Seven Most Outrageous Cruise Stories of 2016

Al Roker BullfeathersAs the last few days of 2016 count down, it's time to pick the most outrageous stories of the year. 

Number 7 - The Year of Cruise Ship Power Failures? This year saw the usual number of power failures and propulsion issues which have plagued the industry for years. Cruise lines often use the euphemism "technical problems," if they say anything at all, about the problem.  

In May, Carnival's ill-fated "voluntourism" Fathom brand saw its sole cruise ship, the Adonia, experience a complete black-out loss in Government Cut. The U.S. Coast Guard ordered the cruise ship to return to the port of Miami.

Later that night, the Carnival Elation drifted for an hour in the dark as the ship was heading back to port in Jacksonville. The following month, the little-known Artic expedition cruise ship, Ortelius, experienced an engine failure near a place called Hinlopenstretet and had to be towed back to another place called Norwegian StarLongyearbyen. In the same month, Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas experienced problems with one of its engines in the Caribbean. 

In July, the Thomson Celebration suffered an engine failure as the cruise ship was leaving Valletta, Malta. In August, the Caribbean Princess lost power approximately 25 nautical miles southeast of Dublin in the Irish Sea. A week later, the Viking Sea lost power, for the first time, in Malta. The next week saw the Paul Gauguin cruise ship experience propulsion problems in Bora Bora. In September, the auto-pilot malfunctioned on the Carnival Legend causing it to violently list as the ship headed to Victoria. Shortly thereafter the Legend suffered a brief power loss. 

In October, the Thomson Majesty lost power following an engine room fire. Later, the Grand Princess lost power off of the coast of California. The Emerald Princess experienced propulsion problems the following day as it sailed to Thailand. November began with the Carnival Liberty suffering a power loss affecting its cruises to Mexico. The new Carnival Vista struggled through a series of propulsion issues in November as well. NCL's Norwegian Star experienced power problems and is now limping through Princess Drug Cocaine Bustits itinerary in Southeast Asia, much to the displeasure of cruisers who have waited for a year to cruise on the Star.  The Costa neoRiviera recently suffered a loss of all electricity during a port call in Abu Dhabi, and the Lindblad Expeditions' National Geographic Orion suffered a catastrophic power failure while leaving Antarctica. The year ends with the Viking Sea losing power (for the second time this year); the Viking ship finds itself stuck in Barcelona.

Number 6 - Year of Cruise Ship Drugs busts? 2016 saw drug busts involving literally hundreds and hundreds of pounds of cocaine smuggled on cruise ship by crew members and passengers alike. In January, the Department of Homeland Security busted four NCL crew members involved in smuggling cocaine from Roatan, Honduras to New Orleans aboard the Norwegian Dawn.  In March, the police in Ocho Rios arrested three MSC crew members from St. Vincent trying to board the MSC Divina Princess Cruise Drugs Smugglingcruise ship docked at the Ocho Rios Pier with a large quantity of cocaine hidden under their clothes. A month later, two Royal Caribbean crew members were arrested for smuggling cocaine aboard the Freedom of the Seas into Port Canaveral.

The Freedom of the Seas was again in the news in June when four female passengers were arrested for smuggling over 13 pounds of cocaine from Jamaica into Port Canaveral. In July, a Jamaican man was arrested at the cruise port in Falmouth, Jamaica when he attempted to board the Carnival Splendor with two packages, containing five pounds of cocaine.  In August, the Australian Federal Police hit the mother-load and arrested three cruise ship passengers, including a young woman formerly in the porn business, involved in smuggling 95 kilos (over 209 lbs.) of cocaine into the port in Sydney, Australia on the Sea Princess after they chronicled their 66-day world cruise on Instagram.  The record drug bust revealed serious shortcomings in Princess Cruises' shipboard security

While crew members and passengers used NCL, Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise ships to smuggle large quantities of cocaine, the tourist police at the port in Nassau routinely busted cruise passengers for a couple of joints of pot seized during warrant-less searches of their cabins when they were off of the Cruise Ship Drowningcruise ship. 

Number 5 - Drowned Children But No Lifeguards?  2016 saw the predictable results of an industry of increasingly huge ships filled with swimming pools and water parks but few if any lifeguards. Children drowned or nearly drown in lifeguard-less pools throughout the cruise industry this year. In the last 2 to 3 years, numerous guests - primarily but not exclusively children - have been found at the bottom of cruise ship swimming pools: Royal Caribbean (4)( ages 4, 6, 8 and 8), Princess (4, 3 adults and one 8 year-old child), NCL (3)(ages 4, 6 and 10), Carnival (2)(ages 2, 6), and Disney (1)(age 4)(before hiring lifeguards).

The New Times published an in-depth story on cruise ship drownings in September, explaining that an outdated maritime law protects the industry from liability in deaths at sea. The archaic law remains in effect largely because of an indifferent Congress dependent on campaign donations by the non-tax paying cruise lines. 

Many people choose to instantly blame the parents whenever a kid is pulled lifeless from a cruise ship swimming pool. Cruise employees trained to sell booze but not in CPR or advanced life-saving measures are just one of the problems.  As the New Times article explains, people who instantly blame the parents miss the point: that "poolside safety is a shared responsibility of caregivers and cruise lines."

Disney Cruises, which paid a large settlement for the lifetime medical care of a four year old child who nearly drowned on the Disney Fantasy before it began hiring lifeguards, is the only cruise line who Anthem of the Seas Stormhas invested in lifeguards to keep kids safe around pools. Other cruise lines are flirting with doing the right thing. Celebrity uses "pools rovers" (crew members who are assigned to supervise swimming pools but have no formal training as a lifeguard).  Royal Caribbean recently advertised the position of a lifeguard on a TV channel on some of its cruise ships.

Number 4 - The Anthem of the Seas Sails Into a Storm.  Earlier this year, weather experts predicted the Atlantic seas out of New Jersey to be over 30 feet high with winds of hurricane strength. The Royal Caribbean Anthem nonetheless recklessly sailed into the storm, terrorizing the thousands of passengers and burning out the clutches of its azipods in the process. The Anthem returned to port in New Jersey with only one propulsion unit operating. Royal Caribbean initially denied any damage or injury to the ship or the passengers and then falsely claimed that the only damage to the ship was "cosmetic." Al Roker, the popular television weatherman on the Today Show, best summed up Royal Caribbean's claim that the storm was not predicted: "Royal Caribbean's claim that this was not predicted is bullfeathers." (photo top). USA TODAY chimed in with "Meteorologists: Royal Caribbean blew it on sailing into storm."

Number 3 - Carnival Outsources IT Jobs to India. This month, Carnival Corporation eliminated over 200 IT jobs across its brands, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Lines and Princess Cruises. The U.S. workers are now required to train their replacements employed by a consulting firm, Capgemini, with offices in India.  The fired cruise employees' lawyer stated that the "executives of Carnival should be ashamed and should have to face the families that they have destroyed merely days before Christmas." A Carnival PR spokesman said that the move was to improve performance and not save money. Asked if the employees were being asked to train others how to do their jobs, Carnival responded with this gobbledygook: "Not trained, but they will be involved in showcasing the processes related to the function in order for Capgemini to provide stronger and better service to Carnival Corporation and its brands.” Conservative publications protested the outsourcing, complaining to President-elect Trump and calling for a boycott of Carnival.

Number 2 - The New Carnival Vista Makes a Splash!  Carnival new mega-ship, the Carnival Vista,Carnival Vista came perilously close to small piers for recreational boats when leaving the port of Messina, Sicily. The thrust from its stern created a turmoil which turned over the piers and swamped smaller moored vessels, sinking several of the boats in the process. The destruction was so complete that you wouldn't believe it unless you saw it which is what happened when a passenger filmed the chaos from the ship. The Carnival captain made no announcements regarding what happened. According to passengers, the Vista didn't stop and sailed out of the port as if nothing happened.

Number 1 - Carnival - Enemy of the Environment?  Carnival and Princess Cruises pled guilty to multiple felonies for the operation of five Carnival owned and Princess operated cruise ships which illegally dumped oily discharge around the world for eight years. Princess used "magic pipes" which by-passed oil-water separator devices, falsified oil logs, and perpetually lied to the Coast Guard to save millions of dollars in treating and disposing of oil ashore by Princess Pollutiondumping it overboard for almost a decade. Carnival was under probation for installing magic pipes and lying to the Coast Guard when Princess began dumping oil overboard. Did the executives and senior management know? Of course. But Princess played the plausible denial game. Carnival was fined only $40,000,000 (million) but ended 2016 collecting record profits of $2,800,000,000 (billion). While the Princess cruise ships were dumping oil, the cruise line executives collected hundreds of millions of dollars in salaries, perks and bonuses.     

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

Photo credits:

Al Roker - NBC Today Show

Princess drug bust - Jonathan Ng via the Daily Telegraph

Norwegian Star - Pjotr Mahhonin, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Oceania Cruises Pockets Cancer Victim's Refunded Airfare

National Geographic Traveler magazine ombudsman Christopher Elliott is often asked to try and recover canceled cruise fares when passengers suffer serious illness, a death in the family or other misfortune.

All cruise passenger tickets contain draconian terms and conditions, drafted by the cruise line attorneys, which address what happens when a passenger is forced to cancel a cruise because of sickness or death. Depending on when the cruise is canceled, the cruise line will keep all or a Oceania MS Marina substantial portion of the passenger's money.   

Mr. Elliott writes about the plight of a couple from Canada who booked what they described as a cruise of a lifetime with Oceania Cruises aboard the Oceania Marina in the South Pacific for $43,000 ($29,000 for the cruise fare and $14,000 for the airfare). But the wife was diagnosed with lung cancer and they had to cancel the vacation. The couple did not buy insurance.

Oceania pocketed the entire $43,000 even though the cruise line sold the couple's cabin to another couple and even though the airline refunded the $14,000 airfare to Oceania.

A cruise line keeping a refunded airfare is clearly illegal "unjust enrichment." I find it outrageous and unconscionable.  It seems no different than theft to me, and a theft by a large rich corporation while the victim is in a weak and vulnerable position.  

Mr. Elliott was successful in convincing the cruise line to return the couple's airfare. The fact that Mr.Elliott writes a widely-read consumer blog no doubt helped.

Oceania refused to refund the cruise fare. Yes, the couple should have purchased insurance. But I find this scenario repugnant. It may be technically legal but it is still unconscionable and immoral. Oceania promptly sold the cabin to other passengers, remember. Oceania didn't lose a penny. In fact, it obtained a double profit. Cruise corporations should not be permitted to make double profits because of the death and personal suffering of their guests. 

Oceania's parent company, Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), likes to do this too. NCL kept the cruise fare of a passenger whose brother died and the funeral was on the day of the cruise. NCL said "sorry, no refund." The passenger also tried to donate his cabin to a child with cancer, but the cruise line refused that too. NCL then sold the cabin on the Norwegian Sky for a double profit.

Speaking of children with cancer, NCL also refused to return the cruise fare after a family learned that their five year old child was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo emergency medical treatment. NCL pocketed the family's money and sold their cabin for more profit.

NCL also refused to either refund or credit the cruise fare to a 66 year old passenger and his wife after she was diagnosed with bladder cancer and underwent emergency surgery.

It's cruel, greedy, heartless and outrageous conduct by Oceania and NCL.  Yes, it's technically legal. All cruise lines have their lawyers write their tickets to protect only the cruise line's interests. But it's unfair and unjust.

If cruise lines can't apply compassion to situations where their guests are stricken with cancer, and companies like NCL and Oceania are motivated only by money, legislation should be passed to protect consumers when they are in a time of crisis. Cancer victims shouldn't be victimized a second time by a greedy cruise line. They should be entitled to a full refund so they can pay their medical bills and try and beat cancer.   

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

 

Photo Credit: M/S Marina - Jordandkatz - licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Norwegian Cruise Line Wins Worst Cruise Line in the World Award

Nicolas-1It's been a while since I awarded my "Worst Cruise Line in the World" award. Quite frankly, I became tired of giving it to Carnival and Royal Caribbean every month.  But a reader of Cruise Law News just sent me a story of little Nicolas Colucci, age 5, who underwent emergency surgery after doctors found a "a large cancerous tumor growing inside his liver." He is now undergoing chemotherapy. 

The Lil' Mama website explains that the Colucci family bought a family cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) that was scheduled for June 1, 2014. The family asked NCL to reschedule their cruise to another date. NCL refused.  NCL wouldn't bend their corporate policies regarding medical emergencies - not even for a child battling cancer. You can read about the dreadful story here.

This is not the first time that NCL has acted in such a heartless manner. 

A couple of years ago, I wrote about a man from Key Largo who purchased a NCL cruise on the Norwegian Sky leaving from Miami. But his brother died, and the funeral was in Georgia on the day the cruise ship sailed. So he notified NCL, asking for a credit on a future cruise. NCL said no. He asked for his cruise to be donated to charity (Make-A-Wish). NCL said no.

Now comes the sick part. NCL then re-sold the cabin to someone else. Yep. NCL got a double profit due to the death of a guest's brother. Really sick. 

NCL is active on Twitter @CruiseNorwegian, so I tweeted a reference to the article.

No response.

NCL's "Executive Vice President of Global Sales and Passenger Services," Andy Stuart, is also active on Twitter @nclandy. So I tweeted him "Double cruise profit for death? Say it aint so Andy!"

No response.

Nicolas-2NCL should have permitted a child with cancer and parents go on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise. Or make a small donation in memory of their customer's brother. But to double sell the cabin under these circumstances?  It's cruel, greedy and outrageous.

Last year, I wrote again about NCL. A grandmother who drives disabled kids to school booked a cruise aboard the Norwegian Jewel for her family and grandkids at the cost of over $4,000. Then Superstorm Sandy struck, submerging her home under four feet of water. The storm ravaged her home, leaving her with nothing. She asked NCL to reschedule or refund her cruise. NCL said no way.

She appealed to NCL CEO Kevin Sheehan but the cruise line and its CEO wouldn't make an exception. Absolutely no refund or rescheduling. Heartless.

Yesterday, I attended a hearing before Senator Jay Rockefeller entitled "Improving Consumer Protections for Cruise Passengers." Cruise passengers testified regarding all types of harsh conduct by cruise lines who hide behind the unreadable fine print in their one-sided, passenger tickets. At one point during the hearing, Senator Rockefeller exclaimed that he was "fed up" with the cruise lines and their "callousness."

NCL is all smiles when it sells a family a "cruise of a lifetime." But when death, disaster or a medical emergency strikes, it shows its true colors.

NCL may have a great marketing image, but it can be your worse enemy in a time of true need.

Have a thought? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on our Facebook page. And let NCL know what you think by contacting them below:

Kevin Sheehan NCLNCL Corporation Ltd.
7665 Corporate Center Drive
Miami, Florida 33126

Corporate: (305) 436-4000

Andrew Stuart
Executive Vice President of Global Sales and Passenger Services
astuart@ncl.com
(305) 436-4000 

Andrew Stuart's twitter account: @nclandy

Kevin Sheehan (photo right)
Chief Executive Officer
ksheehan@ncl.com
(305) 436-4000

NCL Twitter: @CruiseNorwegian

July 26 2014 Update: According to a FOX NEWS station today, a "CEO of a popular cruise line reached out to the Colucci family to offer them a free cruise. The CEO asked that his cruise line not be named because he said he was genuinely touched by their story and didn't want any publicity for his gesture."

So who was the CEO?  Which cruise line did the right thing?

Here's a clue:

Last year, NCL abandoned a grandmother (and her grandchildren) after she bought a NCL cruise when her home was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.  NCL CEO refused to reschedule his customer's cruise. But Royal Caribbean stepped up to the plate and gave the family a free cruise. Read the story: Norwegian Cruise Lines Abandons Sandy Victims, While Royal Caribbean Steps Up to the Plate!  

July 27 2014 Update: The story goes viral. First a  national Fox News station covers the story and then the U.K.'s Daily Mail (the largest online newspaper in the world) covers it. Bad Karma for NCL.

July 29 2014 Update:  The public relations fall-out continues.  Opposing Views ran a story. TravelPulse also covered the story.  Gawker wasn't too subtle with its headline Cruise Line Screws Over Family of 5-Year-Old With Cancer. PRNews wrote Norwegian Cruise Line Drowning in Bad PR. Huff Post Parents Parents Outraged Cruise Line Won't Reschedule Their Trip In Light Of Son's Cancer Diagnosis. Anti-Jared wrote a letter to the NCL CEO.  

All of this reminds me of one of my favorite sayings - "Karma is a bitch only when you are."

 l to the NCL CEO.

Top 10 Most Outrageous Cruise Ship Stories of 2013 & the "Worst Cruise Line in the World" Award

Carnival Poop CruiseIt's been a long year for the cruise lines. Cruise ship fires, engine failures and other mishaps have dominated the travel news in 2013. We have written several hundreds of articles this year under our motto: "everything the cruise lines don't want you to know."  

2013 has been the year of the disabled cruise ship. First, we suffered through the 24-hour-a-day CNN coverage of the infamous Carnival Triumph poop cruise. Next came the Carnival Dream, which experienced propulsion problems followed by the Carnival Legend which also experienced propulsion issues attributable to poor maintenance. Then the Carnival Elation and the Carnival-owned P&O Ventura joined the growing list of disabled/impaired cruise ships. It was only mid-March. Carnival's reputation was circling the drain!

The rest of the year saw more of the same. Problems with the Regent Seven Seas Voyager (propulsion), Carnival-owned Crown Princess (sewage), Carnival Ecstasy (propulsion), Royal Grandeur of the SeasCaribbean's Grandeur of the Seas (fire), NCL's Breakaway (loose nuts & broken welds), Royal Caribbean-owned Pullmantur's Zenith (fire causing loss of power), Bimini SuperFast (propulsion), Celebrity Millennium (propulsion), Carnival-owned Sun Princess (propulsion), Carnival-owned Royal Princess (propulsion), Carnival-owned Noordam (fire), Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas (propulsion), Carnival-owned Dawn Princess (fire), MSC Magnifica (allision), Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas (hull repair), Saga Ruby (generator break down), and Celebrity's Constellation (propulsion). 

Wow what a list, but none of the disabled ships made the top 10 list. Luckily, no one was killed or seriously injured in these mishaps.    

So what's the criteria for inclusion on the top 10 list of outrageous cruise stories you may ask? If it makes you spit on the ground, shake your head and stomp your feet in disgust, the story has a chance to make the list. I start with the least outrageous (still pretty outrageous), at number 10, and end with Rebecca Coriam - Disneythe most outrageous at number 1. 

Number 10: Disney and the Bahamas continue to refuse to cooperate with the Coriam family regarding the disappearance of their daughter Rebecca. 

In January, I wrote about a nasty tendency of the cruise industry: Stonewalling at Sea - Cruise Lines Continue to Cover Up Disappearances on the High Seas. This involved crew member Rebecca Coriam who disappeared from the Disney Wonder. Disney continues to refuse to provide meaningful information to the Coriam family about what happened to Rebecca, who was age 24 when she vanished. Although Disney's legal and security departments conducted investigations, Disney deflects questions about the mystery off to the flag state of the Bahamas. The Bahamas sent one police officer from Nassau (Officer Rolle, more about him below) to Los Angeles to conduct what everyone now agrees was a Coriam Family - DisneyMicky Mouse "investigation." The Bahamas refuses to provide information to the grieving Coriam family (photo right). Why? To avoid embarrassing Disney it seems. Watch the video

The alleged cover-up by Disney and the Bahamas is, in my view, a chilling insight into the sinister nature of the cruise industry. Disney promises a fun filled family vacation, until a crime occurs or a person goes overboard. Then the floating Magic Kingdom becomes your worst nightmare in my opinion. Undaunted, the Coriam family created an international maritime victim's website to assist other families.  

Number 9: 55 Celebrity cruise passengers robbed at gunpoint in St. Lucia.

Yes, crime and armed robbery during cruise excursions happen, although the cruise lines and travel agents hate to talk about it. Robbery at gun point of cruise passengers of their Rolexes, iPhones, cameras and cash in the Caribbean and Mexico is increasing. The cruise lines and local tourism bureaus deny it, but they're usually lying. The most dangerous port of call?  Nassau, without a doubt. St. Lucia RobberyWe've written about murder, robbery, purse snatching, and rape of tourists, in addition to the usual drug solicitations. Read a compilation of crimes against tourists here. Read this local Bahamian man's view of crime in the islands, published just today. The local police in Nassau can't even keep the teenage girls sailing from Miami safe while walking back to the ships from Senor Frogs. And this place is in charge of flag state investigations into missing persons and ship fires regarding cruise ships flying the flag of the Bahamas?      

Number 8: Royal Caribbean cuts pay, increases work, takes crew tips, and axes 100 (mostly women) employee from its corporate headquarters. 

This was a year where cruise executives' greed reached a zenith. And Royal Caribbean led the way.  It took away cash tips direct-to-the-crew, ripped off a percentage of the tips, decreased pay of officers, staff YouTube Banned Video - Royal Caribbean  & crew, increased work, and fired over a 100 (mostly women) jobs from its corporate headquarters. When a popular YouTube video "Screw the Crew" revealed the tip-snatching scam, the cruise line banned the video. No one can abuse its crew better than Royal Caribbean, except maybe Carnival (discussed below).    

Number 7: Cruise Industry ignores man overboard safety law.

In 2010, President Obama signed the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act into law. It became effective in 2012. Cruise lines are Man Overboard - Cruise Shiprequired to install state of the art technology to respond immediately to persons going overboard. The technology exists. But except for one or perhaps two cruise lines, the cruise industry refuses to comply with the law. Passengers and crew, who could be quickly rescued, die because of the cruise industry's lawlessness. The non-compliance by the non-tax paying foreign flagged cruise industry also causes the U.S. Coast Guard to spend millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars in unnecessarily-wide search and rescues which are rarely successful. Making matters worse is the cruise industry's substantial under-reporting of persons overboard. With a few million dollars spent lobbying Congress and federal agencies like the Coast Guard and the FBI, the cruise industry can do, or not do, pretty much anything it wants.   

Number 6: Breaking news - Celebrity crew member sentenced to 8 years in prison for child pornography. 

Two days ago, a Celebrity crew member was sentenced to 8 years in jail for child porn. Here's the full Celebrity Cruise Ship Crew Member - Child Pornstory. I'm tired of these perverts. In April a 15 year old boy was sexually assaulted on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas. In May, a Royal Caribbean passenger was sentenced to jail for transporting thousands of child pornography photos and videos on the Monarch of the Seas from Port Canaveral. No it's not rare. In the same month, a woman on her 17th cruise encountered a man stalking her and masterbating. She says Royal Caribbean could of cared less. Earlier this year, I wrote about Sexual Perverts & Pedophiles on Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships. Some say that sexual crimes and weirdos are everywhere and such incidents are not limited to cruise ships. They're right. Don't believe the cruise lines for a second when they say their ships are super safe. Lesson to be learned: Watch your kids. 

Number 5: Cruise industry teams up with retired Coast Guard officials and uses official Coast Guard logo to sell cruises. 

What do you do when you are a Rear-Admiral and ready to retire? Go into business with the cruise industry as a consultant. Write editorials praising the cruise lines. Leave glowing comments whenever Coast Guard Consultants for Cruise IndustryCLIA CEO Christine Duffy writes an article praising the cruise lines. When cruise ships begin to ignite to the right and left of you, tell the public that cruising is the safest and most regulated form of transportation. Be sure to say that you and your family love to cruise all of the time.  Use photos of yourself still wearing your uniform and medals. Use the official logo of your former federal agency you no longer work for. No one will know the difference. But whatever you do, don't admit that you work for CLIA. Don't explain that the Splendor and the Triumph cruise ships both caught on fire the day or two after the so-called "rigorous" Coast Guard inspections.  

Don't worry that the Coast Guard will protest your unauthorized use of federal uniforms and official logos. That's because everyone at the Coast Guard will eventually end up working for the cruise lines too.   

Number 4: Carnival fleeces its crew members and insulates itself from liability.

Carnival's outrageous conduct this year has not been limited to the Triumph poop cruise. It terminated Micky Arison - Carnivalits crew members' retirement program leaving many of its crew, particularly its loyal Filipinos, feeling betrayed. Its brands dipped into the crew's tips. The crew can't protest, because they will be fired and black-balled.  Carnival has spent millions lobbying Congress for favorable legislation which insulates itself from legal and financial liability when crew members (as well as passengers) are seriously injured or killed on its cruise ships. Carnival's brands, like Princess, also over-work their crew and subject them to grueling hours. Carnival pays no U.S. taxes.

Meanwhile Carnival Chairman Micky Arison is one of the richest persons in Florida worth well over $5,000,000,000. 

Number 3: Royal Caribbean ship doctor evades jurisdiction after allegedly maiming an ill passenger. 

A ship doctor employed on Oasis of the Seas allegedly commits gross malpractice on an ill passenger leading to sepsis, Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Doctormultiple organ failure and cerebral hemorrhage. Think that the cruise line will be responsible for the doctors who are officers on the ship, wear cruise line uniforms and work in the cruise ship infirmaries? Think again. The cruise line and the doctor reportedly tell the patient that its impossible to arrange for a medevac helicopter from the Coast Guard. They neglect the poor woman and cruise on to Mexico. This case makes me sick.

November 11, 2014 Update: Breaking News! Cruise passengers are now permitted to sue the cruise lines for medical negligence. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that cruise lines are no longer permitted to assert an "immunity defense" when their ship doctors and nurses commit medical malpractice. Read: 11th Circuit Rejects Cruise Lines' Immunity Defense to Medical Malpractice Claims. Contact us for further information.

Number 2: Silver Shadow fails sanitation inspection after caught hiding trolleys of meat, fish, ham, and cheese in crew quarters.  

We always knew that cruise lines played hide-the-ball games with the USPH inspectors, but haughty Silversea Cruises was particularly good at it. Crew members complained to us about the hide-the-food-from-the-inspectors games so we wrote to Silversea for an explanation. It ignored Silversea Cruises USPH Violationus. So we wrote about it. Silversea ignored us again. So we wrote about it again and posted photographs. Then we pitched the story to CNN which broadcast the disgusting story to a national audience in a well produced video.

For a high-brow cruise line to be both reckless and arrogant is a bad combination.

Number 1: Disney sails a crime scene and sexual predator out of a U.S. port to Nassau and flys the pervert employee home to India.

A 33 year old waiter from India brazenly follows an 11 year old girl out of the dining room and into an elevator where he kisses the child and gropes her breast. The little girl tells her grandmother who immediately reports the crime to ship security. But Disney doesn't promptly report it to the local port police in Port Canaveral, or the Brevard County police or sheriff's office, or the FBI.  Disney instead sails the ship, and the assailant and the crime scene, out of U.S. waters to Nassau, Bahamas. Even though the Bahamas is the flag state for the Disney Dream and is required to investigate crimes on Bahamian-flagged ships, Disney Cruise Line - Pervert Crew Memberthe Bahamas declines to make an arrest or prosecute. Law enforcement and prosecutors back in Florida are outraged. Disney says it did nothing wrong. You can read articles, see photos and watch video about the incident here, here, here, here, and here

Who was the police officer in Nassau who let the criminal go free? No one other than Officer Rolle. Remember him? He was responsible for botching the investigation into the disappearance of Disney crew member Rebecca Coriam who we mentioned in outrageous moment number 10 (above). What a fellow. He hides his report from the grieving family about a Disney employee lost at sea and lets the Disney child pervert go free. Yes, its a small and nasty little cruise world, isn't it?

Worst Cruise Line in the Word:

If your child vanishes on the high seas or is assaulted during a cruise, the cruise lines may be your worst enemy. They may help the assailant escape justice. They certainly don't think that they have any Disney Cruise Line - Worst Cruise Line in the Worldobligation to release any information to you. Disney hides behind the foreign-flag scheme of the indifferent and incompetent Bahamas. Disney, it seems to me, is complicit in the conspiracy to deceive the public. It's a dishonest, secretive, and rotten system.

Who gets the trophy for the "Worst Cruise Line in the World" for 2013? Disney and its magical cruise ships. Carnival may have dominated the popular cruise news with its endless poop cruise, but no one comes close to the outrageous conduct demonstrated by Disney this year. 

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

 

Photo credits: Grandeur of the Seas - abcactionnews.com; Coriam family - Daiy Mail; cruise passengers robbed in St. Lucia - DBS TV St. Lucia via the Times; Carnival Chairman Micky Arison - Forbes; man overboard - CruelKev2's blog; retired Coast Guard official - Travel Weekly and Darley Consulting; Royal Caribbean ship doctor - LinkedIn; Disney - WKMG Local 6 Orlando.

Gastrointestinal Virus Plagues Passengers Aboard HAL's Veendam Cruise Ship

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that sixty (60) of the 1237 passengers (4.85%) aboard the HAL Veendam cruise ship exhibited symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting during the last cruise.

Ten (10) of the 574 crew members (1.74%) also reported ill with gastrointestinal illness.

You can read the report here

Holland america Line Veendam Cruise ShipThe ship sailed from April 13 to May 4, 2013.

The Veendam has experienced problems with cleanliness and Illnesses over the years.

Last year, this HAL cruise ship flunked a health inspection.  That's hard to do.  Read our article: Gross! Holland America Line's Veendam Flunks Health Inspection.

The Veendam also sickened 80 and killed one passenger during a gastrointestinal outbreak in November of 2011.

Over the last decade HAL's cruise ships have experienced the most gastrointestinal illnesses and the Veendam has the third most outbreaks of the hundreds of cruise ships operating out of the U.S.  The only other cruise ships with a worse records are the Ryndam and the Amsterdam, both HAL ships. Read about the problem here.    

 

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia / Djheini

The Royal Attitude

Over the years I have learned that the single most critical factor that drives clients to our office is not when a cruise passenger has been injured or inconvenienced.  Stuff happens, and most people understand that.  But when a cruise line treats passengers poorly after injuring or inconveniencing them, that's when our law firm's telephone begins to ring.

Over 75% of the cases in our office are against Royal Caribbean.  If a crew member from India or Trinidad calls us and complains that he or she were injured on a cruise ship and then dumped back home with no or poor medical care, nine times out of ten its a Royal Caribbean employee. 

Why do so many RCCL passengers and crew members sue Royal Caribbean?

The answer is what I call the Royal attitude.

Last month, the Royal attitude was on public display following the stranding of 145 passengers in San Juan when hurricane Irene was approaching. 

Unlike Carnival which contacted or at least tried to contact guests ahead of time to tell them the port authorities were requiring cruise ships to leave the port early, Royal Caribbean didn't do anything.  Carnival paid for over 300 guest's hotels and offered to fly them to the next port to meet the cruise ship.  But Royal Caribbean did not bother to have a representative at the airport or port to explain what was happening.

Its dismissive press release then added salt into the wound.

Even cruise fans were outraged.   The popular on line cruise community Cruise Critic posted hundreds of unflattering comments about Royal Caribbean's attitude.  Its editor even wrote an scathing editorial "Bad Weather Blunder: A Lesson in Cruise Crisis Control?"

The other popular cruise community Cruisemates wrote a blog criticizing Royal Caribbean entitled "Carnival 1 - Royal Caribbean 0."

Cruise blogger John Honeywell a/k/a Captain Greybeard, who writes cruise friendly pieces for the U.K.'s Mirror, added an article "How Hurricanes and Art Led to a Series of Right Royal Blunders."  Captain GreyBeard not only joined in the criticism of Royal Caribbean for stranding it guests but mocked cruise line president Adam Goldstein's decision to avoid the issue in his Nation of Why Not blog and instead write about employees delivering the "Wow factor" by finding a guest's passport on an airplane and driving it over to the port.  He also blasted Royal Caribbean for Obfuscation the delay and lack of transparency in responding to an inquiry about problems with the art vendors on the cruise ships. 

Greybeard characterized the cruise line's non-response to his inquiries as a "masterpiece of obfuscation." 

I feel your pain too Captain Greybeard.  I wrote about Royal Caribbean's skill at obfuscation last year in a blog: Royal Caribbean Press Statements And Other Gobbledygook.

Even when the cruise line changed course in response to the universal criticism and decided to offer a future cruise credit (only 30%) to the abandoned guests, it was unable to issue a clear or genuine apology - calling the incident just an out of norm fluke.   The cruise line then arranged for president Goldstein to be interviewed in the Miami Herald about his passion for running and playing ping pong.  I'm not kidding.  145 passengers stranded in a foreign port with a hurricane approaching and the cruise president is now talking about ping pong.

You can dismiss my criticisms as coming from a lawyer who sues this cruise line every week.  But when cruise fans like Cruise Critic, Cruisemates and even the affable Captain Greybeard start talkin smack about your cruise brand, Royal Caribbean may want to consider changing its attitude toward its customers.  

Deaths, Drugs, Child Porn & Noro Virus Earn Royal Caribbean the Worst Cruise Line in the World Award (Again)

Its been a while since I awarded my monthly "Worst Cruise Line in  the World" award.

But for one cruise line - Royal Caribbean - this year has been a such nightmare that it wins the first worst cruise line award for 2011 hands down.  

Last week started off with the disappearance of a 32 year old musician employed by Royal Caribbean on its newest mega cruise ship, the Allure of the Seas.  Ms. Monika Markiewicz disembarked the Allure in Cozumel but did not return to the ship last Friday.  The Allure sailed Nelson Perez Torres - Murder - Royal Caribbean Cruise without her back to South Florida.  On Saturday, her body was found floating face down in the water off of Cozumel with wounds to her head.  The police in Mexico arrested a 24 year old employee from a local bar in Cozumel, Nelson Perez Torres, (photo left), whose parents of course swear he is a fine young man and didn't do it.  

Ms. Markiewicz was not the only young woman who died in Cozumel from the Allure of the Seas.  A 24 year old passenger, later identified as Samantha Paige Thomas, died in a Mexican hospital after allegedly swallowing a broach.  It is less than clear how Ms. Thomas ended up in the Mexican hospital.  Some people have suggested that she was initially seen in the ship infirmary which either could not or refused to treat her, leaving her in the hands of the General Hospital in Mexico.

A Mexican prosecutor convened a number of press conferences about the two deaths.  He  released medical information about Ms. Thomas and gruesome postmortem photographs of both Ms. Markiewicz and Ms. Thomas.   The international press covered these stories closely, and the Mexican press published photos and videos which undoubtedly traumatized the grieving families.   The articles inevitably contained photos of the Allure of the Seas juxtaposed with images like this of the alleged murderer or victim. 

Some newspapers in Europe (like this and this) were linking to Cruise Law News.  Not exactly the type of marketing the cruise line executives like to see.  Royal Caribbean took the unusual step of issuing a statement via PR Newswire, gratuitously adding that that the alleged killer and Ms. Markiewicz were "casually acquainted for several months."  (What a nasty PR department this cruise line has).  Royal Caribbean also made a point of characterizing the crime as "isolated and Allure of the Seas - Royal Caribbean - Cruise Ship Crimeuncharacteristic" for Cozumel, attempting to salvage Mexico's already dubious reputation as a safe place for cruisers to visit, in the hopes of keeping its mega cruise ships sailing to Mexico racked and stacked with passengers. 

The Allure's sister ship, the Oasis of the Seas, had a serious accident when a valve on a cylinder failed during a fire drill.  The cylinder struck one crew member from the Philippines in the head, killing him, and breaking the leg of one of the officers.  Royal Caribbean did not release a PR statement because the incident received little attention.  But someone identifying himself as an officer and part of the fire team left a comment on our blog that the incident was a risk which is one of the "perils of the sea."  Getting hit in the head by a defective cylinder is a peril of the sea??

Adding to these three deaths was the disappearance and death of a young man from a Royal Caribbean's cruise ship.  Last Wednesday the Spanish TV station Univision aired an "exclusive" story about the disappearance of 21-year-old Jose Miguel Pietri Tello from Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas cruise ship.  The "Primer Impacto" program showed two videos which contained interviews with his surviving family members as well as closed circuit television (CCTV) images of the young man on the cruise ship right before he went overboard.  

We covered this sad story last month Another Passenger Overboard From A Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship, where you can watch the Primer Impacto video including clips from the onboard CCTV images. 

lawsuit was filed against Royal Caribbean over the death of a 56 year old passenger who was Drug Smuggling - Royal Caribbean Crew Member - Cocaine"tossed around like a ragdoll and was seriously hurt" during the violent storm which rocked the Brilliance of the Seas.  Three days later the passenger lapsed into a coma and subsequently died.  Doctors apparently diagnosed a "brain ­hemorrhage" as the cause of death.  But Royal Caribbean chose not only to refute the allegations but to release confidential medical information about its guest in an attempt to sully the waters.  Anyone at the cruise line hear of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which protects patient's medical records?   

If stories about five deaths in the last month was not enough, three Royal Caribbean crew members (cooks) who smuggled heroin and cocaine from the Dominican Republic aboard the Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas were arrested.  $100,000 worth of cocaine and heroin were later found in a crew only area on the same cruise ship which has been sailing from Baltimore to the Caribbean islands. 

Then several Royal Caribbean crew members were arrested smuggling a large quantity of cocaine into Bermuda aboard the Explorer of the Seas. The ring leader was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

But bringing drugs onto Royal Caribbean cruise ships is not limited to crew members.  A drug dealing passenger was arrested on the Allure of the Seas after it returned from the disastrous cruise to Cozumel and then departed on what is described as the "largest gay cruise in the world."  The Atlantis Events charters have brought lots of drug overdoses and two deaths to Royal Caribbean cruise ships in the past; however, the cruise line invited the gay rave Atlantis crowd back to yet another cruise, this time aboard the Allure of the Seas.  Before the cruise, we asked whether Royal Caribbean was prepared to deal with the drug overdoses associated with the Atlantis group.  Predictably, there were multiple overdoses and one of the passengers who was friendly with the Atlantis organizers was arrested for allegedly selling over $50,000 of ecstasy, "Special K" and methamphetamine.

Royal Caribbean's PR people issued a statement that it has a "strict zero tolerance" of drugs.  Yeah right.  Last year, we reported on a drug related death on a Royal Caribbean - Atlantis cruise Atlantis Events - Royal Caribbean - Drugs involving Spencer Yu, an attorney for Warner Brothers.  The truth is that the cruise line is all too happy to invite the Atlantis partiers aboard because they spend a ton of money on the cruise ships even if they are well known to suffer through a dozen drug overdoses and a death or so each cruise.

Zero tolerance of drugs?  Royal Caribbean has already made plans to charter the Allure to Atlantis in 2012.  

Isn't this enough to win the worst cruise line in the world award?  But there's more.

The FBI arrested a crew member aboard the Constellation operated by Royal Caribbean's sister company Celebrity Cruises on child-pornography charges after the cruise ship arrived at the Port of San Diego.  His computer reportedly contained 450 photographs and about 250 video files of child pornography portraying a total of 44 different victims.  He chatted on line about wanting to have sex with children in Mexico, which was on the cruise ship's itinerary.  The crew member was employed as the audiovisual manager on the cruise ship and provided onboard guest-entertainment services. 

And to cap things off, Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas was the first cruise ship to suffer a nasty noro virus outbreak this year.    

Most cruise lines have not this much bad press in a couple of years.  But for Royal Caribbean, it comes naturally.

 

Royal Caribbean has won the "Worst Cruise Line in the World" award before:

"Titanic Dreams" - Royal Caribbean Wins "Worst Cruise Line in the World" Award