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.  

 

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 

Coast Guard Medevacs Injured Passenger From Carnival Splendor

News sources are reporting that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a woman from a Carnival cruise ship in the Atlantic Ocean off Toms River, New Jersey yesterday. 

The Coast Guard in Philadelphia was notified by the Carnival Splendor that an 84-year-old Canadian woman fell, and sustained injury to her hip, and needed emergency medical treatment. 

A Coast Guard helicopter flew from Atlantic City and medevaced the injured woman from the cruise ship to Atlantic City. 

Carnival released the following statement to Cruise Law News: 

"On Wednesday night a female guest on the Carnival Splendor in need of immediate medical attention was airlifted by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter shortly after the vessel departed New York on an eight-day cruise. The guest was taken to a shoreside medical facility for further treatment.

Carnival Splendor is sailing on an eight-day cruise that departed New York on Feb. 5 and is scheduled to return on Feb. 13."

Marine Traffic AIS shows the following tracking for the Splendor:Splendor Cruise Ship AIS 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia - top; Marine Traffic - bottom

Crew Member From Bali Dies on Carnival Splendor

Wayan BarsianaThe Bali Discovery reports on the sad case of a young man who died at sea.

The 21-year-old Balinese man was working as a crew member on the Carnival Splendor and died shortly after joining the cruise ship.

Wayan Barsiana died on December 23, 2013 after joining the cruise ship on December 6, 2013.

The young man’s body was returned to his family in Bali three weeks later on January 13, 2014, after undergoing a post mortem examination. 

The Bali Discovery states that:

"The young man was said to be diligent in calling or texting his family and girlfriend on a daily basis, contact that suddenly stopped on December 21, 2013, when he told his family he had developed a cough. Two days later on December 23, 2104 a manager from Carnival Cruise Lines telephoned the mother to advise her son had died in his crew cabin."

The family reportedly received no further details regarding their son’s death. Wayan Barisana’s body was buried in his home village shortly after it was shipped back to Bali.

The Bali Seafarer's Centre Facebook page shows photographs of the return of the crew member's body home.

The KPI union and hiring agency in Indonesia contributed to the funeral expenses in respect for the family.

If you have a comment, please join the discussion about this article on our Facebook page.

Photo credits: Bali Discovery - top; Bali Seafarer's Centre - bottom. 

Death on Carnival Splendor

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.

 

Better Late Than Never? U.S. Coast Guard Releases Report Over 2 & 1/2 Years After Catastrophic Carnival Splendor Fire

Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Coast Guard finally released its report regarding the engine room fire which disabled the Carnival Splendor cruise ship on November 8, 2010.

The Coast Guard's reported concluded, in a nutshell, that cylinders in one of the 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 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.

Carnival Cruise Line - Splendor FireThe fire was not suppressed due to the failure of the CO2 system and mistakes and a lack of training by the ship's crew. The crew reset the automatic suppression alarm and failed to manually activate the water mist system which permitted the fire to spread. It took the crew two hours to locate the fire due to the firefighters' unfamiliarity with the engine room. The Coast Guard faulted the crew for using portable dry chemicals and carbon dioxide extinguishers rather than fire hoses. And the captain permitted the fire to continue by trying to ventilate the engine room before the fire was completely extinguished. 

You can read the report here

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 the day before the fire and permitted it to sail with passengers. 

Another interesting pint is the time line of the fire. The fire was not finally and completely extinguished for over nine hours. This is a far cry from the initial reports from the cruise line which tried to reassure the passengers that the fire was not a big deal and was under control, 

Its curious why it took well over two and one-half years for the Coast Guard to release its report. The reality is that the Coast Guard and the cruise line and the companies which the cruise line pay to become involved in the investigation exchange information and review a draft copy of the Coast Guard report before it is "official" and is released to the public.

A month after the fire, the Coast Guard issued two Marine Safety Alerts regarding the CO2 firefighting system on the Splendor ship which failed to operate. Here's our article about the Coast Guard's initial finding in December 2010: Carnival Splendor CO2 Firefighting System: "A Recipe for Failure."

 

Photo Credit: Denis Poroy/Associated Press via New York Times

Crime Scene on Splendor Cruise Ship? Carnival Won't Say

Professor Ross Klein's website CruiseJunkie contains disturbing comments from a cruise passenger aboard the Carnival Splendor cruise ship who reports that on December 15th during a sailing to the Mexican Riviera a gruesome physical altercation took place in cabin 1306.

Here are the comments:

Carnival Cruise Violence - Cruise Ship"Wild, out-of-control alcohol-fueled domestic fight - starts at 9PM, escalates to most certainly a felony assault (or worse) by 3AM. All kinds of yelling, screaming, howling.  Objects (victim?) thrown against the walls. Finally security responds; victim has blood streaming from her, multiple wounds; others report seeing multiple pools of blood in the room. Around 3:45 AM, Carnival removes the 'guests' and immediately starts the process of cleaning the room up, starting with the blood. 

NO attempt whatsoever to preserve the scene or the evidence.  Staff members will not discuss what happened other than 'it's under control' and 'he won't be a problem.'  Rumor is that the offender was removed from the ship in Puerto Vallarta."

We reached out to Carnival's PR department yesterday who said they would check it out, but no response so far.

It's disturbing to read an account like this particularly after we just reported that a drunken Carnival passenger who beat and strangled his wife to death was sentenced to life in prison.  And should there be any doubt that cruise lines destroy crime scene evidence?  

Does anyone on this cruise have additional information?  Please leave a comment below.

December 21, 2011 Update:  This article was picked up by the popular Cruise Critic online community and posted in a thread on the message board.  How did the concerned Cruise Critic cruise fans react to the bloody crime scene and Carnival's spoliation of evidence? 

Read their comments like  "Doesn't affect me . . .  Who cares . . . Ship happens" which you can read here.  Unfortunately, this type of complacency perpetuates the sorry state of affairs on cruise ships where cruise lines destroy evidence knowing that their fan base doesn't care. 

I think I'll re-name this article "Crime Scene on Splendor Cruise Ship? Carnival Won't Say and Cruise Fans Don't Care."

Your Tax Dollars At Sea - Who Pays When Things Go Wrong on Cruises?

This week the United States Coast Guard rescued two cruise passengers - one ill young man from the NCL Gem cruise ship sailing off the coast of North Carolina and a second young woman from the Explorer cruise ship who was suffering from an appendicitis attack near Key West Florida. 

When we report on these type of rescues, we sometimes hear from readers of Cruise Law News complaining that the cost of the medical evacuations should be borne by the sick passengers themselves. 

We especially hear these complaints when a passenger inadvertently goes overboard.  Was the passenger acting negligently or was he or she under the influence of alcohol (a major money Carnival Splendor Cruise Ship Fire maker for the cruise lines).  If so, many people protest loudly and angrily that the cruise passenger should bear the extra fuel expenses and other costs incurred by the cruise ship and the Coast Guard searching for the missing passenger.   

Federal agencies are prohibited by law from seeking reimbursement of the costs associated with search and rescue of this type. 

So who bears the expense when the cruise lines act irresponsibly and the cruise goes terribly wrong?

Consider the fire last year aboard the Carnival Splendor which caused the cruise ship to lose power off of the coast of Mexico.  The Carnival ship was disabled due to the negligent design of the cruise ship itself which risked the lives of 4,500 passengers and crew.  As we reported before, the U.S. Coast Guard blasted Carnival for its defective engines and poorly designed safety instructions which caused several thousands of passengers to find themselves helplessly adrift at sea without lighting, air conditioning or hot water on the high seas. 

Carnival quickly considered legal claims against the companies which designed and manufactured the engines which failed.  Carnival did not hesitate making a claim against these companies for the revenues lost while the Splendor sat in dry dock being repaired.

But who paid for the enormous costs associated with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard responding to the emergency?  

You will recall that the U.S. Navy sent an aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, to the scene as the mostly U.S. passengers bobbed around on the high seas.  The Navy utilized four aircraft and helicopters to assist the stricken Carnival ship.  The Navy made twenty-four airlifts of food and provisions which its aircrew skilfully dropped onto the Carnival cruise ship to feed the passengers.  

How much did this cost and who was paying for it? 

I inquired around and the only knowledgeable source was the International Cruise Victims ("ICV") organization whose President, Ken Carver, had requested information from the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") request.

The U.S. Navy timely responded to Mr. Carver's FOIA request.  The Navy disclosed that it delivered 60 pallets, weighing over 37,000 pounds, of "bread, luncheon meat, pop tarts, canned crab, water and paper plates." 

Considering the cost of positioning an aircraft carrier, dispatching multiple aircraft and helicopters, and delivering tons of food and water to be dropped onto the cruise ship, the Navy stated that it spent $1,884,376.75 responding to the fire aboard the Carnival Splendor cruise ship.  

This figure does not include the costs incurred by the U.S. Coast Guard in responding to the crisis. Unfortunately, the Coast Guard has not yet provided any information in response to Mr. Carver's FOIA request dating back to earlier this year.

The Coast Guard's costs were undoubtedly another $2,000,000 or so in personnel and fuel costs for their vessels and helicopters.

There is a certain irony that cruise lines, which structure their businesses to avoid U.S. taxes and U.S. safety regulations, are dependent on the generosity of our Federal agencies in responding to emergencies when they get themselves into a jam.  

Cruise lines incorporate in foreign countries like Liberia and Panama and register their cruise ships in foreign Aircraft Carrier Ronald Reagan - Carnival Splendorcountries like the Bahamas in order to avoid U.S. laws and all U.S. income taxes. The cruise industry collects over $35,000,000,000 (billion) a year in income from mostly income-tax-paying-Americans, yet it avoids U.S. corporate income tax by incorporating itself and registering its ship abroad.

But when the cruise ships catch on fire and are adrift on the high seas, cruise lines like Carnival are the first to make a distress call to the United States and ask for favors from the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard. 

When cruise passengers were thinking of suing Carnival last year for the inconvenience caused by the cruise fire aboard the Splendor, I was the first one to say don't do it.  Many of the major news networks and newspapers picked up on the my don't-sue-Carnival message, like the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Fox News,  ABA Journal, Gadling, and the U.K's Mirror.

At the end of the day, it was not the cruise passengers who filed suit.  It was Carnival who made legal claims against the companies which designed and manufactured its engines.  Carnival made millions in the process.

Did Carnival, the only one suing, repay the U.S. government?  

Not a penny.

So who paid for all of the millions of dollars in emergency services expended by our U.S. Navy and Coast Guard arising from the negligence of the tax-avoiding, foreign flagged and incorporated cruise line which stranded thousands of tax-paying Americans on the high seas?

You, the American taxpayers.    

 

For additional information about the Carnival Splendor fire and cruise ship fires in general, consider reading:

Carnival Splendor CO2 Firefighting System: "A Recipe for Failure"

"Coast Guard Blasts Carnival Splendor for Fire Negligence"

Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything? 

  

Photo credit:  bottom photo / U.S.S. Ronald Reagan - providencefox.com

Cruise Law News Featured in Article - "Coast Guard Blasts Carnival Splendor for Fire Negligence"

Cruise Law News was featured in an article yesterday about the Carnival Splendor fire and the new Coast Guard marine bulletins criticizing the cruise line's fire suppression system which malfunctioned.  The article is by Joel Siegfried in the National Examiner entitled "Coast Guard Blasts Carnival Splendor for Fire Negligence."   The Examiner is one of the newer and very popular internet newspapers, with a readership of around 1,000,000.

The Examiner also has an interesting photo slideshow showing the defective fire suppression Carnival Splendor Cruise Ship Fire - Towed to San Diegosystem on the Carnival cruise ship.  Here is the article unedited:

Two just released reports by the United States Coast Guard are highly critical of the Carnival Splendor concerning a fire at sea which disabled the vessel on November 8, 2010.  Upon learning of this report, many of the passengers who were aboard the Carnival Splendor "Cruise to Nowhere" were incensed about the ship's inability to properly manage an automated emergency fire suppression system, which was reported on a KGTV interview segment on Friday, December 24, 2010.

To gain insights into this incident, we contacted Miami Florida based maritime attorney James Walker, who also writes the Cruise Law News Blog.  Mr. Walker previously advised passengers not to sue Carnival Cruise Lines over this latest incident, even though the Company has a long history of shipboard fires, cited in his comprehensive article "Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?"

For Carnival Cruise Line alone, these have included a fire on the Carnival Ecstasy, shortly after leaving leaving Miami on July 20, 1998, that was extinguished by fire boats, causing damages exceeding $17 million; the Carnival Tropicale in September 1999, which left the ship adrift in the Gulf of Mexico with 1,700 passengers and crew members for almost two days after the fire disabled the engines; and the June 18, 1995 fire aboard the Carnival Celebration which forced 1,700 passengers to evacuate.   

We asked Mr. Walker to give us his views on the Carnival Splendor fire. He graciously responded with the following remarks on Christmas Day.

"In the 1999 fire on Carnival's Tropicale there where problems where the crew members didn't speak English well enough to provide safety instructions. So here we are over 10 years later with another breakdown in communication with the fire instruction manual on the Splendor written in broken English.  Italian officers and Filipino crew scratching their heads trying to decipher an instruction book written in broken English as the cruise ship burns.  What a frightening spectacle.  No one realized the instruction manual didn't match the fire suppression system for two and one-half years?  This certainly gives the public an insight into the consequences of flagging cruise ships in Panama.  The marine safety bulletins reflects Carnival's negligence."

The U.S. Coast Guard has been investigating the fire which disabled the 113,300 gross register Carnival Splendor Fire - Faulty CO2 Valve - Coast Guard Bulletintons (GRT) Italian built  Concordia-class cruise ship Carnival Splendor, and have released two marine safety alerts dated December 21, 2010, ominously titled "Wrong Directions: A Recipe for Failure" and "Simple Failures Render CO2 System Inoperative", about an unnamed vessel, but clearly about the Carnival Splendor.  The Coast Guard has confirmed that fact to industry publication Professional Mariner.

According to the reports, the two alerts each "address critical concerns uncovered during an ongoing marine casualty investigation and should be of vital interest to Ship Builders, Classification Societies, Owner / Operators and others involved with vessel operations."

Their findings are unequivocal and damning of the Carnival Splendor, drawing conclusions that the fire itself could have easily been controlled and extinguished, if not for numerous flaws in the training, maintenance, and operation of the Splendor's emergency automated fire control system.

Everything possible that could have gone wrong, did in fact go terribly wrong, starting with the ship's Fire Instruction Manual (FIM) which had incorrect, outdated, or erroneous instructions, illustrations and diagrams, similar to giving the owner of a Mercedes-Benz a maintenance manual for a BMW, after it had been translated from German into English by someone fluent in Japanese. 

But that was just for starters.  Valves that released carbon dioxide (CO2) gas, which is commonly used on engine and electrical fires, did not open, and completely failed to release the gas, which would have deprived the fire of oxygen. In addition, pipes leaks, some elements of the distribution system were designed in such a way as to retain water at low points that were unable to be drained, and caused corrosion. Seals and pipe joints also had flaws.

The ship's Master, Captain Claudio Cupisti, made the decision to release CO2 from the fixed fire fighting system on Monday, November 8 at about 6:00 p.m. PST.  It failed to operate as designed. Subsequently, crewmembers were unable to activate it manually, and CO2 was never directed into the machinery space.

There were also serious questions raised about the testing and maintenance of the Splendor's CO2 emergency fire extinguishing system, and the training of crew in its use.

Eventually, crew members manually extinguished the fire, but not before it had caused extensive Confusing Fire Instruction Manual - Carnival Splendor Cruise Fireelectrical damage, which rendered the vessel dead in the water 55 miles off Punta San Jacinto on the northern Baja California coast, and 110 miles southwest of San Diego, requiring it to be towed back into port.  The U.S. Navy had to airlift 70,000 pounds critical food and water, including cans of Spam, to it by Sikorsky MH-60 Seahawk helicopters and Gruman C-2A Greyhound logistics aircraft from the San Diego based aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).

All 3,299 passengers and 1,167 crew members ended their three day voyage to nowhere in San Diego on Thursday, November 11, when the massive 1,000 foot long ship was expertly guided into the B Street Embaradero Cruise Ship Terminal by six tug boats at 8:30 a.m. local time.

Before the Coast Guard pointed out these failures, we had contacted Carnival Cruise Line on November 18, 2010 with a list of nine specific questions relating to the ship's mechanical and electrical redundancy, asking why the fire was able to do such destructive damage. These questions were ignored by Ms. Aly Bello, a spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Lines.

A follow up request specifically asked for a conference call interview with a senior executive or naval engineer from Carnival Cruise Lines, or a written reply by such an expert authority to those questions.  Once again, that request was ignored. Instead, we were provided with press releases about cancellations in sailing schedules and the financial impact on the company.  We again contacted the Company, and pointed out that in parallel instances in the aviation industry, we were able to talk with company officials, even during times of stress and turmoil for that carrier.  Once more, our requests for additional information and interviews were ignored.

Perhaps it is unrealistic to expect a cruise ship company, which is literally under fire, to be willing to discuss their own culpability, especially in light of the fact that the cruise industry has been reluctant in the past to discuss safety practices, or issues of Norovirus shipboard disease outbreaks, and as attorney Walker confirmed, has a long history of mishandling fires at sea.

Even in this instance, the U.S. Coast Guard seems to be walking on egg shells, by keeping the vessel's name, which is clearly shown in one of the photographs contained in their report, invisible in the report itself.

Finally, Carnival Cruise Lines declined offers by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to Leaking CO2 Hoses / Pipes - Marine Safety Bulletin - Carnival Splendor investigate this incident, and instead turned the matter over to the Panama Maritime Authority, the country in which the vessel is registered.  The U.S. Coast Guard requested to join the investigation, and Panama consented.  The NTSB provided two experts to assist the Coast Guard, following its request for technical assistance.  Information on the progress of the investigation will eventually be released by the Panama Maritime Authority.

Any air carrier in the United States which operated in a similar manner would have questions raised about its lack of transparency, and loss of public confidence in that company's crisis management abilities.

 

Photo credits:

Top photo:  Carnival Splendor towed back to port in San Diego (AP via National Examiner)

2nd photo:  Broken CO2 valve  (Coast Guard via National Examiner)

3rd photo:  Wrong fire instruction manual (Coast Guard via National Examiner)

Bottom photo:  Leaking CO2 piping / hose connections (Coast Guard via National Examiner)

Carnival Splendor CO2 Firefighting System: "A Recipe for Failure"

Yesterday, the U.S. Coast Guard issued 2 Marine Safety Alerts regarding the CO2 firefighting system on Carnival Splendor cruise ship which failed to operate following an engine room fire on November 8, 2010.

The first alert indicated that the fire instruction manual (FIM) did not match the actual CO2 system aboard the cruise ship.  The second alert revealed that the pipes and hose connections of the fire suppression system "leaked extensively," actuating arms to valves were loose, a wrong type of sealant was used on the pipe threads, and a valve failed to work.

The Professional Mariner confirms that these 2 Coast Guard alerts pertained to the Splendor.

The bottom line?   A newly constructed cruise ship, flying the flag of Panama, with a confusing fire instruction manual, poor maintenance, and faulty equipment - endangering the lives of U.S. passengers. 

Coast Guard Reports - Carnival Splendor Cruise Fire

 Marine Safety Reports - Carnival Splendor Fire

 

Open Secrets Cites Cruise Law News

Cruise Law News (CLN) has been cited by lots of newspapers and television stations in the last year.  But today I was excited to learn that OpenSecrets.org (Center for Responsible Politics) cited CLN in its blog article about the Carnival Splendor ship fire.

OpenSecrets.org is one of my favorite websites.  It is a nonpartisan watchdog organization which tracks money’s influence on U.S. elections and public policy.  It shines light on who is funding politicians and the effect of money on the government formulation of policy and laws which affect all of us.

The article below is from the Open Secrets Blog "Carnival Cruise Disaster," which cites Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?  

"News stories continue to trickle in on the nearly disastrous Carnival Cruise voyage that safely embarked in San Diego on Thursday. After an on-board fire disabled the ship, passengers were forced to live two days without the promised luxuries of a Carnival Cruise ship. Fortunately, no one was injured in the fire. The recent fire brings to light the not altogether uncommon occurrence of fires on cruise ships, an event that has made the news more than a few times in recent years. Employees of the parent company of Carnival Cruise Lines, the Carnival Corporation, have contributed modestly during the recent 2010 election cycle -- donating only about $317,600 to federal candidates and committees. And the Carnival Corporation itself has spent only $90,000 on lobbying in 2010, with legislative targets including H.R. 802, the Maritime Pollution Prevention Act of 2008 and H.R. 6434/S. 2881, the Clean Cruise Ship Act of 2008. With the media firmly focused on this nightmare voyage, legislators may turn towards the issue of cruise safety but until then, comedians will continue to rib the harrowing experiences of this cruise."

The article also linked to David Letterman's "Top 10 Things You Don't Want to Hear While You Are Stranded On A Cruise:" 

 

 

 

Cruise Law RoundUp - Cruise Fire Fallout, Business as Usual in St. Kitts, Spy Cruise Spooks, and Oprah Loses Her Allure

Another strange week in the world of cruising, with multiple stories about the cruise industry appearing in the main stream newspapers and on the major television networks.

Cruise Fire Fallout:  The Splendor cruise ship will be out of service until January 2011, meaning Carnival will lose revenue from over 20,000 passengers.  A Time Magazine blog blasted a harsh headline about the predicament with "Worst Cruise Ship Ever: Disabled Splendor To Ruin 20,000 More Vacations."  By my calculations, Carnival is facing around $50 million dollars in lost revenue over the next two months.  But stockholders don't worry.  The cruise line will eventually get every penny back from the Splendor Cruise Ship Fire - Cruise from Hell?manufacturers and designers of the Splendor's engine system.

Cruise Was No Nightmare:  Even though hundreds of local television stations and newspapers covered the "cruise from hell" angle of the Splendor fire, some optimistic passengers (with a sense of humor and a keen perspective) still had a decent time. Colorado residents Maggie and Ken Wildenstein commented "I think Carnival treated us very well" in a nice story in their local newspaper, The Fort Morgan Times, entitled "Cruise  Was No Nightmare."     

Cruise Ship Design Flaw?:  The Splendor was towed to a facility near 10th Avenue in San Diego for repairs to the engine room (article by KUSI News-San Diego).  The U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be participating in the investigation into the fire, which is being conducted by the Panama Maritime Authority because, like all of Carnival's ships, the Splendor is registered in Panama to avoid U.S. regulations and taxes.  The local news station in San Diego questions how a single generator failure could cause a catastrophe with the vessel losing all of its power. Does the vessel have a design flaw?  The cruise ship's entire electrical systems should not have been damaged to such a degree.

Business as Usual in St. Kitts:  Two days ago, the tourism board in St. Kitts announced that the "cruise industry" would be sending "security consultants" to the island to investigate whether it was safe for cruise passengers to tour St. Kitts.  Today, a local newspaper announced that the cruise line Oprah Give Away - Free Cruise - Allure of the Seasexecutives pledged to return to the island - "No More Cruise Ship Cancellation to St. Kitts."  Well, that was a fast investigation by the cruise lines.  Although the local newspapers initially chose not to publish the name of the cruise ship involved in the robbery, they were quick to broadcast the names of the five banditos who allegedly robbed the passengers: Elroy "Stanny" Williams (age 29), Devon "‘X Man" Hodge (28), Grenville "Rogie" Rogers (20), Junior "Q" Sabratie (24), and Admenston Lewis (27) all local residents of Sandy Point in St. Kitts.  It's amazing how fast the local police can arrest suspects when an entire country's economy is based on the cruise industry.    

Oprah Loses Her Allure:  The week ended strangely with another Oprah give away, this time a "7-day cruise on the new largest ship in the world," Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas.  OK.  I admit it.  I am not a fan of Oprah, who seems rather duplicitous to me.  And Royal Caribbean has a well documented history of exploiting its crew members and the Caribbean islands for decades.  So they team up to give some free cruises for PR purposes to promote Royal Caribbean's newest Monstrosity of the Seas.  Sustainability anyone?   Two thumbs down.       

Spy Cruise Spooks (Kooks?):  Talking about strange, last month, I commented on a rather bizarre event scheduled for this week called the Spy Cruise where certain passengers on the Holland America Spy Cruise - Michael Hayden - Peter GossLine's Eurodam cruise ship can attend lectures and talks on espionage, spies, intelligence, and counterterrorism by speakers who are "intelligence experts, leaders, officers, operatives, analysts, authors and historians, many of whom served in the US Intelligence Community."  Well, a "National Security Reporter" for the Toronto Star, Michelle Shephard, sailed on the cruise this week. 

Ms. Shephard interviewed some of the top former spooks, like Michael Michael Hayden, former head of the NSA and CIA (photo left - is he showing how you waterboard a terrorist suspect?), and former CIA director Porter Goss (photo middle) about some serious subjects like "terrorism, tourism and torture."   By the way, nice cufflinks gentlemen!

Hayden, a supporter of waterboarding, dismissed criticism of the interrogation technique, saying "I don’t care . . .  This is a war . . . It’s about defense. It’s not about going through a judicial process.”  The Canadian reporter, Ms. Shephard, points out the incongruity of discussing ". . . waterboarding when seniors graze on buffets and younger, scantily clad passengers gyrate to a Cher tune nearby." 

Weird. 

 

Credits:

Wildenstein photo:   The Fort Morgan Times, Dan Barker, Times Staff Writer

Oprah and the biggest cruise cruise ship in the world:   Huffington Post

Spy Cruise photo:    Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star 

Indomitable Spirit of New Yorkers Following Carnival Splendor Cruise Ship Fire

NBC New York has a nice video of the spirited reaction of passengers, who were aboard the disabled Carnival Splendor cruise ship, after returning home. The video is from NBC New York's "The Show Must Go On, Even if the Ship Couldn't" by Tim Minton. 
 

The Splendor Cruise Ship Fire - Three Reasons Why You Will Lose If You Sue Carnival

Carnival Splendor Cruise Ship Fire - Lawsuit?Now that the disabled Carnival Splendor is back in a U.S. port, some lawyers are advertising that the passengers should consider filing a lawsuit.  One cruise site, offering "cruise insider expert advice," is shilling for a Miami lawyer: "Now is the time to join the November 7, 2010 passengers in a joint effort for compensation. Contact us if you were on this cruise."

Such desperate solicitation like this never ceases to amaze me. 

Any time there is a cruise disaster, the issue of lawsuits arises.  Sometimes there is a basis to file a lawsuit, and sometimes - like this time - there is clearly not.  Many passengers from the Carnival Splendor have contacted our office seeking a maritime lawyer to sue the cruise line for damages.  We have told them that there is no basis to consider suing Carnival under these circumstances.  They are wasting their time and money if they file a lawsuit, for these three reasons:

  • In order to have a legitimate case for compensation, a cruise passenger has to suffer a personal injury.  Experiencing inconvenience and unpleasant circumstances does not constitute a personal injury unless there is a physical injury.  If you fall down a flight of stairs in the dark and break your hip, that's a personal injury.  But taking cold showers, smelling toilets that can't be flushed, eating Spam sandwiches in the dark or other similar "cruise from hell" stories are not compensable. 
  • The cruise ticket drafted by Carnival protects the cruise line:  “If the performance of the proposed voyage is hindered or prevented by . . . breakdown of the vessel . . . Carnival may cancel the proposed voyage without liability to refund passage money or fares paid in advance.”  The passenger ticket also requires passengers to file suit in Miami, which the United States Supreme Court has upheld.      
  • Carnival has already offered to refund the passengers' fare and travel expenses and a free cruise of equal value in the future.  So if you are foolish enough to file suit (in Miami), you simply will not do any better than what is already being offered now.  Plus you will incur legal expenses and travel expenses pursuing a case in Miami which you are certain to lose.

Carnival's offer after this fire should be compared to its response to the fire aboard the Carnival Tropicale cruise ship in 1999.  Like the Splendor, the Tropicale was disabled by an engine room fire and the cruise ship bobbed around in the Gulf of Mexico.  Carnival offered the passengers only a 25% discount - which the passengers felt was a slap in the face and created a public relations nightmare.   

Carnival Splendor Cruise Ship Fire - Lawsuit?Carnival has handled this fire knowing that its response will be scrutinized in the court of public opinion.  Its CEO traveled from Miami to San Diego and held a press conference where he apologized and offered a full refund, reimbursement of travel expenses and a free future cruise. 

Most Americans think that Carnival's offer is fair.  MSNBC ran a story yesterday "Free Cruise Should Be Enough for Splendor Passengers."  In a poll of over 10,000 readers, MSNBC asked should the passengers stuck on the Carnival Splendor consider legal action?  88% said: "No - Carnival's compensation package is more than generous."  Only 8% said: "Yes - Days at sea in miserable conditions is worth more than money back and a future cruise."  (The remaining 4% said: "Unsure - Passengers may have a tough time since they signed an air-tight contract.") 

Although the passengers on the Splendor were inconvenienced by the fire and the elderly undoubtedly suffered the most, sometimes a cruise line will step up to the plate and make a fair offer.  But if you decide to reject it, please don't call us.  Most jurors will not have much patience for vacationers complaining about eating Pop Tarts on a cruise ship, when some of the jurors cannot afford a cruise in the first place and our U.S. troops have been eating MRE meals in the middle of the desert in Iraq and Afghanistan.    

November 14, 2010 Update:

A reader of Senior Cruise Director John Heald's blog sums up Canival's compensations as follows: 

  • Full refund
  • Future credit equal to total of what was paid to be applied to a future cruise and must be used within 2 years.
  • Refund of transportation costs to the pier and from San Diego back home. One person said they took a bus from Las Vegas to the pier and Carnival (besides putting them up in San Diego is flying them home.)
  • Overnight stay in San Diego for those who requested it AND a daily stipend.
  • For those who had flights Carnival made the changes for them.
  • Any charges made on Sunday on the guests “Sign and Sail card were forgiven!!!  (This included spa treatments, alcohol, purchases in the gift shop AND even gambling losses in the casino slots!!!)
  • All photos taken by Carnival of the guests were put out in the photo shop and guests were invited to come get their pictures at no charge!
  • On Tuesday and Wednesday Carnival opened some bars. Alcohol, wine and beer was given to the guests.
  • Carnival advised the guests that everything in their mini bars was free! (My minibar had 6 sodas, 6 beers, and 10 or 12 shot bottles of alcohol.)
     

Update:

This blog article went  viral and was discussed by:

The Wall Street Journal Blog: "Plaintiffs’ Lawyer to Splendor Passengers: Don’t Bother Suing."

USA Today: "Sue Carnival over Splendor incident? Don't bother, says top cruise lawyer."

Fox News: "Cruise Line Crisis and Compensation."

American Bar Association Journal: "Cruise Ship Lawyer: Smelly Toilets and Cold Showers Won’t Support a Lawsuit."

Gadling: "Should Splendor Passengers Sue Carnival after their Ship Broke Down?"

U.K. Mirror: "Splendor Passengers Back Carnival."

 

Slate Magazine: "Lawyers to Carnival Passengers: Don't Come Crying to Me."

Photo credit:

Top - CBS News video

Bottom - Washington Post video

Video of Carnival Splendor Cruise Ship Fire

This week ends with tugs finally towing the Carnival Splendor cruise ship back to port in San Diego, following a fire in the engine room early Monday morning.

The video below from ABC News 10 contains interviews with passengers, images of passengers finally disembarking, and a brief animation of the fire breaking out in the engine room. 

For additional information, read:

Carnival Splendor Cruise Ship Disabled After Engine Room Fire

International Cruise Victims Discuss Latest Cruise Ship Fire

Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything? 

 

 

Do you have video or photographs of the cruise ship fire to share?  Contact us!

Carnival Kept Passengers In The Dark After Fire

As I watched CNN and MSNBC interview passengers disembarking from the ill fated cruise aboard the Splendor, passenger after passenger stated that no one explained to them that the cruise ship had been disabled due to a fire.  Several passengers said only that thee was "some smoke."  One of the reporters on CNN responded "that's incredible!" upon learning that the cruise line had kept the passengers in the dark, literally and figuratively, following the fire which left the cruise ship dead in the water.

Keeping passengers in the dark is nothing new for Carnival and other cruise lines following disasters like this. Carnival has the worst history of fires than any other cruise line over the past ten to fifteen years.  In 1995, the Carnival Celebration caught fire.  In 1998, the Carnival Ecstasy burned shortly after leaving the port of Miami.  A year later, the Carnival Tropicale was disabled following a fire in the engine room, and the cruise ship bobbed around in the Gulf of Mexico for a couple of days.  These two Carnival Carnival Splendor - Cruise Fire - Passengers in the Dark?ships had suffered previous fires as well.  In 2006, a large fire broke out on the Star Princess operated by a subsidiary of Carnival, Princess Cruises, in the middle of the night resulting in a death and multiple injuries.  Last year, a fire in the engine room disabled the Royal Princess operated by Princess Cruises, which had to be towed back to an Egyptian port.

In all of these incidents, passengers learned the true facts only after leaving the cruise ship.  Following the Tropicale fire, passengers complained that some crew members did not speak English well enough to provide safety instructions.  The New York Times reported on the debacle in an article "Language Barrier Cited In Inquiry Into Ship Fire."

During the ensuing NTSB investigation, the Master of the Tropicale testified that he was concerned that the engine room would explode. He kept information about the raging fire from passengers because he worried they might panic and jump overboard, according to the St. Pete Times article "Cruise Captain Feared Panic." 

Some of the passengers interviewed yesterday by CNN did not seem to mind the limited information.  One passenger commented that she understood why Carnival withheld information from them, reasoning that it was a prudent decision to avoid panic among the passengers.

I'm not too sure about that.  We have an obligation to our children to screen information to keep them from being unduly frightened.  But treating adult passengers like children is not the cruise line's prerogative.  Passengers should not learn the basic fact that their ship was disabled by an engine room fire only after walking down the gangway.    

November 13, 2010 Update:  The New York Daily News published an article: "Smoke Screen: Carnival Passengers Say Crew Lied About Extent of Fire" reporting that passengers were told by the crew that the blaze that knocked out power on the ship wasn't a fire at all.

"Even as thick black smoke was seen billowing from the rear of the 1,000-ft. ship, 'They tried to calm us by saying it was ‘flameless fire . . . '"

"They … didn't tell us the truth, that's what I found out when my cell phone started working," echoed passenger Marquis Horace. "They told us it was a flameless fire." 

 

Related story: International Cruise Victims Discuss Latest Cruise Ship Fire

 

Photo credit:  Jae C. Hong | The Associated Press

International Cruise Victims Discuss Latest Cruise Ship Fire

A number of news sources covering the stranded Carnival Splendor cruise ship have featured members of the International Cruise Victims organization (ICV).  
 
Public Radio:  Today, KPCC South California Public Radio interviewed the Chairman of the ICV, Kendall Carver (photo below), and me regarding the issue of cruise passenger safety issues. Listen here  Here is the text from the public radio station:
 
"Two tug boats are slowly towing the Carnival Splendor cruise ship and her 4,500 passengers towards San Diego today. The 952-foot ship, which left Long Beach on Sunday for the Mexican Riviera, has been adrift since an engine room fire early Monday. Rather than lavish meals, passengers are surviving on Carnival Splendor - Cruise FireSpam, Pop Tarts and canned crabmeat flown in by helicopter. Friends and families of stranded passengers are concerned because communication with their loved ones has been severely limited. It’s expected that the Splendor will arrive in port in San Diego late Thursday. Critics say there are serious safety lapses throughout the cruise industry and this accident was waiting to happen. What’s being done to protect passengers?"

 

Guests:

Kendall Carver, Chairman, International Cruise Victims

Jim Walker, Maritime attorney based in Miami and editor of “Cruise Law News”

Photo credit:  Kevin Gray/U.S. Navy via Getty Images (via KPCC South California Public Radio)


L.A. Times:  The L.A. Times also featured ICV members Ken Carver, my client Lynnette Hudson (photo bottom) whose father Richard Liffridge was killed due to a fire on a cruise ship operated by a Carnival subsidiary Princess Cruises, cruise safety expert Mark Gaouette and me in an article "Stranded Cruise Ship Offers Lesson in Huge Vessels' Vulnerabilities."   Here is the text:

"They're called "floating cities," massive cruise ships that resemble skyscrapers and offer all the amenities of high-end resorts — spas and casinos, Broadway shows and amusement parks, fine dining and luxury shopping.

But the Carnival Splendor also offers a cautionary tale about just how vulnerable these mega-ships can Ken Carver - International Cruise Victims be. Left powerless by an engine fire shortly after embarking on a seven-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera, the Splendor is expected to be towed into port in San Diego late Thursday. If the ship cannot make sufficient speed under tow, it is possible it will be taken to Ensenada, company officials said.

An early morning fire in the generator compartment Monday knocked out several of the ship's operating systems and left the nearly 4,500 passengers and crew members without air conditioning, hot food and telephone service. Even the flush toilets were down for a while.

With communications largely cut off, it's unclear what kind of hardship passengers have had to endure. But Carnival Chief Executive Gerry Cahill acknowledged in a statement that passengers were dealing with an "extremely trying situation."

"Conditions on board the ship are very challenging, and we sincerely apologize for the discomfort and inconvenience our guests are currently enduring," he said.

The "gourmet delicacies" of the " Manhattan chic" Pinnacle Steakhouse were replaced by 70,000 pounds of bread, canned milk and other emergency supplies, which were flown from the North Island Naval Air Station at Coronado to the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and then helicoptered out to the Splendor, stranded 160 miles southwest of San Diego. The company is paying the military for the food and supplies, officials said.

"There are significant risks as these ships get bigger and bigger," said Kendall Carver, president of International Cruise Victims. "This one held over 4,000 people. The new ones owned by Royal Caribbean hold over 6,000 passengers and 2,000 crew members, over 8,000 people. A fire on a ship like that would be disastrous."

The Carnival Splendor experienced its problems relatively close to several major ports, making rescue possible in only a few days.

"If it was hundreds of miles out, and you had a fire that wasn't suppressed, and you had rough weather, you'd have a complete disaster," said Jim Walker, a Miami-based attorney who specializes in cruise line litigation.

Although the $40-billion cruise ship industry — and its vessels — has been growing, it has been dogged in the last decade with controversies over passenger health and safety. Carver helped start International Cruise Victims after his daughter, Merrian, disappeared while on an Alaskan cruise in 2004.

The organization has pushed for stiffer laws regulating the cruise ship industry; just four months ago, President Obama signed into law tougher new rules for reporting crimes at sea, improving ship safety and training staff to collect evidence of crimes. The changes will go into effect in 2012.

But the new law makes only passing mention of fire safety issues, even though "the most serious event that can happen on a cruise ship is a main space fire, which is what happened on the Splendor," said Mark Gaouette, former director of security for Princess Cruises and author of the recently released "Cruising for Trouble."

On a Navy ship, Gaouette notes, every person has a fire-fighting role, and the crew is trained constantly in how to respond to a fire. On a cruise ship, "two-thirds to three-quarters of the population are passengers. They become problems and liabilities in a major fire. They have to be shepherded to safe areas."

Statistics are hard to come by for incidents on cruise ships, but Gaouette said the website cruisebruise.com lists eight major fires on cruise ships in the last five years, compared with just three in the previous seven years.

"As cruise ships become larger and their number increases on the high seas," he said, "the threat of fire and other risks to passengers will increase proportionally."

On the Splendor at 6:30 a.m. Monday, the 3,299 passengers were evacuated from their cabins and told to go to the ship's upper deck. They were later allowed to return. By afternoon, the U.S. Coast Guard had dispatched three cutters and an HC-130 Hercules helicopter to the ship's aid. The Mexican navy sent aircraft and a 140-foot patrol boat.

The Coast Guard has remained in contact with the ship throughout the ordeal, officials said. Whether the ship goes to San Diego or Ensenada, the company has promised to transport passengers back to Long Beach.

Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines has promised a full refund for passengers and a complimentary future cruise equal to the amount paid for this voyage, which was scheduled to visit Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. The company announced that the Nov. 14 seven-day cruise from Long Beach to the same ports has been canceled.

"The safety of our passengers and crew is our top priority, and we are working to get our guests home Lynnette Hudson - Richard Liffridge - Cruise Ship Fire  as quickly as possible," said Cahill of Carnival Cruise Lines. Carnival Corp., which also includes such lines as Princess Cruises and Holland America and has 98 ships worldwide, reported revenues of $13.2 billion in 2009.

A spokeswoman for the Cruise Lines International Assn. did not respond to requests for comment. The organization's website says the U.S. Coast Guard calls cruising "one of the safest modes of transportation, and the industry is constantly striving to improve its safety procedures. Over the past two decades, an estimated 90 million passengers safely enjoyed a cruise vacation."

But that is little comfort to Lynnette Hudson, whose father died of smoke inhalation during a fire on the Star Princess, which is operated by Carnival, in 2006. It was his first cruise, she testified to Congress, and he was celebrating his 72nd birthday.

Hudson pushed for the more stringent standards that were signed into law this summer and is still fighting for stiffer laws. "I think if there's a major fire on a cruise ship, they're not prepared," she said in an interview. "They don't have sufficient training."

 

For additional information, consider reading: Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?

 

Photo credits: 

Ken Carver   KPHO Channel 5 Phoenix

Carnival Splendor U.S. Navy via L.A. Times

Lynnette Liffridge (pointing to sprinkler installed after her father's death)  Jim Walker

Carnival Splendor Cruise Ship Disabled After Engine Room Fire

A fire broke out this morning in the engine room on the Carnival Splendor during a cruise to the Mexican Riviera (Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.)  Passengers were told to move from their cabins to the Lido Deck on the upper level. 

The fire burned from around 6:00 a.m. until it was extinguished around 9 a.m. according to several news sources.  However, the fire erupted again according to U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Kevin Metcalf. 

Carnival Splendor Cruise Ship Fire The Press-Telegram reports that two guests and a crew member suffered panic attacks, but no one was physically injured. 

The cruise ship had left the Port of Long Beach on Sunday with 3,299 guests and 1,167 crew members.

The cruise ship is dead in the water.  There are reports that there is only an emergency generator running, which means no air conditioning or working toilets. 

The cruise ship is approximately 55 miles west of Punta San Jacinto, which is about 150 miles south of San Diego, and will have to be towed back to a port by tugs. 

We have written about cruise ship fires many times.  Carnival and its subsidiary Princess Cruises have a long history of cruise ship fires   Consider reading  Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?

The Splendor is the Carnival cruise ship which Senior Cruise Director John Heald is currently on.  Cruise Director Heald writes an excellent blog called the John Heald Blog.  He wrote a timely and sensitive blog last month when a Carnival crew member tragically committed suicide.  Will he write an informative blog about this latest incident on the Splendor?  

The official statement from Carnival is pretty skimpy, as usual. 

The engines were manufactured by Wartsila.  The Splendor is diesel-electric powered using six Wartsila diesel engines and has a power output of 63,400kW.  I have made an inquiry to Wartsila but I have not received a response.

Were you a passenger or crew member on the cruise ship?  Do you have photos or video to share?  Please leave a comment below.

 

 

Articles of interest:

Disabled Carnival Ship Shows How Vulnerable Mega-Vessels Can Be

Carnival Cruise Ship Still Out At Sea, Conditions Onboard 'Challenging'