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  

 

Quadcopter Buzzes the Allure of the Seas in Fort Lauderdale

This week I ran across a video of a "quadcopter" (also called a quadrotor helicopter or a quadrocopter) flying over the beach in Fort Lauderdale.

What's interesting is that the quadcopter quickly catches up with Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas. It flies behind and far over the giant cruise ship for a few minutes. 

It seems rather amazing that a little copter like that can fly so far and high and fast, and it can be safely controlled from so far away.

The video was shot and edited by Carlo Vaccari.  You can see his Facebook page RC Copters here.  

It was disappointing, however, to see an incredible amount of diesel / bunker fuel smoke billowing out of the ship. It's particularly nasty around the 5:00 minute mark. 

A year ago we blogged about a quadcopter buzzing the Costa Concordia - QuadroCopter Operators Arrested in Giglio for Filming Costa Concordia.

Huffington Post Covers MSC Cruises Garbage Dumping Story

Today the Huffington Post covered the story we posted 10 days ago about MSC Cruises crew members throwing black bags overboard from the MSC Magnifica cruise ship into the water. 

MSC says there is nothing new shown in the photos and three videos we posted because they are just a different angle of an incident reported by a passenger last December.

I say hogwash to that.  The video taken by the passenger seems to show garbage bags thrown from the port side of the cruise ship; whereas, the videos taken by the crew member shows the garbage MSC Cruises Magnifica Cruise Ship Dumpingbags thrown from the stern.

Also, if you look at all three articles we posted, you will note that the piles of debris which the former crew members say were pitched overboard involved at least two different incidents from different MSC cruise ships at different times into different waters. 

The large pile of broken down pallets from the MSC Magnifica were reported thrown into Brazilian waters in November / December 2013. The pile of pallets from the MSC Poesia were reportedly thrown into the waters between Florida and Mexico in January 2013.  The crew members we spoke to said that this type of debris was systematically dumped overboard at least once a week while the ships were underway at night.

The former crew members also told us that the dumping of garbage bags were far from a single event from one single cruise ship. They have sent us many photographs of this practice, including incidents where bales of cardboard, plastic and debris wrapped in clear plastics were stacked from floor to ceiling and and then thrown into the sea (see photo above right).

It is not surprising to us that MSC Cruises has never responded to our requests for information. The cruise line refuses to inform us of the identity of the Brazilian authorities who are investigating these incidents. MSC may be trying to  keep the former crew members, who know that the practice is more widespread than MSC will admit, from talking to the authorities.

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

 

Tonight on WKMG -TV 6 Orlando: "Top Cruise Spots Also Top List for Crime"

Disney Cruise Ship Crime - ChildrenTonight at 11:00 P.M. WKMG-TV 6 (CBS Orlando) will air a special report on crimes which occur during cruises, including ports of call.

Investigative producer Lauren Sweeney and investigative reporter Tony Pipitone take a look at dangers ashore in countries like the Bahamas where cruise passengers have recently been robbed at gunpoint and sexually assaulted. 

We have written extensively about the high crime rate in Nassau which has led to the U.S. State Department recently issuing two warnings that crime in Nassau is "critical."  

If you are a victim of crime in a place like Nassau, unfortunately neither the local police or the cruise line will do much at all.

Last year this WKMG investigative team aired the disturbing story of a 33 year old waiter on a Disney cruise who molested an 11 year old girl. Rather than report the crime immediately to the FBI, local police in Port Canaveral, or the sheriff's office, the cruise line sailed the ship out of the U.S. port to Nassau where the police there did nothing. Disney then flew the pedophile crew member back home to India.

Photo Credit: WKMG TV-6 (CBS Orlando) 

The video below is a three minute introduction of the special tonight.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

To the Chagrin of Travel Agents, CNN Videos Keep Pressure on Cruise Lines

On Twitter today, a travel agent bemoaned that a video entitled "Cruise Ship Nightmares" was airing. What particularly perturbed the travel agent was the fact that the CNN video first aired last summer and was recirculating as fresh news.

This particular video was well produced and quite provocative. Images of burned cruise ships and passengers sleeping out on mattresses on the decks, with the caption "Keeping Secrets on the High Seas - Crashes, Fires, Stalls Plague Secretive Cruise Industry."

I remember this video well. I was interviewed in it.

I had an opportunity to talk about a number of issues which the cruise lines and many travel agents CNN Cruise Disastersdon't want the public to know. Like the fact that Miami-based cruise lines, such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean, are incorporated in places like Panama and Liberia and register their ship in other foreign countries like the Bahamas to avoid all U.S. taxes, labor, wage and safety laws.

So when a fire breaks out or a rape occurs on these cruise ships flying the flag of the Bahamas, it's this little island which is incapable of keeping its own citizens safe that is responsible for investigating what occurs on cruise ships full of U.S. citizens.

It would be a joke if it was not so disgraceful.

My favorite CNN video involved Silversea Cruises caught hiding trolleys of perishable food down in the crew quarters in an effort to bamboozle sanitation inspectors for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Crew members complained to us about this nasty practice. We told them to notify the CDC about the cruise line scheme. We involved CNN after the haughty cruise line refused to communicate with us. The CNN video told the story beautifully.

CNN's video of the Carnival Triumph disaster revealed that Carnival knew that there were major problems with not maintaining the ship's engines and fuel lines but the cruise line intentionally sailed when the cruise ship was unseaworthy.

Other CNN videos worth watching: 

Grandeur of the Seas fire;

Norovirus Sickens Passengers Aboard Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas;

Who's Keeping Passengers Safe? 

You can complain all you want that CNN covered the Carnival "poop cruise" 24 hours a day, it seemed. But the coverage was thorough and the specials are excellent. People love to watch them. That's why CNN plays them over and over.

So the next time that a ship catches on fire, or become disabled, you can bet that CNN will be covering the story.

And this travel agent will be complaining loudly.  

Video: MSC Cruise Ship Dumps Garbage Bags Off Coast of Brazil

A reader of Cruise Law News has informed us that a television station in Brazil just released a story about a MSC cruise ship dumping garbage bags into the sea off of the coast of Brazil. The story is based on a cruise passenger's account.You can see what appears to be blag bags being throw out of the ship from what a lower deck. The ship had sailed from Italy and the dumping seems to have occurred after the ship made its transatlantic voyage and before it arrived in Brazil.

The vídeo is in Portuguese. 

Here's the information on the YouTube site:

"O navio saiu de Gênova, na Itália. De acordo com passageiro que fez o flagrante, funcionários do navio começaram a jogar os sacos de lixo no mar quando entrou na costa brasileira. A reportagem foi exibida no SBT Brasil."

The translation: "The ship left Genoa, Italy. According to passengers, employees of the ship began to throw the trash bags in the sea when it joined the Brazilian coast. The report aired on SBT Brazil."

A news article from Brazil states that the disposal was close to the natural sanctuary of Fernando de Noronha, off the coast of Pernambuco. Here's the translation:

"A passenger on the MSC cruise, which left Genoa, Italy, captured on video the moment official liner trash bags dumped at sea. According to international standards, the waste of these vessels should be treated and separated before being dispensed. 

According to the passenger, businessman Sergio de Oliveira, the staff of the ship began to throw the trash bags in the sea when the ship entered the Brazilian coast. The man also claims that one of the sites chosen for the drop was close to the natural sanctuary of Fernando de Noronha, off the coast of Pernambuco. The businessman lodged the complaint to the prosecutor in Apucarana."

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

 

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

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.  

  

 

Costa Concordia: The $800,000,000 Tilt

Its been an interesting two days watching the live streaming video of the "parbuckling" project which raised the stricken Costa Concordia out of the sea. The submerged, starboard side of the cruise ship, which has been underwater and resting on the seabed, is now strangely warped and disfigured.

It took some 19 hours to right the cruise ship. Much of the activity took place late at night.  Some say that it was like watching paint dry, although I found it interesting.

It's a rather amazing thought that although Costa (Carnival) offered less than $15,000 per passenger in compensation for the harrowing near-death experience of escaping from a sinking ship and leaving all of your possessions begind, the cruise line and its underwriters committed over $800,000,000 (and counting) to tilt the vessel upright.     

For those of you who didn't have the time or inclination to watch the raising of a ship over three football fields long and over 114,000 gross tons, below is a time-lapse video of the event. You can watch the Concordia being raised from the water in 30 seconds.

  

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."  

 

 

Where Are Photo & Video Images of the Fire on the Grandeur of the Seas?

Cruise fans have largely praised Royal Caribbean's public relations efforts in responding to the fire which erupted aboard the Grandeur of the Seas early Monday morning.

Royal Caribbean tweeted updates from its new Twitter PR feed @RoyalCaribPR and updated its Facebook page. It uploaded one photo showing a portion of the damage to to fire stricken cruise ship (a good PR move) and one image of cruise president Goldstein inspecting the damage once the ship arrived in Freeport.  But most of the of the photos Royal Caribbean released were of the cruise president and executives meeting with cruise passengers at the port and on the cruise ship

The question I wondered was where are the photos and video of the fire? We have handled other cruise ship fires. There are usually videos taken by passengers which quickly find their way to the media and/or are posted on YouTube, as in the case of the deadly Star Princess fire off the coast of Cruise Line President Adam Goldstein - Grandeur of the Seas FireJamaica. You can't comprehend a ship fire until you have seen the flames and billowing smoke and listened to the frightening sounds surrounding such an event.

The first information released about the Grandeur fire was that the fire was limited to deck 3. But in truth, the fire damaged decks 3, 4, 5 and a portion of 6 deck and burned for 2 hours.

So where are images of this 2 hour multi-deck fire?

A video report by ABC News states that the cruise ship's crew tried to stop passengers from taking pictures of the fire and chaos.

Carrie McTigue told ABC News that "even when people put their cameras up to photograph the sunrise, they were told, 'no photos.'"  

I have seen Royal Caribbean try and stop passengers from taking photos of what the passengers though was a near collision between Royal Caribbean and Disney cruise ships which you can see in a video here. But some crew members responded that there is a policy against the taking of photos during a muster drill and that's why the crew interfered with the photography.

I am a big fan of "citizen journalists."  I believe that photos and video taken by passengers and crew are an important part in telling the whole story of what really happens during ship fires and other cruise calamities.  Even with Royal Caribbean's new and improved PR efforts, the fact remains that the cruise line released more photos of the cruise CEO reassuring passengers than of the damage to the ship. Plus there are absolutely no photos or video released of the fire itself.

Better cruise PR is still cruise PR. The cruise line still wants to control the images you see and your feelings about the experience. 

Two and one-half years after the Carnival Splendor fire, there have been no photos or video released of the fire or the damage to the engine room (or even a report) regarding the disabled cruise ship. Regarding the more recent Carnival Triumph fire, again there are no images released of the fire. I am aware of only one innocuous photo of the fire damage in the engine room which was released by the Coast Guard. 

Secrecy like this is not a good thing. The American public should not settle for a few photos of a cruise CEO drinking ice tea with passengers in a cafe after a ship fire. The release of full and complete reports, photos and video are important to maintain a transparent and safe cruising environment.

 

Have a thought?  Please leave a comment below, or discuss the issue on our Facebook page.

QuadroCopter Operators Arrested in Giglio for Filming Costa Concordia

Team Black sheep - Costa Concordia GiglioA company called Team Black Sheep, specializing in remote controlled, model-copter photography and video services, captured some interesting images while travelling to Giglio, the site of the infamous Costa Concordia disaster.

Using a device referred to as a "quadrocopter," which they flew over the port of Giglio, the Black Sheet Team recorded video of the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship.

The team members were later arrested because videoing or photographing the area is now banned according to the Black Sheep YouTube page.   

You can see some photos of the stricken cruise ship here on the Black Sheet Facebook page.

Hat tip to gCaptain for the story.

 

48 Hours Update: "New" Evidence in Disappearance of Cruise Passenger George Smith

Cruise Passenger George SmithSaturday night, CBS's "'48 Hours" will air what is being described as "important new evidence" in the mysterious disappearance of George Smith during his honeymoon cruise. The episode is called "48 Hours: Murder at Sea?"

You may recall that George Smith from the Greenwich Connecticut area was enjoying his honeymoon with his newly-wed bride Jennifer Hagel when he disappeared from the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas in the early morning hours of July 5, 2005, leaving a blood-stained awning behind him. 

The cruise line quickly concluded that Mr. Smith was intoxicated and must have been sitting on a balcony railing and fell overboard, and it reported this self-serving opinion as its official report to the flag state. Royal Caribbean ignored the fact that four young men were last seen in the Smith's cabin and that there were sounds of an argument and loud noises consistent with a struggle, followed by a resounding "thud" on the awning below.  

Gregory Rozenbeg - Cruise Disappearance of George SmithWe represented George's wife, Jennifer, who instructed us to retain noted forensic scientist Henry Lee in the face of the cruise line's lack of cooperation.

Last year, CBS reported that the FBI had possession of a videotape taken by the four men where they talk callously of George's death. The video captures one of the men saying "we gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute." Cruise passenger Greg Rosenberg reportedly flashes gang signs and says "Told ya I was gangsta." 

We have written prior articles about Gregory Rozenberg such as "Disappearance of George Smith Update: Do You Have Information About Gregory Rozenberg?"   Rozenberg's mugshots are readily available online, including the one to the right taken last fall.

Royal Caribbean concealed this tape from us throughout our representation of Jennifer Hagel. The tape's existence was revealed by the FBI last year to the lawyer for the Smith family. 

Its disgraceful that the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice have not proceeded with a criminal case. Its been going on eight years since George's disappearance. A prosecution is long overdue.

Read our other articles about the case:

Disappearance of George Smith - Trouble as the Cruise Ship Sails to Kusadasi

A Frantic Call Back to Connecticut

Media Frenzy Follows Case of "Missing Honeymooner"

Dr. Henry Lee Boards the Brilliance of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Blocks Dr. Henry Lee's Dummy Experiment

The International Cruise Victims Organization Is Born!

Royal Caribbean Captain Says Its Just an Accident Involving a Bloody Nose

Larry King Live & the "Missing Groom Mystery" 

 

New Video Shows Perilous Last Minutes of Costa Concordia Evacuation

A newspaper in Italy has posted a video of the frantic last moments of the evacuation of the stricken Costa Concordia.  

The video obtained by La Repubblica is taken by a bystander from the island of Giglio. The cruise ship has already listed heavily to the starboard side and the water has risen to the deck where passengers and crew members are seen. I first watched the video today on Worldcrunch which describes the video as containing audio of the "panicked voices and the crashing sound of dishes."  

Click on the link here to watch the video. 

F***ing Cruise Ship!

If you like F*** bombs, you may find a video by comedian Greg Benson humorous.

It seems that funny man Benson has a cynical view of cruising. He gets right to the point with the video below. I suppose he shares David Foster Wallace's view of cruising (""A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again") except that he has kept his humor intact.

I first saw the video via an article by Gawker's article Cussing Cruise Ship Passenger Gives Explicit Tour of His Vulgar Surroundings. So I owe a hat tip to the people at Gawker. 

P.S. the F*** words are beeped so you can't really hear them.

 

Bust a Move! Cruise Dance Video Goes Viral

With the New Year here, I'd like to start the year on a happy note.  No talk about fires or sinkings or other bad news involving cruise ships.

I have always thought that good things happen to people who dance. Well today I read about the guy who danced behind people on a cruise ship while his wife videotaped him. Sounds silly but I thought it was funny once I watched it.

Take a look. I think that it's a good way to start Year 2013. 

 

Busy Weekend For Cruise Ship Medevacs: Coast Guard Rescues Sick Passenger From Carnival Inspiration

Carnival Inspiration Medevac - Coast Guard HelicopterThe U.S. Coast Guard issued a press release indicating that it medically evacuated a passenger from a cruise ship 50 miles southwest of Point Loma yesterday afternoon.

The Carnival Inspiration cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard yesterday shortly before noon requesting a medevac for a 26 year old man who was experiencing rapid heart rate and possible cardiac complications.

Coast Guard Sector San Diego dispatched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew to fly to the cruise ship to perform the medevac.

The aircrew hoisted the man and the ship’s nurse to the helicopter and transported them to San Diego, where they transferred the ill man to emergency medical personnel.

This was the third medevac from a cruise ship this weekend.  Previously the Coast Guard rescued a pregnant passenger from the Disney Magic and flew her to a hospital in Galveston, Texas.  And an ill passenger was hoisted by a helicopter, operated by the Australian Navy, from the Sea Princess cruise ship and taken to a hospital in Australia.   

 

Photo / video credit: U.S. Coast Guard

Paid Over $60,000 for Interview, Captain Schettino Still Can't Offer Genuine Apology to Concordia Cruise Victims

The big news coming our of Italy as we approach the 6 month anniversary of the Costa Concordia disaster is an interview the infamous Francesco Schettino gave to an Italian television channel.

Now that an Italian court has released Captain Schettino from house release and lifted the gag order imposed on him in January, we have the first extensive interview of the disgraced captain since he ran the luxury cruise ship into the rocks and killed 32 passengers and crew members.

The interview was conducted by Italy's Canale 5, which is owned by controversial former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

From what I have read and listened to, it doesn't seem like Schettino has learned much during his sentence of house arrest Costa Concordia Captain Schettinoand 6 months of silence and self-reflection.  Yes, he eventually got around to an apology but it was mixed in with denials, excuses, a bruised ego, and a nervous eye twitch. The low points:

He said he was a "victim" claiming he was not in charge at the time of the wreck;

He claims he was distracted by a telephone call;

He claims that the rock the cruise ship hit was not charted; 

He says it was just an accident and not a crime; 

He does not regret delaying the deployment of the life boats; and 

His dinner companion blond hostess Domnica Cemortan was just a friend and did not enter the bridge.

Several news sources report that Schettino received 50,000 Euros (over $60,000) for the interview although the Italian news station denied paying him anything.

The U.K.'s Mail Online reports that after the interview aired, the news station's website was "bombarded with angry comments towards Schettino."  

One read: "I was on the ship that night with two children and they didn't let me onto a lifeboat. Schettino and most of the crew deserve nothing."  Another read: "Schettino you are a coward. A captain never abandons ship. Shame on you,"

 

 

"New" Evidence in George Smith Case: "We Gave That Guy A Paragliding Lesson Without A Parachute"

CBS News aired an interesting program today where additional details of the incriminating statements by the "three Russians" about "missing honeymooner" George Smith were revealed.

CBS interviewed former Assistant FBI Director John Miller who explained that the day after Mr. Smith's disappearance, the two Rozenberg men and "Rusty" Kofman were eating breakfast in the cruise ship's George Smith Missing - Cruise Ship Murderdining room when they began filming each other. Miller explains that the men were recorded laughing about the situation and mocking Mr. Smith. 

The camera then stops on one of the three men (who was not identified) who said: "We gave that guy a paragliding lesson without a parachute."

To my knowledge, these precise words have never been revealed to the public before.  Although the release of the actual statement is new, the existence of the tape is not.  The FBI has been in possession of the tape since 2005.

Obviously this statement is incriminating, considering Mr. Smith went over the railing of his balcony and the Royal Caribbean security report on the morning of the disappearance states that young men were seen leaving the area near the Smith's cabin at around 4:30 AM.

With this statement as well as other evidence we are familiar with in the case (we represented Jennifer Hagel and hired forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee to investigate whether George was thrown overboard), it is disturbing that the FBI has not made an arrest.  

It's long overdue.

 

 

Video credit:  CBS News

Last summer we wrote a series of articles about Mr. Smith's disappearance: Disappearance of George Smith IV - Six Years Later.

Bogus Cruise Ship Accident Exposed

Closed circuit television (CCTV) video helped the Sun Cruz Casino defend a claim made by a passenger who staged a fake accident at the bottom of a stairwell on the ship.

The video shows an elderly man walking repeatedly up and down a stairwell, apparently rehearsing how the accident will unfold.  When no one is looking, he gently kneels down and rolls over. That's when the acting starts.  He begins squealing in pain and claims that he sustained injuries to his neck, back, hip, knee and ankle.  He is taken from the "accident scene" on a stretcher.

The cruise passenger retains a lawyer who is smart enough to verify whether an accident really occurred by requesting "all video of the accident."

The cruise line complies. Upon receiving the video below, the lawyer drops the claim like a hot potato. 

Do fake accidents like this occur? Yes, as this video proves.

The first thing that we do when we represent a cruise passenger who alleges a serious accident or being a victim of a crime is to request CTTV of the circumstances surrounding the accident or crime. Sometimes cruise lines will show us videos which contradict our client's account.  That's a good thing. No one wants to have anything to do with a bogus or exaggerated claim. But that's extremely rare.

Most of the time, the cruise lines ignore us.  When we press the matter, the cruise lines claim that there is no video of an accident.  I have never seen a cruise line produce an incriminating video which confirms an accident or crime. Cruise lines typically argue that there is no CCTV cameras at that location, or the cameras didn't work, or the tape was inadvertently erased, or the dog-ate-it type of excuse.  

I even had a case where I proved that there was CTTV video of my client's accident that was given by the ship security to the defense lawyer.  But at the hearing on my motion to compel the production of the video, the defense lawyer argued that the video was in a video player which was allegedly stolen during a break-in at the law firm. Evidence destruction is a problem in the cruise industry.

In this case, its nice to see the fake claim against Sun Cruz exposed.  Now only if the cruise lines will produce video of all of the legitimate accidents and crimes.      

 

Video Credit: My Fox Tampa Bay / Peter Linton-Smith, FOX 13 Pasco Bureau Reporter

Chemical Tanker "Gelso M" Runs Aground Off Sicily - Video

Just two months after the Italian flagged Costa Concordia cruise ship struck rocks near the Italian island of Giglio, another Italian vessel has run aground off the coast of Sicily.  

The 500 foot Gelso M ran aground in high winds and rough seas this morning, near the port town of Syracuse. The captain of the tanker called for assistance from the Italian Coast Guard which safely rescued 19 crewmembers from the stricken vessel notwithstanding high winds. 

Reports are that the vessel was taking on water, although the tanker was not carrying any cargo at the time.  

There is already criticism in the international press that the captain had sailed the vessel too close to the shore given the weather conditions.  Fortunately, due to the skill of the Italian Coast Guard, this grounding has a happier ending than the Concordia disaster. 

 

 

Video credit: SiracusaNews YouTube

Carnival Cruise Passenger Falls to His Death on the Fantasy

Fantasy Cruise ShipMultiple news sources are reporting that a 26-year-old American passenger aboard a Carnival cruise ship fell to his death.  

The incident occurred on the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship.  The man apparently fell from the upper levels all the way down to the lobby level of the cruise ship

The cruise ship docked in Nassau, Bahamas last night.  Its departure today was delayed due to an investigation into the casualty. 

Bahamas police said in a statement today that the passenger was from South Carolina.  

The ship departed Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday for a five-day Bahamas cruise.  It is still scheduled to return to Charleston on Monday.

Were you on the cruise?  Do you have information regarding what happened?  Please leave a message below.

 

 

Video:  ABC News Charleston

Royal Caribbean President's Email Blast Insults Crime Victims

Yesterday one of my clients, who I will call Jane Doe, contacted me after receiving an unsolicited email from the President of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Adam Goldstein.

The e-mail addressed her by her first name.  It seemed to be personalized to her.  It recognized her as a past customer and contained statements like:

"At Royal Caribbean International, the safety and security of our guests and crew is our highest priority. It is fundamental to our operations. Our maritime safety record over our 42-year history Royal Caribbean Cruises  - Adam Goldstein illustrates our commitment to the safety of the millions of guests and crew that sail on our ships."  

President Goldstein's email outraged Jane Doe.   You see, she had just returned home with her young daughter who had been raped on President Goldstein's cruise ship, the Allure of the Seas.  

Goldstein's unsolicited email to a rape victim's mom had nothing to do with the humiliating shipboard rape suffered by Jane Doe's daughter, one of many rapes of children on the Royal Caribbean fleet over the years.  Instead, it was part of this cruise line's media campaign to try and distance itself from the negative fall out following the deadly Costa Concordia disaster.

Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line making such public statements following the Concordia crash.  You can watch Royal Caribbean's slick video touting the safety of cruising here.  President Goldstein's blog is here.  "Safety is in our DNA."  "Cruising is the safest form of transportation."  "The safety and security of our guests is our highest priority."  Royal Caribbean covered all of the cruise industry's talking points in its video, the president's blog and its e-mail blast below.    

Of course, in truth, Goldstein's email was not a personalized message to Jane Doe.  He does not know her from the man in the moon, even though her daughter was raped on the cruise line's showpiece megaship and the biggest cruise ship in the world. 

Royal Caribbean spammed Goldstein's email to every single family who had sailed with them.  This was an intentional and reckless stunt, considering that hundreds of women and children have reportedly been sexually assaulted during Royal Caribbean cruises over the years.  Certainly, the cruise line knew that its former customers who are victims of crime, and whose names remain in its customer database, would feel salt being poured into their wounds upon reading Goldstein's email in their personal email accounts.      

Insensitive & thoughtless, if not outrageous?   Definitely.  But Goldstein is not thinking of his customer's feelings.  He is motivated by his cruise line's bottom line.  He wants to reassure his customers that it is safe to return to cruising, whether that is true or not. 

This is hardly the first time this has happened.

In 2006, one of my clients, Laurie Dishman (photo right), was brutally raped by a part time Royal Caribbean security guard with a Royal Caribbean Crime Victim Laurie Dishman prior record of sexually harassing passengers.   She retained us to represent her.  I sent a handful of letters to President Goldstein, asking for our client's medical records, her statement, and the name and address of the Royal Caribbean employee who raped Laurie.  We received nothing in response.  Goldstein ignored us.

The only things Laurie initially received from Royal Caribbean were unsolicited emails inviting Laurie to return for another "cruise of a lifetime" on a Royal Caribbean ship.  The emails continued for over a year.  Each email popping into her computer's email in-box took Laurie back to the scene of the crime and reactivated a sense of panic and stress.  It was only after a half dozen letters of protest from us, and a Congressional investigation into the crime initiated by Laurie's Congresswoman in 2007, that the cruise line scrubbed her from its marketing database.

We pleaded for Royal Caribbean to implement a system to remove a passenger's information from the company's marketing database whenever a passenger was raped, killed or lost a loved one overboard during a cruise.  Believe me, cruise vacationers don't want promotional brochures in their mail boxes after a family member has been raped or lost at sea.    

It looks like Royal Caribbean ignored that request too. 

President Goldstein's blog talks in grandiose terms about the Costa Concordia crash being a "defining moment" for the cruise industry.  He promises a renewed commitment to passenger safety.  Let's hope that's true. 

But when a cruise line president sends an e-mail blast to the mother of a child raped during a cruise, you wonder whether cruise line executives like Goldstein really get it.   

 

Photo credits:

Adam Goldstein - Royal Caribbean Flickr page

Laurie Dishman - Sacramento Bee

 

ROYAL CARIBBEAN EMAILS ADAM GOLDSTEIN'S LETTER TO MILLIONS OF CRUISE CUSTOMERS:

Dear XXX, 

All of us at Royal Caribbean International continue to extend our heartfelt sympathies to those affected by Carnival Corporation's recent tragic incident on the Costa Concordia. As a Crown & Anchor Society member and loyal Royal Caribbean guest, we know you may have some questions as the situation continues to unfold.

At Royal Caribbean International, the safety and security of our guests and crew is our highest priority. It is fundamental to our operations. Our maritime safety record over our 42-year history illustrates our commitment to the safety of the millions of guests and crew that sail on our ships. The measures we take in the interest of safety are many, often exceeding the regulatory requirements – these are all part of our ongoing commitment to innovation and continuous improvement in every aspect of our business.

To address some of your questions and concerns, here is a video that will provide an overview of safety onboard our ships; the training of our crew, officers and captains; and the many regulations that govern our practices. Click here to watch.

As a past cruiser, we know your friends and family may be asking about your own time at sea. We hope that you'll share this video along with your personal Royal Caribbean experiences with them, and reinforce that cruising continues to maintain the best safety record of any industry in travel.

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to welcoming you aboard again soon on one of our ships sailing to 270 destinations worldwide.

Sincerely,

Adam Goldstein
President and CEO
Royal Caribbean International

Cruise Ship Fire in Norway Kills Two

The Associated Press is reporting that a fire on the M/S Nordlys cruise ship this morning killed two people and injured at least nine others while operating on a popular route along Norway's coast. 

The AP reports that nine people were taken to the hospital, two with serious burns and smoke injuries.  Eight of those injured and sent to the hospital were crew members.  Mail Online reports that 16 people were injured and two additional people (probably crewmembers) are missing.

The fire broke out in the engine room.   

The Nordlys, operated by Hurtigruten, reportedly had over 200 passengers on board at the time of the fire.  100 passengers were evacuated by lifeboats before the cruise ship reached port in Alesund, which is 230 miles northwest of Oslo.  The cruise ship was then escorted into port where the remainder of the passengers were evacuated.

The cruise line has an information link on its website which can be viewed here.  The only information posted is as follows:

"Following a fire on board the MS Nordlys all guests have been safely evacuated to the Rica Parken Hotel in Ålesund. There were 207 guests on board of varying nationalities and 55 crew.  Relatives hotline: +47 47 83 47 00."

If this information is correct, all of the injuries and deaths involved crewmembers.

Cruise ship fires are not as uncommon as you may think.  Take a moment and read Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?

The last engine room fire on a cruise ship occurred last year on the Carnival Splendor, resulting the stranding of over 3,000 passengers and over 1,000 crewmembers.

Last year, an engine room fire caused the evacuation of over 600 passengers and crew in Norwegian waters. That incident involved the German cruise ship Deutschland.

After the Nordlys reached port the ship continued to burn, as show in the video below.  

 

 

Video credit: TV2 Norway via CNN

Cruise Ship Sinks in Volga River in Russia - Up to 100 Feared Dead

Sinking of Bulgaria Cruise Ship - Volga River - RussiaNumerous news sources are reporting that a cruise ship carrying 173 passengers and crew sank in Russia's Volga river today. 

The sinking involved the Bulgaria cruise ship, which had 140 passengers and 33 crewmembers aboard.

To date, there have been reports of two confirmed dead bodies recovered and 96 people unaccounted for after the Bulgaria sank at 1358 local time (0858 GMT) in the Tatarstan region, 500 miles east of Moscow. 

A helicopter and two rescue vessels are reportedly at the scene of the sinking.

According to the Mail Online, the Bulgaria sank near the village of Syukeevo in the Kansko-Ustinovsky district near the region's capital, Kazan. The Bulgaria belongs to a local tourism company and was on its way from the town of Bulgar to the regional capital, Kazan.

The ship was built in 1955 in Czechoslovakia.

 July 9, 2011 Update

Russian authorities initiated a criminal investigation into the river sinking, according to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation.  This Russian website identified the operator of the river cruise as  "Argo Rech Tours."  

There are conflicting accounts of the number of people missing.  The Russian website states that 169 people have been rescued, although most news accounts state that there are 80 -100 still missing. 

Bulgaria Cruise Ship - Volga River Sinking- Russia

July 10, 2011 Update:

Russian website has heart wrenching photographs of the survivors.  Updated information from Russia regarding the recovery efforts can be located here.

July 11, 2011 Update The Rianovisti newspaper in Russia reports that although the Russian Transport Ministry stated that the vessel had passed a regular "technical inspection" on June 15th and was certified for further use, investigators discovered that the ship "had a list to starboard and its engine was broken" when it left port.  It was "heavily overloaded with passengers."  There now appears to have been 196 people on the cruise ship.  Only 79 were rescued.  The video below depicts disturbing images of some of the deceased passengers.


 

Photo credits: 

Top:  Survivors of Bulgaria sinking - Rianovisti newspaper

Bottom:  AFP, Mikhail Mozzhukin 

Video credit:  The Guardian newspaper

Eye Witness Accounts: Oil Tank Explosion Panics Cruise Passengers / Independence of the Seas Quickly Leaves Port

The Telegraph newspaper in the U.K. has an interesting story containing a passenger's account of events aboard the Independence of the Seas following the explosion at the port in Gibraltar.  Some of the accounts:

“People thought it was a bomb and started screaming. Parents jumped in the pool to grab their children, while others dashed to the kids’ club on deck 12 to see if their children were injured.”

"One crew member . . . heard screaming and saw black smoke; she thought one of the restaurants was on fire."

"At dinner that night, the explosion was on everyone’s lips. 'We thought it was a bomb,' one middle-aged passenger said. 'American ship in a British port – quite an easy target.'

All of the accounts we have read praised the captain and crew.  "Within minutes, the captain made an announcement, ordering everyone off the open decks and balconies, and sending a rapid response team up to deck 11 where the outdoor pools and bars were packed with young families making the most of the Gibraltar heat."

"Officers ran along the side of the dock to the stern of the ship, presumably to check for any damage . . .   Just four minutes later, we slipped our moorings and the ship sailed . . . Thanks to a quick-thinking captain, a major incident was averted." 

YouTube member "Kasbah89" posted a video of the fire.  It shows the Independence of the Seas quickly departing away from the burning oil tank and turning to head out of danger:

 

   

Were you on the cruise and have photos or video to share?  Please let us here from you.

Video credit:  kasbah89 / YouTube

Some amazing photographs can be viewed at David Parody's Flickr photostream here.

Booze, Drugs & Sex in a Royal Caribbean Cruise Commercial?

Before Royal Caribbean lost its mind and created the 'Nation of Why Not" (which seems like a rip-off of Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Neuman's "What Me Worry?"), the cruise line used a snappy song called "Lust for Life" as part of its Get Out There! marketing campaign.

You remember the video - passengers hiking on a glacier, dog sledding and kayaking, while a  upbeat tune with a heavy base blared out the refrain Lust for Life!   Take a look and listen:

 

 

But few people (except those Iggy Pop fans like me) knew what the song was really about - booze, drug addiction, a dead heroin dealer, and sex.   Here is a portion of the lyrics: 

Here comes Johnny Yen again
With the liquor and drugs
And the flesh machine
He's gonna do another striptease
Hey man where'd you get
That lotion? I been hurting
Since I bought the gimmick
About something called love
Yeah something called love
That's like hypnotizing chickens
Well I am just a modern guy
Of course I've had it in the ear before

'Cause of a lust for life
'Cause of a lust for life .  .  .

Both of my boys have Iggy Pop loaded on their iPods.  They used to break out in laughter when they heard this commercial.  They'd say "hey Dad, isn't that the cruise line you sue all of the time?  Why is Iggy Pop singing for them?"    "Yes," I would tease them.  "Royal Caribbean's CEO Richard Fain may seem like a Tony Bennett or Perry Como fan, but he secretly loves Iggy Pop!" I would tell my kids.

Take a minute and listen to Iggy's original version of "Lust for Life" back in 1977 ( when I was a freshman in college):   

    

 

Royal Caribbean, Iggy Pop, drugs, booze and sex - strange bedfellows in the weird world of cruising . . .  

Monika's Last Recital

A reader of our blog, Evelyn, left us a link to a  short video of Monika Markiewicz playing the violin aboard the Allure of the Seas cruise ship shortly before her death in Cozumel.  The reader left the short message: "I shot a short video on her playing . . . she was so sweet."'

The death of a young person like Monika leaves a void in the universe that can never be filled. 

We hope that the family and friends of Ms. Markiewicz consider the happiness that she brought to hundreds of her crew member friends and thousands of passengers who enjoyed her play beautiful and joyful music.      

May she rest in peace.   

 

 

Video credit:   luktungkuen YouTube

Top Five Worst Cruise Ship Disaster Videos

Oceanos Cruise Ship Sinking - Five Worst Cruise Ship Disasters When I was a kid, it seemed like the most popular movies were disaster flicks. Movies like the Poseidon Adventure and Towering Inferno which exploited the public with images of terror, fear, and panic.     

Today, disaster movies are not limited to the movie theater.  We are living in a iReport society where CNN, MSNBC and FOX News regularly broadcast iPhone videos of fires, floods, and bedlam, including cruise ship disasters. 

Unfortunately, there will be stories in the future where cruise ships catch on fire, sink or are hijacked by terrorists.  The cruise lines will frantically try and suppress the images and assure the public that everything is OK.  But YouTube will be there to reveal the truth.  And everyone will be watching the disaster.

I picked the top 5 "worst cruise ship disaster" videos.  Nothing subtle here.  Exploitational?  Maybe so, but these are not low budget disaster movies.  They are real.  With real people aboard.  Fortunately, in most of the incidents no one was killed or seriously injured.  Take a look and see how Mother Nature can interrupt your serene cruise vacation:

Number 5:  Stabilizers?  What Stabilizers?  Okay, I admit it.  I have to take a Dramamine before I click the play button for this video.  It shows what a cyclone can do to a cruise ship.  I'm not sure which cruise ship this is or when or where this occurred.  Does anyone know?   Was anyone reading this on the ship?  Let us hear from you.

 

 

Number 4:  Keep this video secret!  Don't let the lawyers see it!  Last September the internet was a buzz with the release of CCTV films of the interior of the P&O Cruises' Pacific Sun, which ran into heavy weather in June 2008.  P&O had also understated the effects of the storm on the cruise ship and passengers, and it was successful keeping the CCTV under wraps for over two years.

But the video finally made its way out of P&O's control this fall.  When the truth came out, the video went viral!  A number of passengers were injured.  You can clearly see one young lady smash her face into a column at the 47 second mark. 

Cruise lines are experts keeping video like this secret.  The risk management departments of cruise lines hide these types of video from the public's eyes. This permits the cruise lines to contest the passengers' accounts of injuries and lets the defense lawyers claim that the passengers are exaggerating.  Would you have believed what occurred in the video if you did not see it? 

 

 

Number 3:  Anyone for a relaxing cruise to Antarctica?  The Clelia II cruise ship caught the country's attention when passengers on the National Geographic Explorer filmed it bouncing around by big waves and howling wind as it was trying to make its way back to Argentina from Antarctica. (Video by Fiona Stewart/Garett McIntosh via jonbowermaster.com)  88 U.S. passengers were aboard as it limped back to port after a wave broke over the bridge of the vessel and smashed windows, interrupting communications and causing an electrical outage that reduced power to one of its engines.

 

 

Number 2:  Death on the Louis Majesty cruise ship:  The Greece-based Louis Cruise Lines ship was heading east to Genoa, Italy when waves struck the vessel and smashed windows in public areas, killing two passengers and injuring fourteen others.

The "Louis Majesty" used to be NCL's "Norwegian Majesty" and, before that, the "Royal Majesty" operated by Majesty Cruise Lines from 1992 - 1997.  Long before I began representing passengers and crewmembers, I represented Majesty Cruise Lines (around 1995) when this cruise ship was based in Miami.  I have been on this ship and in the area where the glass blew out.  The Royal Majesty was considered a large cruise ship 20 years ago.  A real tragedy, which could have been avoided if the officers aboard had instructed the passengers to remain in their cabins.

 

 

Number 1:  And the winner is: the cruise ship Oceanos which sank back in 1991.  Unlike the other disasters attributable to rough weather, this disaster was man made.  The Oceanos was a Greek-owned cruise ship in a state of neglect, with loose hull plates, valves stripped for repair parts, and a hole in one of its "watertight" bulkheads.  When the cruise ship began to sink, the cowardly captain and officers were the first into a lifeboat, abandoning children, women, and elderly passengers to face a certain death.  But due to the courage of one of the ship's entertainers and a dramatic and nothing-less-than-miraculous rescue that followed, everyone was saved!  A happy ending to a terrifying ordeal.
     
 

 

Do you have a video that should be in a top 5 or top 10 list of cruise disasters?  Let us hear from you . . .

Will Royal Caribbean Release CCTV Video of the Brilliance of the Seas During the Storm?

Pacific Sun Storm CCTV VideoThere have been a number of articles about Royal Caribbean initial efforts to down-play the effects of the storm which rocked the Brilliance of the Seas off of the coast of Egypt last week.  The cruise lines corporate office here in Miami are electronically linked to the cruise ships and  instantly receive electronic images and video transmitted from the ships to the corporate offices at the port in Miami.

There undoubtedly are incredible closed circuit television (CCTV) video from the vessel's surveillance and security cameras showing the interior of the Brilliance as it violently rocked from side to side.  But the company keeps CCTV tapes like this secret to avoid embarrassing images being shown around the world.  

Just last September the internet was a buzz today with the release of CCTV films of the interior of the P&O Cruises' Pacific Sun, which ran into a bout of heavy weather in June 2008.

P&O also understated the effects of the storm on the cruise ship and passengers, and it was successful keeping the CCTV under wraps for over two years.

But the video (below) finally made its way out of P&O's control this fall.  When the truth came out, the public went nuts and the video went viral!  The CCTV shows complete bedlam.  A number of passenger were injured. You can clearly see one young lady smash her face into a column at the 47 second mark in the first video of the lounge area.  A second video (not shown) is of a lower deck showing a forklift narrowly miss running over a crew member.

Cruise lines are experts keeping video like this secret.  The risk management departments of cruise lines keep these types of video away from the public's eyes. This permits the cruise lines to contest the passengers' accounts of injuries and lets the defense lawyers claim that the passengers are exaggerating.

Would you have believed what occurred in the video if you did not see it?

What honest soul at the cruise line will leak similar CCTV videos of the Brilliance during the storm to the public?  

 

 

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!

WikiLeaks - Transparency, But at What Cost?

The New York Times has an interesting article today about WikiLeaks' founder, Julian Assange, entitled "WikiLeaks Founder on the Run, Trailed by Notoriety."  Salon also has a counter-point in "The Nixonian Henchmen of Today: at the NYT."  Assange just released almost 400,000 secret documents on the Iraqi war.  At a press conference in London yesterday, he said that the release of U.S. Army field reports “constituted the most comprehensive and detailed account of any war ever to have entered the public record.”

Three months ago, WikiLeaks posted around 90,000 classified Pentagon documents regarding the Afghan conflict on its website.

I have been fascinated by Wikileaks' never ending release of "secret" documents and "classified" images over the course of the last year.  I first heard of Wikileaks when it released graphic footage last year of U.S. Apache helicopters tracking and gunning down nineteen people in the streets of Baghdad in 2007. 

The video (below) shows the gunship operators acting like over-stimilated, out-of-control teenagers playing a computer war game.  When they jumped to the conclusion that a Reuters photographer carrying a camera tripod was somehow a bad guy carrying a AK-47, the helicopter gunners opended fire, seemingly gleefully, maiming the photographer who crawled across the dirt road trying to escape.  When a medical van arrived to help, with two children inside, the Apache helicopter again blasted away until no one was left standing.

The video reveals not only the incredibly brutal violence involved in the Iragi war, but the cowboy mentality attitude of the U.S. soldiers.  The gunners killed innocent civilians and two equally innocent journalists - who they called "pricks" and "assholes." 

When the video was released, the Pentagon harshly criticized WikiLeaks.  The U.S. Government claimed that the video was taken out of context and was harmful to the U.S. war effort.  But the video jeopardized no one.  It revealed the truth of what was actually happening in the street of Baghdad.  The disturbing images contrasted sharply with the usual type of PR videos released by the Pentagon showing precision laser bombs nicely hiting a target with no "collateral damage."  

I am a fan of transparency.  The truth is often quite ugly.  I am inherently untrusting of what governments and large corporations (especially cruise lines) tell the public.  Every moment of our lifes we are being fed pretty images of what others want us to believe.  The war is going as planned, they tell us.  But the truth becomes inescapable when faced with videographic proof of Apache helicopters slaughtering journalists.  And the recent document dump reveals that our U.S. Government grossly understated civilian deaths.  The documents released by WikiLeaks reveal that over 66,000 civilians died in "collateral" damage which often resembled murder. 

WikiLeaks plays a vital role in a world where governments keep secrets like this from the people.

But transparency forced by whistleblower organizations like WikiLeaks comes at a cost in the military context.  Contained in the almost one half million documents released by WikiLeaks may be the identities of Iraqis and Afghans who worked under-cover for the U.S., Great Britain and Germany.  If their names were not redacted, their lives are now in peril.  

Will WikiLeaks release video showing the deaths of other innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan killed because WikiLeaks revealed their identities in the interest of transparency?          

 

 

 

Video Credit:    WikiLeaks (via collaterlamurder.com via YouTube sunshinepress)

Does Royal Caribbean Destroy Evidence of Passenger Accidents?

Yesterday, I boarded Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas cruise ship at the Port of Miami for what maritime lawyers call a "vessel inspection."  I boarded the cruise ship with my co-counsel on the case, Jonathan Aronson, and a top engineering expert.  

Our client, a passenger, had been seriously injured when she fell on a wet deck around the FlowRider water attraction on the cruise ship.  Shortly before we boarded the ship for the inspection, Royal Caribbean finally provided us, only after a Court order was entered, with one video clip taken from an aft / starboard CCTV - Cruise Ship - Surveillance Cameraclosed circuit television (CCTV) camera. But it didn't show what happened to our client.  The cruise line claimed that there were no videos of our client's "alleged" accident as they put it.  

When we boarded the cruise ship yesterday, we immediately realized that the camera of the video they provided us was not pointed at the accident scene and, in any event, the video was taken over three hours after our client's accident occurred.  We also realized that there were a dozen video cameras and CCTV cameras pointing to the FlowRider and the surrounding decks, including the area where our client's accident occurred.  None of these videos have been produced.  

Cruise lines control the scene of the accident and access to witnesses.  Passengers who are injured on cruise ships should not inspect cooperation from the cruise line.  Our client promptly reported her accident and was taken from the scene because she was seriously injured.  If the cruise line's security officers wanted to document what happened, they would have looked at the dozen cameras and quickly determined which cameras captured the accident and preserved the video. 

Instead, we now have a game of hide and seek.  Cruise lines have a reputation of keeping evidence only when it tends to help the ship's legal interests and destroying evidence which supports the passenger's claim.  

Passengers who are injured on cruise ships need to document the location of CCTV cameras (they are usually numbered) and request that the cruise ship retain the evidence.

Otherwise they may find that after they make a claim, there is no evidence left and the cruise line will deny that the accident even occcurred.

        

CCTV - Cruise Ship - Cameras - Surveillance - Destructionof Evidence?

Pacific Sun CCTV Rough Weather Video - You Have To See It To Believe It!

The internet has been a buzz today with the release of closed circuit television video (CCTV) of the interior of the P&O Cruises' Pacific Sun, which ran into a bout of heavy weather in June 2008.  

A number of  passenger were injured.  You can clearly see one young lady smash her face into a column at the 47 second mark in the first video of the lounge area.

The second video is of a lower deck showing a forklift narrowly miss running over a crew member.

Cruise lines are experts keeping video like this secret.  The security and risk management departments of cruise line keep these types of video away from the public's eyes. This permits the cruise lines to contest the passengers' accounts of injuries and lets the defense lawyers claim that the passengers are exaggerating. 

Would you have believed this if you did not see it?

What honest soul at the cruise line leaked these tapes?      

     

 

 

 

The marine accident report for this incident can be viewed here.  A travel website summarized the pertinent findings of the report as follows:

  • The Pacific Sun was on a tight schedule and this placed the captain in a "difficult situation" to return to Auckland to ensure the following cruise left on time.
  • By not heaving-to earlier, the report said, he "inadvertently placed" the ship in the worst sea conditions, 322km northeast of North Cape;
  • The crew were essentially flying blind, unable to see or monitor abnormal swells of up to 7m in darkness;
  • The ship's stablisers were inoperative - one was worn out and the other was rendered useless in the slow speeds that the ship was reduced to;
  • Two of the four muster stations - areas where passengers are meant to congregate in an emergency - were also rendered useless because of the damage and mess caused by unsecured furnishings; and 
  • The accident damaged the ship's main satellite system, reducing officers' abilities to communicate with shore.

Many passengers were concerned to see crew wearing lifejackets, while they were not.

Passengers' injuries ranged in severity from broken bones, to cuts and bruises, with seven seriously hurt and three were greeted by ambulances when the ship berthed in Auckland two days later.

One passenger had part of a finger amputated. The report said other passengers suffered anxiety attacks.

The cruise line offered the passengers a small discount off on a future cruise.

For another incredible video, watch what a cruise ship looks like in a cyclone: Cruise Ship Social Media: Everyone Loves A Disaster Movie