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.

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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?

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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.

Bomb Scare on the Caribbean Princess in Grand Bahamas Shipyard

Bomb Scare Caribbean PrincessThis morning, a person aboard the Caribbean Princess notified me that there is a bomb scare aboard the cruise ship, which is at the Grand Bahama shipyard. The worker stated:

"I am currently on board the Caribbean Princess in the Grand Bahama Shipyard where today a bomb threat was called in to the shipyard. The ship performed a complete check and at 10 am the captain gave the abandon ship order. The ship has been evacuated and all contractors and crew were mustered outside the shipyard. We are awaiting further instructions.

Have a good day because my day and thousands others are having a bad day.

We were mustered away from the shipyard and were told no pictures."

The Caribbean Princess is in dry dock for general maintenance. Many thousands of contractors and crew members are now re-locating to Port Lucaya.  

The worker also stated:

"Of course the Bahamian taxis are making a fortune off off this event. It's funny to see crew members in uniform strolling around . . .

I can report that very few police were present and one ambulance. No bomb squad or dogs were visible.

A lot of work has now been delayed due to this and a lot of frustration is in the air . . . "

The Carnival Pride and Carnival Ecstasy are in port in Freeport today, as well as the Anna Maersk which is at the container port across from the shipyard.  There is no indication whether these ships were the subject of this bomb threat.

The question which immediately comes to my mind is whether the Bahamian police are competent to handle the response to a major security threat like this?

There have been bomb threats against cruise ships in the past, and they are usually determined to be pranks. A drunken Carnival passenger who made a bomb threat on the Carnival Sensation was arrested several years ago after a cruise to the Bahamas which was later determined to be a hoax. The Discovery cruise ship received a bogus bomb threat as the ship was en route to Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale after sailing to the Bahamas. A bomb was reportedly planted on the Liberty of the Seas several years ago as well, although nothing was found by law enforcement officers. A bomb scare forced the evacuation of the cruise terminal at the port of Miami.  Passengers and crew members had to flee a ferry in Marseilles, France last year after a bomb scare.

April 1, 2017 Update: The popular Crew-Center website has additional information and photographs and video of crew members and contrators leaving the ship, congregating at the shipyard and leaving the shipyard. 

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Image credit: Marine Traffic

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.

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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.

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Cruise CEO's Cash In Carnival Stock

Caribbean PrincessThree cruise CEO's sold their Carnival (CCL) stock a week ago for a combined total of nearly $9,500,000, according to Market Digest.

On December 29,2016, Stein Kruse, the CEO of Holland America Group, Alan Buckelew, the Chief Operations Officer of Carnival Corporation, and David Bernstein, the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer of Carnival Corporation each sold 60,664 shares of Carnival stock at $52.11 per share for a total value of $3,161,201.00.  

Mr. Bernstein has been the CFO and Senior Vice President of Carnival Corporation since July 2007 with oversight of all finance, accounting, treasury, insurance, tax and investor relations functions. Mr. Buckelew, who was recently appointed to the Chief Information Officer of Carnival Corporation, previously served as the CEO of Princess Cruises from June 2007 to November 2013 and its President from February 2004 to November 2013.

The DOJ recently fined Carnival Corporation $40,000,000 for widespread discharge of oily substances, falsification of log books and lying to the U.S. Coast Guard regarding five cruise ships operated by Princess Cruises over an eight year period from 2005 through 2013. The Carnival owned cruise ship operated by Princess Cruises which were involved in the scandal are the Caribbean Princess, Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess.

The issue arises what the cruise executives knew about the long standing "magic pipes" and financial irregularities associated with certain Princess Cruise ships having lower operating costs associated with not having used the vessels' oil-water separators and avoiding the costs associated with offloading and disposing the waste oil in shore-side facilities. Did these executives really have no idea that these Princess ships were engaged in these environmental crimes?

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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.  

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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

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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.

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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. 

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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." 

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

 

Pullmantur Monarch Strikes a Whale

Whale Cruise Ship StrikeA passenger aboard the Pullmantur Monarch (formerly Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas) informed us that the cruise ship apparently struck a whale last week as the ship was returning to the port of Lisbon. He photographed the whale carcass (at bottom) which was lodged on the bulbous bow of the cruise ship. Here's the information which we received from the passenger:

"The Pullmantur Monarch cruise ship came into the Port of Lisbon last Monday with the carcass of a whale wrapped around the bow and resting on the bulbous nose. The whitish gray whale looked to be about 18-20 feet long, so it must have been a young whale . . .  It must have unfortunately breached directly ahead of the ship. It probably never had a chance as it collided with the 74,000 Ton ship traveling at around 16 knots."

The message was from a retired US Coast Guard Reserve officer (Lieutenant) who is accustomed to seeing / investigating these type of incidents. 

Several 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 (photo below). 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 usual 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..

Top: Rex Features / Telegraph U.K.

Bottom: LT Rene Torres, USCGR

Dead Whale - Cruise Ship

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.

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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.

Drug Bust Reveals Flaws in Cruise Ship Security

Cruise Ship Drug BustThe widely reported drug bust of three passengers this week on the Sea Princess cruise ship in Australia uncovered serious shortcomings in Princess Cruises' shipboard security.  

We have written about dozens of drug busts of relatively small quantities of cocaine on cruise ships over the years.  But 95 kilos (over 209 lbs.!) of cocaine seems to be hard to believe.  Many people have expressed their opinions that this must have been an inside job (we have no proof of this), given the use of screening equipment on cruise ships.  But some people have questioned whether the drugs were loaded onto the ship along with food and provisions and then transferred to the passengers to be smuggled off the ship in their luggage.

If the shipboard security team wasn't involved, they obviously need to enforce far better protocols to carefully screen baggage and items brought onboard the ship.    

IHS Fairplay published an article today saying that the drug bust "highlights the ability for more sinister items to be smuggled onto vessels."  In an article titled Drugs Find Highlights Cruise Security Threat, Fairplay says that "cruise companies were taking, and continue to take, security seriously but that the incident had to act as a wake-up call to revisit current systems." It quoted Gerry Northwood, a principal of the international maritime security company MAST, explaining that cruise passengers don't face the Cruise Ship Drug Bustsame restrictions as air travelers.

Northwood also warns that "If a terrorist were to secrete an explosive device inside a consignment of food, it is possible that the explosion would likely happen below the water line with obvious implications for the vessel and the safety of the passengers and crew.”

Commander Mark Gaouette, the former security head of Cunard and Princess Cruises, said in an interview today that the cruise industry should be concerned with the possibility of a terrorist group masterminding a gigantic conflagration on a ship. He cites the 2004 attack by an Islamic terrorist group which planted just eight kilograms of TNT in a cardboard box aboard the Superferry 14 in the Philippines.  The resulting fire and explosion killed over a hundred passengers and sank the ferry. 

Commander Gaouette is the author of Cruising for Trouble, Cruise Ships As Soft Targets for Pirates, Terrorists and Common Criminals

Photo credit: Top - Department of Immigration and Border Protection via Sydney Morning Herald; bottom - Jonathan Ng via the Daily Telegraph.  

 

95 Kilo Cruise Ship Cocaine Bust in Sydney Harbor

Sea Princess Multiple news sources are reporting that today, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) arrested three cruise ship passengers who were smuggling 95 kilos (over 209 lbs.) of cocaine into the port in Sydney, Australia. 

SkyNews says that the AFP arrested a 63-year-old man and two women, age 23 and 28, after Australian police with sniffer dogs searched the cruise ship when it berthed in Sydney and found cocaine in their suitcases.

The newspaper reports that the US Department of Homeland Security Investigations, New Zealand Customs Service and the Canada Border Services Agency cooperated with the AFP and Australian Border Force in making the drug bust.

Although none of the newspapers identified the cruise ship on which the passengers smuggled the cocaine, the only cruise ship berthing in the Sydney Harbor today was the Sea Princess.

August 29 2016 Update: The Sydney Morning Herald confirms that the cruise ship was the Sea Princess. "The seized drugs have an estimated street value of $31 million (Australian, $23 million U.S.) and this is the largest drug bust of its type on board a cruise ship. Three passengers Andre Tamine, 63, Isabelle Lagace, 28, and Melina Roberce, 22, were charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment . . . The Sea Princess docked in Sydney on Sunday morning on the final stages of a 66-day world tour. The ship began the cruise in Britain at the start of July and visited Canada, the United States, parts of South America, including Colombia and Peru, and Auckland before arriving in Sydney."

October 30 2016 Update: Okay, the record drug bust story just got weirder.  Vice's Quebec Women Charged in Massive Coke Smuggling Bust Documented Whole Trip on Instagram.

Photo Credit: Sea Princess in Sydney By Bahnfrend - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

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."

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

Norovirus? Over 300 Passengers Sickened on Golden Princess

Golden Princess9News in Australia reports that the Golden Princess cruise ship docked in Melbourne this morning "after hundreds of passengers were struck down with gastro."

The newspaper reports that "more than 300 passengers" on-board the cruise ship are believed to have been affected with a gastrointestinal illness.

Princess Cruises spokesman praised the ship's crew and medical personnel who handled what the newspapers said is believed to be norovirus.

In the last two month, Princess Cruises has experienced a number of gastrointestinal outbreaks, on the Ocean Princess, Diamond Princess, and the Crown Princess.   

Princess Cruises has experienced the most gastrointestinal outbreaks in the last decade - over 20. 

Norovirus is primarily a food-borne virus which often spreads through contaminated food or water.  It can be spread by food handlers, people who touch contaminated surfaces and from person to person transmission. 

Photo credit: Jean-Philippe Boulet, CC BY 3.0.

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

Pukefest on the Crown Princess - Why Does Princess Cruise Have So Many Norovirus Outbreaks?

The first norovirus outbreak on a cruise ship calling on a U.S. port this year has been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And, no surprise to anyone that follows cruise ship outbreaks, it involved a Princess Cruises cruise ship. 

The Crown Princess just returned to Los Angeles following a two week cruise from January 3 - 18, 2016. 180 of the 3,060 passengers (5,88 %) aboard the cruise ship were sick with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. 24 of 1,168 crew members (2.05%) became ill with gastrointestinal symptoms which the CDC confirmed were due to norovirus.  You can read the CDC report here.

During the six year period from 2010 to the current date, Princess Cruises experienced the most Princess Cruise Ship Norovirus Outbreaknorovirus outbreaks on its cruise ships calling on a U.S. port, according to the CDC. Princess reported nineteen (19) cases to the CDC during this time period. 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 nummber (12) during the 2010 to 2016 time period.

Cunard reported 4; NCL -3; Oceania - 3; and Crystal - 2.  

The Crown Princess alone has suffered through five (5) norovirus outbreaks since 2010 to the present. Before the current outbreak, the last outbreak on the Crown Princess was from October 18 to November 16, 2014. Prior to that, it was February 5 to 12, 2014. It also experienced back-to-back outbreaks from January 29 to February 4, 2012 and February 4 to February 9, 2012 (photo above).

The Crown Princess alone experienced two and one-half time more norovirus outbreaks that the entire fleet of Carnival cruise lines from 2010 to the present!

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? Do they wash their hands the least of any cruisers?  That seems like a absurd argument 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?  I'm not sure. 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.  

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.  

Coast Guard Medevacs Woman from Grand Princess

The United States Coast Guard medevaced a female passenger last night after she sustained a heart attack on the Grand Princess cruise ship. 

The woman was described as 57 years old. At the time of the medevac, the Princess Cruises' ship was approximately 80 miles southwest of Monterey, California. 

The Coast Guard flight surgeon recommended that the passenger be medically evacuated to a hospital for emergency care. A MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from San Francisco flew to the ship and hoisted the woman aboard and flew her to California. 

Story and video credit: Defense Imagery and Distribution Systems.

Star Princess Sickens Dozens with Norovirus

Tonight I received the following message from a Princess Cruises' passenger just off the Star Princess:

"I just arrived in Vancouver on the Star Princess. Cruise was September 19 - October 4 2015 Vancouver-Hawaii-Vancouver. I contacted the worst type flu of my life on the 21 September afternoon. By the third day I notified Medical Services after 2 days in bed running a unbelievable fever and was given tamiflu medication. I was sick almost the total cruise and was still coughing when I left the Star Princess.

I am a totally healthy individual, normal weight, & have no history of illness in years. Later, I heard many were sick on the ship, the Captain announced 2 separate viruses on board. We were 3 days from Star Princess returning to Vancouver before they started taking precautions in the dining areas.

We have traveled by ship for many years & all has been great until this trip. The worst & most expensive holiday of my life. The cruise ship needs to be held accountable for their careless hygiene on board & should give some compensation to individuals suffering such a miserable vacation. They keep piling them on larger & larger ships without any regard for the individuals exposed to all the germs being circulated. Extreme cleanliness was exercised only when there is a outbreak on board.

I feel for the elderly who are not in good health & are being exposed to these terrible viruses."

The press in Canada has picked up on the story. CBC News reports that a least one norovirus-stricken Star Princess passenger flew home from Hawaii, instead of cruising back to Canada. When the Princess cruise ship docked this morning in Vancouver, two passengers were transported by ambulance from the dock to hospital with norovirus. 

Princess told the newspaper that there were allegedly 78 people infected with norovirus during the two week cruise. The actual number is probably higher than that because many passengers do not report their symptoms and the cruise lines are quick to under-report the disease outbreaks.

Despite the extended outbreak during the last 2 weeks, the Star Princess is scheduled to depart tonight after a so-called "enhanced cleaning." 

The Star Princess had a noro outbreak last May.  

Princess Cruises has experienced 4 of the last 11 cruise ship norovirus outbreaks reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Photo Credit - Jim Walker

"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. 

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

Princess Cruises Criticized After Passenger Drowned

A year ago, I wrote about a passenger drowning on the Princess Sapphire Princess. The passenger's death is just one of many mishaps where cruise passengers were killed or seriously injured in a lifeguard-less swimming pool on a Carnival, Disney, NCL, Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Princess responded to our request for a comment at the time. After the obligatory "our thoughts and prayers are with our guest's family," the cruise line refused to comment except to say that "the incident is under investigation."

Well, the investigation is over.  The UK's Maritime Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) concluded that Sapphire Princessthe cruise line's use of a warning sign (stating that lifeguards are not on duty & persons using the pools do so at their own risk) was inadequate to reasonably safeguard its guests. 

The drowning occurred in the Neptune pool on deck 14 forward. The MAIB noted that the swimming pool was not supervised. The medical team, once it finally arrived, did a good job but was unreasonably delayed. Crew members who first responded were not trained in CPR. The victim was discovered by other passengers who were unfamiliar with CPR. The crew member (a Serbian) involved in calling 911 for emergency medical attention could not communicate with the crew member (an Asian) who answered the call due to a language barrier.

Princess had not performed a a risk assessment relating to hazards involved in the use of swimming pools. Princess also failed to assign designated attendants to the pool and failed to monitor the pool via CCTV.

The regulations on safety in swimming pools ashore "strongly indicates that constant poolside supervision provides the best assurance of pool users’ safety." However, it also recognizes that a risk assessment may determine circumstances where a safe swimming environment can be delivered without constant poolside supervision, which Princess did not conduct. The guidance specifically recommends constant poolside supervision with deeper polls and where food and drink are available to pool users, both of which applied to the Neptune Pool on the cruise ship.

Princess also failed to train their hotel staff in medical first-aid techniques or require such training prior to being hired.

The MAIB stated that "the lack of dedicated pool attendants potentially delayed the response to the incident in respect of raising an alarm and administering appropriate medical treatment. The monitoring of CCTV coverage of the area might have prompted an earlier response and would have given post-incident information."

The MAIB said, simply, that the "use of a ship’s swimming pools is a significant part of a holiday experience, and a passenger’s awareness of any attendant risk is likely to be lower . . . "

The report also stressed that "with no designated attendants at the vessel’s pools, it was left to other pool Cruise Shipping Poolusers and bystanders to recognize that (the victim) was in need of urgent assistance and to raise an alarm . . . had there been a dedicated pool attendant monitoring the passengers in the pool, the victim’s situation could have been identified at the earliest possible opportunity."

The MAIB concluded that 'the staffing of pool areas with personnel who are suitably trained in medical first-aid would allow a more appropriate response to medical emergencies." 

The MAIB mentioned two further swimming pool accidents involving passengers on board Princess cruise ships - a drowning on the Diamond Princess on June 23, 2015, and a near-drowning on the Sapphire Princess on  August 5, 2015 which you can read about here. We are unfamiliar with the June 23, 2015 incident (does anyone have info?)

It appears that as of this late date, despite multiple incidents, Princess has still not even conducted a risk assessment for its pools nor has it assigned lifeguards or monitors to this dangerous location.  

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Photo Credit: Top - gov.uk MAIB; bottom - Pro Publica

Alaska Alleges Cruise Lines Violated Air Emission Laws

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation contends that cruise lines have violated Alaska air pollution regulations for the past five years. 

Tradewinds, a shipping trade organization, and the Juneau Empire report that Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) and Royal Caribbean Cruises disclosed in recent SEC earnings reports that they violated Alaskan Marine Vessel Visible Emission Standards.

KRBD reports that the alleged violation of the Alaskan air pollution law is widespread in the cruise industry. The community radio program interviewed a specialist at the Alaskan environmental program who identified other cruise lines who are accused of violating Alaskan law. In addition to NCL and Vision of the Seas Alaska PollutionRoyal Caribbean, Carnival, Holland America, Princess, Celebrity and Silverseas violated the emission standards according to the environmental specialist. 

Alaska issued 18 notices of violation involving 48 instances of excessive air emissions since 2010, according to KRBD. Each violation of law carries a fine of approximately $37,500. 

The cruise line are contesting the violations and are in negotiation with Alaska. 

The cruise industry, which largely burns cheap filthy bunker fuel, is installing scrubbers to reduce air emissions.

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

 

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship - AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

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. 

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Star Princess Noro Virus

Photo Credit: Jim Walker in Seattle

 

Passenger Medevaced from Diamond Princess

Diamond PrincessA cruise ship passenger suffering from an undisclosed medical condition has been medevaced from a Princess cruise ship sailing to Sydney. 

The ABC News network in Australia reports that a Westpac rescue helicopter was dispatched to the Diamond Princess after a passenger became ill.

A doctor, paramedic and rescue crewman were first winched down from the helicopter to the cruise ship to treat the passenger. The sick passenger was then winched up into the helicopter and flown to a hospital in Newcastle.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Barrylb creative commons 3.0

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

Dawn Princess' Gastro-Hell-Cruise Finally Over

A news station in Australia reports that passengers on a Princess cruise ship, the Dawn Princess, from Melbourne to New Zealand, are relieved that their cruise has ended after norovirus has plagued their ship.

The report stated: "It is believed as many as half of the 1800 passengers were forced into quarantine after suffering from vomiting and diarrhea as crews desperately tried to stop the gastro from spreading."

Some passengers reportedly criticized the ship's operations, saying that the cruise ship should have recruited extra cleaners in New Zealand,

 

Gastro Bug Hits Sea Princess

A news station in Australia reports that "at least 70 passengers on the cruise ship Sea Princess have been struck down by a severe gastro bug."

Meanwhile, there are norovirus measures taking place on the Pacific Pearl heading toward Sydney following advice from the Australian Health Department, including not allowing passengers to use the self-serve buffet. The captain told passengers that the ship had no noro incidents on recent cruises but the cruise line decided to follow health guidelines because the number of outbreaks on other ships in the region.

Also, the Pacific Jewel reportedly arrived back in Sydney a few days ago with suspected noro cases which required the closing at White Bay terminal for extra cleaning for a couple of hours. 

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Cruise Passenger Missing From Sun Princess Again

A cruise passengers is missing from a Princess cruise ship heading towards Sydney today. The ship in question, the Sun Princess, is completing a 13-day cruise to New Zealand.

There is no explanation how or when the passenger went overboard.

Unfortunately, it again appears that this Princess cruise ship does not have am automatic man overboard system as required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act.

Sun PrincessLast year there was an overboard passenger from the Sun Princess. I wrote this article last October: Princess Cruises: Why No CCTV or Man Overboard Systems on the Sun Princess?    

Princess Cruises released the following statement: 

"Princess Cruises confirms that an 84-year-old male passenger was reported missing early today onboard Sun Princess, which was on the way to Sydney completing a 13-day New Zealand cruise.

A thorough search of Sun Princess was conducted but the passenger could not be located.

The Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) in Canberra was contacted and Sun Princess turned around and retraced its path off the coast of New South Wales.

Sun Princess was scheduled to arrive in Sydney this morning.

She will continue its search efforts until released by the RCC.

Sun Princess’ arrival in Sydney will be delayed and the next cruise will be impacted." 

You can see a video of the story here.

 

Photo Credit: Daily Telegraph

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I'm Uncertain About the Future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Tuned and Hope for the Best

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

"Seasick Princess" Redux: Princess Cancels Another Cruise on the Sea Princess

The newspapers in Australia are blasting Princess Cruises for canceling another cruise on the Sea Princess, again at the last minute, leaving thousands of passengers stranded.

We previously reported on the cancellation of the September 14th sailing because the cruise ship went into dry dock to try and perform repairs to the ship engines after the Sea Princess had missed ports in Broome and Bali because of what Princess nebulously called a "technical problem" which reduced the ship's speed. 

The ship has been wracked the week before with norovirus during a cruise from Fremantle to Sea PrincessSingapore, causing as many as 400 people became to be ill.

Last Friday, Princess told passengers that the Sea Princess will not depart Brisbane as planned but the ship would leave from Sydney, and Auckland will not be included in New Zealand trip.

Princess has known for months that there have been problems with the engines on the cruise ship but has put off placing the ship in dry dock. This has caused great uncertainty with the passengers and, ultimately, ruined their vacations.

The cruise line promised a refund of their cruise fare, air costs, taxes, fees and port expenses, and a future cruise credit equal to the cruise fare paid for this voyage.  

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Bahnfrend 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

"Virus From Hell" - Gastroenteritis Strikes Passengers on Sea Princess

MSN / Ninesman reports on a viral outbreak aboard a Princess cruise ship cruising from Australia which sickened "hundreds" of passengers this week.

A passenger who was interviewed by MSN refers dramatically to being inflicted by a "virus from hell" with sounds of "vomiting echoing down the hallways."  The Sea Princess left Fremantle on August 18th and was heading, eventually, to Singapore. This was reportedly not the first outbreak.  New passengers who boarded in Singapore were not warned of the outbreak and were described by one passenger as "lambs being Sea Princess led to the slaughter . . . they just didn't know what they were in for."

The virus was allegedly on the cruise ship "for months." One passenger says that some of the bar and wait staff were already sick, when some passengers boarded, with gastroenteritis and influenza.  The passenger said that the sick crew members were afraid to report to the infirmary out of fear of losing their jobs. In our experience, some crew members who rely on tips keep working after they are ill.

MSN says that around 500 people were affected; however, Princess claims that this was not a major outbreak with only around 100 passengers becoming ill.  Princess confirmed to a newspaper in Australia that 100 passengers were sickened by what it innocuously referred to as a "tummy bug."

Princess is declining to compensate passengers for the outbreak and will not be reimbursing them for the shipboard medical treatment needed on the ship. 

We asked Princess for a comment but have not heard back from the cruise line.  

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Bahnfrend Creative Commons

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

Read about cruise norovirus cases from Barfblog.

September 11 2014 Update: We just received a couple of comments from passengers on the ship (below), stating that the story is over-dramatic and the criticism of Princess is overblown.

September 12 2014 Update: Passengers who were struck down by the gastro-intestinal virus have disembarked at Fremantle this morning, according to abcnet.au. One passenger said he "was compensated for his bad experience. We got a special on our next cruise deal and the compensation was a couple of dollars as well, so they looked after us." Another passenger said "they were not told about what had happened but believe they should have been."

September 13 2014 Update: PerthNow reports that passengers said up to 400 people were ill on the ship which many are nicknaming “Pandemic Princess” and “Purgatory Princess.” Princess is sticking with its story that only a “small percentage” of passenger were affected. Passengers were offered a 50 per cent refund to be discounted from their next cruise. One retiree said that a "nice glass of brandy every night” kept him from becoming sick. 

Princess Tours Bus Accident in Alaska Kills Princess Cruises Employee

Princess Cruise Bus AccidentNews sources in Alaska are reporting that a Princess Cruises employee was killed when a Princess Tours excursion bus overturned on a rain slicked highway in Alaska.

The accident occurred at mile 173 on Parks Highway, approximately 200 miles south of Fairbanks.

The Frontiersman reports that this is the second serious incident involving a Princess-owned bus on a remote stretch of road in the past month. Here's a story about the prior accident involving a Princess bus.

The photograph of the crushed bus (left) was published by the Frontiersman via Tim Whitney.

The Cruise Fever websites says that "the bus was heading northbound along the Denali National Park from Mt. McKinley Wilderness Lodge to the Princess Wilderness Lodge" when the accident happened. 

KTUU states that three people, all Princess employees, were on board the bus when it crashed and the front end was crushed. 

The woman who died was from Malaysia and working in Alaska. A second Princess employee was seriously injured. The bus driver was not injured.  

State Troopers say that excessive speed was a factor in the accident.  

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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. 

Norovirus Aboard Crown Princess Sickens 66 Passengers & 17 Crew Members

Multiple news sources are reporting that an outbreak of a gastrointestinal illness has stricken "at least 66 passengers and 17 crew members" aboard Princess Cruises' Crown Princess.

A spokesperson for Princess Cruises says that the nasty digestive bug is likely norovirus. 

There have been 6 prior gastrointestinal outbreaks on cruise ships calling on U.S. ports this year. There were just 9 in all of last year.

We have been contacted by passengers complaining that passengers were sick and there was a strong smell of vomit in the hallways.

Norovirus has plagued the image of the cruise line. There was a massive outbreak aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas in January. A recent Harris Poll revealed that norovirus was one reason why the public does not perceive cruising as safe or reliable.  

We previously reported on a norovirus case involving the Crown PrincessHere We Go Again: Norovirus Sickens 100 Passengers on Crown Princess Sailing to Galveston

April 10 2014 Update:  The infected count is now at 104 passengers and 25 crew members on the Crown Princess. 

 

 

U.S. Department of Justice Investigating Whether Caribbean Princess Violated Pollution Laws

A number of news sources are reporting the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) joined an investigation by the U.K. whether Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess cruise ship violated international pollution laws.

Bloomberg News states that Carnival Corporation announced that the DOJ joined an investigation being conducted by the U.K. Maritime & Coastguard Agency which had initiated an investigation last August. 

The news sources are reporting that last September, Carnival reached an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to spend $180 million to reduce sulfur emissions from its fleet of cruise ships. Carnival agreed to to install scrubbers and filters on its ships to reduce the toxic emissions of its cruise ships. 

This news account was posted on a Princess Cruises' message board but there has been no discussion yet.

It is not clear whether the joint U.S.-U.K. Caribbean Princess investigation is related to air emission issues or some other type of pollution violation. Princess Cruises' ships were often cited in the past for violating Alaska's waste-water regulations

The Caribbean Princess was last in the news when it returned to Houston after a norovirus outbreak.

Anyone with information exactly when and what the Caribbean Princess is accused of violating please leave a comment or join the discussion on our Facebook page 

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia / Yankeesman312

December 1, 2016 UpdateDeliberate Dumping, Cover-Up and Lies: DOJ Fines Princess Cruises $40,000,000.

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?

Blame Game: Princess Accuses Passengers of Starting Norovirus Outbreak on Caribbean Princess

Last night the Caribbean Princess cruise ship returned early to Houston, Texas with passengers and crew members suffering from a gastrointestinal illness (GI) outbreak. There are around 173 people officially reported to be ill on the ship, mostly passengers. A Houston news station says the outbreak was caused by norovirus.

Determining the type of GI outbreak and the origin of the outbreak is a deliberate, scientific process that is the work of trained and experienced expert epidemiologists.  

The experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have not yet determined either the type or the origin of the virus.  The outbreak could be attributed to contaminated food, or contaminated water, or galley or food handlers working while ill, or the ship failing to clean up after the last cruise when passengers became ill, or new passengers with the virus who were not properly Caribbean Princessscreened. But whatever the potential cause and origin, it's important to determine what the CDC says about the outbreak.

Princess Cruises, however, has already blamed its guests.  Princess PR spokeswoman Julie Benson tells CBS News that "the pattern suggests the illness was brought on board by passengers." Ms. Benson is not an epidemiologist of course. She has no medical or scientific education or training. Princess Cruises didn't fly a team of epidemiologists into the Gulf of Mexico and lower them down from a helicopter to the cruise ship to conduct tests and make a analysis.

Ms. Benson's comments, in my assessment, are a PR stunt. This is right out of the cruise industry's playbook of how to manage a crisis when a cruise ship sickness epidemic breaks out. Rule number 1: Blame the Passengers!

Cruise lines like Princess don't want the public to think that their cruise ships or crew members are the problem. To divert attention from the possibility of bad food or contaminated water or sick crew members, the cruise lines point the finger at their customers and accuse them of bring the virus aboard or having poor hygiene.

But could it be bad hygiene of the crew? The CDC has found crew working while ill before. That's why the public has to rely on the education and experience of the experts and not PR cruise line people.

Yesterday we wrote that there were passengers sickened during the last cruise. Did the ship clean up the contaminated surfaces and test the food and water after the last puke fest? How many people were sick last week?  Perhaps Princess will tell us? Perhaps not. 

I have mentioned before that cruise lines often don't want the CDC to make any conclusions about the cause or origin of widespread viral outbreaks. Why? So the PR people can spin the story for marketing purposes.

Princess would rather protect their own reputation and blame the sick passengers than wait for the CDC to finish its investigation. 

 

Photo BCredit: Mayra Beltran/Houston Chronicle

Norovirus Outbreak on Caribbean Princess Cruise Ship

Diamond Princess NorovirusThis morning I received an email from a reader of Cruise Law News who said that the Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess cruise ship will be arriving in Houston tomorrow night 36 hours or so early due to a norovirus outbreak. 

This evening the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the Caribbean Princess has suffered an outbreak affecting the following people infected during its current January 25th - February 1st cruise:

  • 162 of 3102 passengers (5.22%); and
  • 11 of 1148 crew members (0.96%)

The CDC has not yet announced the type of pathogens involved in this latest cruise ship infection.

A Houston newspaper said the virus was norovirus.

The newspaper also said that Princess Cruises issued a statement today saying "that the trip was cut short by one day because of thick fog expected over the weekend."

Yeah, right.

Princess Cruises was recently featured in Time Magazine's Top 13 Worst cruise Ship Norovirus Outbreaks.  

Princess Cruises had five of the worst outbreaks: Crown Princess (January 2010) - 396; Crown Princess (February 2012) - 363; Ruby Princess (March 2013) - 276; Coral Princess (February 2009) - 271; and Sun Princess (July 2012) - 216.

The last gastrointestinal illness outbreak on a Princess cruise ship involved the Diamond Princess just two weeks ago.

How is Princess handing this latest outbreak? Leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

January 30, 2014 Update:  Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein received information from cruise passengers indicating that there were problems with norovirus on the prior cruise:

"From a reader: Passengers have been notified that during the current cruise there has been an increase in the number of cases of gastrointestinal illness amongst passengers caused by Norovirus. In response, we have arranged for the ship to undergo a prolonged and additional disinfection in Houston on Saturday, January 11, 2014. As a consequence, cruise check-in and embarkation will be delayed until 2:00 pm.

This was also noted by a passenger who just disembarked the ship who said, "Cabins on both sides of us had to be sanitized due the passengers being sick."

January 31, 2014 Update: "Blame Game: Princess Accuses Passengers of Starting Norovirus Outbreak on Caribbean Princess."  "Not our fault" says the PR people at Princess Cruises. How about letting the experts conclude their investigation first?

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Yankeesman312

Time Magazine: The Top 13 Cruise Ship Norovirus Outbreaks

With the Explorer of the Seas sailing back to New Jersey with almost 650 victims of norovirus related nausea and diarrhea, Time magazine just published the article Cruise Out of Control: The 13 Worst Norovirus Outbreaks on Cruise Ships.

The worst outbreak is, of course, Royal Caribbean's Explorer but the cruise line and its sister line Celebrity Cruises have the top three worst outbreaks and five of the top 13 worst outbreaks.

The passengers and crew aboard the Celebrity Mercury suffered through outbreaks on five consecutive  sailings back in 2000, including 443 sick in February 2000 and 419 in March. The Centers Norovirus Cruise Shipfor Disease Control and Prevention finally issued a rare no-sail order because the ship kept infecting the passengers and the cruise line wouldn't stop sailing.

The overall winner of Time's top 13 list is Princess Cruises which had five outbreaks on its brand alone: Crown Princess (January 2010) - 396; Crown Princess (February 2012) - 363;  Ruby Princess (March 2013) - 276; Coral Princess (February 2009) - 271; and Sun Princess (July 2012) - 216.

The disturbing thing about the list is that the Centers for Disease Control were unable to publish a single conclusion about where the norovirus came from. 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 sick galley worker, or was brought aboard by sick passengers and then spread because of inadequate hygiene.

Norovirus on Diamond Princess: How is Princess Cruises Handling the Outbreak?

Diamond Princess NorovirusA newspaper in New Zealand is reporting that 60 cruise passengers aboard a Princess cruise ship which sailed from Australia have been infected with the dreaded norovirus. They have been suffering from vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. 

The newspaper is stating that cleaners are working to sanitize the Diamond Princess before the next group of passengers board. 

Check-in has been delayed as the extra cleaning has been taking place. 

One passenger expressed serious reservations about the upcoming cruise. The thousands-of-dollars cruise vacation can't be cancelled because there was no chance of a refund, he said.

The newspaper correctly points out that norovirus can be transmitted through infected food or water, person-to-person contact, and surface contact.

If you were on the cruise, is the estimate of 60 ill passengers accurate?

What, exactly, is Princess saying about refunds?

How did the cruise line handle the outbreak?

 

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia / Barrylb

"An Unhappy Ship" - "This Will Be My Family's Last Cruise"

Last week, I reported on a Filipino crew member who apparently jumped off of the Grand Princess cruise ship after it left San Francisco. The 34 year old man was the fifth person to go overboard in the last 18 days. 

Although Princess did not notify the Coast Guard until approximately two hours after the crew member went overboard, it was quick to tell the press that the crew member intentionally jumped.  "Not our fault" seems to be the attitude.  Put the "suicide" label on the case and forget about it, seems to be the cruise line's usual response.

Putting the issue of legal blame aside for the moment, could the crew member's death have been avoided? Are there systems in place to provide counseling for crew members under stress?

Over the last year I have written about cruise lines overworking and underpaying their shipboard employees. I have discussed Princess working their employees to the bone. I've discussed the policies of parent company Carnival reducing pay, diverting the crew member's tips, suspending their retirement programs, and firing employees when they protest. There is only so much that anyone can take, working every single day far away from their families during a 8 month contract.

Is there a correlation between this more difficult work environment and an increased sense of hopelessness of the crew members who the cruise lines easily replace when they crack and jump?    

When a cruise line quickly explains that a crew member intentionally went overboard, it's not really an explanation. It seems to raise more questions than provide answers.  

In response to our article about the Princess crew member lost at sea, I received this message from a reader: 

"I was on the prior cruise to Hawaii for Christmas and New Years. This was my wife and my 7th cruise. But to me, this was an unhappy ship. The employees were not happy, and many passengers were also not happy. The workers had a palpable fear of their bosses. They were afraid to allow anyone to make a decision without consult from their supervisor. I mean, things like, I want a different table. The host would feel the need to ask their supervisor.

To me, this is not a surprise. I feel it is the industry's dirty little secret. The wage scale and treatment of replaceable employees. This will be my family's last cruise."

 

Photo Credit: Hakilon / Wikipedia

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Image Credit: gCaptain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Ivan T.

Noro Virus on the Sun Princess?

This evening we received an email from a passenger on the Sun Princess cruise ship stating that the cruise ship is experiencing an outbreak of what is described as norovirus which is diminishing the cruise experience of the passengers. 

The primary complaint seems to be that the cruise line allegedly knew about the noro outbreak but did not tell the passengers until after the ship sailed. Earlier, on December 26th, we previously posted comments about noro virus on the Sun Princess.  Here's what we received this evening:

"The Sun Princess is again out in the South Pacific with about 2,000 "Guests," all of whom were boarded without advice that the ship was sailing at 'RED ALERT' levels for the NORO virus raging in the vessel. The company is clever at preserving their profits at the risk of passenger health in not advising passengers of the outbreaks until well out on the ocean.

Holiday pleasures diminished, no condiments on tables, no self-service buffers, constant urgings to use expensive bottled water, very expensive medical centre visits, confined to cabins etc. etc. etc This concealment of health risks is deeply concerning and must be addressed by the industry at large right now."

We have written hundreds of articles over the years about noro virus and how the cruise line handle (and don't handle) the outbreaks. The cruise lines always blame the passengers for not not washing their hands, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have concluded that the most common causative factor is contaminated food and water.

Irrespective of what side you are on in this debate, there are a couple of things that everyone should agree on.

First, there is not enough time during turn-around day for the cruise ships to be adequately cleaned. There is not even enough time to figure out from an epidemiology perspective where the virus came from.  All of the spraying and wiping and fogging are pointless if the water or food are contaminated with the virus. But the cruise lines pressure the crew to madly try and super-clean the ship when it returns at the end of the cruise. 

Secondly, if the cruise line knows that there is a viral outbreak, it should be required to tell the passengers before they embark on the ship. Passengers should not be forced to sail on sick ships.

I for one would hate to take my family into a cabin where just a few hours earlier a sick family was power-puking millions of microbes of noro pathogens everywhere.

Update: Statement by Princess Cruises. Princess provided a statement which reads in its entirety as follows:

"Sun Princess experienced an outbreak of AGE on the prior voyage, however the cause (now known to be Norovirus) was not confirmed until the next voyage began.

During both voyages, the ship increased sanitation procedures, announcements were made by the captain, and letters were distributed to all passengers advising of the situation onboard. We also received verification from New South Wales Health that they were happy with the ship's actions and response." 
 

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

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Lemeki Lenoa

U.S. Woman Disappears From Grand Princess Cruise Ship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Ivan T.)

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)

Passenger Account: Fire Aboard the Dawn Princess

This weekend, Cruise Law News received information that on the night of November 8th, the Dawn Princess cruise ship experienced a fire which occurred in an electrical sub-station on deck 6. Passengers were called to their muster stations while fire fighting teams extinguished the fire. There were no passenger or crew injuries.

Today we asked for more information from the public on our Facebook page. We received the information below, which comes from a cruise passenger currently on the Dawn.  

If you have additional information or photographs regarding the incident, please let us hear from you.

"Anytime dining as we were late leaving Wellington . . . We had dinner then headed for coffee when the Captain came on. There had been an emergency announcement earlier but we Dawn Princessthought it was medical, not so. The captain explained there was smoke deck 6 starboard, forward and would we all return to our cabins. WOW. we watched as the stores closed and the crew ran. Then the captain came on again to tell us there was a fire in an electrical locker on deck 6 forward and the fire party was dealing with it. We are still in our cabin as requested. We have opened the door to look up and down the hall. All the crew are in lifejackets standing in the hall. Some passengers have doors open and talking to the crew. It started about 8:30 it is now about 9:00

Well another update time is 9:30 and we are in our muster station after the captain told us to grab our life jackets, warm clothes and head to muster. We have our jackets, passports, money and medication. The muster must have over 500 people, some forgot life jackets, some did not get scanned so they are calling names of people who are not accounted for.

It certainly has been exciting. Nothing we have ever gone thru before. We are SO impressed with the emergency procedures. No anxiety at all.

10:10pm and we are released. A very interesting experience. The bars are jam packed, fuller than we have ever seen them. We are at the coffee bar now, starting where we left off with coffee and a Rusty nail. As of 10:40 they have released cabins on Emerald deck, deck 6, meaning the occupants can now return to them. Two cabins numbers are being called on Emerald and we think they might have some smoke damaged."

November 10 2013 Update: We asked Princess Cruises for a statement. Princess responded as follows: "Several days ago a fire occurred in an electrical locker on Dawn Princess. It was extinguished and there were no passenger or crew injuries." The cruise line declined to explain why the fire broke out or why it took an hour and one-half to extinguish it.  

November 12 2013 Update: The Herald Sun newspaper in Australia reports that crew members aboard the Dawn say that the fire suppression system was not working.

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Bahnfrend)

Carnival Executives Switch Roles

Carnival Cruise LineSeveral news sources are reporting changes in the executive ranks at Carnival Corporation and its brands, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line. 

Carnival Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Howard Frank will step down. He is slated to be an adviser to CEO Arnold Donald and Chairman Micky Arison. Jan Swartz becomes the new president of Princess Cruises, replacing President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alan Buckelew who moves into the COO role at Carnival. Holland America Line CEO Stein Kruse will begin overseeing Princess Princess under the newly formed entity "Holland America Group." 

It seems like a family affair to me.  Everyone is just changing hats.

The changes become effective December 1, 2013.

I'm pleased to see Ms. Swartz promoted from vice president of sales, marketing and customer service at Princess to the position of president. It's nice to see women advance in the men's club.  

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

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

How is this possible?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit: The Australian 

Ruby Princess Breaks Mooring Lines in Kusadasi

This morning a reader of Cruise Law News sent us photos of the Ruby Princess which broke its mooring lines due to high winds in Kusadasi, Turkey. It drifted out of its berth. Later a tug near the stern of the ship kept it from drifting further from the dock.  

One of the photos is posted below. You can see a couple of other photos on our Facebook page under the title High Winds in Kusadasi.

There is also a video of the incident on YouTube which is posted below.  

You can see a broken gangway dangling from the side of the ship.  

Thanks to our readers in sending us this information. 

Ruby Princess in Kusadasi - Rough Weather  

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

Coast Guard Medevacs Cruise Passenger From Diamond Princess

KCAW reports that a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew, based in Sitka, Alaska, medevaced a 72-year-old woman from the cruise ship Diamond Princess in Icy Strait on September 19, 2013.

The woman, suffering from convulsions, was safely transferred to awaiting emergency medical personnel in Sitka, about 100 miles south of Icy Strait. EMS then transported her to Sitka Community Hospital for further care.

Seas were calm at the time of the medevac, with 12 mile winds and 6 miles visibility.

The video below is courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard / Air Station Sitka. 

 

 

Crown Princess Rescues Syrian Refugees in the Mediterranean Sea

Crown Princess RescueThe Daily Echo reports on the remarkable story of Syrian refugees rescued today at sea.

One of the unlikely heroes is the Princess Cruises cruise ship Crown Princess which responded to the plight of 158 refugees escaping the bloodshed in Syria in an un-seaworthy vessel consisting of 44 children, 20 women and 94 men. The refugees were spotted 100 miles off the coast of Sicily. 

The situation was particularly dramatic with a pregnant Syrian woman was hoisted into an Italian Coast Guard helicopter which flew the woman to a hospital in the Sicilian city of Catania, where the woman gave birth to a baby girl shortly after the helicopter landed. 

Princess Cruises received a boatload of bad press when the Star Princess allegedly sailed past a fishing boat in distress following which two men died at sea and one young man suffered greatly. Princess denied that it observed or abandoned the fishing vessel and submitted evidence that the claim was unfounded.        

Take a look at the video of the rescue below.

It you have photos or video, contact us. We will post them here and on our Facebook page. 

September 19 2013 Update: The Daily Mail has some amazing photos of the rescue.

Photo and Video Credit: Daily Echo 

Lawsuit: Cruise Line Abandons Passenger with Head Injury in Fiji

A newspaper in Australia reports that a cruise aboard the Dawn Princess for passenger Graham Welsh was suppose to be a vacation of a lifetime.  But things began to go wrong when he sustained an injury after roof panels and lights fell on his head in a hallway on the cruise ship.  The cruise line then left him stranded in a foreign hospital in Fiji without his passport or wallet.

According to a lawsuit filed on his behalf, Mr. Mr Welsh alleges that shortly after his accident he began to vomit and suffered headaches. The cruise ship's doctor disembarked him at the next port, Suva, Fiji, to go to the hospital for a brain scan. The newspaper article quotes him saying: "They took me down the gang-plank and stuck me in a cab. I was surprised because no one accompanied me (to hospital). No one was assisting me and I didn't know what to do."  He basically had only his credit card which paid for the medical visit and scan.

Mr Welsh is suing Carnival Cruises Australia (as the owner of the Princess operated cruise ship) for the injuries and for the subsequent abandonment in Fiji.

The article explains that the cruise line is not denying that the passenger was injured but is contesting his claim that he is entitled to $750,000 in compensation. Dawn Princess Cruise Ship

The defense lawyer for the cruise line suggested that the lawsuit was less about the passenger's head injury and more about seeking revenge for the way he felt he had been mistreated by the cruise line.

"You (were bitter) that you hadn't got what you had bargained for, or paid for, and that was an enjoyable cruise," the defense lawyer suggested.

This is the second highly publicized case where an injured passenger alleges that the cruise line dumped them in a foreign port and and then forgot about them.  

Earlier we discussed the case of 89 year-old cruise passenger Dodge Melkonian who was abandoned in Turkey by Azamara after he broke his hip.  

 

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia / Bahnfrend

Another Rape Alleged on the Love Boat

News sources in Alaska are reporting that Alaska State Troopers are investigating an incident where a female crew member alleges that she was sexually assaulted on a Princess Cruises sailing between Seattle and Alaska this week. 

The crew member states that two other crew members sexually assaulted her while the cruise ship was sailing to Juneau. The Alaska State Troopers say the assault took place between 4 AM and 6 AM on Monday.

A spokesperson for the Alaska State Troopers says that “Yes, suspects have been identified;” however, Princess Cruises Star Princess Sexual Assault“No arrests have been made.”

The Princess cruise ship is making additional port calls as it heads back to Seattle, the point of origin for the cruise. Both the victim and the suspects are still aboard the cruise ship.

Princess Cruises released a statement claiming that after reporting the alleged assault, the woman "indicated she no longer wanted to pursue the matter with law enforcement." 

It's a shame to see that the alleged victim was not taken off the cruise ship for medical evaluation and counseling and provided with a safe environment where she could be away from the alleged perpetrators.

Its also disturbing to see the cruise line issue a press statement claiming that the alleged victim doesn't want the matter further investigated.  It smacks of Princess trying to minimize what happened for marketing purposes.

The incident occurred aboard the Star Princess.

We have written about the problem of sexual assaults on Princess cruise shipsin the past:

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

Princess Cruises Sexual Assault Trial Begins

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

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

Do you have a thought about this issue?  Please leave a comment on our Facebook page here.

 

Photo Credit: Star Princess - Jim Walker Seattle Washington

Fire Aboard Coral Princess Cruise Ship?

The Cruise Critic message boards contain a discussion that there was a fire aboard Princess Cruises' Coral Princess cruise ship last night.

The comments indicate that there was a great deal of smoke but the fire was extinguished without injury to passengers or crew. There is conflicting information regarding exactly where the fire occurred. There is a mention of the fire being on deck 9, although the heading to the comments refers to what is described as an "engine room fire."

Princess Cruises and the Coral Princess are owned by cruise giant Carnival PLC. 

Please leave a comment if you have information about the fire.

Coral Princess Cruise Ship Fire 

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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

 

Disease Breeding Grounds: Three Cruise Ships Fail Health & Sanitary Inspections

Centers for Disease Control - Cruise Ship CDC Cruise Critic is reporting that three cruise ships recently failed inspection by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The cruise ships are the Celebrity Summit, Princess Cruises' Golden Princess and the SeaDream II.  

Take a moment and read the actual CDC reports of these ships. They are disgusting.

You can understand how easily norovirus and other gastrointestinal viruses can spread after reading about cooks and food handlers working while they are suffering from acute gastrointestinal symptoms. The monitoring of water treatment on some of these cruise ships is spotty and there was even one ship using a reverse osmosis system (which is suppose to be used only when the ship is underway) that was sucking up nasty water in the ports.    

The report for the Celebrity Summit is here. You will read about several crew members, including food handlers, who were suffering from acute gastrointestinal (referred to as AGE) symptoms but were still working, including handling food. The gastrointestinal surveillance logs were not being completed. There were widespread dirty and greasy conditions with flies and insect droppings in the bars and galleys.

The report for the Golden Princess is here. The Princess Cruises ship also had crew members with acute gastrointestinal symptoms continuing to work throughout the day even though they were Celebrity Summit Cruise Shipobviously ill in the morning.  An assistant buffet steward was suffering from GI problems but worked the buffet from 9:30 Am and did not report to the ship infirmary until 4:00 PM. There were inadequate reports regarding potable water facilities.  The ship had dirty and soiled areas, including the signature Princess restaurant Sabatini's.        

The report for the Sea Dream Yacht Club's Sea Dream II is here. This is the ship that was operating its water system continuously, including at port, and had been doing so for years. There were also dirty and unsanitary conditions noted.

The next time there is a norovirus outbreak and the cruise line instantaneously blames the passengers for not washing their hands, there may be a lot more to the story.

March 27, 2013 Update: In reading cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website, I realized that Cruise Critic omitted another failed CDC score by the Caribbean Fantasy operated by America Cruise Ferries. You can read the report here. The deficiencies include failing to maintain acute gastrointestinal sickness logs, potable water deficiencies, galley and potwash cleaning shortcomings, and the failure to maintain cleaning equipment in proper order including several dish-washing machines and conveyors which had been not in proper condition for over a year. 

 

Photo Credit:

Celebrity Summit - Wikipedia / Yankeesman312

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 

Trial Scheduled for Princess Cruises Crew Members Accused of Raping Woman on Grand Princess

Princess Cruises Cruise Ship RapeThe Bermuda Sun newspaper reports that two crew members employed on a Bermuda flagged cruise ship are heading for criminal trial after being accused of raping a woman.

As is often the case in Bermuda, the Bermudian press did not mention the name of the cruise line or the name of the cruise ship.  There is no prohibition from doing so, but the newspapers there seem inclined not to want to cause any embarrassment to Bermuda's U.S. based cruise line customers which register their ships in that island to avoid U.S. taxes and wage and safety laws.

The case involves two Italian crew members, age 26 and 27, aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, operated by Princess Cruises of Santa Clarita California. 

The sexual assault at issue allegedly occurred on January 12, 2013.

Trial is scheduled for April 27, 2013.

Bermuda has a sorry record of prosecuting Princess crew members when they are accused of raping women on Princess cruise ships. No crew member has ever been convicted and imprisoned for sexually assaulting a woman aboard a Princess cruise ship although multiple sexual crimes have been alleged over the years.

Passenger Overboard From the Sapphire Princess?

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

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

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

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

February 26 2013 Update:  False alarm:

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

Rape on the Love Boat? Two Crew Members Arrested for Sexually Assaulting Woman Aboard Grand Princess Cruise Ship

Newspapers in Bermuda are reporting that two Italian crew members age 26 and 27, aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, are charged with raping a female crew member.  Both of the men are believed to be officers.

The sexual assault at issue allegedly occurred on January 12, 2013, but there is no information where the cruise ship was located at the time of the alleged crime.

The remarkable thing about the story is that the crew members were actually arrested. Bermuda has been a complete joke about holding crew members legally accountable when they rape women on Grand Princess Cruise Ship Sexual AssaultPrincess cruise ships.  No crew member has ever been convicted and imprisoned for sexually assaulted a woman aboard a Princess cruise ship although multiple sexual crimes have been alleged over the years.

The charges are being heard in Bermuda because Princess Cruises registers its cruise ships there to avoid U.S. taxes and labor laws.

The two men were granted bail of only $5,000 each which is not much more than a passenger has to pay for possessing a few marijuana joints aboard a cruise ship in Bermuda

The last Princess rape case ended with the alleged rapist going free.

It is doubtful that the cruise-ship-beholden island of Bermuda will ever bring justice to a cruise ship rape victim.

Stay tuned.

Leave a comment below or discuss the incident on our Facebook page.

ABC's "Uneasy Voyage: Dangerous Virus on Cruise Liners Leaves Hundreds Ill"

ABC News aired a video look tonight at the recent spate of multiple norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships, focusing on the most recent outbreaks spreading to passengers and crew aboard the Queen Mary 2 and the Emerald Princess cruise ships. 

You can read about our articles about the Emerald Princess and the QM 2.

Watch the video below with ABC's Matt Gutman reporting:

 

 

Norovirus Strikes Emerald Princess Passengers on Christmas Eve - Princess Suffers More Than 50% of U.S. Norovirus Cases This Year

Miami's WSVM Channel 7 television station is bringing us some bad news this Christmas Eve, reporting that passengers aboard a Princess Cruises cruise ship sailing on the high seas are ill with the dreaded norovirus.

According to News Station 7, more than 150 passengers and crew members reportedly caught the norovirus aboard the Emerald Princess.

This is the second Princess cruise ship in a week to report cases of the contagious virus.  The Crown Princess sailed to Galveston with over 100 cruise passengers and crew members ill with norovirus. You can read several comments by passengers criticizing the food serving and hygiene on Emerald Princess Cruise Shipthe cruise ship  

The news station states that crews will sanitize the ship once it docks at Port Everglades on Thursday, whatever that means.

The sick passengers and crew were reportedly confined to their cabins to prevent a further spread of the disease on the 10-day cruise.

As far as cruise ships calling on U.S. ports, Princess Cruises has by far the most gastrointestinal illness outbreaks - with all of the cases involving norovirus.  According to the data collected by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), of the total number of 15 outbreaks, this is the ninth sailing with an illness outbreak on Princess cruise ships this year alone:

The Crown Princess suffered two outbreaks in January and February; the Ruby Princess in February; the Sun Princess in July; the Dawn Princess in August and September; the Ruby Princess again in October; the Crown Princess again in December; and now the Emerald Princess.  

As year 2012 ends, Princess has experienced more than 50% of the CDC documented gastrointestinal cases. Considering there are 26 cruise lines associated with the Cruise Line International Association, one cruise line having more than 50% of the sicknesses is quite a feat!

Princess' standard operating procedure is to always blame the passengers for bringing the virus aboard.  Let's wait and hear what Princess says this time. Who wants to make a bet that the cruise line PR representatives point the finger at the poor people spending Christmas Eve puking in their staterooms?

Anyone sailing on the Emerald Princess have comments about the latest norovirus outbreak?  

December 26, 2012 Update: The Global Dispatch states:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Vessel Sanitation Program team will be boarding Princess Cruises’ “Emerald Princess” as it arrives in Ft. Lauderdale Dec. 27 to investigate an outbreak of yet unknown etiology, which has sickened nearly 200 passengers and crew.

According to health officials, a total of 166 passengers and 30 crew were sickened with the symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting, resembling norovirus. The voyage dates for the cruise were from Dec. 17 to Dec. 27.

The CDC said the cruise ship took the following actions in response to the outbreak to include cleaning and sanitizing, making announcements to notify passengers and crew and to encourage hand hashing, collecting stool samples for laboratory analysis and reporting twice daily to CDC officials.

This outbreak follows a norovirus outbreak reported aboard a “Crown Princess” cruise destined for Galveston, TX. More than 100 passengers and crew were sickened in this outbreak, according to a Chron.com report earlier this week.

Norovirus is a highly contagious illness caused by infection with a virus of the same name. It is often called by other names, such as viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu, and food poisoning.

The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people, the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days. In general, children experience more vomiting than adults do.

Norovirus is spread person to person particularly in crowded, closed places. Norovirus is typically spread through contaminated food andwater, touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth and close contact with someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Holger.Ellgaard)

Emergency Medevac of Sick Passenger from Crown Princess?

Coast Guard Rescue Crown Princess Cruise ShipI am being told by a reliable source that the U.S. Coast Guard is about to conduct an emergency medevac of an ill passenger from the Crown Princess cruise ship which is heading to Galveston and will arrive tomorrow.

It is less than clear whether there is any connection to the norovirus outbreak on the cruise ship.  The cruise has been under red level disease alert throughout the crossing from Europe.

The ship is facing heavy swells and the helicopter is facing strong winds.

The last medevac from the Crown Princess was in March.  You can see the video here.

Does anyone have information to confirm this latest story?

December 21, 2012 Update:  There's an update to this story we reported this morning:

The incident involves a 68 year old woman who was suffering from internal bleeding and had to be medevaced by a Coast Guard MH-65 helicopter which flew 140 miles south of the Mississippi River's Southwest Pass to the Princess cruise ship. The Times Picaynue states that the cruise ship alerted the Coast Guard station in New Orleans about 2 AM this morning, reporting that the woman had received blood transfusions on the ship. At the time, the ship was about 200 miles offshore. 

 

Photo and video credit: U.S. Coast Guard

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

Yesterday I mentioned that over one hundred people are sick with norovirus aboard the Crown Princess cruise ship which will be arriving in Galveston tomorrow at the end of a 20 day cruise from Italy.  This is the third outbreak of noro on this particular Princess cruise ship this year.

According to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), although there are cases of noro illness transmitted by hand-to-hand contact, the most likely cause of a norovirus outbreak is contaminated water.  Contaminated food is also a likely culprit.

But if you study the last one hundred cruise ship norovirus cases, one thing is certain - the cruise line will always blame the passengers for bringing the virus aboard.

The New York Times just published a short (three sentence) article about the latest norovirus outbreak on the Princess ship. The newspaper reports that Princess is again pointing its finger at its passengers:

"A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises says more than 100 passengers and crew members contracted a stomach virus on one of its ships, the Crown Princess. The illness struck during a Venetian cruise due to end Saturday at Galveston. The spokeswoman said the cruise line suspects the virus was brought on board by passengers." 

If the cruise lines don't flat out accuse the passengers of being the problem, there will always be an implication that the passengers must not have washed their hands.

The amazing thing about the cruise industry is the frenzy activity when the ships come to port. A tremendous amount of provisions are brought aboard at every port, literally hundreds of thousands of pounds of beef, chicken, pork, fish and shellfish as well as every fruit and vegetable under the sun. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water are pumped into the ship. The crew members get on and off the ship and of course the passengers do as well.

Cruise Ship NorovirusWas the food and/or water served to passengers on the ship contaminated? Did the passengers or crew eat contaminated food ashore?  Were the hands of a crew member involved in food preparation infected?

Proving exactly how the virus appears on a cruise ship is a difficult scientific process. But no one is engaged in such testing.  Yes, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) test to determine whether the gastrointestinal illness is due to noro or e-coli, but that's where the testing stops.

So the public is left with the blame game.  The Crown Princess has not even arrived at the port of Galveston where the CDC inspectors are awaiting. But Princess is already telling the New York Times that its contaminated ship is the fault of unidentified guests and their dirty hands.     

 

Photo Credit: Centers for Disease Control

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

Princess Cruise Ship Rescues Jamaicans at Sea - Yeah Mon!

Ocho Rios Jamaica Cruise ShipThe Miami Herald tells us this evening that a Princess cruise ship heading to Ocho Rios rescued five Jamaican nationals who reportedly have been drifting on a small boat in the Caribbean for three weeks. 

The Island Princess cruise ship brought the five Jamaicans onto the ship and is now sailing to Jamaica with them.  The Princess cruise ship will be calling on Ocho Rios tomorrow.

The Herald says that Jamaicans "were on their way to a barbeque and ran out of gas."  A cruise passenger reportedly said that "We noticed the boat slowing down . . . we pulled up and the occupants were screaming: 'No food, no water.'" 

A happy ending on the high seas it seems.

Anyone on the ship willing to share photographs or video of the rescue?

December 21, 2012 Update:  Today we were provided with photographs of the rescued Jamaicans by cruise passenger Deanna Couch.  Thanks Deanna!

Princess Cruise Rescue Jamaicans Ocho Rios

 

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)

Small Fire on Crown Princess Cruise Ship in Ionian Sea

The Maritime Bulletin reports that a fire occurred on the Crown Princess cruise ship on July 14 2012 in one of the cabins.

The Princess cruise ship was some 3 miles east of Antipaxos island in the Ionian Sea and was sailing from Corfu to Piraeus with 3325 passengers on board when the alarm went off.  The fire was extinguished automatically by a sprinkling system causing minor property damaged. Nobody was injured. Katakolo port authorities boarded the vessel for survey and investigation, and the cruise ship was cleared to resume its voyage. 

July 17, 2012 Update:

Following our article this morning, Cruise Critic ran the following:

"A small electrical fire broke out in passenger cabin on Crown Princess Saturday evening, the line has confirmed.

'There were no injuries and we're currently investigating the cause,' Princess said in a statement sent to Cruise Critic. The ship, carrying 2,948 passengers on a 12-day Eastern Mediterranean cruise, is sailing on schedule. The voyage ends in Rome on July 23.

Cruise Critic member MSH from Norway, who was onboard, posted that the fire occurred on the Emerald Deck (Deck 8) and that several cabins filled with smoke. Some cabins were also waterlogged MSH from Norway wrote.

While Princess did not comment on the damage to the ship, the line did tell Cruise Critic that the passengers in the affected cabin, as well as those in the cabin next to it, were moved -- both cabins were left without electricity." 

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

Panama Opens Criminal Investigation Into Princess Cruises - Captain Perrin to Face Homicide & Failure to Rescue Inquiries

A reader of Cruise law News in Panama brought an article in the Panamanian newspaper Prensa, entitled "MP Abre Sumario a Capitán de Crucero" to my attention this morning.    

As I predicted last week, Panama has decided to proceed with a criminal investigation into the conduct of the Master of the Princess Cruises cruise ship Star Princess, for failing to assist three young Panamanian men who were adrift 100 miles out to sea aboard the Panamanian fishing boat Fifty Cents.  

Several passengers observed the fishing boat in distress and tried to convince the cruise ship to assist. Initial reports indicate that officers aboard claim that they were avoiding fishing nets and allegedly were thanked Princess Cruises - Star Princess - Panama Fifty Centsby the fishing boat. Princess Cruises later claimed that the captain of the cruise ship was never informed of the people in distress.     

The article explains that the Public Ministry (MP) of Panama launched an investigation into the deaths of two Panamanian fishermen, who went adrift in their fishing boat on February 24, 2012. 

The investigation was initiated by a Panamanian lawyer who filed a complaint on April 18, 2012. The aunt of one of the dead fishermen, Fernando Osorio, was quoted by a newspaper in Panama, My Diary, "I ask that you drop the full weight of the law" on the captain. She referred to her 16 year old nephew as a human being, not an animal to be left in the sea.

The General Secretariat of the MP referred the investigation to the Homicide Division of the Judicial Investigation Department.

Last week, I wrote about the duties owed to persons in distress at sea and the rights of the cruise ship flag state, Bermuda, and the  government of Panama to pursue criminal charges: Duty of Cruise Lines to Assist Persons In Distress: Moral, Legal & Practical Considerations On The High Seas

My prediction?  Bermuda will do a favor for its cruise line customer, Princess Cruises, and exonerate Captain Perrin. Panama will issue an arrest warrant for the captain and a writ of attachment to seize the next Princess cruise ship sailing through the Panama Canal . . .    

 

Read our first article about this case: Two Dead Fishermen: Did Star Princess Cruise Ship Ignore Mariners in Distress?

Photo credit: MY DIARY | Roca Gonzalez Edilsa

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

The Star Princess' refusal to assist the three young men aboard the disabled Fifty Cents fishing boat has captivated the world's attention.  My first article on the troubling story - Two Dead Fishermen:  Did Star Princess Cruise Ship Ignore Mariners In Distress? - elicited strong comments by the public. One comment on my blog from "Martin" about the captain of the Princess cruise ship summed up the essence of the problem:

"They have forgotten the human being."

There is a palpable sense of outrage that Princess abandoned three young men on the high seas.    

Where does this sense of anger come from?  What are the moral and civil obligations which arise from the tragic and entirely avoidable deaths of the young Panamanian men.

Moral and Biblical Duty to Assist Your Fellow Man 

Bible, Matthew 7:12  When I was a kid, my mother raised me with one fundamental governing principle in mind.  She taught me that my purpose in life was to help others. Although I did not realize it at the time, she was paraphrasing the Bible, Matthew 7:12:     

"Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the Law and the Prophets." (New Living Bible Translation)

The maritime obligation to assist people in distress at sea, in my view, is based firmly on the "Golden Rule" of helping others in the same way that you would want to be if you were in distress. 

The same life guiding principle is found in other faiths. There is an equivalent passage in the Torah, which warns people "never to turn aside the stranger, for it is like turning aside the most high God." The Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said that "the highest expression of faith is to love for others what you love for yourself and to dislike for others what you dislike for yourself."  In Buddhism, you will find "Act not on others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful."

The maritime duty of a mariner to assist less fortunate mariners in peril on the high seas can be traced back to the Medieval Sea Codes where unwritten maritime traditions from the times of Jesus were first reduced to parchment.  

A mariner on a seaworthy vessel who sails away from seafarers in distress on a derelict vessel is, in essence, sailing away from himself and God Almighty in the process.

Modern Legal Considerations 

The duty to assist at sea is a fundamental part of U.S. maritime law.  In Caminiti v. Tomlinson Fleet Corp., 1981 MAC 201 (E.D. Ohio), passengers went overboard from their pleasure craft.  Two ships passed by and didn't stop, with one of the ships even shining its spotlight on the men struggling in the water before callously proceeding on.  The men drowned.

The shipping companies denied they had any obligation to assist the drowning men. The Court disagree, finding that the "law of the sea has always demanded a higher degree of care, vigilance and diligence." The duty to rescue "strangers in peril" exists even if the ships did not cause the peril in the first place. The Court stated that to accept the shipping companies' argument would create a situation "shocking to humanitarian considerations and the commonly accepted code of social conduct."   

Currently, there are three international conventions which impose a duty on ships to assist individuals in distress at sea.

The first is the International Maritime Organizations (IMO) regulations found in the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS). The second is the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCOLOS). The third is the International Convention of Salvage (1989) (“Salvage Convention”).  All three conventions essentially state that a captain of a ship once notified of persons in distress shall proceed with all speed to their assistance. 

Tulane Maritime Law Professor Martin Davies wrote an interesting law article which discusses the legal basis for these legal duties - Obligations and Implications for Ships Encountering Persons in Need of Assistance at Sea.  Professor Davies refers to the Director for the Center for Seafarer Rights in New York who states in a footnote: "there is no doubt that watchkeepers on some vessels, at least, pointedly look the other way as they close on small craft far from the shore.  Quiet words undoubtedly been spoken to masters about the inadvisability of being too zealously on hand and available . . ."

Fifty Cents Fishing Boat - IgnoredThe conventions include criminal penalties; there is the potential for the captain to be imprisoned and he and his employer to be fined.

Generally, these obligations can be enforced in a criminal context only by the “flag state.” All cruise ships fly "flags of convenience" in order to avoid U.S. taxes and labor and safety laws. For example, Carnival flies the flag of Panama. Royal Caribbean flies the flags of Liberia and the Bahamas. And Princess Cruises, which operates the Star Princess, flies the flag of Bermuda.

These countries are generally considered to be hesitant to enforce these conventions. They do not want to upset their cruise line customers.  Maritime Professor Davies writes: "many ocean-going commercial ships are registered under flags of convenience in countries notoriously unlikely to be zealous in enforcing the legal obligations imposed by the conventions." 

Bermuda has a maritime law which applies, called the Merchant Shipping Act of 2002, which recognizes the duty to assist ships in distress.  It states in part:

"The master of a ship, on receiving at sea a signal of distress or information from any source that a ship or aircraft is in distress, shall proceed with all speed to the assistance of the persons in distress unless he is unable, or in the special circumstances of the case considers it unreasonable or unnecessary . . ."

The Bermuda law includes criminal penalties, ". . . on conviction on indictment, to a fine of $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of two years, or both."

Practical Considerations When Cruise Lines Violate International Conventions 

The legal framework is in place for Bermuda, as the flag state responsible for enforcing the IMO regulations, to investigate and proceed with a criminal hearing against Princess Cruises and its captain. The question is whether Bermuda will act and, if so, will act in good faith and seriously attempt to put the Princess captain behind bars.

I was interviewed last week by the BBC Radio and I expressed my doubts whether Bermuda will zealously proceed against Princess Cruises.  After all, Princess is Bermuda's customer.  Bermuda enjoys a chummy relationship with the California-based cruise line which favored Bermuda with its business. You can hear the BBC interview, including comments by one of the U.S. passengers who spotted the disabled fishing boat, here (the radio segment starts at the 36:25 mark).    

Bermuda states that it intends to conduct an investigation into the cruise ship’s failure to respond to the disabled fishing boats’ pleas for assistance.  But Bermuda does not have an impressive record Princess Cruises - Star Princess Cruise Shipinvolving criminal cases involving Bermuda flagged cruise ships. We have handled maritime crime cases against Bermuda flagged cruise ships, including a case where a woman was raped on the Star Princess, where Bermuda never even opened a file. 

If Bermuda white-washes the investigation and exonerates the captain, which I expect to be Bermuda's motivation for suddenly becoming interested in criminal conduct involving its ships, there is legal authority that other countries with an interest in the matter can to bring criminal action against the captain and the cruise line. Panama, whose citizens were killed by the captain's alleged dereliction of duty, can and should assert criminal jurisdiction if Bermuda fails to act or acts in bad faith.

This is a very significant issue because Princess cruise ships sail through the Panama Canal. If I were Princess Cruises, I would be very concerned that the Panamanian authorities will seize one of my cruise ships if it enters Panamanian waters.

Back to the Bible: An Eye For An Eye

In addition to the criminal issues, it is a certainty that the families of the survivor and the two dead young men will bring a civil action for compensation against the cruise line and the captain, either in the United States and/or Panama. It is also likely that they will file a notice of lien to seize a Princess cruise ship if one decides to sail through the Panama Canal.  

The civil lawsuit against Princess will also include punitive damages against the cruise lines seeking to punish the cruise line for its alleged willful and wanton conduct.  Like the obligation to assist others, the concept of punitive damages can be traced back to the Bible, Exodus 24:21: an "eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot."

 

Photo credits:

Fifty Cents Sail Boat - Jeff Gilligan

Star Princess - Jim Walker

 

A quote to remember this story: "Treat People As You Would Like to be Treated - Karma Is A Bitch Only If You Are" (author unknown). 

Another Princess Cruise Ship Stricken With Norovirus?

Island Princess Cruise Ship - Norovirus? The Sun Sentinel newspaper in Fort Lauderdale reports that passengers aboard the Island Princess cruise ship are experiencing symptoms of gastrointestinal illness, according to a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control ("CDC"). 

The Princess cruise ship is scheduled to return to Port Everglades this morning after sailing a 10 night Panama Canal cruise.

The newspaper reports that the incident is not yet an official “outbreak" which occurs only when at least three percent of passengers experience symptoms such as of the illness, which include vomiting and diarrhea.

There are 1,970 passengers aboard the Island Princess

Several Princess cruise ships have experienced problems with norovirus this year, Including the Ruby Princess and the Crown Princess.  

If you were ill on this cruise or have observations regarding how Princess dealt with the issue, please leave a comment below. 

Coast Guard Busy Rescuing Sick Cruise Passengers: Three Medevacs in Ten Days

The United States Coast Guard has been busy rescuing ill passengers from cruise ships over the past week. 

Today a newspaper in North Carolina reports that a Coast Guard helicopter medevaced a 49 year old woman from the Carnival Pride cruise ship.  The ship was near Virginia at the time of the emergency medical evacuation.  The medical condition of the passenger was not disclosed.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Elizabeth City, launched to assist, hoisted the woman and ship’s nurse and took them to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk.

Yesterday, the Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter from Belle Chase (near New Orleans) into the Gulf of Mexico to rescue a man aboard Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas cruise ship.  According to a newspaper in New Orleans, a MH-65C helicopter flew 132 miles into the Gulf to medevac the passenger who was experiencing stroke-like symptoms. The Coast Guard then transferred the passenger to Touro Infirmary in New Orleans.

Last week, the Coast Guard medevaced a man from the Crown Princess, operated by Princess Cruises.  I don't have any information about this medevac. Does anyone have any information about this event or the other two medevacs?

A video of the Crown Princess rescue (credit tigertran01/youtube)  is below. 

 

Ruby Princess Latest Cruise Ship to Battle Norovirus

Ruby Princess - NorovirusPrincess Cruises' Ruby Princess cruise ship experienced a norovirus outbreak with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reporting that 129 passengers 9 crewmembers suffered gastrointestinal illness.

The Ruby Princess was on a 7 day cruise from February 26 to March 4, 2012 out of Fort Lauderdale. 

The Ruby Princess suffered another outbreak last month, although the prior sickness was not reported or investigated by the CDC.

The cruise industry has struggled with gastrointestinal outbreaks this year, some outbreaks reported by the CDC, some not, with Princess Cruises and the Royal Caribbean/Celebrity ships leading the cruise puke fest.

Here is a list of cases I have reported on just this year:

Princess' Ruby Princess Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas Celebrity' Constellation

Princess' Crown Princess (two sailings) Celebrity's Silhouette Cruise Sickness - Norovirus

Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas

Princess' Ruby Princess 

P & O Aurora.

There has been a sick cruise ship virtually every week this year. 

Only cruise ships calling on U.S. ports are required to report sickness outbreaks to the CDC.  Cruise line are required to make the report only when 3% or more of passengers or crew reported symptoms of diarrheal disease to the ships medical staff during the voyage.

Under-reporting occurs regularly because many passengers can't make it away from their toilets due to diarrhea, and some passengers don't want to be confined to their cabins. Crewmembers often work while sick.

 

Photo credit:  bottom - cheezburger.com

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)
 

Three Princess Cruises Passengers Hospitalized in Bermuda

Grand Princess Cruise Ship - Princess CruisesThe Bermuda Sun reports this week that three cruise passengers were taken to the hospital in Bermuda after Princess Cruises' Grand Princess arrived in port.

A female passenger reportedly broke her ankle, a male passenger suffered a heart condition, and another male passenger lost consciousness in the cruise ship's swimming pool.  

This was the Grand Princess’s only trip to Bermuda this year. 

Bermuda has recently lost a number of cruise lines as customers this year.  Holland America just announced that the Veendam will no longer visit Bermuda after next year, after making 24 cruises from New York this year.  That announcement occurred shortly after Carnival announced that it was cutting cruises to Bermuda from 16 trips by four cruise ships this year, to just one in 2012.

The president of Bermuda's Chamber of Commerce characterized these developments as a “big blow to the island’s economy.” 

 

Photo credit:  Grand Princess cruise ship in Bermuda Flickr (tribewantedgilligan)

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

Two Princess Cruise Ships Diverted to Bermuda to Disembark Sick Passengers

A magazine in Bermuda is reporting that two cruise ships recently diverted toward Bermuda to transfer ill passengers ashore for medical treatment.

On May 9th, the Princess Crown Princess diverted to Bermuda to disembark a 57 year old male passenger who was suffering from breathing difficulties. The magazine reports that the pilot cutter St. George met the cruise ship at the sea buoy and the sick passenger was transfered between the two vessels. 

Pilot Boat - Cruise ShipOpen water passenger transfers are potentially dangerous exercises.  You will recall that a rescue vessel recently dropped an elderly passenger into freezing water while trying to transfer her ashore.  A recent investigation found that the crew used unsafe procedures and did not even place a life vest on the sick passenger.

In this case, the Princess passenger was transferred safely to the pilot boat and then ashore where an awaiting ambulance transported him to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. 

The second diversion occured on May 7th when Princess' Grand Princess altered course toward Bermuda to disembark a 55 year old male passenger who needed urgent medical attention.  The passenger was also transfered ashore via the same pilot boat.

Both Princess cruise ships were sailing from Port Everglades, Florida to the Azores Islands.

 

Photo credit  kathhooson Flickr

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

Princess' Cult of a Cruise - FollowMeAtSea Folly - Part 2 - Fun At Sabatini's

Last November, Princess Cruises invited a number of cruise fans and travel writers on an all expenses paid cruise where they were encouraged to tweet wonderful things about cruising with Princess.  The group used the hashtag "#FollowMeAtSea."  

When a large billion dollar corporation provides "reporters" with a free cruise, and plies them with champagne and free i-pods, free publicity is the result. You know how it works - here's-a-free-cruise-so-write-something-nice-about-us.  Predictably, the pampered Twitter passengers gushed praise on their generous cruise hosts.  The typical comment on Twitter was something like "WOW! this is great!"    

But something interesting happened last year.  A number of people on Twitter, undoubtedly irritated by the mindless cheer-leading of the Twitter cruisers, began to ask fundamental questions about the sustainability of cruising.  After all, cruise ships burn the nastiest fuel in the world - bunker fuel.  And we are at a time when the endless spewing of millions of gallons of cruse oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil well demonstrates that reliance on fossil fuels is a doomed business model - not to mention the disastrous effects on our air, water, and marine life.

Twitter Cruise - #FollowMeAtSeaA heated debate soon erupted on Twitter.  The environmentalists asked pointed questions that the travel writers were completely unprepared to address and the cruise line was afraid to answer.  I commented on Princess Cruises' failed social media experiment in a blog Princess' Cult of a Cruise - #FollowMeAtSea Folly.

I asked questions on Twitter which I felt were important, like what excuse does Princess Cruises have for the worst environmental record for dumping illegal levels of copper, ammonia, zinc and fecal coliform bacteria into Alaska's pristine waters?  There were some nasty responses from the cruisers, who obviously wanted to party and not concern themselves with such thoughts. Finally, one of the travel writers promised to "grill" the environmental officer on the subject of Princess' history of dumping pollutants into Alaskan waters. 

But by the end of the cruise, most of the #FollowMeAtSeas groupies had given up any pretense that there was any legitimate "reporting" on anything having to so with the environment, or other important issues like crime on cruises.  The "reporter" who promised to grill the environmental officer about pollution never followed up on her promise.  Instead, she was later photographed with the Captain, including sitting on his lap while other "reporters" took turns posing for photos while wearing the officers' hats.  Oh well, so much for the rigorous cross-examination.    

So here we are at #FollowMeAtSeas - Part 2.  Princess has offered another free booze and cruise experience to entice another group of travel agents and cruise fans on the Coral Princess cruise ship sailing an Alaskan itinerary.  Free chocolates.  Free massages.  Free fruit baskets and champagne.  You know the drill - go tweet something nice about us.

Most of these cruisers I follow on Twitter, like @OrlandoChris and @CruiseBuzz, have mastered the art of social media and have great blogs and a big Twitter presence.  All of the members of this latest Twitter Press Group seem like great people, entertaining and fun to be around I am sure.

Captain Manfuso - Coral Princess - Princess CruisesSo I have been occasionally following the FollowMeatSea hashtag to see how the cruise is going. 

Most of the tweets from the group are what I expect.  Just this evening, there as an "AMAZING" tweet from @earthxplorer.  A "Wow" from @Travelogged.  Another "Wow" from @OrlandoChris, who touted the cruise line's C.R.U.I.S.E. program - "Courtesy, Respect, Unfailing In Service Excellence."  And finally @BethBlair gave the cruise line a "A+" and tweeted that all of the Princess employees were "friendly, helpful and professional."

There is no controversy on Twitter this year.  The environmentalists have their hands full with the oil spill in the Gulf and are directing their energy to tweets about BP and the mounting ecological disaster.  No one cares about another silly Twitter cruise.  

But there were three tweets from the Princess Twitter group this evening that put a chill down my back.  The first was a tweet by @OrlandoChris - "Looking forward to Sabatini's experience tonight . . .  The second tweet was by @theplanetd "14 courses and an elastic waistband a match made in heaven here at Sabatini's."  And the third by @CruiseBuzz referring to a blog about Princess Cruises' "Ultimate Ship Tour."  The article contained a photo of the Master of the Coral Princess, who I immediately recognized  - the infamous Captain Manfuso. 

You see, last November, a young, handsome and well liked Italian chef aboard the Coral Princess disappeared.  His name is Angelo Faliva.  He worked in Sabatini's.  He was last seen speaking Angelo Faliva - Princess Crew Member - Missing - Coral Princess with some passengers in the restaurant.  There was talk that he had a disagreement with a Filipino crew member in the galley.  There were also rumors that he saw something that he should not have - like drug dealing.  Was there a fight?  Was he thrown overboard?  Or did someone place him in the ship's incinerator as some crew members suspect?

Princess Cruises is not saying.  Even though there are many hundreds of closed circuit television cameras all over the cruise ship, the cruise line claims that they have absolutely no information about Mr. Faliva.  According to Princess, he just disappeared into thin air.

Mr. Faliva's family is devastated. According to news sources in Italy, Princess Cruises has treated the Faliva family rotten.  Mr. Faliva's younger sister, Chiara, traveled to the U.S. and tried to speak to Captain Manfuso who she characterized as cold and rude.  He would not explain anything to her.  

The Faliva family remains in the dark.  Take a moment and read a few of the many articles below which we published about the cruise line's refusal to cooperate with the Faliva family.

So here we have the newest group of "Twitter reporters" who are happy to be wined and dined at Sabatini's and tweet endless compliments about Princess.  But someone should sober up and ask a few meaningful questions. How can a crew members cook for guests in Sabatini's and then vanish without a trace?  What "courtesy" or "respect" was extended to the Faliva family?  If you lose a loved one from a Princess cruise, will Princess remain "friendly, helpful and professional?"

Princess' PR spokespeople Karen Candy and Julie Benson know the case well.  Try questioning them about it and see their response.

Will anyone ask Captain Manfuso what really happened to Mr. Faliva?  Will anyone print a copy of his photograph above and ask Mr. Faliva's fellow employees in Sabatini's what they know about his disappearance?

Or will we hear more comments like "WOW" the veal cutlet at Sabatini's last night was "AMAZING!" 

I'm not holding my breath.  I know this cruise will end with no real reporting about anything of importance to anyone.  

And I can't wait to see who gets tipsy on champagne and sits on Captain Manfuso's lap at the end of the cruise and poses for a photo wearing his hat . . .     

 

For information about crew member Angelo Failva missing from the Princess Coral Princess cruise ship, please consider reading:

Angelo Faliva - Missing - Princess Coral Princess Cruise ShipCrew 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"

Italian TV Show "Chi l'ha Visto?" Features Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva

What Happened to Princess Crew Member Angelo Faliva? The Faliva Family Seeks Answers

 

Credits:

Twitter cruise photo             galavanting.tv/

Captain Manfuso photo    @CruiseBuzz's  Ultimate Ship Tour

Angelo Faliva photos            Faliva family

 

Did Princess Cruises Check the Driving Record of Excursion Bus Driver, Crash Dummy?

A story in the BVI Platinum's newspaper indicates that the cruise excursion bus driver Roland Allen, nick-named "Crash Dummy," had been convicted of driving offenses - including reckless driving - before the ill-fated Princess Cruises excursion bus crash. 

We suspected this, as we raised this issue in a prior article "How Did Princess Cruises Excursion Bus Driver "Crash Dummy" Earn His Nick Name? - Why Does He Have A Police Record?"

Compelling Record of Bad Driving?

In an article " Allen's License Suspended, Independent Mechanic to Examine Bus," the newspaper reveals an exchange between the bus driver's lawyer and the criminal Magistrate presiding over the matter. The lawyer for Mr. Allen pleaded the Magistrate not to suspend Mr. Allen's license.  In response, the Magistrate:

 ". . . lamented that the court was given a conviction sheet of Allen and most of the offences are road traffic offences with one being reckless driving. 'The allegations are compelling' she stated."

The newspaper also reports on a curious plea by Mr. Allen's lawyer who "told the court that tour operator is his only means of income and suspending it will deprive Allen of his livelihood."  This Tropical Forest Hike & Beach - Princess Cruises - Cancelledargument ignored the fact that the cruise line had already suspended the tour in question, the "Tropical Forest Hike and Beach" excursion, as previously reported in USA Today.  The Princess Cruises' website states: Tropical Forest Hike & Beach***Cancelled***

The Magistrate ruled that given Mr. Allen's previous convictions, "it is not wise to allow him to return behind the wheels." 

Was It Wise to Permit "Crash Dummy" Behind the Wheel In The First Place?

Cruise lines have certain legal duties to their passengers.  The cruise line must conduct an investigation into the safety procedures of the tour company and audit the tour's safety record.  This includes not only inspecting the excursion company's buses but inspecting the driving records of the tour company's drivers.  Cruise lines also have a duty to warn passengers of dangers which are known, or should be known, to the cruise line.

Princess Cruises advertises the excursion bus going to the "highest peak in the Virgin Islands."

Why did the cruise line permit a driver - known in the community of Tortola as "Crash Dummy" and reportedly convicted of reckless driving - take cruise passengers through this steep mountainous terrain?  Why didn't the cruise line warn its passengers of these dangers before charging them $59 a piece for the excursion?

 

Credits:

Tropical Forest Hike and Beach         Princess Cruises