Gastrointestinal Outbreak on the Crown Princess, Again

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that there was a gastrointestinal outbreak on the Crown Princess during its recent cruise, from October 25th to November 8, 2017. The Princess cruise ship departed Quebec, Canada on October 25th for a two-week cruise to Canadian and U.S. ports. The cruise ship arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 8th and will begin its Caribbean season.

According to the CDC report, 184 passengers and 12 crew members became ill with gastro-like symptoms which included diarrhea.  

During the period from 2010 to the current date, Princess Cruises experienced the most outbreaks on iCrown Princess Princess Cruises Norovirusts cruise ships calling on U.S. ports, according to the CDC. Princess reported twenty-one (21) cases to the CDC during this time period.

The Crown Princess alone has suffered through six (6) norovirus outbreaks since 2010 to the present. Before the current GI outbreak, the last norovirus outbreak on the Crown Princess was from January 3 - 18, 2016 and, before that, from October 18 to November 16, 2014. Earlier, there was a norovirus and e-coli outbreak from February 5 to 12, 2014. It also experienced back-to-back norovirus outbreaks from January 29 to February 4, 2012 and February 4 to February 9, 2012 (photo right).

The cruise line with the second most outbreaks is Holland America Line with 18 cases of GI sicknesses reported to the CDC since 2010. HAL suffered norovirus outbreaks on the Nieuw Amsterdam, and two outbreaks each on the Volendam and the Noordam this year.  

So why is Princess Cruises far more prone to norovirus outbreaks than Carnival cruise lines, for example? The cruise industry always blames the passengers for bringing the virus aboard, rather than its food handlers, or contaminated food or water. So are Princess Cruises customers the sickest and the least hygienic cruisers around? Are guests of HAL the second most unhygienic cruisers? Do they wash their hands the least of any cruisers? This seems like absurd arguments to make.

Is there a correlation between the age of the cruise ships and gastrointestinal outbreaks? Are different food sources and food handling techniques a more reasonable explanation? How about different sanitation procedures? 

The CDC doesn't have time to determine the source of the norovirus outbreak (sick food handlers versus contaminated food or water or a sick passenger) so it is of no help. The CDC has not even determined the type of virus involved in the most recent outbreak on the Crown Princess.  

But blaming the passengers when one cruise line (and one cruise ship in particular) has far more gastrointestinal outbreaks than its competitors is certainly not the answer.

Whoever is to blame, the crew members, of course, always pay the price, by having to wipe and scrub and spray everything in sight for long 16+ hour days to try to disinfect a ship longer than three football fields.

Irrespective of the blame-game, don't call us if you get sick on a cruise. Proving where the virus came from, or that the cruise line was negligent, is virtually impossible to prove, especially since the CDC conducts no epidemiological analysis and sometimes can't even figure out whether the outbreak is due to norovirus, e-coli or something as exotic as shigella sonnei or cyclospora cayetanensis

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

Read: Why Do the Cruise Lines Always Blame the Passengers When Norovirus Breaks Out?

Oceania Crew Members Pay the Price When Norovirus Hits.

Photo credit: WPTV (2012 noro outbreak); Royal Caribbean crew members (anonymous crew member).

Cruise Lines Continue to Support the Bloody Faroe Islands, Despite Whale Slaughter

The tourist board of the Faroe Islands blocked me from accessing its Twitter page "Visit Faroe Islands" (@VisitFaroe) a couple of years ago after I pointed out that the cruise industry still sails its ships there despite the cruel tradition of slaughtering hundreds of pilot whales a year. I'm still blocked today by the Faroes tourism people and the sadistic and bloodthirsty practice still continues. Cruise lines still take their largely clueless guests to the Faroes and promote tours ashore.

The Faroes tourism website features a large photo (below) of a cruise ship and encourages visitors to visit by cruise or ferry.

I say don't @VisitFaroe . . . 

Beware, the images below (after the cruise ship), taken by the Sea Shepard volunteers, are gruesome.

Faroe Islands Cruise Travel      As I explained in Cruise Line Support Mass Murder of Whales in Faroe Islands, the local residents of the Faroe Islands massacre around 1,000 pilot whales a year. But these are not far-out-at-sea murders by huge Japanese ships away from civilization. These are well attended sporting events where the residents of the Faroes chase pods of the whales in motorized boats into a harbor and the locals hack at the whales with knives while their family members cheer them on. The whales suffer fear as they are separated from their families and die an agonizing death.  The locals call it the "Grindadráp" or the "Grind."' I call it the killing of families of defenseless mammals for fun by sick sociopaths. Here's what one person described:

"The whales are dragged to the shallow water, where participants in the kill then wade in the sea to around waist height. There they are slaughtered with traditional knives whose blades are usually 16 to 19 cm (6.3 to 7.5 in) long. Usually two deep cuts are made on either side of the animal’s neck, just Faroe Islands Cruise Travelbehind the blow hole, causing the head to drop forward; a third cut is then made through the middle of the neck down to the carotid arteries and spinal cord, which are severed. After a period of violent thrashing the animal is paralyzed and loses consciousness, dying of blood loss in most cases. With this the sea turns bright red with blood."

Mother whales are gutted and their baby whales ripped out.

Yesterday Fox News covered the horrific slaughter, showing images (video below), taken by Sea Sheperd volunteers, of the gruesome killing of these highly social mammals. It was the first time, to my knowledge, that a major U.S. television network focused on the gruesome slaughter. Many other newspapers in Europe are also carrying the disturbing images, like the Independent, Daily Mail, and the Metro

All of the major cruise lines still cruise to ports in the Faroes and profit by selling sell shore excursions to their guests. The local tour operators receive substantial income from the cruise line passengers.

The Bad Guys:

NCL promotes excursions to Torshavn, described as the "colorful capital city" of the Faroe Islands featuring es a "panoply of Nordic landscapes, with fjords, straits, deep green valleys, and a wonderful harbor dotted with colorful boats."  But no mention, of course, of the horrific whale slaughters.

Princess Cruises encourages it guests to buy tours to the Faroes with its "rough-hewn coastlines, towering sea cliffs, emerald-green valleys, and quaint grass-roofed villages," saying that the "air is Faroe Islands Cruise Travelsome of the cleanest in the world and the abundant sea birds chatter from every cliff and cove." But the cruise line obviously doesn't mention that the quaint "red-haired, freckle-faced Faroese people" murder hundreds of whales a year.  

Oceania Cruises joins parent company NCL in selling cruises to the Faroe Islands, characterizing the port of Torshavn as a "picturesque fishing town." 

Cunard makes money by convincing its guests to buy outings to the "colourfully painted wooden houses of the old town (of Torshavn) with turfed roofs." The captain of the  Queen Victoria is a native of the Faroe Islands and there was great fanfare when he sailed the Cunard cruise liner into the port of Klaksvik in the Faroes.

Other cruise lines which are on the Bloody-Faroes-Wall-of-Shame: Royal CaribbeanHolland America LineP&O Cruises, Regent Seven SeasViking Ocean Cruises, Seabourn, Windstar, Silversea, Royal Caribbean owned TUI CruisesNoble Caledonia, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Polar Cruises, and Smyril Line.  

The Good Guys:

A few cruise lines have discontinued supporting cruises to the deadly Faroes Islands in protest of the annual slaughter of pilot whales, namely two German lines, Hapag-Lloyd and AIDA. Disney Cruises also decided not to cruise to the Faroes after it learned of the ground swell of opposition to such a barbaric practice. So kudos to Hapag-Lloyd, AIDA and Disney which all decided to end their business Faroe Islands Cruise Travelrelationship with the Faroes. 

The public awareness of the barbaric, grisly practice is due to the tireless hard work of volunteers at the Sea Shepard organization.   

The residents of the Faroes defend their deadly practice of killing whales by pointing to their "heritage and tradition" of eating whale meat. (Read: Faroe Islands ‘cherish’ their bloody whale-hunting tradition).

But the Faroe Islands has a high standard of living today, and the whale meat is high in toxins and dangerous to eat anyway.

Cruelty for a long time is hardly a tradition.   

Most cruise passengers seem not to be aware of this cruelty. The violence inflicted on these sentient mammals is cruel and unconscionable. I say don't patronize cruises to this group of bloody islands or support cruise lines which do.

Follow Sea Shepherd Global - Operation Bloody Fjords Eyewitness Account.

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

Photo credit: Top - Faroe Islands Tourism; others - Sea Shepherd Global; video - Sea Shepherd Global via FOX News.    

 

 

Grand Princess Strikes Humpback Whale in Alaska

Multiple news sources are reporting that the Grand Princess operated by Princess Cruises struck a humpback whale two days ago. The dead whale was discovered lodged on the cruise ship's bulbous bow upon entering the port in Ketchikan, Alaska. 

Cruise ship-whale strikes are hardly uncommon. This latest incident is reportedly the second time in two years involving a whale strike caused by a cruise ship in Alaska; Holland America's Zaandam struck an endangered fin whale last year and carried the dead whale into port in Seward on its bulbous bow. 

The Princess Cruises PR spokesperson claims that the Princess cruise ship did not spot any whales near the ship as it sailed toward Ketchikan. Princess also floated out the possibility that the whale was "already deceased before becoming lodged on the bow" - the usual PR spin when a cruise ship strikes a whale. 

A necrosis will later address whether the whale was in fact alive or dead at the time that the cruise ship struck it.

A cruise passenger sent photographs of the incident, one of which is below.  

Grand Princess Whale StrikeSeveral years ago, environmental groups filed a petition with the federal government seeking to force cruise ships and other large vessels to slow down in order to reduce the chances of whale strikes. The petition was focused on the waters between San Francisco and Los Angeles, but it signaled the importance of environmental groups concerned with marine life who share the oceans with super tankers and today's increasingly larger cruise ships.

In one of the most graphic photographs of a cruise ship / whale strike, in 2009 the Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess arrived in port in Vancouver, unaware that the cruise ship impaled a fin whale on the ship's bow while in Alaskan waters. The whale was a female fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus). Princess claimed that the whale was already dead when the cruise ship hit her.

Of those whale-strikes which are reported, it is quite unusual for the dead whale to be noticed only when it is brought into a port on the bow of a large ship as indicated on this comprehensive report published by the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Marine Fisheries Service.

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

August 11, 2017 Update: Meanwhile, Ottawa to force ships to slow down to prevent whale deaths in Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Cocaine-Smuggling Princess Crew Members Escape Jail Time

Osland Princess Crew MembersCanadian news stations have identified the three crew members from the Island Princess who were arrested last week for smuggling drugs into Vancouver, as we mentioned in a prior article

CTV News Vancouver identified three Nicaraguan crew members, Willard Murray Brooks (age 28), Emil Hebbert Garth (age 26) and Jason West Carter, (age 32) who were recruited by a Colombian drug cartel to smuggle 10 kilograms of cocaine onto the Island Princess when it docked in Cartagena. The Princess cruise ship later called on Vancouver on May 11th after sailing to Panama and, later, to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Once the  ship docked in Vancouver, CTV reports that the three crew members smuggled five kilograms of cocaine to a shore-side food court where an unidentified man met them and later paid US$30,000 for the drugs. The men reportedly tucked the cash into their underwear before heading back to the cruise ship. Canadian Border Services found the undeclared cash when the drug mules went through screening. A Vancouver police canine unit and the Canadian Border Services then searched the men's cabins where they reportedly located an additional amount of cocaine.

The men did not dispute the charges. CTV reports the dcrew members "also said they did not fear a return to their home country of Nicaragua, where they are expected to be flown within seven days. CBSA will hold Princess Cruise Lines responsible for the travel costs."

No explanation was provided by CTV why the drug smugglers did not face jail time in Canada. It is doubtful that the three crew members will face any charges once they have been returned home.  

A one-way ticket home to Nicargua for the crew members to be paid by Princess Cruises is hardly a deterrent to international drug smuggling.

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

Video and photo credit: CTV Canada Vancouver

 

Fire on Island Princess

Princess Island PrincessA fire reportedly broke out yesterday aboard the Island Princess as it sailed in Alaska.

A Cruise Critic member posted information on the popular message board that the fire occurred due to leaking oil in the engine room, after the passengers on the cruise ship viewed the glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park.

The passenger commented:

This morning about 7:30 there was an emergency announcement for a fire in the deck 4 engine room. We were having breakfast in the Horizons buffet area. About 5 minutes later, the general emergency alarm was sounded and all crew were called to their emergency stations. They remained for about 30 minutes before being released. We were advised that the fire was struck pretty quickly and that we were in no danger. We continued a fantastic day in Glacier Bay NP.

Shortly after dropping the rangers, inspectors from coast guard boarded the ship as we sat still in the water. They were onboard for about 1 and a half hours and now we are continuing in.

The captain has done a great job keeping us informed of the situation. He advised the fire was due to a leaking oil pipe in the engine room. We have no indication that the itinerary will be altered in any way.

Interested in this issue? Read: Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?

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

Photo credit: CC0 wikipedia.

Vancouver Police Arrest Three Crew Members From Island Princess For Drugs

Island PrincessA Canadian newspaper reports that the police in Vancouver arrested three Princess Cruises crew member from the Island Princess on drug charges.

CTV  that the Island Princess was scheduled to leave Vancouver for Alaska when members of the Canada Border Services Agency and the Vancouver Police Department's Canine Unit boarded the cruise ship to search for drugs on the ship. 

Princess Cruises confirmed that three ship employees were arrested but refused to identify the type or quantity of the narcotics. 

Princess Cruises was last in the news after the DOJ last December fined it $40,000,000 for wide spread dumping of oil throughout the world's oceans for nearly a decade.

In September of 2016, the police in Australia arrested three passengers in possession of over 209 pounds of cocaine aboard the Sea Princess.

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

Photo Credit: CC0 wikipedia.  

Passenger Reported Overboard From Golden Princess

Golden PrincessAustralian newspapers are reporting that a passenger has disappeared from the Golden Princess operated by Princess Crises.

A 61 year old U.S. citizen apparently went overboard from the cruise ship on Wednesday, according to these newspapers. The Golden Princess later docked in Sydney, on Thursday. The cruise line searched for the man on the ship after the crew became concerned that he might have gone overboard. 

A reader commented (below) that the man was "reported missing by his cabin steward at around 9pm on Wednesday night 3rd May. However the Captain announced to all passengers onboard that he was last sighted on Monday 1st May. Monday was the first of 3 sea days back to Sydney from Latouka Fiji." 

The ship is now sailing en route to Brisbane and Papua New Guinea.

Cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein has tallied 296 people overboard in the last 17 years.

Photo credit: Jean-Philippe Boulet, commons / wikimedia.

Norovirus on the Coral Princess

Coral PrincessThe Coral Princess arrived in Fort Lauderdale this weekend with 157 of 2,016 cruise passengers aboard the Princess Cruises' ship stricken with nausea/vomiting and diarrhea which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suspect are symptoms related to norovirus.

The noro-infected passengers comprise 7.79% of the total passenger population on the ship. 25 of 881 (2.84%) crew members are also infected.

The CDC was unable to conclude where the norovirus came from. I am not aware of a single instance when the CDC has pinpointed the cause of a cruise ship disease outbreak. Unfortunately, the public is often left with the "blame game" of wondering whether the cruise ship food or water was contaminated (which the CDC and FDA generally say are the most likely causes of gastrointestinal outbreaks), or the outbreak was caused by a sick galley worker, or was brought aboard by sick passengers, and then spread because of inadequate hygiene and poor cleaning procedures.

Several years ago, Time magazine published an article titled 13 Worst Norovirus Outbreaks on Cruise Ships. The overall winner of Time's top 13 list was Princess Cruises which had five outbreaks on its brand alone: Crown Princess (January 2010) with 396 ill; Crown Princess (February 2012) - 363; Ruby Princess (March 2013) - 276; Coral Princess (February 2009) - 271; and Sun Princess (July 2012) - 216.

The last norovirus outbreak involving the Coral Princess was in April 2015.

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

Photo credit: Roy Luck - CC BY 2.0, commons / wikimedia.

Hat tip to the popular Crew Center blog which first covered the outbreak. 

Polluting Princess Cruises Named "Best Ocean Cruise Line?"

Yesterday, Princess Cruises isued a press statement via PR Newswire that it had been voted the "Best Ocean Cruise Line" in the USA TODAY and 10Best Readers Choice cruise travel awards. 

The press release highlighted comments made by Princess Cruises president, Jan Swartz: "We're incredibly proud to be named 'Best Ocean Cruise Line' by the experts and readers of USA TODAY as it's our goal to provide our guests memorable and inspiring cruise vacation experiences."

A panel of cruise experts (cruise bloggers, travel agents, & industry friends) picked the initial nominees; the top 10 winners were then determined by popular vote.

The judges who nominated Princess are notable people in the world of cruising (I'm friendly with some of them) who author high quality articles and operate popular sites about the cruise industry: Carrie Finley Princess Cruises Pollution Bajak - Cruise Buzz; Fran Golden - USA TODAY; Sherry Laskin Kennedy - Cruise Maven; Jason Leppert - Popular Cruising; Chris Owen - Chris Cruises; Doug Parker - Cruise Radio; and Aaron Saunders - From The Deck Chair.  But, quite frankly, I am embarrassed for them.

Last month, the Department of Justice leveled a fine of $40,000,000 against Carnival Corporation for Princess Cruises' deliberate discharge of oil via "magic pipes," alteration of oil logs regarding at least five of its cruise ships, and lying to the Coast Guard over the course of nearly a decade. Ms. Swartz was featured in a video trying her best to appear apologetic as part of Princess' multi-media response to the revelations.

Its an embarrassing indictment of the cruise industry for a corporate felon to be voted the "best ocean cruise line" after it polluted the oceans and lied about it for so many years.  A better approach would have been for the judges to have disqualified any company which is on probation for environmental crimes or for the cruise executive to have politely declined the award, saying that the cruise line promises to do much better in the future.  

I posted Princess' patting-itself-on-its-back PR statement on our firm's Facebook page; we received these comments:

  • Should have been disqualified . . . 
  • Wow, I would have assumed "best ship", included due diligence on (environmental) issues but I guess not?
  • What a crock of s**t!
  • I agree they should be banned from these polls or disqualified.
  • . . . It's all a farce.

MSC Cruises DUMPINGThe other cruise lines voted in the list of "top 10 ocean cruise lines" have all been fined for polluting the oceans. Carnival was voted no. 3, even though it owns the polluting cruise ships operated by its Princess brand. Even MSC Cruises, which was voted no. 10, has a notorious reputation after a series of videos were released showing MSC crew members throwing garbage bags into a marine sanctuary at night. 

Yes, the award is a farce. The award should be embarrassing to the cruise industry, the cruise line "winner," the judges, and the cruise fans who voted for a corporate felon which intentionally polluted the oceans for years. 

Photo credit: Top - Department of Justice via CURT ANDERSON/AP via US News; bottom - anonymous via Cruise Law News.

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

Why No Prosecution of the Engineers on the Caribbean Princess, Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess?

According to the DOJ, engineers on the Caribbean Princess, Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess by-passed the oil-water separators (OWS) and released oily substances into the oceans. These employees of Princess used a number of techniques, including the so-called "magic pipes" and running clean water past the sensors of the OWS to prevent the system from triggering an alarm. The engineers lied and falsified oil logs on the ships. 

On the Caribbean Princess, the senior ship engineers dismantled the bypass pipe and instructed crew members to lie once a whistleblower reported the environmental violations.

These illegal practices on the Princess cruise ships took place over a nine year period of time.

Why didn't the DOJ arrest a single one of the engineers engaged in the illegal practices?  I have received many inquiries from people asking why no one, including cruise executives, will serve jail time?

Today, gCaptain reported that "two high-ranking ship engineers were sentenced to prison Thursday Star Princess after being convicted of using a so-called “magic pipe” to illegally dump oil sludge and wastewater overboard from their ship and then attempting to cover it up." The sentencing involved the chief engineer and second engineer of the Ocean Hope, a Greek operated cargo ship, who were convicted of conspiracy, violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, obstruction of justice and witness tampering by a federal jury in Greenville, North Carolina.

Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division stated: “This case shows that polluting the ocean with oily waste and sludge will land you in jail . . ."

Cruden was also involved in the Princess Cruises investigation, where the misconduct involved more ships for a far longer period of time.

So why the difference?  Princess Cruises and parent company Carnival Corporation clearly wanted to put this debacle behind them, so they apparently cut a deal which eliminated the possibility that the DOJ would be eliciting sworn testimony from any of the shipboard employees. The DOJ press release indicated that Princess engineers on the Caribbean Princess believed that the shore-side superintendent, like the chief engineer on the ship overseeing the cover-up, suffered from the “braccino corto” complex (an Italian expression for a cheap person whose arms are too short to reach his wallet).

So the engineers' testimony would have clearly implicated Princess Cruises' shore-side supervisors. And once its was proven that an audit of the vessel expenses would have revealed that there were no costs for offloading and treating the oily waste, the only issue is how many people in Princess Cruises' and Carnival's headquarters in Santa Clarita and Miami were involved in the conspiracy. The cruise executives wanted to maintain plausible deniability which would not be possible if their senior engineers were going to face prosecution and began pointing their fingers at the corporate offices. So Princess Cruises negotiated a settlement that included only a fine and a probation period, but no jail time for any of its executives or even its senior engineers.

The DOJ touted that the case involved the "the largest-ever criminal penalty involving deliberate vessel pollution." But the reality is that polluting the oceans will not land you in jail if you are an engineer on a cruise ship who can implicate the owners and executives in the lies and cover-up.  

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

Other articles about this issue:

Princess Cruises Pollution Cover-Up: Are the Greedy Cruise Executives Untouchable?

Princess Cruises Pollution Cover-Up: What Did the Executives Know?

Deliberate Dumping, Cover-Up and Lies: DOJ Fines Princess Cruises $40,000,000.

Photo credit: Star Princess - Jim Walker

Princess Cruises Pollution Cover-Up: Are the Greedy Cruise Executives Untouchable?

The DOJ has a history of not arresting cruise executives notwithstanding how widespread the dumping of oil or chemicals in the nations's waters may be. Will the most recent dumping incidents by Carnival's subsidiary, Princess Cruises, culminating in a $40,000,000 fine be any different? 

Throughout the 1990's, Royal Caribbean engaged in repeated dumping of everything from oil to chemicals, including dry-cleaning fluid, printing press solvents and photographic chemicals, into the waters from here in Miami all the way to Glacier Bay in Alaska. The Coast Guard and DOJ caught it using "magic pipes" and falsifying oil logs. The cruise line nonetheless continued to dump oil, lie to the Coast Guard and flaunt the authority of the former head of the DOJ, the late Janet Reno, until the agency leveled increasingly stiff fines of $1,000,000, $8,000,000 and $18,000,000.

Royal Caribbean fought the federal government fiercely back in the late 1990's, arguing that because it was a Liberian corporation, it was not subject to U.S. environmental laws - an argument rejected by Royal Caribbean Pollution - DOJ Most Wantedthe U.S. courts here in Miami. The cruise line's dumping was so pervasive and defiant that many joked back in those years that the executives could see Royal Caribbean cruise ships dumping oil right outside of the executives' windows at their headquarters at the port of Miami.

But the DOJ arrested no one at Royal Caribbean headquarters in Miami; instead, the DOJ focused its prosecution efforts on a Greek engineer who worked on one of the cruise line's ships. But, some say, it was a half-hearted effort by the DOJ. The engineer eventually walked out of a hotel in Miami when the FBI wasn't paying attention and flew out of the jurisdiction back to Greece. (He remains technically on the top ten most wanted list of the U.S. Environmental Protection agency).

The New York Times wrote an article Sovereign Islands: Gaps in the Sea Laws Shield Pollution By Cruise Lines. The Times wrote that each Royal Caribbean ship was spending around $380,000 per year in operating an oil water separator ("OWS") and disposing of the waste ashore. "By saving this money, a ship's officer could receive bigger year's end bonuses. The savings was the government's strongest evidence that senior management may have known of the conspiracy . . . "

If any cruise executives should have been arrested for the environmental crimes, many say that the executives at Royal Caribbean were the most likely culprits. But it didn't happen. 

Carnival Corporation also has a checkered history of widespread use of "magic pipes" and falsifying oil logs on its cruise ships. It was particularly bad in the 80's and 90's and culminated in 2002 when the DOJ announced that Carnival had pled guilty to dumping oil and lying about it.  Carnival's guilty plea revealed that the corporation used the same tricks that the engineers on Princess ships more recently used. Over 15 years ago, the DOJ concluded that on numerous occasions from 1996 through 2001, Carnival's "engineers intentionally flushed clean water past the sensors of the (OWS) meters. By doing this while discharging was in progress, the engineers tricked the meters to register the oil content in the clean water (0 ppm), instead of the oil content in the bilge waste. The control valves thereby remained in overboard positions, and oily waste was dumped into the sea without regard to the 15 ppm oil content legal limit."

This is the same methods as what the DOJ recently found on Carnival's ships operated by Princess Cruises.

Back in 2002 the DOJ stated that "overboard discharges of oily waste while clean water was being flushed past the meter sensors occurred on several ships, including the TROPICALE, Cruise Line PollutionSENSATION, FANTASY, ECSTASY, PARADISE and IMAGINATION. Carnival Corporation also admitted that this conduct, which allowed engineers to knowingly dump oil into the sea in quantities that exceeded the legal limit, was intentionally misrepresented in the oil record books of the ships."

So are we to conclude that the exact same widespread illegal practices used in the late 1990's, including the same "magic pipe" and flushing-the sensors-with-clean-water methods, which occurred as late as 2013, took place without any knowledge by the cruise executives at the helm of Carnival Corporation for almost a fifteen year period of time?

Who were the cruise executives who should have known about the wrongdoing?  Of course, Micky Arison was the CEO of Carnival from 2003 until July 2013. He collected around $75,000,000 in compensation during this period.  In 2012, Arison paid himself $90,000,000 as a bonus.  So, in total compensation and bonuses, Arison received over $165,000,000 while the illegal dumping at Princess Cruises continued. Forbes places Arison's current net worth at $7,800,000,000 (billion). 

Travel Weekly reported that as of the end of 2014, "the five mostly highly paid executives at Carnival Corp. earned a combined $32.7 million (in compensation a year), including $6.5 million for Costa Group CEO, Michael Thamm, $6.1 million for departed Carnival Cruise Lines President and CEO, Gerry Cahill, $6.1 million for Chief Operations Officer Alan Buckelew (who was the former CEO of Princess), and $5.2 million for CFO, David Bernstein."

Carnival generated $134,899,000,000 (billion) in income from 2004 through 2013, and netted $17,202,000,000 (billion), according to its annual statements.  Consider that Carnival and the other cruise lines pay virtually no international, federal, state or local taxes on their cruise ship profits.

So were the cruise executives concerned that their fabulous wealth would be touched? Hardly. This is an industry of fat-cat executives who know that they are untouchable. It is fundamentally different from other industries where racketeers are prosecuted or where the top dogs will eventually do the right thing for the shareholders when the corporation is caught doing something wrong. Consider what Wells Fargo & Co. Chief Executive John Stumpf recently did when his company was caught opening millions of checking, saving and credit card accounts for customers without their knowledge. Stumpf agreed to forfeit compensation worth about $45 million from around 910,000 shares in un-vested stock awards, and agreed to forego his bonus this year. Another executive who was in charge of the division where much of the illegal activity took place, will give up about $19 million worth of stock. Wells Fargo’s board of directors also said that other executives could lose stock awards or even other compensation already paid to them.       

But there is no way the wealthy cruise executives are going to voluntarily let loose of a single dime of their ill-gotten profits. The tax-paying public will just have to pony up a little more to cover the difference, is what they think.

The cruise executives' greed is staggering. The $40,000,000 fine, after all, is just a drop in the ocean Micky Arison Carnivalof wealth enjoyed by Carnival executives. Consider that Caribbean Cruise Line, and related marketing and timeshare development companies, agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit to the tune of up to $76,000,000. This case (involved the nuisance of millions of robocalls in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act) involved nothing comparable to discharging oil around the world. 

Yes, the latest pollution scandal earned Princess Cruises and Carnival a certain amount of bad press, but the cruise industry has always been able to navigate through criticism that it is a dirty industry at its core. The only difference that the environmental fines will make is if it deters the misconduct of those who benefited the most from the deliberate pollution. Unfortunately, a $40,000,000 fine to executives who collected many times that amount in compensation and bonuses is meaningless.

It is well past time that corporate activists demand disgorgement of executive bonuses and resignation of executives who have caused harm to corporate shareholders. Likewise, the DOJ needs to wake up. Cruise lines will continue to pollute unabated, as they have done since the1990's (or earlier), unless and until corporate executive are held personally accountable.

The DOJ and state prosecutors have levied a total of over $90,000,000 in fines against the cruise industry over the last twenty years. The fines are always accompanied with press releases discussing years of probation imposed on the companies which, in the case of Carnival, was quickly violated back in the early 2000's without any real consequence. The magic pipes, rigged OWS sensors and falsified log books from the 1990's continued until the mid-2010's. Carnival and Princess executives have again pointed their crooked fingers at shipboard employees while disavowing any knowledge of what was happening on their ships. With a collective sigh of relief that the DOJ again didn't arrest a single cruise executive for involvement in the scandal, they quickly agreed to pay the fine.  

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

Read our other articles about the Princess Cruises deliberate pollution and cover-up:

Princess Cruises Pollution Cover-Up: What Did the Executives Know?

Deliberate Dumping, Cover-Up and Lies: DOJ Fines Princess Cruises $40,000,000.

Photo Credit:  

Michael Evangelos Psomadakis, Chief Engineer Nordic Empress - Environmental Protection Agency Most Wanted Poster.

Micky Arison - Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports via 7500toholte.sbnation.com/ 

Princess Cruises Pollution Cover-Up: What Did the Executives Know?

The $40,000,000 fine levied against Princess Cruises last week raises the issue of what cruise executives knew about the illegal dumping of oil-contaminated waste from the Caribbean Princess cruise ship and the other illegal practices which took place on the Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess.

As the Department of Justice (DOJ) points out, this is not an isolated case involving a rogue ship employee. The criminal misconduct  took place for eight years from 2005 to 2013 (involving the Caribbean Princess) and involved several other cruise ships as well. According to the DOJ, the illegal conduct included not only the "magic pipe" to circumvent the oily water separator on the Caribbean Princess but involved other other illegal practices on the Caribbean Princess as well the Star Princess,Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess.

The DOJ suggested that the pollution crimes committed by Princess were motivated by avoiding the costs associated with properly offloading the oily waste in port. The DOJ says that subordinate engineers on the Caribbean Princess nicknamed the chief engineer (responsible for using the "magic pipe" to discharge oily waste in August of 2013) “braccino corto” (a person with short arms), which the DOJ explained is "an Italian expression for a cheap person whose arms are too short to reach his wallet."

According to the DOJ, some Princess engineers expressed the same opinion of the Princess shore-side superintendent.

Princess Cruises' reaction to the DOJ charges seems designed to isolate its shore-side managers and executives from direct responsibility. Although it admitted that its ship employees' conduct was "inexcusable," and that its oversight was "inadequate," it denied that its management in its headquarters knew anything illegal was occurring before August 2013.

Gauging from comments on social media, the public seems skeptical.  

Consider some of the comments to the Miami Herald article Carnival-Owned Ship Caught in Pollution Scheme. Now They’re Paying $40 Million for It:

"Of course management knew. Why would a lowly worker come up with this idea? He could care less because he gets paid the same whether or not they follow regulations. Corporate wanted to save time and money . . . "

"Typical cutting corners to increase profits while exploiting foreign workers who work for paupers wages."

Similar comments were posted by readers of USA TODAY's article Princess Cruises to Plead Guilty to Polluting Ocean:

"Something this significant, all top executives had to have known. It takes money and time to dispose of waste. Were there no questions when time was dramatically saved and cost of waste management decreased drastically? Come on...."

A reader of our Facebook page commented:

"Financial penalties like this are a drop in the ocean for a company the size of Carnival; but does anyone up the chain get jail time? I work in the cruise industry, and I (we) don't need arrogant (executives) who are looking for their next bonus for "cost savings" thinking that international waters are their big dumping ground."

The purpose of an illegal "magic pipe" is to save costs.  Pursuant to international requirements, oily bilge water from a cruise ship must be treated to the point that the oil content is below 15 parts per million before it is can be discharged into the ocean. The oil-water separators (OWS) are expensive to maintain and operate. The oil that is separated from the bilge water must be stored and then offloaded from the ship onto barges or pumped ashore to be incinerated at licensed facilities. But the "magical pipe" avoids the costs associated with maintaining the OWS and removing and disposing of the waste products.  

Like other cruise lines, Carnival Corporation places considerable pressure on all its brands to reduce costs. The costs associated with the operation of a ship are carefully scrutinized and analyzed from ship to ship. A significant variation in costs between a ship offloading and disposing oil compared to a ship dumping oil at sea via a "magic pipe" should be readily observed by any corporation. It is doubtful that the low waste disposal costs of the Caribbean Princess, compared to a ship with a functioning oil water separator (OWS), didn't come to the attention of the shore-side managers as well as those in the company and parent corporation who audit the costs of operating the cruise line's fleet of cruise ships. My opinion is that someone on the corporate side probably knew what was really happening on one of the company's $500 million ships, or perhaps they turned a blind eye toward the monkey business. 

The closest that the DOJ will come to holding the cruise executives responsible is saying that the illegal discharge "was the result of more than just bad actors on one ship. It reflects very poorly on Princess’s culture and management."

This slap on the wrist ignores the fact that when the Caribbean Princess started its eight years of discharging oily wastes into the oceans, Carnival was still on probation following a fine of $18,000,000. In 2002, as part of its felony plea agreement, Carnival and its "subsidiaries and operating companies" were required to undertake a five year court-supervised environmental program involving every "cruise ship and shoreline facility in the U.S. and abroad." Carnival was required to " . . . hire new personnel and managers, whose sole responsibilities . . . [were] to ensure compliance with local, state, federal and international environmental requirements . . . (and) subject their operation to an independent auditor, approved by the government." 

Princess Cruises was not yet owned by Carnival in 2002 but Carnival took ownership and control of Princess Cruises the following year. It is less than clear whether Carnival took steps to ensure that Carnival-owned ships operated by its subsidiary Princess Cruises complied with the 2002 consent agreement with the DOJ after Princess Cruises came under Carnival's control in 2003 when Carnival was beginning the DOJ probation period. Regardless, shortly after it started service, the Caribbean Princess began a course of criminal conduct until 2013 which would make the ship's engineers the poster-children of maritime environmental criminals.   

Is the public really expected to believe that the executives at Carnival or Princess didn't know anything about the cost-saving criminal conduct over the course of nearly a decade?

                                                                          #         #        #

Some people people have suggested that president Jan Swartz should resign but she was not the executive at the helm of Princess during the 2005 - 2013 time period. She worked for Princess as a vice president in sales, marketing, business development and customer service for some of the years in question before leaving the cruise line. She returned to Princess as the top CEO in December 2013, replacing President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alan Buckelew who had been the Chief Executive Officer of Princess Cruises from June 2007 to November 2013 and its President from February 2004 to November 2013, as well as the Chief Operating Officer of Carnival since December 1, 2013.  Perhaps Swartz's return to the cruise line was part of the reshuffling that took place after the illegal "magic pipe" was reported to the U.K. Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) a few month earlier?  

Photo Credit: Caribbean Princess in the Caribbean heading for Miami - Cruiser1210 - CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

You can read our first article about the DOJ fines here: Deliberate Dumping, Cover-Up and Lies: DOJ Fines Princess Cruises $40,000,000.

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

Deliberate Dumping, Cover-Up and Lies: DOJ Fines Princess Cruises $40,000,000

Multiple news sources are reporting that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will fine Princess Cruises a record $40,000,000 for polluting the seas and trying to cover it up. Princess Cruises will plead guilty to seven felony charges of illegally dumping oil-contaminated waste from the Caribbean Princess cruise ship which sailed to numerous U.S. states (Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia) and two territories (U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico).

According to the DOJ, the Caribbean Princess had been illegally discharging oil since 2005 using bypass equipment, sometimes called a "magic pipe," to circumvent pollution-prevention equipment that separates oil and monitors oil levels in the ship's water. 

We previously mentioned that the DOJ joined an investigation being conducted by the U.K. Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) which had been initiated in August 2013.

You can read the DOJ statement here: Princess Cruise Lines To Pay Largest-Ever Criminal Penalty For Caribbean PrincessDeliberate Vessel Pollution

The DOJ says that "in addition to the use of a magic pipe to circumvent the oily water separator and oil content monitor required pollution prevention equipment, the U.S. investigation uncovered two other illegal practices which were found to have taken place on the Caribbean Princess as well as four other Princess ships – Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess. One practice was to open a salt water valve when bilge waste was being processed by the oily water separator and oil content monitor. The purpose was to prevent the oil content monitor from otherwise alarming and stopping the overboard discharge. This was done routinely on the Caribbean Princess in 2012 and 2013. The second practice involved discharges of oily bilge water originating from the overflow of graywater tanks into the machinery space bilges. This waste was pumped back into the graywater system rather than being processed as oily bilge waste. Neither of these practices were truthfully recorded in the oil record book as required. All of the bypassing took place through the graywater system which was discharged when the ship was more than four nautical miles from land. As a result, discharges within U.S. waters were likely."

U.S. investigators began to probe the ship's actions after a newly hired engineer reported an illegal dump of over 4,000 gallons of oily waste off the coast of England in August 2013 to the British MCA. The whistleblowing engineer then quit his job. Two other senior ship engineers then ordered a cover-up, called on other crew members to lie and sought to remove the "magic pipe."

According to the DOJ, following an official investigation, "the chief engineer held a sham meeting in the engine control room to pretend to look into the allegations while holding up a sign stating: “LA is listening.” The engineers present understood that anything said might be heard by those at the company’s headquarters in Los Angeles, California, because the engine control room contained a recording device intended to monitor conversations in the event of an incident."

The DOJ indicated that a perceived motive for the environmental crimes was financial – "the chief engineer that ordered the dumping off the coast of England told subordinate engineers that it cost too much to properly offload the waste in port and that the shore-side superintendent who he reported to would not want to pay the expense."

The DOJ continued: "Princess engineers on the Caribbean Princess indicated that the chief engineer responsible for the discharge on Aug. 26, 2013, was known as “braccino corto” (a person with short arms), an Italian expression for a cheap person whose arms are too short to reach his wallet. Some expressed the same opinion of the shore-side superintendent."

As part of the felony plea agreement, cruise ships from eight Carnival cruise line companies (Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line N.V., Seabourn Cruise Line Ltd. and AIDA Cruises) will be placed under a court supervised Environmental Compliance Program (ECP) for five years. An outside entity and a court appointed monitor will independently audit the ECP.

The DOJ statement also says that “the conduct being addressed today is particularly troubling because the Carnival family of companies has a documented history of environmental violations, including in the Southern District of Florida.”  The DOJ stated "the pollution in this case was the result of more than just bad actors on one ship. It reflects very poorly on Princess’s culture and management."

Although $40,000,000 is the largest-ever criminal penalty involving deliberate vessel pollution against a single cruise line, many other other cruise lines have been fined many millions of dollars and forced to plead guilty to felonies including obstruction of justice. The actions of Princess Cruises seem to be déjà vu of the widespread oily discharges and use of by-pass pipes in the late 1990's and early 2000's. 

In 2002, Carnival pled guilty to numerous felonies for discharging oily waste into the sea. Carnival reportedly routinely falsified its oil record books in order to conceal its illegal practices. The U.S. Government leveled a $18,000,000 fine and placed Carnival on probation.

In 2002, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) also pled guilty to a felony of routinely circumventing the oily water separator, dumping oily bilge directly into the ocean on a regular basis, and falsifying its record keeping. NCL admitted that it engaged in a practice of "systematically lying to the United States Coast Guard over a period of years." The DOJ issued a fine of only $1,500,000, primarily because NCL admitted its wrongdoing rather than lying and scheming like Carnival.

Starting in the In the late 1990's, the U.S. Coast Guard caught Royal Caribbean engaged in widespread dumping of oil and chemicals. The DOJ fined the cruise line $1,000,000. After Royal Caribbean was caught repeatedly illegally dumping oily discharges and chemicals and lying about it, the DOJ fined it $8,000,000 and then $18,000,000 for a total of $27,000,000

Cruise PollutionIn 1998, Holland America Line was fined $2,000,000 after it was caught discharging oily water without the use of an oil-water separator.  

Despite heavy marketing, the cruise industry has struggled with its environmental image over the years. Carnival-owned lines have battled the state of Alaska over its strict waste water laws and have been fined for exceeding the permitted level of ammonia, copper, nickel and zinc. Princess Cruises was fined, for example, when the Golden Princess dumped 66,000 gallons of chlorinated water into Glacier Bay in Alaska in early 2013. Carnival and Princess Cruises have traditionally fared poorly in environmental practices according to the environmental non-profit organization Friends of the Earth (FOE) which assigned these lines a "D" and a "C" respectively in the last FOE environmental report card (other Carnival brands, Costa Cruises and P&O Cruises, flunked the report card). Whether throwing garbage bags overboard, or dropping anchors on reefs, or belching smoke from high sulfur content bunker fuel into the air, or pulverizing and dredging reefs and filling native mangroves in the Caribbean islands to make way for increasingly gigantic cruise ships, the cruise lines have been viewed by many as enemies of the environment.     

Princess responded to the DOJ statement with a multi-media presentation which can be viewed here, and which includes a YouTube video statement by its president, Jan Swartz (which you can see below).

Interested in this issue? Read the New York Times article from 1999: Sovereign Lands: A Special Report; Gaps in Sea Laws Shield Pollution By Cruise Lines

Top: Caribbean Princess (Bar Harbor, Maine) photo credit: Yankeesman312 - CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Middle: Carnival Elation - Stop Polluting Cruise Ships Blogspot

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

December 1, 2016 Update: The Miami Herald picks up the news and quotes Cruise Law News: Carnival-owned ship caught in pollution scheme. Now they’re paying $40 million for it

The video of the illegal "magic pipe" which Princess Cruises used to by-pass the oil-water separator device and dump oil into the oceans is at the bottom, credit to McClatchey News Services / Miami Herald. 

December 4, 2016 Update: Princess Cruises Pollution Cover-Up: What Did the Executives Know?

 

 

Emerald Princess Experiences Power Failures

This afternoon, a passenger on the Emerald Princess informed us that the cruise ship was experiencing power issues similar to the Grand Princess which suffered similar power failures en route to San Fransisco returning from a cruise to Mexico (which we mentioned yesterday).

AIS, like Marine Traffic showed the vessel speed as the cruise ship headed to the port of Laem Chabang in Thailand at around 19-21 knots hr and then down to 2 knots on several occasions yesterday evening. 

The Emerald Princess was built in Fincantieri, Italy and was launched in June, 2006.

The Emerald Princess lost power during an Eastern Caribbean sailing after leaving Fort Lauderdale in JUly 2010.

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

Emerald Princess via Marine Traffic

Grand Princess Temporarily Loses Power

Grand Princess via Marine TrafficLast night, I mentioned on our Facebook page that a cruise passenger aboard the Grand Princess informed us that the Princess ship temporarily lost power. The passenger, who wishes to remain anonymous, stated:

"I am on the Grand Princess and we have a power issue and the Captain just made an announcement that they are working on it. We are not moving in the water. Yikes."

The Grand Princess was sailing off the Coast of California, heading to San Fransisco. The passenger went on to state that:

" . . . the power went out and the emergency lights went on. It was then that the ship stopped moving. They got the power back on and we began to continue but they were clearly having power problems all night. The power would flicker and change color like in a brown out. Then everything went back to normal by bed time. I think that we are arriving in SF on time . . " 

One person left a message on Facebook, stating:

"I was on this ship a month ago for 10 days (Mexican Riviera trip from SF). That was my first and LAST cruise. The ship is old and run down (Buckets collecting water in hallways, intermittent plumbing issues, etc.) so I'm not surprised this has happened . . . It's going into dry dock in December. If you ask me it should have been refurbished about 5 years ago . . ."

The Grand Princess is a relatively old ship, launched in 1998.

AIS tracking systems like Marine Traffic showed the cruise ship, which had been proceeding around 11-12 knots, losing power briefly last night. 

Power outages like this are not uncommon, even on newer ships. The last Princess Cruises ship to lose power involved the Caribbean Princess which drifted in the Irish Sea for several hours last August.

This particular ship, the Grand Princess, lost power in November of last year, after a fire in an engine room switchboard.

The ship was reportedly 20 miles off the coast of Hilo, Hawaii at the time of the incident, which forced the cruise ship to temporarily switch to emergency lighting and operate with limited air conditioning, according to USA TODAY

Between these two incidents, there have been around twenty significant power and propulsion failures involving all of the major brands as well as lesser known cruise lines in the last two years. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Holland America Line, Costa, Thomson, Viking, Paul Gauguin, Fathom, Oceanwide Expeditions and Phoenix Reisen have all suffered instances involving power and/or propulsion failures. 

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

October 30, 2016  Update: Princess Cruises released the following statements: "At 1800 local time on October 28, Grand Princess was en route to San Francisco when the ship experienced a temporary loss of propulsion. It was determined the loss of power was caused by a small water leak which entered the propulsion electrical transformers in the engine room. Repairs were made and operation of both propulsion motors was quickly established so that the ship could proceed to San Francisco as scheduled. Departure today from San Francisco for the next voyage should not be affected. Grand Princess was on day six of a seven-day voyage." 

Pacific Princess Hits Breakwater at Port of Nice

Pacific PrincessThe Pacific Princess hit a breakwater at the port of Nice this morning, according to a French newspaper.

The Princess Cruises' ship arrived at the Port of Nice at 6:15 A.M. this morning (Friday). The newspaper states that a leak was found in compartment no. 2 of the cruise ship. Twenty firefighters and divers reportedly responded to the incident.

The Forum Bateau website explained that the incident occurred in rough seas with an east wind over 45 knots, causing the port side of the cruise ship to strike rocks at the entrance to the Nice harbor before the ship docked.

The cruise ship was scheduled this depart Nice this evening, reportedly heading to Barcelona.  

The newspaper quotes a passenger aboard the ship as saying: "We felt the ship scrape port side . . . The captain told us later that the ship had hit the rocks. . . . for now, we're stuck here and we do not know for how long. We do not know if we will be able to continue our cruise."

The newspaper also quoted a passenger in another vessel at the port further as saying "I heard a big 'boom', a thud that reverberated throughout the harbor like an explosion."

The newspaper article contains photos and video of the Pacific Princess at port in Nice.

Photo credit: By Kate Rozdabara CC BY 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

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

October 14, 2016 Statement by Princess Cruises:  

"NICE, FRANCE (October 14, 2016 – 12:35PM) - Princess Cruises can confirm that during arrival at the port of Nice, under normal weather and sea conditions (at approximately 6:30 AM) Pacific Princess experienced an unexpected change in wind conditions and made contact with the breakwater wall resulting in damage to the port side of the ship under the water line. The water tight doors were already closed containing the inflow of sea water. The ship is safely alongside at the pier. There were no injuries and at no time were any guests or crew in danger. Guests are ashore enjoying excursions and site seeing. The ship has electrical power.

Divers are on scene assessing the damage to determine repair options and the amount of time required to complete. As a result of this incident we have made the decision to end the current cruise early so that necessary repairs can be made to the ship. We will be providing required transportation and lodging at our expense so that guests may proceed with their original onward travel arrangements as scheduled on Sunday, October 16. Additional details about these arrangements will be provided as soon as possible.

Pacific Princess is sailing with 669 guests and 382 crew members. The ship is on day ten of a 12 day cruise that departed Venice on October 4, and was scheduled to arrive in Barcelona on October 15, for an overnight stay before ending the cruise on October 16."

October 19, 2016 Update: At least one passenger is complaining that Princess Cruises is not honoring the promise of a "full refund" it made when it cancelled the October 16 cruise following the incident described above.

U.S. Coast Guard Medevacs Crew Member from Ruby Princess

Medevac Ruby PrincessThe Defense Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) reports that the U.S Coast Guard medevaced a 47 year old crew member from the Ruby Princess early this morning.

The air medevac took place when the Princess Cruises cruise ship was approximately 9 miles southwest of Point Loma, San Diego. 

The Ruby Princess contacted the Coast Guard in San Diego late last night (at approximately 11:35 P.M.), reporting that a Princess crew member was experiencing symptoms of a heart attack.

The Coast Guard deployed a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter at approximately 1 A.M. The helicopter then hoisted the man onto the helicopter at approximately 2:05 A.M. The crew member was then transferred to an ambulance once the helicopter returned to its base in San Diego and taken to a local hospital. 

Video Credit: Defense Video Imagery Distribution System

 

Fire Aboard Emerald Princess Cruising to Las Palmas?

Emerald PrincessToday I received a message stating that there was a fire on the Emerald Princess yesterday.

Yesterday. the Princess cruise ship sailed from Southampton heading toward Las Palas, which is the capital of Gran Canaria, one of Spain's Canary Islands off northwestern Africa.

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website also contains this comment from a passenger aboard the Emerald Princess:

"Around 11:30 PM the cabin emergency speaker came on with the captain’s voice calling the crew to their (muster) stations. It was obvious to me that this was not a drill. After a moment to collect my thoughts I turned on my scanner that I had pre-tuned to all of the ship frequencies. The scanner was chattering non stop with excited voices about a suspected fuel leak and fire in the engine room. Water tight doors had been closed and the fire fighters were moving into position. I continued to closely listen to my scanner to further assess the situation. What I learned was that smoke had filled the engine room. The Captain ordered the shutdown of generators one and four, smoke was apparently found on the lower aft decks and on deck sixteen. A fuel leak fire was suspected. Then the Captain ordered, or perhaps it was automatic, the activation of the engine room fire suppression system. Let me pause here and tell you that fires on a ship are one of the most serious things that can ever happen. If the fire spreads it can be deadly. As the fire fighters prepared to enter the engine room the fire source was discovered to be a generator air supply fan belt on deck sixteen near the funnels which are not far from the Movies under the Stars (MUTS) outdoor theater. The MUTS was ordered to be shut down while the fire fighters fought the fire. After the fire was put out and the smoke was cleared out of the engine room the Captain came on the cabin speaker system twice to reassure passengers that we were all safe and that he was glad that the “small” fire was extinguished. After he concluded his remarks the scanner started chattering something about engine room cleanup from the fire suppression. What a way to start out a cruise. Hopefully this fire incident will be soon be forgotten."

Assuming this to be accurate, there are no media reports or any mention whatsoever on social media of the fire.

Princess Cruise has demonstrated a lack of transparency about ship fires on the Emerald Princess before. Read our article from two years ago: Fire on the Emerald Princess: What Information Should Passengers Be Entitled to Know?

I wrote at the time:

"My thought is that all passengers are entitled to receive timely, accurate and honest information about something as serious as a fire on the high seas, no matter how small the cruise line claims the fire is or how rapidly the cruise line claim they extinguished it. Such transparency is vital to ensuring corporate accountability and passenger safety." 

Statement from Princess Cruises @ 6:30 P.M. EST  on September 19, 2016:

"While Emerald Princess was en route from Southampton to Las Pal1mas on September 17, a ventilation supply fan belt on Deck 16 combusted. It was extinguished within minutes, and the ship continued to Las Palmas for an on time arrival."

Photo Credit:  By Holger.Ellgaard - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Have a thought? Join the discussion on Facebook.

Passenger Goes Overboard from Sapphire Princess

Sapphire PrincessThe Shanghai Daily newspaper reports today that a cruise passenger went overboard from Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess cruise ship this weekend after the ship departed from Shanghai and was heading to Japan.

The newspaper says that the the woman last seen at 7 P.M. on Saturday.

The newspaper further states that the woman was confirmed missing at 9:15 P.M. Sunday night. A "surveillance camera (reportedly) showed she jumped into sea from the public area on the 15th deck of the Sapphire Princess on 10:28pm on Saturday, Princess Cruises China is quoted saying. This means that, in all probability, the cruise ship was not equipped with an automatic man overboard system, requiring the security team to manually reviewed the surveillance footage after-the-fact.  It took almost 24 hours after the passenger disappeared for Princess to realize that she had gone overboard from the cruise ship. 

The popular Cruise Hive website states that the woman was a "67-year-old female guest" aboard the cruise ship. 

Princess Cruises last lost a passenger overboard from one of its cruise ships in May of this year when a man disappeared fro the Coral Princess

A passenger drowned and a child nearly drowned on the Sapphire Princess in the past two years.  

Photo credit: By Spaceaero2 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Passenger Goes Overboard from Coral Princess

On the heels of the passenger going overboard yesterday from the Carnival Liberty, I have learned from several passengers on the Coral Princess that a passenger went overboard from the Princess cruise ship on May 11th.

A passenger on the Coral Princess tweeted earlier this week: 

"Captain of the Coral Princess, my home away from home, advised that a male of Russian origin jumped overboard yesterday AM."

Another passenger commented that she had just returned from a Los Angeles - Vancouver cruise on the Coral Princess and that a man overboard incident has occurred during the cruise. She said that she Coral Princesswas shocked to come home and not be able to find any news on this incident.

She continued with an explanation regarding what happened:

"It was a passenger.  "The announcement said 'it appeared to be voluntary' that he left the ship. Only made the announcement once and we were outside so didnt hear it all. They had paged for him a number of times at dinner on Wednesday (early seating) and then came to a slow and stop for awhile....lots of security and other staff sweeping decks to check for him. The announcement was on Thursday morning to inform the rest of the passengers."

A third passenger added additional information on my Facebook page about what happened:

"He was on our Deck, Dolphin 614. Security was standing guard outside his cabin. At dinner time, May 11, 2016, the kept announcing for him to report to passenger services. Then the captain or the bridge make announcements in English and what sounded like Russian. He had a Russian sounding last name. The ship was stopped for a while, then we got underway again. At noon on May 12, 2016, the captain came on the intercom and s passenger had indeed jumped overboard and was lost at sea. Yesterday in Victoria, a three person CSI team was in the cabin doing a complete investigation. Princess kept the room sealed and guarded from the time they determined he was missing until the team arrived. He had to have gone overboard somewhere around Santa Barbara I would guess."

Two other people disappeared from this cruise ship since 2009.

A crew member from Italy disappeared from the Coral Princess without explanation in November 2009, in a highly suspicious set of circumstances. 

A passenger went overboard in May 2013 from the Coral Princess without explanation and without Princess even acknowledging the incident.

As I said after that last incident, 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 video cameras to document what happens 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.

As an aside, it also is an useful anti-terrorism system which can immediately detect whether a person is trying to come over the rails onto the ship and alert the bridge.  

This technology exists today with several manufacturers implementing reliable, high tech systems that utilize motion detection, heat sensor, and radar technology to alert the bridge that a guest or crew member has gone over the rails so that immediate rescue efforts can be started. 

May 15 2016 Update: I received the following email this evening: "I just got off the Coral Princess. On May 11 a passenger jumped from his balcony. A man was paged several times that afternoon. including pages in what sounded like Russian or a Slavic language. The following day the ship's captain announced the suicide, saying it had been captured on CCTV. He said the Coast Guard advised him to continue sailing. The ship stopped at Los Angeles on the 10th, but had originated in Ft. Lauderdale. There was no further information from the crew."

Have a thought?   Please join the discussion on our Facebook page

Photo Credit: Roy Luck CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37338048

Coral Princess Rescues 7 Cubans at Sea

This morning I received a message from a passenger on the Coral Princess that the Princess Cruises cruise ship picked up 7 Cuban migrants in a small make-shift boat.  

The photo sent to me showed what appeared to be at least one man in distress lying on his back near the bow of the boat. 

Here's the message which I received:

"Coral princess just rescued 7 cubans on a damaged small boat off the coast of cuba...we are on our way back to FL with 7 cubans on board."

Usually cruise ships which take Cuban migrants aboard deliver them to a Coast Guard vessel and the migrants are returned to Cuba.

Cuban Migrants

Crew Death on the Island Princess

Island Princess Several crew members and other people have informed me that the FBI is investigating the death of a Princess Cruises crew member yesterday.  

The cruise ship was in Colon, after cruising in the Panama Canal, when a crew member was discovered dead in his cabin. Some people are saying that it is an apparent suicide but others are stressing that the FBI has not disclosed an official cause of death. 

He was a young, newly hired galley employee on his first contract. We are not disclosing the crew member's name nor the alleged mechanism of his death at this time. 

The cruise ship apparently had to cancel the next port of call in Limon, Costa Rica.

Photo credit: Jean-Philippe Boulet, CC BY 3.0, creative commons / wikimedia.

March 19, 2016 @1:56 P.M. Update:  Princess released the following statement: 

Island Princess Statement
March 10, 2016

"We are saddened to confirm a crew member aboard Island Princess took his own life while the ship was in Colon, Panama yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the crew member and also with our crew members working aboard Island Princess.

Local authorities were immediately contacted and we facilitated full support in the endeavor to investigate the incident. Island Princess was required to stay in Panama overnight so that authorities could conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death. The ship has completed departure formalities and received clearance from local authorities to sail.

As a result, we have been required to cancel our scheduled call to Limon and sail directly to Grand Cayman, where the ship will arrive as scheduled at 7:00 AM on Saturday, March 12.

Island Princess departed Ft. Lauderdale on March 4 for a 10-day Panama Canal cruise, scheduled to return on March 14." 

August 2, 2016 Update: A newspaper in Mexico raises the question whether the 21 year-old crew member Eduardo Smith was murdered.

Another Gastrointestinal Outbreak on Leading GI-Outbreak Cruise Line, Princess Cruises

Ocean PrincessThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that there is a gastrointestinal outbreak on the Ocean Princess cruise ship, with 43 of 603 (7.13%) of passengers ill during the cruise and 5 of 387 (1.29%) crew members sick.

The Princess cruise ship is currently sailing on a February 13 - March 7, 2016 itinerary. The cruise ship is scheduled to go into dry dock on March 7th. 

Princess has 50% of the four cruise ship norovirus that meet the CDC's criteria so far this year. This should be no surprise to anyone who follows gastrointestinal outbreaks on cruise ships.

As I pointed out in my last article about a gastrointestinal outbreak on a Princess cruise ship (the Crown Princess), during the six year period from 2010 to the current date, Princess Cruises experienced the most norovirus outbreaks on its cruise ships calling on a U.S. port, according to the CDC. Including this most recent outbreak, Princess has reported twenty (20) cases to the CDC during this time period.

In contrast, Carnival cruise lines reported just two (2) cases during the same time period.

Celebrity Cruises reported 15 cases (and Royal Caribbean reported 9). HAL also reported a high number (12) during the 2010 to 2016 time period. Cunard reported 4; NCL -3; Oceania - 3; and Crystal - 2. 

Anyone have an explanation why there have been 10 times as many CDC-reported GI outbreaks on Princess cruise ships compared to Carnival cruise line ships?

 Photo Credit: Pjotr Mahhonin - CC0, Wikipedia

"Pool Rovers" Not the Answer to Lack of Lifeguards on Sapphire Princess

Sapphire PrincessInstead of hiring trained lifeguards in response to the drownings on the Sapphire Princess, Princess has tasked bartenders, dishwashers, and other crew members to add an hour of work each day to being "pool monitors" or "pool rovers".

The U.K.'s Maritime Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) recently criticized Princess after a passenger drowned on the Sapphire Princess. The cruise line did not hire lifeguards around the pool, it failed to conduct a risk assessment and the ship employees had no training on CPR or pools safety. 

A second passenger, a child, also nearly drowned last month. The child sustained serious, permanent injuries in a pool on the same lifeguard-less cruise ship.   

Despite these two tragedies, Princess still refuses to hire trained and experienced lifeguards. Instead, supervisors in the hotel and food and beverage departments on the Sapphire Princess are instructing their employees, hired to work in the galley, bars or passenger cabins, that they must work an extra hour around the ship's swimming pools as "pool rovers."   

This is an unpaid position. It is not considered a part-time job. These crew members people have no training in CPR, they have no idea about lifesaving techniques and procedures, and they have no clue what to do in case of a real emergency. There has been no training for these positions. These are inexperienced and non-trained "rovers" playing by it by ear. 

Sapphire Princess is in service to the Chinese market now. That means that virtually 100% of passengers are from China and only Mandarin Chinese. Most crew members cannot speak Chinese. There is a significant language barrier on the cruise ship.  What will happen in case of a real drowning involving another Chinese passenger?

The "pool rovers" are just instructed to hold a radio and call the Bridge if they see someone drowning. 

This is hardly what the MAIB recommended when it released its recommendations following its investigation into the drowning on the Sapphire Princess. 

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

 

Photo Credit: Spaceaero2 licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via creative commons / wikipedia.

Fire on Crown Princess

Crown PrincessA fire broke out on the Crown Princess Thursday night in the back stage of the Princess theater. It was extinguished with no reports of injury.

I received an account from the cruise ship:

The fire started in a store room behind the theater. The entire theater had to be evacuated. The smoke-generating machine had been left on, overheated and caught fire. The crew had to put on breathing apparatus. It turned out to be nothing but caused a lot of smoke at the time. At present they are investigating how/why the machine caught fire.

Princess Cruises tweeted the following to me:

 "Last night aboard Crown Princess a small fire occurred backstage in the Princess Theater during a performance. The cause of which was determined to be a piece of theatrical equipment used for special effects. The fire was quickly extinguished by our fire team. We immediately initiated our response procedures & all guests on board were asked to return to their staterooms. The ship's Captain made several announcements during the incident to keep guests informed of the situation & no one was injured. We're currently investigating the cause of the special effects equipment malfunction."

it has been 9 years since the deadly Star Princess fire which burned through one hundred cabins, injured a dozen passengers and killed Mr. Richard Liffridge

 

Photo Credit: Brian Burnell via Wikipedia Creative Commons 3.0

Noro on the Princess Cruises' Star Princess

News sources in Hawaii are reporting that dozens of Princess cruise ship passengers have been quarantined on Maui after a norovirus outbreak.

Newspapers are saying that Princess Cruises' Star Princess is ported at Lahaina. According to the local health department, around 30 people are quarantined in their rooms. Health officials report that the virus originated in San Francisco. 

Princess Cruises notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

There is no official CDC information  because there is no need for the CDC to make a report to the public unless 3% or more of the cruise passengers or crew are ill. 

This week 8 Canadian doctors published a blockbuster article confirming that norovirus can be transmitted in an airborne form.

Unfortunately, given the short time that cruise ship are in port, no health officials ever determine whether the outbreak is caused by contaminated food and / or water versus a sick food handler versus poor hygiene practices by the cruise ship or passengers. I expect the cruise line will still publicly blame the passengers, whatever the true cause. 

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

Star Princess Noro Virus

Photo Credit: Jim Walker in Seattle

 

Noro on the Coral Princess

The Coral Princess arrived in Los Angeles today with 71 of the 1,958 cruise passengers aboard the  Princess Cruises' ship stricken with norovirus symptoms of nausea/vomiting and diarrhea.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that the noro-infected passengers comprise 3.63% of the total passenger population on the ship. 6 of 881 crew members are also infected.

The CDC determined the the gastrointestinal outbreak to be norovirus. Unfortunately, the CDC was unable to conclude where the norovirus came from. I am not aware of a single time when the CDC has pinpointed the cause of a cruise ship disease outbreak. The public is left with the "blame game" of wondering whether the cruise ship food or water was contaminated, or the outbreak was caused by a Coral Princess Cruise Shipsick galley worker, or was brought aboard by sick passengers and then spread because of inadequate hygiene and poor cleaning procedures.

Last year, Time magazine titled The 13 Worst Norovirus Outbreaks on Cruise Ships. The overall winner of Time's top 13 list was Princess Cruises which had five outbreaks on its brand alone: Crown Princess (January 2010) with 396 ill; Crown Princess (February 2012) - 363; Ruby Princess (March 2013) - 276; Coral Princess (February 2009) - 271; and Sun Princess (July 2012) - 216.

The Coral Princess has been one of the Princess cruise ships most likely to be infected with norovirus. Princess and Holland America Line historically have the sickest cruise ships in the cruise industry's fleet.

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

 

Photo Credit: "Coral Princess - IMO 9229659 (2937202430)" by Cliff from Arlington, Virginia, USA - Uploaded by Navigans. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Regal Princess Diverted to Miami for Medical Emergencies

This afternoon an online webcam and marine tracking websites showed the Regal Princess cruise ship entering the Port of Miami for what people on social media were describing as unspecified medical emergencies involving two passengers. Local TV stations covered the story with helicopters. I covered the incident on my Facebook page involving the gay "30th Anniversary Caribbean Cruise."

This is the first time that the Regal Princess, which calls on Fort Lauderdale, has come to Miami. 

There is a great deal of chatter on Facebook and Twitter that the medical emergencies involved drug overdoses. The South Florida Gay News says that "speculation swirls around drug activity." It quotes a Regal Princess passenger saying that “It’s an all gay cruise and they’re all drunk. There’s three thousand gay men on this boat. You know what that means. There’s a lot of high risk activity associated with that.”

Perhaps an over-generalization.  But there's reason why the image may be appropriate. 

Six years ago we wrote: GLAAD Board Member Dies Aboard Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas due to a drug over-dose. 

Five years ago, we wrote: Another Death on a Royal Caribbean - Atlantis Cruise again due to drugs.

Four years ago: Passenger Busted for Selling Drugs on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas which had a half-dozen drug overdoses aboard the ship.

Does the organizer (RSVP Vacations) discuss the use of drugs and the foreseeable risk of a drug overdose with the cruise line to make certain that there are properly trained medical personnel to respond to emergencies?

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

Photo Credit: PTZtv

Tragedy on the Coral Princess - Crew Member Killed

On Friday October 24, 2014, a "rescue boat" on the Coral Princess was being raised on davits with two crew members aboard when a cable snapped. The vessel fell into the water. One crew member identified as Husnan Fauzan sustained mortal injuries and died. The second crew member identified as Steven Bagshaw sustained injuries and was treated in the hospital. 

The fatal accident occurred in Colon, Panama. 

Princess Cruises released this statement on Facebook:

"It is with deep sadness that I must share the news that our colleague Husnan Fauzan has passed Coral Princessaway from injuries he sustained in the tragic accident on Coral Princess yesterday. Husnan, who served as SGP1, joined Princess in 2004.

Husnan, along with Bosun Steven Bagshaw, were onboard a rescue boat that was in the process of being hoisted when it fell back into the water. Both men were taken to the hospital for treatment, but unfortunately, Husnan did not survive. Steven is currently still in the hospital in stable condition."

We also received this statement from Princess:

"On October 24 two of our crew members were in one of the ship’s rescue boats doing some maintenance work on the hull of Coral Princess. When the boat was being raised back onboard the ship, one of the cables that raises and lowers the boat parted, and the boat dropped back into the water with our two crew members inside.

We immediately responded and discovered that these crew members had, unfortunately, sustained injuries which necessitated their transfer to a shoreside hospital for evaluation and treatment.

It is with an extremely heavy heart that we confirm that one of the crew members subsequently passed away from his injuries. This has devastated everyone across the entire Princess Cruises organization.

We are, and will continue to support his family during this difficult period."

It is a dangerous practice to raise boats with crew members inside. Cable and davit failures are relatively common and cause catastrophic injuries.  

In 2012, the cruise industry's trade group, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), adopted a new policy prohibiting crew members in lifeboats when they are being raised or lowered. But some ships still engage in this dangerous practice.

In 2013, we wrote about another cruise line which ignored the CLIA-safety policy with disastrous consequences: CLIA Safety Proposal Ignored: Lifeboat Plunges 60 Feet, 5 Dead

We will post any photographs or videos of the tragic incident if they are available.

If you have any comments about what happened, please post one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Cliff from Arlington, Virginia, USA Creative Commons 2.0

Princess Cruises Avoids West Africa Ports Because of Ebola

Princess Cruises announced that it is canceling port calls to West Africa because of the Ebola epidemic.

The cruise line is avoiding Cotonou, Benin; Lome, Togo; Team, Ghana; and Dakar, Senegal.

Princess had scheduled a 30-day West Africa Adventure cruise departing May 5, 2015.  

Ebola As we reported two weeks ago, Regent Seven Seas, Seaborne, Fred Olsen and Holland America Line canceled stops in West Africa. 

Princess issued this statement:

"As you may know, there has been an epidemic of Ebola virus disease in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. As the safety and well- being of our guests and crew are our top priority, and in working closely with and following the guidance issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we have made the necessary decision to cancel our calls to Cotonou, Benin; Lome, Togo; Team, Ghana; and Dakar, Senegal."

 

Don't forget to read our prior article: Ebola on the High Seas: Should Cruise Passengers Worry About Becoming Infected?

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Mikael Häggström Creative Commons 3.0

Fire on the Emerald Princess: What Information Should Passengers Be Entitled to Know?

I first heard of the fires (yes, plural) aboard the Princess Cruises' Emerald Princess in a cruise review entitled Emerald Princess On Fire!!!

A couple on the cruise ship commented, with no other details, that on the first night (September 16th) "the staff were called to stations because of a fire in the engine room. Unfortunately, we had another fire in the engine room a couple of days into the cruise . . . "

I later found a discussion on Cruise Critic started by a cruise passenger who commented that she was alarmed after the captain's announcement of a "technical issue" which caused the entire crew to muster. She was even more alarmed by an announcement that "the fire is out" in the engine room. The Princess cruise ship was 7 hours south of Southampton at the time.

Four days later, another passenger commented on Cruise Critic that there has a second fire in the Emerald Princessengine room. "Needless to say its gotten me shaken up. Twice in one trip on my first cruise. Tempted to get off when we reach Italy and cut my holiday short. I've asked customer services for more info to put my mind at rest and am still awaiting a call from them to my room with more info. 4 hours after requesting it!!"

The captain eventually made an announcement but the information was limited and seemed to confuse the  passengers. Cruise Critic members began leaving comments about what they thought of fires on cruise ships. 

Cruise Critic members are an odd assortment of people. Some profess technical expertise and condescendingly lecture other members not to worry about why fires break out. "It's technical," they say. One person commenting said "too much information can cause even more reason to worry." Others expressed blind trust in Princess. The comments ranged from rank speculation minimizing the fires, accusations that others were engaging in "scaremongering," and assurances from the loyal cruise fans that this was just a "mountain out of a molehill." Many Cruise Critic members, commenting from the security of their homes, suggested that the passengers on the ship just "carry on" and not worry about it.  My favorite comment was - as long as the captain doesn't say "'abandon ship' you should be ok."

Cruisers scheduled to cruise on the Emerald Princess in the future, however, were not satisfied with this mishmash of speculation and blind loyalty. They asked Princess for an explanation on its Facebook page. 

Princess then left the following comment on its Facebook page:

"The ship experienced two very unusual technical failures on the engines, which caused what turned out to be two very minor fires but which produced smoke in the engine room. The fires were quickly extinguished in both instances, there were no injuries and these fires did not pose a safety threat to passengers and crew. During each incident, in an abundance of caution, the crew was called to their emergency stations. There is no reason to believe that there will be a repeat of these incidents. All the ship's systems and the ship's emergency response procedures operated correctly, and the ship is safe. We look forward to welcoming you onboard a safe, relaxing voyage next month!"

Princess's PR statement hit all of the elements of a corporate spin - the fires were "unusual" (i.e., rare), the fires were "minor," the fires were "quickly extinguished," the crew mustered in an "abundance of caution," the fires "didn't pose a safety threat to passengers," and the "ship is safe."

But one future cruiser on the Emerald Princess wasn't satisfied with the corporate gobbledygook and pressed for more information from Princess" 

"I hope due to unusual technical failures on not one but two engines this has been thoroughly checked out and not a quick fix till she reaches America. I heard about it from passengers on board wrote on Cruise Critic.They were worried. Crew did not answer any questions."

Princess responded on Facebook:

"The safety of our guests is our priority. There is no reason to believe there will be a repeat of these incidents. Specialist technicians from the engine manufacturer are traveling to the ship to investigate."

People on a ship who hear the sound of fire alarms and see crew members running to to their fire stations at night in the Atlantic Ocean are bound to feel frightened and uncertain. That's normal. They are not sheep. They're going to be inquisitive. That's normal too. But most cruise ships do a poor job of being transparent with the guests. "It's nothing" the crew may say. "There was smoke but no fire" is a favorite excuse.  "It's technical. Don't worry your pretty head about it," are the responses you may receive by crew members who are trained to reassure the guests but not-admit-anything.

My thought is that all passengers are entitled to receive timely, accurate and honest information about something as serious as a fire on the high seas, no matter how small the cruise line claims the fire is or how rapidly the cruise line claim they extinguished it. Such transparency is vital to ensuring corporate accountability and passenger safety. No one should have to resort to posting on Cruise Critic or Facebook for answers.   

Cruise Critic is not a place to find honest information anyway. Owned by travel conglomerate Expedia / Trip Advisor, it's a place where members who express natural fear and uncertainty and inquire about dangers on cruise ships are often ridiculed. 

One Cruise Critic fan stated that the thread never needed to be started. "All it accomplished was to get some people needlessly worried and upset. I can't imagine rushing to the computer to report on an ongoing event without knowing the facts. As it turned out, these were minor events that were dealt with appropriately and didn't need to be posted and discussed all over the internet . . . I trust Princess to ensure the safety of their passengers and will continue to have faith until something happens to belie that trust. It hasn't happened in the 12 years I have been sailing on Princess."

Of course the Star Princess ignited just 8 years ago and was caused by the tiniest of fires (a smoldering cigarette). That fire killed one passenger (our clients' father) and injured and terrified many others as it destroyed 100 cabins. 

But those on Cruise Critic who blindly trust Princess don't want to talk about that, do they? That would be too upsetting.  

 

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

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Holger.Ellgaard Creative Commons 3.0

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.

Freemantle - Brisbane Cruise Canceled: Princess Cruises To Finally Fix Sea Princess Engines

The Sea Princess is back in the news.  Following widespread coverage of "cruise from hell" articles about a noro-infected  cruise from Freemantle where the ship was nicknamed "Pandemic Princess," Princess Cruises announced that the sailing to Brisbane was canceled in order to address "technical problems" causing the ship to lose speed. 

Perth Now reports that Carnival Australia spokesman, which is responsible for the Sea Princess, stated that “all guests will receive a full refund of their cruise fare plus a 100 per cent future cruise credit.”

Passengers had complained during earlier cruises that the Sea Princess had been suffering from Adonis Sea Princessreduced speeds which shortened times in certain ports of call and required changes in the ship's itineraries including dropping Bali and Broome.

A poster commented on the Cruise Critic boards: "this ship has been limping along slowly and arriving late to ports/missing ports for months. Princess handled this situation badly."

Another person commented: "Really disappointing. All summer long people have been saying that Princess should just bite the bullet and cancel a couple of cruises down the line and fix this ship. People would have had at least a couple months' notice. Instead, they now have 1900 passengers kicked off on the second day of a cruise that never left port. What a mess."

It's currently unknown how many cruises will be affected.

The Sea Princess is an old ship. It was built by Fincantieri, Italy and began sailing in 1998. It was transferred to P&O Cruises in 2003 and renamed the Adonia (photo above right). It was transferred back to Princess in 2005.  

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Cruiser1210 Creative Commons

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

Passenger Drowns in Swimming Pool on Sapphire Princess

The Shanghai Daily reports that a passenger on a cruise from Shanghai was found dead in one of the cruise ship's pools.

The newspaper says that Princess Cruises confirmed the death of the 29-year-old woman onboard the Sapphire Princess cruise ship. 

"It is thought that she drowned," according to the newspaper.

The cruise reportedly left Shanghai for South Korea's Chejudo Island on Wednesday. The woman was found dead in the swimming pool on Thursday. The Princess cruise ship returned to Shanghai yesterday (Sunday).

There have been a rash of drownings, or near drownings, in the cruise industry the last two years. Most of the victims have been children. 

A 6 year old boy was pulled from a swimming pool on the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas in May this year. A 4 year old died and his 6 year old brother was injured after similar tragedies on NCL's Norwegian Breakaway, last February. A 6 year old child drowned on a Carnival cruise ship, the Victory, in October of last year. A 4 year child was seriously brain damaged after he nearly drowned on a Disney cruise ship, the Fantasy, in March of last year.

A 42 year old passenger drowned in a hot tub on the Carnival Dream last year. 

This death will reignite the debate whether cruise lines should employ lifeguards around the ship's swimming pools. Only Disney employs lifeguards on its ships, and did so only after the tragedy affecting the 4 year old boy who nearly drowned on the Fantasy

So far the facts are sketchy and there is no explanation how the drowning occurred.

We reached out to Princess and received the following statement:

"We are saddened to confirm that a female adult guest aboard Sapphire Princess has died from an apparent drowning in one of the ship's swimming pools. Our thoughts and prayers are with our guest's family and we are providing support and assistance to them during this difficult time. The incident is under investigation."

Engine Problem Forces Grand Princess to Return to Seattle

KIRO TV reports that the Grand Princess cruise ship experienced a problem with one of its engines and was required to return to port in Seattle for almost four hours.

The U.S. Coast Guard said that a port-side engine "died" on the cruise ship around 4:50 PM after the the ship left Seattle heading on an Alaskan cruise. 

KING 5 news station says that a tug had to assist the ship back to port.

Grand Princess

The cruise ship has two shafts and two fixed propellers.

Princess Cruises spokesperson Julie Benson said in a prepared statement:

“Grand Princess has returned to the Port of Seattle, in consultation with the U.S. Coast Guard, following an earlier issue with one of the ship's motors. At no time was guest safety impacted as the ship had propulsion and steering control. As a precaution the ship is returning to port for a safety check and we hope to depart again later this evening. We will keep passengers fully informed.”

The KIRO television station reports that Ms. Benson also said "several similar incidents" have happened with Grand Princess before.

A passenger, identified as David Meers, was critical of the cruise line's lack of communications. He reportedly said “thirty or forty minutes into the cruise, the ship listed to one side. Shortly after that, we turned around. We started asking the crew members what happened, and nobody seemed to know anything.” 

It was 40 minutes after turning around that the captain announced there was a propulsion alarm that required them to go back to Seattle. For the next 4 hours, the passenger said there was little communication at all, about any possible changes to their itinerary or whether customers would be compensated for the delay. He said “it certainly left a lot of confusion, among the folks that we were asking. And most of the passengers around us were also very confused.” 

To Princess' credit, the cruise line communicated with this passenger via Twitter saying: @DavidMeers Hi David, we apologize for the delayed start to your vacation (1/2) and later @DavidMeers Grand Princess is returning to port for an inspection due to a technical issue, and we hope to depart later this evening (2/2).

After the unspecified repairs, the cruise ship left Seattle around 10 PM. 

The passenger's last tweet?  @PrincessCruises Glad it wasn't more serious. All is well that ends well. Enjoyed the beautiful Seattle skyline again.

The mechanical problem seems to have been fixed with the ship sailing at 22 knots to Alaska.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Ivan T. 

Princess Cruises' Defense Every Time Norovirus Strikes: "The Passengers Bring It With Them"

This morning I wrote an article about Princess Cruises immediately blaming the sick passengers for what appears to be the latest norovirus outbreak aboard the Caribbean PrincessBlame Game: Princess Accuses Passengers of Starting Norovirus Outbreak on Caribbean Princess. Princess's PR spokesperson Julie Benson accused the passengers of bringing the virus with them when they boarded the cruise ship.

She didn't mention that the virus was wreaking havoc during the prior cruise.

Blaming the passengers is part of the PR strategy of Princess and the cruise industry.  

This afternoon I remembered reading a book by cruise expert Professor Ross Klein about this public Cruise Ship Squeezerelations defense strategy by Princess. The book is called "Cruise Ship Squeeze."  Professor Klein has been recognized as an expert regarding cruise line issues by both the House of Representatives and the Senate before whom he has testified several times.

I suggest reading Chapter 8 of Dr. Klein's book. At pages 179 - 183, you can read about the cruise industry and Princess blaming the passengers. Eleven years ago during a 2003 cruise, passengers were stricken with a gastrointestinal illness. Princess accused their cruise passengers sick with norovirus of "bringing it with them." But the truth is that during the prior cruise, the cruise ship had experienced passengers sickened with the same sickness. 

No scientists arrived at this conclusion. And there was nothing remotely scientific about what Princess represented to the public. 

Ever since then Princess says the same thing over and over every time norovirus sickens the guests. 

Who needs epidemiologists when the cruise line PR team has already figured out what to say?

Australia Investigates Death of Passenger on Sun Princess

The Courier Mail newspaper reports today on a case involving the death of a 72 year old passenger aboard the Sun Princess cruise ship. The circumstances surrounding the passenger's medical treatment on the ship have led the Attorney General of Queensland to order an inquest into the death.

Australian cruise passenger Betty Virgo was sailing on the Princess cruise ship from Brisbane to New Zealand in November 2012 on a two week cruise.  

Ms. Virgo became ill at dinner on the fifth day of the cruise while the cruise ship was in port in Napier.

Betty VirgoMs. Virgo's daughter, Gayle, was sailing with her. 

Her daughter observed that although all four medical bay beds were empty, the ship's medical staff refused her requests to keep her mother there under observation that night.

The following morning Ms. Virgo's condition continued to deteriorate.

Gayle remained with her mother throughout the day in their cabin, leaving only briefly to eat because she is diabetic. When Gayle returned to the cabin, her mother was gasping for breath. Ms. Virgo was taken by stretcher to the medical center that evening and died soon afterwards as the ship sailed.

The ship doctors diagnosed "angina" as the cause of death. Gayle disputes the diagnosis.  

When Ms. Virgo's body was returned several days later, it had been embalmed without a post mortem examination being conducted or Gayle being consulted. 

To add insult to injury, Carnival Australia, which owns the Sun Princess, offered Gayle a credit of $1,100 towards another cruise. 

Carnival denies that its medical staff neglected Ms. Virgo or provided bad medical care.

We will report on the medical inquest when it become public.

Bad medical care and a lack of responsibility of the cruise lines are issues which we discuss often here on Cruise Law News.  A case involving issues of medical malpractice and a cruise ship doctor evading jurisdiction made our list of the top ten most outrageous cruise ship stories last month.

November 11, 2014 Update: Breaking News! Cruise passengers are now permitted to sue the cruise lines for medical negligence. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that cruise lines are no longer permitted to assert an "immunity defense" when their ship doctors and nurses commit medical malpractice. Read: 11th Circuit Rejects Cruise Lines' Immunity Defense to Medical Malpractice Claims. Contact us for further information.

 

Photo Credit: Adam Head / News Limited via Courier Mail

 

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.

Did the Fire Suppression System on the Dawn Princess Fail?

Dawn PrincessThere has been remarkably little media coverage of the fire on the Dawn Princess cruise ship last weekend.

We were the first to report on the fire which broke out sometime after 8:00 PM Friday night as the Dawn Princess sailed  between Wellington and Napier in New Zealand.

Princess Cruises was tight lipped about what happened, stating only that a fire occurred in an electrical substation on deck six of the ship.

Other than Travel Agent Central, no newspapers or news stations in the U.S. have reported on the fire, even though U.S. citizens were aboard and the Carnival owned Princess Cruises is based in California.

An Australian newspaper, the Herald Sun, published a short article. The Herald Sun reported that crew members stated that the fire suppression system, which should have suppressed the fire, failed. That appears to explain why over 30 minutes after the fire was first reported (when the passengers were initially ordered to their cabins) the captain ordered them to their muster stations where they remained for over an hour.

A fire on the high seas is serious business.  A fire and a failed suppression system on the high seas is potentially deadly.

But there appears to be little appreciation of this danger expressed on the few social media sites discussing the incident. Regular cruisers on cruise fan sites like Cruise Critic appear more interested in praising the crew for battling the fire than having a meaningful discussion about why the fire broke out and why the fire suppression reportedly failed (assuming the Herald Sun account is correct).

Don't get me wrong. The crew members who battled the fire and risked their  lives deserve the credit. But if you really care about the crew's safety and well-being, you would demand an explanation why the automatic fire suppression system reportedly failed necessitating the heroic action by the crew.  

The cruise industry has been under scrutiny following numerous fires during the last couple of years. CNN ran a story earlier this year entitled "Spate of Fires Poses Problems for Cruise Industry." You can watch the video below.

What is troubling from my perspective is not only are there fires, but the automatic suppression systems which are suppose to put the fire out are failing. For example, the Carnival Splendor and the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas fires both involved failed suppression systems.

Regarding the high profile Splendor fire, CNN reported that "the U.S. Coast Guard said the ship's CO2 firefighting system had failed to operate correctly due to leaks, poor maintenance and component failures."

What's the explanation for the reported failure of the suppression system on the Dawn?  It is over 16 years old. Do other Princess Cruises ships have the same problem? Princess will never say, and it does not appear that the public is clamoring to find out.

For the time being, it looks like we will all remain in the dark. Perhaps when the Dawn returns to Sydney on November 15th some of the passengers and crew will have more to say.

Princess escaped scrutiny on this latest incident so far because the fire occurred on a Friday night on the other side of the world at the beginning of a three day Veteran's Day weekend when many in the U.S. newspaper and television businesses were on vacation.  It also appears that the public may well be tired of non-stop cruise-ship-bad-news.  

Luckily there were no injuries due to this latest fire. The only casualty appears to be the public's demand for an explanation regarding what went wrong on the Dawn last weekend.

  

Is the Media Burned-Out on Stories About Cruise Ship Fires?

Friday evening, a fire broke out on the Dawn Princess. 30 minutes after the first public announcement, the cruise ship's captain ordered the passengers to their muster stations where they remained for over another hour until the fire was extinguished.

We first learned of the fire when a reader of this blog contacted us on Saturday. We followed up with a request for information from the public which we made on our Facebook page. On Sunday morning, we posted a first hand account from a passenger currently aboard the cruise ship.

This particular passenger indicated that the crew handled the emergency well. The ship was back to business as usual within three hours of the first report of the fire. Even the bars were packed!  

But lacking from the account was an explanation or even any curiosity regarding why the fire broke out in the first place; why the passengers were ordered to muster 30 minutes after the fire was first reported; and why it apparently took well over an hour for the fire to be extinguished.  

We requested a statement from Princess Cruises on Sunday. We received a two skimpy sentence response with no explanation regarding what caused the fire and why it was not extinguished by the automatic suppression systems.  

Today there have been no national or international newspapers covering the story.  Travel Agent Central published a story quoting our account.  Cruise Critic just wrote a three sentence story that contained even less substance than the meager cruise line statement.     

No major media companies have published anything about the event. The sentiment from regular cruisers who have contacted us seems nonchalant with no inquiries regarding why & how the fire erupted.  

I understand that people who are in the middle of a cruise vacation would prefer to continue their fun-filled vacation than conduct a worrisome forensic cause & origin analysis. But the public's understanding of incidents like this is important to maintaining a safe and responsible cruise industry. A vigilant press which asks tough questions is a fundamental part of that process. 

Even a small fire that is quickly extinguished is potentially a big deal when you are on the high seas.

Remember that the deadly Star Princess fire started off with something as small and seemingly innocuous as a cigarette smoldering in a towel on a balcony. The result was an inferno which ravaged the ship, destroyed 100 cabins, killed one passenger and injured many others (photo right).   

I'm wondering if the major newspapers are burned out on fires at sea?  

 

Photo Credit top: Wikimedia (Stan Shebs)

After a Series of Power Outages, is the Royal Princess Really Ready to Cruise?

On Sunday we reported on the 3 - 4 hour power failure aboard the Royal Princess when it was sailing in the Mediterranean between Greece and Italy.

The Princess cruise ship finally limped into Naples (where it remains today, see Princess Cruises web cam) and the cruise line canceled the remainder of the cruise.  Several thousands of passengers were flown home from Naples.  

The BBC reports that the Royal Princess next cruise is scheduled for Friday, September 27th from Barcelona, but that cruise was in doubt given the power failure and need for repairs.

Today, Princess released a press statement indicating that the Royal Princess will be starting its Royal Princess Web Camnext cruise this Friday from Barcelona and that the cruise is scheduled to be a 12 day event ending in Venice. The cruise line said that the necessary (although unspecified) repairs would take place as the ship sailed from Naples to Barcelona. 

Princess finally disclosed today that the cause of the power outage may have been an electrical breaker. 

Several readers of this blog brought to my attention that the power failure this weekend is not the first power outage the Royal Princess has suffered since its inaugural cruise in June. A Cruise Critic member posted a review of the Royal Princess indicating that the new ship had a power failure last month. Here's what the member posted:  

The new Royal Princess cruise is full of technology, state of the art entertainment facilities, an amazing showroom, a breath-taking sea bridge, and a service level that reflects Princess fleet of large cruises. However, I was surprised that when we sailed out of Athens on August 20 at around 9:30pm that the power went out on Black Out twice in a row in the cruise ship which on the second time caused the ship to stop or halt completely offshore for at least 30 minutes until power was restored.

On the second black-out we heard an announcement "Assessment Team to Bridge" however passengers were not fully informed of what happened and why the standby generators failed to bring power up for the first time which probably caused engines to over heat and thus open decks 4 and 5 for ventilation especially that the ventilation and A/C systems did not work and kitchen fumes came out.

Next morning the Captain gave us assurances that all systems were restored and that the ship had an emergency reserve system to sail safely to the nearest port. I guess this was an embarrassment to the manufacturers of the boat and electrical systems especially that the boat is brand new!

Professor Ross Klein's website has a similar post about a power outage from a cruise passenger which you can read under an entry on August 23.

There is no indication regarding the cause of the power outage last month or whether the cause was the same for both outages.

The 12 day cruise starting this Friday is also the start of a thirty day cruise. On October 9th the Royal Princess will begin to head west for a cruise across the Atlantic to Fort Lauderdale.

Let's hope that the proper repairs to the problems are made and that there are no power outages during the transatlantic cruise in October.

Why Did Royal Princess Lose Power? And Why Won't Princess Cruises Tell Us?

We were one of the first to report that the Princess Cruises' Royal Princess cruise ship lost power last weekend.  Princess was cooperative telling us that the cruise ship lost power, and it quickly added that emergency generators supplied power for toilets and so forth, that the cruise ship and its guests were not in danger, and the the ship's captain was keeping the passengers informed.

But Princess never explained the most basic issue: what happened? Why did the ship lose power?

We have reported on all type of cruise ship fires over the years, including engine room fires, engine room explosions, electrical shortages and so forth.

Royal Princess Cruise ShipRarely do the cruise lines offer information regarding the most basic information why a cruise ship fails. 

Today the media has finally reported on the power outage. Newspapers which mentioned the story received the same, most carefully crafted, press statement which Princess sent to us. The statement said that a momentary power outage happened out in the Mediterranean, and that the brand new, and supposedly most technologically advanced Princess cruise ship (owned by Carnival), lost power and was derelict for 3 - 4 hours on the high seas.   

But no news accounts contain basic information regarding why the ship lost power. "Everything is OK" the cruise line promises. But there is no explanation why power was lost. We know that the Royal Princess limped back to Naples. The cruise is canceled. Repairs are needed. But what happened? 

The lack of transparency is a trademark of the cruise industry.

Why would you would believe a cruise line if it discloses only half of the truth?

One reader left the following comment to our article, saying:

What is Carnival's problem? Bad design? Poor construction? Sloppy maintenance? Bad training? All of the above plus other things I haven't thought of? 

Unfortunately I have nothing to tell this curious reader. 

Princess Cruises' lack of transparency creates doubt and uncertainty among its own cruise fans in an environment where the cruise lines have repeatedly demonstrated that they are less than forthcoming about the most basic of facts.

If a Delta or American Airlines jet lost power, the companies would tell us why. Cruise lines don't. It's a major reason why cruise lines have a reputation for being secretive and dishonest.      

 

Photo Credit: Princess Cruises via Daily Mirror

Royal Princess Loses Power in the Mediterranean

Royal Princess Cruise ShipCruise Fever reports that Princess Cruises' newest cruise ship, the Royal Princess, experienced a loss of power in the Mediterranean as the cruise ship was sailing between Mykonos and Naples. Here's what Cruise Fever is saying:

The cruise ship lost power around 1:30 P.M. local time.

Emergency generators started. 

Toilets and emergency services are functional. 

The captain is providing updated information. 

"Power is in the process of being restored."

So far I do not see any news organizations reporting on the incident. Cruise Fever states that there has been no indication regarding why the Royal Princess lost power.

The incident has the potential to be another major embarrassment for the cruise industry, following a series of engine failures and engine room fires. The Royal Princess is Princess's newest cruise ship which was debuted with great fanfare in June 2013. It is owned by Carnival which is struggling with its image following the Splendor and Triumph engine room fires / failures where the Carnival cruise ships had to be towed back to the U.S. 

Here's a statement from Princess Cruises this evening as of 6:00 P.M.:

"Today at approximately 1:30 pm local time, Royal Princess experienced a power outage. Power has since been restored and the ship is currently en route to Naples. During the power outage, an emergency backup generator was used to provide essential services, such as toilets. The ship is not in any danger, and the Captain has been keeping passengers regularly informed about the situation. The ship is currently on the seventh day of a 12-day Mediterranean cruise that departed Venice on September 15. There are 3,594 passengers and 1,336 crew members onboard." 

As you can see below, Princess Cruises' web cam for the Royal Princess cruise ship seems to show a lighted ship as of 19:12 GMT heading for port in Italy.  

Cruise Critic posted the following information about the incident:

Cruise Critic member funnyfingers heard from family members onboard that "they were without power for 4.5 hours and had to cancel the Naples stop" . . . 

A Princess Facebook fan posted on Princess' page today that "the ship has had many other problems in the past eight days, plumbing, electrical, air-conditioning, and last night we were delayed leaving Mykonos for over four hours because they couldn't get the anchor up."

September 23 2013 Update: The ship will be taken out of service for repairs. The remainder of the cruise is cancelled. The passengers will be disembarked in Naples and flown home. Princess has promised to provide a refund of the cruise fare and a 25 percent credit. The power outage on Sunday reportedly lasted for at least 3.5 hours.

September 25 2013 Update: After a Series of Power Outages, is the Royal Princess Really Ready to Cruise? 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / barryskeates

Royal Princess Web Cam

Ill Cruise Passenger Medevaced From Coral Princess

The Alaska Dispatch reports that a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter medevaced an ill cruise ship passenger off a cruise ship yesterday.

The Jayhawk helicopter crew, stationed in Sitka, flew to the Princess Cruises' Coral Princess cruise ship while it was in Glacier Bay. The helicopter hoisted the passenger, who was suffering from stroke-like symptoms, and transported her to Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau.   

Coral Princess Glacier Bay Alaska

Photo Credit: Get Up and Go Magazine 

More Toilet Problems for Carnival: Crown Princess Poop Ship!

Princess Cruises Crown Princess Toilet Problems"Poop ships" and Carnival have become synonymous this year following the public relations debacle as thousands of passengers aboard the Triumph cruise had to endure several days without working sanitation as they were towed to Mobile Alabama.

This evening, a news station in Houston is reporting that the Carnival-owned Princess Cruises' Crown Princess is experiencing grand problems with its toilet system as well.

KPRC-Houston reports that the Crown Princess experienced a blockage within the vacuum toilet system which affected some 410 staterooms in the aft part of the cruise ship. The news station quoted a passenger saying "by the bathroom, it was flooded, it was wet in the carpet." Another passenger said the ship "smelled of backed-up sewer." Many passengers couldn't use the toilets in their cabins. Passengers had to get up in the night and take elevators to use the public restrooms.  One passenger told the Houston news station: "I will never, ever, ever, ever cruise with Princess again, ever."

Our last articles about the Crown Princess included a passenger going overboard last month and a dreaded norovirus outbreak on the Crown Princess during its transatlantic voyage from Venice Italy.   

Hat tip to Professor Ross Klein's website CruiseJunkie where I first read about the story.

Photo Credit Wikipedia / CB2379  Watch the video below:

 

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

 

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 

Princess Cruises Fined for Dumping 66,000 Gallons of Chlorinated Water into Glacier Bay in Alaska

KTOO news station in Alaska reports today that the Environmental Protection Agency fined Princess Cruises $20,000 for dumping water from six swimming pools aboard the Golden Princess cruise ship into Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in 2011.

The EPA announced the fine against the cruise line yesterday.

Princess was forced to sign a consent agreement admitting responsibility and subjecting itself to a final court order. Princess admitted that it violated the Clean Water Act in May 2011 when it discharged Princess Cruises Pollution Glacier Bay Alaskamore than 66,000 gallons of pool water into the pristine waters of Glacier Bay.

Princess Cruises claims that a "software malfunction," on the Golden Princess, somehow caused all six of the pool valves to open. This dumped chlorinated water from all of the cruise ship’s pools as well as whirlpools into the national park and preserve.

The waste-water permits for large cruise ships prohibit the discharge of pool and spa water in national parks and refuges. 

The fine comes at a time when the Governor of Alaska is agreeing to roll back the strict water emission laws of Alaska as urged by the cruise industry

Princess Cruises has the worst environmental record in the Alaskan waters, and has been caught discharging illegal levels of waste water over the recent years.  Before the state of Alaska began passing strict environmental laws, the cruise industry openly dumped raw sewage and chemicals throughout the Alaskan waters.   

Here We Go Again: Norovirus Sickens 100 Passengers on Crown Princess Sailing to Galveston

Princess Cruises Crown Princess NorovirusA Galveston television station reports that a Princess Cruises' ship, sailing from Venice, Italy with a final destination in Galveston, has stricken nearly one cruise passengers with the dreaded norovirus.

KHOU states that the 20-day cruise turned out to be the "trip from hell" for dozens of passengers who fell ill. Ninety six passengers and six crew members on the Crown Princess became ill with the highly contagious norovirus.

With passengers stricken with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, a spokesperson for Princess Cruises responded that the cruise line took "extra precautions" with sanitation such as disinfecting "high-touch surfaces like railings, door handles and elevator buttons, encouraging passengers to use correct hand washing procedures and enhancing this with the use of hand sanitizing gels placed throughout the ship." 

Like all other of the many cruise norovirus cases, there will be no effort to scientifically determine the cause of the outbreak and try and track it down to either hand-to-hand contact from a passenger or crew member or from contaminated food or water.  Yes the enhanced cleaning is appropriate but Crown Princess Cruise Ship Noro Viruswon't do too much good if the nasty bug is in the food and/or water.  

The Crown Princess cruise ship left Venice on December 2, 2012 and is scheduled to arrive in Galveston on Saturday.

The Crown Princess experienced several bouts of norovirus earlier this year resulting in hundreds sick and one cruise to be cut short.

The first outbreak struck on the ship's January 28, 2012 cruise cruise and again on the February 4, 2012 cruise with several hundred passengers and crew members becoming ill. After the second outbreak Princess brought the ship back to Fort Lauderdale two days early for an “enhanced cleansing protocol.”

The Crown Princess also had some nasty noro outbreaks in December 2011 which you can read about here and here.

Anyone with info about this latest outbreak please leave a comment below. Or please leave a comment on our facebook page about this story.

Crown Princess Web Cam GalvestonDecember 22, 2012 Update: I am informed that there was a "red alert" for disease outbreak aboard the Crown Princess throughout the Atlantic crossing.  The cruise ship is now in Galveston (as you can see from the ship's bridge cam) and the CDC will board.  If you were on the cruise, how do you think the cruise line handled the outbreak?  Is around 100 sick passengers an accurate number of guests affected by the norovirus?  

Don't forget to read: "Why Do the Cruise Lines Always Blame the Passengers When Norovirus Breaks Out?"

 

Photo credit:

Top: AP via Fox News

Middle: WPTV

Bottom: Princess Cruises

Did Princess Cruises Fail to Rescue a Second Fishing Boat?

Princess Cruises released a press release today claiming that the fishing boat observed and photographed by several passengers on the Star Princess cruise ship is not the Fifty Cents fishing boat which contained three young men from Panama. 

You will recall that two young Panamanian fisherman died after a cruise ship failed to stop and provide d assistance to them as they floundered in a disabled boat 100 miles at sea. One man, Adrian Vasquez, age 18, survived after floating in the derelict boat for a month.  When rescued, Vasquez identified a large white cruise ship as the vessel which refused to stop.

The story became more interesting when it was revealed that several passengers (bird watchers) on the Star Princess with high powered Star Princess Cruise Shiplens observed people on a fishing boat waving in distress. They alerted the cruise ship's officers but the ship refused to stop.  

You can read our coverage of this saga here.

This case has ended up in court with lawsuits filed by the survivor and the wives and children of the two dead men. Princess Cruises has argued that it has no legal duty to rescue mariners in distress.

Today Princess Cruises issued a press release arguing that it has "new evidence (which) proves Princess Cruises did not fail to rescue adrift fishermen as alleged."  The evidence the cruise line points to is not new at all. They are referring to computer generated images created for the cruise line at the request of lawyers to be used to defend the cruise line's legal interests.  Princess Cruises hired an "expert" to offer an opinion that there are differences between the fishing boat photographed by the cruise passengers and the computer images of the boat based on snippets of video of the boat on which survivor Vasquez was eventually rescued.  You can see the comparison of the actual photo and the computer created images below.

I'm not convinced at all. The "two" vessels are similar in size.  Both have white hulls.  And Fifty Cents Fishing Boat - Princess Cruisesboth have blue trim, although the size of the trim looks different.  But that may be due to the blurry and distorted images which were taken from a long distance. I'm sure that the lawyers for the families of the dead men will retain their own experts to analyze the photo and the computer images to see if they have been altered or enhanced and arrive at their own experts opinions about the matter.

One thing I observed in the video of the Fifty Cents which Princess posted is that it shows a blue awning / tarp at Vasquez's feet, after he was rescued. The photos taken of the fishing boat in distress by the bird watchers clearly show a blue tarp.  

Two different white hull fishing boats of the same size, both with blue trim, and both with blue tarps?  

But if Princess' paid experts are right that the boat which the bird watchers observed and photographed was not the Fifty Cents, that hardly exculpates Princess. Remember there is no question that the fishing boat that the cruise passengers observed was in distress and its occupants were waving for help far out at sea and, yet, the Princess cruise ship kept on sailing.  If Princess, the bird watchers and Vasquez are all right, this would logically and reasonably point to a conclusion that Princess Cruises failed to rescue Fifty Cents and a second fishing boat in distress as well.

Princess' press release states that Princess Cruises "has demanded the lawsuits be immediately dismissed . . . "   But it has filed no motion before the court and submitted no evidence into the record.  It has not offered to produce its experts for deposition and cross examination.

It looks like Princess wants to fight this lawsuit in the press.  Here's part of the Princess press release:

 

Princess Cruises - Fifty Cents Fishing Boat - Star Princess Cruise Ship

 

Robert Peltz of Leesfield & Partners, which represents the family of Fernando Osorio, one of the young men who perished, has issued the following statement:

“This latest move by Princess is the ultimate ‘Hail Mary’ – a hopeless pass and last ditch effort to avoid liability on a legitimate claim. The facts are simple and straight forward. The picture taken by passenger Jeff Gilligen shows the Fifty Cents boat and its passengers Adrian Vasquez, Fernando Osorio and Elvis Diaz desperately reaching out to the Princess cruise ship for rescue. We have solid evidence that confirms that the picture shows the Fifty Cents. Instead of taking responsibility for their actions, Princess seems intent on paying so-called ‘experts’ to give them a way out through comparison of grainy, out-of-focus pictures and ‘computer stitched images’. A jury will decide this case and provide the accountability that Princess is clearly incapable of doing on its own.”
 

 

Photo credit: Top - Wikipedia / Yankeeman 312;  Bottom - Princess Cruises

 

Canadian Air Force Rescue of Stricken Sailboat Assisted By Star Princess Cruise Ship - This Time Princess Cruises Doesn't Abandon Mariners in Distress

The Vancouver Province contains a dramatic story involving the Canadian Air Force's rescue of two British Columbia sailors whose storm battered sailboat was pitching wildly in 80 km/h winds and high waves near the Queen Charlotte Islands.

The Canadian Air Force deployed a helicopter to try and winch the two men off the deck of the Magnolia sailboat but the torn rigging and swaying mast posed a hazard. A photo of the sailboat, illuminated by a helicopter spotlight, is to the right.  

Meanwhile, the Star Princess cruise ship was nearby heading to Alaska.

Everyone remembers the Star Princess. The notorious cruise ship recently made the headline when it sailed by three Magnolia Sailboat RescuePanamanian men in the little fishing boat, 50 Cents, leaving two men to perish at sea, while three cruise passengers pleaded for the cruise ship to stop and assist the disabled fishing boat. We wrote about the dreadful incident - Two Dead Fishermen: Did Star Princess Cruise Ship Ignore Mariners in Distress?

This time the Star Princess didn't look the other way.

As explained in the Vancouver Province, the giant ship tried to break the wind and calm the waves. But instead the cruise ship's presence added to the danger because the wind and current would move the cruise ship in unexpected directions. "It drifted much too fast towards us," said a Canadian Air Force rescuer who was in the water at the scene.

The helicopter diver had to drop into the water twice and then swim over to the bobbing sailboat to rescue the men.

The helicopter eventually lifted the two sailors to safety, and the Star Princess headed on to Alaska.  

If you were on the Star Princess and have photos, video or comments about the rescue to share, please let us hear from you.

 

Consider reading:

Duty of Cruise Lines to Assist Persons In Distress: Moral, Legal & Practical Considerations On The High Seas

 

Photo: Canadian Air Force (Sgt Robin Richardson, 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron)

Princess Cruises Shows Its True Colors: "We Have No Duty To Rescue Mariners in Distress at Sea"

In a court filing yesterday, Princess Cruises moved to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the 18 year old survivor, Adrian Vasquez, following the infamous "sail by" incident. You will recall that the Star Princess cruise ship failed to assist Vasquez and two other young Panamanian men (who perished) in a small disabled fishing boat drifting 100 miles out at sea.

In a motion to dismiss filed in Federal District Court on Miami, Princess argues that it has no legal duty to assist mariners in distress on the high seas.  It cites the Brussels Convention (also known as the "Salvage Treaty") for the proposition that although the captain of a ship has the duty to provide assistance to disabled vessels at sea, the cruise line itself has no legal obligation whatsoever.  It argues that it cannot be held liable for the captain's refusal to assist mariners in distress.

Star Princess - Fifty Cents - Adrian VasquezThis argument defies common sense and basic legal concepts.  The captain was an employee of Princess Cruises.  Why shouldn't the cruise be vicariously liable when its captain and crew act irresponsibly? 

The cruise line's legal argument is also at odds with PR statements it made after it can under international public condemnation for refusing to divert the Star Princess to assist the three men, ages 16, 18 and 22, who were adrift at sea after their boat lost its engine power. Princess released a very public statement on April 19, 2012 stating:

"Princess Cruises is dedicated to the highest standards of seamanship wherever our ships sail, and it is our duty to assist any vessel in distress. We have come to the aid of many people at sea, and we will continue to do so."

But in its motion to dismiss filed yesterday, Princess is now singing a different tune:

"Simply put, the law does not impose a duty on ships to investigate whether every passing vessel may need assistance nor does it impose civil liability on the owner of a vessel if the ship's crew fails to recognize that another vessel passing miles away needs help."   

Ah, a cruise line telling the public one thing but instructing its lawyers to say just the opposite behind the doors of the courthouse.  A cruise line best known for "The Love Boat" showing very little love at all.

Princess Cruises' argument, if accepted by the court, will establish a dangerous precedent.  

Captains of 99% of foreign flagged cruise ships live outside of the U.S. The captain of the Star Princess cruise ship resides in England and is probably not subject to jurisdiction in the U.S. or Panama (where the families of the men reside). Captains of cruise ships are under pressure from cruise lines to strictly maintain schedules for economic reasons.  If cruise lines like Princess can escape civil and criminal consequences when their ships abandon people at sea, there will be no incentive for the cruise industry to act responsibly.

Princess has the ability to easily compensate the families for their suffering.  It is just one of many cruise lines under the umbrella of Carnival, which collects tens and tens of billions of dollars from tax paying U.S. citizens but pays virtually no U.S. corporate taxes itself.  

Princess should not use the U.S. legal system to abandon the families of these three young men after abandoning their children to die an excruciating death at sea.  

Should a cruise line be permitted to tell the U.S. public that "it is our duty to assist any vessel in distress  . . .  and we will continue to do so," and then try to kick a young man's case out of court by arguing it had no legal duty to assist him when he was dying 100 miles out at sea?

 

Read our prior articles about the case: 

Two Dead Fishermen: Did Star Princess Cruise Ship Ignore Mariners in Distress?

Duty of Cruise Lines to Assist Persons In Distress: Moral, Legal & Practical Considerations On The High Seas

 

Photo credit:  AP / Daily Mail

Second Lawsuit Filed Against Princess Cruises For Failing to Rescue Mariners in Distress

As expected, Princess Cruises was named as a defendant in a second lawsuit filed in Miami arising out of the high profile case where the Star Princess cruise ship sailed by a small fishing boat called Fifty Cents with three young men aboard 100 miles out at sea, leaving two of the men to die.

Three passengers observed the small vessel with the men waiving in distress and alerted the cruise ship's crew.  Princess initially claimed that the cruise ship communicated with the men aboard the fishing boat who allegedly thanked them for avoiding their nets - a story that was publicly ridiculed. Princess then changed course and claimed that the passengers' account of seeing the stricken fishing Fifty Cents Fishing Boat - Sail By - Princess Cruisesboat was never communicated to the bridge. 

This lawsuit against Princess Cruises was filed on behalf of the family of 16 year old Fernando Osorio Rodriguez, the youngest to die.   He reportedly died later at night on the same day that the Princess cruise ship sailed by.  He left behind his mother, father and four siblings.

The first lawsuit was filed on behalf of 18 year old Adrian Vazquez, who survived after suffering at sea for a month.  he was finally rescued some 600 miles from the fishing village where the men sailed from. 

The Miami Herald, which usually avoids stories which put the cruise lines in a bad light quoted Rodriquez's lawyer, Ira Leesfield, stating "It’s always been the moral and legal obligation of larger, well-equipped vessels to help people out . . . I don’t think you can put the expediency and the convenience and the economics of the ship that could rescue and save people’s lives before the value of people’s lives, and I think that’s what happened here. It’s really inexcusable.” 

We were the first to report on the case in the U.S. in our articles:

Two Dead Fishermen: Did Star Princess Cruise Ship Ignore Mariners in Distress

Duty of Cruise Lines to Assist Persons In Distress: Moral, Legal & Practical Considerations On The High Seas

Survivor of Infamous Star Princess "Sail By" Sues Princess Cruises

Lawsuit By Panamanian Survivor Against Princess Cruises Hits The National Press

The U.S. national media has now focused on a lawsuit arising out of the notorious "sail by" where a Princess cruise ship sailed by three desperate Panamanian men lost at sea in a disabled little fishing boat.  Two young men from Panama, age 16 and 24 died.  One man, Adrian Vasquez, age 18, survived but had to endure the horror of watching his friends suffer and die at sea.

We first reported on the lawsuit in Survivor of Infamous Star Princess "Sail By" Sues Princess Cruises.

Now all of the major newspapers and media sources are on to the story.  The article Panama Fisherman Sues Cruise Line For Not Helping is on the first page of Yahoo News.  

Adrian Vasquez - Fishermen - Princess Cruises - PanamaThe facts of this case are particularly outrageous and could not come at a worst time for the cruise industry. First, the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship alters course to impress the residents of Giglio (not to mention his girlfriend) and wrecks the cruise ship and kills 32 people.  Now, the captain of the Star Princess refuses to alter course and kills two men in the process.  

It is always interesting to scan through the comments to news articles to get a feeling how the public reacts to stories like this about the cruise lines. The comments about Princess Cruises and the cruise industry today are brutal. Here are examples from the Yahoo article:

"Maritime law and morality was abandoned. A place in hell is reserved for anyone involved in abandoning those in need of rescue at sea . . . "

"I don't trust Cruise Lines period, I'm glad this man is suing the cruise-liner, restitution for the victims families."

"I hope the goal is not to settle but to seek punishment for this criminal act."

"It's called manslaughter. The captain should be charged. He knows the maritime law. - and he's just as bad as that Italian captain who was the 1st one off the sinking ship."

"I hope he wins the case, although Princess will probably try to crush him with lawyers and legal stall tactics."

This is a case which Cruise Law News will be watching closely.  Cruises lines like Princess will not try and reach a reasonable settlement with the young Panamanian man.  Princess Cruises' first step will be to try and dismiss the case from Florida and prevent the case from reaching a jury.

Stay tuned.

 

Read our other articles on this story:

Duty of Cruise Lines to Assist Persons In Distress: Moral, Legal & Practical Considerations On The High Seas

Two Dead Fishermen: Did Star Princess Cruise Ship Ignore Mariners In Distress?

 

Art Credit: Hung, Drawn and Cultured

Survivor of Infamous Star Princess "Sail By" Sues Princess Cruises

The lone survivor of the infamous "sail by" incident, where the Star Princess cruise ship failed to respond to the disabled Panamanian fishing boat Fifty Cents, filed suit yesterday against Princess Cruises.

We were the first in the U.S. to write about this terrible incident in our article last month: "Two Dead Fishermen: Did Star Princess Cruise Ship Ignore Mariners in Distress?" 

You will recall that the case involves the plight of Adrian Vasquez, age 18, and the suffering and death of two of his friends, Oropeces Betancourt and Fernando Osorio.  The three sailed from the small fishing village of Rio Hato in Panama on February 24, 2012.   The boat lost power and drifted 100 miles out to sea. The small boat had been adrift for over two weeks when the large Princess Cruises Star Princess sailed within sight. Notwithstanding the frantic efforts of the men to signal that they were in distress, and the efforts of three cruise passengers who witnessed the spectacle, the cruise ship kept sailing.

Adrian Vasquez - Fifty Cents - Star Princess - Cruise Sail ByThe lawsuit alleges that Princess Cruises acted negligently (count I) and / or recklessly and intentionally (count II) in failing to aid the three mariners in distress.  The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Osorio (age 16), "having lost all hope as the Star Princess sailed away," died later that day.  Mr. Betancourt (age 24) suffered for another 5 days and then perished.  Survivor Vasquez was rescued around two weeks after the Princess cruise ship sailed out of sight.

The lawsuit claims that even after the initial sighting of the derelict vessel by the three passengers (confirmed by a crewmember), the passengers confronted an officer on the ship and asked what happened to the small fishing boat.  The Princess officer provided no explanation and walked away.

The lawsuit alleges that Princess Cruises admitted in a press release that it was its responsibility pursuant to the "Law of the Sea" to provide assistance to any vessel in distress.

We explained this legal obligation in our blog "Duty of Cruise Lines to Assist Persons In Distress: Moral, Legal & Practical Considerations On The High Seas."

Bermuda (where the cruise ship is flagged) and Panama (all three men were from Panama) have stated that they are investigating the incident

The lawsuit was filed here in Miami, in the Miami-Dade courthouse. 

The lawsuit was filed by local Miami lawyers Dickman, Epelbaum & Dickman.

Princess Cruises, although incorporated in Bermuda to escape U.S. taxes and wage & labor laws, is headquartered in Santa Clarita, California with a significant base of operations in South Florida.

 

Photo credit:  AP / Daily Mail

Princess Cruises Ends Crown Princess Cruise Early, Citing Norovirus

In a responsible step to sanitize its cruise ship following an outbreak of what appears to be norovirus, Princess Cruises decided to end the current cruise of its Crown Princess cruise ship after consulting with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

Nearly 400 passengers and crew on the last cruise became sick due to gastrointestinal illness, which is suspected to be norovirus as we reported over the weekend.   The current cruise out of Fort Lauderdale has seen 114 passengers and 59 crew members become ill, continuing an outbreak that began last week. 

Princess states that it will offer full refunds to the over 3,000 cruise passengers on the current cruise.  It will also assist the passengers in arranging flights home from Ft. Lauderdale.  Princess is providing hotel accommodations for affected passengers, if needed, and will provide all Crown Princess Cruise Ship - Norovirus?passengers a 25% cruise credit toward a future cruise.

Compare this proactive move to the debacle Celebrity Cruises faced in 2010 when four consecutive sailing of the Celebrity Mercury where hit by norovirus.  Celebrity kept reloading the cruise ship and sickening subsequent passengers until the CDC ordered the Celebrity Mercury to be shut down.

It's nice to see the cruise lines act responsibly like this.  The official statement from Princess is below:

Princess Cruises' Statement on Gastrointestinal Illness Aboard Crown Princess - February 7, 2012

The increased incidence of gastrointestinal illness that occurred during the previous cruise of Crown Princess has reappeared on the current voyage which departed Saturday, February 4, despite rigorous sanitization measures.

In consultation with the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), who has informed us that there are widespread outbreaks of Norovirus occurring in the US, it was agreed that the best course of action to stop the spread of the illness is for the ship to undergo a two-day extensive sanitization. To accomplish this, Crown Princess is now returning to Fort Lauderdale where the cruise will end on Thursday, Feb. 9. The ship was scheduled to return on Saturday, Feb. 11.

We sincerely regret having to cut short our passengers’ cruise vacations because of this highly-unusual situation. We will, of course, be refunding their cruise fare, arranging flights home, including covering change fees if air was not booked through Princess, providing hotel accommodation if necessary, and offering a 25% future cruise credit.

Crown Princess departed February 4 on its scheduled Southern Caribbean cruise after a comprehensive disinfection of all cabins and public areas, which was overseen by the CDC together with our public health, medical and onboard departments.

On the current sailing 114 passengers (3.70% out of 3,078) and 59 crew (5.01% of 1,178) have reported gastrointestinal illness. On the previous cruise, 364 passengers (11.73% of 3,103) and 30 crew (2.57% of 1,168) were affected.

At the first sign of increased cases of gastrointestinal illness, we immediately initiated additional enhanced sanitation procedures to interrupt the spread of illness for both passengers and crew members. Our sanitation program has been developed in coordination with the CDC and includes such measures as disinfection of high-touch surfaces; encouraging correct hand washing procedures and enhancing this with the use of hand sanitizing gels placed throughout the ship; isolating ill passengers and crew in cabins until non-contagious; encouraging passengers to use their own cabin’s bathroom facilities; and providing regular verbal and written communication to passengers about steps they can take to stay well while onboard.

The enhanced disinfection of the ship in Fort Lauderdale will include bringing aboard additional cleaning crew to assist with a thorough sanitization of all public spaces and surfaces including soft furnishing and carpets, railings, door handles and the like. The staterooms will be sanitized multiple times before making up the rooms with fresh linens and towels on Saturday morning, just prior to passenger embarkation.

We continue to work closely with the CDC to determine the cause of the illness, which is suspected to be the easily-transmitted Norovirus, which is so widespread that only the common cold is reported more frequently.

Following this additional sanitization of Crown Princess, we expect that the next cruise on February 11 will depart as scheduled.

The current seven-day Caribbean sailing of the ship was scheduled to visit Curacao and Aruba, but we regret that the early return to Fort Lauderdale has necessitated cancellation of these calls.


# # #

What is Norovirus?

Norovirus is so widespread that only the common cold is reported more frequently. The CDC estimates that there are 23 million land-based Norovirus cases each year in the U.S., affecting one in 12 people, or 8% of the population. In contrast, the number of cruise passengers affected is .028% of the 8 million cruising population, or 1 in 3,600 of those who vacation aboard ships. Symptoms of Norovirus include mild stomach upset with vomiting and diarrhea, usually lasting between one and three days. The illness generally resolves without treatment or long-term consequences.

Health officials recommend that the best way cruise passengers can protect themselves from getting ill is to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly.

Further information about Norovirus is available through the below links to the CDC and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/pub/norovirus/Norovirus.htm
http://www.cruising.org/regulatory/cruise-industry-policies/vessel-sanitation


Contact: Karen Candy (661) 753-1540 Julie Benson (661) 753-1530
kcandy@princesscruises.com jbenson@princesscruises.com

 

Photo credit:  Wikimedia Commons (Cliff)
 

Drugs on the Love Boat - Princess Cruises Crewmember Busted with $700,000 of Cocaine

Grand Princess Cruise Ship - Cocaine Drug SmugglingThe Crown Court in Southampton, England imposed an eight year jail sentence against a Princess Cruises bar supervisor who attempted to smuggle 1.29 kilos of cocaine with a 100 per cent purity worth  £429,000, into the U.K. 

At the current U.K. - U.S exchange rate, this is about $700,000 worth of coke.

The Daily Echo newspaper in England reports that Princess Cruise crewmember Herman Spence, age 46, from Montego Bay, Jamaica, was detained by U.K. customs officers after he left the Grand Princess cruise ship when it docked in Southampton on July 16 of this year.

The U.K. customs people examined Mr. Spence's backpack and discovered a size 13 pair of sneakers which contained the cocaine. Two other packages of cocaine were discovered in the backpack. 

When his cabin was searched, customs officials found more than £16,000 in cash. 

Princess Cruises cruise ships are flagged in Bermuda, which routinely busts U.S. passengers for small amounts of pot, but has an indifferent attitude toward violent crimes on its Bermuda flagged cruise ships. 

The newspaper reports that Mr. Spence has been in the cruise industry for 15 years.

Is this his first attempt at drug smuggling?

 

Epilogue:  Cruise lines like Princess, despite their best marketing efforts to portray themselves providing safe and carefree "Love Boat" experiences, are often associated with drug smuggling.  For example, in 1998 the original "Love Boat," the Pacific Princess, was impounded by police in Piraeus, Greece after 25 kg of heroin was found on board, smuggled by two Filipino crew men.  According to police sources quoted in the BBC report at the time, there was evidence the cruise ship had become a major tool for drug smugglers in the Mediterranean.

 

Photo credit: Daily Echo  

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

Appellate Court: "Sexual Assaults and Violent Crimes on Cruise Ships are a Serious Problem"

Yesterday, I discussed the case of Jane Doe v. Princess Cruises, where the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal addressed the issue whether a raped crewmember can pursue a case before a U.S. jury.  Or does she have to appear before an arbitrator in Bermuda where California-based cruise line Princess Cruises flags its cruise ships?

Cases like this raise all type of issues. 

Princess Cruises - Cruise Ship Rape - ArbitrationThe first issue, perhaps, is how can a country like Bermuda which did not bother to send an investigator to the Star Princess to arrest the assailant crewmember after raping a young woman on the Bermuda flagged cruise ship be an appropriate forum for the victim to seek justice?

But the Eleventh Circuit was charged with deciding a narrow legal issue: did the ten legal causes of action asserted against Princess Cruises fall within the arbitration language the cruise line inserted into the crewmember's employment contract? 

Or did the bad conduct alleged against Princess fall outside of the parameters of arbitration?   The issue of justice was not on the table.

However, the Eleventh Circuit nonetheless departed from the issue before it and could not help but to address the fundamental issue whether women are safe on cruise ships.  It stated and I quote:

"Unfortunately, if congressional reports are to be believed, sexual assaults and other violent crimes on cruise ships are a serious problem."  (emphasis added)

Quite frankly, I have never seen an appellate court depart from the legal issue before it.  I have never seen an appellate court give "advisory opinions" or social commentary like this.

The Court was obviously displeased with the facts alleged in the case and, like the appellate panel stated at oral argument on this case, raised the basic question whether cruising is safe or whether crimes against women on cruise ship go un-prosecuted.  Here is the language of the Court:

The House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Staff has reported that: 

At a hearing in March 2006 convened by the Committee on Government Reform, cruise industry executives testified that 178 passengers on North American cruises reported being sexually assaulted between 2003 and 2005. During that same period, 24 people were reported missing and four others reported being robbed. 

Crimes Against Americans on Cruise Ships: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Coast Guard and Mar. Transp. of the H. Comm. on Transp. and Infrastructure, 110th Cong. 2 (2007).  From fiscal year 2000 through June 2005, the FBI opened 305 case files involving “crime on the high seas,” and during those five years about 45% of those cases were sexual assaults that occurred on cruise shipsInternational Maritime Security: Joint Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Nat’l Sec., Emerging Threats, and Int’l Relations and the Subcomm. on Crim. Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Res. of the H. Comm. on Gov’t Reform, 109th Cong. 8 (2005) (statement of  Rep.Souder, Chairman of the Subcomm. on Crim. Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Res., Member, H. Comm. on Gov’t Reform).

Salvador Hernandez, Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI, testified before Congress in 2007 about sexual and other physical assaults that have taken place on cruise ships: “Sexual assault and physical assaults on cruise ships were the leading crime reported to and investigated by the FBI on the high seas over the last five years, 55 percent and 22 percent respectively . . . . Employees were identified as suspects in 37 percent of the cases, and 65 percent of those employees were not U.S. citizens.” Crimes Against Americans on Cruise Ships: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Coast Guard and Mar. Transp. of the H. Comm. on Transp. and Infrastructure, 110th Cong. 12 (2007) (statement of Hernandez, Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI).

Salvador Hernandez, Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI, testified before Congress in 2007 that the majority of cruise ship sexual assault cases are not prosecuted. Crimes Against Americans on Cruise Ships: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Coast Guard and Mar. Transp. of the H. Comm. on Transp. and Infrastructure, 110th Cong. 12 (2007) (statement of Hernandez, Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI). (emphasis added)

When appellate courts offer commentary about the "serious problem" of rapes and violent crimes on cruise ships based on data provided to Congress by the FBI, the cruise industry may consider implementing changes to their shipboard procedures to making cruising safer for women.   

 

Photo credit:  Star Princess cruise ship, Seattle Washington - Jim Walker

Cruise Ship Rape - Arbitration in Bermuda? A Jury Trial in Miami? Or Both?

In the past month, I have written about the progression of federal court cases which have chipped away at the rights of foreign crewmembers, who are the backbone of the U.S. based cruise industry.

The cases of Lindo v. NCL (Bahamas) Ltd. and Henriquez v. NCL showed that the Eleventh Circuit would not hesitate to affirm the dismissal of the claims filed on behalf of NCL crewmembers in the U.S. courts here in Miami, leaving the seriously injured seamen to seek compensation in foreign countries applying foreign law.

Princess Cruises - Star Princess - Cruise Ship - Arbitration Sexual AssaultOn Friday, the Eleventh Circuit decided the case of Jane Doe v. Princess Cruises.  The Court addressed the issue whether a Princess crewmember raped on the M/S Star Princess cruise ship would be sent from the U.S. to face uncertain justice before an arbitrator in a country selected by the cruise line, or whether she could try her case here in Miami before a jury.  

According to the opinion which you can read here, the facts allegedly "tell a story of a woman, working for Princess Cruise Lines on one of its ships, who was drugged by other employees, raped and physically injured while she was unconscious, and when she reported to officials of the cruise line what had happened to her they treated her with indifference and even hostility, failed to provide her with proper medical treatment on board, and interfered with her attempts to obtain counseling and medical treatment ashore."  

We represent Jane Doe (whose name is being protected to protect her confidentiality). 

Princess Cruises is represented by Miami cruise defense lawyer Jeffrey Maltzman.

The complaint that we filed on her behalf alleged ten (10) causes of action:

As described by the Eleventh Circuit, the ten claims are:

(1) a “Jones Act negligence” claim, alleging that Princess Cruise Lines breached its “duty to provide a safe place to work such that [Doe] could perform the job obligations in a reasonably safe manner and live aboard the vessel free from sexual violence and/or sexual harassment”;

(2) an unseaworthiness claim, alleging that the cruise line breached its “non-delegable duty to provide [Doe] with a seaworthy vessel upon which to work and live free from sexual battery and/or sexual harassment”; (3) a Jones Act claim, alleging that the cruise line breached its duty under that act to provide Doe with prompt, adequate, and complete medical treatment for “injuries sustained while in the service of the vessel”;

(4) a maintenance and cure claim, alleging that the cruise line “purposefully refused to arrange for and pay [for] timely and complete medical cure” despite its obligation to do so under “the General Maritime Law”;

(5) a Seaman’s Wage Act claim that the cruise line breached its “duty to timely pay all of [Doe’s] wages as a seaman;”

(6) a false imprisonment claim, alleging that the cruise line had “purposefully and intentionally restrained [Doe] against her will on the cruise ship and did not permit her to leave the cruise ship to go ashore for medical treatment” in Seattle;

(7) an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, alleging “separate and independent torts committed by” the cruise line, its agents, and its employees related to Doe’s rape and the way that they handled the situation and treated her after learning of the rape;

(8) a spoliation of evidence claim, alleging that the cruise line breached its duty to preserve evidence after one of its crew members sexually assaulted and battered Doe;

 (9) an invasion of privacy claim, alleging that the cruise line, though its agents, breached its duty to protect Doe’s confidentiality and privacy as a rape victim by repeatedly disclosing her real name in an effort to intimidate and embarrass her; and

(10) a fraudulent misrepresentation claim, alleging that officers of the cruise line who were on the ship repeatedly and falsely told Doe after she had been drugged and raped that she could not disembark the ship to obtain medical treatment and counseling by doctors of her own choosing.  

The Court held that the first five causes of action fall within the language of the arbitration agreement.  The trial court will then consider the cases of LindoHenriquez and Thomas to determine whether these first five causes of action should be sent to Bermuda to be arbitrated and what law should apply.   However, the Court held that the last five causes of action, which involved post-rape conduct alleged against the cruise line, did not arise of of Jane Doe's employment and therefore are not subject to arbitration.  The last five legal theories alleged against the cruise line will be heading toward a jury trial here in Miami. 

This case should be of continuing interest to maritime lawyers representing crewmembers working for cruise lines which insert arbitration agreements in their employment contracts.

The case was featured today in the Daily Business Review.  Maritime lawyer Brett Rivkind also wrote an excellent blog about the rape case and the issue of arbitration entitled: "Appeals Court Addresses Arbitration Clause Involving Claim by Crewmember for Sexual Assault."

 

Photo credit:  Star Princess Cruise Ship, Seattle Washington - Jim Walker 

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Tells Princess Cruises: "We're Safer Than Your Cruise Ships!"

I ran across an interesting article written from the perspective of a Mexican port which one of the cruise lines labeled as too dangerous to visit.

It seems like Princess Cruises has incurred the wrath of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico after the cruise line dropped the port from its cruise itinerary citing "continued violence" as the reason.  USA Today quickly picked up on the story and conducted a poll asking its readers whether cruise lines should Puerto Vallarta - Crime? - Princess Cruises - Mexicopull of of this port which Princess Cruises painted with a broad brush that all-of-Mexico-is-unsafe

Princess spokeswoman Karen Candy told USA Today:  “As the safety and security of our passengers and crew is our highest priority, and based on the continued violence in these areas, we’ve made the decision to cancel our calls to Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan.”

But the good people in Puerto Vallarta are pointing out that their city is a heck of a lot safer than the city where the cruise line is headquartered in Southern California or most of the destinations visited by Princess cruise ships such as Bermuda, Bahamas, and Jamaica.  The article is entitled "Princess Cruise Lines: Stop Slandering the Safety of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico."

The article also points out that Carnival Cruises, its owner, as well as Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruises still include the Mexican port on their itineraries.

The article points out that there is a high rate of crime on cruise ships and Princess has had more than its fair share of incidents of sexual assault against women, both passengers and crewmembers, on its fleet of cruise ships.  Are Princess Cruises ships more dangerous than this Mexican port of call?   Is this a case of the pot calling the kettle black?

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

Last year I published a series of articles about how cruise lines mishandle customer complaints and ruin their reputations in the process.

Part I of "And the Cruise Industry Wonders Why It Has An Image Problem" series focused on the ways that Carnival and Royal Caribbean managed to botch customer problems and tarnish their images.  

Part II took a look at Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), which usually avoids the pitfalls of its larger competitors.  But in this case, NCL refused to refund the cruise fare of a passenger whose brother died and the funeral was on the same day as the cruise.  The guest notified NCL, asking for a credit on a future cruise.  NCL said no.  He asked for their cruise to be donated to charity (Make-A-Wish) so a child Cruise Wedding Disasterwith cancer could enjoy a once in a lifetime cruise.  NCL said no.

Then NCL re-sold the cabin to another couple. NCL got a double profit due to the death of a guest.  Ugh.

Most of the time the right thing for your corporate image is exactly the right thing to do for your customer.  But some cruise lines can't seem to get it right, which brings us to part III of the series.

Last week the Connecticut Watchdog newspaper published an article "Stranded By Princess Cruise Line."  The story involves a newlywed couple from Connecticut, Diana Benne and Adam Gompper.  Both seems like hard working conscientious types.  Diana owns a popular hair salon and Adam is a police dispatcher. 

They purchased a Caribbean honeymoon cruise with Princess Cruises.  Things started out just fine with the couple enjoying the cruise and a stopover in San Juan (photo below).  But it seems like Princess Cruises didn't inform them of a last minute itinerary change resulting in the Caribbean Princess cruise ship leaving St. Thomas early.  Even though the cruise ship was still tied to the dock, the captain would not let the couple aboard and abandoned them in St. Thomas.  It must be a sick feeling to stand on the dock with only the clothes on your back and watch your cruise ship heading out to sea.  What a way to start your marriage. 

When the couple tried to discuss a resolution to the problem, Princess blew them off.

When I read about problems like this, I think of how easy a happy resolution would be.  Refund the couple their money or give them a free cruise.  In return, you will have dedicated fans of Princess Cruises for the rest of their lives.  The proverbial "win-win" situation.  But ignore or engage in a petty quarrel with a honeymoon couple you left in a port outside of the continental U.S.?  You have earned an enemy for life.

Princess Cruises left the couple in St. Thomas of all places.  St. Thomas has one of the highest murder rates in the world.  You can read about the sad story of a 14 year old girl who was killed last year during a cruise stop-over in St. Thomas here.  

Princess Cruise Honeymoon DisasterPrincess Cruises spends tens of millions of dollars a year marketing itself as the ultimate in romantic cruise getaways.  It is known for its wedding packages and the famous "wedding cams" which you can watch online.  It is, after all, best known for the "Love Boat" television series.  

But when things go wrong on the Love Boat, issues like this are not resolved by the smiling faces in the marketing department.  They are shuffled down to the customer relations and risk management departments whose job is to deny, delay and defend.

Last week, I emailed Princess and asked for its side of the story.  I hoped that I would hear good news, like it decided to reimburse the honeymoon couple their cruise fare.  Then I could write a story with a happy ending.  Instead, I have heard nothing, which seems to be the problem in the first place.

July 16, 2011 Update:

Princess Cruises is receiving alot of bad press about situations like this.  Read: "Eunice Gayle Needed a Blood Transfusion, So Why Wouldn't Princess Cruise Lines Let Her Off the Boat?

Here are a couple other articles about Princess Cruises' approach to dealing with customer complaints:

Is a Nuclear Radiation Leak a Valid Basis to Cancel a Cruise? Not According to Princess Cruises.

British Passenger Stuck In Mexican Hospital Following Heart Attack on Princess Cruise Ship

 

Photo credit: Courtesy of Diana Beene

Is a Nuclear Radiation Leak a Valid Basis to Cancel a Cruise? Not According to Princess Cruises.

news station in Bradenton Florida is reporting on an interesting story of a Princess Cruises customer, Mr. Welt, who booked a 12-day cruise called the "China and Japan Explorer."  The cruise ship was scheduled to sail from Shanghai with three stops in Japan.

But then the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan.  Mr. Welt was initially undeterred, but he became greatly concerned as the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant leaked radiation and he read a warning by the State Department against travel to Japan.

Mr. Welt reportedly expressed his concerns to Princess, but was told that the cruise was proceeding as Princess Cruises - Japan - Chinascheduled.  A few days later, he canceled the cruise because he didn't want to risk exposure to radiation.  Two days later, Princess canceled all three stops in Japan, and added ports in China.

Mr. Welt thought that he could obtain a refund or get a voucher for another Princess cruise.  Instead, Princess charged him a $2,398 cancellation fee which was 100% price for the cruise. 

A company spokesperson, Karen Candy, claims that there are no records indicating that Mr. Welt ever called the cruise line.  Ms. Candy told the news station that Princess would have tried to re-book Mr. Welt but because he did not purchase trip insurance he was out of luck.

I looked at the terms and conditions of Princess' "Passage Contract," and it does not mention the issue of what happens when radiation poses a health risk in a particular port.  The contract states that the cruise line may "change, cancel or terminate" the cruise because of “trouble spots” in the world in terms of "war, terrorism, crime, Act of God, civil commotions, labor trouble, and/or other potential sources of harm. Local conditions and infrastructure may also create hazards to passengers while off the ship."  However, this pertains to the cruise lines' right to change or cancel the cruise - not the right of the passenger to do so. 

A passenger's best argument appears to be found the latter part of paragraph three (Notice Concerning Safety and Security).  The cruise line states:

"Carrier reminds all Passengers that they must ultimately assume responsibility for their actions while ashore. The United States Department of State and other similar government agencies regularly issue advisories and warnings to travelers giving details of local conditions in specified cities and countries according to such agency’s perception of risks to travelers. Carrier strongly recommends that Passengers and their travel agents obtain and consider such information when making travel decisions."

Of course, this is exactly what Mr. Welt did.  He assumed responsibility for his health posed by the damaged nuclear reactor and prudently considered the warning issued by the State Department in making his travel decision.  He did what the contract drafted by Princess' lawyers told him to do.  Yet, the cruise line penalized him with the entire cruise fare?  

Fukushima Nuclear Radiation - Cruise How would a judge or arbitrator rule?  Who knows.  I'm sure that Princess will be pleased to pay one of its defense firms $10,000 to $20,000 to argue that Mr. Welt should have purchased insurance (what we recommend for all passengers) and fight Mr. Welt tooth and nail to keep him from recovering his $2,398.

But what about the larger issue of customer service and the cruise line's reputation?

The article indicates that Princess has a "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau ("BBB").  Yes, its true.  The BBB indeed rated Princess a "F," finding that out of the 134 complaints lodged against the cruise line, on 80 occasions the cruise line refused to make any adjustments or simply never responded to the customer's complaint.    

Unlike the uncertainty of a legal decision any particular judge may make whether a customer can or cannot cancel a cruise because of a radiation leak, Princess Cruises' reputation is completely within the cruise line's control.  The airline and hotels were pleased to accommodate Mr. Welt, but not Princess.

We have seen Princess and other cruise lines take this penny-wise-and-pound-foolish approach before.  Yes, they can take a hard line approach and keep their customer's money most of the time.  But they risk trashing their reputations in an industry which suffers from a poor reputation in the first place.  Take a minute and read:  And The Cruise Industry Wonders Why It Has An Image Problem . . . (involving Princess, Carnival and Royal Caribbean) as well as And The Cruise Industry Wonders Why It Has An Image Problem . . . (continued) (NCL).

The bottom line here is that the customer did what his cruise contract required him to do.  He made his travel decision based on the State Department warning.  In return, Princess Cruises kept all of a customer's money who didn't go on a cruise scheduled to stop at a country with a nuclear reactor emitting dangerous levels of radiation. 

Princess should have at least donated the money to a relief organization in Japan.

I'd say Princess' BBB grade of "F" is well deserved.

Princess Cruises Crew Member Acquited of Rape Charges in Bermuda

The Royal Gazette in Bermuda reports that a judge in Bermuda dismissed the sexual assault charges leveled against a "41-year-old Filipino national" by a "26-year-old Filipino woman" who worked with him on a Bermuda registered cruise ship. 

Readers will recall that in a previous article two weeks ago, we reported that Filipino crew member Johnwill Reyes Abdon allegedly assaulted a younger crew member aboard the Caribbean Princess (photo), a Bermuda-registered vessel, on December 28, 2010.  We were critical of the Royal Gazette for not publishing the name of the cruise line or cruise ship where the incident allegedly took place or identifying the name of the crew member who committed the alleged crime.  The newspaper responded by stating that Bermuda law reportedly prohibits the disclosure of a Princess Cruises - Caribbean Princess Cruise Ship defendant's name in a rape trial, and then argued that the disclosure of the name of the cruise line or cruise ship would somehow lead to the disclosure of the name of the defendant.  (The ironic thing is that we learned the name of the crew member because another newspaper in Bermuda, the Bermuda Sun, published the crew member's name and then retracted it after we published our article.) 

There is no such prohibition under U.S. law in naming rape suspects, and it serves no public purpose to hide the names of corporations, vessels or maritime employers in cases like this.  It should be noted that Princess Cruises flies the flag-of-convenience of Bermuda and is incorporated in Bermuda to avoid U.S. taxes.

The newspaper in Bermuda reports that Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner explained his decision to dismiss the charges by pointing out that the alleged victim did not make an allegation of sexual assault until after realizing that she was pregnant.  According to the newspaper, the judge also said: “In all the circumstances, I am not satisfied that the complainant did not consent, and that the defendant did not have an honest and reasonable belief that it was consensual.”  (I have read this double-negative sentence several times and am not sure what this means).

We have written about rapes and sexual alleged assaults on Princess Cruises before: Unsafe on the "Love Boat?" - Sexual Assaults on Princess Cruise Ships.

The last sex assault trial against a Princess crew member occurred in Los Angeles Federal Court in November 2009.  A U.S. jury acquitted a headwaiter, Jorge Manuel Teixeira (from Portugal), of sexually assaulting a U.S. passenger during a cruise last March between Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles, while the ship was at sea off the coast of Mexico.

The last article we published regarding sexual criminal conduct on the Princess fleet of ships involved the captain of a Princess cruise ship who admitted to molesting a child. 

 

Photo credit:  courtesy of wirralwater's Flickr page (via Wikimedia Commons)

Princess Cruises Captain Pleads Guilty to Sex Crime Against Girl on Princess Cruise Ship

A newspaper in the U.K. reports that a cruise ship captain pled guilty last October to sex crimes against a 14 year old girl.  The Spalding Guardian newspaper identifies the sex criminal as Captain Peter Russell, who entered the girl's cabin, apparently when her parents were not present, and performed an unidentified sex act on her.    

The U.K. newspaper indicates that after the cruise, Captain Russell contacted the girl on the internet and made obscene suggestions about the girl’s breasts, urged her to perform a sex act, and requested that the girl take a photograph of herself naked and send it to him.  According to the Captain Peter Russell - Princess Cruises - Child Predator - Sex Crime article, the disturbing circumstances were revealed to the child's parents when the girl broke down in front of her father and showed him the online conversations. 

Captain Russell subsequently admitted to the unlawful sexual activity with a child on the cruise ship and over the internet.

As is often the case, the newspaper did not identify either the cruise line or the cruise ship where the crime occurred.  The available information on the internet indicates that Master Russell captained a number of different cruise ships for Princess Cruises, including the Sun Princess and Sea Princess.  We asked Princess Cruises for information about when this occurred, what cruise ship was involved, how long Captain Russell worked for Princess and what, if anything, it did when the crime was committed.  No response so far.      

We have written many articles about the danger of passengers leaving their children alone in cabins on cruise ships, and trusting the cabin stewards and waiters.  Little did even we consider the depravity of a captain of a cruise ship targeting a little girl like this.  Consider this observation of Captain Russell during a Princess cruise from an unsuspecting passenger:

"After a day or so at sea we realised the ship's good-humoured tone was hugely influenced by Captain Peter Russell, a warm Englishman who spreads himself around the passengers like a favourite uncle at a wedding. The crew adore him. Forty-five years at sea, from tankers to cruise ships, Captain Russell exudes nautical wisdom and is also a bubbling fount of humorous stories  .  .  ."  

Yikes!

We have also written several blogs about the problem of sexual predators on Princess Cruises and the disturbing attitude that this cruise line, known ironically for the iconic "Love Boat" series, has toward sexual crimes against women and children like this.  In my opinion, Princess Cruises has one of the best deserved reputations for sex crimes on its cruise ships and engaging in cover-ups of such crimes.  Take a moment and read:

Unsafe on the "Love Boat?" - Sexual Assaults on Princess Cruise Ships

Sexual Assault Reported on P & O Cruises' Pacific Sun Cruise Ship     

Below is the unedited article from the Spalding Guardian:

SHIP CAPTAIN JAILED FOR TEEN SEX OFFENSES 

"A 'world class' cruise ship captain from Donington has been jailed for nine months for sex offences against a 14-year-old girl while she slept in her cabin.

Lincoln Crown Court heard on Thursday how Peter Russell (64), of Bicker Road, performed a sex act on a teenage girl while she was asleep in her bunk.

The victim thought she had dreamt the incident but it later came to light when Russell chatted to her on the internet on MSN Messenger and made obscene suggestions.

Matthew Lowe, prosecuting, said Russell made comments about the girl’s breasts and urged her to perform a sex act while chatting to him over the internet.

Princess Cruises - Sex Crimes - Child Molestation Russell went on to request that the girl take a photograph of herself naked and send it to him.

The incidents came to an end when the girl broke down in front of her dad and showed him the records of her online conversations she had with Russell.

Russell admitted two charges of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity together with sexual activity in the presence of a child and a further charge of sexual activity with a child.

Judge Sean Morris jailed Russell for nine months and placed him on the sex offenders’ register for ten years.

The judge told Russell: 'You are a sea captain of great distinction and have a glittering reputation.'

'You have brought that crashing down.'

Russell worked throughout the world as a captain of oil tankers for the Esso oil company and, following his retirement, went on to skipper cruise ships.

William Powell, defending, said: 'He stands before the court an utterly humiliated person.'

'His outstanding career is in complete ruins. He is a man who has disgraced himself to an appalling extent.'

'He has spent almost his entire career at sea.'

'He retired from Esso at the age of 50 with a reputation as a world class player.'

'He was up there with the elite. He was hugely regarded.'

Mr Powell said that Russell went on to skipper cruise ships but his job came to an abrupt end following his arrest.

He urged the judge to show mercy to Russell who was previously a man of 'good character.'

 

March 27, 2011 Update: Princess Cruises provided the following information to us:

"We only found out about this incident when contacted by the Linconshire Police in May 2010.  Nothing about this incident was ever reported to us.  We understand that this involved a family member, and that the incident occurred in 2008.  We tried to get more information from the Police but they would not give us much because they said it had nothing to do with Princess.  He worked for Princess at the most 4 years.  He signed off  from the Sea Princess at the end of his contract in Dec. 2009.  He did not work on board any of our ships again." 

 

Photo credits:

Captain Peter Russell - Dick Drayer / Picasa Photo

Princess Cruise Ship  - TravelServer

Cruise Rape Case Begins - Bermuda Press Tries to Conceal Connection to Princess Cruises

Today the Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda is reporting on the beginning of a criminal trial in Bermuda where a 40 year old crew member is accused of raping a female crew member on a cruise ship flagged in the Bermuda.

The newspaper reports that the case involves a crew member who is accused of raping a younger crew member.  The newspaper does not identify the name of the accused crew member althought it states that "both crew members are Filipino nationals who worked on the same vessel."  The newspaper does not even name the cruise line or the cruise ship.

Rape - Sexual Assault - Caribbean Princess - Princess CruisesLast month we reported that the alleged crime occurred on a Princess cruise ship and Filipino crew member Johnwill Reyes Abdon, age 40, was the Princess Cruises crew member who allegedly committed the crime.

The incident occurred on the Caribbean Princess, a Bermuda-registered vessel, on December 28, 2010.

It is not unusual for the press in the flag state to try and conceal the name of the cruise line, the cruise ship and the cruise line employee involved in alleged crimes like this, in order to avoid embarrassment to its cruise line customer.  

The 26-year-old crew member became pregnant after the incident.  She testified that Ms. Abdon sexually assaulted her.   Ms. Abdon denied the charges and said that the  encounter was consensual. 

As we previously reported, sexual assaults on cruise ships are common, notwithstanding the efforts of the cruise industry to convince the public otherwise.  We attended five Congressional hearings since 2005 where Congress was provided with evidence of literally hundreds of incidents of sexual assaults on cruises. 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein studied cruise crime statistics provided to the U.S. Congress and concluded that passengers run nearly twice the risk of being sexually assaulted aboard a ship than they do on land.

We have written about rapes on Princess Cruises before in articles:  Unsafe on the "Love Boat?" - Sexual Assaults on Princess Cruise Ships and Princess Cruises Sexual Assault Trial Begins.

The unusual thing about this case is that the police in Bermuda (where the ship is flagged) actually traveled to South Florida and arrested crew member Abdon, and then flew him to Bermuda to face the charges.  Getting the local police from the flag state to arrest crew members on cruise ships around the world is rare.  Extremely rare. 

Whether a jury in Bermuda will convict a Filipino crew member who commits a crime against another Filipino crew member seems questionable.  Given the deplorable conviction rate aboard foreign flagged cruise ships in Princess Cruises' fleet, it is questionable that Mr. Abdon will receive jail time - even if he committed the crime.  Heck, the press in Bermuda will not even mention that one of the cruise ships flagged in Bermuda is even the location of the alleged crime. 

 

Photo credit:  raflucgr.ra.funpic.de

Princess Cruises Crew Member Arrested for "Sex Attack" Aboard Caribbean Princess Cruise Ship

The Bermuda Sun reports today that a Princess Cruises crew member has been arrested for what is described as a "sex attack" on a woman on a cruise ship.   The newspaper identifies Filipino Johnwill Reyes Abdon, age 40, as the crew member who allegedly committed the crime. 

The incident occurred on the Caribbean Princess, a Bermuda-registered vessel, on December 28, 2010.

Princess Cruises - Caribbean Princess - Sexual AssaultThe article does not mention whether the victim was a cruise passenger or another crew member.

Sexual assaults on cruise ships are not rare, as the cruise industry leads the public to believe.  We have attended five Congressional hearings since 2005 where Congress was provided with evidence of literally hundreds of incidents of sexual assaults on cruises. 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein studied cruise crime statistics provided to the U.S. Congress and concluded that passengers run nearly twice the risk of being sexually assaulted aboard a ship than they do on land.

We have written about rapes on Princess Cruises before in articles:  Unsafe on the "Love Boat?" - Sexual Assaults on Princess Cruise Ships and Princess Cruises Sexual Assault Trial Begins.

The unusual thing about this latest incident is that the police in Bermuda (where the ship is flagged) actually traveled to South Florida and arrested crew member Abdon, and then flew him to Bermuda to face the charges.  Getting the local police from the flag state to arrest crew members on cruise ships around the world is extremely rare. 

The trial will begin on March 7, 2011.

A Lost Cruise Trial, More Cruise Crime, More Cruise Drugs and Who Wants to Cruise to Mexico Anyway?

A super busy week took me away from the computer for the last week.  What a fun week at Cruise Law and in the strange world of cruising:    

Lose Some / Win Some:  A trial involving our client, an injured passenger, ended poorly for us and well for Royal Caribbean which obtained a defense verdict after a three day trial (and two years of litigation).  The case was defended by the law firm of Horr, Novak & Skipp.  Although he got popped last year with a verdict over $9,000,000 in a cruise line case, Mr. Horr is, in my opinion, the David Horr - Cruise Line Lawyerbest defense lawyer for the cruise lines in Miami.  Supported by the usual small army of cruise lawyers and support staff, he did his usual great job.  This is only the second case Cruise Law has lost in the past ten years.  We are consoled by the fact that the cruise line probably spent over $150,000 defending the case.  A $15,000,000,000 cruise line corporation which pays no U.S. taxes has money to burn.  It's a nice feeling to see good lawyers like Horr get paid lots of money, especially by the scoundrels at Royal Caribbean.       

Another Sexual Assault on the Love Boat?:  According to the LA Weekly Blogs, another alleged sexual assault aboard a Princess cruise ship has ended up in court.  California resident Marisa Foppoli claims in her lawsuit that a crew member aboard the Island Princess sexually assaulted her while cruising from Acapulco to Florida.  The passenger alleged that the crew member had a "prior, similar incident of misconduct" while employed aboard one of Princess' ships.

We have reported on sex crimes on cruise ships operated by Princess before:  Unsafe on the "Love Boat?" - Sexual Assaults on Princess Cruise Ships.  A Princess crew member tried last year for a sexual assault was acquitted last year - Love Boat Waiter Acquitted of Sexually Assaulting Passenger.

More Drugs on a Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship  Two weeks ago, we blogged about three Royal Caribbean crew members (cooks) who smuggled heroin and cocaine from the Dominican Republic during a stop of the Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas and were arrested after the cruise ship reached Baltimore.  Well here we go again.  CBS News reports that $100,000 worth of cocaine and heroin were found in a crew only area on the same cruise ship which has been sailing from Baltimore to the Caribbean islands.      

Is it any surprise that Royal Caribbean galley workers earning less than $600 a month are enticed to supplement their income smuggling some smack and blow?   

Cruise, Crime, and Beheaded Mexicans is Hard to Sell:  Speaking of drugs, last week Carnival said Thursday that it is pulling the last of its cruise ships (the Carnival Spirit) out of southern California to Australia next year.

Mexico - Drug Violence - Cruise ShipsTomorrow Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas is making its final voyage from the Port of Los Angeles and will re-position to its new home base of Galveston, Texas. Norwegian Cruise Line's Star cruise ship will leave Los Angeles in a couple of months to reposition to Tampa.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that drug-related violence has meant fading interest in cruises to Mexico, the chief destination of California-based ships.  The AP reports that although the port officials and cruise industry have tried to emphasize that most violence in Mexico takes place away from cruise destinations, the message has a hard time "competing with images of beheaded bodies on the news."  Ugh.

But this is not new news.  Last summer we reported that Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines Pull Ships From L.A. Due To Crime In Mexico.

Sexual assaults on the Love Boat?  Drugs on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship?  And cruise lines unable to sell cruises to Mexico?    Nothing new here . . .

 

Photo credits: 

David Horr - Horr, Novak & Skipp

Mexican violence -   http://www.nocaptionneeded.com/

Passenger Dies Following Fall While Disembarking Princess Cruise Ship in Bonaire

Emerald Princess - Passenger DeathA newspaper in Connecticut is reporting that a 59 year old passenger fell while disembarking a Princess cruise ship in a Caribbean port and injured his neck.  After being flown by air ambulance to Miami, the passengers died due to complications during surgery.

The incident occurred on December 14, 2010, when Timothy Scheibel sailed with his wife to the island of Bonaire on a cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises of Santa Clarita, California.  Although the name of the cruise ship is not revealed, it appears that the Scheibels were sailing aboard the Emerald Princess.

This is the third death this week involving passengers falling on or from cruise ships, one yesterday involving the MSC Orchestra and one last weekend involving the Sea Princess.

The Scheibels resided in a retirement / golf community in central Florida called "The Villages," having relocated from Connecticut to Florida in 2004.  Mr. Scheibel worked as a financial adviser. The cruise was to celebrate Mr. Scheibels' 60th birthday.

December 23, 2010 Update:

We received a comment (below) from Princess Cruises indicating that the passenger fell "ashore in Bonaire," not while disembarking the cruise ship.  The story we linked to above reports that the accident occurred "while stepping off a cruise ship . . . while the ship was docked at the island of Bonaire . . . "   We apologize for the erroneous information if the accident occurred ashore as Princess clarifies. 

 

Photo credit:  Cruise Critic (cherylandtk)

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

Passengers Poisoned By Gas On Princess Cruise Ship

A newspaper in the U.K. is reporting that three passengers (a mother and her two daughters) aboard Princess Cruises' Sea Princess were diagnosed with exposure to potentially lethal hydrogen sulphide gas due to a leak in their cabin’s air conditioning unit.  They hired the British firm, Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, to seek compensation for their injuries.  The article "Norfolk Woman, 79, Poisoned On Cruise Liner" indicates that Princess Cruises admitted liability for the gas leak.  Here is the article:

"A Norfolk family are still waiting for compensation more than a year after a dream cruise turned into a nightmare when they were poisoned by gas in their cabin.

Princess Cruises - Poison Gas - Hydrogen Sulphide Gas - Cruise ShipSisters Lisa Mills, 51, and Jane Anderson, 55, and their mother Ethel Mills, 79, were traveling aboard the 400-bed Sea Princess to celebrate Lisa’s 50th birthday when they all became severely ill with headaches, sinus pain and sickness.

Towards the end of the cruise, they visited the ship’s doctor and were horrified when they were diagnosed with exposure to potentially lethal hydrogen sulphide gas due to a leak in their cabin’s air conditioning unit.

Owner Princess Cruises has admitted fault for the suffering caused, said the group’s lawyer, Liz Tetzner, a travel law specialist at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors. Now she has urged the cruise operator to work with them quickly to ensure victims have access to the funds they need so that they can put the ordeal behind them.

The family set out on the two-week cruise, which cost just under £2,000 each, from Barbados in October, 2009.

Lisa Mills, who lives in Wymondham and cares for her mother, said: “Within hours of boarding the ship things started to go horribly wrong. To start with, we were really disappointed with the conditions in our cabins as there was an overpowering smell of rotten eggs coming from the air conditioning unit. But that was just the start of the problems and things soon got much worse.

“After just one night we began to feel horrendously poorly, we had unbearable headaches and our noses felt like they were going to explode.”

Despite complaining about the awful smell in their cabin, the family say they were “fobbed off” by staff.

Mrs Anderson, from Southrepps, said: “They just kept not showing any worries about it and we put the illness down to sea sickness. The smell got so bad at night that we were sleeping with the balcony door slightly ajar.”

The family were so worried about their health that they visited the ship’s doctor on the penultimate day of the cruise and were horrified when they were diagnosed with exposure to hydrogen sulphide gas and were prescribed antiemetics and took painkillers. But despite the diagnosis, the ship’s staff did not move the family from their cabin.

Ms Mills said: “I feel we were treated appallingly, especially my mother as she had been unwell prior to holiday, and the break was supposed to help her recuperate but instead she felt even worse when we got back and we are all still suffering symptoms today.”

Lawyer Liz Tetzner said: “The company should provide assurances that lessons have been learned from this appalling incident, and that no other passengers will suffer onboard vessels in the Princess Cruises fleet due to inadequate standards of health and safety.”

Princess Cruises were unavailable to comment."

 

Credits:  EDP24 (Kim Briscoe)

100 Norovirus Victims On Sapphire Princess Cruise Ship - Princess Cruises Blames Passengers

A Seattle news station King5.com reports today that norovirus sickened 100 people on Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess cruise ship based in Seattle. 

As we have reported in prior blogs,  the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concludes that whereas "person to person" transmission of norovirus has been documented, "norwalk gastroenteritis is transmitted by the fecal-oral route via contaminated water and foods."  The FDA reports that "water is the most common source of outbreaks and may include water from Julie Benson - PR - Public Relations - Princess Cruises - Norovirus - Sapphire Princess municipal supplies, well, recreational lakes, swimming pools, and water stored aboard cruise ships."

But Julie Benson (right), the PR person for Princess Cruises, blamed passengers for probably carrying Norovirus on board the cruise ship.

Of course, there is no proof of this.  Ms. Benson is just a PR person and a script reader - not a doctor, scientist or epidemiologist.  It is part of the cruise industry's play book to always blame the passengers for bringing norovirus aboard.  It is far more likely - according to the FDA - that there is contaminated food or water on the cruise ship.  How did Ms. Benson figure out that the passengers brought the virus aboard, rather than poor hygiene by the crew or infected food or water?  The outbreak has not even been investigated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The CDC database for cruise ship norovirus outbreaks is here

Blame-the-passengers is just the script that poor Ms. Benson has to read.

Passengers suffered through norovirus on several cruises on the the Grand Princess just last month.  You can read about those cases here and here.  One of the problems with Princess is that the cruise line charges passengers around a $100 just for a nurse to come to the cabin when a passenger is infected with norovirus.  Some passengers didn't report their illnesses to avoid the excessive charges for "medical treatment."  At the same time, Princess didn't  try to sanitize cabins where no one reported an illness, as reported by this passenger.  This may have led to additional outbreaks on the next cruise.  

The passenger also thought that the public toilets on the cruise ships may be a problem.  Disease experts have inspected toilets on cruise ships in the past, with disgusting results: Cruise Ship Norovirus - Clean the Damn Toilets!  

Lawyers in the U.K. are suing the cruise line for improper cleaning procedures aboard the Grand Princess.  The litigation is being handled by U.K. lawyers, Irwin Mitchell which specializes in travel law in England.  The firm is demanding that passengers are informed of health risks on the cruise ship in advance of it sailing and given the choice of continuing their holiday, choosing an alternative or getting their money back.  According to the Guardian newspaper, the Irwin Mitchell lawyers criticized that Princess is only devoting two hours for "extra cleaning:"

"The fact that this liner has been allowed to set sail again so quickly is astounding given the reports of such widespread illness on the preceding cruise .  .  .  For maximum effect this would normally have taken at least two days. I struggle to see how a fully effective deep-clean of such a large ship could be achieved in a few short hours."

For other articles about the cruise ship sickness, norovirus, in general read here.    

Were you aboard the Sapphire Princess or Grand Princess during these recent norovirus outbreaks?  Were more passengers and crew infected than reported?  How did the cruise line handle the problem?  Please leave your comments below. 

Don't forget to watch the video below:  

 

 

June 8, 2010 Update:

AOL Travel published an article "Sick Ship in Europe and Alaska" about the Sapphire Princess as well as Celebrity's Constellation, where norovirus infected at least 204 passengers and 34 crew members.  A comment by one reader: "What they don't tell you is Norovirus is often a food-borne illness. Food is cruise line's stock and trade. They don't want you to know that it may be coming from the kitchen!"

 

Credits:

Video          King5.com

 Julie Benson              Twitter.com

Princess Cruises Passenger Killed In ATV Accident In Aruba

The Diario newspaper in Aruba reports on a passenger from Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess cruise ship who died in an accident ashore in Aruba.

The unidentified passenger rented a four wheel ATV (all terrain vehicle) and collided with what the newspaper reports is a Dodge Ram pickup truck.  

ATV Accident - Aruba - Caribbean Princess Cruise ShipThe Cruise Critic website includes several comments by passengers on the cruise who saw the aftermath of the accident.

Many Cruise Critic readers commented on dangers ashore in port of call when passengers rent mopeds and ATV's and encounter different road conditions and traffic on the "other side of the road."  

The driver of the ATV was apparently not wearing a helmet.  The comments to the story seem to suggest that the ATV was rented privately, and not as part of an excursion sold by the cruise line.

Companies which rent ATV's and mopeds should require that all drivers wear helmets, and should not rent the vehicles unless the company provides a helmet to the driver.  It is unknown whether Aruba requires helmets to be warn in these situations.    

April 22, 2010 Update:

The cruise passengers involved in the accident are Frederich Norman, age 41, who was killed, and his wife Christine Norman, age 37, who was injured, according to the LondonFree Press in Canada. There is a suggestion that the pickup truck may have swerved into an oncoming lane, causing the collision with the Normans' ATV.  There is also mention of drugs being found in the truck.  These accounts appear to be based on the Diario newspaper in Aruba.

Princess Cruises PR - Julie Benson - Stringent Excursion Safety RulesThe London Free Press points to the incident as raising the issue of the questionable safety of many excursions cruise passengers may choose during their cruises. 

Princess Cruises PR person, Julie Benson (photograph right), is quoted as stating that the ATV rental was not one sanctioned by Princess Cruises. Ms. Benson claims that Princess Cruises requires a "stringent set of rules and safety measures" before recommending local companies to its cruise passengers.

In February a Princess Cruises passenger was killed and other passengers were injured when a cruise excursion bus with no seat belts, operated by a driver named "Crash Dummy" with a record which included criminal conduct and reckless driving, crashed while descending a steep hill in Tortola. 

It will be interesting to see exactly what Princess Cruises' "stringent" excursion safety rules look like.  

 

 

Credits:    

Photograph of ATV        Diario Online Newspaper

Photograph of Princess PR            Julie Benson Twitter 

 

Reason No. 2 Not To Cruise: Cruise Ships Are A Perfect Place to Commit A Crime, And Get Away With It!

This is reason no. 2 in the series: Top 10 Reasons Not To Cruise

Imagine owning a business where one of your employees drugged and raped a patron.  What would you do?   

Would you interrogate the victim before calling the police?  Would you tape record the victim without her permission?  Would you demand that the victim prepare written statements before she could receive medical treatment?   Would you scramble your defense lawyers to the scene to look for a way to build a case against the victim?  Would you refuse to provide the name and address of your Cime Rocks The Boats - Cruise Ship Crimeemployee to the victim?  Would you work with your employee's criminal defense lawyers, and meet the assailant in jail, in an effort to help him win an acquittal at the criminal trial?   

Of course not, but this is exactly what happens on many cruise ships today.

Unlike airplanes with Federal Marshals, cruise ships have no police authorities aboard.  The few security guards on the ships are loyal to their employer who pays their salary - not to the passenger. 

When a crime occurs, the cruise lines first notify their risk managements departments and their defense lawyers.  If the closed circuit television (CCTV) tapes exculpate the cruise line, the cruise line keeps the tapes.  Otherwise, the CCTV images are invariably taped over, "lost" or the cruise line will claim that the CCTV system was not working.  The cruise lines will protect their own employee's legal interests - not the passenger's rights. 

In some criminal cases we have handled, the cruise lines did not bother to notify the FBI; in other cases, the cruise lines notified the FBI only after they destroyed evidence and sanitized the crime scene. The result is that criminals on cruise ships are rarely prosecuted.

In fact, some cruise lines have never had a crew member ever convicted of a sex crime or other felony.

Most crew members know that nothing will happen to them if they commit a crime on the ship.  Because there is no criminal accountability, there is no deterrence to crimes on cruises ships.  This is not my opinion, but the conclusions reached by security and sexual harassment experts who have studied the problem. 

In 1999, Royal Caribbean hired two top notch firms to study the problem of sexual assaults on the Royal Caribbean and Celebrity fleet of cruise ships.  The cruise line retained a consulting firm called "Sheridan, Swailes" to study the company's security systems.  Royal Caribbean also retained a nationally recognized expert on sexual harassment issues, Dr. Kay Krohne, who previously was a commanding officer at the Naval Training Station in San Diego. 

Kay Krohne - Cruise Sexual Assault - Cruise Sexual HarassmentAfter conducting an extensive analysis of the Royal Caribbean / Celebrity fleet, these experts concluded that sexual misconduct occurred "frequently" during cruises.  They attributed this problem to the fact that most crew members were not afraid of being arrested, much less convicted.  Dr. Krohne reported that the worst thing that could happen to a crew member who committed a crime on a Royal Caribbean or Celebrity cruise ship was to be sent on a one way flight home.

The experts concluded that male cabin attendants and bartenders were the most likely crew members to commit a crime.  The most likely location?  The passengers cabin.  The experts recommended a number of improvements, such as placing CCTV cameras in the passenger hallways, deactivating passenger cabin key cards used by crew members after working hours, and implementing steps to collect and preserve evidence to be used against the crew members at trial.  Without having a system in place that will result in crew members being arrested, the experts concluded that the crimes would continue.    

Unfortunately, when the executives at Royal Caribbean received the reports - they did not implement any of the recommended improvements.  Instead, they chose to tell the U.S. public that crime on cruise ships was "rare."  When a crime inevitably occurred, the cruise line then sent their defense lawyers to the next port to board the ship long before the FBI arrived. 

The result is that by the time the FBI arrives or the cruise ship returns to a foreign port, the evidence is long gone. 

In an article entitled "Crime Rocks The Boats," TIME Magazine addressed this problem.  TIME reported on troubling cases involving two of our clients - Janet Kelly who was drugged and raped during a cruise from Los Angeles to Mexico, and Jennifer Hagel whose husband George Smith IV "disappeared" from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship during their honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean.  In both cases, the cruise lines scrambled their defense lawyers to the cruise ships and quickly began compromising the passengers' potential criminal and civil cases.  TIME raised the question why "only 7% of the 135 federal investigations into sexual assault over the past five George Smith IV - Missing - Royal Caribbeanyears were prosecuted.  Why were 93% of the cases dropped?"  TIME reported on the FBI's explanation, as follows:

"By the time we can get to [the victim and witnesses], a period of time has passed, people's memories change, they were intoxicated, or there is a lack of evidence because it was cleaned."

TIME addressed the problem of crimes on the high seas and the cruise industry's efforts to cover the problem up, and quoted me in the process:

".  .  .  the only authorities most cruise-crime victims can turn to are the ship's security personnel, who have a strong incentive to protect the industry's fun-in-the-sun image.  'The cruise line controls the scene of the crime, controls the witnesses, controls the evidence,' says Miami attorney James Walker, who represented Kelly.  'It's all being filtered through the company's risk-management department.'  Court documents seen by TIME back up that contention. In one case, a passenger who was examined on board for evidence of gang rape sued the cruise line after ship security, by allowing housekeeping to repeatedly steam-clean the carpet, failed to preserve the alleged crime scene.  In another case, a passenger accused of sexual assault testified that a ship security officer coached him to state that "no sex was performed by anyone."

TIME also quoted another maritime lawyer in Miami that cruise lines " .  .  . are silently working against the victim. They're busy trying to make sure criminal cases don't see the light of day."

The LA Times also discussed the lack of prosecutions of cruise crimes in a blockbuster article entitled "Cruise Industry's Dark Waters - What Happens At Sea Stays There As Crimes On Liners Go Unresolved."  The newspaper reported on the cruise industry's lack of candor to the U.S. Congress during hearings on cruise crimes and the cruise lines' under-reporting of such crimes.  During one of the Congressional hearings which took place from 2005 - 2008, Congressman Christopher Shays questioned whether the cruise lines are keeping some crimes off the books:

"There's a huge incentive to downplay any incident, to sail on .  .  .  Is going on a cruise the perfect way to commit the perfect crime?"

In the last two years, some cruise lines have changed their approach to handling shipboard crimes.  Royal Caribbean, for example, stopped sending trial lawyers to the cruise ships, but other cruise lines still do so.  Royal Caribbean now has a "Global Security" team, consisting of former FBI agents, which handles the investigations.  But the FBI never had a good record investigating cruise crimes in the first place.  Will this lead to a greater number of arrests and convictions - or is this just more of the same?       

Recent incidents suggest that the problem continues. 

In November of last year, an Italian chef, Angelo Faliva, "disappeared" from a Princess Cruises cruise ship after the ship left Fort Lauderdale.  Mr. Faliva, like George Smith IV, was a healthy, happy, energetic and well-liked young man with a bright future ahead of him.  But when he went overboard between Aruba and Columbia, the cruise line's crisis management team took center stage.  Princess claimed that it was "puzzled" and didn't know what happened - a claim considered to be dubious given the hundreds of surveillance cameras throughout the cruise ship.

Angelo Faliva - Missing - Princess CruisesThe "mystery" of Mr. Faliva soon resembled  the typical case of corporate malfeasance which has characterized the cruise industry.  According to the Faliva family, Princess Cruises refuses to cooperate.  

The case also illustrates the indifference exhibited by the flag state, in this case the country of Bermuda which is responsible for investigating and prosecuting criminals on Princess cruise ships which fly Bermuda flags.  It took two weeks before Bermuda bothered to travel to the cruise ship.  Like the Bahamas, Liberia, and Panama where the cruise lines register their cruise ships, Bermuda has done little to investigate the disappearance.  

There seems to be a "quid pro quo" in place.  In exchange for the hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars paid by the cruise lines in registration fees, flag states like Bermuda will conduct no real investigation.  The cruise line is left to handle criminal incidents "internally."   The worst that happens is the offending crew members receives a one way ticket home.  The victim's family is left to deal with the cruise line's stonewalling and the flag state's indifference.      

Earlier last year, Bermuda refused to arrest a bar employee, aboard the Coral Princess cruise ship, who admitted raping an unconscious woman after a crew party.  Princess Cruises then flew the rapist from Seattle back to the Philippines with only a slap on his wrist. 

Where is Princess Cruises' self-admitted rapist today?  Is he working for another cruise line serving drinks to cruise passengers?   Did Princess notify Royal Caribbean, NCL, or its parent corporation Carnival about the rapist so that they would not hire a known rapist?

In the case of Janet Kelly, the cruise line flew her rapist (also a bar employee) from the cruise ship in Los Angeles back to his home country (Jamaica) after he drugged and raped her.  We learned that he then applied for a job with Princess Cruises which accepted him into its fleet of cruise ships.  He then freely interacted with the Princess passengers, who were unaware of his criminal past.

The current system of flying rapist crew members back to their home countries with no criminal accountability - only to be re-hired by another cruise line - is exactly the problem which Dr. Wunderwelt Wisen - Cruise Crimes and DisappearancesKay Krohne warned about over a decade ago.  It is a rotten and disgraceful practice.  Sexual predators are emboldened by the cruise line's malfeasance.  They will strike again.   

Given the work of victim organizations, like the International Cruise Victims, there is an increasing international awareness that cruise lines like Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean frequently cover up crimes and work to make certain that mysterious "disappearances" remain just that - "mysteries."  

Just the other week, the German magazine "Wunderwelt Wisen" discussed the string of disturbing cases of passengers James Scavonne (Carnival), Dianne Brimble (P and O Cruises), Merrian Carver (Celebrity Cruises), Christopher Caldwell (Carnival), and George Smith IV (Royal Caribbean), as well as the recent disappearance of Italian crew member Angelo Faliva (Princess Cruises).

Under the title "Dream Boats," the magazine analogized a tourist who boards a cruise ship as someone going on a holiday into a small town without a police station, concluding that:

"Dream ships are perfect for the perfect crime." 

 

Tomorrow, we will discuss Reason No. 3 Not To Cruise: Carnival, Royal Caribbean And NCL Are Corporate Felons  

Do you have a comment?  Let us hear from you below.

"Crash Dummy" Released From Jail - Who Paid The Bail?

BVI Platinum News reports that Roland Allen, the driver of the cruise tour bus involved in the excursion accident in Tortola, was released from prison "after someone successfully posted bail for him."

Earlier last month, Mr. Allen - also known as "Crash Dummy" - was placed on $60,000 bail where he had to pay $25,000 in cash and sign a $35,000 surety.  His lawyer had informed the Court that Mr. Allen did not have the money to make bail.

The question arises who paid the bail?  Was the money gathered by friends or family members?  Or did  anyone acting on behalf of the excursion company or cruise line come up with the money behind the scenes?    

The newspaper reports that Mr. Allen will return to Court on April 21st for another hearing.  His trial on charges for reckless driving leading to the death of a Princess Cruises passenger and multiple injuries to other passengers will be scheduled later this year.

We have written many articles about this case

Do you have information regarding the source of the bail money?  Please contact us. 

Cruise Excursion Bus Driver Unable To Make Bail - Remains Jailed

Roland AllenBVI Platinum News reports that Roland Allen, the driver of the bus carrying Princess Cruises passengers on an excursion into Tortola, cannot make the $60.000 bail and will remain imprisoned.

The article shows a photograph of Mr. Allen, nicknamed "Crash Dummy," wearing a red sport shirt, waving with his mouth open. It is not the type of photo I would want if I were a criminal defense lawyer and my client stood accused of causing death by reckless driving.  He looks like a jokester.

The prosecutors are still preparing the case for trial. The article mentions that the prosecutors are  awaiting statements from U.S. witnesses. The Magistrate scheduled another hearing for April 21st.  

Mr. Allen's lawyer requested a modification of the bail.  The Magistrate said no.  So "Crash Dummy" remains in jail.

We have written many articles on this sad case,

 

Credits:

Photograph                    BVI Platinum News

Princess Cruises Excursion Accident - Sad Sight Remains In Tortola

A reader sent us a link to the photograph below which, if you have been following our blog for the past month, you should recognize is the site of the tragic cruise excursion bus accident in Tortola in February.  One young man died and several other passengers from a Princess Cruises cruise ship were injured as the bus sped down "Windy Hill" road and crashed into the side of the hill before flipping over in the road.

Tortola Cruise Excursion Bus Accident - Princess CruisesAlthough the accident occurred almost one month ago, rocks and debris remain on the road.  In a post entitled "Not My Job Mon," several readers of Travel Talk Online have commented on the embarrassment of the government of Tortola being unable to clean up the accident site over the past many weeks. 

One reader commented: "Maybe the "Crash Dummy" could clean it up in his orange jump suit!! That is crazy!!"

You will recall that "Crash Dummy" is the cruise excursion bus driver, Roland Allen, who is in jail awaiting trial for dangerous driving.  We have covered Mr. Allen's driving record and criminal record in previous blogs.  

It is unacceptable that a cruise line like Princess Cruises would use an old bus driven by a known reckless driver with a criminal record. 

Tortola's tourist board convened press conferences following the deadly bus crash and promised to look into this accident.  They vowed to improve the safety of the taxis and buses carrying cruise passengers and other tourists. 

Is this just happy talk to appease the cruise lines? 

Why hasn't the tourist board erected a memorial on the side of the road to remember the young man who died?   Why hasn't Tortola installed "caution" or "slow down" signs on the hill to remind other drivers to be careful?

Or at least pushed the rocks off the road to avoid other accidents?     

 

Credits:

Photograph     Travel Talk Online 

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. 

More Trouble for Princess Cruises Excursion Bus Driver

BVI Platinum News reports that cruise excursion bus driver Roland Allen is in trouble with the Tortola police again.

Roland Allen - Tortola - Cruise Excursion - Bus DriverMr. Allen - known in the community as "Crash Dummy" - was the driver of the green excursion bus which crashed on "Windy Hill Road" on February 24, 2010  while transporting cruise passengers from a Princess Cruises' cruise ship.  One cruise passenger died and multiple others were injured.

A few days before the bus accident, a theft occurred when someone broke into a home and stole various items including a laptop computer. Mr. Allen's girlfriend, one Emesha Henry, came into possession of the stolen laptop. The newspaper reports that  Ms. Henry resides from time to time at Mr. Allen's apartment.  It is less than clear from the article whether Mr. Allen or his girlfriend or someone else committed the burglary.

According to this news source, when police arrived on the scene of the excursion bus accident, the police asked Mr. Allen about his girlfriend.  Later, a police officer overheard Mr. Allen speaking on his cell phone.  As it turns out, Mr. Allen had called his girlfriend and told her to remove a stolen laptop computer from his apartment and hide the stolen item in a vehicle parked outside.

The police thereafter arrested Ms. Henry and charged her with handling stolen goods. A trial is scheduled for June 2, 2010. There is no indication in the news article that Mr. Allen was charged with any wrongdoing, although it would appear that he should be charged with aiding and abetting his girlfriend in the criminal offense if this story is accurate.  

Another article in the BVI News reports that the police suspect Mr. Allen to be involved in the burglary.  The article reports that the thief stole "gold plated earrings, gold rings, gold ankle chain, a lap top, a notebook computer, designer handbag and a silver ring . . ."

We have reported on Mr. Allen's troubles in prior articles:

How Did Princess Cruises Excursion Bus Driver "Crash Dummy" Earn His Nick Name? - Why Does He Have A Police Record? 

Did Princess Cruises Check the Driving Record of Excursion Bus Driver, Crash Dummy? 

Brake Malfunction? Defense Lawyers for Princess Cruises and Bus Driver Disagree on Cause of Tortola Excursion Accident 

Police Arrest Driver of Princess Cruises Excursion Bus In Tortola 

The readers to the BVI Platinum News article are having a field day with Mr. Allen's involvement in this alleged crime.  To say the least, it is repugnant that "Crash Dummy" was engaged in such conduct as a cruise passenger was dying following the crash.

"Cindy" writes: "If this is the case, how many more unsolved robberies or more serious crimes is this young man responsible for?"

"Got a side job?" writes: Seems like "crash" also goes by the name of "smash and grab."

"Good job" writes: "What a call to make after your driving just caused a man his life!!!"

In the comments to the BVI News article, Mr. Allen is referred to as "crash" and "smash and grab," and his girlfriend, Ms. Henry, as "crash chic."   

 

Credits:

Roland Allen  photograph    BVI Platinum News
 

Tortola Tourist Board - Let Cruise Excursion Bus Story "Die Naturally"

BVI News and BVI Platinum News continue their excellent coverage of the tragic and deadly crash of the  Princess Cruises' excursion bus in Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI) with an article entitled "It could Have Been Worse."

PR Nightmare

The BVI Tourist Board is trying to manage the public relations nightmare of the death and multiple injuries of U.S. cruise tourists on a bus with no seat belts being driven by a bus driver with an arrest history and prior conviction record for reckless driving nicknamed "Crash Dummy."

The Director of the BVI tourist Board, Ms. Hadassah Ward (photograph below, left), is struggling with crisis management efforts following this debacle.  Ms. Ward scheduled a press conference yesterday where she announced that "it could have been worse."

Tortola Excursion Bus Accident - Princess CruisesI'm not sure I understand exactly how it "could have been worse."

A young man died needlessly on a cruise excursion, purchased by his loving parents for his birthday, because of the obvious negligence of the excursion company and cruise line which saw fit to associate itself with a substandard tour company which hired a known reckless driver nicknamed "Crash Dummy" operating a bus not suited for mountainous terrain.

Ms. Ward should have said "this should have never happened."

Instead we see Ms. Ward and her "Tourist Board" worrying about the image of her island and fretting about the press and the blogs covering the tragic story.

Muzzle the Press?

Ms. Ward announced that "one of the Board’s role is to monitor the media  . . .  to ensure accurate information is being disseminated.  Ms. Ward  also said she would monitor the "posted pictures of the accident . . . because it will be there for the next 10 to 20 years . . . "

Mr Ward is quoted as saying: "everyone is reading the blogs and newspapers… so we don’t want the information to be misconstrued where people will be affected in terms of liability . . . we need to understand that the blogs are read internationally."

She also noted that "good attitude from the Tourist Board officials" quelled any videos and photographs from being circulated online by the 16 tourists who were involved in the accident.

Ms. Ward concluded her remarks by stating "I am a great believer in letting the story die naturally . . ." 

This is the essence of tourist boards and cruise line PR people - they just want the story to go away.

Cruise Excursion - Princess Cruises - TortolaWe reported in a prior blog that this is not the first cruise bus excursion to run off the road and injure cruise passengers in Tortola - "Brake Malfunction? Defense Lawyers for Princess Cruises and Bus Driver Disagree on Cause of Tortola Excursion Accident."  Nothing was done after that disaster. 

History is repeating itself.  

Let's Be Happy & Forget about It

So we have the Tortola Tourist Board trying to puzzle the press and control the images of the tragedy for PR purposes. 

And the island and cruise line people behind the scenes just want the story to die naturally . . . 

And then what? 

Another season of substandard buses, with no seat belts, with reckless drivers . . . and another round of unsuspecting cruise passengers taking their families on the next bus driven by a "Crash Dummy"   . . .  

Comments From Tortola:

Here are some of the comments to the BVI News story that the Tortola Tourist Board is concerned with:

An accident waiting to happen is no accident. Hiring a driver with driving infractions and one of which was reckless driving to operate your tour bus is irresponsible and negligent. The owner of the tour bus too, is guilty of negligence which contributed to this vehicular homicide. Just because these tourists were given a heap of hush money as incentives not to file a lawsuit (we hope) and to keep things quiet, doesn't mean that TB should be issuing insensitive words " It could have been worse" because frankly, it could not have been worse . .

Tortola - Cruise Bus - Crash Dummy - Princess CruisesCould have been worse?? Oh it's just one life....I mean come on. You're talking about insurance and all that...I mean if we have people operating and transporting persons and they have no license to drive or no insurance to operate heir vehicles then we have a very serious flaw in the system! Don't give me that could have been worse story. With as much violations this guy should he even be driving much less responsible for transporting this many people? These are peoples lives we're talking about! 

License or no license, hiring a driver with a record of driving infractions including reckless driving, whose nickname is Crash Dummy should be good reason to revoke his license to operate a tour bus. Lackadaisical, slackness, don't care with attitude are words to describe the way business is conducted in this place from top to bottom.

March 11, 2010 Update:

Two newspaper stories from Tortola today address the efforts of the Tourist Board to assist the parents of the deceased cruise passenger, Mr. Rumphrey.  The BVI News has an article "BVITB Reports on its Efforts to Assist Family of Tourist Killed in Road Accident."  The BVIU Beacon also reports on the Tourist Board's efforts to assist the affected passengers in an article "BVITB Aids Family of Man Killed in Wreck."  Ms. Ward is quoted saying: "Yes, bad things do happen in paradise, but when they do happen, you have a support group.”

 

Credits:

Photograph of Ms. Ward         BVI News

Photographs of bus                   BVI Platinum News    

 

How Did Princess Cruises Excursion Bus Driver "Crash Dummy" Earn His Nick Name? - Why Does He Have A Police Record?

In an article entitled "Taxi Driver Granted $60,000 Bail - License Suspended," BVI News in Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI) reports that the driver of the Princess Cruises excursion bus arrested for reckless driving and causing death by reckless driving has been offered bail in the amount $60,000.  The Magistrate set bail of $25,000 cash and a $35,000 surety.

BVI citizen Roland Allen was arrested following the crash of a bus carrying cruise passengers from a Princess Cruise ship on an excursion into Tortola. The accident occurred as the cruise excursion bus was descending a very steep road called "Windy Hill Road." 

Roland Allen - Crash Dummy - Tortola - Princess CruisesThe Magistrate suspended Mr. Allen's license, pending the outcome of his trial regarding the death of cruise passenger Aaron Rumphrey who died in the crash.  

The BVI News reports that Mr. Allen's next court appearance is March 25, 2010.

"Crash Dummy" Arrested For Theft?

BVI News previously reported that the excursion bus driver is known as "Crash Dummy," a nick-name Mr. Allen apparently obtained before the fatal cruise excursion bus accident.

An online "Police Blotter" indicates that "Roland Allen of Baughers Bay" was arrested for theft in July of last year.  There are no details online available to explain the nature of the alleged theft, or how the charges were resolved. 

The comments to the online reports refer to Mr. Allen as "Crash Dummy," suggesting that Mr. Allen's reputation as a "crash dummy" existed before the terrible cruise line excursion accident. 

How Did "Crash Dummy" Earn His Nick Name?

The question remains how and when Mr. Roland earned the unenviable label of being a "crash  dummy?"  Has the cruise excursion driver been involved in other accidents?

A clue may be found in the comments of a reader of the BVI News:

"When you hire a driver that you know (or should know) is a reckless driver, he has been involved with the law several times because of his driving habits and you know that around town his name is "Crash Dummy", and you have not informed unsuspecting customers by placing a sign on the bus "Ride at your own Risk, Dangerous Driver" then you are as guilty and responsible for the outcome and should be in Balsum and your company shut down immediately. You, the driver and the BVI Government share the responsibility for this travesty and the lawsuits will be piling up, no doubt."

Why Did Princess Cruises Permit Cruise Passengers To Be Driven By "Crash Dummy?"

It is an understatement to say that it is reckless for the cruise line to herd unsuspecting cruise tourists into a bus without seat belts to be driven over a steep hill by a driver called "Crash Dummy" with a police record and apparently a history of driving violations.

Mr. Allen's driving record and police history will become a focus of investigators.  We will be discussing this outrageous situation created by Princess Cruises in our next blogs.

A Hero or Villian? 

Another newspaper in BVI, the BVI Beacan, reports that the prosecutors in Tortola intend to prove that Mr. Roland was driving recklessly.  The newspaper quotes the prosecutor saying: 

“The vehicle started to accelerate and despite efforts, the driver was unable to bring the vehicle to a stop . . .  We are claiming that his driving was reckless because he was going at a speed at which he was unable to control the vehicle . . . a loud screeching was heard from the brakes . . .  [Mr. Allen] ought to have known” about any problems with the excursion bus.

However, Mr. Allen's defense lawyer argued to the Court that when his client "started down the hill, he put the bus into second gear but realised there were no brakes. He tried pumping the brakes but the vehicle sped down the hill, not because of Mr. Allen’s actions, but because it was heavy with the tourists’ weight."

“He had no alternative but to put the bus in those ruins. If he’d done anything else he would have gone off the hill. He should be commended.”

Brake Malfunction? Defense Lawyers for Princess Cruises and Bus Driver Disagree on Cause of Tortola Excursion Accident

In our first article regarding the excursion tour bus accident in Tortola, we explained that while Princess Cruises sent "customer care" representatives to the island to meet with the survivors of the crash - the cruise line also sent Miami defense trial lawyers to defend the cruise line's interests. 

The Cruise Line Gets Lawyered Up

The attorney heading up Princess Cruises' defense is Jeffrey Maltzman from the Maltzman Foreman law firm in Miami. Mr. Maltzman is an experienced and skilled trial lawyer who routinely defends cruise lines and excursion companies in high profile trials. 

Jeffrey Maltman - Cruise Line Defense LawyerMr. Maltzman is best known for his successful defense of Cunard Line and Fun Water Tours following the crash of an excursion truck in Tortola British Virgin Islands (BVI) in November 2005.  The case  is highlighted in an article appearing in the National Law Journal entitled "Defense Team Found the Needle in the Haystack." 

The article explains that 8 cruise passengers from Cunard's Queen Mary 2 visiting Tortola were injured when the brakes of the excursion truck failed, causing the vehicle to crash in the side of a mountain.  The issue of the brake failure and whether the excursion company and cruise line knew of the brake problem were the central focus of the trial.  As the article explains, millions of dollars in compensation were at issue.    

Although the article explains that "odds were overwhelmingly against" the cruise line at the beginning, Mr. Maltzman and his partner, Jeffrey Forman, successfully defended the case.  Mr. Foreman is quoted as saying "there's a saying that pigs get slaughtered . . . If you make them look like they're greedy . . .  that usually has an impact.  So we tried to paint them as greedy, exaggerating, malingering."  The tactic worked, as the jury decided against all of the cruise passengers and Mr. Maltzman won a defense jury verdict for the cruise line and excursion company.  

Princess Cruises Denies Brake Malfunction?

Mr. Maltzman has been on the Caribbean Princess cruise ship this week interviewing the passengers injured in the latest excursion crash in Tortola.  His firm has what is called an "Emergency Response Team" where defense lawyers are scrambled to respond to cruise disasters.

Some passengers suggest that a "customer care" representative from Princess and Carnival introduced Mr. Maltzman as an "independent investigator" (although Mr. Maltzman identified himself as a lawyer for the cruise line).    

Tortola Excursion Bus Accident - Princess Cruises - Brake Failure?Mr. Maltzman is reportedly telling some of the passengers that the tour bus' air brakes were checked out by investigators and no problems were discovered.  It is less than clear whether the investigators were retained by the police or the defense lawyers on behalf of the cruise line. 

The defense strategy is already taking shape - the cruise line will deny that the accident was due to brake failure or any defect in the excursion bus or, if there was a problem with the brakes, neither the driver nor the excursion company or cruise line knew about it beforehand.  Princess Cruises will argue that it should not be responsible because this was just an isolated incident due to the momentary carelessness of the bus driver. 

Or in other words, the bus driver may turn out to be the "fall guy."

The Bus Driver Gets Lawyered Up

BVI Platinum News, which is providing excellent coverage of this tragic accident, reports that the bus driver, Roland Allen, retained a defense lawyer, Stephan Daniels.  BVI News reports that Mr. Allen is also known as "Crash Dummy."   

Roland Allen - Bus Driver - Tortola Excursion Accident - Princess CruisesMr. Daniels appeared in Court yesterday in an effort to try and get his client out of jail, following his arrest two days ago.  In an article entitled "Mechanical Problems May Have Caused Tuesday's Accident,"  BVI News describes what the bus driver's lawyer argued to the Court:

"Daniels told the court that his client was not aware that there was a brake malfunction when he was going down the hill, however as he applied the brake, he realized that it had failed.

Further, Daniels told the court that once Allen realized what was occurring, he tried his best to avoid the accident by gearing down, while attempting to brace the vehicle to the side of the hill to slow down the bus.

Daniels explained that the vehicle collided with the foundation of a church ruin and toppled. The Lawyer said that if this was not done, the accident could have been worse.

He said that it was clearly a mechanical malfunction that resulted in the accident and his client was not reckless."

The Court nonetheless declined to release Mr. Allen, but will consider the matter further at a hearing on March 2nd.

The Cruise Continues

Although none of the passengers have even ended their ill fated cruise, the defense lawyers for the cruise line and bus driver are posturing to defend their clients.  Princess Cruises has an excellent lawyer in Mr. Maltzman who has won this type of case before.  The bus driver should hope that his defense lawyer is equally talented.

 

Credits:

Jeffrey Maltzman       Superlawyers

Excursion Bus           BVI Platinum News

Roland Allen             BVI Platinum News  

Princess Cruises Passenger is Remembered as an "Easy, Gracious Man"

13WHAM in Rochester, New York has a story on Aaron Rumphrey, who passed away during a shore excursion in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.  He had been cruising with his parents.  Written by Elizabeth Schubert, the article is entitled "Easy, Gracious Man."

Aaron RumphreyMr. Rumphrey attended classes at the Cobblestone Arts Center in Farmington, New York. His teachers and friends there remember him as "just a sweet young man." 

The director of the center is quoted as saying that Mr. Rumphrey "was very creative, loved stories, creating stories, had a great sense of humor. He would always make jokes with the other students."

The article also mentions that the center is planning a tribute for Mr. Rumphrey, and may create a scholarship or name a dance studio at the center after him.

 

 

 

Credits:

Article                              Elizabeth Schubert 

Photograph                   13WHAM Rochester, New York

Police Arrest Driver of Princess Cruises Excursion Bus In Tortola

The police in Tortola arrested the driver of the excursion bus used by Princess Cruises to transport cruise passengers from the Caribbean Princess cruise ship to the "Tropical Forest Hike and Beach" tour sold by the cruise line. 

BVI News Online reports that the police took Roland Allen, age 32, of Baughers Bay, Tortola BVI, into custody last night and charged with "causing death by dangerous driving."

Tortola BVI - Bus Excursion Accident - Princess CruisesWe reported on this tragedy yesterday in an article "Excursion Tour Bus Crash In Tortola Injures Princess Cruises' Passengers From Caribbean Princess."

The article mentions that the deceased passenger, previously identified as Aaron Humphrey, has bean identified as Aaron Rumphrey, from Honeoye, New York. 

Mr. Rumphrey and his parents had previously been hiking with 17 other passengers from Princess Cruises' cruise ship.  When the tour bus ran off the road, Mr. Rumphrey was ejected through the front windshield.  The tour bus did not have either seat belts or shoulder harnesses.

Cruise lines like Princess are legally obligated to investigate and audit excursion companies used  for the tours advertised and sold by the cruise lines so that the passengers are reasonably safe.  Using a bus with no seat belts or shoulder harnesses is unreasonably dangerous, particularly given the road conditions in Tortola.   

An article today on WHEC.com describes the young man as "kind and friendly."  Mr. Rumphrey had been a student at the Cobblestone Arts Center in New York in an arts program for students with developmental disabilities.  The article describes how he would make other students laugh and inspire them.  A supervisor at the program is quoted saying "he was a great guy.”

February 25, 2010 Update:

Princess Cruises Passenger is Remembered as an "Easy, Gracious Man"

 

Photo Credit:

Cruise excursion bus            BVI Platinum News

 

Excursion Tour Bus Crash In Tortola Injures Princess Cruises' Passengers From Caribbean Princess

CruiseCritic reports that an excursion tour bus taking passengers from Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess cruise ship crashed in Tortola.

In an article entitled "Tragic Bus Accident on Cruise-Sponsored Shore Excursion,"  the CruiseCritic website reports that the cruise sponsored tour bus was headed to a "Tropical Forest Hike and Beach." 

Princess Cruises Excursion - Tortola - Tour Bus AccidentThe tour bus (photo left) "went off the road and flipped earlier today.  Of the 20 passengers onboard, one person was killed and two others were seriously injured."

According to CruiseCritic, the injured passengers were taken to a local hospital, while the other passengers were taken back to the cruise ship. The passenger who died was a 24-year-old man from Rochester, New York, on vacation with his parents, who were also on the tour.

BVI News Online reports that the deceased passenger is Aaron Humphry who died at at Peebles Hospital as a result of injuries sustained in the accident.

The BVI News reports that twenty cruise ship passengers from the Caribbean Princess were on a tour bus descending onto the Windy Hill Road on Tortola when the driver struck an embankment and the vehicle overturned.

Seven passengers were taken to the hospital while the other 13 passengers were assessed at the scene and taken back to the cruise ship. Five were treated and discharged while one passenger has been retained for a fractured shoulder bone. The unidentified driver was treated and released.

Princess Cruises issued a statement that it is "providing support to the family during this difficult time."  Behind the scenes, Princess Cruises is also sending a team of lawyers from Miami to Tortola to begin to defend the cruise line's interests.  The same Miami cruise line defense lawyers who traveled to the Star Princess when it caught fire near Jamaica in 2006 are flying to Tortola today.

The Princess Cruises web site describes the tour bus as an "open air safari bus."  (However, the bus in the BVI News photograph appears to be an enclosed bus).  Princess Cruises describes the excursion as follows:

"This excursion visits two of Tortola's most popular attractions--Sage Mountain National Park and one of its beautiful beaches . . . Board your open-air safari bus and drive along the island's scenic Ridge Road to Sage Mountain National Park  . . . 

Dominica truck excursion crash - Celebrity CruisesThis is the second serious excursion vehicular accident in the last year. 

Exactly one year ago today, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises'  Summit cruise ship were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica (photo left).  We are representing passengers against the cruise line and the excursion company in that accident.

Information on the Dominica excursion accident is contained in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."

"Open air safari" buses and other similar vehicles in the Caribbean are often designed without seat belts or shoulder harnesses, and the vehicles are also often substandard.  It remains to be seen what the local police's investigation reveals about this particular accident.

It is also likely that the defense lawyers for the cruise line have already hired their own experts to take a look at the vehicle with an eye toward defending the cruise line.  Most excursion companies associated with the cruise line are required to maintain liability insurance with U.S. Tortola excursion crash - Princess Cruisesinsurance underwriters.  These underwriters work with the cruise line to maintain a united defense against any passenger who is injured in excursion accidents like this.    

The BVI Platinum News has a slide show of detailed photographs of the damages excursion bus after the accident, which are available online.  

February 24, 2010 Update:

The deceased passenger has been correctly identified as Aaron Rumphrey.

The police arrested the driver of the excursion bus - Police Arrest Driver of Princess Cruises Excursion Bus In Tortola.

 

Credit:

CruiseJunkie.com

Photograph of Tortola bus excursion accident     BVI News Online

Photograph of Dominica excursion crash         thedominican.net 

Photographs (slide show) of Tortola excursion bus                 BVI Platinum News 
 

Princess Cruises Uses Surveillance Film to Kick Kids Off Cruise Ship for Throwing Food Overboard

While reading cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein's most excellent cruise site - Cruise Junkie - I found an excerpt of a letter written by a grandmother who was upset that her two grandchildren were booted from the Sapphire Princess cruise ship.  As it turns out, security personnel reviewing the Princess Cruises - Wedding Cam - Sapphire Princesssurveillance cameras spotted the kids throwing some food overboard

Dr. Klein found the conduct of the cruise line "outrageous" for no other reason than the cruise ship itself regularly discharges liquefied food waste as part of normal discharge operations. 

Indeed, as I have written about in prior blogs, this is more than a little bit ironic because  Princess Cruises has repeatedly violated waste water regulations:    

In September, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific  PrincessSapphire Princess and Sea Princess were cited for violating the Alaska waste water quality standards.  Again, in October, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific Princess, Sapphire Princess and Sea Princess - together with the Golden Princess - were cited for water discharge violations.  In November, the same culprits - the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Sea Princess, Golden Princess and Diamond Princess were busted for pollution.

Princess Cruises ruined a family's vacation for some kids throwing a couple of chicken wings overboard while the cruise lines routinely discharges copper, ammonia, zinc, bacteria and nasty fecal matter into Alaska's pristine waters?

Nuts!

While I agree that Princess Cruises' conduct is ridiculous, my perspective is a little bit different.

As we have written about in prior articles, a Princess Cruises' crewmember Angelo Faliva "disappeared" from one of the Princess cruise ships last November.  There are hundreds of surveillance cameras throughout the cruise ship.  Yet the cruise line claims that it has no idea what happened to this young man?

Princess Cruises - Bridge Cam - Caribbean Princess Nuts! 

Now let me ask you this:  How can the Princess security kick some teenagers off a cruise ship after seeing them throwing some food overboard based on their surveillance cameras - and then claim that its surveillance cameras could not detect a 6 foot tall man going overboard?

Like the Coral Princess where Mr. Faliva "disappeared," the Sapphire Princess has lots of surveillance cameras, as well as wedding cams and bridge cams which you can see detailed images 5,000 miles away from the comfort of your home.  But the Coral Princess doesn't have a single surveillance cam of an adult man going overboard? 

Nuts!  

Does this cruise line destroy surveillance films when its crewmembers go overboard but arbitrarily use surveillance films to kick children off of its cruise ships?   

You decide.  Read some of the articles about the plight of the Faliva family, and then consider how this family on the Sapphire Princess was abused by Princess' selective use of the cruise ship's surveillance cameras: 

For Christmas, my husband and I gave our two grown sons and their families a cruise to Mexico on the Sapphire Princess departing and returning to Los Angeles. We were spending Christmas on the ship. It would have been the first time I had managed to get both families together in 20 years for the holiday. On Dec. 23, at sea between Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, my two grandsons, age 13 ands 15, were in a cabin of another boy they had met on the ship and they had thrown some Princess Cruises - Wedding Cam - Emerald Princessarticles of food overboard including a fork. Apparently, they were spotted on camera by security.

The next day in Cabo San Lucas (Christmas Eve day), my son, his wife and the two boys were ordered off the ship by Captain Tony Herriott and had to pay their own way back to Los Angeles. Three other families whose sons were also involved were ordered off the ship. The Captain's actions devastated us all. Needless to say, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were very depressing days for the seven of us that remained on board.

There is now a new Christmas Grinch out there and he is the Captain of a Princess cruise ship!

 

Credits:    Wedding and Bridge Cams             Princess Cruises

 

Maritime Rights of Princess Cruises Crewmembers for Injuries and Illness

Most crewmembers like their jobs.  They work hard but take time to enjoy the camaraderie that exists between the crew.  But when they bcome injured, and particularly if they are sent back home, they find it difficult to obtain medical treatment for their ship related injuries.

Princess Cruises - Crew - Maritime Rights - InjuriesMany crewmembers employed by Princess Cruises have contacted us to inquire about their rights after being injured or becoming ill on Princess cruise ships. 

Most crewmembers contact us via email after they have been sent home on "medical leave," but the cruise line refuses to timely provide them with medical treatment and payment of their living expenses.

Unfortunately, Princess keeps its crewmembers in the dark.  Most crewmembers do not understand these basic maritime rights:  

The Jones Act & the Right to a Safe Place to Work Aboard the Cruise Ship

The Jones Act is a U.S. law which requires maritime employers to provide their crew with a safe place to work.  Under this law, cruise lines must operate their cruise ships in a safe and prudent manner.  The types of cases which fall under the Jones Act include waiters slipping and falling in the galley, neck, back and wrist injuries due to carrying heavy trays, and back injuries due to heavy lifting. 

If a crewmember's injury is caused by the cruise line's negligence (even the "slightest degree of negligence"), the crewmember is entitled to make a claim for lost wages and tips, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and medical expenses (in the past and the future).    

The "Unseaworthiness" Doctrine - Strict Liability for Cruise Ship Injuries

Cruise lines are required to maintain and operate their cruise ships in a manner which does not cause injury to the crew employees.  If any part of the vessel is dangerous and causes an injury to a crewmember, the cruise line faces liability for paying compensation to the crewmember.  This liability exists without the necessity of proving that the cruise line was negligent.  A cruise ship can be found to be "unseaworthy" if there is insufficient training of the crew, an insufficient number of employees to perform the work, or the crew is required to perform the work in a dangerous manner.

Princess Cruises - Crewmember Rights - Illness and InjuryUnder certain circumstances, the cruise ship can become "unseaworthy" when a crewmember attacks or sexually assaults a crewmate, particularly if a weapon or date rape drug is used.

As is the case with Jones Act negligence, a finding that the cruise ship is "unseaworthy" entitles the crewmember to the full range of damages - ranging from wages and medical expenses to pain and suffering and mental anguish (inconvenience, depression, anxiety).

Prompt and Adequate Shipboard Medical Treatment

Crewmembers who become ill or injured are entitled to prompt and adequate medical treatment from the ship doctor and nurse.  If the condition cannot be treated satisfactorily on the cruise ship, crewmembers are entitled to seek medical treatment in the next port of call, including U.S. ports of call.  Crew employees often work 12 to 14 hours a day, seven days a week.  When they become injured or sick, unfortunately there is a mentality of the supervisors and officers that they "must keep working."  Often the crew's supervisors frown on complaints of being ill, injured, tired or mentally exhausted.

Sometimes waiters, bar staff and cleaners develop serious injuries carrying trays, lifting boxes, and working long hours.  Their injuries can become serious and permanent due if there is a delay in treating the injury.  Under the Jones Act, crew members have the right to seek compensation if their illness or injury is not treated in a timely and responsible manner. 

"Maintenance and Cure"

Cruise lines like Princess are required to pay the crewmember's living expenses (called "maintenance") and provide all necessary medical treatment (called "cure") when a crewmember is unable to work due to an injury or illness and needs to leave the cruise ship. Crewmembers are entitled to select their own doctor or switch to their own doctor if they are dissatisfied with the company doctor. 

"Maintenance and cure" is a well-established legal doctrine which has existed in the U. S. since 1820.  It can be dated back to the Medieval Sea Codes.  Under this doctrine, cruise lines are legally obligated to treat their crew as if they were their children needing medical help. 

We have found that Princess often does not pay living expenses or provide its crewmembers with medical treatment.  Sometimes the cruise line requires the injured crewmember pay for his Princess Cruises - Maritime Rights - Jones Actor her own medical treatment and then offer to possibly pay the bills later.  This violates the law.  As a practical matter, most crewmembers cannot afford to pay for surgeries or ongoing therapy.  The result is that the medical condition worsens and the crewmember experiences additional pain and disability.    

Under the "maintenance and cure" doctrine, crewmembers can seek compensation when the cruise line abandons or neglects in their home countries.  In addition to the damages under the Jones Act and "unseaworthiness" doctrine, crewmembers can seek compensation for additional pain and suffering and mental anguish, unpaid medical and living expenses, and attorney fees.  If the cruise line acted unreasonably, callously, arbitrarily, or capriciously, then the crewmember can seek "punitive damages" - designed to punish the cruise line for acting badly.        

Princess Cruises' Illegal "Employment Contract"

If you are a Princess crewmember reading this article, you probably have never heard of the Jones Act or the "unseaworthiness" and "maintenance and cure" doctrines.  That's because Princess does not explain these basic rights to you.  You can read your "employment contract" a million times, but you will never find any reference to these rights.

Instead, Princess Cruises claims that a crewmember must submit to "arbitration" (without a jury) in Bermuda, and only the law of Bermuda applies. Of course, the cruise line selected Bermuda law because Bermuda does not have a Jones Act nor does it recognize the legal doctrines explained above. 

Princess Cruises - Unseaworthiness - Crew rightsHowever, U.S. courts have found that Princess' "employment contract" and its "terms and conditions" which attempt to apply the law of Bermuda are illegal and unenforceable.  Princess does not explain this either to its crewmembers.          

About Princess Cruises - Doing Business in Florida

Princess Cruises is a cruise line headquartered in Santa Clarita, California.  It is well known  for the Pacific Princess which served as the cruise ship for the "Love Boat"  television program. 

Princess operates fourteen large cruise ships: Caribbean Princess, Coral Princess, Crown Princess, Dawn Princess, Diamond Princess, Emerald Princess, Golden Princess, Grand Princess, Island Princess, Ruby Princess, Sapphire Princess, Sea Princess, Star Princess, and Sun Princess - as well as three smaller cruise ships, Ocean Princess, Pacific Princess, and Royal Princess. 

Princess Cruises registered its corporation and flagged its cruise ships in Bermuda in order to avoid U.S. taxes and U.S. safety & labor laws.  But Princess has its headquarters in Southern California with a huge base of operations in Broward County, Florida.  It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Miami based Carnival cruise lines.  There are numerous lawsuits pending in Miami against Princess for injuries to Princess cruise employees around the world.  

We have handled claims against Princess Cruises involving passengers and crewmembers. One of the most publicized case involved the death of a passenger due to a fire aboard the Star Princess.  We represented the passenger's children in that tragedy and one of our clients testified before our U.S. Congress regarding fire safety issues.

 

Credits:

Photographs of Star Princess cruise ship   Jim Walker's Flickr page

Photographs of Princess crewmembers Princess Cruises Crew Members FaceBook Page  ("This is for all the people who work onboard Princess' ships and  . . .  lived for months on end in a prison cell they call a cabin, gotten drunk off of $1 beer and wine in the dungeon they call a crew bar.")

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

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

 

Cruise Industry Dumps Green Water Scientist Overboard, Appoints Law Firm Employee to Waste Water Panel

There is an interesting article today in the Juneau Empire "Legislators Debate Removal of Cruise Panel Member Cohen - Cruise Ally Defends Removal of Industry Foe."

Craig Johnson - Cruise Line Supporter - Alaska The article points out that a Republican legislator, Craig Johnson (photo left), is defending the removal of waste water scientist Gershon Cohen (photo below) from a cruise ship science advisory panel at the insistence of the cruise industry. Representative Johnson is quoted as stating: "I applaud the department for doing the right thing and depoliticizing the panel."

"Depoliticizing the panel?"  

Representative Johnson is known for co-sponsoring a bill to repeal a water-pollution provision in a cruise-ship law that voters approved in 2006.  The Alaskan law prevents state regulators from granting "mixing zones" to cruise ships which would permit the ships' pollution discharge to exceed state standards.  The cruise industry has been lobbying heavily to avoid the strict pollution regulations in Alaska. 

Dumping Mr. Cohen overboard is an end run around environmental laws which protect Alaskan waters.   

While representative Johnson supports sinking Mr. Cohen (who has a master's degree in molecular biology and a doctorate in environmental policy), he supports the appointment of an employee of a law firm which represents the cruise industry on water regulatory issues.

The waste water panel includes Mr. Lincoln Loehr, who is described as a paralegal employed by the law firm of Stoel Rives LLP.  Mr. Loehr works with lawyers who represent the interests of cruise Cruise Ship Pollution - Alaskalines and other large corporate polluters.  In addition to cruise lines, the Stoel Rives law firm brochure states that their lawyers represent the interests of:

 .  .  . chemical plants, mines, power plants, pulp and paper mills, ranches, food processors, steel mills and real estate developers.

The law firm advertises its ability to handle water quality matters "that can severely impact business operations."

Representative Johnson is also quoted in the article as questioning climate change and arguing that science is too often being "politicized."  While claiming to want to "depoliticize" the panel by removing Mr. Cohen, representative Johnson actually wants to politicize the panel with friends of the cruise industry.  

Democratic representative Beth Kerttula stated the obvious: "A number of us have grave, grave Gershon Cohen - Green Waterconcerns about the agency's behavior and about the credibility of the panel as it will now be." 

We pointed out in a prior blog article that Mr. Cohen assisted Alaska in adopting laws to protect its waters from cruise ship pollution.

Representative Johnson and other Republican legislators fit squarely in the cruise industry's pocket.  Dumping Mr. Cohen is pay back, pure and simple, for his protection of Alaska against the $35 billion cruise industry's corporate practices. With Mr. Cohen out of the picture, the cruise industry will pressure its friends on the panel members to devise water quality matters with the cruise industry's business interests in mind.   

The issue is not an academic debate. Just take a look at how one cruise line, Princess Cruises, repeatedly violated Alaskan waster water regulations:    

In September, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific  PrincessSapphire Princess and Sea Princess were cited for violating the Alaska waste water quality standards.  Again, in October, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific Princess, Sapphire Princess and Sea Princess - together with the Golden Princess - were cited for water discharge violations.

In November, the same culprits - the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Sea Princess, Golden Princess and Diamond Princess were busted for pollution.

The result of a cruise industry dominated waste water panel will be greater discharges of copper, ammonia, zinc, bacteria and fecal matter into Alaska's pristine waters.

Coral Princess - Alaska - Pollution - Waste Water Violations

 

If you are interested in other articles regarding cruise pollution, consider reading some of our other articles:

Super Ships - Rogues on the High Seas

Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel - "Thick, Tarry Sludge"

New Report Details Cruise Industry's Record of Pollution

Also consider reading:

"Cruise on Down to our Dumping Ground

 

Credits:

Representative Craig Johnson                  Alaskan State Legislature

Gershon Cohen                    Clean Water Network

Coral Princess     AP via New York Time "Cruise Lines Face More Policing of Waste Disposal"

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   

The Case of Missing Crew Member Angelo Faliva - Is Princess Cruises Engaged In A Cover Up?

Chiara Faliva - Angelo Faliva - Missing - Princess Cruises - Coral Princess  The case of the "missing" crew member from the Coral Princess cruise ship continues to dominate the press in Italy.

Angelo Faliva "disappeared" from the cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises of Santa Clarita California on November 25, 2009 during a two week cruise which left South Florida and ended in Los Angeles, California. 

Mr. Faliva's younger sister, Chiara, has taken a leadership position on behalf of the Faliva family to prod the cruise line and the authorities to release information.

So far, no one is cooperating with the Faliva family.

Ms. Faliva has gone on Italian television and explained that neither the cruise line nor the government of Bermuda (the cruise ship flies the flag of Bermuda) are cooperating.  Princess Cruises has refused to provide the family with the reports of the security officers or any basic information regarding what happened to her brother.

In a blockbuster news story in Italy available online at  vascellor.it, Ms. Faliva complains that she was treated rudely by the Master of the cruise ship after she traveled to the U.S. seeking answers.

Most shocking is that the cruise line claims to be "puzzled," but has not even sent the surveillance films to Bermuda to be examined by investigators, according to Ms. Faliva.       

Chiara Faliva has continued to fight to seek answers regarding what happened to her brother, Angelo.  She has traveled from Italy to Columbia and the U.S.  The Italian newspaper characterizes Ms. Faliva as demonstrating: 

.  .  .  di amora, dignità e coraggio  ( .  .  .  love, dignity and courage) .  .  . 

in the search for truth regarding what happened to her brother on the Princess cruise ship.

Angelo Faliva - Missing - Coral Princess - Coral Princess - Cover Up?

These type of stories demonstrate the difficulties families experience trying to find basic information when a family member disappears on foreign flagged cruise ships.  Although Princess Cruises is based in Santa Clarita, California, it is incorporated in Bermuda and flags its cruise ships in that country in order to avoid U.S. taxes and wage and labor laws.  Bermuda has demonstrated very little interest in conducting serious investigations into shipboard crimes on Bermuda flagged cruise ships.  Often, Bermuda defers to the "investigation" by the cruise line which, unfortunately, is designed to advance Princess Cruises' legal interest and to protect its "love boat" marketing image.

There remain many unexplained questions surrounding the story of young chef Angelo Faliva.

Will the "love boat" cooperate with the Faliva family? 

Why has Princess Cruises still not sent the surveillance films to the Investigators in Bermuda?

How can a young man disappear without a trace? 

We have written a number of articles regarding this sad story and the disturbing handling of the investigation by the cruise line:

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!"

Were you a passenger or crew member on the Coral Princess?  Do you have information to share to help the family find answers?  Let us hear from you.

 

Credits:       vascellor.it 

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.

 

 

 

If you wish to receive articles like this via email, please type your email address in the box to the left or sign up to receive a RSS feed.

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

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

 

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 

Love Boat Waiter Acquitted of Sexually Assaulting Passenger

On Thursday, a Los Angeles Federal Court jury acquitted a headwaiter working for Princess Cruises of sexually assaulting a woman passenger during a cruise on the Coral Princess.  

Coral Proncess - Sexual AssaultA woman from Kansas City accused Princess Cruises crew member Jorge Manuel Teixeira (from Portugal) of sexually assaulting her during a cruise last March between Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles, while the ship was at sea off the coast of Mexico.

Another Cruise Crime At Sea Goes Without Justice?

The daily Breeze newspaper has done the best job reporting on this case starting with "Crewman Arrested in Sexual Assault."

According to the FBI, the Princess crew member invited a 42-year-old passenger to share a bottle of wine and then attacked her.  He was charged with a federal count of aggravated sexual assault.  The 17-page FBI affidavit that describes the crime and a 100-page transcript of the crew member's interview with two FBI agents are available on line.

Unsafe On The Love Boat? 

As we have reported in the past, there is a problem with sexual assaults on cruise ships, including the Carnival owned Princess Cruises and its sister company P & O Cruises.  We have commented on this problem in prior blogs - Unsafe on the "Love Boat?" - Sexual Assaults on Princess Cruise Ships and Sexual Assault Reported on P & O Cruises' Pacific Sun Cruise Ship.

Coral Princess - Sexual AssaultArrests of sexual predators on cruise ships are rare, and criminal prosecutions and convictions are somewhere between slim and none.  Cruise lines often help defend their crew members behind the scenes, in the hope of avoiding the stigma of one of their crew members going to jail. 

No Jail Time - Business As Usual For Sexual Assailants on Cruise Ships

The Daily Breeze reports that the lawyer for the Princess Cruises waiter told the jury that the passenger had retained a lawyer and had a lawsuit pending against the cruise line.  This is the type of information routinely released to the assailant's lawyer in order to taint the trial and prejudice the passenger who is victimized.  

 

 

Credits:

Coral Princess        Barbara Bagnell (via National Post)

Coral Princess Logo       Brad Graverson / Staff Photographer of the DailyBreeze.com 

Princess' Cult of a Cruise - #FollowMeAtSea Folly

Over the past week, those of you who read my blog but don't Twitter missed the remarkable phenomenon of bickering between a small group of travel bloggers invited by Princess Cruises to promote cruising under the hash tag #followmeatsea - and a larger group of green travelers who could not stomach the wow-cruising-is-amazing tone of the tweets.  

"Bickering" may be an understatement.  The debate was more like the food fight in one of my favorite movies, Animal House.    

And boy did I enjoy it.  

John Belushi - Animal House - Food FightThe first time I read that Princess Cruises was making its foray into social media with #followmeatsea, I knew that it  was going to be a disaster.  

In September, I praised the social media skills of Princess Cruises' sister company P & O Cruises for its use of YouTube by its CEO to provide information and diffuse criticism in "Cruise Lines and Social Media - P & O Cruises Hits A Home Run," but I blasted Princess Cruises for its lack of social web skills. 

The problem with Princess was that it was oblivious to the discussion raging on Twitter when one of its cruise ships caught on fire.  When Princess finally responded days later, it lost credibility by refusing to engage in a conversation on Twitter and by referring the public to its its self-serving and misleading press statements.   

And here we are again.

The green travelers baited the here's-a-free-cruise-so-write-something-nice-about-us bloggers on Princess' Crown Princess with questions about the obvious unsustainability of cruising.  The bloggers were blind-sided.  While Princess's guests were being skewered, Princess ignored the environmental inquiries but chose to re-tweet only the most mundane isn't-this-wonderful tweets by its new friends with comments like "Beautiful!" or "Too funny!"  

When Princess finally responded to the spot-on environmental criticisms, it referred to a statement on its website (circa 2008). But it refused to answer a single question about the use of bunker fuel or its ongoing history of discharge violations which continue to this day. 

With good reason.  Princess has the most deplorable environmental record of any of the 25 cruise lines sailing out of the U.S. over the last couple of months. Lets put the nicely written environmental policies on its slick web site aside for a moment. Take a look at Princess Cruises' actual practices:    

In September, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific  PrincessSapphire Princess and Sea Princess were cited for violating the Alaska Wastewater Quality Standards.  Again, in October, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific Princess, Sapphire Princess and Sea Princess - together with the Golden Princess - were cited for water discharge violations.

This month, the same culprits - the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Sea Princess, Golden Princess and Diamond Princess were busted for pollution.  The charges?  Dumping illegal levels of copper, ammonia, zinc and fecal coliform bacteria into Alaska's pristine waters. It was therefore hard to read one of the bloggers' comments:  

  Kim Mance tweet on behind the scenes Princess Cruises Tour
 

 

 

 

The Norwegian Environmental Officer who charmed the blogger no doubt looked very impressive and convincing in his white uniform. But nothing could be further from the truth. Princess Cruises had bamboozled this nice travel writer and set her up for ridicule.  

Now, I will admit. I tweeted a few grenades into the #followmeatsea debate, asking about the start of a trial in L.A. where a Princess Cruises waiter allegedly sexually assaulted a passenger aboard the Coral Princess, as well as Princess Cruises' nasty practice of dumping insufficiently treated chemicals and feces into Alaska's Cruise Pollutionclean waters.  Princess Cruises ignored these pointed questions, although one brave blogger promised to ask the Environmental Officer about the violations and tweet his answer.  

The problem here is that Princess doesn't realize that it cannot control the debate by inviting a few nice people onto their cruise ship with the hope that they write nice things about the cruise. Todd Lucier wrote an interesting blog on Princess' social media debacle entitled "Seven Deadly Sins of Social Media: Lessons from #followmeatsea."  Deadly Sin #1, according to Mr. Lucier, is "thinking you can control social media."  

Unlike the cult-of-personality cruise community sites like CruiseCritic and CruiseMates where membership requires group-think cheerleading and true cruise critics are banished, the Twitter forum is pure free speech.  Fortunately, there are many free thinkers out there with a healthy dose of cynicism.  Princess Cruises' #followmeatsea happy talk was predestined to turn into a discussion of real issues, which the cruise line was ill-prepared to handle.

The spirited back and forth on Twitter was invigorating.  But I am still waiting for a response from Princess Cruises' Environmental Officer about Princess' last 17 wastewater violations.

 

Credits:

Coral Princess    Barbara Bagnell (via National Post)

#followmeatsea tweet          Todd Lucier     

Princess Cruises Sexual Assault Trial Begins

The Daily Breeze newspaper reports that the criminal trial has begun in Los Angeles of a Princess Cruises headwaiter who is accused of sexually assaulting a passenger from Kansas City. 

Coral Princess Head Waiter - Sexual Predator or Family Man?

Princess crew member Jorge Manuel Teixeira, 39, from Portugal, is charged in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles with sexually assaulting a passenger aboard Princess' cruise ship, the Coral Princess

Princess Cruises Coral Princess - Sexual AssaultAssistant U.S. Attorney Reema M. El-Amamy is quoted as saying: "This was aggravated sexual abuse. This was a crew member who met a passenger on the ship and proceeded to sexually assault her." 

The crew member's defense lawyer describes his client as a "family man" with two children in Portugal and no history of violence.

The newspaper describes that after the assault, the woman said she did not know who to turn to.  "I was scared -- and I did not know who to trust at this point," she said. "I didn't want to go to another (ship) employee."

We have reported on the problem of women being sexually assaulted on Princess Cruises ships in a prior blog: Unsafe on the "Love Boat?" - Sexual Assaults on Princess Cruise Ships.

 

Credits:

Coral Princess       Brad Graverson / Staff Photographer of the DailyBreeze.com  

Unsafe on the "Love Boat?" - Sexual Assaults on Princess Cruise Ships

Love BoatMost passengers don't realize the danger which women and children face on cruise ships.  For example, who would think that they are at risk of being raped on the cruise line featured in the popular television series the "Love Boat?"

The "Love Boat" - Carefree, Romantic Cruises 

Princess Cruises is a cruise line headquartered in Santa Clarita, California.  It is perhaps most famous for the Pacific Princess which served as the cruise ship for the "Love Boat."  It now operates thirteen large cruise ships: Caribbean Princess, Coral Princess, Crown Princess, Dawn Princess, Diamond Princess, Emerald Princess, Golden Princess, Island Princess, Ruby Princess, Sapphire Princess, Sea Princess, Star Princess, and Sun Princess - as well as four smaller cruise ships, Ocean Princess, Pacific Princess, Royal Princess, and Tahitian Princess. Princess markets an illusion of carefree honeymoon vacations and luxurious romantic getaways. 

Rapes and Molestation on the "Love Boat?" 

But notwithstanding its idyllic image, crew members have drugged and raped women during cruises on the "Love Boat" fleet.  Anguished parents have also reported their children being sexually assaulted and molested during cruises with Princess.

Princess Cruises - Cruise LawThe most publicized sexual assault this year involved Jorge Manuel Teixeira, a head waiter aboard Princess Cruises' Coral Princess.  According to the FBI, the Princess crew member invited a 42-year-old passenger to share a bottle of wine and then attacked her. He was charged with a federal count of aggravated sexual assault.  The 17-page FBI affidavit that describes the crime and a 100-page transcript of the crew member's interview with two FBI agents are available on line.    

Sexual Crimes on Cruise Ships are Rarely Prosecuted

What is remarkable about this particular crime is not that it occurred, but that the FBI actually arrested the crew member and he is awaiting trial.  Most crimes on foreign flagged cruise ships involve foreign crew members and do not result in arrests.  Although Princess is headquartered in California and has a base of  operations in Los Angeles, Seattle, and South Florida, it tries to use the fact that it registered its business in Bermuda (to avoid U.S. taxes) to also avoid culpability. Trust me, the country of Bermuda is not going to send a team of investigators to a Princess cruise ship sailing to Alaska and conduct an investigation that leads to an arrest of a Princess Cruises crew member.

There have been a number of sexual assaults against women and children on the Princess cruise ships over the years.  These crimes continue to this day.  I recently had to fly from Miami to Seattle to a Princess cruise ship after a Princess crew member had been drugged and raped on the cruise ship.  I have also discussed in other articles the problem with sexual assaults on the Princess sister company P & O Cruises, which like Princess Cruises, is wholly owned by cruise giant Carnival Corporation.   

Princess Cruises - Sexual AssaultForeseeability of Sexual Assaults on Cruise Ships?

A number of rapes over the last year or two have not yet been reported by the press.  However, there are cases readily available on line.  For example, in the case of  D.C. v. Princess Cruise Lines, filed in California, a 15-year boy traveling with his family reported that he had been sexually assaulted in the sauna on the cruise ship.

Princess Cruises claimed that it was not "foreseeable" that a passenger could be sexually assaulted during a cruise. Princess made this claim notwithstanding the hundreds of rapes and molestations which the cruise line industry was required to report to Congress during cruise crime hearings.  

Princess Cruises - a Problem Dating Back to 1993

The child's attorney introduced evidence that Princess knew that there had been a history of prior crimes.  The in-house lawyer for the cruise line, Mona Ehrenreich, admitted in deposition testimony that there were seven incidents of sexual assault alone from the time she joined the cruise line until year 2002. One incident  involved an assault by a crew member against a minor in a cabin.

In addition, the case contains fascinating testimony by Charles Harris, who was employed as the Senior Chief Security Officer of Carnival Cruise lines between 1991 and 1994. 

Princess Cruises' Parent Company - Carnival - A Prevalence of Sex Crimes During Cruises 

Officer Harris indicated that the problem of sexual assault on ships was "well known" and "well documented" and he was aware of the "prevalence" of sexual assaults and rapes on cruise ships. While retained in a case against Carnival, he learned that Carnival had had over 100 reported cases of sexual assault and rape on its ships. FBI agents in Miami reportedly are called to investigate a shipboard sexual assault case "about every other week."

A Lack of Transparency 

One of the problems with cruise lines is they lack transparency.  For example, last year I attended a hearing before the U.S. Senate regarding cruise ship crimes. This hearing was just one of the five Congressional hearings I have attended in the last four years regarding the problem with sexual assaults.  The cruise industry's chronic under-reporting of rapes has always been a hot topic with Congressional leaders. 

Princess Cruises - Sexual AssaultOne of the speakers at the hearing was Evelyn Fortier, the former vice president of the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.  She informed the Senate sub-committee that there are three explanations for cruise line's refusal to accurately report shipboard rapes: (1) cruise ships were not required to report crimes on cruise ships and there was no way to assess whether the ships fully and accurately reported sexual assaults on their vessels; (2) sexual assaults, whether on land or sea, are historically under-reported; and (3) cruise lines conceal, under-report or misclassify sexual assaults out of fear that the bad press will cause them to lose customers. 

Added to this list should also be that the cruise lines like Princess try to avoid legal liability for the crimes their crew members commit.  Concealing or mischaracterizing rapes is one way the cruise lines try and protect their legal interests.  

These issues were discussed in an interesting article entitled: "Sexual Assaults on Cruise Liners May Be More Frequent Than Previously Reported" in SecurityManagement.com.

"Love Boat" Crime Statistics

Like other cruise lines, Princess Cruises has a problem with sexual assaults on its cruise ships. And like other lines, it pretends it doesn't have a problem.  Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009 which requires cruise lines to report all crimes to the U.S. Coast Guard and the FBI. Now it will be interesting to see just how much crime really occurs aboard the "Love Boat."

 

Photo credits:

"Love Boat"             Amazon.com The "Love Boat" Season 1, Volume 1 

Ruby Princess       Rezsox's Flickr Photostream

Coral Princess       Brad Graverson / Staff Photographer of the DailyBreeze.com   

Star Princess         Jim Walker, Seattle WA July 4, 2009       

  

Congress Passes Cruise Crime Law

Today, the House of Representatives passed the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2009.  This is a remarkable event.  For the first time in the history of the cruise industry, cruise lines are now required to report crimes which occur on cruise ships to the U.S. Coast Guard and the FBI.  There has been an epidemic of rapes on cruise ships over the years, and the cruise industry is notorious for its lack of transparency and its cover up of such crimes.

This is quite a milestone. No one in South Florida has the courage to take on the cruise industry and enact legislation like this. Victims had to look 3,000 miles away from Miami - the Cruise Capital of the World -  to a leader in Sacramento, California to get the job done.

Thank You Congresswoman Matsui and the International Cruise Victims Association

The bill is the result of the hard work of the International Cruise Victims ("ICV") association, led by Laurie Dishman Doris MatsuiKen Carver whose daughter Merrian disappeared on a cruise ship operated by Celebrity Cruises, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises. The legislation was introduced by California Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) whose constituent, Ms. Laurie Dishman was sexually assaulted on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  Ms. Dishman is a client and good friend of the firm.  She has worked tirelessly with the other ICV members to make sure that legislation like this is enacted to protect the traveling public.

The new cruise law also requires that rape victims on cruise ships be promptly given anti-retroviral medications in order to prevent the victims from developing HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. 

Our firm is representing a woman who was recently raped on a Princess Cruises ship.  The ship doctor and the Princess Cruises fleet medical department refused to provide the victim with such medications.  The cruise line's recklessness needlessly endangered the young woman's health and life. Now, there will be culpability when cruise lines act irresponsibly following a cruise ship crime.   

The ICV issued a press release today:

Press Release of the International Cruise Victims     

international cruise victimsThe International Cruise Victims Association (ICV) applauds House passage today of critical language authored by Congresswoman Doris O. Matsui (D-CA) ensuring the safety of cruise ship passengers on the high seas. Matsui’s Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2009, included in H.R. 3619, the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act of 2010, requires cruise lines to report all crimes aboard cruise ships to both the United States Coast Guard and the FBI. The first measure of its kind, this legislation represents a historic step toward securing the safety all passengers need and deserve.

“I recognize today as a milestone in our fight for justice,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “I originally became involved in this issue because of a young woman, Laurie Dishman, from my hometown of Sacramento. Laurie was sexually assaulted while on a cruise ship, and was left to fend for herself. international cruise victimMy legislation will not only help protect and empower future victims, but it contains important reforms that will help change the culture of the cruise industry and prevent future attacks from happening.”

ICV has been advocating for these measures to be adopted since 2006, participating in countless meetings with members of Congress, and three Congressional hearings. The hearings were held at the urging of Rep. Matsui, with the support of Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Elijah Cummings (D-MD). Senator John Kerry (D-MA) introduced corresponding legislation in the U.S. Senate, which also held hearings, and the bill was passed unanimously out of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Now that the bill has passed the House, the bill will need to pass the full Senate before being sent to the President to be signed into law.

international cruise victimsAs this crucial legislation moves forward, it serves as a sign to many among the ICV’s community of followers that progress is being made toward ensuring the safety of Americans abroad. The measure approved today is a major victory in the fight for cruise passengers’ rights. ICV President Kendall Carver expressed his hopeful outlook as the legislation has been approved by committee in the Senate. “Adoption of this bill would be proof to the world that our small group of volunteers with limited funds has been able to make a difference in the safety of Americans. When the Cruise Safety legislation is signed into law, it will serve to protect Americans across the nation during what ought to be relaxing vacations.”

“Congresswoman Matsui has taken the lead in the House on this issue, and her efforts have made the difference in moving this legislation forward,” Carver continued. “Her efforts are appreciated by myself and all other victims and their families that are members of International Cruise Victims Association. Without Ms. Matsui’s efforts in the House and Sen. Kerry's efforts in the U.S. Senate this legislation would have not moved forward and we are forever indebted to both of them. I look forward to the upcoming Senate floor vote and the President’s signature as soon as humanly possible.”

Currently, cruise ships operating under foreign flags of convenience are not required under U.S. law to report crimes occurring outside of U.S. territorial waters. Legislation approved today will ensure that crimes committed while aboard cruise ships do not escape the jurisdiction of international cruise victimsAmerican law enforcement. Title IX requires cruise ships to comply with design and construction standards, such as specific rail heights, peep holes, warning devices and cabin security measures. The bill also requires that vessels are equipped with a video surveillance system to assist in documenting and prosecuting crimes, and it requires vessels to maintain a log book to record reports on specified complaints. Finally, once enacted, vessels will be required to contact the nearest FBI office as soon as possible to report incidents involving homicide, suspicious deaths, missing U.S. nationals, kidnapping, assault, and other serious occurrences.

The International Cruise Victims Association, Inc. (ICV) is a not for profit corporation formed by victims and families of victims of cruise crimes.

 

Photo Credits      International Cruise Victims ("ICV")

1. Honorable Congresswoman Doris Matsui, Laurie Dishman, Bill Dishman

2. ICV members Mark Brimble, Ken Carver, Son Michael Pham

3. ICV members in Washington DC

4. ICV members Ron and Sue DiPiero 

5. ICV members Lynnette Hudson, Ken Carver      

 

Senator Al Franken Cross Examines Corporate Lawyer Regarding "Arbitration" of Rape Victims' Rights

In a previous article entitled "Arbitration" - Stripping Rape Victims of their Rights," I discussed the sleazy tactics of some corporations who try to take away rape victims' rights by forcing them into "binding mandatory arbitration."

Haliburton/KBR tried to force its employee, Jamie Leigh Jones, into arbitration after she was drugged and gang raped in Iraq while working for a military subcontractor.  

Senator Franken introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate which prohibits companies who do business with the U.S. government from including "arbitration" agreements in employment contracts.  Rape victims should be entitled to a jury trial and their "Day in Court," rather than have an arbitrator selected by their employer decide their case.

This clip shows the corporate lawyer, for the Haliburton/KBR company who hired the rapists, wilting under Senator Franken's questions.  It quickly becomes evident that the lawyer had a morally indefensible position.

It is worth watching to the end: 

 

 

Some cruise line are just as dirty as Haliburton/KBR. 

I will be discussing the issue of cruise lines trying to strip rape victims of their rights over the course of the next several months. 

Stay tuned.  

P.S. Senator Franken would be a great lawyer . . .

Existentialism and An Alaskan Voyage Aboard Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess

I'll admit it.  David Foster Wallace's "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" is one of the funniest, albeit most cynical, books ever written about the cruise industry.  So when I read Benjamin Errett's recent article in Canada's National Post entitled "The Indignity of Weak Coffee - A Deeply Cynical Account of an Alaskan Cruise," I knew that I had found a kindred spirit.   

Mr. Errett spends a week aboard Princess' Sapphire Princess celebrating his Dad's 60th birthday. Realizing that he is not Princess' "target market" because he is 30 years too young and as many pounds too light, he creates his '10 Wonderful Things About An Alaskan Cruise."  A couple of highlights:

#3  "The portly fellow who walked into the gym with an olive-clogged martini in hand, surveyed the sweaty treadmillers and laughed aloud." 

#4  "Watching fellow passengers pile their plates high with rashes of congealed bacon." He warns "don't look at them.  Grab a banana and get out . . . "

#8  "Lax smuggling policies . . .  leading to the half-sad, half-funny sight of well-to-do Americans pouring Kahlua into empty 2-litre Pepsi bottles behind the port liquor store."

Some people like cruising. Others, like Mr. Errett, feel more like a "tourist herded into shops, sold piles of junk and ultimately having a Disney-like experience."

If Sartre is correct that "hell is other people," then a week aboard the Sapphire Princess sounds to me like a scene from "No Exit." 

 

Photo credit:

Photo of Sapphire Princess    Barbara Bagnell (via National Post)

Photo of Sartre's "No Exit"     Lungstruck's  Flickr photostream

Jury Is Out in Dianne Brimble Cruise Death Case

Seven years after passenger Dianne Brimble died after ingesting a date rape drug aboard P & O Cruises' Pacific Sky in 2002, the jury has finally retired to consider its verdict.

Australian citizen and fellow passenger Mark Wilhelm is accused of the manslaughter death of Ms. Brimble after he allegedly gave her the drug Gamma Hydroxybutyrate ("GHB") during a cruise aboard the Pacific Sky.  In a previous article, I discussed that cruise passengers are at risk of rape after surreptitiously being given date rape drugs like GHB and Rohypnol.

Women have been drugged and raped on the Carnival subsidiary, sister brands - P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises.  These cruise lines know there is a danger presented to passengers and crew of date rape drugs and sexual assault of unconscious women - but refuse to admit or discuss the problem in public.

Yesterday, the prosecution dropped its charges that that Mr. Wilhelm displayed gross criminal negligence by failing to summons assistance after after she passed out and was left on the floor of the cabin. 

The jury is now left with the sole issue whether defendant Wilhelm committed a crime by supplying her with GHB, also known as the drug "fantasy."  The coroner has already concluded that Ms. Brimble died after being given a toxic mix of alcohol and GHB.

Although Mr. Wilhelm is rightfully considered to be one of the unsavory "gang of eight" aboard the cruise ship, a guilty verdict may be difficult to obtain.  His buddies obviously tried to cover for him during the five week trial.  I previously reported that Wilhelm's traveling mate Dragan Losic conveniently forgot facts which would incriminate Wilhelm.  And one of the other sleazy gang-of-eight members Letterio Silvestri also developed a selective memory during the trial.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Wilhelm's  defense lawyer claims that Ms. Brimble took the drug ''freely and voluntarily" and "without pressure or duress.'' Of course, Mr. Brimble is not here to tell the truth of what happened on the night in question. She ended up dead, face down on the floor of a cabin, after having the misfortune of running  into the "gang of eight."    

Over the weekend, I was the first to report in the U. S. (on Twitter and in this blog) that another passenger just reported being raped aboard P & O Cruises' Pacific Sun cruise ship. Seven years later and here we are again. The problem of date rape drugs, rapes, thugs, and shipboard deaths are issues which the U. S. traveling public would rather not think about. 

But the Brimble family has been suffering for seven years, and no one in the U. S. seems to be paying attention. The cruising public is focused on the never ending stories of bigger and bigger cruise ships and smaller and smaller cruise fares.

It has taken seven years to bring the Dianne Brimble case to trial.  When the jury returns its verdict, will anyone in the U. S. be listening?  Does anyone care?     

 

Photo credit:

Photo of Mark Wilhelm     Getty Images (via www.daylife.com)        

Group photo of men        Sydney Morning Herald 

Sexual Assault Reported on P & O Cruises' Pacific Sun Cruise Ship

ABC News in Australia reports that police are investigating a sexual assault which occured on the cruise ship Pacific Sun operated by Princess Cruises' sister company P & O Cruises. The alleged crime took place on the P & O cruise ship during a seven day cruise of the South Pacific near Noumea. Australian police boarded the Pacific Sun when the ship returned to Brisbane today.

At this time there is little information other than the ABC News report.  The newspapers in Australia resemble, at least to me, the British press. They are aggressive in reporting stories like this.  I expect there to be numerous articles on line soon.

In a post earlier today, I commented on the risk passengers face of sexual assault on cruises, both by crew members and other passengers. I have commented extensively on the sexual assault of P & O Cruises passenger Dianne Brimble who died on the Pacific Sun

Cruise lines have suffered from terrible publicity due to the irresponsible way that they have responded to shipboard crimes.  For example, after Ms. Brimble died, the P & O brand (a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation which also owns sister company Princess Cruises), began running a highly sexualized marketing campaign touting an image of booze and sex. 

A commenter to a previous post commented that P & O "pimped out their female passengers, with the 'Seamen Wanted' promotional postcard, depicting a deck full of women wearing bikinis, accompanied by a tag line 'More girls, more sun, more fun. There's nothing else a guy needs to know.' "  

In a post last week, I praised the leadership of P & O's CEO Ann Sherry who inherited this mess but seems to have brought a professionalism and air of transparency to the cruise line.

In the past, P & O Cruises issued a press statement following a sexual assault on the Pacific Star. 

The last time the press reported a sexual assault on a Princess Cruises or P & O cruise was earlier this year. A Princess Cruises waiter assaulted and attempted to rape a passenger aboard Princess Cruises' Coral Princess. The Princess Cruises' employee,  identified as Jorge Manuel Teixeira, 38, of Portugal, was arraigned on three counts each of aggravated sexual assault and sexual abuse.  He is awaiting trial. 

A  P & O passenger was also raped aboard the Pacific Star earlier this year as well. A newspaper in Australia reported that the P & O ship's crew found a 46-year-old female passenger in a state of shock and suffering bruises in the early hours following a New Year's Eve party.  She alleged that a 37-year-old Australian passenger raped her while she was sleeping in her cabin.  Like the instant case, the attack happened near Noumea.

Regarding this latest report of sexual assault, I expect that we will soon hear from Ms. Sherry, probably via YouTube if her lawyers will "let her do her thing."  Otherwise, the Australian press will be the only ones commenting on yet another sexual assault on a Princess or P & O cruise ship.

October 11, 2009 Update:

P & O Cruises has not issued a press release or provided an update on their website or ship blogs yet.  An online newspaper in Australia, News.com.au, reports that the alleged victim is  believed to be a juvenile.  Queensland police are investigating and have interviewed "people allegedly involved in the incident." But a police spokesperson indicated that no one had been arrested or charged. The spokesperson also "refused to say how many people were involved in the incident, or where they were from." 

 

 

   

Photo credit       Jim Walker, Star Princess, Seattle, July 4, 2009

Cruise Lines and Social Media - P & O Cruises Hits A Home Run

Cruise lines which are in touch with their market understand the need to be versed with all aspects of Social Media 2.0.  Twitter, FaceBook, Flickr, and YouTube all present an inexpensive and highly effective way to get a company's message out to the public.  This is particularly important in times of crisis management, such when a fire breaks out or a bout of swine flu is running its course on a cruise ship.

Most cruise lines remain clueless.  Royal Caribbean, for example, has a Twitter page @royalcaribbean, but it has not been updated since June 19th.  The only tweet says: "Look for updates here soon!" - that was over three months ago. It resembles an abandoned store front.  

Other cruise lines which are using Twitter or FaceBook are not maximizing the potential offered by social media applications.  Companies like NCL  @NCLFreestyle have pleasant enough websites and utilize Twitter but are mostly just trying to push ticket sales.  Recent tweets by NCL: "hottest new cruise," cruises for "$249," etc.  You get the idea.

The problem with these tweets is that they flaunt the etiquette which has developed on Twitter.  Effective "twitterers" understand that hard sale tactics don't work.  In fact, they turn potential customers off.  But interacting with the public, and providing accurate and relevant information via a conversation, works.  You could imagine how ineffective and counter productive it would be if I took NCL's approach on Twitter - "hottest new lawyer," lawsuits for "$249," etc.  A bad idea.

Princess Cruises - What's Social Media?

When things go wrong at sea, the public deserves to receive accurate information, fast. And Twitter is the best way to do just that. 

When the Princess cruise ship "Royal Princess" caught fire on June 18th, the cruise line didn't release any information to the public.  But a passenger, a Pastor from South Carolina,  @gregsurratt tweeted about the fire from his iphone on the cruise ship.  He indicated that the fire was bigger than expected, that the cruise ship was dark, and that a tug had to tow the ship back to port in Egypt.  Frantic families in the U.S. had to rely on Pastor Surratt for information about their loved ones. He even tweeted photos of the fire, the passengers sprawling out on the deck in the dark, and the tug via "Twitpic" - an application which permits photos to be uploaded onto Twitter. 

When the cruise line finally awoke and posted its typical less-than-forthcoming corporate press statement, no one was paying attention to Princess Cruises.  Everyone was listening to Pastor Surratt tweeting away on the cruise ship in the Mediterranean.  Most troubling was that the press releases finally issued from Princess Cruises' corporate offices in Santa Clarita down-played the incident and provided incomplete and misleading information. 

Princess Cruises not only lost an opportunity to interact with the public via Twitter, but it lost credibility in the process.    

Twitter and YouTube - Effective PR Tools - P & O Cruises Gets An "A" 

Princess Cruises' sister brand P & O Cruises knows what it is doing in the world of social media.  P & O Cruises has had more than its fair share of bad things happen on its cruise ships.  It is best known for the tragic death of Dianne Brimble, who died due to a toxic mix of alcohol and a date rape drug several years ago.  The brand was known for heavy drinking, out of control parties and general debauchery.

But in the last two years, the cruise line has turned its image around.  The PR people at this cruise line rebulit P & O's reputation.  Social media played a big part.

For example, last May when the Pacific Dawn was sailing with passengers and crew infected with H1N1 swine flu, the news media in Australia went nuts. Front page news articles labeled the cruise ship the "swine ship."   

P & O went on the offensive. CEO Ann Sherry began giving short statements on the cruise line's blog.  The cruise line's website contains links to its Twitter and FaceBook pages as well as to "ship blogs" including the Pacific Dawn.  The cruise line knew how to upload videos of cruise activities to its ship blogs as part of its general marketing. It now had the experience to use this media to deal with this crisis. 

Ms. Sherry appeared on the scene, wearing a very smart red dress, and looked directly into the camera. She provided information about sick passengers and what the company was doing to address the issue. The cruise line used its Twitter page @POCruises to provide additional updates and links to the video.  It even uploaded a photo via "Twitpic" of Ms. Sherry, standing in the rain surrounded by reporters, while the beleaguered cruise ship with its sick passengers arrived at port. 

When the flu passed its course, the next ship blog, entitled "Clean Ship," showed photos of the Captain and crew having fun in the disco, smiling and laughing.  The message to the public was quite effective - everything is fine, come on aboard.

In the past several months, P & O Cruises continues to use social media effectively.  Ms, Sherry still appears regularly on YouTube videos, talking about the presence of surveillance cameras on the cruise ships, responsible drinking programs, and "customer care" teams.

it is nice to see a cruise line connecting with the public in this manner.     

 

 

Photo credits  

Photo no. 1 of Ann Sherry - Zimbio - "P & O Cruises Holds Swine Flu Conference" (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Other photographs and video - P & O Cruises

Another Crawfishing Witness in the Dianne Brimble Trial

The criminal trial arising from the death of P & O Cruises' passenger, Dianne Brimble, has now seen another witness suddenly forget incriminating details surrounding Ms. Brimble's death.

In a previous article, I commented on the phenomenon of "crawfishing" witness, who like crawfish crawling back into a hole, backpedal from the truth when placed under pressure. 

Today, the trial included another one of the "8 persons of interest," Letterio Silvestri.  ABC News in Australia reports that Mr. Silvestri could no longer remember his friend Mark Wilhelm having sex with Ms. Brimble in the cabin after she had been drugged.  Nor could Mr. Silvestri remember pushing Ms. Brimble off of the bed and onto the floor shortly before she died of a toxic mix of alcohol and GBH. This story was also reported by the Australian newspaper. 

This follows the spectacle of "gang of 8" witness Dragan Losic being unable to remember meeting Ms. Brimble or seeing her in the cabin or recalling date rape drugs on the cruise ship as he originally testified at a preliminary hearing. This is not to mention reluctant witness Matthew Slade, who originally  told police he saw a naked body in the cabin. But once under oath at trial he could not remember a thing.

What a bunch of crustaceans.   

 

Photo credit  -    AAP Image: Mick Tsikas, via ABC News Australia  

Neighbors of Missing Princess Cruises Passenger Suggest Suicide

Neighbors of Ms. Edelgard Carney who disappeared from the Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess indicate that she never intended to return home once she left California.  

Vancouverite, a newspaper in Vancouver, Canada, reports that Ms. Carney sold her $300,000 house to the Catholic Church for just $125,000, left her furniture and disposed of her personal belongings.  

If in fact this is a suicide, it seems to be very painful to the surviving family members for a loved one to choose this method to end her life.

The cruise line has been careful not to release self serving comments regarding Ms. Carney's disappearance.  In August, following the disappearance of passenger Amber Malkuch in Alaskan waters, Holland America Line (HAL) issued a PR statement labeling her death a probable suicide. There were no facts supporting this theory and the FBI had not even concluded its investigation.  HAL was roundly and rightfully criticized for such a publicity spin. In this case, Princess Cruises is going to avoid that PR debacle by waiting for an announcement by the U.S. Coast Guard or Canadian authorities.

Questions remain why Princess Cruises did not detect the passenger overboard earlier.  The newspaper indicates that the cruise line caused confusion after telling the U.S. Coast Guard that the passenger fell overboard on Monday when she actually disappeared on Tuesday.  This caused the U.S. Coast Guard to search nearer to the Alaskan Coastline rather Canadian authorities searching in Canadian waters.    

Update:

According to the Vancouver Sun, a representative of the Canada's Royal Canadian Mounted Police has concluded that this appears to be a suicide: “She was by herself, and the video shows her jumping off.”

The newspaper states that Ms. Carney had a life-threatening illness.

The video is reported to show Ms. Carney jumping off of the stern of the cruise ship.

A commenter to out blog previously noted that while on this cruise ship he noticed: "video cameras similar to ones used in our apartment bldg. pointing across/down on the stern of the ship ostensibly to view the rear waters area."

Although Ms. Carney is reported to have jumped Tuesday morning, it took Princess Cruises until Thursday afternoon to even find the video. Either Princess Cruises does not have a policy to monitor their exterior cameras or no one was paying attention. 

Update on Missing Passenger From Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess

The U.S. Coast Guard is now reporting that the missing California passenger, Ms. Edelgard Carney, went overboard at 6:08 a.m. Tuesday, 200 miles south of Ketchikan.  An announcement with such a specific time obviously means that there are closed circuit surveillance tapes which captured images which precisely document the time the passenger went overboard.

Previously, news sources reported that Ms. Carney disappeared on Monday evening.

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 of 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 these cameras and their operators focused on the rails on the port and starboard sides of the cruise ship?  Or are they focused just on the casino or other similar locations to prevent theft of the cruise ship's money?

There are no regulations which apply to foreign flagged cruise ships regarding this issue.  They pretty much do whatever they want.  What are Princess Cruises' polices and procedures? 

Princess Cruises provides a low tech cam from the bridge of the Sapphire Princess on its web site for customers to take a look & see.  Are their crew members monitoring the surveillance cameras on the ship?  

Has Princess Cruises made a decision to utilize technology for immediate notification of passenger over boards?  If not, why not?   

 

 

 

Photo credit:

Sapphire Princess Bridge Cam         Princess Cruises

 

       

   

Misssing Passenger Identified, Search Narrowed

The Seattle Times reports that the passenger who disappeared from Princess Cruises cruise ship Sapphire Princess is Ms. Edelgard Carney, a resident of Sutter Creek, California. 

The newspaper also reports that the U.S. Coast Guard has narrowed its search to an area approximately 15 miles south of Ketchikan.  A Coast Guard officer is quoted as saying: "Based on new information it was determined that the passenger went overboard shortly after the ship departed from Ketchikan on Monday evening."

If Ms. Carney did fall from the ship on Monday, this is a rather amazing announcement.  Princess Cruises did not report her missing until the cruise ship arrived in Vancouver on Wednesday.  Her cabin would have been cleaned on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, and the cabin attendant certainly would have noticed that no one had been in the cabin for two days. This would be similar to the case of Mirrian Carver who "disappeared" from a Celebrity cruise ship and the cabin attendant knew she was missing from the cabin but did nothing. 

This announcement probably indicates that there is surveillance video of Ms. Edelgard which pinpoints the approximate time of her disappearance.

Why did it take so long for the cruise line to report the disappearance?  Does Princess Cruises monitor the shipboard cameras?  

I can watch a ship cam from the Sapphire Princess from my desk here in Miami. Why don't the Princess Cruises security guards and CCTV operators watch the surveillance cameras on their own cruise ships?   

 

Photo credit:

Sapphire Princess Web Cam        Princess Cruises 

 

Another Passenger Disappears, This Time From Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess

A 67-year-old passenger is the latest "disappearance" from a cruise ship.  This case involves a U.S. citizen who sailed on Princess Cruises' cruise ship Sapphire Princess from Alaska en route to Vancouver.  She has not been identified.

According to Dr. Ross Klein, the leading authority on passenger disappearances in the world , there have been over 120 "disappearances" from cruise ships over the past ten years. Princess Cruises claims that it did not know that the passenger was noticed missing until she did not leave the cruise ship at the Port of Vancouver, British Columbia. 

The last time the Sapphire Princess was in the news was when it returned to port with a dead whale impaled on its bow.

Princess Cruises issued the usual scripted press release: "We notified authorities and are offering our full cooperation . . . " The public relations statement was issued by cruise line PR representative Julie Benson. 

The cruise industry lost its credibility long ago, by systematically attempting to explain away each "disappearance" by blaming the passenger.  I previously commented that the usual cruise line PR ploy is to label the disappearance a suicide long before the FBI or U.S. Coast Guard have concluded their investigations.

The Seattle Times is reporting on the story.  As of the posting of this article, there are three comments to the article which pretty much sum up the cruise industry's sorry reputation when it comes to passenger over-boards:

"Great, now that the criminals have found out how easy it is to rob cruise ship passengers, and toss them overboard, safety will never be the same."

"ANOTHER passenger missing on a cruise ship..?? W..T..F..???  Is this the new method of 'suicide', or murder..?"

"Cruise ships are notorious for crap that goes on. This recent spate of these events could reflect sexual assault and murder or they could be people just falling overboard but the scope of ill aspects of taking a cruise is something the cruise lines work hard to suppress from the media."

At this point, little information has been revealed.  Will Princess Cruises keep the public informed? Based on my experiences with this cruise line, Princess Cruises completely lacks transparency. The only useful information will come from the FBI or from passengers on the cruise ship itself. 

The cruise line is versed with social media and has a Twitter account @PrincessCruises and its PR representative is @juliebenson.  Do I expect there to be any information forthcoming from an organization like this?

No. Hopefully there will be some honest passengers who have information to share with the investigating authorities.      

 

Photo credit           

Photo of Sapphire Princess          PO Cruises

 

 

"Crawfishing" - Passengers in P & O Cruises Death Case Can't Remember A Thing

The criminal trial in Australia regarding the death of Dianne Brimble on P & O Cruises' Pacific Sky continues with key witnesses having a complete lapse of memory. 

In a previous article, I commented on the danger of passengers, like Ms. Brimble, being given "Fantasy" or other date rape drugs on cruise ships.

Dragan Losic (with goatee), one of "8 persons of interest" in Ms. Brimble's death, appeared in Court. Over the course of three hours of his testimony, he could not even remember meeting Dianne Brimble on the first night of the cruise, just hours before she died in his friends' cabin. 

Australia's "The Age" newspaper reports that Mr. Losic previously testified in what is called a "coronial inquest." At that time, he clearly recollected that he was the first to meet Ms Brimble in a disco on the cruise ship and he later observed her in his friend's cabin.  He also remembered "Fantasy" on the cruise ship.  But now with his friend on trial for Ms.Brimble's death, Mr. Losic can't remember a thing.

Another key witness, Matthew Graham Slade, who testified today also changed his story. Australian news website news.com.au reports that Mr. Slade originally told police that  he awoke on the cruise and  saw a naked body on the floor of his cabin. But at trial, he claims that he can't remember this at all. 

In New Orleans where I went to law school, we called this "crawfishing."  This is a term which characterizes a crawfish (or other crustacean) which crawls backwards, usually into a hole, when confronted with danger. 

Date rape drugs.  Crawfishing witnesses.  A devastated family.  The trial continues. 

 

Photo credit      Sydney Morning Herald