Noro on the Veendam?

HAL VeendamA passenger sailing on a Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship near Greece contacted me today, stating that a number of guests are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms:

"I'm currently on MS Veendam. Left Fort Lauderdale on October 20th and due to return to Fort Lauderdale on December 8th. Currently docked in Souda, Greece. Leaving at 5:00 pm less than an hour from now. Souda port terminal has WiFi.

Noro started about four days ago. We did pick up passengers in Barcelona and some of them are sick now and seem to have gotten sick shortly after boarding from what I understand. One day there were 29 passengers and two crew sick . . .  Yesterday ...  only four new cases and no crew sick anymore. 

Ship is cleaning, isolating and taking precautions including not allowing passengers to handle food which is good."

It is currently unknown whether the gastrointestinal outbreak is in fact due to norovirus (or-coli or some other more exotic virus) because there will be no testing of the affected passenger's stools. 

In the last week, we have written about GI outbreaks which included the Crown Princess, which called on a U.S. port and had to report the outbreak to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Anthem of the Seas was experienced a similar outbreak affected many dozens of guests (around 100 people). The Anthem did not meet the percentage of guests who reported their symptoms to the ship infirmary, and therefore there is no official CDC report.  The Celebrity Solstice was also reportedly hit with an aggressive GI outbreak while sailing around Australia, according to news accounts. 

Holland America Line experienced 18 cases of GI sicknesses reported to the CDC since 2010. Only Princess Cruises suffered more norovirus/GI cases which were reported to the CDC during this time period. HAL suffered norovirus outbreaks on the Nieuw Amsterdam, and two outbreaks each on the Volendam and the Noordam this year.

Cruise ships on non-U.S. itineraries do not have to report GI outbreaks. 

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

Photo credit: Fletcher6 - CC BY 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Emergency Liferaft Deployed on Drunken Celebrity Solstice Cruise to Nowhere

This morning I received messages from readers of Cruise Law News indicating that a passenger deployed a liferaft from a canister during a three night "cruise to nowhere" sailing from Australia. One person on the ship said:

"I have just returned from a 3 night cruise on the celebrity Solstice out of Sydney, Australia. On the 2nd night we saw one of the inflatable life boats had been deployed and the ship had to actually turn around and go back to retrieve it. We were told by several people that it was actually a passenger that threw the capsule overboard."

Other passengers mentioned that the cruise was a real booze fest during which someone apparently thought that Celebrity Solsticeactivating the liferaft was a good college-type-of-prank to perform.

I received a photo from another passenger, apparently posted on Facebook, but I don't have a name for attribution. 

Activating a liferaft canister like this can be written off as a hair-brain shenanigan, but it is alarming to me. No one should have access to the canisters nor should they be able to deploy one. A terrorist or someone wanting to cause harm to the vessel's operations could easily deploy a dozen of them if they are so easily accessible & deployable and there are no security precautions in place.

It reminds me of a situation several years ago when a drunken passenger entered a "restrictive" area and dropped the ship's anchor on a Holland American Line cruise ship. You can read about that combination of drunken passenger conduct and ship security lapse here: Drunk Passenger Drops Cruise Ship Anchor.  

October 27 2014 Update: We received a comment from the IP address of Royal Caribbean (see below) stating that "Nobody deployed the raft . . . the raft fell in the water as the strap failed . . . we did check the CCTV cameras on Deck and we also have the video already . . ."

So what happened?  Did the canister deploy by accident? Seems like this should have been disclosed on the ship. Anyone have additional info?

 

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

Photo Credit:  Facebook

New Zealand Passenger Missing From Celebrity Solstice

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

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

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

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

But how is that possible?

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

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

Anyone with information please contact us.

 

Photo Credit: Constantine Kulikovsky via Wikimedia

Helicopter Medevacs Sick Celebrity Crew Member from Solstice Cruise Ship

Celebrity Solstice Helicopter Pad - MedevacA newspaper in Australia is reporting that a Care Flight helicopter rescued a 22-year-old crew member off a cruise ship off the coast of Arnhem Land.

The helicopter flew to the Celebrity Solstice which was sailing 500 kilometers north east of Darwin, Australia. 

The Celebrity crew member reportedly suffered a "cardiac problem." A nurse and doctor accompanied the helicopter after notification from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

The helicopter was expected to refuel at the remote town of Maningrida before flying  another 100 kilometers km out to sea to reach the cruise ship. Unlike many cruise ships, the Solstice has a helipad on the bow.

The newspaper reports that the Celebrity Solstice left Darwin yesterday on a two-day cruise to Cairns, in north Queensland.

 

Photo credit: Harrogate Flickr

Norovirus Outbreak on Celebrity Solstice?

Celebrity SolsticeWe received complaints from cruise passengers that there was a gastrointestinal outbreak on the Celebrity Solstice at the end of August. One cruise passenger contacted us and stated: 

"Our Celebrity Solstice cruise out of Barcelona on 8/27/12 had a huge outbreak of the norovirus. People were sick at the end of the cruise, however Celebrity loaded up the ship to head back out the same day. I don't see how in the world the boat could have been cleaned thoroughly."

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) do not document cases of cruise ship norovirus / gastrointestinal illness when the cruise ships do not call on a U.S. port.  

There have been 11 official cases of such illnesses on cruises calling on U.S. ports this year, all of them declared by the CDC to be norovirus cases. Passengers aboard the Celebrity Silhouette and the Celebrity Constellation were struck by norovirus earlier this year.

 

Photo Attribution: Maprie at en.wikipedia  

Celebrity Solstice Hit By Cruise Ship Virus?

The Centers for Disease Control ("CDC") report that 118 of the 2,730 passengers aboard the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship have reported to the ship's medical facility with vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms of gastrointestinal illness.

The Solstice is currently on a 14 day cruise and will return to Fort Lauderdale on December 11, 2011.

Pursuant to the CDC Vessel Sanitation Program, environmental health officers and an epidemiologist will board the cruise ship, once it returns to Fort Lauderdale tomorrow, in order assess the outbreak and the cruise line's response activities.

It has been our experience over the years that the "official" CDC numbers of ill passengers and crewmembers is usually less than the true number of those afflicted with viral illnesses.  This is because many sick passengers know that they will be quarantined in their cabins or they simply do not want to wait in the long lines outside of the ship infirmary.  Often, sick crewmembers are Celebrity Solstice - Cruise Ship Sicknesspressed to work notwithstanding their sicknesses.  

We wrote about the problem of under reporting last year when the Celebrity Mercury experienced a prolonged outbreak of norovirus: Is Celebrity Cruises Under-Reporting Sicknesses to the CDC?

This is not the first time the Solstice has experienced an outbreak this year.  In January and February, there were norovirus outbreaks on the Solstice with one passenger dying due to exposure to the virus. 

Celebrity Cruises has experienced other bouts of widespread illnesses in 2011.  Over 100 passengers became sick on the Millennium in May of this year. 

Not all gastrointestinal outbreaks are documented with the CDC.  The cruise lines do not have to report the outbreaks when the cruise ship does not call on a U.S. port.  In September, norovirus broke out on Celebrity's Eclipse sailing out of Southampton, England.  You will find no mention of it in the official CDC database.

Earlier this week, we discussed Is there a Cure for the Cruise Ship Virus?

If you were on the Solstice and have something to add to this story, please leave a comment below.  Was the sickness more widespread than reported?  How did the cruise line handle the situation?   

 

Photo credit:  Examiner

Norovirus Aboard Celebrity Solstice Kills Father of Eight

Courthouse News Service reports that a lawsuit has been filed against Celebrity Cruises for the death of a father of eight after he died from incompetent medical care for norovirus he contracted during a vacation cruise aboard the Celebrity Solstice

The lawsuit alleges that Joseph Gavigan Jr., from Orleans, Massachusetts, embarked the Solstice cruise ship in January of this year in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  During the cruise, a norovirus outbreak occurred and Mr. Gavigan contracted the illness.

The lawsuit alleges that Celebrity failed to take adequate precautions to screen passengers and crewmembers, failed to sanitize and disinfect the cruise ship and disinfect plates, cups, food trays, Joseph Gavigan Jr. - Norovirus - Celebrity Solstice Death utensils, ice machines and drinking fountains, failed to quarantine infected passengers and crewmembers and failed to warn Mr. Gavigan about the virus. 

The lawsuit also alleges that Celebrity provided negligent medical care to Mr. Gavigan, and negligently selected the cruise ship medical staff who held themselves out as agents of the cruise line.

A copy of the lawsuit is available on line and can be viewed here.  The lawsuit was filed by attorney Keith Brais, a very experienced maritime lawyer who used to be a defense lawyer for Celebrity Cruises and other cruise lines.  

The Centers for Decease Control and Prevention reports that 118 cruise passengers and 10 crewmembers reported ill during the voyage.  You can read more about the CDC's report for this voyage aboard the Solstice here.  

The popular on line community Cruise Critic contains Celebrity's official press statement about the norovirus outbreaks (which preceded Mr. Gavigan's cruise) as well as the accounts of unhappy cruisers some of whom felt that the medical staff was incompetent and the cruise line was trying to cover-up and down-play the outbreaks. 

An on line obituary indicates that Mr. Gavigan, nicknamed "Junior," is survived by 21 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren in addition to his 8 children and companion.

 

Photo credit:  Dockray & Thomas Funeral Home

Passenger Jumps From Celebrity's Solstice Cruise Ship

Professor Ross Klein's Cruise Junkie web site contains an account of a passenger jumping overboard from Celebrity Solstice last Friday:

From a reader:  The story on the cruise that I was on goes like this:  On early Friday morning around 1:30 am a person fell overboard from the 5th floor.  It took them about an hour to locate and rescue the person who was alive (amazing).  He was fighting and very belligerent when he was rescued.  They put the person in handcuffs and he was taking off the ship in the next port of sail Celebrity Solstice Passenger OverBoard Rescuewhich was Roatan Honduras.  The gentleman of approximately 65 years of age had an argument with his wife at an 80's party being held in the Sky Lounge near the bow.  At about 1:30 am on deck 5 starboard he removed most of his clothing and dove off the deck.  Fast acting crew members threw a flashing buoy overboard immediately to mark his location and the man-overboard call was made. 

The Captain was summoned and many of us heard the code "Oscar, Oscar" Apparently 2-zodiacs were launched the second after some issues with the first .... of this I am not certain.  Upon reaching the very lucking gentleman he did not wish to be rescued and when pulled on board the zodiac became belligerent and hence was cuffed.  We were told he was removed from the ship in Roatan.  Yesterday in the afternoon, on our last day at sea, the Captain came on the loudspeaker and thanked his hard working crew for their efforts for the rescue. 

Last November, a passenger disappeared from this cruise ship.  You can read about the prior incident:  Passenger Reported Overboard from Celebrity's Solstice Cruise Ship

Passenger Reported Overboard from Celebrity's Solstice Cruise Ship

Professor Ross Klein's CruiseJunkie website reports a passenger is missing from the Solstice cruise ship, operated by Celebrity Cruises.  Another passenger notified the CruiseJunkie website Missing Cruise Passengerthat a passenger may have jumped from the cruise ship on November 6th:

I'm a passenger on Celebrity Solstice between Santorini and Naples. At 9PM local time tonight, a female passenger jumped purposefully from Deck 14. She has been identified by the crew but the name not released. The coast guard are conducting a search but she has not been found as yet.

No other information is available from newspapers or on line media sources at this time.

Assuming this information is accurate, this is the 125th passenger who has gone overboard from a cruise ship or ferry since 2000, based on Dr. Klein's data.

November 8, 2009 - 9:30 a.m. Update:

The passenger remains missing.  Professor Ross Klein's website CruiseJunkie received the following message from another passenger aboard the Solstice:

Solstice searched in the darkness with spotlights for 10 hours assisted by at least one more cruise ship as well as at least one coast guard boat and an aircraft. Flares were deployed too, but to no avail.  She ws not found.  We continued on to Naples and will arrive about an hour late.

We have reported on other passenger overboards in prior articles.  Although the Celebrity Solstice does not have a webcam for public viewing, technology exists for passenger overboards to trigger an alarm to the bridge to alert the cruise ship's officers that a passenger has gone overboard.  This system would capture the video and permit immediate notification of the emergency. Tracking devices would drop into the water so that the exact location of the passenger overboard could be determined. 

Whether Celebrity Cruises utilizes this technology is not known. 

November 8, 2009 - 9:30 a.m. Update:

Celebrity Cruises issued the following PR statement:

On November 6, at approximately 9 pm local/Greece time, three hours after departing Santorini, Greece, a guest onboard Celebrity Solstice reported seeing a person jump overboard from one of the ship's uppermost decks. The ship's Captain immediately turned the ship around, marked the position on the ship’s Global Positioning System (GPS), notified other ships in the area, and alerted Greek authorities, as well as the FBI. The Greek Coast Guard immediately assisted with air and sea searches. Shipboard closed-circuit camera footage captured the guest going overboard and has  been made available to authorities.

Public announcements were made onboard immediately following the report, and a complete search of the ship was completed in efforts to identify the individual who went overboard. The identity of the missing guest was confirmed, and the family was notified. Celebrity’s Guest Care Team is providing support to the family, and Celebrity Cruises is cooperating fully with government officials.

The Greek Navy and Coast Guard assisted Celebrity Solstice with air and sea searches until 3:45 am Greece time, when the authorities released Celebrity Solstice from the search. Most unfortunately, the missing guest has not yet been found. The Navy and Coast Guard are continuing the air and sea search.

Celebrity Solstice is on a 10-night Eastern Mediterranean itinerary that departed Civitavecchia, Italy, October 30, and returns to Civitavecchia November 9.

 

Credits

Overboard drawing               CruelKev2's blog regarding overboard cruise passengers