than believable explanation given the fact that the Princess cruise ships have hundreds of video cameras all over Coral Princess - Where Is Angelo Faliva? - Princess Cruises their cruise ships.

We have written many articles about Mr. Faliva and his family's struggle to seek information about his disappearance.

The "Chi l'ha Visto?" program in Italy is a cross between the U.S.'s Sixty Minutes and America's Most Wanted television programs.  

The Italian producers interviewed Angelo's sister, Chiara, who has taken the lead in searching for answers, as well as Mr. Faliva's mother and father, Giuseppina and Roberto.  There are very insightful videos of Angelo showing his dynamic and fun-loving personality.

The Faliva family expresses their appreciation of the efforts of the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization to publicize this latest cruise ship disappearance and the indifference of the cruise line and the flag country (Bermuda) to seriously investigate and solve this mystery.  

The ICV's story regarding Mr. Faliva can be viewed here.  The "Chi l'ha Visto?" video is below.  It is in Italian, but the images are compelling.  Even if you can't  speak Italian, you can feel what the family is saying.    

 

 

If you have information about this story, please contact us.

 

Credits:

Coral Princess Bridge Cam        Princess Cruises

Video                   "Chi l'ha Visto?" 

Italian TV Show "Chi l'ha Visto?" Features Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva

The hometown newspaper for missing crew member Angelo Faliva, reports that the popular Italian program "'Chi l'ha Visto?" will again feature the mysterious circumstances surrounding the disappearance of young Mr. Faliva from the Coral Princess cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises.   

Cremona On Line's website states:

"Questa sera a 'Chi l'ha visto?' sarà trattato il caso di Angelo Faliva, il cuoco di 32 anni scomparso misteriosamente sulla Coral Princess il 25 novembre scorso. La nave da crociera su cui lavorava era in crociera nei Caraibi."

Angelo Faliva - Missing - Coral Princess - Princess Cruises "'Chi l'ha Visto?" is a very popular television show in Italy which covers the disappearances of loved ones who vanish under uncertain and discomforting circumstances.  (We will link the video of the show once it is available.) 

The mystery of Princess crew member Angelo Faliva is a story which we have carefully followed since his "disappearance" last November.  

This type of incident - which has not received much coverage in the U.S. yet - demonstrates the fundamental corruptness of the foreign flagged cruise industry.  Crimes and disappearances often go un-reported, un-investigated and un-prosecuted because of the indifference of the flag countries and the desire of the image-obsessed cruise lines to sweep the problem under the rug.

This is a particularly disgraceful story because the cruise line, Princess Cruises - of "Love Boat" fame - has provided no useful information to the grieving Faliva family.  The "investigators" in Bermuda, where the cruise line registered the cruise ship to avoid taxes, labor and wage laws as well as legal accountability, are doing nothing.  This is exactly why cruise lines pay countries like Bermuda - in the middle of nowhere - to register their cruise lines.    

We will be following this story closely.  To bring yourself up to date regarding the plight of the Faliva family, consider reading:

Crew Member Missing from Princess Cruises' Coral Princess Cruise Ship 

 Family of Missing Crew Member Seeks Answers - Princess Cruises Claims "We Are Puzzled"

2009 Ends With Family of Missing Princess Cruises Crew Member Continuing to Seek Answers

Top Cruise Story of 2009 - Sister of Missing Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva Speaks Out: "Vogliamo la Verità!" - "We Want the Truth!"

The Case of Missing Crew Member Angelo Faliva - Is Princess Cruises Engaged In A Cover Up?

Update: Missing Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva - What Say You, Master Mariano Manfuso?

Angelo Faliva Case: Were You on the Coral Princess on November 25, 2009?

Neither Dead Nor Alive - The Faliva Family Remains In Limbo

International Cruise Victims - the Story of Angelo Faliva

Update on Missing Crewmember Angelo Faliva - a Story of "Pain & Incompetency"

 

Do you have information about Mr. Faliva?  Please contact us. 

Readers Provide Information on Overboard Cruise Ship Passengers

In the last two weeks, there have been two overboard passengers from U.S.-based cruise ships - Costa's Serena  and Holland America Line's Rotterdam.

These incidents have been reported - not by the cruise lines or the press - but by Canadian Professor and cruise expert Ross Klein who hosts the informative web site Cruise Junkie.  Dr. Klein has been tracking passenger and crew overboards for the past decade. 

Like Dr. Klein, we are increasingly being contacted by passengers, crew and other concerned individuals when things go wrong on cruise ships.  Here is some updated information we received from our readers:

Passenger Overboard From Costa Serena

Costa Serena - Passenger OverboardIn response to our article "Person Overboard from Costa Serena Cruise Ship?," one passenger confirmed that a 34 year old French passenger went missing at midnight on February 26th. 

"The ship had to turn around the following day. But the ship and coast guard did not find the man. On that following night the ship was given the go ahead to return to original course. but at that time it was too late to visit the port of Cadiz."

Another passenger informed us:

"Yesterday we returned from the Costa Serena. The Captain had reported to all of us passengers that the missing man was a Frenchman of the surname Pascal, reported missing by his father who was also traveling on the Costa Serena. At the time he went missing the ship was traveling from Tenerife to Cadiz (our itinerary was changed from going to Madeira because of their disaster).  Once Mr. Pascal was reported missing, the ship had turned round and for several hours searched in the area where he may have fallen overboard.  Then we were told the search and rescue authorities were taking over and as it was too late for us to visit Cadiz, we were taken straight to our following destination, i.e. Malaga. We hope that you will be able to find more regarding the fate of the missing man and let us know."
 

Passenger Overboard From HAL's Rotterdam

In response to an article " Passenger Reported Overboard From Holland America's Rotterdam Cruise Ship," a United States Naval Aircrewman reported the following:

Holland America Line - Rotterdam - Overboard

"I was surprised that this report was not confirmed, and was hoping to help. I was aboard the aircraft referenced that arrived "onstation" to assist in the S.A.R. Operation, a United States Navy P-3C of Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron (VP)- 26.

We arrived on station after the victim had been in water for about an hour and a half, the delay largely attributed to communication delays, and the relay of the initiated SAR from ship, to shore, to our controller. WE initiated a search pattern that proved unsuccessful. At which point we adjusted our search to the estimated current drift. After several hours we searched our absolute min allowable "off-station" fuel load (required for the transit back to base) and at the last moment we located the SAR victim. Since we were bingo fuel all we could do was give a gps point and get back home. During SAR operations we prefer to maintain "eyes-on" to guide the pick-up vessel in.

I speak for my crew in saying we are grateful to know that at least he was picked up even though we could not affect a rescue. We offer our condolences to the family and relatives, and I hope you know that we did all that we could."

Thanks To Our Readers

Thank you to our readers who have expressed their concern for these passengers and their families and have taken the time to provide information regarding these sad cases.

A special thank you to our brave U.S. Coast Guard and Navy Airmen who put their lives on the line to search for and recover our loved ones at sea.

 

Credits:

Costa Serena                      CruiseAir's photostream

HAL's Rotterdam                Cajun Bob's photostream

Person Overboard from Costa Serena Cruise Ship?

CruiseJunkie.com reports that was a person may have gone overboard from the Costa Serena last Saturday February 27th.

A passenger informed the CruiseJunkie web site that a person was reported missing from the Costa cruise ship while in the Atlantic between the Canary Islands and Malaga.

Costa Serena Overboard? - Missing - DisappearanceThe web site stresses that this incident is not yet confirmed from the cruise line company but is based on the account from a passenger on board the ship.

We last reported on an overboard passenger last week - Passenger Reported Overboard From Holland America's Rotterdam Cruise Ship.  There was no official confirmation from the cruise line in that case either.

This is one of the problems with overboards and crimes on cruise ships.  As matters now stand, cruise lines are under no legal obligation to report such incidents to U.S. authorities.  As a practical matter, cruise lines do not like to report incidents which tend to show that cruising is unsafe.

It has become increasingly difficult for cruise lines to engage in cover ups, with an increasing number of people using blogs and other social media tools like Twitter and FaceBook.  

Although the cruise industry refuses to disclose the actual number of people going overboard from cruise ships, the Cruise Junkie web page documents over 130 passengers and crew members have jumped, fallen, or been thrown from cruise ships in the last decade.  

 

Credits:

Costa Serena cruise ship                     comequandofuoripiove1973 Flickr Photostream

 

Passenger Reported Overboard From Holland America's Rotterdam Cruise Ship

The on line web information portal CruiseJunkie.com is reporting that a passenger may have gone overboard yesterday from the Rotterdam cruise ship.

The report is based on information received from a passenger on the Holland America Line cruise ship. 

Rotterdam Cruise Ship - Overboard - Missing PassengerCruiseJunkie.com is operated by Dr. Ross Klein, a cruise industry expert who has, among other pages, a large web page called "Events At Sea - All The Things That Can Go Wrong On A Cruise."  Dr. Klein reported yesterday:

I have been informed that a passenger jumped from the M/S Rotterdam today and was recovered deceased at about 5 pm local time. The ship will be in Costa Rica tomorrow.  This account has not be confirmed or reported by the media.

in addition to Dr, Klein's site, a comment on the popular on line cruise community CruiseCritic.com mentions the incident under the topic "Man Overboard on Rotterdam???"

 ". . . A "man overboard" was reported to the bridge, just before noon. What was done, then was to chart where the person went overboard and turn the ship around to that area. By 2:00 PM, an airplane came to circle around and look for anything in the water. By 4:00 PM, the plane had spotted something, and the ship headed there. By 5:00 PM, a tender was dropped into the ocean and found what was believed to be the person. Many of us were on deck 3, and as the tender returned to the ship, the Captain asked that all on deck 3 please, out of respect, to leave the deck. I don't know anything else. We will find out soon if we'll miss our port, tomorrow. I don't know if we'll get information about the person. There was an announcement, earlier, for someone in cabin x, to please call the front desk immediately. Tonight is formal night and I don't think anyone wants to dress up."

We previously reported on a HAL handling of an overboard passenger in an article ""Suicide" - One of the Cruise Lines' Favorite Excuses When a Passenger Disappears at Sea."  That case involved passenger Amber Malkuch.  HAL quickly called her disappearance a suicide.  This surprised not only Ms. Malkuch's friends and family, but dumbfounded the Alaskan State Troopers who had yet to review photographs and video, conduct interviews or analyze toxicology reports. 

It will be interesting to see how HAL handles this situation.  By not issuing a press statement, it looks like HAL is trying to keep the incident secret.  

Dr. Klein reports that there have been over 130 cruise overboard in the last 10 years. How many more have not been reported by the cruise industry? 

February 27, 2010 Update:

CruiseJunkiereports: "Around 10 A.M. this morning, while breakfast was going on, one guest, supposedly of cabin 1905, jumped from the outside deck. The jump was apparently witnessed as there was an immediate man overboard call and the ship manouvered quickly and then anchored and a search happened. The ship staff searched for hours, and then about 5 pm, they recovered the man's body. The ship has been under code red for 6 days for norovirus and the staff was already under huge stress." 

CruiseCritic reports that the overboard passenger was a member of the CruiseCritic on line community.
 

 

  

Credits:

Rotterdam cruise ship                 jimg944 Flickr Photostream

Coast Guard Searches for Crewmember Missing From Pacific Venus Cruise Ship

The U.S. Coast Guard issued a press statement that it is searching for a crew member from the cruise ship Pacific Venus, which was sailing from Hawaii back to Yokohama, Japan.

The 24 year-old crew member was noticed missing at approximately 2 p.m., on Saturday, February 20th, after he failed to show up for his post aboard the cruise ship. The Master of the Pacific Venus' Pacific Venus cruise ship - missing crewmember called the Coast Guard in Honolulu at 5 p.m. Saturday to report the missing crew member and to say the ship had turned around to look for him.

The Pacific Venus spent several hours Saturday afternoon searching for the crewmember before sunset in an area where he was last seen been aboard the cruise ship.

The Coast Guard deployed two C-130 long-range search aircraft to search for the overboard crewmember.

The Coast Guard also reports that a "Good Samaritan" vessel, a Japanese vessel Nippon Maru, answered a call to help through the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) program, and searched for the crewmember.

A newspaper in Hawaii reports on the story in an article entitled "Coast Guard Continues to Search for Overboard Cruise Ship Crew Member" and indicated that the Coast Guard will continue searching for the overboard crewmember.

 

Credit

Pacific Venus cruise ship                      ykanazawa Flickr photostream
 

Update on Missing Crewmember Angelo Faliva - a Story of "Pain & Incompetency"

An Italian blogger Stefano Nazzi provides updated information regarding the "disappearance" of Italian crew member Angelo Faliva from the Coral Princess cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises.

In his article entitled "Chi Indaga Sulla Scomparsa di Angelo Faliva?" Mr. Nazzi questions whether anyone is actually investigating Mr. Faliva's disappearance.  He characterizes the situation as Angelo Faliva - Coral Princess Cruise Ship - Princess Cruises an "ugly story" - one "of pain" suffered by the Faliva family and "incompetence and laxity" by the police in Bermuda. 

In theory, the country of Bermuda is suppose to be investigating the case, because Princess Cruises flags its cruise ships in that country to avoid U.S. taxes and U.S. labor and wage laws.  

The fact that Bermuda has no genuine interest in investigating crimes and mysterious incidents on Princess cruise ships is becoming increasingly apparent.  Princess Cruises operates its fleet of cruise ships out of its corporate headquarters in Santa Clarita, California.  The police in Bermuda are literally and figuratively in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, apparently doing little to provide answers for the Faliva family.

The Italian blog suggests that the police in Bermuda have still not inspected Mr. Faliva's three cellular telephones or his computer and camera. Nor have they examined the records of the cruise ship's surveillance cameras.  When Mr. Faliva's younger sister, Chiara, inquired into the delay, the police in Bermuda complained that they were busy with other matters.  They wrote that they felt harassed by Ms. Faliva and preferred to be left alone!

The blog also contains a comment by Chiara Faliva that her family believes that the Princess cruise ship knows more about her brother's death than it will admit.  And the authorities in Bermuda are providing no answers as the family's search for information approaches three months.      

She writes that "frankly I believe that persons on board the ship know what happened at my brother.  Besides the sadness, pain, and anger, I experience also disgust, amazement and incredulity . . ." by the attitude of the "investigating" authorities.   

Angelo Faliva (below, in the galley of the Coral Princess) was a happy and well liked chef who enjoyed working on the cruise ship.  How can there be no explanation provided by Princess Cruises?  

We have written many articles about the cruise line's malfeasance and the flag state's refusal to provide answers. 
  
Do you have information about this story?  Please contact Ms. Chiara chiara_faliva@msn.com

Angelo Faliva - Coral Princess Cruise Ship - Princess Cruises

 

Credits:

Photographs of Angelo Faliva      Chiara Faliva

Costa Victoria Passenger Goes Overboard During Excursion

A newspaper in Brazil reports that a passenger from Costa Cruises' Victoria cruise ship went overboard during an excursion while the cruise ship was off the coast of Brazil between Río de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Costa Cruises - Costa VictoriaEntitled "Una Turista Argentina Falleció Cerca de Río," the article reports that the passenger was from Argentina.  She had taken an excursion boat with other passengers to go to a beach to snorkel and dive.  The passenger went overboard during the trip, and her body was found hours later.

No information was provided to explain how the passenger went overboard.  The passenger's name was not released.  The article indicates that Brazilian authorities will be investigating and a report is expected in 90 days.

 

For updated information, please subscribe by typing your e-mail address in the box to the bottom left, or sign up for a RSS feed.

 

Credits:

Costa Victoria          Wikimedia Commons

 

International Cruise Victims - the Story of Angelo Faliva

The non-profit organization International Cruise Victims ("ICV") posted a story on its website regarding Princess Cruises crew member Angelo Faliva who "disappeared" from the Coral Princess cruise ship in November 2009.   

The ICV represents victims of crime on cruise ships, their families and friends, and individuals concerned about disappearances on cruise ships and the cruise industry's lack of transparency. With several hundred members throughout the world, the organization advocates for legislative reform and provides support to victims of crimes occurring on cruise ships. For additional information about the ICV, please contact its president, Ken Carver.

Meanwhile Mr. Faliva's sister, Chiara, continues to seek information from any passengers or crew members who may have information. Ms. Faliva posted a request on a "Princess Cruise Staff" Facebook page:

PLEASE HELP ME: Hi, my name is Chiara Faliva, and I'm the sister of Angelo Faliva, the 31 year old Italian chef disappeared from the cruise "Coral Princess" the night of 25th November 2009, while the cruise was sailing between Aruba and Cartagena (Colombia). I'm looking for passengers that were in this ship that night . . . I just want to have some contacts with them. Please, please help me. My e-mail is:  chiara_faliva@msn.com. Thank you very much for your attention.

Angelo and Chiara are seen in this photograph in in happier times as loving brother and sister. 

Chiara Faliva - Angelo Faliva - Princess Cruises - Coral Princess Crew Member
 
We have written many articles about this latest "disappearance" and the failure of the cruise lines and flag states to provide answers. 
 
How can such a healthy and happy young man "disappear" without anyone at Princess Cruises knowing a thing?
 
Do you have information about this story?  Please contact Ms. Chiara chiara_faliva@msn.com or the ICV.
 
 
 
Credits:
 
Photograph    Chiara Faliva

 

Neither Dead Nor Alive - The Faliva Family Remains In Limbo

The Italian press continues to closely follow the story of Angelo Faliva who "disappeared" on November 25, 2009 from the Coral Princess cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises, which is headquartered in Santa-Clarita, California.   

Angelo Faliva - Princess Cruises - Coral Princess - Disappearance  It is now two months after the unexplained loss of young Mr. Faliva.  His family continues to seek clues regarding what really happened to their son and brother.

Italy's Il Messaggero newspaper explains that the Bermuda police just notified the Faliva family via email that they have not even looked at the data on Mr. Faliva's three mobile telephones, camera or laptop because they are "very busy" with other matters.  

The cruise line apparently told the family that the hundreds of surveillance cameras "didn't show anything," which is implausible but exactly what cruise lines say unless the cameras exonerate them.  It is unknown whether Bermuda has bothered to look at the surveillance tapes.  A lot of times, the police will just parrot what the cruise lines tell them to say.    

Princess cruise ships fly the flag of Bermuda which is suppose to investigate crimes and disappearances on Bermuda flagged vessels. Unfortunately, what is happening to the Faliva family demonstrates the real attitude of Bermuda. Cruise lines like Princess register their cruise ship in Bermuda to avoid U.S. taxes and safety and labor regulations - not because Bermuda has a reputation of vigorously investigating and solving crimes.

The article mentions that Angelo's sister, Chiara Faliva, has not lost hope and continues to patiently wait for answers.  She has created a Facebook page to help the family finds answers. She is trying to involve the Italian Foreign Minister and the local prosecutors in the city of Cremona in Northern Italy where the Faliva family lives. 

Chiara Faliva has thousands of questions, such as why has no one interviewed the passengers in the Sabbatini's restaurant on the cruise ship where Mr. Faliva worked?  Was the list of Bermuda Flag - Princess Cruises - Flag of Convenience passengers destroyed?  Ms. Faliva apparently had an argument with another crew member earlier and a warning had been issued and then later rescinded.  Did Mr. Faliva see something he should not have, such as drug smuggling - which we have written about: "Cruise Ships & Drug Smuggling."       

This story underscores the difficulties which families face when they lose a loved on on a foreign flagged cruise ship.  Princess' s corporate headquarters are in California.  The Faliva family is in Italy.  And the so-called investigators in Bermuda are, well, in Bermuda and waited ten days before traveling to the cruise ship. 

The cruise line's internal investigation is designed to protect the cruise line's reputation and legal interests at the expense of the truth.  And the "investigators" of the flag country?  Unmotivated.  Disinterested.  Beholden to the cruise line which pays them.  These are the conclusions which come to my mind. 

The Il Messaggero article mentions being "neither dead nor alive."  It is less than clear whether the article is referring to Mr. Faliva and the uncertainty surrounding his disappearance - or to his sister who is forced to live in a state of limbo looking for answers.  

 

 

 

If you wish to follow this story or other stories on this blog via email updates, please subscribe by typing your email at the left or signing up for a RSS feed,

To learn more about Angelo Faliva's "disappearance" on Princess Cruises' Coral Princess, please consider reading:   

Crew Member Missing from Princess Cruises' Coral Princess Cruise Ship

Family of Missing Crew Member Seeks Answers - Princess Cruises Claims "We Are Puzzled"

2009 Ends With Family of Missing Princess Cruises Crew Member Continuing to Seek Answers

Top Cruise Story of 2009 - Sister of Missing Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva Speaks Out: "Vogliamo la Verità!" - "We Want the Truth!"

The Case of Missing Crew Member Angelo Faliva - Is Princess Cruises Engaged In A Cover Up?

Update: Missing Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva - What Say You, Master Mariano Manfuso?

Angelo Faliva Case: Were You on the Coral Princess on November 25, 2009?

 

Credits:

Photograph                     LA7.it

Video                                Video Mediaset.it

Angelo Faliva Case: Were You on the Coral Princess on November 25, 2009?

The family of Angelo Faliva continues to search for answers regarding the "disappearance " of Angelo Faliva from Princess Cruises' Coral Princess cruise ship on November 25, 2009.

Mr. Faliva's younger sister, Chiara Faliva, has appeared on television in Italy to plea for help, Sabatini's Restaurant - Coral Princess - Princess Cruisesfollowing the reported lack of cooperation from Princess Cruises and the Government of Bermuda.

Newspapers in Italy report that Ms. Faliva has complained that the cruise line did not timely send the tapes from the onboard cameras to the investigators from Bermuda.  What type of CCTV system did the cruise ship have?  What is the quality of the CCTV images?  

Why the delay sending the images to Bermuda? 

Princess Cruises has a very high tech "wedding cam" on all of its cruise ships. This is part of its "romance at sea" marketing theme.  The image below to the right is the live via satellite "wedding cam" on the Coral Princess.  The image is crystal clear.  You can sit at home thousands of miles away seeing exactly what is happening in the chapel on the cruise ship.  Certainly Princess Cruises has the same technology for its onboard security systems?  If so, then there should no doubt be images of Angelo Faliva available to explain what happened to him.Wedding Cam - Coral Princess - Cruise Ship Cam - Princess Cruises

There is also a suggestion that no one interviewed the passengers in Sabatini's restaurant (photograph above), where Angelo Faliva worked as a chef. 

Has anyone other than the cruise line interviewed the other crew members who worked with Mr. Faliva in Sabatini's? 

Where is Mr. Faliva's laptop computer and cell phone?  Has a qualified expert retrieved the data on the computer and telephone?  Who knows?

The Faliva family remains in the dark.

Where you a passenger on the Coral Princess on November 25, 2009? 

We have heard from a few people, but certainly others must have some information?

Please contact me @ jwalker@cruiselaw.com 

       

 

 

Credits:    

Sabatini's restuarant                    CruiseWeb.com

Coral Princess wedding cam     Coral Princess, Princess Cruises 

Video                 Sky.it

Update: Missing Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva - What Say You, Master Mariano Manfuso?

Master - Coral Princess - Princess Cruises - Captain Mariano ManfusoThe disturbing circumstances surrounding the "disappearance" of Princess crew member Angelo Faliva continue to fill the newspapers and television airways in Italy as the cruise line continues to keep the Faliva family in the dark. 

U.K. security officer, Officer Michael Groves, has weighed in with his opinion regarding the sorry state of affairs surrounding Princess Cruises' attempt to spin a story that it has no idea what happened to young Angelo Faliva.  Officer Groves writes:

"I read with sadness the news that yet another young, vibrant and seemingly happy crew member has apparently "disappeared" from yet another cruise ship, the Coral Princess and yet the company, his employers can only really round off the incident as “We are really very puzzled . . . We do not know what happened.”

Puzzled – lets look at that word. As we all know its definition means to be perplexed or confused, to ponder or study over some perplexing problem or matter.

Sorry I am more than puzzled, I am appalled! I am appalled that yet again a monolithic liner – a modern ‘floating’ city with reams of close circuit television camera’s (CCTV) affixed to numerous points both internally and most certainly externally on board the Coral Princess, appears to have yielded no footage at all?"    

Princess Cruises' deplorable handling of this case was highlighted by the reportedly cold treatment of Mr. Faliva's sister, Chiara, by the Master of the cruise ship, Captain Mariano Manfuso, after Ms. Faliva Coral Princess - Master - Princess Cruises - Captain Mariano Manfusotraveled from Italy to California - where Princess Cruises is based - to try and find information about her brother.

Why have Princess Cruises and Master Manfuso (photos above and to the right) not cooperated with the Faliva family?  Why has Master Manfuso not turned over copies of all of the vessel's logs and reports to the Faliva family?  

Why didn't Master Manfuso make certain that the cruise ship's surveillance tapes from hundreds of cameras were immediately turned over to the FBI or to the Bermuda investigators?  Why the delay? 

How can I sit in my office in Miami and look online at Princess' grainy bridge cam (below) for the Coral Princess, but Princess' security guards and supervisors can't monitor the hundreds of high resolution surveillance cameras on the ship itself to determine when a crew member goes overboard?

Was Master Manfuso put on the sideline after the cruise line lawyers and risk managers took over the "investigation?" 

Is the cruise line engaged in a cover up? 

What is going on aboard your cruise ship Master Manfuso?  

The world is watching.

 

 

Coral Princess - Bridge Cam - Princess Cruises - Surveillance Cameras - Angelo Faliva

 

 

Credits:

Top photograph of Captain Manfuso                Flickr photo.klick's photostream

Bottom photograph of Captain Manfuso          mincomercio.gov.co  

Coral Princess bridge cam                                 Coral Princess, Princess Cruises   

Royal Caribbean Passenger Disappearance Update: Is Anyone Cooperating With the Chhikara Family?

Neha Chhikara - Royal Caribbean - Missing - OverboardThe India Times is continuing to follow the case of Neha Chhikara.

Ms. Chhikara disappeared from Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas on December 31, 2009 following allegations that her husband, Royal Caribbean crew member Ankit Dalal, physically and emotionally abused her.

In an article entitled "Search Operations Off, Gurgaon's Woman's Family Says Husband Has Gone Missing," the Chhikara family alleges that Mr. Dalal has gone “missing” after the Royal Caribbean cruise ship returned to port in Port Canaveral. 

The story reflects the struggle to obtain information which families experience when they lose a loved one from a cruise ship.

The investigating authorities (the Bahamas Maritime Authority and the FBI) have apparently provided no information to the family or the police in India.  The cruise line is not cooperating with the family who does not even know where the Royal Caribbean crew member is at this time.  Meanwhile, the article reports that the police in India are waiting on information from the U.S. before they proceed with their investigation.

Cruise line investigations are highly secretive.  The investigation conducted by Royal Caribbean is designed to protect its own legal interests and its marketing image.  Getting information from the FBI is like squeezing blood from a stone.  And the investigation by the Bahamas - which is the flag country for the cruise ship - will likely be slanted in favor of the cruise line.        

The Chhikara family has not even spoken to their son-in-law.  Certainly Royal Caribbean has interviewed him multiple times.  The cruise line should send these statements to the family now, and not subject them to further torture after losing their daughter on Royal Caribbean's watch.

Credits:

Photograph of Ms. Chhikara     India Times

Asleep At the Wheel: What Does the Delayed Reporting of Neha Chhikara's Disappearance from the Monarch of the Seas Reveal About Royal Caribbean's Shipboard Security?

Asleep Security Guard - Royal Caribbean Cruises - Cruise ShipThe tragedy of Neha Chhikara's disappearance from the Monarch of the Seas raises a lot of issues.    
 
Why did her husband, described as a Royal Caribbean "manager," wait 8 hours before reporting his distraught wife missing?  Why almost a ten hour delay from the time of Ms. Chhikara going overboard until the cruise line reported the incident to the US Coast Guard?
 
Ms. Chhikara was picked up on CCTV video when she went overboard.  But does Royal Caribbean monitor its own video cameras? 
 
Were any security guards awake?

When finally notified, the US Coast Guard scrambled an HU-25 Falcon jet crew, an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, a C-130 Hercules aircraft and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Cormorant to search for Ms. Chhikara. But this was 10 hours after she went overboard.

The cost of this search could have easily paid for 10 camera operators and 10 more security guards. The technology has long existed for a computerized system using motion detectors tied in with the video cameras to signal an alarm to the bridge when the cameras/detectors are triggered by a person going overboard (whether they jump or are pushed). The video image would be captured on a bridge computer screen and the exact location of the overboard would be documented. Then the Coast Guard would at least have a chance to save the day. 
 
Royal Caribbean needs to spend some of its billions investing in security guards, surveillance camera operators and bringing its security technology up to the standards of the 21st century.
 
But this is a game of money and Royal Caribbean is behind the 8 ball.  It's still scratching its head trying to figure out how it can pay for both the Oasis of the Seas and her sister mega-ship Allure of the Seas which will arrive in less than a year.
 
Royal Caribbean is content on letting the U.S. Government foot the bill for the rescue which was doomed by the cruise line's delay. This is unfair, particularly considering that Royal Caribbean pays no Federal income tax for the almost $6,000,000,000 (billion!) in annual ticket sales and onboard revenues (alcohol, casino, excursions, you name it) which the cruise line collects from tax paying U.S. passengers.
 
So if you buy a cruise with your after-tax-dollars, and a wife of an allegedly abusive Royal Caribbean crew member jumps overboard to end her suffering, and Royal Caribbean calls the U.S. Coast Guard 10 hours late - U.S. taxpayers get to pay for the $600,000 or so spent by the U.S. Coast Guard flying jets and helicopters and patrolling cutters around in circles looking for a needle in a haystack.
 
To make matter worse, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean know they are not going to pay any real Asleep At The Wheel? - Royal Caribbean - Securitydamages even if they get sued for their malfeasance.  Royal Caribbean's ultimate exposure to damages is limited by the Death On The High Seas Act - which we have written about in prior articles.
 
This scenario of overboard passengers and delayed reporting will repeat itself unless the cruise line faces financial accountability - or Congress gets involved and mandates some meaningful safety improvements on these foreign flagged cruise ships.    

The story also raises larger issues regarding passenger safety.  If someone can go over a rail and into the water "undetected" by Royal Caribbean security, someone (like a terrorist) can come over the rail and onto the ship just as easily and hold the ship's crew and passengers hostage.    

These types of stories reveal that there are not enough security guards patrolling the decks of Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  And no one looks at the surveillance cameras - until it is too late.
 
Is anyone awake at Royal Caribbean?
 
 
 
Photographs credits:
 
Oluniyi D. Ajao Blog
 
Charles James Wright Blog

Royal Caribbean OverBoard: Family of Neha Chhikara Interviewed - Video & Photographs

Star News in India - which offers viewers "24-hour Hindi news" - has posted a video interview of the family of Neha Chhikara regarding the death of their daughter.

The family claims that Ms. Chhikara's husband, Ankit Dalal, tortured her.  This alleged mistreatment led to her suicide on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Chhikara family contends.    

The video contains photographs of the married couple and family members in earlier times, e-mails sent by Ms. Chhikara from the cruise ship to her brother complaining of abuse, the tearful comments (in Hindu) by the grieving family, and video of the police commenting on the dowry complaint against the Dalal family.  

None of the news sources have obtained comments by the Dala family so far.

This sad story continues to dominate the news in India.

 

 

For other articles on Cruise Law News regarding this story, please read:

Wife of Royal Caribbean Crew Member on Monarch of the Seas Goes OverBoard

A Bride's Despair - Did Dowry Dispute Lead to Death?

Dowry Complaint Filed Against Royal Caribbean Crew Member

 

Credits:

Video             Star News YouTube

A Bride's Despair - Family of Neha Chhikara Claims Royal Caribbean Crew Member Abused Daughter - Did Dowry Dispute Lead to Death?

Three newspapers in India are reporting that a Royal Caribbean employee, Ankit Dalal, abused his wife, Neha Chhikara, shortly before she apparently jumped from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Monarch of the Seas on New Year's Eve.  

Mr. Dalal is identified in a newspaper articles as a manager for Royal Caribbean on the cruise ship. 

Neha Chhikara - Royal Caribbean - Monarch of the Seas - Overboard We previously reported on this story - Wife of Royal Caribbean Crew Member on Monarch of the Seas Goes OverBoard

The newspapers report Ms. Chhikara married Mr. Dalal in 2008.  His family reportedly demanded additional dowry and was allegedly abusive toward her. 

According to an article entitled "Air Hostess Death at Sea: Kin Cry Foul" in the Times of India, Ms. Chhikara's husband physically and mentally tortured her for additional dowry - as alleged by Ms. Chhikara's family.  Ms. Chhikara previously worked as a flight attendant. 

Ms. Chhikara's father filed what is called a "dowry complaint" with the police in India.

The family alleges that Mr. Dalal mistreated her.  "She was asked to bring cash and jewelry every now and then and when she refused, they would beat her up. Once she was beaten so badly by Dalal that her jaw got dislocated and she also lost her job as air hostess,'' Atul Ahlawat, Ms. Chhikara's cousin, alleges.

The Times of India reports that shortly before she went overboard, Ms. Chhikara emailed her family: 

"I don't think he wants me to work here on the ship  . . .  he keeps threatening to call up security and get me detained by US authorities so that I can never come to the US.  He threatens to handcuff me and lock me up in a cell on the ship  . . ."

The Tribune in India also reports that Ms. Chhikara sent what is called a SOS shortly before her death complaining of being abused.  The India Express, in an article entitled "Gurgaon Woman Jumped Off Cruise Liner," also reports that an e-mail she sent an hour before her death said:

"Ankit has been beating me up every day  . . .  I have lost the strength to live and am very depressed.  I do not think he wants me to work on this ship.  He has threatened me that he would get my appointment canceled  . . .  I am under extreme torture  . . ."

None of the newspapers were able to obtain quotes from Mr. Dalal or his family.

These articles suggest that Ms. Chhikara was about to begin work as a crew member for Royal Caribbean.  Previous PR statements by this cruise line characterize Ms. Chhikara as just a "passenger."  She apparently had applied to Royal Caribbean and been accepted for employment aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.    

This is a sad story to see a young beautiful person's life end, under these alleged circumstances, at the beginning of a new year. 

 

Credits:

Photograph           IndiaExpress.com

Top Cruise Story of 2009 - Sister of Missing Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva Speaks Out: "Vogliamo la Verità!" - "We Want the Truth!"

Chiara Faliva - Sister of Angelo Favila - Coral Princess - Princess CruisesThe Faliva family has expressed their frustration with Princess Cruises' lack of information, the attitude of the cruise ship's captain, and the cruise line's delay in cooperating with investigators following the "disappearance" of Angelo Faliva from the Coral Princess cruise ship on November 25th.

The Italian newspaper Gialli quotes Mr. Faliva's sister, Chiara Faliva, questioning how a cruise ship filled with video surveillance cameras and other crew members can claim that is has no information regarding the disappearance of her brother.  With a December 30th headline of . . .

Mio Fratello è Stato Ucciso? Vogliamo la Verità!- "Was My Brother Killed?  We want the Truth!" 

. . . the newspaper raises issues whether Princess Cruises is withholding information from the Faliva family, investigators, and the public.  

The newspaper article includes a letter from 23 year old Ms. Faliva, the youngest sister of Angelo Faliva, who states that she is united in pain with her family and nearly a thousand friends on FaceBook.

Angelo Falavi - Missing - Chef - Coral Princess - Coral Princess

Ms. Faliva's heart-felt public plea for help raises concerns and questions regarding the cruise line's handling of the disappearance:

Mr. Faliva was happy on the cruise ship and enjoyed the ports of call. Just three days before vanishing, he expressed his intention of returning to work for another contract on the cruise ship. The Faliva family completely rejects the notion that he may have committed suicide - which is a PR tactic many cruise lines engage in.  We have written about some cruise lines like Holland America Lines (which, like Princess, is owned by Carnival) quickly concluding that the missing person committed suicide -  "Suicide" - One of the Cruise Lines' Favorite Excuses for Disappearances at Sea.

Coral Princess - Princess CruisesMr. Faliva apparently spoke with some passengers in the Sabatini restaurant on the cruise ship, and then left his station around 8:15 p.m.  Yet, the cruise line delayed over 12 hours reporting him missing.  This delayed the search conducted by the Colombian Navy until the afternoon of the following day. 

Why the delay?  How can a crew member who leaves work not be noticed by a supervisor or his fellow employees?

Where were the video cameras positioned?  What are the infrared capabilities?  How can a person "disappear" without any of the 950 other crew members and 2,500 passengers seeing or hearing anything on a cruise ship which is alive 24 hours day?

Why did Princess Cruises delay sending the videotapes to the investigators in Bermuda for almost a month?  Why were these tapes not preserved immediately and seized by the investigators in November?

Who are the passengers in the restaurant who spoke to Mr. Faliva?  And what do they know?

Angelo Falavi - Cruise Chef - Coral Princess - Princess Cruises Mr. Faliva apparently had a prior incident of some type with another crewmember, who is identified as a "Filipino sous chef."  Who is he?  Has he been interviewed by the investigators?

Why was the Master of the Coral Princess insensitive to Ms. Faliva after she traveled from Italy to Los Angeles for answers?  Why did he complain that his name appeared in newspapers in Italy?  And why would he spare only 30 minutes of his time and act cold toward her?

Ms. Faliva's letter raises three chilling scenarios:  Did someone kill Mr. Faliva and throw him into the sea?  Did he escape from attackers by jumping overboard, hoping to survive the fall?  The family also raised the ghastly scenario - did someone wanting him to vanish place him into one of the two incinerators located on decks 1 and 2?

This family is approaching 40 days since they learned their son and brother vanished into nothing.  They have just that, nothing, from the cruise line so far.   

Ms. Faliva expresses her family's desire not to lose hope - but not at the expenses of not knowing the truth.  They are displeased - and so should the public reading this story.

For those passengers and crew members on the Coral Princess during this cruise who may know something - speak out, contact the family, the FBI, and the newspapers in Italy covering this important story. 

 Don't let this case be another unexplained mystery.

 

 

 

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Credits:

Photograph of Mr. Faliva in the galley       Italian newspaper Gialli

Coral Princess cruise ship      Brad Graverson / Staff Photographer of the DailyBreeze.com

Mr. Faliva                 msn.com/latinoamerica

Wife of Royal Caribbean Crew Member on Monarch of the Seas Goes OverBoard

News sources are reporting that a 23-year-old woman, Neha Chhikara, went overboard from the Monarch of the Seas cruise ship near Nassau, Bahamas, around 4 a.m. this morning. 

The Monarch of the Seas is operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises which has had more than its Monarch of the Seas - Missing Passenger  share of overboards in the last few years.  The cruise ship left Port Canaveral, Florida on Tuesday for the Bahamas and was scheduled to return to port on January 2, 2010.

Royal Caribbean issued a press statement which is as follows:

“The guest was last seen at 3:45 a.m. At that time, the ship was sailing from Nassau to CocoCay, Bahamas. As soon as the guest was reported missing, various public announcements were made onboard and a complete search of the ship, as well of CocoCay, was initiated.”

“Shipboard closed-circuit camera footage captured the guest going overboard on deck 11, port side at approximately 4:11 a.m. Government officials have reviewed the footage and determined that the guest jumped overboard.”

The Royal Caribbean PR spokesperson, Cynthia Martinez, is quoted by Florida Today as stating that the passenger was reported missing by her husband at 12:15 p.m. 

The popular cruise on line community CruiseCritic reports that the "passenger" was the wife of a Royal Caribbean crew member.

The U.S. Coast Guard reports that although Ms. Chhikara went overboard a little after 4:00 a.m., the cruise ship did not report her missing until around 2:00 p.m. - almost 10 hours after she went overboard.   

There is no explanation why it took this long for the cruise line to report her overboard, nor is there any explanation why her husband, Ankit Dalal, waited until 8 hours later to report her missing.

There is technology available to the cruise industry for surveillance cameras to be triggered by motion with an alarm being immediately sent to the bridge to alert the cruise ship's officers that a passenger has gone overboard.  This system would capture the video and permit immediate notification of the emergency. Tracking devices would drop into the water so that the exact location Monarch of the Seas - Missing Passengerof the passenger overboard could be determined.

Some - but certainly not all - cruise lines employ "surveillance camera operators" whose job descriptions require that the cameras be monitored 24 hours for passenger safety and security. 

Are the cameras on the port and starboard sides of the cruise ship actually monitored by operators?  Or are only the cameras in the casino or other similar locations being monitored to prevent theft of the cruise ship's money?

Unfortunately, Royal Caribbean is one of the cruise lines which does not monitor its closed circuit cameras on the decks and hallways.  This negligence causes an incredible waste of resources when the Coast Guard was finally notified 10 hours later.  The Coast Guard assigned an HU-25 Falcon jet crew from Air Station Miami, an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) on Andros Island, Bahamas, a C-130 Hercules aircraft from Clearwater, and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Cormorant to search for Ms. Chhikara.

Due to the cruise line's delay, this made the Coast Guard's job of locating Ms. Chhikara nearly impossible.

 

Credits:

Monarch of the Seas   Jonathon_V Flickr photostream

Monarch of the Seas   boatnerd.com

 

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2009 Ends With Family of Missing Princess Cruises Crew Member Continuing to Seek Answers

Angelo FalivaThe Italian family of crew member Angelo Faliva is continuing to search for answers to explain the circumstances regarding his disappearance from the Coral Princess, a cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises which is based in Santa Clarita, California.
 
There continue to be newspaper articles in the Italian press as well as television stories regarding this troubling case.  We have  included a video, below.  Its not current, but it has many images of Mr. Faliva.  Perhaps someone on the Coral Princess recognizes him and has some information to share. 
 
The issue of "missing" passengers and crew member became known to most Americans following the disappearance of George Smith during his honeymoon on the Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas in July 2005.  Since then, there have been five Congressional hearings in the United States, four in the House of Representatives and one in the U.S. Senate culminating in the House passing the Cruise Safety and Security Act of 2009. The Act awaits passage in the Senate before President Obama can sign the bill and the much needed cruise law will be in effect.  
 
These hearings were primarily the result of the dedication and hard work of my friend Ken Carver, President of the International Cruise Victims organization.  Mr.Carver's daughter, Merrian, "disappeared" on a cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean's sister brand, Celebrity Cruises in 2004.  Royal Caribbean engaged in a cover up of the incident.  
 
Mr. Carver took on the non tax paying multi billion dollar corporation, and won.
 
All of these cruise crime/safety hearings addressed the problem of "overboards" - when passengers and crew members "disappear" - and yet the cruise lines, suspiciously enough, choose to offer no explanation of what happened.
 
Princess Cruises - Coral Princess - Angelo Faliva Disappearance Mr. Faliva's disappearances is a story that we will continue to watch and report on.  
 
The cruise industry is big business.
 
And cruise lines do not like stories like this.
 
Princess Cruises spends millions of dollars for advertising, as we have mentioned in other articles to paint a picture of care-free getaways and romance associated with its "Love Boat" theme. 
 
But our opinion is that this cruise line is the typically non-transparent, truthless & ruthless foreign corporation which has given the cruise industry a tawdry reputation.  
 
Princess Cruises wants this story to disappear as just another "mystery."  We have commented on Princess Cruises' "we-don't-know-what-happened" attitude in prior articles.  The cruise web site CruiseLineFans named this incident at the top of its "Top 5 Unfortunate Incidents in 2009," and criticized Princess Cruises for its lack of a clear response to the matter. 
 
Unfortunately, the FBI did not board the cruise ship until after it sailed all the way from South Florida to California - about a week after Mr. Faliva's disappearance.  The country of Bermuda, which is the Angelo Faliva - Disappearance - Coral Princessflag of the vessel and  primarily responsible for investigations, did not get involved until very late. 
 
It remains to be seen whether Bermuda, which has a very cozy relationship with Princess Cruises, will devote the time and genuine effort to investigate a case like this.
 
We hope so.
 
We know that many crew members and passengers read our blog.  If you know something about the circumstances surrounding Angelo Faliva's disappearance, do something.  Speak out.  Contact the FBI in Los Angeles.  
 
And contact Ken Carver at the International Cruise Victims organization - kcarver17@cox.net - who is fighting an endless battle to bring transparency to the cruise industry over such "disappearances."
 
Don't let another family anguish over the unexplained loss of a loved one. 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
Credits:
 
Photograph of Coral Princess cruise ship   Noticias de Cruceros "Desaparece el chef de un crucero en navegación"
 
Photograph of Mr. Faliva in Cabo and video  LA7.it

 

Cruise Ship Overboards - Enough Already?

Yesterday the U.S. Coast Guard located a Royal Caribbean crew member who reportedly jumped off of the Majesty of the Seas around 4:30 a.m. as the cruise ship approached Miami.

Overboard Cruises Passengers and Crew MembersThirty-one-year-old Robert Mado was found treading water off Cutler Bay about two hours after the Royal Caribbean cruise ship issued a distress call Friday morning. Crew member Mado was an assistant purser on the cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean claims that witnesses watched Mr. Mado jump overboard.

This sounds rather strange - why would several crew members be awake and on the deck at 4:30 in the morning?

There are a lot of questions surrounding this overboard - the twenty-fourth from a cruise ship this year alone.

Did he really jump? Why?  We know first hand that many crew members face a great deal of stress caused by working long hours, seven days a week, away from their families. Working on cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean - which is experiencing financial problems - can be particularly stressful.  But who knows exactly what happened?  

The good news is that crew member Mado is recovering and apparently is in good condition.

Jaunted - the pop culture travel site - has an interesting perspective of "man overboards" in an article entitled "Enough With People Jumping Off Cruise Ships Already!"  The article contains a lot of erroneous information, such as suggesting that the majority of overboards are suicides or intentional jumps.  But there is one thing that Jaunted has absolutely right:

.  .  .  as long as the cruise industry grows, the number of people who go overboard will grow as well  .  .  . 

 

Credit:

"Overboard Catcher" drawing              Roque Mocán Quan

Family of Missing Crew Member Seeks Answers - Princess Cruises Claims "We Are Puzzled"

In an article entitled "Family Seeks Answers in Disappearance of Italian Chef From Cruise Ship," the LA Times reports that family members, of an Italian chef who disappeared during a cruise, met with Princess Cruises representatives in California to obtain information regarding Angelo Faliva - Missing - Princess Cruiseswhat happened to their son and brother. 

The family of Angelo Faliva (shown here left) had flown from Italy to meet representatives in San Pedro, California where the Coral Princess cruise ship arrived after a 15 day cruise from South Florida.

The Faliva family apparently left California without any information.

We previously reported on this disappearance in a prior article "Crew Member Missing from Princess Cruises' Coral Princess Cruise Ship."

The cruise line industry has a notorious reputation for withholding information when there is evidence of foul play that may hurt their legal interests or may tarnish their marketing image.  Usually the families are kept away from the cruise line's security personnel and are stuck dealing only with the cruise line's PR department or in-house lawyers who tell them nothing.    

Julie Benson - Princess Cruises - PRIn this case, Princess Cruises PR representative Julie Benson said that the cruise line's investigation allegedly did not reveal any information to explain the crew member's disappearance. The PR representative Benson tells the LA Times:

“We are really very puzzled . . .  We don’t know what happened.”

How is it possible that the hundreds of cameras on the cruise ship did not record a single image of crew member Faliva?  Earlier this year when a passenger committed suicide by jumping off of the stern of Carnival's Sapphire Princess, the cruise line produced the CCTV films. Did they find the CCTV because it exonerated the cruise line?   We wrote about this is a series of articles in September. 

Princess Cruises claim of being "puzzled"raises substantial questions.  

How can a happy and healthy crew member simply vanish without a trace?

Has the Faliva family been provided with a copy of the CCTV?  Was the Faliva family permitted to interview the security officer?  Did Princess arrange for them to talk to the CCTV operators and shipboard IT technicians?  Were they provided with copies of all reports and statements taken of the crew members on the cruise ship?  Were they permitted to board the ship and speak with the Master, the crew member's co-workers and his cabin mates and friends? 

Certainly the family is entitled to more than the cruise line's usual we-don't-know-anything PR statement.

The International Cruise Victims organization reports that this year 23 people have gone overboard from cruise ships. 

 

Credits:

Mr. Faliva           Falavi Family via IlTempo.it 

Princess PR representative Julie Benson    Twitter @JulieBenson

Crew Member Missing from Princess Cruises' Coral Princess Cruise Ship

The Associated Press and an Italian newspaper are reporting that a crew member employed by Princess Cruises aboard the Coral Princess cruise ship "disappeared" on either November 25th or 26th. 

Angelo Faliva - Missing from Princess Cruises Coral Princess Cruise ShipThe AP article is entitled "Italian Chef Missing at Sea on Caribbean Cruise."

The Italian newspaper Leggo Cronaca's article is entitled "GIALLO SU NAVE DA CROCIERA SCOMPARE CUOCO ITALIANO." (Italian Chef Disappears on Cruise Ship.)

The Princess Cruises crew member is identified as Angelo Faliva, age 31.  Mr. Faliva is employed by the cruise line as a sous chef. 

Conflicting Accounts of When & Where Crew Member "Disappeared"  

The AP reports that there are different accounts regarding when and where crew member Faliva was last seen as the Coral Princess sailed from Aruba to Cartagena, Colombia, between Nov. 25 and 26.

Princess Cruises PR person Julie Benson said Faliva was last seen on a deck at about 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 26, when he spoke with another crew member as the ship neared Cartagena.

According to the AP, Mr. Faliva's family said they had been told that he had unexpectedly walked out of the ship's galley at about 8:15 p.m. the night before, while he was working the dinner shift, and Angela Faliva Princess Cruises - Coral Princessnever returned and hadn't been seen since.

The Faliva family said it was alerted Thursday that he had been reported missing and that a life preserver was also missing, with its nighttime illumination flares torn off and left aboard the ship.

"He surely didn't jump off. It wasn't suicide," his sister Chiara Faliva told the AP from the family's home in Cremona. "We think there was an accident or a homicide."

The Coral Princess left South Florida November 23rd and will arrive in Los Angeles on December  7th at which time the FBI may board the cruise ship.

No Information From Cruise Line PR Department

As expected, Princess PR department claims that Mr. Faliva's cabin had been sealed and the cruise ship was searched.  Princess Cruises also claims that it reviewed the closed circuit television ("CCTV") footage but there is no video of a crew member going overboard.

Julie Benson - Princess PR Department"Obviously, we're very concerned," Princess' PR representative Julie Benson (left) said. "This is highly unusual and clearly we are concerned for his safety. It very well may be that he went overboard, but we don't know that for a fact."

The AP reports that the commander of the Colombian Coast Guard station in Cartagena, Lt. Javier Sanchez, said officials there received a report from the Coral Princess at 10 a.m. Thursday that one of the cooks had last been seen the night before between 7-8 p.m. when the ship was navigating Colombian waters near La Guajira.

But like the Princess spokeswoman, he too said the Coast Guard received word from the ship later Thursday that a person had seen the chef at about 6 a.m. Thursday morning.

Crew Member Employed Since 2006

According to the AP, Mr. Faliva's sister said her brother had been working for Princess Cruises since 2006 and that this was his third six-month tour with the line. He was a sous chef in the ship's Princess Cruises' - Angelo Favila Missing from Coral Princess Italian restaurant "Sabatini's."

She said she had received an e-mail from her brother the day before he went missing, and he reported that everything was going well. She said the captain had told the family that her brother had last been seen in the kitchen preparing dinner.

"He left quickly without saying anything to anyone and left the kitchen," she said. "From that point on, they don't know anything."

Over 10 People "Disappear" from Cruise Ships a Year

Contrary to the comments by Princess Cruises' PR department, "missing" passengers and crew members are not "highly unusual."  Over 125 people have gone overboard in the last nine years, according to a Canadian Professor who tracks cruise "disappearances."  22 overboards have been documented for this year alone. The majority of the disappearances have been from the Carnival owned cruise ships. Princess is owned by cruise giant Carnival Corporation.

One of the problems with "disappearances" of passengers and crew members is that the FBI does not board the cruise ship until the end of the cruise.  This leaves preservation of the Bridge Cam - Coral Princess - Princess Cruises - Missing Crew Member scene of the disappearance to the cruise lines, which are often motivated by their own legal interests and marketing image.  

Why No CCTV Images?

There is often an issue why the cruise lines are unable to locate CCTV images of the missing crew member or passenger. Mr. Faliva should have been recorded walking in and around the cruise ship and, if he went overboard, on the deck.  The technology has long existed to record passenger and crew overboards. 

There is also technology available for the bridge to be notified when there is an overboard situation on a cruise ship.  We have written about this technology in a prior blog " Update on Missing Passenger From Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess."     

This cruise ship has a web cam for entertainment purposes for the public, such as the image recorded today from Coral Princess' bridge cam at 2:00 p.m. (Los Angeles time).  Princess Cruises has not offered an explanation regarding how someone can "disappear" without a trace of evidence.  

The Falavi family deserves an explanation regarding what CCTV images exist of their brother and son on the cruise ship.  They should also receive the statements from the security personnel and other crew members regarding the circumstances surrounding Mr. Falavi's disappearance.

We have written about cruise "disappearances" in the past.  For example "Suicide" - One of the Cruise Lines' Favorite Excuses When a Passenger Disappears at Sea.  There is often a tendency of the cruise lines' PR departments to blame the passenger or crew member for going overboard before law enforcement concludes an investigation.      

For those readers who speak Italian, there is also an audio portion of a news report regarding this story.  Recent newspapers from Italy contain additional photographs of the missing crew member, Mr. Faliva, shown here at the stern of the Coral Princess:

Angelo Faliva - Missing - Coral Princess, Princess Cruises

 

Credits:

Mr. Faliva (top)        Falavi Family via Leggo Cronaca newspaper, Italy 

Coral Princess Logo       Brad Graverson / Staff Photographer of the DailyBreeze.com 

Princess PR representative Julie Benson    Twitter @JulieBenson

Coral Princess        Barbara Bagnell (via National Post)

Bridge Cam     Princess Cruises Coral Princess

Mr. Faliva (bottom)           Falavi Family via IlTempo.it