A person (either a cruise guest or crew member) is presumed to have gone overboard from the Golden Princess according to a passenger on the Princess cruise ship.

Shortly after 6:15 p.m. EST today (10:15 a.m. Tuesday, January 22 – Australia time), a cruise passenger from Adelaide, Australia posted the following information on Twitter:

AIS data show the Golden Princess sailing toward Melbourne, Australia at the moment. It appears that the person went overboard last night in the Tasman Sea between New Zealand and Australia. The poster explains that the Princess cruise ship searched for the missing person last night and earlier this morning.

It is currently unknown whether the person is a guest or crew member, or how or exactly when the person went overboard from the cruise ship.  It remains to be seen whether the Golden Princess was equipped with an automatic man overboard (MOB) system which would have automatically sent a signal to the bridge if someone went over the rails and track them in the water even at night via state-of-the-art motion detection / infrared and radar technology. Reliable systems available to the cruise line include the MARSS MOBtronic and PureTech systems, among others.

It is always a telling sign for a cruise line like Princess to be searching the cruise ship and reviewing CCTV film to look for the missing passenger.  In such cases, the overboard person has usually been in the water long before he was eventually reported missing. Eventually the person may be seen in a snippet of film going overboard but the ship has sailed on for many dozens of miles when the officers finally review the CCTV.  Valuable time is inevitably lost due to the failure to install an auto MOB system.

The Golden Princess left Adelaide, Australia on January 7th for Kangaroo Island and Melbourne, Australia; and then to seven ports in New Zealand (Fjordland National Park, Dunedin,  Akaroa, Wellington, Gisborne, Tauranga, and Auckland, New Zealand – on January 19th) and was then scheduled to return to Melbourne, Australia on January 23rd and Adelaide, Australia on January 25th.

The last overboard from a Princess cruise ship occurred in May of last year from the Pacific Sun which departed from Fremantle, Australia; a passenger went overboard when the ship was approximately 100 nautical miles southeast of Singapore.

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein, 334 people have gone overboard since 2000.

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January 21, 2019 Update: A newspaper in Australia reports that the overboard person is a 22 year old male passenger. Princess says that it is searching on the ship and looking at CCTV images.

Photo credit: Jean-Philippe Boulet, CC BY 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

A couple from Northern Ireland were surprised when after boarding the Norwegian Jewel, they opened the door to their cabin (# 10039) and were confronted with strangers having sex on one of the beds.

The cruisers in question, Bobby and Mary Jackson, are from a small town north of Belfast and were about to begin their first cruise on what they hoped would be a dream vacation. According to the Sunday Post article titled The Boat That Rocked: Scots Holiday-Makers Stunned to Find Crewman and Mystery Woman Making Waves in Their Cruise Ship Cabin, the cruise couple was embarking on a cruise from Singapore to Thailand when they encountered the two strangers making jiggy jiggy in their cabin.

Ms. Jackson told the newspaper that she was “horrified, what I witnessed was extremely unpleasant.”

The attendant for their cabin subsequently identified the man as a crew member, although the woman engaged in the faire une partie de jambes en l’air was not identified. There is a question whether she was also a ship employee.

The couple complained to guest relations who explained that the ship was full but offered them a £100 ($128) on board credit, which they say “insulted” them. When the Jacksons contacted NCL after the cruise, the cruise line increased its offer of compensation to £200 ($257) each toward a future cruise. (Ms. Jackson also reportedly contracted a gastrointestinal illness during the cruise).

I have written about all type of foolhardy behavior during cruises – read Marketing “Sex at Sea” on Cruise Ships; I suppose that this couple received less than they bargained for on their first cruise, particularly at a cost of £4,800 (around $6,175).  But at least they were not with young kids who saw the spectacle such that they would had to explain for the remainder of the cruise what they witnessed.

NCL appears to be notoriously skimpy when issuing compensation for most inconveniences, if it does at all. But $500 in a credit to two guests for temporarily being delayed entering their cabin while amorous crew members did the deed, does not seem particularly unreasonable, although fresh bed linen would seem to have been in order.

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Photo credit: A.jo – Public Domain, commons / wikimedia.

Two German passengers from a the AidaPerla were reportedly attacked in a botched robbery in Castries, St Lucia yesterday morning, according to a local newspaper in St Lucia.

The St Lucia Times stated that “two young thugs pounced” on a mother and daughter from the German cruise ship when they exited from a park near the cruise port in Castries around 10:00 a.m. yesterday morning.

Two local, young men attempted to snatch a small bag from one of the cruise tourists. Their screams attracted the attention of other visitors to the park and the two robbers fled empty-handed, leaving the two German women with multiple abrasions due to the attack.

Earlier last week, several people were mugged in the nearby area including a couple who were reportedly robbed at gunpoint in the park (Serenity Park) in question.

In the video below, a news station in St. Lucia reports that armed bandits robbed a couple of their “bags, phones and wallets” a few days ago in the park in question. The security guard interviewed in the video was also reportedly robbed in the park as well.

Serenity Park is listed as one of the “things to do” by tourists, according to the city of Castries.

The violent attempted robbery comes at a time when the international media is focused on the murder of a British citizen, Robert Hathaway, who managed a marina south of the Castries’ cruise port. The Telegraph newspaper recently published an article titled Murder in Paradise: the Dark Side of Life in St Lucia which also focused on the murder of Mr. Hathaway’s friend, Roger Pratt, another U.K. citizen, who was killed by intruders aboard his yacht in St. Lucia several years ago.

Crimes against cruise tourists is nothing new for St. Lucia. In 2013, fifty-five Celebrity Cruises passengers (photo right) and two crew members were robbed at gun point in St. Lucia during a cruise sponsored excursion. Earlier,  fourteen NCL cruise passengers were robbed at a popular tourist attraction Anse-La-Raye Waterfall in St. Lucia.

NCL temporarily dropped St. Lucia as a port in 2010 because of attacks on cruise passengers which occurred on three occasions while the cruise passengers were sight-seeing on the island. In 2015, newspapers in St. Lucia reported that the president of the St. Lucia Vendors association was concerned that crime against passengers was again prompting cruise lines to consider dropping St. Lucia as a port of call.

Following several of the violent crimes against tourists, the St Lucia Tourist Board erroneously claimed that such dangerous incidents had “never happened before on the island,” as we pointed out in “Liar, Liar Pants On Fire? St. Lucia Tourism Board Denies Prior Armed Robbery of Cruise Passengers.”

In 2014, we named St. Lucia to our list (as #10) of the Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World. You can read reactions to that article by St. Lucians in the comments to the article in a local newspaper in St. Lucia titled “St. Lucia ranked in top 10 most dangerous cruise destinations in the world.”

St. Lucia reports that tourism has nonetheless increased in 2018 with 1.2 millions tourists, including 800,000 cruise passengers, visiting the island last year. Local politicians warn that crimes against tourists will have a chilling effect on tourism.

Many people who are inclined to defend the tourism industry in St. Lucia may say things like “crime happens everywhere” or point to violent U.S. cities like Chicago.  But the fact is that St. Lucia as a country has a per capita murder rate in 2017 of over 33 homicides per 100,000 (up from around 20 per 100,000 in 2012) and around 24 homicides per 100,000 in 2018 whereas an admittedly deadly city like Chicago has a 2017 per capita homicide rate of around 24 per 100,000. The U.S. as a country has a per capita homicide rate of less than 5 per 100,000.

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Image credit: Top – Goggle map; middle – DBS TV St. Lucia via the Times (following bus robbery) via YouTube; bottom – Castries cruise port –  stlucianewsonline; video bottom – MBC PRIME NEWS -St. Lucia 

Several guests aboard the Celebrity Summit have notified us that the cruise ship is currently unable to leave the port in San Juan, Puerto Rico due to what the guests understand to be either a “computer glitch” or “propulsion issues.”

The Summit was scheduled to leave San Juan yesterday  but has been unable to due to what the cruise lines often refer to euphemistically as “technical issues.”

The Cruceros Puerto Rico twitter page (translated) refers to unspecified “mechanical” or “electrical problems in the bridge.”

The website also states that the U.S. Coast Guard needs to inspect the ship before it is permitted to continue on its itinerary.

The Celebrity Summit is scheduled to have left San Juan yesterday on a twelve day cruise to St Croix, US Virgin Islands where it was suppose to call today, and then to Basseterre, St. Kitts; St Johns, Antigua; Willemstad, Curacao; Oranjestad, Aruba; Kralendijk, Bonaire; St Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Ponce, Puerto Rico and then back to Puerto Rico.

One passenger informed us that “hopefully (we) will be leaving the port tonight. They are giving everybody on board $100 room credit.”

A $100 on board credit (OBC) to be stuck in port for at least a day seems hardly fair.  Royal Caribbean also just announced that it is issuing a OBC of only between $200-$400 after the air conditioning to many cabins failed during a cruise on the Anthem of the Seas.   Royal Caribbean/ Celebrity must be re-thinking their attitude towards compensation following its generous full refunds to everyone on the Oasis of the Seas after a gastrointestinal outbreak.    

Celebrity’s corporate communication people sent the following to an inquiry posted on Twitter:

Power losses on cruise ships are a relatively common occurrence. In 2016, there were at least 18 power losses on cruise ships operated by the major U.S.-based lines.

The AIS information shows the Summit in San Juan. It remains anyone’s guess how long it will stay there.

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January 18, 2019 Update: Looks like the Summit is finally leaving port in San Juan tonight as of 9:13 p.m. per AIS.

Photo credit:  Yankeesman312 CC BY-SA 3.0

A lack of functional air conditioning on much of the Anthem of the Seas for the past week has left many guests feeling that they did not receive the cruise vacation which they paid for and which Royal Caribbean promised to them.

A couple of cruise passengers contacted our office yesterday to state that the air conditioning in their cabins, as well as to others parts of the cruise ship, were not cooling adequately.  Instead of blowing at a desired temperature in the high 60’s or in the 70’s, the air conditioning was leaving their cabins hot, with temperatures ranging from the low to mid-80’s with some cabins as hot as 89 degrees.  The heat has interrupted the guests’ sleep and made their cruises unpleasant.

It seems that the problem with the air conditioning began on or around Monday the 13th although there are comments posted on the Anthem of the Seas Facebook page dated earlier. Many guests with balconies opened their balcony doors but did not get much relief as the ship sailed in the Caribbean.

The ship has been slow to advise the guests the nature of the problem (“it will be fixed shortly” type of response). And there have been sporadic updates regarding how the engineering department will try to solve the widespread problem. Not all decks seem to be affected with many complaints focusing on the cabins on decks 10 and 11 as well as public areas on the ship.

Royal Caribbean recently offered the guests an on board credit (OBC) of $200 for interior cabins and cabins without a balcony, $300 for cabins with balconies, and $400 for suites. The credits are for the cabin, not the number of guests in the cabin.

This offer seems to have made matters worse. Guests seem to consider the OBC as a pittance, considering that they paid several thousands of dollars for the cruise and particularly compared to the full refund offered to all of the passengers on the Oasis of the Seas where around 600 guests became sick during a gastrointestinal illness outbreak last week.

A few guests have posted comments on Twitter:

The Anthem is now heading back to New Jersey (after a medical emergency detoured the ship to Bermuda) where it will dock shortly. The cooler weather in the northeast has apparently made the ship more pleasant for the passengers for the past day. But there are many passengers who are still understandably hot with the way that the matter was mishandled by Royal Caribbean. After the success in handling the public relations fallout following the debacle of the recent GI outbreak on the Oasis, it seems that the cruise-line decision makers and bean counters back in Miami have made an unforced PR blunder.

It also remains to be seen how Royal Caribbean intends to fix the air conditioning problem once the Anthem is back in port in Cape Liberty this morning when the cruise ship will take on another round of passengers looking forward to a relaxing cruise.

The Anthem left New Jersey on January 6th, sailed to San Juan, Puerto Rico arriving on January 9th,  Philipsburg, St. Maarten on January 10th, St Johns, Antigua on January 11th, Castries, St Lucia on January 12th, Bridgetown, Barbados on January 13th, Basseterre, St. Kitts on January 14th and is scheduled to arrive back in New Jersey shortly.

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January 18, 2018 p.m. update: Comment from cruise passenger osted on Twitter:

 

A cruise passenger has reportedly died after falling from the Harmony of the Seas, according to a passenger who contacted us.

This evening we received an email which stated that between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. today, there was a suicide/accident on Harmony of the Seas; someone fell/jumped from his balcony and died.

Later this evening, a guest on the cruise ship tweeted the following:

The passenger is apparently a 16 year old teenager (although there is also accounts that the passenger was in his 50’s who fell from an upper deck ), according to a guest on the ship. One passenger stated on Twitter that the guest died after hitting the “pavement.”  Another passenger posted on Twitter that the person struck the “concrete dock.”

The Harmony of the Seas is currently on a week-long cruise to the Caribbean. The cruise ship left Fort Lauderdale on January 6th and has sailed to Philipsburg, St. Maarten and San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was scheduled to stop in Labadee, today from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. this evening. It is scheduled to return to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, January 13th.

A crew member, Arron Hough, went overboard from the Harmony of the Seas two and one-half weeks ago.

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January 15, 2019 Update: Boy, 16, falls to his death while trying to climb into room from balcony of Royal Caribbean ship via the Sun Sentinel.

 

More than 100 people on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship sailing in the Caribbean have become sick with a gastrointestinal illness, according to at least one guest who has contacted this blog.

The outbreak reportedly occurred on the Oasis of The Seas which called on the port of Falmouth, Jamaica yesterday. The guest states that passengers were not let off of the ship. Royal Caribbean is reportedly offering an on-board credit for missing the port in Jamaica.

The Oasis of the Seas left Port Canaveral, Florida on January 6th and sailed to the cruise line’s private port in Labadee, Haiti on January 8th. The cruise ship was scheduled to call on Falmouth yesterday and is scheduled to arrive in Cozumel, Mexico tomorrow. It is then scheduled to return back to Port Canaveral on January 13th.

Officials with Royal Caribbean reported that there 167 cases of a stomach virus on board the ship.

WESH Channel 2 reports that Royal Caribbean reported 167 cases of gastrointestinal illness to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which represent 2 percent of the 8,454 guests and crew on board. The cruise line told the news stations that:

“We are bringing additional medical staff on board and we’re engaging in intensive sanitary procedures to minimize the risk of any further issues,” a statement from Royal Caribbean said.

The CDC states that cruise ships are required to log and report the number of passengers and crew who indicate that they have symptoms of gastrointestinal illness. The  report is required when 2% or more of the passengers or crew have gastrointestinal illness.  The CDC is required publish data on the Outbreak Updates for International Cruise Ships portal maintained by the agency where 3% or more of passengers or crew report symptoms of gastrointestinal illness to the ship’s medical staff.

The last gastrointestinal outbreak on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship to have been reported on the CDC portal occurred in December of 2017 when 310 of 4,160 of guests and 22 of 1,398 crew members became ill with norovirus on the Independence of the Seas.

January 10, 2019 a.m. update:  The Oasis of the Seas reportedly is skipping the port of Cozumel and will return to Port Canaveral. The number of those affected by the gastrointestinal outbreak now exceeds 250. Royal Caribbean is also refunding the cruise fares to the passengers.

January 11, 2019 update: The CDC states that over 400 people were sickened by the gastrointestinal outbreak; 385 of 6,285 (6.12%) of passengers and 17 of 2,169 (0.78%) of crew members. The CDC has not indicated whether the GI outbreak was caused by norovirus.

January 12, 2019 update:  “The number of people hit with a gastrointestinal illness on a Royal Caribbean International cruise ship has swelled to nearly 500 (475), a company spokeswoman said Friday,” according to NBC News.

“Don’t call us if you get sick on a cruise.’ — Miami-based cruise-industry lawyer Jim Walker,” according to Marketwatch.

The CDC reports that the total number of sick passengers with GI are 561 passengers and 31 crew members.

Full refund by Royal Caribbean: The cruise line earns PR points by issuing a full refund to all passengers.

Photo credit: Baldwin040 – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

An Oceania crew member was arrested at Port of Miami for smuggling cocaine (intentionally importing a controlled substance) when the Riviera called at port in Miami on January 2, 2019.

The Miami Herald reports and a review of the Homeland Security officer’s affidavit reveals) that Wilford Thobourne exited the Oceania cruise ship via the crew gangway was arrested for smuggling three and a three-quarter pounds of cocaine which he concealed in the soles of his sandals and in his crotch under five pair of shorts and underwear in his pants.

A copy of the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint against Mr. Thouborne is here.

Mr. Thobourne’s Facebook page indicates that he is from Johannesburg,  South Africa.*

Coincidentally, four South African women working for MSC Cruises were allegedly recruited by a Jamaican crew member to smuggle cocaine into the port of Miami aboard the MSC Seaside at the end of November.  United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers arrested seven MSC crew members including the four South African women for smuggling cocaine in that incident.  (There is no indication at this time of a connection in this case  between the South African Oceania and MSC crew members.)

The Herald indicated that Mr. Thobourne is scheduled for arraignment in federal court in ten days.

The Riviera has been in the news recently when it was revealed that Giuliano De Cicco, age 38, who was working as Assistant Destination Manager on the Riviera, died on January 2, 2019. The popular Crew Center site reported that he died when he fell from the Riviera cruise ship to the pier at the port of Miami on January 2nd.

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*/ Although his Facebook page indicates that he is from  Johannesburg, (Gauteng Province) in South Africa, several crew members state that Mr. Thobourne is from Jamaica.

Photo credit: Wilford Thobourne Facebook page.

Amsterdam established a tax on cruise passengers effective January 1, 2019. The new tax of €8 ($9.12) applies to every cruise passenger over 3 years old per 24-hour period.

As reported by the LA Times, two cruise lines have cancelled port visits to Amsterdam because of the nominal tax.  MSC Cruises and Cruise & Maritime Voyages canceled future stops.

The trade organization for the cruise industry, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), claims that the tax is “extremely disproportionate.” It threatened Amsterdam with cancellation by cruise lines which could result in a budget deficit of several million euros  as a result of reduced fees collected by the Port of Amsterdam.

However, the only thing truly disproportionate is that the cruise industry pays virtually no U.S. taxes at all.

Amsterdam, like other popular European cities, is struggling with the heavy demands placed on the city by mass tourism. Amsterdam wants tourists to make a fair contribution to the city.  Amsterdam’s website states that:

“. . . companies operating sea and river cruises should pay a tourist tax of 8 euros per passenger. This ‘day tripper tax’ will only apply to cruise passengers who do not live in Amsterdam and are only stopping over, not to passengers who are starting or ending a cruise in Amsterdam.”

Amsterdam is not the only city struggling with the influx of cruise tourism. There has been considerable news coverage of the “increasing hordes of tourists” descending on Venice every year.

Compare the crushing crowd of tourists in Venice which I photographed in 2016 during a family vacation (top) with the photo which I took when traveling alone there in 1977 (bottom).

The NewEurope newspaper states that:

After years threatening to regulate the number of visitors entering the city, which is constantly under the threat of sinking into the lagoon that it sits on, the Venetian government has decided that it will introduce an entry fee, or landing tax, of up to €10, depending on the season, for day-trippers arriving on cruise ships.

CLIA, which of course resists taxes of all types on cruise companies and their customers, expressed its disappointment with the new taxes. It tried to explain its refusal to honor the taxes by waxing historically:

“At the core of its history is Venice’s relationship with the sea. Ships have always been part of its identity and the cruise industry represents the modern manifestation of a centuries-old tradition.”

But the billion dollar monster cruise ships which tower over the city today could hardly have been imagined when Venice was built 500 years ago.

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Read: Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories of My Youth?

Photos credit: Top – Venice (2016) –  Jim Walker; middle – Venice (2016); bottom – Venice – Jim Walker (1977).

Yesterday, the Island Princess reportedly rescued six people on a disabled vessel as the cruise ship was sailing to Cartagena, Colombia, according to a crew member on the Island Princess.

The Island Princess had departed from Ocho Ríos, Jamaica and was sailing in the Caribbean Sea when it was notified that another vessel, the M/V Water Spirit, which is listed as an offshore supply/cargo vessel, was disabled with six Venezuelans aboard. The vessel had been reportedly disabled for two weeks.   The Island Princess then sent a rescue boat to the Water Spirit to bring the six people aboard the Princess cruise ship, where the cruise line examined them in the ship’s medical center and then fed them.

The Island Princess has since docked in Cartagena where the cruise ship intends to disembark them.

A passenger aboard the Island Princess subsequently posted a short video of the Princess rescue boat with the Water Spirit in the background.  Both the passenger and the crew member (who wishes to remain anonymous) described the disabled vessel as a fishing boat.

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Photo/video credit: anonymous crew member / @RodRaphael twitter page.