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.

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

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.

 

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.

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

*/ 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.

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

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.

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

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

A lifeboat broke free from the Carnival Dream in the Gulf of Mexico as the Carnival cruise ships was sailing back to New Orleans on December 30, 2018, according to a travel agent on the ship.

Mum’s Travel Blog reported that a lifeboat sheered from the davit hook and fell into the water around 2:00 p.m. yesterday. Fortunately, there was no one in the lifeboat at the time.

The Carnival Dream was unable to raise the lifeboat and decided to abandon it at sea. There are comments posted on social media that the Coast Guard may later retrieve the lifeboat.

This is not the first time that a lifeboat fell off of a cruise ship.

Earlier this year,  a lifeboat on P&O’s Arcadia broke from its cabling and fell from its davits into the sea while the cruise ship was in Ponta Delgada, Azores.

Last year, a lifeboat broke free from Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas in the port of Charleston due to a frayed cable.

In 2013, a cable to a lifeboat on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas  snapped while the cruise ship was in Nassau.

All of these incidents occurred when there were no passengers or crew members aboard the lifeboats. Unfortunately, most lifeboats failures occur as they are being improperly raised or lowered with crew members aboard them.

In September of 2016, two crew members were killed and other crew members were critically injured after a lifeboat fell from the Harmony of the Seas, which was docked in Marseilles, France. Five members of the ship’s navigation crew were on board during a drill when the lifeboat became detached and fell ten meters into the water.

Eight crew members were in a lifeboat during a drill in 2013 on the Thomson Majesty cruise ship when the lifeboat plunged 60 feet into the water. The lifeboat landed upside down. 5 of the crew were killed and 3 were injured.

In July of 2016, a rescue boat drill resulted in the boat falling into the water with four crew members from the Norwegian Breakaway while the cruise ship was in Bermuda. Two crew members were killed and two other seriously injured.

Between these two events, there have been several other lifeboat mishaps. In January of 2016, a cruise ship tender boat on the Balmoral operated by Fred Olsen Lines malfunctioned, during a scheduled boat training drill while the cruise ship was docked in Funchal, Madeira. Fortunately, no one was injured. In August 2015, an excursion boat from the Costa Mediterranea (photo right) apparently broke a cable while it was being lowered in Montenegro. Photographs sent to me shows what appears to be a lifeboat dangling on the side of the Costa cruise ship. In October 2014, a rescue boat on the Coral Princess was being raised on davits with two crew members aboard when a cable snapped and a crew member was killed.

There is a popular saying that lifeboat drills kill or seriously injure more people than save lives.

I first read about the Carnival Dream lifeboat failure in an article posted by the popular Cruise Hive blog.

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

Photo credit: Mum’s Travel Blog and Heston Williams’ twitter page.

Cruise passengers aboard the Carnival Conquest are stating that the cruise ship was delayed for several hours in Aruba last night due to what the local press is reporting to be a sexual assault.

Several passengers stated that they reported what they described two things of significance: (1) a van at the port where local police are placing bags of some type of forensic evidence from the ship, and (2) a security guard posted outside of a passenger cabin.

Several newspapers in Aruba such as 24ora and awe24 report that a passenger from the Carnival Conquest was arrested and taken into custody in Aruba by the local police.

The cruise ship crime reporting portal maintained by the U.S. Department of Transportation reflect that there have been 53 sexual assaults reported on cruise ships in the last year (October 1, 2017 – September 30, 2018). Of the 53 alleged incidents listed on the portal, 31 occurred on cruise ships operated by Carnival Cruise Line.

The last sexual crime on the Carnival Conquest which we reported on involved an adult passenger who sexually assaulted a 12 year-old girl during a cruise in January 2016. The man was arrested and pleaded guilty this year to sexual abuse of the minor.

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

Photo credit: 24ora and awe24

A crew member went overboard from the Harmony of the Seas yesterday morning, according to a Royal Caribbean ship employee who wishes to remain confidential.

The crew member is reportedly an entertainer from the U.K. who was a member of the shipboard musical production of Grease on the Harmony of the Seas.

The Harmony of the Seas left Fort Lauderdale, Florida on December 23rd and was sailing to Philipsburg, St. Maarten where it arrived this morning and will remain until 5 p.m. today.

The crew member apparently went overboard early Christmas morning some where north of Puerto Rico before the cruise ship reached St. Maarten.

The U.S. Coast Guard identified the missing crew member as “Arron Hough, 20, of the United Kingdom.”

The last Royal Caribbean crew member who went overboard disappeared from the Adventure of the Seas. He was subsequently identified as Jack Daniel Ackroyd from Cotgrave (near Nottingham) England.

As in the case of Mr. Ackroyd, Mr. Hough apparently disappeared without anyone noticing. Due to the absence of a auto man overboard system, which would instantly send a signal to the bridge and then track the overboard person in the water even at night, there was apparently no timely search for the crew member.

Like other cruise lines, Royal Caribbean claims that it does not believe the available overboard detection technology is “reliable,” a conclusion refuted by numerous experts and manufacturers of state-of-the-art MOB systems.

Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain was quoted in an article in Quartz by Rosie Spinks titled People fall off cruise ships with alarming regularity. Can anything be done to stop it? He stated that MOB technology “is not yet at a viable stage,” despite modern systems like this and this.

It never ceases to amaze me that a cruise line that collects over 8,000,000,000 (billion $$) dollars a year tax-free, and builds billion dollar Genesis class cruise ships like the Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas,  Symphony of the Seas and the Harmony of the Seas, refuses to invest in such life-saving technology.

We have written before about Royal Caribbean’s dismal attitude about MOB systems and procedures relative to crew members – Royal Caribbean Unreasonably Delays Reporting Overboard Crew Member from Vision of the Seas.

According to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, 327 people have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000. 25 people have gone overboard this year alone – an average of more than 2 a month.

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

December 26, 2018 PM update: According to the Miami Herald, the Coast Guard was not notified until 1:45 pm today, even though the crew member apparently went overboard around 4 am.

Royal Caribbean’s PR department states that:

“We are saddened to report that after a review of the ship’s closed-circuit camera footage, he was observed entering an area on Deck 5 at around 4am and was not seen again. Local authorities were notified and a ship-wide search for the crew member was conducted.”

This means that the Harmony of the Seas did not conduct a search at sea at all.

Photo credit: Top – Royal Caribbean promotional video of the Harmony of the Seas; bottom – Aaron Luke Hough Twitter

The United States Coast Guard medevaced a cruise passenger from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship on Wednesday night as the ship was returning to New York from a Caribbean cruise.

The Coast Guard launched a MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew from Air Station Elizabeth City in North Carolina to medevac a 79-year-old man suffering from kidney failure, according to a statement by the Coast Guard.

The Anthem of the Seas was more than 400 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, when the Royal Caribbean cruise ship contacted the Coast Guard.

You can watch the video of the medevac here.

The Anthem had sailed from New York City, New York, leaving for December 10th to San Juan, Puerto Rico; St Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Basseterre, St. Kitts; St Johns, Antigua and Philipsburg, St. Maarten. It returned to New York City this morning.

The Coast Guard medevaced a 83 year-old woman, who was experiencing renal failure, from the Anthem of the Seas which was approximately 160 miles southeast of Elizabeth City, North Carolina in May of 2018. She was flown to North Carolina for emergency medical treatment. Before that, the Coast Guard medevaced a 71-year-old man from the Anthem of the Seas which was approximately 50 miles east of Ocean City, New Jersey, in April of this year.

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

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

An adult male passenger is reportedly missing from the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship and is believed to have gone overboard before the ship arrived in Progreso, Mexico today.

The Carnival cruise ship left Mobile, Alabama on December 15th at 4:00 p.m. and was scheduled to arrive in Progreso, Mexico today at 8:00 a.m.

According to the Cruise Life Cargo Facebook page, announcements were made via the Fantasy’s onboard PA system last night that a guest was missing on the ship.

We are currently on the Carnival Fantasy at port in Progreso, MX. Last night there were announcements board cast through…

Posted by Cruise Life Cargo on Monday, December 17, 2018

The Facebook page reported that there was a search by Carnival crew members as the Carnival Fantasy sailed toward Progreso. Approximately five and one-half hours after the Carnival cruise ship reached the Mexican port, local authorities boarded the ship with a search dog to try and locate the missing passenger.

Posted by Cruise Life Cargo on Monday, December 17, 2018

The missing man was reportedly on the autism spectrum, although there was no conclusion offered why he went overboard.

This is the fourth person who has gone overboard from a cruise ship in less than one month. All of the disappearances involved circumstances where the ship did not realize that the passenger (and in one case a crew member) went overboard.

None of the cruise ships seemed to be equipped with a state-of-the-art man overboard (MOB) system, as required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, which would immediately notify the bridge that a person went over the railing. Such systems utilize sophisticated motion detection, infrared and radar technology that can track the person at night in the water.

For the few cruise lines which have invested in such technology, the system can substantially increase a ship’s response to a guest or crew member going overboard. Most importantly, the system can significantly improve the likelihood of a ship conducting a successful search and rescue.

One such system, by MARSS MOBtronic, has been commercially available since 2010.  There are a number of other reliable MOB systems readily available to the cruise lines.

For cruise lines which have not invested in the technology, ship personnel are forced to conduct a search of the ship, review hours of CCTV images, and, in this case, request local authorities to board the ship with a search animal to conduct manual searches of the ship. Such efforts are usually futile.

Carnival has apparently not located CCTV images of the person going overboard and it has no idea when or why the incident occurred. It apparently did not request assistance from either the U.S. or Mexican coast guards to conduct searches at sea.  In the last overboard from a Carnival cruise ship (the Carnival Victory three days ago) Carnival was quick to announce that the guest allegedly went overboard “intentionally.”

The Carnival Fantasy has continued on with its cruise to Cozumel (scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning) and is scheduled to arrive back to Mobile on the morning of December 20th.

Cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein reports that 24 people have gone overboard from cruise ships this year. That’s an average of 2 a month.

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

December 19, 2018 Update: 

Carnival has to review hours of CCTV and invite the Mexican Navy aboard with a search dog to try to locate a passenger?

WKRG New5 Cruise passenger with special needs confirmed dead.

Photo credit: Carnival Fantasy (top) – Carnival Cruise Line; bottom – Cruise Life Cargo.