Three tears ago today,  the Freedom of the Seas caught on fire.

When we learned that the Freedom was on fire while heading to port in Falmouth, Jamaica, we called a former client who lives near the port (in Montego Bay) and asked him to video the fire. He videotaped the ship coming into port, billowing a huge amount of smoke. We immediately posted the video, here on our blog, which was viewed by over a million people on Facebook within two days. We also posted other images of the fire and the passengers mustering to prepare to abandon the fire-stricken ship.

So when Royal Caribbean tried to spin the story, with a misleading statement by its CEO that the fire was allegedly “small and quickly extinguished,” the public could make their own assessment regarding the size and ferocity of the fire. All of the major networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) carried the video on their news programs and the international media included the video on their multi-media presentations.

The public was left with the impression that the cruise line was either completely out-of-touch with the danger posed to its guests or that it deliberately fabricated a falsehood to masquerade as the truth, which I suggested in the Royal Caribbean “Small Fire” Hoax.

One crew member was seriously burned by the fire although no passengers were injured. The fire on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship occurred at a time when Carnival cruise ships, it seemed, were igniting on an all too frequent basis.

Passengers sent us copies of videos which they took of the large fire.

Neither the flag state nor the classification society nor the vessel’s underwriters not the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a survey of the damage before the ship continued its cruise and no one began to conduct an investigation into the root cause of the fire.  As we wrote soon after the fire, Royal Caribbean had hired a engineering group in install a scrubber system which involved extensive welding operations while the ship was underway, rather than conduct such dangerous work during a dry dock.

Read: Fire on the Freedom: The Show Must Go On.

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Photo Credit: Raymond Bower.

 

After nearly nine years, Cruise Law News has a new look.

LexBlog, my blog design and support company in Seattle, re-designed my blog. You will note that the text you are reading is black lettering on a white background, in contrast to the old format (above) with a blue background which people have told me, over the years, was a bit hard on their eyes and difficult to read.

Man Overboard – a Continuing Problem

Early this morning I posted my first article, after two Royal Caribbean crew members went overboard after falling from a lifeboat near Victoria, Canada – Two Crew Members Overboard From Explorer of the Seas, Rescued

It is less than clear how the crew members went overboard, with a news account from a local radio program stating that they were working on the lifeboat, while commentators to my Cruise Law News page on Facebook explaining that the lifeboat apparently flipped over while it was being raised.

Of course, if the crew members fell while performing maintenance then that would be in violation of the cruise line’s safety protocols which require ship employees working “aloft or overboard” to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), which sometimes this cruise ignores. On the other hand, if the crew members fell after the lifeboat flipped while being raised, this would be in violation of the international maritime organization (IMO) protocols which prohibit lifeboats from being raised with people aboard, which this cruise lines also often ignores.

Meanwhile, readers of our Facebook page are commenting that “you cannot just fall off of a cruise ship” or words to this effect. But, of course, you can fall overboard if you are a crew member required to work without being provided with a fall restraint harness or forced to sit in a lifeboat which is lifted with people aboard in violation of IMO regulations.

In any event, based on the little available information, fortunately there are no reported injuries due to the mishap.

New Look – New Functions

Returning to our blog’s new format, a new feature is “Report a Tip” which you can see above near the top header. We often receive information directly from crew members or guests from the cruise ships, when things go wrong on the high seas. Cruise lines do not like to release complete or accurate information when bad things happen at sea, like when a fire breaks out or when a person goes overboard.

The motto of this blog remains “Everything Cruise Lines Don’t Want You to Know.” This form should make it easier to communicate with us.

Since I started this blog in September of 2009, I have written over 3,000  articles.  Thank you to the many hundreds of crew members and cruise guests who have contacted us over the last decade. Most people who contact us wish to remain anonymous.  We of course will never reveal the names or contact information of those who contact us.

The new format includes a link to our Google Analytics information, which tracks where people around the word contact us and how many pages they read. So far today, over 19,000 people have read the article which I posted this morning here on Cruse Law News.

One issue with the new format concerns me, namely our new comment system seems a bit awkward. I am wondering whether it will still work efficiently when readers wish to communicate with us.

I’m interested in what our readers think about the new look and format? Please give us your thoughts!

Join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

Interested in this topic?  Read:

Why do you read Cruise Law News?

Two crew members, reportedly working on a lifeboat on the Explorer of the Seas, fell from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship near Victoria last evening, according to News 1130.

The two overboard ship workers were apparently rescued by another vessel, which has not been identified yet.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre stated that “the two were working on a lifeboat on the Explorer of the Seas, which belongs to Royal Caribbean Cruises, when they ended up in the water.”

The rescue centre says it “doesn’t know whether they were crew members or passengers,” which seems strange because passengers obviously do not work on lifeboats.

There is no indication exactly how long the workers were in the water or exactly how they fell from the cruise ship.  Royal Caribbean has work-aloft and working overboard procedures which require ship employees to be equipped with harness to prevent them from falling. Typically the work on lifeboats is permitted only after the ship employees obtain work-aloft certificates requiring that certain safety protocols set forth in the Royal Caribbean safety management system (called SQM on Royal Caribbean ship) be followed. Department heads and the staff captain typically must be aware of, approve and supervise the work.

The two workers were reportedly assessed for injuries and then returned to the Explorer of the Seas.

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Update: A guest aboard the Explorer of the Seas videotaped the accident. As you can see in the video below, several crew members are in a rescue craft which come alongside the cruise ship as it is underway.  It appears that there are lines (cables) to the rescue craft, which cause the craft to turn sideways, dumping two of the crew members in the water.

Update 2: The popular Crew Center site contains additional information and a video related to the incident.

Photo credit: MarineTraffic AIS of Explorer of the Seas. Video with permission by Leslie Ippolito via Twitter.

A passenger from a Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship has gone overboard in the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska, according to the National Parks Traveler nonprofit media organization.

The Park Service issued a press release Saturday night that it had suspended its search for the missing passenger who reportedly disappeared from the HAL Westerdam cruise ship late Friday afternoon.  According to the press release, the sixty-nine year-old man was reported missing at 3:50 p.m. on Friday when he did not appear for a medical appointment on board the ship, a park release said. It is unclear when the passenger actually went overboard. KTUU reports that the man went overboard sometime on Friday morning.

The Park Service was notified 7:30 Friday evening after a ship-wide search confirmed that the HAL Westerdampassenger was missing from the cruise ship.

The Park Service and the U.S. Coast Guard conducted searches via vessels and/or aircraft.

There is no information regarding exactly when or where along the 65-mile Glacier Bay the man went overboard.

This appears to be another situation where the cruise ship was not equipped with an automatic man overboard system that would immediately notify the bridge when a person went over the rails and then track the person in the water via radar and thermal imaging. The officers on the HAL cruise ship apparently had to order a search of the ship to look for the passenger. HAL has not released any public information regarding whether CCTV captured images of the man going overboard.

According to Canadian Professor Ross Klein, there have been 316 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000. 15 people have gone overboard during the first six and one-half months of this year. Nine people have gone overboard from HAL cruise ships in the last eight and one-half years.

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July 17, 2018 Update: The National Parks Traveler writes that the passenger went overboard around 6:45 AM, according to HAL PR executive Sally Andrews. This means that there was a delay of nearly 13 hours between the passenger going overboard and the cruise line finally notifying the park service (around 7:30 PM), which is another compelling reason why cruise ships should have automatic man overboard systems installed. I previously mentioned Ms. Andrews in an article many years ago titled “Suicide” – One of the Cruise Lines’ Favorite Excuses When a Passenger Disappears at Sea.

Photo credit: Roger Wollstadt CC BY-SA 2.0, commons / wikimedia.

A cruise passenger is accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl during an eastern Caribbean  cruise, according to a newspaper in West Virginia where the young man resides.

U.S. Federal prosecutors reportedly filed a motion for a guilty plea hearing in U.S. District Court in Charleston, West Virginia yesterday. Judge Joseph Goodwin scheduled the motion for hearing on Monday, July 16 at 10 a.m.

If convicted, Mr. Morrison faces up to 15 years in prison. The newspaper articles state that he is being prosecuted via a criminal information rather than a grand jury indictment, “which usually indicates a suspect plans to enter a guilty plea.”

According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Joshua Morrison, of Kenova, West Virginia, who was 18 years old a the time of the cruise and is now age Alleged Sexual Assault Cruise 21, is accused of coercing a girl from Utah, then just age 12 years old, into performing sexual acts while the two were on a cruise aboard the Carnival Conquest. The alleged crime reportedly occurred during the cruise on January 8, 2016, when he was 18 years old.

According to the criminal complaint, Morrison reportedly instructed the young girl to perform oral sex on him and eventually forced her into having intercourse. The girl reported suffered physical injuries as a result of the encounter.

The newspaper states that the child was able to remember the first name and first initial of the last name of the suspect, and that he was from West Virginia. The girl’s mother reported the alleged crime to authorities about a year after it occurred. The newspaper states that:

“The criminal complaint states the suspect was aware of the girl’s age, even telling her he had experience with women below the age of consent. The alleged assault took place in a bathroom aboard the ship. After the incident, Morrison told the girl not to tell anyone, because he could go to jail. He also threatened the victim that he would find her if she did alert the authorities . . ”

The criminal complaint (see below) filed in federal court in West Virginia alleges that Mr. Morrison violated 18 U.S.C. 2243(2) involving sexual abuse of a minor, and was verified by a FBI agent. The crime occurred on the Carnival cruise ship on the last night of the six day cruise. The incident occurred in the men’s bathroom located below the teen club on the cruise ship.

According to the complaint, Mr. Morrison pressured the child who said “no” or “I don’t know” when he asked her to have sex. Mr. Morrison told the girl that she was not the first 12 year old that he had sex with. She “felt pressured to do something with him and did not feel like she would be able to leave the restroom without engaging in sexual activity . . . ”  But he reportedly blamed the child to the FBI agent, saying: “it was her idea and I was stupid enough to go along with it. . . she did not look that much younger, but the braces gave it away . . . she was just a little kid . . .”

Like many child victims, she told her mother about the incident only after the cruise (about a year after it occurred), after first disclosing the sexual abuse to a church official. The mother then notified the FBI.

Last summer, NBC aired a special on sexual assaults on cruise ships. Approximately one-third of sexual crimes during cruises are committed against children. The crimes are perpetrated by both crew members and other passengers alike. Parents should be on heightened alert for pedophiles and perverts during cruises and should not assume that their children are safe because they are on a cruise ship.

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July 16, 2018 Update: Man pleads guilty to sexual abuse in cruise ship incident. “Morrison admitted that the sexual abuse took place on board a cruise ship in international waters on or about midnight on Jan. 9, 2016. He admitted that he was 18 years old at the time, the minor was 12 years old at the time, and he knew the minor’s age.”


Photo credit: Busted newspaper.

USA v Morrison by James Walker on Scribd

Today, the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an 80-year-old passenger from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship off of the coast of North Carolina.

The crew of the Adventure of the Seas requested the emergency medical evacuation of an 80-year-old female passenger who had suffered a stroke.

The Coast Guard dispatched a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from an its air station in Elizabeth City, North Carolina  After hoisting the woman from the cruise ship, the helicopter crew transported her to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington for medical treatment.

The cruise ship was approximately 150 miles southeast of Wilmington at the time of the medevac.

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Video credit: U.S. Coast Guard video by Air Station Elizabeth City / Coast Guard District 5 PADET Baltimore via Defense Visual Information Distribution System (DVIDS)

Turks and CaicosThe U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an 89-year-old man suffering from a stroke from a Carnival cruise ship on Monday.

The Carnival Vista was heading from Miami to Ocho Rios, Jamaica, sailing around the north-eastern corner of Cuba, when the Carnival cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard for medical assistance. The Carnival ship had left Miami on Sunday and was sailing near the western waters of the lower Bahamian islands.

At around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, the Carnival Vista contacted the Coast Guard which reportedly dispatched  a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from the Coast Guard station in Clearwater, Florida. The Carnival ship was approximately 138 miles west of Great Inagua, Bahamas.

The man, suffering from chest pains and accompanied by a nurse, was taken to Cheshire Hall Medical Centre on the island of Providenciales in the western Turks and Caicos. He arrived around around 6:45 p.m. at the hospital. His medical condition is currently unknown.

Video credit: Defense Visual Information Distribution System (DVIDS) via U.S. Coast Guard District 7.

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Cruise Medevac Turks and Caicos

A cruise passenger reportedly went overboard early this morning from the Seven Seas Mariner.

The cruise ship was returning, eventually, to Vancouver from a cruise to ports in Alaska. The ship was sailing to Victoria on the 10th day of an 11-day Alaska cruise which began in Vancouver on June 30th.  The cruise ship apparently first realized that the passenger had gone overboard when the ship was just north of Cape Flattery, at the northwestern tip of Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula.

The captain of the cruise ship reportedly told the Coast Guard that video footage showed a passenger jumping into the sea from an eighth-deck balcony at 4:15 a.m.  AIS data shows that the cruise ship Man Overboard Seven Seas Mariner Cruisehas turned around and has sailed to the northwest apparently in search for the overboard passenger.

Shortly after releasing information about how the passenger went overboard, the Coast Guard in the Pacific Northwest district in the tweeted:

“In previous post, the word “jump” was used, however we have NO indication of why the individual went overboard. Investigation will help determine what happened. Again, we have NO CLEAR info on what lead to him going overboard; crews actively searching at this time.”

In this case, the Coast Guard has at least accurately reported that the passenger went overboard earlier this morning.  In the last overboard cruise ship case, the Coast Guard erroneously reported that a crew member was seen going overboard from the Norwegian Getaway at 3:20 PM (which is when NCL finally realized that he was missing from the ship) when he actually went into the water at least 12 hours earlier.

The Seattle Times reports that the 73 year-old man’s wife “was awakened around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday by “a breeze coming from the balcony door cracked open” and discovered her husband missing, the Coast Guard said in one of several early-morning tweets about the rescue effort.” It is less than clear if and when the guest’s wife reported her husband missing to the ship’s crew.

This case is another example of a cruise ship where apparently no automatic man overboard system was installed. Such a system would immediately trigger an alarm in the bridge when someone goes over the railings and then track the person in the water through state-of-the-art infrared and radar technology. Without such a system, the ship has to look through CCTV film to see if it sheds light on if and when a passenger or crew member went overboard. The result is a delayed response and a huge search grid to be searched by Coast Guard aircraft and vessels.

According to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, 314 people have gone overboard since 2000.

Update: Unfortunately, according to KOMO News the passenger was found, unconscious. He was flown to a Port Angeles hospital where he was pronounced dead.

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Photo credits: Top – MarineTraffic; bottom – KOMO.

Seven Seas Mariner Man Overboard

Two cruise passengers were involved in a zip lining accident during a stop in Roatan, Honduras on July 5, 2018.

La Prensa newspaper in Honduras reports that a couple who arrived in Roatan on a cruise ship last Thursday collided with one another while on a zip line.

The newspaper in Honduras identified the passengers as Egael Fishman and Shif Fanken, reportedly both citizens of Israel. Mr. Fishman was killed and Ms. Fanken was seriously injured during the accident.

Radio America Honduras first tweeted about the accident on July 5, 2018 and published photographs Zip Line Accident Rotan(right) of Mr. Fishman and Ms. Fanken being taken from the scene of the accident. Ms Fanken was reportedly taken to the Wood Medical Center in Coxen Hole, and was subsequently flown via air ambulance back to the U.S.  A newspaper in Israel states that Mr. Fishman died from his injuries.

The cruise ships in Roatan on July 5, 2018 included Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas and Carnival’s Carnival Miracle and Carnival Dream. There may have been other cruise ships there.

10 years ago, a 44 year-old woman from NCL’s Norwegian Spirit died when a faulty cable snapped while she was zip-lining in Roatan, causing her to fall 65 feet.

Nearly three years ago, a woman from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship visiting Roatan was seriously injured during a zip line excursion which was advertised and marketed by the cruise line on its website.

BTNews states that the couple was recently married and took a cruise for their honeymoon.

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July 8, 2018 Update:  We have learned that the guests were from Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. The zip lining excursion was sold by the cruise line as the “Extreme Caribe Zip Line Tour” (RCCL code RT86). Royal Caribbean represents in its shore excursion guide that “we have carefully selected the finest excursion at each port” to deliver the “highest-quality, handpicked tours” with the “top tour operators.”

At the time of the accident, it reportedly was raining very hard and the excursion employees were not equipped with walkie-talkies in order to communicate.

July 9, 2018 Update: Blame the victims? According to the Washington Post, the tourism people in Honduras take a shot a the honeymoon couple: “the Honduran Institute of Tourism told Radio America it regretted the accident, saying it was due to ‘poor operation’ on behalf of the couple. The institute’s director, Emilio Silvestri, told Radio America that the company in charge of the zip line took all appropriate security measures.”

Photograph credit: La Prensa via Radio America Honduras

The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a 79-year-old passenger who was suffering chest pains from a Norwegian Cruise Line ship near Cuba on July 4, 2018, and flew him to Jackson Memorial Hospital here in Miami.

The Norwegian Sky had just sailed from Havana, Cuba, and was beginning its voyage back to Miami when the cruise ship notified the Coast Guard in Key West that the senior citizen required emergency medical care. The Coast Guard dispatched an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Miami to the cruise ship around 4:45 PM, when the NCL ship was approximately 65 miles southwest of Key West.

Video credit: Defense Visual Information Distribution System (DVIDS) – U.S. Coast Guard District 7