Should the Bahamas Be Permitted to Register Cruise Ships?

Nassau BahamasThree Shots In Just 12 Hours reads the headlines in the Tribune newspaper today. Other articles in the local newspapers in Nassau include Tourist: I was Victim of Sex Attack by Jet Ski Operators.

The U.S. Embassy in Nassau has issued a warning to U.S. citizens of the danger of women (including girls) being sexually assaulted by jet ski operators on Paradise Island near the Atlantis resort.  

The murder count in the Bahamas just reached 106 for the year and is rising. Last year 111 people were murdered there. The body count will exceed that number this month. The vast majority of the homicides involved local citizens and occurred in Nassau (New Providence) with a population of only 250,000.  By contrast Miami-Dade County has a total population of 5,500,000 with only 229 murders (Miami-Dade has twenty-two times as many people and only twice as many murders as Nassau).

Compounding the problem is the inability of the local police in the Bahamas to solve these crimes and prosecute the criminals. The same police officers who can't solve a crime when a U.S. tourist is robbed at gunpoint in downtown Nassau are often tasked with investigating crimes on Bahamian-flagged cruise ships.

Cruise lines like Carnival, Disney, NCL and Royal Caribbean register many of their cruise ships in Nassau to avoid U.S. taxes, labor laws and safety regulations. By flying "flags of convenience," the Miami-based cruise ships divest the U.S. authorities  from law enforcement duties. In cases where U.S. citizens are victims, the FBI has special maritime jurisdiction and are permitted to become involved (although the FBI rarely does).

But when the victim is not a U.S. citizen (over 95% of the crew are not) the FBI has no jurisdiction and the responsibility to investigate crime on Bahamian-flagged ship falls to the Bahamas. 

This is, of course, an absolute joke. There are well over a thousand ships registered in the Bahamas, including not only cruise ships but tankers, bulk carriers, and cargo ships of all types. Does anyone really think that the local police in Nassau have the interest or resources to fly to Bahamian cruise Bahamas Flag of Convenienceships around the world and solve crimes when they can't solve a crime when a tourist is assaulted in front of their own police station?

I have never heard of the police in Nassau ever solving a single crime on a Bahamian-flagged cruise ship.  But if you are a crew member from the Philippines assaulted by another crew member from Central America, it's the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) who has jurisdiction. The BMA won't do anything but may (but usually not) delegate responsibility to the Nassau police. The local police, in turn, will simply not show up.

Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, the Quantum of the Seas, has dominated the news as of late. There's endless news about all of the technological marvels on the ship. But Royal Caribbean registered the ship in crime-infested Nassau.  When the first violent crime occurs on the Quantum, don't expect anyone from the Bahamas to show up and investigate.

 

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Don't forget to read: An "Outlaw Industry" Watched By "Paper Tigers"

Photo Credit:  Tim Clarke / Tribune

What Does the USA Have to Do with the Quantum of the Seas?

Quantum of the Seas There came a point during the inaugural festivities aboard the Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas last night when I couldn't help laughing.

The cruise line portrayed a gigantic (digital) American flag on the cruise ship's massive screens. The crowd of travel agents, cruise bloggers, quasi-celebrities and Bon Jovi tribute band went wild.

The Royal Caribbean PR feed began releasing carefully posed photo-shopped images of the Quantum sailing next to the Statute of Liberty. The frenzied cruise fans and make-believe journalists began posting comments on Twitter like "iconic," epic" and "goosebumps."

Then one of my "Twitter friends" tweeted #USA #cruise and posted a photograph of old glory. 

What on earth does the USA have to do with the Quantum?

The ship was built in Germany. Royal Caribbean is incorporated in Liberia (think civil wars & Ebola) to avoid U.S. taxes. The Liberian corporation registered the ship in Bahamas (think corruption and crime) to avoid U.S. safety laws and labor regulations. After a few months, the ship will be home-ported in Shanghai, China (try not to think of human rights violations). The crew members are over 95% from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Eastern Europe and South and Central American.  

About the only connection to the USA is that's where the cruise CEO's live in their waterfront Miami mansions. 

Quantum of the Seas Statute of Liberty

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Don't forget to read: Despite the Hype, Quantum of the Seas is Just Another Dumb Cruise Ship.

 

Photo credit: Twitter and Royal Caribbean

Medical Malpractice on the High Seas: Cruise Passengers Have Rights!

Three years ago, i wrote an article lamenting the sad state of affairs surrounding cruise ship medical care entitled: Medical Malpractice on the High Seas: Do Cruise Passengers Have Any Rights? 

The answer, in short, was no.  I wrote that a cruise ship is about the only place on earth where a doctor can negligently kill your loved one and there is no accountability.

In "If the Ship Doctor Kills You, Too Bad," I explained that passengers were plagued not only by the limited nature of cruise ship medical care but by the cruise industry's immunity from legal responsibility. Cruise cruise lines were able to avoid all liability even when the ship doctor or nurses negligently Royal Caribbean Cruise Medical Careharmed the passenger.  Cruise lines had immunity for medical malpractice lawsuits under the antiquated "Barbetta doctrine."

Passengers were left to seek accountability by trying to sue the doctor. This was problematic for several reasons. The doctor inevitably does not live in the U.S. and it was difficult to serve a ship doctor with a lawsuit or obtain personal jurisdiction over him in a U.S. court. Also, many ship doctors do not have liability insurance and have few assets.

You can read this case to see the extraordinary steps that the ship doctors and cruise lines went to to avoid liability even in clear cut cases where the doctor acted irresponsibly. Over the years, cruise lines fought tooth and nail to maintain their immunity from medical negligence on cruise ships even though they collect tens of billions of dollars a year and pay no U.S. taxes. 

With the recent 11th Circuit decision in Franza v. Royal Caribbean, the law has now changed. Cruise lines are finally responsible when passengers receive bad medical care on cruise ships. 

The landmark decision reflects the reality of the cruise industry today. Cruise lines are extremely wealthy, pay no U.S. taxes, and operate state-of-the-art medical facilities in what are essentially floating cities. Royal Caribbean's newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, cost over $1,000,000,000 and is touted as the most sophisticated ship in the world.  Plus, it offers some of the most dangerous attractions in the cruise industry, with the iFly simulated sky-diving and FlowRider simulated surfing attractions. Why shouldn't this cruise line be responsible when cruise passengers are seriously injured and then the cruise ship doctor commits malpractice?

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Photo Credit: Jim Walker

Despite the Hype, Quantum of the Seas is Just Another Dumb Cruise Ship

Quantum North StarThe cruise industry is abuzz with excitement about Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, the Quantum of the Seas. I wrote yesterday that during an interview with CNBC, cruise chairman Richard Fain called the giant ship "wonderful, exciting, fantastic and terrific." The CNBC reporter excitedly called the ship the "best and brightest."

The "smart ship" is how the cruise line pitched the $1,000,000,000 cruise ship. The media jumped aboard without first objectively testing the new ship. There are dozens of articles by travel publications endorsing the cruise line's marketing image of the giant ship as the "most technologically advanced ship ever to sail."

Putting the marketing-hysteria aside, just how smart is the cruise ship?

Yes, the Quantum has the North Star viewing pod, the first iFly simulated sky-diving on a ship (which will keep the personal injury lawyers busy for a decade), another FlowRider simulated-surfing-device (a real money-maker considering the cost of private lessons), a robotic bartender and the first (old school) bumper cars at sea. But these are just gadgets designed for passenger fun. Same goes for the virtual balconies for the windowless interior cabins, for which the cruise line can now charge a premium.    

The internet connection on the Quantum is reportedly faster than other cruise ships, so the kids can download movies I suppose. But it's still slower than land-based connectivity. Do you really want to Automatic Man Overboard see the kids turning into couch potatoes staring at their gaming devices during a cruise?

Unfortunately, Royal Caribbean didn't invest in technology to make the Quantum safer for the guests or the crew. In 2010, President Obama signed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, requiring the installation of automatic man-overboard devices. Other than Disney which reportedly has installed the safety devices, Royal Caribbean and the rest of the cruise industry refuse to invest the monies to utilize the technology, even though there is no question that the technology is available.

Automatic man-overboard systems are designed to immediately send a signal to the bridge and capture the image of the person going overboard so that prompt search and rescue measures can be undertaken. Royal Caribbean has experienced more than its share of passengers and crew going overboard in its fleet of ships. It needs to invest some of its tax-free bounty to install such safety systems. But instead it spent money on gee-whiz contraptions designed to WOW the public and increase profits. 

So as the Quantum passengers enjoy the iFly, FlowRider and North Star, drink gin-and-tonics served by robots, and gaze out of their simulated balconies, people will continue to disappear at sea. And the Quantum will continue to sail on without knowing, like the dumb ship that she is.  

 

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Photo Credits: Top - Royal Caribbean; bottom - CruelKev2's blog         

Royal Caribbean's Billion Dollar Smart Cruise Ship - A Slow Boat to China?

CNBC's high-energy Simon Hobbs (my favorite) interviews Royal Caribbean Chairman Richard Fain about the Quantum of the Seas which is being called the world's first "smart ship." 

Mr. Hobbs interviewed me last year about Carnival's troubles following the ill-fated "poop cruise."  I found him to be fast-paced and quick-witted.

In the video, Mr. Hobbs asks the Royal Caribbean boss some interesting questions about Royal Caribbean's decision to send the cruise line's most spectacular cruise ship, with the NorthStar capsule contraption, iFly simulated sky-diving attraction (there's already been an injury) and bumper-cars, to China.

Mr. Fain called the Quantum, his baby"wonderful, exciting, fantastic and terrific." He explained his intention of moving the cruise ship to Shanghai because his cruise line has received "terrific interest and great prices" from the Chinese.

I guess that sums it up.   

 

11th Circuit Rejects Cruise Lines' Immunity Defense to Medical Malpractice Claims

Today the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal published an opinion which recognizes the right of cruise ship passengers who become victims of medical malpractice to hold cruise lines vicariously liable for the negligence of the shipboard doctors and nurses.

The case is PATRICIA FRANZA, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Pasquale F. Vaglio versus ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES, LTD., a Liberian corporation.  You can read the opinion (63 pages) here.    

Previously, cruise lines were able to hide behind the immunity defense set forth in Barbetta v. S/S Bermuda Star, 848 F.2d 1364 (5th Cir. 1988). The so-called “Barbetta rule” immunizes a shipowner Quatum of the Seas from respondeat superior liability whenever a cruise ship employee renders negligent medical care to its passengers. Cruise lines enjoyed broad immunity "no matter how clear the shipowner’s control over its medical staff or how egregious the claimed acts of negligence."

The Franza v. Royal Caribbean decision involved an "elderly cruise ship passenger (who) fell and bashed his head while the vessel, the Explorer of the Seas, was docked at port in Bermuda. The injured traveler, Pasquale Vaglio, was wheeled back onto the ship, where he sought treatment from the onboard medical staff in the ship’s designated medical center. Over the next few hours, Vaglio allegedly received such negligent medical attention that his life could not be saved. In particular, the ship’s nurse purportedly failed to assess his cranial trauma, neglected to conduct any diagnostic scans, and released him with no treatment to speak of. The onboard doctor, for his part, failed even to meet with Vaglio for nearly four hours."

The Vaglios then encountered another delay when "the onboard medical staff would not examine Vaglio until the ship’s personnel obtained credit card information." Tragically, Mr. Vaglio died a week later.

Mr. Vaglio's daughter, Patricia, filed suit to hold Royal Caribbean vicariously liable for the shipboard medical team's negligence under two theories: actual agency (also termed respondeat superior) and apparent agency. 

After the trial court dismissed Ms. Vaglio's lawsuit under the "Barbetta rule," she appealed the dismissal of her case to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal.  

In a decision authored by Justice Stanley Marcus, the Eleventh Circuit rejected the "Barbetta rule" and recognized that maritime employers have long been vicariously liable for the negligence of their ship employees. The Barbetta rule was fashioned at a time when ships had sparse, if any medical facilities, and often no ship doctor or nurses. But now the cruise industry boasts state-of-the-art medical facilities and touts that its cruise ship doctors and infirmaries comply with the the American College of Emergency Physicians guidelines. 

Justice Marcus pointed out that in a Royal Caribbean press release authored by Royal Caribbean cruise executive Adam Goldstein, he boasted about the cruise line's "onboard laboratory equipment, x-ray units, and clot-busting thrombolytics" which were important to the public's "tranquility and peace of mind." The court stated that it was "disingenuous for large cruise lines to disclaim any medical expertise when they routinely provide access to extensive medical care in the infirmaries they have constructed for this very purpose."

Justice Marcus stated: 

“Here, the roots of the Barbetta rule snake back in to a wholly different world. Instead of nineteenth-century steamships, we now confront state of the art cruise ships that house thousands of people and operate as floating cities, complete with well-stocked modern infirmaries and urgent care centers. In place of truly independent doctors and nurses, we must now acknowledge that medical professionals routinely work for corporate masters. And whereas ships historically went ‘off the grid’ when they set sail, modern technology enables distant ships to communicate instantaneously with the mainland in meaningful ways. In short, despite its prominence, the Barbetta rule now seems to prevail more by Philip D. Parrish Lawyer Miamithe strength of inertia than by the strength of its reasoning. In our view, ‘the reasons that originally led’ other courts to adopt ‘the rule have long since disappeared.’”

The decision is an important one because cruise lines will no longer entice cruise passengers aboard their cruise ships by representing the excellence of the medical care and then assert immunity when the shipboard doctors and nurses maim the passengers. 

The case was handled by trial lawyers Andy Waks and Joel Barnett at the trial level and appellate specialist Philip D. Parrish at the appellate level (photo right).  Mr. Parrish has handled other important maritime cases on behalf of cruise ship passengers.  Mr. Parrish successfully handled several high profile decisions for our firm's clients: Chaparro v. Carnival (cruise lines have duty to warn of crimes in ports of call), Johnson v. Royal Caribbean (flowrider liability waiver is illegal), and Doe v. Princess (addressing scope of crew member arbitration agreement).    

 

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Wedel 04 CC BY-SA 4.0 Frank Schwichtenberg

Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship Runs Aground and Strands Passengers in Freeport

Bahamas CelebrationWPTV reports that the Bahamas Celebration was forced to return to Freeport after the cruise ship "touched bottom" while leaving port last night.

The Bahamas Celebration sails between the Port of Palm Beach and Freeport.

Although there have been no reports of whether the cruise ship sustained damage, it sounds like there may have been damage to the ship's hull.  I'm not sure what "touched bottom" means. It may be a nice way of saying that the ship smashed a reef. 

Update: The Nassau Tribune reports that the ship sustained a hole in the side of the vessel, and is listing 10 degrees. Initial reports suggested that the ship was in danger of sinking.  Passengers were instructed to wear life preservers.  Photo Credit: Nassau Tribune.

Marco Polo Cruise Ship Runs Aground in Norway Again

The Marco Polo cruise ship is back in the news after it ran aground while trying to dock at a pier in Norway.  It previously ran aground in March 2013 in Norway. News accounts estimate that somewhere between 750 and 1,000 passengers were aboard. 

The AP says that maritime rescue services are hoping to pull the cruise ship free at high tide later today, after tugboats and a coast guard vessel failed to push it free. 

The ship is chartered by U.K. based Cruise & Maritime Voyages.

Marco Polo was last in the news in February of this year when it proceeded to sail in extremely rough weather.  A wave crashed through a window in the vessel's dining room and killed a passenger.  

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Photo Credit: AP

Marco Polo

"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

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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. 

Overworked & Underpaid on the High Seas

This weekend I read an interesting article in the Springfield Register-Guard about Royal Caribbean Cruises' plans to add employees at its call center in Oregon.

There are currently over 700 employees at the call center in Oregon, according to the newspaper. The cruise line is planning to add another 220 mostly full time employees.

What struck me about the article was the lucrative pay and benefits which the cruise line provides to its employees. The newspapers says "Royal Caribbean touts its modern facility, which includes a fitness center and cafeteria; base pay that starts at $8.85 to $10.50 an hour, not including incentive pay; Royal Caribbean Call Center Spinngfield Oregonhealth care insurance; a retirement plan; the chance to advance rapidly, and cruising privileges."

The cruise line also received lucrative incentives to open the call center back in 2006. The state of Oregon provided $1.3 million in incentives, including a $600,000 loan. The company was required to pay back only around $64,000. 

What a great employment package for the people in Oregon (especially compared to the Royal Caribbean operations in the U.K. which was out-sourced to Guatemala earlier this year). They can make over $400 working 40 hours a week, plus benefits, in a nice facility doing a cushy job. 

How does that compare to a cleaner from Jamaica who works on a Royal Caribbean ship 10 to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no time off and no benefits?  A cleaner on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship makes around $550 a month performing strenuous work under difficult circumstances, far from the comforts of home. That turns out to around $1.75 an hour. They are tied to contracts lasting anywhere from 6 to 9 months without a single day off.

The cruise line pays no taxes on the billions of dollars paid each year by cruise passenger, because it is incorporated in Liberia and it registers its ship under flags of convenience (Bahamas and Liberia) on its cruise ships. It rakes in millions and millions each year in profits. Its cruise executives, Mr. Fain and Mr. Goldstein, are collectively worth well over $100,000,000 because of the hard working and minimally paid crew, mostly from the Caribbean islands, east Europe, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The U.S. executives are swimming in cash while paying the "foreign" crew peanuts. 

There is something wrong when a U.S. call center employee sitting in a cubicle answering the phone for the cruise line can work less than one-half of the hours of a shipboard employee yet earn three times more, plus benefits and perks.   

 

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Don't forget to read:  

Cruise Law Visits Royal Caribbean in Oregon

Globalization at Work? Royal Caribbean's U.K. Call Center Outsourced to Guatemala

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Carnival Ecstasy

A local FOX News station in Clearwater, Florida reports that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a passenger with a medical emergency from a Carnival  cruise ship.

The Carnival Ecstasy was sailing around 250 miles southwest of the Florida Keys on Thursday, when a 51 year old male passenger began experiencing symptoms of a heart attack.

The Coast Guard crew flew out to the cruise ship in a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter. They hoisted the sick passenger onto the helicopter and flew the man to a hospital. 

FOX 13 News

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. 

Bad Medical Care, Lack of Accountability, Plague Cruise Industry

One of the dangers which cruise passengers face is incompetent medical care provided by non-U.S. doctors and nurses. And when these go wrong in the high seas, most cruise passengers don't realize that the cruise lines are not legally responsible for the malpractice of the cruise ship medical team. 

One of our ten most outrageous cruise stories last year focused on the extraordinary steps the cruise lines take to avoid responsibility when cruise ship doctors maim or kill cruise passengers. I also suggest reading: If The Ship Doctor Kills You, Too Bad.

Tomorrow at the Senate hearing on cruise safety there will testimony that it took 15 minutes before cruise ship medical employees arrived after Armada Butler's 51 year old mother collapsed during a Carnival Conquestcruise aboard the Carnival Conquest. In a NBC Channel 6 interview, Amanda said it took even longer to get inside the closed medical facility on the ship where the defibrillator was located.

The family flew Ms. Butler from the Cayman Islands (where she was medically disembarked) to the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami via private jet, but she died two weeks later

Local cruise celebrity Stewart Chiron defended the industry, telling NBC 6 "It looks like in some cases, persons are upset about certain responses . . . but you see the same types in complaints on shore."

But unlike shore-side cases where doctors commit malpractice, the cruise lines are largely immune from legal liability arising out of the malpractice of the cruise ship doctors. Without legal and financial consequences, cruise lines like Carnival have little incentive to voluntarily invest in better medical facilities or more experienced and trained doctors and nurses.

Tomorrow Amanda Butler will discuss the circumstances surrounding her mother's death at the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing titled “The Cruise Passenger Protection Act (S.1340): Improving Consumer Protections for Cruise Passengers.”

The hearing will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 2:45 p.m. at the 253 Russell Senate Office Building in Washington D.C.

The hearing will be webcast live via the Senate Commerce Committee website. Be sure to click on the link and watch the hearing.

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: Wikipedia / Derek Kastner

Passenger Disappears from the Costa Victoria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Propulsion Problems Plague Celebrity Silhouette

Celebrity Silhouette Cruise Critic reports that a unspecified propulsion problem is slowing the Celebrity Silhouette down, causing it to shorten time spent in certain port of calls.

Celebrity does not specify the nature of the problem or indicate when the problem will be fixed.

A Celebrity Cruises spokeswoman provides this gobbledygook explanation: the "slight restriction" on the ship's top speed "is due to a portion of the propulsion system operating at less than optimal efficiency."

The Celebrity Reflection was recently delayed in Civitavecchia due to unspecified mechanical problems. Celebrity was secret about that problem.

A Celebrity cruise ship was delayed in port was last December when the Celebrity Constellation suffered an engine problem in Key West.  

Anyone know what's the problem with the Silhouette?

 

Photo Credit: Wikepedia / Kyle.died.rich

Crew Member Overboard From Carnival Spirit Near Vanatu

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

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

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

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

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

Does anyone have information regarding this incident to share?

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Hpeterswald

The George Smith Case - Nine Years Later

George Smith DisappearanceTomorrow will be the nine year anniversary of the disappearance of George Smith from the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas during his honeymoon cruise. 

Mr. Smith went overboard from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship on July 5, 2005 as the ship was sailing to Turkey.

Suspicions have focused on several men who were in Mr. Smith's cabin before he went overboard, particularly after one of the men made incriminating statements. We have written many prior articles about the case which you can review here.

CBS will air an updated story of the efforts of Mr. Smith's family tomorrow night on 48 HOURS.  A preview is below. 

The Smith family has recently announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for his disappearance. 

 

If you have information about who may have killed Mr. Smith, please consider using the following contact information:

1 (844) 651 1936 

georgesmithtipline@gmail.com

Justice for George

Passenger Smuggles Cocaine Aboard Carnival Liberty

Ishermon Tafari - Carnival Srug Smuggling - CocaineNews sources are reporting that a Carnival cruise passenger was busted at Port Canaveral with 12 pounds of cocaine in his suitcase after returning from a Caribbean cruise. 

The Orlando Sentinel says that Ishermon Tafari, age 31, from the country of Granada, was arrested over the weekend when federal officers entered his cabin on the Carnival Liberty cruise ship.

The officers had obtained arrest and search warrants in Orlando federal court before the cruise ship returned to port. 

When the officers searched the passenger's cabin, they found powder laundry detergent poured onto clothes at the bottom of Tafari's luggage. Approximately 12 pounds of cocaine were inside the lining of the luggage.

WFTV reports that the cruise ship made stops in Turks and Caicos, Aruba and Curacao before returning to Port Canaveral.

Investigators are looking to see if Tafari is part of a bigger smuggling operation, after discovering that he sent a text to a friend while on the trip saying, "I'm on a mission [same one, different island]."

Photo Credit:  Orlando Sentinel  

Why Did the Westerdam Catch on Fire? Does Anyone Care?

Shortly after the Holland America Line (HAL)'s Westerdam caught on fire this weekend, HAL issued a press release characterizing the fire as "small" and "quickly" extinguished. It also said that it returned to port in Seattle "out of an abundance of caution."

Cruise line press statements like this rarely tell the whole story. We know that this fire was not immediately extinguished by the automatic suppression system on the ship and had to be fought by crew members with fire hoses, but the fire still re-ignited. The cruise line did not bother to explain why the fire ignited in the first place.  Was it a ruptured fuel or oil line? If so, did the cruise ship have splash guards? Was it a HAL Westerdammechanical failure of some type?  Why wasn't the fire suppressed by the automatic systems? Why did it re-ignite? 

Carnival Corporation, HAL's parent company and the owner of the cruise ship, stated last year that it invested hundreds of millions of dollars in safety improvements throughout its fleet of ship, primarily in the engine rooms. The announcement was a major public relations strategy after the bad press following the fires aboard the Triumph and other Carnival cruise ships. Did the Westerdam receive any of the much touted safety improvements?

There are many hundreds of newspaper articles mentioning the fire.  But no one is asking these basic questions. Returning to port after a fire "out of an abundance of caution," seems like a gross understatement to me. Can you imagine a major airline battling a fire and then saying that it returned to the airport voluntarily, just to be on the safe side?  

A fire at sea is one of the most dangerous experiences imaginable. But most cruise fans don't seem to be particularly bothered by these issues.  HAL quickly announced a $250 per cabin credit to be used during the remainder of the cruise which is now continuing. The incident will soon find itself out of the news and forgotten.  

 

Photo Credit: Becky Bohrer / AP 

Holland America Line's Westerdam Catches on Fire

King 5 News in Seattle reports that the Holland America Line (HAL) Westerdam caught fire this evening as it was sailing to Alaska and was forced to turn around and return to Seattle.  The news station is saying that the fire broke out in the engine room.

HAL released the following statement:

"There has been a small fire in one of the boiler rooms onboard  MS Westerdam as she sailed from Seattle earlier this evening which was quickly extinguished. All guests and crew are safe. Out of an abundance of caution and in coordination with the United States Coast Guard the ship has returned to Seattle. The ship is fully operational and there has been no impact on guest services. It is HAL Westerdamanticipated that the ship will depart again once the assessments are completed and continue her voyage to Alaska." 

HAL's statement does not explain exactly what caused the fire and omits the fact that after the fire was put out, it flared up again. Descriptive phrases like a "small" fire which was "quickly" extinguished can be misleading many times. 

The Westerdam is a 10 year old cruise ship and is owned by Carnival Corporation.

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

June 29th Update:  The Seattle Times reports that the cruise ship has left Seattle to continue its cruise. It also provided a little bit more detail regarding the fire. Interesting, the automatic fire suppression did not extinguish the fire and the crew had to use hoses:

"The Westerdam left Seattle again around 10:15 a.m. Sunday, said Public Relations Vice President Sally Andrews.

Because of the delay, Holland America has revised the 7-day sailing schedule. Passengers will miss their visit to Sitka, but will be given a credit of $250 per room to use during the cruise.

Coast Guard petty officer George Degener told The Seattle Times the ship's crew knocked the fire down, but a while later it restarted.

A combination of high-pressure mist and crew members with hoses extinguished the fire, Kyle Moore, spokesman for the Seattle Fire Department, told the paper. The city dispatched a fireboat, and a few units to the Pier 91 cruise terminal, as a precaution."

Neither the cruise line nor the Coast Guard have explained why the fire broke out.

June 30th Update: Why Did the Westerdam Catch on Fire? Does Anyone Care?

 

Photo Credit: Flickr - Don Shaw

Death of Birdie Africa on the Carnival Dream Reveals Shortcomings of Emergency Medical Treatment on the High Seas

Last year, we reported on the tragic death of 42 year old Birdie Africa, who drowned in a hot tub aboard the Carnival Dream cruise ship during a vacation cruise. 

Back in 1985, Mr. Africa was a child who survived an attack by the Philadelphia Police Department which dropped explosives on the row house of the radical group MOVE. The explosives sparked a blaze that destroyed 61 homes and killed 11 people, including five children. You can read our prior article here.

We first heard of the incident on the Carnival cruise ship when a passenger on the ship notified us that a passenger was found on the bottom of a hot tub. In turn, we asked Carnival for an explanation regarding what Carnival Dreamhappened. Carnival released this statement to us:

"On Friday evening, while the Carnival Dream was en route to its homeport of Port Canaveral, Fla., the shipboard medical staff was notified that a 42-year-old male guest was experiencing a medical emergency. The medical staff responded to the location, one of the ship's Lanai areas, and administered emergency aid but, tragically, the guest passed away."

Today, the Philadelphia Inquirer provides an insight into what really happened. 

The newspaper reports that Mr. Africa's father subsequently spoke to a doctor, vacationing on the Carnival cruise ship with his wife. The doctor said that a "flustered passenger" burst into the ship and told a bartender that "someone was at the bottom of the nearby hot tub."

"The doctor ran outside and saw a crowd gathered around the tub . . . the crowd included members of the ship's staff, seemingly spellbound."

The doctor had to tell the crowd to pull Mr. Africa out of the tub.

" A nurse on the ship's medical staff arrived soon after . . . but she didn't have a defibrillator or other vital equipment.

"Even worse . . . , when the nurse obtained a defibrillator, she was hesitant to use it and allegedly asked a colleague if it was safe to use on a wet body - basic knowledge when using that device."

Mr. Africa's father told the newspaper: "It's just devastating in the fact that there was a potential that he could've lived. Especially the callousness of not only ship's personnel, but the mere aspect of society - that people would rather stand and watch than do something."

Over the past 20 years, we have heard of stories of medical delay and incompetence like this on the part of the cruise ship medical personnel and crew members responding to shipboard drownings.

A cruise ship is the last place that you want to experience a medical emergency. Moreover, most people don't realize that the cruise lines will always argue that cruise ship doctors and nurses are "independent contractors" for whom the cruise lines are generally not responsible. (Read story number three here). In most situations, passengers' families cannot sue the shipboard medical team even when their negligence kills the passenger.

The autopsy report on Mr. Africa indicates that he was heavily intoxicated. Cruise ships over-serving passengers alcohol is a major problem. Cruise lines make enormous and tax-free profits selling booze on the high seas.  If cruise lines like Carnival are going to sell such huge quantities to passengers, this is another reason why they should employ lifeguards around the pools to oversee passenger safety and to be trained in emergency life saving procedures when things go wrong.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Longbowe

USA TODAY's "Best Cruise Ships For Infants & Toddlers" Misses the Boat

USA TODAY published an article today entitled "Baby on board: Best cruise ships for infants, toddlers." 

Like most USA TODAY articles, it was mostly a "puff piece," trying hard to praise all of the cruise lines while writing nothing provocative or controversial.

The article picked four Disney cruise ships, three Royal Caribbean ships, two Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ships and one ship from Cunard.

The factors for being the best were not identified. The article mentioned things like providing baby Cruise Ship Kids formula, diapers, organic baby food, cribs, high chairs, booster seats and strollers.

But are these really the issues that parents of minors should be worried about? 

The articles doesn't mention serious issues that parents should be concerned with - like minors drowning in swimming pools without lifeguards or little kids being molested by predator crew members or perverted passengers.

Swimming Pools Without Lifeguards:

Disney is the only cruise line that assigns lifeguards to all of its cruise ship pools. It took this step only after a six year child slipped under the water and is now severely brain injured.

NCL and Royal Caribbean haven't bothered to employ lifeguards to protect little kids in and around the cruise ship pools even though several minors have drowned or been seriously injured in pools without lifeguards.

The USA TODAY article picked the NCL Breakaway as one the best cruise ships for minors but two children were pulled from a swimming pool on this cruise ship by other passengers just last February. One child is dead.

The article also selected a Royal Caribbean ship too, but last month a child nearly drowned on the Independence of the Seas

If you are worried about the potential that your little kid could drown in the ship's pools, Disney is the only cruise line that I would recommend.

Sexual Perverts and Predators:

Minors including toddlers have been sexually abused on cruise ships. Take a minute and read:

Sexual Perverts & Pedophiles on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships

Royal Caribbean is hardly the only cruise line with this problem. You can search this site and read of minors being victimized on cruise ships operated by Disney, Celebrity, and the Carnival brands. Yes, even cruise ship baby-sitters have been accused of molesting minors.

The article mentions "play zones" or "kid zones" on cruise ships.  Before you leave your minor kid in one of these places, do your homework. Don't assume all of the employees have been carefully vetted. 

Child pornography is also a problem on cruise ships.  There are frequent arrests by custom officials of crew members whose iPhones and laptops are loaded with hundreds/thousands of photos and videos of child pornography. You can read our many articles about this problem here

Have a Healthy Skepticism of Paradise:

Don't trust best-cruise-ships-for-kids articles written by cruise fans and travel writers. They are often given free cruises and other perks. They will go out of their way to avoid embarrassing the cruise lines. They do the public, who doesn't know any better, a disservice. Read other sources of information. Check around. Educate yourself as a parent before you take your child unwittingly into danger. And once you're on the cruise ship, keep your eyes on your kids at all times. 

 

Photo Credit: Frommers

Passenger Overboard From MSC Divina

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

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

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

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

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

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

The report says that the passenger was intoxicated. 

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

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

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

 

Photo Image: Tribun Digital de Quintano Roo 

Sexual Assault on Cruise Ship in St. Kitts? No One's Talking

Today the SKNVibes newspaper in St. Kitts reports that a crew member aboard a cruise ship docked in St. Kitts (Port Zante) sexually assaulted a cruise passenger.

You can read the article below.

It's a strange article.  The newspaper decided not to name the cruise line or the cruise ship, which is something we see in a few other countries where the local press prefer not to embarrass the cruise lines.

Carnival Valor Cruise ShipThe newspaper also contacted the police department which would not comment whether a rape occurred on the unidentified cruise ship or not.

Earlier this year we named St. Kitts as one of the top 10 most dangerous cruise destinations in the world.  We also reported on a sexual assault of a Royal Caribbean cruise passenger during an excursion in St. Kitts two years ago,

The article is below:

" . . .  the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force is making investigations into an incident of assault that occurred on a cruise vessel which was berthed at Porte Zante yesterday (Jun. 6).

Unconfirmed reports suggest that an act of sexual assault may have been perpetrated against one of the cruise passengers by one of the vessel’s crew members.

SKNVibes understands that the authorities on St. Kitts were made aware of the situation and investigations had begun.

The Police Force’s Press and Public Relations Officer Inspector Lyndon David - when contacted by this publication and questioned about this issue - declared that he could not confirm or deny at that moment.

And he promised to look into the matter."

June 8 2014 Update: A reader pointed out that the Carnival Valor was in port at St. Kitts on June 6 2014.

June 10 2014: The St. Kitts and Nevis Observer reports "Cruise Ship Employee Charged With Rape." This newspaper states that the Carnival Valor was in fact the cruise ship in port (Port Zante). It says that St. Kitts police took a crew member into custody the day of the report of the sexual assault and that the Valor left port later than its scheduled time due to the incident.

The Observer understands the individual was charged with the offense over the weekend following the arrest on a Friday.

Upon questioning the local police would say nothing other than “someone has been charged for an incident.”

The newspaper also says that it is "not known if the alleged offence was committed while the vessel was docked, however the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force has jurisdiction to investigate and/or arrest once a crime has been reported in sovereign waters or airspace."   

June 15 2014 Update: A radio station in St. Kitts states that the local police in St. Kitts has finally acknowledged that a crew member from the Carnival Valor was arrested on charges of raping a cruise passenger while the cruise ship was in territorial waters of the island. However, the police still refuses to release the alleged assailant's name.  The radio station says: 

"In St. Kitts and Nevis, the names of persons accused of sexual offenses against minors are not released, however WINN FM is not aware that those charged with offences against adults are withheld by the authorities."

 

 

Photo Credit: sknclt.com

Near Death Experience Aboard the Independence of the Seas: When Will Royal Caribbean Hire Lifeguards?

Four days ago, we discussed the near drowning of a six year old boy whose heart had stopped when he was found on the bottom of a swimming pool on the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas.

People contacting us say the boy slipped and struck his head. Other children reportedly pulled the unconscious boy from the pool. Royal Caribbean was not supervising the Royal Caribbean pool. 

Royal Caribbean, like Carnival and NCL, has no lifeguards assigned to its pools. Only Disney takes the responsible step of employing lifeguards on cruise ships.

Independence of the Seas Pool - LifeguardI have written at length about these type of situations.

Saving children's lives requires the joint efforts of the parents and the cruise line. Parents must obviously supervise their children, and the cruise line must supervise their pools.  If the pools are intended for adults only, then there must be cruise employees at the pools enforcing that rule as well as any other rules such as "no children," "no running on the pool decks" or "no horseplay." 

Contrary to what many people believe, a "no lifeguard" or "swim at your own risk" sign, without more, is legally insufficient to exculpate the cruise ship from liability.

Disney used to rely on "no lifeguard" signs, but after the near drowning death last year of a child who was rendered severely brain damaged and needs expensive lifetime care, the Magical Cruise Line now employees lifeguards throughout its fleet. It took only one prior incident for Disney to throw away the "no lifeguard" signs and do the right thing by assigning ship employees to the pools.

Today we were notified that a similar incident occurred previously on the Independence of the Seas. A concerned parents told us: 

"The same happened to my daughter, six years ago, who was age six at the time, on the Independence of the Seas. We had gone with large group of family and friends and it was our first full day at sea. All the kids were so excited and it was our first cruise so we didn't really know the rules or anything about the ship. The kids were running around on the children's area where the water fountains were, this area was a water area for kids, however, in the same area was a pool, which was really deep water, we had no idea and this is where my daughter jumped in, after following her cousin, who was eight months older than her and could swim a little. The pool was six feet deep, we checked afterwards and this was the deepest pool on the ship, even deeper than the adults pool, why this was put next to the kids area, I have no idea. My daughter could not swim and panicked, she tried alerting her cousin who tried to help but as she was so small too, she nearly pulled her down.

It was only by chance that my sister was walking past to go back to her room that she spotted them and had to jump in fully clothed to save her. We were only yards away but as this pool was right in the middle of area we couldn't see them."

It's easy to blame parents whenever they let their guard down for a minute. But its entirely foreseeable and predictable that parents, especially parents on vacation, will make mistakes - perhaps only for a few precious seconds.

Ignoring a prior similar incident when a child nearly drowns is a dangerous proposition for a cruise line. A prior incident provides "notice" of the danger and requires the cruise line to take corrective measures to prevent similar injuries or fatalities from occurring.

Putting away legal issues of liability, the best way to protect kids is to have the parents supervise the kids and the cruise line supervise the pools. 

That's why a responsible cruise line (so far only Disney) employs lifeguard to supervise the pools. 

How many other incidents will it take before Royal Caribbean does the right thing and hires lifeguards?

Near Drowning Aboard Independence of the Seas: Six Year Old Boy Fighting for Life in French Hospital

BBC News reports that a six year old boy was pulled from a swimming pool on the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas yesterday. 

The AFP news agency says that the child's heart had stopped when he was found in the cruise ship pool.

BBC says that the cruise ship's doctor was able to re-start the boy's heart. The cruise line then requested that the boy be taken for emergency medical treatment ashore in northwest France by Independence of the Seas Swimming Poolhelicopter. 

A spokesman for a maritime agency in Brest, France said that the "child was found in a state of cardio-respiratory arrest at the bottom of the ship's pool."

This incident will be certain to trigger another debate whether cruise lines should staff their swimming pools with lifeguards. 

In the last year, four children six years of age or younger have drown or nearly drown on the major cruise lines, Disney, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines. None of these ships had lifeguards assigned to their pools at the time. 

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

In our view, there is no excuse not to assign lifeguards to cruise ship pools. The costs is minimal and the need is substantial.  Yes, parents need to supervise their children but cruise lines need to exercise their corporate responsibility to supervise the pools, enforce pool rules, and be ready to perform CPR if necessary.

Here are two of our many articles on the issue:

Imperfect Parents & Corporate Irresponsibility: Why No Lifeguards?

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

Disney is now the only cruise line which employs lifeguards, after the near-fatality last year. 

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Jolly Janner

Consumer Reports: Don't Get Sick on a Cruise

Cruise Ship Medical FacilitiesA news station in California KFSN (ABC) channel 30 reports that being ill with norovirus or in a medical emergency presents challenges when you are "days from the nearest port, on a ship without diagnostic equipment like an MRI machine, a blood bank or even specialty doctors."

According to a Consumer affairs medical doctor, although many passengers may believe that they are boarding a "floating hospital," a cruise ship is more like a "floating hotel with a doctor at hand."  

She says "think twice about traveling with a chronic medical condition.

The Coast Guard can't always launch a rescue, if the seas are rough or the ship is too far from land. Next, know that most prescription drugs are not available on a cruise ship. Always travel with an extra supply of all medications."

The Consumer Affairs medical team also warns that medical care aboard a cruise ship costs a premium.

Cruise ships don't accept medical insurance so consider purchasing travel insurance from an independent company. .

Swiss Diamond River Ship Strikes Pillar to "Old Bridge" in Bratislava, Passengers Injured

Swiss Diamond River CruiseA newspaper in Slovakia reports today that a Swiss river cruise ship struck a pillar of the "Old Bridge" in Bratislava.

This newspaper reports that seven passengers were injured aboard the Swiss Diamond river cruise ship. (Another newspaper says that 9 people were injured).

The bridge in question is being disassembled and replaced. Several pillars to the bridge remain as hazards in the river.

TASR newswire broke the story

All of the injured were women, except one man.  Ambulances were sent to the scene.

Five people were taken to the hospital. The injuries included wounds to people’s heads and limbs.

The Swiss Diamond is in the fleet of the Swiss shipping company Scylla AG. The ship was built in 1996 and operates on the Danube river between German and Hungary. 

Photo credit below: Palo Bartos / Flickr

Old Bridge in Bratislavia

Passenger Medevaced From Majesty of the Seas

Majesty of the Seas Injury Accident Local Miami news station WSVN channel 7 reports this morning that Miami Fire Rescue medevaced a Royal Caribbean cruise ship passenger who sustained a serious head injury. The medevaced occurred last night. 

The medical evacuation occurred on the Majesty of the Seas cruise ship. WSVN says that the passenger suffered the injury while the cruise ship was approximately four miles from the port of Miami. 

The video shows the cruise ship passenger being transferred from the Majesty through an open crew entrance into the Miami Fire Rescue rescue vessel. These type of transfers are dangerous. Passengers have been dropped into the sea during the transfers if they are done incorrectly. You can see a terrifying botched passenger rescue here.

The Fire Rescue then returned to port and the passenger was taken for emergency medical treatment at Mercy Hospital. 

The video also shows cruise passengers who witnessed the event cheering and applauding the paramedics.

Update: A local CBS news station reports that the passenger is a 32 year old Swedish citizen. A spokesperson for the cruise line said that the passenger was first treated in the medical facility on the Majesty of the Seas ship on Tuesday but on Wednesday the passenger required “additional and urgent medical attention.” 

 

WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Costa Deliziosa Loses Power in Valenzia

SeaTrade Insider reports that the Costa Deliziosa cruise ship suffered a power failure and blackout in Valencia, Spain yesterday which shut down the ship's electrical systems. After a few hours, the engineers were able to restore power and essential services. However, the cruise ship will not try to sail back to Italy. Costa stated that the cruise ship will remain in port until the cause of the outage is identified and corrected. 

Costa is apparently arranging for charter flights to return the passengers to Rome. 

Costa Deliziosa Cruise ShipLate today Costa told cruise passengers scheduled to sail on a 13-night Eastern Mediterranean cruise from Civitavecchia (Rome), leaving tomorrow, that the cruise is canceled.

Of course there are thousands of people who are currently flying to Rome thinking that they will board the cruise ship, which remains in Spain.

Cruise Critic mentions that the passengers on the current, abandoned cruise will receive a 50 percent refund on the cruise fare and a 100 euros of onboard credit per passenger as compensation. A couple on the Cruise Critic message board says that for the canceled May 29th cruise, Costa offered either a 50% refund and another cruise or a full refund and 250 euro voucher each to be used before the end of the year.

Although a cruise ship going out of service unexpectedly at the last minute is a major inconvenience for the passengers, it is a real hardship for the crew members who earn tips. They will receive no income for the next two weeks.

The Deliziosa is four years old, and is owned by Carnival Corporation.

May 21 2014 Update: Members of Cruise Critic are saying that: "instead of the 21st, their departure from Savona will be on the 23rd, therefore the cruise will now be instead of 13 days only 11 days
(they will get a new itinerary later). Because of that they will get a refund of 25 % and 100 Euro bord account."

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship

The Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) reports that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a cruise passengers from a cruise ship returning from Freeport Bahamas yesterday.

The Coast Guard deployed a MH-65 dolphin helicopter to perform a medical evacuation of a a 56-year old male passenger suffering severe pain aboard the Bahamas Celebration northeast of Palm Beach, Florida, on May 18, 2014.

The man was airlifted to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Video Credit: U.S. Coast Guard via DVIDS  

 

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

WKMG Local 6 (ClickOrlando) aired a special report last night on the issue of children drowning on cruise ships. In the last year, four children 6 years old or younger have drowned or nearly drowned in the pools of Carnival, Disney and Norwegian Cruise Line cruise ships. 

In all cases, the cruise lines did not employ lifeguards.   

The news station interviewed the parents of a 6 year old child, Qwentyn Hunter, who drowned during a Carnival Cruise Ship Drowning cruise aboard the Carnival Victory.  

I believe that it's clear negligence for a cruise line not to employ a lifeguard to supervise cruise ship swimming pools. Yes, it a matter of personal responsibility of the parents to supervise their children, but its also a matter or corporate responsibility of the cruise lines to staff their pools with trained lifeguards.  A sign saying things like "swim at your own risk" or "no lifeguard on duty" is not only meaningless to a child, but it's legally insufficient to exculpate a cruise line.  

The cruise lines are able to hide behind a maritime law also known as the "Death on the High Seas Act" which prohibits the recovery of emotional damages such as pain and suffering, grief, bereavement, and mental anguish. As matters now stand, the cruise line face virtually no financial consequence when children die in cruise ships pools with no lifeguards.

The news station interviewed me during the program. Here's what I said:

"'Children are not wage-earners and because of this archaic law pertaining to cruise ships there’s no financial incentive for cruise lines to do the right thing,' said Jim Walker whose law firm deals exclusively with legal issues on cruise ships.

Walker called it the cruise industry's dirty little secret.

'The cruise lines love that law that doesn’t permit any recovery so they’re completely isolated and when you isolate a large corporation from all legal and financial consequence basically what you’re saying to them is it’s OK if children die in your pool because it doesn’t really affect your bottom line. That’s a terrible situation. That needs to change,' said Walker.

. . . Walker contends there's another troubling issue. He says no cruise employees, other than medical personnel are trained in CPR.

'If you're going to assign someone to a pool deck to hand out the towels and take drink orders, you’ve got to train them on basic CPR because CPR can save a life,' said Walker who also says he believes the cruise line industry could pass the cost of employing lifeguards on to the passengers.

'If you charge each one a dime you’re going to have enough money for a lifeguard. How about a dime for each person? Isn’t a child worth a dime?' said Walker.

Walker believes it is going to take some type of legislation really to force the cruise lines to take added safety precautions."

We have discussed this issue in prior articles:

Imperfect Parents & Corporate Irresponsibility: Why No Lifeguards on Disney Cruise Ships? (Disney now has lifeguards on its cruise ships).

Dangerous Cruise Ship Swimming Pools: Thoughts from a Concerned Cruiser

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

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

 

Photo Credit: Ariza Talent & Modeling Agency via CBS News

Pullmantur Cruises' Sovereign Suffers Major Engine Problems

Newspapers in Europe are reporting that the former Royal Caribbean Sovereign of the Seas suffered an engine failure on one of its two main engines on May 10th while sailing from Barcelona to Tunis. It then limped instead to Naples for repairs.

Its current owner/operator, Pullmantur Cruises, attempted to repair the cruise ship in Naples but the repair pair attempts were unsuccessful. The ship was re-positioned to Civitavecchia and the cruise was cancelled. 

Sovereign Cruise ShipThe plans are now to undergo repairs at a shipyard in Marseille in the hope that it will be able to cruise under full power at the end of May. 

After leaving the Royal Caribbean fleet, the cruise ship was re-named the Sovereign and it underwent a new, blue paint job of its hull.

According to one news account, the cruise line company said it regretted "deeply" the interruption of the cruise, thanking passengers for "patience and collaboration."  It said that it will return the fare for the cruise, and reimburse passenger expenses related to the problem with the ship. It also offered a 60% discount on the purchase of another Pullmantur cruise.

The Sovereign is a relatively old cruise ship, having been delivered in 1988. 

Update: A reader of our Facebook page stated:

"It has four main engines. Made by Pielstick 9PC 20L and they are a piece of shit engines. Only made 13 totally of them for Sovereign,Majesty and Monarch of the seas.... One of them on Sovereign had a major breakdown many years ago and they got the 13th engine that was a test engine installed in replacement.

They have never been good engines. They run on heavy fuel, mounted on rubber 2+2 on the same gear and they delivered a lot less power then they where supposed to on test run. No problem Pielshit said and mounted a lot bigget turbo chargers on them to boost the power up. And that worked,, but that made them run hotter and we changed exhaust valves on them all the time. So the French guys should stick to eating snails and crock monsieurs and leave the engine building to the Germans." 

Photo Credit: Portal World Cruises

Time for Transparency: Senators Request Coast Guard to Make Cruise Ship Inspection Reports Public

The U.S. Coast Guard made a remarkable statement during the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conference in March regarding passenger safety aboard cruise ships.

It said that it targets cruise ships with a history of safety problems. That's a good idea, of course. But the NTSB failed to ask the Coast Guard a simple follow-up question - what cruise line(s) and what cruise ships have demonstrated a pattern of poor maintenance and safety concerns?

The Coast Guard didn't point the finger at any particular cruise line and the NTSB didn't ask the question that the public needed to know. 

Allure of the Seas Life BoatMy thought is that the NTSB didn't want to embarrass the cruise lines who organized the conference. This reveals one of the major problems inherent in cruising. The federal agencies which are suppose to be watchdogs of cruise safety are in bed with the cruise lines. 

In response to this situation, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-W.V.) (Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation), and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Coast Guard Admiral Robert Papp, Jr. asking that that inspection reports be made available to the public over the Internet. 

The senators wrote “ . . . we respectfully request that the records and results of the unannounced inspections be made public and easily available over the Internet for prospective cruise passengers to peruse before booking a trip.”

The senators added:

“We agree it is strategic of the Coast Guard to target ships and vessels that have a pattern or history of safety problems, but we further expect that consumers should also be privy to the insights and patterns that the Coast Guard already knows, in addition to the ones it discovers in the future. Furthermore, the Coast Guard does a disservice to the public when it shields from consumers the identity of cruise ships and lines that have a pattern of noncompliance.”

No response from the Coast Guard so far.

Coast Guard Medevacs Two Passengers From Carnival Splendor

The U.S. Coast Guard released a video showing a medevac of two passengers yesterday morning, approximately 135 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

The Coast Guard stated that it medevaced a 25-year-old man and 60-year-old woman at around 5:45 a.m. from the Carnival Splendor after the cruise ship being reported them ill and in need of emergency medical attention. Earlier, a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and HC-130 Hercules were dispatched.

The Coast Guard helicopter hoisted the two passengers from the ship and up and flew them to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. 

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick Passenger from the Carnival Imagination

Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System reports that a San Diego-based Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter evacuated an ill woman from a Carnival cruise ship yesterday.

The Carnival Imagination was approximately 30 miles off the coast of Point Loma, California on May 7, 2014 when it contacted the Coast Guard and requested a medevac for a 41-year-old American woman, believed to be a passenger. She was experiencing abdominal pain.

Video (no audio) credit to U.S. Coast Guard video.   

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Man Overboard Bahamas CelebrationA couple from Cape Coral, Florida say that they are "shocked" at how ill-equipped and unprepared the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship and crew seemed during the search and rescue mission of the overboard passenger yesterday. FOX 4 / WFTX (Fort Meyers) reported on the man overboard situation via reporter @GabrielleSarann.

They send a letter to the cruise line which said in part:

" . . . In my opinion i think the cruise line should be better prepared for a man overboard situation. What we saw could have been better. 1 we noticed that the search light was broken we did see it working for a few minutes and then noticed crew members unsuccessfully trying to repair it. 2 we noticed that there were 2 boats on board that could have been used in the rescue attempt and only one was used, and the one that was used broke in the middle of the search i have on video the crew trying to start the boat and paddling back to the boat with oars. 3 the music on the pool deck was not turned off for about 40 min after the rescue attempt started which made it impossible to hear anybody yelling for help. 4 I noticed one crew member who I'm guessing was supposed to be searching for the person sleeping. I think that the cruise line could of and should of done a better job in this situation.

I know the coast guard got there quickly but those 30 to 40 min before they arrived i think are the most important only one life buoy ring with a light was thrown in. giving any possible survivor only one point of reference to see not to mention the ability to help track the currents. Please for the future safety of your future customers fix these things." 

You can watch the video here.

Man Disappears From Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 29 2014 Update:

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

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

 

Photo Credit: thebahamasweekly.com

Consumer Reports: Getting Sick at Sea on Cruise Ships

Consumer Reports published a good article about some of the issues cruise passengers will encounter (like norovirus) and has some advice for the traveling public. According to Consumer Reports medical adviser, Dr. Orly Avitzur: 

  • A cruise ship is more like a "floating hotel with a doctor at hand", than a floating hospital. 
  • Think twice about traveling with a chronic medical condition. The Coast Guard can't always launch a rescue, if the seas are rough or the ship is too far from land.
  • Know that most prescription drugs are not available on a cruise ship. Always travel with an extra supply of all medications.
  • Cruise ships don't accept insurance. Get ready to pay a premium, out of pocket, for any on-board care.
  • Buy travel insurance. Avoid policies that are sold by tour operators, travel agents and cruise-lines.

Interested in this issue? We suggest reading: Cruise Ship Bathrooms, Norovirus and Medical Care.

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.

How Do You Say Schettino in Korean? Captain of Sinking Ferry Among the First to Abandon Ship

The captain of the sunken ferry Korean ferry Sewol reportedly was one of the first to abandon ship and make it safely to shore.

Only one of the 47 lifeboats were deployed. The abandon ship order was not made until 30 minutes after the ferry began to sink.

There are around 275 people, mostly teenagers, missing at sea.

Does anyone know how to say Schettino in Korean?

Cruise Nightmare: Disney Crew Member Arrested on Charges of Molesting Child on Disney Dream

Ahmed Sofyan - Disney Cruise MolestationNews sources in Florida are reporting that the Port Canaveral Police Department arrested a 36 year old Disney crew member today on charges of molesting a 13 year old girl on the Disney Dream cruise ship.

Florida Today states that "the Port Canaveral Police Department has arrested a Disney Cruise Line crew member today for alleged lewd or lascivious molestation of a minor."

WKMG Orlando, which has been a leader in covering cruise ship crimes, identifies the Disney crew member accused of molesting the 13-year-old girl as Ahmed Sofyan, age 36, of Jakarta, Indonesia.

He was charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of false imprisonment.

The alleged incident occurred aboard the Disney Dream ship while it was docked in Port Canaveral this morning. 

The Port Canaveral Police Department says that at approximately 8:12 AM, Canaveral Port Authority Police responded to the request of Disney Cruise Lines regarding a lewd or lascivious molestation that occurred aboard the Disney Dream cruise ship while docked at terminal 8 in Port Canaveral. Upon conclusion of the investigation, crew member Ahmed Sofyan (DOB: 07/22/77) of Jakarta, Indonesia, was charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of false imprisonment. The victim was a 13-year-old female not known to the suspect.

Last year Disney refused to timely report a similar incident when a 33 year old Disney waiter molested an 11 year old girl on the Disney Dream. Although the incident occurred while the cruise ship was in port in Port Canaveral, Disney sailed the cruise ship to the Bahamas in what appeared to be an attempt to aid the crew member in escaping justice.  The Bahamas, as expected, refused to arrest the molester and Disney then flew the crew member back to his home country, India. WKMG covered the disturbing story. You can see photos of the incident here and read our account of the crime here.

Indonesian crew members have received bad press lately.  In February an Indonesian crew member on a HAL cruise ship was arrested in a horrific case where he tried to kill and throw a passenger overboard from the Nieuw Amsterdam.

Sexual assaults against children is an issue we have discussed many times on this blog.  In 2010, we reported on a situation - Passenger Indicted for Sexual Abuse of 13 Year Old Girl on Disney Wonder Cruise Ship 

A news report from WKMG on the latest Disney Cruises child molestation case is below: 

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

 

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NCL Crew Member Shot & Killed in Roatan, Honduras

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo credit: Wikipedia / Visitor 7  

San Marco Basin in Venice Re-Opens to Mega Cruise Ships, MSC Preziosa Smashes Passenger Corridor at Port

MSC Preziosa VeniceThe Italian publication Medi Telegraph reports that the MSC cruise ship, Preziosa, collided with a large passenger walkway at the port of Venice.

The newspapers in Italy, such as La Nuova, refer to the pedestrian corridors at the maritime station as "fingers" which provide access to the upper decks of the cruise ship..

Despite the presence of two tugs and a pilot on board the ship, the Preziosa, smashed into and destroyed one of the fingers. No one at the pier or on the cruise ship were injured.

The collision, which damaged the starboard bow of the ship, occurred on the day of the reopening of the San Marco Basin to the mega-ships. The incident will add to the debate whether gigantic cruise ship should be permitted to sail in the basin so close to the beautiful buildings of the old city.

You can see photos of the ship and the pedestrian "fingers" in the La Nuevo newspaper.

Vomiting & Diarrhea Bug Infects Passengers on Grandeur of the Seas

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 111 out of of 2122 passengers (5.23%) and 6 out of 790 crew (0.76%) have reported ill with gastrointestinal illness involving vomiting and diarrhea. The Royal Caribbean ship was on a 7 day cruise from Baltimore.

You can read the CDC report here. The CDC hasn't figured out yet whether the gastrointestinal outbreak was caused by norovirus. 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein reports that cruise passengers have received the following Grandeur of the Seasinformation in an email:

"Hello, this is Royal Caribbean International. We would like to provide you with some important information regarding your Saturday, April 5th, sailing onboard Grandeur of the Seas out of the Port of Baltimore. During the ship's last sailing, a number of guests experienced a gastrointestinal illness. We will conduct enhanced sanitizing onboard the ship and within the terminal to help prevent any illness from affecting your cruise. Therefore, your check-in and boarding will be delayed. Because space and seating in the terminal is limited, we ask that you not arrive to the port before 2:00 PM. Check in will take place between 2:00 PM and 4:30 PM."

I always wonder about the effectiveness of "enhanced cleaning" when the CDC can't determine what the disease is much less how it can aboard the cruise ship.

Any passengers cruising this week please let us know whether the virus was eradicated or whether the outbreak continues.

 

 Photo Credit: Wikipedia / J. Glover

Cruise Passengers on Excursion in Belize Involved in Head-On Collision

Belize Tour Excursion Van AccidentNews 7 in Belize published an article yesterday entitled Tourists Survive Head On Collision.

The story involves two cruise passengers who had taken an excursion ashore in Belize and were involved in a serious accident while riding in a van which had a head-on collision with another van. The tour van they were in was caused to flip over.

Here is the local news station's account:  

"Two cruise tourists and their driver were involved in  a serious collision within Belize City limits this afternoon. This picture provided to us by a viewer shows the tourists slumped over on the side of the road in front of the mashed up and overturned tour van they were in. The collision happened at around 2:30 at mile three and a half on the Western Highway - right at the spot where a new speed bump was installed just last week. The circumstances of the accident are unknown but it seems two mini-vans collided at the speedbump and the impact sent the gold van spinning across the highway, causing it to violently flip. The tourists were taken to a private hospital for treatment, while the condition of the driver is not known."

The news station did not identify the cruise line or cruise ship. 

Automobile, bus and van accidents ashore are an unexpected part of cruising and taking excursions ashore. Cruise lines have liability for injuries suffered during excursions under some circumstances, such as when the cruise lines offer the tour and fail to have in place procedures to properly vet the tour Belize Van Accident - Cruise Excursionexcursion's equipment and the driver's background, experience and driving record. Other excursions where cruise passengers have been injured include:

Excursion Tour Bus Crash In Tortola Injures Princess Cruises' Passengers From Caribbean Princess

Injured Clelbrity Cruises Passengers to Dominica Airlifted to Miami

 9 Cruise Passengers Killed, 14 Injured in Bus Excursion Accident

Royal Caribbean Sponsored Excursion Tour Bus Crashes in St. Martin

Royal Caribbean Cruise Passengers Injured During Excursion in St. Thomas

 

Photo Credit:  7 News Belize

The Norwegian Star Flunks Sanitation Inspection: Is There a Correlation Between Failed CDC Cruise Ship Inspections And Norovirus?

The first official norovirus outbreak on a cruise ship this year involved the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Norwegian Star

The outbreak occurred during a cruise from January 5-19, 2014. The virus sickened 130 of 2318 cruise passenger (5.61%) and 12 of 1039 crew members (1.15%).  You can read the CDC report here.

The CDC concluded that the virus in question which sickened the 142 or so people was norovirus. This was the "causative factor" in CDC parlance. The CDC can usually figure out the "causative factor" and NCL Norwegian Starmost of the time norovirus is the culprit. But I have never seen a CDC report in the last 10 or 15 years where the CDC figured out how the norovirus came aboard the cruise ship.

The cruise lines always blame the passengers. Sometimes the blame is direct with a cruise line public relations representative pointing the finger at their guests. Sometimes it is more subtle with no blame assessment but in the form of "passengers-need-to-wash-their-hands" type of admonishment. 

Determining the cause of a norovirus outbreak is a scientific process to be made by epidemiologists and doctors, not cruise line PR people.

The CDC is severely limited by the few inspectors and epidemiologists who are assigned to the cruise ships. The cruise lines are also eager to re-load their cruise ships and begin another cruise as soon as possible. Our federal government and the cruise lines work together to keep the cruise industry moving. No one wants to inconvenience the next round of passengers and hold a ship in port. Unfortunately, no one is advocating a more comprehensive (and slower) methodical analysis of data. 

My suggestion is that any time there is an outbreak, the CDC should automatically conduct a sanitation inspection as soon as the ship returns to port pursuant to its vessel sanitation program (VSP). The inspectors should determine whether the cruise ship's food or water supplies are contaminated. Medical literature indicates that many outbreaks are due to noro-laden food or water. Particular attention should be focused on the crew members' medical records, particularly the logs indicating whether food handlers (cooks and waiters) have reported to the ship infirmary with acute Cruise Ship Norovirusgastrointestinal symptoms of cramping, diarrhea and nausea.  

Yes, it will take greater resources from the CDC to accomplish this but it is worth it. The "enhanced cleaning" that takes place after an outbreak is "hit or miss." No one figures out what caused the outbreak. The ship is just pressing everyone to work overtime and spray and wipe everything in sight.

There was no CDC sanitation inspection on January 19th when the Norwegian Star returned to port. I would have liked to see the food handler's medical logs for the preceding two weeks in order to determine whether there were complaints of nausea, diarrhea, cramps, fever and headaches.  How did the cruise line handle the illnesses? Did they log all of the complaints and quarantine the sick crew members?  Did they interview the crew members' cabin mates to determine whether they were ill too?

The Norwegian Star underwent a CDC sanitation inspection on February 16th. The results were disgusting. Many crew members worked while suffering from acute gastrointestinal illnesses, threatening the health of passengers, and then appeared in the ship infirmary after working. The cruise line failed to properly document and log many of the sicknesses and report them to the CDC.  For the January 19th to February 2nd 2014 cruise, the number of sick passengers reached over 2% but the cruise ship did not notify the CDC. Many of the cabin mates of the sick crew members were not interviewed by the ship's medical staff, as required by the CDC protocols.  

The following violation was typical:

"Violation: On 28 January, the medical notes indicated a food worker had an illness onset at 0600 with Cruise Ship Food Handlers - Norovirusfour episodes of diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and a headache, but the AGE surveillance log indicated these symptoms started on 28 January at 1315. On the same day at 1315, this person had their last AGE symptom. There was no documentation indicating how long this person was isolated. This individual had four roommates, but there was no documentation the 48 hour interviews were conducted for three of the four roommates."

The CDC flunked the ship with a score of 82. You can read the CDC report here. In addition to the problems with the sick crew members, parts of the galleys and restaurants were filthy.

Does the CDC employ epidemiologists to study the results of vessel sanitation reports to look for trends to explain why gastrointestinal outbreaks occur?  Correlating the medical records of sick food handlers and their cabin mates with outbreaks may be a good idea. A scientific analysis of medical records and logs of crew members with GI problems would certainly be a better use of time than having to listen to the cruise line always blame the passengers for not not washing their hands. 

 

Photo Credit: Top: Wikipedia / Pjotr Mahhonin; bottom: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Norwegian Gem Medevac Involved Honeymoon Couple

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

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

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

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

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

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

  

Cocaine & Heroin Cruise Ship Bust: Bahamas Celebration Crew Member Arrested For Smuggling Drugs

Newspapers in Palm Beach Country are reporting that a 30-year-old crew member is facing drug charges after U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities say he smuggled cocaine and heroin from the Bahamas on the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship.

The Bahamas Celebration is operated by the Celebration Cruise Line and cruises between the Port of Palm Beach and Freeport, Bahamas.

A crew member, identified as Adrian Bradley Trench, was arrested last Thursday on charges of Bahamas Celebration Cruise Shipimporting more than 500 grams of cocaine and more than 100 grams of heroin. Crew member Trench had left the cruise ship after it arrived at the Port of Palm Beach from Freeport. When federal immigration officers asked Trench for his immigration forms, the crew member reportedly tried to run back to the cruise ship.

The officers apprehended him and noticed two packages wrapped around Trench’s calves, containing 1,043 grams of cocaine (about 2.25 pounds) and 674 grams of heroin (about 1.5 pounds). 

Drug smuggling from the Bahamas is not uncommon. Last Spring, we reported on two incidents where a crew member and a passenger were arrested for smuggling large quantities of cocaine from the Bahamas into the same port. Read Another Drug Bust on the Bahamas Celebration.

 

Photo Credit: thebahamasweekly.com

Cubans "Trying for the American Dream" End With An Empty Boat

Cubans "rescued" on the high seas are hardly rescued. They are brought aboard cruise ships only long enough to be transferred onto Coast Guard cutters to be taken back to Cuba.

According to WPTV:  

"Some were saying they should be sent back. Other people were sad. Some women were crying because they realized how sad it must be," Almashy said.

Almashy says a photo she snapped of the empty boat will stay with her forever.

"When I looked at that, it was a haunting image of people trying for the American Dream. It was very symbolic of the hopes and the risks."

 

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger from Carnival Splendor

WAVY.com reports that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaces a cruise passenger from a carnival cruise ship last night.

The Carnival Splendor notified  the Coasy Guard around 10:45 p.m. last night that a 66 year old man was in medical distress. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was dispatched from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina to assist.

The helicopter crew arrived at the cruise ship around 1:30 a.m. about 50 miles east of Wilmington and hoisted the passenger. The Coast Guard took him to Wilmington International Airport where he was transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center.  

 

Costa Cruise Passenger Disappears, Found Dead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Swiss Newspaper Covers the MSC Garbage Dumping Story

Today, a newspaper in Switzerland joined in the coverage of the story regarding the alleged dumping of garbage bags from the MSC Cruises Magnifica cruise ship.

Le Matin, the largest French-speaking newspaper in Switzerland, published the headline:

Des ordures jetées à la mer! — Vidéo à l’appui, un avocat affirme que la compagnie italo-suisse MSC Croisières jette des poubelles dans l’océan.   

MSC Cruises Garbage DumpingYou can read the article here.

Here are some of the comments to the article:

And one company in my black boycott list . . 

Hello in the late 80's I worked as a Chef on the Apollo Cruise Company based in Miami several times late at night I saw my eyes pour entire containers full Gulf of Mexico and offshore Brazil .. unfortunately .. I'm not surprised that 35 years later this terrible way "to do" is still in force .. Greenpeace .. Help!

Having traveled with MSC, and having followed the recommendations for "environmental protection" (reuse towels, etc..), When I see these images it disgusts me!

You can read the comments here.

So far, the story has received substantial international news coverage: New Times (U.S.A.), Cruise Hive (U.S.A.), Huffington Post (U.S.A.), Daily Mail (U.K.), AOL Travel  (U.K.), Cruising the Molly Way (U.K.), e Global Travel Media (Australia & New Zealand) and Le Matin (Switzerland).

The travel industry publication (Travel Weekly, Travel Pulse), and the cruise bloggers (Cruise Critic, Cruise Currents, Cruise Fever, Cruise Mates, Cruise Addicts, Captain Greybeard) have all stuck their heads in the sand. None of these types want to rock the boat and become blacklisted from the cruise lines' parties and free cruises. 

The cruise industry just finished their self-laudatory Cruise Shipping Miami trade show.  The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) and the CLIA CEO, Ms. Duffy, have not said a peep about the environmental abuse. The "One Industry, One Voice" cruise industry and its loyal-to-a-fault travel agent base are going to stay quiet and let this stinky story fade away.  

Photo Credit: Daily Mail

 

Passengers Report Gastrointestinal Outbreak Aboard the HAL Maasdam

Several cruise passengers have informed us that there is a gastrointestinal outbreak on the Holland America Line (HAL) Maasdam which is currently sailing routes in South America.

Passengers are stating that numerous people are sick with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other noro virus like symptoms. The number of sick passengers and crew has not been released to the people we have communicated with. 

Today one passenger reported: 

"MS Maasdam has been fighting NOROVIRUS pretty much most of the cruise from Rio to Ft Lauderdale. RED ALERT."

HAL MaasdamAnother passenger reported that he is ill and is tired of being blamed by the ship's captain for the disease:

"I am on the sick Holland America Maasdam which has had Noro virus ever since the departing Rio and won't be scheduled to be back in Fort Lauderdale until the end of the month. I'm getting tired of hearing the Captain blame the passengers for the spread of the disease. As a physician, I've clearly noted that the disease is passed by vectors such as cruise cards, bar staff and wait staff never washing their hands, and the tables and chairs being cleaned with the same rag. Captain it's not the passengers its your staff." 

The Maasdam is on a 26 day cruise, which started in Rio de Janeiro on March 2nd and will be ending in Fort Lauderdale on March 28th. 

We reached out to HAL and parent company Carnival this morning about this reported outbreak but have not yet received a response. Neither HAL nor Carnival responded. 

Are there other passengers or crew members with information about this alleged outbreak?  Please leave us a message or join the discussion on our Facebook page

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Andrew J Bryson

Coast Guard Responds to Injured Passenger on Grandeur of the Seas

The U.S. Coast Guard provided emergency transportation for an injured cruise ship passenger this morning.

The Coast Guard released a statement that it medevaced a 93-year-old man from Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas in the lower Chesapeake Bay.

The Royal Caribbean ship contacted the Coast Guard via VHF-FM at approximately 9 p.m. Saturday night and reported that a passenger suffered a head injury and was in need of medical assistance.

The Coast Guard crew, together with Virginia Beach Fire Department personnel, responded with a 45-foot response boat. The crew arrived at the cruise ship at approximately 1:30 a.m. this morning. They transferred the man and his wife aboard the Coast Guard boat and took them ashore. The passengers were then transferred to local emergency medical services and taken to Virginia Beach General Hospital.

There is no indication how the passenger was injured.  Many people have informed us that the Grandeur encountered rough weather heading back to port, although it is unknown whether the passenger's injury was related to sea and wind conditions.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / J. Glover

Grandeur of the Seas

Passenger Reported Overboard From Costa Classica

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

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

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

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

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

We will update this site as more information become available.

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

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

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

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

 

MSC Cruises' Garbage Dumping Scandal: Will Travel Agents, Travel Writers & Cruise Bloggers Look the Other Way?

Yesterday we wrote about MSC Cruises allegedly dumping garbage bags and other items into the ocean at night from the Magnifica cruise ship while it was sailing in Brazilian waters.

It's been 24 hours since we posted the article together with video and photographs provided to us by a former cruise line employee. Our article has gone viral, having been read several hundred thousands of times with over 7,000 Facebook "likes."

You can see the videos here and the photos here.  

We have received lots of comments by members of the public expressing their disappointment and outrage that this cruise line was allegedly engaged in this type of alleged conduct. But what's the reaction from the MSC Cruises Magnifica Cruise Pollution Garbage Dumpingcruise industry and the maritime authorities? The cruise lines want us to believe that authorities "rigorously" enforces "strict" environmental regulations? What's the reaction from travel agents and travel writers about this breaking news story?   Let's take a look:

The International Maritime Organization (IMO): The IMO is the international maritime authority which promulgated the pollution regulations (MARPOL) which the cruise lines are suppose to comply with. Cruise ships can't dump unprocessed food or other items within three miles of the closest shore. They are suppose to separate, process, grind, crush and/or incinerate the ship's refuse, paper items and/or garbage and then discharge the garbage at sea at various distances from shore or store the pulverized / incinerated materials for pick up at port after the cruise is over. Plastic is prohibited from being discharged.

But what happens when a cruise line ignores MARPOL? Nothing. The IMO is a United Nations entity. It's a "feel good" organization. It can't enforce its own rules and it can't punish cruise lines when they violate the rules.

Cruise Line International Association (CLIA): CLIA is the cruise industry trade association which promotes the image and the interests of the cruise lines. CLIA says that if a cruise line member violates safety or environmental regulations, it will take steps against the member including kicking the cruise line out of the organization. But that will never happen.  CLIA has never criticized, admonished or taken disciplinary action against a cruise line. It's sole function is to protect the cruise industry from public scrutiny or criticism. 

CLIA has not issued a public statement about the MSC dumping scandal. Don't expect one either. There would have to be a Congressional investigation taking place before CLIA would even acknowledge the issue and it would then spin the story with corporate gobbledygook. Today CLIA's CEO and former travel-agent Christine Duffy issued a PR statement on CLIA's behalf applauding the cruise industry's alleged efforts to create a "pristine environment." Ms. Duffy said: "We will continue to forge new paths toward a greener, more sustainable planet . . ." and "will make cruising more environmentally conscious than ever before."   

Travel Agents, Writers, and Cruise Bloggers:  So far not a single travel publication has touched the story. There are thousands of tweets and Facebook posts from the usual cruise bloggers (Cruise Hive, Cruise Currents, Cruise Fever, Cruise Critic) and travel writers (Travel Weekly, Travel Pulse) about the best deals on cruises. Many hundreds of travel agents are hawking cruises on Twitter. But no one is mentioning garbage bags in the sea dumped at night.

That's bad for the travel agents' business. And whether the cruise lines are polluting or not, travel agents are selling cruises on the MSC Magnifica right now. 99% of the travel writers and cruise bloggers just want the pollution story to go away. They don't want to embarrass their friends in the cruise industry. They're afraid that the cruise lines won't give them complimentary or heavily discounted cruises if they mention the story.

That's what MSC Cruises and CLIA are counting on. The cruise industry won't change a bit as long as the 16,000 CLIA travel agents and travel writers remain silent as the oceans are polluted with cruise garbage.     

 

Guardian of the Seas? Is MSC Cruises Polluting Brazilian Waters Again?

MSC Cruises Cruise Dumping - Garbage BagsTwo months ago, we posted a video from a Brazilian newspaper showing MSC Cruises crew members apparently throwing black garbage bags into the water (video at bottom).

The video, taken by a passenger aboard an unidentified MSC ship (later identified as the Magnifica), created a hue and cry among environmentalists and citizens of Brazil. Rightfully so. Dumping of plastics and unprocessed garbage is illegal according to the international MARPOL recommendations. This dumping allegedly took place in Brazilian waters near a marine sanctuary.

After the passenger video surfaced, MSC, seemingly unrepentant, released a PR statement calling its cruise ships "Guardians of the Seas." It said that it would investigate the alleged dumping and touted its environmental policies.

After we covered the story, a number of people within the industry contacted us. They suggested that dumping of garbage bags from cruise ships like this took place more often than the cruise lines would like the public to know.

Yesterday, we received photographs and videos from a concerned "Good Samaritan." The images appear to show MSC crew members throwing garbage bags out to sea. Unlike the video taken by the passenger from an upper deck of the ship, these videos were taken by a former crew member inside of the ship showing what he described as illegal garbage dumping. We have posted two of the videos below.

The videos shown are short "snippets," of only 10 seconds or so, of workers wearing blue MSC overalls carrying bags to the windowless portholes on a mooring deck and then heaving the bags out to sea.

MSC Cruises Cruise Dumping - Garbage Bags The video and photographs were taken by a former crew member who wishes to remain anonymous.

The former employee claims that MSC discarded garbage bags often filled with plastics, oily discharge and other materials which the cruise lines are prohibited from dumping. The former employee took photos of a lower mooring deck showing a pile of garbage bags which he said were later thrown into the sea, including a stack of wooden pallets which had been broken down to fit through the portholes and then pitched out to sea.  

The former employee told us that the dumping occurred from the MSC Magnifica within Brazilian waters.

Click on our Facebook page to see some of the photos of the dumping at sea.

The press in Brazil has focused on the cruise industry after bathers at a public beach called Praia da Tartaruga (Turtle Beach) near Búzios City in Brazil suffered irritated eyes, difficulty breathing, and gastrointestinal problems. The officials believe that cruise ships discharged noxious waste into the water. These images will add to the debate whether cruise lines are polluting the waters of Brazil.

This morning, we reached out to MSC Cruises's Fort Lauderdale office for an explanation regarding what is shown in the latest videos and photographs.  We have not received a response.    

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

Have a video or evidence of illegal cruise line conduct?  Contact us. We will bring the story to the public. 

 

MSC Cruises Cruise Garbage Bag Dumping

 

Norovirus Breaks Out On P&O Cruises' Oriana

Oriana Cruise ShipThe British press is reporting that the Oriana cruise ship has returned to port in Southampton with "dozens" of passengers sick with norovirus.

The 19 year-old P&O cruise ship ended its cruise around the Canary Islands early because of propeller problems. The Daily Echo newspaper in the U.K. is calling the ship "cursed" because of the norovirus outbreak.

The Daily Echo says that the ship returned to port on Wednesday due to propeller issues and passengers were permitted to stay on board and using the facility until Saturday. However, 57 passengers on board were then struck down with the highly contagious norovirus.

P&O Cruises offered refunds and credits to passengers, but some passengers said they might sue. 

The cruise line said that it started "enhanced sanitation" protocols.

P&O Cruises also released the familiar PR statement: "the safety and comfort of passengers and crew is always our number one priority.”

 

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia / Pjotr Mahhonin

Brazilian Cruise Pollution Debate Continues: Sewage or Silt?

A week ago we discussed a controversy which erupted in Brazil when around 60 bathers on Turtle Beach in the beautiful resort town of Buzios became ill. Government officials suspected that a cruise ship discharged noxious liquids and waste into the waters. 

A newspaper in Brazil, Globo, covered the story and posted aerial photographs of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship with discolored water around it.  It looked to me that the muddy-looking water was probably sand and silt which had been churned up by the vessel's engines. We posted the photos on line. The issue nonetheless remained what made the bathers at the beach so sick?

Brazil took samples of the contaminated water at the beach, as well as samples from several cruise ships in the area. The test results were inconclusive. The cruise association in Brazil denies that any of the cruise ships discharged anything and maintains that all ships comply with international maritime standards addressing the discharge of waste water.

The controversy reported in the press has led to at least one cruise passenger coming forward to claim that other cruise ships may be fouling the waters in Brazil.

Globo reports that cruise passenger Jesus Alcinir, age 50, from Panama, was sailing on the MSC Orchestra with his family last November to Buzios. He observed what he believed was a nasty looking and terribly smelling liquid that seemed to leave the ship. He took a photograph which you can see below.

He told Globo: "I was watching the sea. That transparent color, that blue sea with green, when out of nowhere this spot that seemed to come out of our ship emerged. The smell was very strong at the time and I was upset to hear that it could be some fluid that would be polluting the environment."

A crew member said that because the ship just stopped and lowered an anchor, silt would have been disrupted and muddied the water.

Passenger Alcinar was unconvinced, particularly because of the strong smell. 

I suppose that the smell could have been from the muck and perhaps decomposing organic material like seaweed. I would also think that if the cruise ship was going to illegally open its bilges, it would do so at night while the ship was underway. 

No samples were taken of the water. 

Being accused of discharging waste in Brazilian waters in the last thing that MSC needs. Last December we posted a video of MSC crew members seemingly throwing garbage bags in the water near a marine sanctuary in Brazil. 

Sewage or silt? Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

MSC Orchestra Cruise Ship

Photo Credit: Jesus Alcinir via Globo

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick Passenger From Carnival Paradise

Carnival Paradise MedevacThe U.S. Coast Guard reports that it medevaced a 66-year-old passenger from a Carnival cruise ship yesterday when the ship was approximately 180 miles southwest of Marco Island, Florida. 

The Carnival Paradise contacted the Coast Guard around 2:00 PM yesterday regarding a male passenger who was suffering from an undisclosed medical illness while the cruise ship was sailing to Tampa.

A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was dispatched from the Coast Guard's station in Clearwater.

FOX News reports that when the Coast Guard helicopter crew arrived at the cruise ship, the aircrew lowered their rescue swimmer, hoisted the ill cruise passenger and transported him to Tampa General Hospital for medical care. 

Photo Credit: FOX 4

 

 

Cruise Crime Cover Up: Cruise Lines Report Only Small Fraction of Crimes to the Public

WPTV Cruise Ship CrimeWPTV West Palm Beach aired an interesting program last night indicating that the cruise industry reports only a small percentage of crimes committed on cruise ships.

Last year the cruise lines reported only 78 crimes on cruise ships.  However, pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the news station located reports of more than 300 crimes on just cruise ships leaving from Florida ports. 

In 2013, the cruise lines disclosed only 14 thefts from cruise ships. However, WPTV's Dan Krauth stated that a FOIA request uncovered 75 thefts on cruise ship on Florida-based cruise ships alone. Under current U.S. law, cruise lines have to report only thefts involving property worth $10,000 or more. So if $9,999 of a passenger's stuff is stolen, the cruise lines keep it secret.

Jewelry, computers, money and other valuables were stolen essentially on every single cruise leaving Florida last year but only a tiny fraction of the thefts were reported by the cruise lines to the police. 

The cruise industry conceals the vast majority of physical assaults, sexual assaults and thefts which happen during cruising. It also touts crime statistics based on the incomplete database, creating a false and misleading impression of what really happens on the high seas. 

 

 

WPTV interviewed me during the program. The news station also cited a publication by our firm's former law clerk, Caitlin Burke, explaining that cruise ships evade U.S. law by incorporating in foreign countries and registering their cruise ships in places like the Bahamas. “Flags of convenience” date all the way back to the 1920s, according to Caitlin E. Burke, an advocate for cruise victims. “Flagging a ship under a foreign flag for the convenience of the cruise line is nothing new, nor is it rare,” Burke wrote in A Qualitative Study of Victimization and Legal Issues Relevant to Cruise Ships.

Interested in this issue?  Read Cruise Industry Launches False Crime Statistics Campaign

Credit: video and photograph WPTV

Cruise Ships Without Lifeguards: Shame On You!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WFSB 3 Connecticut

Cruise Industry Launches False Crime Statistics Campaign

After the Costa Concordia capsized, travel agents began telling their clients that such incidents were "rare" and that cruising was "absolutely safe." Some travel agents went as far as to claim that the last time a cruise ship sank was over a 100 years ago when the Titanic struck an iceberg.

Of course this was false. But the travel agents were repeating the talking points issued by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). This was part of a campaign by CLIA to assure the public that cruising was safe and sound. You can read about the false and misleading campaign by the cruise industry here: Six Lies The Cruise Lines Will Tell You After The Costa Concordia Crash.

Holland America LineIt seems like the cruise industry is now back at work spreading falsehoods again.

Following the vicious rape, beating and attempted murder of the 31 year old passenger aboard the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam, HAL's president Stein Kruse released a statement claiming that "no incident like this has occurred in our company's 140-year history."

Of course this is false too. Just last month a 18 year old girl was raped by an officer on the Amsterdam cruise ship, according to an article written by another lawyer here in Miami who represents victims of sexual assault on cruise ships.

The official Coast Guard portal also reveals that there recently have been reported rapes of women on HAL cruise ships, including assaults committed by crew members. 

The sexual assault of women and children is a problem which the cruise industry avoids discussing. When pressed to mention the issue, the cruise lines always say that sexual assaults are "rare." 

A year and a half ago, I wrote an article revealing 23 Reports of Sexual Assault on NCL Cruise Ships in 15 Months. I have also mentioned that Royal Caribbean reportedly experienced 24 sexual assaults during the same year. 

But the cruise lines will never acknowledge the true numbers. In its press releases, the cruise industry invariably fudges the numbers.  The cruise lines were successful in altering the language of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act such that only those cruise ship crimes reported to and closed by the FBI needed to be disclosed to the public. The problem was that not all cruise ship crimes are reported to the FBI and the FBI keeps most files open.

The result is that only a tiny portion of cruise ship crimes is ever publicly disclosed, according to a report by the Senate Commerce Committee. Of 959 crimes reported to the FBI for a 18 month period in 2011 and 2012, only 31 were disclosed on a web site maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.

In addition to the cover-up of crimes, the cruise lines have been adept at keeping the cause of cruise ship disappearances secret. 

HAL has been unable to explain why the last five passengers who disappeared from HAL cruise ships Cruise Ship Crimewent overboard. Several of these passengers were women who disappeared from their cabins. HAL always seems to argue that the passengers committed suicide.

If the 31 year old woman recently victimized on the Nieuw Amsterdam had not fought her attacker off, and she disappeared during the cruise, what would HAL be saying about her now? Would it accuse her of committing suicide? Would the violent crime become just a "mystery?" A cruise line capable of a whopper like there-has-been-no-woman-attacked-for-140-years is capable of saying anything.

The cruise lines are relying on the CLIA travel agents to relay their false crime statistics and misleading opinions to the public. Travel Pulse just published "Agents: The Front Line In Telling the Real Cruise Story."

The travel publication says:

"Another week and another negative story hits the consumer media in regards to cruising. The latest issue involved a crewmember who is accused of raping and beating a passenger on board a Holland America Line charter.

It’s another challenge for the cruise lines, but an even bigger one for the travel agents who are on the front lines.

                                                     *              *            *             *

Despite what you might see or hear in the consumer media, travelers should seek out the insights and advice of a professional travel agent. They’ll get the true story, and the real numbers, when it comes to that particular story." (Emphasis added)

So what is the "truth" that the cruise lines and travel agents want us to believe in order to buy cruises from them?  

What is the "true story" about the HAL crew member who was, as the travel publication puts it, "accused" of "raping and beating" the passenger?  He has already confessed to raping as well as beating, choking and attempting to murder the poor woman who he tried to throw into the sea.  

And what are the "real numbers?" Do the travel agents really want us to believe that the last time a ship sank before the Concordia was the Titanic in 1912? And there had never been a prior rape of a passenger by a crew member on a HAL cruise ship for 140 years dating back to 1874?    

A travel agent that repeats the tall tales and skewed crime statistics of the cruise lines to their clients, tells them to ignore the media stories (like CNN), and represents that cruising is absolutely safe has a good chance of being sued for fraud if their clients are victimized.  

 

Photo Credit: Nieuw Amsterdam Wikipedia / Cybergoth

Did Splendor of the Seas or Other Cruise Ships Dump Sewage Near Turtle Beach in Brazil?

A reader of Cruise News in Brazil sent us an article from a Brazilian newspaper indicating that swimmers (including children) at a public beach near Búzios City, Brazil reported to the hospital with irritated eyes, difficulty breathing, and gastrointestinal problems.

The beach is called Praia da Tartaruga (Turtle Beach).

According to the newspaper Globo, public environmental officials in Brazil reportedly believe that the health problems may have been caused by discharge from one of three cruise ships in the area.

Samples were taken from the three cruise ships which called on the city of Búzios (north of Rio de Splendor of the Seas BrazilJaneiro) to compare them with contaminated water collected at the public beach. 

The three cruise ships have not been identified. However, the newspaper contains a photograph of the Royal Caribbean Splendor of the Seas. The newspaper indicates that the aerial photograph was taken by Secretary of State for Environment, Indio da Costa. Discolored water was observed around the cruise ship. The Brazilian official is quoted saying (translated):

"Still can not know what contaminated water, but we are almost certain that the problem was caused by the release of untreated sewage or treated irregularly by one of the ships docked in Buzios." 

The health authorities closed the beach due to the polluted water. 

The newspaper states that fines for polluting the waters of Brazil can reach $50 million, according to Brazil's Secretary of State for Environment.

The Brazilian cruise organization denied that the polluted water came from cruise ships. It said that the cruise companies comply with the guidelines a set by the MARPOL Convention (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships). 

It is unknown to us whether the Sovereign of the Seas or any other cruise ships were dumping anything in the Brazilian waters, or whether the discolored water around the Sovereign as shown in the photographs is attributable to silt being churned up by the ship's engines, the decomposition of algae or some other explanation. 

The test results are expected to be ready by Wednesday. We will identify the other cruise ships in the area as soon as we obtain this information.

We recently discussed an incident involving a MSC cruise ship which reportedly was caught dumping black garbage bags off the coast of Brazil near a marine sanctuary, after making a transatlantic crossing. A cruise passenger videotaped the dumpingSplendor of the Seas Brazil

 Photos Credit: Indio da Costa, Secretary of Environment from the State of Rio de Janeiro via Globo.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / HurricaneX31

Cruise Passenger Sexually Assaulted In Freeport, Bahamas

KTAS - ABC television reports on an undergraduate from Texas who was assaulted while ashore in the Bahamas during a Carnival cruise.

The young woman states that she wanted to smoke marijuana during her stop over in Freeport, but she was assaulted while in port. 

The story was previously reported by WKMG.

The Bahamas is one country where crimes in general and sexual assaults in particular pose a substantial danger to cruise ship passengers. We have written many times about crimes in the ports of call in the Caribbean. But a cruise passenger invites trouble trying to buy pot while ashore. 

The video also discusses that the murder rates in many of the countries in the Caribbean where the cruise lines sail have a serious problem with crime.  for example, the murder rate in St. Thomas is 10 times higher than the U.S. and the murder rate in Honduras is 20 times higher. 

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Praising its Captain and Ship, Cruise & Maritime Voyages Quickly Returns the Deadly Marco Polo Back to Sea

Just two days ago, the news broke about a wave smashing windows out in the Waldorf Restaurant aboard the Marco Polo cruise ship killing one elderly passenger and injuring a dozen passengers and crew members. Passengers disembarking the 49 year-old former-Russian vessel this morning complained about the poor condition of the cruise ship.

The widow of the passenger who died when the windows exploded in said that the ship was "badly maintained." The Daily Echo quoted her saying that ''There's so much paint on the outside you can't see the rust, they just slop some more on when they get to port."

Marco Polo PassengersBut seemingly just as soon as the passengers had disembarked the old ship, the Marco Polo was already preparing to leave on its next scheduled cruise.

The cruise ship's operator, Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), was quick to issue a corporate PR statement downplaying the incident. It characterized the wave as a "freak" incident, a designation which was contradicted by numerous passengers who characterized the worsening rough weather as an ongoing process requiring them to ride the ship "like a bucking bronco."

CMV described the damage to the vessel as involving only a "small section of Marco Polo’s Waldorf Restaurant," but it neglected to mention that the entire restaurant was flooded with 3 to 5 inches of water. Today, somehow the ship had already completed the "required reparation works," and the cruise ship had already "been cleared to sail by the authorities."

Just who are the "authorities" who gave the old ship a green light to again sail on the same day that it returned to port after the deadly cruise?  The ship is registered in Nassau, Bahamas which could care less about inspecting the ship and will never conduct an analysis of the casualty nor issue a report for public reading.

Other basic questions need to be asked.

How were the "required reparation works" conducted so quickly during such a short turn-around?  Was the ship, constructed back in 1964, completely inspected from bow to stern by qualified experts? Were independent marine surveyors permitted to inspect the damage before the scene was altered?  Was the dead man's family members provided an opportunity to hire their own experts to assess the cause and origin of window failures?

If this casualty involved a U.S. commercial aviation incident where the windows of a Delta jet blew out causing death and injuries to the passengers and crew, the airplane would be shut down indefinitely pending an exhaustive inspection and analysis by the stringent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the aircraft manufacturer, component vendor companies, maintenance companies and other companies. Even the FBI would be a part of the investigation.

But this incident involved the largely unregulated "anything-goes" world of foreign-flagged cruise ships where the ships never stop and the cruise operator PR people are left to praise themselves rather than scrutinize what went wrong. 

CMV has already claimed that the wave was a "freak" which in legal terms means its was allegedly "unforeseeable" which CMV's lawyers will contend. The weather broadcasts, wind and sea forecasts, and nautical charts showing wind speed and wave heights are of no consequence it seems. The cruise operator has already settled on its defense strategy. The Marco Polo is already heading out to sea again.

CMV already boasts that its ship is allegedly in compliance with "strict" international maritime "requirements" (the International Maritime Organization has no authority to even enforce its own recommendations).  Remarkably, the cruise line praises its captain and officers who sailed into harm's way while inviting the elderly guests to sit like ducks next to the windows as the giant waves Marco Polo BBCcrashed upon the ship. 

Instead of such cheerleading and gushing praise, a criminal investigation should be initiated into whether manslaughter charges should be leveled against the captain, the navigational officers and the senior managers who permitted the passengers to sit precariously close to the restaurant windows under such dangerous circumstances.

The ship never should have been permitted to take new passengers aboard today. It should have been detained. The Marco Polo should be immediately returned to port and undergo a thorough and complete survey before it leaves port again anytime soon. 

February 18 2014 Update: A newspaper in the U.K. contains an interview of a couple of the cruise who "do not believe that the ordeal was the result of a freak wave but that of gale-force wind and said that there was an incident even on the first night of the 42-night cruise." A window blew in earlier.  A reader left this comment to the story:

We were on the ship too, in the restaurant and also found out that the man who died was our shipboard next door neighbour. I too take issue with the word 'freak' allowing commentators to write off the incident as tragic but one of those things. Others were seriously injured that day. If it was a freak wave it was one of a series . . . 
 

 

Photo Credits:

Marco Polo Passengers - BBC News

Marco Polo: BBC News / Martin Dalton

1 Dead, 12 Injured: Pandemonium After Wave Breaks Window & Floods Cruise Ship Restaurant

Marco Polo ITV NewsMore details are coming in about yesterday's deadly incident where a large wave crashed through a window on the Marco Polo cruise ship.

As we mentioned in our article yesterday, a 85 year old man and a woman in her 70s were airlifted from the ship. The man later died due to his injuries. 

A cruise passenger gave the following account to the U.K.'s Channel 4 News:

"We were sitting at a table in the Marco Polo's Waldorf restaurant, located on deck six of the cruise ship. The table was on the starboard side. Lunch was just being served and most people were waiting for their orders.

The seas, visible through the windows, were very rough. Waves were peaking nearly parallel to the windows. Furniture in the restaurant was beginning to shift, so people were holding on to tables and chairs.

Suddenly there was a very loud 'bang' and the daylight in the room reduced as a wall of seawater covered most of the starboard windows. The bang was the breaching of a forward window in the restaurant."

On leaving the restaurant, I went up three decks to my cabin, when another large wave hit the ship and I was thrown across a connecting passageway and ended up in a bundle against a wall.

I was rescued by fellow passengers who called the ships doctors and crew. I was stretchered to the sick bay four decks below with a cut head and extensive bruising."

ABC News aired the video here: 

 

Another account stated that sea water rushed through the broken windows and flooded the restaurant to a depth of about three to five inches.

In all 12 passengers and crew members sustained injuries.

There is no indication in any of these articles that the captain has issued warning to the passengers. The cruise line is playing the "freak wave" a/k/a the "rogue wave" defense, suggesting that the wave was unforeseeable. That's hardly true. Storms like this create cyclical patterns of waves where one out of one hundred waves or so is of a substantially large size and velocity. The vessel's officer and senior officers should not permit passengers, particularly elderly guests, into public areas with large windows which can be breached.

Other cruise ships encountering rough weather have experienced smashed windows which killed and seriously injured passengers. 

The Channel 4 video is below:

 

 

Photo Credit: Marco Polo -  ITV News

Rough Weather Kills Cruise Passenger

CNN reports that a British cruise passenger was killed during rough weather which struck a ship sailing into the English Channel.

The death occurred aboard the Marco Polo cruise ship.

The cruise line tried to characterize the death as a result of a freak accident. The incident was described as a result of a "freak wave" according to a statement released Friday by the ship's owner, Cruise & Maritime Voyages. It is quite common for cruise operators to say that a "freak wave" was the problem, rather than admitting that the sea conditions were foreseeable and that the captain and officers failed to Marco Polo Cruise Shipwarn the passengers of the dangers inherent in the adverse sea conditions. 

There was nothing "freaky" about the waves. The U.K. is being racked by severe weather which includes driving rain and gale-force winds.

One of the most popular videos we have ever posted is that of a wave smashing through a window and causing death and destruction. You can see that video here on our YouTube channel.  It has been watched around 1,500,000 times: "Wave Hits Louis Majesty Cruise Ship." 

CNN says that "one elderly passenger has died and a further passenger has been airlifted for further shore-side medical assistance."

BBC News says that "water crashed through a window injuring several passengers. An 85-year-old man and a woman in her 70s were airlifted off the ship but the man later died."

The ship was sailing from the Azores to its home port in Tilbury, England and was carrying 735 passengers and 349 crew members.

February 15 2014 Update1 Dead, 12 Injured: Pandemonium After Wave Breaks Window & Floods Cruise Ship Restaurant.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Luca Riva 

Elderly Couple on Thomson Celebration Brutally Assaulted

A newspaper in the U.K. reports on a "dream luxury cruise turned into a holiday from hell" when an elderly couple were brutally assaulted by a fellow passenger. 

The Gazette Live states that the violent crime occurred aboard the Thomson Celebration. The woman suffered "serious spinal injuries" and her husband incurred "serious facial injuries." Both victims were taken to the hospital. 

A spokesperson for the cruise line said the assailant left the cruise after the attack, and that it "is very Thomson Celebrationsorry to hear of the injuries." 

“We would like to reassure our customers that their safety is of paramount importance and incidents such as this are extremely rare.”

Cases like this never cease to amaze me.

Instead of apprehending the assailant and confining him to the brig or secluding him to his cabin under the watch of a guard, the cruise line lets him disembark and escape justice. Invariably, the cruise line's PR team expresses condolences and claims that the crime is "rare."

In my opinion, the captains and security officers of cruise ships which permit assailants to flee justice should be arrested for aiding and abetting a criminal.

The cruise ship sailed from Santa Cruz in Tenerife to exotic ports like Las Palmas, Santa Cruz, Funchal and Agadir in Morocco.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / ozgurmulazimoglu

Carnival-Owned AIDA Cruises Pulls Out of Margarita Island, Venezuela After Murder of Passenger

Margarita Island Venezuela Cruise MurderToday there is a report in El Universal newspaper that German cruise line AIDA Cruises announced the suspension of its two next port calls on Margarita Island, Venezuela. 

Last week we reported that a 76 year old passenger was shot and killed while ashore on an excursion from the Aida Luna cruise ship.

Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates in the world. 

The newspaper quoted the president of the Nueva Esparta Chamber of Tourism, stating:

"This was expected to happen, because security has a direct effect on tourism; hence we insist on saying that time has come to go from words to action. Not only we need police, but the fact of the matter is creating wellbeing in the region in order to minimize crime; there is the need to combat impunity with all the strength we have."

In many ways, there are other countries in the Caribbean which are exactly in this Venezuelan island's precarious situation. I was interviewed by the Nassau Guardian last month about the high crime and murder rates in Nassau and the threat presented to cruise passengers. I said that Nassau was "one gunshot away" from losing its cruise ship business.  I expect Carnival to up and leave if and when a Carnival passenger is shot.

In Margarita Island, which is in the Caribbean, this turned out to be the case.     

The Aida Luna is owned by Carnival Corporation and operated by AIDA Cruises.

I suspect other islands in the Caribbean are holding their breath, afraid that a cruise tourist will become a murder statistic.  

 

Photo (Map) Credit: David Gouaze 

America Now: Cruise Ship Crime

Cruise Ship CrimeToday, "America Now - News You Can Use" aired a video about the issue of cruise ship crimes.

The video shows images of 15 cruise passengers who were victimized during cruises. 

Although cruising appears to be a "hassle-free" vacation, there are crimes which occur. The number one crime is sexual assault, with over 30% of such crimes involving minors.

One of the problems with crimes on cruise ships is that there is no independent police force.  The security personnel are employees of the cruise line. There is a conflict of interest which occurs when a passenger is victimized, particularly when the assailant is a crew member.  

Interviewed during the program are Jamie Barnett, the President of the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization, and Laurie Dishman who was sexually assaulted during a Royal Caribbean cruise to Mexico.

Photo Credit: NBC

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean / Royal Caribbean via Wired

Cabin Fire Delays Departure of Carnival Valor from St. Thomas USVI

Carnival Valor St. ThomasWe have been notified that there was a fire which affected a "few cabins" this afternoon on the Carnival Valor, which is currently docked at port in St. Thomas U.S.V.I.

A person on the cruise ship informed us that the cruise ship was supposed to depart St. Thomas at 5:00 P.M. but the captain of the ship announced that the departure was delayed due to the fire which apparently (reportedly) went from one cabin to another. The cause and type of fire has not been explained to us.

The ship reportedly will sail later tonight. 

We are awaiting confirmation and an explanation from Carnival which we contacted upon receipt of the information.

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

Update: Here's the statement which we received today from Carnival at 6:21 P.M.:

CARNIVAL VALOR STATEMENT

February 10, 2014 - 5:15 pm EDT

Earlier today while the Carnival Valor was docked in St. Thomas, a small fire was detected in one stateroom located on deck 8. The ship’s automatic sprinkler system activated and quickly extinguished the fire. All of the ship’s hotel and safety systems continued to function as normal.

Although there was smoke in the area, there were no injuries to guests or crew. Other than the one affected cabin, all other cabins in the area are undamaged.

The ship, which departed on a seven-day cruise from San Juan yesterday, is scheduled to sail from St. Thomas later this evening and arrive in Barbados on Wednesday.

Carnival Valor operates year-round seven-day southern Caribbean cruises from San Juan.

###

Update: The Cruise Critic message board includes comments from passengers, including this one:

"No power at lido buffet and still have not left port and we are a hour late. Some aft stairwells have been block of and aft elevators are not operating." 

  

Photo Credit: Wikipediia / ckramer

Celebrity Constellation Loses Power, Again

Celebrity ConstellationCruise Fever reports that a Celebrity cruise ship lost power yesterday morning for about one and one-half hours while the ship was at port in Key West.

Cruise Fever says that the Celebrity Constellation lost power Sunday morning from approximately 7:15 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. A writer for Cruise Fever was aboard and first reported on the power failure.  

Over 7 weeks ago, the same ship experienced a power loss at the same port. You can read about that incident here: Celebrity Constellation Suffers Engine Problems in Key West

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Megadri

Passenger Missing From Fred Olsen's Black Watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit: RaBoe/Wikipedia Creative Commons License

Rough Weather Rocks Royal Caribbean's Splendor of the Seas

Splendor of the Seas - Rough WeatherTwo weeks ago, a storm hit Royal Caribbean's Splendor of the Seas, breaking plates, bottles and glasses and causing concern among the passengers.

According to the Brazilian newspaper Diário Catarinense on the night of January 23rd, passengers who were aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship reported "moments of panic and tension" after a the ship faced a storm between Argentina and Uruguay.

The newspaper says that the cruise ship tilted 7 to 10 degrees, permitting water to enter parts of the ship.

The captain of the cruise ship had warned the passengers earlier in the afternoon that the ship would be encountering rough weather.

Nonetheless, the events that evening surprised and frightened many passengers.

"Many people shouted that the ship would sink, and all were going to die," said one passenger. Others screamed and some laughed nervously about the effects of the storm on the ship.  Watch the videos below.

 

  

 

Photo and Video Credit: Diario Catarinense 

Cruise Passenger Murdered in Venezuela's Margarita Island

Yesterday a cruise passenger was murdered while ashore in Venezuela's Margarita island.

The international press reports that "a gunman shot dead an elderly German tourist on Venezuela's Margarita island," in the latest incident "illustrating the country's rampant crime." 

Reuters identified the dead man as Goldhahm Hors Kurt, age 76, from Germany.

A German cruise blog explains that the cruise tourist had gone ashore on an excursion from the Carnival owned Aida Aida LunaLuna cruise ship. The crime occurred at a tourist shop in a shopping center.

The El Universal newspaper says that two armed robbers on a motorcycle tried to rob the tourists. A struggle ensued and Mr. Kurt was shot and killed.

Venezuela's murder rate is one of the highest in the world, and reflects a trend we have observed of substantially higher crime against tourists in the Caribbean region. Last month a former Venezuelan beauty queen and soap opera star Monica Spear was shot and killed when she returned to her homeland. 

The Venezuela Tourism Minister tweeted (@IzarraDeVerdad) his condolences and said that authorities were pursuing the criminals. However, newspapers state that over 90% of murders in Venezuela remain unsolved.

The Aida Luna is a Sphinx class cruise ship, owned by Carnival Corporation and operated by AIDA Cruises.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Frank Schwichtenberg / GNU Free Documentation License 

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick Passenger From Carnival Fantasy Cruise Ship

Carnival Fantasy Cruise ShipThe Tampa Tribune reports that the Coast Guard medevaced an ill passenger via helicopter from a Carnival cruise ship today. 

The Coast Guard in Miami sent a helicopter to medically evacuate a 27-year-old man from the Carnival Fantasy after he began experiencing severe abdominal pain. 

The cruise ship was reportedly more than 80 miles northeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida. The helicopter hoisted the sick passenger and a cruise ship nurse off the cruise ship and then transported the ill man to Cape Canaveral Hospital in Cocoa Beach around noon today.

The cruise ship was heading back to Charleston, South Carolina.

Madness Aboard a Carnival "Fun Ship:" The Cruise Customer is Always Wrong

Carnival Cruise ShipKATC news station in Louisiana is reporting on the proverbial "cruise from hell" when a "woman's fun getaway turned into what she calls a nightmare."

According to the news station, the woman and her friend were looking forward to their Carnival cruise to Mexico.

On the second day of her cruise, all her money and travel documents, birth certificate and driver's license were stolen from her cabin, she claims. Watch what unfolds thereafter in the video here.

The passenger claims she was harassed when she complained. Carnival accuses her of harassing the cruise line. By the end of the cruise, Carnival considered the matter to be closed. The passenger felt abused. 

Whether you are a fan of the "Fun Ships" or skeptical of cruise passengers when horror stories emerge like this, one thing is certain. Cruise passengers have few if any legal rights on the high seas. Hiring a lawyer is a waste of time. All that most passengers can do in a "she-said, he-said" dispute is go to the media and let the public decide. 

Have a thought? Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Former Journalist Falls from Cruise Ship, Dies

Bob Horn Cruise Ship DeathThe press in the U.K. is reporting that a former newspaper reporter from Sunderland, England drown "after falling overboard from a cruise ship in South America."

Cruise passenger Bob Horn reportedly was on an Atlantic cruise with his brother when he fell from the liner shortly after a visit to Montevideo in Uruguay.

Mr. Horn previously worked for the Sunderland Echo newspaper. 

The cruise ship has not been identified.

Photo Credit: Sutherland Echo

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 Year Old Drowns on Carnival Victory Cruise Ship

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Dickelbers

Nassau Bahamas Crime Watch: Cruise Passengers Beware

Nassau Bahamas - Crime WarningThe newspapers in Nassau continue to report the high rate of armed robberies and murder. 

If you are thinking of taking a cruise to Nassau, don't trust the U.S. based cruise lines or U.S. travel agents to be transparent with you. That would be a mistake. There are hundreds of millions of dollars to be made in cruise fares, cruise excursions and cruise commissions from people sailing into Nassau. 

The local newspapers in Nassau are straight forward in reporting crime. The crime problem mostly affects the local Bahamians but it also involved crimes against cruise passengers and tourists. Check out these local newspapers in Nassau: Tribune; Guardian; Bahamas B2B, Bahamas Press, and Nassau Punch. And check out the Bahamas Police Depatrment. Bookmark them and read the news articles and information for a couple of weeks before you book a cruise. 

Here are a few highlights over the last month:

United States Issues Another Crime Warning For The Bahamas: 2 days ago the U.S. Embassy issued yet another crime warning. The new advisory warns US citizens traveling in the Bahamas of a “crime spike” in the country. "The Embassy said that a number of US citizens had fallen victim to armed robbery and two had been murdered in the last eight months." Read the chilling advisory here.

Two tourists were robbed of their belongings and a rental car at gunpoint: "The man and woman were on Jaws Beach in western New Providence when they were approached by two men who Crime in Nassau Bahamasproduced a weapon, took a backpack containing cash and other items." The U.S. Embassy says that the robbers carried an "assault rifle."

"Nassau is Bloodier Than New York" From the Tribune in Nassau: "New York City is much, much safer than small New Providence, despite that US city’s massive size. Of every 25,035 New York City resident, only one was murdered in 2013. Conversely, of every 2,100 Nassauvian, one was murdered in 2013."

Tourism Conference To Debate Issue Of Crime: "US Embassy officials issued a crime warning to Americans living in and travelling to New Providence and Grand Bahama. In the advisory, the murders of two Americans over the past eight months and numerous armed robberies were pinpointed."

Challenging the Status Quo of Crime in the Caribbean:  "2014 began with crimes rates soaring ridiculously high in the Caribbean."

Are Bahamian officials safe?  In December, the Acting Prime Minister Philip Davis was robbed at gunpoint. A few days ago, a police officer assigned to guard a residence of the Prime Minister Christie was arrested on suspicion of stealing a television at the residence. The latter is a petty crime I know, but you have to shake your head when the bad guys are bold enought to stick up the Acting Prime Minister and the police are stealing from the Prime Minister.

"Two men armed with guns robbed a pre-school while more than 100 students attended classes." From pre-schools full of children to the highest governmental officials, no one seems safe in this beautiful island. 

 

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

Photo Credit: 

Top: Bahamas B2B

Bottom: Tribune

Carnival Triumph: "Frazzled Wires" Caused Smoke & Power Loss

Carnival TriumphCarnival told a television station last evening that after an "electrical breaker failed," the Triumph cruise ship lost power. This "affected ventilation in the ship's incinerator, sending smoke into limited areas of three decks."

Well, that's not what the Cruise Director told the passengers last evening on the ship.

According to a passenger, the Cruise Director said that "frazzled wires" caused the smoke.  This was broadcast over the intercom throughout the ship. The smoke from the electrical fire entered the ventilation system. 

Here's what the Cruise Director said in the video below:

"I'm telling you the truth right here. So folks, if there is a bit of smoke anywhere near you, head on up to the open decks. Just a couple of wires have been kind of frazzled. So big apologies about that. Once again, absolutely folks nothing to worry about at all. We're getting the power restarted as soon as possible and we will be off and on our way. Thank you very much everybody."

Carnival also claimed that the power was off for a mere 8 minutes. Passengers are also disputing that too, saying that the propulsion was shut down for over an hour. 

It seems like the "incinerator smoke" excuse is as bogus as the "8 minute" power loss excuse.

I'm still receiving a lot of information from the passengers who were on the cruise so check back on this story. 

Photo Credit: Carnival Triumph - Reuters

 

How Long Was Power Failure on Carnival Triumph? "8 Minutes" or 1 to 2 Hours?

Carnival Triumph Power LossYesterday a television station in Louisiana reported that the infamous "poop cruise" ship Triumph suffered a power story.

Carnival told KATC that the power outage was extremely brief - "8 minutes."

Because it was Friday evening, no major news stations covered the story. We published a short article and reported the Carnival quote that the outage was allegedly just "8 minutes." I placed quotes around eight minutes because it sounded bogus to me. 

I thought that as soon as the passengers got off the Triumph, we would hear a different story that what Carnival was saying.

All of the popular cruise bloggers, who are essentially cheerleaders for the cruise lines, repeated the Carnival quote - "8 minutes." The bloggers took the Carnival PR statement hook, line and sinker. They "reported" on the brief power loss as no big deal. 

This morning, passengers are beginning to leave comments on our article. The first person said the power was out for almost one hour. The second person said there was considerable confusion with the crew telling them to put on their life jackets and go to the muster station while other crew members told them to take their life vests off and report to the Lido deck. A third person said that the outage was 1 to 2 hours and there was substantial confusion. A fourth person said the power was out for one hour but the crew handled the situation well.

Another person said there was burnt and frazzled wiring which caused the smoke. Carnival said yesterday that it was just some smoke from an incinerator. 

Carnival Triumph Power LossYou can read the comments here.

The cruise lines' problems with their image and reputation have more to do with how they act and what they say after a problem like this than the problem itself. Being dishonest about a loss of power on the high seas is a serious breach of the public's trust. 

If the cruise line is lying about the length of the power outage the question arises whether it is lying about the cause of the power loss too?

If you were on the cruise, does anyone believe that the power was for just eight minutes?  How long was it?

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

Update: Carnival Triumph: "Frazzled Wires" Caused Smoke & Power Loss"

Carnival Triumph Loses Power Again - "For 8 Minutes"

Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship KATC reports that the infamous "poop" cruise ship, the Triumph, lost power today as the Carnival cruise ship was sailing from Cozumel, Mexico back to Galveston, Texas.

According to KATC, Carnival says that the Triumph lost power "for eight minutes" after an electrical breaker failed. Carnival says the loss of power "affected ventilation in the ship's incinerator, sending smoke into limited areas of three decks."

Everyone will remember the Triumph which floated around in the Gulf of Mexico last year after an engine room fire knocked out power to the ship. Whatever happens with this infamous cruise ship will forever be closely monitored. Carnival denies that a fire broke out on the ship and denies that a fire caused the electrical outage. We have heard these denials before, like this case and this one too.

Carnival notified the U.S. Coast Guard of the incident. 

KATV reports that passengers are still on the deck waiting for the smoke to clear.

Whether a fire broke out or not, what caused the breaker to fail?

If you are on the cruise, we'd like to hear the passenger's view of what happened. Was the power out for just "8 minutes?"

Leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page

February 1 2014 Update: Passengers getting off of the ship are stating that the power was out for an hour.  Also passenger records Cruise Director announced  that "frazzled wires" caused smoke.  

 

Photo Credit: Dave Martin / AP

Norovirus on Explorer of the Seas: More Sick than Reported

Explorer of the SeasCNN interviewed a family who became sick with gastrointestinal illness while sailing aboard Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas.  

These passengers (Mom, Dad and two kids), made some interesting comments. They disputed the official statistics reported by the cruise line to the Centers for Disease control (CDC) indicating that only 20% of the passengers were infected.  

They believed that a more reasonable estimate is that 80% were infected and 20% were not infected. At some point, they say, the cruise ship's medical infirmary was over-run with sick passengers. The facility could not process and treat the hundreds of people becoming ill. 

The family also said that the cruise line medical personnel "told us to stop coming down" (to the infirmary).

Watch the video below. 

Photo Credit: Roberto Schmidt / AFP / Getty

 

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

Crew Member Overboard From Celebrity Cruises' Constellation Cruise Ship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Photo Credit of Celebrity Constellation - Wikipedia / Megadri   

Royal Caribbean Chairman Places Blame for Norovirus: "They're Having a Lot of Cold Up in the North"

Richard Fain Royal Caribbean NorovirusWith the norovirus controversy swirling around the Explorer of the Seas, Royal Caribbean cruise line executive Richard Fain appeared on a CNBC financial program today with host Simon Hobbs. Chairman Fain was discussing the fourth quarter 2013 profits when the issue came up of the over 600 sick passengers and crew.

Mr. Fain seemed to become quite defensive. He placed blame for what the ship doctors believe is the dreadful norovirus, saying: "They're having a lot of cold up in the north."   

Of course norovirus is not a cold, and its not caused by the cold. Far from it.

Norovirus is transmitted by fecally contaminated food or water; by person-to-person contact; and via aerosolization of the virus and subsequent contamination of surfaces. It can linger around for a week or two on surfaces and fabrics and even months and years in contaminated water.

How and why norovirus appears on cruise ships is a hotly debated topic.

Unless and until the CDC epidemiologist locates how the norovirus came on the cruise ship, it will be anyone's guess where the nasty bug came from. Blaming the people from New Jersey for bring a cold aboard the Explorer of the Seas is preposterous, but that's part of the blame game that cruise lines play.

The game plan for cruise lines is to always blame the passengers for the virus and to take the focus off of the possibility that an ill galley worker spread the virus or there were contamination problems with the food or water in the first place.

Mr. Fain told CNBC "'we screen our passengers best we can." Again, blame the passengers who slipped through the screening process, rather than saying that they screen their crew, food and water. 

Mr. Fain said his ships are "amazingly safe and secure" but he "wished he didn't have to prove it so many times."

Well if you have over 600 passengers and crew sick with norovirus puking all over the place, you have some proving to do again.  Accusing the people from Hoboken of having a cold is not going to work.

 

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Coast Guard Medevacs Injured Passenger From HAL Veendam

Veendam Cruise ShipThe U.S. Coast Guard Sector in San Diego sent a helicopter to a cruise ship approximately 150 miles west of San Diego yesterday (January 23rd).

The Defense Video and Imaging Distribution Services reports that a 69-year-old woman fell down a stairwell and suffered head injuries and internal bleeding.

The video was taken by U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Henry G. Dunphy.

The name of the cruise ship was not released. However, an AIS tracking site indicates that the Holland America Line Veendam turned around and began heading back toward San Diego.

You can watch the helicopter land after transporting the injured woman from the HAL ship.

The Veendam was last in the news when an elderly woman went overboard earlier this month. 

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

 

Fire, Fog & Medevac Mar Cruise Aboard Carnival Magic

Carnival Magic MedevacThis morning at 7:39 AM, I received the following information from a passenger on the Carnival Magic returning to port in Galveston:

"We sit outside the harbor in the fog this morning. Last night the coast guard had to airlift a passenger for medical reasons and yesterday morning we had a fire. Deck 11 forward. The crew says it was not a fire but hot electrical. Smoke was coming down to other decks, there is water and wet floors up there so they can call it what they want . . . Pic of the chopper attached."

We are also told Carnival had fans and machines out on deck 11 and there was standing water in the halls. One passenger said "it might have just been a hot circuit but they sure used a lot of water, which made no sense on electrical."

Passengers are now disembarking from the cruise ship.

Does anyone on this cruise have information, photos or video to share?

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

Carnival's response:

"On Saturday morning aboard the Carnival Magic, there was a smell of smoke reported along a guest corridor. The issue was identified as an overheated electrical component within an air conditioning vent located within a guest stateroom. There was no fire. The issue has since been fixed. Guests were kept apprised of the situation with announcements over the ship’s public address system and shipboard staff were positioned in the area where the smoke was reported to advise guests and answer any questions.

Additionally, on Saturday afternoon, the ship rendezvoused with a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter to airlift a guest in need of immediate medical attention. The guest was taken to a shoreside medical facility for further treatment.

Carnival Magic was on a seven-day cruise to the Caribbean that returned to its home port of Galveston earlier this morning."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Ivan T.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Person Overboard From Holland America Line's Veendam?

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

Here are two of the comments:

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

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

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

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

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

Death & Lawlessness? or the Best Vacation Possible? Australian Newspaper Explores Conflicting Views of Cruising

Cruise Line StoriesA newspaper in Australia presents two sides of the cruise industry today. 

The main article is entitled: Death, Assaults, lawlessness ... the Dark Side of the Cruise Industry. It's a must read article for everyone interested in the historical view of the problems which continue to plague the cruise industry: missing passengers, excessive alcohol, drugs and sexual assault of minors.

At the other end of the spectrum is the cruise friendly piece: 11 Reasons Why a Cruise is a Safe Holiday. If you love cruising and think its the best thing since sliced bread, this article is for you. 

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

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

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

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

His name and hometown were not disclosed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately Royal Caribbean has not implemented this system.

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Aztec06

Man Overboard from the Adventure of the Seas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Top 10 Most Outrageous Cruise Ship Stories of 2013 & the "Worst Cruise Line in the World" Award

Carnival Poop CruiseIt's been a long year for the cruise lines. Cruise ship fires, engine failures and other mishaps have dominated the travel news in 2013. We have written several hundreds of articles this year under our motto: "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."  

2013 has been the year of the disabled cruise ship. First, we suffered through the 24-hour-a-day CNN coverage of the infamous Carnival Triumph poop cruise. Next came the Carnival Dream, which experienced propulsion problems followed by the Carnival Legend which also experienced propulsion issues attributable to poor maintenance. Then the Carnival Elation and the Carnival-owned P&O Ventura joined the growing list of disabled/impaired cruise ships. It was only mid-March. Carnival's reputation was circling the drain!

The rest of the year saw more of the same. Problems with the Regent Seven Seas Voyager (propulsion), Carnival-owned Crown Princess (sewage), Carnival Ecstasy (propulsion), Royal Grandeur of the SeasCaribbean's Grandeur of the Seas (fire), NCL's Breakaway (loose nuts & broken welds), Royal Caribbean-owned Pullmantur's Zenith (fire causing loss of power), Bimini SuperFast (propulsion), Celebrity Millennium (propulsion), Carnival-owned Sun Princess (propulsion), Carnival-owned Royal Princess (propulsion), Carnival-owned Noordam (fire), Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas (propulsion), Carnival-owned Dawn Princess (fire), MSC Magnifica (allision), Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas (hull repair), Saga Ruby (generator break down), and Celebrity's Constellation (propulsion). 

Wow what a list, but none of the disabled ships made the top 10 list. Luckily, no one was killed or seriously injured in these mishaps.    

So what's the criteria for inclusion on the top 10 list of outrageous cruise stories you may ask? If it makes you spit on the ground, shake your head and stomp your feet in disgust, the story has a chance to make the list. I start with the least outrageous (still pretty outrageous), at number 10, and end with Rebecca Coriam - Disneythe most outrageous at number 1. 

Number 10: Disney and the Bahamas continue to refuse to cooperate with the Coriam family regarding the disappearance of their daughter Rebecca. 

In January, I wrote about a nasty tendency of the cruise industry: Stonewalling at Sea - Cruise Lines Continue to Cover Up Disappearances on the High Seas. This involved crew member Rebecca Coriam who disappeared from the Disney Wonder. Disney continues to refuse to provide meaningful information to the Coriam family about what happened to Rebecca, who was age 24 when she vanished. Although Disney's legal and security departments conducted investigations, Disney deflects questions about the mystery off to the flag state of the Bahamas. The Bahamas sent one police officer from Nassau (Officer Rolle, more about him below) to Los Angeles to conduct what everyone now agrees was a Coriam Family - DisneyMicky Mouse "investigation." The Bahamas refuses to provide information to the grieving Coriam family (photo right). Why? To avoid embarrassing Disney it seems. Watch the video

The alleged cover-up by Disney and the Bahamas is, in my view, a chilling insight into the sinister nature of the cruise industry. Disney promises a fun filled family vacation, until a crime occurs or a person goes overboard. Then the floating Magic Kingdom becomes your worst nightmare in my opinion. Undaunted, the Coriam family created an international maritime victim's website to assist other families.  

Number 9: 55 Celebrity cruise passengers robbed at gunpoint in St. Lucia.

Yes, crime and armed robbery during cruise excursions happen, although the cruise lines and travel agents hate to talk about it. Robbery at gun point of cruise passengers of their Rolexes, iPhones, cameras and cash in the Caribbean and Mexico is increasing. The cruise lines and local tourism bureaus deny it, but they're usually lying. The most dangerous port of call?  Nassau, without a doubt. St. Lucia RobberyWe've written about murder, robbery, purse snatching, and rape of tourists, in addition to the usual drug solicitations. Read a compilation of crimes against tourists here. Read this local Bahamian man's view of crime in the islands, published just today. The local police in Nassau can't even keep the teenage girls sailing from Miami safe while walking back to the ships from Senor Frogs. And this place is in charge of flag state investigations into missing persons and ship fires regarding cruise ships flying the flag of the Bahamas?      

Number 8: Royal Caribbean cuts pay, increases work, takes crew tips, and axes 100 (mostly women) employee from its corporate headquarters. 

This was a year where cruise executives' greed reached a zenith. And Royal Caribbean led the way.  It took away cash tips direct-to-the-crew, ripped off a percentage of the tips, decreased pay of officers, staff YouTube Banned Video - Royal Caribbean  & crew, increased work, and fired over a 100 (mostly women) jobs from its corporate headquarters. When a popular YouTube video "Screw the Crew" revealed the tip-snatching scam, the cruise line banned the video. No one can abuse its crew better than Royal Caribbean, except maybe Carnival (discussed below).    

Number 7: Cruise Industry ignores man overboard safety law.

In 2010, President Obama signed the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act into law. It became effective in 2012. Cruise lines are Man Overboard - Cruise Shiprequired to install state of the art technology to respond immediately to persons going overboard. The technology exists. But except for one or perhaps two cruise lines, the cruise industry refuses to comply with the law. Passengers and crew, who could be quickly rescued, die because of the cruise industry's lawlessness. The non-compliance by the non-tax paying foreign flagged cruise industry also causes the U.S. Coast Guard to spend millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars in unnecessarily-wide search and rescues which are rarely successful. Making matters worse is the cruise industry's substantial under-reporting of persons overboard. With a few million dollars spent lobbying Congress and federal agencies like the Coast Guard and the FBI, the cruise industry can do, or not do, pretty much anything it wants.   

Number 6: Breaking news - Celebrity crew member sentenced to 8 years in prison for child pornography. 

Two days ago, a Celebrity crew member was sentenced to 8 years in jail for child porn. Here's the full Celebrity Cruise Ship Crew Member - Child Pornstory. I'm tired of these perverts. In April a 15 year old boy was sexually assaulted on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas. In May, a Royal Caribbean passenger was sentenced to jail for transporting thousands of child pornography photos and videos on the Monarch of the Seas from Port Canaveral. No it's not rare. In the same month, a woman on her 17th cruise encountered a man stalking her and masterbating. She says Royal Caribbean could of cared less. Earlier this year, I wrote about Sexual Perverts & Pedophiles on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships. Some say that sexual crimes and weirdos are everywhere and such incidents are not limited to cruise ships. They're right. Don't believe the cruise lines for a second when they say their ships are super safe. Lesson to be learned: Watch your kids. 

Number 5: Cruise industry teams up with retired Coast Guard officials and uses official Coast Guard logo to sell cruises. 

What do you do when you are a Rear-Admiral and ready to retire? Go into business with the cruise industry as a consultant. Write editorials praising the cruise lines. Leave glowing comments whenever Coast Guard Consultants for Cruise IndustryCLIA CEO Christine Duffy writes an article praising the cruise lines. When cruise ships begin to ignite to the right and left of you, tell the public that cruising is the safest and most regulated form of transportation. Be sure to say that you and your family love to cruise all of the time.  Use photos of yourself still wearing your uniform and medals. Use the official logo of your former federal agency you no longer work for. No one will know the difference. But whatever you do, don't admit that you work for CLIA. Don't explain that the Splendor and the Triumph cruise ships both caught on fire the day or two after the so-called "rigorous" Coast Guard inspections.  

Don't worry that the Coast Guard will protest your unauthorized use of federal uniforms and official logos. That's because everyone at the Coast Guard will eventually end up working for the cruise lines too.   

Number 4: Carnival fleeces its crew members and insulates itself from liability.

Carnival's outrageous conduct this year has not been limited to the Triumph poop cruise. It terminated Micky Arison - Carnivalits crew members' retirement program leaving many of its crew, particularly its loyal Filipinos, feeling betrayed. Its brands dipped into the crew's tips. The crew can't protest, because they will be fired and black-balled.  Carnival has spent millions lobbying Congress for favorable legislation which insulates itself from legal and financial liability when crew members (as well as passengers) are seriously injured or killed on its cruise ships. Carnival's brands, like Princess, also over-work their crew and subject them to grueling hours. Carnival pays no U.S. taxes.

Meanwhile Carnival Chairman Micky Arison is one of the richest persons in Florida worth well over $5,000,000,000. 

Number 3: Royal Caribbean ship doctor evades jurisdiction after allegedly maiming an ill passenger. 

A ship doctor employed on Oasis of the Seas allegedly commits gross malpractice on an ill passenger leading to sepsis, Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Doctormultiple organ failure and cerebral hemorrhage. Think that the cruise line will be responsible for the doctors who are officers on the ship, wear cruise line uniforms and work in the cruise ship infirmaries? Think again. The cruise line and the doctor reportedly tell the patient that its impossible to arrange for a medevac helicopter from the Coast Guard. They neglect the poor woman and cruise on to Mexico. This case makes me sick.

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.

Number 2: Silver Shadow fails sanitation inspection after caught hiding trolleys of meat, fish, ham, and cheese in crew quarters.  

We always knew that cruise lines played hide-the-ball games with the USPH inspectors, but haughty Silversea Cruises was particularly good at it. Crew members complained to us about the hide-the-food-from-the-inspectors games so we wrote to Silversea for an explanation. It ignored Silversea Cruises USPH Violationus. So we wrote about it. Silversea ignored us again. So we wrote about it again and posted photographs. Then we pitched the story to CNN which broadcast the disgusting story to a national audience in a well produced video.

For a high-brow cruise line to be both reckless and arrogant is a bad combination.

Number 1: Disney sails a crime scene and sexual predator out of a U.S. port to Nassau and flys the pervert employee home to India.

A 33 year old waiter from India brazenly follows an 11 year old girl out of the dining room and into an elevator where he kisses the child and gropes her breast. The little girl tells her grandmother who immediately reports the crime to ship security. But Disney doesn't promptly report it to the local port police in Port Canaveral, or the Brevard County police or sheriff's office, or the FBI.  Disney instead sails the ship, and the assailant and the crime scene, out of U.S. waters to Nassau, Bahamas. Even though the Bahamas is the flag state for the Disney Dream and is required to investigate crimes on Bahamian-flagged ships, Disney Cruise Line - Pervert Crew Memberthe Bahamas declines to make an arrest or prosecute. Law enforcement and prosecutors back in Florida are outraged. Disney says it did nothing wrong. You can read articles, see photos and watch video about the incident here, here, here, here, and here

Who was the police officer in Nassau who let the criminal go free? No one other than Officer Rolle. Remember him? He was responsible for botching the investigation into the disappearance of Disney crew member Rebecca Coriam who we mentioned in outrageous moment number 10 (above). What a fellow. He hides his report from the grieving family about a Disney employee lost at sea and lets the Disney child pervert go free. Yes, its a small and nasty little cruise world, isn't it?

Worst Cruise Line in the Word:

If your child vanishes on the high seas or is assaulted during a cruise, the cruise lines may be your worst enemy. They may help the assailant escape justice. They certainly don't think that they have any Disney Cruise Line - Worst Cruise Line in the Worldobligation to release any information to you. Disney hides behind the foreign-flag scheme of the indifferent and incompetent Bahamas. Disney, it seems to me, is complicit in the conspiracy to deceive the public. It's a dishonest, secretive, and rotten system.

Who gets the trophy for the "Worst Cruise Line in the World" for 2013? Disney and its magical cruise ships. Carnival may have dominated the popular cruise news with its endless poop cruise, but no one comes close to the outrageous conduct demonstrated by Disney this year. 

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

 

Photo credits: Grandeur of the Seas - abcactionnews.com; Coriam family - Daiy Mail; cruise passengers robbed in St. Lucia - DBS TV St. Lucia via the Times; Carnival Chairman Micky Arison - Forbes; man overboard - CruelKev2's blog; retired Coast Guard official - Travel Weekly and Darley Consulting; Royal Caribbean ship doctor - LinkedIn; Disney - WKMG Local 6 Orlando.

Poop Cruise Reveals Shortcomings of Port and Flag State Inspections

Cruise fan sites rushed to Carnival's defense following the CNN special on the Triumph fire.

CNN cited maintenance records and advisory notices showing one of the generators on the cruise ship was poorly maintained and lacked the recommended spray guards to prevent ruptured fuel lines from igniting. The documents revealed a ship not in compliance with the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) recommendations from the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

But cruise fan sites, primarily Cruise Critic and the increasingly popular Cruise Currents (formerly Mikey's Blog), cited documents which Carnival leaked to the press suggesting that the cruise line was in compliance with SOLAS. 

Carnival Splendor Fire You can see documents provided to cruise-friendly Cruise Currents here.

Cruise Critic quoted Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen saying that the U.S. Coast Guard inspected the Carnival Triumph days before the February 7th sailing and allegedly found it to be in compliance with all SOLAS requirements.

"The ship would not be allowed to sail if it were not in compliance with SOLAS requirements," Gulliksen said.

But this is where Carnival's argument falls apart.

The Coast Guard also inspected the Carnival Splendor a few days before it caught fire in November 2010. Remember a U.S. aircraft carrier had to sail to the scene and drop food from helicopters to the stranded passengers? The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard spent millions attending to the sticken ship before it was towed back to the U.S.  

Does the fact that the Coast Guard inspected the Splendor and permitted it to sail mean that the cruise ship was seaworthy and in compliance with SOLAS? Hardly. The Coast Guard investigated the Splendor and prepared a scathing report of its many SOLAS violations and deficiencies.

One of the Carnival ship's large diesel engines sustained a catastrophic failure with the rods and pistons cracking and exploding out of the engine which permitted lube oil and fuel oil to ignite. The post-fire investigation conducted by the Coast Guard revealed that the pistons sustained long term metal fatigue which was not checked due to an absence of appropriate maintenance and record keeping by Carnival. Other parts of the engine showed severe, advanced corrosion reflective of an absence of regular inspection and maintenance. 

Although the Coast Guard was critical of Carnival's neglect in inspecting and maintaining the engine which failed, it should be pointed out that the Coast Guard conducted an annual Control Verification Exam on November 7, 2010 and passed the vessel. What an embarrassment for the Coast Guard to have inspected the cruise ship right before the fire and permitted it to sail with passengers.

The root of the problems with the Splendor and the Triumph is that the inspections conducted by the flag and port states of these poorly maintained ships were inadequate.

The port state (where the ship is registered, like Panama or the Bahamas) is indifferent and incompetent. The reason why foreign corporations like Carnival flag their ships like the Triumph in places like the Bahamas is that it knows that the Bahamas will leave it alone. The business model of the Carnival's of the world is to avoid all U.S.taxes, wage and labor laws, and health and safety laws. A poop cruise is the result.

Yes, the U.S. Coast Guard conducts inspections sometimes when the cruise ships are in U.S. ports, but these "port state" inspections are hardly vigorous. The Coast Guard is facing a budgetary crisis and is grossly under-funded. They need a small army to perform a thorough inspection during the short time a single cruise ship is in a U.S. port. There are sometimes nearly a dozen ships in port over a weekend. The ships are huge of course. Coast Guard inspections are skimpy and are at the opposite end of the spectrum compared to the rigorous Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspections.   

The cruise industry is extremely wealthy, but the cruise lines don't pay U.S. income taxes. There is simply not enough money in the U.S. budget to hire a sufficient number of Coast Guard inspectors to check on the every-increasingly large fleet of cruise ships.

As matters now stand, the U.S. spends many millions for Coast Guard and Navy services when the foreign-flagged cruise ships break down due to a lack of maintenance.

 

Photo Credit: cntraveler.com

Man Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos Credit: Wikipedia / Lisa LushRhapsody of the Seas 

 

Carnival Fights Losing PR Battle After Incriminating Poop Cruise Documents Surface

The coverage of the fire-stricken Triumph was brutal earlier this year. CNN aired the disgusting story of the powerless poop cruise ship adrift in the Gulf of Mexico literally 24 hours a day. Never before in the history of the televised world have the words "feces" and "urine" been broadcast so many times in such a short time period.

Carnival tried to make things right.  It reimbursed everyone completely, paid for all transportation expenses, and gave everyone a free cruise. Carnival President Cahill apologized to everyone he could find. He looked as distraught as a cruise executive could be.    

I quickly went on record saying that we would not represent anyone for the debacle because claims for Carnival Triumph Poop Cruiseinconvenience and annoyance without a physical injury are excluded by the terms of the passenger ticket and are not compensable. 

Carnival made some major changes to try and avoid this from happening again. It tried to cast its beleaguered brand in a more positive light.  

It invested some $300 million in the much needed deferred maintenance of its neglected ship.  Carnival and its brands brought in some new marketing companies and embarked on new advertising campaigns. It took the seemingly indifferent (and Miami Heat obsessed) CEO Micky Arison out of public scrutiny by hiring a new CEO. Carnival brands Princess and Holland America also reshuffled their decks to bring in new leadership.     

But then the CNN special aired Monday night. The images of the damning inspection reports and maintenance deficiencies juxtaposed with the feces and urine bio-hazard bags were devastating. Then the AP article, which further revealed the outrageous decision to risk human life by selling tickets on this fire-trap-of-a-ship, dropped on the cruise line liked an atomic bomb.

These explosive articles and videos were followed by a series of shock waves from the likes of TIME magazine, the Miami Herald, and hundreds of AP associated newspapers across the country.

Carnival tried to fight back. But it could find only a couple of cruise line fan publications, like their friends at Cruise Critic, to present a contrary view in fluff articles. But this only made matters worse. Cruise Critic quoted a PR crisis manager saying: "Exceeding the manufacturer's suggested time between overhaul does not implicate safety concerns with the engines." (Every lawyer who sues Carnival saved that quote for future use.)

Today a cruise travel agency publication quoted Carnival saying that the allegations in the CNN and AP stories were "frivolous." But no one was listening. The damage had already been done. The CNN images told the story. Carnival's excuses seemed flimsy and contrived. The cruise line sounded bitter, desperate and ultimately unbelievable.   

Where did all of the goodwill generated by the $300 million improvements, the new advertising and the new leadership go?

Behind the scenes, Carnival decided not to try and settle the many hundreds of lawsuits and claims filed (notwithstanding my opinion) by the aggrieved passengers who were not satisfied by reimbursements and free cruises. They are pissed off, and rightfully so, because they believe that Carnival played Russian roulette with their lives, as the CNN special seems to reveal.

Why is Carnival in this spot? It decided not to pay a penny to their guests in compensation and instructed their defense firms to vigorously defend the claims. Millions to the wealthy defense lawyers but not a penny more to the cruise guests.

So the lawyers for the passengers press forward. In the process, the documents revealing the truth are handed off by the lawyers for the passengers to the producers at CNN and the AP reporters.

More damaging documents will follow. These documents will show a pattern of neglect of the cruise ship and pressure to keep the cruise operating 24 hour hours a day, risking passenger and crew member lives.

Whatever eventually happens with the lawsuits seems irrelevant to me. The "Poop Cruise" PR debacle continues. And notwithstanding free cruises, new marketing, and fresh faces in management, Carnival's reputation remains in the pooper. 

Russian Roulette: Did Carnival Sail Knowing that the Triumph was Unseaworthy?

Carnival Triumph Cruise ShipReeling from a CNN special report indicating that it delayed maintaining the diesel engines and fuel lines in the Triumph and other cruise ships, Carnival was hit last night with an article published by the Associated Press stating that the cruise line knew that the Triumph was a fire trap but it took chances with its passengers' lives.

In the article titled Suit: Fire Risk Known Before Carnival Ship Sailed, the AP cited deposition testimony from the Triumph's captain admitting that Carnival had known about the fuel leak problem since March of 2012, a year before the fire. The captain stated that spray guards, a makeshift measure to deal with leaky fuel lines, were partially installed on the cruise ship but not on the engine which caught fire.

The CNN program and the AP article paint a grim image of a ship with a neglected engine room, in violation of the International Maritime Organization's Safety of Life at Sea recommendations, which was ready to ignite with 4,000 souls aboard.

According to the AP, Houston lawyer Frank Spagnoletti characterized Carnival as reckless: "It was unbelievable to me that you would take 4,000 people and put them in a situation of basically Russian roulette. Basically every time that vessel went out they never knew whether they were going to have a fire or not."

Responding to these allegations yesterday, Carnival played dumb and denied everything. The AP quoted Carnival saying: "The leak in the flexible fuel hose was a completely unexpected accident that took place. What ignited the fuel is unknown." Carnival called the spray guards a "best practice."

Carnival may be trying to distance itself from the negative press surrounding the Triumph debacle (and the Concordia disaster before that), but denials and flimsy excuses like these demonstrate that the cruise line's reputation seems as poorly maintained as its cruise ships.

 

See photos of the Triumph inspection reports and disabled ship here.

Phto Credit: Telegraph.co.uk

Celebrity Constellation Suffers Engine Problems in Key West

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's web site indicates that the Constellation cruise ship was forced to spend an extra day in Key West.

Professor Klein reported yesterday about a passenger's complaint that the "Constellation scheduled to leave Key West yesterday, Dec. 15 @ 5pm. Repair needed and waiting on part(s). At 8:05am, December 16, still no evidence of upcoming departure. Scheduled to be 'at sea' day on the way to Cozumel."

The repairs were needed after the Celebrity cruise ship experienced engine problems.

Cruise line spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said that the Constellation had "technical issues" with one of its gas turbine engines during its departure from Key West on Sunday afternoon.

The Key West Citizen indicated that the ship's departure was delayed until 10 p.m. Monday while crews made repairs. The ship carries more than 2,160 passengers.

The newspaper explained that because of the mechanical delay, and the time and speed needed, Constellation was unable to make its scheduled port of call into Cozumel, Mexico, on Tuesday. Instead, it will call on Nassau, Bahamas, on Wednesday. 

The Key West newspaper characterized the Celebrity Constellation as an aging member of the Celebrity fleet. It made its initial cruise in May 2002.

Celebrity Constellation Cruise Ship

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Megadri

CNN Report on Triumph Fire: Carnival Cruise Line Knew of Danger Before Sailing

Triumph Cruise Ship FireAnderson Cooper aired a short special last night on his program AC360.

Over and over again, Carnival engineers indicated on their Triumph inspection reports and maintenance records that one of the ship's diesel generators was way past due for maintenance. The cruise ship was out of compliance with the IMO's Safety of Life at Sea requirements.

Carnival irresponsibly delayed and deferred maintenance and overhaul of the diesel engine. 

The program indicates that the Triumph had a dangerous propensity for a fire problem but Carnival neglected the engines and then set sail anyway. CNN said that the fire was a disaster waiting to happen and the cruise line risked the passengers' lives and well being.   

The problem could be traced back for over a year to a "dangerous pattern" of fuel line leaks on other ships, including the Carnival owned Costa Allegra which previously erupted in fire.

This fire, which disabled the Allegra, fore-shadowed the Triumph fire. There were reportedly nine instances of fuel leaks from flexible fuel hoses throughout Carnival's fleet. The cruise line was recommending the installation of spray shields on some but not all of its ships to protect the flanges Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship Fireand hoses from leaking fuel on hot spots which would ignite.

The hose which was not shielded on the Triumph sprayed fuel which ignited the fire. This was foreseeable and preventable. 

The documents were produced by Carnival in a lawsuit filed by a lawyer in Houston.

Carnival is defending the lawsuit by saying that no one was physically injured. Plus it claims that the cruise line offers no promise of a safe trip and passengers have no right to sue for unsafe or unsanitary conditions during the cruise.

Carnival also says that it is spending 300 million dollars to make improvements and prevent fires.

The images are from the CNN special. You can see additional photographs on our Facebook page

Watch the video below. 

Double Duty: Coast Guard Performs Medevacs of Passengers From Norwegian Breakaway and Carnival Fascination

Carnival Fascination Cruise Ship MedevacThe last two days have been busy for the U.S. Coast Guard medevacing ill passengers from cruise ships.

The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an 87-year-old woman from the Norwegian Breakaway cruise ship off the coast of Ocracoke, North Carolina yesterday. 

The NCL cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard yesterday shortly before noon regarding an elderly passenger who required unspecified medical assistance.

A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter flew to the cruise ship from Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

The cruise ship was approximately 38 miles off the coast. the helicopter crew hoisted the woman aboard the helicopter and flew her to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, North Carolina. 

  

The second medevac involved the Coast Guard hoisting a woman from the Carnival Fascination cruise ship. The Coast Guard in Miami said that the Carnival cruise ship contacted it after a woman was showing signs of cardiac arrest on Sunday night.

The ship was approximately 38 miles offshore from St. Lucie County. 

The Coast Guard helicopter flew the woman to Broward General Hospital where she was reportedly in stable condition.  

 

 

 

"Old Bag of Bolts" Ruby Saga Breaks Down in Canary Islands

Last week, I received a tip about the Saga Ruby cruise ship (ex - Vistafjord), which is on her last cruise for Saga to the Caribbean from Southampton, that the ship is stranded in Canary Islands due to generator problems.

I had mentioned that the old cruise ship is already apparently sold to Chinese investors and is under International Shipping Partner management. 

The following day, Cruise Critic carried the story which contained what I thought was some rather interesting information. 

Cruise Critic confirmed that there as a "faulty generator" affecting the ship's air conditioning system.

Rather than try and sail over to the Caribbean, Saga announced that the cruise ship will sail in the Mediterranean, where it can operate without air conditioning. 

Cruise Critic quoted a Saga spokesperson, "It was discovered that one of the six generators could not operate properly without a part that needed to be manufactured." Because the air conditioning needs to run at full capacity in the Caribbean, "The Captain decided that for passenger comfort, it would be better to change the itinerary."

That's interesting, a busted generator and they are not even going to spend the money to fix it. 

Of the 557 passengers onboard, around 30 returned to the U.K. and will receive a full refund. Those remaining onboard will receive a 40-percent refund.

As we previously reported, the cruise, which departed from Southampton on December 7th, is the ship's last sailing. 

Saga promised a wonderful time for the passengers who remained.

One knowledgeable maritime expert commented on the situation on my Facebook page: "Good God . . . is this thing still running??? I piloted her 20 years ago and thought she was an old bag of bolts back then. Truly revealing how some owners will literally milk the death out of a ship until she earns her last penny!"  

Saga Ruby

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Holger.Ellgaard

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Carnival Victory

Carnival Victory Cruise Ship ABC News reports that a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter (MH-60) and aircraft (C-130) were dispatched from Clearwater Florida in response to an emergency request from the Carnival's Victory cruise ship this morning.

The cruise ship was reportedly near Cuba at the time of the call.

Cruise passenger Herman Lebron, age 88, was suffering from internal injuries and needed evacuation. 

Mr. Lebron was flown to Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West, Florida.

His current medical condition is unknown.

You can see the video of the medevac below, courtesy of  defense video and imagery distribution system.

Two days ago, we posted a story about the Coast Guard medevacing an ill woman from the Carnival Miracle cruise ship. 

Photo Credit: Carnival Victory - Wikipedia / Tomás Fano

Celebrity Cruises Kicks Elderly Couple Off Millennium Cruise Ship

A Cruise Law News reader from Australia alerted me of a newspaper article published on Thursday discussing how Miami-based Celebrity sent an elderly couple packing from the Millennium cruise ship a month ago. 

The Cairns Post reports on the disturbing story of Celebrity kicking 78 year old cruise passenger Adry Arnold and her husband off the cruise ship while it was docked at Yorkeys Knob, Queensland, Australia. 

The Arnolds were enjoying their vacation cruise. Mr. Arnold went to visit nearby Cairns. While alone on the ship, Ms. Arnold apparently had difficulty locating her her cabin. She became upset and began to Celebrity Millinnium Cruise Shipcry.  

The newspaper states that when Mr. Arnold returned to the cruise ship, he was not allowed back on the ship. Celebrity allegedly told them that their cruise was over "because the doctor did not think they were the kind of people who should be on the cruise ... if she was left alone." The article suggests that Ms. Arnold may have had dementia and that's why Celebrity sent them involuntarily from the ship.

The Arnolds are pensioners and paid over $12,000 for the cruise. 

The couple's nephew told the newspaper "this is a disgusting way to treat anybody, let alone an elderly couple, without even trying to resolve the issue at hand."

The Celebrity passenger ticket drafted by the cruise line's defense lawyers states that the cruise line can disembark passengers for any reason. However, from a public relations point of view, I would think that the couple should have been provided with a full refund rather than left behind at a port with no transportation back home.

Celebrity said that it would provide a "pro-rata refund" for the remaining nine days of their sailing. But as of the time of the newspaper article, Celebrity had not issued the refund.

A mean corporation versus a nice, elderly couple? Should the husband have stayed with his wife? Should the cruise line have treated the retirees nicer including getting them safely home?

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

December 7 2013 Update: The popular cruise on line community Cruise Critic has comments about the story on its board under the topic "Bad Publicity for Celebrity."  As usual, the Cruise Critic cruise line supporters defend Celebrity's callous conduct and blame the passengers.  Cruise Critic is best known for being exposed as a paid cruise line cheerleader shilling for Royal Caribbean on its reviews and message boards.

December 9 2013 Update:  Watch the video below: 

 

 

Photo Credit: Millinnium cruise ship - Wikipedia / Captain Tucker

Rhapsody of the Seas Delayed in South Pacific

A reader of this blog from Australia has informed us that Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas cruise ship is delayed at port in the South Pacific due to unspecified problems with the ship.

AIS tracking systems shows the cruise ship in the port of Port Vila, Efate in the Vanautu islands.

We do not see any news of the situation on line.

There is no indication of the reason for the delayed departure. 

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

Rhapsody of the Seas - Vanuatu Islands

 

Shell Game: No Justice for Cruise Passenger Who Suffered Sepsis, Multiple Organ Failure & Cerebral Hemorrhage Due to Alleged Misdiagnosis by Royal Caribbean Ship Doctor

The Florida Third District Court of Appeal published a ruling today which is, in a word, shameful.

The case involved allegations by a passenger who sailed on a cruise that she suffered sepsis, multiple organ failure, and a cerebral hemorrhage due to medical malpractice and misrepresentations by a doctor on a Royal Caribbean ship.

According to the allegations in the lawsuit filed in Miami, Ms. Gutierrez and her husband sailed on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas cruise ship in May 2010 from Port Everglades, Florida for a week long cruise through the Western Caribbean. Ms. Gutierrez experienced intense abdominal pain as the Royal Caribbean - Oasis of the Seas - Ship Doctor Chris Taylorcruise ship approached Labadee, Haiti. She was taken by wheelchair to the ship's medical facility. The ship doctor, Dr. Chris Taylor, diagnosed and treated her for gastritis. However, Ms. Gutierrez was actually suffering from a far more serious abdominal infection.

The lawsuit papers further alleged that Dr. Taylor and the cruise line told Ms. Gutierrez and her husband that they could not be evacuated from the vessel and taken to an on-shore hospital. In truth, emergency evacuation services could have been arranged. Ms. Gutierrez sought emergency medical assistance at the ship’s next port in Mexico where she underwent abdominal surgery. Ultimately, she suffered abdominal sepsis, multiple organ failure, and a cerebral hemorrhage.

Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean have insulated themselves from lawsuits when ship doctors maim cruise passengers by characterizing the doctors as "independent contractors" for whom they are not liable.

Most cruise passengers don't understand that the doctors wearing officer stripes and cruise line uniforms and hats who treat them in the ship infirmary are somehow not ship doctors for legal purposes. Passengers usually don't read the fine print buries in the cruise ticket and are tricked into thinking that big, beautiful cruise ships like the Oasis costing over a billion dollars must hire highly trained, educated and experienced ship employees in the infirmaries and the cruise lines must be responsible for the doctors when they make errors. We have written about this issue many times before. Read: If the Ship Doctor Kills You, Too Bad

So as matters now stand, when passengers are injured or killed due to malpractice of the doctors in the cruise ship infirmary, they can't sue the cruise line in most cases. They are left to try and seek the recovery of medical bills and other compensation from the doctors who are usually not U.S. citizens.  

In Ms. Gutierrez's case, Dr. Taylor was born in the U.K. but for the last nine years he worked on cruise ships sailing from Florida. When Dr. Taylor was sued, the cruise lines hired its usual defense lawyers to defend him. They moved to avoid the lawsuit arguing that Ms. Gutierrez could not establish that Dr. Taylor was subject to personal jurisdiction here. However, Ms. Gutierrez's lawyers did a thorough job establishing a strong connection between Dr. Taylor and the state of Florida:

  • Dr. Taylor entered into employment agreements in Florida with Florida-based cruise lines (Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines) over the course of nine years;
  • Dr. Taylor's employment agreements specified Florida as the required jurisdiction to resolve any disputes with the cruise lines; 
  • Dr. Taylor attended annual medical conferences in Florida;
  • Dr. Taylor received advanced cardiac life support certification in Florida;
  • Dr. Taylor vacationed from time to time in Florida;
  • Dr. Taylor made presentations at medical conferences in Florida;
  • Dr. Taylor maintained two bank accounts in Florida;
  • Dr. Taylor worked aboard cruise ships that embarked/disembarked at a Florida port one day a week;
  • Dr. Taylor was on duty and treated passengers and crew members while the cruise ships were in Florida waters and returning to Miami, docked in Miami, and leaving Miami, weekly, over a course of nine years; and
  • For all intents and purposes, Dr. Taylor worked and resided exclusively on a cruise ship.      

Based on these undisputed facts, the trial court ruled that the ship doctor was clearly subject to jurisdiction in Florida and could be sued in the courts in Florida.  The judge ruled that Dr. Taylor not only Oasis of the Seasintentionally played a “shell game" to thwart jurisdiction in Florida, but he engaged in a "nefarious scheme" to avoid being sued in any court. 

On appeal, in a 2-1 decision the Third District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court holding that the factors discussed above were insufficient to establish jurisdiction over Dr. Taylor.  In my view, the appellate court nitpicked the lower court's findings and ignored the continuous and substantial relationship between the ship doctor and the state of Florida.    

You can read the order here.

The result of this decision is cruise passengers' rights are further limited. This is exactly how the cruise industry wants it.

Ms. Gurierrez, a mother of young children, is left with permanent brain injury, huge medical bills and no compensation. 

Royal Caribbean may boast that its 1.2 billion dollar mega-ship Oasis of the Seas is the largest and most technologically advanced cruise ship in the world. But as far as the treatment of gravely ill guests is concerned, the cruise line is sailing in Medieval times.     

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

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.

 

Coincidence or a sign of mischief to come? The Wall Street Journal published an article in March 2010 about the Oasis of the Seas which mentioned Dr. Taylor talking about rarely medevacing passengers back to the U.S. This was two months before Ms. Gutierrez sailed on the Oasis:

The ship has three doctors on board. It also has its own intensive care unit and can keep one person at a time on life support. Every few weeks a passenger has a heart attack so thrombolytic drugs are kept on-hand, says Chris Taylor, the ship's senior doctor.

If there's a serious illness, the ship's doctors and captain can decide to divert to a port early, but rarely is anyone airlifted back to the U.S., says Dr. Taylor, who has been a doctor on cruise ships for seven years. "Many people have the belief that the U.S. coast guard is always going to come to the rescue if there is any emergency at sea. The actual truth of the matter is that most of the time the ship is well out of range of the coast guard," he says.
  

Photo credit: Dr. Chris Taylor - LinkedIn;  Oasis of the Seas - Wikipedia / Baldwin 040. 

Ocean Countess Cruise Ship On Fire

A Greece newspaper reports that the Ocean Countess cruise ship is on fire.

My favorite website, Maritime Matters, reports this evening:

"Majestic International’s MV OCEAN COUNTESS, completed in 1976 as CUNARD COUNTESS, is currently ablaze at Chalkis, where she has been laid up since her most recent charter to U.K.-based Cruise and Maritime Voyages. The ship was scheduled to return to cruise service in 2014 but this now looks unlikely as aerial video footage shows her superstructure fully engulfed in flames."

Do you have any information, photos, or video of the fire?

Please contact us or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Ocean Countless Fire

Photo Credit: Wikipediaca / Kalle Id

Watch the video below: 

Lawsuit Allegations: Carnival Security Guard Roughs Up 14 Year Old

Carnival Cruise Lawsuit A local news station WSVN - 7 reports on a lawsuit filed by a South Florida family after their son was allegedly beaten up by a security guard on board an unidentified Carnival cruise ship.

The lawsuit contends that a 14 year-old boy snuck into a nightclub on the cruise ship with his friends. When spotted by security, the boy ran out of the club and into a stairwell where he claims that the security guard roughed him up. He says the guard "grabs me by the shirt, slams me like really heard against the wall." 

The family's lawyer, Spencer Aronfeld, sued Carnival because the family wants the security guard fired and to prevent another family from going through a similar experience.  Aronfeld is seeking damages for what he claims are serious neurological and psychological damages suffered by the boy. 

Expect a vigorous defense by Carnival.

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

 

Photo Credit: 7 - News / WSVN

 

Transatlantic Cruise Turns Deadly for 87 Year Old Brazilian Passenger

Newspapers in Brazil are reporting on the recent death of a cruise passenger on a MSC cruise ship.

MSC PreziosaMercedes Lessi Raia, age 87, was cruising on the MSC Preziosa cruise ship when she sustained a fall on a set of stairs.  The ship was sailing around Europe on Tuesday, November 19, 2013. The accident is described as occurring when she was headed to the restaurant where dinner would be served. As the elevators were full, she decided to go down the stairs where she tripped, fell and struck her head. She sustained a hematoma and began to vomit. 12 hours later she died, on November 20th.

According to newspaper articles, Ms. Raia accomplished a lifelong dream of cruising through Europe with her two daughters. At the time of the accident, the cruise ship was returning to Brazil from Spain. She lived in Londrina in the state of Paraná, Brazil and spent her time divided between the city and the São Paulo coast.

Her son told reporters that this mother was a "very cheerful person, with an impressive vitality, did not look her age and still dreamed of the sea cruise to Europe."  She always said she wanted to live to be 100 years old.

Mercedes Lessi RaiaHer son commented on the accident and lamented the ship did not have medical facilities for appropriate and urgent care. Her family was critical of the cruise ship's response, stating that the ship did not attempt to arrange for an emergency medevac operation. 

MSC responded to the tragedy by claiming that the fall was caused by a pre-existing illness.

We have seen cruise lines defend themselves in situations like this when they claim that a fall and resulting death were the result of the passenger's health and not a problem with the cruise ship or inadequate shipboard medical facilities. Even if true, such disclosures by a cruise line violate a passenger's confidential medical rights.

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

 

Photo Credit: www.jb.com.br

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our firm was mentioned in all of the articles.

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Ivan T.)

MSC Magnifica Runs Aground in Pireaus

MSC Magnifica PiraeusA number of news sources in Greece are reporting that a MSC cruise ship ran aground (note correction below) today at the southeast Greek port of Piraeus. Greek port authorities released the information. 

There were no injuries or major damage arising from the accident with the Panama-flagged ship Magnifica, the port authorities said. Bad weather conditions were apparently a factor in the incident. 

One news account says that maritime experts are currently investigating the accident, while most of Greece continued to be swept by storms today. 

The cruise ship's bridge cam at this time (image below) shows the cruise ship docked in Piraeus with calm conditions. In addition to the Magnifica, other cruise ships at the port of Pireaus today include the Rotterdam, Ruby Princess and the Constellation.

The Magnifica was reportedly carrying 2,469 passengers and 976 crew members.

If you have any information about the grounding, please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

November 20 2013 Update: A number of readers informed me that the cruise ship allided with the left breakwater at the port of Piraeus and sustained slight damage to the portside hull above the waterline. This Greek newspaper article confirms an allision and not a grounding.  (Definition of "allision:" when a vessel strikes a fixed object; versus a "collision" when two vessel strike each other.)

You can see another photo of damage to the breakwater/pier here.

Very clear views of the damage to the breakwater and damage to the cruise ship can be seen here.

See video of the damage here.

See our additional photos of the damage to the interior of the cruise ship are here.

Photo credit top: http://www.tanea.gr/

MSC Magnifica Cruise Ship Web Cam

Miami Herald Looks at Cruise Ship Overboards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Norwegian Breakaway

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

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

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

 

Rock Star's Cruise Phobias: Ships Upside Down, Bathrooms Not Working

Match Box 20 Sail the Sea CruiseI'm a fan of Matchbox 20's lead singer Rob Thomas. You know his hits: 3:00 AM, Someday, & Smooth with Carlos Santana. Watch She's Gone with Daryl Hall, pretty amazing, best played loud.

So it was weird to watch an interview of Thomas talking about the upcoming Sail the Sea tour aboard a Carnival cruise ship to Nassau during the first part of December.

Its seems that Thomas may have watched too many hours of CNN's endless "poop cruise" coverage or he suffers from PTSD after watching the Poseidon Adventure.  Here's what he says to Fuse during an interview promoting his upcoming cruise concert:

"I was pretty scared of luxury liners on vacation. As soon as it left port, I would start having a panic attack."

He adds with a smile on his face:

"You start seeing [news] about ships turning upside down, the bathroom's not working. We're just trying to figure out an escape clause. If something happens, I'm not going to be rude, but screw everyone else on that boat. I'm getting a helicopter, getting out of there and we're going to move on with our lives . . . 

 

Video and story credit: Fuse

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.

  

Dry Dock Cure for Allure of the Seas?

Tom Stieghorst of Travel Weekly reports that Royal Caribbean may send the Allure of the Seas, which has been plagued by problems with its propulsion system, to an early drydock in order to fix the problem.

The article says the scheduled drydock is not until in 2015, but the cruise line may take the giant ship out of service earlier.

Travel Weekly quotes cruise chairman Richard Rain as the source of the information. 

Allure of the SeasRoyal Caribbean has been criticized for not being transparent in telling the public of the problem before cruising. Passengers aboard the Allure began noticing that the cruise ship was shortening its stay in Nassau and then arriving late in St. Thomas. Some excursions have been cancelled.

USA TODAY also weighs in on the issue with its article "World's Largest Cruise Ship May Need Repairs." The newspaper explains that the Allure is just the latest in a series of ships that have experienced problems with pod propulsion systems. Three months ago, sister cruise line Celebrity Cruises' Millennium suffered a pod problem resulting in the cancellation of several cruises. 

We have been contacted by cruisers who are booked on the Allure over the next several months, wondering whether the propulsion problems will be fixed by the time of their cruise.  

This news will create only more speculation and worry, as it now seems probable that the Allure will be taken out of service for a week or two sometime in the next few months. Exactly when is anyone's guess.   

 

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia (Daniel Christensen)

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)

Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas: "Full Speed Ahead?"

A reader of Cruise Law News sent us a humorous tweet from Royal Caribbean. The problem is that the cruise line didn't intend it to be funny.

Royal Caribbean tweeted a photograph of the Allure of the Seas (below left) with the caption "Full speed ahead."

Of course everyone following cruise news knows that the Allure of the Seas is experiencing a problem with its propulsion system which we have written about a couple of times. Read here and here.

Allure of the Seas Propulsion ProblemsThere is currently a debate in the cruise community between those die-hard cruise supporters who think the propulsion problems are a lot to do about nothing and those cruisers who are annoyed that their expensive cruise vacations involve leaving some cruise ports early and arriving late at others and missing some excursions in the process.  

I won't jump into that argument except to say that the cruise line is not helping its reputation by keeping its usually loyal-to-Royal customers in the dark.

I'm not the first to comment on the "full speed ahead" caption showing the Allure tearing up the waves.

Others on Twitter have had their fun.

@MartinosCafe tweeted: "@Royal Caribbean Is that your way of telling us the ship is fixed?"

And @linerlovers tweeted: "I wish they WERE at full speed!"

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

U.S. Customs & Border Agents Terrorize Cruise Passenger

Norwegian Jewel Cruise ShipWGNO in New Orleans reports a NCL cruise passenger was enjoying the end of her birthday cruise when four armed U.S. Customs and Border agents with a canine "barged into her cabin, handcuffed and detained her for no reason." They then led her in handcuffs through the crowded cruise ship. Passenger Kristen Schroeder told WGNO: 

“It was horrible. It was the most mortifying experience of my whole life.”

The incident occurred on NCL's Norwegian Jewel when the cruise ship returned to port in New Orleans. 

Ms. Schroeder had a warrant for a misdemeanor.  But she had resolved and paid the fine, even though the federal agency had no record of it.  You can watch a video of the story here.

We have reported before on the federal government running cruise ship manifests through computer databases looking for people to arrest after the cruises are over. Read our article: Are You Cruising with a Wanted Felon? Five Passengers Arrested on Carnival Magic in Galveston.  

It's a sloppy process. Sometimes innocent people get arrested or unnecessarily harassed, like this poor woman: Passenger Wrongfully Arrested On A Carnival Cruise Ship.   

Video: Flood & Fire on Carnival Pride

Fire on Carnival PrideThey say that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Well today I agree with that expression after watching a nine minute video that a former crew member sent me.

Earlier today I posted two videos showing the Carnival Pride experiencing rough weather back on November 5, 2011. High waves crash over the bow which resulted in a window being blown in and a children's play area (Circle C) being flooded. Water enters the area at high speed covering all of the walls and ceiling and dousing the televisions and electrical equipment.

The video below is a continuation of those videos. It shows the kid's area flooded. One of the televisions on the wall begins to short circuit. There are about 5 minutes of the television sparking, smoldering and emitting black smoke until a fire erupts.

A crew member eventually shows up two and one-half minutes later. He kneels down and tries to splash water onto the burning Carnival Pride Cruise Ship Firetelevision. Bad idea. It also looks like he tries to pull the television off of the wall.

A couple of crew members then quickly enter the area and put the fire out with fire extinguishers.

I never could have imagined that just a few minutes after Circle C was flooded, a fire would break out there from a television. I would not have believed it unless I saw the video.  

The Carnival Pride was heading to port in Baltimore when it encountered the rough weather. 

A reader left a comment to our first article and pointed out that Cruise Critic contains some passing comments about the flooding and the fire. 

It's unusual to see photographs or videos of floods or fires on cruise ships.  Cruise lines don't release images from their surveillance cameras to the public.  Thanks to the former crew who sent us these images.

 

 

Troubled Waters: Are Large Cruise Ships Safe?

CBS News aired a short special this morning on its show "CBS This Morning: Saturday."

CBS says that safety experts are concerned over the safety of large cruise ships that have grown to unprecedented sizes. Jay Herring, a former Carnival Line senior officer and the author of "The Truth About Cruise Ships," joined the show and talked about how cruise ships are getting larger and larger.

He also talked about one of my favorite topics, namely the emergency evacuation chute on Royal Caribbean's Allure and Oasis cruise ships.  There are not enough life boats on these giant ships.  So crew members have to jump down a chute 60 feet down to a rubber life raft in cases of fire or sinking of the ship.  It's a waiting disaster if an emergency occurs in rough seas far from land.  

  

 

Coke on the High Seas: Prison Sentences for Smuggling Cocaine on MSC Armonia

Cruise Center reports news from Italy that a judge in Italy sentenced three 3 people who were involved in smuggling cocaine on an Italian flagged cruise ship to ten year individual sentences and a fine each of 60,000 Euros for importing ten kilos of cocaine from South America on the cruise ship Armonia operated by MSC.

The Judge sentenced Bosnians Mihalovič Zoran Jaksic, Mladen Miljanic, and Braim Sirani. The judges accepted the requests made by the public prosecutor Angela Masiello, who fought for the highest sentence.

MSC ArmoniaImplicated in the cruise ship smuggling operation were four other people, including a MSC crew member.

The cruise ship departed from Punta dell'Este in Uruguay and arrived at the port of Venice. 

After arriving in Venice, the 28-year old crew member Dejan Ivanovic (who was also convicted), was directed to deliver the cocaine in a Hotel in Venice. The crew member implicated the cruise ship's cook, who landed in Buenos Aires due to illness, to take the drugs to Venice in exchange for 10,000 Euros.

We have reported on drug busts on MSC cruise ships before:

Cocaine Drug Bust on MSC Magnifica Cruise Ship

Drug Bust Nabs Two MSC Cruise Passengers

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Ivan T.)

Fire on HAL's Noordam

A member of Cruise Critic reports that a "small fire" broke out on Holland America Lines' Noordam cruise ship on Friday, October 26th.

JavaJunkie comments on the Cruise Critic member forum that while sailing on the Noordam, passengers had a bit of excitement two mornings ago:

"Shortly after 10:30am, one of the ship's alarms sounded, and I started to comment that they had forgotten to announce it was a drill. Just then the captain came on to tell us that we had just heard the fire alarm and it was NOT a drill. The fire team should report to the aft coffee machine, and all crew Noordam Cruise Ship Fireshould stand by."

The cruise critic member writes that "there was a very heavy smell of electrical smoke" and the entrance to the Lido was blocked, requiring passengers to eat around the pool.

The incident occurred while the cruise ship was in port.  

What was interesting was the casual story-telling style of the passenger's account which contained was no real explanation regarding the cause of the fire. There was more detail regarding the types of desserts served.

Of additional interest was that two other passengers reported incidents during other HAL cruises.

One passenger stated: "We had a fire on the Noordam also; on the way to Florence. 4 a.m. I smelled smoke and saw it from a vent. We called to report, grabbed our life jacket, put on some clothes and shoes and went up to our lifeboat. We were the only ones up there!! the fire (smoke) was in an a/c motor further down our hall. Our neighbors were slower to get out of their rooms and emergency crew sent them to a dining room. It was very weird being alone up there. Luckily we had a veranda door to help the smoke leave." 

Another passenger recounted an incident on the Voleedam, at 1:10 AM on October 13th, when there was an announcement about "a possible fire in the engine room" with instructions for the fire crews to turn out, and passengers to stand by. Eventually the captain announced that "smoke from the incinerator leaked out, setting off the engine room alarms."

Any other passengers have information about these incidents?  Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (MilkoholicBear)

Why was the Thomson Dream Sailing in Circles?

A reader of cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website raised an interesting question why a AIS chart of the Thomson Dream cruise ship (via marinetraffic.com) showed the ship sailing in a weird pattern.

The experts I have discussed this with don't think that the pattern resembles one to be taken if the ship were conducting a man-overboard search. Another thought was that the cruise ship may have been responding to another vessel in distress perhaps, although this seems unlikely too. An practice exercise is also a possibility, although nothing in particular comes to mind. 

No ship would take this course as a part of its normal itinerary considering the fuel that would be wasted.

Assuming the AIS positioning is accurate, what was going on?  I don't know. Can anyone on the Thomson Dream explain the ship's maneuvering? 

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

Thomson Dream AIS

A Comment from a Former Crew Member: "So Many Injustices"

Cruise Law News from time to time will feature a comment to our articles by one of our readers.

Comments by crew members are often poignant. The cruise industry's current state of affairs places tremendous pressure on ship employees from Carnival, Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines. Hours are longer notwithstanding the lofty goals of the MLC 2006, pay is lower, cruise lines are stealing tips intended for the crew, and recently Carnival Cruise Lines terminated the crew's retirement benefits claiming that the MLC forced it to do so.  

Cruise Ship Working ConditionsHere's a portion of a comment by a former crew member we received today, expressing some of the angst felt by cruise ship employees:

"You have no idea what is daily "MORAL HARASSMENT"!

During some meetings regarding how afraid the ship's managers and "the office" were . . . of USPH. The F&B supervisors used to call us "THALIBAN", just because we are from that side of the planet ... many times we were called like that.

Most of you have no idea how hard it is to wash 800 plates, clean floors, chemical machines without a single glove in a 14 hours shift . . .

Yes, you may say ... we signed for that. No, we signed for what a smiling recruiting agent showed us how life onboard would be like. And we own money to them.

I left Carnival Cruise Lines and continued my studies. I am free now.

P.S. I met all kind of guest too. The wonderful ones and their families are my good friends now. Many crewmenbers too. But the bad stuff ... it probably flows from the Miami office to the ships ... they don't care.

So many injustices."

 

Watch Video: Sweatships - Working Conditions on Cruise Ships

Coast Guard Medevacs Carnival Passenger with Broken Legs

A local news station in Broward County reports that the U.S. Coast Guard has medevaced a seriously injured passenger from an unidentified Carnival cruise ship today.

The woman, who sustained injuries to both of her legs, was hoisted onto a Coast Guard helicopter and flown to St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach. 

The news station states that Coast Guard Sector Miami was notified by cruise personnel that the 52-year-old woman had fallen in an elevator, severely injuring both of her legs.

This was the second Coast Guard medevac of a passenger from a Carnival cruise ship today. Earlier this morning, a Coast Guard helicopter rescued a passenger from the Carnival Splendor.

Coast Guard Medevac Carnival Cruise Ship

 

Photo Credit: Local 10

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick Passenger From Carnival Splendor

A news station in Norfolk Virginia reports that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an ill passengers from a Carnival cruise ship near Norfolk to a local hospital today. 

The news station states that this morning at around 10:45 A.M., the Carnival Splendor cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard regarding a 57-year-old woman who required medical assistance.

Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C. dispatched a helicopter crew to respond to the medical emergency.

The Coast Guard helicopter flew to the cruise ship, which was about 80 miles east of Norfolk, at around 12:30 P.M. The Coast Guard crew then hoisted the woman into the helicopter and flew her to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

 

"Strip Search" Lawsuit: Court Denies Carnival's Motion to Sanction Teenager for Telling Lies

A federal judge denied Carnival Cruise Lines' motion to punish a teenager who admitted that she lied when claiming that the cruise ship's security personnel forced her to remove her tampon in a search for marijuana.  

Courthouse News Service reports that one of Carnival's security officers noticed that a 17-year-old passenger on Sensation cruise ship dropped a container of what he believed to be marijuana in an elevator.

The chief security officer subsequently ordered a search of the girl's cabin. This is when the girl claimed that a female security officer strip-searched her and made her remove her underwear and tampon. The search apparently took place without the girl's mother present.

The minor and her mother were removed from the cruise ship. The girl spent the night and most of the next day in jail in the Bahamas until the U.S. Embassy intervened and the girl was released.

A lawsuit followed and the case headed to trial. But during trial, the girl testified that although she felt like she "had to" take off her underwear and remove her tampon, she admitted that she voluntarily did so that the search "would be over with."

After a jury found for Carnival, the cruise line sought to punish the girl by forcing her to pay all of the the cruise line's attorney fees. The federal court refused to impose the sanctions sought by Carnival, citing her young age and her efforts to set the record straight. The judge also found that the girl was under the influence of her mother who encouraged her to pursue the legal claim in the first place.

The court also took into consideration that the young woman, now 19, is unemployed and is a student on financial aid at a small college. The court already taxed costs of $4,364.06 against her out of the $9,305.14 sought by Carnival.  The court concluded that fining her additional money for the cruise giant's attorney fees would be meaningless.    

You can read the order here

 

Photo Credit: Wknight94 via Wikipedia

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick Passenger from Queen Mary II

Queen Mary IIWWLP reports that the Coast Guard rescued an ill 67-year-old man from the cruise ship Queen Mary II, 47 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts. 

The cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard, requesting assistance for a passenger suffering from severe bleeding.

A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was sent with a rescue crew to medically evacuate the passenger. The helicopter hoisted the man and brought him back to Air Station Cape Cod for ground transport to Cape Cod Hospital.

The newspaper quoted a Coast Guard spokesperson saying:"Hoisting an injured passenger off an underway cruise ship takes a surprising amount of expertise and moving parts, and our crews take pride every time they do it. This case is a great example of our unique role as maritime first responders."

The Coast Guard last rescued a sick passengers from the Queen Mary II in December 2011 when it hoisted an ill 64 year old woman from the cruise ship off the coast of North Carolina.  You can see a video of that rescue below. 

Photo Credit of Queen Mary II: Brian Burnell via Wikipedia

 

A Comment from a Reader: Discrimination on the High Seas?

Cruise ShipLast week I wrote a short article about the difficult working condition on the Royal Princess: Extreme Work Load & Grueling Hours Exhaust Royal Princess Crew Members. It was a short article but it struck a nerve with crew members. Over 950 readers have liked, shared or tweeted the article so far.

Today we received an interesting comment to the article:

"I worked for Princess for 7 years and the worst part for me is the blatant discrimination against certain ethnic groups. Few people know that crew from countries like Philippines, India, Mexico receive significantly lower wages for doing exactly the same job and working exactly the same hours as crew from European countries.

My roommate was from the Philippines and we were both photographers on the same level with same job description. My salary was $2000 a month and his was $1200.

The company's defense: The cost of living is cheaper in their countries! This is so unfair in every way, even though things might be cheaper in their countries, they are still away from their countries for 8 months at a time where they have to pay the same normal western prices as us . . ." 

Have you faced discrimination while working on cruise ships operated by Carnival, Holland America Line, Princess, or Royal Caribbean?

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

Death Aboard Cunard's Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria Cruise Ship DeathThe Daily Echo reports that a Cunard crew member died during a Mediterranean cruise on the Queen Victoria cruise ship.

The newspaper quotes a Cunard spokesman saying: “We can confirm the very sad news that one of our crew members on Queen Victoria died last night. We are providing support to his family back home and also to his friends and crewmates on board.

The luxury cruise ship is sailing from Piraeus to Majorca. 

Cunard has not identified the man's name, nationality, age, job position or cause of death.

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

.

6 Year Old Drowns on Carnival Victory Cruise Ship

Carnival VictoryThe AP reports that a 6-year-old boy drowned in a pool on Carnival Victory cruise ship on Sunday. 

Carnival said that this was the first time a child drowned on one of its ships.  

But just last month a 41 year-old passenger drowned in one of the hot tubs on the Carnival Dream. 

We reported the last time a major cruise line experienced such an incident.  The Disney Fantasy has a small boy rendered brain damaged when he nearly drown.  You can read our articles:

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

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

I was quoted by the AP about this latest fatality:

"There is a great deal of debate on whether cruise lines should have lifeguards, according to Jim Walker, a Miami maritime attorney . . . " 

"This involves the debate between personal responsibility and corporate responsibility," he wrote in an email to the Associated Press. "Yes, parents should have responsibility for watching their children but at the same time cruise corporations have a duty to watch over the parents and children and provide a reasonably safe place for them to have a family vacation."

Extreme Work Load & Grueling Hours Exhaust Royal Princess Crew Members

Royal Princess Cruise ShipA number of crew members have contacted us about the difficult work and long hours the crew are required to work aboard the Royal Princess cruise ship.

We are informed that 12 dishwashers signed off the Princess cruise ship in just the last 2 months because of what is being described as a heavy work load and extreme work hours, reportedly more than 14 hours work everyday.  Other crew members may be leaving as well before the cruise ship embarks on its transatlantic crossing to South Florida.

One of the problems which crew members face when a cruise ship repositions from Europe to the U.S. is that they have to work additional hours to prepare for inspections by the United States Public Health (USPH) inspectors. A failed USPH inspection is a kiss of death for a Food & Beverage supervisor or the senior managers of restaurant and galley operations. 

I'm sure that the guests aboard the newest Princess luxury cruise ship have no idea how hard and how long the crew members from Indonesian, Indian, and the Philippines work.

Leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

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 

Celebrity Summit "Cruise From Hell:" Another Passenger Speaks Her Mind About Norovirus

Celebrity Summit Cruise ShipLast week we published an article which featured a comment by a passenger aboard the noro-infected Celebrity Summit cruise ship. 

A number of people commented or contacted our office about the comment, both pro and con. 

We rarely handle norovirus cases, but the discussion around the subject, we think, is still important. How the cruise industry treats gastrointestinal infection cases reflects the cruise lines' standards for hygiene and the cruise companies' attitudes toward their customers.

Here's the latest comments about the situation on the Summit:     

We too were on the Summit recently. We reported how dirty our Royal Suite was. They said they cleaned it, but the only evidence was that they used epoxy on the dining area parkay floor. The smell was horrendous.

I had allergic reaction tongue swelled, face, nose, eyelids and had hives on face and upper body. The doctor on call would not acknowledge this and commenced to tell me that I was having an allergic reaction to blood pressure and cholesterol medications I have been on for years. He told me to stop taking these medications and he filled new prescriptions together with benedryl. They put in a IV to rehydrate me two times.

At the end of the cruise I was taken off the ship in a wheelchair. I had been sick the entire second week. Our butler was under orders to charge us for all the bottle water we needed. They clean the suite with a dirty rag and some kind of spray they use in all the rooms and hallways. It's disgusting! You wouldn't use someone elses used tissue. How sanitary is that?

They charged our ship account $600 for the doctor and pills (that I didn't use except for the benedryl). When we questioned the charge even though we had bought the travel insurance, the Concierge said we "must read the fine print." Three days after my allergic reaction, my disabled husband got the norovirus. Through all of this the doctor refused to come to our suite. They said we needed to come to the doctor office.

This trip was from hell!

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

Norovirus Outbreak Aboard the Celebrity Constellation

We received information that the Celebrity Constellation has been hit with a norovirus outbreak during the September 25, 2013 to October 7, 2013 cruise.

A passenger informed us:

Just off the Celebrity Constellation Black Sea cruise Sept. 25th - Oct. 7th. Over 300 sick with Norovirus etc . . . Crew did their best but the sickness progressed rapidly . . . no time to really get rid of the problem between cruises. Expensive problem for passengers traveling from far Celebrity Constellation Norovirusaway places and not being warned prior to boarding the ship. This produces lots of anxiety for all who look forward to a wonderful time. Celebrity should do better for their loyal customers. 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein also commented on his popular web site CruiseJunkie that passengers had complained about the disease outbreak on the Constellation.

This outbreak was taking place at the same time as another norovirus outbreak on another Celebrity cruise ship, which you can read about here:

G.I. Blues: Over 300 Sick on the Celebrity Summit.   

We commented on Celebrity Cruises' problems with norovirus aboard the Constellation last year.

If you were on the Constellation, please leave a comment below regarding how Celebrity handled the situation or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Photo Credit: Getty Images 

Sun Princess Passenger Disappears

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

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

The man was reported missing by his wife.

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: marinetraffic.com via NT News

Sun PrIncess Disappearance

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger from HAL's Westerdam

A CBS station in San Diego is reporting that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a 75-year-old man who suffered a heart attack while aboard a Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship. 

The Coast Guard received notification late last night that that a HAL passenger was experiencing a medical emergency aboard the Westerdam cruise ship. at the time, the cruise ship was 15 miles off of Mission Bay, California. 

The Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter from San Diego and the patient and the ship's nurse were hoisted and taken to the hospital.

You can see the medevac operation in the video below courtesy of Coast Guard News.

 

Passengers Injured Aboard Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas

A reader of Cruise Law News sent us photographs of the Oasis of the Seas arriving in port in Cozumel.

Two ambulances arrived next to the Oasis of the Seas at the dock in Cozumel and took injured passengers away to the hospital. 

The photos show the ambulance lights next to the Oasis of the Seas. There is some indication that passengers may have been injured due to rough weather associated with Tropical Storm Karen.

You can see a set of photo on our Facebook page.

Oasis of the Seas - Cozumel
 

 

Norovirus: What's the Cruise Industry's Priority? Public Relations or Passenger Health?

BBC News has an article about a gastrointestinal virus outbreak sickening passengers aboard a Fred Olsen cruise ship this week.

Last week we reported on the Fred Olsen Black Watch cruise ship (what a dreadful name) which was nicknamed the "Black Death" by norovirus infected passengers who have suffered through three consecutive sailings aboard what some people are also calling the "plague ship."

Around 10% of Black Watch passengers have been infected over the last month.

Fred Olsen Boudicca Cruise Ship - NorovirusBBC News says that the Boudicca is the latest Fred Olsen ship to become sick. The cruise line confirms there has been an outbreak of what the cruise line is saying is a "a gastroenteritis-type illness" on board the cruise ship which left Belfast last week. That means that the cruise line doesn't know exactly what type of sickness it is.

Is it norovirus or a e-coli outbreak? Fred Olsen doesn't seem to know.

This is not the first outbreak this year on the Boudicca this year. Read: Our Plague Ship Diary: After Ten Days on Cruise Hit by Norovirus, Two Friends Present the Holiday Snaps from Hell

What caused the latest outbreak? Contaminated food or water?  Sick crew members?  Fred Olsen is not saying if it knows. Usually the cruise lines are quick to blame everything but the cruise ship and its crew. The "dirty handed passengers" of the nasty passengers are usually blamed. 

What we know from the BBC is that at least 72 Boudicca passengers out of the 760 or so passengers are ill. That's around 9%, which is many times the percentage of sick passengers which the Centers for Disease Control requires to be reported in the U.S. 

The cruise line says that the cruise ship will return to Belfast tomorrow where the ship will be cleaned and sanitized. The ship will then quickly head off on a 12-night cruise to Madeira and the Canaries. 

Cruise lines like Fred Olsen tout that "the health, safety and well-being of all our guests and crew is paramount." But is this true?

A responsible company would make the best effort to find out exactly what type of illness affected the passengers, such as testing the food and/or determining whether food handlers were sick and not properly quarantined (a problem recently noted by health inspectors during U.S. CDC Vessel Sanitation Program inspections).

Right now there are over 70 Boudicca passengers spewing vomit and spraying diarrhea in their cabins and bathrooms. (Watch Vomiting Larry) Many millions of infected particles of some type of virus are covering the floors, carpets, bed covers, and nooks and crannies of these cabins. Yes, the cabins will be cleaned thoroughly (we hope) but will a few dozen infected particles linger to greet a new round of passengers? Its takes just 20 particles or so to get sick.

The new passengers, of course, are not told whether their cabins were the scene of a puke-and-diarrhea-fest just hours before they arrived.

It seems like an impossible task for the poor cabin attendants pressed into action for such a short period of time to try and kill off all of the noro or e-coli in the cabins after such intense purging of the stomach and bowels of the sick people. But what if the culprit is in the food from the galley?  There is no way that the cruise ship will find out in the limited time when the sick disembark the ship and the healthy arrive. There's not enough time to slow down and take an extra couple of days to let the epidemiologists perform their job of finding the causative viral or bacterial agent and determining how it came aboard the ship.    

Instead, we hear cruise lines telling the new passengers: "Trust us. Your health is our highest concern."

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  

"No Further Information is Available"

Miami Port - Cruise ShipThis weekend, KHOU news station reports from Galveston, Texas that the Carnival Triumph returned to port Saturday afternoon "after a passenger had a medical emergency."

KHOE didn't explain the medical emergency but reported that the U.S. Coast Guard said the medical emergency was not life-threatening, "so they did not fly out to the cruise ship." The cruise ship then told the Coast Guard that it would be "just easier for the ship to return to port and drop the passenger off."

That's the end of the reported story.

If that's not sufficiently uninformative, here's another one from Canada's Herald News: the police are investigating a "sudden death" aboard Holland America Line's Eurodam after a woman was found dead. 

The police in Canada said that the death of the 59-year-old passenger “is not considered suspicious at this time.” 

The newspaper also reports that medical examiner’s officer was called to the scene and "no further information is available."

Are you satisfied with this type of "news?"

Do you believe that the details of stories like this are any of your business? 

Do you think that the cruise lines and official authorities will tell you all you are entitled to know?

 

 Photo Credit: AP Photo / Andy Newman

Cruise Passengers: Do You Really Complain About Your Cruise Vacations?

Crew Member Rights - Cruise ShipOur law firm receives anywhere from a dozen to several dozen e-mails a day from people complaining about every imaginable problem on the high seas. 

We divide the complaints into two general categories - complaints by passengers and complaints by crew members.

Cruise passengers complain about all types of things, like the food was bad, they missed a port of call because of bad weather, the cabins next to them were too loud, the service was bad, or they object to automatic gratuities being deducted from their accounts.  It drives me crazy. 

Yes, there are legitimate complaints too, like being seriously injured or being a victim of a crime during a cruise. But the petty "I-was-inconvenienced-and-I-want-a-free-cruise" complainers out number the legitimately injured by 10 to 1.

Crew members, on the other hand, are a different breed. They are inconvenienced every day. That goes without saying. Long hours, low pay, shrinking tips and having to deal with whiny guests are just a normal day at sea.  Who are they going to complain to anyway? There are no true unions. There are no legitimate maritime oversight bodies that can do anything. And if they complain about the hard work or excessive hours or minimal pay to their supervisors, they are likely to be fired.

And the true seafarers working on tankers, bulk carriers and large freighters?  They are the bravest of the brave. Subject to the hazards of the sea, the largely Indian and Filipino seafarers are the backbone of the maritime community.

So when you come home from a cruise vacation and are about to write a harsh review to Cruise Critic and bitch & whine about the crew members, keep in mind that your worst cruise is probably better than the best day a crew member may experience on the same ship.           

Video Credit: Seafarers Facebook page

  

Celebrity Cruises Hit with $2,500,000 Verdict

A blog discussing Goa India, and Miami's Daily Business Review, are reporting on a significant verdict that was recently reached against Miami-based Celebrity Cruises. 

The jury verdict involves a Celebrity crew member, Vincente Fernandes, from Goa, India. Back in September 2009, Mr. Fernandes was an assistant stateroom attendant on a Celebrity cruise ship. He alleges that there were shortages of sheets and towels for passenger cabins on the cruise ship. Cabin attendants had to compete to obtain them.

When Mr. Fernandes requested linens & towels to assist in preparing the passenger cabins, the linen keeper verbally abused him and then physically assaulted him. Fernandes was just 5 feet, 4 inches in height and weighed just 140 pounds. The linen manager who attacked him? He was twice Fernandes' size - 6 feet, 6 inches and weighed 280 pounds. Fernandes suffered a badly fractured leg which required surgery with the insertion of plates and screws.  

Celebrity flew Mr. Fernandes back home to Goa, India after the surgery. Celebrity paid no compensation to Fernandes and did not timely pay monies for the injured crew member's food and lodging, medical care, therapy or medication. Mr. Fernandes's lead trial lawyer, Ervin A. Gonzalez of the Colson Hicks law firm, assisted by Christopher Drury and Tonya Meister, argued that Fernandes suffered a deformed leg which will need several additional operations, including a knee replacement. 

The trial addressed only the issue of compensation. The trial court, the Honorable David Miller, struck the cruise line's defenses for pre-trial discovery violations. 

The cruise line was defended by David Horr and Eddie Hernandez of the Horr, Novak & Skipp law firm.

The jury awarded a total of slightly over $2,496,000 in damages, consisting of $1,750,000 in pain and suffering & mental anguish, $350,625 for medical expenses, and $395,400 for lost wages and loss of earning capacity.

Mr. Fernandes counsel, Ervin Gonzalez, summed the case up as follows: 

"Celebrity pounded Mr. Fernandes, a five foot four and 140 pound cabin steward, to a pulp, through its employee, a six foot six 280 pound assistant linen manager brute. As a result, Mr. Fernandez's leg was shattered. His knee was destroyed and will need to be replaced in ten years. The 2.5 million dollar verdict cannot replace his knee and make him healthy but it will at least help him find economic stability. Without the civil justice system, Mr. Fernandes would be broken, financially devastated and discarded."

Carnival Hot Tub Death Involved Survivor of 1985 Philadelphia MOVE Bombing

Michael Moses Ward /  Birdie AfricaLast week we reported on the death of a passenger aboard the Carnival Dream cruise ship on September 20, 2013. 

The incident involved a man who was found unconscious under the water in a hot tub on the cruise ship. 

Several news outlets are reporting today that the man was 41 year-old Michael Moses Ward, also known as "Birdie Africa," who at age 13 was the only child who survived the bombing of the radical group MOVE in 1985. 

As explained in Philly.com, back in 1985 there was an armed confrontation between the city police and MOVE members in West Philadelphia. Police dropped explosives on the group's row house, which sparked a blaze that city officials allowed to burn. The fire destroyed 61 homes, although the city finally tried to extinguish the blaze with water canons from fire trucks. The fire killed 11 people, including five children. 

Newsworks comments that the one redeeming part of the story was the rescue of a 13-year-old "Birdie Africa" who emerged out of one of the flaming row houses and was plucked from waist-deep water, from the fire trucks, by a police officer.

Newsworks said that his father, Andino Ward, gave his son the middle name "Moses" because he was saved from the water.

Ironically and sadly, Michael Moses Ward died in the water of a hot tub during a cruise on a Carnival fun ship 28 years later.  

 

Photo Credit:  Credit H. Rumph Jr. / AP / via wdiy.org

CNN's New Day Reports: Costa Captain Says "Not My Fault"

Yesterday morning, CNN's New Day aired a short program about Captain Schettino's testimony at his criminal trial. He claims that he is not to blame for the deadly Concordia disaster.    

CNN's Erin McLaughlin reports on the story.

I was interviewed briefly in the program.

You can read about the story here.

You can also read about my thoughts about Captain Schettino's testimony here.  

 

 

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.

Crew Member from India Disappears from MSC Opera

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

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

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

The cruise ship was sailing into Southampton early this morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / VollwertBIT 

Captain Schettino Blames Helmsman for Sinking the Concordia

Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker - Cruise LawIn yesterday's criminal trial against Captain Schettino, the disgraced captain of the doomed Costa Concordia testified that the disaster was not his fault, but was due to the error of the helmsman who failed to promptly follow his orders to turn the cruise ship away from the rocks.

Schettino testified that when he arrived in the bridge, he told the officer at the helm to turn the rudder to the left, which would have pulled the stern to the right and possibly avoided the rocks. But there was a delay of around 12 to 13 seconds, and the helmsman turned the rudder to the right.

The problem with Schettino's defense is that it was Captain Schettino who decided to divert the cruise ship from its scheduled route and head the ship directly toward Giglio in the first place.  The cruise ship then sailed four miles off course heading dangerously close to the rocky island.  

Sailing a ship off course like this, at high speed, in the night is ill conceived. Its not much different than altering the scheduled course of a 747 aircraft and flying it toward a mountain to show off. It's hardly a defense to Captain Schettinothe captain's malfeasance by returning to the cockpit at the last second and telling a subordinate officer to try and make a last ditch emergency maneuver to avoid crashing the plane. Thar's just additional evidence of the captain's recklessness.

Captain Schettino also complained that Costa should shoulder some of the blame because the Costa nautical maps did not accurately depict the rocky shoals which the Concordia struck.  I say hogwash to that, because the cruise ship should not have been anywhere near Giglio. The granite rocks around Giglio are part of the geological structure of the earth and have existed for over a million years. If the maps on the ship are not perfect and miss a rock or two, Schettino nonetheless planned to head the ship directly on what essentially was a collision course with the island of Giglio.

The 32 deaths are due in large part due to the captain's delay in ordering the evacuation of the passengers and crew. The helmsman had nothing to do with that. My opinion is that the Italian court will find Schettino guilty of all counts: causing the shipwreck, manslaughter and abandoning ship.

Schettino's game of blaming everyone except himself must be particularly painful to the families of the Captan Schettino - Costa Concordia32 dead passengers and crew who are trying to heal from the horror of losing their loved ones on Captain Schettino's ship. It also reveals a lack of remorse and a continuing arrogance which hopefully the court will consider in sentencing the cowardly captain.

CNN interviewed me about Schettino's testimony this morning on its program "New Day." The images are from the CNN program this morning.

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

"Black Death Plague Ship?" Cruise Ship Sickness Back in the News

The Daily Record reports that the Fred Olsen Black Watch was nick-named "Black Death" after more than 100 passengers were struck down by a norovirus outbreak during a 12-night Scandinavia and St Petersburg cruise. 

The cabins of infected quarantined passengers were marked with crosses to warn cruise staff who wore face masks for protection. Their luggage and bags were was marked with chalk to protect baggage handlers.

An ambulance was waiting in the home port to take a sick cruise passenger to the hospital Black Watch Cruise Ship Norovirusin Dunfermline.

The newspaper reports that the previous cruise also had a norovirus outbreak. The newspaper quoted a passenger on the sickly cruise ship saying:

“The staff marked doors of those infected with a cross. It was like the Dark Ages. Forget the Black Watch – we were on the Black Death plague ship.”

130 out of 778 guests became ill.

Meanwhile a small number (8) cruise passengers aboard the the luxury cruise ship, the Queen Mary 2 (QM2), come down with gastrointestinal symptoms thought to be norovirus, according to the Daily Echo

Norovirus is also commonly known as the "cruise ship sickness."

The cruise industry hates it when people call it that. Cruise lines point out that norovirus is also common in hospitals, nursing homes and child-care facilities. They are right of course. But it's a sad commentary when you have to compare high priced cruise ships to places with ill patients, infirm geriatrics, and kids with poop in their diapers.

Death Aboard the Dream

Carnival Dream Cruise ShipSeveral cruise passengers have stated that a passenger died aboard the Carnival Dream on September 20 2013.

Cruise passengers indicate that they got into one of the hot tubs on the cruise ship Friday evening and realized that another passenger, a man, was under the water.  The man reportedly was removed from the tub, and the medical staff was notified and arrived at the scene. They tried to resuscitate the man for a period of time but were unsuccessful in doing so. The incident apparently happened around 7:45 P.M. Friday evening.

A passenger on the ship contacted us and inquired whether we have other information about this incident.  We contacted Carnival and informed them of what we leaned and sought a comment from the cruise line.

Today at noon, Carnival provided the following statement:

"September 22, 2013 - 12 noon

On Friday evening, while the Carnival Dream was en route to its homeport of Port Canaveral, Fla., the shipboard medical staff was notified that a 42-year-old male guest was experiencing a medical emergency. The medical staff responded to the location, one of the ship's Lanai areas, and administered emergency aid but, tragically, the guest passed away.

Carnival's CARE Team is providing assistance and support to the guest's family.

Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the guest's family and our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time.

Carnival Dream operates seven-day cruises from Port Canaveral."

The last passenger death aboard the Dream occurred two months ago: Questions Swirl Around Death of Passenger Aboard Carnival Dream Cruise Ship.

In May of last year, we reported on the death of another passenger from the Carnival Dream who allegedly received bad medical care on the cruise ship: Carnival Dream Turns Into Deadly Nightmare

September 25 2013 Update: Carnival Hot Tub Death Involved Survivor of 1985 Philadelphia MOVE Bombing

 

Photo Source: Wikipedia / Kuloskulos

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. 

 

 

Cruise Ships Swamp Venice

Newspapers are reporting that today the residents of Venice will protest the procession of over a dozen cruise ships which will sail through St Mark's Basin. The Guardian states that a canal-bank protest is scheduled "over an invasion of up to 13 cruise ships in the space of 24 hours which  . . . will turn St Mark's Basin into a motorway."

The protest will raise awareness of the negative effect of the cruise industry on Venice and its citizens. 

The newspaper quotes 75 year-old Italian singer, Adriano Celentano, who took out a page in the Venice Italy Cruise Ship Conjestioncountry's biggest-selling daily newspaper to proclaim: 

"Tomorrow will not be a nice day for our city, even if the sun is out . . . With the ignoble procession of 13 ships in the Venice lagoon comes the Eternal Funeral of the world's beauties." 

The newspaper also quoted Silvio Testa, spokesperson for the No Grandi Navi committee: 

"We want to say 'enough' to this situation . . . St Mark's Basin is like a motorway. Soon we'll have to put traffic lights up."

A month ago, a Carnival cruise ship, the Carnival Sunshine, was alleged to have come within 20 meters of the shore in Venice. Carnival denied the incident, claiming photographs distorted the distance between the ship and shore.  You can watch a video of the incident below. Seems congested to me . . .

You can read my article about my personal feelings about cruise ships and Venice here.  

An Italian blog listed the following cruise ships will sail into Venice today: Azamara Journey, Azamara Quest, MSC Divina, Queen Victoria, Royal Clipper, Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Jade, Queen Elizabeth, Seabourn Odissey, Ruby Princess, Splendour of the Seas, and the Harmony G.

Follow the discussion about cruise ships and Venice on our Facebook page.  

See images of the MSC Divina leaving Venice today.

 

Photo Credit: Pazzoperilmare Blog 

Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel Coming to Your City: Benefits? It's Cheap. Downside? Asthma, Cancer & Heart Disease.

Cruise Ship PollutionA local CBS news station (WBZ) in Boston reports that although cruising is a popular vacation, there are significant environmental downsides. The massive cruise ships burn the dirtiest type of fuel in the world, even when they’re sitting in port.

There are schools, playgrounds and residences in the neighborhoods which surrounds the port in Boston.  

Asthma, heart disease, cancer, and respiratory illness are the results of the nasty bunker fuel burned in ports. 

Supporters of the cruise industry will point out that cruising is more popular than ever. The CBS station points out that in 1986, there were just 13 cruise ships in Boston serving around 12,000 passengers. In 2012 some 117 ships cruised to Boston serving more than 380,000 passengers.

But with more and more cruise ships come more and more illness-causing pollution.

One solution is to have ships plug into shore power when they are docked. Other port cities like New York and Los Angeles have required electrical hook ups. The CBS program says that if ships are powered off-the-grid, electricity is increasingly renewable like wind and solar. And most importantly, noxious emissions can be cut by 95% percent.

Photo Credit: http://stoppollutting-cruiseships.blogspot.com/  

 

 

 

Superfast Ferry Collides with Mein Schiff 2 in Italy - Minor Damage Reported

Newspapers in Italy are reporting that a collision took place in the port of Bari (Puglia) in the southest of Italy when a Superfast ferry struck the Mein Schiff 2 cruise ship.

Corriere del Mezzogiorne and La Reppublica (Bari) report that high winds up to 40 knows caused the ferry to break her mooring lines and drift into the Mein Schiff 2 cruise ship operated by the German cruise Line TUI Cruises. The bulbous bow of the ferry then penetrated the starboard side of the cruise ship. 

There were no reported injuries of the passengers or the crew of the two vessels.

Inspections were conducted regarding the extent of the damage to determine whether the cruise ship will resume immediate operations.

Another ferry, the Ionis, also slipped its moorings, but the crew deployed the anchor to avoid collision with other vessels.

September 17 2013 Update: Passengers sent us some photos of the damage to the cruise ship which you can see on out Facebook page here

Mein Schiff 2 Collision

Mein Schiff Collision

Photo Credits: The Republic (top) and Corriere del Mezzogiorno (V. Archers) (bottom)

 

Costa Concordia Salvage Begins Now

Costa Concordia Parbuckling GiglioIts been over 20 months since the Costa Concordia sailed into the rocks near the little port of Giglio. Thousands of passengers and crew panicked. 32 souls perished. 2 bodies of the dead remain in the sea.

Here is my first blog about the disaster. Little did I know just how bad the situation really was that night.

Its been over 20 months since the eyesore of the capsized Concordia lay on her side at the port like a beached whale. 

Its been a crime scene ever since. Captain Schettino is standing trial for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship. The Costa organization and parent Carnival Corporation largely escaped liability, with all of the blame carefully heaped on the unpopular "Captain Coward."

I wonder where Captain Schettino is this morning?  What is he thinking?  

What are the families of the dead and missing feeling at these early morning hours?

I bet Carnival cruise tycoon, Micky Arison, is sleeping like a baby, without a care in the world. 

It looks like a beautiful morning in Giglio.

It's time to right the cursed ship and prepare to take her from her watery grave.

The "parbuckling" salvage efforts finally begins. 

 Giglio Costa Concordia

You can watch the Giglio News web cam here.

You can watch the Reuters live streaming web cam here.

Image Credit: Giglio News

One More Day Before the Costa Concordia Rises from the Sea

Monday morning the much talked about "parbuckling" project will finally start to try and raise the stricken Costa Concordia cruise ship from the port of Giglio.

I have clicked on the web cams at the port of Giglio hundreds of times since January of 2012 to see what has been happening with the Concordia at the little port.

There are high hopes that this extravagant and expensive project will finally rid Giglio of this Costa eyesore.  While there will be great excitement surrounding the event, the cruise ship  is still considered a crime scene. Thirty-two people died in the accident. Captain Schettino remains on trial for manslaughter, causing the wreck and abandoning ship. 

There are still two Concordia victims whose bodies have not been recovered and may be trapped on the ship somewhere.      

The removal of the shipwreck will in many ways be the removal of a watery graveyard.  It should be a serious and somber event. 

Costa Concordia Giglio Italy

Image Credit: Giglio News

Port of Miami Security Guards Arrested for Stealing Cruise Passenger iPads

The cruise industry promotes the safety and security of cruising by telling the public that all luggage is carefully x-rayed before being loaded onto cruise ships.

Post 9/11, the concern that terrorists may target cruise ships led to the implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code which requires that all cruise passenger baggage be subjected to x-ray machines to check for explosive devices.

Sounds comforting, right?  Maybe not.

It seems that two security officers at the Port of Miami operating the baggage x-ray machines were not looking for Port of Miami Security Guardsbombs or detonation devices. They were looking for stuff to steal.

According to the Miami New Times and Local NBC Channel 6, two security officers were involved in a scheme to steal electronic equipment from cruise ship passengers luggage and sell the stolen goods on Craigslist.

Jean Russell Thomas, age 30, and Sherece Renee Nelson, age 25, were arrested in the criminal operation. 

Earlier this month, a passenger from the Carnival Victory complained that that after checking her bags for departure, they did not arrive in her cabin. When the bags finally arrived, the woman's iPad was missing. She notified police.

Security video showed security guard Thomas, working as an x-ray screener, handling a bag that had been removed from the belt. The police report said:

"The defendant is then observed standing up and adjusting an item in which he had placed into his pants (rear) underneath his shirt and then placing the bag back onto the belt where it would be transferred to the ship." 

Thomas later listed two iPads for sale on Craigslist. The iPads matched the description of the missing iPad as well as another iPad reported missing from luggage of another cruise passenger.  

Undercover police officers called Thomas and arranged to buy an iPad. Thomas showed up along with Nelson, who acted as a look out according to the newspapers.

Nelson was arrested for dealing in stolen property.

Thomas was arrested for grand theft, dealing in stolen goods and, this one cracks me up, driving with a suspended driver's license (habitual).

Where did the cruise port find these dim whits to work as security guards?

 

Like this story? Try reading Stolen iPhone Adventures Aboard the Disney Wonder Cruise Ship 

Coast Guard Medevacs Injured Crew Member From Carnival Conquest

The U.S. Coast Guard released a statement that a helicopter crew medevaced a 34-year-old Indonesian crew member from the Carnival Conquest while the cruise ship was sailing 172 miles southeast of New Orleans yesterday.

The 8th Coast Guard District received a report from the Carnival cruise ship that a crew member fell and struck her head on the deck. At the time of the report, the cruise ship was out of the flight range of the helicopter in the Gulf of Mexico. The Coast Guard directed the Carnival cruise ship to head toward New Orleans.

The MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans launched at 9:30 A.M. Carnival Conquest Cruise ShipIt refueled on an offshore drilling rig en route to the cruise ship. The helicopter arrived on scene at 11:20 A.M. and safely hoisted the crew member. The Coast Guard then flew her to Interim LSU Public Hospital for further medical treatment.

Earlier this year, the Coast Guard station in New Orleans medevaced a 46-year-old passenger from the Carnival Conquest cruise ship when the ship was approximately 60 miles south of Southwest Pass. That rescue occurred on February, 16, 2013. The cruise passenger was suffering from a brain hemorrhage and needed medical evacuation to a hospital ashore via helicopter.

Photo Credit: Above Carnival Conquest - Wikimedia / Norman Einstein; below Coast Guard medevac of crew member from Conquest - Jim Zimmerlin

Carnival Conquest Coast Guard Medevac

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

Florida Couple Stranded By Azamara in Turkey Returns to U.S.

WFTS ABC Action News reports on the case of Dodge Melkonian who fell and broke his hip on the Azamara Journey cruise ship. It's a story we have mentioned several times here on Cruise Law News. 

After the cruise line (Royal Caribbean owns Azamara) left Dodge and his wife, Jill, in a non-English speaking hospital in Turkey, the Melkonians turned to their travel agent, Elite Travel agency owner Tammy Levent, for assistance.  

Travel agent Levent contacted ABC Action News which reached out to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, who Dodge Melkonian - Azamara Cruise Shipworked with the U.S. Embassy.

Now, the Melkonians are back in the U.S. where Dodge immediately went to the hospital. 

Mr. Melkonian needs weeks of therapy and their bills are mounting, but there is still no clear answers from Royal Caribbean.  

Ms. Melkonian said she wasn't getting the help she needed from the cruise line and they bought the cruise insurance. She told ABC Action News that, despite having insurance, the cruise line wanted them to pay out of pocket first and then file a claim.

The cruise line, which succumbed to bad press and eventually made an initial down payment on the Turkish hospital bill, claims that it is assisting the Melkoniians. In a statement, Royal Caribbean said "our focus continues to be on Mr. & Mrs. Melkonian's well-being and we continue to work closely with them to provide the assistance they need."

But Ms. Melkonians isn't so sure about that, saying "the rest of the hospital bill is still not decided. So there's a lot if confusion."  

The incident comes at a time when Congress is watching the cruise lines with a skeptical eye.   

"I just hope they change some of the policies," Ms. Melkonian said.

The Melkonian's travel agent, Tammy Levent, said that she has received calls from Washington to discuss the issues surrounding the Melkonian's case.


Story Credit: WFTS ABC Action News / Photo Credit: CBS News

Belfast Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Thomson Spirit Cruise Ship

Thomson Spirit Cruise ShipA newspaper in Ireland reports that the Belfast Coast Guard arranged for the airlift of a 78-year-old woman from a cruise ship last night due to a heavy nosebleed. The doctor aboard the MS Thomson Spirit reportedly became concerned for the passenger's health.  

The Belfast Coast Guard requested the assistance of a Coast Guard helicopter based in Dublin which responded to the emergency call at last night around 10 P.M.  The helicopter lifted the passenger from the cruise ship which was located just south of Strangford Lough.

The cruise passenger arrived at Dublin airport around 12:20 A.M. and was then brought to hospital for further treatment which stopped the bleeding. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Clive Curry

Carnival Scores PR Coup During Interview with CBS's Peter Greenberg

Arnold Donald Carnival CruiseCarnival scored some much needed public relations points during an interview with CBS News' travel expert Peter Greenberg. Following several high-profile mishaps (the Costa Concordia disaster and the Carnival Triumph "poop cruise"), the cruise giant is reportedly spending more than half-a-billion dollars for improvements on its fleet of cruise ships. 

Of particular interest during the interview was that new CEO Arnold Donald (who replaced Micky Arison, photo left, as CEO) was featured. He appeared relaxed during the interview with Greenberg while discussing some serious issues. Some points made by CEO Donald during the CBS interview:

"Not only did no one die, no one was hurt, no one was sick, so there was no safety health issue involved with the Triumph at all."

"In the highly unlikely event we should ever lose power again we'd be able to have a system to back that up and we'd have a process to keep from losing power in the first place." 

Carnival rerouted 63 miles of cable, so that a fire would be less likely to take out both engine rooms, as it did on the Triumph. "If one room is lost, we don't lose the other."

Fire suppression was increased: water mist nozzles were increased from 30 to about 500, and a 24 / 7 manned patrol was added to look for oil or fuel leaks. And finally, a second backup generator (nowhere near the engine room) was installed just in case.

Photo Credit: local10.com / Video Credit: CBS News

September 4 2013 Update:  The CBS Morning Show Segment That Looks Like a Carnival Cruise Commercial via Skift - Does CBS stand for Carnival Broadcasting Station?

 

 

Are Royal Caribbean FlowRiders Defectively Designed?

FlowRider - Royal Caribbean  When Royal Caribbean decided to be the only cruise line in the world with FlowRiders installed on its cruise ships, the cruise line had to have the FlowRider designed to fit on a ship.

Unlike some surfing simulators on land with long wash-out zones (the space between the top of the ridge and the back wall) where the participant will lose speed and come safely to a rest, the FlowRiders on Royal Caribbean cruise ships have a wash-out zone of only around eleven feet. This creates a danger where the participant will crash into the back wall at high speed.

The problem is compounded by a lack of sufficient padding of the wall. 

For example, watch this link and see this passenger wipe out. Although he is not a skinny fellow, he still crashes into the back wall.  Watch the last few seconds and you can see his arms and legs fly into the air upon hitting the wall.

You can also get an idea of the force of the water by watching the video below.

Are these FlowRiders defectively designed?  Should there be longer wash-out zones and thicker padding on the end wall?

 

Is Royal Caribbean Committing Fraud by Requiring Cruise Passengers to Sign Legally Unenforceable FlowRider Waivers?

If you want to participate in the FlowRider attraction on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the cruise line requires its passengers to sign an electronic waiver. The waiver purports to relieve the cruise line of any and all liability arising out of use of the FlowRider. However, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal ruled last year that the waiver violates U.S. Maritime Law and is legally unenforceable.

In a  case our firm handled, the appellate court held that the Royal Caribbean waiver violated 46 U.S.C. § 30509 which prohibits contractual provisions which attempt to limit the liability of the owner of ships for "personal injury or death caused by the negligence or fault of the owner or the owner's employees or agents." The court held that the statute was clear and unambiguous, and there was no exception for recreational, inherently dangerous, or ultra hazardous activities. Although waivers of this FlowRider Wipe Out - Royal Caribbean Cruisetype may be enforceable on land under certain circumstances, such waivers are illegal and unenforceable on the high seas.

The legal decision is significant because there has been at least one death and many serious injuries to cruise passengers on the Royal Caribbean FlowRiders.

Below you can see an example how the cruise line electronic waiver works.  The participants usually are in a long line near the "Wipeout Bar!" with music blaring when they have to sign the waiver. Quite often, the passengers don't read anything and are led through the waiver by a cruise line employee very quickly. The waivers are not only legally unenforceable, but it seems like no one reads them anyway.

Ever since the Eleventh Circuit struck the waiver down, the cruise's line's requirement to force passengers to sign the waiver appears fraudulent to me.  The waiver is unenforceable. Period. Executing an unenforceable waiver is meaningless. There is a danger that a passenger may not assert their legal rights after they were seriously injured on the FlowRider because the cruise line tricked them into believing that they waived their rights. This constitutes fraud.

If you were injured on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, and you didn't file suit timely (one year) because you believed that you waived your rights, you may still have a basis for a lawsuit against the cruise line.

If you have a question about the Royal Caribbean Flowrider waiver, please contact our office.

 

CLIA CEO Christine Duffy Interview: Denial & Scare Tactics

Travel Weekly published a rather fascinating interview by Arnie Weissmann of the CEO of the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), Christine Duffy, entitled "Cruising at a Crossroads."

Over the past eight years, there have been eight Congressional hearings on important issues which have plagued the cruise industry, such as the suspicious disappearances of cruise passengers, sexual assaults of women during cruises and cruise excursions, and the under-reporting of crimes by the cruise lines.  A number of victims have traveled to Washington D.C. over the past decade to testify about the crimes committed against them. Women from all walks of life have testified how they felt re-victimized by the cruise lines's refusal to believe them and promptly and accurately report the crimes to law enforcement. 

Cruise Ship Safety - CLIABut Ms. Duffy would not acknowledge a single victim in her interview. She dismissed the issue of cruise ship crime and other problems as consisting of "inaccurate assertions" or "false assumptions." She complained about the erroneous perception of the cruise lines created by "critics." 

Ms. Duffy goes as far as to say that "crime is not really an issue that consumers or vacationers should be consumed about." 

She characterized the cruise lines' lack of transparency in reporting crimes, which has been vigorously debated before Congress, as a "non issue."

Addressing Senator Rockefeller's proposals of removing the cruise industry's tax exemption and imposing a 5% excise tax, Ms. Duffy threatened the loss of U.S. jobs and families being unable to take fun and affordable vacationers:

"The cruise industry, like the rest of shipping, is mobile, and these bills would create an incentive to relocate those jobs and the economic activities that U.S. ports and communities get today. There may be places where those opportunities may be more favorable. So, yes, it would place jobs and economic benefits for the United States at risk."

                                                        *                          *                       *

"Consumers who benefit from a vacation that is a very good value may not be able to otherwise take a vacation that would come close to the level of what's provided by a cruise. I think it's important for your readers and for consumers to understand that that gets put at risk, as well."

Ms. Duffy's blanket denials and browbeating show that the cruise industry is squarely on the defensive. Ignoring the stories of crime victims, CLIA demonstrates that it has no plans to bridge the gap between the cruise industry and cruise critics. And threatening to pull out of the U.S. while frightening families that they will be unable to afford cruise vacations, the cruise lines reveal that they have no clue how to deal with the public relations mess they find themselves in. 

 

Photo Credit: Safety4Sea.com

Azamara PR Disaster Continues: Is a Law Required to Prevent Cruise Lines from Abandoning Injured Passengers?

The fall-out over Azamara's abandonment of an elderly couple from Clearwater Florida continues.

The luxury cruise line Azamara, a subsidiary of Miami based Royal Caribbean Cruises, has been accused of abandoning its guest Dodge Melkonian, an 89-year-old World War II veteran, and his wife at a "rural" hospital in Turkey after Mr. Melkonian broke his hip on the Azamara Journey last week.   

The story has been extensively covered, first by a local ABC news station, and later by the U.S. national press like CBS, CNN, and ABC as well as the New York Daily News. The international press has shown interest in the plight of the Melkonian couple. The regular cruise bloggers, like Cruise Critic and Travel Dodge Melkonian - Tampa Bay TimesAgent Central, have also added their perspective.  

Azamara's CEO has made matters worst by gratuitously tweeting comments on his Twitter account stating that 89 year old dodge Melkonian should contact his travel agent and the insurance company and essentially leave the cruise line alone.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson called the cruise line's conduct "outrageous."

The South Florida Business Journal published an article Move Over Carnival, Royal Caribbean Takes Shot at Ruining Industry's Image.

The Tampa Bay Times is the latest news organization to cover the story. Its article Couple Stranded by Cruise in Turkey Receives Outpouring of Support is highly critical of the cruise line's indifference to the Melkonians.

So who are the winners and losers in this story? And what are the lessons to be learned?

The Winners: Mr. Melkonian's surgery was a success because of the couple's persistent travel agents who sprang into action when the insurance company (sold through the cruise line) refused to act responsibly in assisting Mr. Melkonian. And a Turkish tour guide, involved by the hard-working travel agents, not only assisted the couple in reaching a quality hospital but even donated his blood which was needed for Mr. Melkonian's surgery.  

The Losers: "The health & safety of cruise passengers are the cruise industry's highest priorities?" Hardly.  Azamara, Royal Caribbean and the cruise industry prove, again, that talk is cheap. 

Lessons Learned: Even luxury cruise lines can treat their guests shabbily. The case demonstrates the "cut and run" strategy of the cruise industry. When a passenger (or crew member) becomes ill or seriously injured during a cruise, the cruise lines' usual response to to get them off the cruise ship as soon as possible and then wash their hands of the problem.  

This is hardly the first time a cruise line abandoned a passenger ashore and sailed off.  We have seen this exact situation play out numerous times, particularly in ports of call in the Caribbean and Mexico. Read our article British Passenger Stuck In Mexican Hospital Following Heart Attack on Princess Cruise Ship.

Legislation Needed: The Melkonian's travel agents are communicating with Senator Nelson's office about drafting a law that "would ban cruise lines from leaving people stranded." The Melkonian's travel agent was quoted saying: "Where is the humanity in that?  There is no accountability, and that has to change."

 

Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Times

Millennium Passengers Fear Riot & Call 911

KRBD FM Community Radio for Southeast Alaska has an interesting story today about cruise passengers aboard the broken down Celebrity Millennium cruise ship calling 911 in Ketchikan out of fear that a "riot" would break out. 

It seems like some cruise passengers were unruly about the cancellation of the cruise and communications about where the passengers were to be flown.

A local police chief told KRBD:

“We, the police department, received three 911 calls from passengers on the MV Millennium who stated that people were getting unruly on board the ship, and they believed a riot was about to begin. Officers responded to the ship, met with ship security and advised them of the 911 calls. Ship security and officers contacted approximately 500 guests on the third floor of the vessel, and subsequently peace was restored and officers left.”

Read more: Passengers on Troubled Cruise Ship Near Rioting, Callers Told Ketchikan Police

Just imagine if the Millennium was stuck in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico for four or five days.

Millennium Cruise ship Alaska

Story & Photo Credit: KRBD

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick Passenger from Norwegian Dawn

Cape Code Today reports that U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a 50-year-old man from a NCL cruise ship 160 nautical miles from Nantucket. The man was hoisted by a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and flown to meet an ambulance in Hyannis and then transported to Cape Cod Hospital. 

The cruise ship is reportedly the Bahamian flagged Norwegian Dawn. 

The passenger reportedly ruptured his spleen after being struck by a kayak in Bermuda on Monday.

The Norwegian Dawn is best known to Miami maritime lawyers as the cruise ship involved in the infamous "rogue wave" case in 2005. Passengers contended that NCL risked the passenger's safety by sailing in rough weather back to New York for a filming of The Apprentice with Donald Trump. A lawsuit filed by a different maritime lawyer against NCL ended in a defense verdict for the cruise line.  

Norwegian Dawn

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Daniel Schwen

Cruise Ship Crime & Sexual Assault Lawyer: Read About Our Experience, Reputation & Results

There has been a great deal of debate over the past decade regarding the amount of crime which occurs on cruise ships. The cruise industry claims that crime is "rare," whereas at least one cruise expert who testified before Congress stated that the rate of crime on cruise ships is twice that of crime ashore.

Of course one crime is too many if it affects you or your family. 

The most likely crime on cruise ships is sexual assault.  The most likely victim is a woman or child aboard the ship as a passenger. And the most likely perpetrator is a crew member.  

Strict Liability: Cruise lines are strictly liable to pay compensation when a crew member sexually assaults a passenger. There is no need to have to prove that the cruise line knew that the ship employee Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Crimehad a record of assaulting other passengers and/or that the cruise ship was negligent in failing to warn the passenger of the danger of being attacked on the ship. If the crew member rapes a passenger, then the cruise line is vicariously liable.

Our firm has education and substantial experience to handle maritime sexual assault lawsuits against the major cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines.

Education:  Jim Walker focused on maritime law at Tulane University School of Law. He studied all of the maritime law personal injury courses and graduated in 1983.  He has practiced maritime law for 30 years.

Experience:  The firm has handled sexual assault cases against Carnival, Celebrity, Cunard, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean where women and children have been victimized on cruise ships. Three of our clients have testified before the U.S. Congress about being sexually assaulted during cruises. We have attended eight Congressional hearings about issues regarding the safety of cruise ship passengers.

Reputation:  Jim Walker has referred to as a "Prominent Private Practice Maritime Attorney" by Fox News; a "Top Maritime Lawyer" by the ABA Journal; a "Premier Lawyer for Cruise Passengers" by Reuters; a "Top Cruise Lawyer" by USA Today; and a "Leading Miami Attorney" by Newsweek Magazine. Read "about Jim Walker" for further details.

Results: We have obtained compensation for victims in a wide variety of cruise ship rape, sexual assault, and molestation cases, including the following recoveries: over $3,000,000, $2,500,000, $1,500,000, $900,000, $650,000, $500,000, $385,000, $250,000, and $115,000. (Please note that all cases are unique. These results may or may not reflect the compensation obtainable in your case).

Clients: We have represented women from ages 18 to 45 and parents of children from age 3 to 17. We have represented over 75 women and children sexually assaulted on cruise ships.

Types and Locations of Sexual Assaults:  Cases we handled include a variety of cruise ship employees - staff captain, ship doctor, chief engineer, hotel director, security guard, cabin attendant, bartender, cleaner, and child supervisor. The rapes and molestation cases occurred in various locations on the cruise ship. The most common locations are passenger cabins, storage rooms, and crew bathrooms.

We have studied the problem of cruise ship crimes extensively.  Consider reading:

Sexual Perverts & Pedophiles on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships

Rape of 15 Year Old Girl Is Latest Crime Against Children on Carnival Cruises

Another Child Porn Bust, This Time on Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas

How safe is a cruise? Even after new law, it's hard to say

If you have a question about cruise ship crimes, and in particular sexual assault during cruises, please call our office at (305) 995 5300. or email me directly at jim@cruiselaw.com.

Lawsuit Filed Against Royal Caribbean After Injury to Child

Today local NBC affiliate channel 6 aired a story today about a 9 year old boy who underwent emergency brain surgery after being injured during a cruise sponsored game on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

The incident occurred on the Monarch of the Seas. 

The child's family say that they trusted Royal Caribbean to organize safe activities for their son during the cruise. The family claims that two staff members threw balls at the boy who ran to avoid getting hit.  The boy collided with another child and then struck his head on a hard object. 

Monarch of the SeasaThe child then underwent emergency brain surgery in Nassau.

The family is now suing Royal Caribbean claiming that the activity designed by the cruise line was unreasonably dangerous for the child. 

Royal Caribbean responded with the following statement:

“We regret that a young guest that sailed onboard Monarch of the Seas was injured. A vacation is supposed to be filled with fun, rejuvenation and relaxation, and it is regrettable that this family's vacation was interrupted by their son's injury, However, Royal Caribbean believes that while this unfortunate incident happened on board a cruise ship, it is not unique to a cruise ship, and could happen at any school, playground, or daycare.”

It should be interesting to see if Royal Caribbean releases the true number of injuries caused by the game - or whether it hides the ball so to speak. 

The child and his family are represented by Miami lawyer Spencer Aronfeld.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Sparrowman980

  

Sun Princess Joins Ranks of Disabled Cruise Ships

USA TODAY and the Mirror newspaper in the U.K. report that Princess Cruises has canceled today's sailing of the Sun Princess, citing a power problem.

The Sun Princess is an 18 year-old cruise ship which just had a $30 million make-over. It was scheduled to sail a 14-night voyage from Singapore to Freemantle, Australia.

The power failure limited the cruise ship's ability to operate cabin lighting, air conditioning, vacuum toilet systems, and galley.

Sun Princess Cruise ShipPrincess Cruises said: "While Sun Princess was alongside at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre in Singapore, there was a malfunction to the ship’s switchboard resulting in limited onboard power hindering our ability to run all hotel operations."

"Regretfully, we've made the decision to cancel the cruise scheduled to depart today in order to carry out the necessary repairs."

The cruise ship will now resume service on September 3, 2013. 

The Sun Princess is the second vessel just this week that has been disabled by mechanical problems. Celebrity Cruises' Millennium is currently disabled in Ketchikan, Alaska due to propulsion issues. 

The problems come during a year when major lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean experienced a rash of fires and mishaps which disabled their cruise ships. Many cruisers, particularly first time cruisers, are raising concerns regarding the safety of cruise ships.

The passengers will receive a full refund and a credit on a future cruise.

 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Lemeki Lenoa
 

Celebrity Cruises' Millennium Strands Passengers Again

Celebrity Cruises Millennium cruise ship that was grounded in Alaska last week is having trouble again.

Celebrity Cruises said in a statement:

Due to a mechanical problem in one of Celebrity Millennium's two propulsion units, the ship returned to Ketchikan last night, The ship is capable of sailing without the affected unit. However, in an abundance of caution, the captain decided the safer and more prudent action was to return to port to evaluate the issue."

Millennium Cruise Ship ProblemsPropulsion issues stopped the cruise ship last week. 

As USA TODAY reports, this is the third straight sailing of the ship that has been affected by mechanical problems. The cruise ship limped into the port of Seward, Alaska on August 9th several hours behind schedule after experiencing an electrical problem with one of its two propulsion motors. It underwent three days of emergency repairs, resulting in the cancellation of every port call on the ship's subsequent sailing.

Passengers on that voyage received complete refunds and a credit toward a future cruise.

The Celebrity Millennium currently is on a seven-night Alaska cruise that began Friday in Vancouver, B.C.

The Millennium is a 13 year old cruise ship - one year newer than the infamous poop cruise ship, the Carnival Triumph. The propulsion issues come at a time when many cruisers are questioning the reliability of cruise ships.

KRBD reports: Mechanical trouble sends Millennium back to port.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Captain Tucke

30 Years Later, Miami Cruise Ship Lawyer Looks Back

Miami Cruise Ship LawyerOver thirty years ago, I graduated from Tulane School of Law which had, and still has, one of the best maritime law curriculum programs in the U.S. 

In law school, I took courses as a second and third year law school student in Maritime Personal Injury & Death, Maritime Jurisdiction, Maritime Insurance and Carriage of Goods by Sea. One of my favorite courses was called "Offshore Operations," which was essentially an advanced course in maritime personal injury dealing with accidents and injury in the oil & gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico.

That was back in New Orleans in 1983. Now over thirty years later in Miami, my law practice is 100% maritime personal injury and death lawsuits against the Miami based cruise lines.

The cruise lines have increasingly been in the news over the last ten years. And we have been in the news as well.  I have been referred to as a "Top Maritime Lawyer" by the ABA Journal; a "Top Cruise Lawyer" by USA Today; a "Prominent Private Practice Maritime Attorney" by Fox News; a "Premier Lawyer for Cruise Passengers" by Reuters; and a "Leading Miami Attorney" by Newsweek Magazine.

Stories about cruise ships are in the media every week. This year alone, I've appeared on CNN, ABC News, and NBC and quoted in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Miami Herald, to name just a few. 

The cases we handle are mostly against Carnival and its subsidiary brands (Carnival Cruise Lines, Cunard, Princess Cruises, Holland America Lines), Royal Caribbean Cruises (Royal Caribbean Miami Cruise Ship Lawyer Jim WalkerInternational, Celebrity Cruises & Azamara), Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Disney Cruises.

We represent both cruise passengers and crew members against the cruise lines. We handle cases involving serious injuries to passengers and crew on the high seas. Most of the injury cases involve bad medical care following the shipboard injury. Crew members are often sent home without receiving adequate medical treatment.

A focus of our law practice involves representing victims of cruise ship crimes, especially sexual assaults against women and children.

Many cruise ship passengers do not realize that they must file suit in the location specified in the cruise ticket, usually Miami. There is also a very short limitations period to file a lawsuit, typically only one year.

Fifteen years ago, I was interviewed about practicing cruise ship law. The issues raised 15 years ago still remain true today: Cruise Passenger Rights and Wrongs - Interview With Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker

New Lawsuits Filed Against Carnival for Triumph "Poop Cruise"

Yesterday we mentioned that the first case filed in Galveston by a passenger following the infamous Triumph "poop cruise" was voluntarily dismissed. But today there is news that additional lawsuits were just filed in southeast Texas for damages alleged by passengers who sailed aboard the ill-fated Carnival cruise. 

The Southeast Texas Record reports that twenty passengers filed suit in federal court for the eastern district of Texas (Beaumont Division) for compensation due to the February 11, 2013 engine room fire which caused the cruise ship to drift for five days in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The lawsuit alleges facts well known to the public at this point: passengers claim that they were Carnival Triumph Poop Cruise"exposed to urine and feces, along with odors of raw sewage, which spilled and leaked through the ceilings, walls, and floors". In addition, the passengers allege that they were exposed to extreme heat and cold temperatures, and waited in long lines for hours for inadequate and rationed water and food.

The passengers allege theories of negligence, breach of maritime contract, negligent misrepresentation, fraud by non-disclosure, and fraud.

The newspaper indicates that the lawsuit seeks damages for discomfort, medical expenses, mental anguish, emotional distress, lost earnings, lost vacation time, pecuniary and out-of pocket damages, including cost of cruise, transportation, additional food and lodging and incidentals costs, punitive damages, interest and court costs.

A separate lawsuit was also filed in the same courthouse in Beaumont by a passenger and his eye care clinic claiming that business was lost because employees were stranded at sea on a the disabled Cruise ship.

According to allegations in the lawsuit reported by the Southeast Texas Record, Carnival was aware of the mechanical problems on board the cruise ship and knew the vessel was not “sufficiently seaworthy” to provide a safe, sanitary and enjoyable voyage.

The lawsuit alleges theories of unconscionability, misrepresentation, fraudulent inducement, negligence and fraud.

You can read more about the claim from the Houston Chronicle: Beaumont Man Sues After Entire Staff Stuck on Carnival Cruise

The typical Carnival ticket requires that lawsuits of this type must be filed in federal court in Miami. 

Cruise Ship Law - Lawsuits Against Royal Caribbean Cruise Line in Miami, Florida

Our law firm handles cases on behalf of injured passengers and crew members against cruise lines.  Other law firms handle auto accidents, dog bite cases and whatever may walk in the door.  Our firm sues only cruise lines in cases involving serious injuries. That’s all that we do.

One of the cruise lines that we file lawsuits against on a regular basis is Royal Caribbean.

Types of Royal Caribbean Lawsuits:  The type of cases we handle against Royal Caribbean can be divided into two general categories – personal injury cases and crime cases.

Crime Lawsuits:  Most of the crime cases we have handled over the years involve sexual assaults on Royal Caribbean cruise ships.  We have represented women who have been sexually assaulted on cruises by cruise line ship doctors, security guards, waiters, bar tenders and cleaners. The rapes have occurred in the passenger cabins, utility closets, and crew bathrooms. 

The crimes are not limited to the cruise ships. Crimes against passengers have occurred during cruise sponsored excursions such as diving and snorkeling trips, sailing and catamaran outings, and in and around bars at the cruise port in the Caribbean and Mexico. We have represented parents whose minor children have been molested by Royal Caribbean crew members and teenagers who have been sexually assaulted by older passengers.

Injury Lawsuits:  Passengers on Royal Caribbean cruise ships have been seriously injured in a wide FlowRider Danger - Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship variety of cases.  Passengers occasionally slip and fall on slippery decks and floors and sustain serious injuries such as fractured ankles, knees and hips. Injuries on the cruise line’s wide variety of recreational attractions are common, including skating rinks and rock climbing attractions.  Injuries on the Royal Caribbean FlowRider surfing simulator are frequent.  Royal Caribbean passengers have sustained serious, permanent and debilitating injuries, and have even been killed, on the highly dangerous FlowRider. 

The FlowRider is a major money making attraction for Royal Caribbean, but it's unreasonably dangerous in my opinion.

You can read about FlowRider accidents and injuries here.

Types of Clients:  We represent cruise ship passengers and crew members. Most of the passengers we represent are from the United States. We have represented clients literally from across the United States. 

Our crew member clients, who sustain back, neck and wrist injuries due to the long hours and repetitive nature of their work, are typically from Jamaica, St. Vincent, India, Argentina, Venezuela, Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia, among other countries. 

If you or a family member have been seriously injured due to the negligence of Royal Caribbean, consider hiring a law firm which focuses its experience and resources on cruise ship lawsuits – not auto accident or dog bite cases.

Call our office at (305) 995 5300 or email me at jim@cruiselaw.com. 

 

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean FlowRider Sign - Jim Walker

Two Dead While Disassembling "Love Boat" in Turkey

Love Boat DeathA newspaper reports that police in Turkey are investigating the death of two shipyard workers who inhaled toxic fumes from a plumbing fixture yesterday as they were disassembling the MS Pacific cruise ship which had became famous as the "Love Boat" in the 1970's television series.

“The Love Boat” was towed from Genoa to the seaside town of Aliağa in Turkey last week to be stripped and dismantled by Izmir Ship Recycling Company which bought the 42-year-old ship for 2.5 million euros.

The newspaper states that ten workers who entered the engine room were poisoned by fumes released from a plumbing fixture’s exhaust pipe while they were draining water in the engine room. 

The affected workers were taken to nearby hospitals, but two of them, Doğan Balcı, age 37, and Davut Özdemir, age 40, died. 

The poisoning was the second such incident to occur on the ship. Another worker reportedly had been sickened on the first day of dismantling the ship. 

Triumph Poop Cruise Lawsuit Abandoned

A legal journal in Texas is reporting that the first and only lawsuit filed in Galveston County regarding the disabled Carnival Triumph cruise ship has ended with a voluntary dismissal. 

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Kathy Marie Armstrong who was among the 3,000 or so passengers who sailed from Galveston on February 7 2013.  The Carnival cruise ship became stranded in the Gulf of Mexico after a fire in the ship's engine room knocked out power. 

The Southeast Texas Record explains that Ms. Armstrong lawsuit alleged that  she endured what she described as deplorable, unsafe and unsanitary conditions, including “sweltering temperatures, lack of power and air conditioning, lack of hot or running water and lack of working toilets.” Ms. Armstrong Carnival Triumph Poop Cruiseclaimed that she “feared for her life and safety, under constant threat of contracting serious illness by the raw sewage filling the vessel, and suffering actual or some bodily injury” as the cruise ship was towed back to the U.S. 

The lawsuit further alleged “the vessel listed sharply several times, causing human waste to spill out of non-functioning toilets, flood across the vessel’s floors and halls and drip down the vessel’s walls.”

Ms. Armstrong labeled “a floating toilet, a floating Petri dish . . . a floating Hell.” 

The Carnival passenger ticket requires that all claims involving Carnival must be filed in federal court here in Miami. Carnival did not file a response to the lawsuit. The probable outcome was either a nominal settlement or Ms. Armstrong's lawyers agreed to a request to voluntarily dismiss the case.  

Still pending in Miami is a lawsuit filed by passengers seeking to assert a class action against Carnival for the cruise in question.  

Engine Problems Disable Celebrity Millennium in Alaska

Millennium Cruise ShipA newspaper in Alaska is reporting that the Celebrity Millennium cruise ship, which was suppose to have sailed on Friday from Seward, will be stuck in port until at least Tuesday due to engine problems.

The cruise ship arrived four hours late to Seward on Friday after experiencing an electrical problem with one of the ship’s two propulsion systems while at sea. 

The newspaper says that over 2,000 passengers are stranded. Many people were left scrambling to find a way back to Anchorage. Rental cars are scarce and buses dedicated to pre-booked excursions are not available to the majority of the passengers. The scheduled port stops in Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway will be missed.

Celebrity is saying that it will refund the passengers' ticket fares plus provide a credit toward another cruise in the future. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Captain-Tucker

Story Credit: Professor Ross Klein's website CruiseJunkie.com

Cocaine Drug Bust on MSC Magnifica Cruise Ship

Crew Center reports that the Spanish police arrested two crew members from the cruise ship MSC Magnífica, which docked recently in La Coruña, Spain on drug trafficking charges.

The crew members were caught with 15 kilos of cocaine on the cruise ship.

Cruise Lines Feel the Heat: Congressional Legislation Introduced After Over 60 Cruise Ship Fires from 2009 through 2013

Cruise Ship FiresNews Channel 12 WPRI in East Providence, Rhode Island aired a broadcast today about Senator Rockefeller's newly introduced consumer legislation designed to require the cruise industry to report serious crimes which occur on the high seas.

Channel 12 says that "In the wake of recent horror stories on the high seas, lawmakers have introduced a key bill that could help the estimated 21-million Americans expected to set sail on a cruise ship this year."

Cruise executives boast that cruising is safe and that the cruise lines transparently report all crimes at sea. Unfortunately that's not true. 

The news station states that "over the last five years, there have been 63 fires on board cruise ships and a total of 44 cruise related collisions."  I checked the actual data at the website of cruise expert Ross Klein and noted that there were actually 61 cruise fires and 52 collisions / allisons during the time period in question.

Among other key provisions introduced by Senator Rockefeller, the proposed Cruise Passenger Protection Act would create a toll-free hotline for consumer complaints, and provide passengers a clear summary of the onerous terms and conditions of the cruise passenger contracts.

Watch the video below. 

CFA: Cruise ship safety improvements

"Voluntary" Cruise Crime Statistics Keep Public in the Dark

Cruise Ship CrimeCBS travel expert Peter Greenberg has interesting comments on the recent crime statistics released by the three major cruise lines.

Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean posted 237 crimes which allegedly took place on their cruise ship over the last 2 to 3 years. This is the first time that the cruise industry has ever publicly posted their onboard crime statistics.

The information, however, is very limited.  The cruise lines do not mention the name of the cruise ship, or the date of the incident, or where the incident is alleged to have occurred or any explanation regarding what happened. The companies also do not disclose whether the victim is a child.

Legislation proposed by Senator Rockefeller will require the cruise lines to provide greater specificity about the crimes.  For example, the public should know whether a particular cruise ship has experienced multiple incidents where child counselors are accused of molesting children in a child-care facility on the ship.  As matters now stand, it's impossible to tell from the cruise lines' skimpy crime charts what the crime reports really involve.     

 

 

Rape & Sexual Assault Most Common Crimes on Cruise Ships

A local CBS station in Alabama reports that since January 2011, the U.S. Coast Guard publicly reported only 31 crimes aboard cruise ships. However, after Senator Rockefeller placed pressure on the cruise industry, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian on Thursday reported 94 crimes and 20 crimes, respectively, between October 2010 and the end of June of this year. These figures do not include Carnival. 

Is this a complete list of crimes? No. Extracting honest crimes statistics from the cruise industry is a long process. 

The news station states that the most common crime allegations are rape and sexual assault, followed by thefts.  

 

NBC News Discusses Cruise Ship Crime Statistics and Overboard Passengers

Today a local NBC station in South Florida posted a video of the recent disclosure of cruise ship crime statistics.

You can read the article here.

The video (below) includes an interview with me about the provisions of the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2010 (CVSSA) which permitted cruise ship crimes and man-overboard incidents to be concealed from the public. Only incidents which were reported to the FBI and then the FBI closed the investigation could be disclosed to the public.  

The cruise lines were successful in inserting language to this effect into the CVSSA in order to conceal the vast majority of alleged crimes and overboards from the public.

 

6 Years Later: Verdict in Deadly Sinking of Sea Diamond Cruise Ship

Long before Captain Schettino smashed the Costa Concordia into the rocks off of the coast of Giglio, another captain of a passenger cruise ship slammed his vessel into the rock and sank the ship.

Six years ago, the Sea Diamond cruise ship struck a reef and eventually sank off the coast of Santoniri. Two French cruise passengers drown. 

In both cases, the captain's poor navigational skills, recklessness and negligence in efficiently evacuating the cruise ship killed passengers.

Sea Diamond SinkingAfter a long legal proceeding, a  three judge panel in Piraeus sentenced the ship's captain to 12 years and two months in jail and sanctioned him €8,000 fine.  The judges sentenced an employee of DNV (Det Norske Veritas), which deemed the cruise ship seaworthy, to eight years.

The cruise ship, owned by Louis Hellenic Cruises, sank on April 6 2007 after ramming  a reef near the Aegean island of Santorini with 1,195 passengers and 391 crew on board.

A French man, Jean Christophe Allain (age 45) and his daughter Maud (age 16), died. 

According to a Greek newspaper, the judges also sentenced the navigation officer (two years and 10 months), chief engineer (two years and four months), company's legal representative (two years), an inspector/auditor (15 months) and a security officer (six months and a €600 fine).

The newspaper states that it is unlikely that anyone will serve actual jail time.

The judges acquitted the ship's first engineer officer, chief officer, chief steward and the cabin manager. 

After the verdict, Louis Hellenic vowed to appeal the decisions. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read our first article about the case here.

The incident occurred aboard the Island Escape cruise ship.

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

 

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

NBC Covers Cruise Ship Crime: "Lawmakers Turn Attention to Crime on Cruise Ships"

Cruise Ship CrimeTonight NBC News aired a segment on the recent hearing before the Senate regarding the issue of cruise ship crimes.

Senator Rockefeller scheduled the hearing in a year filled with high-profile cruise ship mishaps. NBC correspondent Mark Potter reports that lawmakers are turning their attention to the amount of crime that takes place while vacationers are out at sea. 

Senator Rockefeller's staff conducted an exhaustive analysis of cruise ship crimes. Senator Rockefeller discovered that of the 959 crimes alleged to have occurred on cruise ships since 2011, only 31 crimes were disclosed to the American people.

Concealing the accurate number of crimes, particularly sexual crimes against children, is a real disservice to the cruising public. 

I was interviewed at the Port of Miami about the need for cruise passengers to remain vigilant during cruises.  

Professor Ross Klein, a cruise expert who has testified before Congress on several occasions, explained that 18% of the sexual assaults on cruises, occur against minors.  

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

Watch the video below. 

  

 

Crew Member Missing Overboard From "The World" Cruise Ship

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

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

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

The vessel left the port of Coruña at midnight yesterday.

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

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

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

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

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / VirtualSteve

Carnival Sunshine Buzzes Venice & Rekindles Controversy

Venice Carnival Sunshine Cruise ShipA reader of this blog from Italy just sent me several articles regarding what many are describing as a near miss between a Carnival cruise ship and the Riva Sette Martiri, close to the Piazza San Marco (the principal public square of Venice, Italy).

An Italian newspaper reports that the Carnival Sunshine was sailing in the basin near Venice when its stern swung perilously close to the Riva Sette Martiri. Onlookers estimated the distance to be approximately 20 meters from the historic site.

A local commissioner complained that around 11 AM on July 27th, the Carnival ship, weighing over 102 thousand tons, 272 meters long, 35 meters wide and 62 meters high, almost struck one of the piers near Venice's Piazza San Marco. 

The impression was that is was either error in the operation of the cruise ship, or that the ship was conducting a "flyby" (also referred to as a "bow") for the thrill of the passengers. 

The newspaper article contains several first hand accounts that the Carnival ship was "tailing" out of the channel and close to the shore. One person said It's not the first time that happened." 

Venice Carnival Cruise Ship Carnival responded by stating that this was a "false story." The cruise line was quoted stating that the news is "completely false." Carnival claims that its cruise ship was over 72 meters from the shore and was following the planned route and was well within the permissible limits. Carnival also stated that the ship was under the command of a local port pilot. The distance from the shore was tested both by Carnival and the Italian Coast Guard based on the data of the VDR (voyage data recorder) of the ship.

Its hard to tell from the video below exactly how close the cruise ship came to shore. My thought is that whether it's 20 meters or 70 meters, either way that's too close to the shore of this beautiful city.

But whatever happened, it's sure to rekindle the debate whether monster cruise ships have any business in these waters.

Italians are naturally sensitive to the prospect of a massive ship causing damage to its historical treasures. The Costa Concordia disaster is still in everyone's minds.  Even more recent was the Jolly Nero incident. A large container ship cashed into a pier at a port in the Italian city of Genoa, causing numerous deaths and catastrophic damage.

There has been a great deal of controversy whether huge cruise ships like this should be permitted to sail into the basin by Venice. Environmentalists argue that cruise ships are overwhelming Venice with tourists and causing significant air pollution and eroding the foundations of the historical city. 

My personal thoughts about the issue are expressed in an article Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth? 

Update / Correction: I erroneously referred to the basin by Venice as the "'Grand Canal."  The cruise ship was not in the Grand Canal, rather it was in the Guidecca canal,

The Daily Mail has an article about the incident with additional video and photos.  

Another newspaper, the Independent, published an article Cruise Ship Has Alleged Close Call in Venice.  It quotes Carnival saying that the captain was at the helm, not a port pilot.

July 29 2013 Update: Some newspapers in the U.K. are suggesting that the Carnival cruise ship was saluting CEO Micky Arison who was on a yacht nearby. Arison defends the maneuver on Twitter, tweeting: "To all my Venetian friends. Capt, Pilot, & Coast Guard with GPS evidence agree that the ship made a normal & safe transit thru the lagoon."

A cruise blogger, John Honeywell, who was on the Carnival Sunshine at the time of the alleged flyby, confirmed that Arison's yacht, Sirona III, was moored in the basin and that Arison was standing at the stern of the yacht when the cruise ship came by. Honeywell was an invited guest and was part of a group of U.S. and U.K. travel writers.  He later wrote a piece defending his cruise line host, calling the articles about the incident "ludicrous" and "complete nonsense."  

 

 

Pulled from the Fog: 85 Year Old Cruise Passenger Medevaced from Balmoral in English Channel

Balmoral Cruise Ship - Helicopter MedevacThe BBC reports that a Royal Air Force helicopter winched a woman off a cruise ship in the English Channel "after becoming ill with a potentially 'life-threatening' condition."

The passenger is a 85 year old woman who was sailing on board the Balmoral cruise ship. The ship had departed Southampton and was heading to Norway.

BBC states that the medical evacuation by the helicopter took place under difficult circumstances as the helicopter from Suffolk had to flew to the ship, which was in heavy fog, 40 miles out at sea. The weather conditions caused the rescue efforts to become "extremely challenging." 

Visibility was only 165 feet and the cruise ship was describes as "completely enclosed in fog." An airman stated "we had to use radar to locate the vessel because we could barely see."

The 85-year-old woman was transferred to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.

 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Tvabutzku1234

CNN Covers Silver Shadow Cover Up of Nasty Sanitation Practices - While Silversea Cruises Refuses to Talk

Yesterday CNN aired a special program about the "hide and seek" games which crew members were ordered to play on the Silver Shadow cruise ship, where the ship routinely hid trolleys of food items in crew members cabins to avoid detection by sanitation inspectors of the U.S. Public Health Department.

Our little blog was the first to cover the story ten days ago in our article Silver Shadow Fails Sanitation Inspection After Caught Hiding Filthy Conditions from Health Inspectors

You can see the photos of the cruise line's filthy practice on our Facebook page here.

Silver Shadow Silversea Cruises SanitationBefore we published our article, we contacted several people at Silversea Cruises to discuss the matter but no one would respond.  Its seems like the cruise line thought it could just ignore the problem and it would go away. Quite frankly this is the holier-than-thou attitude of many cruise lines which think that they can do anything with impunity.

The story was mentioned extensively not only on CNN, but is being discussed on other networks (Peter Greenberg was talking about the issue on CBS this morning) as well as being mentioned in newspapers and online travel travel boards. 

The comments to the CNN article are spilling over from Silversea Cruises to the cruise industry at large.

The story comes at a key time while the Senate debates enacting legislation to more aggressively regulate the cruise industry. Yesterday Senator Rockefeller convened a hearing where he announced that he is enacting legislation to provide consumers greater protection while on cruise ships. 

Watch the video below.  Its disappointing to see that the cruise line faced no real consequence after the CDC caught it intentionally gaming the system. Remember it was crew members who exposed the cover up, not the CDC by itself. And the CDC really didn't do anything except tell the cruise ship not to do it again.

Why wasn't the ship detained in port?  Why wasn't the cruise line fined?

 

And Just When It Couldn't Get Any Worse for Carnival: Flesh Eating Bacteria Hot Tubs on Carnival's Fun Ships!

Carnival has been under the spotlight for everything that can go wrong on the high seas.

Fires, poop cruises, an Italian playboy captain who crashes a $600 million luxury ship on the rocks, sexual assaults, non-payment of U.S. taxes and so forth and so on.  The news was so bad and so often bad that Carnival sent long term CEO Micky Arison to the sidelines.

The news can't possibly get any worse for Carnival. Could it?

Flesh Eating ZombieI think so.

Today we hear about a cruise passenger who contracted "hot tub folliculitis" from a hot tub aboard the Carnival Paradise. His lawyers issued a press release which alleges they are seeking class action status for other cruise passengers who were injured by a "dangerous, flesh-eating bacteria" in the cruise ship's whirlpools.

The passenger's leg sustained a severe infection which nearly cost him his leg, the PR statement reads. "The entire leg turned black and they wanted to amputate." After a week in the hospital and $70,000 in medical bills later, the leg was saved, but remains scarred from the flesh-eating infection according to the lawyers.

The statement also says that when the passenger contacted Carnival, a guest relations specialist told the injured passenger that there were more than fifty other passengers on the same cruise who came down with the same illness from using the hot tubs.

A little know fact - the passenger's lawyer is a former defense lawyer for Carnival who switched sides. A smart fellow.  He knew when to jump ship! 

The allegation sounds like something out of a 1970's exploitational horror film!  But because it involves Carnival, its probably true . .  

July 20, 2013 Update: We received the following statement from Carnival:

"The lawsuit is meritless. All pools, whirlpools and water-based amenities on board our ships are properly maintained and their water content properties are routinely monitored. We take sanitation and cleanliness on our vessels very seriously and water quality is confirmed through periodic inspections by the U.S. Public Health service. Our guests may rest assured that these shipboard amenities are maintained via strict standards and practices to ensure a clean and safe environment. We decline to comment further given the pending lawsuit."

Man Arrested on Charges of Raping Passenger Aboard the Carnival Dream

The Virgin Islands Daily News reports that a 19-year-old Kentucky man pleaded not guilty in District Court in St. Thomas on charges that he raped another passenger during a Carnival cruise. The charges specifically "sexual assault with intent to commit a felony."

Cruise passenger Conner Layne was arrested after a 18-year-old woman's complaint that he tried to rape her while on board the Carnival Dream during a June 4th cruise. 

Carnival Dream Cruise ShipThe newspaper states that the alleged crime took place while the Dream was in international waters sailing to St. Thomas.

According to an affidavit written by FBI special agent Rafael Fernandez, an 18-year-old woman reported that she and Layne were "having drinks in the ship's club when Layne invited her back to his room. Once there, she had another drink and sat on the bed, and she and Layne began kissing and Layne started 'touching her about the body'." Layne then forcibly "held her down, pulled up her dress, pulled down her underwear and penetrated her with his penis."

The woman said that because Layne was intoxicated, she was able to push him off of her, and she ran out of the cabin. 

The District Magistrate released Layne from custody after he posted a $10,000 bond.

The newspaper states that Layne was allowed to return to his home in Kentucky but had to provide DNA samples as a condition of his release.

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia /  Kuloskulos

Questions Swirl Around Death of Passenger Aboard Carnival Dream Cruise Ship

Several newspapers in St. Maarten report on the death of a passenger aboard the Carnival Dream cruise ship yesterday shortly after the ship left St. Thomas.

One newspaper states that the captain of the Carnival cruise ship learned "shortly after leaving the port of Saint Thomas on Tuesday July 16th," heading to Saint Maarten, he received a report a female U.S. citizen, age 40, allegedly committed suicide. The cruise ship alleges that the passenger "took her own life by hanging herself." The newspaper states that the investigation "will be done by U.S. authorities once the ships docks at the nearest U.S. port."

Carnival Dream Cruise Ship The newspapers mention the woman by name and state prominently that she killed herself.

Irrespective of what happened, it is disturbing to hear that a cruise line has determined the official cause of death of a passenger in such a summary manner. That's the responsibility of highly educated, trained and experienced medical examiners. Not cruise ship employees.

Why do the cruise lines think they can act like police officers and coroners and determine the cause of death?  Read:  "Suicide" - One of the Cruise Lines' Favorite Excuses When a Passenger Disappears at Sea"

And why did the Carnival cruise ship captain, who learned of the death of a guest "shortly after leaving St. Thomas," sail on to the next port?  

Here's what some of the local residents in St. Marteen are saying:

 ". . . Sxm has a bad reputation when it comes to murders that looks like suicide. They always take the easy way out. what a thing if it turned out to be death by poisoning or strangulation."

"The captain of the ship stated that shortly after leaving the port of Saint Thomas." Why didn't the captain return to St. Thomas? Apparently the mighty dollar reigns supreme & the inherently trivial cruise schedule is sacrosanct. I suspect the captain of this particular vessel could be investigated for (mildly) improper conduct under international maritime law." 

 

Photo Credit:  Carnival dream - Wikipedia / Kuloskulos