A crew member on the Jewel of the Seas informs me that the Royal Caribbean cruise ship has a total o  seventy-nine (79) COVID-19 cases on the ship, amongst guests (61) and crew members (18).

The Jewel left port in Amsterdam today on a twelve day cruise to ports in Iceland and Ireland. She is scheduled to return to Amsterdam on July 14, 2022.

The Jewel has a new infection control officer (ICO) due to the increased number of COVID-19 cases aboard the ship. The officer sent a message to the crew with these instructions and comments:

  •  “All crew should ONLY be wearing KN95 masks correctly (over the nose and mouth). Surgical mask or double masking is not allowed at this time. Be diligent in sanitizing in your work areas AND in home areas.
  •  Report to medical if you have any COVID like symptoms.
  •  Report any suspected guest/crew who exhibit any COVID like symptoms. This will help prevent spreading amongst the ship.
  • Keep your immune system up by washing your hands, eating healthy, getting a good amount of rest, exercise and enjoyable time.
  •  Holding each other accountable.
  • Jewel has a tough itinerary with long cruises, demographics, weather, along with the amount of Back to Back cruisers (contamination pool), BUT I believe this crew is STRONG and RECEPTIVE who can really combat the virus spread. Lets all work together and be diligent in our efforts. I thank all of you in advance.”

The highly contagious BA.4 and BA.5 variants are wreaking havoc in the U.S. and Europe as virtually all cruise ships at sea are inundated with COVID. The CDC’s Cruise Ship COVID-19 Status Dashboard, for what its worth, shows that of the 94 cruise ships sailing in U.S. waters, 92 ships are designated as orange and 2 ships are yellow. There are absolutely no cruise ships designated as green with no COVID-19 aboard.

We have received numerous comments by guests and crew members on a wide range of cruise ships operated by a number of different companies stating that there have been anywhere from a few dozen to over 150 infected people on recent cruises.

If you have been on a cruise recently and there has been a COVID-19 outbreak, let us hear from you.

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Image Credit: Jewel of the Seas Dave souza – CC BY-SA 2.5, commons / wikimedia.

Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald recently stated on the cruise giant’s second quarter and business update call that Carnival Cruise Line is expected to operate at “110 percent occupancy” for the summer season. He stated “Carnival Cruise Line also became our first brand to sail its entire fleet in May and is expecting occupancy to approach 110 percent during our third quarter.”

The cruise trade publication Cruise Industry News  talks about a so-called “strong North American cruise market” and said that Carnival is “pivoting to add more capacity in the form of two redeployed Costa Cruises vessels under the Costa by Carnival umbrella.”

Cruise Industry News failed to address the obvious fact that COVID-19 is currently surging and cruise guests and crew members are being affected by the continuing pandemic. New and more contagious variants, BA.4 and BA.5, are wreaking havoc on the ships. According to the CDC, 100% of the 94 cruise ships sailing from U.S. waters have COVID-19 cases. Zero ships are designated green. 91 are orange and have met the threshold for investigation by the CDC. Just two are yellow.

Many members of the public have scoffed at Carnival’s plans. First, many expressed skepticism that Carnival can actually fill its cruise ships. The reality is that families thinking of recreational cruises are facing 100% of cruise ships having COVID-19 aboard per the CDC COVID-19 dashboard.  Guest face the prospect of spending their cruise quarantined in their cabins or being forced to incur hotel expenses while quarantined ashore. Additionally, there is an industry-wide shortage of crew members due to the pandemic and the fact that many crew members are not willing to return to the cruise industry after being stuck at sea for months during the initial COVID -19 outbreak.  Many ships are short-staffed and lack adequate cabin attendants, bartenders, and waiters.  As a result, some cruise ships cannot provide basic cabin cleaning and dinner services or usual entertainment.

Readers of Cruise Industry News’ Facebook page pushed back on Carnival’s plans. Many left comments, such as:

  • Only inside cabins are available on older, smaller ships.
  • And just because they’re willing to run at 110% occupancy doesn’t mean the boats are that full either.
  • Some ships feel crowded at full occupancy. Can’t imagine at 110%.
  • All they can do is overbook like the airlines do.
  • Sounds like the crap the airlines pull, and we see what is going on there…
  • That’s not a good sign, especially being short staffed now.
  • In its dreams. Where are they getting the crews?
  • Without a full staff. Super fun times.
  • Carnival is a disaster, fires, fights, fumes, what else could go wrong. 110% LOL.
  • What could possibly go wrong?

Carnival is currently facing unprecedented financial problems due to COVID-19 with staggering debt of $35,000,000,000 (billion) and one analyst (at Morgan Stanley) stated yesterday that Carnival stock could go to $0. Its stock hit a post-COVID-19 low of just $8.10 this morning, which is lower than the previous post-COVID-19 low of $8.49 in April of 2020.

Carnival is obviously motivated to pack its cruise ships with paying customers irrespective of the fact that it cannot adequately staff its ships or the certainty that many of its guests and crew members will become sick with COVID-19, with the more contagious variants (BA. 4 & BA. 5) spreading.

Humongous ships operating non-stop and filled with paying customers have always been a cornerstone of the cruise industry’s business model.  Incorporating in foreign countries and registering ships in feckless flag of convenience countries like Panama and the Bahamas in order to avoid U.S. taxes, U.S. wages and labor laws, and U.S. safety regulations has been the other cornerstone.

Huge cruise ships packed with passengers seem to be one of the factors which led the CDC issuing its “no sail” order due to the pandemic back in early 2020. In its first no sail order in March of 2020, the CDC noted that the “high volume of people” who are assembled and intermingle together is a key feature of cruise ships which increases the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Carnival had an occupancy of around a little under 70% in the last quarter. It is questionable that it can increase its occupancy by 40%. If it does, it will face a backlash due to poor services during the crowded cruises.

Carnival’s expressed goal of sailing with 110% occupancy as COVID-19 is again surging is foolish and irresponsible.

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Image Credit: Carnival fleet – Carnival Corporation Corporate Information

What happens when as many as sixty passengers are involved in a violent brawl on a Carnival cruise ship? Nothing, as it became clear from reports of an early morning brawl aboard the Carnival Magic which returned to port in Manhattan yesterday morning.

Local New York NBC Channel 4 reports that as many as 60 passengers were involved in an “all-out brawl” around 5:20 a.m. when the Carnival Magic was returning to port in New York following an eight day cruise to the Caribbean. The “fray over international waters,” as the local news characterized it, was initially reported by the Panamanian-flagged cruise ship operated by the Panamanian-incorporated cruise line to the U.S. Coast Guard. As Carnival knows, the USCG is not a law enforcement agency and has no authority to investigate crimes. much less investigate crimes on a Panamanian cruise ship in international waters.

The UK’s Daily Mail published a video of the out-of-control fight, with the caption: “video of the fracas shows a chaotic scene as dozens of passengers punch and shove each other, while an outnumbered ship security guard tries in vain to break up the fight.”

The Coast Guard notified the New York Police Department which also clearly does not have jurisdiction to investigate crimes on Panamanian-flagged ships which are outside of New York waters.

The local news explained that Carnival “officials notified the Coast Guard, which launched a small boat from Staten Island to escort the ship the rest of the way to its Pier 88 dock. Members of the NYPD, which the Coast Guard had notified, were standing by when it arrived.”

But neither the Coast Guard nor the NYPD boarded the cruise ship where the violence occurred due to the absence of authority and/or jurisdiction. Local NBC-4 commented: “There was no immediate word on possible arrests. Jurisdictional questions around where the ship was at the time of the altercation — was it in international waters? New Jersey waters? New York waters?

Patch explained the purpose of the NYPD not boarding the cruise ship but staying on the dock in New York: “‘We wanted to make sure that when the individuals got off the boat there was no further disputes on the streets in Manhattan,” the NYPD spokesperson said. ‘They were there to expedite the disembarkation process.'”

The bottom line, as NBC-4 reported, is that “neither the Coast Guard nor the NYPD boarded the vessel . . . passengers disembarked without further incident upon their NYC arrival Tuesday.”

The fact that a brawl occurred on a Carnival “fun” cruise ship is not particularly unusual given that anyone awake at five o’clock in the morning is probably drunk and up to no good.  There are dozens of videos on YouTube of drunken bar fights on Carnival cruise ships.

Top 5 Brawls on Carnival’s Fun Ships

Carnival’s minimal security presence on it ships seem to alternate between adding to the brawl and covering the violence up.

The same thing happens when a passengers is raped at sea on a Carnival cruise ship.  If the cruise ship returns to port in Manhattan for example, the local police (either from New York or New Jersey) have absolutely no jurisdiction to investigate the sex crime or arrest the criminal if the crime occurred on the high seas (i.e., international waters).  This leaves either the flag state where the ship is registered and flagged (Carnival Cruise Line flags its ships in Panama or the Bahamas) or the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for responding to shipboard crimes.  Never in my thirty-eight years of practicing maritime law have I ever heard of a police officer or an investigator from Panama or the Bahamas traveling to a cruise ship in response to an allegation of crime.

This leaves the FBI, which has special maritime jurisdiction to investigate crimes and the U.S. Department of Justice to prosecute criminal offenses on cruise ships, as the only authorities to arrest and  prosecute rapists at sea. The reality, unfortunately, is that the FBI declines to prosecute the vast majority of rapes which routinely occur on cruise ships.

In the year before COVID-19 crippled the cruise industry, there were over 100 sexual assaults on cruise ships, according to DOT cruise crime statistics which breaks down as follows:

  • Carnival Cruise Line: 43 sexual assault victims (37 passengers).
  • Royal Caribbean: 31 sexual victims (20 passengers).

I attended a hearing in 2007 before Congress regarding cruise ship crime where a senior FBI official testified that only 7% of sexual assaults on cruise ships are prosecuted in federal court.

Carnival Cruise Line Leads Cruise Industry with the Most Sexual Assaults

This measly prosecution rate is because of the historic reluctance of the FBI to become involved in sex crimes at sea, the tendency of the cruse industry to sweep the crimes under the rug, and the inadvertent or intentional destruction of evidence on cruise ships.

The bottom line is whether there is a violent brawl on a dance floor or a woman raped at sea, don’t expect an arrest or prosecution of the criminals on a Carnival cruise ship.

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Image Credit: Carnival Magic – Stringer /EPA-EFE Shutterstock via Daily Mail

As of this weekend, 100% of the cruise ships tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are sailing with cruise guests and/or crew members who have tested positive for COVID-19. The Cruise Ship COVID-19 Dashboard maintained by the CDC shows that of the ninety-six (96) cruise ships tracked by the CDC, six (6) cruise ships have cases of COVID-19 which are below the threshold for CDC investigation and eighty-eight (88) cruise ships with cases which have met the CDC’s threshold for investigation.

The CDC’s dashboard shows zero cruise ships with no COVID-19 or COVID-19-like cases. To repeat, there are absolutely no cruise ships designated as “green” by the CDC.

The threshold for investigating COVID-19 on cruise ships sailing with passengers is 0.3% or more of total passengers and/or crew.

As the popular Cruzely web site reports, well over half (nearly 60 ships) were green as recently as mid-March.

Not coincidentally we have heard from dozens of passengers and crew members who have reported that they have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks during their recent cruises, involving Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, MSC, Virgin Voyages and Princess Cruises.

Jewel of the Seas

At the beginning of last week, on the Jewel of the Seas, which is currently sailing on a 12 -day cruise through Norway from June 20 to July 2, 2022, thirty-six (36) of 1,438 guests tested positive. In addition, twenty-four (24) out of approximately 780 crew members tested positive.

A week earlier, forty-six (46) guests of the 1,750 passengers tested positive for COVID-19.

Previously, the ship’s officers expressed their concern that there was an increasing trend of positive COVID-19 cases on the ship, and reminded the crew that they were required to wear masks on the ship. The situation aboard the Jewel of the Seas illustrates a common situation on many cruse ships with the  crew ordered to continue to wear masks while the company does not require masks for guests.

At the end of last month, a number of senior officers on the Jewel of the Seas tested positive for COVID-19, including the master as well as the the ship’s staff captain and chief safety officer.

As with other other posts regarding this particular cruise ship, a Royal Caribbean crew member who wishes to remain anonymous provided this information to the firm.

Island Princess

From an infected guest on the Island Princess:  “On June 13, 2022 between 200 and 250 passengers who tested positive for COVID-19 were disembarked from the Island Princess in Southampton. We were required to be quarantined for five (5) days in a hotel at Heathrow Airport. We were provided a meal allowance and no further help. This was on back-to-back cruises, including an 18-day Ft. Lauderdale to Southampton cruise (departing May 27, 2022) and a16-day Southampton to Norway round trip cruise (departing June 13, 2022).”

MSC Seashore

A guest from the MSC Seashore who sailed on the June 18 to 25, 2022 cruise, and tested positive for COVID-19, indicated that “half of the cabins” on deck 10 had guests with COVID-19 (left).

Celebrity Beyond

According to a crew member who wishes to remain anonymous: “Celebrity Beyond crew have a high number of Covid cases onboard right now. Over 3% of the 1200 crew. People being told to work extra shifts and extra work to pick up for the crew that are in isolation. The cases are rising everyday still.

The company closed all crew spaces so there is no where for the crew to go. Free shore leave has been taken away, now letting only 150 crew at one time off as long as numbers don’t continue to rise if they do all shore leave will be stopped.

Guests from the previous cruises also had a high number of cases . . .

The company set a 15 minute period of time to eat meals photo right).

Celebrity do not disclose the case numbers to guests or crew at any time. We’ve all had to find out by word of mouth.”

Valiant Lady

At least 120 guests were reportedly infected on Virgin Voyages’ Valiant Lady, according to a passenger who organized a group to travel on the cruise ship earlier this month and tested positive right after the cruise.

All Cruise Lines Are Affected As COVID-19 Surges Across the Cruise Industry

We have received over a dozen messages from passengers and some crew members regarding COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ship, including s. Unfortunately, there is no central database and neither the cruise lines nor the CDC disclose this basic information.

The cruise lines are all trying to eliminate restrictions in order to increase the occupancy of their ships and create income while the reality is that COVID-19 is surging on their ships.

The CDC Should Disclose The Number of Guest and Crew Members Infected with COVID-19

As we pointed our earlier this month, cruise passengers deciding whether it’s safe or prudent to take a cruise with their family on a particular cruise ship which just had an outbreak, should be able to go to an official source for accurate information. They should not have to scour the internet or search through cruise chat rooms trying to find out basic public health information already reported by a cruise line to a federal health agency but not disclosed to the public.

The U.S. public pays for the services of the CDC and deserves transparency. The last thing the public needs is for the CDC to act like a non-transparent cruise line (which pays no U.S. income taxes because of its foreign incorporation and registration of its ships outside of the U.S.) and keep such public health hazards secret.

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Yesterday, I received word from the Jewel of the Seas, upon its return from its latest cruise back to its curremt home port of Amsterdam, that forty-six (46) guests of the 1,750 passengers tested positive for COVID-19. The Royal Caribbean cruise ship still had sixteen (16) senior oficer who were in quarantine (which we discussed in our post titled Senior Officers on Jewel of the Seas Test Positive for COVID-19), who were expected to be released from isolation.

Previously, the ship’s officers expressed their concern that there was an increasing trend of positive COVID-19 cases on the ship, and reminding the crew that they were required to wear mask on the ship.

As with other posts regarding this cruise ship, a Royal Caribbean crew member who wishes to remain anonymous provided this information to the firm.

Other guests contacted me regarding this cruise, including one passengers who said:

“I was on the Jewel sailing May 27-June 8 and many passengers and crew contracted Covid. We had 3 cabin stewards for our cabin alone as the first two tested positive. Many people in our Facebook group contracted it as well.”

Unfortunately, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean refuse to disclose the actual number of infected guest and crew members on the ship.

The Jewel of the Seas began its latest cruise yesterday with 1,500 guests. We will keep you informed how many people on this latest cruise become infected.

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Image credit: Jewel of the SeasCruiseMapper.

In a brochure sent to its crew members before its public announcement today, Virgin Voyages stated that it delayed the launch of its third ship Resilient Lady to an unknown date next year. The cruise line informed its crew that:

“Due to current global challenges, the debut of Resillient Lady will be delayed from July this year until 2023.”

In attempting to explain the delay, Virgin Voyages stated:

“There are a number of global challenges that affect travel and particularly the cruise industry, including supply chain issues, crewing challenges and regional uncertainty.”

It further stated that there is not currently a date for Resilient Lady’s “MerMaiden Voyage:”

While Resilient Lady’s first commercial sailing is now May 14, 2023, we have not yet set a date for our showcase events and celebrations.”

For those customers (which Virgin Voyages calls “sailors”) who have already purchased airline tickets, the company will reimburse up to $500 per person for any incremental air/travel costs. For those guests who have incurred airfare over $500, the company says that it “will take a closer look to determine if we can assist further.”

This sounds like it is inadequate to compensate its customers who have planned in advance to book flights and hotels and incur other travel and accomodation expenses, as people have complained on Twitter.

For crew members about to end their current contracts and due to join the Resilient Lady, the company promises to provide an update “in the next few weeks.”

For those ship employees wanting to return to either the Scarlet Lady or Valiant Lady, the company promises “not to worry – you will return as planned. While there may be a slight adjustment to your start date, we can assure you that we have a spot for you on board.” The company further states that it is “working through the process” of permitting the crew to access a web-based “personal coaching service” called “BetterUp Care” which is “available in 49 different languages in every time zone around the worl – at no costs to our crew.”

A crew member, who wishes to remain anonymous, sent me the brochure which states: “Please do not share this information until after Wednesday, June 8, at 10 a.m. E.T.”  The crew member stated:

“Looks like VV is out of money. Ship #3 will be put in cold layout untill 2023. Just days ago they were still trying to fill up the crew and go operational. Now this sudden decision. Looks like something is happening behind the scenes.”

The Miami Herald covered the story, writing:

“Regarding refunds and credits for people who bought trips expecting to sail on Resilient Lady in August or the ensuing months, the cruise line will be contacting them in the coming days. They will get a full refund, plus a 25% future voyage credit to use within a year from original cruising dates, and “assistance” with travel changes and penalties for hotels and flights booked related to canceled cruises.”

Virgin Voyages was last in the news last week when the cruise line sent the Scarlet Lady through the shallow waters in the Keys into the tiny port of Key West. This environemntally destructive act was contrary to the flase promises by Virgin Voyages’ owner and psuedo-enviromental Richard Branson that the company would operate in a sustainable and respectable manner respecting the local will of voters in Key West.

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Image credit: Resilient LadyVirgin Voyages artist drawing.

Last night. a woman went overboard from the Azamara Quest as the cruise ship was sailing in the Mediterranean shortly after leaving Barcelona, Spain.

According to an account in the U.S. Sun titled LOST AT SEA: Woman falls overboard from Azamara Quest cruise ship sparking desperate search off Majorca coast, a “middle-aged”  woman fell from the ship last night. The ship contacted the Spanish Coast Guard around 2:00 a.m. when the ship was approximately 75 miles off of Majorca. The title of the article states that there was a “desperate search” although this is not really explained.  The AIS system chart show that thes Azamara ship made minor adjustments to it path to conduct a search, and then resumed its scheduled normal itinerary.

After Spanish Coast Guard was notified, it dispatched two helicopters, a Helimer 206 and 223. as well as the  vessel Concepcion Arenal to conduct a search for the overboard passenger.

There is no indication in the article regarding when exactly the passenger went overboard, how or why she fell from the ship, when the search by the ship was initiated, how long the initial search lasted or when the Azamara Quest left the area of the passsenger’s disappearance.

As we have stated before, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 requires cruise ships to be installed with an automatic man overboard (MOB) system. Such systems utilize sophisticated motion detection and infrared and radar technology to immediately send a signal directly to the bridge when a person goes over the rails and then tracks the person in the water, even at night.

Without such systems, cruise ships first conduct a manual search of the ship and then review the video of cameras along the side of the ship (which are not actively manned) to see if they show someone going overboard. Such “old-school” technology delays the seach and reduces the chances that the overboard person will be rescued. Looking for an overboard person in the water at night without such technology is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein’s popular cruise site CruiseJunkie indicates that 368 people have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000. Most cruise lines have not installed automatic MOB systems, despite the Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act’s requirements to do so over a decade ago.

Since 2010, when the Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act was passed, there have been over 120 passengers and crew members who have gone overboard from cruise ships. In the last two years before the COVID-19 pandemic (218 and 2019), an average of over 27 passengers and crew members went overboard each year.  Yet, cruise lines refuse to comply with the law and install MOB systems. These systems have long been readily available on the market; several manufacturers remain eager to sell and install these systems. The cruise industry has largely rebuffed these manufacturers without any real explanation.

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Image credit: Azamara QuestIvan T. – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

A gastrointestinal (GI) outbreak of unknown origin occurred during a cruise to Alaska last week on the Carnival Splendor cruise ship which sickened ninety-three (93) passengers and crew members.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 77 of 2,109 (3.65%) guests and 16 of 1,079 (1.48%) crew members reported being ill during the cruise from Seattle to Alaska on March 24 to March 31, 2022. The predominant symptoms of those infected  were “vomiting and diarrhea.”

In about a quarter of the cruise ship disease outbreaks reported to the CDC, the federal health agency is unable to determine the cause of the sicknesses. This year, the CDC has been unable to determine the cause of the two GI outbreaks which occurred – this outbreak and the outbreak on the Seabourn Odyssey from April 28th through May 19th which sickened 15 of 380 (3.95%) passengers and 5 of 347 (1.44%) crew members.

In 2019, there were ten disease outbreaks on cruise ships, with the CDC unable to determine the type of disease involved in two of these cases. In 2018, there were eleven outbreaks, with the CDC unable to determine what the CDC calls the “causative agent” on four occasions. In 2017, the CDC could not determine the cause of one out of eleven cruise ship outbreaks. The CDC information has been publicly available for the past twenty-eigth years.

The most common cause of ship disease outbreaks is norovirus. Other exotoc-sounding diseases include Vibrio, Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), Campylobacteror and C. Perfringens Enterotoxin.

The detailed conclusions regarding the number of sickened guests and crew members in GI outbreaks are in stark contrast to the CDC’s policy of reporting COVID-19 outbreaks where the CDC does not disclose the number of either infected passengers or crew members.  This may please the cruise lines, which refuse to disclose such statistics, but it is a real disservice to the public which deserves to know the truth.

It is outragous that the cruise lines and the CDC keep this fundamental information about COVID-19 outbreaks secret. We have seen situations where there may be literally only five or six COVID-19 cases on some cruises, but as many as over two hundred cases on another ship. Yesterday, for example, we received an inquiry from a guest who recently cruised on the Caribbean Princess, where she contracted Covid. There was no official announcement by the cruise line of the number of people affected, although the scuttlebutt on the ship was that the ship was “inundated with cases.“ She stumbled on this blog looking for sources of information about the COVID-19 outbreak on the Princess cruise ship which had sickened her.

Guests infected during a cruise or deciding whether it’s safe or prudent to take a cruise on a particular cruise ship which just had an outbreak, should be able to go to an official source for accurate information. They should not have to scour the internet search through cruise chat rooms trying to find out basic public health information already reported by a cruise line to a federal health agency but not disclosed to the public.

The U.S. public pays for the services of the CDC and deserves transparency. The last thing the public needs is for the CDC to act like a non-transparent cruise line (which pays no U.S. income taxes because of its foreign incorporation and registration of its ships outside of the U.S.) and keep such public health hazards secret.

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Image credit: Carnival Splendor – Sparrowman980 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Two crew members*, who reportedly suffered chemical burns on a Celebrity cruise ship today, were medevaced to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia.

The crew members were injured while working on the Celebrity Summit cruise ship. Earlier today, the cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard Fifth District Command Center, which responds to maritime incidents in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Region, in order to obtain medical assistance for the injured crew members. The Celebrity cruise ship was located approximately 70 miles from the shore of Virginia.

The Coast Guard dispatched a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Elizabeth City, North Carolina and flew the crew members and a ship doctor from the ship to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

Injured Celebrity crew members are not permitted to file lawsuits against the cruise line after they are injured. Instead, they are required to pursue their legal remedies through internattional arbitration pursuant to the one-sided arbitration agreements inserted by their employer into their employment contracts which require that that the law of Malta applies.

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Image Credit: Celebrity SummitMaster0Garfield – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

June 3, 2022 Update: *According to an engineer aboard a Celebrity ship, the two injured workers are not Celebrity crew members but are instead contractors: specifically, “two contractors working on the AEP overhauling.” “AEP” stands for “Advanced Emission Purification System” (i.e. scrubber system). We have written about scrubbers on Royal Caribbean owned cruise ships before.

Legally, if the injured workers were in fact paid by a contractor of Celebrity rather than directly by the ship, they still should have been provided with a reasonably safe place to work and full PPE (personal protective equipment) just like a ship employee paid by the cruise lne.

Regarding the work on the scrubber system, the question arises why Celebrity was requiring the contractors to work on the project while the Celebrity Summit was at sea with passengers, rather than when the ship was not in service?  You will recall that a fire broke out on the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas when welding operations connected to the installation of a scrubber system were underway when the cruise ship was sailing to Falmouth, Jamaica in 2015. Freedom of the Seas Fire: Is Royal Caribbean Installing a Scrubber System With Passengers Aboard?

When we last reported on the COVID-19 status of the Jewel of the Seas five days ago, there were twelve (12) crew members and seven (7) guests who initially tested positive for COVID-19 as the Royal Caribbean cruise ship was sailing around Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England.

Spike in COVID-19 Cases Among Crew Members on Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas

At that time, according to Royal Caribbean, there was an increase in the number of infected crew members, leading to a the staff captain sending an email to the crew members to remind them to wear KN95 masks on the ship:

“We have unfortunately lately seen a spike in the COVID19 cases among our crew!

Please ensure following is strictly adhered to in order for us to break this inclining curve of C+ cases:

KN95 Masks are to be worn at all the times, except when in your cabin or when eating, drinking or smoking.”

When the Jewel of the Seas returned to Amsterdam from its last cruise on Friday, May 27th, the number of guests who tested positive had increased to twenty-nine (29).

The day after the Jewel of the Seas embarked on its current cruise to Iceland, half of the crew underwent antigen testing.  The number of crew members infected with COVID-19 had increased to nineteen (19).

After the second half of the crew members underwent antigen tests later on Saturday, the number of ship employees who tested positive increased again, this time to a total of thirty-five (35) crew members. These infected crew members were isolated and housed in the “Red Zone”  on decks three and four of the ship.

Included in the crew members infected with COVID-19 was the master of the Jewel of the Seas who had just signed on the ship. He is required to isolate in his own cabin on deck nine, close to bridge.

In addition to the master, the ship’s staff captain and chief safety officer also tested positive for COVID-19.

There are currently exactly 783 crew members on the Jewel of the Seas. 35 of them are infected with COVID-19.  This turns out to be around four and one-half percent of the crew infected with the virus. If sailing from the U.S., the Royal Caribbean ship would be subject to an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”). Because it is sailing from Europe, there obviously is no obligation to report the infection rate to a U.S. federal health agency.

This now seems to be the new normal, with cruise voyages having at least a couple of dozen infected crew members and cruise guests.  Perhaps there are some cruise ships with fewer infected crew members. One problem is that an infected crew member, of course, unlike a passenger, will remain on the ship and potentially is a source of infection from one cruise to the next if they are not properly quarantined.

This raises the question: should cruise lines be required to disclose the percentage of crew members and guests on cruise ships who are positive with COVID-19? The CDC requires cruise lines to disclose the number of people who are infected with diseases from norovirus and e-coli, for example.  Data arising from a  norovirus outbreak on a cruise ship is publicly available when there are at least 2% of the crew or guests positive. The information can be readily viewed at the CDC’s online website.

But as matters now stand, cruise lines legally can keep outbreaks of COVID-19 secret. That’s why there are instances where there are outbreaks with several hundred people infected on a cruise and the public doesn’t know a thing about it. If there is not a legal requirement to disclose a health hazard, and no acountability if the cruise line keeps the information secret, I do not know of any cruise line with such honesty and transparency that it would disclose a danger voluntarily.

Most cruise lines lack transparency when it come to disclosing disease coutbreaks. That’s why, like this situation, it is important to have crew members or guests with first hand personal knowledge willing to reveal the true facts. This information comes from an anonymous crew member, who I have known for over a year and can be trusted to provide accurate information.  But some cruise lines will not only conceal this type of information but affirmatively mischaracterize the truth.

At this point, the “new normal” seems to be that there will always be a few dozen COVID-19 cases on every cruise ship but the cruise industry will fail to disclose them to the public.

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Image Credit: Jewel of the Seas – Royal Caribbean Press Center.