Is the Public Sick of Lying Cruise Lines Endangering Passenger Safety?

Anthem of the Seas Captain VideoYesterday, Florida Senator Bill Nelson stated that he is proposing that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigate the circumstances surrounding Royal Caribbean's decision to cruise the Anthem of the Seas into a storm with over 4,500 passengers aboard. The Senator expressed frustration with the fact that the Royal Caribbean cruise ship sailed into a storm with expected 30 foot seas and hurricane force winds.

The captain of the cruise ship spoke to the passengers on the ship yesterday via video, telling them that the forecasts of the storm indicated that there would be winds of only around 12 to 15 feet which is clearly contradicted by several forecasts indicating that the waves would be twice that in height.

The Today Show's weatherman Al Roker summed it up accurately saying that the cruise line's claim that it was surprised by the storm was "bull feathers." (video)

Some may question the wisdom of having the master of the cruise ship providing false information to the cruise line's guests after he terrorized them by recklessly sailing into the storm, but this is a cruise line which has a Pinocchio-like tendency of lying to the public when the truth would serve it better.  When a TV weatherman makes you the butt of a joke on a popular morning television program, you may want to re-think your PR strategy.

Just last July, Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas caught fire as it sailed into Falmouth, Jamaica. Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas FireWhat makes the fire so memorable is that the cruise line went out of its way to downplay the event, calling the major event - which burned from the bottom to the top of the ship - just a contained and quickly extinguished "'small fire." It repeated over and over the cruise line's talking point that the safety of its passengers is always its highest priority. The "small fire" hoax, as I called it, and the cruise line's habitual practice of placing profits over safety, were revealed by video of the large ship fire posted on social media and the cruise line's decision to flaunt IMO recommendations and keep sailing without anyone conducting a survey of the heavily damaged ship. 

The Anthem of the Seas debacle places the cruise industry back before before a cruising public which is increasingly weary of dealing with the high seas drama of rough weather, cruise ship fires, and cruise mishaps - ranging from poop cruise inconveniences to Costa Concordia-scale disasters, when families are just trying to enjoy a vacation at sea with their kids. Providing false and misleading information to these families after the fact just makes things worse. It tarnishes the credibility of the entire cruise industry before the public.

Newspapers are again posting videos of cruise ship disasters from the past. like the one below from USA TODAY. The question of "who is policing the cruise ship industry" is again being asked in public forums.  No one, we believe.

The bottom line is do you trust the cruise lines when they claim that your family's safety and security is their top priority? If this were the case, then cruise ships would not be sailing to the majority of the ports in the Caribbean which are mostly far more dangerous than the U.S.'s most dangerous inner cities.  

Some people may scoff at the notion that a cruise lines would possibly risk a new billion dollar cruise ship filled with many thousands of passengers and crew by sailing into a storm forecast with extreme winds and sea conditions.  But cruise ships don't make money if they are not operating. When cruising requires prudence and caution, whether it be dealing with proper maintenance of cruise ship engines or respect for mother nature, cruise lines seem prone to exhibit a macho "we can't sink" mentality that invokes historical references to the Titanic. 

Photo/video credit: Sean Ferguson YouTube

 

"Why Ships Sink" Tonight on NOVA / PBS at 9:00 P.M.

Tonight at 9:00 P.M. NOVA will air "Why Ships Sink" featuring the story of the recent Costa Concordia and the 100 year old story of the Titanic.

I'm in the program, interviewed at the Port of Miami. 

You can watch the online video here

The Titanic Movie: A Blockbuster Love Story Starring Leonardo DiCaprio & Kate Winslet? Or a Nazi World War II Propaganda Film?

When most people think of Titanic, the movie, they think of the 1997 blockbuster love affair starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet written and directed by James Cameron.  

But in truth Titanic was originally a German propaganda film made during World War II. It was commissioned by Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels to discredit British capitalism and glorify Germany.

The film opens with news that White Star Line stock is falling. The president and board of Titanic Movie 1943White Star believe that Titanic can break the world cruise liner speed record and speculate that this will raise the stock value. They plot to lower the stock price further by selling their own stocks, and then buy the stock back at a lower price just before the news of the record speed is released to the public.

The hero of the film is fictional German First Officer Herr Petersen who begs the cruise line's rich president to slow down the ship's speed, but he refuses. The Titanic, as we all know, hits an iceberg and sinks. At the end of the movie, Petersen leaps from the ship's deck with a little girl in his arms. They are pulled aboard a lifeboat to watch in horror as the Titanic sinks beneath the waves.

The president of the cruise line is saved and goes on trial before the British Maritime Board of Inquiry. The cruise line blames the captain who perished when the ship sank.

I won't give the ending away, but it involves the same issue presented by the Costa Concordia disaster, is the captain alone at fault or was the sinking due to the greed of the cruise line president and board of directors?

Although a propaganda movie, it was skillfully directed and filmed. It captured perfectly the panic, fear, Titanic Movie 1943confusion and impending doom of the cruise passengers. You do not want to watch it if you are a survivor of the Costa Concordia.

The propaganda film was scheduled to be released in early 1943, but the theater was bombed by British planes the night before the premiere. The original director, Herbert Selpin, was opposed to the Nazis. Goebbels arrested him and he was hung in prison with the Nazis labeling his death a "suicide."

With Britain and the USA winning the war in 1945, Goebbels poisoned his 6 children and had a guard shoot him and his wife.

You can watch the original movie on YouTube in 9 segments. It is interesting to see scenes which James Cameron ripped off from the 1943 film while directing his 1997 hit movie. 

PBS / NOVA Cruise Special: "Why Ships Sink"

The PBS / NOVA cruise documentary "Why Ships Sink" is now available to be watched on line.  

The documentary takes a look at cruise ship safety from the time of the Titanic to the recent disaster of the Costa Concordia.  The story about the sinking of the Oceanos which was abandoned by the arrogant captain is interesting.  You would never imagine who the hero was who came to the passengers' assistance.

I am interviewed at various times on the program.

A short introduction to the program is below.   

  

Watch the entire video here.

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering Titanic

As we all know, 100 years ago today the Titanic struck an iceberg.  By the following morning over 1,500 people were dead.

The horror of the event, it seems to me, has largely faded by the passing of time.  Does anyone really stop and reflect on the fear and suffering experienced by the doomed passengers and crew?  Or the sadness of the families who lost loved ones in the disaster?

When someone says Titanic, most people probably think of the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.  Most people would rather think of a love scene between Jack & Rose than 1,500 soon-Costa Concordia - Giglio Italyto-be-dead people gasping for air in dark, deep and icy waters.   

At this very moment there are several cruise ships, on Titanic memorial cruises, heading to the spot where the cruise ship sank. There are many accounts of smiling passengers in period costumes similar to what the first class passengers were wearing in 1912, with women in corsets and men in top hats.  Lots of excited passengers enjoying their cruises; fine meals, cocktails, dancing, and laughter.

This seems rather macabre to me. When they find themselves at the watery grave tonight where 1,500 souls perished, will they be remembering the real event or celebrating the Titanic movie, now in 3-D?

Carol Burnett said "death plus time equals comedy."  And Angela Carter said "comedy is tragedy which happens to others."  Both thoughts, I suppose, are true.  One of my Dad's favorite saying when things went wrong was "other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?"  Yes, its funny as long as it's not your family and it happened long ago.

But the Titanic is not the last cruise ship where someone died.  Over the past 100 years, there have been hundreds of maritime incidents which have accounted for the deaths of thousands of passengers and crew members.  Many fires, collisions, and sinkings - not to mention over-boards, violence and crimes - have occurred during cruises since the Titanic sank. 

When I think of the Titanic, my mind goes to the tragedies suffered by hundreds of people whose have lost loved ones during cruises in the last decade or so.

In 1998, Amy Bradley disappeared during a Royal Caribbean cruise.  In 2004, Merrian Carver disappeared during a Celebrity cruise and Ashley Barnett died under mysterious circumstances on a Carnival cruise ship.  In 2005, George Smith disappeared during his honeymoon cruise.  In 2006 Richard Liffridge died in a fire on a Princess cruise. And last year, Disney youth counselor Rebecca Coriam disappeared from the Disney Wonder.  In the last 10 years, there have been over 170 people who have disappeared from cruise ships.  The families of the missing and dead are living through their own Titanic horror every day.  

This morning I clicked on the web cam on Giglio Porto, showing the Costa Concordia on its side, under dark angry clouds. There is nothing funny about this latest disaster.  A 100 years from now, will there be memorial cruises to Giglio? Will the cruise passengers be dancing and laughing then? 

Titanic Memorial Cruise Delayed By High Winds & Medical Emergency

Is nature trying to tell us something?

First high winds and rough weather delayed the "Titanic Memorial Cruise" as 30 foot winds forced the Balmoral cruise ship to turn around with a little over 1,300 passengers aboard.  Now news sources area reporting that a medical emergency involving a passenger has complicated matters.  The cruise is detouring closer to shore in order for a helicopter from the Irish Coast Guard to medevac the passenger to safety.

Titanic Memorial CruiseThe cruise set sail from southern England on Sunday and stopped in Cobh, Ireland  on a cruise to retrace the Titanic voyage.  On Monday, the cruise was delayed because of foul weather. 

Once the sick passenger airlifted off the ship for medical treatment, the cruise will continue to New York as scheduled.

Two special memorial services are to take place over the weekend (1) midnight April 14, when the Titanic hit the iceberg, and (2) early April 15, when the cruise ship sank.

I am wondering if the Balmoral has a web cam or whether other cruise ships or vessels will be streaming video live?

 

Photo credit:  ibiblio.org

Passengers Panic As Costa Concordia Cruise Ship Begins to Sink

Costa Concordia Sinking - Evacuation Cruise ShipCosta Cruise Lines' Costa Concordia cruise ship has evacuated most of its passengers after a disastrous situation this evening near the island of Giglio in southern Tuscany, Italy. 

Media reports suggest that the cruise ship ran aground or struck a reef after departing from its regular course.   

The grounding ruptured the hull and water entered the vessel, leading to the forced evacuation of many of the 4,231 passengers and crew from the stricken cruise ship into lifeboats.  There are reports that passengers jumped into the water during the chaotic circumstances following the grounding. 

The official statements from the cruise line are factually vague.  There is no explanation regarding the cause of the grounding.  The cruise line proclaims that the passengers are "not at risk," but this is probably the usual misleading and false cruise propaganda.  Some media sources are reporting that there are passengers who are dead.  Media sources are reporting around 3  passegers died and up to 50 are missing. 

The Italian cruise ship carrying 3,200 passengers and approximately one thousand crewmembers.  The Costa Concordia had departed for a Mediterranean cruise includio ports in Civitavecchia, Palermo, Cagliari, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, ​​Marseille and Savona.

News sources are quoting a passenger describing the mishap similar to the Titanic disaster, "with a scramble among the evacuees, screaming and crying."

January 14, 2012 Update:

Costa issued a statement that the cruise ship struck a "rock."   Other news sources are reporting that the captain was arrested for manslaugter and abandoning the ship.  

Canadian television CTV has an article about the grounding and cruise safety issues - Crime, Fires Compromise Cruise Ship Safety: Experts -  which you can read here.

Costa Concordia Cruise Ship Sinking

Do you have accurate information regarding this disaster?  Do you have photo or video to share? 

 Please leave a comment below.

 

Royal Caribbean's "Monster of the Seas" - a Cruise Ship Only Gordon Gekko Could Love

Cruise fans, travel agents and cruise communities have been abuzz in anticipation of Royal Caribbean's new cruise ship - the "Oasis of the Seas."   "Amazing! . . Wow! . . Look at that!" . . . have been the extent of the popular media's insight into this new super mega ship.    

But a few journalists have questioned the environmental appropriateness of this monster of a cruise ship. In an article entitled "A Titanic for These Times," San Francisco writer Mark Follman concludes that only someone interested in a "decadent vacation cruise" could rationalize boarding what will be the biggest, longest, tallest, widest, heaviest, and most expensive passenger ship ever built.

"Floating Emblem of a Bankrupt Era?"

Follman's intuition is that the experience would be akin to "feasting on a nine-course meal in the middle of an Ethiopian refugee camp."  He cites an article by Rory Nugent in the Atlantic magazine which questions the rationale of building such a monstrosity.  According to the article "Hope Floats," the passengers will consume 560,000 gallons of water a day,  and the ship will burn 12 tons of diesel an hour.  Although Royal Caribbean and the cruise industry's 16,000 travel agents may hope that the Oasis of the Seas will be a success, Mr. Nugent raises the question that the ship "may leave the dock already a dinosaur - a floating emblem of a bankrupt era."

A Corporate Felon That Can't Get It Right 

At a time when only fools question the effect of greenhouse gases, the melting of the Arctic cap, and the need to develop sustainable businesses, Royal Caribbean has spent and mostly borrowed over a billion dollars to create a ship so at odds with the environment that it resembles the monster in the movie Cloverfield.  In 2004, Royal Caribbean came off of a 5 year probation after pleading guilty to felonies for widespread pollution and repeated lying to the U.S. Coast Guard.  Just two days ago, the environmental group 'Friends of the Earth" awarded Royal Caribbean a "F" for the disastrous impact on air and water caused by its cruise ships. 

Three 250 HP Engines on a 37 Foot Boat?

Many corporations take on the personality and values of their leaders. During the publicity build up for the Oasis of the Seas' debut, Royal Caribbean's CEO Richard Fain was interviewed by David Andrews of the U. K.'s "Times Online."  In an article aptly entitled "Biggest is the Best for Cruise Chief,"  Mr. Fain reveals his rivalry with Carnival and the need to "give his business the ascendancy again . . . the Royal Caribbean International brand . . . will be bigger than anything Carnival can compete with."

After finishing the article, I felt that I had just read the lines for Gordon Gekko ("greed is good") in the 1987 movie Wall Street.  

Photo credit - Oasis of the Seas - Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, via San Francisco Chronicle ("Oasis of the Seas is a real ocean monster")