Celebrity Equinox Drifts Close to House in Port Everglades

Celebrity EquinoxOn Friday March 3rd, the Celebrity Equinox drifted dangerously close to the shore in Port Everglades as the cruise ship was attempting to leave the port.

As shown in a video filed by Fort Lauderdale homeowner Yasmine Todhunter, her husband, Bill, (with the family dogs), is shown as the Celebrity ship drifts dangerously close to their waterfront house.

The Celebrity Equinox is later shown struggling to use its bow thrusters to back back away away from the couple's house.

Facebook readers pointed out that cruise ships in the wide Port Everglades channel usually are being piloted by a local maritime pilot. It is unknown whether the cruise ship experienced a temporary power loss or whether the pilot could not adjust to the high winds that day. 

The homeowners who filmed the ship posted the video on the Celebrity Cruises Facebook page after the cruise line ignored emails asking for an explanation. Celebrity has still not offered an explanation for what happened. The video of the incident was removed from the Celebrity Facebook page. 

A reader on Facebook who watched the video humorously remarked: "New shore excursion ... Bill's house."

Last summer, the Celebrity Infinity slammed into a dock in Ketchikan, Alaska after the ship could not manage the high winds. 

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March 7, 2017 Update: A reader brought to my attention that an oil tanker overturned on Thursday night near the port, spilling 9,000 gallons of fuel, some of which spilled into the intracoastal waters according to media reports. News7 reported that cleanup efforts were still underway on Friday and ""due to the spill, the Celebrity Equinox cruise ship was not able to come into the port. However, the ship was able to dock at terminal 25, which was accessed through the Interstate 595 entrance to the port." Perhaps this is why the Equinox was redirected? 

Apparently the oil spill was on the other side of the intracoastal and would not explain why the Celebrity ship came so close to the house.

March 8, 2017 Update: News outlets in South Florida are covering the story - Sun Sentinel: Cruise ship has close encounter with home near Port Everglades;  CBS Miami: Couple Recalls Close Encounter With Cruise Ship: ‘This Boat Is Coming To The House!’; Daily Mail Homeowner films her husband waving desperately as massive cruise ship comes terrifyingly close to their $2.3 MILLION waterfront home; Miami New Times Here's Video of a Giant Cruise Ship Nearly Hitting a House at Port Everglades.

A spokesperson for the Port Everglades Pilots & the Florida Harbor Pilots Association said this gobbledygook: "The local Port Everglades harbor pilot maintained navigational control of the vessel throughout this maneuver, skillfully keeping it within the channel, then proceeded to safely guide the vessel out to sea. As stated by the cruise line, the vessel did not touch bottom."

A Celebrity Cruises spokesperson used similarly misleading language to describe the reckless maneuver of the cruise ship:  "As Equinox departed on Friday, March 3, she was in her assigned channel at all times under the guidance of specialized local port pilots. The ship operated safely and did not put guests or crew at risk. We can also confirm the ship did not touch bottom.”

Video Credit: Bill and Yasmine Todhunter 

 

Near Drowning on Oasis of the Seas Leaves Child in Critical Condition

Local 10 News reports that a child is in critical condition after nearly drowning on board the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas this evening.  According to Channel 7, "officials said the young victim was swept under a wave pool and remained underwater for several minutes." The Broward County Sheriff's Office said the child was under water from 5 to 10 minutes.

The ship promptly returned to Port Everglades.

The 4 year old child was rescued by other passengers. The child was revived on board the ship and taken to Broward Health Medical Center. 

I first learned of the incident when the Port Everglades webcam @PTZtv tweeted "#OasisoftheSeas Oasis of the Seas Drowning approaching berth #18 #PortEverglades o. . . for medical disembark."

There has been great debate in the cruise industry whether to employ life guards to supervise the activities around cruise ship swimming pools. Royal Caribbean experienced a near drowning of a child on the Independence of the Seas in May of this year that left a 6 year old boy fighting for his life in a hospital.

To my knowledge, Disney is the only cruise line to employ life guards on its cruise ships. However it did so only after a 4 year old child nearly drown and sustained a catastrophic brain injury requiring life-time medical care and resulting in a multi-million dollar settlement.   

I have long advocated for having a lifeguard at every pool on a cruise ship. Lifeguards are needed because parents are not perfect, and there is a natural tendency for parents to let their guards down when they are on vacation. Kids deserve to have their parents and the cruise line working together to keep them safe. The cruise industry collects $45 billion dollars a year from passengers and pays virtually zero in U.S. taxes. It's shameful for every cruise line except Disney to refuse to hire lifeguards to keep kids safe. 

In an article published last week entitled Cruise Ships Are Unregulated Trouble on the High Seas, the New York Times wrote that Congress has exempted these cruise ship behemoths from virtually all regulations. The Times characterized the last death of a child in a pool without a lifeguard as a problem with letting cruise lines regulate themselves.  

Here are other articles of kids drowning or nearly drowning on cruise ships:

6 Year Old Drowns on Carnival Victory Cruise Ship

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

No Lifeguards for Children on Cruise Ships? Maritime Law Encourages Cruise Lines to Act Irresponsibly

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

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

I'm interviewed below in the video about legal issues about the safety for children around cruise ships swimming pools. 

January 4 2015 Update: Where did this occur on the Oasis?  The Broward County Sheriff's Office refers to a "wave pool" but I didn't realize that the cruise ship has one. He referred to deck 15 where the Flowriders are located but the water there is not deep enough to drown in.  A web site in Italy discusses this issue.

Miami Herald publishes Near-drowning on Royal Caribbean cruise raises concerns about lack of lifeguards.

 

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Photo: PTZtv

 

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