A man reportedly went overboard from Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas last night, according to a passenger on the cruise ship.  His twitter account contains a graphic reference to the recovery of the overboard man’s body by a rescue boat. The passenger states that the person apparently went overboard around 3:00 a.m. last night, as the cruise ship was sailijng from St. Kitts to St Thomas, US Virgin Islands.

There is a second video poster online which shows the deceased man in the rescue boat, which we are not posting here. It is currently unknown whether the overboard person was a passenger or a crew member.

The poster of the tweets apparently deleted his Twitter account after we published this article.

Royal Caribbean is one of the cruise lines which have not installed automatic man overboard systems, like this or this, which would instantly send a signal to the bridge when someone goes over the rails. Sophisticated motion detectors will signal an alarm when the person goes overboard. Radar and infrared technology will then track the person in the water, even at night, increasing the prospects of a successful search and rescue.

Royal Caribbean says that the technology is not reliable, according to a comprehensive article written by Rosie Spinks for Quartz titled People fall off cruise ships with alarming regularity. Can anything be done to stop it?

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein, there have been 347 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000.

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August 14, 2019 Update: Royal Caribbean, which does not respond to our requests for information, issued a statement to the popular Cruise Hive:

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic incident that occurred on the Symphony of the Seas en route to Saint Thomas this morning. Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones for their loss, and our care team is providing support and assistance during this difficult time.

Upon the initial report that an Australian adult male had gone overboard, our ship immediately turned, launched a rescue boat, and conducted a full-scale search. We are working closely with authorities and will continue to assist in their investigation.”

August 15, 2019 Update: Australian Cruise Ship Passenger Falls Off Royal Caribbean Boat, Videos Deleted From Twitter.

August 16, 2019 Update: Sun Man who died going overboard on Royal Caribbean cruise revealed as boss of top UK firm Rockstar Jonathan Pfahl.

Video credit: @Josh_Mackey15 via Twitter; Symphony of the Seas – Darthvadrouw – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

A week ago we posted an article which showed the Carnival Victory belching thick black smoke into the air while it was still moored at the Princess George wharf in Nassau.

Carnival was also recently caught illegally burning heavy fuel oil in protected areas on 19 occasions, according to the Miami Herald. The Herald has consistently covered the DOJ’s investigation into the environmental record of the cruise giant which has resulted in $60,000,000 in fines in the last three years.

Carnival also admitted that in July of 2017, the Carnival Pride ship dumped 15 pounds of food waste into Half Moon Cay, the company’s private island used as a beach for cruise passengers. The DOJ’s investigation revealed that the Carnival ships often discharge large quantities of plastic items mixed with trash and garbage, in Bahamian waters among other locations. The Miami Herald also reported that the majority of the 500,000 gallons of treated sewage illegally dumped from Carnival owned ships occurred in Bahamian waters.

A resident of Nassau posted a comment to my article showing the Carnival Victory spewing heavy smoke over the port and downtown Nassau, asking “Can Carnival just stop bringing their floating toilets to our country please?”

Four months ago, the Bahamas’ Minister of Transport said that the government will allegedly undertake a “comprehensive” review into the “disturbing” report regarding the discharge of plastic items from Carnival ships. The Miami Herald mentioned that the minister issued a statement that “as the port and coastal state in which the violations may have occurred, the Bahamas will investigate and take measures as appropriate.”  There is no indication that such an investigation has taken place to date. It remains to be seen whether the Bahamian government will conduct any genuine investigation into Carnival’s bad behaviour, but there is considerable evidence already that Carnival’s malfeasance has already inflicted substantial damage on the Bahamas.

The U.S. Government’s Quarterly Status Report, dated April 8, 2019, states that the Carnival Elation, which was regularly sailing from Jacksonville to numerous locations in the Bahamas, including Nassau, Freeport and Princess Cay, “knowingly and deliberately” discharged plastic items from the ship, which it characterized as “one of the most significant violations of probation.”  That constitutes a clear violation of MARPOL Annex V and is a potential felony violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.  The government auditor on the Elation informed the Carnival environmental officer that “plastic and other non-food items were mixed with the vessel’s food waste and that the garbage was not being properly segregated.” However, Carnival reportedly took no remedial measures and subsequently discharged the waste with the knowledge that it contained plastic waste. (This is undisputed by Carnival).

The Government explained to the court overseeing its probation that plastic pollution is likely the “most widespread pollution event adversely impacting the marine environment. The adverse impact is extensive and tragic. Virtually all species of marine wildlife, many of which are threatened or endangered, including seabirds, cetaceans (e.g., whales and dolphins), and sea turtles ingest plastic and then die of starvation because it clogs their stomachs. Plastic pollution in the ocean is of epidemic proportion and has the potential to threaten the health of the oceans, coral reefs, food safety and tourism.”

But Roger Frizzell, a spokesman for Carnival Corp., was quoted in the Miami Herald as claiming that “the dumping had no negative impact to marine life or people.”

The photograph above to the left shows a “food waste chute” on a Carnival ship with clumps of food mixed with plastic, silverware and bottle caps. The photo was sent to this office by a Carnival crew member who wishes to remain anonymous. The photo shows how food and non-food items are routinely mixed together and then thrown into the chute to be dumped into the water. The photo to the bottom right, showing plastic and waste items mixed together in a pulper system on a Carnival ship which dumped the waste in Bahamian waters, was filed by the U.S. Government in the pending pollution case filed against Carnival.

The Government also referred in its recent report to several other Carnival owned ships (the Carnival Conquest, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Magic, and Carnival Vista) which discharged plastic and other non-food items overboard in Bahamian waters. These governmental filings state that the items included “plastic straws, plastic knives, rubber bands, plastic corn on the cob holders, broken plastic cups, paper clips, aluminum bottle caps, aluminum foil wrappers,” and other items. The Government believes that Carnival’s problems remain “ongoing” and “systemic” in nature.

The filings by the Court Appointed Monitor (CAM) also discussed another incident in November 2018 when the Carnival Conquest unlawfully discharged approximately 66,000 gallons of ballast water in the waters of the Bahamas. A Carnival bridge officer reportedly offered to fabricate documents in order to cover up the illegality of the discharge by changing the time and location, so that it would appear to have been in an area where such discharges were allowed.

The Bahamas has a profound interest in protecting its air and water from such abuses by the cruise industry. But the Bahamas essentially has no mechanism to enforce international pollution laws when cruise ships pollute its waters, even when the ships are flying the flag of the Bahamas.

Complicating matters is the fact that Carnival is building what it describes as a $100-million mega cruise port in Grand Bahama, and the company “promised it would not hurt the island’s fragile environment,” according to the Nassau Tribune. Carnival is reportedly leasing 329 acres of Bahamian land in an area known as Sharp Rock in East Grand Bahama, which the newspaper describes as an “eco-sensitive zone.” The Tribune writes that Carnival executive Giora Israel (Carnival Corp.’s Senior Vice President of Global Port & Destination Development) said the company is allegedly “big on protecting the environment.” She promised that “Carnival would not harm the environment during the construction phase, and would preserve 110 acres as a natural wetland.” Motivating the Bahamas to enact and enforce Bahamian environment laws and regulations seems to be fraught with potential problems of politicians pandering to Carnival or other U.S. based cruise lines.

Disney Cruises, for example, is the latest cruise line to be given the green light by the Bahamas to proceed with developing Bahamian land and water, apparetnly with little environmental oversight.  Disney plans to develop the southern portion of the island of Eleuthera into a private destination. Lighthouse Point will be turned from an undeveloped natural preserve into Disney’s private cruise port. There are concerns that the dock and pier planned by Disney for the area will require the island to be dredged.

The Bahamas is not requiring any revenue sharing with Disney. The Bahamas will not collect any income taxes or real property taxes which would would benefit the Bahamas. The Bahamas is about to lose one of its last unspoiled sites in exchange for Disney’s unenforceable promise that it may hire Bahamians in the future.

The Bahamas has already faced the indignity of having the Federal court here in Miami reject the motion to intervene in the pollution case filed on behalf of Fotini “Sam” Tsavousis Duncombe, who is the co-founder of a Bahamas Environmental group called “reEarth,” as well as other individuals and entities in Alaska affected by Carnival’s pollution.  Ms. Duncombe represented the sentiments of the citizens of the Bahamas which received the brunt of the illegal discharges by Carnival into its waters when cruise ships dumped plastics, bottle caps, wood, aluminum and other garbage which had been mixed together with food items discharged via food chutes.

Carnival executives promise that the cruise corporation will do better. Of course, Carnival has lied before, even before U.S. District Court judges overseeing their probation for widespread pollution.  Carnival will likely get caught again engaging in dumping plastics, or oil, or untreated grey water, or untreated sewage, or sludge from its emissions scrubbers, or trash and garbage, in the pristine waters of the Bahamas, and it will likely lie again. The Bahamas should realize that it is dealing with what the federal district judge here in Miami presiding over the pollution case called a “recidivist criminal” which has continually engaged in world-wide pollution and repeatedly lied about it.

The U.S. courts have seemed reluctant to impose a meaningful fine to stop Carnival’s environmental recklessness, and have even refused to recognize a Bahamian citizen as a victim of Carnival’s malfeasance. Until a Bahamian court (and other courts in the Caribbean) imposes a stiff fine against this billion dollar giant, rather than just a minimal slap on the wrist like the U.S. courts have done, the Bahamas will remain a dumping ground where Carnival ships can discharge plastic waste in its beautiful waters and burn high sulfur bunker fuel in its beautiful skies with impunity.

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Image credit: PTZtv – video of Carnival Victory; pulper system – Court Appointed Monitor; Carnival Elation and Half Moon Cay – Miami Herald via Twitter.

 

 

A  passenger disappeared from the Sun Princess cruise ship during a five-day cruise to Okinawa, Japan after from the port of Keelung in Taiwan on Wednesday, August 7, 2019.

The forty-one year old woman was reportedly traveling with her mother and aunt, according to the Focus Media News Channel.

The article does not state the day or time of the woman’s disappearance, but states that the victim, identified only by her surname Wang (王), was first discovered missing at 6 a.m. on Friday morning.

According to this news source, Princess Cruises subsequently claimed that the ship’s crew allegedly “quickly launched a full-scale search.” However, there are no facts published which shed light of when the woman went overboard or when the cruise ship realized that its guest went overboard.  The usual scenario, given the failure of Princess Cruises to equip its ships with automatic man overboard systems like this or this, is for there to be a delay of many hours between the person going over the rails and when the ship begins a search.

Like most cases, it appears that the cruise line first realized after the fact that the woman went into the water after it located camera footage of her “going over the guardrail on the 11th deck of the ship and falling overboard.”

The ship changed course and sent out a rescue team in an attempt to locate the guest. It found the missing woman approximately an hour and fifteen minutes later.

Coast Guard officers in Taiwan yesterday (Sunday) boarded the Princess cruise ship in Keelung after it returned from Okinawa to determine “if foul play was involved in the death of the overboard woman,” according to the news source in Taiwan. The Coast Guard officials examined the body of the  Taiwanese woman, who was recovered from the sea after she went overboard from the cruise ship. They also requested to see video footage related to the incident.

According to the CruiseMapper blog, “it wasn’t immediately known whether the accident was related to Typhoon Lekima, that was barreling through the ocean between Japan and Taiwan at the time.”

Safety at Sea reported: “Authorities in Taiwan, China, and Japan have advised ships to take extra care as the typhoon, with maximum winds of 227 km per hour, was originally classified as a super typhoon. The classification was subsequently downgraded.”

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein there have been 346 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since the year 2000.

A Princess Cruises passenger also went overboard last week from the Majestic Princess. Last Wednesday, a 45-year-old Chinese man apparently jumped from the Princess cruise ship which sailed out of Shanghai, according to a news source in China.

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August 13, 2019 Update: Overboard woman went over the rails “intentionally,” Princess Cruises now claims in a statement to CNN. Still no explanation why Princess cruise ships have no automatic man overboard systems.

Photo credit: Sun Princess – Bahnfrend – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia; Majestic Princess – BuhaM – extracted from Majestic Princess leaves Bay of Kotor.webmPlay media, CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

Numerous news sources are reporting that the Carnival Fantasy failed a recent sanitation inspection (on July 17, 2019) by the United States Public Health. The USPH gave the ship a score of just 77.

This is the lowest sanitation score in the nearly thirty year history of this particular Carnival ship. The Carnival Fantasy failed its first sanitation inspection in March of 1990 with a score of 78.

Dirty Water

The USPH inspectors found what is described as “brown water” which ran from the showers in the ship’s medical facility. The inspectors did not come to a determination of the cause of the water. It left it to Carnival to investigate the cause of the problem and whether the problems exists in other showers on the ship.

The USPH report indicated that there were numerous problems with potable water disinfection and improper chlorine levels for the recreational water facilities on the cruise ship.

Soiled Containers, Trays, Cups, Bowls & Silverware and Flies, Flies and More Flies

“At least 15 flies” were observed on bagels and bread in the Lido salad bar.

The sanitation report indicates that multiple serving station lacked sneeze guards and/or were improperly cleaned. Inspectors found numerous soiled containers, trays, cups, bowls, food slicers, and silverware.

Deficiencies were noted in food preparation, storage and handling as well as food equipment cleaning. Carnival galley employees failed to properly clean and sanitize food equipment and utensils, increasing the potential of  creating “severe foodborne illness and death” of guests.

Dirty Swimming Pool and Whirlpools Filled With Kids?

Other sanitation violations concerned the ship’s main swimming pool, including a “visible film on top of the water” of the main pool, as well as “excessive visible debris floating in the water.”

The ship lacked cautions against use by children (“children” are defined as  under 16 years of age for the purpose of whirlpool safety sign requirements). Inspectors noted a minor in the whirlpool who had been present prior to the inspector’s arrival. A crew member told the minor to leave but while the inspector was in the area, two more minors walked through the area. “Crew explained that children were not allowed in the whirlpools, but that they were able to walk through the area. There was no crew member constantly stationed in the area at the time of inspection.”

A post on Twitter by a cruise passenger, who was apparently on a prior cruise, showed around 16 minors jammed into a hot tub, suggesting that Carnival routinely permits minors into the ship’s whirlpools.

Failure to Comply With Gastroenteritis Protocols

An ill crew member with symptoms of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) went to work early one morning (at 5:00 a.m.) until 2:30 p.m. without reporting to the ship infirmary. There were also multiple failures of the medical staff to document and/or interview crew members who were in close contact with crew members suffering from AGE

A Record Low Score for the Fantasy – Have the Deficiencies Really Been Totally Corrected?

The score of 77 was the lowest sanitation score in the nearly 30 year history of this Carnival cruise ship. You can read the report at this link. It tied the score of the Carnival Breeze. The lowest score of any Carnival cruise ship is just 71 involving the Carnival Legend in 2006.

Although Carnival claims (below) that it rectified all of the sanitation short comings, the CDC website indicates that Carnival has not submitted a “Corrective Action Report” following the inspection which occurred over three weeks ago.

The Fantasy Joins Carnival’s Hall of Shame of Dirty Ships

In the last few years, there have been five Carnival ships which failed USPH sanitation inspections.  The Carnival Liberty received a score of 80 last year. Three other Carnival ships failed inspection in a period of just two months, including the Carnival Breeze (77 ), Carnival Triumph (78) and the spectacular failure of the Carnival Vista (79) where crew members were caught hiding food and galley equipment in crew members’ quarters from USPH inspectors.

Carnival Cruise Line has a reputation as providing affordable “fun ships” for the masses. But, in truth, it is also a recalcitrant criminal cruise line that has a history of violating the few U.S. laws which apply to foreign-flagged cruise ships. In the three years, it was been fined $60,000,000 for violating environmental laws, conspiracy, and lying to the U.S. Coast Guard regarding the widespread discharge of oil, plastics, and garbage from its fleet of cruise ships.

It should come as no surprise to see the Carnival Fantasy joining the growing number of Carnival cruise ships caught skirting USPH sanitation standards.

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Image Credit: Carnival Fantasy – Ron Cogswell Wikipedia / Creative Cmmons CC-by-2.0.

Yesterday the webcam in the port of Nassau in the Bahamas showed the +20 year old Carnival Victory belching thick black smoke from its funnel.

PTZtv which operates the webcam tweeted the two minute video with the caption “no smoke without . . . ? – – hard to imagine anything good happening here.”

The video is a little deceiving as it initially shows a Royal Caribbean cruise ship (seems like the Navigator of the Seas) in the foreground, but the pollution is actually coming from the funnel of a Carnival cruise ship (i.e., the Carnival Victory) which is behind the Royal Caribbean ship.

The responses on Twitter were predictable. Some suggested that this was somehow normal upon the firing up of the engines while about to leave port (the Carnival Victory was scheduled to leave Nassau around 5:00 p.m. yesterday).  @DrCruiseGuy tweeted: “Just using a lot of power firing up and soot is blowing loose.

@SporksOfFury tweeted the obvious: “That definitely looks gnarly, but we were docked next to a Carnival ship in Nassau a few years ago, that had similar smoke coming out of its stack. Not quite as bad, but still gnarly.

@Airpowerimages offered a humorous twist on the tradition of white smoke coming from the chimney on top of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican whenever the College of Cardinals select a new pope  – New Pope?

 tweeted what should be bottom line analysis that this was no joking matter: “Yep, cruise ships are the worst for carbon footprint.

Of course, the emissions from this Carnival Cruise Line ship could not come at a worst time for Carnival Corporation which has been filed $60,000,000 for widespread air and water pollution in just the last three years.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) levied a record fine of $40,000,000 after Carnival-owned Princess Cruises pleaded guilty in December of 2016 to serious, widespread and long-term pollution crimes involving the use of secret bypass valves on five Princess cruise ships to discharge oil directly into the water around the world, as well as conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

More recently, the DOJ levied a fine against Carnival Corporation of an additional $20,000,000 after the U.S. government caught the cruise giant of “repeatedly” illegally discharging food contaminated with plastic waste, aluminum, metals and other non-food items in violation of its probation.

The DOJ also fined Carnival Corporation and/or its brand Holland America Line and Princess Cruises an additional fines totalling $22,500,000 in the last two decades for dumping oil and plastic into the water.

Carnival Corporation has also been caught violating air emission laws in the past several years while on probation for environmental crimes. The Miami Herald reported that the Carnival  P&O Azura burned heavy fuel oil for 16 hours while traveling through Iceland’s Environmental Protection Zone. The heavy fuel oil that many cruise ship ships use is high in sulfur. Sulfur emissions in ship exhausts is linked to hundred of thousands of premature deaths from lung cancer / cardiovascular disease and millions of childhood asthma cases annually.

In light of Carnival’s shoddy environmental record and its habit of violating probation when caught illegally discharging oil and plastics and illegally emitting air pollution, it is discouraging to see this recidivist criminal corporation resorting to its old ways so soon after its executives stood in Judge Seitz’s courtroom last month and promised that they learned their lesson.

Carnival Corporation did not immediately respond to our request for information.

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Update: July 31, 2019 – Carnival released the following statement: “Carnival Victory incident in question involved an adjustment of the boiler, causing smoke from the ship’s funnel.  The issue was resolved in less than 10 minutes and the smoke quickly dissipated and the ship resumed normal operations.”

The PTZtv video shoes heavy smoke from the Carnival Victory funnels as of 4:25 P.M. These photos below show the cruise ship still emitting thick smoke at 5:09 P.M., heavily smoking 35 minutes after the video stops (photo below, left), as the cruise ship is backing out of  its berth.  At 5:39 P.M. over approximately one hour and 15 minutes after the video ends (photo below, right), the Carnival ship is filmed after leaving the port of Nassau, still emitting smoke.

Video credit: PTZtv

 

Today a video taken by a passenger from the Disney Fantasy cruise ship was posted on Twitter. It shows a dummy tethered to a rope being dropped over the railing of a passenger balcony at the stern of the Disney ship, violently twisting at the end of the rope, and then being slowly pulled back up to the balcony.

A number of other people on Twitter questioned what was happening, with many guessing that Disney may have been testing an man overboard (MOB) system.

The video was posted by @nicholasbueller who deleted his tweet and video after this article was published. 

The Disney Fantasy was in port in Cape Canaveral today, having returned from a seven day cruise to Mexico, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and the Bahamas. The ship left today from Port Canaveral on a week cruise to Aruba, Barbados, Martinique, St. Kitts and the Bahamas. The video was apparently taken while the ship was in Castaway Cay in the Bahamas yesterday.

Four years ago, acquaintances of mine went on a Disney cruise and watched as the ship’s man overboard system was tested.  A crew member threw a rubber test dummy on a rope over the rail and logged the results whether the system detected the “person” going overboard.

An officer also talked to them about the man overboard system, saying that the monitoring equipment on the bridge is a “pain” for the bridge officers. They complained that there was an issue with false alarms, mostly from the ocean spray.

They sent me a photo (right) which they took of the dummy used in the man overboard test. Read: Disney’s Man Overboard System. There was also a suggestion that Disney’s MOB system was manufactured by Seafaring Security Services, as discussed in the article, although Disney has never officially confirmed this information.

Cruise lines, of course, are super-secret when it come to whether their ships have man overboard systems and, if so, what type of system is installed. Disney has never publicly admitted which MOB system it has or whether it has even has an effective automated system system like this and this, as required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act.

My best guess is that Disney, unlike most cruise lines, has an automatic system due to the number of successful Disney search and rescue operations where overboard passengers have been saved at sea.

It was surprising to see that Disney was performing the dummy testing in front of passengers at a port of call (albeit at their private destination). You can hear the dummy “splatting” when it landed on the stern near the Disney logo and name of the cruise ship (photo left), after it was dropped from the passenger balcony. The crew apparently dropped and retrieved the dummy several times. At least one person on Twitter expressed alarm that she was witnessing some type of emergency taking place.

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Video screen grab – @nicholasbueller via Twitter. 

A violent brawl broke out on P&O’s Britannia last night as the ship was sailing from Bergen, Norway to Southampton.  A Chief Correspondent of ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Richard Gaisford, tweeted about the melee which occurred as the Britannia cruise ship was returning to the UK following a one week cruise to ports in Norway. The cruise was advertised as the “7 Night Norwegian Fjords” cruise.

The Daily Mail reported that nine passengers were injured during the violence which erupted after a booze-fuelled patriotic event on board the cruise ship. The Telegraph reported that families on the cruise were “forced to flee to their cabins or hide as apparently drunken passengers hurled furniture and plates at one another as a buffet descended into violence.”

Brawls on cruise ships are hardly rare. The vast majority of these brawls occur on Carnival owned cruise ships (P&O is a Carnival Corp. brand).  There are clear reasons for this problem, in my opinion:

The “wider audience:” Cruising is now more popular than ever. The cruise line’s trade organization, CLIA, says that over 30 million passengers will take a cruise this year.  Cheaper fares have attracted what Carnival Corporation chairmen Micky Arison characterizes as the “wider audience.” Nine years ago in an article titled Cruise Ship Brawls – A Problem that Will Get Bigger with Bigger Ships, I wrote about cruise executive Arison discussing potential issues associated with cheap cruise tickets and a more diverse group of passengers.

Arison said: “cruise ships are a microcosm of any city or any location and stuff happens . . . The negatives of discounting might be less commission for agents and less revenue for us but the positive is it opens up the product to a wider audience.” I mentioned that the “wider audience” will undoubtedly include a younger crowd from a different demographic, including what I call the hard partying “Bud Light – tank top” crowd.

Too much alcohol on increasingly gigantic ships: Cruise lines aren’t profitable based solely on their cruise fares. Of all “onboard purchases,” including casino sales, shore excursions, specialty restaurants and gift shops, alcohol sales are the key to keeping the tax-free foreign flagged cruise ships profitable.  Pushing alcohol sales are a key part of cruising on certain mass market cruise lines.

Cruise lines make hundreds of millions of tax-free dollars a year selling booze. Bartenders, who make a earning solely on gratuities and tips, are often prone to over-serve guests.

Ill trained and and insufficient number of security guards: A common complaint we hear from passengers is that ship security does not intervene at an early stage to stop potentially violent situations from escalating and getting out of hand. The cruise line typically claim that their security guards are “highly trained,” but all too often the security personnel and ship officers are filmed kicking and beating passengers (or they are preoccupied with trying to stop passengers from filming the out of control violence). Take a look at Top 5 Brawls on Carnival’s Fun Ships via YouTube.

Nine years ago, I asked how Carnival owned cruise ship (the Britannia is owned by Carnival Corp.) will handle the “wider audience” flocking onto its larger cruise ships. If cruise ships are like cities and “stuff happens,” as Carnival’s Arison rightfully suggests, what steps are cruise lines taking to protect their guests? Will the cruise lines will ever hire a full complement of well trained and experienced security guards? Or will they continue to try and save money with only a few inexperienced “guards” trying to protect their guests from the inevitable violence when thousands of people squeeze into the huge ships and far too much booze is added to the mess?

The BBC reports that six people suffered injuries. Two other guests, a 43-year-old man and 41-year-old woman, both of Chigwell, Essex, were arrested on suspicion of assault on the Britannia and are currently in police custody.

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Update: Over a decade ago, U.K cruise expert Jane Archer wrote Cruising: When Louts Waive the Rules (“P&O’s plan to attract new passengers to its new ship seems to have backfired . . .  A few said that they had a wonderful holiday and wondered what all the fuss was about, but most of the comments do not make happy reading.”)

Photo credit: Britannia – photographed by Brian Burnell uploaded to Commons by George Hutchinson, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Today the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal published an opinion in a case where a group of passengers reportedly gang raped a heavily intoxicated minor aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas.

A Christmas Nightmare

In December of 2015, the day before Christmas, the girl (age 15) in question boarded the Oasis of the Seas with her two sisters and grandparents. She alleged that on the first night of the seven day cruise a group of around a dozen adult male passengers bought multiple alcoholic drinks for her in a lounge and other public areas of the cruise ship. They plied her with enough alcohol that she became “highly intoxicated, obviously drunk, disoriented, and unstable” and “obviously incapacitated.” The group of nearly a dozen men then steered her “to a cabin where they brutally assaulted and gang raped her.”

The lawsuit further alleged that multiple Royal Caribbean crew members, including those responsible for monitoring the ship’s security cameras, observed the male guests buying the alcohol which was consumed by the minor and then “leading her away to a cabin while she was incapacitated.” Yet, the crew members “did nothing to protect or help her.”

You can read the opinion here. The case is being handled by the Lipcon, Margulies law firm. The appeal was handled by Carol Finklehoffe of that firm.

Royal Caribbean Tries to Avoid the Rape Case

Royal Caribbean moved to dismiss the lawsuit arguing that it failed to state a cause of action, despite the fact that the cruise line obviously has known over the last decade that many hundreds of guests, including many minors, alleged that they have been raped on the cruise line’s ships by both crew members and other guests. Incredibly, Royal Caribbean argued that it was not foreseeable that a guest could be raped under the circumstances alleged. Even more incredibly, the district court judge, Judge Michael Moore, granted the cruise line’s motion to dismiss and entered judgment for Royal Caribbean. A copy of the trial court’s order can be viewed here.

Royal Caribbean “Knew A  Lot”

In a strongly worded decision, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the federal trial court, and held that the lawsuit filed on behalf of the girl clearly stated a viable cause of  action.

The appellate court stated that “the scope of Royal Caribbean’s duty to protect it’s passengers is informed, if not defined, by its knowledge of the dangers they face onboard. And it allegedly knew a lot.” (emphasis added).

Judge Ed Carnes stated in a concurring opinion that “publicly available data (which can be imputed to the cruise line) . . . reinforces the allegations in the complaint that Royal Caribbean know or should have known about the danger of sexual assault aboard its cruise ships.”

As a result of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, which was signed by President Obama (photo with client Laurie Dishman, California Congresswoman Doris Matsui and Texas Congressman Ted Poe above left), cruise lines have been required to report sexual assaults and other crimes which occur on cruise ships. Since then, several hundred guests have been raped on Royal Caribbean cruise ships. The CVSSA was passed into law after a client of ours, Laurie Dishman, was sexually assaulted on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in 2006.   Ms. Dishman has traveled to Washington D.C. over 30 times to educate Congressional leaders on the problem of sexual assaults of women and girls on cruise ships. She has testified several times in front of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate (photo right) where representatives of Royal Caribbean and the cruise trade organization, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), have attended.

Royal Caribbean Knows That It Has A Serious Problem

We have obtained documentation that there have been well over 500 sexual assaults on Royal Caribbean cruise ships since Ms. Dishman’s case in 2006.

The on-line crime data, based on crimes reported to the FBI (which are usually less than the actual number of crimes alleged) reveals that there have been at least 66 sexual assaults alleged on Royal Caribbean ships alone in the less than 5 year period prior to the alleged rape of this girl.  The concurring judge cited the case of Doe v. Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd.,  which our firm handled,  which involved a young woman raped on the Star Princess where the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal stated that:

Unfortunately, if congressional reports are to be believed, sexual assaults and other violent crimes on cruise ships are a serious problem.

The court went on to state that 178 passengers leaving U.S. ports reported being raped between 2003 and 2005.

The appellate court concluded its decision by stating that “and it would be absurd to suggest that a multi-billion dollar business like Royal Caribbean was not aware of congressional reports about the problem of sexual assaults aboard it cruise ships.”

Unanswered Questions

In December of 2009, when the Oasis of the Seas was sailing on its inaugural cruise and cruise executives Richard Fain and Adam Goldstein were aboard the giant ship, I wrote an article asking some basic questions about the ship’s security personnel and protocols to keep over 6,000 passengers safe at sea. The LA Times had reported that for a period of 32 months, there were over 270 incidents of sexual assault, battery, and sexual harassment on Royal Caribbean ships(based on data which we forwarded to the newspaper). Here are a couple of questions which I posed 10 years ago:

Q:  How many security guards are assigned to the seven “neighborhoods” on the cruise ship?  Are there security “sub-stations” in each of the neighborhoods?

Q:  How many security guards patrol the neighborhoods from 10:00 p.m. to 4 a.m., a time period we have found  when female passengers are at a higher risk of being assaulted?

These questions have been unanswered over the last decade, while many women and girls have been raped on this Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

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Photo credit: Oasis of the Seas – Baldwin040 – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia; Royal Caribbean executives – Royal Caribbean via Cruise Critic; Laurie Dishman – official White House image / screenshot Congressional web broadcast..

Four years ago today, Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas caught on fire as it approached the port of Falmouth, Jamaica. A former Royal Caribbean crew member, Kevin Chambers who lives near Falmouth, and who we previously represented, videotaped the blaze. The video below has been viewed on Facebook over 1,200,000 times.

Fire on the Freedom of the Seas in Falmouth, Jamaica

Video of the Freedom of the Seas fire. Video Credit: Kevin Chambers

Posted by Cruise Law News on Wednesday, July 22, 2015

 

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 see 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 could come to their own conclusions whether the cruise line was out-of-touch with the danger posed to its guests or whether it deliberately fabricated a falsehood to masquerade as the truth, which I suggested in the Royal Caribbean “Small Fire” Hoax.

A reader of this blog sent us several photos of the internal damage to the Freedom of the Seas today. Take a look here.

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

Neither the flag state, the classification society, the vessel’s underwriters nor the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a survey of the damage before the ship continued its cruise the following day. No one initiated a prompt investigation into the root cause of the fire. The Bahamas Maritime Authority subsequently conducted an investigation which essentially white-washed the incident.  As we wrote soon after the fire, Royal Caribbean had hired an engineering group to install a scrubber system which involved extensive welding operations while the ship was underway, rather than conduct such dangerous fire-hazard type of work during a dry dock. Read: Fire on the Freedom: The Show Must Go On.

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Read: Freedom of the Seas Fire: A Word From Your Captain

Photo Credit: Raymond Bower.

A little over a month ago, the MSC Opera cruise ship smashed into a dock and another smaller, cruise ship which was disembarking tourists in Venice.

Videos of the huge, out-of-control cruise ship, smashing into the dock and knocking tourists from the little ship in front of it into the water, looked like an attack-of-the-aliens science fiction movie.  But this was no low budget movie. It was exactly what many local Venetians predicted would happen given the presence of huge cruise ships sailing in the Giudecca canal next to the ancient city of Venice.

This weekend, a well forecasted storm struck Venice. As predicted by the weather services, the storm brought with it high winds and heavy rain (as well as hail) to Venice.  Despite the wind and rain, the Costa Deliziosa tried to leave port, with several tugs at its bow and stern. The Costa ship lost control as it headed into the curve of the Giudecca canal. The Costa ship was filmed narrowly avoiding crashing into Venice.

The dramatic video clip below shows the tug billowing smoke as it strains to pull the bow of the Costa Deliziosa away from the Riva dei Sette Martiri (by the Giardini where the Biennale is happening). The Deliziosa‘s siren can be heard blasting.

AIS data shows how close the Costa Deliziosa came to the the Riva dei Sette Martiri.

Costa Cruises defended itself on social media, arguing that the storm was sudden, unexpected and stronger than the forecast. Of course, all cruise lines which choose to sail into rough weather in order to stay on their schedules set by their corporate masters, make this same argument when the rough seas injure and/or terrorize their guests. Costa sent out a series of tweets via @Costa_Press (since deleted) which , the publisher of the Dream of Venice @DreamOfVenice book series, had the foresight to save:

These tweets by Costa were, in essence, all after-the-fact lies as the videos above demonstrate. Dozens of people on Twitter belittled Costa’s amateurish efforts at PR spin which just showed how little credibility the cruise line has in times of crisis.

It is long past time for Venice to establish a ban on these increasingly huge cruise ships cruising in the Giudecca Canal.

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Image credits: No Grandi Navi poster – @Vero_Bergoglio on Twitter; video – Repubblica.